Tag Archives: St. Augustine

When the Saints Come Marching In (and a New Release)

book cover

In honor of my new release, An Unsaintly Season in St. Augustine, I decided to write a Just for Fun Friday post about saints. (See below for details about my book.)

Now I know sainthood should be a reverent, serious topic but you go Google the list of patron saints and see if you aren’t smiling or even downright laughing out loud over some of them.

Most of us are familiar with St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, and St. Christopher who looks over travelers.

But did you know that St. David of Wales is the patron saint of doves and praying to St. Polycarp of Smyrna will probably keep you from getting dysentery?

stained glass window of St. David of Wales

St. David of Wales (photo by Wolfgang Sauber, CC share-alike license, Wikimedia Commons)

If you have arm pain, have a little chat with St. Amelia. If you’re going ice skating, a short prayer to St. Lidwina of Schiedam wouldn’t hurt (seriously, there is a patron saint of ice skating).

If you’re inclined to have fits of frenzy then St. Dennis is who you should be madly praying to (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

The various professions have their patron saints and the number of saints a particular profession has doesn’t seem to correlate with the degree of need for divine intervention. Accountants, librarians, bankers, barbers, chefs, engineers, engravers, gardeners, funeral directors, veterinarians, translators and whitewashers all have one each. (Yes, whitewashers have a saint.)

Soldiers have four which seems fitting but astronauts only have one, as do road workers, nurses and surgeons. Teachers have two, which doesn’t seem like quite enough considering all they have to deal with.

Prisoners have two while prison guards only have one. Hmm. Not sure I’d like those odds if I were a prison guard. Police officers and firefighters only have two each, while bakers and comedians have three. What’s up with that?

The ones I was most interested in were, well, interesting. The patron saint of therapists and psychiatrists is St. Christina the Astonishing. Oookkaay.

St. Francis de Sales and St. Lucy of Syracuse are the patron saints of authors and writers. St. Francis de Sales was a very pious fellow. He was the Bishop of Geneva during the Protestant Reformation and he used a lot of flyers and other writings in his attempt to convert Calvinists to Catholicism.

St. Lucia (or St. Lucy) of Syracuse is better known for being the patron saint of the blind. She was martyred around 300 AD and one story says her eyes were poked out before she was killed. Another version is that her pagan fiancé, whom she was trying to ditch because she was a devout Christian, had admired her beautiful eyes. So she plucked them out and gave them to him, saying something to the effect, “Okay, take them and leave me alone so I can dedicate myself to God.”

In artwork, she is sometimes shown holding a tray with her eyes on it.

Renaissance painting of St. Lucy

Renaissance painting of St. Lucy (public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

Eeeww! With all due respect to St. Lucy who, one way or another, died a gruesome death… Ixnay to the eyesway on the aytray!

But back to St. Augustine and my new book. It’s set in the city of that name in Florida. The city was named by the Spanish sea captain who founded it. He first sighted land on the feast day of St. Augustine in 1565. My guess is the scene went something like this:

Guy up in the rigging yells in Spanish, “Land! I see land!”

The captain, one Don Pedro Menandez de Avilla, falls on his knees and says, “Gracias, St. Augustine, for putting this piece of land between us and the edge of the world, because that Columbus was a fool. Everybody knows the world is flat.”

In addition to being the patron saint of brewers, printers and theologians, St. Augustine is the one to pray to for the alleviation of sore eyes. How apropos for me, since by the end of a day at the computer writing and/or editing, my eyes are quite sore.

Okay, you all check out my new release while I ask St. Augustine for some eye drops and then call my priest to set up an appointment for confession, ’cause I think I’m probably in trouble with the Big Man Upstairs after writing this post.

Then tell me about your favorite saint down in the comments.

(And because I love how this cover turned out, I’m gonna show it to you again!)

An UNSAINTLY SEASON in St. AUGUSTINE, A Kate on Vacation mystery

Even on vacation, Kate Huntington can’t seem to avoid other people’s troubles. While in St. Augustine, Florida for the Christmas holidays, she and her PI husband get caught up in trying to find a friend of Kate’s parents who’s gone missing. They soon discover that this isn’t just a case of a senior citizen wandering off. Can they reunite the elderly man with his wife before Christmas, or will others who mean him harm find him first?

This is the first of a series of novella-length mysteries with a cozy flavor to them. They feature the same characters from the Kate Huntington Mystery series. These are intended to be light, suspenseful reads that also allow the reader to travel vicariously to interesting and sometimes exotic places.

Available now as an e-book for just $1.99 on:

AMAZON    and    BARNES & NOBLE

 

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

My Next Big Thing (it’s kinda small)

I seem to be the last of my writer friends to participate in this fun Blog Hop called The Next Big Thing. I got tagged by the funny and talented fantasy and sci-fi writer, Samantha Warren. If you don’t think she’s funny and talented, just read her bio here.

My Next Big Thing is actually a little on the small side. It’s my first crack at a novella (about 1/3rd the length of my other novels).

Here’s how this works. I answer ten questions about my work in progress. Then I’m supposed to tag five other authors, but like I said, I seem to be the last one arriving at this party. So if you’re a writer, and you want to brag talk about your Next Big Thing, consider yourself tagged.

1.  What is the title of the work?

The title was going to be “Sal of St. Augustine, A Kate on Vacation Cozy Mystery” but then my daughter-in-law (one of my best beta readers) said that was kind of boring (she said it much more diplomatically than that, but that’s what she meant).

So I’m looking for ideas for a better title. After you’ve read a bit more here about the story maybe something good will come to you. And just to make it interesting, I’m gonna give a $20 gift card to anyone who comes up with a title so wonderful I decide to use it!

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

I was joking around one day with fellow misterio press author, JoAnn Bassett. Her mystery series is set in Hawaii and her protagonist is a wedding planner (named Pali Moon) whose weddings always seem to go seriously awry.

Why not write a book together? I said. My protag, Kate Huntington, could come to Hawaii for her niece’s wedding (for those of you who’ve read Family Fallacies, wouldn’t Phyllis, Kate’s sister-in-law, make the perfect mother-of-the-bride from hell?) Then Kate and Pali (pronounced Polly) could end up investigating somebody’s murder together.

JoAnn pointed out we’d probably end up like the best friends who become college roommates, and end up hating each other after one semester.

I agreed and the writing it together idea got scrapped. But a seed had been planted in my fertile little brain. Why not write some shorter, lighter stories starring my main characters while they’re on vacation. Thus the concept of a parallel series to my Kate Huntington books was born.

This first one is set in St. Augustine, Florida, when Kate and her family go to visit her parents for Christmas. I have a second one planned, a locked-room mystery that will happen on a cruise in the Caribbean, and then the Hawaii wedding one (JoAnn’s going to be my consultant on that one!)

3. What genre is the book?

It’s a ‘cozy’ mystery, designed to be a light, fun read. (In this case, think Miss Marple meets Alex Delaware.)

4. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Even on vacation, Kate Huntington can’t seem to stay out of trouble; while visiting her parents for Christmas in St. Augustine, she and her private detective husband get sucked into investigating when her parents’ friend disappears.

(Yeah, I know. I cheated by using a semi-colon to get in two sentences. I’m really bad about following rules.)

5. Which actors would you choose to play your main characters?

Gonna need some help with this one too. I am absolutely horrible at remembering actors’ names (names in general). Who comes to mind to play Kate and/or Skip, folks? I’d love some suggestions, just in case Hollywood ever comes calling with an offer.

Oh, and while I’m asking for help again, here are some pics I took in St. Augustine this past Christmas. I’m considering using one of them as the cover. What do you think?

Too busy maybe?

It’s sunny 362 days of the year in Florida. Wouldn’t you know it, the day I go to St. Aug to take pics is one of the three when it’s overcast! But I can probably get that doctored by a cover artist.

 Please vote for one (or rank them) in the comments. I’m having trouble deciding.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m a control freak, so self-published, of course.

7. How long did it take you to write this book?

About three weeks. Granted it’s a novella, but still I’m not usually that speedy. But when I tell myself a project is “just for fun” it tends to go much faster.

8. What other books would you compare this to?

Maybe Mary Daheim’s Bed and Breakfast series (if I may be so bold) in which the protagonist gets caught up in the shenanigans of the interesting (sometimes downright weird) people who come from all over to stay at her B & B. Only in this case, Kate is doing the traveling.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I think we’ve already established that it’s JoAnn’s fault. 😛

10. What else about your book might pique readers’ interest?

Part of the idea with this parallel series of cozies is to showcase some interesting vacation destinations so readers can do a little vicarious traveling.

Despite the mild temperatures, no place does Christmas quite like St. Augustine, and the town is chock full of historic sites. A Caribbean cruise and Hawaii speak for themselves. Who wouldn’t want to curl up with a fun book set in one of those exotic places?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Check out her Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

Christmas in St. Augustine

St. Augustine is on the east coast of northern Florida. The climate is on the cusp between temperate and subtropical and December days are usually in the high 60’s to mid 70’s. But despite the balmy temperatures and palm trees, St. Augustine is really, really into Christmas.

It is billed as the oldest continuously occupied European city in the country. Admiral Menendez de Aviles of Spain spotted land–no doubt with much relief that he hadn’t fallen off the edge of the world–on the feast day of St. Augustine, August 28, 1565. He named the town he established after the saint.

The Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos, completed in 1695.

The historic district in full of beautiful Spanish architecture, some of it original, some built later in a style to blend in with the older buildings.

The Plaza de la Constitucion

The Cathedral

By the third week of November the historic district is festooned with millions of tiny white lights. On the weekend before Thanksgiving, the tree lighting ceremony occurs in the Plaza de la Constitucion, marking the official beginning of the Nights of Lights.

Nights of Lights in St. Augustine

 

Santa’s Christmas Train takes tourists through the city every evening through January. Or you can enjoy the lights from a horse-drawn carriage.

Five blocks of St. George Street are blocked off for pedestrians only and a variety of shops line the street, as well as a few tourist attractions such as the oldest wood schoolhouse in the country. The shops and restaurants are also decorated for Christmas, some of them so brightly it makes your eyes hurt.

St. George Street shopping district

The Casablanca Inn

On the first Saturday of December, there’s a Christmas parade. That evening a group of re-enactors celebrate a short period when La Florida was a British colony. It was traded to England in exchange for the port of Havana in 1763, and then reclaimed by Spain twenty years later, at the end of the American Revolution. Dressed in British uniforms, the fife and drum corps marches through the historic district, followed by the “loyal citizens of the colony,” in period attire and carrying candles. The crowd is invited to join the procession, which ends in the Plaza with Christmas caroling around the tree and gazebo.

The following weekend is the Regatta of Lights. Boat owners from local marinas decorate their boats and sail along the Matanzas River next to the historic district, and through the drawbridge of the Bridge of Lions.

 The holiday week culminates with a Beach Blast Off at St. Augustine Beach on New Year’s Eve. I’ve never been, but rumor has it that live music, chili and fireworks are involved.

photo by Schofield Barracks, from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more on the Nights of Lights in St. Augustine, click HERE.

What exotic places have you been to around Christmas time? Please share so we can continue our vicarious travels.

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

We usually blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics and then sometimes on Fridays or the weekend with something just for fun.Our blog is on semi-hiatus until mid January when we’ll get serious again. Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!