Tag Archives: Stacy Green

Beauty: A Matter of Mind Over Matter

This post is for the 3rd annual Beauty Of A Woman blogfest, sponsored each year by my beautiful friend, August McLaughlin. The BOAW festivities officially begin on Thursday, so make a note to pop over to August’s site then for a whole list of great posts about what really makes women beautiful. The posts range from serious to light-hearted and they are always fabulous! (Oh, and did I mention there’s a contest and prizes? Well, there is. YAY!)

BOAW logo 2014

So what is the main ingredient that makes a woman beautiful? Good genes that bless her with smooth skin, good teeth and glossy hair?

Well, those certainly don’t hurt. But in my experience, they’re not the main ingredient in beauty.

Dentists, cosmetic surgeons, expensive make-up and hair products to create dazzling teeth, glowing skin and glossy hair?

close-up of woman putting on eye make-up

(photo by Manuel Marin, CC-BY license 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Not really, in my humble opinion.

So what is the main ingredient? It’s confidence!

When I was a young teenager, I was a mess–dorky-looking and totally lacking in self-confidence. Not a day went by in middle school (the purgatory of the earth plane, IMHO) that I wasn’t teased by one of the mean girls, or sometimes by one of the guys, most often about my appearance. “Pimple face” and “ironing board” (I was flat-chested) are the taunts that stand out the most in my memory.

me in 8th grade

My 8th grade school picture (told ya I looked dorky)

During the summer between middle and high school, my mother sat me down and gave me a fake-it-til-ya-make-it pep talk. She asked me if I thought a friend of hers (we’ll call her Mrs. H) was attractive. Now what fourteen-year-old gives a moment’s thought to her mother’s friends’ appearance?

I just shrugged. My mother pointed out just how homely Mrs. H was. Now that Mom was mentioning it, I realized that the woman did kind of resemble those drawings of witches you see at Halloween, complete with a large mole on her chin. Mom went on and on detailing all the flaws in Mrs. H’s appearance. I was beginning to wonder what evil spirit had taken over my mother’s body, when she pointed out that Mrs. H was married to one of the handsomest men in their circle of friends. I had to admit, now that I thought about it, Mr. H wasn’t bad looking, for an old guy (he was probably 40). Then Mom said that when Mrs. H walked into a room, every man and most of the women would turn to greet her with a big smile.

“Why is that?” Mom asked. Another shrug from me.

Because Mrs. H carried herself with confidence and was always smiling and friendly was my mother’s answer. “Kass, you’ve got the smiling and friendly down. They’re part of your natural personality. Now all you need is the confidence.” That’s when she told me to fake it ’til I made it.

Well, it took several years of faking it, but gradually I did become more confident. Then in college, I got some counseling to dig my remaining insecurities out by the roots.

I’m still not the best-looking gal in any crowd, but I don’t worry much about what I look like. Oh, I’m not saying I don’t do the best I can with what the good Lord gave me. I do. But once I’ve put on my make-up and fixed my hair (my best feature, despite it’s tendency to frizz), I walk out the door and don’t give my appearance another thought. I go about the world with confidence, and the world treats me well.

I’ll bet if you asked my friends and acquaintances whether or not I’m pretty, they’d shrug, like I did when my mom asked about Mrs. H. And then they’d say, “Oh, she looks fine. She’s so______.” (Fill in the blank with friendly, nice, smart, vivacious)

A healthy dose of confidence compensates quite well for my lack of outer beauty, and it let’s me relax and be me wherever I am. And frankly I’d rather be remembered for being smart and nice than for being pretty!

Have you ever known anyone who was naturally beautiful and yet so lacking in self-confidence that it marred their appearance? How about someone who was quite average but could light up a room with their smile?

And we’re excited to announce a new release by bestseller Stacy Green.

Speaking of confidence growing, check out what her character, Jaymee Ballard, is up to in this last book in the Delta Crossroads trilogy, Ashes and Bone:

cover of Ashes and BoneJust when Jaymee Ballard’s life seems to be on track, a massive derecho attacks the Delta Crossroads sowing destruction in its path. Her boyfriend, investigative journalist Nick Samuels, comes up missing, and she fears the worst.

Nick’s abandoned car contains evidence of his involvement uncovering a controversial case mired in political power and greed. While her friend and local detective, Cage Foster, heads up the inquiry into Nick’s kidnapping, Jaymee finds it impossible to sit back and do nothing.

Enlisting the help of her best friend, Dani Evans, Jaymee discovers a trail leading to the dangerous and secretive Dixie Mafia. Facing a fraudulent Confederate artifact scheme, dark local history, and a powerful enemy lurking in the shadows, the two friends find themselves holding the key to not only Nick’s disappearance, but a shameful town secret someone will kill to protect.

ASHES and BONE is an action packed thriller with a shocking twist.

Check it out, then talk to me about how you see beauty influenced by confidence and vice versa. (And don’t forget to visit the BOAW blogfest on Thursday)

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 (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Damn Yankee Gone South (and a new release)

I’m really looking forward to reading Stacy Green’s new installment in her Delta Crossroads mysteries, Skeleton’s Key. Not only is Stacy a great author who can write a thrilling mystery, but this book has another, more personal appeal for me.

You see I’m a Northerner who’s moved to the South, and I discovered when I did so that I needed to let go of quite a few stereotypes of Southerners. And I’m sure my exuberant personality and grinning face challenged some of their ‘cold, unfriendly Northerners’ stereotypes as well.

The two main characters in Skeleton’s Key, one a Southerner and one a Yankee, are apparently also challenged by said stereotypes as they butt heads on a regular basis. This theme in the story, along with Stacy’s brilliant ability to keep one on the edge of one’s seat, should make for a great read.

And this has got me thinking that I should do some research and write a more extensive blog post about today’s Northerners and Southerners, how they’re different and how they’re the same. Hmm. *scratches chin* …stay tuned for that, folks!

In the meantime, here’s Stacy to tell you a bit more about this book and share a snippet of a very exciting scene!

photo of Stacy Green, auithor

Welcome to the release of SKELETON’S KEY, the second book in the Delta Crossroads Series. Set in fictional Roselea, Mississippi, the book follows Cage Foster, a popular character from TIN GOD (Delta Crossroads #1) and Yankee newcomer Dani Evans as they investigate a grisly double homicide.

But this isn’t your standard double murder. Cage is the caretaker of Ironwood Plantation, a historic antebellum in desperate need of tender love and care. Dani is the restoration expert from Indiana who purchased the house and plans to restore it along with her own life. Cage and Dani are the north and south, immediately at odds and yet intensely drawn to one another, and their relationship is the backbone of the book.

Back to the murder. See, the bodies are found buried in Ironwood’s cellar. The crime scene is somewhere inside the house–you’ll have to read to find out the location–and Cage is the prime suspect.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is Dani’s first night, when she discovers the bodies. I love writing suspense, because it’s so challenging. I want the reader to be on the edge of their seat, hooked into the story so that even though they may be afraid to find out what’s on the next page, they are compelled to read on.

I’m excited to share that scene with you today. SKELETON’S KEY is available in print and all digital formats.

Somewhere on the edge of deep sleep, a spatter of noise pulled Dani back to consciousness. She groaned and closed her eyes again. Likely the house settling.

She rolled over and started to drift off again when the noise came again, louder. She sat up and looked around, listening.

The house is locked. You have lights on.

You’re a woman staying alone in a house with no landline. Someone could be creeping.

You have your cell phone. Cage is two hundred feet away.

A hollow thumping drifted from somewhere near the kitchen. Gooseflesh erupted over Dani’s arms, and then she laughed. She’d encountered her fair share of squatting animals in her career, including a particularly vicious raccoon that had left her with a scar and a rabies scare.

“Critters hanging out in the basement of an old house,” she spoke into the quiet. “Biggest cause of haunted houses.”

As if in answer, a low grumbling filled her ears. Then, a sharp hiss and what sounded like an angry growl.

Damn. Whatever was living in the basement made a lot of noise when it scavenged for food.

“The bones.” Her bare feet smacked the wood floor as she jumped up. She slipped into her sandals and then rummaged through the black bag containing her work essentials. Naturally, her big flashlight was on the bottom.

The light cast a bright glow through the parlor just as another angry yowl came from the basement. Fear nipped at Dani. What would she have to fight off down there?

She glanced out the window, half-hoping to see the lights in the carriage house still on, but it was dark. She hated to wake Cage. And she didn’t want him thinking she was just another spoiled city woman who couldn’t handle a simple animal issue.

That settled it.

She padded into the kitchen, flicking on lights as she went. Cage kept cleaning supplies in the bare nook where a table should be, and Dani grabbed the dusty broom. A little heavy and harder to manage with the light, but she’d figure it out.

She tucked the flashlight under her left arm and then reached for the door, the shop broom gripped tightly in her right hand. Sweat beaded across her scalp making it itch. Another menacing growl from the basement, long and drawn out as though the animal knew she was ready to attack. Ignoring the urge to drop everything and run for Cage, she listened hard.

It sounded like the creature was probably along the side of the basement, deeper below the house, and not on the steps waiting to ambush.

Good.

Deep breath, broom ready, bladder weak, she yanked open the door.

Skeleton's Key cover

Kass here again: Isn’t that a great scene?

Skeleton’s Key is now available on AMAZONNOOK,  and in paperback.

About the author
Born in Indiana and raised in Iowa, Stacy Green earned degrees in journalism and sociology from Drake University. After a successful advertising career, Stacy became a proud stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. Now a full-time author, Stacy juggles her time between her demanding characters and supportive family. She loves reading, cooking, and the occasional gardening excursion. Stacy lives in Marion, Iowa with her husband Rob, their daughter Grace, and the family’s three obnoxious but lovable canine children.

To check out more about Stacy and her books, visit her at her website, on her
Amazon Author Page, on Facebook or on Twitter @StacyGreen26.

Go check out the book, then come back and share your thoughts on the North and South and stereotypes. I love hearing from you!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

When Life (i.e., True Crime) Imitates Art

We’re starting a new feature here at misterio press in which we bring you some real-life examples of mysteries. Today, Stacy Green is dusting off a true-crime tale from her Thriller Thursday archives, a real life Bluebeard.

line drawing of Bluebeard

Barbe bleue by Gustave Doré (public domain)

In The Legend of Bluebeard (in Tales of Mother Goose, Charles Perrault, 1697), a hideous man with a strange blue beard and a wealthy estate, has had several wives who disappeared. His new wife is soon left alone on the estate, after he hands her a set of keys and tells her she may open any room she wishes, except the small closet at the end of the basement. Naturally, as soon as he is gone, she rushes to the basement closet, only to find the seven previous wives, their throats slashed from ear to ear. Bluebeard discovers her treachery and vows to put her to death, but her brothers arrive to save her and they kill Bluebeard. The wife inherits his fortune, and she and her family live happily ever after.

A children’s fairy tale, meant to teach heaven knows what, but in the early 1900’s in France, a real-life lonely-hearts predator earned the chilling nickname of Bluebeard.

Short and bald, with bushy eyebrows to match his equally overgrown beard, Henri Landru wasn’t exactly an Adonis. He wasn’t the type of man you’d expect to woo hundreds of women, let alone bilk them out of their life savings. And yet he did. A second-hand furniture dealer and automobile mechanic, something about Landru lured women to him.
headshot of Henri Landru

He killed at least ten of them.

Born in 1869 to an average French family, Landru’s childhood is reported to have been uneventful. He attended Catholic school and was drafted into the French Army at age 18. He married in 1891, quit the military, and began working as a clerk.

Unfortunately, his employer swindled Landru out of a large sum of money. Landru was furious and turned to a life of crime and revenge. He began swindling lonely widows he met through his legitimate furniture business.

Between 1900 and 1908, Landru served several stints in prison for fraud. He was released in 1908 with the understanding he would re-enlist in the French Army. Instead, he honed his skills and continued to prey on vulnerable women.

His first known murder victim is Madame Cuchet, a 39-year-old widow. Cuchet’s brother was suspicious of Landru, but she ignored his warning. She and Landru moved to a villa in Vernouillet with her son. Mother and son were last seen alive in 1915.

Landru later gave Cuchet’s watch to his wife as a present.

Next was an Argentine widow, Madame Laborde-Line. She told friends she was marrying an engineer from Brazil, but the two moved in together. Laborde-Line was last seen in July 1915.

Then came Madame Guillen, a 51-year-old widow, followed by Madame Heon. Both visited Landru’s villa in Vernouillet and disappeared. Andree Babelay, a servant girl, also disappeared. No one knows why Landru chose to kill her–she certainly had no money to offer.

Landru eventually left Vernouillet for a new home in Gambais, where he had a large cast-iron oven installed.

drawing of oven in Landru's kitchen

Landru’s own drawing of the special oven he had installed in his kitchen (public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

His first known Gambais victim was Madam Buisson. It took Landru almost a year to estrange the wealthy widow from her family. She was last seen in 1917.

Madame Louise Leopoldine Jaume disappeared in September 1917.  Annette Pascal vanished in the spring of 1918. Marie Therese Marchadier disappeared in late 1918 after visiting Landru in Gambais.

For years, Landru wasn’t suspected in these women’s disappearances. He worked hard to separate his victims from their families, then worked even harder to make the families believe their loved ones were alive long after he’d killed them. He sent postcards, forged letters, pretended to be an attorney, etc.

Then the sister of Madame Buisson, the first Gambias victim, began searching for her. She wrote to the mayor of Gambais, telling him that her sister’s intention had been to run away with a man named Guilett (Landru’s alias). The mayor suggested she meet with the family of Madame Collumb, who had also vanished under similar circumstances in 1917.

Landru’s aliases were soon discovered, but his known residence at Gambais was empty. Buisson’s sister refused to give up. She remembered what her sister’s lover looked like, and in 1919, spotted Landru strolling out of a shop. She lost him in the crowd, but the owner of the shop told her the man’s name was Guilett, and he lived on the Rue de Rochechouart with his mistress. Landru was soon arrested.

Landru's mug shot

Landru’s mug shot

They didn’t have much to hold him on. Police searched the homes and gardens in Gambais and Vernouillet but only found a memo book where Landru had recorded his finances. Authorities spent two years investigating, eventually discovering that he had met all the women mentioned in his notebook through marriage advertisements, and they had all disappeared. He’d also recorded one-way trips from Paris for each victim, but round-trips for himself.

Still, no bodies. The break came when neighbors at Gambais mentioned noxious fumes coming from the kitchen. Police searched the iron stove and found bones, as well as women’s fasteners. Landru was charged with 11 counts of murder.

In 1919, there was no term like “serial killer.” Only Jack the Ripper was widely known to have killed multiple people, and a murderer like Landru was a shocking affront to the French people. His trial lasted a month. He believed that without a body, he could stonewall the court and kept virtually silent during trial. A jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to death.

In February, 1922, Landru faced the guillotine. He showed little remorse for his actions, although he did express embarrassment that his wife would discover the affair he was having at the time of his arrest.

Some argue that because Landru killed for financial gain rather than sexual motives, he can’t be classified as a serial killer. Rather, he’s more of a Black Widow killer, killing his mate for gain, with no remorse.

What do you think? Do you think Landru is a true serial killer? Should he have been convicted, with no actual bodies?

Posted by Stacy Green. Stacy has a bunch of impressive writing credentials, including a degree in journalism, but she considers her greatest achievement to be her daughter, Grace. She is the author of the stand-alone thriller, Into the Dark, and Tin God, the first book in the Delta Crossroads mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Can Psychopaths Be Cured?

I’ve written a couple guest posts for my friend and colleague, Stacy Green, over at Get Twisted on the topic of psychopaths. In those posts, I talked about how they develop and how they are different from narcissists.

Another question people often ask is how treatable psychopaths are. Can they be cured?

The short answer is ‘No.’  But have you all ever known me to settle for a short answer. 🙂

The official diagnosis given to a psychopath is antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).

Personality disorders in general are hard to treat for two reasons. One, they are so ingrained in the person’s make-up. The person has grown up in an environment (and in the case of ASPD, with a genetic predisposition) that has shaped their personality in a warped way. So when treating personality disorders, one is truly trying to change the leopard’s spots!

leopard

Go ahead, try to change my spots. I dare you!

Two, with many personality disorders the person with the disorder thinks they are okay and the rest of the world is crazy or stupid. To their thinking, being extremely rigid or paranoid or emotionally reactive or egocentric (these are the hallmark symptoms of four different personality disorders) is normal. Or they view their personalities as an acceptable alternative to normal; they just march to a different drummer.  They don’t get it that their behaviors and ways of thinking are maladaptive.

With the other personality disorders, there is some hope, however. If you can show the person how their behavior is causing problems in their lives and/or hurting the people they care about, you may be able to get them motivated to try to change. It will still be an uphill battle because the symptoms are so ingrained, but it’s worth a try.

For ASPD, the hallmark symptoms are egocentrism, thrill-seeking, lack of remorse, lack of empathy for others and lack of fear of consequences for their behavior.

The three “lack of’s” are a major problem when trying to get a psychopath to change. They have no motivation to do so. If you feel no guilt for your behavior, don’t really care how you’re hurting others, and don’t care what negative consequences you may suffer for your behavior, well, why would you want to change?

bungee jumper

photo by Ellywa from nl (CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported Wikimedia Commons)

Fighting the thrill-seeking is equivalent to fighting a hard-core addiction. They are addicted to the adrenaline rush. And again, they have no motivation to give it up since they experience little or no fear of consequences (see The Making of a Psychopath for an explanation of why they are thrill-seeking and feel so little fear).

Usually the only way to make any inroads toward change in psychopaths is to play on their ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude. The therapeutic approach with them is tough love, minus the love. You get in their faces and show them what a dumbf**k they are for doing what they’re doing.

Don’t try this at home! This approach is used mainly when they are in jail, i.e. when they are locked up in a cage and cannot follow you home and kill you for dissing them.

IF you can show them that it is in their own self-interest to change, then they MIGHT be motivated to do so. But you’re still up against that deeply ingrained issue.

Two caveats here. First, ASPD, like all psychological disorders, exists on a continuum. People with milder cases are easier to reach than those in the middle or toward the more hard-core end of that continuum.

Second, kids with Oppositional Deviant Disorder and/or Conduct Disorder (the childhood precursors to ASPD) can possibly be reached if the intervention is early enough and the right kind of approach (see The Making of A Psychopath for an example of this).

But once an adult is showing blatant signs of full-blown ASPD, don’t hold your breath that they are ever likely to change all that much.

Have you ever known anyone that you suspect may be a psychopath? Did you see any motivation in them to change? In the case of criminals with this disorder, do you think this diagnosis should play into sentencing and parole decisions?

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 on Tuesdays, sometimes about serious topics, and sometimes just for fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

SUMMER: The Best Time to Fall in Love (with a Book Boyfriend)

Ladies, you know how much fun it is to read about hot guys in the summer and imagine yourself falling in love with them (and they with you, of course). Well, one of our crazier writer friends came up with this cool idea for a blockbuster summer book sale. A whole bunch of books with hunky heroes we can drool over, all in one place and all for just 99 cents!

Go to the site she set up and you can see little blurbs about the guys. Pick out a few you’d like to get to know and go for it. Even us old married ladies can participate. It’s not cheating if it’s just a fantasy, right?

Most of our misterio press authors are participating in this Fab Book Sale.

color banner

 

SUMMER BOOK CRUSH offers 50+ titles in many genres. This means 50+ chances to (fictitiously) fall in love. And the best part? Each of these gems is only 99¢, but for a limited time only. The SUMMER BOOK CRUSH event starts on June 26th and ends (yes, even the best things in life end at some point) on June 28th. So don’t wait up! Mingle with our BOOK BOYFRIENDS and invite all your friends to participate too. There are plenty of BOOK BOYS to share!

Button_who is your book crush

 

Find your summer’s fling between the pages of a book. And don’t stop on one – after
all we have many BOOK BOYFRIENDS for you to mingle with.

* HAPPY READING * HAPPY SUMMER *

*Psst. Stop back later and tell us which guy you thought was the hottest.

My Tour of Fives–I’m leaving a trail of bread crumbs…

200px-Bundesstraße_5_number pub domain wiki.svgI’m playing the vagabond this month, on my Tour of Fives blog tour to celebrate my new book, COLLATERAL CASUALTIES, #5 in the Kate Huntington Mystery series.

Today’s stop is at Shannon Esposito’s place, talking about the 5 Reasons I Love Mysteries.

This Thursday, I’ll be Stacy Green’s guest on Thriller Thursday, discussing 5 Differences between Narcissists and Psychopaths… two big ‘bad guy’ favorites for us mystery and thriller writers. Then Friday, I’ll be delving into 5 Motives for Murder at Catie Rhodes‘ cyberhome.

For those of you who love me for my Mental Health posts, I’ll be talking about 5 Things Every Parent Should Know at Rhonda Hopkins‘ place next Monday. And then having some fun next Wednesday with the delightful Myndi Shafer and 5 Things My Mama Said (That I Really Didn’t Get at the Time).

More to come, and I will be stopping back home here periodically to say hi! *waves, then picks up backpack*

Kass

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 or twice a week, sometimes about serious topics, and sometimes just for fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

HERE’S A LITTLE SUNSHINE ON A FRIDAY!!

SunshineAward-ORIGINAL

The lovely Jennifer Jensen blessed me with the Sunshine Award. (She mistakenly said that I blog at Writers in the Storm. I wish I were part of that wonderful group of writers, but alas I am not.)

But I’m not giving the award back! It’s mine!

Before I answer the questions, etc. for this fun little meme I’d like to be serious for a moment. A blogger/writer friend, Susie Lindau (The Wild Ride) is always passing along positive energy. Today she needs some of ours. She’s in surgery. If you check out her latest post you’ll see why.

So a bunch of us decided to post this message: Susie Strong, we’re thinking of you! {{{HUGS}}}

Now on to spreading sunshine!

The rules of the Sunshine Award are:
•    Include the award’s logo in a post on your blog. (DONE)
•    Link to the person who nominated you. (DONE)
•    Answer the 10 questions below. (About to do so.)
•    Pass the award on to ten (or however many you want) “Sunshine inspiring” bloggers. (Thrilled to do so.)

Favorite color: It’s always been blue, any and every shade of blue. A close second is peach. In this case, other shades won’t do. It can’t be orange. It has to be peach!

picture of palomino horse

This was taken the day I bought her. Isn’t she gorgeous!

Favorite animal: Horses. I don’t ride much now but I had a small horse farm for twelve years. I had a palomino, Ardilla, who was the sweetest creature. She and I were like one when I was on her back. But she got old and eventually died, and somehow riding wasn’t the same anymore. She’s been dead for a decade and I still carry her picture in my wallet.

Favorite number: At the moment it’s five, for sure. Because I’m about to release my fifth book! Yay!

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: I live in the South now so it’s gotta be iced tea!! But I can’t quite develop a taste for sweet tea. My tea is more “not tart” tea.

Favorite alcoholic drink: Pinot Grigio, very cold, in a very large glass! (Prefer Barefoot brand; it’s got a little effervescence. A few tiny little bubbles that tingle on your tongue.)

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook, definitely. I like Kristen Lamb’s analogy (no relation to me, btw) that Twitter is a giant cocktail party. I like cocktail parties; they’re fun! But Facebook is more like one long, on-going visit with friends and family and my writer buddies.

Passions: Besides writing and psychology, my friends are my passion. I consider friendship to be the most important thing in life! I feel guilty a lot these days because my writing and helping to run misterio press take up so much time that I’m neglecting my friends.

I’m really not the right personality to be a writer. I’m working on developing my inner introvert more. 😀

Prefer Getting or Giving Gifts: Giving now. I used to love getting them too, and I still enjoy receiving gifts. But now I’m old and I have so much stuff (I’m a bit of a pack-rat) that I don’t get off like I once did on getting more stuff.

But I love to shop! Same dilemma though. Why should I buy more stuff to cram into my house? So buying gifts for others gives me a perfect excuse to shop. And I really enjoy their look of pleasure when the gift hits the mark!!

street scene in Colmar, France

A typical street in Colmar, France.

Favorite City: I’m not a big city girl. I like smaller cities. I think my favorite would be Colmar, Alsace, France. We stayed in an apartment there for a week as our home base while visiting other parts of Eastern France. It is a delightful little city!!

The Alsace region is on the border with Germany. You can really see the German influence in the architecture.

our Colmar apartment

Our Colmar apartment. It was great; much better than a hotel room.

Favorite TV Show: Criminal Minds. Hubs and I are addicted to it. He likes it because he used to work for the government. He says the way the BAU team interacts is very realistic. I like trying to figure out the psychological aspects. And I love the characters!

And now to bestow the Sunshine Award on others! Jennifer already tagged some of my favorite bloggers but here are some others I love to bits! If I duplicate anybody else’s picks, well that just means you’re extra popular, I guess. You all (the bloggers) don’t have to feel obligated to do the favorites list but I hope everybody reading this checks out these awesome blogs!

Not in any particular order:

Rhonda HopkinsWhere Reality and Fiction Collide ~ I’m particularly fond of her awesome Authors Give Back series.

Stacy Green’s Get Twisted. Her true crime posts will make the hair stand up on your neck.

Reneé A Schuls-Jacobson has the best sense of humor. Her posts always leave me howling!

K.B. Owen has an adorable blog where she chases the cozy thrill. She writes about history, mysteries, and all kinds of other fun stuff. I love her sense of humor too.

Beverly Diehl‘s Writing in the Flow.  She’s not afraid to take on some tough topics.

Amber West’s A Day Without Sushi is another great blog. She writes about a bunch of different stuff and does so very, very well.

Catie Rhodes just redid her site, Long Roads and Dark Ends, recently. It is spooky and beyond awesome!

Ginger Calem‘s Writers’ Butt Wednesdays are full of good advice, great recipes and lots of laughs.

August McLaughlin’s another blogger who’s not afraid to tackle the tough issues on Savor the Storm, and she’s a great champion of women developing healthier self-images and sexuality. (Her latest post was on female Viagra!)

Marcy Kennedy is not only a writer but she is a fantastic editor (she edited my latest book) and she writes great posts on writerly things.

Aw, gee, do I have to stop at ten? I could list about twenty more. But I’ll leave the others for these folks to tag.

What are some of your favorite things? Come on, don’t be shy. Tell us about them.

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.

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The Shame of It All

Today I’m talking about shame–what it is and how to handle it–and I’m also talking about Stacy Green’s new mystery, Tin God, which she just officially launched yesterday with a great Facebook party!.

Now it might seem strange to you that I’m talking about a rather heavy subject as we celebrate Stacy’s new release, especially since we just spent the weekend roasting virtual marshmallows around the campfire and telling ghost stories to honor Catie Rhodes’ new book.

Hardly seems fair, does it?  But bear with me, I have my reasons.

Cover of Tin GodIn Stacy’s book, Jaymee is a young woman struggling to make ends meet in her small hometown. Her life is made more complicated and uncomfortable by her verbally abusive father, who is quick to remind her of her past shameful transgressions whenever she has the misfortune of crossing paths with him.

Indeed, her childhood in a highly dysfunctional family, coupled with a teen pregnancy, has left her pretty beat up emotionally. But she has a mission–to get her daughter back, the child she was coerced into giving up for adoption.

This gives her the motivation to push past the shame and keep going. This is a very good thing, because the crux of the problem with shame is that it is immobilizing!

But more on that in a moment. First, let’s define shame. It is feeling bad about ourselves. It is the first cousin of guilt, which is feeling bad about our behavior, something we’ve done. Shame cuts deeper because it is about our being–not just what we’ve done but who we are.

Guilt, even though it is an unpleasant emotion, has its purposes. We’ve talked about guilt here before, along with a concrete process for dealing with it. Let me give you a brief summary of that previous post. Guilt tells us our behavior is breaking a rule about how we’re supposed to behave. If we can identify (1) the behavior and (2) the rule, then (3) decide if the rule is valid or needs modifying and (4) modify the rule and/or the behavior to bring them into sync, then we can let go of the guilt. It has done its job!

Shame, on the other hand, has much less socially redeeming value. Here are some feelings in the shame spectrum: humble, self-conscious, embarrassed, ashamed, inadequate, humiliated, mortified.

The only one of those that seems valuable to me is humility–a word best defined as the awareness that we are human just like everybody else. The opposite of humble is arrogant. My mother used to say: “Remember that everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time, including yourself.” It’s not healthy to believe we are somehow intrinsically better than others, but neither is it healthy to believe we are less than others.

Jaymee struggles against those feelings of being “less than” that were instilled in her by her arrogant father. This unhealthy form of shame often comes from others judging us.

Where guilt can spur us to change our behavior, shame tends to bring on emotional paralysis. If we are shameful beings, worthless in the eyes of ourselves and others, why go on? What’s the point?

Shame and depression are second cousins, along with hopelessness.

So what can we do to overcome shame?

1.  Separate being from behavior, shame from guilt. If you’re saying to yourself, “I’m ashamed of myself because I did ______,” rephrase that to “I feel guilty because I did ______.” Then you can examine the behavior, the rule it is breaking, determine what needs modification, and move past the guilt.

2.  Ask yourself if you’ve really done anything wrong, or are you being judged for something superficial or beyond your control.

I was a ‘late bloomer.’ That’s euphemism-speak for flat-chested until you’re fifteen. I was the last of the girls in my school to get a ‘training’ bra (I always wondered what we were in training for. When we graduated from bra boot camp, would we move on to, say, straight jackets?)

The kindest thing I was called by the boys (and some of the girls) was “ironing board.” As an excruciatingly self-conscious fourteen-year-old, I was mortified. My mother kept saying, “Late roses bloom longer.” I had no clue what she was talking about… until I attended my five-year high school reunion.

The girls who had been voluptuous at fourteen were now fat, and I was sleek and svelte (ah, those were the days!). And those poor gals were excruciatingly embarrassed by their weight gain. Not only did it hit me then that this was what my mother had meant, but I also got it that these women were doing the same thing I had done in high school. They were taking to heart the judgements of others, and harshly judging themselves, for something that they did not have total control over and it was something that should not be a defining factor in their worth.

3.  Focus on those people who believe in you, not those who tear you down. Jaymee, in Stacy’s book, does this. She tries to focus on the people who love and support her, like her best friend, whom she still mourns four years after her senseless murder. And her employer, a well-to-do socialite who has promised to help her find her daughter. Even when this woman is found dead in her historic mansion, Jaymee does not give up on the search, nor on herself.

And as the story progresses, she discovers that some townspeople whom she thought were judging her are really pulling for her, while others she thought were on her side are not!

How about you? Any thoughts on how to fight shame and keep it from stopping us in our tracks?

Stacy Green

 

While you’re pondering that,check out Stacy’s synopsis of her book!

 

Getting pregnant as a teenager and being coerced into giving her baby up for adoption left a festering scar on Jaymee Ballard’s life. Trapped by poverty and without many allies, Jaymee nearly gives up hope of getting her daughter back after her best friend is murdered. Now, four years later, a wealthy woman with legal connections hires her as a housekeeper, and Jaymee gathers the courage to seek her help. But Jaymee’s last chance ends up in a puddle of blood in one of the historic antebellum mansions in Roselea, Mississippi.

I just murdered your wife…again.

An unsigned letter consisting of six horrifying words turns Nick Samuels stagnant life upside down. Stuck in emotional purgatory since his wife’s unsolved murder four years ago, Nick is about to self-destruct. The arrival of the letter claiming credit for his wife’s murder and boasting of a new kill sends Nick to Roselea, where he and Jaymee’s worlds collide.

Jaymee and Nick realize exposing the truth about her daughter’s adoption is the only way to solve the murders. Up against years of deception, they rush to identify the killer before the evidence–and Jaymee’s daughter–are lost.

But the truth doesn’t always set the guilt-ridden free. Sometimes, it destroys them.

I have read this book and it is great! It is available now of Amazon!

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!

Brotherly Love–From Beyond the Grave

In honor of Catie Rhodes’ new release, FOREVER ROAD, we’re telling real-life ghost stories this weekend. Why? Because Catie’s main character sees ghosts, and isn’t all that happy about possessing that particular talent. But here, I’ll let Peri Jean tell you about it herself:

Forever Road coverMy name’s Peri Jean Mace, and I’ve seen ghosts ever since I can remember. Don’t get too excited. Seeing across the veil branded me as a loony during my growing up years, and I learned to keep my yap shut about it.

Now I’m not sure I can anymore.

See, my cousin up and got herself killed the very same day I promised her a favor.  Now she’s back in spirit form and determined to make me pay. If I don’t solve her murder, she’s going to haunt me forever. Talk about the debt collector from hell.

That’s not my only problem. An obnoxiously hot cop wants to arrest my best friend for the murder.  My bigmouthed archenemy holds a clue to the killer’s identity. And there’s this mean—and ugly—woman who wants to beat me up.

None of this can turn out good.

I just love Peri Jean!

And now for the real-life ghost stories. Yesterday we had three short tales of ghosties or other strange ghost-related events. Today we have a longer and more poignant tale to tell. You might want to have a tissue handy.

From Stacy Green:

After five years of trying to have a child, and a miscarriage that had left me deeply depressed for weeks, I had finally reached the 12th week of pregnancy. But due to a genetic issue, my baby was at high risk of being born with Downs Syndrome. On June 7, 2005, my husband and I went to the University of Iowa for prenatal testing. That day my brother, Kevin, called my mom to see how I was doing and ask when we’d get the results. He told her he was worried about me.

He died in a car accident that night.

I rushed to my parents’ home two hours away and went with them and my sister-in-law to the funeral home to make arrangements. You can imagine the rest of that day. I went to bed in my parents’ guest room–exhausted, empty, and feeling guilty that I was worrying about my test results when my brother had just died.

I became trapped in a horrible dream. My brother stood at the foot of my bed staring at me with an expression I’ve never been able to fully describe. I knew it was him, even though his face was swollen and his mustache was missing. He kept trying to tell me something. In the dream, I jumped out of bed and ran out of the room. He followed me from room to room, the same pleading expression on his face. I’ve never been so scared in my life!

An alert on the weather radio, signaling an upcoming storm, woke me. It also woke my mother. We went down to the kitchen and I told her about the dream. It had been so vivid, so real. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I told her that he didn’t look like himself and that he was wearing the burgundy shirt and khaki pants he had worn at Christmas.

My mother turned white. “That’s what he’s going to be buried in.”

After an hour of talking, I explained it away as coincidence. The last time I’d seen him he’d been wearing that shirt. My mind just filled in the blanks. Still, I couldn’t shake the realness of it all.

The next day was the viewing. I looked in the casket and nearly collapsed. Not only was Kevin wearing those clothes, but his face was swollen and puffy from the trauma, and he didn’t have a mustache.

Kevin was eighteen years older than me, and I’d never seen him without a mustache. Ever. Barely able to stand, I asked his poor wife about it. “He was trimming it a few days ago and messed up,” she said. “I told him to shave it off.”

There’s no way I could have known that. The mustache sealed the deal for me. Kevin had come to me the night before. I was convinced he was trying to tell me something, but what?

I got my answer later that day when the call came from the University of Iowa. Our tests results were back. It wasn’t  absolute, but the screening indicated that our baby was very likely fine.

And then it hit me: that’s what Kevin had been trying to tell me. The day he was killed, he’d told Mom how worried he was that I wouldn’t be able to handle it if the test results were bad news. In the dream, he was trying to let me know that everything was going to be okay. I know this in my gut. The clothes, the mustache, the test results—too many things to be a coincidence.

My family will never get over my brother’s loss, but I am so grateful to him for coming to me the way he did. I’m not sure I would have believed in the test results if he hadn’t visited me in my dream. After that experience, I believed it would be okay. My anxiety about the baby went down, and I was able to relax and enjoy my pregnancy.

My daughter, Grace, was born on December 26, 2005, and she is perfect!

Grace

I told you to get tissues!

Stacy’s going to have her own new release in just a couple more days! Stay tuned for Tin God, and come on back tomorrow for one more ghost story, with an honest-to-god picture of a ghost!

Do you have any ghost stories? Please share them in the comments.

And don’t forget to check out FOREVER ROAD. You will love this book!

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!

TWO MORE AUTHORS! (Somebody order more champagne!)

Shannon Esposito and I are dancing the happy dance today as we announce that two more wonderful mystery writers have joined our group here at misterio press.

old photo of two children dancing

Shannon’s the short one (photo by Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-08238 CC-BY-SA)

Okay, that isn’t really us, but we’re that happy! We now have seven authors which is exactly the number we wanted for our indie press, so that we can provide a variety of mystery/suspense titles and maintain a high level of quality for our readers.

Since we’re introducing you to two authors this time, we got twice as much virtual bubbly, so grab a glass and stick around as we tell you about Stacy Green and Catie Rhodes. (Shh, don’t tell Kathy Owen that we’re throwing a bigger bash than she got.)

big tower of champagne glasses

(photo by Filaos, CC 2.0 license, Wikimedia Commons)

Whoa, that’s a lot of champagne!

Stacy Green already has two great creations to her credit: her adorable daughter, Grace, and her debut suspense novel, Into the Dark, (published by MuseItUp Publishing).

Stacy Green head shot

When Stacy isn’t taking care of her family or writing, she’s researching true crime and serial killers for her blog. She also enjoys gardening and healthy cooking. Her writing credentials are impressive. You can check them out over at her cyber home.

She has a new novel coming out in less than two weeks (April 8th to be exact) called Tin God. It’s the first in her Delta Crossroads series.

I have read it and can tell you that it is fabulous. I can’t wait for her to finish the next book in the series. Unfortunately, I can’t show you the cover just yet because Night Owl Reviews is having an exclusive Cover Reveal for Stacy today (Yes, she is quite the social butterfly, flitting back and forth between two parties!)

But I can tell you what it’s about:

Getting pregnant as a teenager and being coerced into giving her baby up for adoption left a festering scar on Jaymee Ballard’s life. Trapped by poverty and without many allies, Jaymee nearly gives up hope of getting her daughter back after her best friend is murdered. Now, four years later, a wealthy woman with legal connections hires her as a housekeeper, and Jaymee gathers the courage to seek her help. But Jaymee’s last chance ends up in a puddle of blood in one of the historic antebellum mansions in Roselea, Mississippi.

I just murdered your wife…again.

An unsigned letter consisting of six horrifying words turns Nick Samuels stagnant life upside down. Stuck in emotional purgatory since his wife’s unsolved murder four years ago, Nick is about to self-destruct. The arrival of the letter claiming credit for his wife’s murder and boasting of a new kill sends Nick to Roselea, where he and Jaymee’s worlds collide.

Jaymee and Nick realize exposing the truth about her daughter’s adoption is the only way to solve the murders. Up against years of deception, they rush to identify the killer before the evidence–and Jaymee’s daughter–are lost. But the truth doesn’t always set the guilt-ridden free. Sometimes, it destroys them.

 

Catie Rhodes will be the first to tell you that she’s that girl your mother warned you about…

Catie Rhodes head shotThe one who cusses and never washes her hands after petting the dog. Catie decided to turn her love of lying into writing fiction after she got fired for telling her boss the President was on the phone.

It didn’t take Catie long to figure out what she wanted to do when she grew up. With her faithful Pomeranian, Cosmo, at her side, she draws on her East Texas roots and her love of true crime and the paranormal to write the kind of stories she wishes the book stores sold.

And we’re thrilled to announce the release of one of those stories next week (April 5th), Forever Road. I gotta tell you that this is the best debut novel I’ve ever read.

cover of Forever Road

I’ll let Catie’s main character, Peri Jean, introduce herself.

My name’s Peri Jean Mace, and I’ve seen ghosts ever since I can remember. Don’t get too excited. Seeing across the veil branded me as a loony during my growing up years, and I learned to keep my yap shut about it.

Now I’m not sure I can anymore.

See, my cousin up and got herself killed the very same day I promised her a favor.  Now she’s back in spirit form and determined to make me pay. If I don’t solve her murder, she’s going to haunt me forever. Talk about the debt collector from hell.

That’s not my only problem. An obnoxiously hot cop wants to arrest my best friend for the murder.  My bigmouthed archenemy holds a clue to the killer’s identity. And there’s this mean—and ugly—woman who wants to beat me up.

None of this can turn out good.

You are going to love both of these books!

By the way, Catie also has a great blog called Long Roads and Dark Ends. Isn’t that the coolest name for a mystery writer’s blog?

I’m getting thirsty from doing all this talking so I’m gonna go get another glass of champagne. You all please make Stacy and Catie welcome now!

*dances off to get some more virtual bubbly*

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