Monthly Archives: October 2018

Our Authors Wax Nostalgic over DIY Halloween Costumes (plus a Spooky New Release)

by Kassandra Lamb (on behalf of the whole gang)

At Halloween, I often wax nostalgic about my mother’s DIY Halloween costumes. This year, I asked the other misterio press authors if they had ever made (or had made for them) DIY Halloween costumes. Here are some of our happy memories…

My borther and me in our DIY Halloween costumes

The only one of my mother’s DIY Halloween costumes I could find a picture of. Unfortunately my hat is right in my poor mom’s face. And I have no idea who that other kid is. But my brother and I made cute clowns.

Kassandra Lamb

We didn’t have a lot of money when I was a little kid, so store-bought costumes were beyond our means.

And they were a newfangled thing, not very realistic—usually just something printed on a cheap plastic poncho and a mask.

Lucky for us, my mom was handy and had a good imagination. She would cobbled together costumes from old clothes and other things around the house.

Her best effort was the year she and my dad went to a Halloween party as Palladin (from the TV show, Have Gun–Will Travel) and his sidekick, the Chinese bellhop at the hotel where Palladin was a permanent resident.

Probably wouldn’t be considered politically correct today, but this was 1962.

Richard Boone, my father's look-alike and the insiration for my mother's best ever DIY Halloween costumes.

Richard Boone as Palladin, my father’s look-alike.

My father looked a bit like Richard Boone, the actor who played Palladin, complete with a pencil mustache, and that similarity was Mom’s inspiration.

She then modified the costumes for my older brother and myself, and we went trick-or-treating in them. Really wish I had a pic of that!! I remember all the compliments we got though, and LOTS of candy that year.

My son's DIY Halloween costume in 2nd grade.

 

I can’t claim to be as creative as my mother, and I’m definitely not as good a seamstress, but I did managed to make some pretty cool DIY Halloween costumes for my son.

Including this pirate costume from second grade. My mother provided the stuffed parrot.

K.B. Owen

When you’re a parent, you learn plenty fast how to DIY stuff. Shoe boxes, stencils, and macaroni are our BFFs. We wield Ye Olde Hot Glue Gun with nary a thought for our own fingers.

Bring it on, kiddo. You need a Native American teepee diorama out of toothpicks and flour tortillas…no problem! Your soccer team wants a dino-skeleton banner out of craft felt, PVC pipe, and rebar…no problem!

Son as Robin in his DIY Halloween costume.

Son #1 as Robin.

How about a Halloween costume requiring pinned-on craft foam and a black turtleneck…no problem!

Ah, but pride goeth before the fall.

Then comes the time when son #3 wants a custom-made, realistic Halloween outfit of a video game character you’ve never heard of. Welcome to the realm of cosplay.

Yikes. I mean…ahem, let’s see what we can do.

My sewing machine skills are shaky at best. (Did I list safety pins as one of my BFFs? I should have). But at last, with a lot of jury-rigging and a great deal of patience from son #3, the costume of Altair (from Assassin’s Creed) came to fruition.

Two DIY Halloween costumes for the price of one.

Sons #3 and #2 in variations of the cosplay costume.

And we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of it: he’s worn it for two Halloweens, two fandom conventions, and two Halloween orchestra concerts (back when he played cello in school).

And we aren’t done with it yet! His older brother, son #2, caught the cosplay bug (he’s in his 20s, and too old for Halloween). That’s him on the far right. You’ll notice the white tunic and arm/leg gauntlets are the same, and he just changed up a few elements. He was a big hit at the Renaissance Fair!

Gilian Baker

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics, but my daughter once went to a Halloween party as static cling.

hot glue gun--a stpale for making DIY Halloween costumes.

Ye Olde Hot Glue Gun—a must-have for DIYers.

We hot glued used dryer sheets to an old sweatshirt and jeans. Then I made her hair stand up all over with gel.

That’s the kind of crazy kid I have!

We thought it was brilliant, but sadly she didn’t win the most creative costume award.

 

One of Vinnie's DIY Halloween costumes--a wood nymphe

Vinnie’s wood nymph costume — a work of art!

Vinnie Hansen

When I was still teaching, I put a lot of effort into my costumes. Halloween was a big deal at Watsonville High School—lots of students in costume!

I think Halloween’s close correspondence to Dia de los Muertos on Nov. 2nd made it a better cultural fit for our student body, in Santa Cruz County, California, than some other holidays.

In the wood nymph costume, I made the paper mache mask. It’s kind of creepy, but hey, that’s Halloween. And I sewed my green felt skirt and top.

But the Collaboration costume below is probably my favorite. My colleague, Karyn, and I collaborated in the AVID program.

Collaboration DIY Halloween costume

The AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program targeted students with the desire to go to college who might need a boost—not top-notch or at-risk students, just average+ students.

Karyn taught skills like note-taking and reading for comprehension, discussed college requirements, coordinated with their teachers to monitor their progress, and so on.

We tried to have her students placed in my freshmen English class, so I could help them with their all-important communication skills.

Thus our joint costume. 🙂

front of collaboration DIY Halloween costume

Close-up of front of the Collaboration costume

How about you? Have you ever made a DIY Halloween costume, or had one made for you?

And what better way to celebrate Halloween than with a new witch cozy from Kirsten Weiss!

Fey book cover

Fey: A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery (The Witches of Doyle Book 5)

This witch will do anything for a normal life with the man she loves. But when you’re on fairy patrol, normal is relative.

Witch Jayce Bonheim has packed away her candles, crystals and cauldrons. With her boyfriend recovering from a hex, she’s determined to build a sane and magic-free life for them both.

But when a horde of troublemaking gnomes invades the small town of Doyle, it’s up to Jayce and her magical sisters to send them packing.

After the gnomes lead Jayce to a murdered employee from her own café, she’s plunged into an investigation that lands her in the sheriff’s crosshairs. And Jayce must catch a killer before the sheriff’s brewing witch hunt nets a very real witch.

Spells included in the back of the book.

Available NOW on:   Amazon     Apple      Nook     Kobo 

About the Author: Kirsten Weiss has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. The latter gives her heartburn, but she drinks it anyway. Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending cozy mystery, supernatural and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of fun and enchantment.

If you like funny cozy mysteries, check out her Pie Town, Paranormal Museum and Wits’ End books. If you’re looking for some magic with your mystery, give the Witches of Doyle, Riga Hayworth and Rocky Bridges books a try. And if you like steampunk, the Sensibility Grey series might be for you.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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 lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

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An “Off” Week Freebie: Finally Start That Book!

by Gilian Baker

Free Writing CircleIn my humble opinion, creativity is the spice of life.

In 2014, I was a new online entrepreneur working 70 hour weeks trying to earn something close to a livable wage. On top of that, I was still teaching college literature and writing classes to pay the bills.

My life was full of projects but nothing was bringing me joy.

Enter a creative outlet!

My daughter talked me into participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with her. I tried all the usual excuses, including being too busy–which I truly was. But if you have a daughter, you know they can be relentless. I gave in and it changed my life!

As NaNo draws near again, I decided it was the perfect time to give something back to the community who has helped me turn my dream of becoming a writer into a reality.

A safe place to start their first draft with no pressure, just support.

A free writing circle!

Free Writing Circle

The NaNoWriMo Companion Writing Circle is totally free and meets online.

I want to break down some of the barriers I encountered to help you write your story.

I’ll be recording weekly Facebook Live videos and posting on topics such as:

  • What if you don’t know how to write?
  • How to decide what genre to write in.
  • How to come up with a viable story idea.
  • Practical ways to find time & confidence to write.
  • Are you a “pantser” or plotter?
  • Writing advice based on my own experience

I’ll also provide you with a list of resources I couldn’t write without and answer your questions.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by joining me! The NaNoWriMo Companion Writing Circle is free and only lasts through November.

Jade and I will both be writing a book this November right along with you and can’t wait to meet you!

To get more details and to register, just follow this link.

Gilian Baker is a former English professor who went on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter. She lives in Ohio with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. Learn more about Gilian and her books here.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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 lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

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The Truth About UFOs (Or is it??)

by Kirsten Weiss

According to two recent reports, UFO sightings have been declining in recent years, and general belief in UFOs has fallen.  (Don’t tell that to the residents of my fictional town of Doyle, California. They’re certain UFOs are to blame for their long history of mysterious disappearances.) But what’s the truth about UFOs?

UFO Sightings

The truth about UFOs: photo of 1952 purported UFO sighting

Purported UFO sighting, 1952, Passaic, NJ (public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

Reports of UFO sightings reached their peak in 2014, and have now declined to 55% of that year’s number, according to The Guardian.  Most UFOs are later identified as comets, meteors, unusual cloud formations, aircraft, or other such explanations. But according to Wikipedia, about 5-20% remain unidentified.

There were many sightings in the 1940s and 50s by pilots, military and civilian, and people on the ground. The U.S. and other governments conducted secret investigations from the mid-1940s until 1970.

In the 1990s and 2000s in the U.S., there was an upsurge in interest again, accompanied by conspiracy theories that the government was hiding the results of their studies from the general public. Those theories lost some of their punch after disclosure of thousands of government documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

Explanations Are Inconclusive

None of these investigations have definitively told us the truth about UFOs. Many of the early ones concluded that extraterrestrial explanations could not be ruled out. Later ones, from both private and public groups, ranged from derisive to neutral, calling for “continued study.”

The truth about UFOs: Sighting in Wallonia, Belgium June 15, 1990

Sighting in Wallonia, Belgium June 15, 1990 (public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

The psychologist, Carl Jung (1875-1961) believed UFO sightings were a part of being human, that they were actually repressed bits of the human psyche popping out. And that means UFOs aren’t going away.

Jung went all the way back to sightings reported in ancient Egyptian history and viewed UFOs as “manifestations of psychic changes” in the collective unconscious.

Apparently they are changes in the constellation of psychic dominants, of the archetypes, or ‘gods’ as they used to be called, which bring about, or accompany, long-lasting transformations of the collective psyche. ~ Carl Jung.

In other words, the more things change, the more unsettled we become, and the more we see (or technically, project from our unconscious) freaky lights in the sky.

UFOs or Fairies?

The truth behind UFOs: strange lights in sky over Sri Lanka

Close-up of light in sky, Sri Lanka (from The National Archives UK, no restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons)

Jung was on to something, because UFO reports go back hundreds of years. Though way back then, the lights-in-the-sky, kidnappings, and weird probings were blamed on fairies.

Of course, those devoted to the UFO theory claim that what our forefathers called fairies were simply aliens in disguise.

Or is the reverse true? Are aliens really fairies in disguise? Just what is the truth about UFOs? Maybe we will never know.

In Planet of the Grapes, book 2 in my Wits’ End series of cozy mystery novels, believers in the fairy myth and in UFOs clash at a UFO festival.  B&B owner Susan Witsend must keep the combatants apart and the festival on track… in spite of all those pesky murders.

Curious? Read more about Planet of the Grapes below.

Your thoughts on the truth about UFOs? Do you believe in them, and/or in fairies?

Sources:
(2018) What is behind the decline in UFO sightings, The Guardian.
Unidentified flying object, Wikipedia.
Fraim, John (2013) The symbolism of UFOs and aliens, The Jung Page.

Planet of the Grapes, A Doyle Cozy Mystery (A Wits’ End Mystery #2)

Planet of the Grapes book cover

Aliens, fairies and murder, oh, my!

In small-town Doyle, California, UFO abductions are a budding tourist attraction. So, when Susan Witsend brings a UFO festival to town, she’s ready for some well-deserved time in the sun.

What she gets instead is the corpse of a UFO conspiracy theorist, brained with a bottle of local wine.

Susan may be the owner of a UFO-themed B&B, but she doesn’t wish on stars to get what she wants. She’s a woman with a planner. Plan A:  Milk the UFO festival for all it’s worth. Plan B:  Stop lusting after her best-friend-turned-security-consultant, Arsen Holiday.

But murder isn’t the only thing threatening Susan’s best-laid plans. Beset by alien protestors, aging nudists, and hidden secrets at every turn, Susan’s nearing her wits’ end. And now Plan C is to stay on the good side of a grumpy local sheriff.

Susan may not have a clue, but she knows she wants a certain security consultant at her side when the killer goes supernova.

Planet of the Grapes is book 2 in the Wits’ End series of cozy mystery novels. If you like laugh-out-loud cozy mysteries, you’ll like Planet of the Grapes. Breakfast recipes at the back of the book.

Available NOW on:  AMAZON     APPLE     KOBO     NOOK

Kirsten Weiss has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. The latter gives her heartburn, but she drinks it anyway.  Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending cozy mystery, supernatural and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of fun and enchantment.

If you like funny cozy mysteries, check out her Pie TownParanormal Museum and Wits’ End books. If you’re looking for some magic with your mystery, give the Witches of DoyleRiga Hayworth and Rocky Bridges books a try. And if you like steampunk, the Sensibility Grey series might be for you.

Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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 lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

To see our Privacy Policy click HERE.

“Off” Week New Release: A Halloween Romp!

by Kassandra Lamb

This is an “off” week here at misterio, but I wanted to let you know that The Legend of Sleepy Mayfair, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery, is now available. Early readers say it’s a fun read, a real Halloween romp!

Just 99¢ for a limited time.

The Legend of Sleepy Mayfair--a Halloween romp!

A Halloween romp that turns seriously scary!

Her adopted town is once again driving service dog trainer Marcia Banks a little nuts! No sooner has she moved her horse into the new Mayfair Riding Stable than its octogenarian, muumuu-wearing owner decides to turn the barn into a haunted house for Halloween. Meanwhile, an anonymous prankster is haunting Mayfair, disrupting its small-town tranquility, and the local postmistress has a strange request for Marcia. All this, along with her new role of godmother to adorable twins, is a bit overwhelming.

But it’s nothing compared to what’s coming. As Halloween approaches, the evil lurking in the shadows will threaten what is most precious to Marcia and her beloved town.

AVAILABLE NOW AT:

AMAZON     NOOK     APPLE     KOBO      GOOGLE PLAY

~~~~

And I also have a SALE going on, for ARSENIC AND YOUNG LACY, Book #2 in that series, through this week, for just 99¢.

Arsenic and Young Lacy book cover

Her savings dwindling, service dog trainer Marcia Banks is anxious to deliver young Lacy to her new veteran owner and get paid. But on top of the former Army nurse’s existing neuroses, partially caused by a sexual assault by a male soldier, she is now being stalked.

Soon both Lacy and Marcia are caught in the stalker’s malicious orbit. Sheriff Will Haines steps in to investigate, which Marcia finds both endearing and annoying.

The training fee would make her solvent again, but will the stalker decide to pay Marcia off in a very different way?

AMAZON    NOOK    APPLE    KOBO    GOOGLE PLAY

If you haven’t read this one yet, grab a copy quick!

Book 1, To Kill A Labrador is always 99¢.

We’ll be back next week, waxing nostalgic over some DIY Halloween costumes from the past!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kass is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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 lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

To see our Privacy Policy click HERE.

6 Things My Still-Young Mind Can’t Fathom About My Aging Body (Plus New Releases!)

by Kassandra Lamb

I recently turned 66. My mind is amazed by that. It feels more like it’s 35.

But more and more my mind gets daily reminders from my aging body—it may THINK it’s still relatively young, but oh boy…

Years ago, a friend of mine, on the occasion of her 50th birthday, said, “How did my 25-year-old mind get stuck in this 50-year-old body?”  That totally captures how I’m feeling these days.

Here are six things that absolutely boggle that young-thinking mind of mine regarding my aging body:

sign of ducks

This sign has a whole different meaning for me and my aging body! (image from photo by Rob Farrow CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

1. I waddle for the first few steps when I stand up after sitting for a while.

It takes a moment or two for my hip joints to remember what they’re supposed to do.

I sometimes consciously try not to waddle. I can do that by walking very stiffly with my legs sort of pinched together. But as soon as I stop doing that, guess what… I waddle for a few steps.

2. I can’t say “Hold, please,” when I hear the call of nature.

Used to be if I was in the middle of something—writing a scene, feeding the dog, fixing my lunch—I could wait until I was done that task before heading for the bathroom.

Nope, not anymore. Old lady bladders do not wait!

3. I can’t eat rich food without paying the price.

a filet mignon, yet another food that my aging body can't quite handle

(photo by Robspinella CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons)

And the definition of rich food is getting narrower. A few weeks ago, We went out to one of the nicer restaurants in town to celebrate our anniversary. I had Caesar salad, filet mignon (almost melted in my mouth!), and mashed potatoes, for Pete’s sake! And for dessert, cinnamon beignets with dark chocolate dip.

Even the beignets weren’t all that rich. They were these light little cinnamon pastries, mostly air really, and I dipped just a corner in the chocolate. Delish!

I left the restaurant feeling pleasantly full and pleased with myself that I’d resisted the much richer dishes on the menu.

Yeah, about that… To avoid going into TMI territory, let’s just say that my system was not happy and it let me know about it. (I decided the steak and dessert were still worth it.)

And speaking of the dessert…

4. I can’t do ANY caffeine after 5ish if I want to sleep that night.

Sleep becomes more fragile as we age, the multiple reasons for insomnia increasing geometrically with every half a decade over 45.

Used to be I couldn’t do coffee or strong hot tea (the only way I like it) after 5 p.m. Then I could only have them in the mornings. But I could drink iced tea or colas well into the evening.

Then it was one cup of hot tea in the a.m. and iced tea until 6ish, but I could still eat chocolate in the evenings.

Yeah, you guessed it. Even that little bit of dark chocolate in the dip was too much. I was up every hour or so all night. (Again, still worth it!)

5. When I look in the mirror, my mother is staring back at me.

My mom laughing; despite her aging body, she never lost her sense of humor

I love this pic of my mom laughing over a gag gift at my sister-in-law’s baby shower. She’s 63 here.

I’ve looked more like my father’s side of the family for most of my adulthood. That was a good thing. They’re slimmer with higher metabolic rates than my mother’s clan.

Also, I don’t really remember what my mother looked like when I was a kid. Your mom is just your mom. You don’t actually LOOK at her.

So most of my memories of my mother’s appearance are from my teen years and beyond, when she was middle-aged… and beyond.

And now I am “beyond” and I look a lot like she did at my age. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my mom. But I do not want to BE her.

6. I have no reserve tank, energy-wise. When I’m done, I’m done.

I used to be a very active person. I still am, I guess, “for my age.” I walk or do Zumba almost every day.

sideboard

My cute new sideboard that it took three days to put together. The mind was willing, but the aging body, not so much.

But I also have five chronic health issues that cause fatigue. (Yup, five!) I’ve learned to pace myself, and I’m pretty good at it, most of the time. But there are times when I start something I can’t finish.

I bought a new piece of furniture recently. It came in pieces. It wasn’t that hard to put together, but I had to do it over three days, a couple of hours a day.

Okay, other oldsters out there, what aspects of your aging body tend to startle your still-youngish mind?

AND we have a new release for you, from Kirsten Weiss.

This is a really fun read!! And Kirsten will be posting later in the month with more about UFO sightings and such.

Planet of the Grapes book cover

Planet of the Grapes, A Doyle Cozy Mystery (A Wits’ End Mystery #2)

Aliens, fairies and murder, oh, my!

In small-town Doyle, California, UFO abductions are a budding tourist attraction. So when Susan Witsend brings a UFO festival to town, she’s ready for some well-deserved time in the sun.

What she gets instead is the corpse of a UFO conspiracy theorist, brained with a bottle of local wine.

Susan may be the owner of a UFO-themed B&B, but she doesn’t wish on stars to get what she wants. She’s a woman with a planner. Plan A) Milk the UFO festival for all it’s worth. Plan B) Stop lusting after her best friend turned security consultant, Arsen Holiday.

But murder isn’t the only thing threatening Susan’s best-laid plans.  Beset by alien protestors, aging nudists, and hidden secrets at every turn, Susan’s nearing her wits’ end.  And now Plan C is to stay on the good side of a grumpy local sheriff.

Susan may not have a clue, but she knows she wants a certain security consultant at her side when the killer goes supernova.

Planet of the Grapes is book 2 in the Wits’ End series of cozy mystery novels. If you like laugh-out-loud cozy mysteries, you’ll like Planet of the Grapes. Buy the book to start this hilarious caper today! Breakfast recipes at the back of the book.

Available NOW on:  AMAZON    APPLE     KOBO     NOOK

And I have a Cover Reveal for you!! Tada!  (Releases next week.)

Legend of Sleepy Mayfair cover

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kass is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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 lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

To see our Privacy Policy click HERE.