Monthly Archives: September 2020

Announcing Our October Halloween Contest

We’re taking this week off from blogging, but we wanted to announce our October Contest. It’s all about Halloween, of course!

Here are the prizes:

Our October Halloween contest prizes
Our October Halloween contest prizes

Click HERE for more details and to Enter!

Coming up on the blog in October, preserving our relationships during these strange and challenging times, plus a fun interview with chick lit/mystery writer, Lois Winston!

4 Things Still True After 44 Valentine’s Days (and New Releases!)

by Kassandra Lamb

Hubs and I celebrated our 44th anniversary recently. In honor of that, I was trying to come up with something fresh to say about relationships, so I reviewed the posts I’d already done through the years on the topic of love.

I stumbled on this oldie but goodie from 4 years ago, written right after our 40th Valentine’s Day together. It seemed worthy of re-running. And since my new book, releasing today, is set around Valentine’s Day and contains a love story or two (as well as a mystery, of course), I figured this would be a good post for today.

So here are our 4 most important lessons learned.

Thing #1 still true after 44 Valentine’s Days: Cover your mate’s back.

I fell in love with my husband on our first Valentine’s Day together, a few months after we started dating.

He’d made a reservation for dinner at a fancy restaurant, for 8:00 p.m. But the restaurant had seriously overbooked. By 9:15, Tom had asked several times when we would be seated, each time told it would “just be a few more minutes.”

I’d eaten a light lunch and was now getting lightheaded. “Do you want to go somewhere else?” he asked. But where could we go on Valentine’s Day without reservations? McDonald’s?

My knees wobbled and I clung to his arm as we were finally shown to our table at 9:45! Suddenly my super easygoing boyfriend turned into the Incredible Hulk. He had words with first the waiter and then the maitre ’d, demanding that we be served food RIGHT NOW.

A salad immediately appeared in front of me, and I fell in love with this man who would stand up for me like that. (BTW, that restaurant went out of business shortly after that.)

Things Still True after 44 Valentine's Days -- swans scratching each other's backs
photo by Susanne Nilsson, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons

We’ve had each other’s backs at other times through the years… whenever one of us was in the hospital, for example. We’ve both slept on those horrible foldout chairs and been awakened every few hours, along with our spouse, when someone came in to take vital signs or give medication. We were there to be the other’s advocate when they were too sick or too doped up to think straight.

It may not sound all that romantic, but hey, if you can’t count on your mate to have your back, who the heck can you count on?

Thing #2 still true after 44 Valentine’s Days: Accept each other as unique human beings.

There’s a myth out there that couples need to share a lot of interests. Not really. A few shared interests are good, so you have something to do together. But it’s okay for each of you to also do things the other one isn’t interested in. Tom’s into photography and computers. I use my phone camera occasionally and have a refurbished desktop for which I paid $700 (now 6 years old).

I love to shop and play cards, and of course, write. He’d rather stick pointed sticks in his eyes than go shopping, and card-playing is far from his favorite pastime. He’s a good writer but to him it’s more a task that is sometimes required for work.

Instead of resenting the time that the other spends on non-shared interests., honor that those things are important to your mate. I wait patiently when we’re on vacation while he takes a hundred shots of every sight we see (I’m only exaggerating a little). He never says a word about the nights I stay up until 3 a.m. because the muse has struck and I must get those precious words down before they slip away.

And we never try to make the other do what we’re interested in but they’re not. He resists the urge to make fun of my out-of-focus photos and my old computer, and I find other people to play cards with.

Thing #3 still true after 44 Valentine’s Days: Time is the most important gift.

Things Still True After 44 Valentine's Days -- bread and wine and thou
Bread, Wine and Thou (photo by Beatrice Murch, CC-BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Having said all of the above, make sure your interests don’t get in the way of spending time with your spouse. As is so often the case, it’s quality as much as quantity (if not more so) that counts. Dinner is check-in time for us. It may only be twenty minutes to a half hour, but we’re not reading or watching TV or playing with our cell phones. We’re telling each other everything important—and some things that are not all that important but are just interesting—that’s happened to us that day.

And on Fridays, we have date night. We started that when our son was about thirteen. We have a special dinner, just the two of us, and really linger at the table until we’re totally caught up on things. Then we relax and watch videos together for the rest of the evening.

Thing #4 still true after 44 Valentine’s Days: Be proud of each other.

Don’t just say it to each other. Tell others about your spouse’s accomplishments. No, you don’t have to be a bore about it. But let your spouse know you’re proud of them by telling the world.

Tom’s my best salesman. If a friend or coworker happens to mention that they like mysteries, or just that they like to read, that’s his opening! He hasn’t sold enough books to make a major difference in my writing income. But it definitely makes a difference in my confidence level to hear that he’s proud enough to brag about my writing to anyone who will stand still and listen.

What things have you found true after how many Valentine’s Days with your honey? Or if you’re not coupled at the moment, what makes you feel especially loved — by friends and/or family?

And Check out our New Releases: Kirsten Weiss’s Oolong, Farewell and my own, My Funny Mayfair Valentine. (plus our September Self-Care Contest below)

Oolong, Farewell, A Tea and Tarot Mystery #3

When all the neighbors want you dead…

Abigail Beanblossom is finally getting into the groove of her new Tea and Tarot room. But in Abigail’s mind, when things are going right, that’s exactly when they’re about to go wrong. She never could have guessed, however, that the mother who abandoned her as a child would suddenly return, looking for tea and sympathy.

Now, all Abigail wants is to escape. So, when her grandfather’s friend, Archer, asks Abigail and her partner Hyperion to investigate the murder of his neighbor, the two amateur sleuths leap at the opportunity. Abigail suspects Archer’s fears of arrest are a tempest in a teapot. The victim’s been renting out his mansion for noisy events and bringing the entire neighborhood to a boil. And the old money and nouveau-riche suspects are as plentiful as they are quirky.

But when Archer becomes suspect #1, Abigail and Hyperion must steep themselves in the fraught world of upper-crust homeowners associations and Instagram stars. Because this cockeyed killer is just getting started…

(Tearoom recipes in the back of the book.)

AVAILABLE NOW ON: AMAZON ~ APPLE ~ NOOK ~ KOBO ~ GOOGLE PLAY

My Funny Mayfair Valentine, A Marcia Banks and Buddy, #10

A newcomer to Mayfair charms the socks off of Susanna Mayfair, the sheltered niece of the town’s elderly matriarch. In a panic, the aunt turns to service dog trainer Marcia Banks to dig into the man’s past.

What Marcia finds is a disturbing trail of broken hearts and outstanding warrants. But when the man is arrested, he claims it’s a case of mistaken identity.

While Marcia’s police detective husband attempts to untangle the truth and Susanna struggles with her feelings, Marcia is worried about her friend’s mental health, unaware that Susanna may be in physical danger as well. Will she figure it out in time to protect Susanna…and herself?

Just 99 Cents for a Limited Time on: AMAZON ~ APPLE ~ NOOK ~ KOBO ~ GOOGLE PLAY

And only one week left to ENTER our September Self-Care Contest HERE!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, 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 sign up via email (upper right sidebar) to 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. 🙂 )

Family Dynamics in Fiction (And Our Contest)

by Kassandra Lamb

Family Dynamics in Fiction

Family dynamics make fascinating fodder for us fiction writers. Even in mysteries, where the main plot revolves around whodunnit, we can weave in some interesting aspects of our characters, based on their pasts and the often complex dynamics in their families of origin.

The main character in my new story, Marcia Banks (pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha) has always described her relationship with her mother as “basically good.” That is, until Mom falls in love with a Florida sheriff. She unexpectedly leaves her home state of Maryland to take up long-term residence in Marcia’s guest room, while she and the good sheriff work out the details of their new life together.

And Marcia discovers that she doesn’t really know her mother as well as she thought she did:

…..“Honestly, Marcia, I think you see me as some two-dimensional cutout that’s still standing on the sidewalk back in Maryland, hand raised in a wave, as you drove off in that ratty old van.”
…..“That’s not fair. I see you as a person.”
…..“Do you?” She shot me an exasperated sideways glance.
…..“I do. It’s just that I thought you were more…” I trailed off, trying to find a word for prudish that wasn’t insulting.
…..“People don’t stop growing and changing in their senior years.” Her voice was still huffy. “All that stuff about you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is hooey.”
…..“I know,” I said, though I honestly hadn’t given it much thought before now. I’d assumed that Mom was Mom and would always be the same.
…..It was a tad disconcerting to realize that might not be the case. Who was this woman sitting in my passenger seat?

Excerpt from My Funny Mayfair Valentine

Slowly, Marcia and Mom work toward a better understanding of each other and a more adult-to-adult relationship (while also trying to figure out what gives with the mysterious newcomer to Mayfair who’s dating the town’s “favorite daughter”).

More Mother Issues

Family Dynamics in Fiction

In Kirsten’s new release, Oolong, Farewell, Abigail Beanblossom is dealing with a more blatantly dysfunctional relationship with her narcissistic mother, who abandoned her at age two in order to seek “spiritual enlightenment.” Most of the time, she can ignore her woo-woo mother, but now she has returned to town and is staying with her grandfather.

At her tearoom, Abigail receives a phone call from her Gramps:

…..“Hi, Gramps. How are you doing?” My chin dipped, my chest squeezing, because I knew my mother was driving him crazy. I just didn’t know what I could do about it.
…..“You’ve got to get out of the tearoom,” he said. “Now.”
…..I stiffened. “What? Why?”
…..“She’s on her way. I’m sorry, Abigail. I couldn’t stop her.”
…..My blood ran cold. I didn’t need to be told who she was. My mother.
…..“I don’t know what’s gotten into her,” he continued. “I think… I think you may be her new spiritual quest.”
…..“What?” I yelped.
…..“I know it sounds nutty,” he said, “but she had an odd look in her eye over breakfast when she was talking about you.”
…..My heart gave an odd lurch. “Oh?”
…..“And she threw out all the milk and replaced it with that soy stuff. And she replaced my favorite peanut butter cereal with nuts and twigs. It’s supposed to be healthy, but it tastes like sawdust.”
. . . .
…..I leaned against the cool, concrete wall. “Aside from the milk and cereal, how are things going? With her in the house, I mean.”
…..“The incense burns Peking’s eyes. She knows we hate incense.”
…..Peking was his pet duck. I wasn’t sure if ducks could smell, but I knew Gramps hated incense.
…..I shut my eyes. “Look. If you need a break. She can stay at my place.” Because the only thing worse than the thought of spending time with my mother was the thought of my mother breaking my grandfather.
…..“No,” he said manfully. “It’s okay”….

Excerpt from Oolong, Farewell

Abigail’s business partner, Hyperion Night, tries to be supportive.

..…“My mother’s on her way to the tearoom.”
..…“Seriously? That takes some brass. No offense,” he added quickly. “It’s bad form to criticize other people’s relatives. But… what are you going to do? I know I said you should rip the proverbial bandage off, but I also know it’s not that easy.”
..…“No, it isn’t.” I slumped in the seat. I’d have to face her someday. Just… not today.
…..“Do you think it’s possible she wants to make amends?”
..…“For abandoning me at the airport when I was a toddler?” I rapped out. How do you make up for that? “No, I don’t. I don’t care how much self-actualization she’s gone through. There’s no coming back from that.” My panicked grandparents had raced to collect me while my parents flew to India. I hoped my parents had at least hit turbulence.
…..Hyperion was quiet for a long moment. “But what if there was a way? What if she could come back from it?”
…..“There isn’t, and she can’t.” But my heart pinched. A tiny part of me wanted to believe it was possible. I mentally gave that part of me a swift kick in the butt.
…..This happened every time my parents came back. I’d get my hopes up that they’d changed, that things would be different, that they wanted me. And every damn time I’d been disappointed.
…..I wasn’t going through all that again.

Excerpt from Oolong, Farewell

Between their efforts to clear a friend of a murder charge, Abigail continues to struggle with a concept that she gets intellectually, but is having trouble applying emotionally. That forgiveness is not about the other person, it’s for one’s own mental health.

Over to you all – As a reader, how do you feel about family dynamics in fiction, especially as subplots in mysteries?

Here are the blurbs and PREORDER links for the books…And don’t forget to enter out contest below!

Oolong, Farewell, A Tea and Tarot Mystery #3

When all the neighbors want you dead…

Abigail Beanblossom is finally getting into the groove of her new Tea and Tarot room. But in Abigail’s mind, when things are going right, that’s exactly when they’re about to go wrong.

She never could have guessed, however, that the mother who abandoned her as a child would suddenly return, looking for tea and sympathy. Now, all Abigail wants is to escape. So, when her grandfather’s friend, Archer, asks Abigail and her partner Hyperion to investigate the murder of his neighbor, the two amateur sleuths leap at the opportunity.

Abigail suspects Archer’s fears of arrest are a tempest in a teapot. The victim’s been renting out his mansion for noisy events and bringing the entire neighborhood to a boil. And the old money and nouveau-riche suspects are as plentiful as they are quirky.

But when Archer becomes suspect #1, Abigail and Hyperion must steep themselves in the fraught world of upper-crust homeowners associations and Instagram stars. Because this cockeyed killer is just getting started…

(Tearoom recipes in the back of the book.)

RELEASES ON 9/21/2020 ~ AVAILABLE NOW FOR PREORDER ON:

AMAZON ~ APPLE ~ NOOK ~ KOBO ~ GOOGLE PLAY

My Funny Mayfair Valentine, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery, #10

A newcomer to Mayfair charms the socks off of Susanna Mayfair, the sheltered niece of the town’s elderly matriarch. In a panic, the aunt turns to service dog trainer Marcia Banks to dig into the man’s past.

What Marcia finds, with her detective husband Will’s help, is disturbing—a trail of broken hearts and outstanding warrants. But when the older gentleman is arrested, he claims it’s a case of mistaken identity.

While Will attempts to untangle the truth and Susanna struggles with her feelings, Marcia is worried about her friend’s mental health, unaware that Susanna may be in physical danger as well. Will Marcia figure it out in time to protect Susanna…and herself?

RELEASES ON 9/22/2020 ~ AVAILABLE NOW FOR PREORDER ON:

AMAZON ~ APPLE ~ NOOK ~ KOBO ~ GOOGLE PLAY

And don’t forget to Enter Our September Self-Care Contest HERE!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, 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 sign up via email (upper right sidebar) to 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. 🙂 )

Age Is Relative, Especially During a Pandemic (Plus a New Contest!)

by Kassandra lamb

My birthday and Labor Day are usually close together, sometimes on the same day. This year, they were three days apart, and both were bittersweet. On Labor Day, hubs and I grilled burgers, but it was just the two of us, as it has been now for months, and my birthday…well…

At the beginning of 2020, I didn’t feel all that old. I was 67, in my “mid-sixties.” *wink, wink* I was basically in good health, just some annoying chronic issues, but nothing that seriously impaired my quality of life.

And then we had a pandemic.

Age is Relative!
Not my birthday cake, but about the right number of candles, if six of them represent decades! (photo by Aneta Pawlik on Unsplash)

And I was in one of the “high risk” groups—those over 60. Of greater concern was that my husband was 70, higher risk still.

So we hunkered down, as advised by the CDC, for the duration. Only the duration has been a lot longer than we counted on.

And knowing that we have to stay home as much as possible has made us very aware of our age, on a daily basis.

Then, last week, I turned 68. I am now in my “late sixties.” Somehow, this year has aged me more than any year should. I feel like I’ve been robbed of my last year in my “youthful” mid-sixties.

Which brings me to the point of this post…

Age is relative!

And the older you get, the more relative age is.

As in, it’s related to a lot of different factors. One, of course, is how healthy you are. Another is how old you look. I’ve finally hit the age where it’s a good thing to have oily skin. I have virtually no wrinkles.

But one thing I’ve had to come to grips with during this pandemic is gray hair. I’ve gone to the hairdresser religiously every 5 weeks for years, having my roots touched up—not necessarily to cover the few gray hairs I had in my younger days, but because I like being a redhead. I’ve had auburn hair for so long now that my “natural” brunette doesn’t seem natural anymore.

But there’s been no going to the hairdresser for months, and I’m discovering that I am now MOSTLY GRAY! Yup, my “natural” color is no longer brunette; it’s a rather splendid silver tone!

So I keep debating…

Age is relative

Should I let the gray grow out completely, or go for a lighter auburn dye when I can finally get my hair done professionally again? *sigh*

Every few weeks, I hack away at my hair when it gets too long and heavy around my face… and put off the decision to gray, or not to gray.

Meanwhile, restlessness has set in. Time becomes more precious as you age. You become more aware of having only a limited amount of it left. So not being able to see my friends and extended family is starting to get to me.

Okay, I want to stop here and say that I am grateful.

I’ve not lost loved ones to this insane disease, and my heart goes out to those who have. And to the first responders, medical personnel and other essential workers who are putting themselves on the front lines every day! And to those who’ve suffered financial setbacks, sometimes life-changing, because of this pandemic. I do very much realize that I am one of the lucky ones who only has to deal with the self-isolation.

Now back to the concept that age is relative. Barring major health issues, aging is more and more a state of mind the older we get. As a friend of mine once said, on the occasion of her 50th birthday, “How did my 25-year-old mind get trapped in this 50-year-old body?”

I don’t particularly appreciate being reminded on a daily basis, by Covid-19, of my age. It makes it harder to keep myself “thinking young.” One thing that helps, though, is playing with my imaginary friends (i.e., my characters), many of whom are still younger than me. I have been writing a lot, during my quarantine. It’s a good distraction.

Maybe all of this is why the theme of “age is relative” ended up in my new story, coming out on September 22, My Funny Mayfair Valentine. Marcia Banks finds herself dealing with the interplay of age and romance, with her own mother and also other “older” members of the Mayfair community.

(And yes, I know it’s a little weird to release a Valentine’s Day story in September, but it was ready and I figured no point in making my readers wait for it. We can all use as much diversion as possible right now.)

How about you? Do you feel the pandemic is aging you before your time?

Oh, and we have a new contest! See below.

My Funny Mayfair Valentine, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery #10

A newcomer to Mayfair charms the socks off of Susanna Mayfair, the sheltered niece of the town’s elderly matriarch. In a panic, the aunt turns to service dog trainer Marcia Banks to dig into the man’s past.

What Marcia finds, with her detective husband Will’s help, is disturbing—a trail of broken hearts and outstanding warrants. But when the older gentleman is arrested, he claims it’s a case of mistaken identity.

While Will attempts to untangle the truth and Susanna struggles with her feelings, Marcia is worried about her friend’s mental health, unaware that Susanna may be in physical danger as well. Will Marcia figure it out in time to protect Susanna…and herself?

Available for Preorder Now for just $0.99 ~ Goes up to $2.99 after release on 9/22/20

AMAZON ~ APPLE ~ NOOK ~ KOBO ~ GOOGLE PLAY

And Our New SEPTEMBER SELF-CARE CONTEST!

Win a Self-Care Box of Goodies from Etsy and 4 Signed Paperbacks!

Age Is Relative -- Sept. Self-Care Contest
Age is Relative -- Sept. Self-Care Contest

Click HERE for more details and to Enter!!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, 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 sign up via email (upper right sidebar) to 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. 

Announcing a New Stress Management Resource For You

We’re taking this week off from blogging. But we wanted to let you know that we now have the information on Stress Management from our blog summarized for you on one topic page HERE. This stress management resource also has links to all relevant posts.

You might want to bookmark this page for future reference.

And Stay Tuned for our September Contest — to be announced soon!!

Here’s a hint:

PLUS SOME PAPERBACKS!!