Author Archives: Vinnie Hansen

The Big 6-0 (plus a new release)

by Vinnie Hansen

I just turned 60. Shhhhhhh. I received my first official senior discount at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.

I’ve been told these are the wonder years as in, “I wonder where I left those keys?”

Or the “hereafter” years, as in “I wonder what I came in here after?”

Attack of the 50-yr-old Woman poster

The poster my friends made for my big 5-0 birthday

Like all decade birthdays, the Big 6-0 rears up and demands notice. What do the sixties hold?

I passed through remarriage, moving and menopause in my forties. I retired from my teaching career in my fifties.

In the three stages of womanhood, I skipped motherhood and went right from “maiden” to “crone.” Or, maybe that rich mid-section of my life was about motherhood in the sense of birthing my books.

So, what’s left? I’ve learned that the answer to my question is kan reki, sometimes spelled as one word kanrekiKan means “cycle” and reki means “calendar,” but my friend Yoshie told me that I could just think of it as “good year.” How lovely!

In eastern culture, sixty is the preeminent birthday. The lunar calendar has a sixty-year kan or cycle, during which the twelve animal signs—rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig—pass through the five elements—metal, water, wood, fire and earth. I have just completed my journey through one complete cycle of the reki, or calendar. We are now in The Year of the Horse and 2014 is a wood year, the same conditions that existed at the time of my birth.

What does this all mean? This is the year for me to take stock of where I am before beginning my second 60-year cycle of life. This is a time for transformation, the year for rebirth.

Japanese characters for kan reki

Yoshie sent me these Japanese characters for kan reki. On a 60th birthday a Japanese person often dresses in red for good luck, and the birthday celebration focuses on the theme of rebirth. The Japanese pulled this tradition from Chinese culture. The special kan reki celebration is also common in Korea and Hawaii.

Already this has been the year of the rebirth of my mystery series. Previously indie published, the books are being re-released from misterio press. The dazzling exteriors look professional. The interiors are more polished. Perhaps the books will prove a prophetic metaphor for my self—snappier exterior and smoother interior.

Even though my husband claims that I am mighty fine the way I am, I love the idea that now is the perfect time to create myself anew.

Vinnie and husband in front of Lennon Wall

The newly-minted 60-year-old me (wearing red pants!) with husband Daniel at the Lennon Wall in Prague.

This month, I’m also celebrating the re-release of Art, Wine and Bullets under the misterio press imprint. Please check it out below, and then talk to me in the comments. What was your last Big O birthday, and how did you deal with it?

book cover for Art, Wine and Bullets

An innocent visit to a premiere Santa Cruz gallery turns into a nightmare case for Private Investigator Carol Sabala. The strangled body of the gallery owner offers an opportunity to cement her reputation and to save her employer from insolvency. But precious time spent assisting her photographer boyfriend impedes her investigation while his sudden obsession with photographing her impedes their relationship.

When Carol plunges into an art world offering urban graffiti to paintings of polka-dotted cats, she confronts the age-old questions: What is art? What defines an artist? She also confronts what defines a successful private investigator as she unravels much more than a murder case.

Available on   AMAZON  and  BARNES & NOBLE

Posted by Vinnie Hansen. Vinnie is a retired English teacher who has received several awards for her stories and books. She is the author of the Carol Sabala 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 lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Break Out the Bubbly!!

(photo by ori2uru, CC 2.0 license, Wikimedia Commons)

(photo by ori2uru, CC 2.0, Wikimedia)


It’s time to break out the virtual bubbly again here
at misterio press because we have a BIG announce-

Drumroll, please… We are thrilled that a new
author, Vinnie Hansen, has joined our group!

Vinnie has some impressive credentials, including
a master’s degree in creative writing and a bunch
of literary awards. She’s led a checkered an
adventurous life, and we are tickled pink that she’s
landed with us here at misterio, bringing her
intrepid heroine, Carol Sabala, along with her.

We are also please to announce the re-release of
Murder, Honey (the first Carol Sabala book) under the misterio press imprint. Over the next year or so, the plan is to bring the whole series in under the misterio umbrella.

So grab a glass of virtual champagne and pull up a chair. Here’s Vinnie to give us a snapshot of her journey through the ups and downs of life and writing.

Take it away, Vinnie…


When I was a baby, the government built Highway 14 right through my parents’ shack. The family relocated to a house on the edge of tiny Philip, South Dakota, where I grew up with my nine brothers and sisters.

Vinnie Age 1 by dad's sign

Age 1, by one of my father’s signs. He painted signs for a living.


Vinnie Age 5 - Behind the house

Age 5 — already taking care of other creatures’ babies.

downtown Philip, SD

                                    Downtown Philip, SD

Starting at age ten, I was “farmed out” to my older siblings to take care of their babies.

This is how I came to be in Haight Ashbury, Golden Gate Park and Guerneville, California in 1967, 1969 and 1970. When I returned home wearing bellbottoms and a puffy shirt, my dad remarked that letting me go to California was “like turning a horse loose in an alkaline pasture.”

The day after I graduated from high school, I left South Dakota in a Woody, but the car threw a rod outside of Flagstaff, Arizona. I sold it and bought a bus ticket to L.A., arriving in the middle of the night. I hid from the pimps in the bathroom. My sister-in-law rescued me.

Even though I had been a valedictorian, no one had mentioned college. I had no plans beyond a summer exchange program in Switzerland. I owe my brother Wayne for turning me on to community college. My first night class was Creative Writing. I was hooked!

I eventually earned a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in English, the latter with an emphasis in Creative Writing. Flannery O’Connor was once asked if she thought universities stifled writers. She responded, “My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.”

I left college thinking I was hot stuff and set off to write The Great American Novel.

Up to that point, I had worked jobs from delivering newspapers to nude modeling. When I finally had to get serious about earning a living, I returned to school for a teaching credential.

Vinnie posing on the Watsonville High School signOn a Friday, I landed a job at Watsonville High School. I moved the 80 miles from San Francisco to Santa Cruz during the weekend and started my new job on Monday—teaching four different courses in four different classrooms.

During my 27-year career, I was lucky enough to teach Creative Writing and to serve as advisor for the campus literary magazine. I continued to pursue my writing dream. My stories appeared in several literary and mystery magazines and my short story collection was a semi-finalist for the Iowa School of Letters Award.

In 1999, I started my Carol Sabala mystery series with Murder, Honey. The book was in first-person and set in Santa Cruz, but I didn’t want people to think the protagonist was me. (Silly me!)

Yet, the adage “write what you know” had been drilled into me. At the time, I was married to Mr. Wrong, a sous chef at an upscale Santa Cruz restaurant. So I made my heroine a baker/amateur sleuth at a swanky dining establishment.

When I got divorced, so did Carol Sabala. She moved on to new men and new venues. I liked that my main character was growing and changing over the years. Like me, as her knees gave out, she changed hobbies from volleyball to mountain biking. The ukulele band with which I play keyboard snuck its way into my latest mystery, Art, Wine & Bullets. I’m currently a yogini, but haven’t included yoga yet in a mystery.

Vinnie doing a yoga pose on the Santa Cruz dockMy series now contains seven books, one of which won a Best Book of Fiction of 2005 award (that was a great day!) and another was a 2013 Claymore Award Finalist.

In my work-in-progress, I come full circle, sending Carol Sabala to South Dakota.

I am thrilled to continue my literary journey with misterio press!

Kass here again. Please check out the new edition of Vinnie’s Murder, Honey, with updated text and its great new cover!  (Psst! I’ll also be celebrating the re-release of my first novel later this month.)

Murder, Honey book cover


When the head chef collapses into baker Carol Sabala’s cookie dough, she is thrust into her first murder investigation. There is no shortage of suspects at Archibald’s, the swanky Santa Cruz restaurant where Carol works. The head chef cut a swath of people who wanted him dead, from ex-lovers to bitter rivals to greedy relatives. Even Carol had plotted his demise! 

Available on AMAZON for just $3.95  (It will be out in paperback very soon!) 

And pleased join me in welcoming Vinnie to misterio press!


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.)