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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine's Day image
(photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash)

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at misterio press!

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.

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Shannon’s Unrest Story and 2018 Changes on the Blog

Happy New Year, Everyone!

In order to spend more time writing great stories for you all, we’ve decided to cut back a bit on our blogging schedule in 2018. We will be posting every other week, unless something particularly interesting or cool comes up during the “off” weeks.

This week’s interesting thing is this post by misterio press co-founder Shannon Esposito on her own blog:

My Unrest Story

by Shannon Esposito

I just watched this documentary UNREST by Jennifer Brea, about her life after she was struck down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It’s a powerful film and I hope it succeeds in getting the medical community to take this illness, which affects millions of people, seriously.

I am one of the people affected, though I rarely talk about it. I don’t talk about it because I don’t want this illness to define my life. But that’s not the only reason. I don’t talk about it because a lot of people don’t believe it’s a real illness, even people in the medical community. Everyone gets tired, right? And I get it. Unless you are going through it or watching a loved one go through it, it’s hard to imagine the kind of debilitating fatigue where breathing is all you can do, for weeks, months or even years, depending on how severe your case is.

But what I’ve realized watching this movie is staying silent is the worst thing I can do. The push to get this illness taken seriously, and get the research funded to find a cure, needs every voice it can get. So, I am speaking up…READ MORE


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. 🙂 )

House Guests High Jinks

by Gilian Baker

Ever had a house guest you thought would never leave?  You may have just experienced this over the recent holiday season.

Even the most patient among us would agree that having house guests can be taxing.  According to Psychology Today, it’s normal to feel stressed when you put someone up. Even someone you love dearly!

This is due to the shift in control from us to our guests. They are essentially in charge, and we do anything and everything we can to please them.

This lack of control in a place that is usually our domain (home) can cause tension. And that doesn’t include the strain that naturally occurs when you throw another personality (or two or three) into the mix.

Then there are the changes to our routine. Even if you say you hate routine, there is a contentment found in having things the way they always are. When normal is out of whack for long enough, you guessed it–stress.

My protagonist, Jade Blackwell, experiences more than her fair share of house guest high jinks in her latest adventure, Murder Over Medium. Jade, who dearly loves her routine, is at her wit’s end within hours of her old friend and colleague, Gwendolyn Hexby arriving.

Gwendolyn hasn’t been straightforward about her visit. For example, Jade doesn’t know until Gwendolyn shows up that she’s no longer a religious studies prof…now she’s a psychic medium.

Tension? You bet!

And guess what?

The visit that is only supposed to last two days goes on and on…thanks to a murder in the village. A murder Gwendolyn prophecies during a seance held at Jade’s dining room table. By the time it’s all said and done, Jade is ready to kill someone herself.

If only Gwendolyn would have read these etiquette tips from Emily Post about being a good house guest before she came to visit!

  • Do clean up after yourself. Put your dishes in the dishwasher, make your bed and put dirty linen in the hamper.
  • Do help out with chores, especially in the kitchen, unless the host absolutely doesn’t want your help.
  • Do inform your host of any dietary restrictions and food allergies before arriving.
  • Do pitch in for groceries if you are staying more than a couple of nights.
  • Don’t bring your pet. In fact, don’t even ask to bring it along.
  • Don’t make plans with other people without checking in with your host first. They may have plans already.
  • Don’t use the host’s phone, computer, or other electronics without asking first.
  • Don’t eavesdrop or snoop while you’re there.

Murder Over MediumWant to find out how Jade deals with this intrusion while still managing to solve a murder? Grab your digital copy of Murder Over Medium today! 

Former English professor turned blogger, Jade Blackwell, is enjoying her predictable routine when trouble comes knocking in the form of an old friend and colleague. Unbeknownst to Jade, Gwendolyn Hexby is no longer the successful academic she once knew and trusted—she is now following a new calling as a psychic medium, a contentious career that flies in the face of the logic and deductive reasoning Jade values.

At first, Jade welcomes the visit, but things soon turn bizarre as Gwendolyn brings only disorder, danger and disruption. When a murder is prophesied, and a beloved pillar of the Aspen Falls’ community winds up dead, Gwendolyn becomes Sheriff Ross Lawson’s prime suspect.

To get Gwendolyn out of hot water, and more importantly, out of her house, Jade attempts to prove her friend’s innocence. Jade believes she’s finally discovered the truth, but is soon brought back to reality when she learns all is not as it seems in the realm of the metaphysical. Not even murder.

Return to the Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery Series in Murder Over Medium, as Jade jumps into the fray of a territory not governed by logic or reason—in either this world or the next.

Posted by Gilian Baker. Gilian is a former writing and literature professor who now uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain cozy mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, snuggled up with her husband watching British mysteries or discussing literary theory with her daughter. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. Gilian is the author of the Jade Blackwell cozy mysteries.

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. 🙂 )

BoucherCon: an Author’s Guide

bouchercon raleighby K.B. Owen, misterio press author

A couple of days ago I returned from BoucherCon. With an attendance of 1500, it’s considered one of the larger mystery fiction conventions out there. (For those unfamiliar with the name, BoucherCon was created in 1970, in honor of mystery writer/editor/critic Anthony Boucher).

It appeals to every mystery fan along the continuum: authors, readers, agents, publishers, librarians, booksellers. The location changes each year. This year it was in Raleigh, NC.

This was my first BoucherCon. As an introvert who is most comfortable in my writing cave, I knew it was going to be exciting and challenging at the same time.

Here are a few things I learned along the way. I hope these will be of help for those new to the convention experience. I’m specifically targeting fellow authors, but many of these elements apply to anyone attending a large event of this kind.

Before the convention:

bouchercon11. Determine your goals. 

What do you want to get out of this experience? An agent, a possible contract? Connections to fellow writers, potential readers, booksellers? Spreading the word about your new release? A chance to meet well-established authors you’ve always admired? Learning from the panel discussions?

Clarifying your goals in advance will go a long way towards helping you decide how to spend your time at the convention and how you prepare. For me, I wanted to make connections with fellow authors and readers and learn more about this crazy process we call writing novels.

…and meet Laurie King! (Photo at right by fan-girl K.B. Owen).

2. Promo materials.

My convention badge, with my bookmarks front and center.

My convention badge, with my bookmarks front and center.

Chances are you’ll want to get the word out about your books, right? Well, in this environment, bookmarks rule! The numerous panels meant that two hotels were involved, with several corridors and public spaces where tables were situated. The table surfaces were absolutely covered with bookmarks, business cards, cocktail coasters, and rack cards promoting authors’ works. And readers patrolled those tables continually!  They couldn’t get enough bookmarks.

I had brought bookmarks that I thought I’d be hand-delivering, person by person (which I did), but I didn’t know about the tables until I got there. In the future, I’ll be bringing many more bookmarks (and probably adding tassels for extra pop). I’ll also bring some sort of holder for them, to keep them vertical and contained. Horizontal table space is at a premium, and loose printed materials tended to slide around and get buried under other stuff.

Books: one of the nice things about BoucherCon in particular (in contrast to another mystery fic convention I used to attend) is that indie authors have the option to sell their books on consignment through one of the book room vendors. It’s not ideal (my books were only available for one day out of the four), but it is a unique opportunity, so I recommend doing it if you get the chance.

My books for sale at BoucherCon.

My books for sale at BoucherCon.

3. Forge connections.

Conventions are all about connections, and you can get started on that even before you walk in the door. For example, if you’ve been meaning to join Sisters in Crime, join ahead of time. You’ll get emails from them about meet-ups, events, and promo opportunities at the convention.

Use this opportunity to catch up with fellow writers you’ve never been able to meet in person. Find out who’s going, exchange phone numbers, figure out where you might be able to meet up. I met several writer pals this way during the convention, and they turned out to be even more fabulous in person! (Pictured below: Diane Capri, and me with Susan Spann).


At the convention:

1. Volunteer.

bouchercon6Big conventions like BoucherCon need lots of volunteers to make the magic happen. When I got an email request to volunteer, my first instinct (being the writer cave-dweller I mentioned earlier) was to think this wasn’t a good idea. After all, I’ve never been to a BoucherCon, and I didn’t know what to expect. But then I realized that I could pick a job that didn’t require a whole lot of knowledge, and it might be a great way to break the ice and get to know some people.

And that’s exactly what happened. I served as a panel monitor twice, Thursday and Saturday. All it involved was keeping time, holding up a discreet sign for the moderator, setting out water for the panelists, and potential troubleshooting of microphone issues (which basically meant fetching someone who knew what to do). It felt good to be of assistance to writers I’ve always admired, such as Dorothy Cannell and Stephanie Barron, and it made me a bit more recognizable in a crowd.

2. Accommodations.

If you can manage it, book your hotel within walking distance, ideally within the convention center itself. BoucherCon’s convention hotel fills quickly (more than a year in advance!), but I learned after the fact that you can keep calling the hotel and snag a last-minute cancellation. That way you don’t have to drive in an unfamiliar city, remember what parking garage you’re in, and lug all of your worldly possessions (including books that get heavier by the minute), which is what happened to me. Fortunately, the garage was only a block and a half away, so I used my car as a place to stow things until I needed them, and just made an extra trip or two to swap things out. Also, fellow mystery writer Susan Spann graciously let me spiff up in her room just before the Anthony Awards reception Saturday night.

3. What to wear.

There were endless variations on this, but the majority of attendees dressed in business casual. There are no hard and fast rules for this. I wore dress slacks, dress blouse, and a nice scarf. Flat dress shoes were a must for me. I have a low frustration threshold for teetering around in heels on city sidewalks and in banquet halls. 😉

4. Making conversation (tips for the introvert).

 The prospect of introducing myself to strangers and making conversation with them used to scare the pants off me. That feeling has abated with practice, though I still get butterflies (and the occasional impulse to hide in the ladies’ room). When I find myself feeling this way, I do three things:

a) I remind myself that there are quite a few people like me out there. I may be cutting someone else a break by initiating the conversation.

b) It’s perfectly okay to talk about myself and what I write. Sharing what we do is a big part of why we’re all coming together in the first place.

c) If I feel tongue-tied about describing my own project, or the conversation seems to be lagging, I ask the other person additional questions about him/herself: what they write, how they’re feeling about the convention, what they’ve enjoyed so far, and so on. Being a good listener is a rare gift these days, and people appreciate it.

BoucherCon was an amazing experience, and I’m so glad I attended. I don’t know if it will translate into better visibility down the road, but it was worthwhile in many intangible ways. My final piece of advice: give it a try for yourself!

Have you ever attended a fiction convention? Any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you!


Concordia logo FINAL


The misterio press blog will be on hiatus now until the first of the year. Our next post will be on Tuesday, January 6th.

We wish all our readers/followers an absolutely  wonderful Holiday Season!!

Here’s a little music to get you in the mood.


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. 🙂 )

Forget Apples, Get a Hug a Day!

by Kassandra Lamb

A couple weeks ago I made a statement in a post (15 Things To Do By The Time You’re 62) that “hugs are the vitamin C of the heart.” This line struck a chord for many people.

And it is literally true. Just as the vitamin C in an apple bolsters your immune system (thus keeping the doctor away), hugs lower your stress level on a physiological level so that both your mental and physical health are improved.

photo of Derek Jeter hugging Hideki Matsui

Derek Jeter hugging Hideki Matsui in 2010 (photo by Chris Ptacek CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

So instead of (or in addition to) an apple a day, make sure you get a hug a day!

Would you like to know more about why hugs are so good for you? There is a fairly simple scientific explanation for it.

It all revolves around the hormone, oxytocin. This chemical serves many functions in humans. The one that you may be familiar with is the triggering of childbirth. Indeed, when women are having a slow time getting their babies born, doctors use a synthetic form of this hormone, Pitocin, to stimulate labor.

This hormone is also responsible for the letting down of milk during breast feeding, and is probably the biochemical explanation for “maternal instinct.” (Women tend to have higher levels than men, especially right after giving birth.)

Oxytocin has a calming effect and also “promotes affiliate behavior,” which is psychobabble for it makes us want to hang out with and be empathetic and affectionate toward other people.

Okay, all that is important to the preservation of the species, but what’s it got to do with hugs?

Physical affection tends to increase the release of oxytocin in our systems. So hugs mean more of this hormone in our blood streams, calming us down, and making us want to be even more affectionate. Now isn’t that a lovely positive cycle?

4 multi-colored hands grasping each other
Research has also found that oxytocin tends to increase empathy and trust, so it’s good for our relationships in other ways as well. The higher levels in women also explains why women tend to be more physically affectionate than men (in general, as a group; there are plenty of exceptions. Don’t throw things at me).

But don’t despair, gentlemen. The more hugs you get, the more of that nice calming effect you will experience. Also, fathers who actively participate in the care of their infants show significant increases in oxytocin as well, which in turn increases their warm feelings toward their infants (and calms them down/gives them more patience).

And research has found that oxytocin levels are higher, in both partners, during sexual arousal. It also tends to be higher in people who are in the process of falling in love.

So basically this hormone is a major feel-good chemical. And it’s totally natural and free!

Have you had your hug (oxytocin fix) today? Talk to me in the comments. I love hearing from you, because I’m really into that affiliative behavior. 😉

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 lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Where Were You When? Flashbulb Memories

by Kassandra Lamb

I’m over at Jen Jensen’s blog today talking about our memories of dramatic world events and how they become entwined in our memories of our personal history. Between the recent release of her children’s time travel book and this week being the anniversary of 9/11, I’ve had the subject of history on my mind lately.

We read about history, write about history, hear about it and sometimes even see it in the making on TV. But what happens when historical events become entwined with our own personal histories in our memory banks?

New York skyline with the beams of light memorializing the Twin Towers

photo by Ekabhishek CC BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons

This often happens when an event is particularly shocking, tragic and/or strikes close to home for us emotionally. Our brains will record what’s called a flashbulb memory. We will remember, years later, where we were and what we were doing (and sometimes even what we were wearing) when we heard the news of such events.

My first flashbulb memory is from the day President Kennedy was assassinated. (Yes, I am that old.)   Read more…

Zero Hero coverZERO HERO , A Kate Huntington Mystery

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11 the media replays the videos of that day’s devastation, and a national hero’s life begins to unravel.

When the first responder–already struggling with delayed PTSD and addiction–is accused of murdering his former drug dealer, psychotherapist Kate Huntington finds herself going above and beyond to help him. As she and her P.I. husband set out to clear him of the charges, they are thrust into a deadly world of drugs, prostitutes and hired killers, and end up questioning who they are and what it means to be brave.


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 lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Tag, Kirsten’s It!

by Kassandra Lamb

We’re playing a game of tag, blog tour-style here at misterio this week. I was tagged by the wonderful Barb Taub, and I posted about my writing process on Tuesday.

Kirsten Weiss

I tagged fellow misterio author, Kirsten Weiss, and she
already has her post up on her blog.

She’s fast!!

Check it out…



The Music That Feeds Our Souls

by Kassandra Lamb

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.  ~  Berthold Auerbach

All Saints Episcopal Church, San Francisco (photo by AJ Alfieri-Crispin CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

(photo by AJ Alfieri-Crispin CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

I finally got around to uploading a post to my own website. It’s one I wrote last year for Catie Rhodes’ Author Celebrity Playlist series on her blog. But instead of doing my own playlist, I did one for my main character, Kate Huntington.

It includes the songs that were meaningful to Kate at various turning points in her life. (If you’re a Kate Huntington fan, check it out; it gives a lot of her back story.)

Posting that playlist got me thinking about music, and how so often it can speak to us in ways that mere words alone cannot. Somehow combining those words with a beautiful melody makes the message so much more powerful.

My favorite song of all time is Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Teach Your Children. I first heard it in 1970, the year I graduated from high school. It spoke to me then, but it’s appeal has only increased through the years. I can now relate to the song from both the perspective of a grown child and that of a parent of a grown child.

Listen carefully to the lyrics:


“And feed them on your dreams, the one they picked…”

There is one dream that has survived for three generations in my family: to be a writer.

My mother was a public relations specialist for a college. She used words all the time in her job, writing press releases and college catalogs. But it had always been her dream to be a “real” writer. The closest she came were a couple rough drafts of children’s books and some travel articles she wrote in her retirement for a seniors’ magazine.

I spent the majority of my working life as a psychotherapist. It was a very satisfying career and I have no regrets. I wrote professional articles through the years. But the demands of my job and family left me little time or energy for creative writing. My second career was that of college professor. Again I found an outlet for my writing lust as I drafted lecture notes and developed tests, but still there never seemed to be much time left over.

Finally, at age 59, the novel that I’d started in my mid-forties came to fruition and was published (sadly, six years after my mother’s death). Now I have several published works to my name. I have been well fed by my mother’s dream, the one I picked.

My son has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a masters in divinity. His full-time job is that of Episcopal priest. Like I did before him, he can satisfy some of his desire for writing through his profession as he drafts his weekly sermons. But he also carves out what little time he can for writing fiction–fantasy novels with a strong spiritual component. I have no doubt that he will be published, hopefully some day soon.

My mother is dancing in heaven. We have fed her with our dreams, the one she picked.

And then there is the chorus:

Don’t you ever ask them why; if they told you, you would cry.
Just look at them and sigh, and know they love you.

I get a lump in my throat every time I read or hear those lyrics. I have learned through the years that there are things we may never understand about other generations, the ones that came before us nor the ones that follow us.

Don’t you ever ask them why; just know they love you!

What song speaks to your soul? Do you share a dream with other generations of your family?

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.)

The Dark Side of Love: Why Some Women Are Attracted to Abusers

Hey everyone! I’m over at Bianca Sloane’s blog today. She has guest posts all this month from a variety of folks talking about different aspects of The Dark Side of Love. Plus a contest with great prizes!

header for Dark Side of Love

Today, I’m talking about why women are attracted to abusive men and so often stay with them.

Abused Women: Why Does She Love Him?

Abusive relationships definitely fall into the category of the Dark Side of Love. As a psychotherapist, I worked with quite a few women who had been in such relationships, often repeatedly picking out one abusive man after another.

Many people, on the outside looking in, wonder why battered women stay with these men. Indeed, why are they attracted to such brutes to begin with? These sound like simple enough questions but… Read more