A Short But Loving Holiday Message from Misterio

Our blog is officially on hiatus until January 7, 2020, but we thought we’d share some fun music. This first one isn’t exactly a Christmas song per se, although it’s on Pentatonix’s Christmas album this year.

But it very much expresses how we at misterio press feel about you, our readers. You’re the best!!

And another fave Christmas song, also a cappella!

Hope Everyone has a Great Holiday!!! See you in 2020.

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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Merry Christmas, Sherlock Holmes Style

blue-carbuncle-1892

(Illustration by Sidney Paget, 1892. Wikimedia Commons.)

Here’s some short and sweet holiday fun from K.B. Owen’s archives—Merry Christmas, Sherlock Holmes style.

Happy Holidays! As a mystery lover, Christmas reminds me of one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes stories, “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.” The mystery starts with a dropped hat and a Christmas goose left behind.

But Holmes isn’t confined to Doyle’s own writings. Since then, numerous post-canon stories in the Holmes tradition have been created for film, t.v., and radio. Here’s another Sherlock Holmes Christmas adventure you might enjoy, originally aired as a radio broadcast during WWII. 

The recording (link embedded below) is from the Sherlock Holmes audio archive of stories, many of them (including this one) narrated by none other than Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Holmes and Watson. My favorite team! The recording includes the classic touches of dramatic organ interludes and even a couple of commercials. It’s a historical treasure trove in its own right. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Merry Christmas, Sherlock Holmes style!

From a different adventure...Basil Rathbone (Holmes) and Nigel Bruce (Watson), Universal Pictures, 1943. Wikimedia Commons.

From a different adventure…Basil Rathbone (Holmes) and Nigel Bruce (Watson), Universal Pictures, 1943. Wikimedia Commons.

To listen to other stories in the Rathbone-Bruce archive, click here.

May your Christmas be filled with fun and mystery!

Until next time,

Kathy

NOTE:  Our blog will be on hiatus until January 7, 2020.

Merry Christmas, Sherlock Holmes style

Image by Osman Rana on Unpslash

Posted by K.B. Owen. K.B. taught college English for nearly two decades at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC, and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature.

A mystery lover ever since she can remember, she drew upon her teaching experiences in creating her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells…and from that series came lady Pinkerton Penelope Hamilton.

There are seven books in the Concordia Wells mystery series thus far, and three novellas in the Penelope Hamilton series.

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. 🙂 )

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10 Tips for Making Your Imperfect Holiday a Happy One (encore)

by Kassandra Lamb

Here’s an oldie-but-goodie post. I’m posting it partly because I’m busy with my own holiday preparations, but the message bears repeating — how to make your imperfect holiday a happy one!

This time of year is supposed to be joyful – full of good food, time spent with family, tinsel and bright lights, and lots of packages under the tree.

We tend to have high expectations for the season, and also to feel that we have to meet others’ expectations so that everyone has a fabulous holiday. The reality sometimes falls short, and all too often in our attempts to make the holidays perfect, we end up short – as in short-tempered… and major stressed out!

Maybe we need to loosen up on some of those expectations and prioritize what’s most important for ourselves and our families. It’s okay to have an imperfect holiday, as long as it is a happy holiday.

First, let’s break things down a bit, to look at what makes an imperfect holiday a happy one. We have gifts, decorations, food and family (I refer to Christmas below, but the same ideas apply to other holidays of the season.)

Tips for making your imperfect holiday a happy one -- cull your gift list and shop early.
A shopping mall in Toronto, Canada (photo by Benson Kua, CC-BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

GIFTS: Some people (like me) love to shop; other’s loathe the process. If you fall into the latter category the first thing you can do is…

1. CULL THE GIFT LIST. Do you have people on your list for whom you have no idea what they want or like? Then you probably don’t know or like them well enough to be spending money on them. Are there relatives on the list with whom you exchange token gifts, neither party really caring whether the other likes what they get?

See if you can get them off the list without offending them. Suggest that you not exchange gifts, just enjoy each others’ company. (They may very well agree with great relief.) Or buy them something inexpensive and consumable, and repeat next year. You don’t have to be creative when nobody cares. (My mother-in-law got scented hand lotion from me every year. She was fine with that.) Suggest your extended family draw names and each person gets, and gives, just one gift.

2. SHOP EARLY. Whether you love or hate shopping, this is good advice. Yes, there are great bargains closer to Christmas but there’s also a lot more pressure. And these days, retailers often have sales going off and on throughout the fall.

Christmas shopping tends to bring out the procrastinator in many of us. It feels like such an overwhelming task. But the longer we put it off, the worse it will be. On the flip side, the sooner you start, the less pressured and the more fun it can be.

I begin in October, usually with an all-day shopping trip. It’s a fun, low-stress day, because it’s only October and I have lots of time to find those items that didn’t jump into my cart that day.

3. DO YOU HATE TO WRAP? Or do you love it? If you love it (as I do) starting early on your shopping means you have plenty of time to enjoy the wrapping process. I make it part of my evening routine as I watch TV. Wrapping three or four packages a night, I’ve got it done in no time. And it gets me in the holiday spirit!

Tips for Making Your Imperfect Holiday a Happy One -- gift bags!
Photo by Melinda & Cristiano, CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr/Wikimedia

But if you hate it, I have two words for you…

Gift Bags!!! For a buck or two apiece, your wrapping is done!

DECORATIONS:

4. DECORATE FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY, NOT THE WORLD. Unless you totally get off on decorating (I know a couple of people who do), keep it simple. Ask yourself what is most important for you and yours?

For years I struggled with those #%@&* outside lights, stringing them over trees and bushes and freezing my tuckus off in the process. Today, the inside of my house is a Christmas wonderland, because I enjoy putting up those decorations. But outside, there’s a wreath on the front door and a pre-lit table tree in the dining room window. That’s all my neighbors are getting from me.

And you know what? None of them have complained.

5. MAKE IT A FAMILY AFFAIR. When I was a kid, my father was in charge of decorating the tree. He was meticulous. All the ornaments had to be balanced, the tree totally symmetrical. (He was an engineer.) He would carefully put one strand of tinsel on each branch.

Tips for Making Your Imperfect Holiday a Happy One -- let the family decorate the tree, even if it does end up lopsided
A slightly off-kilter tree, but still gorgeous! (public domain–Wikimedia)

He made my mother nuts!! And my brother and I fled to our rooms until the tree was done.

The blinkin’ tree doesn’t have to be perfect. Get the whole gang involved and it will be done in no time. And if you must have symmetry, you can move a few ornaments after everyone else is in bed.

FOOD: If you love to cook, go for it. If it’s not so much your thing (like me), look for ways to keep it simple.

6. PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME. I learned this from my grandma. Every year, she came over to our house on Christmas Eve. She made the dressing that night, and prepped the turkey. The next morning, Mr. Turkey just needed to be transferred from the fridge to the oven.

7. IS THAT BIG MEAL REALLY WHAT YOU WANT? Again, ask yourself what really matters. You just had a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. Is it crucial that you have another one a month later?

A few years ago, my family was facing some stressors around the holidays that made us want to simplify things as much as possible. We decided we would have a cold buffet for Christmas dinner, for just that year. I baked two turkey rolls the day before and my daughter-in-law and I made or bought various salads. I was sure it would be a letdown not to have the traditional big Christmas dinner.

Guess what? We didn’t miss it one bit! The meal was just as tasty, and so much less stressful. Instead of spending inordinate amounts of time in the kitchen prepping and then cleaning up from a big meal, we spent that time balancing plates on our laps and laughing and talking as we enjoyed each other’s company. We’ve been doing Christmas dinner that way ever since!

FAMILY: Being with family is the heart of Christmas and perhaps the most important component in making an imperfect holiday a happy one. But how do we define our families?

8. SPEND CHRISTMAS DAY WITH THE PEOPLE WHO MATTER THE MOST. One of the mistakes I sometimes see people making on Christmas is that they spread themselves too thin. Christmases were special for me as a kid because they were relaxed. We opened our stockings, then had a leisurely breakfast. We opened our presents, then had a leisurely dinner.

Tips for Making Your Imperfect Holiday a Happy One -- celebrate Christmas with the extended family on a different day.
Christmas with the extended family, on 12/26. We’re having a ball, can’t ya tell? 😉

We went to visit the extended family the day after Christmas, or the following weekend. We saw everybody eventually, but NOT on Christmas Day!

The first year I was married, my husband and I tried to keep everybody happy. We got up extra early to exchange our own presents, then went to my parents’ house for brunch. Then we jumped in the car and drove for two hours to have Christmas dinner with his family.

Never again!

9. WHAT IS YOUR FAMILY OF CHOICE? If you don’t like your biological family, do NOT spend the most precious day of the year with them. Politely tell them that you want to spend Christmas with just your spouse and your children. If you’re not married, it’s okay to make your close friends your family of choice. If it feels too hurtful to say no to your biological family on December 25th, then designate another day—perhaps Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas—as your “family of choice” Christmas.

Last but definitely not least…

10. BE JOYFUL. The bottom line here is that this is supposedf to be a joyful time of year. So do your best to set it up so it is fun and relaxing for you and those who are most important to you. A less stressful, imperfect holiday makes for a happy holiday!

Any other ideas for simplifying Christmas preparations and minimizing holiday stress?

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 the cozy series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy 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. 🙂 )

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An “Off” Week Goodie: Star in a Paranormal Mystery!

Star in a Paranormal Mystery

Have you ever imagined yourself a character in a mystery?

One of our misterio press authors is about to make that possible for one lucky winner. Enter now and maybe you will star in a paranormal mystery!! (Okay, that sounded a little gameshow host-y, but seriously, this is a cool giveaway.)

Kirsten Weiss will name a character in an exclusive, paranormal mystery short story after the winner of her giveaway, running through this Saturday, December 7th. The winner will also receive a hand-bound, original copy of the story, limited edition of 1! (They’ll even get to choose the color of the stitching in the spine… as long as it’s orange, purple, or black, because those are the colors she’s got).

But everyone’s a winner in this contest, because ALL entrants will receive a PDF copy of the finished story.

Want to enter? Just click here! http://bit.ly/2OTyPGs

Next Week: How to manage stress during the holiday season!

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 Colorado Springs, CO, 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, Tea and Tarot, 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. To connect with Kirsten, see her author page here on misterio for social media links.

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.

I’m Thankful I’m a Clumsy Gardener

by Kassandra Lamb

As a follow-up to a recent post, When Your Garden Tries to Kill You, I had promised to tell the rest of the story of how my garden tried to kill (or at least maim) me and why I’m thankful I’m a clumsy gardener.

This month marks the 9-year anniversary of the beginning of my writing career. And it got started, for real, because of my poor gardening skills.

I’d been futzing around for decades, rewriting the same first five chapters of my Great American Novel, and telling myself that someday, when I was retired and had more time, I would get serious about my writing.

Well, five years of semi-retirement came and went, and I still wasn’t getting serious.

Then one day, I was gardening.
Thankful I'm a clumsy gardener ~ here's my somewhat wild garden now.
The only section of garden still separate from the lawn. As you can see, I don’t keep it very neat anymore.

Not my fave thing to do and definitely not my best skill set.

But we’d inherited all these areas of plants and flowers, installed by the previous owner of our house, and I was valiantly trying to maintain them. (I’ve since pulled up most of the railroad ties that divided them from the lawn and told our lawn guy to mow right to the fence!)

That day, I had bought several bags of mulch, dragged them around to the backyard, and I was pulling weeds and then spreading fresh mulch around the plants.

When the pile of mulch bags was down to one bag, I looked at it and thought, Gotta be careful. I might trip over that.

Sure enough, not more than five minutes later, I stepped back to admire my now weed-free garden and tripped over the blinkety-blank bag of mulch. My body twisted and so did my foot, right under me.

The good news was, I didn’t break it.
I'm thankful I'm a clumsy gardener, despite this lovely sprained ankle.
A re-enactment. I didn’t think to take a pic of my swollen foot at the time.

The bad news was, I might have been better off if I had. I sprained my ankle, badly, and the foot itself…suffice it to say that multiple things tore loose that are supposed to be attached to one’s skeletal system.

A visit to the ER resulted in my obtaining a new possession—a lovely pair of crutches. I was told to put minimal weight on it, elevating it as much as possible for the next several weeks.

No longer able to walk all that well, much less garden, I found myself with time on my hands. And one day I got an idea for yet another change to the opening of my novel.

I'm thankful I'm a clumsy gardener or this book might never have happened.

I sat down at my computer, thinking it might take me maybe 15 minutes to capture this new idea for the first chapter.

Well, with not much else to distract me other than hobbling to the bathroom on my crutches, the first draft of Multiple Motives was done six weeks later.

And this is why I’m thankful I’m a clumsy gardener.

Now, the month of November reminds me of both the worst injury I’ve ever had (I know, I’m counting that as a blessing too!), but also of the best thing ever. My dream of being an author finally happened!

Have you ever had a bad thing happen that ended up being the catalyst for a good thing?

P.S. I’m also extremely grateful for the many friendships that have evolved from my writing career, including the one with Barb Taub, whose fun post inspired both this post and the previous one.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!!

Thankful I'm a clumsy gardener ~ "Give Thanks and Eat Pie"
Photo by Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash
The Kate Huntington Mysteries Books 1-5

Psst, I have a new boxed set out, the first five books in the Kate Huntington Series.

Available at AMAZON ~ NOOK ~ APPLE ~ KOBO ~ GOOGLE PLAY. Just $9.99 for FIVE BOOKS!

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 the cozy series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy 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.

7 Do’s and Don’ts When Writing A Series: An “Off” Week Goodie for Writers

by Kassandra Lamb

I’m over at Jami Gold’s cyber-home today, shooting the breeze with her subscribers about the Do’s and Don’ts of writing a series, whether it be a mystery or romance series. Come on over and join the discussion.

do's and don'ts when writing a series

And this seems like a good time to tell you all that I have the first 5 Books in the Kate Huntington mystery series all bundled up in a sweet little package for you. Five books for just $9.99. Half what you would pay for them individually!

On AMAZON ~ NOOK ~ APPLE ~ KOBO ~ and it will be live on GOOGLE PLAY soon.

Now here’s a preview of my post on writing a series…

7 Do’s and Don’ts When Writing a Series

After ten years of writing, I’m beginning to get the hang of it. 😀 I’ve completed one 10-book mystery series and am writing Book 9 of another, plus two romantic suspense series (under the pen name of Jessica Dale).

When I started out, I had no idea what I was doing. I knew how to tell a story, but I was oblivious to the many pitfalls when writing a series.

I’ve learned a thing or two since then, by trial and error mostly—I’m hardheaded that way—and I’d like to share with you all what I’ve discovered. Here are some do’s and don’ts when writing a series.

#1 ~ Do make your main character flawed, interesting and likeable.

You’re going to be living with this protagonist for quite some time, so give him/her some careful thought. I did not do this starting out.

When I began my first series, I thought “flawed” meant things like she’s a lousy cook (go ahead and laugh; I do every time I think about it).

I made my protagonist, Kate Huntington, way too put together. Okay, she’s a psychotherapist so we’d kind of expect her to be better put together than most, but… I had no clue that “flawed” meant emotional wounds!

Fortunately, her vocation was intriguing and caught readers’ interest. And since these were murder mysteries, I could make bad things happen to give poor Kate some fresh wounds to deal with.

I did manage to make her likeable. Only a few readers have complained that they didn’t like her, usually because she was “too perfect.”

With my second series, I gave my main character a failed first marriage, commitment phobia, childhood taunting, and a bit of an impulsive streak. I couldn’t do really heavy wounds, since this is a cozy mystery series.

But now, as I’m planning my next series—a police procedural—I’m contemplating some darker emotional wounds for my MC. *rubbing hands together in glee*

#2 ~ DO have your main character grow and change over the course of the series.
do's and don'ts when writing a series
I have grown and changed as a writer also, over the process of writing this series.

This is one of the most common complaints I hear about some series (not mine, of course), that the MC never seems to learn or develop as a person. They keep doing the same things in their daily lives, and they keep going into the dark attics, ignoring law enforcement officers’ warnings, etc. Their personalities never seem to develop beyond where they started.

Also, make sure their important relationships grow and change, as in real life. One of my fave authors has an MC with a particularly passionate marriage, which makes for an interesting series subplot. But after so many books, that subplot stalled. Every story, it’s the same routine—she overworks herself on a new case; he makes her stop to sleep and eat; they make passionate love; she goes back to crime-fighting.

Rinse and repeat… Even the sex scenes got boring after a while.

#3 ~ In later books, DON’T give away the outcome of earlier stories, but DO drop hints.

Readers don’t always read a series in order. They may first discover your series when you’re releasing Book 4. Or they may accidentally skip a book, or get mixed up about the exact order.

If you give away the conclusion of earlier books, they have no motivation to go back and read them. But if you just hint at those earlier storylines, hopefully they will be intrigued and read the entire series.

These hints should occur when a character would naturally think about an earlier experience… This is not as hard as it sounds. READ MORE

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 the cozy series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy 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.

Happy Hallovetsgiving and 8 Gifts for Book Lovers (Plus a New Release)

by Kirsten Weiss

flag in Gifts from Book lovers post
Image by Brandon Day on Unsplash

Ever notice how the holidays just keep coming faster and faster in the Fall. We haven’t even finished off the leftover Halloween candy and it’s Veterans’ Day… much gratitude from us at misterio for the men and women who have served and protected our country!!

Now Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and retailers are rushing us toward the next big holiday, with early Black Friday sales.

So for those of us who are already stressing out about our Christmas gift list, here are 8 ideas for gifts for book lovers on that list.

#1 — For the bookworm who eschews online lists, a book lover’s journal!

gifts for book lovers

Now you can not only record your reading experiences, but also keep track of who you’ve lent your books to (or borrowed them from). Several choices on Amazon, ranging from $5.99 to $13.25

#2Bookish socks. In case you haven’t noticed, quirky socks are a thing now. John’s Crazy Socks has a huge collection of socks themed for book lovers.

#3 — And if you want to move beyond socks to T-Shirts, check out the Book Riot Store, for classically-themed clothing.

gifts for book lovers

#4 — A set of literary shot glasses.

We can’t actually throw back drinks with Oscar Wilde, but these make it easier to raise a glass to him. Set of six. (Amazon – $16.95).

#5 — And for the Harry Potter lover, a Hogwarts-themed Kindle cover.

These come in a variety of colors ($24.95).

If you sniff around Amazon, you’ll find all sorts of non-Harry themed covers too. They really come in handy for protecting e-readers, making them great gifts for book lovers. 

gifts for book lovers

#6 — A great little mini booklight.

With this light, you can read ANYWHERE, and the best part is, it’s rechargeable. And with three levels of illumination, you’re bound to find the perfect lighting. (Amazon – $13.99).

#7Literary Teabags!

gifts for book lovers

With literary quotes on each tag. Perfect for the person on your list who loves to sip tea while reading! (Amazon – $13.50)

#8 — And of course, the best gifts for book lovers — BOOKS!!

Ahem, may I recommend a selection from our misterio press authors?

And here’s my latest release, which launches November 15th!

Fate, A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery #6

Something wicked this way comes…

Fate book cover

Witch Jayce Bonheim has spent the last four months waiting for a horde of dark magicians to come to town.

Now, they’ve arrived, embedded in a traveling circus.

And they’re bigger and badder than this ex-party girl could have imagined, wreaking havoc wherever they go.

But when a murder rocks her small town, Jayce must stop the chaos. Walking a tightrope between dark spells and past regrets, can Jayce stop a murderer and stop these magicians from transforming the world forever?

If you’re a fan of Charlaine Harris, Heather Blake, or Amanda M. Lee, don’t miss Fate, book 6 in The Witches of Doyle cozy mystery novels.

This novel is a full-length, witch cozy mystery featuring true-to-life spells in the back of the book, a trio of witchy sisters, and a dash of romance. Though Fate can be read as a standalone, it’s best read in series order. It’s rated PG-13 due to mild language and some romance.

AMAZON ~ APPLE ~ NOOK ~ KOBO ~ GOOGLE PLAY

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten’s 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. She writes genre-blending cozy mystery, supernatural and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of fun and enchantment.

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.

 

6 Reasons Why Audio Books Rock

why audio books rock

by Kassandra Lamb and K.B. Owen

I recently released my first audio book. And I’m wishing I’d done this a lot sooner.

There are so many cool things about audio books, for readers and authors.

So K.B. Owen and I put our heads together and came up with 6 reasons why audio books rock!

1 – Boredom-buster!

K.B. here — There are so many boring things we do every day that can now be much less so. In one survey, 73% of those who listen to audio books do so while commuting, 33% while doing housework, and 25% while exercising. That treadmill is boring no longer!

2 – Road trip stimulant

Kass again — I take a lot of road trips, and normally I love to drive. But on a long trip, it can get boring, and even dangerous if that boredom starts to lull me to sleep. A stimulating audio book keeps me awake and makes the time really fly by. (Just keep your eye on the gas gauge; I almost ran out of gas one time when I was engrossed in an audio book.)

3 – Convenience

K.B. again — I love the convenience of audio books. They are easy to load and listen to on your tablet or smartphone. According to the Wall Street Journal, audio books are now a $1.2 billion industry, which means more of our fave books are being made into audio than ever before. Audio book companies are even developing original stories, that have never been in print or digital form before.

4 – No reading involved

Santa Cruz Noir--why audio books rock

Our author, Vinnie Hansen, has a story in this anthology. Check out it out HERE

Kass — Audio books can open up the world of the written word to people who have difficulty reading. This may be because of vision problems, dyslexia, or other issues that have impaired the person’s ability to become comfortable with reading (or to continue reading in old age).

But now, that doesn’t mean such folks can’t enjoy fiction stories and learn cool stuff from non-fiction books.

Now they can listen instead!

5 – Versatile

K.B. — With Amazon’s WhisperSync technology (and hopefully other vendors will be developing something similar soon), it’s easy to switch between reading an ebook on your Kindle, tablet or phone, then continuing to listen to the story on audio as you jump in the car to run errands or have to wash the dishes.

6 – Stories come to life

Both of us — Great voice talent brings a book to life in a way that you may not have imagined. For us, just the experience of reviewing the audio chapters of our own books gave us a fun new perspective on our characters!

It’s hard to describe how much difference it makes hearing a story versus reading it. It’s so much easier to become immersed in the story, for one thing, and you feel like you have actually met the characters.

For example, here’s a sample of my new audio book. My narrator, Amy Deuchler, did such a great job. She really nailed the character of my protagonist, Marcia Banks.

 

Here are the links for To Kill A Labrador audio book!

AUDIBLE(AMAZON) ~ iTUNES(APPLE) ~ GOOGLE PLAY ~ KOBO ~ AUDIOBOOKS.COM 

And here’s K.B.’s latest audio book, Beloved and Unseemly, A Concordia Wells Mystery #6:
Beloved and Unseemly--why audio books rock

A stolen blueprint, a dead body, and wedding bells….

Change is in the air at Hartford Women’s College in the fall of 1898. Renowned inventor Peter Sanbourne—working on Project Blue Arrow for the Navy—heads the school’s new engineering program, and literature professor Concordia Wells prepares to leave to marry David Bradley.

The new routine soon goes awry when a bludgeoned body—clutching a torn scrap of the only blueprint for Blue Arrow—is discovered on the property Concordia and David were planning to call home.

To unravel the mystery that stands between them and their new life together, Concordia must navigate deadly pranks, dark secrets, and long-simmering grudges that threaten to tear apart her beloved school and leave behind an unseemly trail of bodies.

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

We’re assuming if you’ve read this far that you probably enjoy audio books. Anything you would add to this list of why audio books rock?

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

K.B. Owen has taught college English for nearly two decades at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC, and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature. A mystery lover ever since she can remember, she drew upon her teaching experiences in creating her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells…and from that series came lady Pinkerton Penelope Hamilton. There are now seven books in the Concordia Wells mystery series thus far, and three novellas in the Penelope Hamilton series.

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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Halloween Goodies from Our Authors (Recipes and Book Bargains)

by Kassandra Lamb (on behalf of the whole gang)

We’re celebrating Halloween this year with some autumn recipes and a bunch of sales on our books!! See below for the bargains, but first browse our recipes for some stick-to-your-ribs dishes and some lip-smacking sweet treats. We hope you enjoy these Halloween goodies from our authors.

First up is K.B. Owen with one of those sweet treats ~ Because life is short; eat dessert first!

K.B. here. In our household, nothing says autumn and Halloween quite like pumpkin fudge. The spice combination, the creaminess, not to mention real pumpkin being in it…yum! I make it at least once in the season.

It’s a particular favorite of our youngest son, Corey. In fact, I’m about to make a batch to bring up to Rochester when we visit him next week (he’s a freshman at RIT…7 hours away! sniff). Enjoy!

Pumpkin Fudge (makes 3 lbs)
Halloween goodies from our authors
Corey has always loved pumpkin. Here’s a pic of him (from a few years ago) taking a bite out of one.

Ingredients:
3 cups sugar
¾ cup butter
5-oz can evaporated milk
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
10-oz pkg butterscotch flavor pieces
7-oz jar marshmallow crème
1 tsp vanilla
Optional – ½ cup toasted chopped pecans

Directions: Line a 13x9x2 baking pan w/foil, extending over edges of pan. Butter foil; set aside.

In a heavy 2-qt saucepan combine ingredients down through the cloves. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. (Clip candy thermometer, if you have one, to side of the saucepan.)

Reduce heat to medium-low; continue to boil at a moderate, steady rate, stirring constantly, until reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit OR mixture reaches soft-ball stage (20-25 min).

sweet treat Halloween goodies from our authors
K.B.’s pumpkin fudge

Remove pan from heat. Stir in butterscotch pieces until melted. Stir in marshmallow crème and vanilla until well combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with pecans, if desired. Score into 1-inch pieces while warm.

When fudge is firm, use foil to lift it out of pan. Cut fudge into pieces. Store in fridge up to 1 week.

Gilian Baker asked the main character of her Digital Detective series, Jade Blackwell, to share one of her slow cooker recipes. Yum!

Jade Blackwell, Gilian Baker’s protagonist here. As the weather turns each autumn, we get a hankering for homemade soup. If you are anything like me, you want to keep your time in the kitchen to the barest minimum. Enter the slow cooker! Here’s one of my favorite fall soups. It’s a family favorite too, and you can’t go wrong with it.

The best time to make it is when you have veggies in the fridge that are looking kind of sad, and/or when you need to free up space in the freezer or the pantry. If you plan it just right, you can make up a big batch and won’t have to cook for a few nights! We like to eat it with a hunk of sharp cheddar and a crusty baguette from Tea & Sympathy, the tea shop/bakery in our small (fictional) town of Aspen Falls.

Jade’s Slow Cooker Clean-Out-The-Fridge Soup
stick-to-your-ribs Halloween goodies from our authors

Ingredients:
A couple of squash and/or zucchini
A couple of small potatoes
Some carrots
Some celery
Some cabbage
Some onion
Some tomatoes ( From the garden, if we have any left, especially if they are a bit overripe.)
Any other veg in the fridge that is looking a little like now-or-never
Homemade chicken stock (or store-bought)
2 or 3 cans of beans (or dry) — Whatever you have in the pantry will work. Dust off the cans that have been hogging up space and plop them in the slow cooker.

If dry beans are what you have, soak them overnight with half a potato. (The potato will absorb all the gas-causing enzymes from the beans as they soak. This little tip makes bean soup much more enjoyable for everyone. DON’T eat the potato; pitch it!)

Directions: Cut up all the vegetables. Dump the chicken stock, crunchy veggies, and beans in the slow cooker. Wait to add the softer veggies that don’t take as long to cook—zucchini, squash, and celery—so they don’t get mushy. Once the crunchy veggies are soft, it’s safe to add them. If you want some chicken in your soup, shred some and toss it in.

Cook on low for 6 hrs. or so, depending on what vegetables you used and when you added the quick-cook ones.

And here’s another stick-to-your-ribs recipe from Vinnie Hansen that actually makes me want to eat vegetables (not usually my fave foods).

Vinnie here. To me, autumn means eating more root veggies, so one thing I make as the weather gets cooler are roasted roots. That includes potatoes and yams for sure, definitely onion, carrots probably, but also possibly turnips, beets, and parsnips.

Stick-to-your-ribs Halloween goodies from our authors
(Photo by Beatrice Murch CC-BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

I slice them up, put them in a large cake pan coated with olive oil, sprinkle them with the spices that call to me–salt and pepper for sure, but then maybe thyme, or if it’s closer to Thanksgiving, maybe rosemary and sage (this is never a measured thing).

Then I roast them at 400 degrees, for about 45 minutes or until soft, flipping the veggies around once or twice during the process.

We need to wash that all down, so how about some mulled wine, from Shannon Esposito
liquid libation Halloween goodies from our authors
photo by element5-digital on Unsplash

Ingredients:
1 bottle red wine (I like cabernet sauvignon)
1 cup apple cider
1 cup cranberry juice
1/3 cup sugar (or your preferred sweetener)
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 oranges (zested and juiced)
12-14 whole cloves
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp star anise


Directions: Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir. Cook on high until warm (about 30 minutes).

Garnish with leftover orange peel or cranberries and serve warm.

And yet another sweet treat from Kirsten Weiss — Autumn spice cookies.

(Um, after posting all these recipes, I need a snack! Bad!!!)

Kirsten here. These cookies are easy to make and lots of fun. Use Halloween-themed cookie cutters for the season!

sweet treat Halloween goodies from our authors
Vampire Bat Cookie (photo by Ralph Daily CC-BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Ingredients:
Dough —
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
10 Tbsp softened, unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Icing —
2 egg whites
2 ½ cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Food coloring (Halloween-themed colors of your choice)

Directions: Whisk the flour and spices for the dough in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat together the butter and sugar (electric mixer on high) until the mixture is fluffy. Add the 1 whole egg and the vanilla extract. Mix well.

Reducing the speed to low (so you don’t end up breathing in a flour cloud), gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Beat until the dough is thoroughly blended.

Lightly flour a cutting board or other smooth surface. Turn out the dough and knead lightly. Divide the dough in half and flatten halves into two disks. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F and grease two baking sheets.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8” thick. Cut into Halloween shapes using cookie cutters that are roughly the same size (so the baking times will be the same). Re-roll the scraps and repeat. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.

For the icing, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Keep beating until the mixture is thick and shiny. Separate into small bowls and add food coloring. Ice the cookies when they have cooled.
Enjoy!

And now, more Halloween goodies from our authors~Book Bargains for You!

alchemical detective book cover

FREE!!

Kirsten has Alchemical Detective FREE through October 31st!

And Fate, her new Doyle Witch Cozy, is just $2.99 during preorder!! (Price goes up after release on 11/15.)

Fate book cover

99 Cent Sale! (click on links under covers for book descriptions and buy links):

Legend of Sleepy Mayfair cover
Buy Links
Thru 11/2
Murder over Medium cover
Buy Links
Thru 11/2
Lady Luck Runs Out cover
Buy Links
Thru 11/2
Entire Series! thru 11/15

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Grab these bargains before they’re gone!!

~~~~~~

Also, if you click on each author’s name above, you might find more free stories available. Most of us offer free ebooks to folks who sign up for our newsletters.

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.

An “Off” Week Book Review: The First Time I Fell

Book Review: The First Time I Fell

by Kassandra Lamb

Yay!!! Garnet McGee is back!

We brought you all an interview awhile back with Joanne (Jo) MacGregor, author of The First Time I Died, and I told you how much I loved that first book in this new series.

Well, Book 2 is here, and what a treat. My review is below, and to celebrate the new book’s release, Jo is having a little contest, just for us.

The Contest

The First Time I Died book cover
Book 1 on Amazon

She’s giving away two e-copies of Book 1, the winners to be randomly picked from commenters on this post.

So let us know you stopped by with a quick hello below, and you might land one of these free copies—an excellent read.

My Book Review: The First Time I Fell:

Garnet McGee is back in her Vermont hometown, and she’s once again stumbling over bodies and communing with the dead. With her psychic abilities improving and her completion of graduate school looming, she must decide what to do with her life. Her kooky mother suggests she become a psychic detective and drags her unwillingly into the investigation of the body Garnet found in the local quarry.

Local law enforcement, led by Garnet’s former classmate turned police chief, Ryan Jackson, are assuming the woman’s death was a suicide. But Garnet’s “visions” suggest otherwise, and Ryan is not as skeptical of her insights as Garnet assumed he would be.

From there, the clues unfold, leading Garnet back and forth along a twisted trail. The mystery would be solid and intriguing even without the psychic twist, but I particularly liked how Garnet struggles with and finally manages to integrate traditional investigating (interviewing potential suspects) with her psychic glimpses of what happened.

I also like the development of Garnet’s character, as she struggles to let go of the “ghost” of her old love, her dead high school sweetheart, and begins to let herself experience her attraction to Chief Jackson.

I’m looking forward to more Garnet McGee stories and to seeing how she grows and changes over time.

fingerprint to rate books in reviews
fingerprint to rate books in reviews
fingerprint to rate books in reviews
fingerprint to rate books in reviews
fingerprint to rate books in reviews

Four and a half fingerprints!

Grab your copy today on Amazon!

What are you reading at the moment, or have read recently and particularly enjoyed?

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 the cozy series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy 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.