Tag Archives: Murder Honey

What Happened First (New Prequel Releases)

by Kassandra Lamb

Prequels to series or trilogies are becoming increasingly popular. As a reader, I usually enjoy them. It’s fun to read more about the characters’ back stories, to see them meeting each other for the first time, etc.

Not long ago, I decided to tackle writing a prequel. Vinnie Hansen has also recently written one for her series, and we’ve both encountered the same three questions from folks about the experience.

So we thought we’d answer them in a blog post.

1. What did you find the most challenging and the most fun about writing a prequel?

Kass Lamb:
Two things were both challenging and fun. One was imagining my characters as younger, more naive people. Normally as authors, we see our characters grow and mature. But in this case I had to go backward and imagine my protagonist as the young woman who would have grown into the Kate Huntington of the series (who is 38 when the series starts and almost 50 by Book 9).

Sweet Sanctuary book cover

At the moment, Sweet Sanctuary is only available to newsletter subscribers. You can sign up at my website.

This younger Kate is fresh out of graduate school, just getting her feet wet as a psychotherapist, and she is discovering that the young man she found boring in college maybe isn’t so dull after all.

The second thing that was both challenging and fun was keeping the technology stuff straight. The prequel is set in 1993. The Internet was in its infancy, personal computers were still a novelty (people actually had to look things up in phone books) and cell phones were big, bulky and expensive.

Vinnie Hansen:
I didn’t start Smoked Meat from scratch. I worked from a short story I’d written awhile ago. However, in the course of doing this, I realized I couldn’t just inflate what I had. It would burst!

Short as my novella is (10,000 words), it’s still three times the length of a typical short story.

My novella would need new stuff—a subplot, a twist. This challenge also provided the fun. I liked delving into the plot and thinking, “Oh, but this could happen . . ..”

2. Why/how did you decide to write a prequel?

Last year, I was invited to include Murder, Honey, Book 1 in my Carol Sabala series, in the e-collection Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries. The anthology was a huge success. The editor decided to put out a follow-up collection, Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas, due out this fall. Each author was to contribute a novella related to her series in the first anthology.

I didn’t have a novella written, and I considered the series complete. My seven books create a satisfying character arc for Carol. A prequel seemed like the only logical choice for the new work.

Smoked Meat book cover

Smoked Meat is now available for preorder (can be read as a stand-alone)

That’s how I came to write Smoked Meat, which is available now for pre-order as a misterio press e-book. Please remember this is a novella, and a short one at that, so expect a mystery that seems like a very long short story.

I wanted something fresh to use as a reward for folks who subscribed to my newsletter. I had been giving away the first of my Kate on Vacation novellas, shorter, lighter reads that have the same characters as the main series. But I wrote that novella, An Unsaintly Season in St. Augustine, between Books 4 and 5 of the main series.

In Book 1 of the series, Multiple Motives, (spoiler alert) Kate’s first husband, Eddie Huntington is the murder victim. By Book 4, Kate has remarried and has two kids. I felt it was a bit strange for readers who read and liked Book 1, signed up for the newsletter, and then found themselves reading this story set much later with some very different character dynamics.

Multiple Motives book cover

Multiple Motives is permafree on all ebook retailers.

It made more sense to give them a prequel that showed Kate and Eddie falling in love. But of course, I had to give them a mystery to solve as well. Thus the idea for Sweet Sanctuary was conceived, in which Eddie is the prime suspect when his date for the evening is found murdered.

3. Since these prequels were written last, not first, after all or most of the series were completed, at what point should a person read them?

I think it would be ideal to read Sweet Sanctuary after having read Book 1, Multiple Motives, but before reading the rest of the series. But it would be fine to read it later, after having read more or all of the other books.

I definitely would discourage reading it first. Some of the references and characters will make more sense after one has read Book 1. For example, Kate’s best friend in Multiple Motives is lawyer Rob Franklin and their friendship, which grew out of a work relationship, is central to that story. In Sweet Sanctuary, Kate meets Rob for the first time when she is trying to find a lawyer to help her friend Ed Huntington. That scene has some humor in it that will be a lot funnier for folks who have already read Multiple Motives.

Smoked Meat can stand on its own and be read at any point. Many readers will encounter my works through the two Sleuthing Women releases and will read Smoked Meat second. That’s fine, but not ideal.

I’d recommend that a person read the prequel either first or last, with a bias for last, the order in which they were written. Both Smoked Meat and the first book in the series take place at Christmas, although Murder, Honey is set in a later year. I’d like my readers to have some distance between one Christmas setting and the next.

Do you have other questions about writing prequels? As a reader, do you find them fun or annoying?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb and Vinnie Hansen.

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.

Vinnie is a retired English teacher and award-winning author. Her Carol Sabala mystery series is set in Santa Cruz, California.

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.)