Tag Archives: mystery novels

Dreaming of Being a Mid-List Author

by Kassandra Lamb

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of posting on the blog of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). I posted on the topic of goals, and how it’s okay to not aim for the top of one’s chosen field or endeavor. Not everyone can be “the best.” There’s really only one spot there at the very top.

I liked the post so much I decided to share it with you all. It fits well with the theme of last month’s post about New Year’s resolutions and goals. So here it is:

Dreaming of Being a Mid-List Author

woman at laptop, not aiming for the top
This isn’t me but it could be, especially with the cup of tea. (photo by Dai Ke on Unsplash)

I’m working on my fourth career in my lifespan—that of a fiction author. I love being a writer, but I also loved many aspects of my other careers. I have few regrets, and none regarding what I consider to be my “main” career, that of psychotherapist.

I spent twenty years listening to a lot of people talk about how their middle-of-the-road dreams had gone awry, often due to circumstances that were not completely within their control. Their stories gave me a real appreciation for how it is okay to aspire for moderate success, for a goal that meets one’s needs, whatever they may be, without necessarily bringing one fame and fortune.

The United States is such a competitive society. We are taught that we should aspire to being the best we can be, to win prizes for being the best at what we do.

Why?

Defining Success

I consider my career as a therapist a huge success, even though the profession doesn’t pay all that well and I was never a “big” name in the field. But I helped most of the people who walked through my office door. In a fair number of cases, I helped turn their lives around. And in a few, I saved their lives. I tried to be the best therapist I could be, but I didn’t particularly feel the need to be the best among all therapists.

I’d always dreamed of writing fiction. I loved to write. As a college professor (my third career), I even enjoyed writing tests! I had plucked away at a novel—about a psychotherapist, of course—during most of those years while I was pursuing other careers.

And then I retired and finally had the time to pursue my writing in earnest. When I finished the novel that I’d been writing for years, I suffered from a common ailment of new writers—the write-it-and-they-will-buy-it syndrome.

I imagined that readers would scarf up my new gem by the droves. But I wasn’t dreaming of huge profits or the New York Times bestseller list.

I was imagining hundreds of people READING my book.

Perhaps my retired status gives me the luxury of not caring so much about how big my profits are. But I just can’t get all that excited about things like rankings or bestseller lists or writing awards.

I Can See Clearly Now

In retrospect, I can see my goals more clearly than I did at the time when I published that first book. Here they are, in order of importance:

  • I wanted to experience the joy of having people read my work and tell me they were moved by it.
  • I wanted my characters to come to life for readers who cared about them.
  • I wanted the recognition that I was a good writer (not necessarily great, but good enough to entertain people with my stories).
  • It would be nice to have some extra money from my writing.

Does this make me a hobbyist writer? No.

I take my writing business seriously. It is truly my fourth career. I work almost every day on business-related tasks and/or writing.

What I’m getting at here is that it is okay to have modest goals. We don’t all have to aim for the top of the heap. There isn’t room for all of us up there anyway!

Back when I was a psychotherapist wishing I had more time for writing, I never truly believed I would be where I am today—a successful mid-list author whose writing provides a satisfying supplement to my retirement income.

But here I am, fat and happy in the middle of the pile of fellow writers.

So what do you think? Do we all have to strive to be the best?

NOTE: If you’re an indie author, I can highly recommend the Alliance of Independent Authors; it’s an international professional organization with lots of benefits for joining.

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

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please sign up via email (upper right sidebar) to follow us, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

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Those Annoying Apostrophes!

For our “off” week, I thought I’d share this post I saw on apostrophes. They are probably the most frequently misused form of punctuation among English speakers. My students, when I taught college, were always sprinkling them about indiscriminately.

This article is aimed at writers, but we all write during the course of the day—emails if nothing else, right? And nothing will make your grammar-nerd boss wince faster than a misplaced apostrophe! So check these three rules out … 3 Apostrophe Rules You Need!

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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6 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

by Kassandra Lamb

Happy New Year image
(image by Nevit Dilmen CC-SA-BY 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? (Or perhaps you call them goals.) Do you find they have flown out the window by the end of February, and then you feel like a failure?

The problem may be with how you are wording the resolutions/goals. Or perhaps they aren’t quite the right ones for you.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that get at the most common reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail.

1.  Is the goal/resolution too abstract?

I will be the best person possible sounds good, but it is doomed for failure as soon as you make your first mistake of the new year. Instead, ask yourself what traits or behaviors you would like to improve and make the goal more concrete and specific.

I will strive not to interrupt people during conversations is much more doable.

2.  Is it too big?

Chunk it down into more manageable sub-goals. These can be celebrated as they are achieved, versus only looking at the big goal that feels so far away and difficult.

I will write and publish my first novel this year feels overwhelmingly hard. But if you chunk it down into:

  • I will finish the first draft by June.
  • I will strive to do two self-edits by September.
  • I will send it to a professional editor by October 1st.
  • I will investigate what is involved in getting my book published.
  •  I will set the publication process in motion by the end of the year.

3.  Is it something within your control?

When I was a novice psychotherapist, I foolishly thought that I could readily help people lose weight. I had studied hypnosis and figured it would be a great tool to get people to eat less and exercise more.

And the hypnotic suggestions usually did work, but I soon discovered that weight management was much more complicated than that. Even when people did everything they should do, they didn’t always lose weight. Sometimes there were physical issues—slow metabolism, medications, genetics, etc.—and sometimes there were psychological barriers. And sometimes it was a plain old mystery why the pounds weren’t coming off.

Note that I’m calling it “weight management,” not “weight control” as it is more often labeled. The reality is that we cannot directly control certain things, and our weight is one of them.

Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.

― Epictetus (Greek Stoic philosopher, circa 55-135 AD)

So look at your resolutions and ask yourself if the end goal is totally within your control.

I will research and establish healthier eating patterns and increase my activity level is more realistic than I will lose thirty pounds.

4.  Are you “shoulding” on yourself?

Is this a goal you really want or are you setting it because you believe it is something you should be doing?

Does I will find a better-paying job get shifted from one year’s resolution list to the next? Maybe you really like your job, but it just doesn’t pay enough to make ends meet. Are there other alternatives, such as asking for a raise or looking for a second-income source?

Maybe, after asking these questions, you realize you really should pursue the goal, even though you don’t particularly want to, but being clearer about why you are doing it may help you get there.

So the resolution may become I will look hard at my finances and try to find a way to ease them, which may require changing jobs.

5.  Is your measurement criteria accurate? Or to putting it another way, are you judging success based on the right aspect of the goal?

I won’t get angry at my kids may not be all that realistic, since everyone gets angry and kids can be irritating at times. Maybe I will control my temper better and not yell at my kids when I’m angry is more doable.

One of the frustrations I encountered when working with clients on weight management issues was their obsession with the scale. The reality is that the number of pounds we weigh is not always the best measure of our health or even our appearance.

After a while, I started asking clients to put their scales up in their attics and use a measuring tape instead to keep track of how many inches they were losing as they lost fat and toned muscles (which get denser and heavier when they are toned). Going down three clothing sizes was a better indicator of success than how many pounds they had lost!

6.  Is your resolution related to a goal or dream that you have lost interest in or one that you don’t care enough about to put in the effort required?

This can be a very subtle reason why New Year’s resolutions fail. Sometimes things we used to be gung-ho about aren’t so important anymore, and sometimes a goal turns out to be too damn difficult to be worth the bother.

It’s also sometimes hard to admit this to ourselves.

So ask this question, when you find yourself feeling lackluster about a resolution/goal: Are you giving up due to lack of confidence but you really do want it? (In which case, figure out what you need to improve your skills and confidence and push yourself to get there.)

OR are you not willing to make it happen because it’s just not important enough anymore?

There’s no shame in this. And it doesn’t mean the goal was stupid to begin with—things change over time, including our enthusiasm and willingness to commit resources to something. And it may be a goal that becomes important again down the road, when the resources are more readily available. 

My first novel, 17 years in the making.

I started writing my first novel fifteen years before it was finished and seventeen years before it was published. For the first five of those years, I will finish my novel was on my New Year’s resolution list.

And every year, I would fool around with it some—change the opening, add a scene or two—but then I would get discouraged and put it away again.

I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t willing to put in the effort to get it published once it was written. This was back in the days when traditional publishing was the only viable alternative.

I knew getting a publisher would be difficult, involving many factors I couldn’t control, and I HATE not being in control of my own destiny.

At that point, I stopped putting it on my resolutions list and told myself I would pursue my writing dream once I was retired and had more time and energy. The story languished in my hard drive, all but forgotten, for years.

But after I retired, I decided to finish writing it, even if it never got published. In retirement, I could justify “wasting time” on something that might never pay off. I sat down and finished the first draft in six weeks. 🙂

Hopefully these tips will help you modify your resolutions/goals this year, so that they are less likely to end up on the trash heap. Can you think of other reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail?

Fireworks!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! (Photo by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo CC-BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

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

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please sign up via email (upper right sidebar) to follow us, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

To see our Privacy Policy click HERE.

12 Ways to Get Cozy During the 12 Days of Christmas

by Kirsten Weiss and Kassandra Lamb

ideas to get cozy
photo by Alisa Anton, from Unsplash.com

At misterio press, we write a lot of cozy mysteries. And one of the most common questions we get is, Why are they called cozy?

The easy answer is because these mystery novels typically include a lot of coziness – including the joy of snuggling down with a good book.

Yes, a frequent cozy trope is… books! Cozy mysteries are often set in bookstores, in libraries, in book clubs, they may feature book lovers… You get the idea.

Maybe these common cozy mystery scenes and tropes will inspire you to get cozy as the temperature falls and Christmas approaches.

Twelve ways to get cozy…

1.  (Kirsten’s fave) Build a fire and enjoy it with friends — real people or the “friends” inside the pages of your favorite book.

 2.  (Kass’s fave) Eat chocolate and put as much time into savoring it as your favorite cozy mystery writer does describing the sensation of chocolate melting on the tongue. 

3.  Knit a scarf or mittens for someone for Christmas (knitting mysteries are big), maybe while sitting in front of that fire in #1.

4.  Snuggle with your pet – most cozy mysteries feature a dog or cat, and these animals usually have a heavy dose of character.

5.  Watch an old movie – preferably something romantic and/or mysterious!

6.  (Kass’s second fave) Drink wine and see above re: savoring (or hot chocolate, hot toddies, Irish coffee, whatever winter drink you like to snuggle up with.)

7.  Light fall-scented candles, dim the lights, and enjoy the mysterious dance of shadows on the walls.

8.  Bake cookies. Or scones. Or pie. And the scent of the baking as it fills the house… Num!  (Baked goods and other sweets are another favorite cozy mystery trope.)

9.  Take a long bath, and bring your paperback!

10.  Make a scrapbook (scrapbooking — another cozy trope) or photo album as a present for someone special. I (Kass) made one about his grandmother’s life for my grown son one year. I savored the process of making it as much as he enjoyed receiving it.

11.  Get super soft sheets and blankets for your bed. What a great place to snuggle up with a book! Or if you have a favorite chair or couch where you read, make sure it is equipped with a soft, warm throw.

12.  Bundle up and go for a walk in a small town. Most cozy mysteries are set in quaint towns and villages for a reason – they’re cozy!

How about you? What’s your favorite way to get cozy this time of year? (Keep it clean, folks, we are talking cozy mysteries here…LOL)

And Kirsten has another fun Christmas goodie for you!  She is celebrating the traditional 12 Days of Christmas with a new Doyle Witch cozy mystery on Instagram and Facebook! The episodes will start on Christmas Day and run through January 6th. And though a cozy witch mystery might seem odd for the holidays, it actually fits the 12 Days of Christmas theme.

According to folklore, the 12 Days of Christmas, the period between two major Christian celebrations (Christmas and Epiphany) and the switch between two calendar years, is thought to be a dangerous in-between time. Maybe this was part of the reason for the Victorian tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve.

So follow Kirsten on Instagram @KirstenWeissAuthor or on her Facebook page to read this episodic holiday mystery!

Gargoyle Chronicles cover

And don’t forget her new, quirky collection of short stories and a novella, The Gargoyle Chronicles, starring Brigitte, metaphysical detective Riga Hayworth’s gargoyle sidekick.

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 San Mateo, CA, 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, 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.

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

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please sign up via email (upper right sidebar) to follow us, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

To see our Privacy Policy click HERE.

8 Do’s and Don’ts When Portraying Psychopaths and Narcissists (Plus a New Release)

by Kassandra Lamb

This week, I’m hanging out again over at Jami Gold’s place with a follow-up to last week’s post—Psychopaths, Sociopaths and Other Bad Guys and Gals—in which I described psychopaths and narcissists.

Today’s post is aimed at writers, but I think readers will find it interesting as well. It will help you know, while reading a book, whether the author actually did their research, or are they just going along with the common myths and misconceptions about these disturbed individuals.

Plus we have a new release, a collection of short stories (with a  bonus novella) from Kirsten Weiss.

8 Do’s and Don’ts When Portraying Psychopaths and Narcissists

In last week’s post, I talked about various motivations that “normal” people might have for becoming villains, and also described psychopaths and narcissists—how they tend to act and what circumstances create them.

Today, I want to address some of the common mistakes I see some authors making when presenting their antagonists.

So here are some do’s and don’t’s (and a couple of can’s and should’s 🙂 ).

1. Whatever you do, don’t portray a psychopath, or even a narcissist, as having a “normal” childhood. Normal childhoods do not produce adults that are this messed up.

They might contend that their childhood was just fine, but this is either denial on their part, or a lack of understanding of what “normal” really is.

A psychopathic character may very likely have a psychopath for a parent, and that parent, or perhaps both parents, also would likely be abusive. Or one parent may be harsh and overbearing, while the other is weaker and more dependent. There are other possibilities for back stories as well, but keep in mind the two main factors: someone handed down the psychopathic genes (could be a grandparent; the genes can skip a generation) and some seriously bad stuff happened in childhood. (For more on the origins of this disorder, see The Making of a Psychopath.)

2. Don’t have a full-blown psychopath suddenly develop remorse and empathy because they fall in love. First of all, a full-blown psychopath is not capable of love as most people experience it. They may latch onto someone and believe that they love them, but it will be a self-centered, need-based attachment, with little or no concern for the partner’s feelings or needs…READ MORE

And to lighten the mood a bit, here’s Kirsten Weiss’s new release, starring her metaphysical detective’s sidekick, a sentient gargoyle with a French accent!

The Gargoyle Chronicles: A Riga Hayworth Mystery (Riga Hayworth Paranormal Mystery Book 8)

Gargoyle Chronicles book cover

Brigitte is Nevada’s bravest and most brilliant gargoyle – and there’s no better sidekick for metaphysical detective, Riga Hayworth, when it comes to solving supernatural crimes.

In this quirky collection of urban fantasy short stories, Kirsten Weiss takes Brigitte and Riga on a series of twisting adventures and brings readers behind the scenes of the Riga Hayworth paranormal mystery novels.

These thirteen stories include the new Riga Hayworth novella, The Chaotic Detective!

In “Brigitte and the Gambler,” Brigitte must protect the unluckiest man in Nevada. In “Riga and the Spirit of the Cemetery,” the pair stake out a cemetery to catch a serial killer. And in “A Tarot Tale,” we learn Brigitte’s secret history. Traveling through time and the world’s darkest corners, from the bottom of Lake Tahoe to a sinister Vegas theater, there’s no scene too strange for the indefatigable metaphysical detective and her familiar, Brigitte the Gargoyle.

If you like kick-butt heroines, you’ll love Brigitte and Riga!

AMAZON    APPLE    NOOK    KOBO

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

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please 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.

Psychopaths, Sociopaths and Other Bad Guys and Gals

by Kassandra Lamb

By far, the most popular posts on our site are those discussing psychopaths:  What Is a Psychopath?, Are Psychopaths Born or Made?, and Can Psychopaths Be Cured?

Why are we humans so fascinated by these people who are essentially evil incarnate? I don’t have a good answer for that, but I don’t think it means we like that evil. Perhaps we are so intrigued because it is hard to fathom how some people can end up that way.

Today, I’m hanging out over at Jami Gold’s cyber-home, talking about psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists and other kinds of villains. What are the differences between these labels? How do the people who merit these labels behave? And what causes these pathological patterns of behavior?

Psychopaths, Sociopaths and Other Bad Guys and Gals

One of the toughest tasks we authors face is deciding how to portray our bad guys and gals. Will we make them out to be misguided and conflicted souls, or totally evil psychopaths, or somewhere in between? And exactly what is a psychopath anyway?

Legend of Sleepy Mayfair coverThis question came up for me recently as I finished up a Halloween story in my cozy mystery series. I was tempted to go the conflicted soul route and have my antagonist be at least partially redeemed at the end, but some of the things this antagonist was destined to do, it would take a full-blown psychopath to go there. So that’s the direction I had to take.

Sometimes, like in this case, the plot dictates how evil and lacking in remorse the antagonist must be, but other times, most times really, we may want to have at least some positive traits in our bad guys.

So how to do that and still be true to human nature? (As it really is, not how it is portrayed all too often in movies and TV shows.)

What Is a Psychopath Anyway?

First, let me clarify our terminology. Sociopath and psychopath are essentially the same thing. They are two different words, coined at different points in the history of the mental health field, but referring to the same people … and neither is still officially used in the field today.

The official terminology is now antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), and members of the mental health field will rarely use the terms sociopath or psychopath in any official capacity.

But saying “a person with antisocial personality disorder” is a bit cumbersome, so mental health professionals, especially in conversations with lay people, may unofficially use the word psychopath.

I will come back to the concept of sociopath in a bit.

So again, what is a psychopath exactly, i.e., someone with ASPD? They are noted for several personality traits, the most troublesome being a lack of remorse and inability to feel empathy for others. They engage in antisocial behaviors, such as aggression, stealing, lying, etc., with no concern for who they are harming. Indeed, they often get off on the sense of power that harming others gives them. They also tend to be thrill-seeking and impulsive.

What is a psychopath? A man who smiles for his mugshot.

This psychopath has just been arrested for multiple murders. He is smiling for the mugshot.

They have a very high threshold for stimulation, a fancy way of saying that it takes a lot to make them feel anything. So normal life, that would make most of us quite happy, feels incredibly boring to them. Thus the thrill-seeking. Also, their high threshold for stimulation keeps them from feeling fear in situations that most of us would find quite scary (like being arrested).

This means they will do some pretty outrageous things, either ignoring or rationalizing away the potential negative consequences for themselves. The really smart ones, however, may meticulously plan out their evil deeds, but this lack of fear can often be their downfall.

Antisocial Personality Disorder is caused by a combination of genetics and a harsh, abusive environment growing up. More on this in a moment.

Other Bad Guys and Gals

Sometimes we will want our antagonists to be basically good people who find themselves in bad situations. Maybe something pointed them down the wrong road—an event where they did something bad accidentally, or in self defense, and are now tortured by guilt about it. Maybe something extremely important to them is at risk and therefore they are willing to violate their moral code in order to protect it.

These bad guys and gals will feel guilt regarding their behavior, but they will push it aside as best they can and/or rationalize it, sometimes via displaced anger … READ MORE

And stay tuned. Next week, I will delve further into how authors develop the villains in their stories.

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

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please 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.

When Turkeys Strike Back

Hi Folks! We had a crime writer’s interview scheduled for today that was postponed, so K.B. Owen dug into the archives of her blog and came up with this fun gem: When Turkeys Strike Back 😀

by K.B. Owen

Meet Tom Turkey, the star of the Thanksgiving meal. The poor fella’s often maligned for his stupidity, but the people trying to cook him aren’t always the sharpest knives in the carving block either. In some ways, it’s a form of revenge. Fear the turkey!

Turkeys, humans, and fire

flame

Sometimes turkeys strike back…with fire.

There are almost as many ways to cook a turkey as there are lame jokes in Uncle Harold’s repertoire, right? Bake, broil, brine, deep-fry, spatch-cock….

In other words, lots of potential for messing up the centerpiece of the meal so that dad has to run out to the 7-Eleven for a pack of hot dogs.

Since 1981, Butterball has operated a telephone helpline on Thanksgiving, with real people to talk to when all hell’s breaking loose. (Turkey-wise, that is. They can’t do anything about the heavy-metal boyfriend your daughter brought home, or the passive-aggressive brother-in-law you have to deal with every year).

Speaking of spatchcock, I gave it a go one year. I think we needed a bigger pan. Looks a bit lewd…

The Butterball folks get some crazy questions from callers: how to clean out chainsaw oil residue after trying to cut a frozen turkey in half (nope…go get hot dogs), how long it takes to pop popcorn inside the turkey’s cavity while the bird is roasting (an old myth – and you can’t), whether a frozen turkey can be thawed with a hair dryer (Lord, no), how to get a chihuahua unstuck from inside a turkey (before it went in the oven, thankfully)…the list goes on.

And then there are the fires. According to State Farm Insurance Company, more cooking fires happen on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year. Most occur when folks decide it’s a good idea to submerge a 20-pound turkey in a vat of boiling oil. (If you fry your turkey, don’t send me hate mail. I’m sure there’s a safe way to do it, but I watched too many turkey-fryer disaster videos while preparing this post).

State Farm compiled cooking-fire data between 2007 and 2011 to come up with a Top 10 list of states that have had the most fires on Thanksgiving, based on number of claims.

Want to see the list? Me, too.

Top 10 States Most Likely to Bring Firefighters to Your Door on Thanksgiving:firetruck

#10 South Carolina

#9 Minnesota

#8 Pennsylvania

#7 Louisiana

#6 California

#5 Florida

#4 Ohio

#3 New York

#2 Illinois

…and the #1 state for the most turkey fires:

TEXAS

texas

Source: http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2012/11/21/top-10-us-states-for-turkey-fryer-fires

What do you think of this list? Any states that surprised you? Any you’d like to nominate?

So this Thanksgiving, count yourself lucky to successfully cook your bird without the help of your local fire department! Here’s a humorous video by William Shatner (in conjunction with State Farm Insurance Co) about the dangers of turkey fryers:

 

 

How do you like to cook your turkey? Has the fire department ever paid you a visit on Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes for a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Kathy

K.B. Owen signing books at Prospero’s Books (Manassas, VA)

K.B. Owen 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 six 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 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.

Our Authors Wax Nostalgic over DIY Halloween Costumes (plus a Spooky New Release)

by Kassandra Lamb (on behalf of the whole gang)

At Halloween, I often wax nostalgic about my mother’s DIY Halloween costumes. This year, I asked the other misterio press authors if they had ever made (or had made for them) DIY Halloween costumes. Here are some of our happy memories…

My borther and me in our DIY Halloween costumes

The only one of my mother’s DIY Halloween costumes I could find a picture of. Unfortunately my hat is right in my poor mom’s face. And I have no idea who that other kid is. But my brother and I made cute clowns.

Kassandra Lamb

We didn’t have a lot of money when I was a little kid, so store-bought costumes were beyond our means.

And they were a newfangled thing, not very realistic—usually just something printed on a cheap plastic poncho and a mask.

Lucky for us, my mom was handy and had a good imagination. She would cobbled together costumes from old clothes and other things around the house.

Her best effort was the year she and my dad went to a Halloween party as Palladin (from the TV show, Have Gun–Will Travel) and his sidekick, the Chinese bellhop at the hotel where Palladin was a permanent resident.

Probably wouldn’t be considered politically correct today, but this was 1962.

Richard Boone, my father's look-alike and the insiration for my mother's best ever DIY Halloween costumes.

Richard Boone as Palladin, my father’s look-alike.

My father looked a bit like Richard Boone, the actor who played Palladin, complete with a pencil mustache, and that similarity was Mom’s inspiration.

She then modified the costumes for my older brother and myself, and we went trick-or-treating in them. Really wish I had a pic of that!! I remember all the compliments we got though, and LOTS of candy that year.

My son's DIY Halloween costume in 2nd grade.

 

I can’t claim to be as creative as my mother, and I’m definitely not as good a seamstress, but I did managed to make some pretty cool DIY Halloween costumes for my son.

Including this pirate costume from second grade. My mother provided the stuffed parrot.

K.B. Owen

When you’re a parent, you learn plenty fast how to DIY stuff. Shoe boxes, stencils, and macaroni are our BFFs. We wield Ye Olde Hot Glue Gun with nary a thought for our own fingers.

Bring it on, kiddo. You need a Native American teepee diorama out of toothpicks and flour tortillas…no problem! Your soccer team wants a dino-skeleton banner out of craft felt, PVC pipe, and rebar…no problem!

Son as Robin in his DIY Halloween costume.

Son #1 as Robin.

How about a Halloween costume requiring pinned-on craft foam and a black turtleneck…no problem!

Ah, but pride goeth before the fall.

Then comes the time when son #3 wants a custom-made, realistic Halloween outfit of a video game character you’ve never heard of. Welcome to the realm of cosplay.

Yikes. I mean…ahem, let’s see what we can do.

My sewing machine skills are shaky at best. (Did I list safety pins as one of my BFFs? I should have). But at last, with a lot of jury-rigging and a great deal of patience from son #3, the costume of Altair (from Assassin’s Creed) came to fruition.

Two DIY Halloween costumes for the price of one.

Sons #3 and #2 in variations of the cosplay costume.

And we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of it: he’s worn it for two Halloweens, two fandom conventions, and two Halloween orchestra concerts (back when he played cello in school).

And we aren’t done with it yet! His older brother, son #2, caught the cosplay bug (he’s in his 20s, and too old for Halloween). That’s him on the far right. You’ll notice the white tunic and arm/leg gauntlets are the same, and he just changed up a few elements. He was a big hit at the Renaissance Fair!

Gilian Baker

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics, but my daughter once went to a Halloween party as static cling.

hot glue gun--a stpale for making DIY Halloween costumes.

Ye Olde Hot Glue Gun—a must-have for DIYers.

We hot glued used dryer sheets to an old sweatshirt and jeans. Then I made her hair stand up all over with gel.

That’s the kind of crazy kid I have!

We thought it was brilliant, but sadly she didn’t win the most creative costume award.

 

One of Vinnie's DIY Halloween costumes--a wood nymphe

Vinnie’s wood nymph costume — a work of art!

Vinnie Hansen

When I was still teaching, I put a lot of effort into my costumes. Halloween was a big deal at Watsonville High School—lots of students in costume!

I think Halloween’s close correspondence to Dia de los Muertos on Nov. 2nd made it a better cultural fit for our student body, in Santa Cruz County, California, than some other holidays.

In the wood nymph costume, I made the paper mache mask. It’s kind of creepy, but hey, that’s Halloween. And I sewed my green felt skirt and top.

But the Collaboration costume below is probably my favorite. My colleague, Karyn, and I collaborated in the AVID program.

Collaboration DIY Halloween costume

The AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program targeted students with the desire to go to college who might need a boost—not top-notch or at-risk students, just average+ students.

Karyn taught skills like note-taking and reading for comprehension, discussed college requirements, coordinated with their teachers to monitor their progress, and so on.

We tried to have her students placed in my freshmen English class, so I could help them with their all-important communication skills.

Thus our joint costume. 🙂

front of collaboration DIY Halloween costume

Close-up of front of the Collaboration costume

How about you? Have you ever made a DIY Halloween costume, or had one made for you?

And what better way to celebrate Halloween than with a new witch cozy from Kirsten Weiss!

Fey book cover

Fey: A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery (The Witches of Doyle Book 5)

This witch will do anything for a normal life with the man she loves. But when you’re on fairy patrol, normal is relative.

Witch Jayce Bonheim has packed away her candles, crystals and cauldrons. With her boyfriend recovering from a hex, she’s determined to build a sane and magic-free life for them both.

But when a horde of troublemaking gnomes invades the small town of Doyle, it’s up to Jayce and her magical sisters to send them packing.

After the gnomes lead Jayce to a murdered employee from her own café, she’s plunged into an investigation that lands her in the sheriff’s crosshairs. And Jayce must catch a killer before the sheriff’s brewing witch hunt nets a very real witch.

Spells included in the back of the book.

Available NOW on:   Amazon     Apple      Nook     Kobo 

About the Author: 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 San Mateo, CA, 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, 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.

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. 🙂 )

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The Truth About UFOs (Or is it??)

by Kirsten Weiss

According to two recent reports, UFO sightings have been declining in recent years, and general belief in UFOs has fallen.  (Don’t tell that to the residents of my fictional town of Doyle, California. They’re certain UFOs are to blame for their long history of mysterious disappearances.) But what’s the truth about UFOs?

UFO Sightings

The truth about UFOs: photo of 1952 purported UFO sighting

Purported UFO sighting, 1952, Passaic, NJ (public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

Reports of UFO sightings reached their peak in 2014, and have now declined to 55% of that year’s number, according to The Guardian.  Most UFOs are later identified as comets, meteors, unusual cloud formations, aircraft, or other such explanations. But according to Wikipedia, about 5-20% remain unidentified.

There were many sightings in the 1940s and 50s by pilots, military and civilian, and people on the ground. The U.S. and other governments conducted secret investigations from the mid-1940s until 1970.

In the 1990s and 2000s in the U.S., there was an upsurge in interest again, accompanied by conspiracy theories that the government was hiding the results of their studies from the general public. Those theories lost some of their punch after disclosure of thousands of government documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

Explanations Are Inconclusive

None of these investigations have definitively told us the truth about UFOs. Many of the early ones concluded that extraterrestrial explanations could not be ruled out. Later ones, from both private and public groups, ranged from derisive to neutral, calling for “continued study.”

The truth about UFOs: Sighting in Wallonia, Belgium June 15, 1990

Sighting in Wallonia, Belgium June 15, 1990 (public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

The psychologist, Carl Jung (1875-1961) believed UFO sightings were a part of being human, that they were actually repressed bits of the human psyche popping out. And that means UFOs aren’t going away.

Jung went all the way back to sightings reported in ancient Egyptian history and viewed UFOs as “manifestations of psychic changes” in the collective unconscious.

Apparently they are changes in the constellation of psychic dominants, of the archetypes, or ‘gods’ as they used to be called, which bring about, or accompany, long-lasting transformations of the collective psyche. ~ Carl Jung.

In other words, the more things change, the more unsettled we become, and the more we see (or technically, project from our unconscious) freaky lights in the sky.

UFOs or Fairies?

The truth behind UFOs: strange lights in sky over Sri Lanka

Close-up of light in sky, Sri Lanka (from The National Archives UK, no restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons)

Jung was on to something, because UFO reports go back hundreds of years. Though way back then, the lights-in-the-sky, kidnappings, and weird probings were blamed on fairies.

Of course, those devoted to the UFO theory claim that what our forefathers called fairies were simply aliens in disguise.

Or is the reverse true? Are aliens really fairies in disguise? Just what is the truth about UFOs? Maybe we will never know.

In Planet of the Grapes, book 2 in my Wits’ End series of cozy mystery novels, believers in the fairy myth and in UFOs clash at a UFO festival.  B&B owner Susan Witsend must keep the combatants apart and the festival on track… in spite of all those pesky murders.

Curious? Read more about Planet of the Grapes below.

Your thoughts on the truth about UFOs? Do you believe in them, and/or in fairies?

Sources:
(2018) What is behind the decline in UFO sightings, The Guardian.
Unidentified flying object, Wikipedia.
Fraim, John (2013) The symbolism of UFOs and aliens, The Jung Page.

Planet of the Grapes, A Doyle Cozy Mystery (A Wits’ End Mystery #2)

Planet of the Grapes book cover

Aliens, fairies and murder, oh, my!

In small-town Doyle, California, UFO abductions are a budding tourist attraction. So, when Susan Witsend brings a UFO festival to town, she’s ready for some well-deserved time in the sun.

What she gets instead is the corpse of a UFO conspiracy theorist, brained with a bottle of local wine.

Susan may be the owner of a UFO-themed B&B, but she doesn’t wish on stars to get what she wants. She’s a woman with a planner. Plan A:  Milk the UFO festival for all it’s worth. Plan B:  Stop lusting after her best-friend-turned-security-consultant, Arsen Holiday.

But murder isn’t the only thing threatening Susan’s best-laid plans. Beset by alien protestors, aging nudists, and hidden secrets at every turn, Susan’s nearing her wits’ end. And now Plan C is to stay on the good side of a grumpy local sheriff.

Susan may not have a clue, but she knows she wants a certain security consultant at her side when the killer goes supernova.

Planet of the Grapes is book 2 in the Wits’ End series of cozy mystery novels. If you like laugh-out-loud cozy mysteries, you’ll like Planet of the Grapes. Breakfast recipes at the back of the book.

Available NOW on:  AMAZON     APPLE     KOBO     NOOK

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 San Mateo, CA, 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 TownParanormal Museum and Wits’ End books. If you’re looking for some magic with your mystery, give the Witches of DoyleRiga Hayworth and Rocky Bridges books a try. And if you like steampunk, the Sensibility Grey series might be for you.

Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com.

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. 🙂 )

To see our Privacy Policy click HERE.

“Off” Week New Release: A Halloween Romp!

by Kassandra Lamb

This is an “off” week here at misterio, but I wanted to let you know that The Legend of Sleepy Mayfair, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery, is now available. Early readers say it’s a fun read, a real Halloween romp!

Just 99¢ for a limited time.

The Legend of Sleepy Mayfair--a Halloween romp!

A Halloween romp that turns seriously scary!

Her adopted town is once again driving service dog trainer Marcia Banks a little nuts! No sooner has she moved her horse into the new Mayfair Riding Stable than its octogenarian, muumuu-wearing owner decides to turn the barn into a haunted house for Halloween. Meanwhile, an anonymous prankster is haunting Mayfair, disrupting its small-town tranquility, and the local postmistress has a strange request for Marcia. All this, along with her new role of godmother to adorable twins, is a bit overwhelming.

But it’s nothing compared to what’s coming. As Halloween approaches, the evil lurking in the shadows will threaten what is most precious to Marcia and her beloved town.

AVAILABLE NOW AT:

AMAZON     NOOK     APPLE     KOBO      GOOGLE PLAY

~~~~

And I also have a SALE going on, for ARSENIC AND YOUNG LACY, Book #2 in that series, through this week, for just 99¢.

Arsenic and Young Lacy book cover

Her savings dwindling, service dog trainer Marcia Banks is anxious to deliver young Lacy to her new veteran owner and get paid. But on top of the former Army nurse’s existing neuroses, partially caused by a sexual assault by a male soldier, she is now being stalked.

Soon both Lacy and Marcia are caught in the stalker’s malicious orbit. Sheriff Will Haines steps in to investigate, which Marcia finds both endearing and annoying.

The training fee would make her solvent again, but will the stalker decide to pay Marcia off in a very different way?

AMAZON    NOOK    APPLE    KOBO    GOOGLE PLAY

If you haven’t read this one yet, grab a copy quick!

Book 1, To Kill A Labrador is always 99¢.

We’ll be back next week, waxing nostalgic over some DIY Halloween costumes from the past!

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

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please 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.