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Where I Am From…

This is a writing exercise that’s been going around my online writers’ group. I did it just for fun, and discovered it was a rather poignant experience, even a bit healing. I think anyone who grew up in the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s will be particularly able to relate. Below is the template if you wish to do it yourself.

I am from black and white TV, Cracker Jacks and eating white bread and butter as a snack. I am from the white frame bungalow with the new bedroom under the eaves that was all my own, and the long narrow backyard that was the stage for my fantasies. I’m from the ugly green walls of that room, painted with Army surplus paint, and the cute ruffled skirt my mother made for my vanity.

I am from climbing the neighbor’s cherry trees and eating tart, cooking cherries until I was sick. I am from the locust tree in the front yard that I thought was so huge, with its round green leaves that reminded me of coins. I stuffed them in my pockets and pretended I was rich.

I am from Saturday nights watching TV as a family and from bum arguments, from angry Roy, and Marty, the peacemaker, and Mary Amelia and Randy, who taught me about unconditional love.

I am from stubborn determination and keeping secrets, and not holding a grudge. From “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.”

I am from the little cement porch where I stared up into that locust tree and wondered how I had come to be, at that particular moment in that particular place, totally unaware that I was having a spiritual experience. Doesn’t everyone feel at one with God and the universe occasionally?

I am from “What can I get ya, hon” Baltimore and from dark wavy hair framing fair Gallic faces. And from equally Gallic tempers and passions.

From simple homemade bread dressing stuffed inside our Christmas turkey and Pop’s special cornmeal pancakes (with a fried egg on top) on Christmas mornings.

Photo by Michael Dorausch, Venice from Wikimedia Commons

I’m from sneaking down to the forbidden stream (off limits because it might be polluted) with my big brother, from making mud pies and catching tadpoles and playing pirates in the cattails. I’m from summer trips to Ocean City with my grandmother, and playing hide-and-seek after dark with my cousins.
I’m from the two big boxes of mementoes my mother packed to move to Florida, and never got a chance to unpack before she died of cancer. From the two weeks it took me to unpack them, once they’d found their way to my house, savoring each item. Souvenirs from two dysfunctional childhoods, hers and mine, that nonetheless had a lot of happy moments.

Where Are You From?

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.

I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).

I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)

I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).

I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).

From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).

I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.

I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).

From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).

I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)
We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address at the top of the column to the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

The Sexy, Sassy, Sensational letter S

Myndi Shafer gave us her list of top ten Beloved “B” words. Kathy Owen picked up the ball and Regurgitated a bunch of “R” words, Coleen Patrick shared her Love for the letter “L” and this whole thing was off and running.

I dropped a major hint to get my favorite letter – S. And I’ll warn ya up front that I’m gonna cheat and Sneak in a few extra “S” words.

1. S

May we never be too old to cut up and horse around and just be Silly.

2. Self-Confidence

That “the Sky is the limit, I can do it” feeling!

Photo by Frank Selmo, WANA Commons

(Phew, that’s giving me vertigo!)

3. Sexy

Does this really need an explanation. I think not!

And this is a G-rated blog, So Sorry, no pic for this one.

4. S

(Hubs took this one. Our friend’s shoes she wore for her wedding.)

5. Strong

Not he-man strong, but emotionally strong. Although muscles aren’t a bad thing either.

I searched WANA Commons for a “muscle” picture. I got four shots of “muscle cars” and one other pic that I definitely am not putting on a G-rated blog! (Okay, I know you’re all gonna abandon me and jump over there to see what I’m talking about, so if you promise to stick around until the end of this post, I’ll give you the link.)

6. Sunsets

Especially at the Seashore!

photo by M.G. Edwards, WANA Commons

7. Sensitive

My mom always told me, when I was a kid, “You’re just too sensitive. You’ve got to stop wearing your heart on your sleeve.” As an adult, I came to realize that we don’t have a lot of control over this. It’s an innate thing. Runs in the family (ironically, in her family).

And it’s not a bad thing. I may feel more pain at times, but I also feel more pleasure and passion (for things like my writing; get your mind out of the gutter 😉

8. S

Which brings us back to Strong. People who face adversity and come out the other end in a better place.

9. S

(Didn’t want to Stay too Serious for too long)

As in personality trait (which I Sadly lack but appreciate in others), and also as in cute little critters and luscious edibles, especially when chocolate is involved.

photo by ambernwest, WANA Commons

photo by thesparechangekitchen, WANA Commons

10. Sisterhood

Sorry, guys, I love you dearly, but there’s nothing quite like my female friends to keep me Sane!
11. (Not only do I cheat, I am also mathematically-challenged)
Shafer, as in one Stray-Sock-away-from-insanity Myndi. Which brings us back to Shenanigans!

What’s your favorite “S” word (keep it clean, now)?

As promised, here is the muscle picture

Also, Myndi just released her new book,  Shrilugh  I’m about halfway through it and it is great!

(Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

Why Is the Divorce Rate So Low?

No, that is not a typo in the title. I am asking why the divorce rate is not higher. Why am I asking this question? Because my husband and I are about to celebrate our 36thanniversary and I am absolutely amazed that anybody makes it this long without divorcing. Or committing homicide.


First let me disabuse you all of the common myth that the divorce rate is 50%. This is just plain not true, but like most myths, it gets repeated so often, with absolute certainty on the part of the person saying it, that we all believe it. This frequently quoted statistic is based on comparing the number of marriage certificates issued in any given year with the number of divorces filed in that year. That number indeed hovers around 50%, because the number of people GETTING MARRIED has been going down at the same rate as the number of people getting divorced.

 If we count the number of people who are STILL MARRIED in any given year and compare that number to the divorces, we get a very different picture. To get that statistic, however, requires a more complicated and costly process, so it’s only done about every ten years. This data, by the way, is collected by the Center for Disease Control. So I want to know, which is the disease, marriage or divorce? I’m assuming the latter.


 But I digress.


 When calculated this way–comparing those getting divorced to those still married–the divorce rate in the U.S. peaked in 1979 at 23% and it has been going down very, very gradually ever since. These days it hovers around 20%. Much better odds than 50-50!


 I am a psychologist by the way, and I teach developmental psychology, but if you don’t want to believe me, here are some links to check out. Those of you who could care less about these statistics, jump ahead to the good stuff further down.


 Good article on the topic at PsychCentral:




 Charts and study from Center for Disease Control:




Anyway, so why am I saying the divorce rate is surprisingly low, if it’s actually a lot lower than everybody thinks it is?

 Because it just isn’t all that easy to stay married for decade after decade. First we’ve got that whole men-and-women-don’t-really-understand-each-other thing going on. This is mostly because women, in general, like to process things, especially their feelings, out loud. Men are more inclined to mull things over in their own heads. Also men are more action-oriented; they like to fix things. (More on these differences in a later post.)


 She says: What’s wrong, honey?


He says: Nothin’.


She says: Come on, I can tell something’s wrong. What’s wrong?


He says: Nothin’. I’m fine.


She says: Is it me? Did I do something?


He says (through gritted teeth): Nothing. Is. Wrong.


 She says: Something really upsetting happened at work today.


He thinks (cuz if he’s been married for very long, he’s hopefully learned not to say it): Cut to the chase so I can tell you how to fix it.


She says: Yada, yada, yada, yada…


He nods off.


She gets pissed.


 Neither approach is right or wrong; they’re just different. But we don’t get that these differences exist and we keep expecting our mates to react to things the way we do. And then we get hurt and/or angry when s/he doesn’t understand where we’re coming from.


 Okay, now throw the stress of parenthood into the marriage mix. Are we clueless about what we are getting into there, or what? But then again, if we weren’t clueless, the species would have died out by now. If we knew in advance how hard parenting is, nobody would do it!



 This is me at three months old; would you look at that hair!


Then we’ve got the whole aging process (more on this next week, cuz I’ve got a birthday coming up, and it’s a biggie!) And the fact that people change over time, as they experience new and different things. We don’t always change at the same rate or in the same ways as our partners do, however.

It takes a lot of work to stay on the same wavelength. And we should keep in mind that marriage was invented back when the average lifespan was twenty-five years! As recently as the early 1900’s, one partner or the other was bound to die after a couple of decades–from childbirth, disease or a cattle stampede. And I can’t help but suspect that, before the days of modern forensics, a certain number of household accidents were early versions of a Reno-quickie divorce.

So how have hubby and I made it this long? First, you’ve got the making-the-right-choice-to-begin-with factor. We lucked out here, or perhaps it was divine intervention, because I had definitely dated my share of losers before he came along.

The most important part of making that right choice is marrying someone who shares your values. You don’t have to have all the same interests or even come from the same background or ethnic group. But you do need to care about the same things in life. And fortunately we do.

Probably the single most important factor in surviving marriage over the long haul is communication. You gotta talk to each other, every day, about the little stuff and the big stuff, and about how you feel about things. It’s real easy to get out of the habit of doing this, or to decide that a certain subject is just too painful, or will start a fight, so you don’t go there.

Study after study has found that the single most important factor in marital satisfaction is that both spouses consider their partner to be their best friend.

So Happy Anniversary to my best friend! I hope we have many more, but I’m not taking anything for granted, because marriage is hard work.



When you stop laughing at hubby’s funny-looking tuxedo, please let me know what you think are the important aspects of keeping a relationship strong?


 (Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)


Breathtakingly beautiful. Those are the words that come to mind now whenever I think about Alaska. I have traveled a fair amount in my life but I have seen only a very few places that can rival Alaska in beauty.

 Bald eagles are plentiful, a fitting symbol for this state, where wide-open spaces and rugged individualism are also prevalent. The people couldn’t have been nicer. We felt welcomed wherever we went and it didn’t feel phony, like they were just glad to see our wallets, not us.

 The Tlingit tribe were the original natives of the areas we visited, and they have a strong presence today, both in numbers and in influence on the culture. They are proud to show off their heritage through dancing, story-telling and crafts. Totem poles abound and are still being carved by artists today. We learned that these poles were originally kind of like painting your name on your mailbox, only much more elaborate and, well, beautiful. The animals on the pole tell the world what clan and families the residents of that household come from.

 Here’s a very old one, with a current work in progress behind it. And yes, that is a miniature Abe Lincoln on the top. (Hubby’s the guy in the blue shirt.)

Our trip started in Anchorage and from there we traveled by glass-covered train through miles of wilderness to Seward. We were captivated by one breathtaking view after another.

The next day our cruise ship docked in Juneau. This city is built into the side of a mountain and the tram ride up to the top was, you guessed it, breathtaking. Sorry, it’s the word that just keeps coming up, no pun intended. 🙂

 One can only reach Juneau, the capital of Alaska, via boat or plane. I thought this rather ridiculous in this day and age, until I learned that it is surrounded on three sides by a humongous ice field many miles deep, and on the fourth side is water. Thus, no roads in or out. Nothing brings home the power of Mother Nature quite like a glacier. This is the Mendenhall glacier, just a few miles outside of Juneau. The chunks of ice that break off are called ‘calves.’

 Our second favorite port of call was Skagway, a town at the northernmost tip of the Inside Passage, which is a series of inlets off the Gulf of Alaska. There we were introduced to the gold rush era of Alaska via an amusing mock-up of Liarsville, USA. Apparently during the gold rush, the members of the press were put off by the daunting journey into the snow-covered mountains of gold country. So they set up shop at the foot of the mountains and made up their stories that they sent back to their papers in the lower 48. Liarsville was also the last place that aspiring gold miners could stock up on supplies, get that sore tooth pulled and satisfy that last itch with a buxom prostitute, before the long cold trek into the wilderness.

I had a heck of a time deciding on just a few pictures to show you from Liarsville. My husband voted for the buxom prostitute, with dollar bills tucked into her cleavage, but I decided our bus driver deserved to be immortalized. He just looks scary; he was actually quite nice. 

 Skagway also exhibited the influence of the Russians in its architecture, and a quirky sense of humor in its sidewalk art.

Our all-time favorite port of call was the delightful little town of Ketchikan, where we discovered a bunch of shops, a bit off the beaten path along a canal. Even hubby got into shopping for souvenirs and smoked salmon.

 After another day of gorgeous scenery along the Inside Passage, we docked in Vancouver, British Columbia.

We plan to go back to Alaska soon to explore Denali National Park, and maybe even brave the cold of the north up past the Arctic Circle.

 Have you been to Alaska? Or other places that inspired you? How about the Grand Canyon. Check out mp author, Shannon Esposito’s recent trip to that awe-inspiring monument to Mother Nature!

 Share with us some of the places you have been that awed and inspired you.

 *This is the first in a new series on the misterio press blog, People and Places. Also coming soon, a series on what readers really care about in fiction.

Diamons and Demons

“A daimon is something which is imaginary and real at the same time – a construct of the human mind.”
— Riga Hayworth
The concept of the daimon is tricky.  Look it up online, and you’ll most likely be routed to a bunch of sites on demons.  Traditionally, daimons are defined as the entire pantheon of supernatural entities, which act as intermediaries between our world and the otherworld.  Fairies, angels, ghosts, lake monsters, demons…  all may be classified as daimons.
The bigger question, and one Riga Hayworth struggles with in The Alchemical Detective, is what aredaimons?  Where do they come from?
In his writings on UFOs, Carl Jung theorized daimons were either objects manifested or projected by our unconscious, or real objects that people projected their unconscious content upon.  But in any case, they were both real and imaginary at the same time.
If this sounds impossible, then consider quantum mechanics, and the theory of quantum superposition.  It holds that electrons exist partly in all their theoretically possible, i.e. imaginary states, at once, but when observed, they appear in one state… the expected one.  If quantum theory holds true, the very building blocks of life are both imaginary and real. 
Riga’s no scientist – she’s a metaphysical detective, and in The Alchemical Detective, she encounters daimons and demons that pack very real punches.  As a metaphysical detective, Riga seeks paranormal first causes, the why behind the what.  She knows there’s something out there beyond ourselves, and she wants to understand it, but she knows that at some level, a complete understanding is impossible.  Mystery is inherent in the daimonic realm, and the harder we look for answers, the more quickly they slip from our grasp.
About the Author:
Kirsten Weiss is the author of two paranormal mysteries available on the Kindle: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, andThe Alchemical Detective.  She is hard at work on the sequel, The Shamanic Detective. 
Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone.  Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.
Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer reruns and drinking good wine. 
Read a sample chapter of her books or check out her blog at http://kirstenweiss.com.  You can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/RigaHayworth

Virtual Tour Announcement!

The Alchemical Detective is going on (virtual) tour!  For more paranormal goodness, stop by these fine blogs, and check out the guest posts and interviews with misterio author, Kirsten Weiss.

July 27 Interview –  On the Broomstick

July 27 Review – Books, Books,and More Books

July 28 Interview – Read 2 Review

July 28 Guest blog – Jacqueline Paige

July 30 Interview – Fang-tastic Books

July 30 Guest blog – ParaYourNormal

Aug 3 Guest blog – Bookgirl Knitting

Or follow her on her website, at kirstenweiss.com

Welcome Kirsten Weiss!

A new writer has joined our family here at misterio press and we are excited to share her work with everyone!

Kirsten Weiss has created a paranormal mystery series that is both smart and entertaining. Her main character, Riga Hayworth, is a detective who can wield magic, talk to ghosts, summon demons and when all that fails–use her head to solve the mystery. Oh yeah, she’s one smart cookie! Oh, and her best friend is a gargoyle. How cool is that?

Kirsten’s mysteries aren’t for the faint of heart. They are layered in meaning and mythology. They make you think, force you outside of your own comfort zone, peel away prejudice and rearrange reality.

Read this series with an open mind and Riga Hayworth’s adventures will work their magic on your heart. And the best part…you won’t have to wait long for the next book in the series. It will be released this fall!

So, welcome Kirsten! We’re so excited to have you here and look forward to all our adventures together!

ps. Book 2 in the series is FREE today! Grab your copy HERE

Kirsten’s Amazon Page

Contest Winner!

And the winner of the misterio press contest for a free three-book set of the Kate Huntington Mystery series is Coleen Patrick!

 Congratulations, Coleen!

And thank you to everyone who hosted, participated and commented on Kassandra Lamb’s blog hop this week. We hope you had as much fun as we did!

Welcome to Our Release Party & Contest!!!

Normally we don’t blog about our books here at misterio press, but we make an exception when
a new one is coming out. In celebration of the release of Family Fallacies, A Kate Huntington
Mystery, by Kassandra Lamb, we present:

Ghosts, Part II: Can Ghosts get Jealous?

So you might be wondering why I’m so fascinated by ghosts lately. Or perhaps that’s just my
narcissistic fantasy that you care what I’m thinking. 🙂

I’m dwelling on the subject lately, because I think my new Kate Huntington mystery is haunted.
But I’m not sure.

And neither is Kate. You see, she talks to her dead husband in her head, but she’s not sure who’s
talking back, his spirit, or her own imagination. Or maybe she’s just going crazy. Although she’s
pretty sure that’s not it, and she’s a psychotherapist, so she knows about crazy.

At first she was scripting both sides of the conversation, making up what her dearly departed was
saying back to her. But then something shifted. He started saying things that took her by surprise,
and then he started initiating some of their conversations. *theme from Twilight Zone plays*
Now I can relate to Kate’s experience of something taking over in your head. Because I never
intended to write a ghost into my books. He just kind of evolved in the first book of the series.
That happens a lot for writers. You think you are writing a story and then, when you get up to get
a snack, the characters take over. Sometimes even the dead ones!

In Book 1, talking to her beloved Eddie in her head helps Kate cope and keeps her sane.
Problems arise in Book 2 when she starts to feel attracted to another man. She tries to discuss
her feelings about this new guy with Eddie and discovers that, on this subject, he’s a clam.
(Visualize Casper the Friendly Ghost, back turned to you in a huff.)

By Book 3, she’s got a definite problem. She’s falling in love with this new guy, and whenever
they’re in the same room, the air between them sizzles. They’re getting to know each other better
as “friends,” but they’ve had to implement the four-foot rule to avoid temptation. The new guy’s
trying to be a patient man, and he’s already head over tin cups in love with Kate, so from his
perspective, he doesn’t have much choice but to wait until she’s finished grieving for her dead
husband. Little does he know, he’s not just in competition with a memory, but with a ghost.
Kate consults with Eddie on a regular basis about her problems. The only one he won’t discuss
is what she should do about the new guy. Whenever she brings him up, she gets the silent

Meanwhile mysterious stuff is happening to Kate (after all, this is a mystery series). Among
other things, anonymous threatening notes and a dead person (a new one, not just the one in her
head), and this time she’s one of the suspects!

Here’s the bottom line. Living men can hold you, and help you protect your child. Dead men
can’t! Will Eddie bow out graciously? After all, when he was alive, he was “the sweetest man
who ever lived!”

Kassandra’s Hop Around the Blogs and Contest!

To celebrate the release of Family Fallacies, A Kate Huntington Mystery (book 3), we’re holding
a contest all this week.

Everyone who comments here will be entered to win a free three-book set of the Kate
Huntington Mystery series!

 If you also comment at one or more of Kassandra’s blog stops in her blog hop this week, you will be entered again, and again and again (one entry per blog for a maximum of six). Please make sure your comment is relevant to the blog, however, or you risk the displeasure of my hosts and they may delete your comment.

Blog Hop Stops:

Monday, 6/11 – Going over to the dark side to be interviewed by Stacy Green at Turning The
Page, http://stacygreenauthor.com

Tuesday, 6/12 – Why Do We Hurt The Ones We Love? – Rhonda Hopkins lets me get serious
about some, well, serious stuff, at http://rhondahopkins.com

Wednesday, 613 – Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful – Lightening things up a bit as I
talk about body image and self-esteem as the guest of Alica McKenna Johnson at http://

Thursday, 6/14 – A Check-Up From the Neck Up – Hanging out with Ginger Calem, of world-
renowned Writer’s Butt Wednesdays fame, and sharing some tips for maintaining your mental
health, at http://gingercalem.wordpress.com

Friday, 6/15 – Chatting with Jennifer L. Oliver about writing, eating and puppy dogs (no puppy
dogs will be hurt in the process) at http://www.small-escapes.com

Tweet this for a bonus chance to win!:

Come celebrate @KassandraLamb’s new MYSTERY release for a chance to win a 3-book set! http://bit.ly/KfeoOP  #kindle #freebooks