About Kathy Owen

http://kbowenmysteries.com

Hi - nice to have you stop by! K.B. Owen, Historical Mystery Author …Chasing the Cozy Thrill If you're here, I'm assuming you want to know a little more about me. I have a Ph.D. in 19th century British literature and used to teach college lit and writing courses. These days, I'm a historical mystery writer, and just finished the first two books in a series that I'm really excited about. The series is set in a nineteenth-century women’s college in Hartford, Connecticut - world filled with quirky and beguiling characters and mischief mixed with murder. Why Hartford? I fell in love with Hartford and its history while I was at Uconn (one of the top 7 party schools at the time – I got some work done, really!) Why a women's college in the 19th century? Well, you know what they say: go with what you know (and like!). My years teaching college literature and writing provided some interesting classroom experiences. Who can resist such good material? Thankfully, unlike my main character, Professor Concordia Wells, I didn’t have to lecture in a bustle and full skirts. Besides writing and blogging, I read as much as I have the time for (especially mysteries, my first love), and share a house with a husband, three sons, and an assortment of small, furry pets. Chat with me on Twitter! @kbowenwriter

Posts by Kathy Owen:

The Last Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe

portrait by Samuel Stillman Osgood, 1845.

This week marks the anniversary of the death of famous American poet/author/critic Edgar Allan Poe on Oct 7, 1849. Although the cause of his death was vaguely listed as “congestion of the brain,” the root cause is still a mystery. No autopsy was done or death certificate issued.

The circumstances of Poe’s death:

photo by KRichter (CC)

Poe was found in Baltimore near Gunner’s Hall (a tavern being used as a polling place that day) “rather the worse for wear,” according to Joseph W. Walker, the man who discovered him. Poe was able to give him the names of two acquaintances who lived in the area. Walker sent them urgent notes to come and help decide what to do with him. When they came to assess the situation, the general consensus was that Poe was the worse for drink, and they took him to Baltimore’s Washington College Hospital.

Strangely, he was wearing clothing not his own. According to the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore:

Poe’s clothing had been changed. In place of his own suit of black wool was one of cheap gabardine, with a palm leaf hat. Moran describes his clothing as “a stained, faded, old bombazine coat, pantaloons of a similar character, a pair of worn-out shoes run down at the heels, and an old straw hat” (Moran, Defense of Poe, p. 59.)

There wasn’t much that the doctors could do for him other than make him comfortable. Although he briefly regained consciousness at intervals (though never for long enough to explain what happened), he died four days later.

Which leaves us with all kinds of questions: how did he come to be where he was found, and in someone else’s clothes? What happened to him? What killed him?

We know that Poe left Richmond for Philadelphia (some say New York) via boat (one source says the train…arghh, research is a minefield) and arrived in Baltimore on September 28th. However, there is no reliable account of what happened to him between then and when he was found on October 3rd.

Poe’s bitter rival, and 150 years of slander:

 

Griswold, 1855.

I didn’t realize until my adult years that what I thought I knew about Poe and his death as a high schooler (decades ago, never mind how many, LOL), was shaped by the accounts of Poe at the hands of his most bitter rival, Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Griswold was extremely adept at character assassination, which he had already directed at Poe during his lifetime. But now the floodgates were about to be opened wide. The day of Poe’s burial, an obituary signed by “Ludwig” (later proved to be Griswold) appeared in the New York Tribune, characterizing Poe as brilliant but “erratic…. He had few or no friends.” He doesn’t stop there:

He walked the streets, in madness or melancholy, with lips moving in indistinct curses, or with eyes upturned in passionate prayers for the happiness of those who at that moment were objects of his idolatry, but never for himself, for he felt, or professed to feel, that he was already damned. He seemed, except when some fitful pursuit subjected his will and engrossed his faculties, always to bear the memory of some controlling sorrow.

With a eulogist such as this, who needs enemies? Griswold, aka the King of Nasty, also snipes at Poe’s professional abilities as poet, author, and critic, but I’ll let you read the rest on your own. You’ll find the entire obituary here.

Griswold took character assassination to a whole new level with his next trick: he publicly claimed that Poe had selected him to be his literary executor, and got Poe’s mother-in-law and beneficiary, Maria Clemm, to agree to it. Griswold was a literary critic and editor who had acted as an agent for other American authors, so that probably gave him some legitimacy in Maria’s eyes. In 1850, Griswold sealed the deal by publishing a collection of Poe’s works with a preface, “Memoir of the Author.” In it, he portrayed Poe as a tortured genius, drug addict, and drunkard who had died alone in the gutters of Baltimore. Griswold produced letters (later determined to be forged) from Poe as evidence of his depraved, drug-addled mind.

Wow. Talk about your revenge dramas. Ever want to know where I get my ideas? This kind of stuff.

Those who knew Poe protested the accounts, but Griswold’s was the only official biography out there at the time. And consider how easy it is, then and now, for readers of Poe’s macabre tales – its protagonists half-mad, half-evil – to believe that only a tortured genius could create them.

The Theories:

Since then, more has come to light about Poe’s life and character (links posted below) that contradict this characterization, although the five days before he was found in Baltimore may never be unearthed. Theories abound, of course, alcohol poisoning being the early favorite that has only been seriously questioned in recent decades. Other theories include cooping (a variation on the alcohol theory, really), brain lesion, tuberculosis, epilepsy, and…rabies.

Wait. Rabies? Here’s the first paragraph and link to the 1996 medical report in support of the rabies theory:

In an analysis almost 147 years after his death, doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center believe that writer Edgar Allan Poe may have died as a result of rabies, not from complications of alcoholism. Poe’s medical case was reviewed by R. Michael Benitez, M.D., a cardiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center. His review is published in the September 1996 issue of Maryland Medical Journal.

Read the rest here: Poe Mystery | University of Maryland Medical Center

Whether you agree or not with the rabies theory (and the Edgar Allan Poe Society emphatically does not – their argument against rabies is in the link below), it makes for an interesting read.

Want to read more?

The Still Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe – Smithsonian Magazine

The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore

Biography.com

The Poetry Foundation

The Death of Edgar Allan Poe – wikipedia

So, what do you think? While we may never know how Poe died, as an author it’s a cautionary tale to make sure I know who my literary executor is going to be….

Any real-life mysteries that fascinate you? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

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Autumn already?

Happy Autumn Equinox, everyone! Today marks the “official” start of fall in the Northern hemisphere, with exactly 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness, and it’s all downhill from there as far as daylight goes, LOL, until December 21st. I hear it’s the only day where you can balance a pumpkin on its stem. Oh wait, that’s an egg…no, that’s a myth, right?

It doesn’t feel like fall in Virginia yet, and it probably won’t in places like Texas until the winter solstice.

Moving on….

Of course, there are plenty of “unofficial” occasions that mark the start of fall for some folks. The end of Labor Day weekend. The first day back to school for the kiddos. The very tops of the sugar maples starting to turn red and gold. Ah, bliss. I love fall.

But I’m not here to talk about those particular signs. I’m here to talk about September 1st, aka the start of Pumpkin Spice Latte season in the Starbucks world. That’s what fall is really all about, Charlie Brown. *wink*

Pumpkin Spice…the source of delight and mockery. 

 

It’s all a matter of perspective.

You may have seen “a few” things on the internet about the pumpkin spice phenomenon. Seems like there’s a pumpkin spice for every occasion (at least hypothetically, haha).

For the horror movie fans:

For the second amendment folks:

 

Even the automotive DIYers can get in on the pumpkin spice craze, LOL:

As for me, I used to be a PSL fan, but I switched to mochas – a year-round, good-ol’ reliable flavor. But hey, you PSL enthusiasts out there, rock on. The world can use all the comfort it can get right now. Wave your flag proudly.

While I don’t drink PSLs anymore, I’m still a fan of pumpkin flavored desserts and treats. In fact, after checking my list of recipes on my iPad (I love the Recipe Tin app!), I was a bit startled to discover that I have 21 pumpkin recipes. Only one ingredient category has a larger number: chicken, at 24. Beef trailed in at third, tied with chocolate, at 20 each.

(Chocolate is tied for third? It’s a world gone mad. *sob*).

I’ve already shared my pumpkin fudge and pumpkin tiramisu recipes in earlier posts (listed below), but I figured ’tis the season for pumpkin, so why not another? So here’s my recipe for pumpkin creme brulee, a dessert featured in at least one of my Concordia books. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Crème Brulee (4 servings)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
5 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, firmly packed
For sugar shell top: 4 tsp granulated white sugar.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (Fahrenheit). In a saucepan, whisk cream, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes, until bubbles form around edges of saucepan and steam rises from the surface. DO NOT BOIL. Take pan off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and sugars (except that reserved for sugar top) in a large bowl until ingredients are fully incorporated. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, and whisk the somewhat-cooled cream mixture into the strained mixture. Divide into four ramekins (8oz size).

What the bath looks like. Be sure to cover w/foil before putting in the oven.

Hot water bath: place ramekins in a large baking pan, and pour boiling water into the pan (around the ramekins) until water is halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until set. It may still be a little jiggly in the middle, but that should set as it cools.

Once they have cooled to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap (don’t touch the wrap to the surface of the custard) and chill in the fridge.

Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tsp of white sugar over top of each custard and either use a small kitchen torch to carmelize the surface, or put ramekins on a baking sheet and set it under the boiler for a minute or two, until the sugar is melted and the top is browned. Let cool briefly, and serve.

What do you enjoy about the fall? Do you have a favorite food this time of year? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

Want more pumpkin recipes? Check out these posts:

for pumpkin fudge:

Start your Halloween with a Pumpkin Mashup!

Taste of Fall: Pumpkin Tiramisu

 

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From Ivory Tower to Amateur Sleuth, a “character” guest post

Hi, fellow mystery fans! I’m Jade Blackwell, the protagonist in Gilian Baker’s cozy mystery series. Our lovely host, a former college English professor herself, asked if I’d drop in to explain to her readers how a tenured English professor winds up as a blogger…and an amateur sleuth. 🙂 Thanks K.B., for inviting me to share my story. Here goes.

Five years ago, I was working as an English professor at the University of Wyoming, near my hometown of Aspen Falls. I’d worked there since receiving my Ph.D., and had finally clawed my way to the top to earn one of the few coveted tenured positions in the department. It was my dream job… until it wasn’t.

After years of working in the Ivory Tower, I was becoming more dispirited with each passing semester. The endless department meetings, apathetic students and mounds of grading were wearing me down. And really, who was I kidding? I wasn’t convincing anyone to study the classics with zeal or to write coherent literary analyses. I was ready for a new adventure, but where to begin? Teaching was the only thing I’d ever known.

Then one day, while flipping through a back copy of Writer’s Digest, I came across an article on how blogging was changing the writing world. I’d been on very few blogs, and only then to disqualify them as credible references for a scholarly research paper a student had submitted. But the thought captivated me, and over the next few weeks, I spent my spare time researching writing in the blogosphere. And so, my new adventure began.

I started “a side hustle” by ghostwriting for bloggers and other online entrepreneurs. After several months, my clientele had grown, and I was ready to make the switch. I loved working from home and being my own boss! And, I found a passion for writing again. Instead of “publish or perish,” I got the chance to research and write on a huge variety of fascinating topics—everything from gourmet pet food to email marketing. I turned in my digital grade book and gave myself over to living life as a solopreneur.

Later, I started my own blog as a part of my online business. A Writerz Block offers fledgling freelance writers information on making a living from their skills. It’s the best of both worlds—I get to teach people who actually want the information I’m dispersing, while at the same time, I get paid to write.

That also means I have time to play the amateur sleuth, something I couldn’t have done while teaching. Even A Time to Kilnthough I taught classic literature for years, in my humble opinion, there’s nothing better than a well-plotted mystery. I’ve now helped our local sheriff, Ross Lawson, tie up two murders.

Now, I wasn’t looking for a real live case to solve. I thought the only whodunit I’d ever figure out would be in between the pages of a book. Like most amateur sleuths, I stumbled into the first murder to help a friend–Liz is a fellow blogger who was being cyber-stalked. Admittedly, my first attempts to assist her made things worse, but I made it up to her in the end by proving who the real killer was.

What a thrill! (Though I could have done without the perilous situation I landed in.) And I was ready to get back to my normal routine once my friend, Liz, was back safe and sound at home with her family. I chalked her case up as a fluke–a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a real detective. I mean, living in rural Wyoming doesn’t offer many opportunities to sniff out murder.

So imagine my surprise when my very own pottery teacher was killed a few months later! And on top of that, my daughter’s former boyfriend ended up being the main suspect. What is a girl to do? I reluctantly teamed up once again with my lawyer friend, Gabby, to figure out who was killing people off in our quiet, little village. {Oh, did I mention there was more than one murder?}

Luckily, Gilian has written up my adventures in her second book. So, if you’d like to see how I nimbly cracked the case (okay, how I stumbled onto it) follow the link to pick up a copy of my latest escapades in A Time to Kiln.

 

Gilian Baker is a former English professor who threw in the towel and decided to show ‘em how it’s done. She’s gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. She’s the author of Blogging is Murder and A Time to Kiln. Be the first to learn about new releases and discounts, plus get exclusive content by signing up for Gilian’s email list here: http://gilianbaker.com/blogging-murder-first-chapter

How lovely to meet you, Jade! What a journey…from literature professor to blogger to amateur sleuth! I agree wholeheartedly with your statement: “there’s nothing better than a well-plotted mystery.” I know my readers think so, too. I’m tempted to advise you to keep out of trouble, but then Gilian wouldn’t have anything to chronicle, would she? *wink*

Congrats on your new cozy, Gilian, and best of luck!

~Kathy

 

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Play Ball! 1890s Baseball Trading Cards

New York World, April 1895.

For many folks, summer means…baseball! And you know what? That was true in the 1890s, too, when the sport was in its second full decade. Rule changes and refinements during this time helped shape the sport into a closer approximation of the game we now know. For more about the specifics, check out this baseball history guide.

Bubblegum baseball cards were popular when I was growing up in the 70s. It wasn’t too tough for kids to do an extra chore or scour some change out of the sofa to buy a pack: 16 cards, with a stick of bubblegum inside! Cool!

In the 1890s they had baseball cards, too, but a stick of gum wasn’t included. The cards were inside tins of tobacco. (Yeah, not for kiddie consumption). Here are some pics of 1895 baseball cards from Mayo’s Cut Plug tobacco:

 

Amos Rusie, pitcher, New York Giants, 1895.

 

Bill Joyce, centerfield, Washington Senators, 1895.

 

Cap Anson, first base (though the Baseball Reference site has him down as manager), Chicago Colts, 1895.

 

Charlie Abbey, centerfield, Washington Senators, 1895.

By the way, in case you’re curious about how the teams above did in the 1895 season, the Washington Senators finished 10th, the New York Giants finished 9th, and the Chicago Colts finished 4th. The Baltimore Orioles finished in 1st place that year.

The site Baseball Reference has kindly made its table available, so if you’re a statistics geek and love getting into the trenches, check it out below. If it doesn’t display, the hyperlink will get you there. Enjoy!

Do you collect baseball cards, or enjoy America’s Pastime? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

P.S. – Wonder why I’m talking about baseball? Well, there might a a tenuous connection to the next Concordia novel! Stay tuned….

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Where my research takes me: baby cages

Internet searches are the oddest things. This time, I wasn’t doing research for the next Concordia Wells mystery (although in another post I’ll have to share with y’all some cool stuff I’ve learned about 1890s East Hampton, Long Island).

This time, I was researching catios.

What is a catio, and what does it have to do with baby cages?

Okay, getting to that.

First, my cat. Tora is a rescue and we care for her as an indoor cat. Not only is it part of the terms of our adoption agreement with the ASPCA, but it’s safer for her. Besides the usual foxes, skunks, raccoons, and other wildlife, we have a colony of feral cats in the woods behind our house and a domesticated cat next door with feline AIDS. Plus our little gal’s only seven and a half pounds fully grown. She’d be outmatched in a fight.

Tora, sitting IN the window ledge, looking at me plaintively. You can see the fur sticking through the screen, LOL.

 

Enjoying the sun.

The problem is, she LOVES being outside. It’s obvious her previous owners who gave her up (pregnant and unvaccinated) let her go out whenever she wanted. In nice weather we bring her out to the backyard in her harness (which she can easily slip out of, even the smallest one we could find), and we give her plenty of inside window perches. She loves both, but we know she’s pining for more. So I started looking at protective outdoor options, including a deep, screened-in window box. These, along with larger, screened enclosures for the outdoors have become known as catios: “cat” + “patio.”

Image via catiospaces.com, where you can purchase plans to build your own.

On to baby cages:

In one of the articles about these window enclosures, it mentioned that similar contraptions were used for babies in the 1930-50s.

Huh? Was that really a thing? I mean, I grew up in an age where moms held their babies in their laps during car rides, seat belts were optional (and air bags? ABS? Lane departure alert? Sci-fi stuff), kids roamed the streets unsupervised until dinnertime, and parents took their kids on chickenpox play dates, so hey, anything’s possible. I did a bit of poking around.

It turns out that, yes, they were used, but not widely, and mostly in high-rise London tenements in the 1930s. (By the way, there’s no evidence of any reported deaths from these things. Whew). Emma Reed in 1922 applied for a patent for her own design.

I’d love to be able to show you the pics, but they are all copyrighted. However, here’s a British Pathe clip about baby cages. Looks like it was filmed in the post-war ’40s or early ’50s, I can’t confirm the date. Be warned, it’s kinda corny, with a gazillion goofy puns:

But why suspend babies in cages out the window in the first place?

I had the same question!

The answer is an intriguing one, and led me back to the time period of my own novels, the 1890s (funny how that happens). In 1894, L. Emmett Holt, MD published The Care and Feeding of Children (reprinted 8 times between 1894 and 1917). He advocated the liberal “airing” of young children to promote good health.

Fresh air is required to renew and purify the blood, and this is just as necessary for health and growth as proper food.

Care and Feeding of Children (Google Books, 1917 edition)

To be fair, nowhere in the book does Dr. Holt suggest hanging babies in cages out the window–his advice was confined to opening windows to air out the nursery and taking babies out in strollers–but you know how people can be…if a little is good, more must be better! And it had to be tough for moms in upper-level apartments (no elevators) to climb down the stairs with baby and stroller in tow.

So here’s a fun story: among the mothers who took Dr. Holt’s advice about infant airing to heart was Eleanor Roosevelt, after the birth of her first child, Anna. Here’s the passage, as recounted in Hazel Rowley’s Franklin and Eleanor: an Extraordinary Marriage (2010):

Wow. Makes growing up in the ’70s seem pretty tame. *wink*

Want to read more?

A Brief and Bizarre History of the Baby Cage

This is Real: The Baby Cage | Apartment Therapy

The Intriguing History of 1930s Baby Cages

 

Ever had an internet search take you in a bizarre direction? What child-rearing fads do you remember? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

P.S. – we haven’t decided yet about the “catio.” Stay tuned.

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The Introverted Author, the Malice Domestic Convention, and a Giveaway!

Malice Domestic 29

To (liberally) paraphrase Austen: it is a truth universally acknowledged, that we introvert authors need to come out of our writing caves from time to time and interact with our fellows.

The Malice Domestic Convention fits the bill nicely for those of us who are mystery author introverts. Malice celebrates mystery fiction written in the cozy style, aka the tradition of Agatha Christie, and has been held yearly in Bethesda, MD since 1989. With its three days of panel discussions, book signings, awards, and social receptions, the convention draws authors and readers alike.

One of many signings, after the crowd had thinned and I could move around.

When I step into the space, I feel as if I’ve rediscovered my tribe. No one bats an eyelash over you bringing your takeout lunch to Luci Zahray’s (otherwise known as the “Poison Lady”) panel on the use of organophosphates to bump off someone (characters, of course). The audience was practically rubbing its hands and cackling with glee as she detailed the symptoms, the lack of a test to detect the compound, the difficulty in reversing the effects, and the ease of access to the poison (any Home Depot or garage sale…also, apparently DDT can still be found at the random garage or yard sale because folks don’t throw out ANYTHING).

Luci Zahray, “Poison Lady.” You can’t see the rat poison and other samples she had on display from this angle, unfortunately.

For the introvert, the nice thing about a convention is you can pick and choose when you want to converse. You can get a lot out of the convention by simply attending the panels and listening (not an option if you are ON the panel, of course, but then you signed up for that, LOL).

The hospitality lounge is a nice place to get yourself some coffee or tea and browse the long tables for bookmarks and promotional goodies that authors set out. I came away with a pen, a set of sticky notes, a disposable flashlight, and a hand mirror…all kinds of cool stuff! I had brought some of my own material for the hospitality tables, too: bookmarks of my Concordia Wells series, along with a basket of peppermint patties and individually wrapped tea bags with my logo sticker/web address on the back of each piece.

It’s hard to see the stickers here, but they were really cute. *wink*

I kept refilling the basket, but there wasn’t a candy or tea bag left by Sunday morning!

In between browsing the dealers’ tables, chatting with folks, getting my books signed, and going to the Agatha Awards dinner, I attended several terrific panels that weekend (there were many more I couldn’t fit in). Here’s a partial list to give you an idea:

  • Malice Go-Round: It’s Like Speed Dating, But With Authors (Attendees sit and relax while pairs of authors come to them, distribute bookmarks–and sometimes chocolate, and describe their series and new releases. Then the moderator calls time, they rotate to another table, our table gets a new pair of authors, and so on. One of my fave events).
  • Making History: Agatha Best Historical Novel Nominees (Authors nominated for the Agatha in the category of best historical novel talk about their books, their research, etc. A fab and funny group!).
  • Murder on the Menu: Food & Mysteries (Several food-themed series authors talked about their inspiration, where they get their recipes, and the funny coincidence of growing up in households where their moms couldn’t cook all that well…maybe compensation for a deprived childhood? *wink*)
  • Poison Lady (Described above).
  • Book’em: Book-Loving Sleuths (Kind of self-explanatory, but it’s amazing how many bookshop mysteries are out there!)
  • Murder Way Back When: U.S. Historicals (Loved hearing about research challenges and successes…I continued the conversation with a couple of the authors afterward, comparing databases we use).
  • Sherlock Lives! (I love reading about the Great Detective, and it was so much fun to listen to the discussion of the current pastiches out there, and all the SH societies).

Panel for best historical Agatha nominees. Catriona McPherson won!

 

The most meaningful event for me personally was the Mystery Most Historical Signing, held on Friday evening. Mystery Most Historical is this year’s Malice anthology of short stories, and guess what…a story of mine is in it!

“Summons for a Dead Girl” is set in September of 1911 in New York City, months after the devastating Triangle Factory fire, and features spirit medium/con woman Maddy Cartiere. The blurb and opening paragraphs below give you an idea of the story:

***

This book signing was an additional thrill because I was part of a large group of authors (many of them prolific and best sellers) who were also signing. The reader turnout for autographs was amazing, and it was such a privilege to chat with mystery fans while sitting in the company of award-winning authors such as Catriona McPherson, Victoria Thompson, Carole Nelson Douglas, and Elaine Viets!

Your typical group picture: someone looking away, someone’s eyes closed, someone waving a hand or fussing with something, LOL.

 

Short story author Keenan Powell was signing on my left. Such a nice lady!

 

The volunteer photographer got my blurry side, LOL. I never looked so good.

So, to celebrate the release of the Malice anthology (and my birthday, hubby’s birthday, Mother’s Day…so many excuses), I’m holding a…

Giveaway Drawing

May 9th-23rd

I’ll be giving away five (5) signed paperback copies of Mystery Most Historical!

To help with logistics, I’m using the Gleam giveaway service to keep things organized and make the random selections. All you have to do is click below to see your options for entering the drawing (you can enter multiple times, if you wish):

Anthology Giveaway!

Once the contest is over and the winners are notified, I won’t keep your email info for any reason. I respect your privacy.

However, if you’re interested in signing up for my author newsletter (sent out approximately 4 times a year to announce sales, giveaways, and book releases), I would love to have you on board! Here’s the sign-up for that:

concordia-1thru5

Sign up today, and receive a FREE novelette!

Thanks for signing up! Your email is in good hands, I promise. Once you have confirmed your subscription you’ll receive a thank you email with a link to my FREE novelette, NEVER SLEEP!
~KBO

Whew! This was a longer post than I usually write. Thanks for reading, and good luck with the contest!

~Kathy

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The appeal of the amateur, and a group giveaway!

 

 

Hi everyone! Today is the first day of a week-long, Amateur Sleuths Group Giveaway sponsored by Henery Press. The giveaway features books from 32 mystery authors, myself included (more on that below).

The topic of amateur sleuths got me thinking: why do readers and authors find the amateur so appealing? As a former lit professor, I couldn’t resist taking a stab at analyzing it. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Reader engagement:
    • When we’re talking about an amateur investigating a crime, there must be a powerful personal motivation for him/her to get involved in the first place. After all, why disrupt one’s comfortable life as a wedding planner/baker/teacher/knitter/what-have-you, when the police can do the dirty work? When it’s personal, it helps draw the reader in.
    • An amateur sleuth is a “regular joe” – an ordinary person without any specialized training in criminal detection. We as readers can identify more readily with such a character, looking on and sympathizing as the protagonist struggles to blend his/her personal life with this crazy investigation s/he has unexpectedly taken on.
  • Then there are the opportunities for conflict, suspense, and uncertainty, all crucial elements in a good mystery:
    • The amateur is caught unprepared, and struggles to deal with the emotional cost of learning unpleasant truths about those s/he is close to.
    • The amateur is likely to encounter resistance from friends, family, and the authorities in the course of investigating.
    • As an untrained amateur, our protag might very well make mistakes along the way. Could one of those missteps prove fatal? Bwahaha….

What could be more fun than making life harder for our favorite amateur sleuth, right? *wink*

So now…on to the giveaway!

April BookmarkIT Amateur Sleuth Group Giveaway

April 5-11th

Grand Prize: Kindle Fire and 32 ebooks (shown above)

1st Prize: 32 ebooks

…and there will be FOUR 2nd Prize winners, who will each be awarded 8 ebooks (randomly selected) from those listed above!

How to enter: It’s FREE! Simply click on the giveaway link, enter your info on the entry form online, and you’ll be notified if you win! It’s a great way to try out authors you may not have heard of, and you’ll get future info about releases and sales on new-to-you amateur sleuth mysteries.

So, what do you like about amateur detectives? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

Want to read more about amateur sleuths? Check out these posts:

Nancy Drew: girl detective, Master of Mystery

Miss Marple visits Masters of Mystery Monday

By the way, the Miss Marple post above includes a fun video spoof: Marple, Matrix Style.

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Spring Fling Blog Hop!

Happy Spring! Today, fellow writers (links below) and I are participating in a blog hop to celebrate the vernal equinox. We’ll each be talking about spring-y things.

As an avid container gardener (my only option for gardening, as we live on property that’s mostly deck), spring for me starts in January, when the seed catalogs start rolling in. They are a welcome sight, I have to say, and help me dream of greenery in the midst of the gray-brown backyard. Usually I start seeds–cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and vining flowers such as morning glory and cardinal climber–in mid-March:

Cukes, tomatoes, and peppers in this pic. Notice the capillary wicking mats, which is the best way to water seedlings.

Recently we had a week or so of 70-degree days that lulled me into a false sense of security, and I direct-planted sweet peas, scallions, and lettuce seeds outside. Um, well, that turned out to be ill-advised, as you can see by this pic of my lettuce pot (taken three days ago):

 

uh oh…I may have to replant….

But the false starts and hard work are worth it, in the end. Here’s a photo montage of how things look by mid summer:

 

So, what are your favorite things to do in the spring? I’d love to hear from you.

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog-hopper sites, and see how these gals ring in the vernal equinox:

Allyson Charles

Connie diMarco

Gilian Baker

Layla Reyne

Kirsten Weiss

Mona Karel

Misterio Press

Shannon Esposito

Victoria De La O

 

Until next time,

Kathy

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