Reading

Reading is the way I relax at the end of the day. I usually give myself one and a half to two hours to read before I start for bed. I think my parents instilled too much work ethic in me, but I feel guilty reading during the day. I feel like I should be “doing” something. I’m retired, so I thought that guilt would go away, but not so much, even though I tried giving it up for Lent one year. It’s still stuck with me.

I can’t read lying in bed. I either get antsy or I fall asleep. HH watches TV lying on the couch. I can’t do that either. It’s an upright position for me. And when I pick up my Kindle, it’s a comfortable chair with a good lamp.

I like to mix up the genres of the books I read. Lately, I bounced from science fiction to urban fantasy to cozies to historical mysteries. I just finished A STROKE OF MALICE by Anna Lee Huber, and I loved it. Sad to say, though, this book catches me up on the Lady Darby series, so I have to wait for the next one to come out. <sigh> But she does have a novella in a recently published anthology, so I bought that. The Deadly Hours. It follows a cursed watch from one owner to another to tell what havoc it wreaks.

I finished the first novella in the collection last night. Actually, I stayed up late to finish it. I’ve never read Susanna Kearsley before. It took me a minute to get into the story and her writing style, but then I was hooked. I think it’s hard to pull off a strong hero who’s a man of few words, but she did it. A hardened soldier, Hugh MacPherson is on a mission to keep the Duke of Ormonde alive from an assassin sent to kill him before he reaches Rome. But for this mission, Hugh’s accompanied by his clever wife, Mary. The push and pull of his emotions, which he rarely shows, are fascinating. At the same time, his Mary is trying to make him understand that she doesn’t want to be locked in their room and protected. She wants to be part of his life. Add to this an infamous pirate now working for his government, who owns the cursed watch, and there are many layers to this story. Even a card game becomes part of the strategy. And the ending had several clever twists. A real winner.

Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby novella is the next to further the story of the watch. I’m looking forward to that one. Then there are two more, and they both sound wonderful. I’ve read C.S. Harris and enjoy her Sebastian St. Cyr series, but Christine Trent is new to me. Always a good thing to find new authors to follow in an anthology.

(Which, by the way, is a good reason to check out the anthology I’m in with six other talented writers. I know. A cheap plug. Sorry about that, but I’m really proud of Murder They Wrote, and I’d love for it to find more readers).

Anyway, I hope you’re enjoying what you’re reading as much I am right now. Next up on my list is The Lab by D.L. Cross, the last book in her thriller/scifi series, and I can’t wait to see what happens to the characters I’ve followed through her last four books! So I KNOW there’s even more good reading in my future.

Happy Reading!

Do you like psychological creepy?

I’m really excited to have Kathleen Palm visit my blog today. She loves horror and YA, so when I invited her to submit a story for the anthology MURDER THEY WROTE, it threw her:) But IN THE PLUM ATTIC has been mentioned as one of the favorites in reviews a few times. And for good reason. Two sisters haunt an attic. Why? And how does the new family who moved there get rid of them? That’s mystery enough for me!

Welcome, Kathy! Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

1.  What worried you the most about writing a story for the anthology, MURDER THEY WROTE?      The fact that it was a mystery. *cue laughter* My brain isn’t a plotting, mystery thinker. So…I relied on what I know. Creepy. As I thought about writing a mystery, I focused on ghosts, for the mysteries that catch my attention, the ones where I follow the clues and deduce the truth involve spirits. How they died. Why they continue to haunt the world. And how to free them. Which is how Within the Plum Attic came to be.

2.  You usually write in first person, present tense, don’t you?  What draws you to that?      The immediacy. You are right there with that character as terrible events unfold and there is no escape. I love first present for my horror shorts. Because that deep POV, that feeling of no way out is very important to the creepy, scary vibe. Though I have written in third person, past tense, and the middle grade I’m working on now is third present.

3.  You love horror.  I know you go to every horror movie you can and host a twitter horror movie night for Midnight Society.  Is that once a month?  Can you tell us more about that?       I haven’t been to a theater in such a long time. I miss it. And yes, I’m part of the writing team of the Midnight Society blog, which celebrates all things horror. Once a month I host Midnight Society Movie Night on Twitter, where I live-tweet a horror movie. Usually the last Friday of each month at 9 pm EST under #MidnightSocietyMovieNight. Pretty much, it’s me tweeting all my thoughts and reactions into the Twitterverse to entertain myself.

4.  What are some of your favorite horror movies?  Books?      Oh. That’s a tough question. I love the range horror offers. The Elm Street series is fun. Freddy is one of my favorite slashers. But my very favorite movies involve ghosts and demons. Poltergeist. The Conjuring. Insidious. The Orphanage. IT. The Babadook. On the book side of horror, I love Stephen King, and The Shining will always be one of my favorites. Right now, I’m reading the middle grade horror series Lockwood & Co. and enjoying it immensely.

5.  You also love YA.  The twin girls who are the protagonists in your story are in high school.  What draws you to YA?      I hated being a teenager. It’s this awful place of trying to be yourself without having any idea how, existing between still believing in magic and moving into the land of being an adult, which no one wants to do. I like to tap into the part of teens that still believes, that doesn’t want to fully grow up, and maybe help them realize that they don’t have to…not completely.

6.  Who are some of your favorite YA authors and their novels?    Neal Shusterman is my very favorite YA author. His Unwind series is fantastic and will always be on the top of my list. I was hooked after reading his book Downsiders. A couple others that stand out are The Schwa was Here and Scythe. Holly Black’s Curse Workers series, Tithe, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and co-wrote The Spiderwick Chronicles (middle grade) are all books I loved. Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds is a mighty fine read as well.

7.  You have another short horror story due out soon.  Would you share the particulars?     My horror short “The Path” has been accepted into the Gothic Blue Book Vol VI: A Krampus Carol, which will be released October 31st! I am excited to be a part of this Krampus themed anthology with my interpretation of what happens after Krampus stuffs someone in his sack and carries them away.

8.  Care to share your social media links with us?  And thanks so much for visiting my blog.   I like to haunt Twitter. Please come find me @KathleenPalm and say hi. I also have an author Facebook page (Kathleen Palm, @writerkathleenpalm), where I post things sometimes.

Mystery Musings

Humor.  It’s such a great antidote.  That’s why I was so happy that C.S. Boyack and Julia Donner wrote two humorous mysteries for the anthology I put together.  When I read Craig’s Jason Fogg story, I smiled all the way through it.  The premise of a detective who can dissolve into…yup, you guessed it…fog…was so much fun.  And his delivery…well, if you’ve read any of his books, it was fun, too.  Here’s a short blurb of his mystery From the Files of Jason Fogg:

They probably don’t even recognize me in the building, because I usually skipped the lobby and went for my upstairs window. I always left myself a way inside and squeezing through a tiny crack was a piece of cake. The back room was perfect for reforming because there are no windows. No sense in flashing the neighbors across the street. After making myself presentable, I checked the mail. Nothing but bills. Maybe Riley was right about this job.

My bus pass was in the top drawer, and I grabbed some business cards for good measure. “Jason Fogg Detective Agency.” Has a nice ring to it. On the way out, I scooped up a garbage bag with a change of clothes. Jeans and red flannel, it’s practically the uniform of Seattle.

People on the bus commented about the lovely weather. Honestly, I prefer a good downpour but simply agreed with them.

Craig’s a natural at writing with humor, but I think it’s a tricky voice to accomplish.  He seems to manage it with ease.  So does Julia Donner in the Regency mystery she sent for the collection.  The minute I saw her scene titles, I knew I was in for a treat.

Murder at a Garden Party

or The Unpleasantness in the Study

West London

May 1818

Scene 1

Wherein Suspects Are Introduced

See?  No “Body in the Study.”  Regencies are all about good manners.  A corpse is merely an “Unpleasantness.”  I loved it!  I loved the entire story.  Here’s a little to tease you:

Under the pavilion’s roof, guests more interested in the topic of the murder than in the balloon spectacle huddled in groups, whispering while striving to contain offended sensibilities. Understandably, the brutal slaying of Lord Mainspout would deign Lady Brilliant’s assembly either a social coup or a doomed disgrace.

Peregrine lifted his hand to tap away a yawn with the backs of his fingers. “It is indeed astonishing what a lady will get up to when it comes to making herself the most talked about hostess in London. I had thought a balloon ascension a rather desperate measure. A dead body is truly above and beyond.”

“One shouldn’t have to contrive to this extent.”

“But they lack your intelligence and style, m’dear. Patience, Lizzie. Sir Hector and Lady Brilliant have better ton than to allow themselves to get caught up in a vulgar controversy. Do you think the butler did it?”

“Oh, do be serious. If we must loiter about waiting for the magistrate and his tedious questions, tell me about the guests to keep me occupied. I know all of them superficially. Guessing who is responsible for the unpleasantness in the study will pass the time.”

He chuckled and discretely tickled the inside of her left wrist. “You are deliciously heartless today, Lady Asterly. And speculation would present a method for keeping extreme boredom at bay whilst we wait. I must warn you that other than this lovely house and park on the veritable edge of town, Sir Hector and Lady Brilliant are a crashingly boring pair.”

“There is no such word as crashingly.”

“If the shoe fits.”

I’ve loved Peregrine and Elizabeth since I first read about them in The Heiress and the Spy.  https://www.amazon.com/Heiress-Spy-Friendship-Book-ebook/dp/B00HGQCAYU/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=julia+donner&qid=1598638918&sr=8-2

It was lovely to see them in a short story.

But there you have it.  Two mysteries.  Both filled with humor.  And yet so different.  That’s what makes writing so wonderful.  We each come to it with our own voice, our own styles.  I hope these two samples of stories catch your interest so that you take a peek at Murder They Wrote.  It includes 7 different authors and 7 different approaches to murder:)