Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Killjoy Isn't Here: Janet Greger Guest Post


It is always a pleasure to have Janet Greger drop by to share some of her wisdom, insights, and book premises with us. In honor of her newly released Murder . . . A Way to Lose Weight, she shares some important nutrition information. You learn a ton when you read her well-researched novels. An engaging story and some scientific info! What more could you ask for? Welcome, Janet!

Who’s the most unwelcome person at a discussion of recipes and food? The constant dieter who snootily says, “I don’t eat high-calorie junk foods.” As a former nutrition professor turned novelist, many expect me to be that person. I’m not a Killjoy. I love foods and cooking and believe you can eat almost anything in moderation.

Why did I write a mystery called Murder…A Way to Lose Weight?  
You might guess because I'm a school marm at heart. No, I got tired of all the preposterous diet ads on TV. I also found a series of scientific articles on a hot area of research. Scientists have found the microflora (bacteria) in the gut changes with weight loss. My creative juices started to flow. The result is my new mystery Murder…A Way to Lose Weight.

In Murder...A Way to Lose Weight, two ambitious diet doctors are testing a new way to lose weight—altering the bacteria in their patients’ guts. They are eager to become rich and famous diet gurus and take “short cuts,” which endanger their patients’ lives. One doctor is killed after she develops a conscious and admits their mistakes. As the police turn up clues, the readers learn a bit about dieting, weird poisons, and the social mores of a medical school. 

I figure you’ll feel cheated if I don’t give a bit of diet advice. So here it is:
1. Decrease the size of your portions. When I was teen (before the introduction of the quarter pounder and supersizing. Oh dear, now you know I'm not young), I might have selected a small cheeseburger (300 calories) and a small fries (230 calories) for lunch. Now I might select a double quarter pounder with cheese (750 calories) and a large fries (500 calories). The difference is 720 calories.

You could lose a pound of weight a week, if you substituted a small cheeseburger and small fries for a quarter pounder with cheese and a large fries for lunch every weekday. Of course, that assumes you will not increase what you eat at other meals and snacks or decrease your activity.

2. Select beverages carefully. Most sweet iced teas, iced coffees, fruit juices, and regular sodas (12 oz.) contain 130-190 calories. Many fruits smoothies provide 200-250 calories, and a yummy pina colada could contain 550 calories. Unsweetened tea, black coffee, and diet sodas contain no calories; a glass (3.5 oz.) of white wine—90 calories.

Beverage choices are particularly important because most of us drink four to six servings of our favorites beverage a day. The calories really add up.

Did you learn anything new on weight control?
Probably not. You know the basics of dieting, but don’t follow the advice. You're not alone. Did you ever notice how many physicians, nurses, and dietitians are overweight or obese?

Here’s one more piece of diet advice. Read Murder… A Way to Lose Weight.
The heroine of the novel, Linda Almquist, lost weight as she discovered clues and helped to identify the murderer. Maybe, it will help you lose weight, too.

Murder…A Way to Lose Weight is available at Amazon: http://amzn.com/1610092392


Bio: J. L. Greger is a biologist and research administrator turned novelist. Her other novels are I Saw You in Beirut, Coming Flu, Ignore the Pain and Malignancy (winner of 2015 Public Safety Writers’ annual contest). To learn more, see her website: http://www.jlgreger.com.
international thrillers—

Saturday, April 30, 2016

26+ Ways to Kill: Z is for Zoothapsis


Welcome! Since I write culinary mysteries, “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” deals with food topics and with mysteries. This month I am sharing ways to kill people—in your mysteries, of course—and some tips on getting away with it! To avoid the pronoun problem, I’ll use heesh (he or she), shis (his or hers), and shim (him or her) throughout the entries. Tune in for murder and mayhem.

Had I not done this challenge and had I, instead, written on Prime Rib and Punishment, it would be done. I have written, for this blog challenge series, over 18,000 words. That’s a lot of novel pages!  Dead ones, of course, because those pages don’t exist. Fits the monthly theme, right? How to kill a novel: D is for Don’t Write.

Ah, well, back to my normal routine today! However, I have categorized my various murder methods and will be posting the list (as a review for you) on another of my blogs: Write Away. Just check at www.samwriteaway.blogspot.com late next week.

But that’s not why we gathered here today. In looking for Z murder methods, I happened upon zineb, which is a white powder used as a fungicide. We’ve done various poisonings so that didn’t grab me. But one did.

Today Z is for Zoothapsis. Premature burial. This is similar to obvallate, but instead of sealing a person behind a barrier, this one is an actual burial beneath the dirt. We all have heard the horrific tales of Victorian casket exhumations. The shredded casket lining was testimony to someone awakening to discover heesh was buried while still alive. Imagine the terror.

Back before embalming or even in the early days of less rigorous embalmings, the fear appears to have been well-founded. Collected accounts in 1905 found 149 actual live burials, 219 near live burials, 10 cases of live dissection, and 2 cases of awakening during embalming. Gives one pause, eh? Zoothapsis is apparently real.

Taphephobia (fear of being buried alive) was so real, in fact, that the “safety coffin” was created. In one type, a bell above ground could be rung above ground from inside the coffin so that rescue could occur. An urban legend stated that the terms “dead ringer” and “saved by the bell” came from such safety coffins. Not true. Just so you know.

Your tale could involve a premature burial in the woods or it could be an accidental death (manslaughter) because the drunk mortician didn’t notice the body moving. Closed casket. No one realizes the victim isn’t dead—yet.

I hope you have enjoyed my little museum of horrors this month. I certainly had a great time tracking down and sharing some interesting unusual ways to kill off your victims. I hope you will drop by from time to time to see what else I post here. It’s a pretty far-ranging set of topics. And if you haven’t yet read the first book in my culinary mystery series, you might want to pick up Mission Impastable to read before book two hits later this year.

Happy murdering!

If you take time to share this post on social media, I would be most grateful. 

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#Mystery writer, need killer ideas? Z is for Zoothapsis. Lots of tips this month! #atozchallenge  
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Friday, April 29, 2016

26+ Ways to Kill: Y is for Yulo or Yperite

Welcome! Since I write culinary mysteries, “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” deals with food topics and with mysteries. This month I am sharing ways to kill people—in your mysteries, of course—and some tips on getting away with it! To avoid the pronoun problem, I’ll use heesh (he or she), shis (his or hers), and shim (him or her) throughout the entries. Tune in for murder and mayhem.

Yikers! Y is another tough letter for coming up with interesting killing methods. All could actually be included in other methods discussed this month.

I almost detailed yataghan, which is a long curved knife/sabre with a skinny blade, but I used so many other sharp things that I am leaving this one to you to figure out. The yataghan comes to us from the Ottoman Empire. It was used from roughly the mid-16th century until the late 19th. A yataghan is between two to three feet long, so it is longer than a knife and shorter than some sabres.

Re-read previous entries on killing with sharp pointy things for some story ideas if you like the yataghan for killing. But I finally lit on Yulo and Yperite for Y killing methods.

A yulo (sometimes spelled yuloh) is a Chinese sculling oar, so we are talking another bludgeoning death with this one. Some boat people think that the single oar of the yulo is more efficient than two oars on a boat. The single oar is waggled back and forth to propel the boat, unlike oars where the paddles are lifted to and from the water.

A yulo murder would take place near or on water so there would be access to a yulo. I can see framing a rival boat owner to take him out of the big regatta. Then again, one could have the murderer use the yulo that belongs to the victim. It certainly would be available and could confuse the investigators as they try to figure out who would have access.

Want to make your own yulo(h)? Here are some directions. I didn’t say easy directions. These things take time!

You know yperite as mustard gas. The substance might be impossible to obtain for individual use since it is regulated by the Chemical Weapons Convention. However, a rogue/terrorist military group might employ it. Perhaps as part of their xenocide plan.

The symptoms of yperite use are readily available online. It forms blisters on the skin and lungs. Symptoms do not immediately appear, and a mild to moderate dose is unlikely to kill. You want your bad guys to use a heavy dose to get the job done.

Your story could have a scientific team baffled by symptoms showing up in a section of the world and tracking down what is going on. International thriller possibly.

Are you coming back tomorrow to see how I finish off this murderous month? Whatever can be done with Z?

If you take time to share this post on social media, I would be most grateful. 

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#Mystery writer, need killer ideas? Y is for Yulo or Yperite. Lots of tips this month! #atozchallenge  http://bit.ly/1XUvdB1

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Looking for new, fresh ways to kill (in books of course)? Check out Yulo or Yperite on “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” at http://bit.ly/1XUvdB1

Check out Sharon Arthur Moore’s culinary mystery, Mission Impastable  






Thursday, April 28, 2016

26+ Ways to Kill: Xenocide or Xyston


Welcome! Since I write culinary mysteries, “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” deals with food topics and with mysteries. This month I am sharing ways to kill people—in your mysteries, of course—and some tips on getting away with it! To avoid the pronoun problem, I’ll use heesh (he or she), shis (his or hers), and shim (him or her) throughout the entries. Tune in for murder and mayhem.

Very short entry today as X is not loaded with killing method options. I’ll bet that doesn’t surprise you.

In fact, I only unearthed one legitimate method, and I’ll make the other fit.

Xenocide is not a method of killing. Rather xenocide, the killing of an alien population, can occur in multiple ways. Spoiler Alert: In Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card), Ender and his team think they are in training for defending Earth from a second alien invasion. They are training with a highly sophisticated and realistic video game. Well, guess what? It’s not a game, it’s the real thing. They do beat off the invasion and the team obliterates the entire alien population. Or do they?

Science fiction is rife with examples of alien extinctions. If you peruse a lot of the literature/filmography talking about or executing xenocide, you should come up with a balance of the arguments for and against the action.

Sometimes the xenocide occurs with a simple virus or element common to earth. Other times, high tech methods are used. Most of the time, in those stories, we just blast them into oblivion. I would challenge you to explore some uncommon method if you are commiting xenocide in your story. And somebody ought to raise the ethical issues surrounding the action.

In actuality, xenocide could refer to killing off any group that is foreign another group. Ethnic cleansing is a kind of xenocide, too. Your story could do to international thriller land with that scenario and a mad ruler.

The real way to kill today with X is to pull out your trusty xyston and whack away. The xyston was a short pike used by the Greek cavalry. It is an infantry weapon fashioned with a pointed metal head (steel or iron) on a long wooden shaft. One would kill by thrusting through a person. This is another foramination method.

A spear differs from a xyston due to length. Once the pole is too long to be thrown with accuracy as a spear requires, it is a pike meant for hand-to-hand combat. A pike is anywhere from 10-25 feet long allowing for some safety of distance. That is unless your xyston is 12 feet and the other guy’s is 13 feet.

The xyston (Greek version of the pike) wasn’t used after the Greeks waned. The pike continued on in Europe, but it too went out of fashion in the 1700s, thus you are again dealing with an historical mystery or with a contemporary mystery featuring an antique weapon. How many times have I said that this month, I wonder?

I can see a battlefield death in your novel of a feuding pair staged to look like the enemy killed the victim with shis xyston. Or it could be an accident, a sort of friendly-fire death, old-timey style.

Omigosh! We are almost to the end. Can you guess what Y killings will use?

If you take time to share this post on social media, I would be most grateful. 

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#Mystery writer, need killer ideas? X is for Xenocide or Xyston. Lots of tips this month! #atozchallenge http://bit.ly/1T02o1U

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Check out Sharon Arthur Moore’s culinary mystery, Mission Impastable  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

26+ Ways to Kill: W is for Wand or Whinger


Welcome! Since I write culinary mysteries, “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” deals with food topics and with mysteries. This month I am sharing ways to kill people—in your mysteries, of course—and some tips on getting away with it! To avoid the pronoun problem, I’ll use heesh (he or she), shis (his or hers), and shim (him or her) throughout the entries. Tune in for murder and mayhem.

Here’s a tip I picked up at mystery conference. If your killer wants to conceal blood residue from the crime lab guys, have shim take these steps. Clean up the blood thoroughly, that means even the cracks in the grout and paneling seams. Check the surrounding wall for splatters. Have your killer get a blood detector flashlight from Amazon (under $20 plus shipping) to be thorough. Or not! Missing a blood splatter could be the undoing of the murderer.

After cleaning with bleach or some other good cleaning product, your killer lets the area dry and then applies a coat of floor wax everywhere. Luminol can detect blood residue through bleach, but the wax barrier on top foils it. Do not use a wax with a cleaning substance in it. Defeats the purpose. How amazing is that to know?

I really thought about a wood chipper for W, but not only have we already done mangling deaths, but everybody remembers the scene in Fargo, so who would want to compete with that? I’m not up to that!

You could have your victim weighed down prior to being dumped in a lake or ocean. See the mafia links online for more information. This is a helpful tip for noyade covered earlier in the month.

Winterkill is to kill by exposure to cold. We’ve done that too, with gelation. In the case of winterkill you use the natural elements to freeze someone to death. It’s a relatively painless way to go. Your victim gets sleepy and drifts off. If planned correctly, the body could go undetected for months or years, and the freezing of the body would throw off the timeline for death by as much as months. And then they would only know because of the weather patterns. Winterkill could be interesting to try, yes?

In a paranormal book with magic elements, you can find ways to kill with a wand. There are lots of examples of this in literature, so you’ll have some models. But I would create a series of wands. Some wands I would use to vulnerate the victim before killing, just to have some fun and draw out the tension. Wounding the victim first also allows for the possibility of rescue. Not all murders have to be completed. Your killer can go to jail for attempted murder, too. Your call.

The whinger is more likely to appear in an historical mystery than contemporary, but you could create a contemporary plot wherein the victim is a collector of swords and daggers and is “hoist by his own petard.” A whinger is a dirk or short sword. This is another type of foramination murder.

If you take time to share this post on social media, I would be most grateful. 

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#Mystery writer, need killer ideas? W is for Wand or Whinger. Lots of tips this month! #atozchallenge http://bit.ly/1XSdzOp

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

26+ Ways to Kill: V is for Venesect or Vesuviate


Welcome! Since I write culinary mysteries, “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” deals with food topics and with mysteries. This month I am sharing ways to kill people—in your mysteries, of course—and some tips on getting away with it! To avoid the pronoun problem, I’ll use heesh (he or she), shis (his or hers), and shim (him or her) throughout the entries. Tune in for murder and mayhem.

Venom, of course, came up with the letter V. Venenation is poisoning, but we’ve done that a couple of times. Something virose is poisonous or foul.

Your villain might be vafrous (cunning, sly) or be consumed with vindictoviolence (desire to take revenge). Such a killer might use vastation (purification through destroying evil elements) thinking heesh could heal shimself by destroying evil in others. That such killing would also destroy the evil in shim. That could be an interesting psychological story.

Another flogging word came up: vapulate. Interesting how many words there are scourging.

And to vulnerate is to wound. Lots of options for that this month!

I played with using venography (injecting radioactive material into veins for medical examination) for your death method. It would be a medical mystery requiring much research on your part. How much radioactive material? What are the symptoms? I rejected using venography for V because I couldn’t quite see how it could be done and the death, if death resulted, would be easily detectable and traceable. Those controlled substances are hard to use surreptitiously.

So what do I have to offer for V murder methods?

Venesect (open a vein for blood-letting) would be pretty fast, I think. If enough veins were opened, the blood should spill out quickly. A scalpel run along a few veins would do it. Your phlebotomist takes blood samples from you with a sharp needle with a vacuum tube. Heesh can fill a few of those babies in just a few minutes. Imagine how fast it could go with long scalpel cuts.

Just so you know, you need a medical tool for venesection to be efficient. Veins are tough little guys. And they slip around a lot. You have to skewer it and slice. Sawing away with your kitchen knife will be a mess. You can get 10 scalpels on Amazon for under $10 (plus shipping) in case your killer is into serial venesection.

My search turned up vesuviation. Notice the similarity to Vesuvius. This word is so fun. It is surrounded by myth and paranormal interpretations. You may know vesuviation by its more common moniker: SHC-Spontaneous Human Combustion.

History has recorded incidents of seemingly unexplainable incidents of vesuviation, a human body bursting into flames, purportedly from the inside out. A study of recorded cases reported these commonalities: the victims are elderly, female, and chronic alcoholics; the hands and feet fall off; the residue is offensively fetid and greasy ashes; and, the fire caused little damage to other combustibles the body touched. Oh, and some lighted substance came into contact with the body so there is no such thing as SHC. Careless smoker anyone?

I considered that you could have a dumb murderer who read about and believes in vesuviation (SHC) and thus stages the murder to look like one. I think it could work with the right details, but heesh would be caught rather quickly. That might work for a minor subplot in your story or as the killing in a short story. I keep thinking you could play this one for some laughs. Dumb crook and all, if you know what I mean.

If you take time to share this post on social media, I would be most grateful. 

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#Mystery writer, need killer ideas? V is for Venesect or Vesuviate. Lots of tips this month! #atozchallenge http://bit.ly/1VxBEw5

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Monday, April 25, 2016

26+ Ways to Kill: U is for Ustulation


Welcome! Since I write culinary mysteries, “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” deals with food topics and with mysteries. This month I am sharing ways to kill people—in your mysteries, of course—and some tips on getting away with it! To avoid the pronoun problem, I’ll use heesh (he or she), shis (his or hers), and shim (him or her) throughout the entries. Tune in for murder and mayhem.

Remember when I said that the last quarter of the alphabet is harder? Boy, howdy!

I only found one pretty good word for killing with the letter U, but then all month, I’ve given your lots of words with multiple letters, so no whining with the piddly one for today. And remember the title of this series is “26+ Ways to Kill”. You got your 26 a while back!

On my way researching U ways to kill, I came across some other words that you might be able to work into your story.

For example, urticate is to sting or flog with nettles. Yikes! I had a run-in with a nettle patch as a kid. Talk about itching! Well, it appears urticate is a BDSM kind of sex thing. Who knew? Speaking personally, that’s not the way I roll. I hate being itchy! For me, it would be the complete opposite of a turn-on. Still, in your novel, you might work urticate torture/teasing into a tale that becomes increasingly bizarre and dangerous so that death comes calling.

On the other hand, urtication had a more seemly side in the past. It was a treatment for paralysis, the idea being to create irritation. Yeah. Well. It must not have been very successful because the medical use of urtication is gone.

You could have your killer commit uxoricide, the killing of his wife. You’ve got lots of ways to do that this month, some more detectable or gruesome than others. How much does your killer want to dispose of her?

Also, I found that unguiculate is a clawed thing (an animal mostly, but it could be an object). You might maul your victim, but death would be unlikely unless you use the unguiculate as a foraminator.

Some writers kill unknowns (most often transients) to conceal deaths. No one is looking for them, so the killer is more likely to escape detection. Or if the unknown is located, with no connection—what investigators always look for first—the killer flies under the radar.

Today’s word for the letter U, however, is Ustulation, scorching, burning or roasting. I know we’ve done various pyrogenation (subjecting to heat) methods before, but this one is slightly different. In pharmacological terms, ustulation is roasting or drying or moist substances. Bodies = moist substances.

Interestingly, an obsolete definition for ustulation is lustful passion, a burning sexual desire. Funny how we ended up there again today!

For the more contemporary definition, I can picture a big barbecue spit that the body is tied to (with metal so it doesn’t melt and drop the body into the coals) or skewered on (through non-vital areas). I’d maximize the torture by keeping the body enough above the coals to create a slow ustulation death by cooking the body. Then, lower the spit and gets some crust on the victim for a cannibalistic meal.

If you take time to share this post on social media, I would be most grateful. 

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#Mystery writer, need killer ideas? U is for Ustulation. Lots of tips this month! #atozchallenge http://bit.ly/1TpGYxY

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