When Will I Die, and Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?: Redux

Ah, yes, another oldie but goodie from the past (Sept. 2009), for your reading enjoyment; be aware these responses are from 2009, and some contain graphic wording: 

jpg_0627QUESTIONIt all started when when I wanted to use my silicone Bundt cake pan for the first time. Just before placing it in the oven, I wondered: Should I use a baking sheet to support the wobbly pan, or is this pan designed to use alone? I decided to do what anyone with a computer does: I Googled it. I intended to Google: “Should I use a baking sheet under a silicone pan?” but as soon as I typed, ”Should I,” a drop-down of popular suggestions appeared. I couldn’t ignore the juxtaposition of these responses. Some of the highlights (beware a graphic one) as they appear on Google:

“Should I…”
should i refinance my mortgage
should i stay or should i go (55.9 million results)
should i call him (85.4 million results)
should i shave my pubic hair
should i file bankruptcy
should i get a divorce

Magic 8 ballI didn’t know that Google had become a substitute for the Magic 8 ball (The Mattel Magic 8 ball, a toy used for seeking advice, was invented in 1946 by the son of a clairvoyant. You can even try an online version here).

(Concentrate and ask (Google) again….)

Typing “Should we…” in Google reveals a drop-down of the following:

“Should we….”
should we break up
should we get married (25 million results)
should weed be legal (over 45 million results)
should we have dropped the atomic bomb
should we file jointly
should we eliminate fats from our diet altogether and increase our proteins
should we move in together
should we get back together (99.9 million results)

Should I check “Does…”? (It is decidedly so.)
Does he like me (114 million results)
Does Obama smoke (over 30 million results)
Does hydroxycut/extenze/smooth away/alli work (responses condensed)
Does he love me
Does UPS delivery on Saturday
How about trying “Why”? (Without a doubt.)


why is the sky blue (25.2 million results)
why did the chicken cross the road
why men cheat
why did chris brown beat up rihanna
why do dogs eat poop
why did I get married (26 million results)

What kind of answers are Googlers expecting? (Reply hazy; try again.) What kind of answers are they finding? (Cannot predict now.)

I was on a roll. A peek at the results of “when,” “when will,” “how can,” and “how does”:

whejpg_Earth-from-spacen is the superbowl
when will i die (893 million results)
when i grow up
when will the world end (176 million results)

“When will….”
when will i get my tax refund
when will the recession end


when will the economy get better
when will i get married (30.7 million results)

“How can…”
how can you tell if a guy likes you
how can i make my hair grow faster
how can you tell if a girl likes you
how can i get pregnant
how can you tell if a girl is a virgin
how can you tell if someone is lying (over 9.2 million results)

This is like eating potato chips…

“How does…”
how does a bill become a law (173 million results)
how does birth control work
how does david blaine levitate
how does google make money
how does unemployment work
Questions surrounding finances, birth control, the end of life, relationships, and hair growth seem to be of utmost concern for so many inquiring minds. I thought the popular question about how a bill becomes law was promising.

Is anyone finding meaningful answers to such major life decisions online? (Cannot predict now.) Will Googlers stop asking such questions? (Very doubtful….)

Just one more? (Yes, definitely.)
“Can I…”
can I has cheeseburger
can I have your number
can I get pregnant on my period
can I afford a house

Oh ~ and the answer to my question about silicone bakeware? A baking sheet is recommended to stabilize. The chocolate cake came out just great!


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Edgar Allan Poe Festival – 2015

Courtesy: Riverhead BID

This weekend marks the second annual Edgar Allan Poe Festival in Riverhead, New York. A parade on Main Street kicks off the festivities tonight at 7 p.m.

The Festival is sponsored by The Town of Riverhead and The Riverhead BID. The festival has been created by St. George Living History Productions.

On Halloween, Trick or Treat on Main Street begins at 11 am and continues until 3 pm. There will be musicals, story times, tours, family games, and readings. Members of the New York chapter of Mystery Writers of America will be available at the Dark Horse Restaurant starting at 11 am for book sales and signings.

On Sunday, beginning at 12 noon, members of the Long Island Sisters in Crime will be available for book sales and signing, also at the Dark Horse Restaurant.


At the Vail Leavitt Music Hall at 12:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday, a one-act play depicting a fictitious meeting between three classic writers of the macabre: Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley, in “The Ghost Writers.”

Poe-inspired menus will be available all weekend at the Blue Duck Bakery, the Dark Horse Restaurant, Uncle Joe’s Restaurant, Sonoma Grill, Joe’s Garage, and more.

Readings will be done all weekend long. I’m proud to be reading some of Poe’s poetry; “Spirits of the Dead,” at 12:30 pm at the Sonoma Grill, and “Alone” at Joe’s Garage at 2 pm, both on Sunday, November 1st.

According to northforker.com, here’s a list of “5 ‘don’t miss’ events” at the festival.

For a complete listing of events, click here.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

National Punctuation Day & Contest


Each year, September 24 is National Punctuation Day. It was founded in 2004 by Jeff Rubin. It simply promotes the correct usage of punctuation.


Reader’s Digest offers Weird Facts About 5 Punctuation Marks You See Everywhere.

mental-floss-logoMental Floss tells us about Little-Known Punctuation Marks We Should Be Using

National Punctuation Day is having a writing contest. Instead of the usual 250-word essay contest, they are going with a David Letterman-type Top 10 Contest: WHAT ARE THE TOP-10 WAYS PUNCTUATION HAS AFFECTED YOUR LIFE? 

Entries will be accepted through October 31 at Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com. The page doesn’t indicate what the prize would be, if any.

National Punctuation Day has a Facebook Page. On their website, they list style books and guides, and online resources to help with punctuation and grammar.


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Extinguishing a Kitchen Oil Fire

An extremely effective video about a kitchen fire that could help save a life. This is actually an easy method as long as one doesn’t panic. Share this information!

Mrs O'Leary's CowNext month is Fire Prevention Month, which was started to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. It began on October 8, but did most of its damage on October 9, 1871. Check here for more information and tips regarding fire safety.

Every year, Fire Prevention Safety has a theme. For 2015, it is: Hear The Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Cucumber Salad Recipe

cucumber-clip-art-350333Today I’m making my favorite cucumber salad recipe; I thought I’d share it with my fellow Women of Mystery and our friends who stop by and visit our blog.

This recipe comes from a family friend, Yvonne Ford, who gave it to me at my bridal shower in 1989. Although the shower was a surprise to me, I had asked the planners, my mom and sister, to ask the guests to include at least one of their favorite recipes.

I’ve been making it every summer since!

Two things: use a food processor if you have one, and refrigerate the salad overnight.

Here’s a photo, pre-refrigeration: IMG_6817

Cucumber Salad
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 medium cucumbers
1 red onion

Heat the first four ingredients until dissolved. Cool.

Thinly slice cucumbers and onion (a food processor is great for this) and alternate slices in a bowl or dish that can be covered.

Pour mixture over cukes and onion. Sprinkle with chives. Refrigerate overnight. Serves six.

Here’s some background of the history of the cucumber, and the first documented use of the phrase, “cool as a cucumber.”

Do you have a favorite summertime recipe? Feel free to share if you like! Let me know if you try this out, I’d love to hear your opinion.

How about listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing “Summertime” while making it?


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Book Signing; A Family Affair

My family, in Bluffton, South Carolina, invited friends, neighbors and clients to a book signing party for Broken Window. We had fun and sold books.

One of my daughters and husband and two of my fourteen grandchildren

My daughter, Lauren, and her husband, Don, and two of my fourteen grandchildren, Faith and Hannah.

The picture is taken in the beautiful house of my granddaughter, Hannah, and her husband, Mike. She’s the one holding a copy of Broken Window while I take the picture.

Having too much fun, we forgot to take pictures while the book signing was going on two days before.

Hopefully, at the moment, people who would never have read Broken Window are reading it, and more, at least a couple are purchasing Murder at the P&Z, the first book in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series published by Mainly Murder Press.

The local library was fully booked for the summer for author talks when I called. My daughter, Lauren, and granddaughter, Joy, did the major work and I can’t thank them enough for it.

Why did I become a writer? One of the guests asked me that question and we were off to the races for a nice give and take talk.



Eleanor Taylor Bland’s Award for Writers of Color


Photo by Marcia Wilson, taken at the 1st Harlem Book Fair, July 1999

I’m stealing a lot of verbiage below from the Sisters in Crime website, which has even more detail about The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award than I’ve got here. You may know that I lived awhile in and around Chicago. That was where I joined my first Sisters in Crime chapter. And Eleanor Taylor Bland was one of our members from Waukegan, a town outside Chicago. If you’ve ever been there, you soon realize that the tentacles of semi-connected towns crawl north, from the heart of the Loop, up the lakefront to the Wisconsin border (near where Eleanor lived). They also creep down south around the bottom curve of the lake Michigan to bump into Gary, Indiana. The population also sprawls west along the prairie (and I-80/88), not quite to Iowa, but by now, there are probably people in the Mississippi River-hugging Quad Cities who describe themselves as living in a Chicago suburb.

Windy-City-Dying-by-Eleanor-Taylor-BlandGeographical digressions aside, I met Eleanor when I hadn’t even written a crime short story, and I was only playing with the idea of a manuscript. (My first MS, true closet-fodder, was eventually about a Chicago fixer and institutionalized corruption–where do I come up with this stuff?) I have this title of hers as a signed hardcover, and it was already the 10th in her series! Eleanor’s procedurals about a female homicide cop juggling cases and family life in a disguised Waukegan called Lincoln Prairie were an inspiration. Detective Marti McAlister had to get assertive at times, but I have no idea if Eleanor ever raised her voice, because in my witness, she was always refined and self-possessed. Relentlessly kind and encouraging, too, just the thing a desperately insecure new writer needs and craves. Besides her service and support to the SinC chapter, I know she took a strong interest in mentoring young writers in other venues, and it’s wonderful that there’s an award in her honor that continues helping to support new writers in their work. Now, onto the cash!

The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award is an annual grant of $1,500 for an emerging writer of color. An unpublished writer is preferred, although publication of one work of short fiction or academic work will not disqualify an applicant. This grant is intended to support the recipient in activities related to crime fiction writing and career development. She or he may choose from activities that include workshops, seminars, conferences, and retreats; online courses; and research activities required for completion of the work….

Eleanor Taylor Bland was a pioneer in crime fiction. In 1992 the first in a series of crime fiction novels that feature Marti MacAlister, an African American female police detective who works and resides in a Midwestern American town that closely resembles Bland’s own adopted home town, Waukegan, Illinois, was published. Bland also published several works of short crime fiction and edited a collection titled Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors (2004). When she passed away in 2010, she was one of the most prolific African American authors in the genre. With Marti MacAlister, Bland created an enduring and much beloved heroine who went against the grain of perpetuated stereotypes related to African American women in much of U.S. popular culture.

Although Bland focused primarily in her work on stories about African American characters and their lives, bringing both complexities and comforts of familiarity to her readership, she also included in-depth interactions with other kinds of characters that reflect the broad spectrum of identities that is U.S. society. Bland saw crime fiction as an especially accessible literary vehicle for bringing into the genre characters that before her work had been peripheral to or simply missing from the genre. She understood that crime fiction could continue over time broadening its appeal to new reading audiences by opening its doors to the kinds of characters, societal situations and perspectives, and potential for creativity that authors of color would bring.

Deadline for applications: July 5, 2015. The winner will be selected and announced in the fall of 2015. They’re looking for “writers of color with an unpublished work of crime fiction, written with an adult (rather than YA or children) audience in mind, which may be a short story or first chapter(s) of a manuscript in-progress, 2,500 to 10,000 words.” If that’s you, please check out the details and apply!

Bleak and Brief: Noir at the Bar this Sunday, April 12th!

Noir-at-the-Bar-4-12-15-Shade-NYCI’ll be reading a very new (possibly, um, still being written) short piece during Noir at the Bar, held at the snug and copacetic Shade NYC on Sunday, 4/12.

It’s in Greenwich Village, 241 Sullivan St., and the whole thing runs from 6-9pm, plenty of time to get home on a school night.

Sure, if you’re a regular here, you may be bored to tears with my usual rap, but just check out the other, actually fascinating people who’ll be reading!

Gerald So – runs crime poetry blog, The 5-2, amid editing and advocating for short crime fiction. He promises verse for National Poetry Month!
Jeff Soloway -authors the Travel Writer mystery series for Alibi Books, as well as an, ahem, award-winning short story, “The Wentworth Letter”
S.A. Solomon – writes, edits, and bon vivants (if that’s a verb). Go check out her story “Live for Today” from Akashic’s New Jersey Noir
Julia Dahl– also works in crime journalism for CBSNews.com. Her 2014 debut novel Invisible City is Edgar-nominated
Alex Segura– does everything from Archie comics to crime novels, including his Pete Fernandez P.I. series just picked up by Polis Books
Dan Krokos – is the esquire of Kips Bay. With 46 thousand tweets and counting, he’s got plenty to say!
Rich Zahradnik– launched the Coleridge Taylor mysteries, set in 1975’s tumultuous NYC. The first novel in the series is Last Words
Joe Samuel Starnes– this week released Red Dirt: A Tennis novel. After competing as a teen in the eighties, in 2010, he played a 15 year-old girl in the world’s top 1000…and won
Thomas Pluck– organizes these events, plus writes, edits, interviews, reviews… he’s so enthusiastically productive I’m exhausted thinking about it!

Hope to see you at the bar!

If you can’t make it, please wish us all luck! I, for one, will need and very much appreciate your good wishes, and do have a great time wherever you find yourself!

Derringer Awards Announced, Congrats to Our Cathi Stoler!

SMFSLogo-10sq-300dpiEarlier this month, we congratulated all the wonderful writers who were nominated for the 2015 Derringer Awards for short fiction in 4 different categoies, including one author who we know rather well here at Women of Mystery.




Well, we now have the especial joy to announce that the winner for Best Short Story (1001-4000 words) is our very own talented WoM Cathi Stoler, author of “The Kaluki Kings of Queens!” This story, about a young man who learns more than a game from his elders over cards, appeared in the anthology Family Matters, edited by this blog’s own Anita Page, and was published by Glenmere Books in partnership with the New York/Tri-State Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the local organization where all of us who’ve ever posted here met. You see why it’s so special?! Besides Cathi, this year, the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Derringer Awards honor the following—

Best Flash: Joseph D’Agnese, “How Lil’ Jimmie Beat the Big C” (Shotgun Honey, May 12, 2014)

Best Long Story: Hilary Davidson, “A Hopeless Case” (All Due Respect #4, September 2014)

Best Novelette: Doug Allyn, “The Snow Angel” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 2014)

The Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement: James Powell

A public presentation of the awards will be made at the 2015 Bouchercon Convention in Raleigh, North Carolina in October. Congratulations to all!

Jazzy Poetry and Poetic Jazz

April is National Jazz Appreciation Month and National Poetry Month. Poetry and Jazz Night at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center will take place on Saturday, April 11 with The Norwalk Public Library in celebration.

Local officials, writers and readers will read from their favorite poem, either an original or just one that is beloved. Interspersed with the poetry Neddy Smith and his trio will be playing some classic jazz pieces.

I’m delighted to recite an excerpt from one of my favorite poems by Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol–it’s about murder, need I say more?

Needy Smith

Needy Smith

Jam! Join the Fun!
6 to 9 PM, Saturday April 11th
The Norwalk Inn 
99 East Ave Norwalk, CT 06851.
The night is open to all. Just a $10 donation to The Norwalk Public Library is all the ticket you need to share a Norwalk night of Jazzy Poetry and Poetic Jazz.