A Palette for Murder will soon be available as a book on tape

Early next year an audible version of A Palette for Murder will be available on Amazon. I am very excited to have Karen Stoff as my reader. She has the right voice for Lana Davis, the main character and the right timing and gentle sarcasm to tell the story. Watch for it in the first quarter of 2017.



This and That

Those elegant California White Pelicans have come back to the park near my house. I have to take this as a sign that life will always be beautiful. Tomorrow morning I have to go to the hospital for some surgery. I'll get out the same day, though I might not feel the same as when I walked in. I certainly won't be able to eat the same. Hope to be healed by Thanksgiving. Wouldn't want to miss candied yams or pumpkin pie. In the meantime, I will think of those lovely pelicans and relax!



Back in the U.S.A.

I dreaded the flight to the U.K., and it exceeded those expectations. Awful flight--thought I'd have to turn around and go home--but one shower and an Italian dinner later, I felt fit enough to continue on. I'm glad I did. I had a wonderful time. Though as you can see from this photo, taken the next morning, I'm not all that sure how this trip is going to work out.
Later on, I look more content. I'm about to eat dinner at one of the oldest pubs in London.

 More about the highlights of my trip later.

My upcoming trip to the U.K.



I plan to visit England, Scotland and Wales. I’ve been to Europe a few times, but I never made it to the British Isles. Being an avid reader of Golden Age British mystery novels, I am excited to see the type of quaint villages they set their stories in. And course, as a fan of all Jane Austen novels, I can’t wait to see Bath, where some of her stories took place.

The one thing I am dreading is the plane from Los Angeles to London. It’s over ten hours. Somehow, I will have to get at least seven hours sleep during that flight. I opted to take a nonstop because packing and unpacking creates many opportunities for losing and forgetting things, at least for me. On one European trip I had a layover in New York, and when I spent a very short night in a hotel I ended up losing my contact lenses. On a trip to Ontario, Canada last year I left my mouse pad in the hotel because it blended in with the desk I was using, and I didn't notice it. Not this time. The mouse pad I’m taking for my laptop now is bright blue. Maybe this trip will inspire me to write a mystery about a forgetful sleuth. In the meantime, I’ll comfort myself by reading a Jane Austen novel on the plane. It's a bit worn around the edges, but if I lose it or someone mistakes it for my wallet, it won't cost much to replace.


Join Me This Sunday, May 22, 2016 7-9 EDT on The Writer's Chatroom

Join me this Sunday, May 22, 2016 7-9 EDT on The Writer's Chatroom at
http://www.writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm. During the chat I will be giving away a copy of The Legacy Of Fear, book 1 of Horror At The Lake, my vampire mystery.

To participate, just register for a free account at http://www.writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm 
and pick a user name and password. 


 
I hope to see you there!
 

The Uncanny Intelligence of Geese

I live near a park with a small lake--really, just a man-made pond--that is alive with waterfowl, squirrels and turtles. Every year a flock of Canadian geese come back to the park. One couple each year will mate and have babies. It's fun to watch the babies grow up. At first they are all brown and fuzzy and eventually, those feathers give way to the distinctive brown-black and white markings of the adult Canadian geese. This year there were seven babies born to one very smart couple. I say smart because they obviously realized seven is a lot to keep safe from predators so they enlisted the services of two other geese who are regulars in the park. One is a large white goose and the other is an even larger African goose. They've been hanging out in the park for years. And now they act as surrogate parents or body guards for the seven babies.

Before I realized one Canadian geese couple had given birth, I saw these two non-Canadian geese on the grass, shielding something with their wings while two Canadian geese stood on the walkway warding off passersby. I realized the adult geese were protecting Canadian goslings. Now the whole diverse tribe is inseparable--eating and swimming together like one big happy family.

Well, it makes sense. What else can stressed-out parents do when they have a lot of kids? They hire a couple of baby sitters to make life a easier for them.


video


 Vanessa A. Ryan is the author of:
 
Horror At The Lake, A Vampire Tale mystery trilogy:

Book 1, The Legacy Of Fear -- order now  Book 2, The Trail Of Terror -- order now
Book 3, The Blood Of Redemption -- order now
A Palette For Murder - order now


Follow Vanessa A. Ryan at:

Strange Mysteries That Are Still Unsolved

 I'm sure many of you read Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mysteries when you were a kid. I certainly did. And I always hoped somehow I would stumble on a mystery that I could solve. Nancy Drew always seemed to find scraps of paper on the ground or sidewalk that linked to other mysterious events that she eventually solved. How I wished I could be like her. But though I scoured the ground for clues to some unknown mystery, I never found anything. But I the other day, I did find beautiful grounds and a garden wall during my search for unknown clues--pictures are below. And I found an article about mysteries that are still unsolved. Gives me some thoughts of solving some of them in a story:

http://listverse.com/2015/02/25/10-strange-mysteries-from-around-the-world-that-are-still-unsolved/




















My Recent Trip To Cuba

My recent trip to Cuba at Christmas has given me some ideas for new stories. Far from being a “police state,” as we have been led to believe, the Cubans seem reasonably content with their government, enough to poke fun at it. While spending four days in Cuba doesn’t make me an expert, what I discovered was people leave Cuba not because of government repression but because they want a better standard of living. They can own a house in the city and in the country, but they can’t buy new houses, because no banks have financed new housing projects in Cuba since the embargo. That means people have to live in the homes of their parents or grandparents. Also cars and travel are expensive (yes, Cubans are allowed to travel) and public transportation is spotty. My tour guide lives in the country because she feels that’s a better place to raise a child, but she has to take a succession of taxis to get to work. And it takes her an hour and a half. The vintage cars are mainly owned by taxi companies who cater to tourists.

To improve their standard of living many people make money on the black market. Unless they do it on a large scale, the government looks the other way. This is why I saw many Cubans arriving at the airport with a pile of hats on their heads they planned to sell. They get the same TV shows we get. They like their healthcare system and the fact that college is practically free. It’s also a more liberal place for artists and musicians than it was in the 1970s when the government forbid listening to Beatle’s music.
Especially inspiring on my trip was visiting the Hemingway Museum, the house where Ernest Hemingway lived for a number of years. It’s about fifteen miles outside Havana. According to my tour guide, Mary Hemingway deeded it to the Cuban government if they would keep it intact as a museum. However, as some online articles point out, the Cuban government confiscated it. At any rate, it’s a quiet, idyllic spot in a tropical setting––a great place to write.
Another highlight of the trip was a talk by Marta Nunez, the Minister of Gender Relations. She discussed the problems Cuba faces. She is a sociologist and former Harvard professor, whose family supported the Revolution in the early days. According to Nunez, the fact that men have compulsory military service and women do not has resulted in more women becoming college graduates, but because of that, men lag behind intellectually. That results in more divorces, and one-child families––not from family planning but because the marriages don’t last long. In addition, it is a machismo society. Women raise their sons to be manly––gays are not that tolerated––and to view housework and child rearing as “women’s work.” As I said, Cubans are not reluctant to criticize their country.
This is the view from my hotel:  Havana at sunset. 

And of course, I got to ride in a vintage car. Most of them are owned by taxicab companies because they are very expensive to buy. Because a ride in a vintage car is more expensive than other taxis, the average Cuban can't afford them.


Convertibles are the best to ride in because all cars use leaded gas.

In a pinch, you can always take a ride in a Soviet-made car. Not as fancy but on my last night in Cuba this was the only taxi we could find to get back to the hotel. For $10 it was a deal, but not one I'd like to repeat. The back doors didn't open and the front seats didn't pull down, so we had to crawl over the front seat to get in. And the fumes were horrible.

My take on Cuba is it's an interesting, colorful place to visit. The people are friendly and relatively content. The food, the music and entertainment were fabulous. The plumbing--not so much.  

Vanessa A. Ryan is the author of:
 
Horror At The Lake, A Vampire Tale mystery trilogy:
Book 1, The Legacy Of Fear -- order now  Book 2, The Trail Of Terror -- order now
Book 3, The Blood Of Redemption -- order now


A Palette For Murder - order now


Follow Vanessa A. Ryan at:


An Exciting Giveaway Of Three Intriguing Mystery/Thriller Novels

I am excited to be part of a contest giving away my book, A Palette for Murder, my latest cozy mystery with Angel Sefer's Dark Shadow of the Past and Jill Meengs' Trigger, two thrilling mystery suspense novels.

In Dark Shadow of the Past, Christina Connors and police detective Dan Mallory find themselves caught in a deadly game of conspiracy, murder, and vengeance. While the detective fights to save Christina and protect his career, she must discover how to play the game without revealing her true identity. But her secret won't stay buried for long, and the truth could mean death for them both.

Trigger is full of suspense and murder. Jordan Shaw knows the only way to stop the man hunting her is to kill him. She also knows the other men who came after her are dead, some of their blood is on her hands, and she wouldn’t have survived this long without the help of the intriguing and secretive Chase Hudson. Even though she isn’t sure she can trust Chase, she believes she needs him to discover the truth.

And of course, in A Palette for Murder, my first cozy mystery with Lana Davis, Lana's search for a missing heir brings her into the inner circle of a powerful art gallery in Santa Fe, owned by the daughter of a wealthy family. Although Lana's knowledge of art is limited to the one art history class she took in college, she soon discovers, when art and greed collide, the result is deadly. But her knack for finding dead bodies makes the police nervous. And finding herself a target for murder is more than she signed up for. 

So here's the way to enter the contest. Don't delay: 
 Rafflecopter giveaway

Native American Indian Art



Music plays an important role in the Native American culture, but there is a very special place for art, too. American Indians have used art as a way of expressing themselves for many hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Most of their art is symbolic with bears, eagles, people or walruses playing a huge part, and much of the artwork is made from rocks, feathers, clay and fabric.

In colder areas, the Native Americans enjoyed creating art as a tribute to their animal friends. Walruses were carved out of whale’s teeth and bears and eagles were made out of rock. Statues were often created to show the Native American love of animals. Even weapons and musical instruments were considered to be art for the Native American tribes.

When you think about Native American art, one of their most cherished art forms instantly comes to mind. The Indians are famous for their use of the legendary totem poles, which were tall wooden sculptures that showed several generations of a family. Each of the “faces” in the pole showed different representations of different family members—some were human and some were animal.

Basket weaving, too, was considered by the Indians to be a form of art—albeit one that served a very important role in their everyday lives. Cornhusks and reeds were woven together to create the baskets, and then the material would be dyed to make the fascinating tribal patterns that Indians are so famous for. In fact, the Navajo tribe is most famous for their handwoven baskets. 


Vanessa A. Ryan is the author of:
 
Horror At The Lake, A Vampire Tale mystery trilogy:
Book 1, The Legacy Of Fear -- order now 
Book 2, The Trail Of Terror -- order now
Book 3, The Blood Of Redemption -- order now


A Palette For Murder - order now


Follow Vanessa A. Ryan at:


Five Stolen Paintings The World Nearly Lost





Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci:

Would the Mona Lisa receive the same amount of attention if it hadn't been stolen? Prior to its theft, the painting was hardly known outside the art world. But interest in the painting peaked after it was stolen right off the wall by Vincenzo Peruggia, a thief imitating the cleaning staff. The ensuing panic closed the doors to the Louvre for a week, and the painting wasn't found for two years. You can see it -- sort of -- behind a thick wall of tourists and bullet-proof, alarmed plexiglass at the Louvre in Paris, France.

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, Hubert and Jan van Eyck:

Better known as the Ghent Altarpiece, Mystic Lamb, painted in 1432, it seems to be beloved by Germans -- soldiers, in particular. The first heist of two panels occurred by German forces in WWI. The second heist, in 1942, was commissioned by Hitler because he wanted the painting to hanging in Neuschwanstein Castle -- the famous "Disney" castle. The painting can still be found in St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium, its original location, although one panel, "The Just Judges," remains missing.

Boy in the Red Vest, Paul Cezanne:

At the outset, this painting is no more famous than any of the others listed -- although its $109 million value begs to differ. It's just a boy wearing an Italian red waistcoat. But what's intriguing about the boy is that Cezanne's work was one of three paintings stolen from the private Bührle Collection in 2008. The other paintings include a Van Gogh, Monet and Degas. The combined price of these works exceeded $300 million. The painting is back at the E.G. Bührle Collection, Zürich, Switzerland, although, hopefully, under tighter security measures.

Jacob de Gheyn III, Rembrandt:

The 12-inch by 10-inch portrait is of the son of the canon of Utrecht. What's most interesting about this painting is that, since 1966, it's been stolen four different times, the most of any artwork. Because of this, it's commonly known as the "takeaway Rembrandt." It's only a matter of time before the painting disappears again. Currently, it's hiding at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, England.

The Scream, Edvard Munch:

Munch's The Scream ranks among the most iconic figures in art history. The piece's bent-skull, long chin and wide eyes even inspired a series of over-dramatic horror films and a Halloween costume craze in the '90s. But even more fascinating is that The Scream has been subjected to many thefts. The most recent theft occurred in 2004, when the $150 million painting wasn't recovered for two years. You can find it in the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway.


Vanessa A. Ryan is the author of:
 
Horror At The Lake, A Vampire Tale mystery trilogy:
Book 1, The Legacy Of Fear -- order now 
Book 2, The Trail Of Terror -- order now
Book 3, The Blood Of Redemption -- order now


A Palette For Murder - order now


Follow Vanessa A. Ryan at: