Thursday, May 05, 2016

Guest Post: “A Holiday By Any Other Name” by Camille Minichino

Please welcome author Camille Minichino today to the blog. She has a few thoughts on Cinco de Mayo and the new book, Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries.

“A Holiday By Any Other Name” by Camille Minichino

Thanks to Lois Winston for her work in setting up a tour for our joint project, Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries, and to Kevin Tipple for the chance to meet his readers on Cinco de Mayo, a special holiday. One reason it's special: it earned me my first one-star review. I'll explain.

First, I never met a holiday or celebration I didn't like. Birthdays, anniversaries, Saints' Days, Countries' Days—I love them all. When I taught physics in college, my students and I gathered in the lounge every Friday to celebrate the birthday of a scientist or mathematician. Enrico Fermi on September 29, 1901; Marie Curie on November 7, 1867; the patent for the Sundback zipper on March 20, 1917.

I may be the only person you know who begs a friend for a ticket to her son's high school graduation, even though I met him only once as we passed in her driveway. I love pomp. I love circumstance.

I grew up just outside of Boston, where Patriot's Day (April 19) was as big a holiday as the Fourth of July, and Bunker Hill Day (June 17) overshadowed Labor Day.

I cheered for my father every year as he marched in the Sons of Italy band on the Feast of San Gennaro. Technically on September 19, but in reality the feast went on for about two weeks at the end of September, because there was no end to the number of sausages or cannoli one could consume in honor of the fourteenth century Neapolitan martyr. The odor of fried zeppoli would last another two weeks.

One of the biggest fusses erupted on Columbus Day (October 12) with the city's largest parade taking over the news. It was a while before I realized that the rest of the country hardly takes notice of the anniversaries of Paul Revere's ride or our loss to the British at the Battle of Bunker Hill. It took even longer for me to accept that some parts of the country didn't even believe in Columbus's achievement.

I was nearly forty when I first ventured out of the EST zone and traveled to California, where among the parking meter holidays for October was Indigenous Peoples Day!

I'll join in on celebrations of any kind, however, and so I was ready to embrace some of the new-to-me holidays like Cesar Chavez Day (March 31) and the Feast of Junipero Serra (July 1). Admissions Day had me confused at first— was the whole state celebrating the arrival of freshmen to various campuses? Some kind soul eventually explained to me that September 9 was the day California had been admitted to the union.

"How can you not know that?" a native asked me.

"You're right, I should know," I responded, struggling to gain back my dignity. "After all, Massachusetts was on the Admitting Committee."

In other words: give me a break.

Back to Cinco de Mayo. There was a time when I celebrated May 5 only as the birthday of Peter Cooper Hewitt, inventor of the mercury vapor lamp, precursor to fluorescent lighting.

My ignorance caught up with me when my first book, The Hydrogen Murder, was released. In it, my protagonist, a Boston native like me, refers to Cinco de Mayo as Mexican Independence Day.

Shoot me now. I received a flurry of attacks. Just like a gringo, they all said.

It turns out (in case you're also a short-sighted East Coaster) that the real Mexican Independence Day is September 16. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a short-lived victory over the French, and apparently is a big deal only in the US.

But count on me to join in on your favorite holiday celebration. Especially if there's cake involved, I'll be there. Just give me a few minutes and an Internet connection so I can bone up on the correct details.

The Hydrogen Murder is one of the ten books featured in Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries, a collection of full-length mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novel in the set is the first book in an established multi-book series—a total of over 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars. Titles include:

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery by Lois Winston—Working mom Anastasia is clueless about her husband’s gambling addiction until he permanently cashes in his chips and her comfortable middle-class life craps out. He leaves her with staggering debt, his communist mother, and a loan shark demanding $50,000. Then she’s accused of murder…

Murder Among Neighbors, a Kate Austen Suburban Mystery by Jonnie Jacobs — When Kate Austen’s socialite neighbor, Pepper Livingston, is murdered, Kate becomes involved in a sea of steamy secrets that bring her face to face with shocking truths—and handsome detective Michael Stone.

Skeleton in a Dead Space, a Kelly O’Connell Mystery by Judy Alter—Real estate isn’t a dangerous profession until Kelly O’Connell stumbles over a skeleton and runs into serial killers and cold-blooded murderers in a home being renovated in Fort Worth. Kelly barges through life trying to keep from angering her policeman boyfriend Mike and protect her two young daughters.

In for a Penny, a Cleopatra Jones Mystery by Maggie Toussaint—Accountant Cleo faces an unwanted hazard when her golf ball lands on a dead banker. The cops think her BFF shot him, so Cleo sets out to prove them wrong. She ventures into the dating world, wrangles her teens, adopts the victim’s dog, and tries to rein in her mom…until the killer puts a target on Cleo’s back.

The Hydrogen Murder, a Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—A retired physicist returns to her hometown of Revere, Massachusetts and moves into an apartment above her friends' funeral home. When she signs on to help the Police Department with a science-related homicide, she doesn't realize she may have hundreds of cases ahead of her.

Retirement Can Be Murder, A Baby Boomer Mystery by Susan Santangelo—Carol Andrews dreads her husband Jim’s upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than having an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it—until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach.

Dead Air, A Talk Radio Mystery by Mary Kennedy—Psychologist Maggie Walsh moves from NY to Florida to become the host of WYME's On the Couch with Maggie Walsh. When her guest, New Age prophet Guru Sanjay Gingii, turns up dead, her new roommate Lark becomes the prime suspect. Maggie must prove Lark innocent while dealing with a killer who needs more than just therapy.

A Dead Red Cadillac, A Dead Red Mystery by RP Dahlke—When her vintage Cadillac is found tail-fins up in a nearby lake, the police ask aero-ag pilot Lalla Bains why an elderly widowed piano teacher is found strapped in the driver’s seat. Lalla confronts suspects, informants, cross-dressers, drug-running crop dusters, and a crazy Chihuahua on her quest to find the killer.

Murder is a Family Business, an Alvarez Family Murder Mystery by Heather Haven—Just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez, has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve.

Murder, Honey, a Carol Sabala Mystery by Vinnie Hansen—When the head chef collapses into baker Carol Sabala’s cookie dough, she is thrust into her first murder investigation. Suspects abound at Archibald’s, the swanky Santa Cruz restaurant where Carol works. The head chef cut a swath of people who wanted him dead from ex-lovers to bitter rivals to greedy relatives.

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Camille Minichino ©20156

Bio: Camille Minichino is a retired physicist turned writer. When her first book, Nuclear Waste Management Abstracts, was not a bestseller, she turned to mystery fiction. She has written more than 20 novels and many articles and short stories. Find her at


Lois Winston said...

Camille, I know the feeling! I once put the Mississippi River on the wrong side of Iowa. Oops! ;-D

Maggie Toussaint said...

Holidays often scare me because people are usually in a celebratory mood and anything can happen! I'm a creature of habit and surprises are not my thing. In my case, hell would be where I'm in a groundhog's day loop of people endlessly jumping out from behind a sofa and yelling "surprise!" Just shoot me now.

Except please don't shoot me, that would be too disruptive...

Camille Minichino said...

Kevin, I feel like just being on your blog makes it holiday for me!

Lois, what a kick. I don't dare to venture into geography past the Hudson.

Maggie, as long as you find a way to have cake!

Heather Haven said...

As usual, Camille writes a warm, enlightening, and witty article. I just love her work. But on to the subject of holidays. It's often alarming for East Coast people to learn that here in California we don't celebrate Columbus Day. East Coasters almost find it un-American. However, we do celebrate the first Americans, the indigenous people. To each his own, I guess.
Thanks for an entertaining read, Camille, and happy writing!

jrlindermuth said...

The only thing that irks me about holidays is people forgetting the reason for the event and just using it as an excuse for a day off or a picnic. If you're going to celebrate, know the reason.

jonnie jacobs said...

I enjoy Camille's books as much as I do her blog posts. They are filled with the same warmth and humor, and always some new-to-me fact (although being a native Caifonian, I did know about the holidays). Fun post, Camile. Thanks.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Camille, what a lovely post! I'm so happy to be included in this wonderful collection and a big thank you to Lois Winston for making it all happen.

Camille Minichino said...

Thanks everyone, especially Kevin and Lois, for a fun visit. Interesting comment about people forgetting the reason, much like over-commercializing, if that's a word!