Farmed and Dangerous!

CCW’s September monthly meeting invited other SinC chapters to join us, and we welcomed Sisters and Misters from GA, NC, NJ, NY, OH, and VA on Zoom.  Our chapter president, Charlotte Hunter, introduced our formidable guest speaker, Luci Zahray, a pharmacist with a Masters in Toxicology from Texas A&M University, dubbed “The Poison Lady”. Standing next to her famed poison cabinet, down-to-earth Luci presented on using poisonous plants in our mysteries and crime thrillers.

Luci Zahray, aka “The Poison Lady”

She warned that natural or organic goods should not automatically be equated with healthy or safe products. Luci noted that poisonous plants, such as bella donna, hemlock, datura weed, and plants with the word “bane” or “killing” in them (i.e. wolfsbane, henbane), can be lethal, cause dangerous hallucinations, or lead to serious illness and painful reactions. Luci advised that the potency of poisonous plants depends on a number of variables, including where the plant was grown, weather and soil conditions, the amount of the plant used, and the size and health of the intended victim. She added that the use of mixed poisonous plants may also increase their lethality. 

Luci also indicated that poisonous plants are often difficult to recognize visually and can be harder to trace. Deadly plants might be inserted seamlessly into your plot line since they can be disguised in salads, drinks, or other foods.  For example, Luci noted the visual similarities between ground poisonous plants and dried seeds with Italian seasoning or red peppers.  She further discussed the use of poisonous plants in lotions, causing harm through topical application.

Luci provided additional background on the use of poisonous plants in ancient and modern history as well as in Biblical stories, myths, and dramatic plays.  So when you’re dreaming up your next deadly plot line consider how you might weave poisonous plants into your dastardly story. Thanks again to Luci for another informative talk.

Check in with CCW on October 11, 2020 when author and freelance editor Alli Martin, Selfwinding Editorial, will give us tips on preparing for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Martha Geaney Publishes 2nd Book in Irish Cozy Mystery Series

MathaGeaneyA1gdzlR6GVL._US230_CCW member, Martha Geaney, has published her second ClareIsland81kvsYy1vnL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243book, Death at Ashford Castle, in her Star O’Brien Mystery Series set in County Mayo, Ireland.  She also recently updated her cover to the first book in the mystery series, Death on Clare Island. Martha’s series features amateur sleuth, Star O’Brien, who is a haunting voice for dead, the missing and the lost.

The second Irish cozy mystery, Death at Ashford Castle, follows the AshfordCastle913kvhHdtkL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243fiercely independent, inquisitive, Star O’Brien, who hates to be disconnected from her cell phone. As a successful American information broker, Star heads back to Ireland, in Cong, County Mayo, chasing down a mysterious woman named Evelyn Cosgrove who may or may not have information about Star’s mother, who’s been missing since Star was six years old.

As if Star’s life isn’t complicated enough, she discovers a female corpse while walking through Cong woods. Star finds herself traveling back and forth from Castlebar to Cong to figure out the motivation behind the victim’s murder. Although skeptical of the police, Star determines to talk to them about what and who she saw the night the woman was murdered.

There are ghost sightings, mysterious break-ins, and a creepy encounter as Star tries to put all the pieces together. But not before there’s another victim. Star doesn’t accept the police’s conclusion for one minute. She vows to find the truth which she does in a riveting confrontation with the killer.

 “Not only is this an easy read with excellent pacing, but it’s also full of a variety of well fleshed out characters (or should I say suspects). Central, of course, is Star O’Brien, a woman who is hesitant to label herself as a private investigator. She may doubt her abilities, but I do not. A lot of her drive (and self-doubt) comes from her past when her mother disappeared and the answer she was given by the police was far from satisfactory. It’s this suspicion of authority and the drive to find the truth that propels her through the mystery that washes up at her feet on Clare Island. Star is a beacon of light in the darkness to those that are forgotten, lost, or otherwise dismissed.

The Ireland setting makes this book stand out as well. I was constantly weighing all the suspects time and time again and found the ending to be very satisfying. There’s still much to discover and explore with Star and I can’t wait for more.”

Nick Johns, author of The Darkest Winter

Reach out to congratulate Martha on these twin achievements through her various social media channels:  Facebook – @mgeaneyauthor; Instagram – mgeaneyauthor; Twitter  –  mgeaneyauthor

Congratulations and well done, Martha!

Ready, Set, Write!

Thanks to all who participated in our CCW Write-In at our virtual August 9, 2020 meeting, both old friends and new alike. President Charlotte Hunter updated us on the latest chapter and national SinC news, including more SinC chapters opening up their sessions to other SinC members during this COVID crisis. New local authors introduced themselves and CCW members briefly shared some of their current writing ventures in the mystery, thriller, children’s, and contemporary fiction fields. VP Bess Carnan then led a virtual write-in from 2:00-3:00 with two twenty-minute writing sprints and two ten-minute discussion breaks. During the breaks, members discussed words counts, scene development, and other online write-in options. Check out Shut Up & Write! to learn more about other local write-in groups and to better prepare for our November meeting on NaNoWRiMo.

Zoom Meeting Photo 2

Our next CCW meeting will be September 13, 2020 at 1:30 p.m., via Zoom. After a short business meeting, CCW will host everybody’s favorite guest speaker, Luci Zahray, “The Poison Lady”, a pharmacist with a Masters in Toxicology from Texas A&M University. Ms. Zahray will speak about poisonous plants to inform our next dastardly murder mystery. Watch your e-mail for the upcoming Zoom link.  Be aware that this session will be opened up nationally to the first 100 SinC members—so arrive in the Zoom waiting room early to avoid missing out!  Be well, CCW family!


Break Out of Writer’s Block!

Join our CCW Write-In at our virtual August 9, 2020 meeting! With so much going on in the news, you may be finding it hard to concentrate on your creative endeavors.  To help kick start your writing, CCW will host a brief business meeting (1:45-2:00 p.m.) with President Charlotte Hunter and then VP Bess Carnan will lead a virtual write-in from 2:00-3:00 with two twenty-minute writing sprints and two ten-minute discussion breaks.  Make some writing headway and interact online with fellow CCW members.  A great way to prepare for our November NaNoWRiMo.  Watch your e-mail for the upcoming Zoom link.  Stay safe out there CCW family!

Bess Carnan 3