Built in 1884 for carpenter William H. Waterhouse, the Waterhouse Residence Museum at 820 Lake Lily Drive in Maitland, FL is available to the public for a peek into the late Victorian era. William and his wife, Sarah, had two children. Charles and Stella lived in the house after them, and soon Stella was left. She lived into her nineties and had no offspring of her own. It’s said her spirit inhabits her former bedroom, and she was happy when the curtains were opened at the window so she could look outside.
I took a number of photos here but no orbs showed up. So whether or not this site is haunted is questionable, if you believe in such things. Our guide does, or so she led us to think. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is operated by the Maitland Historical Society. The grounds overlook Lake Lily.
The house is decorated for Halloween in these ensuing photos. The front parlor is where they might have had a coffin viewing before a funeral. The sofa is called a courting couch because the young couple would sit at either end.
The dining room table is set with lovely china. Note the hand in the center, and the skull inside a cage on the chest of drawers. The room even has a creepy doll. I really liked the lace curtains.
Next we entered a sort of breezeway, which may have separated the kitchen from the main house. The house is constructed from pine, which is termite-resistant but susceptible to fire. This crank device was where you’d wash and wring out your clothes. That plunger-like device was called an agitator. Aren’t you glad we have washing machines today?
Here’s the stove and an ice box next to our guide in the kitchen.
Here’s the bedroom where Stella lived, sample clothing, the master bedroom, a desk with implements of the day. The framed wreath contains human hair. Victorian mourning customs (which you can read more about in my book, Died Blonde) involved preserving a hank of hair from the deceased in jewelry or other remembrances. More bedroom scenes and another parlor.
Research Insights – Liquid Latex Research for a novel can lead to all sorts of esoteric topics. For Facials Can Be Fatal, I came across the term liquid latex. I’d heard of latex gloves, and that people could be allergic to latex. My hairdresser sleuth would have to be careful what type of gloves she used when applying hair color to a sensitive client. She could avoid risk by using gloves that do not contain this element. Next time you buy a pair of gloves for washing dishes or doing housework, check the label and see if they are latex-free. So what is liquid latex? Latex is a substance derived from rubber trees as a milky liquid. The commercial substance called liquid latex contains about one-third latex, two-thirds water, and tiny amounts of ammonia for preservation. You can also buy it ammonia-free. This would be desirable when applying the substance to your face. Liquid latex is commonly used for body paint and special effects makeup, such as scars, wrinkles, and wounds. It can be applied with a disposable sponge and takes up to ten minutes to dry. As it dries, the liquid latex hardens to a rubbery consistency and shrinks about three percent. Manufacturers add pigments to provide color choices. Or you can dust shimmer powder over the dried latex to create a metallic effect. Since it also has a sticky quality, liquid latex can be used as an adhesive for bald caps and other prosthetics. Fortunately, this substance is easily removed by peeling it off, but it can remove your fine hairs at the same time. Ouch. Looking to enhance your Halloween costume? You can buy liquid latex online or at your local party store in varying sized containers and a choice of colors. Try building up an area on your skin using alternating layers of latex and tissue paper and color it to make fake injuries. Learn how to apply it by watching a YouTube video. Next time you see a blockbuster movie, note if the special effects makeup might have been done with liquid latex. So how did I use this information in Facials Can Be Fatal? Let’s just say that some people can be highly allergic to the stuff. In other words, latex can be lethal. <><><> Facials Can Be Fatal by Nancy J. Cohen A Bad Hair Day Mystery Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner Finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards During the frenzy of the December holidays, the last thing salon owner Marla Vail needs is a dead body slathered in a green facial mask at her new day spa. The victim, Valerie Weston, was a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a historic building preservation society. Marla’s stylists are scheduled to work backstage at their upcoming gala fashion show, but Val’s demise might put a crimp in their plans. Hoping to salvage her reputation, Marla determines to track down the suspects. As she learns more about Val, she realizes the benefactress might have stumbled onto secrets others would kill to keep. She’d better prepare for a body count that has nothing to do with hot stone massages and everything to do with murder. View the Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/6OTw5232Eeg Get a Copy Now: Amazon Barnes and Noble iBooks Giveaway Enter Oct. 1 -18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench Newsletter Sign up nowfor my latest book news, giveaways, exclusive bonus content, and events. Free book sampler for new subscribers.
Research Insights – Shipwrecks and Suspense I like adding bits of history into my mysteries. In Facials Can Be Fatal, I mined our Florida past concerning shipwrecks. Did you know the waters off Florida teem with sunken vessels? Spanish galleon ships alone may account for up to forty wrecks off our coast. Millions of dollars in silver, gold, and jewels lay at the bottom of the sea, much of it undiscovered. But Spanish treasure ships are not the only ones sunken off our shores. Pirate vessels, slave ships, merchant transports, and Civil War ships plied these waters, too. Storms, shallow water, coral reefs, and pirates were responsible for many of the wrecks. Buried treasure has long been exploited in stories, and my book is no exception. An old family journal is recovered that hints at a nefarious past for a couple of characters. How does this relate to the present? That’s the key that my hairstylist sleuth must uncover. Marla and her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, travel to Key West to learn more about Florida’s history from a reporter who has an interest in Dalton’s latest case. The victim is society matron Valerie Harper, who expired in the middle of a facial at Marla’s day spa. Here’s how the conversation goes with the reporter: “The waters around Florida have seen ships flounder for decades, starting with Native Americans who used dugout canoes to travel up and down the coast. As civilization increased, ships and boats became vital to our development. Waterways were the most efficient means to transport people and cargo. Florida became a hub for maritime trade routes, but our waters can be treacherous. Hence we have a large number of shipwrecks offshore.” “What about treasure ships from Spanish fleets?” Marla asked, shifting in her seat. “My estimate is that maybe thirty to forty Spanish ships, dating from the 1500s to the late 1600s, lay at the sea bottom. The Spaniards would pick up gold, silver, jewels, and rare spices from the Caribbean islands and the South and Central Americas. Sometimes, they’d stop at a mint in Mexico before grouping together to return home. Or they’d gather in Havana and leave from there under convoy.” “But not all of them made it.” “That’s right. They’d get grounded on our reefs or floundered during hurricanes. For example, the Tierra Firme fleet set sail in 1622 from South America. Twenty-eight ships headed home to Spain. They ran into a fierce storm off the Florida Keys. Both the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita were lost. In 1985, Mel Fisher discovered the Atocha’s resting place and its treasure.” “That’s amazing,” Marla said. “Those ships must have been heavy with all the gold coins, silver bars, and jewels aboard. No wonder they sank. Who owns the salvage rights to a sunken ship?” “According to the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1988, any historic find becomes the property of its respective state.”
<><><> To accomplish my due diligence, I paid a visit to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, a fascinating attraction in Key West. Here you can see many of the relics recovered from the Atocha. Read about my experience and see my photos HERE. Shipwrecks and buried treasure will always provide fodder for stories. Do you like a bit of history mixed in with your mystery? Does it enhance the story for you? <><><> For more details on Facials Can Be Fatal, CLICK HERE. Buy Here: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kDhr9k Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2d1PuUj iBooks: http://apple.co/2mqrEdj
<><><> Goodreads Giveaway ENTER HERE July 6 – 20 to win a signed ARC of HAIR BRAINED (Bad Hair Day Mystery #14). Hairstylist Marla Vail determines to learn the truth when her best friend is hurt in a suspicious auto accident.
MYSTERY MOVIES and TV SHOWS In addition to the classics like Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, here are some of my favorite films in the mystery genre or movies involving writers. A happy ending is a must for my taste. This list does not include the Hallmark Channel mystery movies of which I’m also a fan. FILMS AMERICAN DREAMER with JoBeth Williams and Tom Conti. This classic tale of intrigue is one of my favorites. A romance novelist wins a contest and a trip to Paris. En route to the awards luncheon, she’s in an accident and suffers a head injury. She wakes up believing herself to be the heroine in her favorite books. A spy caper follows that’s all too real, as she teams up with the author’s handsome son who thinks she’s a nutcase. That is, until someone tries to kill them. http://amzn.to/2qZVEhl DROWNING MONA with Danny DeVito and Bette Midler. This funny whodunit in a small town has a cast of wacky characters. Classic example of a cozy. http://amzn.to/2rkArzR GOSFORD PARK with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Northam. This is an English drawing room mystery that takes place at a country estate. Aristocrats and servants alike have secrets that slowly unravel during a hunting party weekend. Albeit a bit slow-paced, this film requires repeat viewings to catch the nuances. http://amzn.to/2rklnC8 HER ALIBI with Tom Selleck and Paulina Portzkova. This hilarious escapade finds mystery novelist Phillip Blackwood falling for a suspected murderess while he searches for inspiration to unlock his writer’s block. Did the mysterious and beautiful foreigner have a hand in the victim’s death? If so, was he foolish to vouch for her alibi and bring her home? And are the accidents that occur after her arrival truly accidents, or is Philip next in line for his guest’s lethal hijinks? http://amzn.to/2qjtafC MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. A Manhattan housewife thinks her next door neighbor is a murderer. She enlists her friends to search for clues. Probably my favorite Woody Allen film out of all of them. http://amzn.to/2qZEEIb MURDER 101 with Pierce Brosnan. English professor Charles Lattimore assigns his class to plan the perfect murder as a literary exercise. When he’s framed for a woman’s death, he has to find the killer before the detective on the case finds him. Will his students help him solve a real murder, or is one of them guilty? http://amzn.to/2qje0qK MURDER BY THE BOOK with Robert Hays. A mystery novelist thinks he’s hallucinating when his hero appears in front of him and talks back. He’s been thinking of changing to a new series and scrapping the sleuth, but now he needs the fellow’s help to solve a real murder. http://amzn.to/2qZrQzF MY COUSIN VINNY with Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio, Marisa Tomei, and Fred Gwynne In this funny courtroom drama, a New York lawyer on his first case defends two fellows in Alabama who are mistakenly accused of murder. Watch for the clues in this hilarious mystery. http://amzn.to/2qnMisB THE BOY NEXT DOOR with Dina Meyer and Cory Monteith.
A romance writer goes on a retreat to a small town to seek inspiration for her next story. When her next door neighbor is found dead, the chief of police suspects her. Even when her place is ransacked and someone tries to run her off the road, he discounts her theories and refuses to look into the incidents. It’s up to our heroine to prove her innocence and uncover the killer before his next attack turns fatal. http://amzn.to/2qZQXEi TV SHOWS THE BROKENWOOD MYSTERIES with Neill Rea and Fern Sutherland. I’ve bought the DVDs. Otherwise, you can find this show on the Acorn TV Channel. http://thebrokenwoodmysteries.com/ Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd and Detective Constable Kristin Sims solve mysteries involving a limited number of suspects, most of whom know each other, in a distinct setting and with a definite sense of humor. Emphasis is on the relationships between characters and personal motives rather than forensics. Each episode is a perfect example of a cozy mystery despite the lack of an amateur sleuth. http://amzn.to/2qjcPYl MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES with Essie Davis and Nathan Page. http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/miss-fishers-murder-mysteries/ The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher solves crimes in 1929 Melbourne, Australia. Essie Davis plays the lead while Nathan Page plays her romantic interest, Detective Inspector Jack Robinson. Warning: Miss Fisher’s spectacular outfits threaten to steal the show. http://amzn.to/2qjwVle MIDSOMER MURDERS with John Nettles and Jane Wymark. A police detective and his deputy solve murders in small town England. Some people love this show. I couldn’t get into it but it might appeal to you. http://amzn.to/2qSu0Cu ROSEMARY AND THYME with Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris.
Two ladies in England solve mysteries together. One is a plant pathologist. The other woman is separated from her husband. I haven’t watched too many of these but they caught my interest. http://amzn.to/2qj87ty Disclosure: I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate program. These are affiliate links. So here you go. If you have some free time this weekend, look up these films and have a good time. Keep watch for Murder on the Orient Express, an upcoming theatrical release and remake of the classic Agatha Christie tale, with Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, and Penelope Cruz in an all-star cast. Sign up for my Newsletter for my latest book news, giveaways, sales, and events. Free book sampler for new subscribers. Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save
Research Notes: Pirates – Fact or Fiction? Pirates have always fascinated readers. Witness the myriad romance novels wherein the hero, or even the heroine, is a pirate. How about the swashbuckling movies featuring pirate heroes? Yet for all their romantic image, these scourges of the high seas reaped death and destruction in their wake. We tend to overlook the reality and cling to the fictional counterpart. Florida has a romanticized pirate named José Gaspar. Tampa has a Gasparilla Pirate Fest every year to celebrate this renowned character. So how does this apply to Facials Can Be Fatal, my latest Bad Hair Day Mystery featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail? Marla uncovers an old family journal belonging to a lady who died while getting a facial at her day spa. This journal tells about a pirate and his buried treasure. Here is a conversation Marla and her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, have with a journalist in Key West. My fictionalized pirate is based on the Gasparilla legend. The reporter is speaking. “I recalled the story of the infamous brigand known as Red Ted. Born Thaddeus Montoya, he was a nobleman’s son from Spain whose exploits with the ladies caused his hasty departure aboard a naval vessel. Because he could read and write, he rose to officer’s status and got himself appointed as a liaison to the court. But his old habits died hard, and he once again found himself fleeing Spanish authorities. He commandeered a ship and set sail, forcing the crew to either join him or be hanged. His nickname came from his fondness for bloodshed. “Wanting to get even with Spain, he set out for the next decade to raid helpless merchant ships. But his inflated ego eventually caused his demise. Before his last voyage, Red Ted was getting set to retire. He’d loaded his goods onto a mule train and told his second in command to take it to Key West, where he planned to hole up in his later years. Then a sighting came for one more merchant ship that appeared to be unarmed. He couldn’t resist this last kill and set sail. The vessel turned out to be a warship hiding under a merchant flag, and Red Ted shot himself rather than be captured.” “What happened to his mule train?” Marla asked. “They were attacked by Indians on the route south. The natives made off with horses and mules and left them with fewer pack animals. They had to lighten their load and so buried some of the chests. They didn’t have much better luck as they headed into swampland and were beset by storms as well as bandits. With dwindling resources, they buried more loads along the way.” How do these past events relate to the present? Facials Can Be Fatal has real journal entries from my father’s 1935 trip to Florida. He discovered a buried chest along the wilds of Fort Lauderdale beach. What was in this chest? In my fictional tale, it’s something quite different than what my father found. Read more in Facials Can Be Fatal. What’s your favorite pirate movie?
<><><> Facials Can Be Fatal (Bad Hair Day Mystery #13) Salon owner Marla Vail’s new day spa hits a snag when a client dies during a facial. To salvage her reputation, Marla jumps on the trail of the killer. Soon she’s unraveling clues involving historic buildings, family journals, pirates, and shipwrecks off the Florida coast. The victim may have stumbled onto secrets others would kill to keep.
My brother has exhibited model trains ever since I can remember. So when he came to visit and we noticed a Transportation Exhibit at the Plantation Historical Museum, it became imperative for us to make a trip there. The exhibit included displays by the Florida Citrus Model Train Society. Below is a replica of an early 1900’s train depot. The details in these dioramas were incredible. We watched the model trains go around the tracks, complete with sound effects, but what fascinated me more were the little buildings and the attention to detail. One display talked about train bandits and how the Pinkerton Detective Agency foiled these fearsome thieves and protected railroad shipments. Printed materials were available, such as brochures on the myths and realities of safety around train tracks and a brochure about train crossing warning signs. A bookmark I’d picked up says “Never walk or ride around highway-rail crossing gates!” and “Look, Listen and Live!” Trains can’t stop quickly, but you can. About every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train. For more information on safety factors, go to Operation Lifesaver. I’ve been on the Auto Train between Sanford, FL and Lorton, VA. I took a commuter train from New York to Washington D.C. Otherwise, after graduation from high school, a friend and I bought Eurail Passes and spent six weeks exploring Europe. We rode the trains around and stayed in cheap places where we could rent a room. I kept a journal, one of many travel journals still in my collection. Maybe I’ll share those adventures with you someday if you’re interested. A trip like that one would be impossible today. Meanwhile, would you call yourself a train enthusiast? What trains have you ridden?
If you’re interested in behind the scenes details on Facials Can Be Fatal, my new book release, check out these guest blog posts. Some of them offer giveaways for commenters. Get your bid in before the tour ends. Comments must be made on the site listed. Please support my tour hosts! Hint — One of these posts tells about a derivative of human hair that may end up in your baked goods. March 3 – Brooke Blogs – “History, Mystery, and Buried Family Secrets” GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
Tropical Treats Giveaway, Feb. 21 – March 14 Enter Here to win a Tropical Treats package with a blue scarf, a blue crystal pendant necklace from Effy, a West Indies cookbooks, and a signed hardcover copy of Killer Knots (Bad Hair Day Mystery #9).
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Bedner’s Farm was established in 1960 by Arthur Bedner from Pennsylvania. Today the 80-acre property is run by his three sons and grandson. The store itself is in a sprawling building off Route 441 in Palm Beach County between Boynton Beach Blvd. and Atlantic Ave. Parking is in front or at an overflow lot in the back. From the back, you climb up a small rise toward the main attractions. A narrow water-filled canal borders the fields so you can’t reach them from the rear parking lot. Just across the ditch is a pepper patch growing red and green bell peppers. Divided by tall sugar cane plants that serve as a wind block are more fields growing strawberries and grape tomatoes. We decided to go picking first. At an open air stand, you collect however many buckets you want by leaving your credit card. In return, you are assigned a number that you have to remember. Prices are listed on signage. From here, we trudged along a packed dirt path to the fields. The sun was warm and the temperature rose to the low eighties. The air had low humidity, making for a pleasant day. Hats shaded our eyes along with sunglasses. I wore a fanny pack where I kept my camera. Row after row of plants stretched before us. One section, the plants flattened and dried, had held cucumbers. Another with tomato plants had been picked clean of ripe, red tomatoes and held only green ones. So my husband headed toward the peppers while I went to pick strawberries. I held each stem between forefinger and middle finger and gently yanked. One-by-one, I plopped the berries into my bucket while inhaling the scent of fruit warming in the sun. It was addictive, and I couldn’t stop picking the fruits. My treasure hunt revealed the ripe red berries glistening in the sun and waiting to be snatched. When my bucket was nearly full, I went to find my spouse. He had some delectable pepper specimens in his pail. We headed back up a slight ridge toward the open-air sales booth and turned in our buckets. Our bounty came to just over $18.00. I put my driver’s license back in my wallet and the brown paper shopping bags into the car. We bypassed the tractor-pulled tram ride and gem mining in a nearby wooden sluice with a water tower at the top. Hungry from our exertions, we strode over to Porky & Beth’s Barbecue truck across the yard from the outdoor ticket booth. The aroma of barbecued beef wafted into our noses. I ordered a quarter chicken and Richard got the brisket. Yellow rice accompanied his meal while I chose mac and cheese. We’d both selected cole slaw and also ordered drinks. By the time we took our Styrofoam-encased meals to the thatch-roof covered picnic area, I was salivating. I tore into my meal, hungrier than ever. There’s nothing like outdoor exercise and a barbecue cooked by someone else to stimulate your appetite. Birds stood nearby, twittering while we ate. A welcome breeze cooled our skin while we swatted flies away from our food. Happily full, we tossed our empty trash in the can to proceed in our explorations. Facing the fields, we noted a petting zoo and pony rides to our left but resisted a visit to this popular kids’ area, instead heading toward the indoor market. Sheds with empty crates, tools, and tractors dotted the property. As we approached the air-conditioned building, we noted a Sabrett hot dog stand, a lemonade stand, soft pretzels, and homemade ice cream available from various vendors. There was also a lady selling clothing and another selling orchids at five plants for twenty dollars. Inside the building, we took a shopping cart and plowed down each narrow aisle. The place had a crowd which made maneuvering difficult. It’s best to get there early. Besides the usual fresh produce, I spied olive oils, vinegars, olives, pickle barrels, granola mixtures, Florida-made honey, soaps, challah rolls, onion rolls, a variety of breads including but not limited to banana and zucchini breads and gluten-free choices. One section held bins with peppers in different colors and shapes. There was pasta and pesto, hot sauces, gourmet tortilla chips, hot peanuts, a coffee machine where you could buy a cup, olive spreads, packaged nuts, salad dressings, fruity sauces, apple butter, pickled peaches, German sauerkraut, and a large selection of wines. It’s easy to fill your shopping cart. I’d like to return here in the fall when they have a pumpkin patch and corn fields. Here’s the bounty we brought home this time. Now I have to decide what to do with it all. Eggplant Parmigian with a fresh salad, anyone? GIVEAWAY Hearts for Valentine’s Day, Jan. 19-30
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Are you superstitious? In Jewish tradition, whenever you are thinking about how well things are going, you must give yourself a “Kinehoreh” (pronounced Kin-ah-HOH-rah) to ward off the evil eye. If you don’t, you are tempting fate to reverse your good fortune.
I’m revising another one of my backlist titles. This is a brief excerpt from Died Blonde, in which you can see how this term is used. Marla is speaking on the phone to her mother:
“Things are going well with Dalton’s daughter, Brianna. I’m finally earning her trust. I don’t care to spoil our relationship.” Kinehoreh, Marla thought to ward off the evil eye.
“If everything is so smooth with Dalton, why aren’t you engaged?”
“He hasn’t asked.”
In the Yiddish dictionary on my bookshelf, it’s spelled “Kain ein horeh” and means No Evil Eye, or “May no evil befall you.” I don’t dare think how lucky I am that I haven’t had a cold in recent times. That’s a sure way to develop a sore throat unless I remember to give myself a Kinehoreh. Recently, I was watching the large screen TV in our air-conditioned family room and thinking how much I enjoy our house and its amenities. Then wham-bam, suddenly Hurricane Matthew is on its way, threatening to disrupt everything. I’d forgotten to say “Kinehoreh.”
My mother and aunt used to say it this way, which our kids think is hilarious: “Kinehoreh, kinehoreh, kinehoreh, poo poo poo.” Don’t ask me where this particular phrase originated. Just keep in mind that if you think things are going well and forget to say “Kinehoreh” or “knock wood” or whatever other phrase you choose, surely you’ll be hit with bad fortune.
Is this superstition? Of course it is. But it also respects the yin-yang of the universe. Be aware that you can say kinehoreh for another person. Let’s say your friend brags about his rise to bestsellerdom. You can say “kinehoreh” in response, so he isn’t cursed with evil.
Belief in the Evil Eye phenomenon crosses many cultures. The evil eye is a malicious glance given to a person to whom one wishes harm. Often the person initiating the curse does so unintentionally and out of envy. Charms, amulets, and talismans can protect against this ill regard. Haven’t you seen these blue glass eyes in gift shops? Supposedly this symbol reflects the evil back to the conjurer. There are also jewelry items called “Hamsa” that show a hand, much with the same meaning.
Giving yourself a kinehoreh is akin to knocking on wood. Whenever you boast about something or make a favorable observation, you can avoid tempting fate by performing this action or by mentioning the phrase. If you encounter something that might cause bad luck, like crossing paths with a black cat, you can counteract it by touching wood.
Knock on Wood
Early believers felt spirits dwelled in trees. By knocking on wood, you could alert them to help you. A Jewish version dates back to the Inquisition, when Jews gave a coded knock on wooden temple doors in order to enter safely. Again, this belief crosses many cultures just like the Evil Eye. If wood isn’t handy, saying “Touch Wood” or “Knock on Wood” will suffice.
How does this apply to your writing? You may think you’re on top of the world, doing great with your book sales, respected by your comrades, putting out multiple books to critical acclaim. And then suddenly your editor leaves, and you’re orphaned at your publishing house. Your line is cancelled. You’re asked to take a cut in your advance. Now you’re struggling to maintain your status. The lesson here? Be kind to others; never think you’re above anyone else; support your fellow authors; and keep up with the changes in the publishing world. Remember to say Kinehoreh when things are going well.