About Kimberly Kurth Gray

As a writer and editor, I am always looking for a great story. I am the 2009 winner of the William F. Deeck/ Malice Domestic grant for unpublished writers and a Hruska Fellowship finalist as well as a Wellstone Emerging Writer Fellowship winner.My latest short story, In the Darkness of the Woods, can be found in the Mindful Writers'anthology Into the Woods.

The Detective’s Daughter – Beaches

Kim in Baltimore enjoying the summer weather.

FullSizeRender_4

Summer is my favorite season. That’s right, I enjoy the heat, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the sunny mornings spent strolling through the farmer’s market choosing the freshest vegetables, and lazily reading in my yard in a lawn chair listening as the ice-cream truck drives by with its music and bells chiming. But most of all I love the beach. FullSizeRender_1

From the first summer of my life until I was twelve years old, my family spent our summers on the shores of New Jersey in Atlantic City. My mom would take us out onto the beach in the morning and our afternoons were spent visiting the shops along the boardwalk. Pop-Pop was never far behind, trailing after us to be sure we were safe. We had our own security detail!

FullSizeRender

Once, Pop-Pop spent an entire morning searching the beach for a tooth my sister lost. He was more upset than she was when he came back empty-handed. In the evening we went to the Steel Pier to see the diving horses and listen to music.FullSizeRender_2

 

Family vacations have always been important to me. I have carried on the tradition of going to the beach. Each year since my children have been born we have traveled, even if only for the weekend, to the beach. Living in Baltimore, we are fortunate to be within a three hour drive to beaches in Delaware and New Jersey as well as Maryland. I was not able to contain myself to the east coast, though, and have taken my family – by train – to beaches in Chicago and San Francisco as well. We have visited as far south as  Cocoa Beach and Miami Beach and went up north to Old Orchard Beach in Maine.

 

FullSizeRender_3However many beaches I’ve visited, Rehoboth Beach has become my favorite place to relax. I love the bookstore and the coffee shops and the easy living of the place. You’ll find me there at least one weekend a month during summer. I think I may need to go there now!

 

 

 

Dear Reader,

Do you enjoy the beach? What is your favorite thing to do during the summer months?

 

 

The Detective’s Daughter – Officer Dad

Hi Readers! Interrupting today’s regularly scheduled program to announce the winner from Friday’s giveaway with Tonya Kappes! Carlrscott – please message us at the Wicked Cozy Authors FB page with your information. Congrats!

 

Kim in Baltimore wishing she were still lounging on the beach in Rehoboth.

June is the month we celebrate our fathers. For this reason, I thought it would be fun to talk with other daughters of detectives. Our guests today are Kathie Lewandowski Richardson and Heather Baker Weidner. I have known Kathie most of my life. Her dad was once my dad’s partner on the force. Heather is a mystery author whom I recently met at Malice Domestic and we bonded over our dad’s  shared occupation.

Growing up, I felt I had been treated a bit differently by my school friends and neighborhood children, especially when I was a teenager, because my dad was a cop. I asked the ladies how they felt on this subject.

Heather: I grew up in a city where my dad was a police captain. As a teenager and college student, it felt like my dad hindered my life. He gave me a hard time about two clubs my friends and I liked. He knew what was going on and where, but it just felt smothering when I was twenty-something.

Kathie with her dad

Kathie: Yes, It was difficult. I grew up in a small community where everybody knew each other. The adults knew my dad as a well-respected BCP officer who worked hard and excelled in everything he did. Dad climbed to the ranks of Major and retired in 1995.  There was a teacher who nicknamed my dad Johnny Law. He portrayed my dad as the enemy to the kids in his class who were twelve and thirteen years old and very impressionable. They were at an age where some were experimenting with smoking, drinking and even drugs. The kids were afraid to hang out with me because of what this teacher said and I had a very small circle of friends during that period.

Dinner times with my dad were always interesting. He enjoyed sharing stories about his day with me and my sister. He never went into the gory details, but would describe how he had solved the mystery or puzzle. I believe I write mysteries today because of him.  Kathie had a different experience, but I learned Heather’s dinner time was similar to mine.

Kathie: Dad never shared “cop” stories with us when we were children. He never talked about it until after he’d retired and my sisters and I were in our thirties. He raised five daughters, so he believed if he told his little girls stories about cops and robbers, it might frighten us. One story I do recall was about when he and his partner chased a suspect on foot through the streets of Baltimore. The suspect made his way to a rooftop and jumped down with Dad’s partner right behind him. The partner ended up breaking both his ankles and though my dad was more concerned about his partner than the suspect, he still had to pursue him. He found the suspect, unable to move because he had sprained both of his feet in the fall, just around the corner.

Heather: We grew up talking about murder and mayhem at the dinner table. I didn’t realize it wasn’t polite conversation until I went over to friends’ houses. Our conversations were always interesting, and they probably provided good information for later stories. I love mysteries and puzzles. Dad went to work every day to solve mysteries. He’s also a great story teller. He’s retired now, but he’s still my best law enforcement resource. I still ask him things like, “Hey, Dad. What does a meth lab smell like?” Some things you just don’t want to Google.

Kathie’s dad was John Lewandowski. He was a tall man with a good disposition and kind eyes, a man you wouldn’t be afraid to ask for his help. He car-pooled with my dad and every weekday Mom and I sat in front of Central District waiting for them to be finished work. Mr. John was always nice to me. I asked Kathie did she feel her dad was a stricter parent due to his job. Kathie said, “Yes, I believe he was more strict because he was aware of what was happening on the streets and he wanted to protect us.”  I had to agree that I felt the same way about my dad. I was very sheltered. Any time I went out Dad seemed to know my every move by the time I returned home. I think all the cops in the city of Baltimore were on the lookout for me. I couldn’t get away with anything and knew better than to try.

Our dad’s were also responsible for some of our first jobs. Heather told me her first job was picking up shell casings at the police range when her dad was done practicing. She also spent several weekends melting old crayons to make practice bullets for the SWAT team. That sounded like a lot more fun than the job my dad got me -finger printing bodies in the morgue! An experience every eighteen-year-old kid needs.

I think we all agreed our dads are our heroes and I’m pretty sure the love we feel for them has little to do with their jobs in law enforcement.

I’d like to thank Heather and Kathie for taking time out to answer my questions. To learn more about Heather go to www.HeatherWeidner.com. Heather blogs regularly with Pens, Paws, and Claws authors.

Dear Readers, What was your dad’s occupation? How did their job help to shape you?

 

 

Mindful Writing

By Kim in Baltimore, reading fascinating short stories.

A few years ago I joined a group called the Mindful Writers. Each year I attend two retreats, one in the fall and the other in spring, where I am able to write for hours in peace and take hikes and meditate. These have been some of the most glorious times of my life.

Last year the group decided to compile some of our writings into a book and the result is Into The Woods. All of the proceeds from the sale of this anthology will be donated to The Children’s Heart Foundation. I have invited Lori M. Jones, Ramona Long and Kathleen Shoop to the blog to share with our readers more about this wonderful anthology and why this foundation matters to our group.

Lori’s Story               .FullSizeRender (6)

In 2005, I was pregnant with what appeared to be a healthy baby girl. Then at a routine 24 week check-up, the doctor said, “I can’t find your baby’s heartbeat.” When the doctor finally did it was only at half the rate the heartbeat should have been. There are 40 known heart defects, and she was diagnosed with one of them – Complete Heart Block – which is a defect in the heart’s electrical system. She would need a pacemaker as an infant in order to survive. She is now 12, on her second pacemaker, and doing very well. But when she was a baby, I had no idea what her future would entail, or more specifically, how she’d handle being different. I dissected my emotions through writing which led to me being offered a contract for my first children’s book – Riley’s Heart Machine – about a girl dealing with being different from her peers because she has heart machinery.

I searched for a heart charity to donate some of the proceeds to which led me to discovering the amazing work of The Children’s Heart Foundation. I eventually became more involved with the charity, from chairing the Pittsburgh Congenital Heart Walk and sitting on the PA Chapter board and the national board to eventually leading the PA Chapter as its president.

Since writing Riley’s Heart Machine, I’ve traveled to schools delivering assemblies on Writing from the Heart and have published another book, Confetti the Croc, which celebrates our unique qualities. I also have written two novels, Renaissance of the Heart and Late for Fate.

One of the best gems I discovered in my writing journey was The Mindful Writing Group. Through the discipline of writing together, I was able to complete my manuscripts. More importantly, I have found my tribe!

The anthology means so much to me because it’s a full circle moment for me. This book was a chance to join forces with all of my tribe members and create one beautiful project. And then they told me the proceeds were going to The Children’s Heart Foundation, to help the very charity that was fighting to make sure my daughter and other children have a bright future.

Kathleen Shoop on why the anthology is titled Into the WoodsIMG_6751.PNG

Into the Woods was a natural outgrowth for us, The Mindful Writers Retreat Authors. We write together a lot – in person and online. After years of retreating together we decided it was time to create something, a sound bite of the variety of voices that make up the group.

An anthology is a fabulous way for authors to pool their energy into a project while maintaining independence in what each person produces for the book. The collection creates a unique and vibrant body of work that can be read in short spurts or in its entirety. The theme – Into the Woods – seemed like the perfect idea for The Mindful Retreat Authors’ first collaboration since so much inspiration, ideas and wonder has grown out of our times in the lovely woods.

Ramona Long on why she wanted to be the editor of this anthology

I volunteered to edit Into the Woods because I wanted to support The Children’s  Heart Foundation and this was a way I could do that. Like any anthology, working with a group of authors is always a learning experience, but I was particularly happy to work with this group because we are so closely bonded as Mindful Writers. We are all a part of one another’s stories, in a way.

FullSizeRender (4)

Dear Readers, thank you for joining us today. Please share your stories about a group or organization that is close to your own heart.

The Detective’s Daughter – The Importance of the Dinner Table.

On Sunday I met my mom for Mother’s Day brunch at one of my favorite coffee shops, The Filling Station. As we sat around the table chatting with my children I was reminded of all the happy dinners I had growing up. Our kitchen was always filled with people and everyone was welcome.               .FullSizeRender (1)

There is something magical about a table. You gather around to share stories and secrets and many times the meal becomes secondary to the conversation. It’s the gathering together of friends and family that remain in our memories long after the menu has been forgotten.                FullSizeRender

As we grow older and families move away or pass on, we gather with friends. My book club meets each month around one of our tables, regardless of how cozy and comfortable a living room might appear, it’s the table we gravitate to.  I look forward to the evenings I spend with friends and family, whether it is the girls I grew up with or my wickedly wonderful cozy sisters here on the blog. Though our times together are infrequent, they are meaningful and cherished by me. FullSizeRender (2)

So, dear reader, make the time to share a meal with someone you love or like or maybe even just want to know a little better. It is the community we find around the table that really nourishes us.

 

What was your most memorable dinner conversation? Who is the person, living or dead, you would want to invite to your dinner table?

 

The Detective’s Daughter :The New York Trip Part 1

We are having a technical problem this morning. Earlier comments have been lost and you may get a second message announcing this post. We apologize for any inconvenience!

Kim, back in Baltimore, planning the next getaway.

Last month I visited one of my favorite cities, New York. I try to get there at least twice a year. Though I’m not fond of crowds or the Times Square hubbub, the West Village has wrapped itself around my heart. It was the Jane Hotel that first introduced me to this lovely neighborhood several years ago.

The Jane Hotel, designed by William A. Boring and opened in 1908 as a hotel for sailors, is not only a beautiful and inexpensive place to stay but is rich with history. More than 100 survivors of the Titanic stayed at the hotel during the American Inquiry into the sinking of the ocean liner in 1912. The sailors felt right at home in the cabin-like rooms.

I stay in a “Captain’s” room usually on the third floor with a view of the Hudson River. The rooms are a fair size though not overly large, but you could swim in the bathtubs! The Jane also has a restaurant and a nightclub. Even if you’re not a “clubbier” it is worth going to see the Victorian architecture.

In the late 1980’s RuPaul lived in the “penthouse” apartment which is now the rooftop bar. Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Million Dollar Club were among the bands who performed there in the 1990’s.

As much as I love New York, I believe I really go just to stay at the Jane. Everything else is a bonus.

Readers, Join me next month to learn about all the fabulous places I visited when I was able to drag myself from the hotel. In the meantime, please share your favorite hotel experience.

The Detective’s Daughter — Snow! Snow! Snow!

Kim, in Baltimore, watching her cement steps crumble under layers of salt.

When I was about seven years old, don’t even ask me what year that was, we had an incredible snowstorm. The snow was piled so high we had to tunnel through it. Now granted, I was a little kid, so the snow banks might not have been quite that impressive to the adults, but it was bad enough that everything in Baltimore was shut down and the National Guard was transporting all medical personnel and law enforcement to work.

Nana, Mom, and I stood at the door and watched as Daddy climbed up into a truck that had wheels almost as tall as my father. You see these over-sized trucks everywhere today – don’t even get me started on that! – but back then, other than a tractor trailer, people did not drive these types of vehicles. A man inside had to help pull Daddy in. I remained there as the truck drove away, its tires crunching across the ground breaking the cold silence.

The snow days of my childhood were thrilling, filled with hot chocolate, popcorn and endless hands of 500 Rummy. If Daddy wasn’t called into work, he would pull me on my sled or we would walk our St. Bernard, Barney, to the park. I can’t recall one time my parents rushing out to the grocery store or any of our television programs being interrupted by a haggard looking weather forecaster predicting doom.

My family loves snow, though we don’t get very much of it here in Baltimore. Just seeing the snowflake symbol pop up on my phone brings a smile to my face and I rush to my pantry to make sure I have our snowy day essentials. Coffee, cocoa, popcorn and the ingredients for a hearty soup or dumplings are always available.

Now my own children are grown. They no longer sit on the stairs anxiously awaiting to hear if their school is closed. They don’t need any assistance with their coats or boots and mostly know where they’ve left their gloves and hats.

Last Saturday night I sat near the window, my coffee mug in hand, and watched as heavy wet snowflakes dropped from the sky. The yard was empty, but in my heart two beautiful children ran with their dog and flung themselves on the ground to make snow angels.

One of my favorite movie scenes is from White Christmas. Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera Allen are on a train headed for Vermont. While sitting in the dining car they create a winter wonderland on their table and sing of their love of snow. That’s how I feel. While others may be counting the days to spring, I am hoping for one more snow day.

Dear Reader: Do you love or dread snow? What is your fondest snow day memory?

The Detective’s Daughter — The Ornaments of Christmas

Kim in Baltimore decking the halls…and every other room!

It has taken me nearly three weeks to decorate our tree. This project began the day after Thanksgiving and our tree is not that big. The problem is me. I need to reminisce over each ornament then find exactly the right place for it to hang. Maybe by Christmas Eve it will be finished.

Growing up in the house in South Baltimore, we had two Christmas trees. One was downstairs in my grandparents’ apartment and the other was upstairs in our apartment. Both were artificial and I was an adult before I realized people could have live trees other than in movies.

Nana had a beautiful silver tree that sat on a table she sometimes gift wrapped. The ornaments were all silver like the tree, but changed colors as the color wheel turned.

Mom’s tree was a traditional green wrapped in colored bubble lights and adorned with ornaments that she and I (and sometimes Daddy) had made. We would sit at the kitchen table and paint wooden gingerbread men, angels and houses. There was also a trio of angels made from feathers. They were my favorites.

As I decorate my own tree I remember all these stories and how each lovely ornament came into my possession. There are the ornaments I was given by my students when I taught Kindergarten, the little things my own children have made, and the ones we’ve collected on our travels. Still, after all these years, it’s the ornaments I have kept from my childhood that truly mean Christmas to me.

I have recently found a beaded lady Nana made and have added that to my tree this year along with a snow-covered house my son bought for me last year. New items to hang beside old favorites. I still have one more box left of ornaments and though my family will say we have enough and the tree looks good, it isn’t finished until all the boxes are empty and the garland is draped over the branches.

I wish each of you a happy holiday season!

Dear readers: Do you have a favorite holiday ornament or tradition? Please share it with us.