Monday, May 22, 2017

Understanding the Culture of a Country, with Helen Dunn Frame

Understanding the Culture of a Country:
A Road Map to Happiness in Costa Rica or in any Foreign Country

“Adapted from the Third Edition of Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida

Helen Dunn Frame

Top your “To Do List” of things to consider before you move or travel abroad with “Learn about the culture of the places you are considering.” It will pay dividends in a more successful adventure.

Increasingly important for all expats even more than avoiding “The Ugly American” label of the sixties is an acute awareness of the implications of our international interpersonal encounters. Our contemporary world remains polluted by cross-cultural misunderstandings, historical ethnic disdain, and various faux pas just as many rivers in Costa Rica reek of garbage. Today even casual travel requires personal and geopolitical responsibility.

Harkening back to my days in college, we learned in Sociology and Anthropology the definition of a culture encompassed shared values, practices, and rituals that permeate a society. While traditions pervade, different and unique individuals may occasionally in some fashion contradict dominant cultural traits or values thereby confusing the stranger trying to understand a group.

For Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves, decorum ranks of the utmost importance. Most natives will do everything possible to avoid confrontation. To cause a scandal, create a public commotion, or raise one’s voice in public definitely are unacceptable behaviors. At its most practical level, the appearance principle including personal hygiene means that you should warmly greet all Tico friends and acquaintances you happen to meet during your daily routines. Everyone should ask permission to enter a Tico home:  ”Con permiso.

When an expat speaks candidly it often creates a problem because Costa Ricans generally avoid conflict in all interpersonal encounters. People eagerly say untrue things because they feel the listener wants to hear a certain response. (Don’t forget expats lie too.) For example, a Tico will attempt to give directions without a clue about a destination’s location. A workman may agree to arrive at 8 a.m. because you wanted him there at that time although he had another job and couldn’t come until noon.

If invited to a Tico function, inquire about the proper attire. "Tico time," the tendency of many Costa Ricans to show up late or not at all to meetings, appointments and other commitments often causes expats frustrations. However, it’s a generalization. Not all Ticos arrive late or don’t call if they can’t come.

Don’t forget to consider the theory of event versus appointment. When you invite a Tico to dinner, he may show up two hours late because he thinks of it as an event, not a time specific invitation. More and more I find that Costa Ricans that deal regularly with foreigners have adapted themselves to expat ways. I have service people who come when they say they will and arrive promptly … or call.

Costa Ricans experience time in abundance, like a delightful climate, beautiful children, and a spectacular countryside. It results in a moment becoming an end rather than a means.

By European or North American standards Costa Rica has been ranked as a third world country although it has graduated to an emerging country. While the cost of living climbs, lower income citizens permeate the society. Yet you only have to go to one of the modern malls like Multiplaza Oeste to realize a solid Costa Rican middle class exists and many Costa Ricans claim considerable assets but they don’t boast about them. Many locals believe that all foreigners are wealthy regardless of the truth. Just by the number of things in a home, or the ability to dine out at will, or to have money in hand without working feeds the myth.

Learning facts about the culture you are interested in will put you head and shoulders above those who don’t. Speaking Spanish even if not perfectly will reap rewards. Pura Vida!

Helen Dunn Frame, formerly a commercial real estate broker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex specializing in retail and restaurants, developed professional writing skills beyond those she learned in college. Plus, living in England, Germany, and Costa Rica; and her love of travel (in 50 countries where she gained an appreciation of the value of diverse cultures) have provided background information for several books.
Helen wove many threads of her experiences into the fabric of GREEK GHOSTS followed by the second in the mystery series, WETUMPKA WIDOW. Living in Dallas during a major scandal inspired SECRETS BEHIND THE BIG PENCIL. In a third edition this year, Helen advises Baby Boomers in her book RETIRING IN COSTA RICA or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida. It features a new chapter, Retirement 101, Planning Beyond Financial Security, which is also available as a booklet on Kindle.
A graduate of Syracuse University (Journalism School), and New York University (Master’s Degree in Sociology/Anthropology), major newspapers and magazines as well as trade publications in the United States, Costa Rica, England, and Germany have published her articles. She has edited newsletters, a newspaper, and other author's books, created business proposals for clients, and spoken to groups.


To retire full-time, part-time, or not at all, that is the question. As you approach what could be the last quarter, or even third of your life, it’s a major decision to make. You want your adventure to succeed in order that your golden years will be happy, healthy, and content.
This book offers a great first step for starting your due diligence beginning with Chapter One, Retirement 101. It encourages you to look beyond your financial plans and to consider what you will do with your wonderful free hours. If Costa Rica is on your list of possible locations, you’ll learn about its ever changing environment. You’ll undoubtedly discover if retiring to this emerging nation is, or is not, for you. If your choice is retiring to a different foreign country, the book will still help you to recognize what you might face when adapting to a different culture.
You will find references to other books, links to websites, and much needed phone numbers (also listed on the author’s website) that will enable you to carry your due diligence to the next level. And, you may contact the author through her website to download a free Moving Guide and workbook, useful for any move.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Romantic Suspense Novel for Free: The Mad Monk's Treasure #Freeebook

Now FREE at all ebook retailers!

Praise for The Mad Monk’s Treasure:

“The action never stopped .... It was adventure and romance at its best.”

“I couldn’t put this book down. You’ll love it.”

4.7 out of 5 stars with 38 Amazon reviews

Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Adventures

A legendary treasure hunt in the dramatic—and deadly—New Mexico desert....

The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends—a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider.

When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is Drew, the handsome helicopter pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch, really a hero, or one of the enemy?

Just how far will Erin go to find the treasure and discover what she’s really made of?

“The story has it all—action, romance, danger, intrigue, lost treasure, not to mention a sizzling relationship....”

This is book 1 in the Southwest Treasure Hunters series. The Dead Man’s Treasure is book 2 and The Skeleton Canyon Treasure is book 3. Each novel stands alone and is complete, with no cliffhangers. This series mixes action and adventure with light romance. The stories explore the Southwest, especially New Mexico.

Award-winning author Kris Bock writes action-packed romantic suspense, often involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Her other books include Counterfeits, What We Found and Whispers in the Dark. To learn more about her latest work, visit

Monday, May 1, 2017

Western Author Melody Groves

This week’s featured artist is Melody Groves. Melody loves cowboys, gunslingers, and everything Western. She is the award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her latest is She Was Sheriff, which sounds great!

“All She Wanted Was a Gold Band- 
What She Got Was a Tin Star”

For as long as she could remember, Maud Overstreet figured she’d grow up, get married, have a house with a white picket fence and a brood of kids. Now, in 1872, she’s tired of being the bank president’s spinster daughter and equally tired of washing, ironing and cleaning. When, out of the blue, Dry Creek’s town council offers her the job of replacement sheriff, she accepts. And her sheltered world explodes. 

For the first time, Maud enters a saloon, tastes whiskey, learns to shoot, learns to ride a horse and drive a stagecoach, arrests people, and leads men in search parties. Yet she still has time to dream about her long-errant boyfriend, Elijah J. Goodman, off—somewhere—for the past few years. She is convinced they will marry when he returns and hopes it will be soon. But the discovery of gold brings all sorts of unsavory characters to her town, including the threat of the notorious James Mooney Gang. There are rumors of an impending bank robbery. Maud enlists the help of Mayor Seth Critoli, but it’s up to her to save Dry Creek from disaster.

“A light-hearted look at a woman who gets a job nobody else wants and makes it her own. Maud is a spunky, likeable heroine who comes into her own . . . as the town’s protector of law and order.” — Anne Hillerman, NY Times Bestselling Author 

“A well-written thoroughly entertaining romp through the Gold Rush country with a reluctant officer of the law who discovers an aptitude for a job most thought only a man could do.”
— Chris Enss, NY Times Bestselling Author

Doesn’t that sound like a good gift for Mother’s Day?
Melody is also the author of the four Colton Brothers Saga (Border Ambush, Sonoran Rage, Arizona War and Kansas Bleeds). Here’s some info about the first one:

Robbed and beaten by outlaws, stagecoach guard James Colton vows justice and recovery of his grandfather’s watch. Determined to find his heirloom, James hunts the outlaws, only to face an immoral sheriff who gives him no choice but to shoot.

“The action never flags, and Groves has surely found her true calling...her cast of characters, their habits and idiosyncrasies is distinctly rich and right-on. A rip-snorting adventure yarn.” —Albuquerque Journal review

Melody brings her talents and interest in the Southwest to non-fiction titles as well – Hoist a Cold One! Historical Bars of the Southwest; Butterfield Byways; and Ropes, Reins and Rawhide.

Learn more about Melody at her website or Amazon author page.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Outlaws & Outcasts: The Lost Cemetery of Las Vegas, New Mexico, by Ellen S. Rippel

This week’s featured Southwest book is Outlaws & Outcasts: The Lost Cemetery of Las Vegas, New Mexico, by Ellen S. Rippel:

Outlaws and Outcasts. They lay undisturbed and forgotten for almost a century--until a backhoe driver digging for gravel made a gruesome discovery. A hastily-assembled group of students, guided by an intellectually curious professor, had only one week to document the unearthing of the large, 19th century graveyard. Who was buried in those unmarked graves? What had they done to be cast out from society?

Filled with stories of early outlaws and fascinating historical insights, Outlaws and Outcasts chronicles a spellbinding and little-known saga from New Mexico. For those who love history, archaeology, or quirky stories from the Land of Enchantment, this book is an intriguing summary of what occurred in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1972. Outlaws and Outcasts: The Lost Cemetery of Las Vegas, New Mexico recounts the accidental unearthing of graves in a gravel pit. Included in the narrative are examinations of historical burial practices and customs, and a search through the scarce literature on events specific to the existence of the cemetery.

A coffin handle, pictured in the book
Review: This is a well-written and enjoyable account of an unusual piece of New Mexico history. In many ways, it raises more questions than it answers, as we have no way to know for sure who the dead are or why they were buried there. But pondering the question is great fun. The lively anecdotes and fascinating facts about burial practices, archaeology techniques, and local customs add to the charm. Whether you enjoy Southwest history, spooky tales, quirky facts, or just good storytelling, this book does the job. Black-and-white photos of some of the uncovered objects make the stories that much more real.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Pot Thief Murder Mysteries by J. Michael Orenduff

This week’s featured Southwest book series is the Pot Thief Murder Mysteries by J. Michael Orenduff. The series starts with The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras and I believe there are now seven books.

I can’t find a website for Michael, but here’s his Amazon page, and a description of the first book:

“A dealer of ancient Native American pottery, Hubert Schuze has spent years combing the public lands of New Mexico, digging for artwork that would otherwise remain buried. According to the US government, Hubie is a thief—but no act of Congress could stop him from doing what he loves. For decades, Hubie has worn the title of pot thief proudly. Outright burglary, though, is another story.

“But an offer of $25,000 to lift a rare pot from a local museum proves too tempting for Hubie to refuse. When he sees how tightly the relic is guarded, he changes his mind, but the pot goes missing anyway. Soon a federal agent suspects that Hubie is the culprit. After things take a turn for the serious, Hubie knows he must find the real thief quickly, or risk cracking something more fragile than any pot—his skull.”

These books will introduce you to the Santa Fe art world and provide insight into archaeology and Southwestern ancient culture, while capturing the "Wild West" spirit that still permeates so many new Mexican citizens.

Here’s an interview with Michael. Peek: “I set my books in New Mexico because I love writing about the Land of Enchantment. My main character owns a pottery shop in Old Town Albuquerque where he sells ancient Native American pottery, some of which he acquires by illegally digging it up.” 

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Warbonnet #Mystery Series by Robert Kresge

This week’s featured Southwest book series is The Warbonnet Mystery Series by Robert Kresge. The series is set in Wyoming in the 1870s and begins with Murder For Greenhorns. The books blend history and an ongoing romance with the mystery plots.

Robert is “a former CIA senior intelligence analyst and founding member of the Counterterrorist Center.” Wow! With that background, you might expect modern thrillers from him. But he says, "A life in intelligence work has taught me an important lesson:  History matters.  Life is sculpted from the raw materials of people, place, and time acted upon by the forces of personality, culture, and ideas.  I enjoy looking back at crucial points in history to reexamine the interplay of these elements.”

Here’s a review from Ann Hillerman, author of the award-winning Leaphorn and Chee Navajo mysteries, including Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock With Wings

Over the Brink, the latest installment in the captivating Warbonnet mysteries, takes the reader away from the Wyoming landscape the author describes so beautifully to the well-tended lawns of New England. School teacher Kate Shaw has returned to her parents’ tree-filled, tradition-bound small town. Marshal Monday Malone follows her there, and also visits burgeoning Chicago, both rendered so vividly that the reader steps right into the late 19th century. The well-paced romantic tension between the two escalates as they struggle to discover why several young women have been discovered bruised and dead, and why their bodies remain unclaimed. This entertaining and well-written novel is a fine addition to Robert Kresge’s worthy series. Bravo.”

Robert is also the author of Saving Lincoln: “In the closing days of the Civil War, Beth Wendland, a burnt-out Union spy in Richmond, stumbles across a Confederate plot to send a wagon bomb to blow up the White House and kill President Lincoln while he’s meeting with his generals. Abandoned by her political masters, Beth must evade Rebel soldiers and the bomb’s mastermind to deliver the information to Washington before the conspirators can launch their deadly attack. Assisted by the Federal officer who loves her, Beth risks more than her life to snuff out the burning fuse of the world’s first vehicle bomb and prevent disaster on the eve of victory.”

Historical Novels Review says: “Robert Kresge will astonish audiences with his Civil War novel. He maintains balance between the realms of reality and fiction to complement his imagined tale. Saving Lincoln is a plausibly animated historical novel. Highly recommended.” 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Sasha Solomon #Mystery series by Pari Noskin Taichert

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to feature some book series set in the Southwest – contemporary and historical, fiction and nonfiction. First up is the Sasha Solomon Mystery series by Pari Noskin Taichert. From the book description:

Sasha Solomon - A quirky protagonist with a gently antagonistic aura.

Cozy mystery character Sasha Solomon lives in Albuquerque and works throughout New Mexico as a public relations consultant. As she travels, she keeps finding bodies – dead ones.

Kris says: These books give a humorous look at some of the less glamorous small towns in New Mexico. (It's not all Santa Fe and Taos guys.)

The books are:

  1. The Clovis Incident
  2. The Belen Hitch
  3. The Socorro Blast
Here’s an interview with Pari from shortly after the first book came out. It offers some interesting insight into her series.

Pari is also the author of Stung (writing as Pari Noskin):

Introducing a new, fun and thought-provoking series from Agatha-award finalist Pari Noskin. From the book description:

Meet Darnda Jones, one of the stars of television’s popular Psychic 911. She’s made a name for herself because of a special skill: Darnda can communicate with nonhumans. Now she works as a natural pest controller to the rich and famous. Think of her as the Pied Piper of the insect, animal and plant world. In all, things couldn’t be better.

Who knew that working at a high-society wedding in one of Houston’s toniest suburbs could change all that with a single, well placed bullet?