Secrets of . . . Surviving the Murder of a Loved One

September 30: Secrets of . . . Surviving the Murder of a Loved One

celeste vinzantJoin Judy and Celeste Vinzant on “Off the Record with Judy” on Tuesday, September 30, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Click on “Live on Air.” Feel free to call in with questions and comments during the show at 866-404-6519.

Celeste Vinzant experienced the sudden and violent death of her 24-year-old sister by a serial sex offender on probation. It took 32 years to get a conviction. Meanwhile, she helped raise her sister’s children while working through the anger, grief, and loss. The darkness nearly consumed her soul until she started transforming the deepest hurt into healing.

Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources by Connie Saindon, MFTCeleste reviewed Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources and gave it high marks:

The stories of loss shared by survivors in this book shed light on the fact that when this type of trauma happens, lives are touched with both tragedy and renewed capacity for resiliency. Every time I hear on the news of someone just murdered, I cry inside for their families and loved ones. This book will be of great benefit to the newly bereaved.


Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources
Facebook: Murder Survivor’s Handbook
Website: Survivors of Violent Loss
Blog: Survivors of Violent Loss

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Book Update: Now that it’s out, what’s next?

Many of you have asked, What’s next? When’s your next book coming out?

Lots of things happening, not just with Dare I Call It Murder? but with other books that are now an integral part of my life as I seem to be veering from author to publisher, wearing my Wigeon Publishing hat more often than not. (But I am not abandoning writing (or fiddling)—just being sidetracked for a while.)

Next year, I am bringing out a first-hand account from the American Civil War, told through letters and diary entries, as well as a dramatization of the diary of my “cousin” Philip Edwards, who served as the clerk for the first recorded cattle drive in North America. No, not from Texas, but from California to the Willamette Valley in Oregon Territory in 1837.

And I continue to work on Ramsey’s Run, a historical novel of the American frontier set during the fur trade era of the 1820s, in which a 17-year-old joins a fur trapping expedition to the Rocky Mountains after being falsely accused of a murder in east Tennessee.

Book Launch
Murder Survivor’s Handbook

Murder Survivor's Handbook: Real-life Stories, Tips & Resources It’s official. Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources is launched and available for purchase at, Barnes & Noble online, and through traditional retail outlets.

Written by Connie Saindon, MA, MFT—along with many other voices—the book is being formally released today, Sept. 25, 2014, to coincide with the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.

In prerelease sales, the book became a Hot New Release at in the Criminal Procedure Law category, and climbed onto Amazon’s Best Seller list in that category as well.

Proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Survivors of Violent Loss Program to provide books to those who may need assistance.

Learn more . . . Wigeon Publishing Launches 4th Title

Book Event

Dare I Call It Murder? continues to draw interest, along with positive reviews and feedback. At, the book now has 159 reviews, 101 of them 5-stars (no, I do not know most of the reviewers). Thank you, again, for your encouragement and support.

Presentation and book signing
Sat., Oct. 11, 2014, 1 p.m.
9545 River Dr.
Descanso, CA 91916

If you’re in the area and can come by to say hello, it would be great to see you.

Author Presentation

San Diego Writers/Editors Guild
Presentation: Larry Edwards Shares ‘How He (and others) Did It’ — the success of the award-winning Dare I Call It Murder? (and other books)
Wed., Oct. 15, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Health Services Complex
3851 Rosecrans Street
San Diego, CA

Learn more at San Diego Writers & Editors Guild

New Books Coming Soon

Wigeon has two more titles in the pipeline . . .

Bull Run to Appomattox - The Civil War Letters and Diaries of Oney Sweet
Bull Run to Appomattox
The Letters and Diaries of
Oney Foster Sweet

April 9, 2015
The Greatest Cattle Drive, California to Oregon, 1837, a dramatization of the diary of Philip Edwards
The Greatest Cattle Drive
California to Oregon, 1837
Dramatization of the Diary
of Philip L. Edwards

Q3, 2015


For further updates, please visit:
Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources
Facebook: Murder Survivor’s Handbook
Website: Survivors of Violent Loss
Blog: Survivors of Violent Loss

Dare I Call It Murder? — A Memoir of Violent Loss
Facebook: Dare I Call It Murder?
Book Blog

Again, thank you for your support and kind words.

Be well, do good, and may you have fair winds.


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New Book: Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources

Polishing Your Prose:

Important book now available to help those who have had loved one murdered.

Originally posted on Survivors of Violent Loss:

It’s official. Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources is launched and available for purchase at, Barnes & Noble online, and through traditional retail outlets.
Murder Survivor's Handbook: Real-life Stories, Tips & Resources
Written by Connie Saindon, MA, MFT—along with many other voices—the book is being formally released on Sept. 25, 2014, to coincide with the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. [Read Connie's essay:Remembering Our Murdered Loved Ones.]

“Many survivors and co-victims of murder asked me to write this book so those who must make this tragic journey will have a helping hand,” Saindon says. “I am saddened that there is a need for this book, but I am happy that we were able to pull this together in the interest of helping others.”

When a loved one is murdered, the survivors—the co-victims—are plunged into a head-spinning world of traumatic grief, criminal investigation, criminal justice, and the…

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Remembering Our Murdered Loved Ones

Polishing Your Prose:

Important day today, remembering our loved ones taken by violent deaths.

Originally posted on Survivors of Violent Loss:

By Connie Saindon

Murder. It’s a fact of life that never goes away. Nor does murder’s impact on the survivors: those who must deal with a horrific new reality in their lives.

On Sept. 25, the National Day of Remembrance of Murder Victims, we will be reminded of this fact as survivors gather to memorialize their murdered loved ones.

Crime rates have dropped in major cities nationwide. Nonetheless, there are roughly 15,000 homicides in the U.S. each year, according to government agencies. The FBI Crime Clock estimates one person is murdered in the United States every 35.6 minutes. These statistics do not include suicide or violent deaths due to negligence or catastrophe.

In San Diego County, the murder rate in 2013 fell to 70 homicides from 110 in 2012. Even so, anything above zero is unacceptable.

Murder often gets sensational headlines in news coverage, but the survivors and the…

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‘Murder Survivor’s Handbook’ Amazon Hot New Release, Best Seller

Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-life Stories, Tips & Resources by Connie Saindon is now a Hot New Release and Best Seller on — and the book will not be formally released for three more days: Thursday, Sept. 25, to coincide with the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. Hot New Release: Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-life Stories, Tips & ResourcesThis is not a specific goal of author Connie Saindon or mine. We, along with the many voices that contributed to this book, want to see it in the hands of everyone who can benefit from it. The increased visibility will help us achieve this goal. In addition, this remarkable result indicates that the book is being well received, even though the word about it is just now getting out. Best Seller: Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-life Stories, Tips & ResourcesConnie and I thank all of those who assisted in the production of the book and all those who encouraged its writing. It took an exhausting two and a half years to complete, but seeing this overwhelmingly positive response to the book is gratifying indeed and makes it all worthwhile.

While we find it deeply saddening that there is a need for such a book, we are comforted in knowing that we can be of assistance to those who follow in our footsteps on a journey none of wanted to take.

As Connie says: One doesn’t recover from this, but one can learn to live with it better.

Murder Survivor’s Handbook not only helps family members adapt to the aftermath of murder, it also encourages the readers to write down their own feelings and experiences as they take this journey no one ever wants to take, but in which they had no choice.

In addition, the proceeds from the sale of this book are being funneled back into the Survivors of Violent Program and will help provide books to those who may need assistance.


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Report of My Death . . . an Exaggeration

To paraphrase Mr. Clemens, “the report of my death [in Arizona] was an exaggeration” — but not by much.

Yes, it’s true I spent a few days incarcerated in the local ICU four weeks ago. No, it’s not true that one of my disgruntled rellies bashed my head in.

For those of you with ADHD, here’s the Twitter version: Heart attack, cardiac arrest, stent, 4 days in ICU. Now home and on a truckload of meds. Otherwise, doing better than expected.

For those who want all the gory details, trek onward:

Mr. Lucky

Mr. Lucky

Mind you, having a semi-private nurse and staff at my beck and call 24 hours a day wasn’t too bad — except the ICU has zero privacy (the door is all glass and my room was across the hall from the elevator, placing me at center stage; thus, the disguise), no bathroom, and I had more cables and tubes tethering me to the bed than a console in a steampunk studio.

Vampires visited me several times a night, leaving my arms (and belly) with more tracks than a meth-head.

The cadre of medical pros controlled everything that went into my body, and monitored everything that came out. With all the hovering about, I felt like a queen about to give birth to the royal heir, and the family gathered around to ensure no skullduggery takes place.

Cool red socks.

Cool red socks.

But I am not complaining. I don’t see how I could have received any better care. And I managed to give the nurses and doctors a few chuckles now and again. (Sorry, I can’t help my bent toward gallows humor.) I even got a cool pair of red socks. (For which I’m sure the insurance company was billed an exorbitant price. After all, the socks do have that non-slip stuff on them.)

One nurse dubbed me Mr. Lucky.

Lucky, indeed.

All the pieces fell into place perfectly for me to be writing this missive today. I shudder to think about the alternative. Especially after I called 911 (no, I did not play the macho man and lie down, thinking I’d feel better in couple of hours) — and got a recording: “You have reached Verizon Wireless. We’re sorry, but you have tried a number that cannot be connected as dialed. Please try again.”

I was home alone — Janis was birding in Arizona — and so weak I could barely lift the phone. But not so weak I couldn’t curse Verizon. I hit redial (same recorded message) and got a realization — when punching the numbers, I had hit 8 and 9 simultaneously, so it went out as 8911. One would think Verizon might have an error-correction algorithm to intercept and correct such things.

I got through on the third try. And the dispatcher put me on hold. But only for a moment while she transferred the call.

The EMTs arrived in about 3-4 minutes (giving me time to pack an overnight bag; yes, the paramedics rolled their eyes when I asked them to bring it along). They had me at the hospital in about 15 minutes, the trip being accelerated with the aid of the siren.

Good thing. The ol’ ticker stopped tocking a few minutes after the medicoes had me laid out in the ER and wired up for an ECG.

In case you’re wondering, I did not see the proverbial “white light” — only a swirling black hole. As I drifted closer to the vortex, I fell into a sleep-like state and dreamt that a troupe of midgets were using my chest as a trampoline.

When I awoke, I had a number of faces staring down at me, all breathing sighs of relief. I looked at the clock on the wall and noticed that several minutes had elapsed in what seemed to me like a few seconds.

A nurse asked me, “Does your chest hurt?”

I took a deep breath. “Not really.”

“It will tomorrow,” she said.

I shot her a quizzical look and she added, “We did CPR and defribbed you — twice.”

Then they wheeled me into the Cath Lab, jabbed my arm with Bowie knife (hey, that’s what it felt like), and implanted a stent in my RCA (right coronary artery).

Yes, my arm, not the groin. It’s the latest thang. Speeds up patient recovery. As soon as they had me in the ICU, I could sit up rather than lying on my back, sandbags compressing my bladder for 8 hours.

This “event” seems so odd, because my GP gave me a clean bill of health less than a year ago. I’ve never smoked, I have exercised fairly regularly my entire life, I pretty much quit eating red meat and saturated fats 40 years ago (yes, I cheated now and again), and Janis and I eat so much kale and chard we’ve created a global shortage. My family has a history of long-livers and dying of old age or cancer, but not heart disease. My biggest fears were skin cancer and macular degeneration.

Even the doctors were mystified. So I asked the cardiologist, “What’s the deal?”

He said, “I’ll explain it to you in precise medical terms: Bad luck.”

Turns out that a piece of plaque had broken loose and a clot formed around it, plugging up the artery like Hoover Dam.

As Archy McNally says, “One never knows, do one?”

“What’s to stop it from happening again?” I asked (the cardiologist, not Archie).

“Medication, diet and exercise.”

“Exercise?!” I said. “That’s what got me here in the first place.”

My attempt at humor did not elicit even a hint of a smile out of him.

But it’s partly true. I had been hiking in Tecolote Canyon, and the myocardial infarction began as I trudged, uncharacteristically out of breath, up the last half mile of what I now call Heart Attack Hill. By the time I reached the house, the other symptoms emerged. (Luckily, I had cut the hike short, for no other reason than I was feeling lazy that morning. Had I done my usual, longer route, my first attendants would most likely have been of the furry, four-legged variety, yipping at their good fortune.)

Not to be out done by my light-heartedness (please excuse the pun), the cardiologist said, “It is true that you are something of an anomaly.”

“Oh?” I replied.

“Yes, you are the first person I’ve ever seen with coronary arteries occluded by Ranch salad dressing.”

Touché. (OK, I made up that last bit. But I know he was thinking it.)

I confess, I do have a weakness for Ranch dressing. I blame Costco, which sells the stuff in large bottles as a twin-pack. Hey, it’s a bargain! And I challenge you to name one thing that doesn’t taste better (especially kale and chard) with a dollop of Ranch dressing on it. Or course, we say that about butter, too — and bacon.

Now doing well, all things considered. (I returned home looking — and feeling — like a punching bag. I will spare you those images.) Resting, reading, taking walks and regaining my strength. While Janis monitors my every breath — for which I am grateful. As the love of my life, she certainly gave me something to live for.

I used the opportunity to tune out the world for a few days, enjoying the foibles of Archy McNally and his “discreet inquiries” (for the third or fourth time) before returning to work. (You do know about my asshole boss, yes?) My sternum and rib cage have recovered to the point that I no longer feel as if I’m being knifed every time I sneeze or laugh or roll over in bed (no broken ribs, fortunately).

As a bonus, I shed 10 pounds while in hospital. But I don’t recommend this as a weight-loss program.

One more thing: the ER doc? The one who trampolined my chest? Turns out he’s also an author — and, heaven help us, a fiddler. Best of all, at least from birder Janis’s perspective, the doctor’s surname is Thrush. More items for the Small World Dept.

Now, where’d I leave the bowl of oatmeal?

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The Making of a Best Seller . . . and Other Myths

Re: Iowa Bookseller Pumps Up Sales for Author’s Memoir

A best seller? Seriously?

If I understand the math correctly, June Melby’s memoir, My Family and Other Hazards, became a New York Times best seller (sports) through the sale of the astonishing sum of—wait for the drum roll—roughly 500 copies.

In the past, I have thought of the NYT lists in terms of 1,000s of books sold, if not tens of 1,000s of books sold. But a measly 500?

I find this ironic in that those in the NY publishing establishment denigrate Amazon “best sellers” as not being legitimate because (1) Amazon has so many narrowly defined lists, and (2) a handful of sales can put a book into the Top 100 within that narrow category and be dubbed a best seller.

I now fully understand why the actual sales numbers of newspaper best-seller lists are not disclosed—because the numbers, in fact, may be pitiful. (The numbers are also manipulated, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled for the author. Yet, I can only imagine the pop-eyed dismay of the NY establishment at seeing an actual figure—the 164 books the Iowa book seller brags about peddling—disclosed to a discerning public with electronic calculators close at hand.

How does Amazon rank the book? A best seller, yes, but hardly scoring well under par by book-world standards:

  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,638 in Books
  • #6 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Sports & Outdoors > Golf
  • #80 in Books > Humor & Entertainment > Humor > Parenting & Families

Truth be told, best-seller lists are marketing tools for publishers and book sellers, the denials notwithstanding. That’s what I find refreshing about Amazon. Its honesty. Amazon’s brazen, in-your-face style of marketing books not only embraces that concept, it flaunts it. And New York be damned.

If the hidebound book publishing industry spent more time looking to the future and less time at its glory days, perhaps it would be more adaptable to the evolving marketplace and spend less time attempting to maintain its T. Rex imperiousness.

I suggest that for authors and publishers, the true value in this story lies not in the best-seller aspect, but in how this Iowa book seller helped the author promote the book.

For you indie authors/publishers, however, please note that this book still came from one of the Big Five, not independent publication. Otherwise, that Iowa book seller may not have given it a first glance, let alone a second.

Still, as Archie McNally says: “One never knows, do one?”

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