Patricia Takes 5 With Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Welcome to my latest edition of Take 5.  And what a great one it is!  I have the privilege and honor to share with all of you the musings of one of my favorite writers, who just happens to be such a delightful person as well.  She’s one talented  and busy lady — not only has she penned two fab cozy series as you’ll read below, but also serves as Chief Cat Wrangler, which means she is the owner/editor/founder of Cozy Cat Press, my publishing home of which I just love to rave about. With her whirlwind busy schedule, Patricia still made the time for a cocktail or two as we talked books and mysteries.  Why not join us?

1. So tell me a little about your series and main characters.Murder in the Round

I have two cozy mystery series. The first one is the Pamela Barnes acoustic mystery series. My heroine is a Psychology professor at a small Southern university and an expert in acoustics. In the first book, she discovers the body of a colleague in the department’s computer lab and is able to solve her murder using clues found on an audio recording made of the actual murder. Her assistance to local police on this crime is so helpful, that the local detective calls for her aid again in four more cases (that is, four more books). Pamela’s life mirrors my own as I too was a professor at a small southern university and conducted research on vocal behavior using acoustic technology. These books are: SOUNDS OF MURDER, FM FOR MURDER, VOICE MAIL MURDER, STUMP SPEECH MURDER, and MURDER IN THE ROUND.

My second series is a bPrintit more light-hearted. It is the Essie Cobb Senior Sleuth mystery series and features Essie Cobb, a clever resident of a retirement home, who––with the aid of her three best friends––solves various mysteries and crimes that occur at the Happy Haven Retirement Home. Essie is based on my own mother who spent the last few years of her life in such a home, and actually had a few wild adventures herself. There are four books in this series: BINGOED, PAPOOSED, VALENTINED, and GHOSTED.

 2. What is your writing process like? Do you thrive on routine or work spontaneously as the whim takes you?

I can be very organized and am capable of churning out a book in a month, writing one chapter a day of a 30-chapter novel. I typically use an outline, although these tend to get briefer and briefer with each book, as I get better and better at knowing how my mind functions and how I work. There certainly are times when whimsy takes over and a character will get away from me and go in a direction I had not intended. I know this has happened to other authors too. I will admit that the times this has occurred have proven generally beneficial for my stories.

 3. What exciting moment or moments have made you realize that you were really an “author”?

I guess book signings are some of those moments. Getting to meet someone who has actually read and liked one of my books is a wonderful experience too. I think of my characters as “real people” and it feels wonderful when readers come away with that feeling too. For example, if someone says, “I know someone just like your Essie. You’ll never guess what she did?” That kind of thing.

4. What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?

That’s a good one. As I haven’t written a cozy mystery in over a year, I guess the well is pretty dry. I am keeping very busy with editing other writers’ books right now, so I really don’t have time to work on my own. I have a few ideas for a new Pamela book but try as I might, I haven’t been able to flush them out. I wanted to do a terrorism-related case for her, using her acoustic skills to uncover a hidden message in a televised terror threat from an upstart terror group. It would be very timely, but I’m having a hard time putting all the pieces together.

5. Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?

Well, as I write cozy mysteries and publish at Cozy Cat Press, I guess I would be amiss if I didn’t mention how much I’ve been influenced by Lillian Jackson Braun, author of “The Cat Who…” books. I’ve read all (or most) of them. They represent for me, the perfect cozy. And they feature cats! How purrr-fect! :) The crime is always presented in a “clean” sort of way and the hero (Quilleran) figures out the always clever and convoluted plot using his brain power (not his muscle). My fondness for these books may actually be one of the reasons we are “Cozy Cat” Press.

Another author I love who has nothing to do with cats or cozies, is Robert J. Sawyer. He is a contemporary Canadian science fiction author–prize-winning. I’ve read a score of his books and loved most of them. These are not your typical sci-fi novels (which I generally hate) with robots, space ships, and laser gun fights. They are all thought-provoking and involve unusual but real scientific concepts or theories and how these ideas might develop in the future. The endings of his books always amaze me. They are never your typical “romantic” endings, but are ones that require you to put on your thinking cap and imagine how the world might actually change given various premises. I love how Sawyer’s books challenge my thinking while still totally entertaining me.

Thank you so much for sitting down with me to share your writing world.  I’m thrilled to hear you have plans for more.  And friends, be sure to check out Patricia’s books on Amazon and also get acquainted with her through her links.  She’s got a swell site at www.PatriciaRockwellAuthor.com, Tweets at @par2323 and follow her on Facebook.  Also visit the Cozy Cat Press site to see how all us kittens keep her so busy!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Blogs, books, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, Dialogue, e-publishing, ebooks, fashion, Fiction, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Humor, Indie Presses, Inspiration, Interviews, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Pen Names, Perspective, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Socializing, Uncategorized, Vocabulary, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spiffy! Swanky! Swell!

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Well, there’s exciting news in the wonderful world of Barbara Jean Coast.  A website has been born.  Must say, it’s been quite entertaining to be building it, and initial reports are listed in the title of this post.  The link is listed below.  Go ahead and take a gander, I’ll just wait here.  Unless you’re one of the intrepid ones, you’ll discover that you can continue reading this blog on the site under Musings…

http://www.barbarajeancoast.com/

It’s basic at the moment, but we have a couple of pages we’re looking forward to developing.  The first is Scoop, where we’ll have all of our news, interviews and events, upcoming, present and past.  The other is Frivolity and we’re gearing up for that one.   It’ll have some fun Poppy Cove and Santa Lucia odds and sodas, but also some sparkle and fun, Barbara Jean style.  So looking forward to our perpetual happy hour, via www.barbarajeancoast.com.

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Blogs, books, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, Etiquette, Fiction, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Humor, Inspiration, Interviews, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Pen Names, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Uncategorized, Unpublished, Website, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ready to Curl Up with a Great Book?

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Well, it seems to be that almost everywhere there is a notable change in the air.  The nesting season has begun!  So find a honey, a nice libation and of course a delightful read to lose a few hours into a cozy world.Clues

CLUES OVER CROISSANTS — That observant and delightful little lady is back again solving more of the mysteries of life at the Honey Hills Retirement Center. Bess Bullock is gaining a reputation for her attention to details and her curious nature. The little sweetheart has requests coming her way from residents and staff to solve their problems! There’s a new chef in the kitchen preparing the best tasting treats the residents have ever eaten including at the morning breakfast table that’s changing the mood. Bess has much to find as she observes the people in her world. There’s another gal with her eye on Chet at the Waltzing Club and Bess is not sure how she feels about that! So make yourself a nice pot of tea and put those tootsies up to enter the cozy, curious world of Bess Bullock as she gets caught up in the little mysteries that life is serving up at The Honey Hills Retirement Home. You are never too young or too old to take an interest. Bravo to Allen B. Boyer for this gentle read that is appropriate for all ages!

Married to MysteriesMARRIED TO MYSTERIES — My favorite little lady from Honey Hills Retirement Center is back and getting ready to walk down the aisle with her sweetheart and dance partner Chet Wooden, does that mean her sleuthing days are over? Bess Bullock and Chet have moved to their own home on the Honey Hills property and they are planning to marry before the summer is over. Bess is trying to be a good fiancee by putting her curiosity aside at least for the time being, but the mysteries of life keep popping up everywhere Bess is looking! What will Chet say and how will Bess reconcile her nature and her desire to settle down with the man she now loves? Well darlings you will just have to read the third installment in Allen B. Boyer’s Bess Bullock Retirement Home series to find out. Be sure to have a glass of bubbly ready for any occasion that might pop-up!Whispers in winter

WHISPERS IN WINTERThat sweet little gal Bess Bullock is back with her spirit and spunk helping her to overcome winter-time blues. With the little mysteries of life continuing to crop up Bess is kept busy! Not only does Bess find out that there is a possible murder that may have taken place in her and her husband Chet’s house, there is a resident who needs her help in finding a possible stalker, and a volunteer stint at the retirement home store has Bess wondering what’s the deal with the ladies who are sitting in the corner and drinking the store’s free coffee?  So many mysteries and Bess once thought winter was a dull and drab time, that is until she allows her curiosity and instincts from her days of being a police officer to kick in! Bess Wooden is one lucky lady whose husband understands her needs and guides her with a loving hand. Christmas will soon arrive and hopefully Bess will wrap-up all the unsolved mysteries and the presents too! A toast to Allen B. Boyer for this neat little package tied up with the most wonderful strings. This little lady eagerly awaits the next book in the Bess Bullock Retirement Home series!

A short note about the author of the next two books, Lyla Fox.  She was a great lady with a warm heart as big as the sun.  She was a much beloved teacher, just embarking on a new career as a published author.  She passed away earlier this year, much too soon.  She had a promising future, with two cozy series started.  Both novels still make great reads as standalone works.

SnoopSNOOPThere’s nothing I love more than snooping around in other people’s business! Getting the scoop on all the dishy gossip in town is my favorite past-time so it was certainly a pleasure to read this delicious and suspenseful cozy by Lyla Fox.  When one of the citizens of Cotter’s Corner is found murdered Samuels Harper Hayes takes it upon herself to find out what really happened.  Gossip, murder and mayhem in a small town setting make you feel as if you have gone to the cinema where you get caught up in the story. I was drawn in by a cast of interesting characters and suspenseful plot twists that kept me turning the pages!  Will Samuels figure out who is behind the sinister events that are going on around town before more innocent people get hurt?  You’ll just have to read “SNOOP” and find out for yourself!  Of course as you may know we lost our dear friend author Lyla Fox just over a month ago and she is sorely missed as more of her stories will be.  Be sure to read this wonderful book which deserves your attention.  BravCinnamon streeto to Lyla Fox!

MURDER ON CINNAMON STREET Are sure you should trust everyone you know?  All yours truly can say is that after you read Lyla Fox’s MURDER ON CINNAMON STREET you might be left wondering if all the people you know are trustworthy or not. I see you eying that neighbor of yours!  Elizabeth Mary Catherine Clary or E as she is affectionately known by her friends is ridden with anxiety and finds herself caught up in a very spooky situation when it appears that someone from her little corner of the world is out to dispose of everyone who is in her circle of friends and acquaintances. Is there a maniac on the loose or a killer with a true cause?  E suffers severe panic attacks and this will leave you wondering if she will be able to face her worst fears and stand up to the murderer or go weak in the knees finding herself in grave danger.  Romance, humor and an intriguing story that kept me on the edge of my seat until the last page was turned.  Lyla may not be here in the physical sense on earth with us anymore, but I am sure she is somewhere out there continuing to spin her tales for anyone who will listen. A toast of the bubbly to dear Lyla and her wonderful stories! 

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Authors, Book Reviews, books, Characters, Commitment, Communication, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, fashion, Fiction, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Indie Presses, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Perspective, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oh Good, You’re Not Working Today….

Hi there, guys and dolls!  I’ve decided to let Andrea and Heather take over the blog this week.  They had a fabulous visit on my behalf with the most delightful Blog Talk Radio host on the airwaves, Amy Beth Arkawy.  Her awarcc1d7d54-6c4c-41df-bca9-b3a6cab2747e_callcard-square-webonlyd winning radio program is fantastic and the girls had such a great time kibbitzing with their good friend, who writes the terrific Eliza Gordon Mysteries as well as hosting her show about and with creative folks.  Do yourself a favor and catch some of her podcasts.

They talked and talked and talked about everything and nothing, murder and mayhem, the creative process and my fine Santa Lucia social set in the Poppy Cove Mysteries.  One of the topics that cultivated food for thought was the whole creative work concept.  Time and time again it comes up, not only for writers, but musicians, painters, artists of all stripes — people not involved believe you’re not really working.  There are so many times that well meaning people in our lives seem to think that if you’re not at a day job, you’re not actually ‘working.’  You have the day off, you’re free to do whatever they want you to do, that writing’s not a ‘job,’ you don’t have to take it seriously, you can do it later in your ‘spare time’ (that is, when I don’t want you to do something for me).

Well, guess what?  It is a job, it is work (sometimes the hardest work a person does in their lives — anyone who’s committed the effort to bring a project to life can attest to that) and needs to be respected as such.  And where does that reverence start?  You know it — with you.  You set your mind, you set your respect.  We’re learning.  Being relatively new writers, we still have other professions to keep the wolves out the door.  What we have been able to do is step out and carve out work time specifically to write and develop Barbara Jean and our Poppy Cove world further.  And we’re happy to say that when asked if we are working today on those days, the answer is a resounding “YES,” and setting straight any remarks from the peanut gallery to the contrary.  We don’t complain or explain to those who don’t get it, we just simply say we are working, turn on the voice mail, and become unavailable to any demand or request outside of our creative realm.  If you are struggling with this, try changing your mind on how you present your respect of craft to others and let them sort out their thoughts for themselves.  They will get it eventually when they can’t reach you for their whims and see your tangible results in book, painting, song or sculpture form at a later date.  And if they don’t, be rest assured somewhere in this world there are people who will be happy you devoted yourself to the creative process.  Keep at it, and claim your time — you were meant to!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's, 1950's California, Alter Ego, Authors, Blogs, California, Characters, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, De-stressing, Dialogue, e-publishing, Fiction, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Humor, Indie Presses, Inspiration, Interviews, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Nostalgia, Perspective, Public Libraries, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Self Esteem, Socializing, Uncategorized, Unpublished, Vintage, Vocabulary, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joyce Takes 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there guys and dolls!  Well, there’s another month just whizzing by!  I don’t know about you, but the speed just makes my head spin.  That, or the fact that I dipped into the martini pitcher…oh, never mind.  The great thing about the month coming to a close is that I get to do my favorite feature blog — Take 5.  They’re always so much fun.  I just love my Cozy Cat Press friends who also happen to be great authors.  September’s visit is with the fabulous and talented Joyce Oroz, who also creates beautiful artwork as well.  I was so happy to sit down again for another chat with Joyce, this time on my blog.   Enjoy our visit, I’m sure you will!

1. So tell me a little about your series and main characters.Cuckoo Clock

Josephine Stuart is my fifty-year-old protagonist. She is a widowed mural artist who is misunderstood by her boyfriend, best friend and her own mother. They can’t relate to her curiosity, tenacity and bravery when she attempts to solve a murder mystery. Time after time her basset sniffs out the bad guys for her while the police try to get their facts together. If I were in trouble, I’d want Josephine working for me. She is good at gathering clues, and the rest is usually dumb luck. Each book focuses on a new and different mural painting job for Josephine and a murder of course.

2. What is your writing process like?  Do you thrive on routine or work spontaneously as the whim takes you?

I make a point to work a bit everyday—at least six days a week. Sometimes it’s an hour, sometimes two or three, depending on the flow of ideas. When I am ready to begin a new book, I am unable to write an outline or even a series of ideas. Believe me I’ve tried. Instead, I write one sentence on my computer and elaborate on that. The ideas start to flow and a year later I have a book. About halfway through I usually know who the murderer is, but sometimes I don’t know until the end. I love surprises.
The Josephine Stuart Mystery series includes SECURE THE RANCH, READ MY LIPSTICK, SHAKING IN HER FLIP FLOPS, BEETLES IN THE BOXCAR and CUCKOO CLOCK CAPER, published by Cozy Cat Press. My new book, ROLLER RUBOUT will be out in a month or two.

3. What exciting moment or moments that made you realize that you were really an “author?”

I have five published books in the Josephine Stuart Mystery Series and a new book coming out soon. It wasn’t until a stranger told me she had read all my books that I felt like an honest to goodness author—writer person. Even if my books were never published I would probably keep writing because it’s what I do and who I am. But I love having fans and entertaining people.

4. What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?

Usually I go over what I have already written, correcting and making changes, until ideas show up. I put my mind into a quiet place and wait for the answer I’m looking for—the next move in the story. The best ideas show up while I’m driving or in the shower—when I can’t jot them down. Writing is a great lesson in patience.

5. Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?

About thirteen years ago my husband, Arthur Oroz, wrote OKINAWA MOON. I loved watching the book come together—the whole process. A couple years later I started writing children’s stories, twenty-seven of them. But children’s stories weren’t enough. I wanted to write a novel. I always liked reading mysteries, beginning with Nancy Drew and including Janet Evanovich. Janet made me laugh. I tried to be outrageous like her but it didn’t work, but she did influence me. I like JA Jance, Patterson and many others. Reading is definitely an important part of writing.

Isn’t that the truth!  Fellow bibliophiles, Joyce’s Josephine Stuart novels are great.  Be sure to check out her page on Facebook, her author page on Amazon for all her series information: Joyce Oroz and read all her news and interviews on Blogspot.  Till next time, booklovers!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Authors, California, Characters, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, Fiction, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Guest Blogs, Indie Presses, Inspiration, Interviews, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Perspective, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Socializing, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ready, Set, Nope — A Hooky Day for You!

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Well, whew — the girls (Andrea and Heather) do keep me busy.  It’s been a big time of flurry and then hurry up and wait.  They’ve been doie058f-barbarajeancoast27sbookjpgng interviews, reviews, lining up personal appearances, finding local markets and venues to bring my Poppy Cove Mysteries to the people.  Oh yes, and working on book three in the series (the followup to DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN) — it’s coming, but still very much a work in progress.  There’s a few tentative titles in mind, but nothing that sticks yet.  All this activity is enough to make a fictional pen name wacky, but you already knew that about me.   It has been great fun and there’s more on the horizon, but every now and then a girl has to retreat and rebuild for just a little while.

As with any other people, Andrea and Heather have full plates, spinning in all directions at once.  Familial concerns, financial juggling,peachland day jobs, and just basic routine of keeping it all together can sometimes be a real challenge.  This week, they looked at refueling the creative tanks and took a  lovely day for themselves.  They live in the Okanagan Valley, and for those of you who are not familiar, it truly is a four season paradise that shouldn’t beTheo's taken for granted.  So they played hooky — such fun!  It was such a glorious day — not a cloud in the sky, warm sun and just a hint of September freshness in the air.  Most of the tourists were gone, so that meant a peaceful quiet beach in Peachland, a loooong lunch in Penticton at Theo’s (THE Greek restaurant, a classic favorite that rivals any of the swell spots they’ve been to anywhere), touring through Naramata and picking uNaramatap a local hearty red wine to go with grilled steak and dinner on a fall evening, way into the night, as music played, stars twinkled and votives burned down.

They also went on a library crawl, one of their favorite things to do.  The Okanagan Regional Library system is vast, with over twenty branches and a huge and easily accessible collection.  They went to four different branches, carrying out armloads of books (they could start their own location; if what you are looking for is not on the shelf, e-mail me, they probably have it).   Not only was it great to bring home so many worlds and stories, but to see the books of so many friends and fellow authors was a real kick and made them chortle and smile as they walked through the stacks.

What did all of this do for them?  It quieted their racing minds and speeding hearts.  It gave open space in their souls and made them each remember a little about who each of them are — a spiritual being having a human experience, without the labels of who they are in the rank of social, professional and familial hierarchy, and to break away from the shoulds and shouldn’ts for just a little while.  The individual silences and light banter felt like a weight being lifted off.

The next day was back to all kinds of business, monkey and otherwise, but the feeling of peace is still there.  I heartily encourage each and everyone of you to take such a day, as often as you can manage.  It’s one of the glorious things that make life worth living.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, De-stressing, Humor, Inspiration, Libraries, Love, Mysteries, New Authors, Patience, Pen Names, Perspective, Public Libraries, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Self Esteem, Socializing, Travel, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And You Know I Just Love to Hob Nob….

Hi there, guys and dolls!  This week I had the opportunity be a guestLeanne Dyck's blog on the ever popular and talented Leanne Dyck’s blog.  Or rather the two behind me, Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff, confabbed all about being me and the Santa Lucia social set.  Leanne is an accomplished and prolific writer. Within the last five years, Leanne Dyck has been published in Island Writer, Kaleidoscope, Canadian Stories, Icelandic Connection and Island Gals magazines.  Her blog –http://authorleannedyck.blogspot.ca/ was created about four years ago and she posts twice a week — Monday is her own Author Journey, sharing her experiences with the goal of working with a publisher to release her short stories and novels. Friday she features her Guest Post, where she graciously helps to promote those in the publishing industry–authors, publishers, editors, and…  Please help nurture this blog by visiting, subscribing, commenting and promoting it.  Here are some additional links to get to know Leanne a bit better. Website:  www.leannedyck.com, Blog; http://authorleannedyck.blogspot.ca/, Tweeter:@lustfulgraces and Email: leanne@leannedyck.com.

So kittens, settle on in and enjoy our visit.

Meet the fun-loving Barbara Jean Coast, author of the Poppy Cove Mystery Series

The Poppy Cove Mystery Series is set in 1950’s – 60’s Santa Lucia, California, a fictional town loosely based on Santa Barbara.  The two main characters, Daphne Huntington-Smythe, a born and bred fun-loving California blonde is the accessories buyer and Margot Williams, a recent arrival with a contemplative nature, custom designs the store’s apparel.  Both in their mid 20’s, run and own their two and a half year old atelier Poppy Cove in the centre of town, where Poppy Lane and Cove Street meet, catering to a host of colourful customers.

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Blurb:  It’s the 1950’s in Santa Lucia, California, and the height of the social season.  Time for the new Miss Santa Lucia, Nora Burbank, to display her loveliness at a high society fashion show produced by the city’s own fashionistas–Margot and Daphne, owners of Poppy Cove, the most elegant and “in” little dress shop in the county.

Nora steals the show in her designer gown and custom-made necklace created by local jeweler Isaac Mendelson, and used on the sly by his apprentice son-in-law, Efrem Goldberg. At the conclusion of the show, the young queen is allowed to keep her dress and a replica of the necklace for her own. But Monday morning, Efrem arrives in a panic at Poppy Cove to beg Margot and Daphne’s assistance in tracking down the real necklace, which he believes was inadvertently switched for the replica backstage. The girls get involved in Efrem’s dilemma and try to help him before Isaac’s any the wiser. But before that can happen, Miss Santa Lucia is found dead in her bed and the necklace is missing.

Who killed Nora Burbank?  Is it someone jealous of her new royal position and all of its perks?  Or did she just happen to be in the way when a thief attempted to steal her diamond-studded necklace? Did Nora have the real or the fake necklace, and how much did the thief and murderer know about it? But, of course, before the girls can find the killer, they’ll have to create several beautiful ensembles, calm numerous irate clients, and flirt with their ever-so-attentive boyfriends, before solving this mystery.

The second of the series has just been released – DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN. Miss Santa Lucia, Nora Burbank, appears in the fall fashion show wearing a show stopping beautiful formal gown from Poppy Cove and a diamond necklace from a local jeweller. Poor Nora meets a surprising demise one night shortly thereafter and the gems are also missing. Motives abound – is the tragic murder over her title, beauty, or the diamonds?

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It’s the follow-up to STRANGLED BY SILK, which begins at the opening ceremony of the new Stearns Academy, an exclusive girls’ boarding school, founded by the town doyenne Constance Stearns-Montgomery, who is nowhere to be seen, until the silk scarf tangled in the rose bushes leads to her strangled body. Cozy Cat Press publishes the series. The stories themselves are character driven, revealing the lives and secrets of the residents, how they evolve, change and what they’ve lived through, rounded out with the Poppy Cove creations and daily workings of the town, with a little murder and mayhem tossed in the mix.

Our names are Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff.  We’ve been the best of friends since childhood and currently reside in Kelowna, British Columbia.  We spend a great deal of time in the Santa Barbara area, which inspired our tales.  We’ve had a lot of people asking us about what it’s like to collaborate and work together, who contributes what, how do you combine two perspectives to make one cohesive story that flows well and makes sense.

We talk.  Out loud.  A lot.  Sometimes at the same time. We laugh.  A lot.  We find that as we bounce around ideas, a new direction comes into view with a plot twist, and a new scene develops.  Usually when one of us gets stuck, the other spurs on a new situation and it switches all the time.  On the whole, we share the vision for the concept of our series of stories.  We both individually have a great love and passion for the place, the time, the social aspects, the clothes, the community we’re creating.  Work shared is work halved and we’re discovering sometimes when one of us gets an idea of a group of character traits, mannerisms, attitudes, appearance and runs with it, it becomes one of our beloved characters.  Another time someone else will see in their mind’s eye an ensemble that begs to be described or a situation that must be explored with our fine Santa Lucians.  A town gets built, weather and climate described, plot formed.  It gets written out, honed and then incorporated in the story, tossed or set aside for a later date.

The pen name Barbara Jean Coast became this terrific reflection of the time and place.  Once it popped out, it had to stay.  She’s a social butterfly, a flirty throwback party girl, fun loving and delightful, without a care in the world.  To her, every problem can be solved with a wink and a smile, all while wearing kitten heels and sipping a cocktail with a fine young man.

Having this lovely alter ego take charge of the process helps us keep focused on telling the tales, living life, not worrying about the small growing steps and stumbles.  Whenever we get too caught up, stressed out or too serious about the whole darn thing, we stop, look at each other and say, “What would Barbara Jean do?”  Then we have a good laugh at ourselves, relax, take a deep breath, maybe pour a glass of wine or two and put our feet up, all the while counting the blessings for the great lives we already do have.
Well then, thanks for joining me on the Barbara Jean refresher course!  And be sure include Leanne in your circle.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

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So What’s Happening Today, Barbara Jean?

Cover Hi ResHi there, guys and dolls!  And wordpress, thanks for asking.  Let’s see, on this day in September, 1957 (the 7th, to be precise), Santa Lucia was still all agog over the recent murder of town doyenne Constance Stearns-Montgomery  (check out the whole story in STRANGLED BY SILK).  Stearns Academy was set to open shortly, with the town doing their best to honor their fine lady and look toward the future.  Daphne, Margot and the rest of the Poppy Cove gang were coping in the finest fashion they knew hoDeath_of_a_Beauty_Queen_1600x2400_(Ebook)w.  Good thing, because glamor in the form of the social event was around the corner.  Little did they know a new tragedy was hot on its heels (DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN gives all the sordid details).  Sigh, life can be such a trial for fictional characters.

In the real world, all the cool cats and kittens were dancing pat_booneand romancing to Pat Boone’s LOVE LETTERS IN THE SAND, Paul Anka’s DIANA and Debbie Reynold’s TAMMY.   They could also be caught moving and grooving to The Cricket’s THAT’LL BE THE DAY and Elvis Presley’s (LET ME BE YOUR) TEDDY BEAR.  Feel like doing a little reading?  How about Meyer Levin’s COMPULSION, James Gould Couzzens’ BY LOVE POSSESSED, or the ever popular Grace Metalious’ PEYTON PLACE?

How about a night at the movies?  The highly underrated, intriguing romance, WOMAN IN A DRESSING GOWN was worth the price of admission and one of my all time favorites, THE PAJAMA GAME whorled its way through my heart with its soaring colors and crinQUATERMASS-IIolines.  THE SUN ALSO RISES had great dramatic tension and the goofy thriller QUARTERMASS II:  ENEMY FROM SPACE will make you cuddle closer to your date.  Care for a night in?  It was the golden age of television.  There was PERRY MASON, THE GALE STORM SHOW and GUNSMOKE to fill the evening hours.  You could even move the coffee table and roll up up the rug dancing along with LAWRENCE WELK’S DODGE DANCING PARTY.

However you choose to spend your evening, be sure to include the fine company of good friends.  I’ll toast a glass to you :-).

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

Posted in 1950's, 50's Movies, 50's Novels, 50's television, Alter Ego, Authors, Characters, Classic Movies, Classic Television, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, Dating, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Humor, Inspiration, Mysteries, Nostalgia, Pen Names, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Romance, Socializing, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leslie Takes 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Well, it’s hard to believe, but I’ve been Taking 5 for a full year now with my Cozy Cat Press fellow authors.  It’s been such a pleasure getting to know my fellow writers as we pursue our ‘novel’ adventures.  Today, I’m sitting down for a chat with one of the first authors I’ve had the pleasure to connect with when I signed on with the group — Leslie Matthew Stansfield.  Her Madeline’s Teahouse Mysteries are a delight, full of mystery and margaritas — what more could yours truly want?  Her second (and latest) in the series just came out — MR. TEA AND THE BOBBIN’ BODY.   Time for all of you fine folks to sit down and enjoy the delightful company that Lee provides.

81xMBPmnZKL._SL1500_1. So tell me a little about your series and main characters.

The main characters are from a small town in Maine. The Sutter sisters, Terry and Karen, have opened a teahouse after the death of their mother, Madeline. Their aunt and uncle, Aunt Rose and Uncle Henry, live next door. Their neighbor, Shannon Dindle, works at the teahouse. Mrs. Dindle is her mother. Terry’s love interest is a police detective named Greg Mullins. Shannon is involved with another detective and close friend of Greg’s, Tom O’Hara. The main attraction is a macaw named Mr. Tea. He is prone to saying some of the most outlandish things. He is rumored to be psychic, but it’s hard to tell if he is just chatting or trying to tell them something.

2. What is your writing process like? Do you thrive on routine or work spontaneously as the whim takes you?

I prefer routine, but I go with it whenever the inspiration strikes. I joke with my friends that I walk around constantly thinking about how to kill people in a cozy way.

3. What exciting moment or moments that made you realize that you were really an “author?”

Oh, I still have to pinch myself. I believe that networking with other authors and having my second book in the Madeline’s Teahouse series published has helped me believe it’s real. I don’t think people realize how much authors do besides write. We do quite a bit of our own promoting, we review books, we often have blogs, and we do signings. Writing is really only a small part. My favorite part is book signings. I adore talking to people and sharing my stories with them. I don’t think there is any thrill quite like having someone post on my Facebook page or Goodreads that they loved my book. It’s better than Christmas!

4. What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?

If I am stuck, I write things down in a notebook. That helps me tremendously. It makes me sad that many schools no longer teach students cursive because they assume the students will always use a computer. I think that’s a mistake. I definitely create better if I can write things out.

5. Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?

My first introduction to the cozy mystery genre was Lilian Jackson Braun’s series The Cat Who… When she passed away, I was devastated. I really felt like I lost a friend. I am now a HUGE M.C. Beaton fan. I count the days to the next Agatha Raisin or Hamish Macbeth book. For me, it’s about the characters. I prefer books where I fall in love with the characters. I also like characters that make me laugh. If a new Agatha Raisin book came out every day, I would find a way to read it. Because of these two women authors, I wanted to write mysteries that had you riveted by the story and loving the characters as well. I think it’s the characters that keep readers wanting more. I also enjoy making people laugh. I am delighted when people tell me that Mr. Tea made them laugh out loud. Finally, I feel very blessed to be part of the Cozy Cat Press family. I know that every time I open up a new Cozy Cat book, I am guaranteed a good read. I feel honored to be among them.

And I certainly enjoy your Madeleine’s Teahouse Mysteries and can’t wait for the next one!  You can get to know Leslie and her writing better by checking out her page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/LeslieMatthewsStansfield, Twitter @MrTeaauth and a brand new website:  She also has a brand new website:  http://lesliematthewsstansfield.weebly.com/.  You can also go straight for the goods on Amazon and enjoy MR. TEA AND THE BOBBIN’ BODY this weekend!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Authors, Blogs, Characters, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, Dialogue, e-publishing, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Humor, Indie Presses, Inspiration, Interviews, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Perspective, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gee, What a Swell Party!

boneyard logoHi there guys and dolls!  A couple of weeks ago, yours truly had a super duper little shindig thrown by BetsyBean LatteDa and Boneyard Coffee and Tea to celebrate my latest (DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN).  I was tickled that so many of you attended our Cof-Tea-l Party.  Thank you so much — it was such great fun :-)!Heather Cof-Tea-l

Andrea Cof-Tea-lMy alter egos, Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff dressed for the occasion.   There were some beautiful frocks and fancy dudes around — so glamorous.  We had a very special guest go out and buy a dress for the event, and another baked yummy treats.  I was so busy flitting from one confab to another, relishing my social butterfly role.

 

 

party guyThis swell guy brought along a fantastic bartender, who bared a strong resemblance to Guy Lombardo.  It got a little exciting, too as the dancing began and a Bartenderjealous cat fight broke out.  Fortunately, it was smoothed over by more men showing up to the dance floor.  And, of course, being that the majority of the attendees were mystery readers and/or writers, someone had left something suspicious lying around that everyone speculated about, yet no one wanted to claim….

I10352142_10152577825891585_3060474945485881746_nt was the event of the season.  Of course, this is how I woke up the next morning, having these crashers surveying the mess…  See you around for the next one — be there or be square ;-)

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Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

Posted in 1950's, 1950's California, 50's Fashions, Alter Ego, Authors, Characters, cocktails, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, Drinks, Etiquette, fashion, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Holiday Parties, Humor, Mysteries, New Authors, Nostalgia, Parties, Publicity, Readers, Reading, Socializing, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment