Allen Takes 5 With Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Well, another month is coming to a close, if you can believe it.  Even though the summer’s flying by faster than mosquitoes and mojitos, I’ve found the time to Take 5 with another of my Cozy Cat Press pals, Al Boyer.  I suggest you find a few minutes and get to know my fellow writer and friend while swatting and sipping away the above mentioned m-words, respectively.  His latest book in the Bess Bullock Series, WHISPERS IN WINTER, is ideal to ward off the heat!

Whispers in winter1. So tell me a little about your series and main characters. 

The idea for the Bess Bullock Series was born from my visits to a retirement home not far from where I live.  A dear aunt was in the facility and during my visits I couldn’t help but notice the silence, the idle time and the question of what would happen if I took a character with a heightened
sense for observing people and put her in that setting.  The answer, for me, was that she would begin to see little mysteries and feel the urge to investigate them.  What I like about the series is how Bess has grown as a person in each book in terms of adjusting to retirement, falling in love in her golden years, coming to grips with her faith, and finding purpose in her life, Bess has learned a lot about herself in this series.

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

Starting a novel is very challenging for me.  I can only liken it to looking for the ramp to get on a highway.  The beginnings of a novel, for me, involves writing random scenes when the creative spirits strike.  Once I get a handle on the story, then the writing becomes more regular and those random scenes fall into place.  Once I know where the story is going, it becomes easier to write every day.

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

My first year in college I took a writing course.  At the end of the course the professor took me aside and spoke to me about a class he was assembling for writers he felt had natural ability.  There were only five of us in that class.  I had a feeling he saw something in my writing.  The following year I had the good fortune of having two short stories published by two national periodicals.  My professor was thrilled and that’s when I had a notion that I might have a future as a writer.  A few years later, when my first book was published by a national publisher, I could barely breathe when I received the news.

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

When I find my productivity on a manuscript is slowing up, music is a great motivator.  Classical music is typically playing when I’m working.  If there’s a specific mood or feeling I’m trying to convey with my writing, I’ll actually resort to instrumental music from soundtracks to help me.  I find it really lends to the process.  If it’s a scene or a sequence that I work on for a few days, playing the same piece of music really helps me get back into the zone before writing some more.

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

James Joyce has been the most influential writer for me.  The way Joyce uses language is still so fresh and original.  In my opinion, no one does description better than Joyce.  There is such value put into every word selection.  I keep a copy of Joyce’s THE DUBLINERS in my nightstand.  Whenever I read it, the stories really get my creative juices flowing.  Valuing words is what Joyce did best.  Perhaps that’s why THE DUBLINERS is celebrating one hundred years of its publication.  There’s a lesson for all writers to choose each word carefully when we write.

That’s a great message to leave our chat on, Al.  Friends, be sure to check out the Bess Bullock Series and learn more about Al and his writing at


Barbara Jean

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

The Fine People of Santa Lucia

Hi there, guys and dolls!  This week’s blog is about some of the more prominent people in Santa Lucia’s latest tale of murder and mayhem, DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN.  A couple of them had a brief mention in STRANGLED BY SILK, but there are some new faces as well.  Here’s a chance to get to know them a bit better.Death_of_a_Beauty_Queen_1600x2400_(Ebook)

Mr. Anthony and Todd — the proprietor of Mr. Anthony’s, a rather tony (pardon the pun) salon just around the corner from Poppy Cove.  The diminutive blonde Mr. is a sculptor of the most delightful bouffants and pageboys, albeit a little finicky and fussy.  He’s very involved with the grooming and deportment of the Miss Santa Lucia contestants, and has a habit of flouncing and flailing, with his sole mission in live to make the town lovelier, one woman at a time.  Todd, his lanky young assistant whose main purpose is to keep him in line while also being a fabulous make-up artist, is quite often seen trailing behind, smoothing down ruffled feathers.

Baroness Eva von Eissen — a new resident of Santa Lucia.  She is of vague European descent, with a strong aura of mystery surrounding her (as well as mothballs, to be honest).  She arrives heavily clad in dark, heavily corseted and Victorian garb, apparel and jewels handed down through her family relations, very out of date and inappropriate for our carefree California Coast life.  Her visits to Poppy Cove made life interesting for the girls.

Eddie — a new date for Irene and town weasel/thug.   A short, runty fellow with greaser hair and attire who provides Poppy Cove’s Manager some colorful nighttime entertainment.  He does, however, choose to rub everyone the wrong way, including Irene and gets a little too interested in Nora Burbank’s new necklace.

Nora Burbank — Miss Santa Lucia herself.  Sigh, such a lovely girl, doesn’t know what hits her.  A young wholesome lady with a few secrets of her own, our poor cover girl gets bumped off before we all barely knew her.  What can I say?  It’s a cozy mystery — someone had to get wronged…;-)!

Well there you have it, friends and readers.  Just a little smattering of the people you will get to know when you read DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN.  They’re waiting for you anytime, just click on the links to spend a little time with them in Santa Lucia.  You’re always welcome.


Barbara Jean

Posted in Uncategorized, Cozy Mysteries, Writing, Fiction, Authors, Publishing, e-publishing, Readers, 1950's, California, 1950's California, Cozy Mystery Series, Writers, First Novel, Nostalgia, New Authors, Newly Published, Alter Ego, Perspective, Pen Names, Creativity, Characters, Fictional Characters, Humor, Commitment, Mysteries, Beauty, Publicity, Communication, Socializing, Indie Presses, fashion, Vintage, Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Barbara Jean’s Dating Tips for 50’s Glamour Girls

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Today I’m going to share with you some tidbits of wisdom to help you navigate the waters out there.  The following tips are from our latest Poppy Cove Mystery — DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN.  Hope they help, or at least entertain yDeath_of_a_Beauty_Queen_1600x2400_(Ebook)ou!

· Out on a first date? Order the most expensive item on the menu, whether you like it or not. Watch his reaction – if he smiles, frowns or flinches, that’ll tell you if want to encourage further affections from said man.

· It’s okay to be a girl who kisses, but just don’t be one who tells. Even the best of the girls did and still do; they just knew how to keep their lips sealed. A grown woman should be allowed to get to know a man who she feels is worthy of her time.

· Know your fragrances and the purpose of wearing them. Youth Dew and Chanel No. 5 are appropriate for the initial How do you do? phase. Save Emeraude and Tabu for the intimate How did you do that? phase.

· Be a good sport. Surprise dating events add spice to a stale relationship. Fix a fancy meal on a Wednesday, go bowling in a ball gown or pick up the check. He’ll be flattered!

· Speaking of flattering, he doesn’t always have to be right, but every now and then, let him think he is. Be confident in your own mind that you know the truth of your own brilliance!

· Ready to move on to greener pastures? Take him to a swell party with plenty of people. Get him a drink, get him lost in a crowd, preferably of well girdled and well coiffed women and get into your own swing of things.

· Beware of falsies, fake eyelashes and other accoutrements, especially early on in the relationships. Test drive the padding, glues and heel heights around home and a trusty friend or two. Better for mishaps to happen in the privacy of your own home instead of out in public – a flying bust enhancer or spider-like eyelash trail down your cheek could scare away a potential keeper.

· A little harmless flirting never hurt anyone. Give yourself a sway in your step by winking at a construction worker today. Who knows, it may inspire him to get the building done on time and under budget!

· Always have him be the first to call back after the date. If he takes too long, call him ‘by accident’ (oops, wrong number, giggle and hang up). This action does not count, as it was in error. If by the third time he does not respond, take another dip into the gene pool.

· Still not sure what you want in a man? Play the field! Try dating men with different interests and backgrounds. Doctors, teachers, artists, musicians, accountants – have a little fun with them all. Remember, you can’t change them no matter how hard you try, but you can have a ball attempting it all the same.


Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's, 1950's California, Alter Ego, Authors, Beauty, Characters, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, Dating, e-publishing, Etiquette, fashion, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Humor, Indie Presses, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Nostalgia, Parties, Pen Names, Perspective, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Romance, Self Esteem, Socializing, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Hi there, guys and dolls!  For those of you who keep up with me on Facebook and Twitter, you know it’s been a very exciting time!  DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN, the follow-up to STRANGLED BY SILK in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series published by Cozy Cat Press, is now out on Kindle and trade from Amazon!  Barnes & Noble, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, Indiebound and the rest of the usual suspects will follow shortly over the next few months.  Thank you to those wonderful supporters and friends who have been so devoted.  Cheers and kisses to you all!

Here’s our lovely cover featuring Miss Santa Lucia, Nora Burbank before she doesn’t know what hits her.  Poor thing, sigh…


Here’s the 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. “

Well, it’s time for me to sign off.  Why don’t you take a little time this summer and come visit my friends in Santa Lucia?  They would love your company.  All you have to do is click on the titles or cover image and you can be transported back in time, thanks to Amazon and Kindle.  Enjoy:-).


Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's, 1950's California, 50's Fashions, Alter Ego, Authors, California, Characters, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, fashion, Fiction, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Indie Presses, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Nostalgia, Pen Names, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Romance, Santa Barbara, Vintage, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Glen Takes 5 With Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Well, it’s the last Sunday of the month, time for another edition of Take 5.  I am so happy to say that I found myself in the fine company of an utterly charming and handsome man, Glen Ebisch.  Glen has many novels under his belt, including his Marcie and Amanda series, with THE BLACK DOG being the most recent release with Cozy Cat Press.  So pour yourself a long, tall cool one and sit yourself down for a good chin wag!

1. So tell me a little about your series and main characters.91gh9bCahgL._SL1500_

My main characters are Amanda Vickers and Marcie Ducasse who are editors for
Roaming New England Magazine. Marcie writes the Weird Happenings column for the magazine, which covers apparently paranormal events that have happened in the New England area in the past and present. When the event is a recent one, Marcie, sometimes with Amanda’s help, is called up to do an onsite investigation, and she often finds that what appears supernatural is actually a very natural, if criminal, event. However, there is often a possible paranormal aspect that remains unresolved. In THE BLACK DOG, the most recent book in the series, Jerome Kronberg, a Wall Street investor currently under indictment for fraud, dies when he falls from a mountain after seeing the mythical Black Dog for the third time, and Marcie finds herself investigating to find out whether he was murdered or was actually the victim of a very old curse.

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

I often take a couple of months off between books to let thoughts float around and brainstorm for new ideas. But once I am writing, I try to keep to a routine that involves writing almost every morning. If I don’t look at what I am working on daily, I often lose my emotional connection to the story.

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

I suppose when my first book was published many years ago I felt validated, but actually I think you only feel that you’re an author when you are working on your next book. It is not something you’ve ever finally earned; you are constantly proving it over again to yourself.

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

I sit and think. I let ideas just come to the surface without examining where they have come from or whether they are suitable topics for a book. I write them down and over the course of a few weeks decide what themes may be tying them together. Then I try to fit them together into a coherent scene-by-scene outline of a story.

5. Who are some of your favorite authors?

When it comes to mystery writers, I am most influenced by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. This may seem odd because what I write are basically cozies, but I think this influence gives my stories a bit more of an edge than many others in the genre. Having been a professor of philosophy for much of my adult life, I suspect that some of the questions prominent in that field have also given my stories a thought provoking quality.

Glen, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you better.  I’m a big fan of Chandler and Hammett myself.  And friends, give yourself a little treat and pick up THE BLACK DOG and any (or all) of Glen’s fine work.  You’ll be glad you did!


Barbara Jean

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

Just When You Think You Know Someone…

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Well, things are rolling along for DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN (the follow-up to STRANGLED BY SILK) — in the refining stages of the proof copy.  I have to say that yours truly is head over heels in love with the cover.   I don’t mean to be a tease, but books, just like fine flowers, take time to grow and bloom before picking.  Will share as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I’ve been plotting out book three in the series (title yet to be determined).  I’ve been looking forward to telling this tale, but wanted all of you dear readers an opportunity to get to know the Santa Lucia set a little better before telling this tale of the character’s life.

I’ve known about the past of one of our Santa Lucians for a long, long time.  At least I thought I did.  I’m finding that as I listen to her voice dictate her experience, new facets, elements, and traits are showing up, in both predictable and surprising manners.  The beauty of writing is that as you unfurl the story and characters interact, they take new twists and turns.  As the author, I’m as much along for the ride as the reader!


Barbara Jean

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Blogs, Characters, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Indie Presses, Inspiration, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Patience, Pen Names, Perspective, Publishing, Readers, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Yes, Some of my Friends are Writers!

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Andrea and Heather here.  This week, we’ve had the good fortune to be featured in the blog of a terrific writer and fellow British Columbian, Leanne Dyck.  Her blog, Sweater Cursed, is great, so do yourself a treat and scroll through her posts of interviews, reviews, and general musings about the writing process.  We’re also pleased to say that on September 12th, we’ll be doing a full interview with Leanne.  In the meantime, below are some questions and answers she asked us to share with you about our writing.

What are you currently working on?

We are so excited to announce that our second Poppy Cove Mystery, DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN will be coming out very soon!  It’s formatted, blurbed, and has the most beautiful cover we have ever seen!  Almost ready for its public.   So, we’ve been lining up interviews and working on our promotional plans.   We’ve also started working on book three in the series.  A major character’s past comes in to haunt them.

How does our work differ from others of the genre?

Well, our genre is definitely cozy, so it’s without explicit sex, language, or violence, but we are unique in the fact that we are a historical series, set in the late 50’s and carrying through the 60’s as the stories continue, so we try to make it as authentic in the style of writing and cultural references from that era.

Why do we write what we do?

Because it’s fun and it’s as if a siren call has drawn us in.  We’d love to live in our world of Santa Lucia in its era and this gives us a chance to do so.  If we didn’t write about it, we’d probably be constantly babbling about it, so we figure we might as well get it down on paper and share it!

How does our writing process work?

We talk out loud a lot, laugh a lot, too.  We find it’s almost like writing a play.  We look at the overall story we want to tell, then break down the scenes as we go along, thinking about what needs to be said or happen in the scene, discussing it all the way through.  We take copious notes, then work on having it flow with narrative and description to balance out the events and actions.

Now, we do have some great author friends that we think you should check out:

Ritter Ames — writes two series, the fast-paced, light suspense Bodies of Art Mysteries and the cozy Organized Mysteries, both published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. She globe trots the world via her keyboard to create memorable characters and fascinating fiction, and her cat muse remains faithfully by her side—only voicing displeasure when the food bowl sits empty due to Ritter focusing more on writing than on kibble. Ritter also blogs at, and uses Pinterest to capture great places and ideas for both series. Find her on Facebook at and on Twitter @RitterAmes. The first book in each series is available now in all print and ebook formats. Book two in the cozy series, Organized for Homicide, will be available in late summer.

Don Bruns — is also a fascinating fellow.  An excerpt from his website about the man and his work, “Bruns’ books explore the seamy side of the music business, flipping the industry on it’s back and looking at the underbelly of power and corruption. Protagonist Mick Sever is a journalist who chronicles the history of rock and roll, and uncovers murder. ‘There’s enough crime, corruption, drugs, and slimy people in the music business to keep Mick Sever busy for a long time,’ Bruns says.”  Check out his website to learn more about Don, his novels, musings and other links.

Sue Cox — it’s a very exciting time for our dear friend Sue.  She about to be published for the first time as the winner of the 2014 Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books award for First Crime Novel.  Follow her journey on her blog

Kaye George  – is an Agatha-nominated mystery writer, writes several series: Imogene Duckworthy, Cressa Carraway (Barking Rain Press), People of the Wind (Untreed Reads), and, as Janet Cantrell, Fat Cat debuting in September (Berkley Prime Crime). Her short stories appear in anthologies and magazines as well as her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. Her reviews run in Suspense Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN.  Check out her website and blog at

George Jackson —  writes ebooks, nineteen so far. The Falls small town mystery series and Dragon World Series as well as the short stories in Tales From The Principal’s Bench and the children’s story, The Twilight Tea Party. He was a school teacher and principal for forty years. He has written all his life…just haven’t published until a couple of years ago.  Learn more about George, his books, and blog at

Happy reading, everybody!


Andrea and Heather aka Barbara Jean

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Blogs, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, Fiction, Guest Blogs, Interviews, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Nostalgia, Perspective, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Socializing, Uncategorized, Unpublished, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments