Dream a Little Dream with Me

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Golly, a writer’s life (like all others) has many facets. There’s practicalities and logistics, taxes and finances and various other sundries I’d rather not deal with or think about. Lovely, well meaning but nosy people asking questions about quantifying your time, “So how many books are you selling, little lady?” and “How much do you make per hour doing this?” and the like can make you want to throw your precious martini right back in their faces as you smile and nod, all the while politely ignoring them and wanting to either give them a hotfoot or ask them when are they going to have that growth removed from between their shoulders.

Sometimes boiling down the details can be defeating and can kill creative projects.  But realize you are already doing what you are doing, regardless of how it looks.  Life has a funny way of working out when you don’t analyze it to death. So when it looks too much like everything you’ve left behind or walked away from, why don’t you dream a little dream with me?

bfef1-barbarajeancoast27sbookMy girls have some things in the works, waiting to hear word. They’ve got A NATE TO REMEMBER, book three in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series (following up STRANGLED BY SILK and DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN), coming soon, as well as branching out to other personal appearances lining up. More in the series will be written, as well as a new series being plotted out, with connections to the Santa Lucians.

It all starts with a dream, a plan, thinking big, if you like. Yes, mundane and responsible tasks must be attended to, e058f-barbarajeancoast27sbookjpgbut all in the name of creating and living the dream. Sometimes we humans forget that, and get caught up in the details, living the paperwork and numbers first, clawing for more, and forgetting why we such things. Get them done on time, with accuracy and necessity, but no further focus. And get back to your dream.

Do think big, do write in your journal, laugh, write and talk it out, make notes, follow your inspiration and let it lead you. It may take time, it may not all come to full fruition, but it will help you achieve and create, opening up doors and windows that can remain shut in a closed and frightened mind. Life is lived in a series of focus and choices, and how do you want to do it?  Where do you want your head and heart to dwell? Obsessing over numbers, shortcomings and insecurities, or do want to find ways to reach new readers, appreciating those who already support you and repeating your strengths of successes to new places of a wider audience?

Fussing and worrying takes up time, just like dreaming and planning. I know which I prefer and encourage.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Blogs, books, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Fiction, Inspiration, Mysteries, Perspective, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Week That Was…

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Whew, well the girls have given me quite the week.  Sit back and I’ll tell you all about it.  Oh, and for those of you who didn’t hear10455655_10200454759328162_3764048650690013935_n the news, the blog posts have changed from Sundays to Mondays, as yours truly needs to recoup and regroup at least once a week.  Otherwise, I’ll end up like this, even without the dutch courage….

Anyhoo, onto my week!  The girls, Andrea and Heather, that is — were very busy.  They had their first (of many) Author Event/Book Signing at the Chapters Kelowna location an it went swell.  They saw some old friends and made some new, and looked just darling.  The girls had spent some time over the last few weeks scouring their local stores to get fabric to make some lovely 50’s fashions, and have Fabricland West Kelowna, Poppin’s in Pentiction and Cherry Tree Quilts in Summerland to thank. Everyone was so delightful.  Here’s a picture of what they picked up.  Also, they’ll be adding accessories, so no doubt a lovely visit with Angie at Georgie Girl will be happening shortly :-).WIN_20150320_163604

So while Heather was busy making two dresses and a jacket on a brand new machine, Andrea was busy preparing to send the manuscript of book number three to my publisher, Cozy Cat Press.  I am happy to announce that this is what Patricia Rockwell, editor and owner of the press had to say. “Far and away, you best work to date!  The writing is concise, the plot is riveting, and the characters become far more real in this one than before.” A NATE TO REMEMBER is coming to life shortly!  I’ll share more news as I have it.  In the meantime, here are the Kindle links to STRANGLED BY SILK (Book One) and DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN (Book Two) to get caught up.  Among other places, signed trade paperback copies are also still available at the Chapters Kelowna, Pulp Fiction Coffee House, Georgie Girl, Wine Kitz on Pandosy and Hooked on Books, in the Okanagan.

Also, the ladies are very busy lining up other events, including two public appearances at Hooked on Books in Penticton and very big news coming from the Okanagan Regional Library, as well as some other ideas that are just to dreamy to nail down quiteDSCN2693 (3) yet.  Suffice it to say, life’s very spiffy right now… I’ll leave you with this, a picture of Heather (left) and Andrea (right) at their event, in their new spring dresses.

Toodles, 

Barbara Jean

 

Posted in 1950's California, 50's Fashions, 50's Novels, Alter Ego, Authors, books, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, ebooks, Etiquette, fashion, Fiction, First Novel, Indie Presses, Libraries, Mysteries, New Authors, Pen Names, Public Libraries, Publicity, Readers, Reading, Socializing, Uncategorized, Unpublished, Vintage, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Emma Takes 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls! Can you believe another month… now wait a minute, of course you can’t, because it hasn’t! Yours truly has just decided it would be nice to 91eSaD4E-KL._SL1500_change things up a bit and feature another Cozy Cat Press author pal in my favorite type of blog post. For those of you who haven’t met, let me introduce to you my good friend, Emma Pivato. She’s written three books in her Claire Burke Mystery Series and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them all.  The latest is ROSCOE’S REVENGE and it’s a real humdinger. All of the books have a great sense of travel and adventure, as well as some interesting characters who we should all get to know better. By the way, I was tickled when I came across a lovely surprise in the newest tale. Now you know I won’t say, you’ll just have to get the book and find out what it is. In the meantime, have a seat and find out about my dear chum!

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

The Claire Burke Mystery Series was conceived as a way to satisfy several passions of mine simultaneously:

1. I love puzzles and mysteries and bending one’s brain to figure out a solution. I enjoy crossword puzzles and have read hundreds (and maybe thousands) of mystery stories in my life.

2. I enjoy humor and seeing the light side of life and figuring out ways to turn difficulties into challenges and, ultimately, into mildly amusing road bumps on the road of life (and forgetting about the hard part)..

3. But the really big reason is my need to show people with a variety of cognitive and physical challenges as real and worthwhile and interesting people who form part of the fabric of society just like you and me.

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

I am no good with routine. The ideas build up inside me until I can’t stand it any longer, everything else that MUST BE DONE has more or less been done and then I run away and write where nobody knows me and I don’t owe anything to anybody.

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

Sometimes I reread some of my stuff and I just know it is good and I feel a little thrill down my back – and at those moments I know I am really an author and I actually have something to say that is worth saying.

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

Rest and escape from the daily grind of preoccupations and duties.

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

Agatha Christie, Elizabeth George, Dorothy Sayers, M.C. Beaton, – and, unfortunately, the rest I forget. I read them, enjoy them, forget to write down the author’s names and then can never find the series again. Pathetic! I have been influenced by these and may others – L.M. Montgomery, A. J. Cronin, Tolkien just to name three – by the way they bring characters to life and make you think about life. I wanted to do that.

Thanks again for taking the time for a spring social tea with me, Emma.  It’s always such a pleasure to be in your fine company.  And friends, be sure to check out ROSCOE’S REVENGE and her other Claire Burke Mysteries.  Also, do visit her bio on the Cozy Cat Press site and her brand new website www.claireburkemysteries.com.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

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Diane Takes 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Well, the month is marching out.  My goodness!  It’s time for my favorite blog posts, the Take 5 interview.  This month, we have a very special guest, Diane Weiner, who has just published her third book in her Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mysteries, MURDER IN THE MIDDLE.  We invite you to join our celebratory chinwag and bubbly 81OSQhTabeL._SL1500_toasting.  Please enjoy getting acquainted such a lovely and talented lady!

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

My series is the Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mysteries. The main character is a newly retired music teacher, Susan Wiles, who finds herself searching for a meaningful hobby and a way to still feel like a productive member of society. She tries knitting, scrapbooking, vegan cooking….nothing sparks her interest. Then one day, she goes back to her school to hear her former students perform at the holiday concert. During the intermission, the principal is called upon to give a little speech, but no one can find her. Susan, trying to be helpful, runs to the principal’s office and discovers her former boss dead on the floor. A half-eaten Funfetti cupcake sits on the desk. Now this was an interesting way to pass the time. Solving murders. She’d found her calling.

Susan is happily married to Mike, an all-around good guy. She has a detective daughter, Lynette, who is married to Jason, a college professor. Her son Evan is away at medical school, but appears briefly in book three and has a bigger role in book four. Access to a detective and a medical student are valuable tools in solving murders.

Lynette and Mike are not in favor of Susan’s crime solving escapades. Mike worries about her safety, while Lynette doesn’t appreciate the interference in police business. Throughout the series, the theme of the mother/daughter relationship is explored, both with Susan and Lynette, constantly in conflict, and Susan and her mother. I don’t want to give too much away here as there are some interesting turns regarding this issue.

Each book in the series involves a crime related to a school. In MURDER IS SECONDARY, Susan helps her husband’s friend, a chemistry teacher, clear his name. In MURDER IN THE MIDDLE, Susan’s former colleague has become principal of a middle school. He calls on her help when the bookkeeper disappears from her ransacked office. I am currently writing MURDER IS PRIVATE, where Susan goes to Florida to solve a murder at a private performing arts school to help out a family member.

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

While raising four kids and working full time as a teacher (and earning both masters and doctorate degrees while working), I wouldn’t have survived if I didn’t stick to a schedule. I thrive on routine. I plot out the arc of my books before I begin writing, and decide what big event I want to occur one third of the way, and then two thirds of the way through the book. It helps keep the story from sagging. Before I write each chapter, I write out the events that need to occur to plant clues, develop characters, and move the story along. Then I sit at the computer, get into Susan’s head, and the dialogue takes care of itself. I make a list of suspects, but sometimes change my mind as to who the murderer is as I write the story. I try to throw in enough red herrings to make it interesting.

During the summer and on breaks from school, I can write all day long and love it. During the school year, I try to write most days after dinner, stopping when Jeopardy comes on. Watching Jeopardy with my husband is almost a ritual in our house.

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

When Patricia Rockwell at Cozy Cat Press sent me an acceptance letter, I felt like a real author. Seeing the book covers and holding the actual books in my hand also makes me feel like an author. When I got the proof copy of MURDER IS ELEMENTARY, I actually took pictures of it from different angles and with different backgrounds like I did when each of my kids was born.

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

I get my best writing ideas while running. Something about nature and the rhythmic pace of running spurs my creativity. Of course, sometimes I come up with what I think is brilliant, then I go home and write it down or explain it to my husband only to find I was being a little delusional.

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

I’ve always loved mysteries. Nancy Drew books had me hooked at hello. I love Mary Higgins Clark because she is so suspenseful and you really worry about the damsel she has put in distress. Jodi Picoult is one of my very favorite writers. I’ve read just about everything she has written. Her words are so beautifully put together and she explores real and controversial issues faced by society.

Thanks for sharing your world with me, Diane.  It was a pleasure!  And folks, be sure to check out MURDER IN THE MIDDLE (and the rest of the Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mysteries) on Kindle.  Also visit her website at www.dianeweinerauthor.com and follow her on Twitter.  She also has a fab and fun book trailer for her latest on Youtube. And again, congratulations, Diane!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

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Why so Glum, Chum?

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Andrea and Heather are taking over the post once again.  We’re in the final round of edits of book number three in our Poppy Cove Mystery Series.  It’s been a pleasure to write it, and it’s a story we knew we wanted to tell right from the early planning days of the Santa Lucia social set.  We are so looking forward to bringing it to you.  We’ll share more about it in upcoming posts, we promise.

It’s been an exciting time for us.  We’re getting ready to do some personal appearances and putting plans in motion, which for us includes planning out our outfits, and we’ve also been very happy to get our story out in a readable fashion.  But a funny thing happened.  We were sitting, writing conversing as we do, and all of a sudden a strange anxious, restless mood took over both of us, and we could not explain it.  Then we realized what had happened.  We were writing a scene in the new book where one of the main characters was at loose ends and we had taken on her emotions, her ennui and frustrations.  We had to laugh and dove into her feelings, describing further what she did and her thoughts. It certainly had happened before — a writer can’t help but feel, imagine, empathize with their characters, but this was the first time it had been that intense, that contradictory to how we were feeling in our own moods that day.

We became more aware of it as we moved through various scenes and situations over the next few days.  Happy, intense, sad, scary.  It was truly an amazing experience of viewing life through someone else’s eyes.  Fictional characters may be made up, conglomerates of character traits or impressions of others, but to us, the writers, (and at times, as readers) the characters feel real.  Their emotions, plights, gaffes, misadventures and joys feel real.  They cause us to react, think, and develop care and concern for their ‘lives.’ This adventure of writing is turning out to be the ride of our lives, both imagined and unexpected.  Thank you so much for being along for the journey.

Warm Regards,

Andrea and Heather

aka Barbara Jean

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Wherever the Story Takes You

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Andrea and Heather here.  We’ve put in some really great days writing, we’re happy to report.  Over the past couple of years, there were so many fits and starts as we were telling our Poppy Cove Mysteries.  Sometime life takes us off in all directions, with so many more demands than time, on things and tangents that we did not want to have to be on.  The last few weeks have been wonderful to concentrate and delve headlong into Santa Lucia, for days on end. As we’ve been sitting, talking, typing, deleting, cut and pasting and then re-typing, we have been amazed at the sheer journey of writing our own novel.  There are times we feel as much on the discovery of what we write as well as read.

We’ve had a solid outline for this story and knew what we wanted to happen (we’ve known for this one for years, to be honest).  And of course, being that this is the third novel in the series, we’ve been able to experience the creative process of seeing a project completed, but this is the first time we have been able to not work in fits and starts, but one, long journey, and it’s been lovely.  Exhausting, but wonderful.  The neatest thing?  Is where the story takes you.

As we were writing through the major plot outline, the excitement that we shared as we came up with new twists, turns, plot points, small details, and the time to go with them, to add a new layer, filling out the whole journey while being able the next day to come back and stay on track, not lose our place and have to mentally catch up or recap before starting another writing session.  It’s been all about writing down the words, going until the day is done, getting proper rest and leisure, and starting right back up again, knowing right where we left off.  We found, being able to focus, it’s been easier to stay on our game, not being sidelined or knocked off, only to spend a day or two getting back on course. Once again, thank you for being on our journey with us.  We do our best to keep you not only in Barbara Jean’s but our world as well.

Warm Regards,

Andrea and Heather

aka Barbara Jean

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Quick as the Speed of Molasses!

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Andrea and Heather here.  We’re working diligently on book three and happy with the progress.  Layer by layer, a clue here, a nasty deed there, oh, and look — a new spring dress!  Such fun and can’t wait to share it with you all.  As most of you know, Poppy Cove Mystery Series is set in the past, the late ’50’s for now and then into the ‘6o’s which makes for an interesting way to relate to modern day life, that is, modern day life in the recent past.

When telling tales of murder and mayhem, news plays a big part in the story.  In our lives today, we receive news instantaneously, sometimes it’s even correct and accurate!  Tweets, Instagrams, News Feeds spew out stories while they’re happening, which has its good and bad points, as they are usually repeated multiple times with tweaking and corrections or just overplayed to fill up space.  Print takes a backseat to the electronic world. But for the Santa Lucians in our stories, that’s not how it works.  We also happen to have as one of the major characters, Loretta Simpson, who is the society editor of the local newspaper, The Santa Lucia Times, a good Poppy Cove customer and fellow sideline sleuth.  Along with her tag along photographer Jake Moore and her arch rival for print space Michael Weathers, tell the breaking news of what happens in the town. It’s how it was then.  Television news was just beginning to make an impact and the radios were filled with the battle cry of “News Flash” — a quick sound bite of details with drama and impact, and had details to follow in a whirling wind of words that could fit between songs, soap operas and ads.  Newspapers would have the images, interviews, headlines and full stories, and of course, the “stop the presses” events.  However, they would be a half or full day later reaching the public than the event itself.

So it is in our stories.  The events happen, then they reach the public later, at the speed of newspaper presses, not wireless waves.  As we were writing this week, we questioned to ourselves in the passages, “What has happened, and what do the people of Santa Lucia know about what happened?”  Gossip aside, of course.  It’s not the only device used to tell a story, but it adds a layer of development and complexity to how the clues are presented, and who knows what, who’s assuming what and who’s hiding what.  And it keeps us on our toes!

Happy Writing and Reading,

Andrea and Heather

Posted in Blogs, books, Characters, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Fiction, Inspiration, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Perspective, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Well Barbara Jean, You’ve Gone and Done it Now…

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Earlier this year, I spoke about having new priorities in the bright and shiny new year.  Well, I’m happy to announce that my girls have taken a crucial leap into my world and they’re loving every minute of it!

You see, as they started telling my Santa Lucia tales in the Poppy Cove Mysteries, they found they were really enjoying it, and not only the writing, but talking to people, sharing the stories with others and yours truly’s joie de vivre attitude was shaping their own thoughts on success and the way they wanted their lives to go.  Along the way, they were rapidly learning about not only writing down the words, but bringing the stories to kindred spirits  to read and become involved in in their own hearts and minds.  And also, how great it is to discuss other cozy writers and books, and speaking about the genre as a whole.   Then the love of the fashions and lifestyle written in the books has been boiling a whole other kettle of fish in the background.

The more and more the girls thought about what they wanted to achieve, the more and more tricky it was becoming to stay in their current day jobs.  As much as they had a lovely time conversing and associating with the public in their workplace, and so value the friends they have made and the support they have given the girls over the years, with some of the people becoming very special in their lives,  they knew it was time to shift.  Opportunities to become more involved in writing events and public speaking, both on line and in person were turning up, only to have to be turned down or postponed for conflicts of scheduling, and exhaustion was becoming a usual phase as their candles were burning in so many places, there was no wick left at the middle, never mind ends!

The world of the positive ‘what ifs’ began to become more than just a daydream.  As soon as the decision to put creativity first, opportunities started lining up.  Not only writing the Poppy Cove books (yes, number three is close), promoting them, starting other series, personal signings, appearances are taking priority, but the ethereal other ‘if we only had time’ pursuits are finding ground in day to day reality.  Andrea and Heather are learning to be open to what great things can happen when you say yes and panic later, if in fact there’s time for that.  Stay tuned — in the next month or so, the girls will be announcing personal appearances in the form of book signings and other related creative events they have now been taking time to develop.

And, dear readers and friends, from the bottom of my martini pitcher, I send you my gratitude for being here along for such a lovely, long happy hour!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Blogs, books, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Indie Presses, Inspiration, New Authors, Pen Names, Publicity, Publishing, Self Esteem, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

David Takes 5 With Barbara Jean

coverHi there, guys and dolls!  And here we are again — the last Sunday in the month.  Yowza, if any of you figure out where exactly that time evaporates to, please send yours truly a note.  In the meantime, settle on in for my favorite type of blog post.  Meet my good friend and fellow Cozy Cat Press author, David M. Selcer.  He writes the Buckeye Barrister Mysteries, and the most recent in the series is MUSCLES, MUSIC AND MURDER.  I personally have a great deal of affection for his main character, Winston Barchrist III, who will keep on trying, no matter what character building events life throws at him.  He may get challenged, but he is friends will see him through.  Do enjoy our confab as David and I get a little better acquainted.

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

The series is about a failed lawyer, Winston Barchrist III, who has fallen from the highest powered corporate law firm to doing easy divorces and defending penny ante criminals because of a failed disbarment proceeding against him.  He has no self-confidence as a result of his fall, and he has put on enough weight from his anxieties to ease him past the 350 mark. But big cases soon begin falling into his lap.  With the help of his friends, a professional computer hacker, a supportive girl friend, and a muscle bound bouncer, who acts as his protector, he solves the big cases.  These cases involve a gambling syndicate interfering with Ohio State football. Another concerns the murder of a lawyer with polonium; and the third involves the murder of the Maestro of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

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

I can only write when I feel like it, when I’m happy and not under stress.  My plots take shape while I’m in bed, and I have to get up and make notes.  From there, the story just comes out as I sit at my computer. But I cannot force myself to write.  I have no routine, but when I finally start writing, I go for a very long time before I stop.  Each time I start up again, I begin by revising to my satisfaction what has already been written.

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

I first realized I might be an author when I began laughing at what I had written.  Humor is a part of all my mysteries.  I actually realized I was an author when I chose to write rather than coming to the dinner table or going out.  It was very tough on my wife.

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

When I feel the well of inspiration is running dry, I stop writing.  To me, there is nothing worse than forced writing.  I know that sooner or later, I’m going to pick up what I’ve been doing and move forward.  There is only one piece I have written that I have trashed because it was no good.

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

My favorite mystery author is Stuart Kaminski, now deceased. Reading his stuff helped me learn how to write. He was a very prolific professor of communications and speech from Chicago who wrote books and screenplays. I like to write in the first person. That’s what Kaminski did.

Thanks for sharing your writing world with us, David.  Friends and fellow readers, do yourself a favor and join Winston in Columbus and everywhere else his cases take him.  With the great sense of humor and quirky characters, you’ll be glad to take the mystery adventures.  MUSCLES, MUSIC AND MURDER, as well as his other two earlier novels in the series are available on Kindle, as well as through all other major booksellers, or ask for them in your local book store.  Also check out the Cozy Mysteries Unlimited link to learn more about the Buckeye Barrister Mysteries and a great interview from Christopher Purdy.  Just click on the underlined passages to be taken to their links.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

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