I Wonder About Them

Hi there, guys and dolls! Hope your summer has been going along swimmingly. Yours truly has been having such a fantabulous one, I’m always up to something.

Which makes me think about my Santa Lucians in my Poppy Cove Mysteries and what they do. Everyone’s got a story to tell; a past, present or future that shapes and defines them and here’s a few that have been amusing recently.

Daphne Huntington-Smythe – Our darling fair-haired girl. She seems to have had it all so A_Nate_To_Remembereasy in her young and carefree life. Now it’s starting to get to her after she realizes that almost everyone else has had some kind of dangerous fun. Tired of her pristine life, she’s thinking about what kind of decent trouble a girl like her could get into. She finds some in A NATE TO REMEMBER and I know there will be more to come in future tales.

Barbara Lewis -Poor Babs. She’s Nancy Lewis’ eldest daughter and such a sullen and sulky girl. She trails behind her mother, feeling misplaced and out of step compared to her mother and younger twin sisters (more on them later). Babs nags at me, pulls at my heart strings and gives me a little mischievous thrill when I think what she wants to get up to. Wait for it, it’s coming.

Loretta Simpson – Now why would a high flying gossip columnist hang up her heels in sleepy Santa Lucia? She keeps giving me hints of what her life was like in McCarthy era Hollywood. What was her past like? Hmm…

Irene Swanson – Another Los Angeles transplant. She got kicked out of the city for being a bad girl. Wonder what exactly she did? We sure do, and slowly but surely she’s telling me and then we’ll be sure to tell you, dear readers.

Betty Young – Such a sweet little thing, blissfully married to her sandwich eating Oldsmobile salesman Dwight. Always rushing home to get dinner on the table and being the perfect housewife. I’m thinking that girl’s bright enough to have further ambitions, and she’s starting to agree. I mean, just how many ways can a girl make a sandwich anyhow?

Betsy and Anita Lewis – Nancy’s twin daughters and also Barbara’s younger sisters. The identical girls have their own world and now that they have graduated from their private high school have way too much time on their hands and are sidling around Santa Lucia like a pair of Siamese cats. Don’t you just know they’re bound to be up to something.

Then there’s always Margot Williams, who we have unearthed her past in A NATE TO REMEMBER. She’s bound to have more to come in her life, as well as the rest of the swanky social set in my toddlin’ little town. Stay tuned, more misadventures and mayhem to come!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's California, 50's Novels, Alter Ego, Authors, book series, books, California, Characters, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Historical, Hollywood, murder mystery, Mysteries, Nostalgia, novels, Readers, reading, Social Mores, Socializing, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whatcha Watching?

Hi there, guys and dolls! How is your summer going? Don’t you just love it? I certainly do. And do you know what rounds out a fabulous day out in the sun, surf and sand? A fun movie from my time. Now, there are so many wonderful films out there and I’ve discussed a few previously, but here’s some more that I recently had the chance to see again. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could see these on a big drive-in screen cuddled up to the one you love under the stars?

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The Seven Year Itch – Poor guy, left alone in the city. What’s he to do with a temptation floating around like that?

picnic-movie-poster-1956-1010194247Picnic – What do you get when you mix a small town beauty, a lonely school teacher and a low life drifter? Why, trouble at an innocent little picnic.Summertime 0

Summertime – Katharine Hepburn stars as a woman in the autumn of her life enjoying a Venice summer romance. Stunning, both visually and emotionally, thanks to the direction of David Lean. (PS – the trailer has French subtitles, it was the best version yours truly could find and I think it adds a little charm SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER - American Poster 5to it too, n’est-ce pas?)

Suddenly, Last Summer – High drama, intrigue and steaminess. Doesn’t it make you want to know exactly what happened last sub30b238b8f011a1779036d0d527de2bfmmer? I sure did.

A Summer Place – A scandalous shocker of my day! Don’t let the bucolic and dreamy Percy Faith theme fool you. This one’s a real pot boiler.

Well there you have it, friends. I could just go on and on, but I’ll leave more for another time. Until then, happy viewing and I’ll get on with happy writing!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in 50's Movies, Classic Movies, Creativity, entertainment, Nostalgia, Pop Culture, Uncategorized, Vintage | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Whatcha Listening To?

Hi there guys and dolls! Happy August to you all, hope you are enjoying your summer wherever you are (my girls Heather and Andrea live in the land of peaches and beaches, so you know they are). As for me well, you all know I’ll have a good time no matter what I get up to.

Music plays a big part in the backdrop of our lives. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, as my girls write their Poppy Cove Mysteries they usually have some of the finest jazz and/or old blue eyes of the 50’s era rounding out in the background. Rock n’ roll, balladeers and soul singers were also very big in my time, and such fun they were.

Here’s some links to songs featured on Youtube that were popular in August 1957, which incidentally is when my first Poppy Cove Mystery (STRANGLED BY SILK, if you are just tuning in). Do keep in mind these are older clips, so the quality is what it is. Maybe we should just be grateful we can still see them, but that’s a whole other topic for another day, isn’t it ;hqdefault-)?

1. Pat Boone  – Love Letters in the Sand (for you avid fans out there, you’ll know this was mentioned in the book). Isn’t Mr. Boone dreamy?hqdefault

2. Elvis Presley – (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear in Technicolor! Doesn’t Elvis just make you go weak in the knees?

hqdefault3. Billy Williams – (I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and) Write Myself a Letter. Now the video clip for this was from 1959, and isn’t it such a delight to see a young Dick Clark hosting the Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show? And I just love Mr. Williams’ delightful smile and expressive demeanor.hqdefault

4. The Everly Brothers – Bye Bye Love. Still such a popular song. I’ll bet you can hear this playing somewhere, on some station or channel to this day. Their harmonies still send me, sigh!

hqdefault5. The Coasters – Searchin’. Love the strolling entrance, and toss in the Steve Allen intro to make the fun complete. If you don’t find your head boppin’ along before the end of this tune, you’d better check your pulse!

And so concludes our musical interlude. Have fun, cool cats🙂

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

Posted in 1950's, 50's music, 50's television, Alter Ego, Authors, book series, books, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, ebooks, entertainment, Fiction, kindle, Pop Culture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

George Takes 5 with Barbara Jean

51ighlb0UeLHi there, guys and dolls! Happy almost midsummer. Hope you are all having a lovely time, whatever you are getting up to. I sure am, and part of my fun in the sun is enjoying a tall, cool drink in the shade with my dear writer friend, George Jackson. This dear and creative soul is very prolific, with over twenty-five books to his name, ranging from fantasy to mystery. Today we are chatting about his Falls series of books, terrific cozy mysteries he has penned about his favorite small town and the people who make it tick. I’m pleased to announce his latest in the terrific series (number 24) is THE FALLS: THICKER THAN WATER and available now.

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

First of all, thank you Barbara Jean, for inviting me to your blog. I have a great deal of respect for you and your dedication to the craft. I appreciate the opportunity and feel honored to be here.

Now, as far as The Falls small town mystery series goes, the story and the characters come mostly from the place I grew up. I was born and grew up in Fair Haven, Vermont. A small town just a few minutes away from the “city” of Rutland. And The Falls wasn’t the first series I ever wrote. The first series I created was Dragon World, a six book fantasy series loaded with valiant dragons and courageous dragon riders, magnificent warriors, determined white wizards, powerful, savage barbarians, amazing Amazons, and a truly badass Dark Lord.

Truth is, I’ve always written. Usually at night after work (I was in education for 40 years, 29 of them being principal of several schools ranging from elementary school to high school) when I was so tired the words would swim before my eyes at times. When I was young, I wrote short stories…horror and thrillers mostly. Then came the dragon stories, which I started off on an old IBM Selectric. I have written off and on ever since.
Once I retired from the school system in 2009 and moved to Florida, I got down to writing seriously. I revised DRAGON WORLD and put in a lot of time trying to get a literary agent. That frustrating process lasted a couple of years, and dozens of rejected inquiries from agents using Jeff Herman’s Guide to the publishing world to track down suitable people and agencies. However, it seemed that agents wanted either published authors or “the next guaranteed great best seller”. Since I had neither to offer, and even opening dialogues with agents seemed almost impossible at that point in time, I finally decided to go the route of self-publishing.

After the fantasies, I was ready for something different. I decided to write a mystery and set it in the place I knew best, rural Vermont. That decided, the first book in The Falls series, THE FALLS: IN THE DEAD OF WINTER, poured out of me. The characters came from people I had seen, dealt with and interacted with in life. I will also admit to putting a little of me in several of the characters seen most often in the series. The locations were easy. Change the names to protect the innocent and visualize the places I knew as a child. Twenty-four stories later, here I am.

Discussing main characters is a bit dicey. You see, the series is truly about a whole town. Everyone in town has a part in the stories, and they all contribute to the plot and subplots as it goes along. True, the sheriff, Cash Green and his loyal deputies, Ericka Yamato and Horace Scofield, are the centerpieces, but so are the two doctors in town, Doc Stone and Meg Monroe. Grandpa and Grandma Burman, The Falls version of the town’s social hierarchy and their family members are all intricately involved in every story. I have large box stuffed full of index cards, each one listing a character, a person that is involved in one or more of the now twenty-four stories. (Working on twenty-five!) But to me, they’re all family. That’s what small towns were like back then.

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

Chuckles. My wife would tell you that I am a “very patterned person”. I’m a stubborn but caring old Scotsman, and I write a chapter every morning and edit every afternoon. At the present I’m working on the next Falls story in the morning and I’m editing the seventeenth novel in the series, THE FALLS: COLDBLOODED, getting it ready to be published on CreateSpace as a paperback. The first sixteen stories in the series are already paperbacks and available at Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace and Amazon.com. I am, as I’ve said, a stubborn, determined old Scotsman. That said, I decided early on not to spend money on anything I didn’t have to, just write stories for people to enjoy. I am, above all else, a simple storyteller. So, I had to learn how to do my own covers and although I have been an artist in oils in a past life, it has been a humbling and learning experience.

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

I will admit that the first time I saw one of my stories on Kindle, actually sitting there on the Amazon screen staring back at me, that moment was special. The same thing when I received my first paperback in the mail. After the years of trying to get an agent to work with me to get published, it was uplifting and truly affirming. Of course, seeing the first check from Amazon was a pretty nice feeling as well! I have to admit to grinning like a loon when I got the first checks made out to me in pounds and euros as well! Pretty neat! It still is special when an old friend, a relative, or a complete stranger lets me know they like my little stories. That will never get old. It touches my heart, makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something special.

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

I’ve been lucky. I just sit down and write. I’ve never gone through a dry spell, and haven’t had “The Block” so far in any of my writing. (Okay, so my fingers are crossed as I write that sentence.) I love writing. When I go a few days without writing, like when the grandkids are with us, or on vacation, I get the itch to find a computer and get started. ‘Sides, when I sit down, the characters in my head just tell what to write. Easy enough.

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

I love stories…all kinds…all genres. I love Stephen King. He was my first, my all time favorite. Although I didn’t always love his subjects, I loved the way he wrote. My early short stories were modeled after his writing style. Then there’s Grisham, Patterson, Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series, JK Rowling, Agatha Christie, Rick Riordan and lots more. Lately, I have been keenly immersed in many of the authors that write for the youth market. Books such as Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, Michael Scott (Nicholas Flamel), McAffrey, Lacey, Mull (Fable Haven) and Sage (Septimus Heap). I enjoy many of the cozy mystery series as well. Cozy mysteries have a special place in my heart. I believe that they are a breed “above” the thrillers and horror tales in many ways and I find the writers of cozy mysteries to be sweet, caring and goodhearted people. Which brings me to a subtle point about my own series. I’m technically a derivative of the traditional cozy mystery, which I like to call a Small town mystery. My stories include amateur sleuths, but working in conjunction with Cash Green and his crew. At times there are murders “on stage” but not with gratuitous graphic violence. Unlike the real world, however, there is no crude swearing or cussin’ in my stories as my grandmother would have called it. Heaven knows there’s enough of that out there in the daily news without me adding to it. (Although as principal of six schools, I heard some really mindboggling run-on curses in my day!)

George, this has been just great. Not only are you talented, but a great guy too. And fellow readers, get to know George a little better — visit his blog and follow him on Twitter. Don’t forget to pick up your own copy of his latest – THE FALLS: THICKER THAN WATER on Kindle.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Authors, books, Characters, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, ebooks, Fiction, Inspiration, Interviews, kindle, murder mystery, Mysteries, new release, Newly Published, novels, Readers, Reading, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Now Where was I?

Cover Hi ResHi there, guys and dolls! Well, I’m happy to report that both of my girls are feeling pretty darn fine these days and have had a celebratory break after the most interesting year they have had. They never really stopped planning, playing or participating in my Poppy Cove world, but they certainly had to take it easy and had to take care of pesky but necessary situations.e058f-barbarajeancoast27sbookjpg

Now they are catching up with me, giving me the attention I so crave and have been almost patiently waiting for. I encouraged them to reread all three books (for those of you just joining me, those would be STRANGLED BY SILK, DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN and A NATE TO REMEMBER) to A_Nate_To_Rememberrefresh their minds and get back into the Santa Lucia swing of things. And I’ve been putting a bug in their ears about book four, telling them how it all plays out.

Plus, I’ve been reminding them of all the things they’ve talked about doing to bring more of my social set to you, dear friends and readers. Good and mysterious days are on their way.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, book series, books, California, Carpinteria, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Humor, Indie Presses, kindle, Mysteries, novels, Patience, Pen Names, Perspective, Readers, Reading, Socializing, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remember, that Thing does more than just Hold Up your Hat

Hi there, guys and dolls! You know, there is a lot of hot air around these days and I’m not just talking about the warm summer breezes. My girls and I have been reading so many of the posts and comments floating around out there and quite frankly, yours truly is wondering if we’re all just drifting around not only in the ethers, but on ether.

Sad and scary things are happening, and it does appear that there is so much more reaction going on, instead of thoughtfulness and action. There is a difference, and we need to embrace that. Now to be honest, it is just my humble little old-fashioned opinion, but I like it.

I’m not saying the time I dwell in was perfect, far from it, as life is now. During the fifties, there was definitely a great deal of supression, depression, and oppression, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could realize that now we can choose to learn and evolve in how we express and relate to each other and the world around us?

May I suggest we think before we speak, or in this case (and on other forms of written social media), think before we write? Consider your words, how they may be taken, what they will invoke or inspire, or offend. Or simply, will they make you look rash or like a fool, angry or impetuous? I’ve seen some very hurtful things lobbed randomly out there without consideration that may be meant to insult someone else, which is just plain wrong, and truthfully just make the author of such words look bitter and sad.

How do you want to be perceived in this world? What would you like others to take away from knowing you? I’m not saying to ignore what is going on around you, or pretend that nothing is happening, far from it. But maybe consider giving your feelings some thought before you lash out, get to know what your pushed buttons really mean to you before attempting to push someone else’s. That transfer of negativity may feel fleetingly “good,” but in the long run, just makes you look like a brainless idiot and still seething till the next round.

Then again, it’s just my little bit of rambling from old ways of thinking😉.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

Posted in Alter Ego, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Creativity, Etiquette, Inspiration, Nostalgia, opinion, Patience, Perspective, Self Esteem, Social Mores, Socializing, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Radio Days

Hi there, guys and dolls! Today I’m sharing some of my girls’ radio interviews with some of their favorite people – Amy Beth Arkawy and Cyrus Webb. Both are certainly hosts with the most, and I just adore these two. They’re fun, witty smart cookies with not only very entertaining, lively and intelligent programs, but also authors in their own rights.

So sit back and relax and take a listen to a selection of some delightful conversations. They were fabulously good times, and something to tide you over till more confabs come. While you are at it, do check out other episodes of their shows.

This first interview with Amy Beth aired April 5, 2013. Seems like ages ago now, sigh…

Andrea and Heather were on again the following year on September 30 – click here for the link.

 

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Then last year on June 2, the gabfest continued.

Also last year, the girls had the pleasure of being on the delightful Cyrus Webb’s Conversations Live not once, but twice – February 12 and July 16.

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Well, that should be enough about me to tide you over for another week. Look for more future fun to come🙂.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

 

 

Posted in 1950's California, Alter Ego, Authors, collaboration, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, creative writing, Creativity, Humor, Interviews, Mysteries, Perspective, Publicity, Readers, Reading, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chuck Takes 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls! So that’s it for June. Who’da thunk it? And again, yours truly is once again a living cliché – always the bridesmaid and well, you know the rest. But then again, what do I care? It’s summertime and my livin’ is easy…on the eyes that is. With all the tennis and golf pros, pool and lawn boys, who has time to lament? Not me, that’s for sure.

One thing I certainly do have a few moments for is to have a little chinwag with my good friend and fellow Cozy Cat Press author, Chuck Carter. Not only is he also handsome and charming, he’s a fellow Canadian, just like my girls.

Sit back and enjoy the pleasure of getting to know the writer behind DEATH OF A DUMMY, Death_of_a_Dummythe fabulous and fun first novel in his Wax Museum Mystery Series.

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

DEATH OF A DUMMY is centered around a creepy wax museum in Quebec as it’s being re-opened by a surf bum named Paul, along with an enthusiastic (but very old) woman named Dottie. If asked, Dottie would insist she’s the main character, but the lens of the story tracks Paul’s thoughts and movements, so guess it must be him. Together they bumble their way through a murder mystery and rub elbows with some pretty shifty characters, all while trying to get the museum ready in time for an arbitrary deadline I created.

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

I wish I could stick to a routine! But I’m very whimsical and have to be in a creative frame of mind. I usually start to write after midnight when it’s dark and quiet enough to visualize my scenes. Then I agonize over a few paragraphs until around 2:30am, at which point I realize I fell asleep while sitting up again (#TURNING45).

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

The best moment for me was printing out the first draft. I remember the printer got really hot and kept running out of paper. And what a heavy stack! I recall smacking it down on my desk a few times to enjoy the thud it made. The next exciting moment came when Patricia Rockwell offered to publish it. I’d visited the Cozy Cat Press site often while I was writing the book, hoping one day I would see my own photo there. And there I am!

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

It hasn’t happened yet. But I’m just getting started.

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

Nice one. My favourite is Charles Dickens, but his writing is so good that it discourages me, if anything. A CHRISTMAS CAROL actually plays a major part in my next Wax Museum installment. I also like gothic horror writers from the 1970’s like Miriam Lynch and Veronica Holt; I can do without the romantic parts but I like the atmosphere and storytelling, and I’m amazed that they can they can still surprise me even though they invariably end with a satanic ritual in the basement. Of course I have a huge collection of cozies, too (Sheila Connolly, Tim Myers, and many more).

Thanks for taking the time to share your time with me and my readers, Chuck. And friends, do take a few more minutes and check out his website and Facebook page. While you’re at it, why not get your very own Kindle copy of DEATH OF A DUMMY, too? I was glad I did and you will be, too.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

 

 

Posted in Authors, book series, books, Characters, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Humor, Indie Presses, Inspiration, Interviews, kindle, murder mystery, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, novels, Publicity, Readers, Reading, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to Normal – What the * Bleep* is That, Exactly?

Hi there, guys and dolls! Considering all that’s been going on in my girls’ worlds, things are coming along just fine. There’s still some rest and healing to be done, but everything’s as it should be and better than originally thought. Thanks be to you, dear friends and readers for all your love and good wishes.

Now my gals are looking forward to continuing on with my Poppy Cove Mysteries and all the other things they want to do. As someone said, to go back to their normal lives.

That sounded so calm and unassuming. Till they really started to think about their lives in the past year. Normal? Um, no it actually wasn’t. Personal issues of family members, other occupations, the poor health that led up to this month’s earlier event could hardly have been considered humdrum and routine. As things are definitely getting solved and/or becoming manageable, it’s left them wondering what the heck that is.

But truthfully, the beautiful thing is that they get to take the time to re-establish what that can be. Lots of talking, planning, dreaming, sharing what is and what can be. I don’t mind telling you my girls feel so blessed as they carry on my Santa Lucia life and create more, in good health and with happy hearts. May you all be given such an opportunity to create your own wonderful worlds or realize what you already have.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Commitment, Communication, creative writing, Creativity, Inspiration, Patience, Self Esteem, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just What Have You Been Up To, Barbara Jean?

Hi there, guys and dolls! I’m happy to report that my Andrea’s very much on the mend and that Heather is still not been driven crazy and pleased to be that Nightingale gal for a bit longer. f12da-barbarajeancoast3

Now yours truly on the other hand, has been left to my own devices, aka mischief making. Here is a brief summary of my week while girls have kept me from telling my Poppy Cove Mysteries. Rest assured, I have plenty of stories to tell when my girls let me.

Monday – Musing with Musicians

Tuesday – Frolicking with Lawn Boys

Wednesday – Playing Post Office with the Mailman

Thursday – Tickling the Tennis Pro

Friday – Bouncing Between Bartenders

Saturday – Pouncing on the Pool Boys

Sunday – Are you kidding? Even I need a day of rest. Sheesh!

Now I’m sure you can fill in the details with your own colorful imaginations, can’t you?

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, Dating, De-stressing, entertainment, Humor, Pen Names, Perspective, Publicity, Readers, reading, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments