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

Finishing Up My Greatest Escape Ever!

Hi there, guys and dolls!   Well, hasn’t that been a wonderful couple of weeks.  I must say though, I’m ready to park the Edsel and hang up my girdle for a spell.  The girls have one more outing for great-escape-tour-banner-large-death-of-a-beauty-queen640me on Tuesday, February 17th — more details in the next few days, so be sure to keep your eyes open to Facebook and your ears poised for a tweet or two shortly — such a fun time is being had by all!

So let’s see — the last time I posted, I was just about to have my Santa Lucia royalty meet a member from another court on Lori Bones Caswell’s spiffy GREAT ESCAPES BOOK TOUR.  I had the pleasure of the QUEEN OF ALL SHE READS spotlight yours truly on her lovely site.  Also, JANE READS took some time to chat and share her thoughts on DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN with her friends.  I’m also really glad that Shelley reported on her blog SHELLEY’S BOOK CASE that she enjoyed her stay in my town.  Amy had some interesting questions for me and my gals on her site, A BLUE MILLION BOOKS, while we were happy to note that Rhonda, who enjoys a clean read felt at home with our social set, as she reviewed in her READALOT blog.  Melina featured my glamour tips as well as her own amusement in the Poppy Cove patrons dilemmas on her page, MELINA’S BOOK BLOG.   Annie shared our visit and her thoughts on her EDITING PEN site.  Our final stop is to COZY UP WITH KATHY and I can’t think of a nicer way to end.  She lets me share how a lady gets ready to face her casual public.

Thank you all who co-ordinated, wrote, and read the posts.  Your kindness, hard work, and curiosity touches my heart.   A toast of the bubbly to you all!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's California, 50's Novels, Alter Ego, Authors, Blog Tours, Blogs, Book Reviews, books, Characters, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Etiquette, fashion, Fiction, Giveaways, Guest Blogs, Humor, Indie Presses, Interviews, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Nostalgia, Pen Names, Perspective, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Socializing, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Come on Along!

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Today’s blog is, well, about blogs!  I’m in the midst of a GREAgreat-escape-tour-banner-large-death-of-a-beauty-queen640T ESCAPES BLOG TOUR (beautifully orchestrated by Lori Boness Caswell) for DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN and I have had a lovely opportunity to make some new friends and catch up with some old ones.  Do yourself a favor and click on the links mentioned here to get to know some of the best book bloggers around.  We’re also giving away 4 signed copies during the tour, so be sure to enter! Andrea and Heather started off my Edsel in the direction of TEA AND A BOOK with Kym.  It was a great start, as they got acquainted with her most interesting questions and a nice cup of tea.  Lisa of LISA K’S BOOK REVIEWS was a pleasure for day two on her page and she gave us a lovely write-up in her fun and loving style.  Santa Lucia got another new visitor — Luann, on her blog, BACK PORCHERVATIONS.   Another great friend right from my very beginning is Kate Eileen.  It was a great honor to have a second visit on her RANTIN’ RAVIN’ AND READING blog.  Of course, no tour would be complete without a sit down chinwag with my gal pal, Annie.  Do check out our sparkling tea and sandwiches afternoon soiree at THE EDITING PEN.  Today, I had the joy of being entertained and entertaining Christa on her CHRISTA READS AND WRITES blog.

All of these ladies had some lovely things to say and share about my fair Santa Lucians and it made my heart glow.  It feels wonderful to know that they spent a few hours in the company of characters that made them feel welcome.  And, if a little murder and mayhem occurs among the fashions, well, that’s just how it goes ;-)….

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's California, 50's Fashions, Alter Ego, Blog Tours, Blogs, Book Reviews, books, Characters, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Giveaways, Guest Blogs, Indie Presses, Interviews, Mysteries, Newly Published, Pen Names, Perspective, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everybody into the Pool….

Hi there, guys and dolls!  I’m getting ready to embark on a Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour tomorrow, promoting DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN.  I’m so excited — the virtual Edsel’s all revved up and my fictional bags are packed.  I’ll be meeting some new friends and catching up with some old pals, so please come on along.  It’ll be some fun :-).great-escape-tour-banner-large-death-of-a-beauty-queen640In the meantime, it got me to thinking about our little writing and reading community.  As much as I love to write books, I love to read books, too.  That has always been a constant in my life, as well as in my two reality girls, Andrea and Heather.  And, as with all voracious readers I know, they love to read many books and by an assortment of authors.  Sometimes they stick to certain genres, sometimes they flirt with them all, but one thing is for certain, readers like to share their book and story finds with other kindred spirits. As writers, we need to think of that, too.  There are so many good stories out there and so many talented people who write them.  I try to help promote fellow authors who write what I like to friends and readers who I think will appreciate them.  Reading and writing books are not competitive sports, or at least I don’t think they should be, and get a little uncomfortable when I see it done by others, which occasionally happens unfortunately.  We all like to be at the top of the heap at one time or another (I’ve certainly enjoyed it) and cheer for others when they are there.   A healthy sense of pride for acknowledgement of your hard work and accomplishments of reaching people who like your work is wonderful, natural and should be encouraged.  But it’s also great when you realize that you can share your audience and think like a reader.  Remember that people who love to read tend not to read just one book or one author.  Reading is contagious in a good way.  Share your love of other authors and their works with your world.  As an author, be secure enough to encourage your fans to enjoy tales from other authors.  If you are doing your writing for the love of it, don’t forget that, or let insecurity cloud your good hearts.  There’s room for everyone to get along swimmingly and enjoy some good books! Toodles, Barbara Jean

Posted in Authors, books, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Etiquette, Fiction, Indie Presses, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Readers, Reading, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drema Takes 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Well then, can you believe that January’s almost chasing its own tail out the door already?  If anyone can find where that time has gone, do let me know.  As for me, I just dipped into the martini pitcher again and I was so happy to see one of my favorite Cozy Cat Press authors, Drema J. Reed’s name appear.  Do take a moment or two to get acquainted with one of the sassiest and classiest ladies I have had to honor to get to know.

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

My whole series was an unintentional side effect of a state of boredom. I had just retired and after a couple of months of sleeping in, watching TV, reading a lot of books, I looked around and thought, “Is this all there is?” I began thinking over my life and how after some 60+ years I still had the same group of friends, which led to me thinking about their characters and how strong a group of people they were. It came to me that maybe I should write down what I was thinking and voila the old ladies of the “Art Gallery Mystery Series” were born. The main characters Nita Marie (Nina Bates), Jo Murphy (Joy Murphy), Bobbie Sichel (Barbara Patton Sichel) and Jake (Jay Gehring) are people I have known since second grade. We went all though school together and I felt I knew them pretty well—that is until I started writing about them and suddenly realized they were so much more. Nita Marie is the calm, nonjudgmental, level-headed one, Jo the nervous worry wart, Bobbie the sharp-tongued wit and Jake the one who tolerates us – barely. My character, D. J. Kelley, is exactly like me, talking to myself and paying no attention to what I am telling me.

The art gallery idea came from my love of art so that is where I began. I had absolutely no idea where my story was going, I just started writing and then tried to figure it out when I, of course, wrote myself into the proverbial corner. I ended up basing the first book, KILLER IMAGE on an actual event that occurred in Saudi Arabia, a country where I worked for two years in a hospital in Riyadh. The two following books, KILLER GENES and KILLER ROCKS also were based on actual events.

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

My writing process is chaotic. I can go for days without writing a word and then sit down and pound out several chapters without stopping. As I said above, I have no idea where my story is going when I start and often find myself in trouble. My daughter-in-law, Terri Reed, who has written some 35 books published by Harlequin, tells me I am what they call a “pantser.” I write by the seat of my pants, for which I make no apology. I had never intended to be a writer so when it happened I was quite surprised.

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

I still don’t think of myself as an “author,” more of a storyteller who likes to make people laugh. Maybe one day it will hit me, but I seriously doubt it!

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

Creativity in my case just comes and goes when it wants to. I have no idea how to spur it on so I simply wait until something strikes me and I want to write. I am involved in a Senior Drama Group along with going to school full time, so often just listening to the people around me can “spark” a thought that leads to an entire scene in whatever I am writing.

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

I am a dedicated mystery lover and read every one I can get my hands on. I absolutely fell in love with Elizabeth Peters, though I could never create a sentence the way she did. Unfortunately, she passed away last year and I shall miss her influence. As far as a good mystery is concerned, Michael Connelly, J.A. Jance, Kathy Reich, Sue Grafton, and of course Janet Evanovich can really make me laugh.

I am finishing up my senior year at Portland State University (in Portland, Oregon) this year, working on a degree in Anthropology/Archaeology after having worked in the medical field for over forty years. I have just finished a book, centering on the field of archaeology and exposing the black marketing of antiquities, called THE BOOKS OF THE DEAD.

Your new book sounds absolutely fascinating, Drema.  I’m sure you unearthed some good, old dirt in that one, too.  Fellow mystery fans, be sure to check out the latest in her Art Gallery Mystery Series, KILLER ROCKS, on Kindle.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Blogs, books, Characters, Communication, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Indie Presses, Inspiration, Interviews, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Pen Names, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Paint Me a Picture, Tell Me a Story

Hi there, guys and dolls!  For those of you who are familiar with my Poppy Cove Mysteries, you know I’m the kind of girl who loves detail.  I love time, place and atmosphere.  They are practically their own characters in my tales.  I encourage my friends and readers to create their own picture show in their minds of Daphne, Margot and the rest of the Santa Lucia set, but I can’t help but get absorbed and express what my girls Andrea and Heather see as they talk and type.

The town, the people and especially the clothes create hours of discussion, quite often while listening to jazz and flipping through pictures of the era and of the region, and sometimes while imbibing over a glass of wine or two, writing notes, really bad quick sketches and gesticulating wildly when one of their imaginations carry them to the point where it seems that what they’re describing must have of still does exist, or for goodness sake, should be created.

As the stories go from concept to the written word, they describe the rooms, the weather, the garments verbally out loud, sometimes both girls talking at once.  They layer descriptions of the rooms, textures of the garments or physical characteristics of the people or places, scribbling madly to capture the thoughts as they emerge.   For inspiration, they flip through pages of magazines, recollect memories of people and places, peruse old photos and a great movie or two.

Friends, one thing I have learned from creating these vignettes, never underestimate the power of daydreams.  Your next visit to your happy place may be the beginning of a beautiful story.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

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

Dear Reader, Dear Writer

Hi there, guys and dolls!  I may get a little flack for this post, but I have to say what I have to say.  Please forgive me if you read yourself in this week’s musings, but then again, if you do and it bothers you, maybe you should consider why.

I love to tell my Santa Lucia tales in my Poppy Cove Mysteries.  I have plots and ideas for so many more twists and turns, sometimes I can’t get them out and it becomes a joyful jumble.  I also am happy to say that the girls (Andrea and Heather, the two behind my pen name) have a couple of other series they’d like to start plotting as well and if you were following along in last week’s post, you’ll see that they are making arrangements to carve out more writing time in the near future.

Not only writing the stories gives me great joy, but also hearing from readers and fans, from those who get the jist of my take on the fictional world makes me feel on purpose.  Those who share in the dream of the town, the place, who understand the escapism and playfulness, the heart of what I am creating and sharing.  That is a worth beyond rubies, as far as I am concerned and I treasure the connections.  It makes life worth living and all the tough moments of burn out, no words coming, outside demands and criticisms bearable.

The reasons why I write is to connect with others, I have a story to tell and a quiet confidence there are those who want to relate to it.  It is so nice to be on the receiving end of the relationship as well.  There are so many wonderful books and gifted storytellers out there, I am so glad they share their stories and worlds with me and so many others.  What a wonderful system we have created!

There is however, something that has crept up and I feel I must mention it.  Writing and reading books should be a pleasure and something that we want to share with others, and it should be done by choice and in our own ways, not by force or demand.  I’ve seen reviewers, bloggers, often volunteers who share their views on books because they choose to, mentioning that writers have been very pushy in getting reviews.  Some very good bloggers and supporters who are passionate about reading and writing have decided to give up, mentioning that authors push them to put their book on top of everyone else, demanding a review the day after receiving their book, then hassling them every day to give them a “5-star” review, and ungrateful with a 4, or telling them that they didn’t do it right.  That’s just pathetic.  I’ve also seen some writers be very negative about their readers and fans, putting them down for not leaving reviews, slagging them because they are not responding in the way they would like, taking for granted that someone actually took the time to read your words.  Some have also done this very publicly, reaching the very people who can choose to support you and share your work.

It becomes all about the “Stars,” the “Exposure,” the “Ranking.”  It sometimes appears that some authors seem to forget that they’ve scribed words, not accounting numbers and fleeting “gloaties.”  I’ve seen it become maniacal, greedy and mean spirited.  It tans my hide, to be honest.   Don’t get me wrong, I understand — the numbers can increase your sales, help you perpetuate your career and writing as a business.  I love to receive a glowing review, to see when my ranking goes up and when people buy and share my books.  It feels good and makes a tangible impression in the so-called real world.  I also love to give good reviews, it makes me happy to share the words of talented people and I will do it in my own time, at my own pace, as I figure out what I want to say and share it shamelessly, helping others achieve readers.

It’s balance and common sense, people.  Readers and writers, respect each other’s pace and choices, and above all, be grateful for what you do receive and remember why you read and write in the first place.  If it isn’t love of the word, maybe you should reconsider your heart and/or mind.  I’m not meaning any harm, I just had to say what I had to say.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Blog Tours, Blogs, Book Reviews, books, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Etiquette, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Indie Presses, Inspiration, Mysteries, New Authors, Newly Published, Patience, Perspective, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Self Esteem, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Year, New Priorites

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Happy New Year, everyone — I wish for all of you health, wealth, peace and love for 2015.  Personally, I love the change of the year.  It puts me in quite a contemplative mood, reflecting the past and projecting the future.  While I’m in my cool shade of blue, I’ll let Andrea and Heather take over this week’s blog, as they’ve been feeling the same way, too… As all of you know, in your own way, we all have such busy lives and juggle so much — work, family, life, health, everything is about balance.   For us, we’ve been writing, shaping and honing our Poppy Cove Mysteries for a long time and plan to continue on for years to come.  The third is coming, thank you for all of you asking.  We’re coming along and we’re really happy with the story, it’ll be worth the wait, we promise!  It’s such a labor of love for us and are so pleased we’re reaching readers and visitors to Santa Lucia.  Everyone’s always welcome. We’re making some changes in our lives, and as with all things in life, the biggest shift is how we see our world.  We so enjoy creating our Santa Lucia and meeting new readers.   We have a long list of plans of events, readings, online and in-person projects surrounding both the Poppy Cove series and Barbara Jean’s world that we can’t get to them all, as well as ideas for other series that we’d like to develop.  To do so, we have to take risks, albeit small, smart ones that may challenge the conventions of what we were raised in, but natural and organic in the truth of how to live our best and creative lives. It comes down to priorities.  What do you want to do?  How do you want to live your life?  What do you naturally gravitate towards?  What feels like purpose?  What feels like filler?  For years, we’ve been following our ingrained nurturing that was meant well, but are no longer fully appropriate.  Now it’s time for us to encourage our natures.  We’re happy to announce that the time is right for us to make the shift, both mentally and tangibly.  We’re in the process of switching from outside jobs and writing on the side, to writers with a job on the side.  It may not sound like much, but it is.  It means that now we can start to do more with our stories, sharing and developing our world further, creating and attending events and readings that due to other professional commitments we had to either decline or postpone, participating more publicly to share our books and truly test our wings.  We feel very blessed to have to opportunity to do so and it would be such a waste to let it slip by without giving our creativity its full potential.  We’re very excited and we’ll share more as time and our plans continue to reveal themselves to us, but we have to say it does have this very quiet rightness about it that we know it’s meant to be. In all sincerity, we thank you all for sharing our journey so far.  We wish you all as amazing a life as we continue to have. Warm Regards, Andrea and Heather aka Barbara Jean

Posted in 50's Novels, Alter Ego, Authors, books, Characters, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Indie Presses, Inspiration, Mysteries, New Authors, Patience, Pen Names, Perspective, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Self Esteem, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nanci Takes 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Can you believe that the new year is right around the corner?  It seems like Christmas was just a few days ago… oh wait, it was.  What was in that egg nog anyway?  Anyhoo, so glad you could tear yourselves away from the leftovers and mistletoe to join me in another great confab with a fellow Cozy Cat Press scribe.  This month, my good friend and fellow sassy lady Nanci Rathbun joins me by the martini pitcher to talk about her Angelina Boneparte Mysteries.  Yours truly must say she has really enjoyed TRUTH KILLS and CASH KILLS immensely (glowing reviews to follow later in the new year) and can’t wait for the third.  So settle on down and enjoy getting to know another terrific writer.

1. So tell me a little about your series and main characters.815qCg1dflL._SL1500_

My series is set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and features Angelina Bonaparte – Boe-nah-par-tay, please. Angie is Sicilian-American and insists on the correct pronunciation, not the Gallicized version that Napoleon used to gain acceptance at the French court. Angie is a fifty-something woman who opened a private investigation business after her long-term marriage ended. A former librarian, she decided that her research skills would stand her in good stead in her new career. Her professional business suits cover sassy lingerie. I guess you could call Angie a woman who re-invented herself after kicking her cheating husband to the curb.

Milwaukee homicide Detective W.T. (Ted) Wukowski has issues with women in dangerous professions and, in Truth Kills, the first in the series, he makes sure Angie knows it. From inauspicious beginnings, they develop a mutual respect and trust that eventually leads to a relationship.

Mix in Angie’s overprotective papa, who has ties to organized crime; the religious aunt who helped raise Angie; her grown children and young grandchildren; Family (as in the Godfather) lawyer Bart Matthews; and handsome gay man, Bobbie Russell, whom Angie met on the first case and who remained in her life as a friend and unofficial assistant. The cast of regulars and occasional characters blossoms into life in the Angelina Bonaparte series, with the city as its background.

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

I wish I were more disciplined about my writing hours and days, but I must confess that I get pulled away by other commitments more often than I’d like. I work with a writing coach, though, so our weekly sessions force me to get words on the page.

As for my process, I’m more of a pantser (write by the seat of my pants) than a plotter (outline every aspect before writing), although when you write mystery novels, you need to be very aware of plot. I find that, as I write, my characters tend to take over. That happened with Bobbie, who was supposed to be a very minor character, but who would not let me relegate him to a page or two. He’s become a major character in each of the books.

I use a laptop, so I can write anywhere I’m free of distractions. I find it very hard to write in noisy places like coffee shops, so I’m generally in a quiet environment when I work. Good thing I don’t have small children at home any more!

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

I was over the moon when I signed my first contract with Cozy Cat Press, but the realization that I was an “author” really hit me when a box of TRUTH KILLS was delivered to my door and I held the book in my hands. I did a little touchdown dance in my living room that day! It was rather like holding your newborn baby, but the labor for my books lasted much longer than for my children. I felt the same thrill when CASH KILLS, the second in the series, arrived.

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

I find it’s good to step back for a bit when I’m not sure how to proceed in the writing. While walking my dogs (Gizmo, now in doggy heaven, and his successor Teeny), I often experience moments of flow, when the plot coalesces and I understand the next steps. Sudden inspiration comes to me in the oddest places – the shower, while driving, while people-watching in public. I like to ask myself how the characters would behave in a given situation and consider options. Since my work is very character-driven, that seems to get me unstuck.

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

I was the little girl who always had her nose in a book. I loved the classic children’s stories, but Nancy Drew really sparked my imagination. I think that’s when I became a mystery reader. In early adulthood, I picked up a copy of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night and was struck by the elegance of her prose and the fascinating interplay between Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey. Sayers showed me that mysteries can also be great fiction. So did P.D. James, who recently died. Her works are should be required reading for any writer of detective fiction, with her expert command of language, setting, characters and plotting. As for Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone novels – well, it doesn’t get much better.

I read widely in other genres and in literary fiction, also. Harper Lee, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Patrick Rothfuss are a few who come to mind. Can you tell that I like works that tackle strong themes of justice? That’s what the mystery encompasses, after all!

So true, Nanci!  Friends, get to know my gal pal a little better.  Visit her website — www.nancirathbun.com, follow her on Twitter — @nancirathbun, click to her Facebook Author page and join her on Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7199317.Nanci_Rathbun. While you’re at it, be sure to pick up her latest CASH KILLS on Kindle.  Until next year, dear readers!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

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