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

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