Don’t Just Accessorize, Glamourize!

Hi there, guys and dolls! Every now and then, it’s a good idea for a gal to discover some new little tricks and tips to keep the glamour game going. This week, yohqdefaulturs truly is sharing some gems of my time, courtesy of the Youtube Vintage Fashion channel. I just love British Pathé films, don’t you? These quippy clips are all about the finishing touches to put you heads up above the crowd. Just click on the title or picture to get to the link.

Hair – Check out this feature showing off the daring new dos of an up and coming stylist – The Vidal Sassoon Show – Mayfair’s Hot New Hairstylist! Thinking this young man will go far 😉.

hqdefaultSwimming Caps- Want to protect your perfectly coiffed crown of glory and get a little exercise (in the form of poolside flirtation, of course) at the same time? Why, try out one of these little numbers from Swimming Cap Fashions. And wasn’t the crowd captivated (tee-hee)?

Earrings – Oh those bewildering baubles in hqdefault1950s Novelty Earrings! How will the model ever choose what pair she wants to go out for a gay time? Of course, for me it’s natch – the champagne bucket for the girl with the effervescent personhqdefaultality who knows when to stop🙂.

Eyeglasses – Here we have a lovely double feature for your troublesome double vision. In 1950s Glasses Fashionshqdefault you’ll learn all about accessorizing your lovely assets. More Fab 1950s Spectacles shows designer ‘specmanship’ and doesn’t the crowd look impressed? Bamboo, anyone?

Hope you enjoyed this delightful and informative tour through the land of glamour. Sorry, got to fly. Now that I have things to wear, I’ve got to find the places to go!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's, 50's Fashions, Accessories, Alter Ego, Beauty, Creativity, educational films, England, entertainment, fashion, Humor, Inspiration, Nostalgia, Pop Culture, Self Esteem, Shopping, Social Mores, Socializing, Uncategorized, Vintage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Susan Takes 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls! Well, look at that. Another month is passing before our very eyes. Being that it’s almost Halloween, I think we’re all due for a treat rather than a trick, don’t you? For yours truly, that means to share an interview with a fellow cozy mystery author, and this month’s friend is Susan Bernhardt, who is just simply divine. Do sit yourself down and settle in with a hot toddy or two and get to know this delightful lady and her work a bit better.

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

Thank you, Barbara Jean Coast for having me on your beautiful website today. It’s great to be here and I look forward to answering your questions. I have two series that I am presently writing. The first is the Kay Driscoll Mystery Series. The main character is Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town whose tenacious nature tells her city officials are attempting a cover-up and she must expose the truth. With her new friends, the free-spirited herbalist Deirdre and the untamed modern woman Elizabeth, Kay discusses new clues over tea and pastries at Sweet Marissa’s Patisserie, their crime-fighting headquarters. The titles in the series are: THE GINSENG CONSPIRACY, MURDER UNDER THE TREE and MURDER BY FIREWORKS. I’m presently writing the fourth novel in the series.

a-manhattan-murder-mysteryA month ago I had the first book in a new series published titled A MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY (An Irina Curtius Mystery). The protagonist, Irina Curtius is a retired ballet dancer who runs a ballet school for small children on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A young neighbor and friend, Stephen Kramer becomes ill over time. When he travels for business and is away from home, his health improves until he returns home and then his health deteriorates again. He dies and Irina sets out to prove that her friend was murdered. Subplots involving other main characters are a returning love from her college days, Robert and a stranger to the neighborhood who seems to be everywhere Irina goes.

All of my mysteries are character and plot driven with plenty of twists and turns and red herrings. The stories are filled with layers of tension to keep the reader turning the pages as quickly as they can.

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

Before my husband retired, I used to write part of each day. Now I write two full days a week. I think I’m actually more productive knowing that I only have these days. I start writing the first draft and write anything and everything that pops into my head for the story, no matter how strange it may be. I don’t edit at all during this stage. There will be plenty of time for that with revisions. I usually do about five revisions looking for different things in each revision, such as tension, humor, description, etc. Then voilà…I have the finished product.

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

When I started writing my first mystery THE GINSENG CONSPIRACY I considered myself an author. I began writing as a challenge to myself. I had reread THE QUICHE OF DEATH by M.C. Beaton and I thought that I could write a mystery as good as that one. I set goals for myself and all have been met. The goals were that I wanted to be traditionally published, I wanted my mystery to be on Amazon, and I wanted to sell a certain number of books.

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

To tell you the truth, this hasn’t happened to me yet. I’ve never experienced writers block or a lack of inspiration. When I’m having a problem with a scene, I think about it in various places. In the evening, in bed before I fall asleep, I think of the problem I am having in hopes that I will dream a solution and often I wake up and I do have a thought on what I was trying to write. Often when I go in the shower, again, I think about what I am trying to write about and often times I’ll also think of a solution. I keep a pen and pad of paper in the shower so I can write the ideas down. If I’m taking a walk alone, I’ll think about the problem and sometimes find a solution. I carry paper or a recorder. This is one of the things that I enjoy about writing, thinking about a problem area in my book, dwelling on it, and coming up with a solution.

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

I would have to say M.C. Beaton influenced me to begin writing. As I mentioned before, I thought I could write a mystery as well as she had and I took writing on as a personal challenge. I thoroughly enjoy Sue Grafton. Susan Wittig Albert, Ann Purser, Rhys Bowen, etc. I love other mysteries written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Arturo Perez-Reverte, B.A. Shapiro. I love a great mystery and I am totally thrilled when I come across a new author, a new series or book.

Susan, it’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know more about you and your writing. And friends, be sure to give her books a read. They’re all available on Amazon by just clicking on the titles through to the links. No tricks (unless you count great plot twists and red herrings), just treats for you, dear readers🙂.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Authors, books, Characters, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Inspiration, Interviews, murder mystery, Mysteries, new release, Newly Published, novels, Readers, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Make Your Own Magic

Hi there, guys and dolls! As writers, my girls Andrea and Heather make things up. They pull ideas out of what seems like thin air, making up tales of trails that twist along and lead somewhere. There is plenty of supposing and considering, then developing and following the inspirations to make things happen for my Santa Lucians. Authors of all kinds do it all the time.

When the ideas don’t come, it’s usually thought of as writer’s block. Sometimes that happens in real life, too. We call that a rut. General malaise and his friend ennui come to visit and sometimes stay a while, till one gives them the boot, or they get bored of themselves and move on.

For the position of scribes, my girls observe people and themselves. Not for creepy purposes, but how to relate to the world they are creating in a natural fashion, adding a hint of the ‘what if’ factor to keep stories rolling, when in reality a person may hit the doldrums and stay wallowing for a while.

Take shopping for example. Many times I’ve heard people say when they see a beautiful dress or fancy shoes that brings a smile to their faces and a light in their eyes, “Oh, I can’t buy that, where would I wear that?” Then they walk away, feeling a little sorry for themselves. I say poppycock to that. Buy the dress, wear the shoes and make the occasion. Set up the dinwalt_otto_swaminer reservations or have a fancy night in, but for goodness sake, perk yourself up and live a little.

We sometimes sit around and wait for magic to happen, to be inspired. The real truth of it is that you have to be open to it and take the leads that spark, not dampen them by being your own wet blanket. As authors, my girls have to pick up tangents and work with them, play and weave thoughts to go somewhere. The truth goes for living life, too. A life worth living needs to be lived, not tsk-tsked and put down because we can’t be bothered to make an effort to see things through. Do something different, or something that you feel that you can’t do or initially put down as a ‘dumb idea.’ Follow it through, it might start you off on a whole new adventure, or at least give you something to talk about. Magic doesn’t just make itself, you have to be there to pull the rabbit out of the hat!

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

 

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Beauty, Characters, Commitment, Communication, creative writing, Creativity, Inspiration, opinion, Perspective, Readers, reading, Self Esteem, Socializing, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grow, Change or Stay the Same?

Hi there, guys and dolls! Do you often hear voices in your head? Well I do, or should I say my girls Andrea and Heather do (sometimes I forget that I’m the fictional alter ego and my real writer girls exist, or is it the other way around…. I’ll have another drink at the well of inspiration and see iffiguring-it-out I remember to get back to you on that).

Anyhoo, talking about imaginary ramblings. My girls have been working on book four, now that life has settled down to a less roaring manageability. The Poppy Cove Mysteries are all about people, how they live, die and breathe in their Santa Lucia world. The characters drive the stories, what happens or what doesn’t happen to and for them. How do their lives grow, change or stay the same as their world shifts and shapes around them in time and circumstance. How do they act, react? What are their hopes and dreams? What fates occur to the fair social set and their fellow characters? What are their paths through their (fictional) lives?

Even though the people in the stories are not real in the physical sense, they do exist on some plane. They need a sense of grounding to be relatable to each other in the stories, and also to the writers and readers as well, in the course of time as the stories develop. As in day to day nonfictional life, every person goes through different interpretations of their experiences and surroundings, which create a sense of movement or stasis, in harmony or discord, depending on every detail at the time.

How does that effect the course of the characters’ journeys? Where do they go, what do they do? How gradual, how abrupt? Are they stagnant, in a rut? Constant or contradictive? So many questions, so many discussions. Trust me.

Also at what pace do the personal character tales flow? Who takes a back seat, who’s front and foremost in a particular story? What is revealing too much and what do the readers want to know about them? A sense of reality brings relativity, but a sense of the fabulous brings fondness for all of our own dream destinies.

As the girls talk, they realize that not only are the books about imagination, they are about humanity and the possibilities of what any of us could choose or achieve in both desirable and arduous circumstances.

I could go on, but I’d rather leave you with this, dear readers. Growth, change or stay the same? What do you want for you?

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

Posted in Alter Ego, Authors, book series, books, California, Characters, collaboration, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Inspiration, Mysteries, Pen Names, Perspective, Readers, Reading, stories, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fall into a Good Book

Hi there, guys and dolls! Look no further for a good book. I’ve got five that I recommend to you for whiling away the longer evenings. 25860008

GRANNY FORKS A FUGITIVE by Julie Seedorf – Granny has a new weapon – a pink pitchfork! And just in time! A trip to her old farm ends in Granny forking a dead body in her silo. When the body turns out to be Granny’s long lost love Robert Blackford, Granny is flabbergasted. When her devious twin sister, Amelia, the very person who stole Robert from Granny many years ago, shows up searching for her long lost son, Granny reluctantly agrees to help her find him. Of course, Granny’s fiancé, Franklin Gatsby, is concerned for Granny’s welfare and doesn’t like it when she goes out sleuthing – one of Granny’s favorite activities. So, Franklin starts to follow Granny everywhere she goes to protect her. But Granny is determined to find out who killed her former boyfriend, so along with her gal pals and her menagerie of pets, she sets a trap and soon – GRANNY FORKS A FUGITIVE.

Listener_frontLISTENER IN THE DARK by Bret Jones – Tucker Niles lives his life vicariously through the old-time radio shows he broadcasts each Sunday night. He is more than just a DJ, however, as his life revolves around OTR shows, conventions, and his friend, Bobby, who is on a “quest” to find lost shows that have become the Holy Grail to collectors. When Bobby is found dead, Tucker decides to find his killer.
Through the maze, and sometimes greed, of the collecting world, Tucker discovers that Bobby was close to finding the lost I Love a Mystery programs that have become the dream-find of every OTR collector. Betrayal, l
Dinner_and_Death_1600x2400_(Ebook)ies, and selfish collectors lead Tucker through a world that people seldom see to discover a “master” collector who will stop at nothing to own “the ark” of the old-time radio world.

DINNER AND DEATH by Helen Grochmal – Who would try to poison a helpless cat in a retirement home? Is it a prank? An accident? Or something more sinister? Buckingham Courte’s own Carolina Pennsbury is just the amateur sleuth to find out. She narrows the field of poisoner candidates down to three new residents who have filled an empty seat at the table where Carolina and her friends dine regularly, saving several human lives.

19345343THE SINISTER SITCOM CAPER by Sally Carpenter – Sandy Fairfax, former teen idol and star of the ‘70s hit TV show “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth,” is now a middle-aged recovering alcoholic who realizes that making a comeback can be murder. He’s the guest star on “Off-Kelter,” a corny family situation comedy, and the lowest rated TV show of the 1993 fall season. Before rehearsals barely begin one of the actors drops dead at Sandy’s feet. He investigates, enlisting the aid of two of his new cast mates: a dwarf and an animal actor. During his snooping, we meet Sandy’s ex, his parents and his teenage son, all with their own “situations” going on. During rehearsals Sandy also encounters a beautiful choreographer—could this be love? Will Sandy solve the murder before the Friday night taping of “Off-Kelter” or will the elusive killer cancel our hero before the final credits? This book was inspired by the author’s experience working as a tour guide/page at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.81MP3YrYXqL._SL1500_

THE CUNNING CRUISE SHIP CAPER by Sally Carpenter – 38-year-old Sandy Fairfax is a former ’70s teen idol and star of the TV show “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth.” Now he’s rebuilding his career with a series of concerts aboard the SS Zodiac bound for the Bahamas. He makes amends with his estranged sister, Celeste, who is blind and also a musician, so she will join his performances. But their cruise hits turbulent waters when Sandy finds a dead body in his onboard dressing room. He investigates the colorful cast of suspects while avoiding an old flame and trying to ignite something with his beautiful choreographer. When Sandy gets too nosy, the bad guys throw him overboard. Will he sleep with the fishes or escape and unmask the killer at the ship’s Halloween costume gala?

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

Posted in Authors, Book Reviews, books, Characters, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, e-publishing, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, kindle, murder mystery, Mysteries, novels, Readers, Reading, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Andrea and Heather Take 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls! Well, if you told someone you’d ‘See You in September,’ you’d better do it lickety split, because the month’s almost over. Wasn’t that a fast one? Yours truly cannot believe how fast the days fly.

I also can’t believe that after all these interviews (with plenty more to come), I haven’t set my girls down in the hot seat. They claim they’re too busy keeping an eye on me and  listening to all my prattling on about my Santa Lucians to Take 5 with me. Finally I pinned them down (all it really took was the promise of a cocktail or two, to be honest) and Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff settled down to have a great little confab with me. So get yourselves comfortable and enjoy learning a thing or two that you didn’t already know about my gal pals. Cover Hi Res

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

Andrea: Our Poppy Cove Mysteries are cozy novels set in the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50′s, early 60′s and revolves around the glamorous comings and goings of the social set of the town, with a little murder and mayhem thrown in for good measure. The Poppy Cove Mystery Series currently consists of STRANGLED BY
SILK
, DEATH OF A Death_of_a_Beauty_Queen_1600x2400_(Ebook)BEAUTY QUEEN, and A NATE TO REMEMBER, with more to come.

Heather: The stories are very character driven. The main heroines Daphne Huntington-Smythe and Margot Williams run their dress shop/design atelier at the corner of Poppy Lane and Cove Street (that’s where the name Poppy Cove came from), and through their work with the town’s social set get involved in the lives, loves and scandals of the people they meet.A_Nate_To_Remember

2. Being that there are two of you, how do you write?  Do you compose separately, or talk it out as you go along together, share or divide up characters, scenes or research?

Heather: We always write together and we talk constantly. A lot. On our own time, we’ll often each come up with different thoughts and plot lines for the tales and then weigh them out and decide if and where it fits in the overall story line.

Andrea: We’re very visual, it’s like writing a play or movie script. We’ll get an overall feel for where the points are going in the story, then envision the way the scenes round out and flow into one another.

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

Andrea: I’ve been writing stories all my life, since I could hold a pen. It’s hard to pin down an exact moment, but possibly back in my teens when I could get involved in the writing process. Creating a finished story on paper from thoughts that came to me made me realize that I had a place in the writing world.

Heather: When we typed “The End” on our first draft of STRANGLED BY SILK. Whatever happened with it after that, I knew we had finished something that I would be proud to say I helped to create.

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

Heather: Playing with you, Barbara Jean, helps. We channel you and your ‘joie de vivre’ to get us through the mundane and taxing aspects of life. I also like to watch movies and television series like Poirot, Morse, Lewis, Endeavour, Wallander- I could go on. They provoke my thought processes and get me scheming.

Andrea: I love watching all those, too. We listen to Frank Sinatra and the great jazz from the era. I love looking at the fashions, illustrations and photos of the time. Movies from the 50’s, like ‘The Best of Everything,’ ‘Funny Face,’ ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ all transport me to such a dreamy place and inspire me.

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

Andrea: There’s so many that it’s hard to pin down. For mysteries, I like P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Susan Wittig Albert, M.C. Beaton, Donna Andrews, Hannah Reed, and Cathy Ace to name a few. I love to read works by Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy, Tracy Chevalier, Beatriz Williams, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, and Margaret Atwood as well. They make me want to be the best writer I can be.

Heather: I read all the time too, and just as eclectic. I love the authors that Andrea has mentioned, but I’ll add in Carola Dunn, Elaine Viets, G.A. McKevett, Rhys Bowen, Melissa Bourbon for mysteries. I’ve been reading Madeleine L’Engle, Chris Bohjalian, Alice Hoffman, Susan Gregg Gilmore, Fanny Flagg and Mary Stewart inspire me to tell good stories about ordinary people who turn out to be fascinating as life plays with them.

Thank you, ladies for Taking 5 with me. And friends, be sure to check out the world my girls are creating for me. The three books in the series – STRANGLED BY SILK, DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN and A NATE TO REMEMBER are waiting for you on Kindle with just a click away. You can also join them through my Facebook, Twitter, website as well as this blog as they continue to create more of my stories and welcome you all to Poppy Cove.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

Posted in 50's Novels, Authors, book series, books, California, Characters, Classic Movies, collaboration, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, ebooks, entertainment, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Humor, Inspiration, Interviews, kindle, murder mystery, Mysteries, Pen Names, Perspective, Readers, Reading, Santa Barbara, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Not Now, I Must Have My Beauty Sleep

Hi there, guys and dolls! Well I don’t know about you, but my girls (Andrea and Heather) have both been hitting the snooze button lately. They’ve been talking and realizing that they’ve been needing a little extra zzz’s and taking the opportunity to do so. They’re also finding out that as they do, it’s not all wasted time.ffa51f96294f8bdc72f30b795cd20bae

To be honest (as most of my dear, dear friends and readers know), they’re now on the upswing of a rather challenging time.  All is good, but with the sense of relief comes that bone tired exhaustion. As the girls talk about their dreamtimes, they realize they are working out plans and ideas, plots and new directions, bringing to my Santa Lucians a richer tapestry of tales and ideas, along with the ways they want to progress their lives.

I see more good times ahead, just as soon as my sleeping beauties can dream it all out into action.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

 

 

 

Posted in Authors, Beauty, book series, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, Inspiration, Patience, Perspective, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Wonder as I Wander

Hi there, guys and dolls! Isn’t September such a beautiful month? In most placesbfef1-barbarajeancoast27sbook, the days are still warm, but the nights have a little crisp snap to them, and the sunlight has a wonderful glow. Everything’s a little quieter, which gives me time to think.

I like to wander (as do my alter egos Andrea and Heather, big surprise te058f-barbarajeancoast27sbookjpghere). They talk and plan, work out plot lines that my fellow Santa Lucians tell them about. For the first Poppy Cove Mystery (STRANGLED BY SILK) my girls were sitting in the non-fiction section of their main Okanagan Regional Library and came up with Daphne, Margot and the demise of the town doyenne. The cat fight at Poppy Cove in DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN and the opening art show scene in A NATE TO REMEMBER were both written A_Nate_To_Rememberat a couple local beaches.

Now the girls are writing their fourth (yes, it’s on its way), and are also looking at my whole world, looking at the way they share my people and places, what they have done well, could improve and where they want everything (including other stories and series) to go. This is where the wandering helps. They roam and talk, watch the world go by, and see what filters in. It brings new ideas and helps to clear out the cobwebs. Sometimes the busiest work looks like play, but it’s where the diamonds shine.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

 

Posted in 50's Novels, Authors, book series, Characters, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, ebooks, Fiction, Fictional Characters, First Novel, Inspiration, Mysteries, novels, Patience, Perspective, Readers, reading, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

State of the Fair

Hi there, guys and dolls! As some of you more ardent fans may have noticed, I did not post yesterday, but I had a wonderful reason. Yours truly was at the fair! I had such a lovely time.midway2_lo-res

Now where my girls Andrea and Heather live, they have a wonderfully long-running traditional provincial rather than state exhibition. It’s called the IPE (Interior Provincial Exhibition) in the charming nearby town of Armstrong. The fair is one of the grand ones, with still all of the farming, baking and preserving competitions along with the usual assortment of carnival amusements and games, a rodeo and breathtaking skill contests. How fun, thrilling and romantic all at the same time!

I’m sorry to find out that some of these local community events have lost some of their more homespun qualities. Some of them have dropped the domestic and agricultural aspects of the jam-packed parties. Now that’s just sad and oh so wrong. Those were the reasons why these gatherings started in the first place and no matter how advanced and modern we would like to be, let’s not go backwards and lose touch with all of our earthly roots and beginnings. 12039366_723434457789597_1281772681066054172_n

You see, people of all ages put their hearts and hands into growing the best tomatoes, raising the perfect calf, baking the tastiest tart and sewing the perfectly pleated hem, eager to show the world the talents they have been given and how they have cultivated them. Just as yours truly feels about sharing my Santa Lucia in my Poppy Cove Mysteries, just as my dear writer friends feel the same about the worlds they bring to you, dear readers.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

Posted in 1950's, Creativity, Inspiration, Nostalgia, Perspective, Pop Culture, State Fairs, Uncategorized, Vintage | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Marilyn Takes 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls! Sigh, the end of summer is nigh. Hasn’t it been such a lovely one? Yours truly has had such a golden time; it was just so peachy with my time so beachy.

However, the month coming to a close is not all bad. It means I get to share one of my favorite features, a fellow author confab. This month, I had the delight to share a long, tall, cool drink (or two) with the lovely Marilyn Levinson. She’s written some of the most entertaining mysteries around, as well as some terrific young adult fiction, her latest being a terror-suspense goodie titled THE DEVIL’S PAWN, perfect for the last long nights for the back to school set or anyone who loves a great nail-biter.

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

I love the sleuths in my series and wish I had more hours in the day so I could write more mysteries for them to solve.

Lydia Krause, my protagonist in the Twin Lakes Mystery series, is an attractive, dynamic 58-year-old widow who sells her home and business and moves to Twin Lakes, an over-55 community. Here Lydia finds murder, mayhem, new friends and a budding romance, yet is always on hand to help her grown daughters resolve their life issues (A MURDERER AMONG US and MURDER IN THE AIR).

In the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mysteries, English professor Lexie Driscoll leads 515t+48ViVLdiscussions about books by Golden Age of Mystery authors such as Agatha Christie and Josephine Tey as she solves murders and deals with her somewhat complicated love life
(MURDER A LA CHRISTIE and MURDER THE TEY WAY).

In my latest series, The Haunted Library, 29-year-old Carrie Singleton relinquishes her Goth appearance for more traditional garb when she accepts the position of Head of Programs and Events in the Clover Ridge Library. In DEATH OVERDUE, which is now in the editing process,  a retired homicide detective dies while discussing a cold case he claims to have finally solved. Carrie takes on the task of finding the person that murdered him and the victim fifteen years earlier.

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

I always work from a rough outline, and think in terms of scenes. Before I sit down to write each day, I have a good idea of how I want to advance the plot and what clues or red herrings I need to include. That said, I’m always open to new settings and unplanned, interesting exchanges between my characters. Being a procrastinator, I do my best writing in the late afternoon/early evening. Then the words flow.

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

My first book, a young YA novel titled AND DON’T BRING JEREMY, was published in 1986. I was excited to read a wonderful review of JEREMY in Publishers Weekly. I was thrilled that a paperback book club bought the rights to the book, even before the hard cover version came out.

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

I do one of the following:

Go back a chapter or two to see if I can recapture the momentum. It may have stopped because I’ve veered off in the wrong direction.

I email my plotting group. We’re a group of mystery writers who help each other with murder methods, plot twists, titles, and many issues that have nothing to do with writing. We’re there to support one another.

Sometimes I’ll go for a walk and the problem will resolve itself. I think it’s good to have a variety of alternatives available.

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

I started to write in elementary school and still have my notebook of short stories from second or third grade. Of course my favorites in those days were the Judy Bolton, Trixie Belden, Cherry Ames, and Nancy Drew series. These days I read many, many mysteries, thrillers, and mainstream novels. Some of my favorite mystery writers are Charles Todd, Charlaine Harris, Marion Che41GaC8S-1wLsley/M. C. Beaton, Sara Paretsky, and Ann Cheeves. I could go on and on. They’re all wonderful storytellers, each with his or her own style and voice. They inspire me to write the best mysteries I can.

Thanks for taking the time to enjoy a lovely chat with me Marilyn and sharing with my fellow readers all about your tales of mystery and suspense for all ages. And friends, get to know Marylin and her work a little better for yourselves. Check out her website, Amazon author page, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest links while you’re toddling around on the net. And be sure to give her latest, THE DEVIL’S PAWN a read.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

 

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