LOIS WINSTON – Shares A Bit of Blogging History

When George invited me for a return visit to his blog, I asked him if he had a topic he’d like me to discuss. He suggested how I got into blogging.

 

 

 

I started blogging back in 2010 after selling my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series because my publisher had insisted that I have a social media presence beyond my website. What they really wanted was for me to have a Facebook presence. My editor pretty much insisted. She was one of those people who posts her entire life on Facebook, something that boggles my privacy-conscious mind.

I loathe Facebook—with a passion. I’d heard and read too many horror stories about Facebook, and that was way back then. Over the years, it’s gotten far worse. Talk about a “bully” pulpit (and not the kind Teddy Roosevelt had in mind)! I wanted no part of it. I’d been bullied enough in my life prior to the creation of the “social” platform that gave free rein to the extremely unsocial and antisocial elements of society. I had sworn I’d be the last person on the planet not “Zucked” in.

But my editor insisted. So I caved and set up a Facebook page. Within minutes, I was inundated with friend requests from creepy looking guys from Third World nations. I should have trusted my gut. It then took me several hours to figure out how to delete my account. Zuckerberg doesn’t make it easy to leave once he’s snared you.

When I did finally navigate the labyrinth to the Delete Account key, I emailed my agent. We brainstormed other social media, and I came up with the idea of Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, a blog that would be the online version of the magazine where my sleuth worked. Amazingly, my editor loved the idea—even if she wasn’t thrilled that I had deleted my Facebook account the same day I’d set it up. I appeased her further by also agreeing to set up a Twitter account for my sleuth and Pinterest pages to promote my books and the blog.

The blog has evolved over the past twelve years. I used to post five days a week but cut back to three a few years ago. I also used to have guests only on Fridays. Now I have as many guests as would like to come for a visit. This not only saves me time, but it’s a way of highlighting and networking with other authors, some of whom have become good friends over the years.

To be honest, I rarely post anything on Twitter. When I do, it’s book or writing-related, never personal or political. I usually forget to update my Pinterest pages. However, I’ve discovered that I do enjoy blogging. Along with Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, I belong to two group blogs—The Stiletto Gang, where I blog on the fourth Wednesday of each month and Booklover’s Bench, where I blog every seventh Thursday. I also do guest posts at other authors’ blogs, such as this one I’m doing for George.

Social media has since grown to include Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, and more. I won’t be joining any of them. Some people have said not being on all these sites adversely impacts the sales of my books. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I’d sell a few dozen more books a month if I spent hours each day on social media. But then, when would I have time to write my books?

Life is a series of choices, and we each must choose what we feel is right for us. I’d rather write my books than scroll down the rabbit hole of social media. What about you? How do you feel about social media? Post a comment for a chance to win an audiobook of Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun (US or UK only), the first book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series.

Guilty as Framed  –  An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 11

 When an elderly man shows up at the home of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack, she’s drawn into the unsolved mystery of the greatest art heist in history.

Boston mob boss Cormac Murphy has recently been released from prison. He doesn’t believe Anastasia’s assertion that the man he’s looking for doesn’t live at her address and attempts to muscle his way into her home. His efforts are thwarted by Anastasia’s fiancé Zack Barnes.

A week later, a stolen SUV containing a dead body appears in Anastasia’s driveway. Anastasia believes Murphy is sending her a message. It’s only the first in a series of alarming incidents, including a mugging, a break-in, another murder, and the discovery of a cache of jewelry and an etching from the largest museum burglary in history.

But will Anastasia solve the mystery behind these shocking events before she falls victim to a couple of desperate thugs who will stop at nothing to get what they want?

Buy Links
Paperback: https://amzn.to/3QLEYU5
Hardcover: https://amzn.to/3Ans5s6
Kindle: https://amzn.to/3tLnT3d
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/guilty-as-framed
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/guilty-as-framed/id6442846272
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/guilty-as-framed-lois-winston/1141500980?ean=2940185728703

17 Comments

  1. Lois Winston

    The winner of the free audiobook of Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun is Melinda Abraham. Melinda, I’ve sent you a private email. Please contact me if you didn’t receive it.

    Reply
  2. Lois Winston

    Thanks for stopping by, Candy. I hope you find a blogging topic that works for you, but one thing you might consider is blogging more often. Once a week instead of once a month might make readers remember to stop by to check out your blog more often, especially if you consistently blog on the same day of the week. Of course, that’s a lot more work and time invested. So you have to decide if it’s worth it to you. Good luck!

    Reply
  3. Candy

    Such an enlightening discussion. I blog once a month, and it’s stuff I find interesting such as odd facts about living in Mexico. But no one else finds it interesting, it seems. I also post about writer’s block which I seem to have permanently. I’ll keep searching for something that works. Thanks again for the story.

    Reply
  4. Violet Moore

    Lois, I used to blog about family memoirs with a hint of humor. After I switched to writing fiction, I corraled my straying characters into being my guests. They now provide a peek into my yet-to-be-published crime fiction novel with their humorous twists.

    Reply
    • Jessica Ferguson

      Such a wonderful post! I regret getting on social media but I do love keeping up with old classmates. Still…those “men in uniform” are plentiful and seem to multiply daily. You were smart, Lois!

      Reply
      • Lois Winston

        Jessica, we all have to decide where we want to spend our time. For me, there are other ways to keep up with people.

        Reply
    • Lois Winston

      Great idea, Violet! Some of my characters have done many guest posts for other authors, and I occasionally guest on my own (or should I say Anastasia’s?) blog.

      Reply
  5. Judith Jones

    I found a link to your blog via Sisters in Crime. I was curious what got you started blogging. (I’m an ex-blogger myself and I wrote about topics that didn’t genuinely interest me. So, I was glad to see the last of my blog a few years ago.) But when I read your blog’s origin story, I thought, “BRILLIANT!” What an exciting idea and what a great way to engage with your readers. Thank you for sharing! (BTW, I read the opening to your latest book – love that scene!)

    Reply
    • Lois Winston

      Thanks so much, Judith! Glad you enjoyed the scene. I hope enough to read the rest of the book! ;-D

      Reply
  6. Michael A. Black

    Excellent advice about the perils of social media, Lois. I’m glad you settled into the blog and that it suits your purposes. Best of luck with your new one. It sounds fascinating.

    Reply
  7. Melinda Abraham

    Lois, I share your loathing of Facebook and most social media. Much of it is not really social, it’s isolating and creepy. And what is with people thinking that everyone wants to follow everything that they do? Gee, check out this photo of the croissant that I enjoyed this morning. Now check out the giant margarita that I had with dinner.

    I do enjoy some blogs, including yours and George’s. Keep up the great work.

    Reply
    • Lois Winston

      Thanks, Melinda. So glad you like my blog. I completely agree with you regarding people who think everyone in the world wants to see what they’re eating for each meal. You can’t go to a restaurant these days without half the diners constantly taking photos of every course brought to the table!

      Reply
  8. Lois Winston

    Jim, I hope your wife doesn’t post anything personal on FB. It’s amazing how many people do so and wind up regretting it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    Reply
  9. Jim Guigli

    I, too, dumped Facebook after a short time. At the time, MWA recommended everyone be on Facebook. After a few weeks of seeing nothing worthwhile, I was done. The whole thing struck me as stupid. My wife still has an account. She communicates with our relatives and her Barbara Pym group.

    Reply
  10. Lois Winston

    George, thanks again for inviting me to visit today.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thanks for dropping by. I am flabbergasted that you use to post five a week. I do two, and it’s all I can do to keep up. Your posts inspire me to keep trying.
      Thanks for helping me in the early stages when I used some of your copyrighted content. You were gracious and forgiving. I continue to learn from you.

      Reply

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BARBARA NICKLESS – Wall Street Journal and Amazon Bestselling Author

Barbara Nickless is a Wall Street Journal and Amazon Charts bestselling author. Her newest series features forensic semiotician Dr. Evan Wilding—a man whose gift for interpreting the signs left by killers has led him to consult on some of the world’s grisliest cases.

 

“Dr. Evan Wilding is absolutely my new favorite fictional human.” (Danielle Girard, USA Today & Amazon #1 Bestselling Author of The Ex)

Dark of Night: When an historian is found dead from a cobra bite, only Dr. Evan Wilding can read the signs around her strange death—and follow the path to the priceless treasure behind her murder.

Groups: Mystery Writers of America (including the Colorado chapter—RMMWA) and Sisters in Crime (including Sisters in Crime – Colorado).

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I’m fortunate to have a room of my own, filled with books and decorated with items that inspire me—Egyptian paintings on papyrus, black and white photos taken in Africa, globes, and maps. I wish I could say I don’t allow any distractions, but I’m not that disciplined. My phone and internet access are right there in the room with me. But I always start my day with the phone in a drawer, and I don’t allow myself to log on to the internet until lunch unless I know there’s something I have to take care of.

Tell us about your writing process: I wish I could go straight from my bed to my desk—Dennis Lehane says he prefers to write first thing in the morning when he’s still in a dream state. But I have to start my day with breakfast, or I’d pass out at my computer after the first hour. So, breakfast while I read the news, then I make coffee and head upstairs to my study. I spend the morning writing new material and the afternoon editing and doing research, taking an early afternoon break for exercise. The late afternoon and evening hours are for items related to the business of writing or social media. Maybe a glass of wine and some reflection on the day’s work. Almost always a walk. I try to preserve my weekends as much as possible to spend with family and friends.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? The fact of a deadline. It’s a blessing and a curse. I’m so very grateful to have a deadline because it means my book will go out into the world after my publisher has worked their magic. But I never feel I can give the book everything it deserves. It’s a bit reminiscent of a time in college when I was taking a trig test, and the professor gave us a twenty-minute warning. After that, all my brain could process was “twenty minutes.”

What are you currently working on? I’m writing the third book in the Evan Wilding series, tentatively titled Play of Shadows. It’s about sibling rivalry, domineering fathers, and the question of how early in life humans show a penchant for evil. It’s also about mazes and the minotaur and the undeciphered hieroglyphic script of Crete.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Yes, in the most wonderful ways. The combination of moral support, shared stories, and practical craft lessons is invaluable. Writing can be lonely, and even though I’m a profound introvert, I’ve learned that having a writing community is priceless.

What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? For me, it’s describing men and women from the POV of a man. As a writer, I have to portray a woman the way a man (in particular, my protagonist) would see her—the details he would notice, the things about her he’d find most important. And I have to be equally careful to describe a male character the way another man would see him.

Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? It’s more the other way around. If I’m not bringing everything to the table, I’ll disappoint my characters—and I’ll be disappointed in the results.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Separate your goals into two categories: Those you have control over (improving your craft, reading a lot of other authors, how much time you spend at the desk) and those you don’t (whether or not a particular story or novel sells, how it will be received by the reading public, what the reviewers will say). Focus all of your energy on the things you can control and do your best to forget the rest.

Readers can reach me through my website: https://www.barbaranickless.com

And they can buy my books on Amazon (or at any other bookseller): Amazon Barbara Nickless

 

4 Comments

  1. Sonja Dewing

    I’m the same way about breakfast! I’ve tried to write before breakfast but my stomach won’t have it. Thank you for the inspirational words.

    Reply
  2. Barbara Nickless

    Thank you, Michael and Elizabeth! I do love to stretch myself with each book, even if only in a small way.

    Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    I found it interesting that you opted for a male protagonist rather than a female one, but it sounds as if your confidence has allowed you to pull it off. I found you advice very inspirational. Good luck with your new one.

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth Varadan

    I really enjoyed Barbara’s advice re: the two categories for goals, what you can contro and what you can’t. I also was struck by her advice for writing in the p.o.v. of the opposite gender. I haven’t tried it, as I don’t have the confidence that I would get it right. On the other hand, I just finished reading Magpie Murders, where much of the narrative is by a remale narrator, and I felt she rang very true. I had to wonder, how did he get it so right? Still, I think it’s a challenge, and hats off to Nickless. I love any mystery dealing with foreign lands, so I’m interested in her books, for sure!

    Reply

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CLAIRE M. JOHNSON – From Pastry Chef to Author

Claire M. Johnson worked as a pastry chef in San Francisco Bay Area for a number of years. Ms. Johnson’s first novel, Beat Until Stiff, was set in the restaurant world and was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and was a Booksense pick. Her second book in this series, Roux Morgue, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. She has written two Jane Austen pastiches and has recently finished a first-person POV historical memoir of Pauline Pfeiffer (Ernest Hemingways’s second wife) and a mystery set in San Francisco in 1930. She is currently President of MWA NorCal.

In 1930 San Francisco, the  Moore Detective Agency is two months away from closing its doors. When the wife of one of the most prestigious bankers knocks on their office door asking them to look for her wayward stepson, secretary Maggie Laurent takes the case. The aftermath of the stock market crash nine months earlier is now being realized in soup kitchens and bread lines. She needs this job to help support her widowed mother. Maggie soon finds herself up to her neck in murder, arson, and the lies and double lives of San Francisco’s wealthy elite. Will she be the next victim?

Do you write in more than one genre? I’ve written two mysteries, two Jane Austen pastiches, a standalone YA thriller, a first-person POV biography of Pauline Pfeiffer, and my latest book is a historical noir mystery set in 1930 San Francisco.

What brought you to writing? I moved to the suburbs! I found myself without a name, essentially. I was someone’s wife or mother. I felt my identity slipping away and was terrified that one day I’d walk up, look in the mirror, and there wouldn’t be anyone there. Writing is about as personal as it comes.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? For the first time in my life, I have a real office—no more laptop on the dining room table—with an old-fashioned oak desk that I got from UC surplus. I overlook my garden and am occasionally distracted by the antics of the squirrels chasing each other from tree to tree. Does this make me more productive? No, but it’s lovely to have all my books, my piano, and pictures of my family around me.

What are you currently working on? I’m working on the second in the series set in San Francisco in 1930, right after the stock market crash. In the first book, my heroine Maggie Laurent is the secretary to a detective. When a “dame’ does him wrong, he goes on a months-long bender, and she takes over a simple missing person’s case. Which, naturally, turns out to not be that simple.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Yes. I think that belonging to writers’ groups helps you establish a tribe that speaks the same language you do. You can share knowledge, frustrations, successes, and information on agents, what publishers will consider books without an agent, etc. Writing is a business, and I think that networking is critical. Plus, writers are a great group of people.

Who’s your favorite author? I have many favorite authors, but I would say that in this genre that John Le Carre is the master. The genius of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is that this book is 90% backstory, which is usually the death knell of any book. And yet… His book The Constant Gardener left me stunned for weeks.

How long did it take you to write your first book and get it published? Oh years. I was lucky that Poisoned Pen Press was just opening its doors, and they were open to writers without agents at that time. Unfortunately, it was difficult then, and twenty years later, it’s even more difficult.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? I think you must have subplots because otherwise, it becomes too formulaic. Subplots are an excellent vehicle for exposing characters that enriches what happens in the main plot arc. I think this is a tricky road to walk because you don’t want to detract from your main storyline too much. Otherwise, it only serves as a distraction rather as an element that is complimentary. That is the key function of a subplot. It should compliment and enhance some aspect of the main plot line, whether it be an expansion of a character study or even the secret key to solving the puzzle of whodunit.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I’m basically a pantser. For me, part of the joy of writing a book is discovering who my characters are. Even though I’m writing this, I’m also acting as the first reader. What are they going to do next? What are they going to say? I’ve heard many writers say that at some point, the characters take over. I have experienced that as well. Your id is firing overtime, and you can’t type fast enough. Even if you don’t use much or any of the additional material, it gives you insight into their character. I’m a character-driven writer, so this is the cream in my coffee. I will say that I always know the ending. First, this tells me why I want to write a book. The “why” a story needs to be told. Second, it gives me a goal post to write to.

Otherwise, I can get distracted by the shiny. I also have a fair idea of what the middle is. Sometimes that gets delayed a bit, but I think if you have a firm grasp on the middle of a book, say around 40,000–45,000 words, then you can race toward that end with the knowledge that much of the book’s character arcs are developed enough that you can concentrate on the action in the last half of the book. Not that you abandon your character arcs because you need them to respond to the plot arcs, but it does give you the freedom to go hell-bent for leather in the last half of the book. I also have a firm beginning in mind, but beginnings are hard for me. I always end up rewriting any beginning to my books a minimum of six times. Grabbing the reader in the first fifteen pages is hard, which these days is a mandatory requirement. The days when you are allowed to mosey into the plot are over.

What kind of research do you do? For my Pauline Pfeiffer historical novel, I delved into the world of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the ex-pat world of Paris after World War I. I have more biographies on this period lining my bookshelf than any sane woman should admit to. Also, that period saw an explosion of photographic documentation of history with magazines such as Life.

I’ve just written my first historical mystery novel, which is set in 1930 San Francisco. I’m old enough to remember much of older San Francisco, so I wasn’t faced with trying to capture what San Francisco looked like before the Summer of Love, at which point everything changed. Newspapers are a great source for photographs. The SFGate archive is amazing.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I hope it’s published! I have three finished novels I’m currently shopping. I have self-published before, and while I don’t relish the amount of work that self-publishing entails, I think all these books are good reads and deserve an audience, so I never say never.

Email: clairemjohnson@gmail.com
Website: https://www.clairemjohnsonwrites.com/
Blog: http://clairemjohnson.blogspot.com

Links for Books:

Beat Until Stiff
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beat-until-stiff-claire-m-johnson/1100278295?ean=9781615951031
https://www.amazon.com/Beat-Until-Stiff-Mary-Mystery/dp/1590589688/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Roux Morgue
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/roux-morgue-claire-m-johnson/1100277782?ean=9781615951048
https://www.amazon.com/Roux-Morgue-Mary-Claire-Johnson/dp/1590589106/ref=sr_1_1?crid=29UHLIDEI12KU&keywords=Roux+Morgue&qid=1659135592&s=books&sprefix=roux+morgue%2Cstripbooks%2C148&sr=1-1

Pen and Prejudice
https://www.amazon.com/Pen-Prejudice-Claire-M-Johnson/dp/061575726X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=XO33WX4FVRB2&keywords=Pen+and+Prejudice&qid=1659135714&s=books&sprefix=pen+and+prejudice%2Cstripbooks%2C138&sr=1-1

Resolution
https://www.amazon.com/Resolution-Claire-M-Johnson/dp/1089202172/ref=sr_1_5?crid=I7VQYY26PCL&keywords=Resolution%2BJohnson&qid=1659135774&s=books&sprefix=resolution%2Bjohnson

 

8 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Varadan

    What a range of genres and topics Claire M. Johnson writes, and they all sound fascinating. I love the idea of a noir mystery of the 30s set in San Francisco. Good luck to all the new endeavors.

    Reply
    • Claire Johnson

      Thank you so much, Elizabeth. It’s been a lot of fun researching that era. I’m very grateful that I don’t have to spend money on hats and gloves!

      Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    Sounds like a fascinating plot for a novel. I love the era and setting it in San Francisco is really neat too. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Claire Johnson

      Thank you, Michael: I grew up in the Bay Area, and so much of the era of the big department stores, etc., was still present when I was a kid. I can remember my parents buying me toys in the City of Paris for my birthday, and then eating down at the Wharf when it still WAS a working wharf. It’s been wonderful hunting down the history of the 1920s. I’m working on the second book in this series now, and, the rise of labor, with San Francisco front and center with the dock worker strikes. Sadly, San Francisco no longer has much of a working waterfront, all that went to Oakland and Stockton with the advent of the container business, but it’s still magnificent.

      Reply
  3. Katherine Cramer

    Claire M Johnson is a local Gem from the Bay. Claire knows her locations (SF, Bay Area and extending through Northern California + the world) and weaves authentic details. I’m so thrilled that Claire M Johnson shares her creative talents that make many of my loves (Jane Austen, Mystery, Style, Gourmet Foods, Aesthetic History and Characters) enriched and more alive. Thanks for the engaging interview George Cramer.
    Katherine Cramer (and no, I am not a Cramer relative!)

    Reply
    • Claire Johnson

      Thank you for all your support, Katherine. It means so much to me!

      Reply
  4. Donnell Ann Bell

    Fascinating! I love the title Beat Until Stiff, and I can’t wait to read your memoir on Ernest Hemingway’s second wife. Best wishes!! Thanks George, for another excellent blog!

    Reply
    • Claire Johnson

      Thank you, Donnell. I did ten years of research on Hemingway and his various wives. If I can’t get a publisher, I will certainly self-publish it. Pauline isn’t a very nice person, but she’s fascinating, and her story is a wonderful snapshot of that era.

      Reply

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FLEUR BRADLEY – Mystery Puzzle Master

Fleur Bradley has loved puzzles and (scary) mysteries ever since she first discovered Agatha Christie novels. She’s the author of numerous mysteries for kids, Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, which was on many award lists, including the Reading the West, Agatha and Anthony Awards, Sasquatch Award, and won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, Sunshine State Young Readers Award, and the Colorado Book Award.

A reluctant reader herself, Fleur regularly does librarian and educator conference talks on ways to reach reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, she now lives in Colorado with her family and entirely too many rescue animals. Find out more about Fleur at http://www.ftbradley.com and follow her on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.

Daybreak on Raven Island: From the critically acclaimed author of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel comes a thrilling new middle-grade mystery novel inspired by Alcatraz Prison.

Tori, Marvin, and Noah would rather be anywhere else than on the seventh-grade class field trip to Raven Island prison. Tori would rather be on the soccer field, but her bad grades have benched her until further notice; Marvin would rather be at the first day of a film festival with his best friend, Kevin; and Noah isn’t looking forward to having to make small talk with his classmates at this new school.

But when the three of them stumble upon a dead body in the woods, miss the last ferry back home, and then have to spend the night on Raven Island, they find that they need each other now more than ever. They must work together to uncover a killer, outrun a motley ghost-hunting crew, and expose the age-old secrets of the island all before daybreak.

Do you write in more than one genre? Although most people know me as the author of mysteries for kids, I also write short stories and YA. It’s good to stretch your writing muscle a little, I think. I also make sure I read a lot outside my own genre, so I know what’s going on.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in my home office—I’m so fortunate to have one! For years, I wrote in waiting rooms (while my kids were in gymnastics or art classes), food courts, and my dining room. It’s so nice to have a dedicated space. My kids are grown, so that helps too. I have all the time to write.

Tell us about your writing process: I usually start with a broad concept—the crime, since I write mystery, and what I want the book to feel like. That last part is a little vague, but I know a good recipe for a book when I see it, even if it’s just in my imagination.

Setting is a big part of my process too. It creates the mood, and with some research, I usually find ways to use setting. My most recent book, Daybreak on Raven Island, is set on a fictionalized version of Alcatraz. I used the real-life setting as inspiration for everything from the horror feel of the book to the mysteries my three kid characters are trying to solve.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Probably letting it go once it’s time for publication. You can edit forever. That’s just the truth. There comes a time to let readers pass judgment.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Both MWA and SinC here in Colorado have been hugely helpful. They cheer me on and provide simple camaraderie. It’s nice to have people to talk mystery with.

On the children’s writers side, I love my local chapter of SCBWI. I’m very lucky here in Colorado to have so many writer friends.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew to enjoy? I was not a fan of Stephen King until I started reading his short stories. I still don’t always have the patience for his really long books, but I can appreciate the storytelling now.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I love outlining, and the longer I’m doing this, the more I believe in outlining. It just takes too much time to edit without a solid outline. I teach outlining workshops now; I’m such a believer.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I like to take a real-life setting and then fictionalize it, so I can make it what I want. For Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, I used the Stanley Hotel here in Colorado (from The Shining, in case you’re not familiar). For Daybreak on Raven Island, I ‘built’ Raven Island based on Alcatraz. It’s such an incredible tool. Setting can change a story completely, so I try to have that figured out early on in my process.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? Daybreak on Raven Island just came out, so I’m spending a lot of time doing virtual and in-person events. Writing-wise, I’m working on another mystery for kids and another for teens. I hope to finish both by the end of 2022 and then will have to see if they find a home somewhere. There are no guarantees in publishing.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Stay positive, and surround yourself with people (especially fellow writers) who lift you up. Publishing is tough and full of rejection. You want friends to pick you up when you’re down and buy you cake when there’s something to celebrate.

How do our readers contact you?

Here’s my website: Fleur Bradley (ftbradley.com)

I hang out on Twitter: Fleur Bradley – preorder DAYBREAK ON RAVEN ISLAND! (@FTBradleyAuthor) / Twitter

And Instagram: Fleur Bradley (@fleurbradley) • Instagram photos and videos

7 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Varadan

    I have never been to Boucheron, but so many of my friends have. The year I planned to go in Sacramento, we moved to Portugal. (My husband and I love Portugal.) But I’m still happy for friends who get to attend this wonderful conference. On another note, my husbanad and I both enjoy your series so much!

    Reply
  2. Marilyn Meredith

    I met Fleur long ago at I think a Left Coast Crime convention. I loved Midnight at the Barclay Hotel and looking forward to reading the new one.

    Reply
  3. Margaret Mizushima

    So glad that you have another book out, Fleur! I can’t wait to read it. And I can’t wait until my granddaughter is old enough so that we can read them together! Best wishes for this new book!

    Reply
  4. Marie Sutro

    Fleur is absolutely right! Friends who pick you up are worth their weight in gold!

    Reply
  5. Debra Bokur

    I haven’t read this one yet, Fleur, but look forward to it. I loved what you did with the Stanley Hotel in Midnight at the Barclay Hotel. You have a keen sense of setting and atmosphere that adds so much to the fun plot. And, about cake…. Yes. Absolutely!

    Reply
  6. Fleur Bradley

    Thank you so much for the kind words, Michael. It means a lot, especially coming from you. Hope we get to catch up in person again sometime, been too long!

    Reply
  7. Michael A. Black

    Fleur Bradley is talent personified. I enjoy all of her books and short stories and her YA books are so good they appeal to readers of all ages. I’m thrilled to see she has a new one out. I’m going to order it today. Best of luck to you, Fleur.

    Reply

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JENNIFER CHOW – Author of Sassy Cat Mysteries and the L.A. Night Market Mysteries

Jennifer J. Chow is the Lefty Award-nominated author of the Sassy Cat Mysteries and the L.A. Night Market Mysteries. The first in the Sassy Cat series, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, was selected as an OverDrive Recommended Read, a PopSugar Best Summer Beach Read, and one of BuzzFeed’s Top 5 Books by AAPI authors.

 

JENNIFER currently serves as Vice President on the national board of Sisters in Crime. She is an active member of Crime Writers of Color and Mystery Writers of America. Connect with her online at www.jenniferjchow.com

Death by Bubble Tea Two cousins who start a food stall at their local night market get a serving of murder in this first novel of a delicious new cozy mystery series.

This is the first in a new series! I’m excited about the L.A. Night Market Mysteries because it combines my own personal history of working at a family restaurant with my love for food. Also, I get to add recipes at the back of the book!

(My other recent cozy series is the Lefty Award-nominated Sassy Cat Mysteries, which feature Los Angeles pet groomer Mimi Lee and her sassy telepathic cat, Marshmallow.)

How do you come up with character names? In general, I get inspiration from baby name books, online name generators, and the Social Security archives. For Death by Bubble Tea, Yale popped into my head because I know a few folks who are named after universities (yes, I do know a Harvard!). Celine’s name cropped up because I wanted to pay homage to celebrity-inspired names (along with popular artists and songs that my family enjoys karaokeing to).

We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave or run the show? My characters usually run the show. I’d love for them to rein themselves in, but a few like to hog the limelight. On the other hand, it puts them in interesting and precarious sleuthing situations. My comedic characters often add a huge dose of sparkling wit and humor.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? I usually do have a subplot. A lot of these are character-driven. In my last Sassy Cat Mystery, Mimi Lee Cracks the Code, Mimi Lee and her boyfriend Josh go on a romantic getaway that soon turns sour. She’s got crimes to solve—and a relationship to mend!

With Death by Bubble Tea, there’s an ongoing conflict with recently arrived Celine. Yale has to deal with her opposite personality cousin along with running a new food stall.

The subplots come organically, as I think they do in real life. People are dealing with multiple things on an everyday basis, and that’s reflected in my stories.

What kind of research do you do? I try to research in all sorts of ways. The Sassy Cat series had me visiting pet salons, going down the rabbit hole of YouTube pet grooming videos, and having vivid encounters with animals at dog readings, cat cafes, and more.

With the L.A. Night Market series, I suppose I unknowingly did pre-research. I’ve gone to multiple night markets (think lively festivals set in the evenings) in Asia and in the States. My family has roots in Southern China and Hong Kong, so I didn’t have to research those cultural aspects as much. However, I did keep a dim sum cookbook around while writing and had a Chinese dictionary handy. Since Book 1 is called Death by Bubble Tea, I also did obligatory boba tastings (yum!). For the recipes in the back of the book, I made several attempts and passed those culinary efforts on to my family to eat and drink.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I have a mix of real and fictional in my settings. Usually, it’s a made-up community in an actual geographic region. For example, the L.A. Night Market series has a small fictional planned community called Eastwood Village, but it’s positioned in the greater West L.A. area. I also had fun inserting real sites into this new series, particularly with the more unique locations that Yale and Celine visit as Yale takes her cousin around and introduces her to Los Angeles.

Links

10 Comments

  1. Thonie Hevron

    What a fun interview! I enjoyed all your answers and even learned a thing or two.
    I wish you great success!

    Reply
  2. Carl Vonderau

    I love the research you do. It sounds like a lot of fun. I also use naming books and Google searches to help name my characters.

    Reply
    • Jennifer J. Chow

      Thanks, Carl! Coming up with names and not replicating them can be tough work.

      Reply
  3. Debra Bokur

    I loved reading about your books, Jennifer, and can’t wait to explore them. Sassy cats! Love the whole concept.

    Reply
  4. Michael A. Black

    Great reading about you, Jennifer. You certainly have a unique method for choosing names of your characters. And I love the idea of a telepathic feline. Sometimes I think my cats are telepathic. Good luck with your writing.

    Reply
    • Jennifer J. Chow

      Thanks for the well wishes and for reading the post, Michael!

      Reply
  5. Jennifer J. Chow

    Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, George!

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      It’s a pleasure to have you and your new series here for a visit.

      Reply

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