MARLA K. MORRIS – Combines True Crime and Fiction

Who Am I? I’m a lifelong central Ohio native educated at Capital University Law School. I enjoy true crime and police detective television shows like NCIS, Snapped, and Columbo. I have three grown children and two grandchildren. I enjoy adult coloring and diamond dot painting. My bucket list includes travelling to all fifty states and taking a Mediterranean cruise. I write true crime peppered with a bit of fiction.

What is your most recent release? Sweet Burial was released last month.  My inspiration was a true crime perpetrated in the central Ohio area in the early 90s. It’s a tale involving sex, lies, videotape, and murder. Rarely do newlyweds who experience marital conflict jump immediately to the drastic option of divorce. Christian Wright and his bride Chloe choose instead to engage the professional services of a marriage counselor soon after entering into what was supposed to be wedded bliss.  While initially there’s no physical violence between them, their relationship is rife with emotional, verbal, and psychological harm. Just as they are on the verge of ending it all, they learn Chloe is with child. Sadly, the birth of their son isn’t the blessed event they hoped it would be. Their child is differently-abled. Chloe embraces their son, while Christian rejects him as if he is a defective toy. A flimsy facade of family perfection is perpetuated to outsiders looking in for years. There is nothing Christ-like nor morally correct about the deadly choices Christian Wright ultimately makes, forever turning his family’s life upside down.

What was your debut title? His Dream, Her Nightmare was my first book. It’s a tale of misplaced trust. Our romantic choices do not always serve us well. This is even truer when duty or tradition rather than authentic love compels one to stay in a toxic relationship or marriage. Unfortunately, a young lovesick Winnie is unable to realize her condition will only lead to calamity. Winnie is determined to stand by her man Nelson even though he doesn’t value her worth as a woman nor her loyalty to him. To honor her vows, she is committed to him despite his criminal past, infidelity, and controlling ways. At her tipping point, when she is ready to finally leave their imbalanced union, Nelson won’t let her. Winnie disappears suddenly after they celebrate his milestone thirtieth birthday. With the help of his crafty lawyer, Nelson is able to stave off suspicions of her family, friends, and most importantly, the authorities for years. He is able to live his happily ever after as a free man until he meets his karmic end.

Why did you start writing? I originally tried to have a YouTube content creator highlight the real life case chronicled in my novella on her true crime channel. After forwarding research to no avail, I decided to tell the story myself. It explores how a woman who went missing in the mid-seventies from the Columbus area. She left behind her young children, a good job, and her jealous husband, who coincidently was a convicted rapist.  Because of its brevity, many readers are clamoring to learn more about whether justice is served for the main character Winnie. To that end, I’m working on the sequel, Her Dream, His Nightmare: The Saga Continues to be released in August of this year.

My writing grew out of my grieving process. I lost my mother to Covid-19 a little over a year ago, three days before Christmas 2020. The fictional main character murdered in my first book was a long-term friend of my mother’s. Pat, who is a staunch advocate for justice in the book, is the portrayal of my mother. The victim was among the first to benefit from facial reconstruction techniques developed at the Smithsonian.

I like writing about crimes in the past when gumshoe detective work rather than high tech science was the primary means to solving murder cases. I prefer settings in the 70s to 90s, because it forces the reader to imagine a time when cell phones, closed circuit television, and DNA either weren’t prevalent or at times nonexistent. Lastly, I have lived in Columbus all of my life, so there are references to many old restaurants, landmarks, and of course, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

What is your current project? Currently, I’m working on Misplaced Danger: A Fatal Prescription. It explores the interconnected lives of a greedy doctor and his drug addicted patient. Living on opposite ends of town, both are on paths to doom. The main character Teddy, a late bloomer, has challenging stressors at home and on his job. He has the misfortune of being referred to Dr. Ben Eagleston, who prescribes seemingly innocuous meds that only make his life worse. It’s full of plot twists. What’s more, it too is based on actual headline events from my sleepy hometown.

Are there any unique quirks in your writing? Without giving spoilers, I will point out two hidden themes. In Sweet Burial, there is a food or cooked dish mentioned in almost every chapter, even in a serious court trial scene. In Misplaced Danger, there will be direct and indirect avian references.

What is on your writing horizon? A series centered around femmes fatales is the future project brewing on the outer reaches of my creativity.  I have a working title, subtitles, and cover ideas. The antagonists will be ruthless, fierce, and violent women underestimated by their prey.

What advice would you give to another writer? Admittedly, I am a novice. If I had to give tips or advice to an even newer writer than myself, it would be two things. One, a writer writes. Keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas. Take time to write every day. My benchmark is daily word count because I have figured out my natural rhythm for writing.  Two, set aside time to work on your craft.  There are so many moving parts to this writing and publication process. The more you expose yourself to honing your craft, the better your completed works will be.

How do our readers contact you?

Amazon Central Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Marla-K-Morris/e/B09DP1XLSL/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Blog: Marlaz Memoz: https://www.blogger.com/blog/posts/848832704092691407?hl=en&tab=jj

TikTok: marlamorris3

Sweet Burial available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Burial-Tragedy-That-Beneath-ebook/dp/B09F86M2PR

4 Comments

  1. DONNARAE MENARD

    I’m thinking true crime might be in my future as a more serious reader. I don’t think I could stay the course as far as a sprinkling of fiction, I’d be dropping it in by the cupful. You took some hard subjects, and I heartfully wish you the best.

    Reply
  2. Katherine brinston

    I have read both of your books and enjoyed ever bit of them keep writing waiting on the new one to come out what a amazing writer and story teller

    Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    Wow, for such a nice lady, you certainly write about gruesome subjects, but I think that’s great. Your writing advice is certainly solid and right on the mark. Best of luck to you. Keep those pages coming.

    Reply

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VICKI BATMAN – This Author is Suffering a Case of the FITS

Hi, everyone! George invited me to return to his blog and write about… I was clueless. My most recent mystery came out last February. Since then, I’ve been working on three short stories that give me fits. I’ve written a lot of shorts; however, I’ve never had the troubles I’m having now. George said, “Write about the fits.”

 

I like to write romantic comedy; in fact, most everything I’ve done has been in the romantic comedy genre. Short ones. Long ones. Mysteries. Now, I’m working on three shorts to combine into my Sommerville days 2 collection. I don’t remember the other stories giving me fits like these.

Pixie Trixie-Is a twist on the Cinderella story trope. When our heroine’s best friend gifts her a beauty package with stylist Pixie Trixie, our heroine is extremely wary about trying something new but is persuaded. “Everyone raves about this place.”

Our heroine is moving forward, trying new things, and even falling in love. So, what’s the problem, the fit?

What does one do when the story isn’t funny like the others I’ve written? My romantic comedy reputation is at stake. OR is it? Can I let one story not be as funny? Or find a way to punch it up?

What are your thoughts?

Blogger Intrusion: Use the comment box to share your thoughts!!!

Kissing School-There’s no problem here with funny. The story’s first line is “Skip told me I’m a terrible kisser.” What kind of guy says that to his sweetie? (BTW, an untold fact: a date did say that to me. In my defense, I’d only been kissed twice. LOL.) This despicable boyfriend isn’t popular with the heroine’s BFF. He regifts his girlfriend a twinset, the color of smashed moldy peas, one his mother wore. Goes to Paris with his mother.

The solution? The BFF suggests Kissing School with online lessons and a meet-up with the “facilitator,” the BFF’s hunky cousin. Oh boy.

My fit with this story is just the other day; I thought everything was perfect, and then, I found a timeline error. Easily fixed, but my head is saying, “what else is back there?”

What are your thoughts?

Remember Me? I need to hit the ending so I can get this story finished. But so far, nothing spectacular is coming in.

Our heroine overhears her boyfriend’s phone conversation with his buddy, saying he wants to “hook up” with her before dumping her. She is pissed and is prepared to bolt four miles in cowboy boots at midnight. As she slips on her boots, she sees his BMW car keys and “appropriates” his treasured ride.

With the help of her old friend contractor, she arms herself with a “toolbox” to deal with the jerk. Naturally, our heroine will utilize her “toolbox” after confronting the ex and ride off into the sunset with the contractor.

I’m a pantser, meaning I write from the seat of my pants. Usually, divine inspiration explodes in my brain, and voila! The ending. Only this time, yeah, I have nothing.

My fit? This is my toughest story. I might have to write anything and revise, revise, and revise more to shape it into something worthwhile.

What are your thoughts?

 About Vicki Batman: Funny, sweet, and quirky, Vicki Batman’s stories are filled with hallmark humor, fun, and possibilities. She has sold many award-winning and bestselling romantic comedy works to magazines and, most recently, three humorous romantic mysteries. An avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Cat fancier. Best Mom Ever. And adores Handsome Hubby.

About Temporarily Out of Luck: Great job. What man? And murder. Newly employed at Wedding Wonderland, Hattie Cooks is learning the industry from a woman she greatly admires. When her former brother-in-law is found dead in his luxury SUV, all fingers point to Hattie’s sister, who is planning her own I Dos.

Detective Allan Wellborn is caught between a rock and a hard place—Hattie’s family and investigating the murder of a well-connected Sommerville resident. The same loser was once married to Hattie’s sister. Determining who’s the bad guy—or gal—isn’t going to be easy and sure to piss off someone.

Can Hattie beat the clock to find out who murdered Tracey’s ex before she is charged with the crime and her wedding is ruined?

Excerpt:

In my Book of Debts, I didn’t owe him one iota. However, I could hear my mother in my ear, trotting out a page from the “Right Thing to Do” lecture. What Stuart’s mom did broke all wedding protocol, and Allan doing his saintly thing, told her he would help, which translated meant he desperately needed somebody else’s help.

“Fine. I’m in, but you owe me more, like a date to the”—I grasped on the first thing that popped in my head—“opera.”

“Opera? Since when do you like opera?”

I held back a giggle. “Since yesterday.”

Allan blew a huge sigh. “Done.” He paused. “Opera?”

Find books by Vicki Batman at: https://www.amazon.com/author/vickibatman/

And: https://www.vickibatman.blogspot.com

5 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like you’ve got three winners there, Vicki. Just take some time to figure them out. (Every pantser’s dilemma.) I’ll offer my two cents, since you asked.
    Pixie Trixie– I’d have the place actually be terrible. Everybody raves about it because, like the Emperor’s New Clothes, they’re afraid to admit what they really think for fear of being labeled dumb or having someone say, “You just don’t get it.”
    Kissing School– Any guy who’d say that to a girl has to be an idiot, and a cruel idiot at that. She should present him with a gift that has a mirror on one side and a picture of someone’s posterior on the other and say, “Take your choice.”
    Remember Me?–How about having your heroine take the car only to subsequently find out that the BMW is about to be repossessed and she arranges to “return” the car just as her ex shows up so he can be confronted by a big bruiser of a repossessor?
    Anyway, best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Vicki Batman

      Hi, Michael. Your “three winners” comment is much appreciated. I am considering your advice for Pixie Trixie. Kissing School lessons force the heroine to stop thinking of the jerk as her beloved and look at someone knew. I just worried I’d overlooked something. And it is sooo funny. As for Remember me? I will look at the repossessor idea. Thanks so much for your insight! VB

      Reply
  2. Marsha R. West

    Hey, Vicki. Yikes! You seem to be writing all three shorts at the same time. That would make me nuts. You are a clever writer and while you are known for romantic comedy, your fans will forgive you one that’s not as hysterical as your others.

    Reply
    • Vicki Batman

      Thx so much Marsha for the advice. Im using read aloud feature in word and thats helping. Hugs. Vb

      Reply
  3. Vicki Batman

    Thank you for hosting me today, George. I hope I find some answers for my fits!

    Reply

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JUDY LUSSIE – AUTHOR OF BOUGHT DAUGHTER

Judy Lussie uses her cultural background to write stories about Asian-American women. Her latest novella, Bought Daughter, is based on her grandparents’ immigration to America.

 

Judy writes women’s contemporary novels. Lake Biwa Wishes and the sequel Second Time Around were her first two novels. Her short stories have been included in several anthologies. Her most recent novel is titled Bought Daughter.

The original Moy sisters and their mother. The baby is Judy.

Bought Daughter: When she was a child, Mei-Ling’s poverty-stricken father sold her to a wealthy family. Despite her status as a Bought Daughter, she was determined to go to America. When the Chinese missionary Ah Pu proposed marriage and travel to the New World, she jumped at the chance, even though she did not believe in his God. Could a Christian and an atheist succeed in marriage? Would her past forever haunt her?

What brought you to writing? While on the Board of Directors of Presbyterian publishing Corporation, I was asked to write a week’s worth of devotions for These Days Magazine. At the time, I was the Technical Information Director of Lawrence Livermore Lab in California. This was my first experience in paid non-technical writing. As a result, I received many letters from old friends and compliments from new readers. One man wrote that his wife suffered the same disease I had–polymyositis. The following year he wrote that his wife had died. I offered my prayers. Then later he wrote that he met a widow whom he asked to marry and thanked me for supporting him with my letters. Until then, I never realized how writing could help another person.

Has association membership helped you or your writing? Yes. California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch (of which I was Program Chair), San Francisco Writers Conference (5-year volunteer), and several writing classes. I met many New York Times best-selling authors and learned more about the art of writing, publishing, and marketing.

Who is your favorite author? I have many, but Lisa See, Erica Jong, and Catherine Coulter are at the top of my list. Each one writes in a different sub-genre, but all are great writers. Lisa See writes historical novels, Erica Jong writes women’s novels, and Catherine Coulter writes crime fiction.

Do you base your characters on real people? Yes. The characters in Bought Daughter are based on my grandparents, aunts, and uncle. The character Kyoko in Second Time Around is based on my granddaughter (when she was 3). I tried making up characters, but they seemed phony.

What kind of research do you do? The research for Bought Daughter fell into my lap. While visiting Angel Island Immigration Station, I was told I could find more information in NARA (National Archives and Records Administration). Previously, as a technical information manager, I was required to send NARA information with strict requirements. Finally, I became a user instead of a contributor. When I entered the facility, I showed them my grandparents’ travel info and signed up as a researcher. The attendant wheeled a cart full of papers in both Chinese and English, which they photocopied for me. With all that information, I knew I had to share it with others. I also use online resources. Taryn Edwards provided a comprehensive list of historical resources.

Where do you place your settings –real or fictional locations? I feel my story is more accurate in the locations I visited. For my first two books, I lived in Japan for two years and skied in many ski resorts around the world. For Bought Daughter, I lived in Chicago Chinatown as a child. I visited China as an adult.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Write, write, write. Even if you just put the manuscript on a shelf. Read, read, read. Highlight passages that move your heart and soul.

Thank you, George Cramer, for inviting me to be a guest blogger.

I can be contacted by email at Sursum Corda Press, LLC. I welcome your comments and questions.

 

9 Comments

  1. Karen Pidduck Vied

    Enjoyed reading your interview Judy.
    Thanks George for sharing this. Really enjoyed reading a bit of your blog! HHS ‘62

    Reply
    • Judy Lussie

      Thank you. Hope you and George renewed a friendship.

      Reply
  2. Alyce M Gee

    Your interview gave me an insight in how you became such an accomplished author. The book also gave me information regarding the struggles of what your grandparents had to overcome. Being the ‘baby’ of that large family, I thank you for passing this history to all the younger ones in our clan.

    Reply
    • Judy Lussie

      Thank you and you’re welcome.
      Peace

      Reply
  3. Marilyn J. Dykstra

    Thanks, Judy! Interesting to read how you started writing fiction and how you base your characters and settings!

    Reply
    • Judy Lussie

      Thank you.

      Reply
  4. Michael A. Black

    Interesting interview, Judy. I live in Chicago as well and always enjoyed visiting Chinatown and see the Big decorative gate there. Your story is fascinating and your tenacity is inspiring. Good luck with your writing.

    Reply
    • Judy Lussie

      Thank you. My uncle designed the gate.

      Reply
    • Brian Gee

      That big decorative gate was designed by Judy’s and my uncle Peter. Judy is my cousin.

      Reply

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SUE PEPPER – Not so Cozy Mysteries Set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

I’m Sue Pepper, and I write not so cozy mysteries for millennials. I live in the Pacific Northwest with my two kids, a fuzzy yellow dog, and a real-life action hero husband. I’m a former resident of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, pushed out by the billionaire-caused housing crisis, and I enjoy writing revenge and redemption for the fictional residents of my Jackson Hole Moose’s Bakery Not So Cozy Mystery series.

 

My newest book, Hot Springs Murder, is the second in the series and is set in snowy Jackson Hole winter. In it, my second-generation bakery owner protagonist Sadie Moose is enjoying a romantic evening in a moonlit hot spring with her new boyfriend when a dead body floating in the pool interrupts their steamy interlude.

Yes. Another dead body. But she is absolutely not getting involved this time. She has enough to do with a business expansion underway, her new renters, and her new relationship.

Except the chief suspect is the troubled grandson of one of the regulars at her bakery. She promises she’ll ask some questions to keep him out of jail. And then her new barista is a neighbor of the deceased, and she’s having a hard time sleeping, thinking someone in her tight-knit neighborhood is a murderer. So, Sadie asks a few more questions.

Soon, she’s embroiled in the investigation, with danger lurking around every snowy corner. With help from her sexy boyfriend, rowdy bakery crew, a maybe-mob-princess, and her trusty canine companion, Tyrone, Sadie must clear the mist surrounding this mystery before the killer boils her, too.

I’m excited to answer some questions today!

What is a not so cozy mystery? Cozy mysteries are defined by an amateur sleuth, unlikable victims, quirky characters, and a cozy setting. Death and violence happen off-page. My not so cozy mysteries have all those hallmarks, with the added spice of salty language and steamy scenes. They’re cozy mysteries for spicy romance readers, for everyone that’s watched a Hallmark movie and wished the characters acted more like real people. While my series has romantic elements, each book doesn’t have a Happy Ever After or Happy For Now, so they don’t qualify as romance. There will be an HEA within the series arc, though!

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I knew Jackson Hole was the perfect backdrop when I started writing this series. The tension between the strained local workforce, billionaire second and third homeowners, developers, tourists, wildlife, and conservationists was too delicious to pass up! We lived in Jackson for three years, and we miss it dearly. Setting my series there helped me reconnect with it and our memories of the place.

Most of the specific establishments are based on actual businesses, but renamed, moved, and tweaked for my purposes. Moose’s Bakery, Sadie’s family business, is inspired by three Jackson Hole coffee houses. It has the vibe of Cowboy Coffee Co, the location of Persephone Bakery, and the knotty pine look of Jackson Hole Roasters. Get Rich or Thai Tryin’, the Thai food truck my characters frequent, is imaginary, but how fun would it be if it was real? In Hot Springs Murder, the book is set at two different hot springs. Pritchard, which is based on the real Granite Hot Springs, just moved for my convenience and renamed, and Astoria Hot Springs, which are real and located just where I said in the book. I think taking author’s license to make things the way I wish they were is one of the most enjoyable things about writing!

Do you have subplots? How do you weave them into the series arc? My goal for this series is twelve full-length books with interstitial short stories between each, so my books are ripe with subplots! The lives loves, and adventures of each of the characters, not just my main character, will be explored throughout the series. Sadie’s crusade against developers and the ongoing workforce housing crisis is also an overarching plot. In book one, Mountain Town Murder, Sadie’s childhood home is under threat of being razed to make way for pricey condos the workforce can’t afford. I won’t spoil the ending, but the decision she makes about her home will play out for the series. I love writing my interstitial short stories, which occur between full-length novels and handle a smaller mystery, but flesh out subplots I don’t have room for in the main books. I have two of those out, Escape From the North Pole #1.5 and A Deadly Secret Admirer #2.5.

What brought you to writing? I’m the stereotypical “I’ve been writing all my life” person! Since I can remember, I’ve been scrawling ideas down in notebooks and hoarding them under my bed where no one could read them. I’ve plotted out dozens of books but never could get past the beginnings. I’d almost given up, but the pandemic brought me home with my kids, and over time, I started carving out time to research self-publishing and the business of writing. Last year, the idea for this series hit me, and I decided to write it, put it out on Wattpad, and stop worrying about what people would think. While I didn’t build much of an audience on that platform with only one story, I completed a book! After lots of tweaks, I published Mountain Town Murder in November 2021, and the floodgates opened. Now I can’t stop writing, and I plan to release four full-length novels in the series this year.

What are the challenges of being an indie author? I find being an indie author challenging but also so freeing. Whatever the problems I have are, it’s up to me to fix them. I get to set my priorities, and the limit to what I can learn and what I can earn are on me! The biggest challenge is balancing time between writing and marketing, as well as building funds to invest in editing, cover design, and more. I’ve found great self-publishing communities online that have taught me so much!

When’s your next book coming out? Book three in the series releases 4/26/22! Boss Babe Murder is set at a multi-level marketing retreat cut off from the world and is my first locked-room mystery. Sadie’s on her way to a hard-earned all-inclusive beach vacation, but she needs to make just one stop before she heads to the airport. When the road closes behind her, she finds herself stranded with the leaders of a pyramid scheme and their acolytes, including her in-to-deep friend from college and a mysterious man from her past who’s hiding his true identity. When one of the company leaders is murdered, and help can’t reach them, Sadie must solve the mystery to clear her friend’s name and discover the killer before they strike again.

Thanks for having me, George!

Find Sue Pepper online at www.suepepperauthor.com, on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

16 Comments

  1. Darlene Dziomba

    A series set in Jackson Hole, I can’t wait to read it. Congratulations on succeeding as an Indie author. I’m self-publishing my first book this year. I agree there are challenges, but freeing to set my own deadlines.

    Reply
  2. CINDY SAMPLE

    Great interview, Sue. I love that part of the country so I’m looking forward to checking out your “not so cozy” cozy.

    Reply
  3. Mary Hagen

    I married a man who grew up in Jackson and often lamented over the changes. Although I’m not into steamy, I love stories about the beautiful valley. Looking forward to reading it

    Reply
  4. Susan Drew

    I love your books, Sue! Sadie is such a great character. I can’t wait to dive into your next book and catch up with all my favorite bakery buddies.

    Reply
  5. Sue Pepper

    I’m having trouble threading replies, but thank you everyone for the comments!

    Carole – nice to “meet” a fellow PNW writer!
    Ana – I also visited the Tetons when I was 11 on a family vacation, and they left a lasting impression on me. Little did I know twenty years later my family would end up living there!
    Margaret – Thanks for your kind comments!
    Helen – I have a lot of fun writing it, so I hope it’s fun to read, too!

    Reply
  6. Sue Pepper

    Thanks, Nancy! I cannot claim to have created it, but as soon as I heard it I knew it was what I was writing!

    Reply
  7. Carole T. Beers

    As a fellow Northwest scribbler—and fan of Jackson Hole—I soaked in your post, seeing so many other points of delight: sassy cast, a canine buddy, crime puzzles with ‘benefits.’ Nice to discover you!

    Reply
  8. ana manwaring

    I loved my visit at age 11 to Jackson Hole and the Tetons. Mom bought a painting that my brother and I have fought over since 196. Who would inherit it? Unfortunately, he won. But I loved it there so much I’m already your fan before I read word. And I like your publishing plan. You’ll make sure I meet my Goodreads reading goal!
    Ana

    Reply
  9. Margaret Mizushima

    So glad you reached the stage of not caring so much what people think! That is definitely freeing. Congrats on your series, and I enjoyed reading about your not so cozy mysteries. Great setting and I love the image of a corpse floating up while things are getting steamy in a moonlit hot springs! Wishing you all the best!

    Reply
    • vicky

      yes

      Reply
  10. Michael A. Black

    I enjoyed hearing about you and I love the “Not so cozy mystery” designation. Best of luck to you on completing your series. It’s great you’re writing about Wyoming and the modern West. Stay strong.

    Reply
  11. George Cramer

    Glad to have you stop by for a visit.

    Reply
  12. Sue Pepper

    Thanks for having me on your blog, George!

    Reply

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BARBARA BUTTERFIELD – Is currently working on her 60th novel.

Ms. Barbara Butterfield is California-born and raised and currently resides in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, where she lives with her favorite feline friend: Baybee.

Romance, integrity, suspense, playfulness, and personal growth are all values that play a vital role in her novels. More importantly, the gospel and spiritual growth are also an aspect of life into which she delves.

Ms. Butterfield has written for many years, her first novel having been penned at the age of fourteen. She also studied writing and journalism, becoming the Editor-In-Chief of the school’s newspaper.

My latest work, “A Curious Christmas,” will be coming out shortly. These days, I primarily write in the military and law enforcement genres, so this light-hearted romance with a touch of psychology, mixed with a healthy dose of poignancy, is a bit different for me.

“A Curious Christmas” synopsis: Alysha Dunsworth is running from haunting memories of tragedy but soon discovers there’s no guarantee of winning the race.

Two recently published novels were a particular favorite to write: “The Last Flag” and its sequel: “Partners in Crime.”

     

 At the time, Charles and Zach, the two leading characters, were co-workers of mine. I used their names because of their personalities and the way they interacted with each other, but the storyline was created.

Because of their inspiration, those books were so much fun to write. Total ‘guy’ books, these two novels don’t even have a leading lady.

The Last Flag goes from Charles and Zach serving in the Marine Corps to Partners in Crime, where we see they have been discharged (honorably, though just barely) and now recruited into the FPI (Federal Piracy Interdiction), which is a division of the FBI and the trouble they get into there. When all is said and done, and the angst and laughter have subsided, Charles and Zach save the day and go from being toast…to heroes. Both are exceptionally entertaining yet complex stories.

So, years ago, friends said, ‘you ought to write a book.’ It seems they got a warped kick out of my letters. One person even complimented me by saying my humorous writing style was a cross between Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry. I have to admit that was quite humbling.

One day, while waiting for the moving van to arrive, I was bored. Everything was packed, except the computer. I sat down and tapped out a single paragraph that later developed into a 7-book series, and that was that. Now, eighteen novels later, I’m still writing.

I write in my living room at a little table that I pull over in front of my easy chair, with my old laptop (that I should replace.)

I write from emotion, which means I feel what I write. Consequently, my books are not written sequentially, but each chapter is written based on how I’m feeling at the time and then inserted where it belongs in the story, like driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles by way of Denver.

Writing comes very easily to me. In twenty years of writing, I can only think of one time that I had ‘writer’s block.’ I had a friend at the time who was a lawyer in Texas, I lamented to him, and within minutes he sent me a 1-page ‘idea.’ I was off and running, and “The Rogue of Port Cuevas” was born (my own 1800’s pirate’s story).

For me, the most challenging aspect of writing is suspense. I’m in too much of a hurry to let my readers know what’s going to happen. So, I have to pace myself. Not always an easy thing to do. That said, the only people that die in my novels are the bad guys. The bad guy in “For Love or Money” was particularly obnoxious, and he did get it good in the end.

I do my research online. Google can be handy. But also, as applicable, my friends can be a resource: an RN (who also edits for me), a retired USAF colonel who was a pilot, a retired USMC captain, etc. I belong to one writers association, and the expertise of its members is also a good resource.

I rarely use an outline to write from. But I have at times, depending on how convoluted the plot/sub-plots are.

My characters are created, but I often use my friend’s names for my characters. I’m fascinated by names, so when I run across one that is particularly interesting, odds are… it’ll turn up in a book.

Another aspect of my writing is that I create the covers. I have used some ‘stock’ photography, but I moved into doing my own cover and interior galleys quite some time ago.

I orchestrate the whole gig: models, locations, props, and costuming. For “Journeys with Jesus,” I produced a music video to compliment the story. It was a unique and moving experience to watch the production unfold and see the story spring to life.

I choreograph the entire production: scene by scene and time it to include both camera time and costume changes. Depending on the complexity, I’ll host a pre-production meeting. In short, it’s a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.

Lastly, hmmm, advice for new writers? Writing can be a special and unusual calling. It can be rewarding and frustrating. Getting into writing is one of the hardest things you will ever attempt. It almost seems as if literary agencies exist merely to reject your work, thereby kicking you to the proverbial emotional curb. Roll with it, learn, and keep going.

I self-publish for this very reason. It still gets the book out there where people can read it and like it. In my case, people love my work and have told me so. But all I get from agencies are rejections. Hence, I self-publish…and keep going.

Also, writing doesn’t pay, not until you build a name and reputation, and that can be a long, hard climb, and it surely doesn’t happen overnight, if at all. So, you write not for the money, but because it is the heart of who you are.

So, in short, write. If there’s a story inside of you, it will find a way to make itself known.

Also, you never write a final copy when you first sit down at the computer. You will write and then fix it. Then read it, and change it. Eventually, you’ll end up with a manuscript that is just the way you want it.   If you’re having a hard time starting, just sit down, jot out a paragraph and see where it leads. Remember, you don’t always need a map to see where the road may lead.

Readers are welcome to contact me at my email babsbutterfield@hotmail.com. Books may be purchased through any online retailer like amazon.com or Barnes & Noble, etc.

 

2 Comments

  1. Gail Chavez

    It has been such a joy working with Barb and reading her books. A few are not my cup of tea and she has shared that is the writer’s prerogative. But I love reading them and about the characters she creates. Journey’s with Jesus is one of my favorites. Keep writing Barb and never let go of the dream.

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    Wow, sixty novels and still going strong is an inspiration to writers everywhere. Keep going. Best of luck to you.

    Reply

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