When I signed with Cozy Cat Press, several of the authors eGreeted me immediately, making it feel like a real publishing home. Bart J. Gilbertson was one of those. That very week, he was launching his book in a brilliantly creative way–at the Dairy Queen!
I bought his debut nove,l DEATHBED AND BREAKFAST, just days before it shot to #1 Free Cozy Mystery, #3 Free Humor, and #15 Free Mystery on the Amazon hit list.
Richard Forester, a retired CEO for a major software company, and his granddaughter Penny show up at the Pookotz Bed & Breakfast one evening and find themselves in some rather unpleasant company. All the guests somehow seem to be connected to Richard’s past and when he is found dead the next morning, everyone is suspect. However, there are a few wrinkles that the inn’s owners Edna and Mildred Pookotz need to iron out as the murder investigation unfolds. Not only was Richard deathly ill, but he was also accused of embezzling $750,000 which is still unaccounted for. The local Sheriff suspects that this victim’s death is not a natural one, so he–and the sisters–set forth to discover who the murderer is.
There are plenty of twists and turns in this first ‘whodunit’ of the Pookotz Sisters Bed & Breakfast Mystery series which introduces you to the quaint mountain Oregon town of Pleasant Lake and its inhabitants.
Readers of the cozy mystery genre will fall in love with Edna and Mildred Pookotz, sisters and amateur senior sleuths, as they juggle the responsibilities of running a Bed & Breakfast and solving most bizarre mysteries!
The Outside Lane: How did you get started writing?
Bart J. Gilbertson: I really didn’t pay any attention to books until the 5th Grade when my teacher, Mrs. Moser, introduced me to the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. It was a 5 book YA Fantasy series that revolved around the adventures of a young man named Taran and his companions in a classic good -vs- evil backdrop. But it was more than that. It was the story of how a young boy became a man and found his place in the world, the meaning of true friendship and self value. Never before had I been so enamored by a book, let alone 5 of them! I got to create my own mental interpretations of the words in front of me. It was magic! The seed was planted and I yearned to write my own adventures, and I began to do just that. I have been writing ever since.
TOL: I love that a teacher and great books were what inspired you! Where do your ideas come from?
BJG: I would like to take credit for all of the ideas, but I can’t. Haha! The genesis of my novel, Deathbed & Breakfast, was a result of my sister and I tossing some ideas around late one night after she had just told me about a book she was reading at the time by Joanne Fluke. Before we knew it, we were laying the groundwork for what would become the first novel in a series I have planned out which centers on the amateur and comedic sleuthing antics of two sisters, Edna and Mildred Pookotz, who run a small town Bed & Breakfast. We laughed and joked and had a good time. Some of my ideas I get from real life experiences. Or I will take a current event that may have happened and think to myself “what if”. Ideas can come at me from anywhere at anytime really. One time (I know I should be cursed for life for this) I had a great idea for a scene during a prayer at church. Haha! I know, that’s terrible…but what can I say?
TOL: What’s been the biggest learning experience from your first release?
BJG: Two things really. First, I found out the importance of editing. You must edit, edit, edit and then edit some more. That is key. When I first turned in my manuscript to Patricia Rockwell (Cozy Cat Publisher and Editor), I felt I had a finalized masterpiece. I even had a great second twist ending in an Epilogue after the main story. And this was AFTER I had already gone through the manuscript several times on my own beforehand. Thankfully, Patricia had me make some vital changes and after it was all said and done, I could see that she was right. Having a good editor is invaluable. I appreciate Patricia and her patience with me very much. Second, the way books are being sold these days, it is SO important to be active in marketing your book. That is the second biggest learning experience for me. Instead of looking at it as work, I chose to look at it as a way to make new contacts and new friends. Have fun with it. I feel I’ve done just that. And I am still learning…on both counts.
TOL: What are you plans for your next novel?
BJG: Edna and Mildred will be at it once again, solving another murder in the town of Pleasant Lake, Oregon. In the first book, Deathbed & Breakfast, it was their first foray into the investigative world as they worked with local sheriff, Jake Blackwood. In the next novel, they find that have a real taste for it and become much more involved. I think the readers will see them begin to develop and blossom more into the characters that they are destined to become. The cook Felix will be as obnoxious as ever…haha! A lot of people have told me that he is their favorite character, so don’t worry. More Felix to come! The book is in the preliminary stages right now. Outlined mostly, but the actual writing will begin shortly. I have other ideas for both short stories, stand alone novels and another possible cozy mystery series as well.
TOL: How did you come to Cozy Cat Press?
BGJ: I actually had submitted my manuscript to Cozy Cat Press about a year and a half ago, but it was declined. It was the very first place I sent a query to. After 18 more months of countless queries sent to agents and houses alike, and receiving rejection after rejection, I had almost given up on going down the traditional road and was seriously looking at self publishing my book. I don’t know why, but I decided to go back to the Cozy Cat Press website and see if they were even around. Not only were they still there, but they had grown considerably! When I first submitted to them, there were only 4 authors. Patricia Rockwell, Diane Morlan, Alan B. Boyer and Sharon Rose. This time, they were over 20 authors. I took the time to read each of their Bio’s, and in fact, I went to Amazon and purchased a copy of It Takes Two To Strangle by Cozy Cat author Stephen Kaminski and read the entire book that night. My fire was refueled. I knew Cozy Cat Press was the place for me, a perfect fit. I sent Patricia another email asking to resubmit my manuscript. She return emailed me asking me to send it to her again. This time it was accepted and a contract was offered. I was elated! I got to go to the place that was my first choice to begin with. Ironic. So here I am, a Cozy Cat author and loving every minute of it!
TOL: So what about you? Who is Bart J. Gilbertson?
BGJ: The author bio says it all.
Bart J. Gilbertson is the author of the Pookotz Sisters Mystery Series. Although he was born in Wisconsin, he spent most of his youth and later years in the rocky mountain state of Idaho. He has been all over the northwest and it is his love for the lush green state of Oregon that inspired the setting for Pleasant Lake and its inhabitants.
He attended ITT Technical Institute in Boise, ID and received an Associate in Applied Science Degree for Computer Networking Systems and graduated with honors.
Bart has worn many hats over his lifetime career, but the one he is most proud of is that of being a writer.
He currently resides in O’Neill, NE. He has two children.
TOL: Thank you so much for stopping by to chat, Bart. I am really looking forward to being able to sit down and read your book! In the meantime, where can we find you?
BJG: Thank you Lane for the interview! I had a great time. Here are some links I’d like to share.
Link to my website
Link to my Facebook page: Bart J. Gilbertson, Author
Link to Pookotz Sisters Facebook page: Pookotz Sisters Mysteries
Link to the kindle format of Deathbed & Breakfast on Amazon: DEATHBED AND BREAKFAST
And of course, the link to Cozy Cat Press: http://cozycatpress.com