The thing about writing is that you never really know what you know, or what you don’t know until you start trying to put it down on paper. I think the funniest thing is finding out what you do know. What bits and pieces of information have settled into the grooves of your brain, collecting dust for years until you suddenly you find yourself recollecting it in the heat of the writing moment. I was having some of those moments last night.
I tore up nearly 20 pages of work to revamp my opening last night, only to realize it isn’t my opening at all. It’s somewhere closer to the middle. I had to rewrite a lot of Telling with some Showing. I can say, “Bobbie’s mother-in-law thought she dressed poorly,” and that tells you something. Or, I can say, “Margaret Clayton eyed Bobbie’s get-up with an expression of fearful disgust that I only ever saw when my mother was cleaning out Rusty’s pockets before doing laundry. And even then, there was some fondness in her eyes. Mrs. Clayton? I had a feeling Bobbie could trade in her Target for Talbot’s and the only softening in her future mother-in-law’s gaze would be for the brand tag sewn into her shirt back.” That shows you a lot of things.
If I just tell you something, you have to trust my word and that’s that. But if I show you the picture of something, you are allowed to infer and draw your own conclusions. If I do it properly, you enjoy it more. If I do it properly, I’ve given you a wider view of the character’s world. If I don’t do it properly, you just get a lot of strawberry scented elegance, and I do try to avoid that.
And that’s why I had to tear up 20 pages. I spent 20 pages telling you things I should have shown you. That’s good, though. I mean, you need to know just why Mushroom and Cockatoo made Bobbie cry, and how that came to be, or else when it comes time to start pointing fingers at murderers, you aren’t going to care.
I am very excited to announce that TIARA TROUBLE and I will be at the Boston Book Festival at Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts on October 19, 2013.
I’ve never been to Boston, so I am doubly excited to visit. And triple-y excited to get to see Boston in October! Trees! Colors! Harbors that taste like tea!
Most, I am excited to start promoting TIARA TROUBLE. I can’t wait for you to get your hands on a copy, and let me know what you think of Destinee and her Dolls, Tishelle and her Divas, and the mystery murderer and his/her motives.
Drema J. Reed: I was a nurse for 45 years working in ERs and disaster relief. Retired and was at loose ends so I sat down and wrote my first book KILLER IMAGE. I am attending Portland State University right now in my senior year working for a degree in Anthro/Archaeology and I love it. I live in Portland, Oregon near kids, grandkids and lots of friends.
TOL: Where do you find your characters for your books?
DJR: My books contain characters of people I went to school with some 50+ years ago. Me and three of my best friends retired (in the book) and decided to open an art gallery. In the first book, we find a dead body in our back room and head off into an adventure that pits us against a jaded police detective and a bunch of terrorists who were responsible for the bombing of the Al-Khobar Towars in Saudi Arabia.
The second book KILLER GENES centers on the kidnapping of a young man who is working for a gene research company and is kidnapped by people in the Pharmaceutical Company who are trying to stop a discovery that would cut into their profits big time.
The main characters are myself (D.J. Kelley, my three friends Nita Marie Bates, Jo Murphy, and Bobbie Sichel with appearances of other characters based on members of our high school class.
TOL: I love that you’ve created an alternate reality, where you get to live out your fantasies at a safe distance from any real danger! What got you started?
DJR: I started writing out of boredom and decided I would create a comedic piece, just for myself and a few close friends, with no intent to be published. I really love a good laugh.
My ideas are taken from actual situations that have occurred and embossed with comedy and characterizations of my friends. The main character in the book I have based on myself and my “little voice” which is me to a T.
TOL: What’s been your biggest learning experience as you’ve published your books?
DJR: My biggest learning experience was to realize other people think what I write is funny–which it is intended to be–and not to let your ego get involved in your books. Some people like them, some don’t. So What??
TOL: What’s next for you?
DJR: I have completed the first two books of the series, the second being KILLER GENES, and am almost finished with #3, the title of which has yet to be determined.
TOL: Do you have any advice for up and coming authors?
DJR: As for advice, I would just say “do it” because you never know what might happen. My first book languished in my computer for over four years before another writer friend of mine read it and encouraged me to have it published. My daughter-in-law who has written 25 published books, explained to me that I was a writer rof “Cozy Mysteries” and to go on line and see what came up. Cozy Cat Press was the first in line so I sent my book as Pat requested and she liked it. Before I knew it, I was a published author. Will wonders never cease!!
TOL: Drema, thank you so much for joining us at The Outside Lane.
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.
I have great news! TIARA TROUBLE, the first in the Destinee Faith Miller Mystery series, will be available for purchase on 10/28/2013. Eee!
And that’s the cover, right there! All Destinee’d up with her signature pink and zebra. You knew Destinee’s signature colors were pink, black, and zebra, right? Unlike her trampy arch-nemesis, Tishelle Tucker, whose signature colors are red, black, and leopard.
So, now with a release date set, and behind the scenes plans going into action, I will admit to you that I am scared. What if it flops? What if people hate it? Why did I write so many words? Is anyone going to get my sense of humor? What if I’m not a good writer?
A lot of what-ifs, people. Ultimately, if it flops, it flops, and if people hate it, they hate it. I wrote so many words because they seemed necessary at the time, and if I continued to second guess myself, it would have been whittled down to the length of a magazine article. If no one gets my sense of humor, that’s fine–like that hasn’t happened before. I’m okay with the sound of crickets. And, I know I write well. Whether, or not other people agree that I write novels well is yet to be seen.
I think I got so used to people telling me that I wasn’t ever living up to my fullest potential that I never think my efforts are my best. Or, maybe I’m afraid they are. And if they are, what does that mean? Does that mean I am not the rare Sparklefly my mother thinks I am?!
I think about that a lot when it comes to how I parent. I see a lot of myself in Thor. He is an exceptionally smart child, and he is an exceptionally creative daydreamer–those two things don’t add up to Straight A Student. That doesn’t mean he isn’t living up to his fullest potential, though. That means that this is his groove.
Grades don’t show potential. Grades show self-discipline. Kind of like being an accomplished musician is different from being a talented musician. You can be taught to play anything. You can’t be taught to create. What is ideal is when you have the self-discipline to make the grades, and the potential to turn that self-discipline/learning into something.
I tell Thor that he must strive for excellence. I expect him to try his hardest, and not give up. I don’t expect him to make perfect scores, but I expect him to work toward getting things right–he should want to get things right. I don’t expect him to be the top of his class, all honors, everybody’s all-American. I expect him to fully utilize his resources, and do the work. Where he lands, he lands.*
I have, and will continue to impress upon him that education/school is what gives you the tools to build a future. Does he want a brain that is like the little pig who built his house out of straw, or does he want a brain that is like the little pig who built his house out of bricks? Well, he has to have to right tools to build the kind of brain he wants, and the right tools are often heavy and take more effort to lift.
Writing this, I am thinking about the wonderful teachers I had, who outweighed the awful ones. Good teachers are brain-tool salesmen, who make you think you can’t live without knowing how to parse a sentence, or solve a quadratic equation. You just have to have that ability to name the colors in the rainbow! You absolutely MUST get in on that ability to recite the Gettysburg Address! You cannot possibly go another day without reading The Scarlet Letter! Because good teachers get you to buy in to the mental body building it takes to wield the tools, and the stamina necessary to keep going.
It isn’t necessary to be a sparklefly. Sparklefly is only good for so much. But it is necessary to build a solid foundation and the self-discipline to put that foundation to work. Enough elbow grease can shine up an ordinary fly to look sparkly.
I worked hard at TIARA TROUBLE, and I’m not going to lie and tell you I didn’t on the chance that it fails. You know, so I could say, “Well, it’s not like it was my best effort.” I honestly don’t know what my best effort looks like. All I can tell you is that I worked very hard and I am proud of the result, and I really hope you like it. I hope it makes you laugh. I like it. I’ve had to read it about 60 times now, and I still make myself laugh.
So, thank you Mrs. Farr, Mrs. Mendina, Dr. Chaisson, Dr. Morris, Mrs. Monroe, Mrs. Anderson, Mr. Cargile, Mrs. Mack, and Mrs. Barnes. You were excellent brain-tool salespeople, and the fact that I am a functioning adult, much less a published author at all is a credit to your mad skillz.
*There is no Tiger to this Mom. That might not be something to be proud of, I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out in about 20 years.