Posted in Cozy Cat Press, Interview with the Author

Interview with the Author: Swinging by a Silk with Barbara Jean Coast

I want you to read everything that follows with a mental martini in hand, your most fabulous frock or dinner jacket, and some Dean Martin playing in the background.  This post is to introduce you to Barbara Jean Coast, author of the Poppy Cove Mysteries, rather, to introduce you to Andrea Taylor & Heather Shkuratoff, the best-friends-since-childhood writing team behind Barbara Jean Coast and Poppy Cove’s silky style.

I was hoping to have STRANGLED BY SILK finished in time to add a review to this post, but (as usual) I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, so pleasure reading is taking a backseat to freelance writing work.  What I can tell you is that from the start of STRANGLED, I was smiling over the style.  I am really looking forward to being able to sit down and sink into the atmosphere.  Until then, I am enjoying Barbara Jean’s Facebook page, where she posts witticisms and wisdom daily.  Things like, “I was tickled when he told me I was the apple of his eye until I saw how many trees he was harvesting!” and “If ‘happy’ only lasts one hour, you’re going about it all wrong” and “Fancy soaps and clean towels make guests feel welcome. Now you know what to do when you want them to leave!”

You get the idea.  The Poppy Cove stories are set in the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50′s, early 60′s and revolve around the glamorous comings and goings of the social set of the town, with a little murder and mayhem thrown in for good measure.

Definitely check out Barbara Jean Coast and Poppy Cove!  They are my fellow Cozy Cat friends, and have already shot up to the most recommended for Kindle in the cozy mystery ranks.

The Outside Lane:  How did you get started writing?

Andrea Taylor:  Since childhood, my imagination was working overtime.  As soon as I could hold a pencil, I was putting my ideas on paper.  There was a great joy in making up stories, games and play-acting.

Heather Shkuratoff:  I have always been an avid reader of every genre, but I’m especially fond of cozies.  I like the way they create worlds and characters in a bucolic fashion that make a person want to know the people and visit the places.  The idea for the Poppy Cove Mystery Series felt like that kind of story of place and time that wanted to be told.

TOL:  Where do your ideas come from?(Or, more specifically, where did your series’ main character come from?)

HS:  I have a background as professional dressmaker and seamstress, even ran my own shop years ago.  Shortly after I decided to close up shop, I approached Andrea about the idea of a cozy mystery based on a design atelier and the people who frequented it.  She liked it and within a few hours we were brainstorming.  She really caught on to the basic concept and had some great descriptions of the main characters and plot lines, while I focused more on clothing details and place descriptions.  The more we talked, the more we felt we were on to something.

AT:  My ideas about our main characters for STRANGLED BY SILK (the first in our series) came from what I imagined two, young independent women of that time period to ideally be.  I also knew that the characters needed to be distinctive from one another.  Margot’s the cool, calm and creative intellectual.  Daphne’s the sporty, fun-loving quick thinker.  As the series goes on, we’ll all learn more about what makes these two girls tick and click.

TOL:  What’s been the biggest learning experience of your first release?

AT:  For me, the biggest learning experience I have had with the release of our first book is juggling and balancing between writing, promoting and living.

HS:  I agree.  Before when we were just writing the first book, that’s all we were doing in the course of the series.  Now, we’re working on the second, keeping track of notes for series consistency, marketing and promoting the first book and still looking (and occasionally finding!) time to have a life.  All in all, we’re pretty lucky and happy.  There are certainly worse problems to have!

TOL:  What are your plans for your next novel?

AT:  For our next book in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series we are bumping off a beauty queen!  Also, we’re introducing some new characters to the Santa Lucia canvas as well as bringing back the cast from STRANGLED BY SILK who are still alive to add in all the delightful background story lines and details.

HS:  It starts a few weeks after the first novel with the fall fashion show at the Santa Lucia Charity Ball, held at the Yacht Club where Nora Burbank, Miss Santa Lucia, is the darling of the show.  Things go terribly, terribly wrong for her shortly after that.

TOL:  Any advice for writers?

AT:  My advice for writers is to love the story your are telling, be patient, have perseverance and just keep writing.

HS:  Yes, keep writing!  Do your research and craft your words.  Above all, enjoy the process and get lost in your own world.

TOL:  How did you come to Cozy Cat Press?

AT:  We found Cozy Cat Press online, read an interview with Patricia Rockwell and were comfortable with the idea of this being the right home for our series.  We sent off a query and manuscript as we were doing with various presses, and when an invitation for a contract arrived, not only was it exciting, it felt like it was the right fit.

HS:  We were very grateful for the opportunity and really glad that we signed on.  There was a quiet knowing under the excitement, that sense of something that’s meant to be.  We’ve had great support and met such talented, interestingly diverse fellow authors that have been very helpful and nice people to boot!

Facebook:  “Friend” Barbara Jean Coast & “Like” Poppy Cove Mysteries

Andrea and Heather, thank you so much for being with us on The Outside Lane!

Posted in books, Cozy Cat Press, Interview with the Author

Interview with the Author: Drema J. Reed

Up next in our collection from Cozy Cat Press is Drema Reed, author of the Art Gallery Mystery Series.

The Outside Lane:  Tell us about yourself, Drema.

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.

Drema J. Reed–Killer books!

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.

Find out more about Drema on her Amazon Author page, follow her on Facebook, and buy Killer Genes and Killer Image at the links included.

Posted in books, Cozy Cat Press, Interview with the Author, writing

Interview with the Author: Bart J. Gilbertson

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!

Dairy Queen has all the best stuff.
Dairy Queen has all the best stuff.

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.


Bart and his book.  The first release was a great learning experience.
Bart and his book. The first release was a great learning experience.


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.​

Bart J. Gilbertson
Bart J. Gilbertson

 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:



Posted in books, Cozy Cat Press, Interview with the Author

Interview with the Author: Blanche Day Manos

Now that I am part of the Cozy Cat Press family, I thought it would be nice to introduce you to some of the other fabulous felines making their homes there.  Today, you get to meet Blanche Manos.

The Outside Lane:  Blanche, how did you become a writer?

Blanche Day Manos:  I started writing when I was a youngster, inspired by Nancy Drew and by not having any friends nearby to play with. I created my own world with my words. As a child and later as an adult, I started writing poetry for children. I also wrote short articles on the importance of reading to children, books as a good baby shower gift, and my experience as an elementary school teacher.  

I wrote fiction for children and was published by several children’s magazines, including Cricket, Humpty Dumpty, Turtle, Guide, The Friend, Wee Wisdom, and others. I’ve also been published by confession magazines and Christian periodicals. I’ve written on assignment for many years for a Christian publication.

TOL:  Tell us about THE CEMETERY CLUB.
BDM:  Several years ago, a friend introduced me to Barbara Burgess, another northwest Arkansas writer. Since we are both of Cherokee heritage and have heard several legends about northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas, we thought it might be fun to write a mystery incorporating our ideas and experiences and so, our first book, The Cemetery Club was born.
BDM:  And how did you come to Cozy Cat Press?
A:  A funny thing…when we finished our second book, Grave Shift, and queried Patricia Rockwell, she was interested in it but thought it might have a little too much violence for a cozy. We re-wrote and she liked it and took it for Cozy Cat Press.
TOL:  Tell us about Darcy and Flora, the main characters of your series.
BDM:  The main characters in our books are quite a bit like Barbara and me; our likes, our beliefs, and the closeness we shared with our parents. We like Darcy and Flora, our main characters and we like their small and fictional town of Levi, Oklahoma. 
TOL:  What’s next for your intrepid problem solvers?
BDM:  We are finishing our third Darcy/Flora book and I am thinking of maybe branching out on my own with a completely different series and a different protagonist. 
The second book in your series, GRAVE SHIFT, is getting rave reviews on Amazon.  What is it about? 
When Darcy Campbell returned to her home town of Levi, Oklahoma, she longed for peace and healing from the recent loss of her husband. She found much more than she bargained for when two rare Oklahoma earthquakes, a villain with murder in his heart, and a mountain lion threaten her and her mother Flora Tucker. Being an investigative reporter on leave of absence from her Dallas newspaper, Darcy has an active curiosity which leads her into some dangerous places and nearly costs her her life. At last she solves a long-standing mystery in Levi and her grief begins to heal when the sheriff of Ventris County re-kindles an old flame in her heart.
TOL:  I can’t wait to read your books!  Where else can we find you?
BDM:  My website is, on Facebook, and on Google+ as Blanche Manos.
Of course you can find all of Blanche and Barbara’s books on Amazon.
Stay tuned for more Cozy Cat Press authors, and go visit Blanche’s website.  She has a great blog tucked in over there.