Your Next Favorite Author Blog: Susie Black
Welcome Susie! It’s a pleasure to meet the award-winning author of Death by Sample Size! As an added bonus, Susie has been kind enough to provide a swimsuit buying guide that you will find after the review of her wonderful book!
Here’s a little bit about Susie Black:
Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.
She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.
AVIS: So, our first question is one we all want to know the answer to: Have you always wanted to be an author?
SUSIE: I have been telling stories from the time I learned to talk, so I’d say yes, even if I didn’t realize until years later that becoming an author was the eventual outcome to my love of storytelling.
AVIS: Story telling is an artform, and your early practice honed your skills for this wonderful novel! Readers will surely want to know the answer to this question: What real life experience influenced your novel?
SUSIE: Like the protagonist in my Fashion & Foul Play Mystery Series, I am a ladies’ swimwear sales exec in the greater Los Angeles area. From the beginning of my career, I have kept a daily journal chronicling the interesting, quirky, and sometimes quite challenging people I have encountered as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of. My daily journal entries are the foundation of everything I write. As a female who has succeeded in a historically male-dominated industry, it was important to me to write about the apparel business from a woman’s point of view. All my characters are based on real people, and the central characters are all strong, successful women who have beaten the odds. Holly Schlivnik, the main character in the series, is based on me with some poetic license taken, of course. The stories all take place in the fast-paced ladies’ swimsuit industry, where I have spent the lion’s share of my career.
Avis: Readers will be so happy to know that this is a series! Your career experience really informs the action and world building on the pages of your novel. We also must know: Did you have to cut any favorite scenes?
SUSIE: Yes, I did, and it was painful. My favorite scene in my debut novel, Death by Sample Size, originally had a hilarious description of the murder victim prior to her demise. Since it didn’t really advance the story or serve a real purpose other than make me laugh, I had to cut out a goodly portion of that out and stay focused on her miserable personality instead. I kept the description in my files and periodically re-read it, especially if I need a good laugh.
Avis: LOL! Just hearing about it makes me want to read it! I’m sure your fans would love to see that scene at some point! Since you were an apparel sales executive, this next question seems appropriate: What real life experience made it into your novel?
SUSIE: The murder victim and the protagonist’s colleagues are all based on real people I knew from the apparel industry. While the murder victim in the story did not get murdered in real life, her rotten personality and some of the awful things the character did in the story the real-life person actually did.
Avis: Oh, my goodness! That must have been somewhat satisfying to kill her off then! LOL. Sorry! Didn’t mean to go dark! As an author myself, I always wonder: Do you Google yourself?
SUSIE: Yes, since I’ve become a published author, I have Googled myself.
AVIS: Now I want to know what you found! I’ll add that to the question next time! Another important question is: Does your family support your career as a writer?
SUSIE: Absolutely yes. I am quite fortunate to have a husband and son who support my writing career completely. They are my go-to guys for information, opinions, and are quite patient with my continuous questions of “how does this sound?” or “which way do you think is better or more believable?” or “Ok, I changed it. Can I read it to you again?”
AVIS: You are so lucky to have that kind of support! That kind of feedback is so important to a great story, and it shines through in Death by Sample Size! So how about if we end the interview with this one: If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
SUSIE: The first answer would be to have been what I was; a sales exec in the wholesale ladies’ swimwear industry. But, given the opportunity, I would love to have been a stand-up comedienne.
Avis: Well, that makes perfect sense because your novel is filled with humor as well as suspense and a great deal of tension about “who done it!” Thank you so much for this interview and it’s been a pleasure to get to know more about Susie Black! Her social media links and buy links for her books can be found below, as well as her Swimsuit Buying Guide! Be sure to check out the review of Death by Sample Size at the end of this page.
Susie Black Website: www.authorsusieblack.com
Social Media Links: https://linktr.ee/susieblack.com
Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/3n2xYB
Susie Black’s Death by Sample Size takes us into LA’s glamorous world of swimsuit fashion and design. Black’s experience as a successful apparel sales exec informs her world building and envelops us in the fashion scene turned crime scene that will have readers captivated.
Holly Schlivnik our hero works as Vice President of sales at Ditzy Swimwear, which has gone big in the LA world of swimsuit fashion. She understands the ins and outs of the industry, and she knows first-hand the movers and shakers. But when she arrives at the California Apparel Mart, where the big deals are made for next year’s styles, Holly finds victim one, Bunny Frank.
When the detective arrives, one of his first questions is, “Did Ms. Frank have any enemies?”
How does Holly explain that Bunny didn’t have any friends? Any one at the Mart could have killed her and gladly. Susie Black’s dry sense of humor leaps off the page as Holly tries to explain that eliminating suspects will be more difficult than finding them, but the detective is not amused. With the help of her friend, VP of Royal Swimwear and one of the “Yentas,” Queenie, Holly begins a pursuit of her own, and as she unravels clues, she is convinced she knows who done it—
Until the person she is focused on turns up murdered in similar style.
Susie Black’s murder/mystery leads us through Holly’s bungling attempts to help Detective Martinez, much to his chagrin, and even though he seems somewhat attracted to her, he won’t stand for her tampering with his investigation and destroying evidence.
Black’s whodunit will keep you reading into the night trying to figure out, Who killed Bunny Frank? Death by Sample Size gives nothing away. It delivers from page one and keeps us hooked until the last page and the satisfying reveal at the end. I highly recommend this fun romp through LA’s fashion industry, the buyers and the vendors, the glamorous yachts, and the lives of the rich and famous, all come together in this well-knit story of crime and passion. And good news: Death by Sample Size is Book 1 in A Holly Swimsuit Mystery series, so fans can expect more from our hero Holly Schlivnik.
Need a Swimsuit? DON’T PANIC!
By Susie Black
Hello. I am Susie Black. Before I became a cozy mystery author, I was a successful sales and marketing executive in the ladies’ swimwear industry. When I first got into the swim biz, my smart-alec Nana gave me a coffee mug that said, “Things could be worse. We could be trying on swimsuits.”
No kidding, Nana.
Whether you’re planning a Caribbean cruise or a day at the beach, the very thought of trying on a swimsuit can be intimidating enough that you won’t venture out of the dressing room, let alone show up wearing one at the pool. But if you know what kind of swimsuit style looks best on your body type, selecting one doesn’t have to be traumatic. Believe it or not, it can be a fun experience. Now, stop rolling your eyes. I can see you. Hey, come on, admit it; other than drowning or a painful sunburn, who has a bad time in a swimsuit?
With the right style, you can camouflage a flaw or accentuate a strength. It’s all in the art of illusion. Whether you want to conceal cellulite, hide back fat, or provide enough support for the girls, trust me, there’s a suit with the best fit for you. Want to show off? Need to slim down? No worries. You just have to know which style you choose is the right one.
Still not buying what I’m selling? Ok, then let me prove it to you: 3
The first step in choosing the best swimsuit that flatters you the most is to determine which body type is yours. It is also helpful to know your bust, hip, and waist measurements, bra cup size, and torso length.
There are others, but most women’s figures fall into one of four body types:
1. APPLE SHAPE: Your waist is wider than your hips and equal to or nearly as wide as your bust.
2. HOURGLASS SHAPE: Your bust and hips are about the same size width, but your waist is smaller.
3. PEAR SHAPE: Your hips are significantly wider than your waist and bust.
4. STRAIGHT SHAPE: You are thin all around, with no significant difference between your hips and bust.
Very few women are the same size top and bottom. Fortunately, swimwear designers have come up with a solution. Separates have revolutionized the options available for every body type. You can mix and match silhouettes, sizes, colors, solids, and prints to meet both your fit needs as well as quench the thirst of your imagination. 4
THE RIGHT CUT
The right fitting style is the key to finding the best suit for yourself. Like all the other clothes in your wardrobe, a swimsuit that is too small or too big can ruin your look.
Tips on how to select the right cut:
A one-piece suit will hide a thick waist. Choose one with shirred panels, details, dark or solid colors. High-cut bikini bottoms will make your leg look longer. If you are short, have bigger thighs, or are long in the torso, a high-cut bikini bottom is an excellent option. Halter and triangle tops draw attention to the bust. Bandeau tops will make the bust seem wider. If you are a pear shape and want to imitate an hourglass shape, choose a bandeau top with ruffles or a halter with a busy detail. 5
Broad Shoulders: There are a few things you can do to balance out your body when you’ve got a set of broad shoulders. Opt for a solid-colored suit with printed panels along the side. This will help create the look of an hourglass figure and evens out a boxy upper body. Look for an asymmetrical neckline, which will draw the eye up and away, instead of straight across.
If you have a large bust: For busty gals, before you do anything, get a bra fitting with a foundations specialist and try cup-sized separates. For the girls with big girls, regrettably, triangle bras and string bikinis are not your friends. Triangle bras don’t offer enough support for your girls. The string bikini bottoms draw your eye up to your big boobs and you look even more out of proportion than you already might be. Swimsuit tops that come in sizes S, M, and L won’t get you where you want to go either. Cup sizes and underwires will give you the support you need so your boobs stay where they belong and won’t be all over the place after you dive into the water. Opt for a fuller cut brief. Thicker straps and double-stitched bands will give you the most flattering results. To minimize a large bust, look for a straight across cut at the top of your swimsuit with wide-set straps. Try a bikini top with a thick chest band for extra support. Multiple straps on a swimsuit top add twice the support. Try a full-cut or a sports top. 6
Animal Attraction: A small animal print plays down the chest size. 7
Red is slimming and gives the illusion of your boobies appearing smaller.
If you have a small bust:
Finding a suit that flatters your bust can be a challenge. For smaller-busted gals, head to the separates section of the swimwear department where you can mix and match tops and bottoms. Swimsuit silhouettes with lift and support will create a flattering look and a comfortable fit. Try bikini tops with an underwire, adjustable shoulder straps, or built-in cups to add shape and support. Halter tops are also a great way to show a sexy slip of cleavage. A suit with padding, a pushup bra or a bra with a twist gives you a little something extra and a believable cleavage. The best bet for a gal with a smaller bust is to go for a top with embellishments or ruffles to give the illusion of a larger chest. Avoid a pancake bandeau top or a twist-tie front. 8
THE MIDDLE OF THE STORY
Waist: High-cut one-piece swimsuits and embellished bottoms are the perfect way to enhance your waistline. Add a subtler silhouette to your body for a more balanced curve. Mitered one-pieces and princess seaming provide definition while smoothing the contour created by your suit. Lengthening your waistline has a slenderizing effect and can make for an overall leaner-looking body. Monokini cutouts are also a great way to lengthen and enhance this area.
Tummy issues: Hiding a tummy is much easier than you think. Peplums are perfect for a day at the beach. A full piece with ruching can also help to conceal your stomach. Surplice wrap and color block one- piece suits camouflage a thick waist. Choosing any one-piece style with a plunging neckline will help to keep the focus upwards, rather than on your mid-section. Choose a swimsuit that accentuates your legs while giving you more coverage in the bustier and tummy area. One-piece tummy trimming suits smooth and flatten the stomach to make you appear leaner. Features such as ruching (gathering) or panel designs on the sides slim the appearance of the waist. Print designs down the middle of the body elongate the torso. Choose swim dresses, one-piece suits, and colorful sarongs that draw the eye downward. Avoid bikini sets and low-rise bottoms. 9
SHORT TORSO: The trick to elongating a short torso is adding length and lifting the bustline. Low-rise bottoms make your torso appear longer and halter straps draw attention to your neck and shoulders, making people skim over your short mid-section. 10
THOSE SWIVEL HIPS
To de-emphasize your hips, go with skirted styles that offer more coverage or sexy tops to draw attention away from the hips.
Low-rise bikini bottoms expose and highlight the hips. Embellishments at the waist or patterned bottoms with solid tops are also a great way to draw attention to this area. 11
SHAPE THAT BOOTY
Flat tush: While some of us would kill for a flat as a pancake derriere, having one is not a benefit when wearing a swimsuit that hangs in the back. If the suit sags in the tush, you might look like you’ve got a load in your pants. This is another time when frills and ruching come in handy, as they give the illusion of a bigger behind. Opt for bottoms in bright colors and loud prints to try and distract from a flatter tush. Also, showing a little cheek is preferable to full-coverage bottoms.
Big Butt: If you’ve got an ample backside, string bikinis and high-cut swimsuits can be uncomfortable and reveal what you’d rather not share with the rest of the world. Get a suit with enough fabric in that area so you’re not constantly tugging for more coverage or picking a wedgie. Avoid thongs, Brazilian, and other skimpy-cut styles. Look for designs with full-cut solid bottoms and printed tops that draw the eye up away from your not-so-tiny-tush and balance out your big booty. 12
Create a long and feminine line and show off your legs with high-waist bikini bottoms that can also lengthen the leg while offering more support through the tummy. Or try scoop front bottoms or bottoms with thinner sides to show more skin and dramatize the line of your legs.
Short Legs: If you want to elongate shorter legs, go for suits with high cuts in the leg. Since you are showing more skin, it will make your gams appear longer. And if you’re really brave, go for a thong for optimal lengthening potential. 13
Full Thighs: To flatter a fuller thigh, opt for bottoms with a little bit more coverage. Bottoms with a skirt can help to conceal part of your upper thighs.
A BOYISH BOD
Compact, Athletic Body: If you’ve got a boyish straight up and down figure with few, if any angles, the goal is to give the illusion of more curves. This is easily accomplished with a top with cups, padding, and gathering, and by picking girlie prints, ruffles, and bright colors. Don’t go for straight-across bandeaus, boy-cut briefs, or shapeless full-pieces, as this will only enhance your athletic figure. Push-up or padded tops accentuate your chest. Choose bottoms with belts, flirty skirts, and ruffles to give the appearance of a larger bottom. Avoid tie-side bottoms and sliding triangle tops. If you can’t even buy a single girlish curve, choose swimsuit sets that enhance both your top and bottom. Tops with ruffles, horizontal lines, and asymmetrical designs create a larger bust. 14
MINIMIZE OR MAXIMIZE
Love Handles: Fighting the bulge is easier than you think. A high-waisted bottom works wonders — just make sure it extends above your belly button to avoid a muffin top.
Back Fat: The last thing you want is a suit with thin straps that will dig into your skin and make those unsightly flesh folds even more pronounced. So, reach for designs with thicker straps and high backs to smooth any lumps and bumps. 15
Big Hips, Skinny Legs: The key with this body figure combo is balancing out your shoulders and hips. And since you’ve got plenty of hips, pick a suit that gives the illusion of a longer neckline. Off-the-shoulder numbers will do the trick.
Cellulite: It doesn’t matter if you’re slender, plump, curvy, straight up and down, short, or tall — cellulite doesn’t care. And simply trying to cover it with those tiny skirted suits isn’t going to work. Look for swim dresses and tankinis with longer hemlines, but in eye-catching colors, beautiful prints, and details that still pack plenty of sass. 16
WANT AN INSTANTLY SLIMMING STYLE?
Try fun printed monokinis. They are slimming and show off your legs. Monokinis with a deep plunge front shows off your girls, yet gives you an elongated feel. A mitered suit emphasizes curves and creates a feminine line.
WOULD LOVE TO WEAR A TWO-PIECE SUIT BUT DON’T HAVE THE FIGURE FOR A BIKINI?
Here’s the perfect solution. Go for a tankini. This is a two-piece suit that looks like a one-piece. FYI: a one-piece swimsuit is also known as a maillot (pronounced Mio.). 17
ILLUSIONS TO ENHANCE YOUR BEST FEATURES:
To highlight a feature you like, choose a style with a bright color or pattern.
To conceal a feature you don’t like, choose a style with a solid color. Dark colors hide more than bright colors.
To add volume to your bust or hips, choose a style with ruffles or hardware details.
A petite small print like a ditzy floral makes you look smaller.
TIPS TO CHOOSE A FLATTERING PATTERN:
Chevron prints show a flattering side to your body and keep the eyes moving.
Vertical and angled stripes have a slenderizing effect. Horizontal stripes tend to make you look shorter and wider. So, unless you’re tall and on the slim side, horizontal stripes are probably not the best option. 18
Scars and stretch marks: Consider a cropped top if your scars are located on your chest, upper back, or shoulders. And suits with mesh insets allow for full coverage while still showing a bit of skin. Tankinis and one-piece styles work great to hide those stretch marks.
Pregnant: Since you don’t want anything too tight around your midsection, it’s best to look for tankinis since they provide ample wiggle room, sun protection, and easy access to your growing belly. 19
Burn Easily: Sun-sensitive ladies have it tough. You want to catch some rays, but you don’t want to look or feel like a boiled lobster after a day at the beach. Beyond having a coverup, your swimsuit can also provide some protection. Consider the rash guard. The long-sleeved tops aren’t just for surfers anymore.
PLUS SIZE OPTIONS:
A woman with a less than perfect figure still wants to look her best in a swimsuit. Remember when I said swimwear was the art of illusion? It is especially true for the plus-sized woman. Most plus-sized women are smaller on top and bigger on the bottom. The trick to de-emphasizing what’s big is to draw the eye up. Whether you’re wearing a one or a two-piece style, the best way to draw the eye up is to wear a print top and a solid bottom.
Most flattering plus-sized one-piece silhouettes:
Swim dresses, sarong-front tank suits, V-neck, or lattice front tank suits. 20
Most flattering plus-sized two-piece silhouettes:
Tops: Blouson tankini top, V-neck tankini top. Choose bright-colored print tops. Monotone prints work well too. Florals work great for plus-sized gals as well as some geometrics, ethnic, and animal prints.
Bottoms: swim short, swim bike short, shirred high-waisted brief, side-slit swim skirt. Choose dark-colored solid bottoms. Basics: Black, Brown, Gray, and Navy. Fashion colors: Eggplant and olive. 21
Now that you know how to find the best swimsuit for your body type, you can shed that cover-up and strut your stuff instead of hiding in the dressing room.
Please complete the short survey and send your answers to me at my E-mail address below:
1. What is your age?
2. Which body type are you?
3. Do you prefer a one-piece or a two-piece swimsuit style?
4. If you prefer a two-piece style, do you prefer to buy your suit as a set or as separates?
5. What is your number one fit problem?
6. Were you able to solve your fit issue with the information I provided?
7. If yes, what swimsuit style did you choose?
8. If no, what issue do you have that I didn’t cover?
9. How important is the price when you are considering the purchase of a swimsuit?
When you send me your survey answers, I’d also love to hear how you look in your new swimsuit. What can I say? I’m a sucker for happy endings. You can E-mail me at: email@example.com. And now that you have the perfect style, if you want the inside scoop on how your new swimsuit really got from the designer’s imagination to the rack at the store, grab a copy of my humorous cozy mystery, Death by Sample Size, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Get ready to laugh out loud as I take you on a rollicking adventure ride through the Los Angeles apparel industry.
Looking for me? You can find me at:
Good luck and happy swimsuit hunting. See you at the beach!
Susie Black, author of The Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series.