A young screenwriter meets her soulmate, only to discover he is from the future and must return in order to save her life.
Bio: Janie Emaus believes when the world is falling apart, we’re just one laugh away from putting it together again. She is the author of the blended holiday picture books, Latkes for Santa Claus, and the forthcoming Matzo Balls & Easter Eggs. As well as the novel, The Time Traveling Matchmaker. Her essays, stories and articles have been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and websites. In 2016 she won an honorary mention in the Erma Bombeck Writing competition. To learn more about Janie visit her at www.janieemaus.com.
Avis: Hi Janie! I’m so glad you join us for today’s blog post! I love stories that blend genres and The Time Traveling Matchmaker does just that with romance, time-travel, and mystery! What a great read! But enough of that. Readers want to know more about you, so let’s begin with our first question:
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Janie: I’ve always wanted to be a singer/songwriter. But there was one large drawback to pursuing this career – I can’t carry a tune. To myself, I think I sound wonderful, but not to anyone within earshot, over the age of two. I can write lyrics, though, and I do make up silly songs to entertain my grandkids, nieces, and nephews. And two of the characters in my women’s fiction novel are performers and songwriters.
Avis: LOL! A songwriter who can’t carry a tune, I can relate! I love music, but ditto on carrying a tune! I bet all the kids in your family love hearing your songs, though! But back to the writing questions:
How do you select the names?
Janie: I often start with family members, as a place holder. And then when I get a feel for the character, they usually let me know what name suits them best. I try not use similar sounding names or ones that start with the same letter.
Avis: I like your process for choosing names. Let the character tell you! There is so much in a name, and your characters were speaking loud and clear! Here’s a questions that focuses on you as a reader!
What is the first book that made you cry?
Janie: I can’t remember the exact first book, but I know that Sophie’s Choice by William Styron was the first one that made me literally sob for what seemed like hours.
Avis: William Styron wrote magic into Sofie’s Choice! That’s for sure! He’s one of my personal literary hero’s! Here’s another writerly question:
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Janie: Energize, for sure. I’m excited to see where the story is going to take me. I don’t plot out the novel, scene by scene. I get to know my characters, what they want, what stands in the way and then I say – go for it! And let them tell me the story.
When writing essays and articles, it’s the greatest feeling in the world, when I get that last line to bring the piece full circle.
Avis: You are a multi-faceted writer, for sure! It’s been a pleasure getting to know more about you and your writing process and some of your reading faves! And for my review of her fabulous novel, scroll to the bottom!
For more information on Janie Emaus and her work, check out her social media links below!
Blurb: In The Time Traveling Matchmaker, love takes on a new meaning when soulmates are brought together through time and space.
Like every goal-oriented twenty-something, Jessica Singleton, an aspiring filmmaker, is obsessed with finding her future as quickly as possible. What she doesn’t know is that the future is obsessed with finding her, too. Renn Porter, an agent with Time Traveling Matchmaker’s Inc, blasts back in time – and into her life- in order to transport Jessica to the soulmate who has paid for this service…in the future. But things turn dangerous when it’s revealed that Renn has been sent after his own soulmate.
Caught between two times, Jessica and Renn must struggle to stay alive. Falling in love is the biggest risk either of them has ever taken – because, as they are destined to learn, the very existence of Time Traveling Matchmakers, Inc. rests in Jessica’s hands.
Janie Emaus’s The Time Traveling Matchmaker is a paranormal/fantasy romance that builds up to steamy romance by the end of this (her debut) novel. Emaus warps the space-time continuum to bring us a nail-biting story that builds scene after nail biting scene!
Emaus’s protagonist, Jessica Dylan Singleton, is a young woman still reeling from a bad relationship and breakup a year later, who just wants to move on already. She wanders through life with her eyes half-closed until she meets a mysterious man in a tan trench coat. When she witnesses that man’s disappearance into thin air, she has a new mission. Find out how he does that!
Jess, a screenplay writer, is on hiatus from her writing program, but her advisor is pressing her for a chapter, so she doesn’t lose her place in the program. No pressure there. But Jess finds inspiration in the most unlikely place, her father’s love story with her mom. Soulmates who met in the 1980s, her mom and dad had a special kind of love, but her mom was killed when Jess was only six years old. Her dad never recovered or remarried, but he also disappeared from Jess’s life.
Soulmates is a theme Emaus weaves throughout her fantastic book. Her grandparents and her aunt and uncle are also soulmates, and that’s what Jess wants too. She thought she had it with David, but that relationship did not fulfil her. It left her scared and abandoned, and she realizes how lucky her parents were to find such an elusive love.
Janie Emaus creates a world where love and magic are masterfully intertwined into the setting, the characters, and the plot. Jessica’s search for love and the dangers that come with that search will satisfy fantasy/time-travel/romance fans and any reader looking for an thrilling weekend read or fun escape. I highly recommend The Time Traveling Matchmaker, a five-star read, for sure!
Sometimes you have to gamble like your life depends on it. With Caroline’s life on the line, can she pull out a win?
Cara Bertoia grew up in a strait-laced Southern family, but she was always fascinated with casinos. In her twenties on a summer hiatus from teaching in North Carolina, she drove to California and became a dealer at Caesars in Lake Tahoe. She discovered that after teaching high school, handling an unruly gambler was a piece of cake. Her mother highly disapproved of her working in a casino, “a place so bad it has ‘sin’ in the middle.”
Eventually, she succumbed to pressure from the family and returned east to take a hi-tech job in Boston. She also began working on her MFA in writing at Emerson. Her goal was to write the first realistic novel about casino life from the perspective of an experienced table games dealer. She is always amazed that normal and sometimes quite intelligent players become absolutely clueless in the casino. They repeat superstitious nonsense and no amount of logic can change their position, maybe her novel will.
While in Boston she was offered the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. Jumping at the chance, she spent the next five years circling the globe. Sometimes life exceeds your dreams. She was awed by the wonders of Venice, the fjords of Norway, and the Northern Lights in St. Petersburg.
Cara returned from ships with a very special souvenir, her Scottish husband Ray. They went to work at the Spa Casino in Palm Springs, and now live in Hollywood, Florida, where she writes about her casino years while wistfully gazing out at the ocean.
I love to connect with my readers. Please send me a picture with Casino Queen. I will post those pictures to my social media.
Avis: Hi Cara! I’m so glad to have you as my guest today! I loved your book and the fascinating world of casinos and gambling. It’s not my thing, but you made it so interesting, and your book was so engaging! Let’s talk about you and your book now!
How did your career and life experiences influence your work?
Cara: For the last ten years I have been juggling writing with my day or should I say night job as a croupier. I say croupier not to be pretentious but because I can deal about ten games not just blackjack. I have left dealing a few times but it always sucked me back in. I will list some of the reasons.
You get paid for playing games all day. Every casino I have ever worked in provides health insurance. You also only work 8 hours a day. I decided I’d rather work by the hour than for a salary. These hours gave me an opportunity to write during the day.
You can work any shift that you want to. At a young age I decided I liked to work night shift. I lived in Lake Tahoe and if I worked nights that left my days free to ski or swim in the lake. I also hate waking up to an alarm clock.
Gambling is a growth industry. With more states and cities in desperate financial straits, they are turning to casinos. Fifty years ago, there were casinos only in Nevada now according to Wikipedia there are casinos in 30 states.
You can’t be outsourced. Someone does have to actually pitch those cards on a blackjack game.
You can get a job at almost any age. I have seen dealers in their sixties get hired.
Free food is a great incentive. Most casinos I’ve worked in have provided free meals and drinks and if they do charge the cost is minimal.
You don’t have to buy clothes, because your company will gladly provide you with a uniform. It will be ugly, it will be made of polyester, but it will be free.
You get to live in nice places which is what got me into the business in the first place. Besides Tahoe, I have lived on a cruise ship circling the world, and Palm Springs. My husband has worked in Moscow, London, the Czech Republic and the Bahamas. Not all casinos are located in nice places but with a little research you can find a beautiful place to deal.
You get to meet celebrities. I was thrilled whenever anyone from Vanderpump Rules played on my game. Well, okay to me they are actually big celebrities. I have also dealt to official Hollywood stars.
Avis: Wow! You’ve really lived an exciting life and it sounds like you have a unique skill set, writer/dealer! Your experiences working in casinos really makes your book come alive! How about another question:
Did you have to cut any favorite scenes?
Cara: I had to cut and replace about a third of my novel. The catalyst of my new novel—CASINO QUEEN—was brought on by the boom and bust of the first decades of this century. My goal was to write a thriller filled with twists and turns to capture that special time and place. My editor, Kaycee John at The Wild Rose Press, always encouraged me to tap into everyone’s fascination for the gambling industry. “Millions of dollars pass through the casino every week, casino fleas operate their personal side businesses on the gaming floor, and you never knew who might walk through the door itching for a fight.” She wanted me to pull from my decades of working in the industry to tell the stories only an insider can tell. In the process the story became more concentrated on the Night Hawk Casino and less focused on Caroline’s past. Since she was the casino manager it became the story of a strong women succeeding in a career usually reserved for men.
Avis: You got some really good advice and guidance from your editor! Getting to follow Caroline through the casino on her daily business was so fascinating to me, and the way you work in the thriller/mystery was excellent! No spoilers here though, so on to our next question:
What was your hardest scene to write?
Cara: I found out it is very hard to write a thriller, it’s like designing a jigsaw puzzle where every piece has to fit, but it can’t be too obvious just how they do. The most challenging scene I wrote was the climax of the book. You know the place in the thriller where the crime and the villain are revealed and the protagonist lays her life on the line. For me it was important to write a realistic novel, one that could actually happen. I also had to tie up all the plot points. But most importantly I wanted the ending to be a surprise and you can tell me if I succeeded Avis, since you read Casino Queen.
Avis: Oh, Cara! You succeeded! This interview has been so interesting, and it’s so great to hear your behind the scenes decisions and choices as you wrote Casino Queen! You’ve overcome any challenges and produced a really top-notch read for anyone interested in the gambling, the casino scene, or a really fast-paced thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering whodunnit!
Here is a list of Cara’s social links, and below that is my review of Cara’s excellent book, Casino Queen. Check it out!
Here is the link to my first novel Cruise Quarters. It is a novelization of my five years working for Princess Cruises. In honor of the cruise, I just took I am offering it for the low price of $2.99 or for free at Kindle Unlimited.
Review, by Avis Adams:
Cara Bertoia’s Casino Queen had me hooked from page one! Bertoia’s experience working at Casinos as a dealer helps her develop the world of gambling. She introduces us to the world of Native casinos and gives us so many interesting aspects of casino life. From all the people it takes to keep track of the thousands of dollars that flow through the tables, slots, and other games, to the ties the casino has to the tribe and the local community, we learn the important connections and role the casino has in so many lives. In the midst of this world, Bertola guides us through and develops a mystery that keeps up on the edge of our seats!
Caroline Popov, our hero, is a tall, beautiful woman with a broken heart who is more concerned about the running of her casino than herself. Her failed marriage is the backdrop to every decision she makes. Through flashback and back story, Bertola weaves a picture of a woman who had no choice but to leave when all she wanted to do was stay in the loving arms of her husband. Alone and on her own, she makes her way in the cutthroat world of casinos and gambling.
As the manager at the Night Hawk Casino, she is the boss, and as the boss, she must navigate the fine line between friend, family, and manager because the casino acts as one large family, and it employs people who are family, which can create unique problems as we find out. At the Night Hawk Casino, some of the employees steal and extort their colleagues, and even though their schemes are smart and slide under the radar of previous managers, When Caroline arrives, she notices, and she stops the stealing.
Bertoia develops scene after scene where security and cameras are called upon to expose card sharks and double-dealing dealers with Caroline at the head of the sting. To state the obvious, she makes enemies, and her life is threatened. Her mentor and boss, the enigmatic and handsome John Tovar, worries about her, while admiring her skill at managing her staff and exposing and catching criminals, patrons, and employees alike.
Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Mojave Desert backdrop provide another layer to the complex plot and Bertola’s master storyteller skills meld the story with the setting creating tension and tone in this dessert wonderland. A casino sponsored half-marathon is the event that brings all the players together, and readers will delight in the tension and action-packed conclusion to this riveting story.
Cara Bertoia’s Casino Queen delivers on all fronts, and readers of mystery/romance will love this book. And the best news is that Casino Queen is book one in the Night Hawk Casino series! This book is highly recommended and is definitely a five-star read!
BIO: LB Griffin is happily married and surrounded by her family in Wiltshire UK. She has had a variety of jobs from cleaner to lecturer and has worked alongside the homeless. All of her life she has absorbed the wonders of the world and will always fight for the underdog. She absolutely loves writing fiction from those observations. Her stories touch upon social issues and are filled with gentle hints of romance. Her women don’t see themselves as courageous, strong, or survivors, but they certainly are.
Avis: Welcome back LB! Can I call you that? It’s such a pleasure to host you on the blog again! The Twenty-One-Year Contract is the sequel to your historical, mystery romance Secret’s, Shame, and a Shoebox, which I also thoroughly enjoyed!
The Twenty-One-Year Contracts continues the story, and we do meet Hattie again, but this time your protagonist is someone featured in the first book! I found it fascinating to read the story through another set of eyes as you overlapped the plot of the first book in the second! Did that make sense?! I think on that note, we should begin.
Did you have to cut any favorite scenes?
L.B. Griffin: Yes. In fact, I did a complete re-write to reduce the number of words. That was hard. I’ve held onto the information though.
Avis: Do you mean in the whole book? Oh my! That is so difficult. I’ve had to do that too, and it’s so hard to part with your “darlings!” The next question is:
What was your hardest scene to write?
L.B. Griffin: I always find the first chapter the hardest. I end up writing it numerous times and find that the story grows because of it. Great fun though because those characters are telling me exactly what to say!
Avis: I love it when the characters talk back! Sometimes that is! When they get sassy, it’s annoying, but we have to listen to them, right? LOL! Speaking of characters, that’s a perfect segue to the next question:
How do you select the names of your characters?
L.B. Griffin: I desperately try not to use names of people (first or second) I know because if I like a person, it influences the character as it develops. So, I have looked at gravestones, newspapers, trailers of films…
Avis: Oh, great ideas for finding character names! I always try to avoid people I know or that I’m related to as well! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions! It’s been a pleasure to get to know you a bit more, and I know people will love your book as much as I did!
Please read on for a review (at the bottom of the page) and links to purchase The Twenty-One-Year Contract,as well as links to L.B. Griffin’s social media sites and blog!
Blurb: Kathleen Gray—talented, a little wild, at times rebellious, but always popular—has a fun, easy life in rural Somerset, with a doting family.
Suddenly, they are gone, everything is changed, and she has only Uncle Jack. Try as he might, he cannot be father and mother to her—he has a business to run and his own life to manage.
Kathleen takes a chance and becomes Kate Westfield, fending for herself in London, with a new life built on her hopes and dreams and new friends. She could hardly have imagined that one of those friends has a shoebox full of answers.
I just finished The Twenty-Year Contract by L.B. Griffin, her second novel in 2022, and I couldn’t put it down! This novel continues the story started in Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox. One of the characters in the first book, Kate, takes the lead in this one. Griffin has intertwined the plots of book one and two, so the second book is an overlap and continuation, but not to worry. You could read the second book as a stand-alone. It will make you want to read the first one, though!
Kate is an orphan adopted by a loving couple who have a baby boy, and she longs for the parents she never knew. When her adopted parents and her infant brother are killed, Kate goes from pampered and privileged child of two loving parents to an orphan once again.
Lucky for her, Uncle Jack swoops in from America and tries to be mother, father, and loving guardian. He wants to fill in the gaps he knows Kate is feeling, but his own career takes him all over the world.
Kate soon learns to survive, but she also learns that to thrive she must rely on her own wits, and as a young girl boarding at school, she learns how to use her seamstress and clothing design skills to help her escape a life that threatens to kill her creativity.
When it is discovered that she is found missing, her uncle is notified. He finds her and realizes she is right where she needs to be. Not in school but working as a designer at a high end dress shop. He keeps a close eye on her, albeit from a distance, and Kate soon finds her clientele expanding.
One client in particular draws her into the seamy world of mob violence and human trafficking. Enter Harriet, the hero of the first novel. Kate and Harriet help the women being trafficked and find the answers to other secrets that will change their lives forever.
I was fascinated by how she wove the plot twists and the different story lines to overlap, continue, and extend to such a satisfying ending! I highly recommend The Twenty-Year Contract. This suspenseful romance/mystery is fast paced, and action packed, a story that will keep readers wanting more until the last satisfying page. I give this book five stars!
Archaeologist Pauline Marsh has an uncanny talent for locating priceless artifacts but finding true love will take a lot more digging.
Bio: Amy L. Bernstein writes stories that let readers feel while making them think. Her novels include The Potrero Complex, The Nighthawkers, Dreams of Song Times, and Fran, The Second Time Around. Amy is an award-winning journalist, speechwriter, playwright, and certified nonfiction book coach. When not glued to a screen, she loves listening to jazz and classical music, drinking wine with friends, and exploring Baltimore’s glorious neighborhoods, which inspire her fiction.
Avis: Welcome Amy! I’m so happy we can showcase your wonderful new novel and get to know you a bit better! I just finished your book, and I have to say, it was riveting! Which leads me to the first question: What was your hardest scene to write?
Amy: The hardest scenes to write in The Nighthawkers were those that take place in the magical, mystical, parallel reality that looks like home, but isn’t. I found it challenging to invent a place that was believable, although it exists outside of our normal time-space continuum. I wanted readers to feel they were there, so I had to choose details carefully, yet make this place feel special.
Avis: You create such a magical parallel reality, and your attention to details made me want to know more about Pauline’s roll in all of it. Those scenes really sucked me in and made me curious about the other people there! Which leads me to the next question: How do you select the names of your characters?
Amy: Choosing characters’ names is so much fun—and often quite difficult! Usually, the name just comes to me as soon as I know something about the character. Sometimes, I go for a name that has a particular sound. In The Nighthawkers, I thought “Grey” sounded very masculine. But the protagonist’s other love interest has an ancient Egyptian name with special meaning. So you really have to find the name that suits the character and his or her history.
Avis: Ancient Egypt? Wow! You really developed some great character back stories! I was so curious about the names and the historical importance of each of them. In a novel like yours that blends genres, history is all important. Your world building in this novel really draws the reader in, which leads me to my next question: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Amy: I am a multi-genre author, meaning, I don’t wish to pick a lane and stay in it. I enjoy the thrill of writing in different styles and genres, though all my books have some common themes around social justice, love, and loss.
Avis: Well, not to give anything away, but this book does deal with all of those issues in a sensitive, logical, and realistic manner. I am always interested in an author’s response to this question: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Amy: Writing is both energizing and exhausting. When I’m in the middle of a good stretch of writing, I feel exhilarated, like I can do anything (well, almost anything). Once I’m done for the day, however, I’m often exhausted, physically, and mentally. Writing can feel like running a marathon—but you do, on occasion, get the runner’s high.
Avis: I agree! When the writing is good, it’s an amazing feeling!
Amy, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. It’s a pleasure to get to know you better. For people interested in learning more about Amy Bernstein, here are links to her website and her social media pages:
Please continue reading for a blurb and a review of The Nighthawkers!
Blurb: Archaeologist Pauline Marsh is convinced she’s an unlovable freak. Who else in the world shares her ability to locate ancient artifacts without a map, hear their stories, and commune with long-dead artisans? But all that changes when handsome, charismatic Grey Henley persuades her she’s the girl of his dreams. For Pauline, Grey is the family she never knew. And for Grey, Pauline’s treasure-finding skills will make him immensely rich. But the lovers are keeping secrets from one another that push their relationship to the breaking point. Grey is in league with a criminal and Pauline is visited by an other-worldly stranger with a message. Sometimes, it takes a broken heart to discover your true destiny—and find eternal love where you least expect it.
Amy L. Bernstein’s latest creative work is Nighthawkers, a novel filled with mystery, suspense, and fantasy. Bernstein sets her story in the world of archeology and creates a strong woman protagonist, Pauline March, PhD for us to follow. I’d follow Pauline anywhere, even when she experiences the pulse, a mysterious physical response that leaves her floating above her body.
We meet Pauline as she is about to graduate and follow her to the party at Dean India Nojes’ house. Pauline just wants to fit in and belong. She’s looking for acceptance, but not at the expense of who she is. The Dean is notorious for her parties and her control issues, so Pauline attends hoping to avoid any drama.
Fat chance. She meets Grey Henley, the Adonis of her class. Together they are called into the infamous room where their fate is decided? Maybe, but no one is certain. Dean Nojes does not take no for an answer and calls her students into the room. Pauline and Grey enter, and they feel the bond of the experience. Thus begins a journey that will break all the laws her best friend and law school bound Bette is to expose.
Pauline and Grey begin their careers as Nighthawkers, people who find and sell artifacts for profit, and she learns more about herself and the pulse. As the puzzle pieces of the Pulse come together, her misgivings about what she and Grey are doing fill her with dread. She knows that Grey will leave her if she doesn’t use her abilities to find the next precious artifact.
What she learns about Grey as they amass a fortune and build a life together based on stolen artifacts is that she won’t be party to any of it. Bernstein’s novel is a non-stop action-packed adventure on the scale of Indiana Jones or Lara Croft with the added element of fantasy for extra flair. This page-turner will keep you satisfied to the last word and wanting more! And rumors have it that several more books will follow! This is a five-star read!
J. L. Sullivan writes young adult stories inspired by gritty urban environments and the fantastical tales that percolate within abandoned buildings and desolate alleys.
In high school, he wrote for a local newspaper before venturing into creative writing in college. He is a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild and currently lives in St. Louis with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Princess Penelope Picklesworth.
Avis: Welcome, John! It’s so nice to host a fellow YA author on the blog today! I just want to say happy book release day (May 16, 2022)!
I thoroughly enjoyed your novel, From Brick & Darkness. Your creative brain must have been in heaven as you built this world for Bax, and what a conundrum to unleash the Jinn and not be able to control it. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say, I loved your page-turner!
I’m sure your fans will want to know more about you, so let’s begin! Here’s the first question:
Have you always wanted to be an author?
John: I have. In sixth grade, I wrote a science fiction story. Every Friday, I’d distribute 12 pages, comprised of three chapters, to my friends. I watched way too much TV as a kid, so of course, my story had cliffhangers right before school breaks and a climax at the end of the year like a season finale.
For our first wedding anniversary, my wife somehow found those pages, had them bound, and gave it to me as a gift. It was very entertaining to read how my sixth-grade-self wrote romance subplot!
Avis: I would love to see that romance subplot! LOL! In your case, watching too much TV paid off, and your humble beginnings have set you up for your life as a published author. I love that your wife created a book from those first writings, too. That leads us to our next question, which you have partially answered:
Does your family support your career as a writer?
John: Absolutely. I’m a lucky parent in that my daughters are avid young adult readers. Since I write young adult stories, I’ll often ambush one of them or their friends and ask questions like, “If you could wish for anything, what would it be?” Or, “I need some good superhero names that don’t exist, but should—go!” Plus, they are incredible beta readers of early drafts. Partially because they read a lot, but mostly because they won’t hesitate to tell me how a section is boring or tell me to “get back to it” because they want to see what happens next.
Avis: Wow! Lucky you, and how convenient to live with your target audience and bounce ideas off them as you’re writing! That sounds like the original fan-club! Every writer needs that kind of support. Our next questions is:
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
John: I currently have a job in addition to writing, but have always written and can’t imagine not. Years ago, an author at a conference told me successful writers must enjoy the process of writing, not just the outcome of being published. Successful writers find excitement and happiness in learning the craft. Such a true statement. I find that writing grounds and centers me. I’m not a golfer, but I liken it to that. It’s what I do in my off time for enjoyment and am always striving to “improve my game.”
Avis: I agree. The love of writing must be the impetus behind our creative life, and the work we produce will shine with that dedication to the craft!
It’s such a pleasure to get to know more about you as a writer, and I can’t wait to read your next book because From Brick & Darkness is amazing, and I know readers will love it!
For more information about J.L Sullivan and his future projects or to find links to purchase your copy, follow the links below. His books can be found wherever books are sold!
Also scroll down for a full review of From Brick & Darkness.
J.L. Sullivan’s debut YA urban fantasy From Brick & Darkness takes readers on a wild ride. When an old man gives Baxter Allen a purple ring, he enters a world he can’t control, and everything he does to fix it makes it worse. Jinn, Djinn, or Genie, all these words conjure magical creatures who grant three wishes. Just rub the lantern, and we will have riches beyond our wildest dreams, but Bax doesn’t get a lantern, he gets a ring, and he doesn’t get instructions, no user’s manual, nothing to tell him what to do.
Bax, lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his mom in an apartment across the hall of from Ashley, the annoying. If only Scarlett still lived there, his life would be perfect. The only thing that would make it better was if his father returned. Why wouldn’t his mother talk about the man who’d abandoned them so many years ago? All these things are running through his mind as he rushes home from playing video games with Jason, his best friend. An old homeless-looking man sits on his stoop. He holds out his gnarled hand and presents Baxter with a ring, tells him it’s from his father, and disappears.
He shows the ring to Jason who helps him decipher what the ring means. Bax hopes the ring will reconnect him to his long-lost father and clasps it in his hand, brushing the purple stone. The smell of burning hair fills the air, and a creature that looks something between a Hobbit and an Ewok stands before him. Its high-pitched voice says, “It is Djinn,” because Djinn speak of themselves in the third person, and the story is off and running.
“Janni” helps Bax discover an ulterior world filled with magic and pure evil when Bax needs Djinn more powerful that Jinni to do his bidding Jinni, Ashley, and Jason research the world of Djinn and Genies and Ashley proves her superpower is in finding information. But in spite of Jinni’s warnings, and his obvious fear, Bax summons the more powerful Djinn, Ifrit. What happens next is mayhem at its worst, and Bax finds himself trying desperately to put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak.
When people start dying and ending up in intensive care, Bax fights sleep because that is when Ifrit can read his subconscious and through Ifrit’s own interpretation, wreak havoc on the people Bax loves and would never dream of hurting.
Sullivan creates an urban world where the magical and terrifying exist just under the surface and in the shadows. His characters leap off the page and make us care. We fear for Ifrit’s next victim, and root for Bax as he puts himself in danger to save his friends and family.
Sullivan’s From Brick & Darkness shows the inner workings of an ordinary young man who does extraordinary things to put the world right again, and with the help of his friends and his Jinn, he does just that. This page turner will suck you in and have you reading into the night to find out what happens to Baxter, Jason, Ashley, and Scarlett. The old saying, “Be careful what you wish for,” is the motto of this story, and what a story it is. This is a full five star read and comes highly recommended!
L.B. Griffin is surrounded by her family in Wiltshire. Before retiring she always wrote around her full-time paid job. Her stories touch upon social issues and are filled with gentle hints of romance. Her women don’t see themselves as courageous, strong, or survivors, but they certainly are.
Her debut, Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox has received 5 star reviews, amongst them Whispering stories and VINE reader/blogger Michelle Ryles, singing high praise: ‘Incredibly well-written, Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox is a magnificent debut. It’s a poignant, disturbing and a heart-warming page-turner that has left me chomping at the bit to continue Harriet’s story.’
The sequel, The Twenty-One-Year Contract, is available for pre-order.
Avis: Welcome, Lynn! It’s so good to meet you, and I know your fans are going to love your book, Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox! Let’s get started with our first question! Did you have to cut any favorite scenes?
Lynn: Yes. The story started out at 180.000 words. Obviously, I was told it was too long. I worked hard and pared it down to 130.000. Then found it was still too long. It was suggested in the end, that it naturally fell into two books. I learned a lot from that. Cutting out your ‘darlings’ hurts but can be empowering.
Avis: Wow! 180,000 words is a bit long! LOL! I love the “cutting out the darlings” part! If you can do that, you are ready to get to the real story, which you do in your book. It’s hard to let them go, though. Next question: Do you Google yourself?
Lynn: When Google first emerged, (yes, I’m that old!) someone said they found me, and my picture with some blurb on this worldwide net thingy. I never provided either. It turned out to be an advertising campaign for the FE college I taught at. They had mentioned it, asked my permission, but I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about. Of course, I just had to look. Amazing. The only other time was when my husband searched the net when my book was about to be released – he couldn’t wait to show me. It all still feels very surreal.
Avis: For those of you who aren’t familiar with FE college, in the UK, where Lynn lives and writes, FE means Further Education. It’s a strange thing to see yourself online, but it’s a food think that people can google your name and find out more about you, so Kudos! Our next question: Does your family support your career as a writer?
Lynn: My whole family have been absolutely amazing. The trouble is when I read this now, I feel so very needy. But I am so very grateful for all their help. My IT skills are next to zero, but my family have been with me from the very start of this very exciting journey. My daughter, Kelly has started her own gifting business, I Love Surprises, and balances that with her one year and 12 year old, yet she still finds time to help me with the IT side of things! With what seems to be just clicking a few buttons, she has made me short clip videos for promotional purposes, and they are brilliant. She also said she would be happy to do the same for others if they were interested. I am so lucky.
My son Sam is just the same. He has stepped in and helped me out with blogging – which was one of the conditions of the contract with The Wild Rose Press. Sam, like so many parents he is busy with his work life at ElevateOM along with managing a growing family, but he is always there to lend a hand. Even when I don’t ask!
My husband, well what can I say. I am blessed and I know it. He is so encouraging and supportive, and steps in when I get frustrated with the computer. At times I just want to chuck it out the window, but when he comes along, I know I can breathe again.
Avis: Your family sounds amazing, and to get that kind of support without even asking is a blessing! Thanks for the info on your daughter Kelly, and her offer to create video clips! Here is the next question: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Lynn: Yes. I doubt that anyone will find them unless they know the real me. So yes, I’ve hidden a gem or two, really just for me to know, and others to discover if they care to.
Avis: I have a friend who does this. He calls them Easter Eggs! Sometimes I can find them, but sometimes not. It’s a fun thing to build suspense and fun for fans of your work! Last question: If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? / What real life experience made it into your novel?
Lynn: I’ve always written around the paid day job. We had a growing family and bills to pay. Plus, in later life I never considered giving up paid work to write, simply because I never felt my work was good enough and we still had the bills to pay.
Before I retired, I would get up at silly o’clock in the morning, write as much as I could, then fly out the door, toothbrush in hand and sometimes forgetting I still had my slippers on! At night, after the kids went to bed, and, if there was an ounce of creativity or energy left, I might do a little more.
When I was given an opportunity to lecture SLDd (Specific Learning Difficulties/disabilities in FE (Further Education), it was a joy. Whilst I taught those wonderful, beautiful students, they taught me so much more about life that I never truly knew existed. Similarly, when I moved into Adult social care/occupational therapy, the people I met were amazing. Its fact, each and every person has a story to tell. Paid work opened my eyes and my heart to so much more. What I’ve learned from them is woven into the very fabric of my stories. They never saw themselves as courageous or survivors, but my goodness they so are.
Avis: Our lives inform our writing in so many ways, and it can’t help but show up in our writing! Your explanations, especially wearing your slippers out the door, speak to a devotion to writing that is heartwarming and shows true devotion to the craft. I get a sense of that in your pages, in how you develop your characters, and in how you create the world of your characters. Really well done!
Lynn Griffin, thank you so much for being a guest on Your Next Favorite Author! I look forward to your next book The Twenty-One-Year Contract and your next interview with us.
Here are Lynn Griffin’s links to social media and to buy her book!
The Twenty-One-Year Contract to be released late spring of 2022.
L.B. Griffin’s historical, mystery romance Secret’s, Shame, and a Shoebox takes us to the 1950’s and one woman’s journey from grief, to coming of age, to battered wife, to strong independent woman. We follow Harriet Law’s and her beloved grandmother in a “two-up-two-down” in the seedier part of London. But Harriet and her Nana don’t mind. The people all have warm hearts and generous natures, and both are surrounded by friends who love and care about them.
When Harriet meets Tom and he shares his dream of expanding the bakery with his tasty confectionary inventions with her, they are both smitten with the idea and each other, but Tom says that because of their age difference they can only be friends. Harriet wishes for more but understands and grants his wish.
Their work at Daisy’s bakery keeps them close, and their friendship blossoms. When Tom invites her out to the opera, she hopes he is going to break his oath of friendship and offer her more, their evening is interrupted by CJ Rutherford, a man she met at her second job as a waitress at Luigi’s Italian restaurant, steps in to derail Tom’s plans for romance, and sets in motion a series of events that will change Harriet’s life, but not for the better.
Things with CJ are good at first, but things soon change, and before Harriet realizes what’s happening, she’s finds herself in an abusive relationship with a criminal who eventually steals the one thing she has left of her Grandmother, a priceless oil painting. After months of abuse, losing her mind and her health, Harriet devises a plan to escape, but before she does, she finds and takes incriminating evidence the CJ had been using to blackmail wealthy acquaintances.
Harriet moves to a safe house program with other battered and abused women, and she begins to heal. On a walk to the park, an old acquaintance calls her name, and Harriet, terrified, tries to run. The woman is CJ’s mistress, and when CJ emerges from the shadows, Harriet is terrified.
Sound like a lot? It is! This complex and intricately developed tale follows Harriet as she overcomes hardship at every turn and emerges stronger than ever. When she reunites with her friends, they learn that CJ never mailed her letters to them, and they rally around her, even Tom, whom she fears will never forgive her.
Griffin develops Harriet, a hero we can love and care about, someone we all root for. We laugh, we cry, and we cringe, as Harriet maneuvers her way through the pitfalls of abuse, and the dark climb from depression and fear. This book will have you biting your nails but will not disappoint. A must read for historical, mystery romances, and readers of women’s fictions. I highly recommend this fabulous novel and give it five stars!
Terry Segan resides in Nevada. The beach is her happy place, but any opportunity to travel soothes her gypsy soul. The stories conjured by her imagination while riding backseat on her husband’s motorcycle can be found throughout the pages of her paranormal mysteries.
Avis: Hi Terry and welcome! We look forward to learning more about you as an author and writer!
Terry: Thanks for having me on your blog, Avis. It’s always exciting for me when I get a chance to talk about my writing life.
Avis: Let’s get started! What was your hardest scene to write?
Terry: My hardest scenes to write in Precious Treasure were the journal entries of the Confederate soldier. Not being a history buff (my high school grades would attest to that), I still love books where an aspect from the past is tied to the present. That’s where the mystery comes in to connect the two. The story takes place in current times on Long Island, where I grew up. Tying in the Civil War and the soldier’s experience as he fought his way north, took a lot of research. I wanted the details to be as accurate as possible regarding the uniforms, weapons, food, and day-to-day life of the military during that time. Part of what I looked up were actual letters written home by the men in battle. It amazed me how eloquent their writing could be.
Avis: That is fascinating! You’ve done some amazing research which enhances the story so well! I loved how you wove the past and the present so seamlessly through your book. Now for our next questions: How many hours a day do you write?
Terry: Most weekdays I write about four or five hours a day. Of course, there are days when I have those ‘ooh shiny’ moments or ‘squirrel,’ and then the hours get reduced. I don’t like being locked into a specific word count or schedule, so if the weather is beautiful and calling to me, I listen. On weekends my husband and I try to get out on the motorcycle and enjoy the outdoors. It’s hard to shut down my brain when I’m working on a story, so even when I’m not in front of a keyboard, I’m working out scenes or plot lines in my head.
Avis: Distractions are a writer’s bane, but all work and no play would make our writing very dull, and your writing is anything but dull, so good job! Our next question: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Terry: I’d have to say my books are a mix of standalones and works with connections. Precious Treasure is my second book and definitely a standalone. My first book, Photographs in Time, involves time travel, matchmaking and murder, and it was written to be a standalone. Fans who have read it, however, are asking for a sequel. That might happen. My next book will be the first in my new series called The Marni Legend Series and will have continuing characters. While each book in the series can be read by itself, there will be the occasional spoiler suggesting they be read in order.
Avis: I think I have some reading to do! Your first book sounds right up my ally! This is our final question: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Terry: Writing energizes me because it’s something I love doing. Creating stories, which make readers laugh, cry, or check under the bed twice before turning off the light, gives me a thrill. When a reviewer states they didn’t see the plot twist coming or they laughed out loud, it inspires me to continue writing. How many other jobs are there where your sole purpose is making things up to entertain others? My imagination gets to run wild, which equally amazes and frightens my husband—goal achieved!
Avis: It sounds like your husband is a fan of your work! That’s amazing, and I agree. As a job, writing and creating stories that entertain and capture the imaginations of readers is awesome!
Thanks for being such a gracious guest! Following readers will find more information about Precious Treasure and links to Terry Segan’s social media sites as well as a review! So please read on!
Eight years ago, her husband disappeared. Does a hundred and fifty-year-old journal hold the answer as to why?
Janie Holcomb prays for closure once the courts declare her missing husband dead. Instead, she’s sent spiraling down a dangerous path.
When her lawyer delivers a package held in trust, she finds a cryptic warning along with a Civil War journal promising buried treasure. While seeking a connection between her spouse and the decades-old diary, Janie attracts the spirit of a Confederate soldier pleading for help.
Enlisting her brother’s assistance to chase down clues, they discover that not everyone they know should be trusted. Janie overlooks potential threats when the promise of new love stirs her emotions. Will her digging uncover the answers she craves or doom her to a similar fate?
Precious Treasure by Terry Segan brings murder mystery to the edge of romance with a chilling twist and a paranormal guardian. When brother’s William and Benjamin enter the Civil War, they want only to right a wrong that stole their family wealth and security, but they almost fail.
One hundred and fifty years later, the words of William Pelter Carver still influence and drive some people in the small community to search for the treasure, especially Janie Holgram’s husband who disappeared eight years earlier. Janie struggles to move on with her two young daughters and when she finally makes the move to declare Brian legally dead, she opens Pandora’s Box, so to speak, and our adventure begins.
Brian’s lawyer delivers a package to Janie with a diary and some paperwork on an old estate that has been on the market for years, the Brassel Field property. Her focus has always been on keeping her girls safe and cared for, while working at the business her husband had built with his best friend.
Janie opens the package and finds an old diary that she soon learns is from a deceased Civil War soldier from the Confederate Army found near the Brassel Field property and dressed in a Union Army uniform. As she reads this valuable relic, she realizes she is not alone and is startled to find an apparition standing before her dressed in a Confederate Army uniform pleading for her help.
Undeterred but shaken to her core, Janie begins the search for answers and in the process finds romance with the handsome and caring John Cooper. Is she ready for romance, though, and who is this apparition and what does he want?
Segan builds a world for this mystery that keeps us focused on Janie as she walks willingly into a world of danger and intrigue, a world that took her husband from her. With her brother Tom for support, Janie finds herself in trouble before she can devise an exit strategy. Readers will be sucked into the story and read into the wee hours to find out who this apparition is and what he wants from Janie. A fragile hero, Janie’s determination has us rooting for her as she follows the crumbs of clues she reads in the diary while falling into the arms of romance.
All she wants is answers, but Janie finds so much more in the compelling story of greed and high stakes speculation. This story will captive readers from beginning to end, and Segan’s deftly crafted conclusion will have mystery fans salivating for more.
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’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 AHolly 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Let’s start with a little bit about Jacquie May Miller: She lives in Washington close to her only child, Brittney, who is the light of her life.
Jacquie’s first novel, The Price of Secrets, is a work of women’s fiction which explores the tenuous thread connecting family and a love left behind so many years ago. Secrets of the past will either break or strengthen that slim thread, but not without a price.
In addition to writing The Price of Secrets, Jacquie has created May Daze, a blog exploring the value of friendship, family, and life’s little surprises. You will find her at http://www.jmaydaze.com where she has attracted a loyal following.
Welcome, Jacquie, and howdy neighbor! I live in Washington as well! Here’s your first question: Have you always wanted to be an author?
I have always loved to write, but never thought I would write a book. My writing journey started at age eleven when my friends and I started a neighborhood newspaper, complete with local news, an advice column, and advertisements–The Nosy Neighborhood News. Years later near the end of my “real life career,” I decided to take some classes and fell in love with writing all over again. I assumed I’d write some short stories, but to my surprise, one of those stories developed into a full-length novel.
I love to hear about people’s love affair with writing! I also love to hear about short stories that evolve into longer pieces. Another thing I wonder about author’s and their books is: What real life experience influenced your novel?
My first attempt at writing a novel included many of the kids I grew up with in my old neighborhood. Honestly, that real life story was a bit boring, so when I decided to start a new novel during NaNoWriMo, I let the kids grow up and meet again at their twenty-five-year high school reunion. A lot can happen in twenty-five years and my book, The Price of Secrets, is a story that brings all the secrets of the past to the surface. Many of the characters were patterned after people I knew but the actual story is pure fiction. Personalities are definitely drawn from real people, but I’ll stop there in case any of my old high school friends are reading this. Some of them might not be flattered by the picture I paint.
LOL! That’s a concern for author’s when they write about people they know! How about this question: What real life experience made it into your novel?
In my book, Jamie takes a ride on the rope swing in Frankie’s back yard. That swing existed in my youth and all of the neighborhood kids defied gravity swinging out over the gully, hoping we wouldn’t lose our grip and fall to our almost certain demise. We all survived, but I can’t believe our parents let us take that leap day after day. Was the gully as big a drop as I remember? Probably not, but the years and my vivid imagination make the drop more death defying with the passage of time. I’d love to take a ride on that swing today. I wonder if it’s still there…
I have to say, your rich memory has really helped develop wonderful characters and amazing plot twists, and I truly enjoyed The Price of Secrets! Read to the end for a review of this excellent read!
Jacquie May Miller’s novel, The Price of Secrets, had me hooked from the first line!
If I had known I was going to die today, I would have chosen my underwear more carefully!
Miller’s carefully crafted story begins on a flight to Seattle for her high school reunion. She is accompanied by her Twenty-four-year-old son for a reunion of his own with his grandfather, and he hopes to find out who his father is. Not that he didn’t have a father. Jamie had seventeen wonderful years with her husband Paul, who adopted Justin, but his death in a fire five years previous, left her a grieving widow.
Miller’s flash backs fill in the mystery of what happened on that fateful graduation night when Jamie Madison/Crandall sleeps with her second boy in two days. The first was her boyfriend the night before, and the second was her best friend whom she sleeps with after she finds her boyfriend in the janitor’s closet making out with another girl.
Jamie’s mother swears her to secrecy when she learns she is pregnant, and Jamie leaves Seattle for Berkeley on a full-ride scholarship and doesn’t look back, but only because she can’t. Her mother won’t allow it. A fierce and stubborn matriarch, Nancy Madison banishes Jamie and her illegitimate child, and Jamie loses her father, who chooses to fall in line with his wife, in the process too.
Twenty-five years go by, Jamie’s mother has passed away, and her twenty-five-year reunion brings her back to her hometown. She comes on a mission to finally find out who the father of her wonderful son Justin, is. So, we have a paternity question, a sister who can run. The DNA tests to answer it, and two men who are also single and available and making the moves on Jamie. We have and ex-wife who still loves her husband but has her own secrets, and a man who divorced his wife for keeping secrets that prevented him from becoming a father.
Miller develops a rich narrative voice in Jamie, and Jamie leads us with her heart. We feel her misgivings, her longings, her heartaches, and her joys as we journey with her to find out Justin’s father is.
The result will shock and delight you, as Miller unfolds the results clue by careful clue until we reach the satisfying ending. I enjoyed Miller’s reunions, her characters, and her settings in Seattle and the Bay Area in California. Jamie’s high school drama picks up where it left off at the reunion, and the jealousy and rivalries come alive, as Jamie tries to decide who will accompany her into the next phase of her life. This is a five-star read, and I highly recommend this rollicking fun, and at times steamy, read.
Avis: Welcome, Corinne LaBalme! I’m so happy we get to learn more about you and your fabulous book, French Ghost. Let’s begin with a little bio from Corinne.
Corinne LaBalme lives in France and loves everything about it… except eating snails. Her articles about European fashion, food and fun destinations have appeared in The New York Times Travel section, Diversion, La Belle France and France Revisited. Her favorite place to write? Any Parisian café with a good croissant connection…
Avis: How fascinating, and I envy you your food choices. Yummy! So, let’s get to the questions, shall we? What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Corinne: Despite having several ‘real human’ friends who studied at Oxford, I trekked to the British university town solely to see where Lyra Belacqua (the gallant dimension-shifter from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials) grew up; where playboy Sebastian Flyte (Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited) played hooky; and where Lord Peter Wimsey (the suave Sherlock from Dorothy L. Sayers’ detective fiction) actually attended a few classes
On the Wimsey front, it was fabulous to finally see the punts (small flat gondola-type river boats) which are so important in Gaudy Night and Wimsey’s college – Balliol – founded 1263. Since it was school vacation, I didn’t see too many proto-Flytes about. However, as Oxford is quite town-and-gown, the rundown hotel where I stayed was a dive that the shadier members of Lyra’s gang would’ve known well. There were about fifty cats in the courtyard and I’m sure that at least half of them were daemons.
Avis: LOL! I’m sure there were some daemons in the mix! What fun to explore the places where these great characters lived and got into mischief! The next question is: Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Corrine: French Ghost is the first book that I’ve ever planned as a trilogy. The mysteries in each book are one-offs, but the complex romantic arc of Melody and Carlos… well, it was a forgone conclusion that it would take three books for that terrible twosome to work things out. Book 2, French Toast, is currently in revisions. I’m hoping that French Poster Girl will see the light in 2023.
It’s been lots of fun to work on a second book in a series. It gave me the opportunity to re-visit and develop some of my favorite characters from Book 1: food-blogger Jenna Bardet, fashion model Ingrid Svenson, and stylist Joey Stahl.
Avis: I’m so happy to hear that Melody and Carlos aren’t finished. They are a lot of fun, and their steamy relationship is hot in so many ways. I love your titles, too! The next question is: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Corinne: Buying an Olivetti portable typewriter and a one-way ticket to France from New York. Post-college, I’d worked for several crazed clothing designers doing insane Devil Wears Prada jobs but within a week of landing at Charles De Gaulle, I was the fashion editor of a trendy Paris city magazine called Passion… and I’ve been writing ever since.
Avis: Wow, again! Your experiences as a professional writer are accomplished and impressive! I’m sure the Olivetti helped put you in the mood. That talent and expertise really shows in your novel, and I’m sure people will love all your books! Who wouldn’t love a romp around Paris!
Our next question is: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Corinne: Since I’m bi-cultural, I’m going to cheat and give you two books.
Cold Comfort Farmby Stella Gibbons is, to my mind, one of the funniest books ever written. Even the minor characters – like the sappy loser promoting revisionist Brontë theory – are hilarious. It’s my happy pill. I re-read it whenever I feel down, and I’m always surprised that so few people have discovered this delightful book.
My French genes whole-heartedly recommend Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin, a Franco-Algerian writer who led a short and very dangerous life (much of it behind bars) before her death in 1967. Memoir? Novella? Essay? It’s impossible to confine Astragal to any category. If you’re lucky enough to track down an English edition, the preface will probably be by Patti Smith who (like me) thinks this unfairly overlooked masterpiece is a life-changer.
Avis: Cheating is allowed, especially if we get to hear about two great books! It’s such a pleasure to get to know more about you, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from you soon! Good luck with your writing, and cheers!
Corrine LaBalme’s debut romantic mystery French Ghost pulls the reader in on the first page, and takes us on a wild ride through Paris, Bordeaux, and beyond. With a cast of richly developed and crazy characters to support her hero, Melody Layne, we soon learn that she is the ghost. She’s a ghost writer hired by the world-famous actor Charles-Henri Banville, rich, talented, and a womanizer, but before she can even begin the job and after she’s spent most of the advance, Banville is found murdered on location of his latest film in Bordeaux.
Melody is torn. With all the research she’s done to prepare for this job, she’s found that Charles-Henry Banville is one of Europe’s worst sexual predators, and she has his journals to prove it. He might even be a pedophile, and the more she learns the luckier she feels that she doesn’t have to pen his sanitized and over-glorified version of his life.
But a girl’s gotta eat. When a drop-dead gorgeous Spaniard approaches her to finish the autobiography of Charles-Henri Banville, she jumps at the offer, only to find out that her new boss, Carlos Ortega, is the son of her former employer, Charles-Henri Banville Jr.. Without missing a beat, Melody continues her research for her new employer. Together they find out more about Banville the elder, but Carlos needs to prove that his father has some redeeming qualities, or his mom will refuse the bountiful estate!
Are you hooked yet? This novel is a fun romp with laughs and tears, mystery, and romance. It is a satisfying read that will suck you in and keep you turning pages into the night. I highly recommend Corinne LeBalme’s French Ghost. Mystery/Romance fans won’t be able to put it down!