Saturday, October 20, 2012

Yes, I admit that I'm slightly cracked

It's such an exciting time with the recent release of Slightly Cracked, my first women's fiction and book signings and parties coming up soon. I thought I'd tell you my inspiration for this book. I went through menopause for seven years and wasn't allowed to take HRT because of my fibrocystic disease. It was a hellacious time to be in a career with people around me all the time and in high stress situations. Now that I'm semi-over that phase, I can look back and laugh about some of it. I thought it would be fun to have two women going through some of the same problems I had.

Slightly Cracked is mostly about lifelong friendship, though. I name a main character Daisy Marie after Rose Marie, one of my bffs since we were babies, born two weeks apart. We grew up together and when I wasn't at her house, she was at mine. What a treasure she still is! But I have to admit that we never did all the things in this book. Truly, we didn't, but it would have been unforgettable if we had.

Daisy Marie is an electrologist, who snatches the hair right off tender body parts. Mackie Sue Beanblossom, her bff, is a high school principal. Together they get into all kinds of hysterical situations. At least the ladies are hysterical. They often over-react.

In the book, both women become suspicious of their husbands, work out nearly every day at the gym or walk through the subdivision with gaggles of geese following close behind.  (A gosling had imprinted on Daisy several years earlier and that starts what becomes the goose parade of Old Dickeywood.) What starts out as the neighborhood joke eventually becomes a huge goose problem, with the critters eating up gardens and fertilizing front yards, driveways, and the subdivision road throughout.

When Daisy falls off her bicycle and has a concussion, things begin to spin out of control for both women. All kinds of unimaginable things happen but their friendship remains strong.

I hope you'll check out the book, now available in print and digital. On Monday, I am a guest on "Dames of Dialogue" with Maggie Bishop. Check out that blog post if you can, and please excuse my profanity in discussing hot flashes and dark hair in strange places. On Tuesday, I'm over at for "The Write Trail".

To celebrate the new release, several North Carolina stores are holding Girls Night Out events to showcase Slightly Cracked and give us another reason to drink wine and lattes. YAAAAH!
Come if you can. Events will be posted on my web site, under the events tab.

To purchase:

Want a free copy? Post comments here about a funny or hideous experience you had with menopause. I'll select a winner.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


YIPPEE! My first women's fiction, Slightly Cracked, has been released! I based the book on the lessons we learn from geese. It's about lifelong friendship between to Baby Boomers. Here's the press release:

Susan Whitfield, author of the Logan Hunter Mystery series, announces the  October 29th release of SLIGHTLY CRACKED, her first women’s fiction, set in Wayne County, North Carolina.

In SLIGHTLY CRACKED, Sugar Babe Beanblossom and best pal, Daisy Marie Hazelhurst, have been buddies since they were born two weeks to the day apart. Living near each other, they share happy and sad memories, outrageous antics and giggles, marital and health glitches. The only thing that threatens their lifelong friendship is the Old Dickeywood subdivision goose controversy.

When Daisy takes a nasty spill on her bike, Sugar Babe races to her side. After two trips to the ER, Daisy is diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and tests reveal an even more sinister affliction. As Daisy weakens, Sugar Babe embraces the realization that friends must encourage and protect one another through difficult circumstances, and …

 “Driving Miss Daisy” takes on a whole new meaning.

SLIGHTLY CRACKED by Susan Whitfield – October 11, 2012– Contemporary Women’s Fiction – Trade paperback -  ISBN 978-1478335017 - $13.99 – Page Count – 308 – eBook – ISBN 978-1-62345-288-9

Whitfield, who lives in Wayne County, also wrote Genesis Beach, Just North of Luck, Hell Swamp, and Sin Creek. She is currently writing the fifth book in the mystery series, titled Sticking Point. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of American, Sisters in Crime, Carolina Conspiracy, Coastal Carolina Crime Writers, and North Carolina Writers Network and NABBW.


Susan Whitfield – 919-734-8367   - Email:   

The eBook is not available yet. I'll keep you posted. A special thanks to all of you who read for me, offered suggestions, and supported me during the process. You're a great basket of good eggs!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Richard Brawer's Keiretus

Richard Brawer writes mystery, suspense and historical fiction novels. When not writing, he spends his time sailing, growing roses and studying history.  He has two married daughters and lives in New Jersey with his wife.
Welcome to the blog, Richard.
Thanks, Susan.

How has your environment affected your writing? 

My first three novels written between 1994 and 2001 and now incorporated in one volume titled “Murder at the Jersey Shore” are set at the North Jersey Coast between Sandy Hook and Asbury Park.  The stories are based on events that were reported in the local newspaper.

For example Secrets Can be Deadly is based on a story about a father who refused to take his child home from the hospital because the newborn was diagnosed with a brain impairment. I asked myself, “What if the baby was misdiagnosed?”

Diamonds are for Stealing, developed from a story about a robbery at a jewelry store where the owner pulled a gun and accidentally killed his wife while firing at the robber.  I asked myself, “Accident or planned murder?”

Murder on the Links, the third book in this series came from stories about stock market fraud and the mobsters that perpetrated the fraud.

The publisher of these books has gone out of business and I have reacquired the rights.  I put the three books together into one volume titled “Murder at the Jersey Shore” and placed it on Kindle for $2.99

My fourth mystery, Murder Goes Round and Round is also based on a Jersey Shore town that had fallen into decay.  With the demise of the town, the owner of a hand carved antique carousel worth a million dollars put the carousel up for auction.  The newspaper stores reported that many in town were upset that it was being sold.  My imagination again took over and I used the carousel as the motive for murder.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration?  Can you share some special places with us?

I only traveled once for inspiration.  Originally that travel was not for researching a novel. I was born in Paterson, NJ, the center of America’s silk industry in the early twentieth century.  My family moved to the Jersey shore when I was eleven.

When I read an article in the paper about an historian giving a lecture on the silk industry and a tour of Paterson’s historic silk district I was curious and went to the event.  As I listened a plot about a divided family formed in my mind.  I took a lot of notes, but not enough to truly understand the era.  So I did research by going back to Paterson and reading old newspaper stories.  I picked out the events I wanted to use in my story and created Silk Legacy.

Silk Legacy was the only time I traveled for research.  My last two books, Beyond Guilty, published in 2010, and my current book, Keiretsu, coming out the end of November , 2012 were researched on line.

Give a short synopsis of your most recently published book.         

Keiretus is set in Japan and the United States.  The plot again arose out of many newspaper articles about China’s growing military strength.

While the United States is focused on diffusing Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear weapons’ programs, the ultra-nationalist CEOs of Japan’s eight largest Keiretsus (conglomerates) form a cabal to use some of the shuttered nuclear power plants to secretly enrich uranium to bomb grade and develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent to China and a clandestine PAC (political action committee) within the U.S. to donate heavily to congressmen and senators to thwart the expected U.S. cease and desist demands.

Since I knew very little about Japan I had to do extensive research.  The setting in the Japanese part of the book was the easiest to find as all I had to do was access travel websites about Tokyo.  And of course there were many stories about the tsunami that ravished Japan.  However, researching specific Japanese customs as well as how the people relate to each other so I could develop proper chracters was much more difficult.

For example the story takes place mostly in the summer.  I read about O-chugen, midsummer gift-giving, an extremely important period in Japan.  I read that how the gifts are wrapped expresses sincere thoughtfulness on the part of the giver.

Gifts are wrapped in special handmade white paper resembling dried abalone and the cord around the gift is made from starched, tightly wound rice paper that is painted or otherwise colored with Mylar or thin strands of silk called mizuhki.

The mizuhiki was developed in the Edo period by samurai and became more and more elaborate as one samurai tried to out-do another in his gift giving. Today gift givers have the muzuhki fashioned into animals such as cranes, frogs, fish, dragons and turtles.

Also, gifts as well as business cards must be presented with two hands.

A simple detail such as this adds authenticity to your story.  The point I am making is that with the internet you can get that authenticity without the traveling I had to do when I wrote Silk Legacy.

Do your characters take on a life of their own?  If so, which is your favorite?


Of course before you start to write you have to know who your charters will be―their looks, quirks, and their experiences in life that affect their personalities.  Without characters you have no book.


However, unlike some writers who outline their characters and their novels in great detail before they begin writing, I do not.  Of course I know the ending and write toward it, but I only think two or three chapters ahead when I write, and those chapter ideas are usually clips such as the scene where I “plan” to place the character.


As I write the story, new situations arise that move the character in a direction I hadn’t thought about.  The character’s reaction to those situations certainly gives the character a new “life”.


For example, one of my favorite characters is Sarah Bressler the protagonist’s wife in Silk Legacy.  This originally started out as a male oriented story.  However, as the story developed her character took on a much more important role as she battled her domineering husband.  As a result Sarah became an equal character in the story.  Some say they liked her as the lead character.


Here is the book jacket of Silk Legacy set between 1904 and 1913:  In early twentieth century Paterson, New Jersey, dashing twenty-nine year old Abraham Bressler charms na├»ve nineteen year old Sarah Singer into marriage by making her believe he feels the same way she does about the new calling of a modern woman.  He then turns around and gives her little more respect than he would a servant, demanding she stay home to care for “his” house and “his” children.


Feeling betrayed Sarah defies him and joins women's groups, actively participating in rallies for woman suffrage, child welfare and reproductive freedom.  For a while she succeeds in treading delicately between the demands of her husband and her desire to be an independent woman.  Her balancing act falters when a strike shuts down Paterson’s 300 silk mills.  With many friends working in the mills, Sarah is forced to choose sides in the battle between her Capitalist husband and his Socialist brother, a union leader who happens to be her best friend’s husband.


What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far?  What advice can you give new writers?


Create characters in CONFLICT with each other or with themselves.  Wondering how the characters resolve their conflicts keeps the reader turning the pages.


You see the conflicts in Silk Legacy.  In my Murder at the Jersey Shore trilogy with detective David Nance one reviewer wrote, “What really grabbed me, though, was watching the hero deal with his issues, eventually with a measure of success, while his girl friend dealt with ...him ...and her issues involving him.”


In Beyond Guilty the character is in conflict with herself.  She is responsible for her sister’s death and tries to overcome her quilt.


In my latest novel, Keiretsu, I have created many conflicts. Father vs Son

Husbands vs Wives; Mother-in-law vs Daughter-in-law; Brother vs Sister; Cousin vs Cousin


We all know how important promoting our work has become.  How do you get the word out both off and online?


I try to get reviews from mass market newspaper reviewers, but that is extremely difficult for an author published by an independent publisher.  I have been reviewed in my local paper, but I truly feel you have to be a best-selling author or know someone to get a review in a major newspaper, although I keep trying.

Since Keiretus is so unique I have sent advance review copies to a few major reviewers with a letter explaining how current the plot is, that the book is not self published and I enclose the independent publisher’s bio, but I’ll still be surprised if one of them does review it.

Thus I continue to promote my books through interviews on blogs such as yours.  Also, there are many interactive sites on the internet where you can join the discussions.  Like all advertising, repetition is the key.  Keep your name in front of readers by participating in those discussions.  Sooner or later people will say, let me try one of his books. 


Are your books available in print and ebook formats?  Where can folks learn more about your books and events?


My back list is available only on Kindle or any e-reader that can access Amazon books.

Murder at the Jersey Shore trilogy is $2.99 for the three book series; Murder Goes Round and Round is 99 cents, and Silk Legacy is $2.99.


Beyond Guilty is available wherever books are sold in print and ebook format.


Keiretsu coming out the end of November, 2012 will also be available wherever books are sold in print and ebook format.


If you are interested in the print versions of Beyond Guilty and Keiretsu, you can order them on line from sites like  However, as with most books published by independent publishers, bookstores will not stock these books, but they can order them for you.


Read book jackets, excerpts, reviews and more about Richard at: