I’m thrilled to welcome friend and sister Wild Rose Press author Susie Black, whose latest book in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series launched August 2nd! Susie, congratulations on Death by Cutting Table! Sooo exciting! We have an interview with the author, an excerpt from the book, all the links you need for more. But first, we have a beautiful guest post from Susie.
Guest Post: Nana the Great Communicator
by Susie Black
If there is an inheritable gene for story-telling, mine came from my mother’s mother. My nana should have been a writer. No one could tell a story like her. She was the eldest of six children of a modest immigrant family from Eastern Europe that settled in Boston at the turn of the century.
My great-grandfather was a tailor who managed to clothe, feed, and shelter his children, but there was precious little left over for extravagances like a day at the cinema for one child, let alone for six. Nana had a cousin Jenny who played piano at the local silent-movie house and she was able to get a free pass for relatives. Nana and her next oldest sibling traded off weeks going to the serialized show every Saturday afternoon and then came home to tell the story to all the other kids.
The other kids hated it when it was my great-aunt’s turn because she gave a short synopsis and called it a day. They were thrilled when it was Nana’s turn. She set up two rows of chairs in the parlor like in the movie house, served popcorn, dimmed the lights, and played background music on the victrola as she recounted the episode of the serial. Nana would take her time, slowly build up to the cliffhanger and stop talking right before the finale. Nana would wait until my great uncle Murray would yell, “Go on Rae, go on!” before she’d finish telling the story. Talk about pacing and how to build tension in the finale. Nana had it down pat.
Like many families, once my nana’s siblings grew up and left home, they scattered across the country. Nana knew the importance of keeping her family together no matter how many miles separated them. Since a phone was not an option, as the oldest child, Nana was chosen to write letters to family members living far from home. With the same level of dedication as the postman; come rain, sleet, or snow, war or peace, prosperous times or the depths of a national depression, my blind-as-a-bat without her coke bottle-thick glasses nana sat every Monday night at her dining room table and wrote a letter to each of her siblings. Her letters sewed the thread that kept our close-knit tribe connected.
When I was in my sophomore year of college my family moved from Los Angeles to Miami. Despite their valiant attempts to persuade me to join them, I wasn’t interested in relocating to “God’s waiting room,” and remained out west. The good news was that Nana added me to her list of weekly letter-writing recipients. Lonesome for my family, Nana’s weekly letter was an eagerly-anticipated lifeline to my family’s heart and soul. For all of us, that letter was the glue that kept our family bound together no matter how far from home one of us wandered.
The designated town crier, Nana’s letters were more like a newsletter. A date with her friends at the movies? After reading her letter, I was in the seat next to her. She reported who went, what they wore if they were late or early; where they sat if they had a snack, what the snack was, editorials on how much the snacks and the movie tickets cost, and every detail of the movie that was so complete, the recipient of her letter could write a decent review based on Nana’s commentary. If she described what an attendee was wearing, I could close my eyes and picture the outfit perfectly. Her descriptions were so detailed and rich, that if she was describing a meal, I could smell the wafting aroma and taste the food.
Out of sentimentality or maybe a sixth sense that someday I’d need them, I kept every one of those letters. Like Nana, they were strong-willed and hearty; surviving dogs, a child, countless moves, several major earthquakes, and a devastating house fire. I had no formal creative writing training when I decided to write my first manuscript. I had a story to tell, but no clue how to tell it. I instinctively pulled the carefully wrapped packets of letters out of the storage box and re-read every one of them. I could picture Nana at the dining room table writing the letters. I heard her voice inside my head speaking to me. My long-gone, full-service Nana had given me all the tools I needed. I re-packed the letters, started to write, and thanks to Nana, I never stopped.
My debut humorous cozy mystery Death by Sample Size was published in 2021, and by the end of this year, I will have a total of five books published. I kept Nana’s communication skills and distinctive voice in mind while writing Death by Sample Size. Somewhere in the great beyond, Nana is smiling with approval.
Susie's mom and Nana
Such a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing it with us, Susie.
And now, let's learn a bit more about the prolific author Susie Black.
1) What sort of books did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you have a favorite book or series? SUSIE: As a young child I was given the Mary Jane series and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew series from my mother-these were her books when she was a child, so they were of course, quite special to me. When I was older, hands down, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series were my favorites. I also loved the biography of Amelia Earhart.
2) What sort of books do you enjoy reading nowadays?
SUSIE: I enjoy reading books in the mystery genre in general but gravitate towards the same type of books I write-humorous cozy mysteries.
3)Around what age did you realize that you liked to write?
SUSIE: Actually, it was at a rather young age. I can remember writing short stories in the third grade. In junior high, high school, and college, I was a reporter and wrote for the school newspapers. I was ultimately made the Editor-in-Chief of all three.
I am not in the least surprised you were made Editor-in-Chief!
And when did you know that you wanted to write books?
SUSIE: While writing the daily journal entries that chronicled the interesting people I encountered and the crazy things I got myself into and out of during my career as a ladies’ apparel sales exec was when I knew I wanted to turn my experiences into books.
4) What’s the first thing you wrote that you remember being proud of?
SUSIE: My first column as the Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper.
You must have been so very proud!
5) Tell us about the creative force within you.
SUSIE: The creative force within me is how I see the world. That is why I write in the first person. So, it is my voice that the readers hear in their heads when they read my books.
What inspires you to write, to create?
SUSIE: I am a people person. People are utterly fascinating and are my inspiration to write and create. I can sit for an hour in the mall food court or an airport departure lounge and people watch and come up with hundreds of stories about the folks I observe.
6) What’s your writing space like?
SUSIE: I have commandeered our family room as my writing space. I have a large-screen computer on a computer desk adjacent to a copier, a TV, and a stereo. If the writing is going well, I listen to either jazz or rock N’ roll oldies. But if I am struggling, I find music a distraction and turn it off. We live in the southern California desert on a golf course. I can look out the window onto the fairway and watch the hapless duffers whack away or observe the ducks and geese in the water hazard lounging around for comic relief. It is a very peaceful atmosphere and always gets my creative juices flowing.
7) Do you have a favorite time of day to write?
SUSIE: I don’t have a set daily schedule or a set number of hours a day to write. I try hard to write at least something every day, but candidly, life often gets in the way of the best-laid plans…That said, I can tell you that I rarely write in the morning. I am a night owl and often do my most productive writing late into the wee hours.
Any habits or little rituals that put you in a writing mindset?
SUSIE: Before I sit down to write, I make sure there is a full pot of fresh coffee brewed and keep a jar of mixed nuts next to the computer. When I am plotting, I step away from the computer and walk. Some people do their best thinking in the shower or the car. I do my best thinking while walking.
8) Time to talk about your latest release (rubbing hands together)! But first, how did you come up with the idea for the Holly Swimsuit Mystery series?
SUSIE: I came up with the idea for the series based on my career. My protagonist’s name is Holly and she is a successful ladies’ swimwear sales exec in the Los Angeles area and an amateur sleuth. Holly is the me I always wanted to be. My journal is the source of all my writing. All my characters are based on real people I have crossed paths within my apparel career.
Are there any interesting tidbits you’d care to share with us?
SUSIE: I inherited my maternal grandmother’s love of perfume, jewelry, taking chances, speaking my mind, a wicked sense of humor, and regrettably, her fear of death that we both nervously compensated with by laughing whenever we heard someone died. I incorporated this weird trait into my Holly Swimsuit Mystery series by giving Holly Schlivnik, the protagonist, the same affliction and response to death.
9) Now let’s hear about Death by Cutting Table!
SUSIE: Death by Cutting Table tells the story of the ultimate price one unscrupulous, power-hungry man paid for destroying a swimwear company by stealing it blind.
For the record, I did not just squeal and clap my hands! That sounds fab! I can hardly wait to read of Holly's new adventures!
10) I comprehend that you’ve just recently published a book. I know what that takes. Still, I can’t help but ask – do you have anything waiting in the wings?
SUSIE: I do. After Death by Cutting Table is released, I have one more, new book that will be published this coming November 15th. I also have one half-completed manuscript that candidly should have been finished long ago but kept getting pushed to the back of the “to do” pile. I have vowed to finish writing this one and submit it to my editor by the end of this summer.
YAHOOO! Looking forward to your upcoming books!
11) Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
SUSIE: First, I want to thank you for hosting me on your blog and giving me the opportunity to introduce myself and my books to your followers.
Second, on behalf of all authors, I’d like to ask your readers to please consider writing and posting a review for the books they read. Reviews are the life blood of all authors. Word of mouth is the most effective way to have the light of approval shined on our works. If readers aren’t quite sure how to write a review, I have a terrific guide to point everyone in the right direction. E-mail me at: email@example.com and I’ll gladly send out a copy.
Third, as a swimwear fit expert, I have created a Swimwear Fit Guide that I am offering FREE to your readers. Click the link and grab your copy: Swimwear Fit Guide
I wholeheartedly agree about the reviews! Susie, thank you for the swimsuit guide and for giving me a chance to share your work with my readers. Congratulations again!
And now, Death by Pins and Needles!
Rock, paper, scissors…and you die.
There wasn’t an honest bone in Mermaid Swimwear CEO Butch Oldham’s body. He was an equal opportunity scoundrel who screwed anyone and everyone in his wake. So, the question wasn’t who wanted the bastard dead. The question was, who didn’t? After Mermaid Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik finds colleague Queenie Levine standing over Oldham’s bloody corpse nailed to a fabric cutting table with a big honkin’ pair of cutting shears plunged deep into his chest, the cops soon find Queenie’s hidden blood-soaked sweater, discover her stormy relationship with the victim, and her public threats to make Butch pay for destroying Mermaid by stealing it blind. When Queenie is arrested for Butch’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to flesh out the real killer. But the trail has more twists and turns than a slinky, and nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she tangles with a clever killer hellbent for revenge.
Excerpt from Death by Cutting Table
I cracked open the forward door and stuck my head out. I scoped a one-eighty around the dock. The street lights were on, as well as the lights at the top of the gangplank. A half-dozen apartments were also lit. A single light shined inside a cabin cruiser two boats from mine. My boat seemed to be the only thing in the marina with no power.
This isn’t the first time I’d been the only one with no power. When I first bought the boat, I learned the hard way don’t let the coffee maker, microwave oven, and television run at the same time or the circuits overload. But in the middle of the night with no appliances running or an electrical storm to cause a power outage? The blood froze in my veins. The answer isn’t inside the boat. I hoisted myself over the forward deck onto the dock with my heart in my throat.
A faint hint of smoke wafted from the breaker box and power outlet as I reached the end of the dock. I yanked the damaged plug out of the outlet and threw it in the water. I blasted the dock power outlet and breaker box with the fire extinguisher and pulled the other end of the power cord out of my boat power outlet. Eight minutes after my nine-one-one call, the cavalry arrived in force and all hell broke loose.
About the Author
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.
Looking for more? Contact Susie at:
It's no secret that I prefer fat HEAs. Where better than in a beautiful romance?
From me to you with a smile.
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