Meet Susie Black, ladies apparel executive and author. I’m asking her some questions about writing and killing off her characters today. Join us.
What’s the fun part of writing and why?
I write humorous cozy mysteries. Because my characters are based on real people, I get to knock off some that in real life I would have loved to eliminate. I can live out a fantasy and not go to jail. This book introduces the continuing characters in the Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series.
What’s the most difficult part of writing and why? (Yes, you can talk about marketing.)
I love writing and creating, but hate the MARKETING. I am not a social media fan and find it difficult to get my head into.
What makes your book and your series unique?
There certainly are other series based on some aspects of the apparel industry. Many plots feature clothing store owners, designers with magical skills, or fashionistas who fancy a particular article of clothing. There have even been books such as Save the Tiger and I Can Get it For You Wholesale that focus on the inside of the garment industry. What sets my series apart from the others and makes the books unique is that this one is told from a female insiders point of view. The protagonist and main supporting characters are all strong women professionals who have broken the glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry.
Where do your story ideas come from?
All my story ideas and characters come from experiences in my career as a ladies apparel sales exec. I have kept a daily journal since my first day as a traveling sales rep in the deep south, and it is the foundation of all my stories.
Are you a plotter or do you follow your characters flow (Pantser)?
My approach to writing is a combination of both. I plot the beginning and the ending, but I let the plot and the characters take me from the middle to the end.
Any tips to share with fellow authors/aspiring authors?
My tips to share are write what you know. If you don’t know, learn it or don’t write it because readers can sniff a phony after the first chapter. The best advice I’ve ever heard was from best-selling author Harlan Coben who told me to keep writing no matter what and to never stop asking what if.
Everyone wanted her dead…but who actually killed her?
Blurb for Death by Sample Size
“The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly’s colleague is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent for revenge. Get ready to laugh out loud as Susie Black’s Death by Sample Size takes you on a rollicking adventure ride through the Los Angeles apparel industry.”
When the elevator doors opened, I had to stop myself short not to step on her. There was Bunny Frank-the buying office big shot-lying diagonally across the car. Her legs were splayed out and her back was propped against the corner. Her sightless eyes were wide open and her arms reached out in a come to me baby pose. She was trussed up with shipping tape like a dressed Thanksgiving turkey ready for the oven with a bikini stuffed in her mouth. A Gotham Swimwear hangtag drooped off her lower lip like a toe tag gone lost. Naturally, I burst out laughing.
Before you label me incredibly weird or stone-cold, let me say genetics aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re lucky you inherit your Aunt Bertha’s sexy long legs or your father’s ability to add a bazillion dollar order in his head and get the total correct to the last penny. Without even breaking into a sweat, it’s easy to spout at least a million fabulous traits inheritable by the luck of the draw. Did I get those sexy long legs or the ability to add more than two plus two without a calculator? Noooooooooo. Lucky me. I inherited my Nana’s fear of death we overcompensated for with the nervous habit of laughing. A hysterical reaction? Think Bozo the clown eulogizing your favorite aunt.
I craned my neck like a tortoise and checked around. Then I clamped a fist over my mouth. Cripes, how could I possibly explain my guffaws with Bunny lying there? Disappointment was simultaneously mixed with relief when there was no one else in the parking lot. Where was security when you needed them?
I toed the elevator door open and bent over Bunny. I’d seen enough CSI episodes to know not to touch her. She was stiff as a board and I attributed the bluish tinge of her skin to the bikini crammed down her throat. I was no doctor, but I didn’t need an MD after my name to make this diagnosis. Bunny Frank was dead as the proverbial doorknob.
It was no surprise Bunny Frank had finally pushed someone beyond their limits. The only surprise was it had taken so long. The question wasn’t who wanted Bunny Frank dead. The question was who didn’t?
Excerpt 2 from Death by Sample Size
Angela leveled the gun at Ronnie’s heart. Why isn’t there ever a cop around when you need one? What do they say? Ask and ye shall receive? The question was answered when my cell phone rang. BRRRRNG, BRRRRNG! Loudly. Mental head slap. Now’s a good time to remember the vibrate function. Oops. My bad.
Angela and Ronnie automatically patted their pockets. While they were busy figuring out which one of their phones were ringing, I made a run for it. As I backed away, the heel of my shoe got caught on a wheel of one of the rolling racks. I tripped and fell unceremoniously on my ass.
Angela pivoted sideways at the clash of steel and flesh. The sight of me sprawled out on the floor sent her into hysterics. “If it isn’t little Miss Persistent.” My blood ran cold when she mused, “You had a helluva good run, but I guess your luck finally ran out.” Angela stared at the clock again and groused, “I can’t believe you hung around waiting for me. Yet here you are still mucking things up.” Angela hooted, “Bet this is one appointment you wish you hadn’t kept.”
Angela grabbed the cell phone out of my hand when it rang again. She threw it on the ground and stomped it into a hundred pieces. Does the warranty cover this?
Angela waved the gun in Ronnie’s direction. “Get over there next to the captain of industry and let’s get this thing done. “
I glared at imbecile Ronnie. Why didn’t he rush her when he had the chance? Didn’t he get the bulletin? God helps those who help themselves. Ronnie might be ready to die but I wasn’t. I slid my eyes to the right. A rack loaded with swimsuits was close enough to grab. I edged step by tiny step closer to the rack. I hooked my arm around the backs of the swimsuits for leverage. I prayed the plastic hangers didn’t squeak on the metal bar as I pushed the swimsuits to the left. I held my breath. The swimsuits jostled when their weight shifted. Did Angela notice? She didn’t shoot me; so far so good.
With no time to develop an actual game plan, I punted. Words bypassed my brain and jumped out of my mouth all on their own. My heart pounded like a bass drum but my voice was amazingly calm. “Angela, please, you’re better than this. Tell the cops you were caught in a situation you had no control over. Bunny got you into a mess and Louis left you hung out to dry. At least a sharp lawyer will get you the help you need.” I flicked a wrist at Ronnie. “But kill both of us? The cops aren’t braindead. They’ll figure it out. And all bets will be off. Don’t make it worse for yourself. You’re a smart woman. Angela, I am talking to you as a friend. Please don’t do this.”
Any chance I had of talking my way out of this catastrophe was lost as Angela dismissed me with a sweep of the gun. “My life is ruined and all of you are gonna pay.” Her eyes were hard as granite. “Your meddling got Louis arrested. Your interference got him killed. And if you didn’t keep sticking your nose where it didn’t belong, you wouldn’t have gotten involved in all this. But no, you couldn’t let it go. I warned you over and over, but you didn’t pay any attention.” She lectured, “You should have listened, you should have taken the hint, but you didn’t, and this is where it got you. Now you’re another loose end I’ve gotta tie up along with him.”
The metallic taste of fear bit my tongue and the words she meant to comfort terrified me more. “Don’t worry,” she soothed. “It’ll be fast; you won’t suffer. My daddy was a hunter. I’ve been around guns all my life. I’m a crack shot. You’ll hardly feel a thing.”
Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black 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.
Grab your Don’t-Panic Swimsuit Guide from ladies apparel executive Susie Black
Before Susie Black became a cozy mystery author, she 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:
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:
APPLE SHAPE: Your waist is wider than your hips and equal to or nearly as wide as your bust.
HOURGLASS SHAPE: Your bust and hips are about the same size width, but your waist is smaller.
PEAR SHAPE: Your hips are significantly wider than your waist and bust.
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.
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.
Click here for your very own Bathing Suit Guide! Photos and specific examples for your figure.
Speed Round with Susie, just for F-U-N.
Favorite movie: Casablanca
Favorite book: Madeline
Last book read: Night
Worst date ever: Disco
Your character’s worst date ever: None
Favorite color: Red
Stilettos or flipflops or sneakers: sneakers
Coffee or tea: coffee
Ebook or audiobook or paperback: paperback
Pencil or pen: pencil
Favorite song: People
Streak or not: Not
Favorite dessert: brownies
Favorite junk food: pizza
Favorite thing to do to relax: sailing
Champagne or gin: Champagne
Paranormal or Historical: Historical
Wonder Woman or Top Model: Wonder Woman
Favorite TV show: MASH
Hot or cold: cold
I’d die if I didn’t have: love
My character would die if she/he didn’t have: pizza
Favorite Twitter link: https://twitter.com/KimberlyBaer14/status/1393174255706132482
Buy Links for Death by Sample Size