Why did I set my series the 1950s?

At the authors panel I attended earlier this month, we were asked why we had chosen to write mysteries in a specific era.

There areBooks by Jennifer Berg several reasons why I chose the 1950s, not all of them very interesting. But in short, it’s an era that had more colorful charm than grizzly forensics. Since I’m all about the puzzle of a good mystery, that works well for me. The 1950s had great fashion, textures, music, and it was a complicated time socially as everyone tried to create a normal — better — life after the war. Basically, there’s a lot for me to work with.

The challenge is the era’s rampant sexism and racism. Not a good thing. And while I’m not a huge history buff, I can’t simply gloss over the pieces I don’t like. Of course, I’m writing murder mysteries not social historical commentary, but I really do try to use social accuracy to enhance the story and the mystery part of the adventure, without making it so central as to distract the audience. (And I sincerely hope I’m doing a good job.)

After all, we’re reading mysteries to enjoy ourselves.

Historical Mystery Panel

Jennifer Berg after ACA panel, San Diego, CABooks by Jennifer Berg

Last week’s panel was a blast! I learned a lot, sold some books, and I got to meet two vastly diverse and talented historical mystery authors. M. Louisa Locke writes the Victorian San Francisco Mysteries. And Jeri Westerson writes the Crispin Guest Mysteries (among other things) which take place in Medieval England.

Both women were very friendly and supportive to me personally, as well as being all-round fascinating people. I was having so much fun listening and participating, that it was near the end when it suddenly dawned that I’d never met other historical mystery authors before. I’ve been writing mysteries alone for over 6 years, and I’m the only one I know who writes mysteries set in 1950s Seattle, but I’m not really a tribe of one. 🙂

And now my reading list has grown to include more great historical mysteries!

M. Louisa Locke               Jeri Westerson

Tomorrow’s Panel

Jennifer Berg: Mystery Writers of AmericaTomorrow, I’ll be attending my first panel as a writer. The PCA/ACA* conference has me booked with two other historical mystery writers. I’m the newbie and the only one who writes in the 1950s. (They write in the middle ages and Victoria era, but I’ll explain more when I know more). Basically, I’m not sure what to expect tomorrow. I’ve made business cards, and I’ll have several copies of my just-released book available for the consignment sales. Apart from that, I’ll just be winging it and having fun. :-)

*In case you don’t know (I didn’t 😉 we’re talking about the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.

Blogging Pains Revisited

Jennifer BergSo, it’s been a while since I complained about my blogging technical challenges. Over the last several months, I’ve made a few tweaks and improvements here and there, and I must have been getting pretty smug with myself because now I’ve managed to remove my blog as a list of posts. At the moment, I can only post one item at a time. I’m not even sure what I did, but as soon as I figure it out, I’ll undo it. Drat. Update, it’s showing posts, but only with the “category” listed on top. ?!?

My First Panel

20170328_092720I’ve been selected as a mystery author panelist for the PCA/ACA National Conference. I’ll be joining a couple of (far more established) authors of historical mysteries. I’m not wholly sure what to expect, but I’m really looking forward to meeting other fans of the genre and the opportunity to discuss my work!

Editing fatique

With The Hatbox Murders and The Tugboat Murder both coming out next week, I’ve just finished a final-final read of each–just in case. Besides that, my editor and I have been editing The Charlatan Murders for several months now and we’ve still got plenty to do.

While it’s a good problem to have, at this point, I’m ready for a break. Even cleaning my house sounds like a nice change of pace. (Yep, it’s bad 🙂

The Tugboat Murder

I’m super excited that my publisher has agreed to release The Tugboat Murder. To celebrate, and just because I tend to nerd out a bit about these books, I’ve made a Pinterest board devoted to Tugboats and themes around the book.

The images don’t attempt to tell the story, rather, I’m trying to capture the mood around the story. Check it out if you’re interested 🙂  http://pin.it/zIBC2sm

Seattle in the mid 1950s, a warm summer night, and a charming red old tugboat…

The task of editing…

Editing one’s own stuff can be fun. It can also be tedious. But if you’ve been at it for months on end, it can also begin to feel like you’re falling into an endless vortex of words.

photos-from-jennifers-phone-019-2
Cali the Comet

Magnolia’s Fantasy Streets

When researching my 1950s era books, I’m always referring to my old Seattle map. A few weeks ago, I posted a map-mystery about some Seattle streets that have disappeared, but my old map also shows several streets that never even existed.

Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood is a peninsula northwest of downtown. Per my 1950s era Kroll Map, Magnolia’s footprint was expected to balloon out several blocks into Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. My map shows that future fantasy expansion complete with streets names.

I’m not sure if they planned to wash away the Magnolia hillside (that’s what happened to Seattle’s Denny Regrade neighborhood) but whatever they were planning, all that remains is an old map showing the streets and avenues of a future that never happened.

The Publishing Process

I’m new to publishing. Even though I’m currently writing my 5th book, the Hatbox Murders will be the first one published.

Over a hear ago, Barking Rain Press assigned me to a wonderful editor, and we spent 6 months going over the manuscript. We did 3 complete in-depth passes. After that, two more editors came on board and we all went through it again.

I thought the editing was finished. Silly me. I just received the final “Final foJennifer Berg mystery writerr Print,” proof. Now, there are 5 of us on the project, all reviewing the Hatbox Murders cover-to-cover.

It really helps me appreciate (and maybe even dread 😉 all the work that goes into a traditionally published book.

And it keeps me really, really busy.