Friday, October 17, 2014

Interview of Author Betty Kreisel Shubert

Betty Kreisel Shubert enjoyed a career in theatrical design spanning several decades, starting at the age of thirteen, when she sold her first design to a manufacturer. By eighteen she had two hit Hollywood shows to her credit. Betty has designed clothes & costumes for stage, screen, TV Specials, ready-to-wear, Las Vegas musicals & Disneyland. She chronicled her unique experiences in an equally unique book, “Out-of-Style: A Modern Perspective of How, Why, and When Vintage Fashions Evolved”, which Kirkus Reviews named to BEST BOOKS of 2013. Betty and I chatted recently about her fascinating career and the book that documents it. JF: How did you get into such an interesting business, and at such an early age? BKS: At Beverly Hills High School, I designed & made costumes for all our shows for four years. A producer who always came to see his son perform told me, “The next time I do a show I’ll let you do the costumes”. Good press reviews for “Meet the People” led to my designing costumes for Ken Murray’s Blackouts, a “must see” in Hollywood that enjoyed a 6 1/2 year record-breaking run JF: You must have met many famous people. Who stands out? BKS: The Blackouts played at the original El Capitan Theatre at Hollywood & Vine. The theatre was owned by Sid Grauman , who also owned the Chinese Theatre nearby. Grauman was often a backstage visitor arriving in a chauffer driven limo. He lived at the Ambassador Hotel, home of the famous Coconut Grove nightclub. One night after the show, he invited me & my mother to a late supper where he told us the story of his life…from nickelodeons in San Francisco to Hollywood. I was entranced, aware that I was listening to history directly from an icon. JF: What made you decide to write “Out-of-Style”? BKS: The need to simplify the understanding of how clothes evolved so that genealogists can easily time-date old family photos, costume designers can be inspired, theatre companies can dress actors in time-appropriate attire, and vintage collectors can knowledgeably buy & sell. And now writers can accurately choose and describe their characters’ clothes! JF: Your book has garnered great reviews. What makes it different from other design books? BKS: It was written by a designer who contracted to deliver finished costumes in time for opening night. as opposed to being written by a scholar who sees clothes in museums as specimens. My over 700 sequential illustrations are not designs; they are “composites” of style clues that place garments in their correct decade. A major reviewer said, “A fabulously, fascinating FUN book to read!” When was a history book ever FUN to read? JF: Your book is in countless libraries, even a museum of American History. How did you manage this? BKS: I had my book displayed at various book shows such as The Combined Book Exhibit and American Library Show. I gave out beautiful sell sheets which were quickly taken by visiting librarians. JF: Why do you think every author should have this book, and how can they obtain it? BKS: “Out-of-Style” illustrates & describes clothes for men, women & children from the 19th- 21st centuries. If you are writing & need inspiration about how your characters should look & dress, being able to access this information immediately is invaluable. I received letters from authors, artists, and illustrators about how helpful this has been to them. For more information, please see my website

Monday, September 22, 2014

Laguna Niguel, California Appearance

The Laguna Niguel, California Library is featuring me as their "Author of the Month" this Sunday, September 28, at 2:00 p.m. If you're in the area I'd enjoy meeting you. I'll be speaking about my personal and writing life, how I got into a career in law enforcement, and how it led me to write my two novels. I'm currently working on a third one in the series. Books will be availabe at a discount. I look forward to seeing you.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Review

AfterwardsAfterwards by Rosamund Lupton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A mother, Grace, and daughter, Jenny, are seriously injured in a private school fire. Grace receives a critical head injury that leaves her in a coma. Jenny is severely burned and may die. Her heart is failing and only a transplant can save her. Although the fire appears to be an accident, it soon becomes clear it was set on purpose, with the goal of killing Jenny. As Grace and Jenny lay unconscious in their hospital beds, their spirits connect with each other and follow family members, medical personnel, and police investigators as they eventually solve the crime. Lupton is a beautiful writer and in her hands this story seems plausible. A lesser writer could turn it into soap opera. The novel takes place over a period of a few days, is set in London, and is page turning. It is a sad but sweet story that shows the extreme power of love. Although unbelievable in the real world, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Thank Goodness for Book Clubs

If you're an avid reader, you're probably in a book club. If you're not, consider joining one. I say this because given my taste, I would read the same type of book all the time, mysteries. Chances are most readers do the same. They have their favorites and go to them when looking for a new book to read. There's nothing wrong with that. As the saying goes, "so many books, so little time". My book club however frequently steers me in another direction. We meet once a month. In December we have a social and select our books for the next year. Everyone gets a choice and whoever selects the monthly book handles the discussion and background on the author. I should mention we read only fiction. Recently I finished the book "Afterwards" by Rosamund Lupton, a British writer. I had never heard of the book but it was one of the club's selections, and I couldn't put it down. On my own I probably would have missed this book, and I'm so glad I didn't. I won't say much more about it as I plan to do a review of it which I'll post here. Other good books have come my way only because I've had to read them so I'd be able to participate in the discussion. Yes, there have been duds, but the good ones outweigh them. Are you in a book club? I'd like to know how your clubs operate and if you've found the same thing I have. When you have to get out of your comfort zone, is it usually a good thing?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review

The Gods of Guilt (Mickey Haller, #5)The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Connelly's latest book features Lincoln lawyer Mickey Haller, so named because he conducts business from the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. Connelly is a master at complex plotting and courtroom procedure, and the reader will get plenty in this book. Mickey is asked to defend a man accused of killing a prostitute. Mickey at one time had tried to help the prostitute leave the life, and thought he had succeeded, until her death and knowledge about her recent past told him otherwise. The accused swears he is innocent, although he knew the victim and had had an argument with her shortly before she died. The evidence points to him and the police are sure they have the right man. Mickey's not so sure, and as he delves into the past of several people associated with the victim, he is convinced the accused is being set up. This knowledge puts Mickey in danger, and before all is wrapped up, there are many twists and turns to keep you turning pages. The "Gods of Guilt" in this case are the jury who will sit in judgment, but at the end, Mickey learns there are many "Gods of Guilt" to deal with in his lifetime. Connelly at his best.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How Do You Write?

I love fiction. There's nothing like a good story to keep me turning pages into the night. Non-fiction can also be told in a story format, but for purposes of this blog, I'll be addressing fiction only. Writers love words, so I'll assume, if you write, that you have a great vocabulary. Please refrain from using it! When you write your book, you're telling the reader a story. You want your reader to be lost in it and not be distracted by poor grammar, poor editing, or too many "big" impressive words. So obviously, a clean and polished manuscript should be at the beginning of any good novel. But, back to your great vocabulary, use only those words that are descriptive and add to the scene you're writing. I rarely quit reading a book once I've started it, hoping that it will get better after a slow start. Recently though I gave up on a book early on. Why? Because the author spent three pages describing the flowers and trees in a garden the protagonist was walking through. I was very impressed with the author's knowledge of all this flora and fauna, but it didn't advance the story and bored me to death. The author had done this in earlier parts of the book as well, describing every piece of furniture in a living room. I really didn't need to know the difference between an ottoman and a settee, but the author knew it and she darn well was going to tell us about it. She lost me, and probably a few others as well. Readers select a book because they want to be transported to a different time and place, not to wade through extraneous verbiage that slows down their journey. Mary Higgins Clark, a very intelligent and successful writer, is an excellent example of a story teller who doesn't waste a word as she keeps you reading, page after page. Don't be afraid to edit. A tip I read recently, regarding descriptions, went - three words are OK, two words are better, one word is best. Keep it interesting, but keep it simple. Your readers will be glad.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review - "Surfing the Seconds"

Surfing the SecondsSurfing the Seconds by Vincent Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some people write memoirs. Vincent Lowry is a bit young for that, but his beautifully written poetry gives us a glimpse into his life and the kind of man he is. Each poem chronicles a little slice of life, with a twist. His sensitivity to everyday things, which are so easy to overlook in our busy lives, makes us want to stop and rethink the way we go through our day. "The Unvisited Past" hints of happier times and lost love. "Among Champions" celebrates the miracle of birth. Interspersed throughout the book are anecdotes about Vincent's son Conner, that show the great love he has for him. A lovely book and a wonderful book for Conner to have when he's older.

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Free Kindle for "No Good Deed"

My southern California mystery novel, NO GOOD DEED, will be free on Kindle from Friday March 14 through Monday March 17. You can access it here:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Promotional Website

I recently came across an excellent website for promoting books. There are many on the internet, but they usually focus on one or two aspects of promotion, then refer you elsewhere. My recent discovery covers everything on one post. It is not only comprehensive, but very well organized. I'm anxious to share it with you. Visit:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Book Giveaway Coming Soon

NO GOOD DEED will soon be available free on Kindle. I will let you know once it is set up.

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