Wednesday, July 9, 2008

About those shoes . . . by Lorraine (L.L.) Bartlett

As promised, today we're lucky enough to have Lorraine Bartlett as our guest blogger.
Lorraine writes the Jeff Resnick paranormal suspense series and the Booktown cozy mystery series under the name Lorna Barrett. Her current books are MURDER IS BINDING and DEAD IN RED.

“My cousin is dead.”
Those words, in my latest paranormal suspense novel, DEAD IN RED, start Jeff Resnick on an adventure to find a pair of sparkling red, stiletto shoes--and possibly save a life.

Talk about a woo-woo moment, when I wrote that line of dialog, a picture flashed in my mind of these beautiful, sparkling shoes and I gave that image to my protagonist. Then I didn’t do anything with the story for several months. But I went on a quest for those shoes.

Unlike a large portion of the women our society, I did not receive the “shoe” gene. I don’t go shopping for them. I live in Crocs. I love them! (Hey, they cured my plantar fasciitis.) I haven’t worn a heel higher than half an inch in 17 years.

I remember watching MOONLIGHTING and checking to see if they filmed Cybil Sheppard’s feet, because it was well known she refused to wear uncomfortable shoes, opting instead for track shoes. She wasn’t about to abuse her Achilles tendons.

When I read that, it made a lot of sense. I started wearing more comfortable shoes. The hell with fashion, Cybil was right: comfort came first. I began to wear a hat and leg warmers in winter. too. (Okay, the leg warmers were a fashion disaster, but I wasn’t freezing in my pantyhose like the rest of the women at the office and it was a LONG walk from the parking lot to my building.)

Getting back to the new book… Why was I, who had no interest in shoes, so fascinated by those sparkling red ones? I did Internet searches. I printed out scores of pretty red shoes and I could find nothing like what I’d pictured in my mind. And what were those sparkles? Were they sequins, rhinestones, or just glued-on sparkles? I was never sure. I mean, I’d only gotten a flash of a mental image. (I’m not as good as my protagonist when it comes to tuning into woo-woo wavelengths.)

My publisher likes input on covers. I’d blown it last time by not sending a visual. Instead of one Phrenology head, I got four. Ick! This time, I had a concept and with the help of my former graphic-designer husband, we put it together. But the shoes didn’t work. I found a pair of black shoes with rhinestones, and they were the closest to what I think I imagined. A little Photoshop action, and voila! Red! We sent off the cover idea and crossed our fingers.

Well, you can imagine my surprise and delight when the real cover came through. The shoes were perfect! And they were stock photography. Add that to a cool blend of gray to black and I had a really wonderful cover. (My second this year. Do I dare hope for a repeat when my next book comes out in February?)

Everyone has commented on the shoes. Men especially seem to appreciate them. My husband in particular. “Can’t you ever wear something like that?”

Okay, I would--if you paid me a million dollars. (Okay, I’d do it for a hundred, but don’t tell my husband that.)


  1. Hey Lorraine! Thanks so much for visiting--we're all big fans.

    And what's it like living a double life? How do you keep your identities separate-in real life and in writing? (Sheila/Sarah are you out there?) When people ask for Dead in Red, do you offer them Murder is Binding as well?

    Can you tell us a bit about MIB? It's getting such a buzz these days.

    And okay, I'll confess. I've got the shoe gene. Big time. Yes, I'm predictable. Fine.

  2. Hi, Hank! Double life? It's more like a triple life. Lorraine, L.L., and Lorna. (No wonder I'm overweight!) I need to get better at pitching my books to strangers. I always carry bookmarks with me, but I seldom give them out. (Gulp.)

    I'm very proud of Murder Is Binding. It's in its third print run in three months, and it made the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's top ten in paperbacks for three months in a row. (And I gather that doesn't happen very often.)

    I'm wearing my pink Crocs right now. I think I have four pairs of them, so maybe I do have a shoe "thing" after all.

  3. Welcome to Jungle Red writers Lorraine--or whoever you are today! Next time you need a photo of shoes, do check with Hank. I was watching her at Romantic Times and I swear she changed from one gorgeous pair to another four, five, six times a day! I'm just jealous--I have plantar fasciitis too, chronic style. So no more high heels for me!

    Lorraine, you should post the link to your cool trailer--the shoes feature big-time in that!

  4. Loved, loved Murder is Binding, which you were kind enough to sign for me at Malice Domestic. How do you manage to be so prolific? Tell us about your writing day.

    (...and do you use Jibbits..those little plastic gizmos to decorate your Crocs..?)

  5. Waving at the crowd. Do I have to tell you Lorraine/Lorna and Sheila/Sarah talk a lot? And she even persuaded me to try Crocs, although I hadn't heard about Jibbits. Where do they hang out?

    I find the hardest part of balancing two protagonists is trying to keep them from merging. It helps that I write one series in first-person, the other in third-person POV. They're also at different points in their lives. And my glassblower Em is much snarkier than my rather bewildered orchardist Meg. People keep telling me they hear "me" in Em's voice--I'm still debating whether that's good or bad (am I really that sarcastic?).

    But Lorraine (or L.L.?) is writing from a male POV! Tell us more about that.

  6. I like writing Jeff from a first person POV. I find I can channel him (which is good, as last time I looked I wasn't a man). I find third person harder to write, but Tricia's voice just isn't first person.

    My writing day? You mean when I actually work on a book instead of promotion? I like to write in the morning, but lately I've been getting more done after supper. Go figure. It seems like every book comes about in a different way.

    And I'm not as prolific as I would like. I already have two more Jeff books already written. In fact, they've been written for several years. It took a lot longer than I imagined to find a home for the series, so they're in the can while I work on new projects. I must confess I like pulling the stories out and playing with them every couple of years. Being with a small press means they won't want to see the next book for at least another six months. Then it could be another year or two after that before it sees publication. This industry moves awfully slow at times.

  7. Oh, Roberta! Thanks for mentioning my book trailer for Dead in Red. It's on YouTube and can be found here: