Friday, August 5, 2016

A Mixed Bag of What? From Jess and Shannon

What We Wished We Knew Then

This is Jess
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Do you know Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker? If I had a million hours, I could not begin to list the superlatives that they deserve. Hilarious, first, and talented. And loving, and thoughtful, and spiritual, and authentic and genuine.

I was trying to think of a funny thing to say about them, some anecdote or experience to explain how fabulous they are, but it’s—well, Jess and I have criss-crossed the country together as part of MWA University (Hallie, too), have eaten ridiculous food and (sometimes) great wine, have taught and listened and commiserated and laughed and planned and plotted and shared the terribles and the fabulousness. Fabulousnesses.

And then along comes Shannon, who shares an editor with me—as well as an outlook and a joy and an enthusiasm to see what’s coming next.

This is Shannon
Their books are terrific.

And today, hurray, here they are on Jungle Red. And they are so fabulous, they wrote their own intro. At least—they thought they did.


Today's guest post features thriller writers Jess Lourey (Salem's Cipher) and Shannon Baker (Stripped Bare), both of whose latest books hit shelves on September 6, 2016. They are embarking on their whirlwind, 30-day Lourey/Baker Double-booked Blog Tour in celebration of their dual release date. Today, they’re joining Jungle Red Writers to share what they wished they knew way back when, in the land and time before they’d written and published 19 books between them.

Jess here. I wish I had known at age 18 that youth is its own beauty, and that 125 pounds is not fat no matter what the magazines tell you. I wish I had known in my 20s how great dating would become in my 40s (all the guys have jobs and vasectomies; I am now happily married, but the point remains). Even more important than those two tips, I wish I knew three very specific things about writing way back in 2003 when I was hand-mailing query letters (featuring licked stamps! remember when?) out into the world.

   1. Writing novels is a marathon, not a sprint. May Day, my first book, hit shelves in 2006 to some good reviews (notwithstanding Kirkus, who I swear keeps ellipses in business). Twelve novels later, ten of those traditionally published, and I’m still working my day job. I don’t think the awareness that building a writing career takes time would have changed anything for me because like most writers, I write for the love of the story, not the money. Still, I maybe wouldn’t have gotten so down on myself if I hadn’t expected I’d have made it big by at least my tenth book.

   2.   I wish I had known I would make lifelong friends by joining the crime fiction community. I might have jumped in this pond sooner if someone had told me how cool all the fish are. I have all sorts of theories about why mystery writers are the best human beings you’ll ever meet, but bottom line, writing novels has brought amazing people into my life who I’m lucky enough to call friends, including Shannon, Hank, and Hallie.

   3. Everyone thinks their book is crap at various times when writing it. (If this isn’t true, don’t tell me.) Write through that stage. It is the equivalent of me at age 12 (through 19), when I thought claw bangs, frosted lipstick, and pinned jeans were the way to go. Keep moving forward, in writing and in life. Things always get better.
Shannon, you’re working on your second series, which is earning rave reviews, and you’ve been in this business as long as I have, right? What pearls of wisdom do you have to share?

Shannon: First of all, what are pinned jeans? And secondly and more importantly, huge congratulations on your recent marriage. One thing I know now that I didn’t back then is that you can find the love of your life in your middling years and it’s even better than in your twenties.

HANK: Yay Yay Yay!

Shannon: Damnit, Jess. You went first and got all the good ones. But here’s my first turd of wisdom:

   1.  Know when to quit. That’s right. I have this little disaster I call Ashes of the Red Heifer. I started writing that sucker in 1997. It’s a great premise. The TV series, Dig, is based on the same ideas. But I didn’t have the craft to carry it off. I kept working on it, though. Every time I’d learn something new, I’d rewrite the doomed thing. It went through so many critique groups it became completely homogenized. At one point, a New York agent picked it up. But 9/11 hit and no one would touch it. I hate to admit I rewrote that for over 10 years and finally sold it to a nanopress. It is out of print and shouldn’t have ever been in print. To use a Biblical reference, you can’t put new wine into an old wine skin. Let it go and start something new.

   2.  Your journey is your own. If I could internalize this point, I’d be happier and wiser than I am now. Other writers are better, luckier, smarter, more successful, prettier, thinner, have more friends…. Do what you can, be who you are, and don’t worry about someone else’s path. The Desiderata says it best. (You remember all the hippies loved that in the 70’s, right? In my new series, Kate’s mother lives by it.)
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

.        3. I'll try to stay away from quoting ancients on this one. Again, this is a do as I say, not as I do kind of thing. Try to maintain a sane perspective on this writing gig. So much of the business is out of our control. One of my friends decided in the fourth grade that she wanted to be a novelist. She is in her 50’s and hasn’t published a novel, yet. She battles depression, literally, over this. She can’t make the markets yearn for her work or force a publisher to take her on. No one knows what makes one book a runaway bestseller and a better book languish. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t hit that goal you’ve set for yourself? The sun will come up, your children will still be brats, sex will still feel great, and you keep writing books. It’s writing, people, not life.

Haha! Jess here.  That's me and Shannon for you, a mixed bag of wisdom, turds and sex.
What we wished we knew then ...  
HANK: Wait, wait, I hear you wrapping up. But yeah, what are pinned jeans.
JESS: Anyone out there know? 
Thank you for joining us today! I am giving away a Salem’s Cipher and Shannon is giving away a Stripped Bare. Tell us what you wished you knew when, writing-related or otherwise, or leave a comment for a chance to win.
And because we love you best of all, we’ve got more:

If you order Salem's Cipher before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to to receive a Salem short story and to be automatically entered in a drawing to win a 50-book gift basket mailed to the winner's home.

If you order Stripped Bare before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to to receive a Kate Fox short story and be entered for a book gift basket mailed to your home.

You’re welcome to enter both contests.  

HANK:  Love to you both, too. Reds--instead of trying to match their advice--lets talk about pinned jeans. What they heck are they? Did you wear them? What's the clothing choice you most regret? Shoulder pads don't count.
Mine: The lavender linen hot pants suit (very conservative) I wore to a wedding in 1972. WHAT was I thinking?
Or okay…their advice is so great. DO you have any? 
A copy of my new DRIVE TIME to once lucky commenter.


Jessica (Jess) Lourey is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing "a splendid mix of humor and suspense." She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft's 2014 Excellence in Teaching fellowship, and leads interactive writing workshops all over the world. Salem’s Cipher, the first in her thrilling Witch Hunt Series, hits stores September 2016. You can find out more at, or find Jess on Facebook or Twitter

Shannon Baker writes the Kate Fox mystery series. Stripped Bare, the first in the series, features a sheriff in rural Nebraska and has been called Longmire meets The Good Wife. Baker also writes the Nora Abbott Mystery Series, a fast-paced mix of murder, environmental issues and Hopi Indians published by Midnight Ink. Baker was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2104 Writer of the Year. She writes from the Colorado Rockies to the Nebraska Sandhills, the peaks of Flagstaff and the deserts of Tucson. Visit Shannon at

Pop on over to the Midnight Ink blog Monday as we continue the Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour.


  1. What a delightful post. I shall watch for “Salem’s Cipher” and “Stripped Bare.”
    Both Jess and Shannon offered great “I wish I’d known” comments. I wish I’d known when I was a teenager that you didn’t have to give up your heart’s own pie-in-the-sky dream in deference to what everyone else expected you to do.

    Nope, never wore pinned jeans; although I often saw the teenagers around us wearing fancy safety pins on the outside seams of their jeans, it just wasn’t a fashion statement I felt inclined to make my own.
    I have never been good at the whole fashion thing; shoulder pads aside, I think I mostly regret those bellbottom jeans.

  2. Had me laughing here, plus more books for my TBR stack!
    I wish I had known that not only did I not have to control or manage everything, it wasn't possible anyway. And I wish I had known (or realized) before retirement that it really is just more of life, good days, bad days, better than slogging off to work each day, lots more time to read, but it wasn't somehow a totally different reality. Who knows what I was thinking.

    And, Hank, I think I pretty much regret all of my clothing for the 70's, but probably most of all the polyester pantsuit with the wild print I wore to a wedding reception. Put it with the long hair parted in the middle, the giant-framed glassed and chunky shoes and I looked more ready for Laugh-In than a wedding.

    1. I just realized I said pantsuit. It was actually a one-piece jumpsuit. Even more regret ha ha.

    2. I just realized I said pantsuit. It was actually a one-piece jumpsuit. Even more regret ha ha.

  3. Great instructions and advice, Jess and Shannon.

    I have been reading the Murder-by-the-Month and Nora Abbott mysteries for years, and am happy to see you both launching new series and going on a double-blog tour together! “Salem’s Cipher” and “Stripped Bare" are titles added to my TBR list.

    I wish I'd known advice to myself in my 20s would be similar to Shannon's second point. You have to follow your own path & listen to your instincts. Taking well meaning advice from parents, elders, and friends may not be the best thing to do. A dramatic, unplanned career change at 45 forced me to re-evaluate my priorities. Moving to a new city and taking a new professional path allowed me to become happier now than I was in my 20s and I realize the best is yet to come.

    As an adult, I never was into the latest fashion trends, so I have no idea what pinned jeans are, lol. My worst fashion mistake was wearing both green and orange polyester pantsuits in the mid-1970s. But I did not know any better...I was a kid!

  4. I think I picked the wrong month to decide to read non-ebooks. My TBR pile is tottering dangerously. Cats beware! Now I can't wait to dig into Salem's Cipher and Stripped Bare. Love the way you two handled a double blog tour. What a great idea and you both play off of each other so well. It's like being out for drinks with your best friends.

    What do I wish I knew way back when? It's really not all life and death, cut yourself some slack! Jess, your depiction of writing as a marathon not a sprint was priceless.

    Fashion mistake? Hum, hard to say, I think anytime I tried to dress like someone else and not me. Never good at the fashion thing. Pinned jeans? I want my Landlubbers!

  5. Congrats to you both - and what fun to do a double blog tour!

    I have no idea about pinned jeans, and since leaving high school have not paid much attention to fashion. But I wrote a letter to my twenty-something self not long ago on the Wicked Cozy Authors blog, and the first item (NOT fashion related) was:

    "Please consider not lifting the heaviest thing you can. You’re little. You don’t have to prove anything, and it’s going to be hard on your joints later. Also, use the gears on your ten-speed bicycle. You don’t have to use the hardest gear at all times, especially going up hills."

  6. congrats Jess and Shannon--thanks for visiting JRW with your wonderful books and advice.

    I too found a fabulous man mid-life, and wish I had known getting desperate (and showing it) was not the best technique in dating. I wish I'd known more about how to be kind to the people around me (and to myself), because that matters most of all.

    Oh Gma Cootie, that sounds like an amazing outfit! When I started my PhD program in Florida in 1980, I'd come from Tennessee. So I wore long hair and men's overalls the first year. I'm pretty sure that's a bad fashion statement...

  7. Laughing, weakly, in northern Ohio! Don't make me hold my sides so early in the morning--but the double-blog tour looks like it's going to be a resounding success! Two more books for my summer pile (see how I keep it from falling over? Multiple piles...).

    Biggest fashion mistake? Remember those ruffly-necked blouses with tailored suits? And thin ribbon ties? Thank heavens, no photos!

    Advice I'd give my younger self? Go ahead, jump off the cliff--you've got a rope around you and the worst thing that could happen is you'll go down upside-down--but what a new perspective from which to see the world!

  8. So wonderful! This is one of those days where I am so especially delighted to get to hang out with all of you! And Joan --apparently bell bottoms are coming back!
    I think I will pass....
    And Grandma C--I bet you looked like Gloria Steinem!

  9. Grace you are so right-- but hey, are there any "planned" career moves?

    And Kait --Sue Grafton always says "get over yourself/! It's just a book!"

  10. Edith -- that's great.. Is it a metaphor or did you actually lift heavy stuff? It works either way..


  11. Oh Floda I am also guilty of that look.... We thought it was so professional!

  12. Grace--thanks for your support! I loved seeing you in Phx at Left Coast Crime.
    Joan--most of us women need to learn that we're as important as everyone else in our lives.
    Kait--stop by for drinks anytime!
    Edith--I have a hard time believing you had to gain any wisdom. I figured you popped out all wise and stuff!
    FChurch--as long as that rope isn't around your neck, you're good!

  13. Wow! You Jungle people get up early! I'm on Tucson time, so that's really early. Thanks, Hank and all the Reds for letting us plop on your couch today. But not so much for the memories of my whole 80's fashion fiasco. I had big, big hair. And those danged ruffled shirts and ties, corduroy shorts and tights, and no one mentioned the pillow-ticking sack dresses with ankle boots.

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  15. My daughters wore their jeans pinned (pinned at the ankle to make them tight, then rolled to keep them there, it looked ridiculous), and when we were watching an old movie a couple weeks ago I noticed that the "cool" kids had pinned jeans. "Can't Buy Me Love", if you're interested, starring "McDreamy" from Grey's Anatomy as a young, scrawny kid.

    Hi, Jess! Thanks to you both for the (hilarious) regrets/wishes. Jess, don't you have two new books out right now?

    I try not to regret anything, because otherwise I'd be denying what I've become because of my life experiences. Sure, life could have gone differently, but I'd be a different me, right? I do wish I had back all those sleepless nights because of worrying about things that seemed so horrible, but that examined in the light of day turned out to be just me obsessing over nothing.

  16. I think pinned jeans are what we called pegged jeans. (Agreeing here with Karen) - pleated once at the ankle and rolled so they're loose all the way down and then tight at the ankle. I wore them like that...for much longer than I should have.

    I LOVE Jess and Shannon's "What I wish I'd known"'s SO MUCH. Yes, Jess some days the book stinks. In fact, often. YES, Shannon, know when to quit. I've seen people STILL working on the same manuscript 10 years later. Get over it and move on!

    On the other hand, rather large swaths of my abandoned manuscripts have found their way into new work. So DO NOT THROW ANYTHING AWAY!

    Jess, waving! So happy about your marriage, but when do I get to meet the lucky guy?

  17. Ah, yes, those "pinned" jeans from the 80s. They almost make me grateful I wore a school uniform. Then I remember how hot that wool kilt and sweater were when the temperature was over 65F aka most of the year here in the DC 'burbs.

    What I wish I has known ... no one gives out gold stars for you doing what they want/being what they want. There is literally no reward in worrying about what other people think or want and contorting yourself into being it. And that when you finally do learn the lesson you may be so good at people pleasing that you may not be able to break the habit.

  18. Hi Shannon,
    Yes, it was nice to meet you at LCC this year, and to read Tainted Mountain before travelling to Flagstaff. I see you're registered for Bouchercon in NOLA, so maybe I will see you there, too!

  19. Shannon and Jess - you have me laughing. What do I wish I'd known? You can't plan everything in your life. Sometimes an opportunity is going to come by and you aren't really going to recognize it as such, but you need to roll with it because it might lead to really good things.

    And yes, crime fiction people are cool.

    Fashion I regret? Almost everything in the 80s! What a throwback - claw bangs, frosted lipstick and pinned jeans. Throw in frosted blue eye shadow and I'm back in high school. Man, I thought I looked so cool. Looking back on those pictures... And the Flock of Seagulls bangs, too (my hair was too fine to do Big Hair, not that I didn't try).

    Pinned jeans, for those who don't know, was a method of tightening the cuffs of your jeans and rolling them. Worked best on straight leg jeans (not tapered and not boot-cut, not that boot-cut was a Thing in the 80s).

    1. Pinch 1-2 inches of fabric at the hem of your jeans so they are tight on your ankle.
    2. Fold the pinched fabric back on the pant leg.
    3. Roll your jeans up to form a tight cuff.

    I searched this to make sure I had this technique right and found a website that said this style is "gaining traction" in the US. Pah! More like "regaining traction." All the cool kids in my high school pinned their jeans - which of course meant my mother wouldn't let me out the door with pinned jeans.

  20. So then the legs are puffy? WHY would anyone want puffy legs? I am going to look this up.

  21. Hank, o, not puffy. This doesn't necessarily work well with those ultra-baggy pants (we called them parachute pants back in the 80s - think MC Hammer). Looks ridiculous. Or more ridiculous, you pick. Nor does it work well when the legs are tight (skinny jeans, which also were't really big yet or tapered legs). You need a "regular" width jean. Think just straight leg jeans. Same width from hip to ankle.

  22. Dare I admit I really liked "Ashes of the Red Heifer," Shannon? And that Jess, in addition to your first novel, the thing I associate most with you is Nut Goodies? You two ladies rock. The double-booked tour is an example of excellent marketing.

    The thing I wish I'd known way back when is that the publishing world would be constantly changing and that just when you think you have it all figured out, the rug will get pulled out from under you (like when my publisher, Five Star, decided to drop its mystery line). Learning to go with the flow early in your career sure helps. And learning not to leave a blog comment that contains so many cliches is good too. :D

  23. Actually I had a turquoise parachute JUMPSUIT and I used to peg it at the ankles. I bought it at a a VERY fancy Los Angeles clothing store. Wore it until the seat wore out. Tres chic.

  24. I also met a fabulous man in my fifties - so happy I did!

    Yes, Hank, I did all that heavy stuff. Thought I was a tough little feminist. Well, I was, but my joints aren't happy about it these days!

    Roberta, I also had the overalls phase - and NOT when I was a farmer, either. Silly...

    And Shannon - really? I was a very unwise and, well, silly younger adult. But we're given long lives (if we're lucky) to wise up, right?

  25. What's wrong with rather pants?Aren't they cool again? Maybe??

    I am so happy there are no photos of me in that hot pants suit. Or Hallie in the parachute thing. We are SO lucky photo-taking wasn't as easy back then. Can you imagine? But we thought we were so cool.

  26. Oh, I had a pair of denim overalls in the 70's. They looked good, though, because they were fitted, and I had a really cute figure back then--even though, yes, I also thought I was fat. Wish I was that "fat" now!

  27. Shannon and Jess, I so enjoyed reading your "What I Wish I'd Known" bits of advice. I try not to be too hard on myself about things I wish I'd known or realized when I was young, but passing on what we've learned might help others to come to their own realizations earlier in life.

    Your books sound wonderful and I'll be adding them to my TBR and wish lists. I hope to meet you both at Bouchercon if you're attending.

    Oh, and fashion regret. Tent dresses.

  28. Holy CATS you all are up early. And fun. I love that we're hanging out, and that Hank intro-bombed us with the best introduction a blog post ever received.

    I wish I could post photos here, because pinned jeans are suaver than they sound: (Mary, I am happy laughing that you posted directions), and my new husband is a cutie patootie: Hallie, I want you to meet him! He and I will have to take a trip to Boston, or happen to be in New York the same time as you guys one of these days.

    In reading and rereading all these comments, I believe I can comfortably declare that we are all forces of nature, and that life gets better (except for sore joints--sorry, Edith!) the older we get. Clothes do not. That said, I'm bringing back bell bottoms, so make room.

  29. Kathy! Now I need to bring back tent dresses, too. I felt swishy in those.

  30. Karen in Ohio, thanks for asking about my books! Salem's Cipher is out in a two weeks. My nonfiction, Rewrite Your Life, comes out in April. That is the only book that I've LOVED the cover of at first sight. I hate to be vain, but I get that much more excited about the book if it's beautiful.

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  32. Yes, tent dresses! Swishy, and USEFUL.

  33. Let me tell you a little bit about Jess's book, Salem's Cipher. It's action-packed. It will keep you riveted. Salem is smart, and kind, and courageous. She's the best kind of best friend. This book has pulled in starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist.

  34. You are too kind, Shannon Baker! Also, you are a brilliant writer. As Terri Bischoff, an editor we've both worked with, says, you have hit it out of the park with Kate Fox. I don't know how you weave that humor in with the brutality, and how you write setting so well, but it's captivating. We've created two strong, flawed women with Salem Wiley and Kate Fox, and one of my favorite stops on this blog tour (besides Jungle Red, obvs) is where we create a scene featuring both our protags on a plane together.

  35. Ok, Jess, now tell us about Shannon's book! You two are a great double act, and both books going on the TBR pile.

    What I wish I'd known? That writing books doesn't get any easier. I wish! But it's the writing of them that matters, and I can't imagine what I'd do if I didn't.

    Fashion regrets? Oh, Lord. Shoulder pads were the worst. I'm little, and I have really broad, square shoulders. Like, linebacker shoulders. Nobody ever needed shoulder pads less. I used to cut them out of things. I completely missed out on the pinned jeans thing. I was a toddler mom in the mid-eighties and did not wear anything fashionable, ever. But I did get a perm, trying to do sort-of big hair, except mine was short. Horrible horrible horrible.

    I have the first season of Miami Vice on DVD (somewhere) and looking at a few episodes again, I thought how totally unfair it was that the guys looked terrific and the women looked awful. The 80s were not kind. I'd take bell bottoms back over 80s stuff any day.

  36. PS Hallie, I had a deep purple and black print jumpsuit in the early nineties. I loved it--I wore it for my first author photo shoot and to my first book signing. I think I eventually wore it out...

  37. Deborah--I had a whole series of spiral perms in the 80s. I loved them! But holy mother, I moved to Tucson a year ago and can't find the person who understands my hair. I've got some kind of Patridge Family mother thing going on. I regret this already and it was just cut on Wed!

  38. Jessica, I can't help it. In my day job I'm a technical writer. Everything gets broken down into steps. =)

    And Hank, leather pants - and skirts - are a thing again. The Girl just saw a Louis Vuitton ad with them.

  39. Hi Jess, hi Shannon! This is a great post--one thing I wished I'd known, starting out? That the process of writing does indeed improve storytelling skills. I felt hopeless (and helpless, to be honest) for many years.

    I went through a goth stage ... let's leave it there. :-)

  40. Wow! All of that stuff. Every single thing. Except not the dating at 40 because I was a child bride and not the pinned jeans because I was a teen of the bell-bottomed era. But absolutely everything else.

  41. Know what I wish? I wish I'd known you two MUCH sooner! You're both an inspiration to me. oxox

  42. Grandma Cootie, you are quite the vision!

    And bellbottoms. How weird were those?

    I did not have perms because my hair was SO curly. I did orange juice cans.

  43. Jess and Shannon, your upcoming books sound great. And you've certainly launched a lively dialogue here!

    For those with a long enough tenure on earth to remember the ruffly blouses, little floppy ties, etc., I would remind you those weren't so much a fashion "choice" as the uniform we were forced to wear if we wanted to play in the old boys' club. I recently attended a professional development day and looked around the room at all the beautiful young women in their lovely dresses or leggings and tunics or, basically, whatever they felt good in, and marveled at the freedom we enjoy today. I feel like the Millenial generation has really pushed that, and I am deeply grateful!

    Jumping down off my soap box, I agree with the many others who cited 80's fashion choices as their great regrets. It was just a wildly unflattering era. I don't think ANYONE really looked good in those clothes and hairstyles!

  44. Becky, you are so very sweet! Thanks for stopping by. And Susan, cheers to comfort! Lisa Alber, I bet you rocked goth. Seriously. Can we revisit these looks at Bouchercon? As in, wear them?

  45. So much fun reading all the comments today. I would have to say the 70s fashions were so awful all traces should be destroyed. Polyester. Remember men's leisure suits? Ewww. I was in college in the late 60s when we were transitioning from dresses for class to bell bottoms for class. Those bell bottoms were sure comfortable. I never did buy the uniform for women office workers in the 80s, thank god.
    Was Dig based on the Red Heifer, Shannon? I loved watching Dig. I liked your list Jess. To both of your lists I would add: who gives a flying fig what anyone else might think? Dance your little heart out and have fun. Now, why didn't anyone tell ME that eons ago?

  46. Am I the first West Coaster piping in? I am a slow starter in the morning. Thanks for all great info and thoughts - looking forward to checking out the books!

    My greatest fashion faux pas - late 80s in college I was noted for my weekend wardrobe of tight mini-skirt, loose t-shirt (might, just might, be hanging off of one shoulder) and big plastic pastel earrings. It was a sure bet among my sorority sisters that I could be found Monday mornings sewing up the back of my split mini skirt. The stories of how I repeatedly split my mini-skirts up the back every weekend are for another post. :)

  47. Scotti, you are ON for that blog!

    And I went to a women's college, and seriously, for an entire year I wore the same thing every day. A heather blue mini skirt, and a heather blue crew next sweater, huge. Black tights. And, I think, loafers. It was kind of preppy with an edge. (Sometimes I went to the 8 am class in pajamas and a trench coat, but again, that's another blog.) And it was 1968, so whatever.

  48. Susan, you are right on about the male-equivalent uniform. I sold insurance, and a suit with some feminine version of a tailored shirt was de rigeur. String ties didn't flatter me, so I avoided those, but I did wear 3-inch pumps every day. At my height (then) of 5'7", an added three inches put me at eye level (or above) with most men.

    My biggest fashion regret was buying the same beige wool, pricey, suit that looked so smashing on my blonde friend. It washed me out so that I looked on death's door, but I couldn't afford to leave it in my closet unworn.

  49. Hey, I'll die my hair blue/black and wear black lipstick if you will, Jess. :-)

  50. I am so loving this conversation! Books? phew, let's talk! I am totally down with having a Biggest Regrets Fashion Show at Bouchercon. Can we, huh, please?
    Mary--the leather pants always created quite a stir in my Nebraska town of 300. Don't think I've got what it takes to rock them now!
    Kathy--I bought a tent dress at Old Navy last summer and I wear it around the house. It's got lycra in it or something and when the dog paws it, it stretches and bounces back. It's never-ending fun.
    Becky-- <3
    Pat D--OMG, thanks for the laugh, just thinking about leisure suits!
    Scotti--Ha! I sure wish I'd known you in college!

  51. How did I miss out on this fun. Lol. I met Jess at LCC this year. Catriona McPherson introduced us. Those two could outdo French and Saunders.

    Congrats on the new bewks guys. Have ordered Salems Cyborg and will check out Shannon's too. Carry on. Xox

  52. Fashion regrets? Oh those poly double knit pant suits of the 60s. Had one in every color. Run up at home by loving hands, sex kitten that I was.

  53. You guys are just too funny together.


  54. Culottes were my big fashion faux-pas.

    I was told they would be easier to ride a bike in than a skirt. It's not true.

    They were horribly uncomfortable, the material kept catching on things including the bike, and had too much fabric making me look bulky, and had the worst aspects of both skirts and trousers.

    I had several pairs. They went to the thrift store years ago.

  55. I wore bright orange culottes when I was a car hop at the A&W. Oh, such memories.

  56. Culottes, Alayne! HORRIBLE. :-) For exactly the reasons you mention.

    Ceblain, you are so right!

  57. Watching the fashion statements on the Olympics now! SO much fun!

    Are the Brits in Burberry?

  58. And the winners of DRIVE TIME are Aimee Hix and Alayne McGregor! Email me via my website with your address!

  59. The winner of Stripped Bare advance reader copy is Grandma Cootie. Drop me a line at with your address!

  60. My takeaways from this wonderful, hilarious conversation we've had: Jungle Reds are amazing hosts with brilliant commenters, we were all hideous until approximately 1994 at which point we started making better fashion choices and bloomed like roses, and we all need to hang out at Bouchercon. Yay!

  61. Kathy Reel, I'm excited to report that you're the winner of a signed copy of Salem's Cipher! Please email me through my website ( with your home address, and I'll happily post the book.

  62. Oooh, Salem's Cipher is a Goodreads giveaway for the next 13 days (a very witchy number, yes?). If you have the two minutes to enter, follow this link and scroll down. Hope your Saturday is wonderful!