Tag Archive for: AB Plum

Gone Politicking

by A.B. Plum

For the past several months, my neighbor has displayed a variety of yard signs. Two have moved me to action:

In Fauci We Trust

VOTE … as if your life depends on it.

I’d decided some time ago to get more involved in the November election. I hadn’t decided how to carve out the time to do so. Now I have.

No more posts on goat yoga. Or my Luddite leanings. Or phantom bicycles. Or mental meanderings. Instead, I am going to spend more time working for three candidates specifically:

Katie Porter for reelection to Congress from California.

Election of Jamie Harrison running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Lindsey Graham.

Election of Joe Biden, [presumptive nominee as of this date] Democratic candidate for President.

I believe these candidates will make a difference in the tenor and depth of the discourse to move our country to a better place. I look forward to being part of the movement toward a less toxic (physically and politically) environment.

All good wishes to everyone at the Stiletto Gang. To coin a couple of phrases, “That’s all folks. Thanks for the memories.”


No Little Lies: A Ryn Davis Mystery (Ryn Davis Mystery Series Book 3)

When AB Plum and her alter ego, Barbara aren’t “politicking,” they live off the fast lane in Silicon Valley. AB’s latest mystery, No Little Lies
is now available on Amazon. Disrupted, fifth book in the Ryn Davis Mystery Series, will release in December. COVID plays a pivotal role in the plot.

Kicking the Competitive Craziness

By AB Plum

If you’re a
writer, have you ever secretly—or maybe openly—dreamed of joining the ranks of
best-selling authors?

As much as
I’d like to deny ever having caught that virus—not deadly like COVID-19—I can’t
say I write without thinking about bestsellerdom.

simmers in my veins. By grade school, I burned to excel scholastically and in
sports.  To this day, I wear a pedometer
intending to walk at least five miles every day (and tack on a time limit in
which to attain the goal). I love comparing notes with my son, twenty years

Employed by
a multi-national corporation that hired 2% of applicants, I hopped on the fast
track. Aimed high. Won lots of awards. Burned out and cashed out despite offers
to remain.

On to
writing full time. Knowing in the back of my mind that getting published would
take time. Saying I understood the unlikelihood of attaining bestsellerdom.
Loving the fun of writing x-number of words daily. Or editing. Or choosing
different paths to publishing. Still … I daydreamed.

Now, I still
set 1,000 words as my daily writing goal. I get a real high from writing that
first 150 words in less than fifteen minutes. (I figured out that I can write
an email averaging 150 words in about 8.5 minutes. So, I doubled that time to
write on my WIP). Getting those first words down propels me to keep writing for
an hour). Believe me, daydreams of bestsellerdom do not distract me for the next two hours.

But when I
start laying out my launch plan(s), the idea of seeing my book on any of
Amazon’s Best Selling Lists will provide a certain je ne sais quoi (satisfaction isn’t quite right. Fulfillment comes
close. Gratification figures in, along with a sense of awe).

So, I’ve
ranked in the top 50 on several Amazon charts in the past. Last week? Here’s
the results of sales for Book 1 in the Ryn Davis Mystery Series during the
launch of Book 3, No Little Lies.

Okay, it’s a
niche category on Amazon vs the NYT.
(Niche category is definitely a positive spin, I realize). But … I’m not so
competitive that I’m going to ridicule the ranking. When I caught the notice
(by chance, since I don’t obsess over the level by checking it feverishly every
hour on the hour), I laughed out loud and did the Snoopy dance.

***   When AB Plum isn’t Snoopy dancing or
walking, she plays and writes just off the fast lane in Silicon Valley. Visit
her website for updates and special offers:  


Grab a copy of No Little Lies here

psychopath’s terrifying game of cat and mouse pits him against Ryn Davis where
she is most vulnerable—a past she has denied for years. His ties to organized
crime make him even more dangerous and places her in ever darker jeopardy .
is in control? What really happened to her mother? Why can’t Ryn

Is facing her past
the path to survival or death?

Pandemic, Protests, and Privilege

By AB Plum

Paraphrasing E.L. Doctorow, “Writing is a socially
acceptable form of committing murder.”

I’ve been killing a lot of characters this past month.

Not because the pandemic has demanded much of a change
in my life. I, basically, lead a life of privilege. I think killing “the bad
guys” is my way of venting frustration about the handling of the pandemic fueled by institutional racism.

Food, good, fresh food,
appears on my table nightly. The house where I live provides more than adequate
shelter. Walking daily remains part of my routine. I am white, well educated,
and healthy (except for a heart condition that puts me in the “Higher Risk” COVID-19 category). One risk I don’t have to deal with: 
living in constant fear of the police.

I like to think I’m smart enough to be grateful for my
lot in life and to be sensitive to so many others less fortunate. (It sounds
self-serving, but I grew up poor as dirt and have never forgotten my deep roots
in poverty).

Unconsciously, I write about flawed characters who
often are well-to-do. Many of them, though, have memories of being poor,
disenfranchised, ill, mentally incapacitated, and marginalized because of race
and/or gender.

In my Ryn Davis Mystery
Series, she runs a safe house for former prostitutes. With Hispanic surnames,
little education, less money, and children with absentee fathers, these women
are struggling to learn computer skills that will give them better chances to map
out independent lives and to protect 
their children. None of them has ever met un policia they trusted.

Beau “Peep” Scott earned millions as a drummer in The
Stoned Gang. The rock group’s name is apt since Beau burned too many gray cells
to take care of his fortune. His parents were drug addicts who neglected him,
and he deals daily with people’s sneers about his intellect. He adores Ryn and
may be the only man she trusts completely.

Elijah White, former Stanford law school and business grad,
successful corporate attorney, and the oldest of five siblings, now runs his
own PI business in Southern California. He remembers going to bed hungry. His
father was shot and killed by a cop.

Angie, a former Ph.D. candidate in biology and the
abused, runaway wife of a Silicon Valley tycoon, is about to hang out her shingle
as a vet for the homeless. She lived on the streets when she met Ryn. She
shares an affinity with Elijah and Beau for 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles. She
also understands classism from the perspective of a trophy wife to a toothless
bag lady.

These are a few of my regular characters in the series.
I’ve not killed any of them and don’t see that happening in the next book at
least. Instead, I look forward to exploring greed, lust, and power as the
primary reason for murder—and maybe for most of society’s woes.

***  AB Plum
lives, walks, and writes in the heart of Silicon Valley. No Little Lies, her third book in the Ryn Davis Mystery Series hits
Amazon on July 6. Preorder here.  

Pictorial Flashes on Life during COVID-19

by AB Plum

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words.

As a visually challenged writer, I’m going to test this
truism. (With more than one picture and fewer than a thousand words).

Life is a puzzle right now.

Taking a different perspective helps.

So does a bowl of popcorn.  

Beauty still exists in the world.

Hope abides in the next generation.  

The sun will come up tomorrow.

Rainbows are out there with the promise
that we will get through this.


AB Plum lives and writes in Silicon
Valley, where one of the earliest community-acquired cases of COVID-19 was
identified. Her latest mystery/thriller, No Little
Lies, ends just as the California lockdown is about to begin.

Tempus fugit and tempus repit

by AB Plum

What day is today?

A friend recently wrote me she’s
thinking the above question is a good book title considering our current
shelter-in-place practices.

I’ll admit, it’s the first question I
ask myself every morning while still in bed.

Actually, as soon as I wake up, I
turn the question into a statement: 
Today is Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

Years ago, many doctors took the
ability to accurately state current daily information as a good sign of brain
health. So … I like to hit all the germane calendar considerations:



TOD doesn’t bother me so much. I’m sheltering in place and
don’t need to go anywhere or do anything on an arbitrary timeline. A daily shaft
of sunshine through the blinds helps orient me to the hour within thirty or
forty minutes.

Back in my school days, child-rearing days, corporate-work
days, thirty or forty minutes made a huge difference in managing my day.

Or so I thought. 

Never arriving late carried a certain … virtuousness.
Arriving early put me on the path for sainthood.

Like most humans driven by the minutes flying by, I
expected the same obsession about time from friends, family, and co-workers
because I definitely believed in cramming 48 hours of activities into a day. (I
was adept at multi-tasking. Sleep was overrated.)

Or so I thought.

Writing full time changed my thoughts about time. Freed me
up. Allowed me to get lost in the timeless joy of creating stories.

Productivity wasn’t the goal. I felt just as satisfied producing
one page a day as turning out fifteen. Writing at all hours of the day and
night opened up new A-HAs and fun challenges.

Balance soon became a problem. I didn’t live in a yurt in
Outer Mongolia. My network of friends and family mattered. They wanted to know
about this new adventure/career/paradigm shift. And though I never worried
about burnout, I did worry about sitting in the attic, hunched over my vellum
in the wee hours, with bats flying in the belfry while I tried to recall:

·         DOW
My calendar lies in my closed desk
drawer. No need to review the week every Sunday evening and then in the morning
on each day of the week. I still paste Post-Its on my computer as reminders,
but I’ve cut way back on the number of those visual memory-aids.

What day is today?

It’s a new day. A day when the number
of coronavirus cases are still rising. But a day when I can go outside for a
walk. A day when I realize how little I need and how much I have.

“I wish it need not have
happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so
do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we
have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring  

**** AB Plum lives and writes in Silicon Valley, setting for her latest mystery series, featuring Ryn Davis, a character who never sleeps.


Read more


By AB Plum

When was the
last time you shook hands?

(Before the COVID-19)?

Even before
this latest virus became pandemic, most of us shook hands almost reflexively.
We meet new people, old friends, business acquaintances, our doctors and
multitudes of others. Out come our right hands.

Before I
broke the scaphoid bone in my right hand six months ago, I took pride in my
firm, steady grip. My high-school debate coach drummed into us—especially the
girls—how this non-verbal gesture gave us power before we ever spoke a word to
make our case. Limp, half-hearted handshakes gave our opponents one up on us,
he insisted.

And if we

Since we’d
probably meet our opponents in another debate, shake hands like a winner.

mammals don’t shake hands. Since they generally have an olfactory sense
superior to us, they sniff. Some anthropologists think sniffing led to handshaking.
At least one study has shown that many of us after extending our hands in
greeting, put a hand near our face.

C’mon, you
say. Why not scratching our nose? Wiping our eyes? Clearing hair off our face?

signaling it’s called and takes into account the above points but still
theorizes “People constantly have a hand to their face … and they modify
their behavior after shaking hands.” If you’re interested in more science
on the subject, check

about duration, placement, who offers a hand first, too strong, too weak, men
with men, men with women, different cultures, passing on viruses—all these
factors and more lead to anxieties about shaking hands.

A few fun
factoids about the history of this powerful body language:

did handshaking begin?
No one knows for sure; the origins are
Some claim handshakes came about to
dislodge hidden weapons in the earliest times.
We have a visual depiction from the
ninth century B.C. between an Assyrian and Babylonian ruler.
Homer refers to handshakes in both the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Ancient Greek funerary vases and
gravestone showed handshakes.
Likewise, ancient Romans offered
handshakes as signs of friendship and loyalty.
The Quakers may have influenced giving
handshakes over bowing.

Victorians made the handshake popular with
manuals on the etiquette of how, when and where.

What did one British Olympic Association’s head doctor advise athletes about handshaking in 2012?
Don’t …
shake rivals’ hands for fear of picking up a bug in the highly stressful
of the games and having performance adversely affected.

How long was the handshake between
Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong-Un last?
13 seconds.
What is the longest handshake recorded
(according to Guinness World Record)?
10 hours. 

Why didn’t George Washington shake
He wasn’t king, but he seemed to think nodding in public was a more appropriate behavior than the handshaking of “common” people.
What U.S. Presidential candidate studied
how to shake hands?
John F. Kennedy—ever aware of those TV

What Presidential candidate gave his
wife a fist bump at an election rally?
Barack Obama—a gesture greeted with
plenty of negative comments from TV pundits.
about shaking hands:

In mixed company, shake the women’s
hands first or not?
What about with “seniors”? Who
With children, shake their hands? At
what age to begin?
What about holding hands or elbows
afterward? For how long?
What is acceptable in lieu of a
handshake? Fist bump? High-five? Wrist claps? Elbow bump?
Given handshakes
are laboratories for germs, will they go the way of the albatross?


AB’s next
release, maybe in July, has several characters shaking hands. She’s rethinking
that body language since COVID-19 will be a part of the setting. The good news
for her is that daily solitary walks require no social interaction. Not even
with her alter ego, Barbara Plum.

Read the
latest Ryn Davis mystery now available.

Check out
her website to sign up for her newsletter or
to contact her. She does reply.

A date with TED

by AB Plum aka Barbara Plum

Between the ages
of 4 and 6, I spent every Saturday night with either my grandmother or my
cousins. I loved stayovers at both places because reading the Sunday newspapers
occupied us from seven to bedtime at nine on Saturday!

First, though, we went “uptown” to the local drugstores and bought 3 different sets of big-city newspapers–depending on whether it was cousins or grandmother.

Times change.

A lifelong newspaper reader, I find
myself turning more and more to other sources for news or ideas to satisfy my “fix”. In addition to news magazines, books, NPR, and PBS, I read select
articles and op-ed pieces online.

Come every Sunday, though, I open my
TED app and
settle back.

The tactile experience of reading a
newspaper and inhaling the smell of ink and paper is offset by the great
graphics nearly every outstanding speaker brings to her seven to twenty-minute
talk. The visuals bring back happy memories of lying on my stomach as a
four-five-six-year-old on Saturday evenings and devouring the comics. There were enough “funnies” to carry over to Sunday after church.

Almost all of those classic strips have
disappeared. Dr. Morgan still runs in
my local paper, but Mary Worth got
axed some years ago.

And what happened to Brenda Starr, model
for millions of young girls on the cusp of grasping the idea women could have
careers? Brenda and Little Orphan Annie ended in 2011—Annie despite the
phenomenal Broadway hit.

My current favorite comic, Red and Rover, may appeal because it feels like the strips I recall from my
childhood. Red runs daily in some
newspapers, but since it appears only on Sundays for me, it is not addictive.
TED, for me, is addictive, but I limit
my dates to 1 hour weekly. Otherwise, I could spend a full day—as I did long ago every Sunday reading my newspaper—listening to TED talks on every topic
imaginable and many subjects beyond my imagination.
Hard science, social science, art,
history, interpersonal relations, math, brain research, business, education,
economics, technology, creativity insights delivered by often humorous but always
informed speakers open up a world rarely explored by newspapers.

The only drawback with TED is I don’t
get the day’s headlines. And probably not yesterday’s current events either.
So, I’m not ready to cancel my newspaper subscription. 

When AB Plum and her alter-ego, Barbara, aren’t writing about murder, mayhem, and romance, they live, work, and read in Silicon Valley–just off the fast lane. AB’s latest mystery novel, Through Rose-Colored Glasses, appears on March 6 but is now available for preorder at a discounted price.

Through Rose-Colored Glasses: A Ryn Davis Mystery (Ryn Davis Mystery Series Book 2)

In with the new, out with the old

by AB Plum


Not a


Or personal

But … a
memorable personal event. (Personal, versus of world import, namely the end of
the Vietnam War). Following up on my non-NY’s resolution to clean out 3 boxes
of old manuscripts, I found the prologue to the first novel I ever composed directly on a typewriter.

An artifact,
I know. An IBM Selectric, to be specific. (Affordable only because my husband
worked for IBM and got a discount).

Before that
momentous undertaking, I’d written thousands of words in cursive and then
transcribed the manuscript to a typewriter.

prologue, six typed pages, lay on top of eight legal pads with the story handwritten on the front and back pages. With no margins.

amazed me—more than how bad the historical romance sucked—was how legible my
handwriting was. I’d once taught adolescent boys and often wrote on another
artifact—the blackboard (green, in my school). I also wrote in a diary and kept
legible notes on my daily planner.

Today, my longhand
is worse than when I copied that first Palmer cursive letter in early third
grade. My keyboard skills, on the other hand, have increased my manuscript
output to a level of proficiency and efficiency I’d never have achieved writing
by hand.

Still, I
miss placing pen to paper and producing elegant handwriting. (I possess zero
visual artistic talent, but I am in awe of beautiful penmanship). Sometimes,
when I am at an impasse at my keyboard, I take out an array of pens and free
write until the Muse comes back from her break.

Or until my
fingers cramp.  

my Luddite heart, I did a little research. Is cursive still taught in
elementary schools? If so, what has replaced the Palmer method? Is printing
easier to learn than script?

As with
so many forays into cyberspace, I had to stop “researching” and
resume pounding the keyboard. But the handwriting is on the wall …

we have done with the abacus and the slide rule, it is time to retire the
teaching of cursive.” (Morgan Polikoff, Asst Prof of the University of
Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, May 2013, New York Times).

In other words, in with the new, out with the old.

about you? Do you write or print notes on paper? Or do you prefer to text?

*** AB Plum, aka Barbara Plum, lives, works, and plays without
an abacus or slide rule in Silicon Valley. Her next book, Through Rose-Colored Glasses, scheduled for release on February 17,
is the second book in the Ryn Davis Mystery Series. 

New Year, New Decade, New Direction

by AB Plum

Welcome to the New Year, a New
Decade, and a New Direction

No writer’s block here. 

Gazillions of potential blog topics cry for the
Stiletto Gang’s “insights” over the next 365 days. This year, the
Gang has decided to add a new subject: the craft of writing fiction. We expect to
learn a lot from each other. We hope you’ll learn a lot about what goes into
writing word after word after word to evoke an emotional connection between
writer and reader.

Wednesday of each month

Look for a new craft post the first Wednesday of the

I’m up first—sort of like the first baby born each New

characters but names …

For me, the quintessential element of all stories is
characters (not necessarily human). We could do twelve months on developing
fictional characters, but I’m going with names—a subset, really, of that fictional

Also, I’m sort of a names nut. I collect unusual names—from
fiction, celebrities, and movies—pop culture at large. Magnus, The REal McCoy,
Risa, Ryn, Pierce, Detective Nick Ketchum, Bo “Peep”, The Stoned
Wall, and Lavender comprise some of the characters I’ve introduced in various of my
books. Here are a few basic ideas that drive me in finding the
“right” name: 

Names bring characters alive.
I have never written a novel or a short story for
which I didn’t have the main character’s name before
I started writing. Knowing that vital information adds dimension to other
aspects of that character I’ll introduce to readers almost from page one of the
novel. Examples of what a character’s name reveals to me: inner drive, personality,
goals, past secrets, childhood, disappointments, celebrations, etc.
of the best examples of characters whose names fit, IMO, appear in
Gone with the Wind.

O’Hara and Rhett Butler leap off the page when we meet them. The meaning of her
name is obvious (to native English speakers). His Old English name means
“small stream.”

stream” for a force of nature? Scarlett for a woman whose reputation as a
flirt grows worse throughout the novel.
You decide if the names fit the characters.
Names connote animals, places,
position, status, ethnicity, and more.
Wolf, Paris, Judge, Yuri.
I’m still waiting for a character to step
forward for whom I can use Wolf. I know the character type, but I’ve yet to
meet the specific fictional bearer of the name.
Names reflect culture, time, power,
ambiguity, certainty, subtlety and quirkiness

Octavia, Charity, Reina, Madison, Moxie
Crimefighter, Eulalia, Audio Science
I’d love to tell a story featuring a character
named Audio Science (the first-born son of actress Shannyn Sossaman). Maybe he
and Moxie in a romance?
Names reinforce gender, family,
history, religion, values, trends, imagination.
Caesar, Murphy, Napoleon, Lourdes, Peace,
Hannah, Pilot Inspectkor
Pilot Insectkor apparently comes from an indie
song and definitely sparks my imagination. I am still waiting for the right
character to claim the moniker.
Deciding on a name for a character—especially
for the Main Character(s)—is like naming a child. Making the name meaningful is
my first criterion in choosing a handle.

Risa, the heroine in my romantic comedy Prince
of Frogs,
means smile in Spanish. A pediatrician, she’s never met a kid she
didn’t like. Her smile is so big and genuine that her patients never cry when
she gives them their shots.
Nicknames and pet names can add depth,
complexity and insight to a character.
Risa enters the world with a mop of orange-red
The nurses tie a big pink bow on top of her head and present her to her mother with a flourish, proclaiming: La Ti Da! From then on she’s called La Ti Da because she’s so full of life, energy, and joy.
A few of my favorite names for fictional
characters include:
Elvis Cole (Robert Crais)
Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich)
Spenser (Robert Parker)
Temptation, OH (J. Crusie)
Chili Pepper (E. Leonard)
Scarlett O’Hara (M. Mitchell)
Sookie Stackhouse (C. Harris)
Hannibal Lector (Thomas Harris)
What about you—what are some of your favorite characters’
names? Any you hate?

Check back on Wednesday, February 5th
for the next blog on Writing Craft.

AB Plum, aka
Barbara Plum grew up in Southern Missouri. She knew she was in trouble
whenever her mother used her first and middle names in one breath. All three
names (usually yelled) meant a potential time-out until age 21. Her love of
names may have begun with her first puppy, Pickle Puss. Later, ThatCat and
YourCat became favorite felines.
Check out her
dark psychological thrillers and riveting mysteries :  https://abplum.com/
In the mood
for mood for paranormal or contemporary romance:    https://barbaraplumauthor.com/

‘Tis the Season

By AB Plum

A few weeks
ago, a friend told me jubilantly, “The date’s set.”

December 3—the date for her husband’s hip-replacement surgery.

waited for over six weeks for a definite date … 
because of Thanksgiving and the approaching year’s end. A scheduled time
was still up in the air.

And that
detail was driving her husband crazy. He was fretting over every possibility.

  • ·       
    if the hospital set the time and then changed it?
  • ·       
    if they had to arrive at oh-dark-thirty?
  • ·       
    if the time got postponed after they arrived at the hospital?
  • ·       
    couldn’t the surgeons change their routine practice of epidurals and put him
  • ·       
    if he became nauseated after the anesthesia?
  • ·       
    if he couldn’t manage the post-surgical pain?
  • ·       
    would she get him from the car into their ground-floor apartment?
  • ·       
    if they couldn’t manage the shower without help?
  • ·       
    if his adult kids didn’t understand why they couldn’t travel for Christmas?
  • ·       
    if he was totally immobile during the holiday?
  • ·       
    would he get his Christmas shopping done?
  • ·       
    disappointed would everyone be because he couldn’t smoke the turkey?
      Somehow, the
fretting didn’t drive my friend nuts.
(Her patience borders on saintly). She said part of what helped her stay
centered was avoiding the non-stop Christmas ads and parties and implied demands
that Christmas required a nine-course dinner with twenty guests and a house
decorated by Martha
and a new BMW or
Lincoln or Range Rover parked in the driveway as the gift
du jour.

My friend’s
husband came through the surgery with no problems. He’s exceeding expectations
with the physical therapist who comes to their home twice a week. He manages
the pain with a third of what his surgeon allowed.

His fretting
about Christmas gifts and the Christmas dinner and decorating the apartment takes
center stage fewer and fewer hours of every day. To keep my friend’s stress
manageable, they’ve agreed on thirty minutes or so of fretting-debrief after
she comes home each evening. She’ll unpack a few ornaments this weekend while
he makes eggnog and queues up Miracle on
34th Street.
‘Tis the
season to fret because social and mainstream media never let us think we can finish
everything that needs to be done. Stress—the noun equivalent of fret—piles up
as we struggle to be perfect. Running faster and faster blocks the question:
This year
I’m downshifting. I’m a reluctant shopper at best, but I’m boycotting Amazon.  Too easy to succumb to buying more stuff. I’ve contributed to favorite charities
to honor the people on my list who really don’t need more stuff.

And, I’ve
decided on a unique gift for a couple of family members and friends. I got the
idea from Through Rose-Colored Glasses, the
February release of my second Ryn Davis mystery. Check out the book if you’re

wishing one and all a fret-free season—or as close as you can get to fret free.


AB Plum
lives, writes, and plays just off the fast-lane in Silicon Valley. A broken
hand in October caused a bit of fretting about getting her second Ryn Davis
mystery to market, but she’s ready to hand [pun intended] off the ARC and
feeling light as snowflake and ready to enjoy the holidays.