Tag Archive for: Barbara Plum


by AB Plum

Everyone would probably agree:  travel requires flexibility.
Moving to another country for three
months demands a lot of flexibility.
As I am learning during my three-month
great adventure in Copenhagen. (It’s not all about the pastries).
The first big flex point for me came
as soon as we reached our apartment.
As a walker, I always check out
places to walk. Quiet streets, little traffic, and sidewalks on both sides of
the street appeared promising.
Until … I realized bicyclists had
their own routes running parallel to the sidewalks. And cars could park halfway
up on those same sidewalks. Which, by the way, were blocks of two rows of cement
blocks side by side, separated by three-by-three cobblestone squares running
down the middle. Grates, front steps, and boutique displays occupied the space
next to the buildings. Another walker coming toward me left about two inches to
navigate. Damp or dry, those cobblestones were treacherous.
Time to flex.
Luckily for me, a cemetery is about
a quarter of a mile from our apartment. I figured out if I walked early in the
mornings, I avoided most pedestrians, bikers, and parked cars. When I walk to
and from the train—about half a mile from the apartment—I still clench my teeth
a lot. Nonchalance comes with time and practice.
Another flex point came with
settling into an apartment without a dishwasher in a kitchen about half the
size of my own. Hey, I grew up with my sisters as co-dishwasher. I could cope.
Hands in sudsy water might even generate conversations with several stubborn
Cooking with a minimal number of
utensils (as in 1 skillet and 1 sauce pan) tapped some ingenuity as did a
refrigerator with frost on the walls. (Yes, I contacted the apartment owner. He
suggested turning the temperature from 2 to 1 not worry). Okay …
Elevators have never appealed to me.
In a building over a hundred years old, they creep me out. On the other hand,
the two days the elevator stopped operating and I climbed sixty-six stairs to
my penthouse apartment, I could hardly wait to test my claustrophobic fears.
Now, I step into my vertical coffin,
compartmentalize my terrors, and bend my knees each time we lurch to a stop.
Flexibility is good for the body and the soul.
My biggest challenge?
My new laptop. The touchscreen
drives me crazy. I realize this technology has zip to do with living in Denmark
or anywhere else. But … I feel as if I’m in hell every time I try to access my
email, touch the wrong note, and end up looking at something I intended to delete.
I have seriously begun to doubt that I do, in fact, possess opposable thumbs.
Flexibility only extends so far.
Plum aka Barbara Plum is spending the summer in Denmark, putting the finishing
touches on her latest romantic comedy, Crazy Daze and a Knight, due for release
in mid-August.

Oh, The Places We’ll Go

By AB Plum
When writing
a novel, time and place matter. They anchor, at the simplest level, the story
setting. Characters don’t exist in a vacuum so I like putting them in a
place, at a time, when they have to make choices.

The Early Years, Book 1 in The MisFit Series gives the month, the city, and the specific
location in the city. The narrator makes a choice to commit murder. He pinpoints
at the micro level a horrific train accident and its relationship to him. The
train station, the frigid cold, the crowds—all symbolize the trajectory of the
narrator’s future. 

All this setting gets settled in less than a page.

When I wrote
the Danish descriptions, I did so from memory and with a few details from my
husband, born in Copenhagen. All the while I wrote the MisFit Series, we discussed how much fun we’d have going back and
staying for more than three weeks.

So, this
summer, we’ll leave Silicon Valley and stay in a Copenhagen apartment near
where my husband lived as a little boy. (Go figure that my WIP is the Ryn Davis
Mystery Series set in the shadow of Google. Who knows? Ryn may meet a Dane in
one of the upcoming mysteries).

My plan is to
absorb more than the kringles, polse, plaice, and
rødgrød med fløde (flaky almond-stuffed pastry, hot
dogs, flounder, and raspberry/strawberry porridge with thick cream). I hope to
return to the US speaking en smule dansk (a little Danish). I plan to visit all
the tourist spots and those
out-of-way cultural and historical landmarks known only to Danish citizens.
With lots of family there, I think we’ll experience this setting more deeply
than we now can only imagine.

write my July blog from Denmark. My plan is to write about the main train
station (
Københavns Hovedbanegård). This setting is the scene referenced
above in
The Early Years. This setting lays
the groundwork to delve into a psychopath’s dark mind.

AB Plum lives with her husband and alter ego, Barbara Plum off the beaten path but writes in Silicon Valley—a setting
unto itself. She tries to capture the nuances of the place in her new Ryn Davis
Mystery Series.

Something Rotten in Denmark

By AB Plum

Smell is one of the least used elements in writing fiction. Interestingly, many scientists believe smell is our most primitive sense and can instantly generate deep memories and emotions.

Capturing smells, however, is hard. Yet, in nearly every book I’ve written, I try to tap into smell as a portal into characters’ pasts and into their feelings.
Since I like a challenge, I decided to introduce smell very early in my latest WIP. My goal is to show a strong conflict between the Main Character and her lover. He’s addicted to popcorn–the more butter, the better. She, having popped a ton in the vintage popper she gave him as a birthday gift years ago, fights gagging on the buttery fragrance. Well, she thinks stink.
So, why did I choose popcorn over grilled steak? Or baking brownies? Or fresh roses? Or just-squeezed lemons? Or dirty socks? Or cologne? Or Brussel sprouts? Or millions of other smells?
Answer? From my own memories of weekly trips to my great-grandmother’s house. Spring, summer, winter, or fall, almost as soon as my mother, sister and I arrived, Grannie went to the kitchen and popped a huge pan of popcorn. Sprawled on the floor on my stomach, I ate, listened to the grownups gossip, and felt so loved because Grannie never forgot to make this just-for-me treat.
The fragrance of corn popping brings an instant collage of me and my five siblings scarfing popcorn in front of the TV on Saturday nights. Squabbling over where to set the pan. Claiming, as the oldest kid, the right to hold the pan and mete out servings. Crunching the “old maids.” Feeling comforted by the ritual of using the special pan, having patience while the oil melted, measuring the popcorn, shaking the contents, and then pouring it into the bowl and topping with butter. TV without popcorn? A big waste of time. (I like to think I learned a few life lessons).
Today, a good book is my favorite popcorn-side dish. I’d rather eat cardboard than eat air-popped corn. Same for packaged, pre-popped corn sold in supermarkets. Movie-popcorn–well, the fragrance of the corn popping–ranks as near edible because of all the memories of going to matinees and spending my dime on the tender, fluffy kernels.  (I know the earth is round, and I know that modern movies no longer use the Iowa-grown, hybrid stuff I grew up on).
As for storage, we always kept our unpopped corn in five-pound coffee cans. Still do. Moisture, doncha know? And OBTW, yellow is the popcorn of true aficionados. 
What about you? What’s your favorite smell? What memories and feelings does the smell evoke?
**** AB Plum, aka Barbara Plum, writes dark psychological thrillers and whodunnits, along with light paranormal romance in Silicon Valley. A bowl of popcorn often sits next to her computer for inspiration.

Snow, Rain, Rainbows, and Writing Fiction

By AB Plum

Taxes. Traffic. Too many people. Californians departing the state routinely cite these facts of life as reasons for leaving. Few—in the San Francisco Bay area at least–ever mention the weather. Our sunny days and mild temperatures rival the Mediterranean. In other words, expect the same o’ same o’ temps and sunshine day after day. (OBTW, we do have four seasons in the Bay area).

This year, though, we’ve seen rain every day for the past month. Not the kind of gully washers Florida and other parts of the country experience, but slow, steady downfall that has turned our world vibrant shades of green. And given us some amazing rainbows. Every color is distinct—and dangerous because too many drivers stop and gape.

Mosey up into the foothills a few hundred feet and find enough snow for at least one good snowball or a teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy snowperson—without the sub-zero temps.

What do any of these observations and comments have to do with writing?

They remind me of how often I read novels with little or no mention of the weather (considered borrrring, right?). Personally, I like to use the weather as a metaphor for a relationship or a specific place or a cosmic reminder of how insignificant we humans are. I like trying to capture moments of being wet or sweaty or freezing or burning up while the main character tries to overcome an obstacle unrelated to the weather. 

One of the joys of writing fiction for me lies in amplifying a snowstorm, making it the “storm of the century.” I love writing about rains that have characters checking on how to build an arc—or ready to lose their minds because of the constant hammering on the roof. One of my favorite scenes is a heat wave that drives the overheated couple into her swimming pool. The water fairly sizzles.

More rain predicted here this afternoon, and I plan to go search for a rainbow. I need to write more about rainbows.

What about you? Do you find weather scenes boring? Do you prefer minimal weather descriptions? Do you have a favorite scene featuring the weather?

****AB Plum lives in the Mediterranean climate of the San Francisco Bay—within the shadow of Google, which returned a surprising number of hits for the search “writing weather scenes in fiction.”

Barbara Plum, AB’s alter ego, used the tornado in The Wizard of Oz as inspiration for a “new twist on love and the red slippers” in her Weird Magic Trilogy.

The Joys of Collecting Kids’ Pictures Books

By AB Plum

Okay, we all know writers will read anything:

  • ·        Bread wrappers
  • ·        Installation instructions for electronics
  • ·        Op ed pieces
  • ·        The daily comics
  • ·        Unedited manuscripts
  • ·        Edited, re-edited, re-re-re-edited, final manuscripts
  • ·        Book contracts
  • ·        Downloaded e-doc instructions
  • ·        Kids’ illustrated books

Of the above list, kids’ illustrated books rank at my top.

In all honesty, I usually read the illustrations before I read the text. The illustrations most likely influenced me to buy the book. I view them with viewing art. (Most kids’ illustrated books cost more than an e-book, but they’re worth the price, IMO, because they are works of art).

In 2108, for the first time in decades, I didn’t request a kids’ illustrated book for Christmas. No real reason, except I bought two amazing books earlier in the year. And while I re-read my picture books more often than most other books, I turned again and again in 2018 to Cry Heart, But Never Break (Glenn Ringtved, Author. Charlotte Pardi Illustrator) and Duck, Death and the Tulip (Wolf Elrbruch, Author and Illustrator).

In a lyrical combination of words and drawings, these books about death leave me gobsmacked. Both verbal and non-verbal media complement each other and remind me my upcoming birthday is another opportunity to add to my collection in 2019.

What about you? Do you ever read children’s picture books? What’s a favorite one from your childhood?
Barbara Plum writes light and whimsical paranormal romance. Her alter ego writes dark and twisted psychological thrillers. She lives in Silicon Valley with her tekkie husband—because she rarely reads instructions for backing up her computer.

No illustrations for The Weird Magic Trilogy Boxed Set (Free for a limited time). Likewise no pictures for The MisFit Books 5-7, but now on sale for limited time. She knows her limitations and would never attempt to draw, paint, or capture a scene with a camera.

Peace to one and all

By Barbara Plum aka AB Plum

At this time of year, my cul-de-sac hops with holiday
  • ·        
    Dewali (November 7)
  • ·        
    Hanukkah (December 2-10)
  • ·        
    Yule (December 21-January 21)
  • ·        
    Christmas (December 24-25)
  • ·        
    Kwanzaa (December 26-January 1)

I’m aware many people don’t celebrate at this time of
year—for a variety of reasons. But. For family, friends, strangers, and
non-celebrants, I send out a personal hope for peace to shine—if for only a
moment—in your lives wherever you are.

**** Barbara Plum aka AB Plum lives off the Silicon
Valley fast lane but in the shadow of Google. She writes light, funny
paranormal romances and dark, gripping psychological thrillers. Both genres
provide escape on long winter nights. Find her books here on Amazon and

Politics Then and Now

By Barbara Plum aka AB Plum

A Two-Word Story

A week later … post mid-term elections.

Are you glad you voted?
Did you imagine the aftermath?
Can you envision the days ahead?

I am delirious I voted—early. I never imagined the aftermath, and I’ve sent my crystal ball out for refurbishing. I plan to consult it many times over the next months.

In the meantime, I’m going to read, read, read for escape, entertainment, and enlightenment. Top of the list: Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Leadership in Turbulent Times.

Also, I’m looking forward to some down time from writing and some more quality time with friends and family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Barbara Plum, aka AB Plum, writes across the gamut of light and dark (paranormal romance to dark, psychological thrillers). As always, her two latest books explore families.

Available now on Amazon:


By Barbara Plum (aka AB Plum)

At a recent writers’ conference, the speaker threw out an epic challenge:

·        Write down our three favorite novels
·        Rank them in order of preference
·        Exclude children’s and YA titles, plus non-fiction, plus our own fiction

Groans eddied around the room. 
Surprised by the reaction, I finished the exercise within minutes and then went a step further. I quickly analyzed several common threads shared by my choices.

I arbitrarily decided to omit memorable characters. In my opinion, characters are the obvious reason that make books unforgettable.

Here’s my ranked list, including some common threads that speak to me.

1.     Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport.
2.     Turn of the Screw by Henry James.
3.     The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Here’s what puts these books on my shelf of favorite fiction:

First, I read them all at pivotal points in my life:
·        Adolescence (just before leaving college)
·        Freshman year in college (admitted to an advanced English program)
·        Illness (at a turning point in my high-tech career)

Second, they’re all literary fiction (a bit of a surprise since I now more often read genre- fiction). The language and writing are evocative and layered in my three faves.

Third, they paint rich portraits of dysfunctional families (a theme I write about and find fascinating to read about).

Fourth, I compare much of what I read to these titles.

So, if I were marooned on a desert island without my magical red shoes, I’d take these three books. (I’d beg to take the King James Version of the Bible too because each of these favorite novels is told there at least once).

What about you? Is coming up with three favorites easier than naming only one? Of the three you identify, can you select one as “The Favorite”?


Barbara Plum lives and writes paranormal romance in the shadow of Google. Books 1 and 2 in Wicked Magic, her latest series are available on Amazon:  
As AB Plum, Barbara writes dark, psychological thrillers. Check out The MisFit Series Books 1-4 on Amazon:

Red Shoes and Magic

Serendipitous—something occurring by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

But what does serendipity have to do with this month’s blog “theme” of red shoes?

For me … a lot since I’ve never owned a pair of red shoes. The closest I’ve come is shocking pink athletic kicks. I’ve worn these neon babies on airplanes, cruise ships, buses, trains, and aerobic dance floors. An amazing number of people have stopped and commented on the color. One woman wanted to know where I bought them.
But. Pink is not red. Ergo, what to write this month?
Well, imagine my jig for joy when serendipity bit me hard. Why?
Because, on August 31, I published BIg MAGiC, a paranormal romance that reveals a new twist on the magical red shoes, love, and a sexy warlock.
A miniature pair of red shoes appears on the cover. The same shoes appear on my website and Facebook pages. In addition, red shoes play a big role in the book. Huge. They belong to Thea Gale, great-great-granddaughter of Dorothy (she of The Wizard of Oz).
In BIg MAGiC, Thea’s shoes are four-inch stilettos—not unlike our former logo. The heels bring her height to just below the chin of the smokin’ hot warlock. He covets those shoes, and she obsesses over him.
Who wouldn’t covet red shoes? Maybe not the stilettos if, like me, your back aches thinking about even slipping them on. But I am now on a search for a pair I can wear whenever I want to feel powerful, in charge, and mesmerizing.

Barbara Plum, aka AB Plum, writes light and dark novels about families that can bring us together or tear us apart. BIg MAGiC is Book 1 in The WEIRd MAGiC Trilogy.

Down with–yes, down with–cell phones

By AB Plum

Here goes another rant on a social phenomenon I dislike more than back-to-back TV commercials or politicians who lie to the public or the constant pop-up ads on Google, FB, AOL and everywhere else on the Internet.

Smart phones go to the top of my Bleh List every time.
Smart phones are ubiquitous.
Smart phones are addictive.
Smart phones may not cause brain cancer, but they impair the judgment of more and more users. A few examples:
·         walking in front of traffic with faces in phones,
·         going to the bathroom with phones,
·         going to bed with their phones,
·         texting while driving,
·         talking while driving,
·         checking the Internet or email while driving,
·         checking phone hundreds of time a day,
·         eating meals with friends/family while checking phones,
·         giving young children phones as gifts/rewards,
·         spending more time on the phone than with face-to-face people,
·         playing on-line games for more than an hour/day
·         using a smart phone for games during a memorial service

Uh-huh! I witnessed this last example two weeks ago at the funeral service for my long-time critique partner. In a standing-room only environment, one of the mourners clicked his “smart phone” throughout the service. From my vantage point, I’d swear he was playing games … but, admittedly, I am jaded.

And. Lest I seem like a total luddite, I’ll mention the ubiquitous presence of 
smart phones at a recent rally for reunifying immigrant families. Taking picture to capture the event for now and posterity seemed like a good use of smart phones. Giving those who couldn’t attend the rally seemed like a good use of smart phones. Sharing pictures and recordings on social media to get out the message seemed like a good use of smart phones.
So does the good judgment at the rally outweigh the bad judgment in the case of my friend’s funeral?

What do you think?
What would you have done at the funeral—before/during/after?
***AB Plum lives and writes in the heart of Silicon Valley. She owns a cell phone with no bells or whistles and uses it only in emergencies. Smart phones appear infrequently in The MisFit Series her dark, psychological thrillers. Writing as Barbara Plum in WEIRd MAgIC, her paranormal romance trilogy, witches and warlocks rely more on magic than smart phones.