Today, I am pleased to have J. T. Toman here while she makes a stop on her tour for PICKING LEMONS with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. J.T. lives in Boulder, Colorado. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Yale University and has taught econometrics at the University of Sydney and the University of Colorado at Boulder. She also has a degree in zookeeping from Pikes Peak Community College and has cared for everything from butterflies to elephants. She now teaches math at Front Range Community College, and truly believes fractions are useful in everyday life. In her spare time, J.T. Toman joins the rest of Colorado hiking, biking and skiing. However, much like her cats, she finds food more inspiring than scenery. J.T. particularly loves home- grown tomatoes, udon noodles and tall glasses of chocolate milk, but not at the same time. Picking Lemons is her first novel. Leave a comment and your email for a chance to win an ebook copy. Welcome, J.T.
You and C.J. have a lot in common. You both go by initials, economics, academia… How much of C. J. is you and what are your biggest differences?
Yes … C.J. and I do have a lot of the basic facts in common. She and I both have degrees in economics and we both use our initials. (No fancy girly names for us!) But, unfortunately for me, that is where the similarity ends.
I consider C.J. the person I wish I could be. She says out loud all the things I only vent to the bathroom mirror at night. She is smart, sexy and sassy and I adore her. I would love to be mistaken for C.J., but that is unlikely to happen as I am very shy, terrified of large groups of students, and rarely say what I think for fear I offend.
Economics. Zookeeping. Math. None of these things scream cozy author. What brought you to write a novel and more particularly a cozy?
I have always been a writer. I wrote my first “book” when I was in elementary school titled “The very best book of bear poetry.” I even talked my mother into taking photos of my stuffed bears to illustrate it. And my first “paid” piece of writing was an essay for a competition in high school that won me two tickets to the opera.
I have experimented with many genres, and had a short piece of creative non-fiction published in Skirt! magazine in 2009 titled “Punishingly Younger.” My filing cabinet is filled with many UFO’s (unfinished opuses) in creative non-fiction and children’s fiction.
One day, struggling for enthusiasm for a writing project, I asked myself “What do you enjoy reading?” The answer was cozy murder mysteries. It is, without doubt, my favorite genre. I love the intellectual challenge of figuring out who did it. And I enjoy the characters in the genre. They are often so unique and easy to identify with. Hence Picking Lemons was born.
Do you plot out your story or just fly by the seat of your pants?
I am very much a plot-before-I-write type of author. I will confess that I actually construct a giant excel spreadsheet of every character as a row and every hour as a column for the duration of the book, and put on it what everyone is doing when, to avoid any inconsistencies in the plot line. I can then see where everyone is, what they are doing, and how the murder occurred.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took about six months. I don’t write full time … I squeeze in writing between my job and my family. I will typically spend an hour or two a day writing, but then lose a week here and there when life gets hectic.
Are you currently working on the next in the series and what can you tell us about it?
I am! C.J. and Eaton University will return, as will many of the faculty at Eaton, such as Walter, Peter, Betsy, Charles and Mary Beth. There will some new characters; James, the new Australian professor that has caught Mary Beth’s eye; Arthur, an older, somewhat curmudgeonly, professor; and Lauren, a young female junior professor.
Sadly for Eaton, I suspect there will be another murder. I always loved the Murder She Wrote T.V. shows, but wondered why anyone would live in Crab Apple Cove as the murder rate there was so high. I am getting the feeling it will be the same at Eaton University!
What do you like to do to balance the demands writing places on you? (e.g., hobbies, interests, pursuits, outings)
I love to work out … we joke that working out two hours a day is actually a requirement for living here in Boulder, Colorado! I hike, ski, go to the gym, run, swim … the list goes on. I don’t know if it is actually a good balance for writing, as often I find myself thinking about my characters while running or swimming, and I have been known to put a pad a paper and a pen at the end of the pool to jot down ideas between laps, so as to not forget them. Which can be hard to explain, when what you write down is “strangle with academic hood!!!! Of course!”
Now three things that have nothing to do with writing:
- What is your favorite food? Chocolate milk and udon noodles (but not at the same time!) And my husband’s home-grown tomatoes.
- What is your favorite TV show? I go on Netflix fads. Last year I couldn’t get enough of Miss Phryne Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. And then for a while it was documentaries. And now it is Hawaii Five-0 (the original, of course).
- What is your favorite music? My absolute, hands-down favorite Pandora station is YMCA radio … I will dance around the kitchen singing into the wooden-spoon microphone whenever that is playing!
Thank you so much for being here today, J. T. Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers before you go?
Thank you so much for your interest in Picking Lemons. I hope you enjoy the book!
Economic theories can predict many things – just not the death of a renowned Economics professor. When Professor Edmund DeBeyer is found dead in his office, strangled to death by his own Ph.D. hood, the police don’t have to look further than his colleagues in the Economics Department for suspects. After all, Edmund was the most despised member of the department. C.J. Whitmore, the department’s only tenured female, (who also has a penchant for wearing pink cowboy boots to class) resolves to get to the bottom of the mystery using economic principles. Comparing tracking down murder suspects to to selecting a used car, she attempts to discern the real deals from the “lemons.” That is, which suspects are really telling the truth and which are lying to protect their guilt. Will C.J. be able to pick the lemon before her clever adversary strikes again?
C. J. is a professor at rather a boring, reserved university. Which is why she waited until she had tenure before showing her true colors – which include wearing hot pink cowboy boots. A funny cozy, well written, and rather remarkable for a first novel. The author has a knack for well drawn characters and I will be looking for the next book in this series. ♥♥♥♥
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