A Wicked Welcome to Myra Jolivet *giveaway*

by Julie, enjoying temperate temps

I am delighted to welcome Myra Jolivet to the blog today! I’ve had the pleasure of working with Myra through Sisters in Crime. She’s a wonderful writer, and I’m glad to introduce her to the Wicked readers.

I Was Searching For My Writing Voice and Found It Hiding In Plain Sight

by Myra Jolivet

As I set out to learn the craft of mystery writing, my bold spirit shriveled with insecurity. I’ve been called a mouthpiece by journalists because in my career life, I transitioned from TV reporter to spokesperson for elected officials and organizations at the other end of a paycheck. I wasn’t shy about putting myself and my work on public display, but when it came to the thing that mattered most, I shrank under self-imposed pressure to make no mistakes. That’s another issue. The first hurdle was finding my unique voice. 

I sat with different characters inside my head, starting and stopping their stories until the day a movie title spoke to me. It was, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the story of a Greek American woman who comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity before getting married. She was ashamed of her big, loud family. I could relate. For most of my life, I was ashamed of my big, loud, talking-to-the-dead, spell-casting family. 

To put it mildly, Louisiana Creoles, from rural areas (not New Orleans) have their own rhythm.  My relatives were part of the Great Migration from rural south Louisiana to parts of California, escaping overt racism. They wrote to those in Louisiana, “there’s gold in the streets here and they pay colored people the same wages as white.” Let that sit for a moment. 

And they kept their culture. Culture is carried in traditions, foods, and language. My father wanted us to learn his first language, Louisiana Creole French, but we refused. Even in 1960s Berkeley being that different was just too much. When we told daddy that people couldn’t understand him, he’d reply, “Piss on them, this is my language.”  I’ll let that sit, also.

Weekends with extended family were celebratory times of great food, mysterious stories, and card games. Looking back on those visits opened the path to my voice. I realized I had lived experience to share.

The characters in my Sarah Doucette Jean-Louis Mysteries are composites of relatives and friends. Within the stories, Sarah learns to embrace her culture, as I did. And when I’ve visited with book clubs and writing groups, most of their questions center around the unique aspects of it.

Besides awkward attempts at the patois, the Louisiana Creole culture has rarely been portrayed by writers of movies or books in the way I experienced it. This inspired me to write from our family’s perspective and share that humor, mysticism, and humanity, with love.

I will continue to tell stories propped up by the backdrop of Creole ways as I pull from the many characters who lived and breathed and touched my life.

Like Fotoula “Toula” Portokalos in the Greek movie, I now value all that was handed down to me. My only regret is I didn’t do this before my parents and older relatives passed on. I’d like to believe, they are happy with me and don’t care if my writing is not yet perfect. The larger accomplishment is that I’ve found my voice and the pride to share it.

Laissez les bon temp rouler, mon cher!

Readers, using a 100% scale, let me know what is most important to you in a mystery, characters, or plot? How accepting are you of the supernatural in a book? What makes it work for you? I will give away a copy of Pushed Times, Chewing Pepper to one reader and Secret Spells and Snake Eyes to another, with a recipe card from the kitchen of Sarah Doucette Jean-Louis. There’s a recipe for Okra Etouffee on the back of the card! 

My website: 



Cover of Pushed Times, Chewing Paper

Pushed Times, Chewing Paper: Sarah’s Story

Sarah Doucette Jean-Louis is a rare woman. She is marked for murder while a suspected accessory to the mysterious murder plot. She is a trained family therapist who has a difficult time tolerating her own family for more than lunch. She is a contemporary California native with old world, Louisiana Creole roots. Her aunts and grandparents regularly talked to the dead and cast spells. They thought everyone did. In one year, Sarah’s life is a haze of martini hangovers, a stalker, the wrong man, fights with a bitch cousin and the voodoo wisdom of her Aunt Cat. Then comes Michael . . . and it gets worse. Deception and disappointment bring Sarah the hardest times she’s ever known and propel her into a new life. The Creoles say, “Pushed times will make a monkey chew pepper.” It means that challenging times inspire unique actions. Sarah learns to use her psychic gifts for guidance and to open her mind to unique actions. Her worst year becomes the best life-changing time of her life.

Buy the book here.

cover of Secrets, Spell and Snake Eyes

Secrets, Spells and Snake Eyes

Back home from a Godforsaken Louisiana family reunion, Sarah Doucette Jean-Louis jumps heart first into a murder investigation with her hot and sexy former attorney, Manuel. It’s a new life for the Oakland family therapist post-scandal. Manuel’s client is charged with murder and he wants Sarah to use her gift of visions to help his investigator find the real killer. In her unique and humorous style, Sarah brings her head-spinning psychic intuition, large vodka bottles and a few other surprises to the case. Yadira Lopez’s stepson is the accused, but Sarah feels there’s something spine chilling and eerie about Yadira. Sarah props up her visions with help from some unbelievable sources. And if the case weren’t complicated and odd enough, Sarah’s life long nemesis, cousin Stacy, shows up in California. Her year will be mysterious and murderous with a touch of crazy! Life remains a contrast of contemporary northern California and old-world Louisiana Creole traditions for Sarah. She is a trained family therapist with volatile relationships. Her background of science and logic is defiled by persistent visions into the future. And while it is Creole tradition for a woman to marry, Sarah has had many loves but no husband. In Secrets, Spells and Snake Eyes, Sarah’s second journey, she learns to handle her mystical second sight and prepares to fall in love—again. We laugh and feel a bit tipsy from all of the action and the Sunday martini brunches with her girlfriends. Laissez les bon temp rouler, mon cher!

Buy the book here.


Myra covered true crime as an award-winning television news reporter, but her love of traditional mysteries inspired her Sarah Doucette Jean-Louis Mystery series. Based in California, they honor her Louisiana Creole culture. Myra has appeared in two true crime series; Geraldo Rivera’s, “Murder in the Family,” and “For My Man.”

46 Thoughts

  1. I would say for me it’s 70% characters and 30% plot. I love interesting characters that make it that I don’t want to put the book down at night. I grew up watching Dark Shadows, a serial show about the supernatural. I still love that show and have been to a couple of conventions where you meet the stars. My husband and I on Saturday nights watch old creature or sci fi movies. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  2. Myra, welcome to the blog, and congratulations on finding your story to tell! Waving hi from another native Californian, except my family’s stories weren’t anywhere near as interesting as yours.

    1. Hi there, fellow Californian. Thanks so much. Isn’t it funny how we learn later in life to appreciate our families? Best to you.

  3. For me, the plot has to hang together, but the characters are paramount. If you create ‘real’ people I want to spend time with because I care about them, I am your reader.

  4. Your books sound wonderful!! For me, I’d say it’s 50% characters, 25% plot and 25% mystery. The characters need to be intelligent, have a good crew/townspeople to help set the scene and have some fun added in–plus I love some humor. The plot helps to build up the mystery, it’s the foundation to me.

  5. It is close to a 60-40% split, with the characters winning the majority. The 40% includes the plot AND setting. I do love “place” in my books and films. But, oh the characters! Authentic, quirky, culturally deep, and connected to those from near and afar. Your books, Myra, sound fantastic, in all those sweet spots.

  6. For me it’s about an even split with characters taking the lead because without believable characters that stand out to you, you are just reading the words. They have to have character – period. They can be ones you dislike or love, but they have to pull emotion and make sense. Without a plot you are rambling. It’s the plot that pulls it all together. The mystery has you interacting with the adventure and the characters as if walking beside them trying to figure it out right along with them. It’s the intrigue of the story. I enjoy some supernatural in a book – as long as it runs smoothly within the story and makes sense. It can be a character believing something you may not, but if they truly believe it and the author makes it run within the story, I’m all for it. It can even be a humous detail in a story or a running series with a ghost, but again it’s how the author weaves the story around or with it that makes it fun and acceptable to me.

    Thank you for the fabulous chance to win one of your books – which sound amazing to me when put my want to read for them on Goodreads. Love finding new to me authors and I’ve already liked you on Facebook to follow. I would love the opportunity to read and review on of your books. Shared and hoping to be one of the fortunate ones selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Great perspective from you. Thank you. I keep working on that wonderful balance of character and plot. It’s an addictive challenge.

  7. I’d say 75% characters, 25% plot. I hate a clunky, outrageous plot, but I’ll hang with a so-so plot (one where I can see what’s coming) for the sake of great characters. I’m okay with the supernatural, as long as it isn’t a cheat or cheap tricks. It has to be organic to the characters, plot, and world that the author has created.

    1. You’ve offered the highest percentage of character, so far! Wow. I like hearing that, also. As you know, we take time to “create” people and hope we’re giving them a real life.

  8. For me it is 60% Characters, 40% plot. With plot including the location and mystery. The characters need to be unique but realistic and make me want to know them!

    1. I hear you on that. I had concerns about Sarah’s psychic visions. Don’t get me wrong, I had many relatives who swore they could see the future, but I wondered if readers would believe it within the context of these stories.

  9. both are very important to me and both have to be good for me to stay hooked in. There are just too many good books out there waiting to be read that one doesn’t need to spend time with one that doesn’t deliver.
    fruitcrmble AT comcast DOT net

  10. The characters importance are vital since I enjoy learning who they are and how their lives evolve. The plot has to be realistic and provide me with the enjoyment that I need when I am immersed within the novel.

  11. Welcome Myra! WOW…your refreshing information about your proud background resonates with me. I was born in Chile to an Italian family full of loud voices, strong opinions, and so proud of their heritage…and so am I today… My town consisted of about 60% German immigrants, and I attended a German run school all my life. I am proud of my multicultural background, which has blessed me with an appreciation for all cultures. I read cozies because of the characters (60%), the plot (30%) and the locale 10%). I do read some cozies that have a paranormal element, but I am not fond of books that are predominantly of that genre. I wish you all the success in the world with your intriguing writing…may new plots appear clearly and frequently in your mind. Luis at ole dot travel

    1. How cool! You have a unique cultural blend, also! It took time for me to appreciate the real life characters of my family. They were wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade my heritage for anything. Thanks so much for the kind words and wishes.

  12. Thanks for the chance to win one of your books — I look forward to reading them! I’m in the 60/40 camp, with 60% being characters and 40% being plot and setting. I can enjoy a paranormal element when it seems to naturally emerge from one or more characters or from the setting. Learning about other cultures and other people’s ancestry is fascinating to me since I have such a mixed heritage that no one group stands out.

    1. I love that. I like that the Creole culture is a mash up of French, African, Spanish and Indigenous. Each infuence is realized in traditions, language, and of course, the food.

  13. The books sound delightful. Glad you came to terms with your family, but I do wish your daddy could have taught you the delightful language that is creole! I’m 75%/50% on the character/plot continuum. Firm believer that character drives the plot. As for paranormal – I’m good with it as long as it isn’t contrived.

    1. Thanks for the the comment. The importance of character is speaking to me loud and clear. I regret not learning my father’s first language. I purchased a Louisiana Creole French dictionary to play catch-up. I do remember a few words and phrases from him, but I needed the dictionary for sure.

  14. I think I would give plot 90% and characters 10%. I love metaphysical stories, more so than supernatural ones.

    1. Wow! 90%. That’s great. I’m working up another series, another sleuth with Creole roots. I will remember to the new characters well-rounded personalities—and a few quirks. LOL

  15. A captivating novel has to have vivid character portrayal so that I feel and understand the individuals. This is extremely important and makes the story come alive. The plot should be compelling and intriguing.

  16. While plot is definitely important to me, it’s the characters that keep me interested in a mystery, especially when it’s a series so I can see their development over several books. As for supernatural aspects, I love them! Whether witches in the Three Tomes Bookshop series by Colleen Gleason, witches & vampires in The Vampire Knitting Club series by Nancy Warren or the living gargoyle in The Accidental Alchemist series by Gigi Pandian (among others), the supernatural adds another interesting layer to characters and plot.

  17. A good main character is an essential for any story to me. If I can’t stand the main character, even a stellar plot will not save the book for me. I love supernatural aspects in the stories I read. Paranormal romance, fantasy romance and paranormal cozies are some of my favorites.

  18. Welcome to the Wickeds, Myra! I can’t think of a single piece of fiction I’ve read or seen about Louisiana Creole families that have migrated out of Louisiana, so I am fascinated with the background for Pushed Times Chewing Pepper. I return to series for the characters, that’s for sure. But I do hate clunky plots, especially ones where I can feel the setup going up the track like the first part of a rollercoaster ride. So put me 60% character, 40% plot.

    1. I am eager to hear your feedback. It’s hard to tell from my perspective if I have a clunky plot. I’m too close to it.

  19. Let the good times roll! I love reading books set in New Orleans and I enjoy the paranormal being featured in the storyline. It seems to be part of the Creole culture. I would say 60% characters and 40% plot. Strong characters help carry the plot. Looking forward to reading your books.

    1. You’re right, the paranormal is part of the culture. That’s why I thought it could help carry a murder mystery. The setting is California, but there are visits to rural Louisiana that I think you’ll enjoy. I hope you likeSarah’s journey! Merci beaucoup!

  20. I’m going to say the characters are the big one for me. I love reading books that I can connect with the characters of course. The plot is important too. So 50/50 for me!

    Thanks for the chance!!

  21. First of all, both are important–plot and character. And then where it is set and the cover and synopsis. We love NOLA and have been going there for many years. We also love California and especially the Dan Franscisco area and went there for years, but not anymore due to the ruination of California and SF. I love your blended family and you should have learned the language. NOLA is full of the paranormal. I regret not asking my father more about our descendants when he was alive–his father and family from France and his mother and family from Germany. But I have a close connection to the French part of my family because I love NOLA. I would love your book.

    1. That is so cool to here! There’s a lot more in California than SF. Come back!! LOL I do regret not learning the language from Daddy. I had to get a Louisiana Creole dictionary! I have family living in Paris, you’re right the connection to the French has always been there. My books are more connected to rural Louisiana, but I’m working on one now that I want to include New Orleans in some way. Thank you so much.

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