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Vintage 1950s: The Joan Bennett Scandal by Janet Elizabeth Lynn

August 3, 2018 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , ,

Vintage 1950s: The Joan Bennett Scandal | Janet Lynn and Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange

My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled mystery series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, Slick Deal, begins News Year’s Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.

During our research of the 1950s we come across mysteries and scandals in the newspapers. These give us ideas to include as background in our novels. One scandal stood out and we used in Slick Deal was the Joan Bennett Scandal. We modified the events to fit in our story.

Joan Bennett was a successful screen actress, represented by her long time agent Jennings Lang. On December 13, 1951 she and Lang met to talk over an upcoming TV show.

Bennett parked her Cadillac convertible in the lot across the street from the Beverly Hills Police Department. She and Lang drove off in his car.

Her husband, Walter Wanger, drove by and noticed his wife’s car parked. Half an hour later, he again saw her car there and stopped to wait. Bennett and Lang drove into the parking lot a few hours later. Lang walked her to her car. As she started the engine, turned on the headlights and prepared to drive away. Wanger walked up and shot and the agent in a fit of jealousy

Bennett said she saw two vivid flashes, then Lang slumped to the ground. Wanger tossed the pistol into his wife’s car.

The police, who had heard the shots, came to the scene and found the gun in Bennett’s car when they took Wanger into custody. Lang was taken to a hospital, where he recovered.

Wanger said, “I shot him because I thought he was breaking up my home.” He was booked on suspicion of assault with intent to commit murder.

Bennett denied a romance. She blamed the trouble on financial setbacks involving film productions Wanger was involved with. She said he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Wanger served a four-month sentence, then quickly returning to his career to make a series of successful films.

Meanwhile, Bennett went to Chicago to appear on the stage.

Bennett made only five movies in the decade that followed, as the shooting incident put a “stain” on her career and she became virtual

ly blacklisted.

In a 1981 interview, Bennett compared the judgmental 1950s with the sensation-crazed 1970s and 1980s. “It would never happen that way today,” she said, laughing. “If it happened today, I’d be a sensation. I’d be wanted by all studios for all pictures.”

Joan Bennett died of a heart attack on December 7, 1990 (at 80 years old).

The results of our research? SLIVERS OF GLASS, STRANGE MARKINGS, DESERT ICE and SLICK DEAL . . . and yes, we’re still married.

Website: www.janetlynnauthor.com

Blog: www.themarriedauthors.blogspot.com

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Autoettes: The tiny cars of Avalon by Will Zeilinger

June 3, 2018 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , , ,

Autoettes | Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange


Autoette |Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange |

My wife, Janet Elizabeth Lynn, and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, Slick Deal, begins News Year’s Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, The first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.

While researching this island for Autoette |Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orangeour story, we discovered it exists a whole world apart from the car culture of Los Angeles which, if truth be known, does not provide a lot of incentive to bring a conventional automobile to the island when the wait is fourteen years.

Why would the wait be so long for an island just twenty-one miles long and eight miles wide?  According to our unscientific research, cars and trucks were posing quite a problem for the residents and visitors to the island. Pollution, soaring fuel prices, traffic, and parking were causing the kind of environment most people came to the island to escape. So a limit of 800 “personal use” vehicles was imposed for the entire island.

Prior to this ordinance, many islanders had already switched from conventional vehicles to smaller modes of transportation, such as motor scooters, and “autoettes” which is the name for vehicles no more than ten feet long and four and a half feet wide. Most of these are electric or gasoline golf carts, and tiny Japanese commercial trucks and vans.  Recently “Smart Cars” have begun to appear.

There are separate waiting lists for residential vehicles and commercial vehicles. Importing an autoette doesn’t provide any loopholes either. The vehicle waiting lists apply to both cars and autoettes.

Autoette | Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange          While ferries travel from Los Angeles to Avalon daily, they accommodate passengers only. If you’re importing a vehicle, you have to arrange for private transportation

As a property owner or a potential property owner looking to import a personal vehicle to Catalina Island, all the restrictions make for a frustrating task, but it’s for the good of the island. Avalon currently (2017) has space to park fewer than 1,000 autoettes in the main downtown area. As there are already over 1,100 autoette permits issued for residents. Adding more would only create stress on the limited space. Even now, Avalon seems overrun by puttering rental golf carts, courtesy vans from hotels and local residents in their four-wheel drive pickups. But Catalina Island retains its laid-back air and restrictions like these keep the island from turning into the polluted perpetual traffic jam and parking nightmare that looms on the mainland.

In Slick Deal, you’ll see how Skylar Drake and Casey Dolan use the technology of the time to solve the mystery.

SLICK DEAL is the fourth in the series and yes…we are still married!

Website:  Janet  Elizabeth Lynn 

Website:  Will Zeilinger 

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Partnering in Writing

May 3, 2018 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , ,

 Partnering In Writing | Janet Lynn and Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange

Partnering in Writing: Researching with two brains and four eyes.


My husband, Will Zeilinger, and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, Slick Deal, begins News Year’s Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.

Having to research can be overwhelming, especially for period pieces. Because we write about the 1950s, research is a must for the reader to get the feel for the setting, decade and culture of the novel.

Since there are two of us, we want to make the most of the time spent at the library and/or museums. Splitting the work up and knowing what each of us is looking for needs to be planned rather tightly. Phone calls to the librarian asking how the information is filed can help. Also, the librarian, given enough time, will many times pull the material for you and have it ready when you arrive.

We still use pen and paper because of the rapid pace we research. Be sure your partner is situated at the same table. When we were researching SLICK DEAL at the L.A County Library in Avalon, I came across an article about the Catalina Grand Prix. It was held from 1951-58. I nudged Will. He read it, and his eyebrows went up. We were thinking the same thing…an unexpected subplot!

Then there are the meetings to decide what fits in the story. Several meetings and discussions followed by making lists of plots and subplots.

SLICK DEAL was released April 16, it is the fourth in the Skylar Drake series…and yes, we are still married!


Website:  Janet  Elizabeth Lynn    Website:  Will Zeilinger


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Visiting the Scene or Vacation? by Will Zeilinger

March 3, 2018 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , ,

Visting the Scene or Vacation | Will Zeilinger | A Slice of OrangeMy wife Janet Lynn, and I have been writing together for several years and are just completing our fourth co-written murder mystery novel. Since our stories are set in the 1950s, we have to research many of the locations that have either changed or no longer exist. And because our storylines take us to distant places, we travel to many of those sites in order to get it right.  Google Earth is great, and the web is invaluable, but there is only so much you can learn from these resources. Nothing beats being there in person. This works out great because we both love to travel.

For our first Skylar Drake Mystery, SLIVERS OF GLASS, we traveled to the northern California wine country, including Sonoma County, Bodega Bay and Santa Rosa.

STRANGE MARKINGS took us to Molokai where we researched pre-statehood Hawaii. This was the only Hawaiian island that wasn’t overly developed and gave us an idea of Hawaii before all the high-rise buildings.  Visting the Scene | Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange

Las Vegas in the mid-1950s was the setting for DESERT ICE. Most of our time was spent in the Special Collections at the UNLV Library, the Clark County Library and the Nevada State Museum. The Mob Museum to really give us the flavor of Vegas in 1955.  We also had the opportunity to interview a Las Vegas Dancer and the daughter a notorious mobster who lived there in the 1950s.

When we tell friends and family about our trips, they turn green with envy and mistakenly think we are on a vacation.  Nothing could be further from the truth, although we do learn things a “normal” tourist wouldn’t.  We are entertained by the people we meet and the historical tidbits that come to light during our research.

Visiting the Scene | Will Zeilinger | A Slice of OrangeSuccess in our research may stem from the questions Janet asks hotel staff, restaurant wait staff and sometimes random residents we meet on the street. She’ll ask, “If you needed to dump a dead body around here… where would you put it?”  The result is one of two different reactions. First: The person will take a couple of steps back and look around for an escape route. Or Second: They’ll provide specific locations of abandoned buildings, intersections, cemetery names, coves, cliffs or other places. This can seem a bit disconcerting, because that response means they’ve thought about this in depth.  There are times I’ve felt like taking a couple of steps back myself.

Our most recent book is a prime example. SLICK DEAL is set in 1956 on Santa Catalina Island. (only twenty-something miles off the coast of southern California.) We did exhaustive online research before consulting the Long Beach Main Library.  We happened to be on Catalina Island for other reasons a few months ago and stopped in at the Visitors Center. They also referred us to the Avalon branch of the L.A. County Library , which happened to be closed at the time we visited. We next visited the Chamber of Commerce, who, once again, referred us to the Library. This wasn’t going to work, so we visited the Catalina Conservancy. Guess where they referred us. Yes, the Library.   We thought we had it solved when we went to the Catalina Island Museum. Again, they said, to try the Library.  This prompted another visit to the Island when the Library was open. We scheduled it during the month our story took place and many questions were answered.  The staff was helpful and even provided white cotton gloves so we could rummage through their archives.

Visiting the Scene | Will Zeilinger | A Slice of OrangeSome of the most interesting facts came from the guide at the Avalon Casino “Frankie of Avalon,” who grew up on Catalina.  There was also a fellow at the golf-cart rental shop, and a couple of waiters. Does that sound like a relaxing vacation?

Once we visited these locations, we were struck with inspiration and appreciation for the locales.

Online research is great, but physically visiting the places where your story takes place can supply all your senses with sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and the personality of the people you meet.  As a couple writing together, we have a great time and, after four books, we’re still married.


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Looking For A Little Inspiration

February 20, 2018 by in category A Bit of Magic by Meriam Wilhelm tagged as , ,

Looking for a Little Inspiration Meriam Wilhelm | A Slice of Orange


If you’ve never read any of my books you might not know that I love to write about spirits, ghosts, witches and the like. Over the years I’ve developed a growing curiosity about the paranormal world. I’ve filled my personal library with books on everyday spells and rituals and located several websites where I’ve come in contact with some intriguing folks. Most recently I’ve become enamored with the use of crystals and natural healing remedies as a means of tapping into our earth’s truly magical gifts. I find it all quite fascinating.

So it makes sense that I’d use some of this new found knowledge to create a mystical world of my own by writing my first series The Witches Of New Moon Beach. At least it makes sense to me, although my father (if he were still alive) would surely call me a “kook”!

Thankfully, my husband has patiently supported my interests and helped me to seek out curious sites, stores and book shops to aid in my research. And my children have done their part by alerting me to unusual stories, websites and people they’ve come in contact with.

For Christmas, my daughter jumped right into my kookiness by giving me The Ghost Tour on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California where we went this past weekend.
We were both so nervous and excited and arrived on the ship at 10:45 p.m. ready to hunt for spirits. What we didn’t know was that the guide planned on extending this evening’s event until 3:00 in the morning… a little more time in the bowels of a supposedly haunted ship than either of us were prepared for.

After lengthy instructions from our supernaturally sensitive spirit hunter – aka our guide, we set our cell phones to record and wandered the engine room; stopping occasionally to pose a question or two to any waiting spirits. Sitting in cold metal steps in the dark we asked repeatedly for any sign of spiritual existence.

Sad to say, if there were ghosts aboard, they must have been traveling in a different part of the ship. Or maybe they just weren’t very talkative that night.

By 1:15 a.m. my daughter and I were both beat and opted out of the rest of the tour. Armed with recorders, movement sensors, a compass and other data collecting devices the rest of our troop happily continued on with their supernatural investigation while we jumped in our Uber and jaunted home. I understand that we missed the best part – the haunted pool area. Oh well.
You might wonder if I thought the trip was a bust because we didn’t run into any visitors from the other side?

No way. Absolutely not. I learned a lot about collecting paranormal data, the inner workings of the Queen Mary Ship and how much people really do want to engage with the spirit world. Would I do it again? Maybe.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you – when I got up the next morning I hid out in my bedroom where listened intently to my cell phone recording of the evening before. Was that a spirit I heard softly whispering and who was that giggling in the background? Was the tapping I heard a natural mechanical sound emanating from old pipes or was it a spirit attempting to communicate with me?
I guess I’ll never know for sure, but I can tell you that no spirits followed us home and I did get some great ideas to add to my next book.
Next research investigation? The castles of Scotland.

Meriam Wilhelm

For thirty-five years, Meriam Wilhelm worked in education. From high school teacher to college dean to her favorite job of elementary school principal, she took an excitingly non-traditional pathway, always passionate about shaping young minds. When she retired, something magical happened. Wilhelm was bitten by the writing bug and her chosen genre was paranormal romance – specifically of the witchy persuasion. Now, six books into The Witches of New Moon Beach series, she is bringing her passion for learning to her new profession. A world traveler, Wilhelm has researched the history and culture of witchcraft and found inspiration as far away as Bergen, Norway and as close as her home town. A Redondo Beach resident, she decided there was no better location for her family of witches to reside than the beaches outside her own front door. “I think there is magic in everyone you meet,” Wilhelm says. “You just have to look for it.” In her  case, you also have to write about that magic. Currently, Wilhelm is working on book seven, The Witch of Bergen.  She  is the recipient of the Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers Choice Award. She is married and the  mother of three grown children and a brand new grandma. When not writing or traveling, Meriam Wilhelm can be found at her sewing machine, at yoga class or, of course, reading.


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