Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview | K.M. Waller

It’s time to find out more about one of my fellow cozy mystery authors. Today, I’ve got the lovely K.M. Waller lined up for you. She’s the author of a number of mystery books including The Three Witches of Burberry, which is part of her Lost Souls Paraagency romantic paranormal series, and Mourning Express, which is part of the multi-author Funeral Fakers series.

I love her sense of humor – read her answer to the penguin question and you’ll see what I mean. So grab a beverage, settle down into a comfy spot and have a read below to see what K.M. has to say about writing, cookies, and penguins.

1 – What inspired you to write your books?

Books have always been my happy place, but it never crossed my mind growing up and into all of my twenties to write one. Then, while reading everything written by Janet Evanovich, I came across her book How I Write. That was the first time that I read about an author who’d started writing as a stay-at-home mom at the kitchen table. I’d just stopped working as a real estate paralegal to stay at home with my daughter, so it felt timely to be reading her journey. I started writing after that and over my ten year journey have found my way to writing what I enjoy reading the most – cozy mysteries.

2 – What’s your favorite thing about cozy mysteries?

I love the amateur sleuth who uses his or her ordinary skills to solve a crime. Kooky sidekicks who either help or accidentally hinder the investigation add so much fun to the story too.

3 – Do you have any writing rituals?

I am a morning person, so all the writing gets done in the first part of the day or not at all. I do have to be in the “zone” and I use brain.fm for focus music to help me get there. Oh, and don’t forget that trusty cup of coffee at my side!

4 – What’s more important – character or plot?

Tough question! I can be disappointed in a plot and still continue to read if the characters are fun and entertaining. Character driven stories are my favorite but if an author can twist a mystery plot that gives me a surprise, then that author has a fan for life.

5 – What do you like best about being an author? What do you like the least?

Readers are the best thing about being an author. Especially, when they fall in love with characters I’ve created and take the time to tell me. I love connecting with readers. What I dislike is how fast the publishing industry is changing. Most days it’s hard to keep up with trends in marketing, tropes, cover art, etc.

6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?”

I’ve rarely met a cookie I didn’t like. I’m my daughter’s Girl Scout troop cookie mom, so I spend a great deal of February and March eating my favorite GS cookie – Samoas. For a few months our lives revolve around cookies.

7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?

The sombrero belonged to his owner who has been accused of murdering one of his restaurant employees. Death by salsa. The penguin needs me and my special skill of being an animal psychic to help find the killer and bring them to justice. His name is Eduardo and I tickle his tummy before joining him on the mystery-solving adventure.

8 – What else would you like us to know about you? 

I’m just as goofy as I look – to the horror of my children who are always embarrassed by me.

About K.M. Waller

K.M. Waller lives in Florida with her husband, two kids, two rescued porch kittens, and a popcorn-loving hermit crab. When she’s not reading, writing, or chasing her kids around the house, she’s binging television dramas and mysteries.

Connect with her at her Website | BookBub | Instagram | Facebook

Grab your copy of K.M.’s books – they’re also free in Kindle Unlimited:

The Three Witches of Burberry

Mourning Express

Editor’s Note: Thanks so much for the interview, K.M.! Is there anyone who doesn’t love Girl Scout cookies? My favorite are the Thin Mints. 🙂

Author Interview, Reading, Writing

Top 10 Lessons about Self-Publishing “Dancing with Dementia” with Jemi Fraser

It’s a pleasure to be participating in author Jemi Fraser’s DANCING WITH DEMENTIA, Recognizing and Coping with the Early Stages of Dementia Blog Tour through MC Book Tours today.

I absolutely loved this book! Here’s my review on Goodreads:

Dancing with Dementia is an utterly engrossing memoir which is brutally honest, funny, and tear-jerking. The author does an amazing job of blending stories about the impact of her mother and step-father’s dementia had on herself and her family with tips about how you can recognize the early signs of dementia and support those afflicted with it. You’ll find yourself alternating between laughter at the author’s dark humor and wiping away tears as she shares poignant stories about the impact of this terrible disease. Be prepared to set aside a serious chunk of time once you pick up this book. Once you start reading it, you won’t want to stop.

Jemi offers some lessons that she learned self-publishing Dancing with Dementia that you’ll want to check out below.

The author is also offering a tour-wide international giveaway of an Amazon Gift Card. More information on the giveaway is listed at the end of this post.

Top 10 Lessons Learned about Self-Publishing

Dancing With Dementia is my first foray into self-publishing. I decided not to seek traditional publication because I wanted the book out there quickly. Well, also because #8.

10. If there is a super-difficult or round-about way to do something, I’ll find it. If there is a glitch in a system, it will find me. I’ve not yet found the easy way on the first try. Or even the fifth.

9. (Directly connected to #10) There is no ONE way to do anything. And there are at least a bazillion books & articles on each of those different ways. Choosing what works for you isn’t easy!

8. I’m kind of a control freak. I like knowing how things work. I like knowing how to fix things. I like knowing what stage things are at.

7. I like learning new things. I loved learning all these new skills. From finding a drawing program, to learning to combine voice and visual files, to creating a YouTube channel, to building a website, to making a cover, to formatting, to uploading files, I’ve had a ton of fun.

6. Technology hates me. Well, maybe it’s not sentient and maybe that’s an exaggeration, but maybe not. In the past few months I’ve had a recurring computer virus that no one can fix. This has caused technological hissy-fits that have put me out of commission for hours/days at a time.

5. Despite my control-freak status and my joy of learning, self-publishing is anything BUT a solo journey. You need extra eyes on every stage of the project.

4. The writing community is awesome! I already knew this, but it has been confirmed by so many along the way. There are so many blogs out there to learn from, people who willingly offer helping hands and advice for others.

3. Asking for help is hard. I’m not very good at this, but I’m working at getting better.

2. My Tigger Brain is very bouncy. This is sometimes a good thing. I can switch between tasks pretty easily. But, maintaining focus on one task for extended periods of time when other tasks are calling my name is tough!

1. There is a LOT to learn and that learning never ends. Which is also part of the fun!

About Dancing with Dementia

Dancing with Demntia: Recognizing and Coping with the Early Stages of Dementia
by Jemi Fraser

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Publisher: Just Jemi Books
eBooks
ISBN-13: 978-1-9991258-1-3

Dementia and Alzheimer’s touch the lives of millions around the world, but so much is still unknown.

As first-generation Canadians, we didn’t recognize the early warning signs. We didn’t know the differences between regular aging and the early stages of dementia. We’ve made mistakes but we’ve learned a lot.

DANCING WITH DEMENTIA will help you:
•Identify those early warning signs
•Use visuals to improve communication
•Choose your words wisely
•Redirect and reassure
•Stay calm and cope with your own emotions
•Consider nursing home options
•Improve caregiver self-care

We’ve learned to dance the early steps of the disease with our love and laughter intact. If you are looking for help recognizing early signposts along with practical ways to cope with early Dementia and Alzheimer’s, this book is for you.

Grab a copy of Dancing with Dementia at: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Apple Books |  Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Add DANCING WITH DEMENTIA to your Goodreads shelf

About Jemi Fraser

Jemi Fraser writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction work focuses on the ways that dementia has impacted her family. Her fiction work varies from contemporary romance to suspense and flash fiction. Years as a teacher have taught Jemi that life is short and that happy endings are a must.

Jemi lives in Northern Ontario, Canada where snow is always a topic of conversation and the autumn leaves make everything better.

For more on Jemi and her writing, connect with her at: Website | Just Jemi Blog| Dancing With Dementia Blog | Amazon Page | BookBub | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Quick Tips Videos

Giveaway Details

This tour-wide giveaway is for a $20 Amazon Gift Card. The giveaway is open internationally.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Jemi on her week-long tour HERE. You never know what you might find out. I hope dementia hasn’t touch your family or friends, but in case it has do you have any tips to share on dealing with this terrible disease?

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Cozy Mystery Publishing, IWSG, Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mysteries, Writing

Missing Deadlines & Eating Lots of Chocolate | IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE. You can see how I answered the question below.

So, how are you all doing in your neck of the woods? Feeling a little crazy? Stir crazy, perhaps?

I’m definitely feeling the crazy right now, especially the stir crazy. Do you remember my IWSG post from last month – the one where I said that by the time this month rolled around, I’d either be celebrating with chocolate for meeting my deadlines OR commiserating with chocolate because I didn’t meet them?

Well, I failed. I watched as the deadlines came and went while stuffing my face with some delicious dark chocolate Dove candies that a friend gave me. She knows me so well.

In my defense, we had a lot going on – selling our boat (done!), getting all our stuff of the boat (done!), moving the boat into storage for her new owner (done!), preparing our teeny-tiny camper to become our full-time home (done!), and temporarily moving our camper into the campground at the marina (done!).

We also were busy with something immensely more fun then dealing with campers and boats – we got to meet fellow IWSG member, Liesbet from Roaming About, along with her sweet hubby and their adorable dog! So much fun was had and we were super sad to see them leave.

We too had hoped to leave Indiantown Marina here in southern Florida and head out West, first with a stop at Disney Land. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. By the time we were ready to head out, it was apparent that COVID-19 was a pretty big deal. We couldn’t decide what to do – stay or go – so we kept ordering stuff from Amazon for our camper to delay having to make a decision.

Eventually, the pandemic made the decision for us, so here we sit at Indiantown Marina eating lots of chocolate.

In writing news, I obviously missed my deadline for finishing up my romantic comedy, Smitten with Ravioli, but I’m now back on track and hope to have it done this week.

In other news from the writing front, I had scheduled a bunch of price drop promos for Murder at the Marina, the first in my Mollie McGhie cozy mystery series, long before the pandemic. I wasn’t sure how it would go in this new reality of ours, but, so far, they’re going okay. I think people are looking for bargain books in the current economic climate. Whether they’ll go on to buy full-price books in the rest of the series remains to be seen. My guess is probably not so much given financial strains that folks are feeling. On a related note, I’ve been selling a bunch of my large print cozy mysteries – people sure are looking for something to do while cooped up inside.

Well, anyhoo, that’s how things are going here. We’re healthy, we have a place to stay, and we have lots of chocolate. It could be worse.

How are things going for you?

Murder at the Marina is on sale for 99c/99p! If you like quirky characters, adorable cats, and plenty of chocolate, you’ll love this cozy mystery! Grab your copy at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play

Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview | Larissa Reinhart

I have another fun cozy mystery author interview for you today, this time with Larissa Reinhart. You’re going to love her answers to my questions, especially the one to the cookie question. You’ll definitely be craving a sweet treat after reading that one.

So settle in a comfy chair with the beverage of your choice, maybe even a cookie or two, and find out what Larissa has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

1 – What inspired you to write your books?

My first series, A Cherry Tucker Mystery, began when I was living in Japan. I’d been working on another manuscript, but this redneck artist from Georgia kept speaking to me as I drove my kids to school. Then her crazy family began speaking to me. I had to write her story down just to get her out of my head so I could concentrate on the other manuscript. And that became Portrait of a Dead Guy. She never did stop speaking, so my idea of quieting her didn’t work.

The Maizie Albright Star Detective series began because I had an agent who wanted something like Cherry Tucker “but different.” The movie industry had moved into our area. Pinewood Studios had bought land a few miles from my house (that’s where the Avenger movies are made) and The Walking Dead and other TV shows were being filmed a few miles in the other direction. That inspired me to create a new character and place her in Georgia, with a “fish out of water” theme — a celebrity who’s basically kicked out of Hollywood and returns home to start a new career as a private investigator, the role that made her famous. Six books in and movies are still being made here. Maizie Albright is learning how to become a detective and also how to live a normal life.

The Finley Goodhart Crime Capers is my newest series. I always loved con artist stories, so I thought it’d be fun to create a con artist amateur sleuth character and also put her in Georgia.

2 – What’s your favorite thing about cozy mysteries?

I love the puzzle. I was always an Agatha Christie fan. But it’s really about the characters to me. I’ll read a long series because of the characters. Particularly if they’re funny and quirky with a romantic interest.

3 – Do you have any writing rituals?

As a mom, I have to keep changing my writing rituals. There’s an office but now it also has a treadmill and weights in it. This winter I find myself sitting at the kitchen table and writing so I can keep a better ear on the washing machine (I kept forgetting about the laundry). Now I’m working and homeschooling due to the Corona Virus, so I’m still at the kitchen table. When I started writing and my girls were little, they used to go to bed and I could write. They don’t go to bed before me anymore. 😉

4 – What’s more important – character or plot?

A bad plot can ruin a book, but if the characters aren’t interesting or likable or compelling, I don’t think you could get through the book and learn if the plot works or not. At least, that’s my opinion!

5 – What do you like best about being an author? What do you like the least?

I think most writers love coming up with ideas for stories and characters. That’s exciting and fun. I have so many ideas for future stories that I don’t even know if I could write them all. Interacting with readers is also an awesome part of writing. When I began writing, I never realized how many new friends I’d make, particularly through social media.

The hardest part is forcing myself to sit and write when nothing seems to be working. My brain literally hurts. It’s frustrating. Every time I write, I get to a point where I wonder if I can really finish the book. It puts me in a horrible mood. I don’t it when the “writing world” bleeds into my “mom world” because I can’t get the problem out of my head.

6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?”

In that case, I’m 100% normal. I love cookies! Recently, I’ve developed an addiction to the Girl Scout shortbread cookies, Trefoils. I also love Oreos, Nutter Butters, and anything made by Pepperidge Farm. For homemade cookies, you can’t beat a chocolate chip. This is such a hard question…

Actually maybe my favorite are some of the Christmas cookies I make. Either sour cream cookies or almond. Or the sugar with the frosting. Or my daughter makes these delicious orange and lemon cookies.

I don’t think I have a favorite cookie.

7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?

It’s Taco Tuesday, obviously. He’s made frozen margaritas.

8 – What else would you like us to know about you?

I made the first Maizie Albright Star Detective book free to encourage everyone to #StayHomeAndRead. 15 MINUTES is available in most stores for free right now: https://books2read.com/b/m2Xqor

18 CALIBER, Maizie Albright Star Detective #6, launches April 14th. Maizie’s mixing with international stars, spies, and her mother’s dark past in her sixth case in The Wall Street Journal bestselling series.

You can learn more at my website www.larissareinhart.com, where you can also sign up for my VIP Readers’ Email group and get a free short story! Thank you!

Thanks so much for having me on, Ellen! This was fun. Should I send the penguin over to your house? With my daughters at home, we’re making cookies. 🙂

Editor’s Note: Thanks so much for the interview, Larissa! Loved the reference to Nutter Butters – took me right back to my childhood. 🙂 So great that you’re making cookies with your daughters at home. I suspect there is a lot of cookie baking and eating going on in many homes these days.

Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview | Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

With all the craziness going on in the world these days, I have a fun distraction for you—an interview with cozy mystery author, Carolyn Ridder Aspenson! Grab a beverage and a snack, find a comfy chair, and scroll on down to find out what Carolyn has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

Interview with Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

1 – What inspired you to write your books?

I’ve always wanted to write a book…a book! I never thought I’d write more than one. I played around with it for a long time, but I never finished anything, and I never really tried to learn anything about the process. Until my mom died. When I lost her, I wanted to find a way to keep her alive in something more than a memory. I wanted to share her with other people. My mom was a great woman, and everyone loved her. So, I wrote a book called Unfinished Business about a stay at home wife and mother of two whose mother dies and comes back as a ghost. When she does, she opens a portal for the main character, and she’s suddenly thrown into this new world where the dead and the living live as one. It’s not a cozy mystery, but I’ve found people enjoy it, and it’s done well. It reached the top 100 on Amazon, which was a pretty big deal, and was published through one of their imprints before I decided to self publish it and the rest of the series.

2 – What’s your favorite thing about cozy mysteries?

I like that they’re not gory, and that terrible things don’t usually happen on the page. Real life is filled with enough of that, and I have other books in that style, but a cozy is just good clean fun.

3 – Do you have any writing rituals?

I typically write in the morning. I’m a morning person, and that’s when I’m most productive. Other than that, I listen to instrumental music, but that’s about it!

4 – What’s more important – character or plot?

Character for me is first, and plot is second. I don’t mean individual characters, but the relationships between the characters. Relationships drive people, they motivate them to make the decisions they make, and without them, even the best plot has holes.

5 – What do you like best about being an author? What do you like the least?

I like that my typing speed is almost two hundred words per minute. Okay, that’s not what I like best. It’s true, which fascinates me, but it’s not the best thing. The best thing is that there are people out there that actually read what I write, and they enjoy it. Unfinished Business still gets me emails from people who say it’s helped them feel better about losing someone, made them laugh and cry, helped them heal. That’s amazing. The book was my way of healing, of working through my grief, but I never expected it to help others, and I’m so glad it did.

What I like least is, hands down, the marketing. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money. Books don’t sell like they used to. The digital platform has changed that entirely, and most authors don’t make enough to support themselves.

6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?”

Gee, thanks. It’s Lent, and you’re asking me about cookies when I just gave up sugar! I am not partial to any particular cookie, except Thin Mints and homemade chocolate with white chocolate chips. And Oreos. See? Not partial.

7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?

He says, “As you wished, Rob Lowe is here for the weekend.” The penguin is my genie from a bottle, and Rob Lowe’s my wish. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

8 – What else would you like us to know about you?

I have a newsletter I send out twice a month, sometimes more if I’ve got something to say. I don’t push my books, but I do talk about my life. I’d love for everyone to check it out. Sign up is at carolynridderaspenson.com

I have several different cozy series. The Lily Sprayberry Realtor Cozy Mystery Series, The Chantilly Adair Psychic Medium Cozy Mystery Series (but I think my publisher is changing the series title), The Pooch Party Cozy Mystery Series, and The Holiday Hills Witch Cozy Mystery Series. I’ve got books in each coming out this year, and I’m always looking for ARC readers!

Thank you so much for having me!

About Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

Carolyn Ridder Aspenson writes sassy, southern cozy mysteries and featuring imperfect women with a flair for telling it like it is. Her stories focus on relationships whether they’re between friends, family members, couples, townspeople or strangers because ultimately, it’s relationships that make a story. Now an empty-nester, she lives in the Atlanta suburbs with her husband, two Pit Bull-Boxer mix dogs and two cantankerous cats, but you’ll often find her at a local coffee shop people watching (and listening), or as she likes to call it, plotting her next novel.

Find Carolyn on Facebook at Carolyn Ridder Aspenson Books Find Carolyn on BookBub at Carolyn Ridder Aspenson Visit Carolyn’s website and sign up for her newsletter at carolynridderaspenson.com

Connect with Carolyn on Facebook | Instagram | Website | Amazon | Bookbub

Editor’s Note: Thanks so much for the interview, Carolyn! And I’m so sorry for asking about cookies during Lent when you’ve given up sugar. I admire anyone who can give up sugar. I think I would last less than twenty-four hours if I tried it. LOL!

Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview | Jenna St James

I have another fun cozy mystery author interview for you today, this time with the lovely Jenna St. James. Grab a beverage, find a comfy chair, and have read below to see what Jenna has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

Interview with Jenna St. James

1 – What inspired you to write your books?

When I first started journaling and writing, there was a lot of chaos in my life, and I needed a way to express myself without getting thrown in jail (lol)…so I started therapy writing. From there, my first novel Picture Perfect Murder was written. I found it was easier to get my emotions down on paper than to verbally express them. Eventually I learned to curb the chaos and started writing cozies for the pure pleasure.

2 – What’s your favorite thing about cozy mysteries?

You get to use your brain to try and solve a puzzle…and you almost always have an awesome sidekick!

3 – Do you have any writing rituals?

I typically start my day at 2am, but I won’t let myself have coffee until around 5am.

4 – What’s more important – character or plot?

Both! It’s like bread & butter or peanut butter & jelly. Although I will say sometimes I think I lean heavier on one more than the other depending on the book. I can usually pick up one of my books and tell you which one I went heavier on—plot or character.

5 – What do you like best about being an author? What do you like the least?

What I like best about being an author is that I get to stay in the comfort of my home and tell people stories I hope they enjoy. My LEAST favorite part of being an author is marketing. As an Indie author, it’s like you have to have a doctorate in eight different fields. Marketing is not my forte, and I feel like sometimes I do myself a disservice. Because I’m constantly trying to read up on and implement ideas, I get behind on my writing.

6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?”

LOL. I love cookies, cakes, pies, pretty much sprinkle sugar (fairy dust) on it, and I want to consume it! I love coconut, so cookies with coconut, chocolate, maybe pecans and a shot (or two) of bourbon or rum for flavor!! YUM!

7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?

His name is Pierre Penguin, and my favorite character, Tante Lulu from Louisiana, sent him to me. Pierre hands me a necklace of St. Jude. “Put it on. Tante Lulu says you’re the next hopeless cause she’s willing to help. Laissez le bon temps rouler!” Of course I readily agree! It’s not every day one of your favorite authors, Sandra Hill, decides to give you your own Cajun from her Cajun books series. LOL…I’m sure my James will understand.

8 – What else would you like us to know about you?

I try not to take things too seriously. Like many people, my life has a tendency to be chaotic, and that stresses me out. So I try and tell myself to sit back and laugh through a lot of it. Also, I hope to be able to travel more so I can expand my writing settings within the next five years. Take my readers on different adventures in different parts of the world. And mostly, I’m thankful every day that I get to do this job.

Jenna St. James’ Books

Check out Jenna’s cozy mystery series—the Ryli Sinclair Mysteries, the Sullivan Sisters Mysteries, the Copper Cove Mysteries, and the Witch in Time Mysteries—and her Trinity Falls romantic comedy series.

About Jenna St. James

Jenna writes in the genres of cozy/paranormal cozy/ romantic comedy. Her humorous characters and stories revolve around over-the-top family members, creative murders, and there’s always a positive element of the military in her stories. Jenna currently lives in Missouri with her fiancé, step-daughter, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever dog, Brownie, and her tuxedo-cat, Whiskey. She is a former court reporter turned educator turned full-time writer. She has a Master’s degree in Special Education, and an Education Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She also spent twelve years in full-time ministry.

When she’s not writing, Jenna likes to attend beer and wine tastings, go antiquing, visit craft festivals, and spend time with her family and friends. Check out her website at http://www.jennastjames.com/. Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter so you can keep up with the latest releases! You can also friend request her on Facebook at jennastjamesauthor/ or catch her on Instagram at authorjennastjames.

Editor’s Note: Thanks so much for the interview, Jenna! I love that your penguin is named Pierre and hails from Louisiana!

Boat Life, IWSG, Writing

Writing while Crazy Busy & Slightly Stressed Out | IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE. I opted not to answer this month’s question. Instead, I’m sharing thoughts on writing while crazy busy and slightly stressed out. Check it out below.

So yeah you can probably tell from the title of this blog post that I’ve got a lot going on. Trying to sell a sailboat, getting our teeny-tiny camper ready to move into, and meeting writing deadlines has me more than a little crazy busy.

We’ve had an offer on our boat (yay!), but until we close in mid-April, I see the money in the bank, and the papers are signed, I’ll be slightly stressed out. We’re planning on putting our boat in storage in mid-March and then hitting the road in our camper which means there’s a big list of items on the old To Do list.

One of those items is to finish writing Smitten with Ravioli by mid-March. Did you notice how that deadline is the same deadline as the one to move out of our boat and into our camper? Can it all be done by then? Tune in next month and see. My IWSG blog post will either be titled, “There’s Not Enough Chocolate to Deal with My Failure to Meet Deadlines” or “Celebrating with Lots of Chocolate for Meeting My Deadlines.” Either way, there’s going to be lots of chocolate.

So because I’ve got a lot to do, I’m going to have to end things here. I may be delayed in responding to comments and visiting your sites, but I’ll do my best.

Oh, by the way, did you know I have two books up for pre-order? Smitten with Ravioli is due to come out in July, but that date will likely be moved forward to May or June. Shooting by the Sea has an August release date.

Ginny isn’t sure what she’s most afraid of – cats who drool or falling for an annoying history professor.

Pre-order at: Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books

*Available on Kobo and Google Play closer to release

In her latest investigation, Mollie ends up doing some crazy things like giving the chief of police a pedicure and teaching her cat to play the ukulele.

Pre-order at: Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books

*Available on Kobo and Google Play closer to release

What’s going on in your world? Anything stressing you out? Are you crazy busy?

Reading

About Us by Elizabeth Seckman | Contemporary Romance New Release

If you’re like me, you probably have a million books loaded up on your e-reader vying for your attention and you add like a thousand more a day. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get what I mean.

How do you decide what to read next? One way that I prioritize is to bump books from my favorite authors to the top of the list. And Elizabeth Seckman is one of those authors, so you know that her latest book—About Us—is next up on my Kindle.

If you like contemporary romance, then you’ll want to check out About Us. And the great news is that it’s FREE on Kobo and Smashwords and only 99c on Amazon!

Blurb

Hayden Matthews isn’t looking for love—she’s trying to get as far from it as possible. She’s already wasted eight years in a failed marriage and is ready for a good life. A peaceful life. One where she can raise her daughter to be strong, independent, and happy. But to make that happen, she must fix her own life first.

Cam Vorelli has loved Hayden since he was in grade school. Always in the friend-zone, he stood on the sidelines, his heart breaking, as she said I do to the wrong man. A man he knew didn’t deserve her, who could never love her as he did. But what could he say? She was marrying into his family. Cam would never break a holy vow much less be disloyal to his kin.

Until he sees the bruises on Hayden. Abuse is a game changer.

Leaving a husband like Tag, who has a hot temper, a badge, and a gun is tricky. When Hayden calls Cam for help, she isn’t trying to lure him into any romantic webs. She needs someone she can trust and knowing her soon-to-be ex fears his former NFL cousin is a bonus.

When Cam comes to her rescue, he isn’t doing it to win her love. He does it because it’s the right thing to do. But if she starts to feel the same for him…couldn’t it be fate?

Buy Links

Kobo | Smashwords | Amazon

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a multi-published author of books for people who are believers in happily-ever- after, true love, and stories with a bit of fun and twists with their plots. The mother of four young men, she tackles laundry daily and is the keeper of the kitchen. She lives along the shores of the Ohio River in West Virginia, but dreams daily of the beach.

Connect with Elizabeth on Facebook | Blog |Website

IWSG, Romantic Comedy, Writing

Smoochy Face: Thoughts on Writing Romantic Comedies | IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE. I opted not to answer this month’s question. Instead, Simon the Cat pops by for a visit and I’m sharing some thoughts on writing romantic comedies. Check it out below.

I felt something heavy land on my shoulder. Turning my head, I saw a large menacing-looking gray cat staring at my computer.

“You weigh a ton, Simon. Get off me.” I tried to shoo him off, but he dug his claws in. “Ouch! that hurts!”

“Toughen up, lady,” he said. “No pain, no gain.”

“What exactly am I gaining by having you claw me to death?”

He leaned forward and peered at my screen. “I’m going to criticize your book.”

“How exactly is that helpful?”

“You want to know if your writing is bad, right?” he asked as he leaped onto the table.

“Uh, sure, but in a constructive way.” I rubbed my shoulder and winced. Antiseptic was going to be needed for these scratches.

He pawed at the screen. “Ooh. This is gross. They’re smooching.” Then he lowered his paw and pressed the delete button.

“Simon, stop!” I pulled him off the table and into my lap. “I spent all morning working on that.”

“Nobody wants to read about people kissing, lady,” he said, squirming in my arms. “Get back to writing about dead bodies.”

Thoughts on Writing Romantic Comedies

So, yeah, last month I decided to start writing romantic comedies. I certainly didn’t see that coming! I was about a quarter of the way through writing book #5 (Shooting by the Sea) in my Mollie McGhie Cozy Mystery series when I opened up a new Scrivener file and began typing away at a smoochy face book in my new Smitten with Travel series.

All I knew when I started was that I wanted it to be about travel, food, and, of course, happily ever afters. Then I got in the zone and the words started flowing out, characters made their presence known, and I giggled to myself as I created some truly goofy (and hopefully humorous) scenes. Drooling cats are funny, right?

Then I did something crazy—or at least crazy for me—I put the first book in the series, Smitten with Ravioli up for pre-order with a July release date. I haven’t even finished writing it yet! I know people do this all the time, my release date is far enough out, and I’m about halfway done writing it, so it should be fine (she says to herself in a reassuring tone while scarfing down cookies). Plus, I’m finding it highly motivational to have a release date looming over me.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about writing romantic comedies that have struck me over the past month:

1 – It’s much easier to skip around from chapter to chapter.

When I write cozy mysteries, it’s a very linear process. I do a rough outline, then write each chapter in order. But when it comes to romantic comedy, I find that I’ve been hopping around all over the place. In fact, I’ve already written the epilogue with their happily ever after scene. {Spoiler alert: they get married.}

With cozies, I think a structured approach works much better for me because I need to make sure I plant all the clues and red herrings in such a way that Mollie can solve the mystery.

It might also have to do with the fact that there are more characters to worry about in my cozies—I usually have five suspects, plus Mollie, her hubby, and the other recurring characters. With my romantic comedy, there are two main characters—the heroine and hero. Sure, there are other supporting characters, but the story focuses primarily on the two lovebirds.

2 – Cozy mystery readers may not like romantic comedies.

Because this is a new genre, I debated about whether to write my romantic comedies under a pen name. As you can see from the cover above, I decided not to. It seems like way too much work and additional expense to have a pen name. Plus, because my romantic comedies are “clean” (i.e., plenty of sizzle, but no sex) and cozy mysteries are “clean” by default, I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about alienating any current readers since I won’t be publishing “steamy” books.

But I have to accept the fact that this new series may not be of interest to my current readers and that I’ll have to build up an audience who enjoys romantic comedies.

3 – What’s funny to one person may not be funny to another.

I’ve been reading / watching a lot of romantic comedies lately. Sometimes, I laugh out loud. Sometimes, I smile quietly. Sometimes, I don’t get the joke. Then I hear from other people that the joke I didn’t get had them rolling on the floor in hysterics.

People tell me that my cozy mysteries make them laugh, sometimes out loud. That’s one of the reasons that I decided to try my hand at writing romantic comedies. But what if I’m not funny enough? Or not funny at all? Has everyone been lying to me? Do they yawn when they read my cozies? Do they not get my jokes?

Can you tell I’m a little insecure about this? When I do start to panic, I try to remind myself that what’s funny to one person may not be funny to another. Then I have some chocolate. That always seems to help.

Want to know more about Smitten with Ravioli? Click HERE. I’ve been playing around with blurb and trying out different things such as first person vs. third person (the book is written in first person present) and how to position it (or not) in terms of heat level, so if you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

By the way, for all you Mollie McGhie fans, don’t worry, I’ll get back to Shooting by the Sea once Smitten with Ravioli is finished. Mollie still has a lot of murders to solve.

What about you? Has a single photo or piece of art inspired a story? Do you like romantic comedies? What makes you laugh?

Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview: Daphne McLean

Copy of Facebook Images(3)

Today, I’m featuring an interview with Daphne McLean, the author of the Jennifer Temple cozy mystery series. After reading her Amazon bio, I can tell that she’s someone I would like to hang out with. After all, she lists French fries, chocolate, and snarky coffee mugs as some of her likes. Right up my alley!

Grab a snarky coffee mug of your own, fill it up with your favorite beverage, and sit back and read what Daphne has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

1 – What inspired you to write your books?

I began by writing children’s picture books. I have two little ones at home, and I read to them often. I published the book on my own, and it ignited a passion for writing and publishing that I didn’t even know I had! The premise of my story, Red Picket Fences, was thought of during one of the many late night feedings that I had with my first son. The story just marinated in my mind for a few years. I finally was able to organize my thoughts and get the story out last summer, Which is 5 years after the story seedling was planted.

2 – What’s your favorite thing about cozy mysteries?

I’m really into true crime. However, those stories can be very heavy at times. Cozy mysteries provide me with what I like to call “murder lite” I get my fill of intrigue and crime without all of the heavy emotions. I also love that many of them are set in small tight-knit communities. I live in a lovely little community that I’m grateful for, and so I love seeing that played out in the stories I read as well.

3 – Do you have any writing rituals?

I do! I always need a candle burning and a drink of some sort. Right now, it’s iced tea. I also like to create a visual board to plot.

4 – What’s more important – character or plot?

Character. You can have a plot that’s well paced, well thought out, and with no loopholes and that won’t matter if the readers cannot connect with the main character.  I’ve had people tell me they couldn’t continue with a book before because they found the MC very unlikeable. Sneak in a couple of quirky but lovable supporting cast members and they might even forgive a plot hole or two.

5 – What do you like best about being an author? What do you like the least?

As a stay-at-home mom of two little ones, the little time I get to myself every now and then is very important to me. I value it, and use it wisely. I’ve had a few readers who are also mothers say that I’ve given them time to relax and escape or they used their precious time alone to read my book, it sends me over the moon.

I’ll be honest, what I like least about being a writer is marketing my book. However, it’s a necessary evil. If I could just write and write and hand things off to be polished, published and pushed into the hands of readers, I would be a happy woman.

6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?” 

Hands down a plain soft chocolate chip cookie. I’m typing in a coffee shop near cookies, and now I must buy one.

7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?  

He followed me all the way home from the party last night to give me my sombrero back.

8 – What else would you like us to know about you?

I’m just a typical mom, who is turning her passion for writing into a career. Much like my MC, Jennifer Temple, I also keep chickens. Aside from that and our love of true crime, that’s where our similarities end. I love to cook, and would never stake out a rumored mobster!

Get Daphne’s Books

Daphne McLean Image 2Pick up a copy of Red Picket Fences – the first book in the Jennifer Temple cozy mystery series – on Amazon.

 

Connect with Daphne

Daphne McLean ImageYou can connect with Daphne at Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website

 

 

 

Thanks so much for being on the blog, Daphne! I love the fact that you keep chickens – very cool. You also have excellent taste in cookies. I’ve never met a soft chocolate chip cookie that I didn’t like.