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Aspring Cozy Mystery Author Interview, Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview: Kelly Ethan

This is part of my series of interviews with aspiring cozy mystery authors. I thought it would be interesting to hear from folks who are in the throes of writing their first cozy mystery and planning its publication. It takes me right back to the start of my own writer’s journey before I hit the scary “publish” button with my first cozy.

I’m delighted to be featuring Kelly Ethan today. Her first cozy mystery, The Pernicious Pixie and the Choked Word, is available for FREE when you sign up for her newsletter HERE. If you want to know more about her journey as a cozy mystery writer, grab yourself a snack and a beverage, sit back and find out what she has to say about writing, cookies, and penguins.

1 – What inspired / motivated you to write cozy mysteries?

I’m married so turning to murder mystery was natural. In all seriousness, my family moved to Tasmania in Australia and the change of scenery sparked off some ideas and soul searching. Next thing I know I have a paranormal murder mystery idea and my Point Muse cozy mystery series was born.


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

The twists and turns of the whodunit plot. The close relationships of the people in the story and the small town setting appeal to me. I live in a very small town and seeing that reflected in a cozy mystery feels warm and welcoming.


3 – What stage are you at in your writing and publishing journey?

I started writing paranormal romance years ago and was published with traditional style digital imprints in the United Kingdom and the Unites States. My Point muse cozy series will be my first foray into self-publishing.


4 – What are you most excited about in terms of publishing your first cozy? What are you nervous about?

I’m excited about reviews LOL. It’s a strange idea, but I want to know how much people love or hate my books 😉 I’m nervous about making a mistake in the process. With a traditional publishing model everything is done for you. But with self-publishing it stops with me.


5 – Tell us about the cozy mystery you’re currently working on. What’s your sleuth like? Where is it set? Do you have a hook?

My current story I’m working on is The Cruel Crow and the Deadly Hex. It’s set in Point muse, Maine and is book four in the Point Muse series. This story deals with secrets my heroine’s grandmother is hiding and her super secret spy past from World War Two is coming back to stalk her. Chaos and Mayhem ensue and hexes abound. My heroine is strong, stubborn and addicted to hot chocolate and sweet pastries… I’m not sure where that came from.

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?”

Isn’t not liking cookies a crime? I’m a shortbread lover although a gooey chocolate chip cookie (or biscuit for those of us down under) comes a close second. I bake and those biscuits never stay in the biscuit barrel for long. We have a biscuit fairy in the house that consumes them by the bucket load. Not me I swear…


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

Someone’s murdered the unicorn and I’m next. He’s from the Penguin Mafioso and he’s delivering me a warning to back off.


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

I love chaos and mayhem and that shows in my writing. My stories are small town magic, mystery and mayhem with a large dose of humour through out. I’m a huge Whovian and Avengers fan and I hide my chocolate in the vegetable drawer in the fridge so my kids won’t eat it. They’d never think to look there .

About Kelly

Kelly Ethan’s world is small town magic, mystery and mayhem, with plenty of snarky laughs along the way.  

With an overactive imagination and a love of all things that go bump in the night, it was natural to write cozy paranormal mysteries, but she also writes paranormal romance. No matter the genre, she loves sarcastic heroines who save the day and solve the puzzle.

With a busy and chaotic household, writing is her outlet for madness. She lives in Australia and when not writing, can be found plotting her next fictional murder or chasing after the family’s ferocious hellhound.

You can connect with Kelly on her Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks for the interview, Kelly! We seem to have a biscuit/cookie fairy in our house too. That’s the only explanation I can think of for why they disappear so quickly.

Cozy Mystery Publishing

Paid Email Promotions for Cozy Mysteries

After I published the third book in my cozy mystery series, I decided it was time to start getting more serious about promoting and advertising my books. While I’ve been running Amazon ads for a while now (they work well for my paperback and large print editions, less so for my ebooks), participate in Kobo promotions (the results are okay, not stellar), and tried Facebook ads (dismal results), I hadn’t given much though to paid email promotions until recently.

Paid email promotions are pretty self-explanatory. You give someone money and they promote your book in their email. Of course, I’m not talking about slipping your little sister a five dollar bill and having her spam her friends’ inboxes with ‘Buy my sister’s book!’

What I’m referring to are those organizations who send out daily newsletters to avid readers highlighting free and/or bargain books. For a fee (and if you meet their selection criteria), they’ll include your book. And, in return, you (hopefully) get lots and lots of people downloading your book, loving it pieces, and rushing off to buy the rest in the series. At least, that’s the theory.

I decided to put this theory to the test. In July, I dropped the price of the first book in my series (Murder at the Marina) from $3.99 to 99c and scheduled five paid email promotions. I supplemented this with newsletter swaps with other cozy mystery authors and spread the work on social media. The experiment cost me $206. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of money. Just think of all of the Oreo cookies you could buy with that wad of cash!

So, I bet you’re dying to know whether I made my investment back. Stick around to the end and I’ll let you know.

Let’s get into some nitty-gritty about the promos I did. But a few things to note before we dive in:

  • I’m wide, meaning that I distribute my books on all retailers (Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Google Play). I am not exclusive to Amazon and part of Kindle Unlimited. I was particularly interested in seeing if I could gain more traction on non-Amazon platforms through these promos.
  • To assess the effectiveness of each promo, I tallied up sales on the day of the promo and the day after (not everyone opens emails the day they receive them) and did some magic with my calculator to figure out cost per unit sold (cost of promo / number of sales). I was interested not just in the number of sales, but how much each sale cost me. Keep in mind you’re making peanuts for each sale at a 99c price point – between 35-45c depending on retailer.
  • I did apply for a BookBub, the Holy Grail of paid email promos, and was unsuccessful. No surprise there. They’re pretty hard to get.
  • These are just my results. Don’t take anything I say as gospel. Your mileage may vary.

Robin Reads

Robin Reads cost me $65. They only target Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This was my least effective promo and I probably wouldn’t use them again. I know other people have great success with them though.

Ereader News Today (ENT)

ENT cost me $55. They target all retailers and I did see some sales on non-Amazon storefronts. Not a lot, but some. I’m on the fence about whether I’d used them again given the cost.

Bargain Booksy

Bargain Booksy cost me $55. They target all retailers. This one was the best at getting non-Amazon sales, including quite a few Barnes & Noble sales which worked to my advantage (more on that below). I’d probably use them again.

Book Adrenaline

Book Adrenaline cost me $15. They target everyone except Google Play. This one worked well for Barnes & Noble. This was one of my effective promo (in terms of cost of sale) and I’d definitely use them again.

Fussy Librarian

Fussy Librarian cost me $16 (I believe their prices have gone up since I booked). They target all retailers. This was my most effective promo and I’d definitely use them again.

So, did you make any money?

Yes, I hear you. You want to know about the money. Should I have bought Oreo cookies instead?

The cold hard truth is that none of the promos paid for themselves based on sales the day of and sales the day after. To be honest, I didn’t expect them to. It’s all about the read-through, or so they say. When I looked at my sales numbers for July and into the first week of August to see if people went on to buy the next two books in the series (or bought the box set), I came out ahead. Barely, but I did come out ahead. But, keep in mind that I did newsletter swaps during this period, so some of my sales and read-through could be attributed to those, rather than my paid promos.

Something unexpected did happen as a result of my July promo month. Barnes & Noble contacted me and asked if I would be interested in participating in a 99c cozy mystery promo the following month. I think this only happened because I came onto their radar due to the number of sales I had on their platform that month, sales that I wouldn’t have had without the promos. I did relatively well during that cozy mystery promo in August, getting the bestseller tag on and off throughout the week which raised my visibility and in turn generated more sales.

All in all, it was a good experiment. I didn’t lost my shirt financially and my pants still fit because I didn’t eat $206 worth of Oreo cookies.

What about you? Readers – Do you subscribe to any paid email promo newsletters? Do you buy books that they advertise? Authors – Have you tried paid email promos? How did they work for you?

Aspring Cozy Mystery Author Interview, Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Aspiring Cozy Mystery Author: Lisa Leoni

Poisoned by the Pier Graphics(4)

This is part of my series of interviews with aspiring cozy mystery authors. I thought it would be interesting to hear from folks who are in the throes of writing their first cozy mystery and planning its publication. It takes me right back to the start of my own writer’s journey before I hit the scary “publish” button with my first cozy.

So grab yourself a beverage and a snack, settle in, and find out more about what Lisa Leoni has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

1 – What inspired / motivated you to write cozy mysteries?

Writing cozies is a pretty recent development for me. I’ve been writing romance since I stumbled upon my first romance novel, just out of college. Outside of loving romance, I binge all sorts of true crime and crime drama media. I remember being a kid and sneaking reads of serial killer encyclopedias in bookstores (but trying not to crack the spine!). So if I love romance and murder, wouldn’t I want to write romantic suspense? Logic would think so, but the ideas never came, and I focused on contemporary romance.

I can’t recall how I stumbled upon what a cozy was (I wish I did), but I IMMEDIATELY knew it’s what I wanted to write. Humor, murder, getting to research all sorts of different topics, and some romance. It’s the perfect combination of my interests!

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

They’re happy little murder stories. When I say that to people who don’t read them, I get some weird looks, believe me. But I’m sure fans of cozies understand what I mean. I’m drawn to cozies for many of the same reasons I love reading/writing romance. They’re fun, have great characters, show women kicking butt and being brilliant, and have happy endings.

There’s a cozy movie series that gets the closest I’ve encountered to having all of my favorite things in a cozy: the Mystery 101 series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Aside from those two being two of my favorite Hallmark actors, that series involves academia (I work in higher education), criminal psychology, writing fiction, and some romance, with the crime solving.

3 – What stage are you at in your writing and publishing journey?

After trying to finish a complete first draft of a novel for more than 10 years (a lot of false starts and a lot of ideas), I visited Scotland for the first time in 2015 and found my muse. I started writing Scotland-set contemporary romance and got into Pitch Wars in 2017 as a mentee. I then signed with an agent and we’re working toward selling my debut. I’m thrilled to be represented by an agent and working toward selling my debut. I’m actively writing cozy mysteries and contemporary romance and plan to publish in both genres.

4 – What are you most excited about in terms of publishing your first cozy? What are you nervous about?

I want to know which characters the readers love and be able to share the worlds in my head with other people. These days, I’m really leaning into the common advice that an author should write the book they want to read. That’s exactly what I’m doing and I can’t wait to meet the kind of people who love these same ideas and characters as I do.

In terms of cozies, the thing I’m most nervous about is the murderer and motivation being easily figured out early in the story. As a reader, I get disappointed when I figure everything out early so I feel a lot of pressure around that as an author. Even when I figure out who the murderer is, I love to be surprised by their motivation as that’s revealed over the course of a book.

5 – Tell us about the cozy mystery you’re currently working on. What’s your sleuth like? Where is it set? Do you have a hook?

I’m working on the first in a series that’s set in a small town in western Oregon. My sleuth is fun, lovingly snarky and has a love-hate relationship with her home town. She’s found herself back in her home town for the summer and it’s the longest she’s been there for more than a weekend since she left for college many years ago. It’s fun to watch her experience the town (and it’s quirky citizens) as an adult with more life experience. I’ve also woven in some nods to Scotland, which have me super excited.

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 loooove cookies! Not as much as cake, but I like cookies more than ice cream, if I had to rank them. Mmmm cookies. Now I need to go bake some, BRB! Okay, I’m back with a plate of hot butterscotch oatmeal cookies. I love to microwave them so the chips are gooey. I also love frosted sugar cookies at Christmas (specifically using the recipe from my mom’s old Betty Crocker cookbook).

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

“I lost my passport coming back from Mexico. Can I use your computer to order a replacement?”

No one can escape government bureaucracy, not even penguins. He visited me because he saw my cats on Instagram and wanted to meet them.

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

When I’m not writing, watching Hallmark movies or listening to true crime podcasts, I coach authors on social media and have my own podcast called Social Media Deconstructed. I’m also in early stages of launching a true crime podcast.

About Lisa

Lisa Leoni is a cozy mystery and contemporary romance writer who spends much of her time daydreaming about her next trip to Scotland and ways to murder people in her books. By day, she works in higher education and spends her evenings being herded by two ginger cats. She’s currently serving as president of her local Romance Writers of America chapter and was selected as a 2017 Pitch Wars mentee.

You can connect with Lisa on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Podcast | Cat Instagram

Thank you so much for participating, Lisa! I love your cat’s Instagram account – so cute 🙂 And Betty Crocker is such a great cookbook. My go-to apple crisp recipe comes from there.

Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview: Loretta & Sarah Johns

10 Reasons

Today, I’m featuring an interview with the sister writing team of Loretta and Sarah Johns, authors of the Starlight Cozy Mystery series. I’m fascinated by writing teams, whether they be friends, spouses, or siblings. It must be neat to someone to bounce your ideas off of and share the writing journey with. And I can tell that this particular writing team has a lot of fun working together.

Grab a beverage and a snack, sit back, and read what Loretta and Sarah have to say about cozy mysteries, penguins, and cookies.

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

BOTH: The characters are usually witty and engaging and it reminds us of the good old days watching Father Dowling, Murder She Wrote, Magnum PI, Diagnosis Murder, and Quincy.

2 – What inspired you to write a cozy mystery series together?

LORETTA: it all started with a series we are working on, following two sisters on a road trip.

SARAH: There’s a large time difference between where we currently live, so we both had too much wine and we ended up talking about MagnumPI, helicopters, and looking at property on Zillow in Hawaii.

LORETTA: Yup, then I said, yeah, we should totally write a mystery, only with an alien and it should be funny. Then we started laughing and came up with a few plots. We also became quite serious and ended up planning a semi-retirement move to Hawaii. We were raised apart and met again as adults,  then life got in the way and we ended up separated by an entire ocean for 20 years. So we’re together over the web now and working towards being together again in RL, writing books and sitting on the beach.

3 – Tell us what it’s like to work as a writing team – how do you collaborate and create your stories?

SARAH: We get on Facebook Messenger and plot while drinking while drinking coffee, tea, or wine, or in Loretta’s case, a tropical themed cocktail. Loretta then starts typing it all up, dialogue and all, then pops it into GoogleDocs. I then go on in and add or subtract stuff and clean up any mistakes I find.

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

LORETTA: The characters spawn the plots for us. It’s not an either or. It’s here’s this person and look at the trouble they get in…

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

Best

SARAH: I get to play with my sister as we craft these books. It’s very healing energy as we get to play pretend with each other and invite people into our joint world.We didn’t get to do that as children so it’s even more special now.

LORETTA: And the money goes towards reuniting us once more and continuing the grand adventure.

Least

BOTH: Edits and Amazon hanging while publishing the releases and as of late the issues with pre-order errors on their part.

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?”

BOTH: Chocolate chip and traditional Oreos

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

LORETTA:  “Hi, I’ve come down for the shave ice from the stand.” We tell him he’s in the wrong reality and get back into The Dade Sisters Book 3.

SARAH: He needs to be careful. Pele’s son makes great shave ice but she’s not too happy when you use the reality jumping portals, especially if you took a rock to do it.

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

LORETTA: We both love adventure and have lived in different countries and states. I grew up an Army Brat and then served myself, then married a Brit, while Sarah finished her Master’s degree in Canada (she now works helping veterans access benefits at her day job). We also love animals and own dogs and cats.

SARAH: Yep, our two favorite titles (other than author) Mom, including Furbaby Mom,and Nana.

LORETTA: I’m Obaa-chan, not Nana. But yes. ::laughs:: I also treasure being Tia.

SARAH: And we both love sarcastic humor. Our husbands are always amazed at how much we look and act alike despite not growing up together. We even chose the same hair style and glasses right before we found each other again.

LORETTA: Yup. Watch out, Hawaii, we’re coming. Soon, my precious. ::wanders off to look at Zillow’s Big Island listings again::

Get Loretta & Sarah’s Books

Pick up your own copy of the first Starlight Cozy Mystery – A Saucerful of Death – on Amazon.

About Loretta & Sarah

Hi! I’m Loretta, a housewife with her head usually in the clouds, dreaming of romance and far away places. One day, I thought, why not write them down? So here we are. I hope you enjoy hot men, gutsy women, and happily ever afters because that’s what you’ll get from me.

Aloha! I’m Sarah, Loretta’s younger and equally as zany sister. I spend far too much time on Messenger cooking up these crazy stories with my sister, coffee in hand. Drink Kona!

Connect with Loretta & Sarah

Follow Loretta on Amazon, both of the sisters on Facebook and Twitter, and sign-up for their newsletter to find out about new releases, sales, and other stuff like that.

Thanks so much for being on the blog, ladies! I’m glad to see that you have excellent taste in cookies. You can’t go wrong with Oreos and chocolate chip. It would be a blast to catch up with the two of you one day sipping Kona coffee on a beach in Hawaii.

 

Aspring Cozy Mystery Author Interview, Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview: Madeline A. Nicholas

Cozy Mystery Author Interview with Madeline A. Nicholas

This is the part of series of interviews with writers who are new to cozy mysteries. Some of them are established authors who have published in other genres. Others are in the throes of writing their very first book and planning its publication. It takes me right back to the start of my own writer’s journey before I hit the scary “publish” button with my first cozy.

Today I have an interview with Madeline A. Nicholas who is getting ready to publish Basic Witch: An Arabella Holloway Mystery, the first book in her Serenity Springs series. It will be released on September 30th and is available for pre-order. Get your copy HERE.

So grab yourself a beverage and a snack, settle in, and find out more about what she has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

1 – What inspired / motivated you to write cozy mysteries?

It was kind of a natural progression, I suppose. I fell in love with the cozy genre nearly 2 decades ago with Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series and my reading list has been filled with cozy mysteries since.

So when I decided to start a new project a cozy mystery just felt right. And it has since taken on a life of it’s own. One idea for a book became a series, with crossover series in the future. It’s a really exciting process for me, I’m having a lot of fun.

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

The characters. Hands down.

They usually have interesting jobs or hobbies and being immersed into their lives is very captivating. The way they all seem to stumble into bad luck (or murders) going about their daily routine is just very…. I want to say relatable, but even though I tend to have a natural attraction for mishaps and misadventures, I have never stumbled upon a body. *Knock on wood*

3 – What stage are you at in your writing and publishing journey?

I have been writing for a very long time, it started when I was a small child, and I have written everything from short stories to poetry. My professional writing career, however, is relatively new. I have had some poetry and a few short stories published in my youth.

This will be my first book that I have written to be published. I am in the final stages at this time, I’ve finally hammered down the release date and the pre-order went live this week. (My inner self is jumping up and down)

Now it’s just a matter of making sure that everything is exactly the way that I want it, and lining up all of these moving parts. There’s a lot more involved than I could ever imagine. But I am learning as I go and loving the journey.

4 – What are you most excited about in terms of publishing your first cozy? What are you nervous about?

What am I excited about? Being Published.

I think that’s the most exciting thing. Seeing the finished product. Being a published author has been a dream of mine since I was a child. One of those dreams that you tell yourself is out of reach. I’m happy to have proven myself wrong on that one.

Nervous? I’d have to say everything. (laughs) There’s always fears of rejection or inadequacy in the arts. Will they like it? Is it good enough?

And of course, I keep running into setbacks. I’ve had some personal things to affect my deadlines and my release date has been pushed back. Twice. It has definitely been a bit discouraging. So at times, I’m worrying “Will I ever get finished? Is this going to happen?”

I’ve thrown in the towel probably a hundred times since this journey began. You just have to keep picking it back up and carrying on.

5 – Tell us about the cozy mystery you’re currently working on. What’s your sleuth like? Where is it set? Do you have a hook?

Arabella, or Bella, is more of a reluctant sleuth. Her investigation begins more out of necessity than curiosity. She’s happy to let the professionals work the case, but she feels like they have dropped the ball.

She’s a young woman, mid 20s, who doesn’t know that she is a witch, or even that magic exists at the beginning of the book. So she has a hard time wrapping her head around it at first. She has always felt like something was missing or that she was different, essentially she finds herself as well as the killer.

The book is set in the fictional town of Serenity Springs. Which I modeled after the towns I grew up in/around. A rural town, slightly larger than a postage stamp, that’s kind of off off the beaten path. It looks like your normal sleepy little town, but some of the residents are not what you would expect.

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?”

There are people who don’t like cookies??!? Sounds like a horror movie.

Favorite? That’s a tough one, I would have to go with the classic chocolate chip, but then there’s peanut butter, those chocolate sandwich cookies, ooh thin mints, … I’m sorry what was the question again?

Monster cookies. Final answer. The huge things that you put everything from oatmeal and peanut butter to chocolate chips and M&Ms in. I’ve never had one, but they sound awesome. I think I might be baking later.

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

“This isn’t Los Angeles, I knew I should have taken a left at Albuquerque.” Apparently he was on his way home from vacation and got lost.

He’s probably looking for something to eat, that’s what most of my visitors stop by for.

Yes, I know this response shows my age.

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

This reminds me of those job interview questions I always fail at because I never know what to say.

I’m your basic small town girl. I hate crowds and traffic.

I love animals. I rescue them when I can and try to find them forever homes. Sometimes that’s not possible, so I adopt them myself. Or is it they adopt me?

This is why I currently have 4 cats and feed half a dozen stray or wild animals. Cats, dogs, the occasional possum.

I once had a ‘pet’ raccoon. He would knock on the door and come in and help himself to something to eat. He eventually got comfortable enough to walk up and take food right out of my hand.

Basic Witch: An Arabella Holloway Mystery

Meet Serenity Springs, tucked away from most of the world in the mountains of Appalachia. Quiet, peaceful and nothing short of magic, it appears to be the quintessential small town. But is everything as it appears?

After a desperate late-night call from her mother, Arabella Holloway finds herself alone in the quaint yet quirky little town, surrounded by family who are total strangers. Determined to uncover the mysterious circumstances of her mother’s death, Bella finds more questions than answers. Now she must race to uncover long buried secrets before she becomes caught in another spell of murder… her own.

Grab your copy of Basic Witch on Amazon!

About the Author

Madeline A. Nicholas writes cozy mysteries as well as paranormal fantasy novels. When she is not casting spells with her books, she spends her time doing such muggle things as reading, pretending she can grow things in her garden, or being bossed around by her pets.

You can connect with Madeline on Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you so much for being on the blog today, Madeline. I love the fact that you’re an animal lover and feed stray and wild animals. Looking forward to checking your new series out!

Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mysteries

Poisoned by the Pier Now Available & Murder at the Marina on Sale!

Poisoned by the Pier Now Available!

Poisoned by the Pier, the third book in the Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery series, is now available in ebook, paperback, and large print.

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play

Poisoned by the Pier Cozy Mystery

When Mollie’s husband signs the two of them up for an extreme diet, she’s not amused. When someone ends up poisoned by a cake, things get even worse.

While she tries to identify the killer, Coconut Cove’s annual boating festival is in full swing. In between getting ready for her first sailing race and cheating on her diet, Mollie and her cat, Mrs. Moto, uncover clues, interview suspects, and do their best to avoid rutabagas.

Can Mollie nab the killer before someone else is poisoned?

If you like quirky characters, adorable cats, and plenty of chocolate, you’ll love this cozy mystery. Pick up a copy of Poisoned by the Pier and laugh out loud from the first page to the last.

Find out more HERE.

Murder at the Marina Cozy Mystery Sale

New to the Series?

If you’re new to the series, you might want to start with Murder at the Marina. Now is the perfect opportunity to grab a copy as the ebook is ON SALE FOR FOR 99c/99p for a limited time.

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play

Find out more HERE.

Get the Scoop!

Click here to sign up for my newsletter and stay in touch. You can expect updates from me once or twice a month about life aboard our sailboat, my current projects, new releases, sales and promotions, and other fun stuff.

Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview: Adriana Licio

Poisoned by the Pier Graphics(9)

This is the part of series of interviews with writers who are new to cozy mysteries. Some of them are established authors who have published in other genres. Others are in the throes of writing their very first book and planning its publication. It takes me right back to the start of my own writer’s journey before I hit the scary “publish” button with my first cozy.

Today, I have an interview with Adriana Licio, an Italian author who is getting ready to launch her first cozy mystery seriesThe Italian Village Mysteries. One look at the cover of the prequel to the series—And Then There Were Bones—made me want to drop everything, hop on a plane, and travel to Italy. Minus any dead bodies of course. By the way, if you want your own FREE copy of Adriana’s prequel, you can find all the details below.

So grab yourself a beverage and a snack, settle in, and find out more about what she has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

1 – What inspired / motivated you to write cozy mysteries?

On my bookshelves, beside classics and travel literature, you’ll mostly find mysteries Christies and cosies in particular. In fact, there are so many things in the genre that appeal to mea good mystery with little violence, no gore, a glimpse into a community’s way of life,
quirky characters, and… gossip! I love a happy ending, and I don’t like cynicism of any kind. I adore heartwarming stories, exploring the problems we all experience in daily life with a healthy dose of humor, since I’m a firm believer in the power of a good laugh. In what other genre can you find all the above?

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

The community aspect – the fact that beyond the mystery, there’s a whole village or town with its army of characters. Reading a good cozy mystery, you learn about a place, its culture, habits, food, so the mystery, which has to be intriguing with a few good twists, never occurs in a vacuum.

3 – What stage are you at in your writing and publishing journey?

I’ve just launched my website, and it’s a very exciting moment since I will connect with my readers for the first time. On subscription, readers will receive a free e-copy of And Then There Were Bones, a homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and the prequel to my An Italian Village Mystery series. It’ll be the first time readers in general will get the chance to read a book of mine, which is both exciting and scary. So far, people who’ve read the book have been generous with their enthusiastic comments and encouragement, mostly asking me when the series will be out, which is a good sign.

In the autumn, my first two full-length mysteries will be available on Amazon. My editor is currently checking through book one, Murder on the Road, one more time before it goes to my proofreader. I’ve already written book two, A Fair Time for Death, and put it through its first round of editing. It’s now taking a rest, before the serious business of self-editing and professional editing starts in earnest.

4 – What are you most excited about in terms of publishing your first cozy? What are you nervous about?

The idea that people in a small town in the United States, or in remote parts of Australia or India or New Zealand might turn the pages of my books is simply exhilarating. That’s the reason why I accepted the challenge to write in English and not in Italian, my native tongue. English is a global language; it’s a doorway to the world. And we’re lucky to live in times where publishing our own work as indie authors is possible.

I love and fear technology at the same time. What if I don’t manage to upload my book to Amazon properly on launch day? I’m sweating, beating my fists frantically on my PC, then the whole thing explodes…

But hey, I’m in my bed! It was just a bad dream.

5 – Tell us about the cozy mystery you’re currently working on. What’s your sleuth like? Where is it set? Do you have a hook?

My heroine is feisty travel writer Giò Brando. At the age of 38, she comes back to her hometown in Southern Italy, devastated after breaking up with her fiancé just 30 days before their wedding was due to take place. Hoping for peace, quiet and family life, she stumbles on to… a corpse!

Apparently, a falling rock killed a woman as she parked her car. But, was this tragic accident really an accident? And was the woman, PA for a powerful local man, the intended victim?

The setting is Maratea, a quaint little village on the Mediterranean coast, which is a real place I visit every time I need peace of mind. Its spectacular wild beauty, with vertical rock walls plunging into the waters below, never fails to remind me that life is far more than the daily rush or occasional grump.

Tapping into her adventurous nature, Giò looks for clues among the gossips that abound in this quirky Italian village, her quest for the truth regularly taking her into the local cafes and bars, and her sister Agnese’s perfumery. Here, customers come and go with their unique problems and pains, some touching, others laugh-out-loud funny, knowing that Agnese will advise them on the right perfume to use at the perfect time. Not easy, maybe, but still much easier than keeping her impetuous sister Giò from nosing around and putting herself into real danger…

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?”

It’s not exactly a cookie, more of a pastry called bocconotto and it’s a specialty of Maratea. You can try them in a local shop where the fragrant treat is served hot, straight from the oven. There’s a whole range of fillings to choose from – I prefer the sour cherry version, but I’m guessing Mollie would lead you straight over to the chocolate one.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Mollie she’s referring to is the main character in my cozy mystery series and she does have a serious obsession with chocolate. I do too. I wonder where she got it from?

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

The poor wee one is wearing a sombrero to protect himself from the summer heat of Maratea. But what is he holding in his hands? It’s a Nativity scene musical box, and he’s here to remind me that I need to go to Christmas Land and finish that novel of mine.

Where had I got to in the story? Well, there’s an old Irish tune being played in an ancient Christmas crib; a lonely mother and daughter landing in Maratea; books disappearing from the local library only to reappear a few days later; and Giò trying to make sense of it all. Have you got all that? No? I’d better don my mittens and scarf, ready to follow the penguin, then.

Oh, hold on a minute, Ellen has one more question for me. Of course, I’ll answer that before I go. What did you want to ask, Ellen?

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

I’m never too good at talking about myself, despite being a writer. Such a shame, I know. But I’d love to invite readers who like cozy mysteries in stunningly beautiful settings to come over and get to know my corner of Southern Italy through my free e-novella, And Then There Were Bones. And then let me know their frank opinion of it! It’s an exclusive gift on subscription to my newsletter – the terrific Maratea Murder Club.

[Adriana waves farewell to Ellen and her readers and follows the impatient penguin to Christmas Land. Bye-bye, summer.]

About Adriana

Adriana, who lives in Southern Italy, is the author of the upcoming series An Italian Village Mystery. She resisted writing as long as she could, but one day she found an alluring blank page and the words flowed in the weird English she’d learned in Glasgow.

She loves loads of things: traveling, reading, walking, good food, small villages, and home swapping. She runs her family perfumery, and between a dark patchouli and a musky rose, she devours cozy mysteries. Adriana finds peace for her restless, enthusiastic soul only when walking in nature with her golden retriever Frodo and her hubby Giovanni.

You can find out more about Adriana on her website: adrianalicio.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, you can download your free e-book And Then There Were Bones, chat about cozies, and receive a map of Maratea and Giò’s photo album of her favorite places by subscribing to her newsletter at: www.adrianalicio.com/murderclub

Thank you so much for being on the blog today, Adriana! Your new series sounds wonderful. And I can’t wait to get to Italy soon and try one of those cookies.

Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview: V.L. McBeath

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This is the part of series of interviews with writers who are new to cozy mysteries. Some of them are established authors who have published in other genres. Others are in the throes of writing their very first book and planning its publication. It takes me right back to the start of my own writer’s journey before I hit the scary “publish” button with my first cozy.

Today, I have an interview with V.L. McBeath who is launching her first cozy series—Eliza Thomson Investigates. Grab a drink and a snack, sit back, and read what V.L. has to say about writing, penguins and cookies.

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1 – What genres have you previously published in? What inspired you to start writing cozies?

My first foray into publishing was with a historical family saga set in Victorian-era, England.

The thing was, when I started writing I had no intention of being a published author, it just sort of happened. The work was a passion project based on several years’ research into my family history. It turned out that my ancestors had quite a story to tell and I ended up writing a five-book series with a short story prequel, (The Ambition & Destiny Series).

From start to finish, the project took the best part of eight years to complete and once I’d published the final book, I was left with a feeling of ‘what now’.

Writing had become a way of life, but because I’d exhausted my family research (for the time being at least), I turned to a genre I had always loved. Murder mysteries.

Because my first series had been historical, and because I wanted to write ‘whodunit’ types stories (of a similar nature to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books) historical cozy mysteries seemed to be the way to go. The main difference though is that my amateur sleuth, Eliza Thomson, is anything but a passive little old lady. I don’t think I’m capable of writing such characters, and so Eliza is very progressive given that the books are set at the beginning of the twentieth century.

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

As I mentioned, I love whodunit types of mysteries, but I also like the more light-hearted, feel-good, nature of cozy mysteries. After writing about life in the Victorian-era with all the challenges that entailed, being able to switch gears and write something with an element of humour, as well having all the twists and turns of the plot, has been great fun.

3 – Do you have any writing rituals?

I don’t have rituals as such, but I’m not a great one for change!

When I started writing, I had a full-time, office-based job, which meant I did all my writing of an evening.

I now have more flexibility with my working hours, but I still find I am most comfortable writing in the evening (usually between about 9pm and midnight).

I go to the gym every weekday morning – because I need to do something, and then I use the afternoon to do admin / marketing or other such things. I do still work part time and so that has to fit into the afternoons as well.

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

Character. When I wrote my first series, I was struck with how readers identified with the characters in the books and so when I came to write the Eliza Thomson Investigates series, I knew I needed Eliza to be someone readers would remember, and hopefully like.

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

I love being able to go off into my own little world and back to a time when things seemed so much easier, especially given that everything seems to be in so much chaos nowadays.

I also particularly like writing murder mysteries because if anyone upsets me, I can always get my revenge by using them as the inspiration for my next plot!

What don’t I like? The hardest part is actually sitting down to write – especially when I’m stuck on a plot point. I can procrastinate for hours!

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?” 

Hmm – cookies. I wouldn’t say I don’t like them, but I rarely eat them.

Maybe it’s because in the UK they don’t seem to be as prominent as in the US?

Or maybe it’s because I try to avoid buying sweet things? Eating cookies and sitting at a computer all day really would have me growing about 3 dress sizes!

Not that I’m totally angelic. Occasionally I will have one – and it will always be a white one with milk chocolate chips. Other than the double chocolate chip (which I’m less keen on) I don’t think I’ve tried any other varieties!

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

Penguin – “Have you seen the weather out there? It’s pouring down.”

Me – “I thought you liked it wet.”

Penguin – “I like water I can dive into, not when it’s falling from the sky!”

Me – “It’s a good job you have your hat, then.”

Penguin – “Are you kidding me? The water’s soaking straight through.”

Me – “What do you expect? It’s a sun hat, not a rain hat. Have you learned nothing while you’ve been in the UK?”

Penguin – “I’ve learned that I like snow better than rain. The guys are coming to pick me up shortly. We’re going back to Antarctica.”

Me – “Oh no … and at such short notice. I’ll miss you!”

Enter three more penguins.

Penguin – “You will? Do you have any more fish, then? That would delay us.”

Me – “Did you leave any in the fridge after breakfast?”

Penguin – “Leave fish? Do you know who you’re talking too!”

Me – “All right, I know, silly question. So, is that it? You’re just going to walk out of here?”

Penguin – “Well we can hardly fly, can we? Although perhaps it’s something we should work on. It would save us a fortune on air fares.”

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

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Lea, a gorgeous Burmese!

I can’t claim to be very exciting, but I’m married to Stuart and have two grown-up daughters and a lovely Burmese cat, called Lia.

I spent most of my career working for the pharmaceutical industry and still work as a consultant on an ad-hoc basis.

I’m originally from Liverpool, and so I’m a big fan of Liverpool Football Club (soccer if you’re reading this in the US).

My other passion is music. Unless I’m watching the TV (which might be for about an hour a day) or sleeping (considerably longer, although maybe not for long enough), I have the radio on ALL the time. I love rock music and can’t bear to be in a quiet room.

Get V.L. McBeath’s Books

A Deadly Tonic and Murder in Moreton—Books 1 and 2 of the Eliza Thomson Investigates series—are currently available for preorder on Amazon at the introductory price of 99c / 99p.

A Deadly Tonic will be available to buy from 22nd June, but is also available as a FREE download to anyone who joins V.L.’s mailing list.

Connect with V.L. McBeath

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You can connect with V.L. at Facebook | Amazon | BookBub | Website

Thank you so much for being on the blog, V.L.! Your cat is absolutely gorgeous and your new cozy series sounds great. I love the idea of a progressive amateur sleuth in the early 20th century. I hope your penguin friend made it back to Antarctic safe and sound.

Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mysteries, New Zealand, Writerly Nonsense, Writing

Writerly Nonsense

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Why do writers write? They have stories bubbling away inside them that need to get out. Sometimes, the writing process is a lot of fun. The words ooze out of you effortlessly. Other times, well, it can be torturous. You know what you want to say, but all you end up with is a blank computer screen or a page full of nonsense words.

I’ve been working on Dead in the Dinghy, the fourth book in my cozy mystery series for the past few days and it’s been a struggle at times.

Naturally, I turned to my favorite way to break through that writer’s block—procrastination. How did we procrastinate before the advent of the internet?

Sure, I watched a lot of cat videos, but I also did some serious writing “research.” I learned about grammar.

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I researched what causes writer’s block.

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I figured out how to explain to my friends and family what a writer actually does.

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Then I got serious, closed the internet browser, and wrote a scene where my characters debated a really important question about dolphins.

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My cozy mysteries are set at a marina in Florida and my main character and her hubby own a sailboat, so dolphins are kind of a thing. Because I live on a sailboat with my husband, I often draw on my own experiences when I’m writing my books. The dolphin snot vs. dolphin spit is one of those.

When we were sailing in New Zealand, a dolphin came alongside our boat and sprayed something on us. We had a long discussion about whether it was snot or spit. What do you think—is the stuff that comes out of a dolphin’s blowhole snot or spit?

{If you want to know more about the subject, you can read the blog post I wrote about it here.}

Well, that’s probably enough writerly nonsense for now. Time to get back to the actual writing!

cozy mystery

The Courtagonist: Cozy Mystery YouTube Channel

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I’m really excited to be featuring an interview with Courtny from The Courtagnoist, a super fun cozy mystery YouTube channel. When I’m in the mood to procrastinate, I like to check out what Courtny is up to and what cozies she’s been reading lately. I always walk away with a ton of new books to add to my TBR list and a smile on my face.

Courtny is a huge cozy mystery fan and a great resource for cozy community (both writers and readers). Settle back, grab a cookie or two, and see what Courtny has to say about starting your own YouTube channel, writing her own cozy mysteries, and the scoop on her favorite cookie.

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Interview with Courtny

1 – What are your favorite things about cozy mysteries?

I love so many things about cozies! Where to start!?!? I love that you really do get to know the characters. They are all about creating a small town cozy feel. Of course we have the murders and the mysteries but we also having our heroic sleuth. One of the reasons that I love reading them so much is because I become tied to the characters! I love watching Katie Lightfoot grow in her magical abilities and figure out the whodunit in the Magical Bakeshop Mystery Series! Or I love watching Jules from The Peridale Cafe series grow in her relationship with Jess her adoptive daughter. It’s not just about the mystery, it’s about the characters too!

2 – Have you ever thought about writing your own cozy mystery? If so, what would your sleuth be like? What hook would you have?

Oh my goodness! This is a loaded question! Ha! I have thought about writing my own cozy mystery! Who hasn’t?! They are so much fun to read! I have started two cozies one is called Graded in Red (A Teacher in Trouble Series). The main character’s name is Maggie and she is a young woman who has to move back to her small town in Broken Bow, Oklahoma after falling in love with her married boss and finding that she isn’t who she thought she was. She moved back to start life over as a history teacher. This one is very close to home. Not the falling in love with her married boss! Get that out of your head! Ha! But the small town, I live in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and being a history teacher. I have my Masters in American Studies and was a history teacher before my current job.

The second book that I started was called Premonitions on Paper, The Psychic Librarian Cozy Mystery series. Amelia Buchard is starting over after ending a nasty divorce and finishing her Masters Degree in Library Sciences. With the blessing and encouragement of her Aunt Rachel, Amelia packs up her bags and her Australian Shepard Wesley and moves to Astoria, Oregon. A small town of 20,000 people and becomes the Head Librarian.

I’m not sure how well I’ve written them. I have always been great at writing research papers and things of that sort. But when it comes to writing fiction, I’m a little lost and A LOT self conscious.

3 – What inspired you to start your own YouTube channel?

To be honest my fiancé actually encouraged me to start my own YouTube channel! It was my very first summer off that I wasn’t in school myself and I needed something to do. I am not very good at sitting still or not having something to do. I was watching a lot of booktube and Aaron suggested that I start my own since I loved to read so much. I was super excited and sort of dived in head first! I never looked back and I have loved every second of it. The people I’ve met. The books I’ve been introduced to. It has been wonderful.

4 – What advice would you give someone who is thinking of starting a YouTube channel?

I would tell them to stop thinking about it! Do it! You never know how much you’ll like it until you try! It is okay to not have perfect shelves, the best lighting, or camera. I filmed on my iPhone for the first year in a half. I edited everyone on iMovie. Don’t go spend tons of money on the top of the line items until you know that this is something that you are going to want to do for years as a hobby. I just purchased a good camera.

5 – What’s on your cozy mystery TBR list? What books would you recommend to someone who has never read a cozy before?

Oh!!!! There are soooo many books on my Cozy Mystery TBR list! Where to start?! I am excited to read Spell Booked by Joyce & Jim Lavene, A tale of Two Kitties by Sophie Kelly, and Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien this month! With my Cozyopoly helping me pick out my Cozy TBR every month I am loving it!

For those that have never picked up a cozy before I would suggest Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander, The Peridale Mystery series by Agatha Frost, and Port Danby series by London Lovett. I have a couple of Top 5 videos for Beginners into Cozies!

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?”

Hahaha! YES! Cookies are the absolute best! I would have to say that my favorite cookie is actually a No Bake Cookie! There is just something perfect about oatmeal, chocolate, and peanut butter all mixed together! It is the perfect cookie!

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

Merl waddles in with a sombrero on applying sunscreen to his beak, “Are you ready to go?!”

I look up from my book, right eyebrow cocked in annoyance , I have less than 10 pages left and he knows not to interrupt a reader in their natural habitat.

“Almost. Let me finish! I’m only ten pages away! I think I know who the killer is!”

Shaking his head and giggling, “You always figure it out! One day there will be a mystery you can’t solve!” Merl grabs my rolling suit case and heads out to the car for our week long cruise on the cruise ship Pearl.

“I doubt that! Plus this is just fiction! It’s not like I will ever have to figure out a real mystery!” I holler as I finished the last page, satisfied that I did indeed figure out the whodunit.

Little did I know that fiction was about to become reality.

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

I would love to become your friend! I love getting to know people and getting to talk about books! Don’t be afraid of reaching out to me! I am nice! I promise! Not scary at all! I’m probably more afraid to talk to you then you are of me!

About Courtny

IMG_5840 (1024x1024)Hello! My name is Courtny! I am a booktuber, bookstagramer, blogger, and more -er words. Haha! I am a very awkward person when it comes to introducing myself! *waves awkwardly* I started my booktube channel about two years ago. I realized that there was this whole world out there full of people who loved books as much as me. There weren’t a lot of people in my life that I could geek out over books with. I focus mainly on Cozies! There is just something wholesome, loving, and safe about Cozy Mysteries. I can’t get enough of them! I’ve always loved the idea of being a sleuth! A detective! A PI! A Slewfoot! Oh you know! I blame Harriet the Spy! Sherlock Holmes! Ms. Marple! Jessica Fletcher!

You can connect with Courtny on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website | YouTube or reach her via email at courtagonist@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for being on the blog, Courtny! Your no bake cookies sound delicious. Oatmeal, chocolate, and peanut butter is a wonderful combination. Keep working on your cozy mystery books. They sound great and I can’t wait to read them, especially the one set in Astoria, Oregon as I lived there for a while.