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!

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

Poisoned by the Pier Graphics(8)

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.

VL McBeath Image 1

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?

VL McBeath Image 2
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

VL McBeath Image 5

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.

Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview: Margaret Lashley

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Today, I’m featuring an interview with the funny, hysterical, hilarious, makes-me-laugh-out-loud cozy mystery author, Margaret Lashley. Yep, just in case it wasn’t clear, she cracks me up!

Margaret is the author of the popular and best-selling Val Fremden humorous mystery series. There are nine books in the series (plus a prequel), all with cute titles that play off of the numbers one through nine. When it comes to cozy mysteries, I do love a cute title, as I’m sure many of you do too.

One of the things I really enjoy about Margaret’s mysteries is the fact that they’re set in Florida. We currently live on our sailboat in southern Florida, I was born in Florida, and my cozy mysteries are set in Florida, so it’s always fun to read books that are also set in the Sunshine State. There are so many things I can totally relate to, like dealing with the insane heat.

If you could use a good chuckle, scroll on down and see what Margaret has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies. Then be sure to check out her books on Amazon.

Interview with Margaret

Margaret Lashley Covers

1 – What inspired you to write your books?

Besides the prospect of impending poverty, you mean? I think I was inspired to write my series because I couldn’t find very many books with fabulously quirky, middle-aged women in the lead.

I grew up in an era of strong women role models, such as That Girl, Laverne and Shirley, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the irreplaceable Carol Burnett Show. These women were out there pursuing their own dreams in their own unique ways. I don’t see much of that in fiction today. With my protagonist, Val Fremden, I wanted to create a character who was strong, yet vulnerable. She’s someone who hasn’t gotten her act all together yet, and probably never will. But who ever does? And we as women should know that it’s okay to not be perfect.

Val is a survivor who bears the scars of her hard journey proudly, with her own quirky coping mechanisms and sense of humor. The goal of my writing is always the same: To help readers remember to celebrate the everyday, the imperfect, and most importantly, the absurd. Laughter is the universal crud cutter of sorrow. And laughing at ourselves is the fastest way to self-love and acceptance.

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

The world is already overloaded with negative news. If someone wants to see gruesome, angry, spiteful, petty behavior, there’s a whole buffet out there on TV, radio, Facebook, etc. No thanks. What I love about cozy mysteries is that they offer a venue where I can escape this negatively biased world and disappear into one where everyone is good at heart – even if they hide it sometimes.

My Val Fremden mysteries don’t hinge around violence. Instead, usually something bizarre happens to Val, and impending hilarity ensues as she and her friends try to figure it out. Picture Bridget Jones in an episode of My Name is Earl. Currently, Amazon has no category for non-gory, humorous mysteries. So right now, the cozy mystery genre is where it’s at!

3 – Do you have any writing rituals?

I sacrifice a goat at the waxing of every blue moon. Or I wax a moon at the sighting of every blue goat. Whichever comes first. I’m flexible that way.

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

No doubt about it: character.

The right character can make watching paint dry fun. But if you don’t care about the characters, no amount of plot will save you. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that readers like to be taken by surprise – and to laugh and cry and dissolve into another world when they read. Nothing accomplishes that better than giving them a real, dimensional character they want to root for.

The Val Fremden books are all character-driven. Still, there’s plenty of crazy plot to drive them on. The cast of characters involved each have their great triumphs and cringe-worthy failures. They’re flawed and vulnerable and funny as hell. My stories draw laughs using a wide net – from twisted, dark family humor to slap-stick situational gaffs. Things don’t always turn out like the characters planned. But that’s what builds character in the first place – and makes life interesting.

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

I have to say, I truly love being an author. I’ve been writing since I learned the alphabet, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. When I die, I’ll probably be found buried under a pile of what I call my “Crazy Lady Notebooks” full of my wacky ideas and absurd musings on life. Hey…that sounds like a good idea for a plot….

I’m still over the moon every time I get that first glimpse of my next book cover or when I release my next book. And I’m in awe every time someone buys one of my books or leaves a review. The thrill never gets old. As a bonus, I get to create my own imaginary friends and have them do whatever I want. Uh…hello? What’s not to love about that?

What do I like least? Paper cuts.

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?”

Pistachio biscotti.

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

Penguin waddles up to me as I’m splayed out on a blanket on Sunset Beach:

Penguin: “Excuse me, Miss. You wouldn’t happen to know the way to Puerto Vallarta, would you?”

Me: “I don’t even know my way out of town.”

Penguin: “Oh. Well, that’s rather unhelpful.”

Me: “Thanks. Why did you want to go there anyway?”

Penguin: “For the margaritas and seafood.”

Me: “I’ve got a bottle of tequila and a can of sardines in my tote bag. Knock yourself out.”

Penguin: “You’re an excellent hostess.”

Me: “Yeah. I get that a lot. Hey! No pooping on my blanket!”

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

I’m a comedian at heart. Writing allows me to perform my stand- up routine without being heckled or bombarded by rotten tomatoes.

Thanks so much for being on the blog, Margaret! Remind me to sit next to you at the beach. I do love a gal that always has a fully stocked tote bag. Although, if you could replace the sardines with chocolate chip cookies, that would be awesome.

About Margaret

IMG_1795Margaret Lashley is the best-selling author of the Val Fremden Mystery Series, including Glad One, Two Crazy, Three Dumb, What Four, Five Oh, Six Tricks, Seven Daze, Figure Eight and Cloud Nine. (Plus the stand-alone Val Fremden prequel novel, Absolute Zero.)

Featuring an extremely reluctant amateur sleuth in her mid-forties, each Val Fremden mystery is packed with laughs and plot twists you’ll never see coming. But the books also go deeper, exploring the ups and downs of being a woman, while mining midlife for all the laughs along the way.

Often compared to Janet Evanovich by her readers, Margaret Lashley’s books are similarly funny and upbeat, and offer a depth of character that will quickly have you rooting (and cringing) for Val all along the way.

Margaret is a native of Florida, and lives in sunny St. Petersburg.

From the Author: Like the characters in my novels, I haven’t lead a life of wealth or luxury. In fact, as it stands now, I’m set to inherit a half-eaten jar of Cheez Whiz…if my siblings don’t beat me to it. During my illustrious career, I’ve been a roller-skating waitress, an actuarial assistant, an advertising copywriter, a real estate agent, a house flipper, an organic farmer, and a traveling vagabond/truth seeker.

But no matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve done, I’ve always felt like a weirdo. As a child I lived in my own pretend world of tickling fairies and talking cats. I began writing when I found an ancient black typewriter on my grandparent’s back porch. (Inspired by my brothers, Boys are Stupid was my first masterpiece.)

I’ve traveled the world and learned a heck of a lot in my life. But getting to know myself has been my greatest journey. Today, I know I’m smart. I’m direct. I’m jaded. I’m hopeful. I’m funny. I’m fierce. I’m a pushover. And I have a laugh that makes strangers want to join me at restaurants. In other words, I’m a jumble of opposing talents and flaws and emotions. And it’s all good.

In some ways, I’m a lot like Val Fremden. My books featuring Val are not autobiographical, but what comes out of her mouth was first formed in my mind, and sometimes the parallels are undeniable. I drink TNTs. I once had a car like Shabby Maggie. And I’ve started my life over four times, driving away with whatever earthly possessions fit in my car. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that friends come from unexpected places.

You can connect with Margaret on her website, her Facebook author page, her private Facebook group (Val Talk), Goodreads, Bookbub, and Amazon.

Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview: Elizabeth Spann Craig

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Today, I’m featuring an interview with the bestselling cozy mystery author, Elizabeth Spann Craig. For those of you who enjoy reading cozies, many of you will already be familiar with her series—the Myrtle Clover mysteries, the Southern Quilting mysteries, and the Memphis Barbecue mysteries (under the name Riley Adams). She’s also at work on a fourth series—the Village Library mysteries—which I’m really looking forward to reading cause libraries and cozy mysteries go really well together, kind of like peanut butter and jelly.

Elizabeth is also well known within the writing community as a go-to resource on all things writerly. She publishes a helpful blog with general writing tips and tricks, as well as detailed posts on the ins and outs of writing and publishing cozy mysteries. She also curates writing links on Twitter and sends out a weekly Twitterific round-up.  And if that wasn’t enough, she also takes time out of her busy schedule to act as a judge for the annual Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) anthologies. (As an aside, submitting a short story to one of the IWSG anthology contests was how I got my start writing.)

So, without further ado, let’s get into it and find out what Elizabeth has to say about writing, cookies, and penguins.

Interview with Elizabeth

elizabeth spann craig books

1 – What inspired you to write your books?

I’ve always been a huge fan of Agatha Christie’s books, and then M.C. Beaton’s books (especially her Hamish Macbeth stories).  I’d always wanted to write and decided that it would be easiest for me to write cozy mysteries, since I enjoyed reading them so much. My first series was the Myrtle Clover series and Myrtle was a mishmash of different people…mostly my grandmother and her strength, razor-sharp mind, quick and intuitive impressions of people, and her clever sense of humor. I also incorporated my past experience of living in a small Southern town.  All the pieces were there and I just had to put them together.

2 – Do you have any writing rituals?

I never really know whether to call what I do in the morning a routine or a ritual!  I think it’s pretty much muscle memory and not cool enough to be a ritual.  I get ready in the morning, go downstairs, let the corgi out and feed him, fix some coffee (decaf, sadly, now) and then open my laptop and start writing. I’ve done it so often that it feels very natural and seamless.  But I’d rather say that I do something interesting like light a candle or meditate or read inspirational quotes!

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

Naturally, they’re both really crucial. But, as a reader, I’ve read plenty of books where I enjoyed the characters and wasn’t as interested in the story.  I rarely finish a book where the story is interesting but the characters aren’t.  So, for me anyway, character is more important than plot.  I also think that it’s easier to fix plot than characters. If you have your characters downpat, you’re in great shape.  If your plot isn’t any good, there are many resources out there to help you make it better. It’s tough to fix flat characters.

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

The best thing about being an author is creating every day. Every day I get to wake up and make something.  It’s like living in Mr. Rogers’ “The Neighborhood of Make-Believe.” We create these little worlds and their inhabitants. It’s a really exciting process, when you think about it.  As far as what I enjoy the least, I don’t think I’m alone in listing promo.  🙂  That’s why I make my promo efforts as subtle as possible. My strategy has always been to build connections and to create visibility through a consistently-updated platform.

5 – 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?” 

People don’t like cookies?!  Can’t imagine! I like chocolate chip cookies: mostly the chewy type and not so much the crunchy ones. But I don’t bake them myself.  Fortunately, there are people who specialize in that sort of thing and they work at the grocery store deli.  I’m terrible at baking.  I either get distracted, am too impatient to measure properly, or mess up some aspect of the chemistry involved in the process.

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

I think he tells me that he took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.  And then he says that he has an idea for a book, but he wants me to write it.  He wishes he had time to write. And read.  And perhaps he’s curious where my ideas come from.

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

That I don’t get out much, but when I do, I’m collecting ideas for stories and characters. That I can promise  that doesn’t take a lot of time to write several books a year if you set your bar low and write consistently.  That I’m trying to read as much and as widely as possible because I’ve found that it really informs my writing, even though I don’t read the genre that I write. And that I have a really bad habit of trying to convince everyone I meet that they should try to write a cozy mystery because it’s so much fun. 🙂  So you’re lucky that you already write them, Ellen!  As for everyone else…why not give it a go?

Thanks so much for being on the blog, Elizabeth! I loved your answers, especially the one to the cookie question. I’m a big fan of chewy chocolate chip cookies too. 🙂

About Elizabeth

elizabeth-s-craig-white-background-me-787x1024Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries, Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries, the upcoming Village Library Mysteries, and Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently.

She blogs at ElizabethSpannCraig.com/blog , named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers.  She curates links on Twitter as @elizabethscraig that are later shared in the free search engine WritersKB.com. Elizabeth makes her home in Matthews, North Carolina, with her husband.  She is the mother of two.  To receive a free ebook, updates, and recipes, sign up for her newsletter at http://eepurl.com/kCy5j .

You can follow Elizabeth on BookBub, Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.