Do you love to read books with a holiday theme? I do! And they are showing up on the different book sites, just asking to be downloaded. I thought I would share some of the ones my author friends are publishing and make it easy for you to pick from.
We’ll start with Halloween. Think spooky black cats, ghosts, murder and mayhem. Oh, and witches, there are plenty of witches! Ready? Here we go!
And a taste to get you ready for the Christmas Holiday!
Watch for interviews from these great writers in the next couple of weeks! And next month, I’ll compile a list of Christmas books.
Have you gotten excited about the Brozy Mystery books and their authors? Well, here is another author who has taken the time away from writing to answer my questions and let us in on what goes on behind the pages. Enjoy!
Donna writes in several genre (police procedural, traditional cozy and whodunits) but says she’s found her comfort spot with Brozy Mysteries. You can find all of Donna’s links and social media here: https://campsite.bio/dbmcnicol Donna has all her books on Amazon and most are in the Kindle Unlimited Program.
How do you develop your plot and characters? I normally start with a location, a few characters, and a dead body or crime. I don’t do a lot of outlining, preferring to let the story grow as I write. Sometimes I don’t even know who the killer is until they reveal themselves to me. As a detailed, analytical type, I always thought I’d be a heavy outliner. Now it turns out I love writing from the seat of my pants, letting the ideas flow and grow as I type. I also work on scenes when driving or riding my motorcycle.
What time of the day do you usually write? The best time for me to write is between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. I find I write best outside the home where there are too many distractions. I wrote the majority of my first two novels sitting in a local McDonalds. This was easy when we were full-time Rvers. Now that we live in a rural area, the closest McDs or coffee spot is thirty minutes away. So I struggle to keep my writing level up while at home.
How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one? I have half a dozen series in the planning stage. Some have been around for a while, some have come as a result of newly purchased pre-made cover sets. The most recent, and next to be written, is the Red Line Coffee Mystery series. I hope to have the first one out by January 2021. As a side note, my husband is retired from a thirty-one year career as a firefighter/paramedic/chief. Red Line Coffee Shop is run by three firefighters and the logo I designed was inspired by the “thin red line” images in use today. The Thin Red Line of courage is a symbol used by fire departments to show respect for firefighters injured and killed in the line of duty. As a firefighters are periled, they place their lives second to those they protect. They are forced to face their own fears and grasp for every ounce of courage to perform the necessary task. Garrett, aka Flipper, is the oldest owner of the shop. He’s in his mid 40s, divorced and loves scuba diving. He’s been with the department for twenty-five years, starting as a volunteer while still in high school. He is currently a driver engineer for the department. Brett, aka Smokey, is the next oldest. He’s in his late 30s, never been married (and never plans to be), and spends his spare time racing cars. After spending four years in college and getting a liberal arts degree, he backpacked around Europe and South America for another four years before joining the fire department where he’s stayed for twelve years. Thanks to education and hard work, he’s moved through the ranks to the level of lieutenant. The youngest is Stephanie, aka Stevie, aka Grizz. She’s in her mid 30s and is divorced from a local police officer. She’s been with the department for eight years after getting an associate degree at a small community college in her home town. After a couple of years of waitressing to survive, she moved in hopes of getting a better job. She met her husband and through his friends, tried out for the fire department. She is a firefighter/paramedic. All three currently work at the same station and are good friends. They do have a little help in the shop from Joni, aka Gabby, who is a single, part-time college student. Oh, and the names written on the cups are the “victims” in each of the books. Weezy is a retired fire inspector who worked on arson cases with both Garrett and Brett in the past. Newsie is the local newspaper owner/editor who never pulls any punches, always telling it as it is (or as he perceives it to be). Leathers is a sometimes homeless regular to the shop. He has an interesting past and was befriended by the group.
What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was real young, I thought I’d be a nurse like my mother. By my teenage years, I wanted to be an actress or dancer. No money for college, I initially considered going into the Army and even took the assessment tests. But life intervenes and I ended up married with children and working a variety of minimum wage jobs before stumbling into an office position that started my eventual career. The bookkeeper took me under his wing after discovering my aptitude for accounting. A few years later, I was introduced to programming computers (not the PCs around today, but the mainframes that fill rooms). My career in IT was born and I rose from a data entry operator to VP of Client Services. My fiction writing didn’t start until much later in life, after spending several years writing articles for various publications and online websites.
Tea or coffee Oh, definitely coffee! Mostly dark roasts served black. From time to time I do add cream and sugar and I use them both in my iced coffee. But I’m not a foo-foo coffee drinker, well, except for my love of a good iced cappuccino!
Morning person or Night owl Most of my life was spent with very little sleep. A morning shower was the only thing that woke me out of my stupor. Now that I’m retired, I’m loving the night owl life. I could easily stay up till the wee hours of the morning, then sleeping till noon. But I compromise and try to turn out the light between midnight and one, getting up by nine-ish.
Do you base your characters on real people? “All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.” Um, yup. That’s right. Okay. You see… [pause] I admit to using people I know as the base for some characters. The good thing is they know it and like it. It turns out I’m a visual person and I need photos of my characters (and locations) to help me write.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit about Donna; I did!
I am working on a few things for Halloween and Christmas, and there are a lot of writers out there that write their cozy mysteries with holiday themes. We will meet some of them and seeing what their new holiday books are. Can you believe I talking about the holidays?!?
Until next time, pick up a Brozy and see what it’s all about. And don’t forget you can buy my books directly and save! Sign up for my newsletter for more featured books and find out what’s going on in my writing life.
Paul is the first of the Brozy Authors you are going to meet. If you missed the last post, Brozy Authors write light, entertaining whodunit cozy mysteries that appeal to more traditional male interest. Either by the chief character being male or the story line taking a more masculine turn (think book store owner vs biker). If you haven’t tried a brozy, then you’re in for a whole new adventure!
Why do you write “Brozy”? I’ve loved mystery stories ever since I was a little kid—Encyclopedia Brown, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew. When I was in junior high, I burned through most of Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels. As an adult, I’ve absolutely loved the Kinsey Milhone and Stephanie Plum books. Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich don’t write cozies, but neither do they write blood-and-gore thrillers. Their protagonists are smart, savvy professionals who are highly competent but don’t take themselves too seriously. Their books hint at darker themes without being disturbing, and their books have a lot of humor without being silly or absurd. I majored in creative writing in college, and spent years trying to write literary fiction. In my forties, I realized I needed to change gears to write the books like the ones I love reading… and that’s why I find myself writing in this genre. I’ve often heard it called “soft-boiled” or “traditional,” but so often “traditional” means “British,” and my mysteries are set in California. What inspired you to start writing? I’ve wanted to be a novelist ever since I can remember. I majored in creative writing in college and published a few short stories, but I was never able to finish a novel. When I turned 45, I realized that if I wanted to call myself a novelist, I actually had to finish a novel.I re-started writing The Reluctant Coroner for National Novel Writing Month in 2017, and I promised myself that no matter what, I’d finish the book—even if I thought it was horrible or unsalvageable. And about two-thirds of the way through, I realized it needed to be written in third person, not first person. Before, that would have been enough for me to abandon the book, but I remembered the promise I’d made to myself. So I finished the book. It was a painful process to rewrite the whole thing in third person, but at the end, I’d finished what eventually became my debut novel. What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting? I’ve gotten some valuable advice over the years. The most valuable thing is to finish what you start. Many writers have a few half-finished novels—some have dozens! Promising yourself you’re going to finish and then actually finishing is the most valuable thing I’ve ever learned. As Jodi Picoult says, “You can’t edit a blank page.” But editing a bad novel and making it good is possible, and usually way less painful than starting over. One more piece of advice: write 200 words every day. NaNoWriMo was great to get my first book going, but it’s 1,600-plus words a day is daunting. 200 words, though, is usually fifteen or twenty minutes, and it’s something you can do even at the end of a busy day or at the end of your lunch break. Sometimes I find that I don’t want to write at all, but then I force myself to write those 200 words—and I get into a groove before those 200 words are up. Suddenly, three hours will have passed in an instant and I’ll have written 4,000 words. How do you develop your plot and characters? My wife was looking into becoming a nursing student, and she began to research careers in the field. In California where we live (and in several other U.S. states), an MD isn’t required to be a coroner. I started thinking about what would lead a nurse to become a coroner, and came up with Fenway Stevenson. A lot of the personality of Fenway and her father came from the simple idea that a father would insist on naming his daughter after his favorite team’s home stadium (for those of you who aren’t baseball fans, the Boston Red Sox play in Fenway Park). When I started writing The Reluctant Coroner, all I had was the character of Fenway, the character of her father, and the identity of the murderer. I didn’t even know who the victim was when I began the first chapter! But as I wrote, both the plot and characters began to take shape. Many times, something would happen in the plot that surprised me—not as I was writing it, but just before it took shape. Quite often, these plot threads would take the story in an entirely different direction, or would turn an extremely minor character into a strong secondary character. What time of the day do you usually write? Before the pandemic, I used to travel a lot for work, and would often find myself with 20 minutes waiting for my flight to board, or back in my hotel room after a business dinner, and I’d take that spare time to write. I listen to “The Bestseller Experiment” podcast, and bestselling author Shannon Mayer discussed how working authors don’t have time to “wait” for their Muse—they have to grab their Muse by the horns and wrestle it to the ground and insist that inspiration come immediately. So I don’t wait for a time of day to write or a seat at my favorite coffee place to open up. I can write anywhere at any time. Most often, I’m in my home office at my desk, but I’ll take fifteen minutes at lunch, grab an hour before work, or wake up early on a weekend to write. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Unlike 85% to 90% of the population, I don’t have an internal monologue. I don’t think in complete sentences—my thoughts are more nebulous, and it’s like they unspool when they transform into words that come out of my mouth or off my fingertips onto the keyboard. As a result, my first three novels had early drafts that were littered with “filtering words” or “distancing words,” instead of the free direct narration that most readers prefer—and that give books a sense of immediacy. (These are phrases like “she saw the car drive away,” “she decided to get up,” or “she realized she needed to tell him the truth,” instead of the much more direct “the car drove away,” “she got up,” or “she told him the truth.”) I used these filtering words because it’s the way I experience the world, and the direct narration felt fake to me. My editor is the one who made me realize that I’m the odd duck—that free and direct narration is much more effective. This last novel, number six, was the first in which I didn’t overuse filtering words—and as a result, it had the least amount of red ink coming back from the editor. Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers? Many writers I know couldn’t write anything when the pandemic first started and the world closed down. For me, writing was the only thing that took my mind off everything horrible that was happening in the world. Because I don’t have an internal monologue, I could unspool the thoughts that made me write my book instead of unspooling the thoughts that led me into anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, I don’t have any tips because my brain is weird like that. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I’ve written six novels in this series and a novella of one of the secondary characters 25 years before the start of the first book. I always feel like the last book I’ve written is my favorite. Often, it’s because I’ve challenged myself to do something I wasn’t sure I could do—for instance, Book 5, The Courtroom Coroner, is what TV people call a “bottle episode”: it all happens in a single room without people coming or going. Currently, my new release, The Watchful Coroner, is my favorite because I can see the progress my characters have made along their arcs, and it’s very satisfying to see it. When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also you? Fenway Stevenson’s character arc is the thing that keeps me fresh. She’s at a different point in her relationship with 1) her father, 2) her main love interest, and 3) her job as coroner in every single book. It feels natural to me that she’d progress (and sometimes regress) in the way she has. Where do you get your inspiration? Rarely have I ever been inspired by a true-crime headline, but I have taken ideas from situations I’ve experienced in the past—with a murder overlaid. For example, I was in a Shakespeare troupe in college, very similar to the North American Shakespeare Guild in Book 4, The Upstaged Coroner. While none of the characters (except the director) were based on real people, the intensity of the rehearsals, the camaraderie of the company, and the emotions that the play brought to light are the things I hope I translated to the pages of the book. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers? Not many readers have noticed this, but Fenway—who has a difficult and strained relationship with her father—never calls him “Dad” except to his face. When talking about him, she always says “my father.” This changes at some point in the series… and for readers of the books, it’s probably obvious where it is and what the catalyst of the change is. What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel? I’ve started on Book 7, The Accused Coroner, and it will wrap up some of the longer arcs in the series. I plan to go on to write at least two more Fenway Stevenson novels after this and maybe more. How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one? I have ideas for three other book series. One is about a private investigator who’s at the center of a 12-book series of interconnected crimes called Murders of Substance. One follows a secondary character from Fenway Stevenson Book 2, The Incumbent Coroner, and the investigations she spearheads. And one has another estranged father/daughter duo as the main characters, on the run from federal agents after being set up for a crime they didn’t commit. I hope to start one of those series after writing book 7 in the Fenway series. What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Even in my late teens and early twenties, most of my protagonists were women, and I’ve always been told I have a good sense of narrative voice when my main character is female. I’m not sure why, but I did take one of those Marcus Buckingham “First Discover Your Strengths” tests, and I’m high in empathy. Perhaps I find it easier than most people to put myself in another person’s shoes? The one thing that DOES get me, though, is giving Fenway believable reactions in certain situations. For example, Fenway had a tough conversation with a co-worker, and walked home in the twilight from her co-worker’s apartment to hers—about two miles, with her headphones in listening to music. My critique group POUNCED on that—there’s no way, no matter how safe the neighborhood, that a woman walking by herself at night would do it with headphones in. Fenway is half-Black, too, and there were a bunch of things about basic day-to-day stuff like hair care that I had to be told to go research because I was getting it wrong. What was your hardest scene to write? In an early scene The Reluctant Coroner, Fenway’s assistant gets a little tipsy and then confesses that the murder victim sexually assaulted her two days before his death. The scene in which she talks about what he did was by far the hardest scene I ever had to write. Part of it was because of the disturbing subject matter (although it’s relatively tame compared to many thrillers), but part of it was also because I hadn’t ever written anything like that before. I hadn’t plotted that scene out, either—it was a complete surprise to me that she confessed it to Fenway. I couldn’t write another word in the book for three days afterward, and probably only started again because it was during NaNoWriMo and I was getting behind on my words.
The first book in the Fenway Stevenson Mystery series, The Reluctant Coroner, is free (at least until October 1) on all major e-book retailers: www.books2read.com/fenway1
Before I continue with the next round of author interviews, I’d like to introduce you to a new genre of cozy mystery. I’m really excited about this new group of books and authors and think you will too.
Meet Kent Halloway…
Kent Holloway started a Facebook group to get the word out about Brozy Mysteries, and that is how I found him and the genre. You’d be surprised at the authors who are getting on board with this movement. So, without further ado, here is Kent’s introduction to the Brozy Mystery Movement.
Brozies! Brozies! Brozies! Why Won’t This Guy Shut Up About Brozies?
By J. Kent Holloway
Short answer to the blog post title: Probably not. At least for quite a while anyway. In fact, you’re probably going to see me talking more and more on the topic of brozy mystery. The beautiful thing is, you’re probably going to start seeing a lot more people talking about it in the blogosphere as well. The reason? It’s catching on. It’s becoming a thing. It’s building momentum. More and more authors are jumping on board. And it’s beautiful.
On a personal level, I’m not likely to stop talking about brozies for another reason. You see, after nearly ten years of writing across all spectrums of genres (thrillers, pulp, adventure, horror, and fantasy), I finally found my niche. The problem was, my niche didn’t have a clearly defined genre. It was mystery, sure. It was clean. No foul language. No sex (barely any romance at all). I was too clean for straight up mysteries. But my books were too masculine-centric to find a comfortable place among the frills and cupcakes of the cozy genre too (heck, when I mentioned wanting to write cozy mysteries, my own mother had the audacity to ask, “Aren’t they a little girly for you?” She was actually embarrassed by the prospect, and rightly so, I think. I don’t do cats or tea parties. I don’t do book clubs and baking. I don’t do florists or caterers.
I do mystery and adventure. I do mystery and jungles. I do mystery and voodoo. I do mystery and lost treasures. I do…well, you get the point.
So, I ventured forth to build a genre that best suited my own particular brand of cozy mystery…the brozy mystery. It was a female fan and reader who came up with the name, by the way. And, as you’d expect, it isn’t without its controversies. I’ve been labeled a misogynist and sexist for even suggesting such a thing. The reason is easy to understand. The word ‘bro’ carries with it a certain derogatory connotation by many. To these people, it harbors visions of frat guys and douchebags who womanize and cheat and lie to get what they want. To me, the word ‘bro’ carries with it another ideal. That of ‘brotherhood’. Brotherhood conjures up concepts such as bravery, loyalty, being steadfast. I think of rugged exceptionalism (another bad word to some in this day and age). Of heroic deeds. It conjures images of knights in shining armor, Buck Rogers, and Indiana Jones. Good guys (whether male or female) wearing white hats and villains wearing black.
Brozies to me appeal to interests that are traditionally more masculine in nature. Spies, race car drivers, stunt men, adventurers, archaeologists, space cadets. Guys are more interested in Star Wars than they are the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. They’re more interested in football than in crafts. They want stories that excite and pump up the adrenaline. I know a lot of women who want this too, by the way. I can’t tell you the number of messages I’ve received recently from female readers who’ve thanked me for spearing-heading this. Women who just can’t take another cupcake recipe in the back of a mystery (their words, not mine).
Sexist or not, men are less inclined to read books that appear catered to the female reader (I know there are some exceptions because I’m one of them). It’s also true that die-hard readers of cozies (in the form they are now in) aren’t open to more masculine interests (i.e. a futuristic space cozy).
I know this because I’ve recently come across a male writer, Richard Dee, who created a fantastic cozy mystery series called the Andorra Pett series which is set on Saturn. All sorts of fun sci-fi tropes, many which are retro. It originally featured a female sleuth with cute traditionally cozy covers, but yet, according to the author, it’s been difficult to find traction. (He’s recently revamped the covers for a more brozy vibe.) Traditional cozy readers are slow to accept new concepts, especially those that are set in the future in space. So Richard was most pleased to find out little group of Brozy enthusiasts who are looking to change the literary (or at least, cozy) world.
There are other mystery authors out there who are a little more grounded in our world. Recently, I’ve discovered Colin Conway and his Brody Steele series. I’m currently reading book one, Cozy Up to Death, and it’s so much fun. The book (series) takes the cozy mystery and turns it up on its ears. The protagonist is an ex-biker enforcer. But he’s currently in witness protection. And he’s forced to own and run a bookstore (check off one cozy trope). The bookstore has a cat (check another cozy trope), and of course, our hero is not a cat person. But a biker-sleuth? Unheard of! And awesome! And funny. And clean as a whistle (although I’ve never known why whistles are supposed to be clean).
And if you subscribe to my newsletter, you already read my interview with John Gaspard and learned about his fantastic Eli Marks Mysteries. In them, Eli Marks, a typical guy with all the problems guys have, is a professional stage magician. He’s not the best. He’s not the worst. But he makes a good living at it, as well as the magic shop he and his uncle run. But of course, Eli stumbles on bodies quite frequently and uses his skills to help solve murders and other crimes. There’s not a crotchet stick or recipe anywhere to be found. But guys love magic. So it’s awesome, and I consider it a brozy. I’m just not sure it appeals to the classic cozy reader.
That’s why this brozy genre is so important. So people can find these books easier. The dream is to have you, the reader, simply type ‘brozy mystery’ into Amazon’s database and be presented with all the amazing mysteries that guys (and ladies who like more manly tropes in their books) will love all in the one place. By the way, try it. Try searching for ‘brozy mysteries’ in Amazon. Once you bypass Amazon’s spellcheck procedure trying to switch things to ‘cozy’, you’ll already be presented with several books whose authors believe to be perfect for the brozy mystery genre.
This is an exciting time to be a writer! An exciting time to be a fan of clean mysteries with more manly appeals. I hope you’ll embrace the dream, and join us on this journey! Oh, by the way, if you’re interested in learning more, go to Facebook and join our Brozy Mysteries R Us group. We’d love to have you!
It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I’m watching the birds and squirrels from my window trying to outsmart each other in their attempts to get to the peanuts I put out on the table for them. So far, the Blue Jays are winning. I’m excited for you to meet our next author, so let’s get right to it!
Meet Rachel Rivers…
Rachel writes light-hearted cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist. Her books are on Kindle and in Kindle Unlimited. You can find out all about her series, Hex Falls Paranormal Cozy Mysteries on her Amazon Author Page.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Life, friends, family, my father.
Plotter or Pantser?
Plotter for sure.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write what you love… but make sure it has an audience if you expect to make any money. If you don’t care about money…write what you love and be happy.
How long have you been writing?
Seriously, for about 12 years. But I’ve actually been writing since I was eight, hoping to get serious.
How do you handle writer’s block?
People are going to hate this, but I don’t get writer’s block. I always have ideas. I’m always able to write. Living long enough to write all of my ideas is my biggest concern.
How do you come up with the titles to your books?
A lot of brainstorming! LOL And help from my nineteen-year-old.
Describe a typical writing day.
I’m up at 6:15, let the dogs out, shower, typically make tea, and sit down at my desk by no later than 6:45. I then write non-stop until about 11:30, when I usually break to eat, talk to a writing friend, then head back into my second session of writing from around 1:00 to 3:30ish pm. Then it’s dinner and marketing, marketing, marketing from 7:00 to 9:30 pm as I watch TV, and that’s it! Writing-wise. Phew! Enough, right?
Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
Full-time. As you can tell by my schedule above.
What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part of the writing journey?
My favorite part is hearing from fans. People who have enjoyed or being moved, in some positive way, by my stories. That’s what makes me happiest. My least favorite part is composing Chapter Ones. Chapter One is always the hardest for me to get right. It always feels like it’s being dragged out of me.
As I write this post, I can look out my window and see the clouds racing by, getting darker with each hour. We are under a hurricane warning and the storm is supposed to skim the Florida coastline. It’s not a powerful storm, but only the first of the season for us. A foretaste of the rest of the season. If you are also in the storm’s path, I wish you safety.
LeAnna writes Fantasy or genres and is now beginning to write Cosy Mysteries. You can find her books on Amazon, in the Kindle Unlimited program. Check out her Amazon Author Page.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for 10+ years. Well, that’s how long I’ve been published, I think I’ve been writing for 20+ years. I started writing in Highschool during my homeschool free time. I started with Star Wars Fan Fiction, but when a friend of mine saw my writing her critique pushed me to create my own characters. That eventually lead to my current mystery books. One is called the Art of Facts and the other is called Sparx of Suspicion. The Art of Facts is a 1920’s steampunk-themed cozy that features an African American Archaeology Professor. Sparx is a contemporary mythic themed cozy that features a Native American elf named Sabiya Feathercroft.
How do you handle writer’s block?
Sometimes music helps. When I was writing my Mystic Ranch Mysteries, I was struggling to get a feel for Sabiya’s (my MC) personality until I came across a song featuring Lindsey Sterling called Something Wild. Really, it’s one that focuses more on Sabiya’s love interest Bridger Kane, but through his eyes, I was able to get a lens on Sabiya. With Art of Facts, I had a playlist of techno swing music. Bands like Caravan Palace.
How do you come up with the titles to your books?
Sparx of Suspicion came to me because Sabiya’s best friend in the book runs a coffee shop called Sparx. The Art of Facts came to me from the fact that the MC Maxine deals with out of place artifacts in the book.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it? Oh, that’s tough, Sabiya would have to be played by a Native American Actress. Bridger… well, Josh Gates could probably do it.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
For Mystic Ranch, I draw my inspiration from mythology and folklore. Sabiya is a Canoti (Sioux elf), Bridger is a male Sprite, Lexiana (Sabiya’s best friend) is a centaur, and so is Cyrus (who raised Sabiya like his own daughter after hers died when she was thirteen). My world is full of mythics just leading ordinary lives. That is, until murder strikes. A lot of the inspiration for The Art of Facts came from watching old movies.
LeAnna’s Closing Comments
As you can see, I write a little of everything, but I love the mystery genre right now. And My closing words for you are don’t limit your creativity by what might or might not sell. If you can write it somewhere out there is someone who will read it and love it. You might be the starting point for a future writer. Have a great day, stay safe, and as I say on my podcast Keep Cozy.
I have to add how much I love LeAnna’s covers! I look forward to reading her books.
Can you believe it’s the end of July? Nothing seems normal this year, including the passage of time! I hope you are all well and healthy and somehow enjoying your summer months. It’s been the typical weather pattern here in South Florida: hot and humid, with afternoon thunderstorms. Oh well, at least the weather is predictable.
I have an announcement before we meet our next author; Mist By The Lighthouse, book 3 in the Beach House Mystery Series, was released yesterday. I am so loving this series! You can get your copy fromBooks2Read.
Now let’s discover another author…
Meet Tammie Hunter
Tammie writes Science Fiction and Paranormal Suspense. Her literary career began at the age of seven. Inspired by her favorite Looney Tunes character, Marvin the Martian, she wrote about the adventures of Jigme from the planet Doobar. Through Jigme’s trials and tribulations as he searched for his family, a great love was born. Although she continued to write over the next four decades, a successful career in the US Air Force took center stage. After a career-ending injury ended her military career, and with the love and support of her family, friends, and the VA, Tammie earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and once again found herself in public service. Today, she writes at night after a long day at work, after a formidable forty-five minute battle with the treadmill, and finally after ensuring the kitchen is once again safe for human visitors. Tammie continues to hope that one day her day job and her dream job will be one in the same.
What inspired you to start writing? My mother is from the Philippines. She married my father, an Air Force jet engine mechanic. When I was ten years old, my teacher sent home a progress report which declared my penmanship to be atrocious. Yes, the pointy-nosed woman actually used the word atrocious! After Mom and I looked up the word atrocious, she mandated that every day after I finished my homework, I would spend an hour each day practicing my penmanship. As one would imagine, I was miserable and complained the entire sixty minutes. Since my mother was still learning how to speak English, she proposed that instead of lines and lines of cursive letters, I write a story. This way she could learn English and I would practice my penmanship. Thus was born Tammie Hunter the writer. I wrote four installments of the travels of Jigme from the planet Zoobar. Like me, Jigme was ten years old and had a little brother who annoyed him constantly. One day, while on vacation with his family, Jigme gets lost. I, my mother, and Jigme experienced several ups and downs during his journey to his family. Along the way, my penmanship improved and my mother passed her US citizenship test with a score of 100%.
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers? I have three that have become my mantra: (1) write every day, even if it’s not on your book. Maybe a journal entry, a list of things you are grateful for, or a cherished memory from your childhood. Just write. (2) Read. Stephen King once said, you can’t be a writer if you don’t read. He’s spot on, I believe (3) And, most important: Never quit. I didn’t publish my first book until I was 50 years old. I began that book three days after my 15th birthday. In those thirty-five years, I was an airman with the US Air Force, a student who earned a Master’s degree, and a lost women forced to start a new career after a devastating injury at the age of thirty-three. Life may slow the writer in you down, but it can’t stop her. Never, ever quit.
Who is your favorite author and why? My favorite author is Clive Cussler, may he rest in peace. I want a book to transform me to another world, to lose myself and live the character’s adventure. Mr. Cussler has been just that for me for almost forty years. After a long day of treatments and therapy, I could always trust Dirk Pitt and Giordina to transport me away from my painful reality long enough to give me the strength to face my life again. Through Mr. Cussler’s prose, I have saved the world many times whilst traveling to the Sahara to the deepest oceans. His books stay with me long after I’ve read the last page. I hope one day that my readers will love Travis and Annabelle (my protagonists) with the same intensity and devotion.
How do you develop your plots and characters? While some of my characters and plotlines come from my dreams, most come from everyday life. I am a devoted people watcher with a wild and uncontrollable imagination. I’ve created not only characters but also entire storylines inspired by the people I see in grocery stores, airports, and doctor’s offices. I once wrote a short story about a woman I saw in Boston’s Logan Airport. Dressed head-to-toe in glowing lime green, in my imagination she was an undercover CIA agent following a known terrorist who had a fondness for vivid colors and vivacious women.
Book summary: Annabelle spent her life labeled an Imperfect…
An alien humanoid race invades Earth and enslaves its inhabitants. Annabelle and her sister survive genetic testing at the hands of Silas Tricbar. Separated from her sister, Annabelle escapes the genetically modified Lixtar soldiers and finds refuge amongst Earth’s rebel forces. Twenty years later, she learns the truth about her genetic testing and joins newfound alien allies. Once considered imperfect, Annabelle becomes Earth’s best hope in the struggle for freedom from Tricbar’s tyranny.
…Now she’s their only hope
The fireworks are over, graduations (such as they were this year) complete, and vacations have started. In other words, we are in full gear summer mode. My husband and I are doing “staycations” this year; lounging by the pool with the cats. What about you? Are you sticking close to home in light of the pandemic or branching out from the nest? One benefit of a slower-paced summer is plenty of time for reading. I have read several books by Angela K. Ryan and love them. And I think you will too. Now onto the interview.
Meet Angela K. Ryan…
Angela K. Ryan is a Cozy Mystery author, and you can find her books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. She writes the Sapphire Beach Cozy Mystery Series.
When did you start writing? I have loved to write for as long as I can remember. In college, I majored in Print Journalism and worked briefly in that field as a freelancer, but soon decided to go in another direction. I got my Master’s in Ministry and have worked in college campus ministry ever since. However, several years ago, I realized how much I missed writing. I published some religious fiction under another name, and plan to write more in that genre, but I also wanted to try something lighter. Cozy Mysteries were the natural choice. I have always enjoyed reading them – my Kindle is filled with cozies – and I discovered that I LOVE writing them as well. Strong female sleuths, often in the midst of a life transition, who live in a close-knit community with an interesting puzzle to solve. What more could you ask for?
What do you hope your readers take away from your books? I try to make each one of my cozies fun, clean escapes with characters that uplift and inspire. As a reader, I frequently turn to cozy mysteries at the end of a long day to relax and escape from the pressures of work and life, or when I am dealing with something particularly challenging that I need to put aside for a while. You could say that cozies are my drug of choice! Similarly, I hope that when people read one of my books, they feel as though they’ve been taken on an enjoyable adventure away from their own stresses and challenges.
How long, on average, does it take you to write a book? I wish my process were faster. I start out with a rough outline, usually creating all the suspects, some of their secrets, motives, etc. I also jot down ideas for plot twists and turning points, but many of them come to me as I’m writing. Then I briefly outline any subplots. After I’ve gone as far as I can with the outline, I write the first draft. If I can devote 3-4 hours a day to writing, I can write the first draft in about ten days, but it is still VERY rough. That first draft sucks the life out of me!
Then I start the editing process. This is where the writing process becomes fun for me again! I polish it up, add in more suspense, twists, and turns. This takes about two weeks. Then I do another two read-throughs, which go much more quickly. I enjoy plotting and the last few drafts the most.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination? Several elements in my stories are taken from real life. My main character, Connie Petretta, has a background in humanitarian work, having she spent time after college volunteering in Kenya. This is based on personal experience. For a number of years, a friend and I had a small non-profit organization and raised funds for impoverished communities in Rwanda and India. I had the opportunity to visit Rwanda twice, which is what inspired the idea of having an m.c. with connections in Africa. I chose Kenya because at the time my main character would have been doing her post-graduate service, many programs had suspended volunteering in Rwanda because of the genocide. So, since one of my best friends is from Kenya, that is the country I chose for Connie.
Also, the last names of my main characters – Petretta and Belmonte – are taken from my family tree.
My mom lives in southwest Florida and my Sapphire Beach Series takes place in a fictitious town in southwest Florida. I love spending time there and I enjoy bringing it to life in my books.
And finally, there are some funny stories in my books, especially in Books One and Three, that are based on true stories. I won’t give away any spoilers, but the funny stories are connected with Gertrude, a loveable octogenarian. You’ll have to read the books to find out more!
In August, I will continue the author interviews, but with a bit of a twist. No, I’m not giving out any clues, but boy, you will enjoy this next series! (hint-hint; there’s two clues in that sentence, ha-ha!). While you’re working out my puzzle, I’m off to continue the next book in the Beach House Mystery Series. Don’t forget,Mist By The Lighthouse,book 3, is now up for preorder.
I hope you are all enjoying the 4th of July weekend. Currently, as I look out my window into my garden, I’m seeing a light show. But it’s nature’s show, full of lightning, heavy rain and rumbling thunder. I don’t mind at all; I love a good thunderstorm.
Before we meet our next author, I would like to announce that book 3 in the Beach House Mysteries, Mist By The Lighthouse is now up for preorder!
And now onto our next writer and my friend…
meet Jessica Baker…
Jessica writes cozy mysteries, with a focus on historical cozies. She is also writing historical romance. Jessica has just released her first cozy mystery and you can find it on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited.
How long have you been writing? I started writing in elementary school, but I only just published my first book at the end of March. I started looking into writing as a serious career option in 2017.
Do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on this year? This year, I’m going to be focusing on writing and finishing more books to be published. Right now, I’m focusing on adapting a script I wrote in school into a historical romance novel. I’m really excited about that.
What do you like to do when you are not writing? I like knitting and crocheting when I’m not writing. I’ve made several dresses and shirts for myself, although most of them are too hot to wear in Florida.
What is your writing Kryptonite? My writing Kryptonite is either being too wordy or not wordy enough.
Plotter or Pantser? I am a plantser, which is a combination of a plotter and panter. I usually come up with a loose outline for the story before I begin. I know where the story will begin and end, but the journey in the middle takes on a life of its own while writing.
Hello everyone! I hope you are all safe and healthy. And taking advantage of being home to catch up on your reading. And getting to know new-to-you authors! Here is our next guest… I am so pleased to introduce our next author. We have become great friends, and I have the privilege of being part of Trisha’s ARC team! I can promise you her books are enjoyable and a splendid way to spend an afternoon.
Meet Trisha J. Kelly…
A multi-genre author. Cozy, mystery, crime, children, middle-grade. Those are her published books. She is now also working on YA, horror, historical fiction, and a contemporary comedy. She enrolls all her books with KU available as E-books and paperback. Her books are 99p so everyone can afford to read them.
When did you start writing?
I started writing this time around, in November 2016. It was at a time in my life I wanted a change, writing was something I’ve always wanted to do. As a child, I wrote poetry and won first prize in a national competition. I then went on to write a few poems in the early 90’s which were published alongside other authors.
Back then I wrote a book for children called the Bromington Nomad. I didn’t do anything with it, it’s still in a folder. All these years later I’ve taken that fictional place and I’m using it in my current set of cozy books.
So, in November 2016 I wrote my first book. The first in a middle-grade series called Discovering Witchetty Waters. It took off, I won two awards and hit some No.1 hotspots on Amazon in Hot New Releases and Children’s Books. It was an honour to be sandwiched among the great writers, even if for a short while!
Describe your writing space. Most of the year we stay in our caravan, which is right beside the seafront on the West Norfolk coast in the UK. It is central for my husband’s work and we have a beach on the doorstep. This is a great playground for our dogs (or it was) sadly, we lost one this January after nearly 14 years of cuddles and fun. Our other dog is a monkey for his age, so we don’t let him off the lead alone now, for a little guy he is still full of mischief! So, this is my space, and it’s a great one for writing.
Who is your favorite character? This has got to be Rosie, Rosie Wodehouse in my Bromington series. She has a great personality, loving, generous, astute, and a tiny bit fragile. She also has great resolve and doesn’t let life get her down when times have been tough.
Does one character hold a special place in your heart, and why? Again, this is Rosie Wodehouse. Sometimes in life do you ever think, I wish I could turn back the clock? Do things differently? I suppose in Rosie, I’m living the alternate side of life through her. I’ve had some great times and I love my family, but if I had my time again, I would never have married the wrong guy the first time! I would have met my husband ten years earlier, and then this would have been my dream, investigating! Living in a gorgeous property and raising my family in an idyllic place. So, as a writer, I’m giving this lady my ‘perfect’ life! If that makes sense.
What do you hope your readers take away from your books? My heart and soul. When we write, we project our personalities into everything we create. I hope people can feel my characters, believe my stories, and enjoy them. Can’t ask for any more than that, really.
The first of July is this week! Not only does that mean summer is in full swing, but it is also the signal for many writers, like myself, to buckle down and write! Once again, I will take part in Camp NaNo. My goal is to write 45-50k words in 30 days. I’ve done it before, so I know I can do it. Good luck to all who are joining in on the writing challenge.