Kathleen Kalb, Historical Cozy Mystery Author

Kathleen has exciting news; her book, The Thanksgiving Ragamuffin, has been nominated for a 2022 Derringer Award for Short story from the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Congratulations!

This author didn’t start her career writing historical fiction. She started on the radio and in the newsroom. She is a weekend morning anchor at 1010 WINS, New York’s top all-news station. She lives with her family and cat in Connecticut. She also writes a blog, that you can access from her website.

What made you decide to write a Historical Cozy?
Well…I’ve been a history buff and a mystery fan since I was able to read, so the idea of putting the two together was just natural. Writing cozy was also natural; I’m a New York City radio news anchor and I get more than enough hard-boiled stuff at the office! So all of that was there. But honestly, Ella Shane and her world just grew around me as I was walking through Washington Square on my way to work. Many of the 19th century buildings are still there, and I found myself thinking about who would live there and what adventures they would have.

Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world?
The Ella Shane series is set in the Washington Square neighborhood of New York City in 1899-1900. It’s an artistic but respectable enclave, not all that far away from either the older Fifth Avenue mansions or the poorer immigrant neighborhoods.

Who is your protagonist? Tell us a bit about them and why they were chosen.
Ella Shane, born Ellen O’Shaughnessy, to an Irish father and Jewish mother, is a Lower East Side orphan who found fame and fortune as an opera singer specializing in “trouser roles,” heroic male parts sung by women. I got the trouser role idea first; I loved the idea of a woman who can duel and fight like a man, who challenges the limits of her time, and who’s also a bit of a star. But I didn’t want to spend time with a diva, and I doubted any readers would, either. She had to be real. So she became an orphan girl who’s survived deprivation and prejudice and made good thanks to her talent. I like to describe Ella as: part Anne of Green Gables, part Beverly Sills, part Errol Flynn, and all her own woman.

What sets your mysteries apart from other cozies?
For starters, Ella – the Diva Who Duels — is unique. As far as I know, while there are other mysteries set in the opera world, none have main characters who play trouser roles – or handle their own swordplay! She also stands out as a main character who’s from a mixed religious background (very unusual at the time) who practices the faiths of both of her parents. And the diversity of the cast in general is unusual for a 19th century cozy. Ella’s cousin and best friend Tommy Hurley is a boxing champ who’s “not the marrying kind,” i.e. as out and proud as it’s possible to be in 1899. The surrounding cast includes working women, working mothers, and people of every ethnicity that you’d find in New York in 1899. In the second book, A FATAL FIRST NIGHT, there’s even a key character who is Black and passing as white. And they’re all just who they are; this isn’t about checking boxes, it’s about telling a good story with a wide variety of characters.

How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books?
I think I’ve been researching these books since the elementary school library! The Victorian Era is one of my favorite historical periods (the Tudor Courts are the other) and I just love immersing myself in the time, the style, and everything involved in just being alive then. A lot of it does make it into the books – I hope not TOO much! Mostly, it’s about giving readers a strong sense of the place and period. So you’ll know what my characters are wearing, and how it feels to move in those clothes, for example. Much of the period detail becomes key plot points, too, of course. In A FATAL OVERTURE, the characters are hoping to avoid headlines about their murder case, so they’re very grateful to see a different scandal on the front page. I had to track down what would have been the top news in February 1900 to make that one work!

Do you feel the crimes committed in historical cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy?
Absolutely. While the handling of the crime is the same (no blood and guts, discreet descriptions of forensic evidence, etc.) as it would be in a contemporary, there are a lot of ways to kill people or solve a murder that are just off the table. No DNA, limited forensics. No information the main characters couldn’t get through traditional legwork. That’s what makes it so fun. Just as Inspector Poirot has to solve his cases with the “little gray cells,” we historical cozy writers have to set up ours with them! I admit, though, that I’ve given myself a little jump on this one: the Duke, Ella’s beau, trained as a barrister and has some forensic expertise – 1890s forensic expertise. So he brings a few twists to the table…but he still can’t whip out a DNA report. Which is as it should be.

A Final thought from Kathleen…

The best thing about writing Historical Cozies, for me, is being able to go back in time to this wonderful place and spend time with a group of people I love…and put them through some fun adventures!

You can follow Kathleen on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon or visit her Website to find out more from her.

I hope you enjoyed hearing from Kathleen. I have more Historical Cozy Authors to share!

Victoria LK Williams

We’ve got a project!

The authors of the USA Today Bestselling mystery anthology Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders have a really fun project in the works!

We’re releasing special edition print copies (both hardback and paperback) of our stories! They’ll be published in a set of ten books, with “flippy-floppy” editions containing two stories in each, for a total of twenty novellas.

Do you remember the books back when we were kids where they had front covers on both sides, and you’d turn them over to read the second story? They’re like that! Perfect for reading on your own or gifting to mystery-loving friends.

How can you get your hands on these? They’ll be special editions, only available only through Kickstarter. You can “back” the project (pledge your purchase) when the Kickstarter launches, and then if we fund the project your books will ship out in time for Christmas! What a great gift idea for the Cozy Mystery Lover!!

I hope you’ll support our exciting project. Please share with someone you think might also enjoy these limited edition books.


Mysterious Times…

Let me take you back in time, not too far gone, but just far enough that it’s different. A time when life was simpler, families were close, and crime wasn’t so complicated… Or was it?

Welcome to the genre of Historical Cozy Mysteries. In the next several blog posts, you will meet some of the leading historical cozy mystery writers. They will tell you about their series, their characters and what makes Historical Cozies so much different from a Contemporary Cozy.

Whether it’s set in America, or England, or somewhere else; the times were definitely different. Women were just beginning to assert themselves, the Industrial Revolution wasn’t far off, and there was still a distinction between the working people and the upper class.

There are also some cozy mysteries written in a time that we might even remember, or at least our parents would. That time of awakening after the world wars. Rock ‘n’ roll was just coming into existence, the Industrial Revolution had not only taken off but it was taking over. Inventions were coming right and left and it was a changing world. We also consider these Historical Cozy Mysteries.

I hope you’ll enjoy meeting these authors in getting to know how they come up with a crime fitting for the time they write about. How much research do they put into their work? What makes their characters different from the characters in a contemporary cozy? And most importantly, why do they write historical cozies?

Have you read a Historical Cozy Mystery? What did you like about it?

Now, sit back, grab a cup of tea, and relax as we go back to a gentler time…

Victoria LK Williams

My Favorite Part of Writing…

I love to plot!

The possibilities are endless, the characters new and the settings fresh. This is the part where my imagination takes flight, and I let it go, not trying to make sense of the ideas, just letting them flow. There is plenty of time later to say “no, that is silly” or “she would never do that” or “no way would they go there”.

I created this image from the AI program https://thispersondoesnotexist.com/

This is the part where I make new friends and find out all I can about them. I write character sheets with details I will probably never use. I visualize what they look like, use pictures of actors or faces created by an AI site, think about how they will sound and talk. What habits do they have? Are they going to be cast as hero or villain?

I research locations (google is great for that!) to create my story world. Usually I create a town that is not real, but very similar to a real town. I can add what I want then, putting parks, lakes, highways and downtown where it best suits my story.

Since I write cozy mysteries, I have to come up with a murder or crime. And that means a victim, cause of death, motive, suspects, red herrings, plot twists and a sleuth. And my sleuths all have four legged side kicks with tons of personality.

Gypsy from the Citrus Beach Mystery Series

Part of a cozy mystery is also about the side characters. And in a series, there are many that return over and over in each book. These characters need to be thought about too. There has to be a reason for every person placed on the page, good or bad.

My sleuth has to be someone relatable with connections to the location, characters and have some reason to be involved with the investigation. Otherwise, wouldn’t you just leave it for the authorities?

Speaking of the authorities, the sleuth must either work with or around them, but there has to be a way to get real information about the crime, so it’s best to plan a connection that makes sense.

How do I do all this? There are several steps to my method. I’ve tried different ways, but always seem to come back to these three…

Mind-map sample

First, I mind map; just throw ideas on the paper and see where and if they connect. This is also a good way to see how the characters connect to each other and the crime.

plotting with Plottr for a Beach House Mystery

Then I do a more step-by-step plot. I lay out a timeline, determine what action is going to be in each chapter, what characters are going to appear and why, what time of day or day of the week it is, where the action takes place… you get the picture.

Using Scrivener to write the story

Finally, I write, using my outline as a guide. But more often than not, my characters will take over at this point, and start changing things around or adding their own opinions of what should be happening. I kid you not. Sometimes I’ll look at a chapter and wonder where it came from, it certainty wasn’t in my outline!

And somehow, it all comes together, ready for the next phases; editing and publishing!

Victoria LK Williams

July-my month of Learning and Writing!

It seems crazy to designate one month as a special learning and writing month, and it wasn’t planned. July is the month (for me) that new seminars, conferences and webinars are open for attendance. And this year I’m trying to do as many as I can.

Mascote of Sleuth Fest
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

First there was Sleuth Fest. This was a four-day conference hosted by the Mystery Writers of America. Usually it’s held in the spring, which is my busy gardening time, but this year it was July and for the first time I could attend. Although the conference focuses more on traditional publishing, there was still plenty to learn and wonderful authors to meet. From writers starting on their first book to established authors with one hundred books, the entire conference was friendly and informative.

Now I’m doing an online conference called Inker’s Con. There are enough sessions to keep me busy for days! Top selling Authors, mostly indie, are conducting the sessions and panels (which I love!) on marketing and craft.

Later in the month will be the Self Publishing Conference, also online. I just can’t swing flying to England for a writer’s conference-yet. This is always a good show and full of great information.

And in between all the learning, it’s also Camp Nano Month. You know, write 50k in one month…

You might wonder why writers get involved in NaNo-it’s a lot of extra pressure, so I asked a few authors to share their thoughts.

Why do you participate in NaNo?

Sally Howe Bayless

Writing can be a solitary job. NaNo surrounds you with supportive, encouraging colleagues. The energy helps the words flow!

MP Smith

NaNo is a wonderful kick-start to your novel. It’s a competition with yourself to get a large chunk of writing done within a short time, and the NaNo process makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Writing with friends is always more fun.

Katie Brown

Nano provides a deadline to meet while also fostering comaraderie and encouragement as writers share their progress, wins, and setbacks.

Sheila McCallum Perry

Taking part in NaNo over the years has meant discovering the advantages of writing something every day-whether I feel like it or not!

Victoria LK Williams

My hubby calls me the Queen of Procrastination. He’s right, I’m terrible about doing things at the last minute. NaNo forces me to have a daily goal and the backup of fellow writers.

At the Pool with Miss Marple and Fletch

So there you have it, my educational July, all mapped out! With most of it online, you can be sure I will spend some of my learning time by the pool!

A Huge Thank You!

We would all like to extend our thanks for your support in the launch of Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders. Today the USA Best Selling Titles for last week came out and we made the list! And it wasn’t by a squeak, either; we ranked #52 out of 150 top titles. (James Patterson was #55).
You can find the list here (https://content-static.usatoday.com/editorial/life/booklist/usatodaybooks.pdf), it’s amazing the authors we are surrounded by!

I forgot to mention my book that is in the anthology. It’s the first in a new series, and only readers of the anthology will see it for several months! Lost and Hound, a Hibiscus Cove Mystery

You might have missed the preorder pricing, but the ebook is only $9.99-not bad for 21 books! And if you are a die-hard print reader it is also available in hardback.

Once again, thank you for all your support and encouragement. But don’t think you’ve see the last of this grouping of authors… I heard there might be another anthology in the works for next year!

Meet Roz Marshall

Roz Marshall is a prizewinning author of romantic women’s fiction, contemporary fantasy, and clean small-town romance. She loves writing uplifting stories set in her native Scotland, with strong heroines and page-turning plot lines. Roz writes delightful the Celtic Fey series and and the cozy series Secrets in the Snow. You can find all her books on Amazon, and follow her on Facebook. Be sure to sign up for her newsletter at her Website, and find all of the other many genres Roz writes in.

The Snowy Solstice Skeleton by Roz Marshall.
Two ski instructors went skiing on midsummer day. They didn’t expect to find a skeleton.

I didn’t ask Roz Marshall the questions, because she has already answered them! Roz also writes as RB Marshall and Belle McInnes. Roz is also the wonderfully talented woman who guided and reined in all twenty authors to create our anthology, Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders! As a writer, she is gifted and full of wonderful plots and characters. As a leader she is tireless; never too busy to answer questions, make suggestions and guide the creation of the anthology. She was inspiring to work with. If you haven’t gotten your copy of Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders, what are you waiting for?!?!? (FYI: the price is going up tomorrow, so don’t wait any longer). A huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to this wonderful author, from twenty grateful forever friends!

Meet Catherine Coles

Catherine writes cozy mysteries that take place in places like her home in the English countryside with her wonderful dogs. Her dad was in the military and she spent most of her first 14 years abroad. Her love of Nancy Drew books prepared her for writing cozy mysteries. She writes the Tommy & Evelyn Christie Mysteries and the Martha Miller Mysteries. You can find out more about her books from her Website (be sure to sign up for her newsletter!) and her Amazon Author page. You can follow her on Facebook too.

Catherine’s book in Mysteries, Summer Sun and Murders is Murder at the Seaside.
Keen to enjoy some time relaxing before the birth of their first baby, Tommy & Evelyn Christie decide to take a family holiday to Scarborough. No sooner have they settled in to the Majestic Hotel than a rather sweet old lady tumbles down the main staircase to her death. The hotel manager, aware of their reputation as successful amateur sleuths, begs them to show Mildred Montgomery was the victim of murder rather than an accident caused by a safety issue that could affect the reputation of the hotel. What will come first: the end of their holiday, solving the murder, or the birth of the Christie’s baby?

Lets find out some more about the author!

Everyone takes a tote bag with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
I’ll take my Kindle, a paperback in case it gets too hot for the kindle, probably a second paperback just in case I finish the first one. Next is sunscreen, bottles of water, and a bit of change for an ice cream J

Share something readers wouldn’t know about you.
I have had a wide range of jobs that include legal secretary, care worker in a nursing home, bar worker, legal assistant, childminder, foster carer, car sales worker, HR Manager…and finally an author. Funny thing? When I was young, I always wanted to be a teacher!!

What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Always the characters. Sleuths first, then the victim, and finally the suspects and ancillary cast. I might have a vague idea about who dies, and how, but never why. Once I have a cast of characters, I then assign each of them a ‘secret’ they would do anything to keep hidden. Of course, during the book, that secret will be uncovered by my sleuths. Finally I work out the ‘how’ of the crime and if there needs to be a second crime – this is always my favourite part – I love plotting murder!!

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
If the book is set somewhere I have never been, then I tend to do as much research as I can. For instance, I have never been to Belgravia so before I started writing Murder in Belgrave Square, I watched a talk through the Women’s Institute about Belgravia so I had an idea of its history, and the buildings, so my book was more authentic. As Scarborough is closer to where I live, and Covid restrictions are less stringent, I took a trip for a few days so I could explore before I started writing Murder by the Seaside. I also have countless books on my bookshelf about life in the 1920s and 1940s so I make sure I get the social aspects of living during those times right. I’m also proud to say that when I started the Tommy & Evelyn Christie series I watched Downton Abbey in its entirety as ‘research’ 😀 Often things come up during my writing that I need to check. I always stop and research immediately – I’m too worried to put in a ‘placeholder’ and come back later to fix that part. Also I like to be certain that when a chapter is finished, it doesn’t show gaps in my knowledge that might affect later parts of the book. All that to say, research might take me anything from a day or two up to a week or more before I feel that I have enough information to start writing. It’s also one of my favourite parts of writing because I love learning new things.

Meet Cathy Tully


Cathy Tully is a chiropractor and writer. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, in Washington DC, where she studied foreign languages and linguistics. She changed careers and graduated from Life University, in Marietta, Georgia with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. She writes the Dr. Susannah Shine ChiroCozy Mystery Series and lives in small-town Georgia with her husband and rescue cats. You can find her books on Amazon, follow her on Facebook and find out even more about her books on her Website.

Cathy Tully’s book in our anthology, Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders is Palm Trees and Perjury.
Dr. Susannah Shine takes a much-needed vacation with her best friend Bitsy Long and Bitsy’s pot-bellied pig, Priscilla, tagging along. She is overdue on a promise to visit her ex-NYPD partner, Anthony Mancuso, and his wife Irma at their home in Florida. Leaving her chiropractic practice, Dr. Susannah takes off for adventures in the Sunshine State. Of course, misconduct and wrongdoing are along for the ride. And I don’t just mean Priscilla and Bitsy!

And now a few questions and answers…

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
My favorite vacation spot is by the ocean. I love the sun and surf and I don’t think there’s anything more relaxing then being on the sand, soaking up the rays, swimming, beachcombing and reading.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
My tote has a towel, water bottle, sunscreen and a paperback. If I’m really on my game, I will bring a case for my glasses, so I don’t have to hide them in my sneaker.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?
The stories always are pure imagination. A lot of the settings, like the town where my series is set (not this summer story, since they are on vacation) or the type of house my side-kick, Bitsy, lives in are based on places I have seen. There’s a pecan orchard in my 3rd book, Fixation & Fraud. I got the idea for that setting driving by a pecan orchard not far from my house.

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you:
I hate mayonnaise.

Meet Connie B Dowell

Connie B. Dowell writes both cozy and historical mysteries. She lives in Virginia with her family and has had the wonderfully fun job of being a bookmobile driver. Her hobbies include painting, playing the violin and enjoying a good cup of coffee. Connie writes the Emmie and Dessa Mysteries, Millie Monroe Mysteries, has been included in the Cozy Mystery Tribe anthologies and books for writers. You can find out more about all her books and her blog on her Website. Her books are available on Amazon and you can follow her on Facebook.

For the Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders anthology, Connie has included;
Evil on the Eastern Shore… Vacation in a sleepy beach town…with secrets to kill for.

Bookmobile driver Millie and her best friend Abby take a little time off from the library to rest and relax on Virginia’s picturesque Eastern Shore. But their vacation turns deadly when a woman drops from a third story window… and she might have been pushed. Everyone Millie and Abby have met have seemed so nice, but could they have plans beyond a beach vacation? And does any of this have something to do with the estate of a famous local author or the secrets she put in her books?

Let’s find out more about Connie…

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
Secluded beach, please! Preferably with rocks or other interesting features. And I’m fine with going off-season. I don’t particularly want to swim in the ocean, but I love to walk along it and take photographs of nature, something best done when the beach is mostly empty.

Everyone takes a tote with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
My camera, of course. Then, a tripod if I can make it fit and any additional lenses, filters, and hood I might want for that particular day. Also a sweater. (I like visiting beaches when it is a little cool.) A towel (just in case and to protect the gear) and a water bottle.  Finally a flashlight, because nighttime on the beach is beautiful, but getting back off the beach again can be tricky in the dark.

Can you give us some insight into what makes your main character tick?
Millie is at an awkward stage. She dropped out of law school the year before, and now she doesn’t quite know what she wants to do with her life. After a long time of following all the rules, she’s getting in touch with her creative side (she’s brought her watercolors to the beach, naturally), navigating the scary world of dating as a bisexual lady, and solving cozy murders along the way. She could use a vacation! Too bad the villains of the world never take a day off.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?
It’s mostly imagination, but like Millie, I’m bi, don’t always know what to do with my emotions, and I was a law school dropout turned bookmobile driver for several years, and that time in my life was the inspiration for the series. I’ve also visited the Eastern Shore for an anniversary trip. No murders involved, thankfully. It was so cute and cozy! Gorgeous nature, wild ponies, adorable Queen Anne houses, and a feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world. A prime setting for a cozy mystery.