Meet Polly Holmes

Can you believe how fast the last quarter of 2020 is passing by? Halloween is over, and plans are being made for that big turkey dinner. And then, with a blink of an eye, we are decorating and planning for the Christmas holiday. Our next award winning author writes in a range of holiday mysteries.

Polly’s cozy mysteries can be found in Kindle Unlimited and at Gumnut Press Bookstore. Now lets find out more about Polly…

Why do did you write a holiday theme mystery?
Living in Australia, Halloween is not as celebrated here as much as it is in the US so I love to immerse myself in creating what could be if I lived there. I love all the mystery and intrigue that surrounds the holiday and the chance to dress up. The holiday gives me so much inspiration to create and imagine what could be.

new release!

In my mind, there is always a little bit of magic that surrounds Christmas. You can’t beat a great Christmas story that takes you on a journey into the world of the North Pole and Santa’s workshop. A story filled with fun, love, excitement and a little bit of mischief. I love writing about Christmas in winter, the snow, a warm fire and hot chocolate. Living in Australia our Christmases are always hot and humid so to create a winter world I can dive into, complete with Santa and the Elves is such as joy.

Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
Writing is my night-time and weekend passion. I am a full-time Drama teacher, but not your normal 9-5 teacher. I am run the Dance and Drama Department at my school, so not only do I have to teach the students, I have loads of admin to do and productions including after school rehearsals. My average day in 7.30am to 6.30pm. As you can imagine, fitting in writing in and around that is pretty hard. Because I self-publish, I also have to try and get promotional time in there which I guess is why I don’t get a lot of sleep.

If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
If Pumpkin Pies & Potions were made into a movie, apart from probably fainting at the opportunity of having one of my books on the big screen, Emma Stone would play the main character of Evelyn Grayson. At 11, Evelyn’s parents were tragically killed, and she moved in with her Aunt Edie in Saltwater Cove. This is where she finds out she’s a witch and her life is set on a new path of mystery, magic and mayhem. Her world goes haywire and she finds out life as a witch is not as easy as she first thought. Emma Stone is the perfect fit, beautiful, smart and a little on the tough side.
Jason Lewis would play the main character of Tyler Broderick, Evelyn’s best friend. They have been best friends since she moved in with her aunt and while he isn’t a witch, he has mad computer skills which prove useful in solving key clues in various murders.
Emily Blunt would play Aunt Edie. Her vast acting knowledge would bring a maturity to the role without making her too old. She is a hip, young aunt that isn’t afraid to take a risk where needed.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from my covers. Whether it be romance or a cozy, I have great cover designers and they provide me with the fuel to create my stories. At the start, I had no real idea what a cozy mystery was until I stumbled across Mariah Sinclair’s covers and brought 13 in one sale and then a writer friend said they were cozies and I had to learn what they were and how to write them.
Having been an obsessed addict of Murder, She Wrote and Nancy Drew it wasn’t hard to put pen to paper. I can see a cover and then a story begins festering in my mind and I have to just go with it. I had the cover of Pumpkin Pies & Potions designed by Victoria Cooper and she took the exact idea out of my head and created it brilliantly. I often run ideas by my sister and niece, they are great to brainstorm ideas with and they can send me on a whole new storyline with just one discussion. Problem is, once we start talking over the one idea, it soon becomes three or four books. As a writer, a great problem to have.

pre-order!

What is your favorite childhood book?
It’s not so much a book as a series. I LOVE (and till do) the Sweet Valle High Series. I still have the majority of them, albeit some warn and tattered. I wasn’t a fast reader, but if I had one of Francine Pascal’s SVH books in my hand you couldn’t get me to do anything until I finished it. I received a number of groundings from my mum because I wouldn’t put my book down. I must have read the series over twenty times. They were my first introduction to teenage romance, and I was hooked. I also loved Nancy Drew, I suppose that’s why I love writing mystery novels. Also, Enid Blyton’s the Wishing Chair. While I write cozies, I also write romantic suspense and contemporary romance under P.L. Harris. I think the love of reading romance has stayed with me since I picked up my first SVH book.

Polly is also part of a great group of writers that have written the Christmas Anthology, Christmas Crackers.

now available!

Polly also writes romantic suspense as P.L. Harris!

So, there it is; we’ve officially started the holiday book season! Grab you comfy slippers, a cup of hot chocolate, a warm blanket and a spot in front of the fire place-there are plenty of holiday cozies coming your way!

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Angela K. Ryan

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.

92948265_3075097849188692_7494302844405678080_n 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!

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A final word from Angela…
It’s always a treat to hear from readers and to chat with other authors! I’d love for you to introduce yourself by emailing me at angela@angelakryan.com

Be sure to visit Angela’s Amazon Author Page to find all her books!

Link to stay in touch via weekly updates: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/c6q6e7

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.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet C.A. Asbrey

Before we get the the interview, there is something important that must be said; HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the moms out there. This will probably be an unusual one for each of us, but not matter what the circumstances, know that you are loved and we are grateful for everything you do for us.

91913504_2857199287668183_6077577237228421120_n.jpgOur writer today is Christine Asbrey. 

About the Author
Chris Asbrey has lived and worked all over the world in the Police Service, Civil Service, and private industry, working for the safety, legal rights, and security of the public. A life-changing injury meant a change of course into contract law and consumer protection for a department attached to the Home Office.
In that role she produced magazine and newspaper articles based on consumer law and wrote guides for the Consumer Direct Website. She was Media Trained, by The Rank Organization, and acted as a consultant to the BBC’s One Show and Watchdog. She has also been interviewed on BBC radio answering questions on consumer law to the public.
She lives with her husband and two daft cats in the beautiful ancient city of York.

Chris as given us a sample of her writing, which you can find at the end of the post, after the questions. 

In her words…    Hi everyone. My name is Christine Anne Asbrey, and I write historical mysteries under the name of C. A. Asbrey. My books are available in Kindle and paperback all over the world. My first book, The Innocents, was published in April 2018, and was first in series of six books. Five are currently available, and the last in the series is published in July 2020.
The series is about a clever female Pinkerton Detective who is sent to work undercover to get intelligence on the most wanted man in the country, Nat Quinn and his gang, The Innocents. They are so called because they hit only large concerns like the railroads and the banks, never steal from ordinary people, and treat members of the public with courtesy. That said, they can be ruthless, and extremely cunning.
The heroine is a young widow, Abigail MacKay, with a deep interests in the new forensics, and the new scientific method of policing. She is also an expert in disguise. Nat and Abigail are instantly drawn to one another, as two sides of the same coin – both using their wits, science, and skills on different sides of the law. However, if they act on the attraction it could destroy both their lives. That will-they-won’t-they forms the backdrop to other mysteries in the series.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
I first became interested in the female pioneers in law enforcement when I joined the police in Scotland. History has always held a draw and the colorful stories of the older officers piqued my interest, making me look even further back. The very first women in law enforcement had been in France, working for the Sûreté in the early 19th century. They were, however, no more than a network of spies and prostitutes, the most infamous being the notorious ‘Violette’. Now there’s another story which needs to be told!
The first truly professional women in law enforcement worked for the Pinkerton Agency, and they were trained by the first female agent Kate Warne, an ex-actress and an expert in working undercover. Kate Warne was an expert at disguise, adopting roles, and accents. She was said to be daring and able to pass her characters off, even in close quarters. In the only known photograph of her she is dressed as a man. These women were fully-fledged agents, with their skills being held in high regard by Alan Pinkerton who once said, “In my service you will serve your country better than on the field. I have several female operatives. If you agree to come aboard you will go in training with the head of my female detectives, Kate Warne. She has never let me down.”
I started to wonder why one of the female agents couldn’t be a Scottish Immigrant. After all, Alan Pinkerton was one. He came from Glasgow. Being a Scot in another land is something I know well. They do say you should write what you know. My work has taken me all over the world, but working in the USA, and visiting the places where these women worked, deepened my passion for finding out more about how they lived. I also researched the tools and equipment available to them at the time. Connections to police, and Home Office experts, allowed me to research the birth of forensics with people who knew their subject intimately. The topic for ‘The Innocents Mystery Series’ simmered in the background for years, and all the time I was researching more and more deeply into the period. I love the rapid pace of innovation and invention in the 19th century. Nothing pleases me more than finding spy gadgets available at the time which were invented far earlier than most people would think possible. Work and life got in the way of the books being anything more than an idea, until I was suddenly grounded by a serious accident. The enforced leisure time of recuperation focused my mind and the old dream of writing resurfaced. It started as a short story which took on a life of its own when it grew and grew—then grew some more. Eventually, ‘The Innocents Mysteries’ evolved.

Plotter or pantser?
A bit of both. A lot of my mysteries are actually based on genuine historical crimes, but of course I change things up a bit so that lovers of true crime can still enjoy playing along. Some are well known, some less so. The more outrageous the crime seems, the more likely it is to be rooted in reality. That said, I’ll give the characters their head. If they feel like going off-script and doing something a bit mad, I’ll let them. It normally makes for a better story and keeps things fresh. I know everyone does things differently, but the story seems a sterile to me if I over-plan. I generally start with a fair idea of where things are going, but even the murderer can, and has, change as the story forms. I think book three, Innocent Bystander, was the most tightly plotted. That is more of a howdunit than a whodunit. We know who the killer is, we even know the next proposed victim, but we don’t know how he kills. I’m very proud of the scientific research on that one
I do loads of research, and try to make sure everything in the books is either historically possible, or really happened. I hate finding anachronisms in historical books. I have not only researched the forensics and methodologies of the time, but even the makeup used in Abigail’s disguises. I did wonder how all that long Victorian Hair could go under a short wig, but modern cosplay and makeup tutorials online showed me that it can. It’s all down to multiple flat pleats and technique.
All that research can only ever be a backdrop though. I like to try to make my characters vivid and as human as possible. Most of all I like to add humor. I do think one of the sexiest things a man can be is funny, as it means he’s a good listener and quick-witted.

What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part of the writing journey?
Research has to be one of the favorite parts, especially when I discover a wonderful forgotten crime to play with, or spy gadgets invented way earlier than you think. A lot of that stuff goes in my blog. I particularly enjoy the ordinary stuff which is too mundane to be taught. Things like traveling coping a long way with a child in nappies, how did women deal with their periods, or what horrible things did the really poor eat? I love it when a story flows like water, and seems like it’s out there in the universe just waiting to be told. Another thing I really love is the freedom of working when you want. I’m more owl than lark and I’m at my best late at night. I’m terrible in the morning and getting up for a 9am start was as bad as a 4am start for me. I can now fit my body clock.
On the flip side, I hate it when marketing takes me away from that, but it has to be done. There’s no point in writing a book if nobody knows about it. I’m sure that’s something many authors share, but for us all, it’s a big part of our working life as writers. A writer can’t just write. They have to market, network, sell, and promote.

Do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on this year? 
I’m currently writing a book set in the UK in the 19th century in which young female pharmacist is on the run after being wrongly accused of murder. She is pursued by killers, and a dogged detective who is determined to bring her in. I’ve also started another which is set in 19th century Edinburgh, and which stretches over more than a hundred years, with the solution being a result of modern forensics. I’ve taken bodies into the old gothic Victorian mortuary in Edinburgh, and it’s too good a location not to put in a book.

Can you share a snippet that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt?
From Book 1 The Innocents
“Out of bed?” Nat appeared at the door, the light highlighting his tawny hair. “Looking for something?”
She paused, guilty eyes dropping along with the hand trailing along the shelf. “Yes. Something to read.”
“A book?” his eyes scanned the room, checking to see if anything which could be used as a weapon had gone missing. “You should’ve said.”
“All I can find are a few science books. Whose cabin is this? A doctor’s?”
“The owner was a prospector. Those books are mine.”
Her brows arched in surprise, and she turned and picked one up. “’Carl Friederich Peschel’s Textbook of Physics.’” She continued along the spines. “’Ganot’s Elementary Treatise on Experimental And Applied Physics’, ‘Balfour Stewart, An elementary Treatise On Heat.’”
“So?” Nat’s jaw firmed in challenge. “Have you got anything against a man who wants to improve his mind?”
“Physics? You?”
His brow furrowed. “I’m supposed to believe you’re a Pinkerton and you can’t believe I’m interested in science? I like to learn all kinds of things. Get over it.”
“But you?” She stared at him incredulously. “You’re a common criminal.”
His brows met. “How dare you? There’s nothing common about me. I’m particular about being about as uncommon a criminal as you’ll ever meet. I’ve got a Dickens if you want something simpler, but no women’s stuff. I prefer my heaving bosoms to be tangible.”
“Really?”
“Of course. Who wants imaginary bosoms?”
She huffed in exasperation. “Can we forget about the bosoms?”
His dark eyes twinkled with devilment. “I wish I could but men are kinda made that way.”
“Science books?” Abigail changed the subject. “Are you trying to give up crime?”
“Nope, just trying to be more efficient at it. I’m a modern man. You have to move with the times, you know,” Nat’s cheeks dimpled, “but look who I’m talking to. You’re a veritable pioneer for females. You know how it is. I bet you’ve got all kinds of modern detective tricks. I’m looking forward to seeing those. When do they start? Are you doing it now?”
Abigail sighed. “I’m sorry I asked. Never mind. You have a Dickens? Which one?”

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Links to connect with Chris and her books:
BlogC.A Asbrey – all things obscure and strange in the Victorian period Facebook, Twitter GoodreadsBookbub
The Innocents Mystery Series Group
Link to whole series , Link to latest book – In All Innocence

 

A big thank you to Chris (don’t you just love her covers?) I hope you enjoyed the interview. The concept of using the “real” Pinkertons in a fictional book is very interesting, and Chris’s books are now on my TBR list. (You know, the one that never gets any smaller?)  Once again HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY weekend!!

 

Meet Joan Wright Mularz

I’m thrilled to introduce Joan Wright Mularz. I know Joan personally; we are both members of our local Sister’s In Crime chapter. I hope you will enjoy getting to know Joan as much as I have.

joan  Meet Joan…

Joan writes Middle Grade/YA Mysteries and has also written and illustrated 5 children’s picture books. Her mysteries are in Kindle Unlimited and her other eBooks and paperbacks are in KDP.

“Joan Wright Mularz lives in Florida and summers in Maine. She is the author of the E.T. Madigan YA mystery series. The third book in the series, Maine Roots Run Deep, was a Finalist for BEST YA BOOK at the 2018 Independent Publishers of New England Book Awards. Her short story, “The Souk,” was awarded an Honorable Mention by the Bethlehem Writers’ Roundtable, 2017. Another short story, “Barbara Screechie.” was published in the anthology “Whittier Than Thou: Wit and Whimsy inspired by the Life and Works of John Greenleaf Whittier,” 2019.”

Main Roots Run Deep                   White Flutters In Munich

When did you start writing?
The first writing I recall other than school assignments was entering a slogan contest for M&Ms when I was nine or ten. Around that same age, I entered a national photo contest and I think the title I wrote for it helped me clinch the prize. In high school, I won a national essay contest writing about the Irish Potato Famine of the 1800s. In college, I wrote poems about my inner emotional life, scribbled down memories of personal traumatic events and kept my first travel diary.

How do you research for your books?
The three books in the E.T. Madigan series are set in places I’ve lived—Italy, Germany and Maine. The book I’m working on now is set in New York City where I was born. In addition to that firsthand knowledge from experience, I always read books related to the places I’m writing about to learn their histories. I also do a lot of online research which, depending on the story can take me in strange and diverse directions.  Lately it’s included: The sound of spit, mango water, the breakfast burrito song, locker smells, the New York subway map, Landshark beer history, effects of eating crayons and ways to flirt with strangers without being creepy.

What do you hope your readers take away from your books?
I hope my readers feel a connection to my characters and enjoy learning about the settings, histories and cultures. I also hope Ellen Madigan, the teen in my first series, is a positive role model for showing girls they can be assertive, active, curious, adventurous and still feminine. She loves science and nature, is energetic and fit, solves mysteries and gets crushes on boys.

How many bookshelves are in your house?
When I moved from Massachusetts to Florida two years ago, I donated over 300 books to charity but I still have plenty. In Florida, I have three full bookcases, plus a few baskets full of books. In Maine, I have four full bookcases and some books piled on the sides of a staircase. My laptop Kindle app has lots of e-books too.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I’m almost done with the first draft of a new YA mystery with a male teen protagonist. In it, he deals with dangers generated by the celebrity of his parents. The working title is the main character’s name, “Slate.” I’m planning for it to be the first in a new series and each story will focus on one of his friends. I have also written some early ideas for a new E.T. Madigan mystery. One unpublished manuscript I have is a craft book for preschool teachers, “Building Blocks for Block Buildings.”

Here’s how to find Joan and her books!
Amazon Author Page
Web site
Facebook
Twitter

I hope you enjoyed reading about Joan and her writing. Connections are so important between the reader and the author, and I always feel more involved with a book when I know something about the author. Please stay healthy and happy; I’ll be back soon to introduce you do our next author. (Isn’t this fun!)

Victoria LK Williams

Dance and Sing for Books!

Well, I hope you all had a chance to revisit your childhood over the holidays. I’m talking about the release of the new movie Mary Poppins Returns. Now I don’t usually post my thoughts about movies on my blog, but this one deserves some attention
I have to admit I was skeptical there was no way they could outdo the first. There is no way that someone else would play the role of the ultimate nanny and carry it off the way Julie Andrews did.original_1099048853
But boy was I wrong! I’m in love with the new movie it was everything I hoped for and more. The return of old characters, new characters, song, dance and Disney the way it used to be!
It felt like the movie was made just for me; the writer, the reader, the adventurer.

Big, big, big spoiler alert here!! If you haven’t seen, the movie, you may not want to read the rest of my blog. Or you can go ahead and read, I promise not to give too much away.
The original Mary Poppins had this beautiful scene where Bert and Mary took the kids on an adventure through pictures. They jumped into the paintings on the sidewalk, and the fun begins. Everything that you remember from that scene in the original Mary Poppins– keep that in the back of your head. Because in Mary Poppins Returns they took the same concept, but instead of jumping into pictures they made the emphasis on books.

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Books, books, books! There is a fantastic song, & dance number called ‘The Cover Is Not the Book’ and the song stuck in my head for most of the movie. You can even play it on iTunes.
I think for me as a reader and a writer it felt like the movie was calling out because of the accent on books. It is all about judging a book by its cover, and the lessons that it taught the Banks children through song and dance are excellent.
Now as a writer we know you can and should judge a book by its cover– because the cover is what sells your book. So don’t lose heart to that concept.
The movie was taking an old saying and giving it a new song and a fun visual concept. One that I hope will resonate with every child. Teaching our children to remember that each person is an individual and has their own redeeming qualities. Qualities that you can’t see by looking at a person until you get to know them.
So, thank you to the Disney Company, and the creators and writers of Mary Poppins Returns. You touched my heart and my soul, especially with that song and dance routine.

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PS  I have the soundtrack playing as I’m writing this, and I can’t stop grinning!

Victoria LK Williams

For the Love of Pets

The modern cozy mystery has something that the old traditional ones doesn’t seem to have… 

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Pets!
Now, by all means, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t seem to remember any of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot characters having cat or dog as the main character, but today’s cozy mysteries sure do. Mine included.
Maybe it’s because in the day of Agatha Christie pets did not play as significant a role in our lives as they do now. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people didn’t love their pets in Dame Agatha’s day. But did they catered to them? Did they dress Fido up in Halloween costumes? Were their pet served gourmet pet food? And I bet they sure as heck didn’t have pet, insurance!
But today’s pets are part of our lives, treated as good (or sometimes slightly better) as our children, and pampered like royalty.
So, it only seems reasonable, if pets are that important in our everyday life that they would also be important in our characters daily life?
Personally, I love adding pets to my stories. They can give comic relief and help the reader relate to the main character. A pet can sniff out clues the main character may not have seen, and they have a sense of awareness that humans don’t.

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For instance, in my Citrus Beach Mysteries, my main character has a beagle named Barney and Barney is excellent at sniffing out clues. In book number two, Scent of a Mystery, Barney is the one that finds the first clue, setting the book in motion.
In Storm Voices, Mac is given a little gray kitten. This kitten seems to have mystic abilities, and she definitely knows that there’s something unusual living in the garden of Mac’s home.
If you look at the covers of many cozy mysteries, you’ll find a cat or dog on it; after all was a witch without a cat. Two of my favorite series are Lauren Carr’s Mac Faraday Mystery books and The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun.
Having a cat, dog, or some other animal in your mystery draws in the animal lover as well as the mystery lover. And let’s face it, an animal can get away with so much more than a human. Nobody is going to yell at the dog or point a gun at him for snooping in the den. And if the cat happens to knock over a valuable clue, it will only seem like her curiosity is coming into play. But if your main character is doing either of those things while searching for clues, then the chances are if they get caught, they will be held at gunpoint by the villain or arrested by the cops.

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Go ahead and include an animal in your story.
Use Fido or FeeFee to your advantage. Let them be the ones to ferret out the clues and warm the cockles of your reader’s hearts.
But be careful-they can easily take over your story, because everyone loves a pet.

Victoria LK Williams

Stop, Look, Listen…Write

Have you ever looked at somebody and just wondered?
Wondered- do I know you from somewhere? Have we met another time and place? Who do you remind me of? Or even more probing questions… What in the world are you doing? Why would you say something like? What an odd reaction! What an exciting job or hobby?

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Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

 
If you’re a people watcher, these are things that often happen, and if you’re a writer, these are potential characters for your stories.
It’s a storyteller’s job to be observant of what’s going on around them, not only current news and happenings but the people who come in and out of our lives on a daily and infrequent basis.
Sometimes those people just skim the outer circles of our day-to-day life. It might be somebody you happen to see in a park or a store. Or perhaps a conversation that you hear, but are not part of. Maybe an interaction between two people that you observe and it makes you wonder.
The sidekicks and minor characters a writer creates for the story can, and should be, just as important as your main character. It would be ridiculous to have your main character have all the action revolve around them. Some vital information, clues or conversations can come from other people within the story. Yet you don’t want those other people or characters to be blah and uninteresting. These characters need to hold the reader’s attention as much as the main characters.

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Because these side characters often don’t play an intricate part in your story, it is easy to use real-life people that you barely know or that you observe just in a casual setting as models. You can take the liberty with what you see and hear and create those side characters into funny, interesting, or evil characters, depending upon your storyline. Take care not to make them more interesting than your main character. Instead, you should be able to make them play off of your main character, making the main character have more depth and interest by how they interact with the people and events around them.
So start watching what goes on around you, regardless of where you’re at. You can hear some of the most interesting conversations standing in line in the grocery store. Waiting for your waitress at a restaurant? Watch how the occupants in the tables around you are reacting to each other. Is there a comradery or tension? Sitting in a park with your kids pay attention to how the other adults respond to children. Some will be loving and giving, possibly because they have children of their own. Others might be more annoyed and feel like the children are pesty, getting in their way of a quiet afternoon.
But don’t limit yourself to just people. Interactions between animals and people can create a release of tension in your story or an “awwwww” moment. These type of moments can easily be used to distract the reader from something in your storyline. A clue in your mystery that was glaring can be softened with the interaction of your main character in the dog. Suddenly that clue has lost its importance, at least for that moment until you’re ready to bring it back out to readers attention.

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The build-up between characters for that first kiss can easily be dragged out by a kid brother or sister interrupting their moment.
These are just a few examples of how you can take online or event or character and use them in your story. Use them to give your main character more interest and more exciting things to do.
Can you think of something you’ve seen just this week that took you by surprise or caught your attention? Can you weave it into your story? Good, I’ve given you something to look for.
Now go write!

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Welcome to 2019.
I know I know we’re more than a week into the new year and I’m late on getting this greeting out to you. But I did that on purpose. Personally, I ’ve been bombarded with good wishes to the forms of blogs, newsletters, and podcast. And I’ve enjoyed every one of them and would like to reciprocate to all of those I’ve listened to and read; happy new year to you too.
Like everyone else, the new year means new goals new visions and plans for a better future. Old habits will be thrown out, hopefully, and resolutions for better healthier habits are made.
I’m going to do a little bit of both. Before I could look forward, I need to look back. So I’m looking back at where it all began– that very first book.
The book began as a challenge from a group of friends. I had said I wanted to write a book and they held me to it. To be honest, I never thought I could do it, but once I started, there was no stopping me. To date, I have 15 books published and plans for so many more.

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But to get back to that first book. Everything starts with inspiration, and I’d like to share my inspiration for the first book…
The summers in my small town in South Florida can be pretty quiet. I could go for weeks on my job and not see a customer at their home. It was one of those hot blistering summer days, and I was grateful to be working along the river where, at least, a cool breeze could be found. As I looked out into the intercoastal, I couldn’t help but notice how isolated it felt. The channels that run in and out of the intercoastal take you into different communities or out into the river. As I was doing my job, I noticed a small boat motoring up one of those channels and the idea clicked you could commit a crime in such a location, getting in and out by boat, and nobody would ever know.

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And so began Murder for Neptune’s Trident. As I looked across the water, thoughts quickly came, and the story outline developed in my head. But of course, it took a couple of days before I got it down on paper. I was continually adding to it before I was ready to start writing a book. Don’t forget it was my first one and I was pretty nervous there more than one day that I just put the paperwork aside and thought “it’s a great idea, but I’m never going to pull it off; I don’t have the talent to write it.” But my friends kept after me, asking me how the writing was going, so I dug the outline back out and started writing. And that’s how it all began.

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This leads me to now and my goals for 2019. I have two different series that I want to start. One, I already have the first book completed and have half-written. The other series? Well, the idea is percolating, and I like where it’s going. I also want to continue the novella series I started in December. It was fun writing a short mystery in between books. It kept the juices flowing and kept me in the practice of writing.
Another goal for 2019 is to format my existing books into large print. The first one, Now Arriving (Sisters Station 1), was published in large print in December.
I’m curious about creating an audiobook as well. I know I enjoy listening to books, especially when I’m driving, so I think it would be a whole new avenue of readers for me.
I love all the new groups that I’ve joined on Facebook. Writers are helping writers, and I’m learning so much. I hope I’m giving back just as much as I’m getting.
Other than this, my goals are to continue to move forward with what I’m doing, exploring the publishing and promotional side of writing a little bit more. One thing I did learn in 2018 is it when I take a break from writing I don’t feel whole. Yes, my gardening business is crazy at the end of the year, and it takes up all of my time. But the writing gives me the creative energy that I need to keep the ideas fresh. And when I have new ideas, everything benefits; my business, my writing, and even my family life–because I feel more alive when I’m creative.
And I’m not the only creative writer out there. Here’s the link to the  Cozy January Book Fair, a mystery promotional going on this month. I hope you’ll check it out. Heck, there’s even get the chance to enter the drawing for $100 Amazon gift card.

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If you haven’t already, be sure to go to my website and sign up for my newsletter. I always include recommendations of new books by other authors and any promotional giveaways that I’m involved.
Until next time, happy writing and happy new year.

Go ahead-walk away!

Hey-You!

Sometimes you need to stand up, push the chair in and walk away from the desk!

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We all work hard, there is no denying this, but at some point the hard work turns in to that phase where you feel like the little mouse on the wheel, running in circles and not getting anywhere. And sometimes, it’s hard to see when you need to take a break from the writing.

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Whether it’s a ten-minute break, or a long weekend, or a real vacation; you need to take time to recharge.
“Oh, no I can’t do that! I’m on a deadline.” (or something to that effect) Runs through your head and you dig in your heels, pulling the keyboard closer, like a security blanket. But even a child has to give up the blanket so it can be washed. Letting go will be equal to washing of a blanket.
Once all the clutter and tangled thoughts are allowed to settle down, it’s much easier to look at them and decide what you need to keep and what should be let go. Walk away and let your ideas slow down. The brilliant idea you had months ago isn’t working, so put it aside until the time is right. Come back and look at it again with a fresh perspective.
I think we get trapped in our writing environment and miss out on so much. How can you write about something when you’re shut in an office for hours, only seeing the screen in front of you? Where are you getting your inspiration from? I don’t mean inspiration for the big picture, but for the details. How do you know what the sound of the wind in the trees, the feel of sunlight on your skin, the smells of cut grass are like if you don’t take a second and actually put yourself in the middle of these things? And it is the little details like this that make your story come alive for the reader.

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By freeing our mind, we are opening it up to the possibilities of new ideas and solutions. That clue you were looking for? Suddenly it’s crystal clear. The conversation you were trying to write, but it was coming off stilted? Now it feels as if your characters are in the room with you talking. The little details are easier to spot and you may not feel so overwhelmed.
I had to be reminded of this just this week. Moaning and groaning, I gave in and went on a day trip with my husband. We visited an old favorite place, enjoying the peaceful walks through the gardens, had a wonderful dinner and talked. And as we talked and laughed, teasing and joking about different things, the ideas began to form. By the time we got home that night, I had the plot for two new books.
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The added bonus; I was able to talk with my husband about the ideas, and he had some of his own. They were jokes at first, but as the ideas nestled into my brain, I was caught up in the possibilities. Now they are written down for future development.
As you can see, taking a break worked out very well for me. And most authors that I talk to agree with me.

Sometimes you need to turn off the computer and let the little grey cells do their thing.

Victoria LK Williams

Writing is Hard Work, not a Hobby!

 

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I love to listen to U-tube as I drive. There is some great information out there that not only educates you, but can also amuse and stimulate your thoughts. Most of what I listen to is about the writing craft; from the words on the page to selling those words. Yesterday I ran across not one, but two hilarious videos  about what not to say/ask a writer. I was laughing so hard, the other drivers around me had to think I was nuts.

I agreed with 90% of what the authors said, but 100% on the question “how’s your hobby doing”. It got me thinking…

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Anyone who has sat down and wrote a book will agree that this is not a hobby. It’s darn hard work. Time consuming, energy draining, mind shattering work! So, I thought I’d share with the potential writer (or the helpful person who just doesn’t get it) my process. There are things I’m sure I’ve missed, and this is a broad over-view. Each item on this list has multiply levels and tons of details that need to be taken care of. Every author has their own process, the things that are important to producing their books.

For the new writers-I hope this helps guides you through the process. For the friends and family looking in from the sidelines, I hope this opens your eyes to the reason we spend so much time on each book. And I thank those of you on the sidelines for all your support-we need it to keep going.writing process for me

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Victoria LK Williams