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Archive for November, 2012

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Nancy Jill Thames

 by Karen E. Rigley

Nancy Jill, it’s such a pleasure to interview you for the MMC celebration.  This is a treat for me as well as your other fans.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary. What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

First of all, thank you for the interview and Happy Birthday to Mystery Most Cozy! I love interacting with readers and authors alike. Everyone has been so gracious and supportive. Being able to connect with fellow authors is important since most of us work at home. The camaraderie is wonderful.

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

About six months ago (April 2012), I was surfing cozy mystery topics on Facebook and came across Mystery Most Cozy. I felt right at home and joined immediately.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I’ve always been a storyteller with an overactive imagination. After toying with a blog posting one chapter at a time for a book I’d started, a journalist contacted me about my work. I think that’s when I felt like a writer for the first time.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

Unsolved problems draw me like a magnet. Trying to guess “whodunit” is what I find fascinating.

 What inspired you to write mysteries?

I have always been a voracious reader, leaning towards historical romance and mystery. After reading every Agatha Christie novel in print, I felt compelled to create stories of my own, patterned after her.

Family members discouraged my writing, but once I started, I couldn’t stop!

What intrigues you about writing a series?

If I like the subject matter, a series provides an easy pathway to enjoy more of the same without having to start over with a new author.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Showing the reader what is happening instead of telling. I find dialogue much easier to write than narrative.

What do you enjoy reading?

Sampling best sellers is always fun. I also read as many free cozies as I can along with books my writers guild publishes. When I like a book, I’ll read it more than once, simply because I enjoy the style of a particular author.

Which authors have influenced you?

Agatha Christie, my favorite, Dorothy Sayers, who influenced Agatha Christie, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Victoria Holt and my “wanabelike,” Janet Evanovich. I would love to write with more humor.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

Somehow, I know the whole story before I begin. In the Jillian Bradley Mystery Series, I planned three books at a time. With five published and one to launch in November, I know the basic plots/characters of the last two books. The only thing for the last book I don’t have yet is the title.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

Aside from Teddy, Jillian’s Yorkie who helps her solve homicides, I really enjoyed creating Daisy Larsen. She is introduced in my fourth book “The Mark of Eden” as the Plant Lady who discovers the first murder victim, and reappears in my new book “Waiting for Santa.” I loosely based her on a dear friend of mine, but added touches of part-sleuth, part-nurse, and part-gardener. She marries Jillian’s personal assistant’s father because I like happy endings.

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

Above everything else, I want readers & fans to join Jillian and her Yorkie on their sleuthing adventures and have fun. I want them to enjoy the luxurious settings, fabulous food, collecting art and Jillian’s lovely lifestyle. Hopefully, when readers & fans finish a book, they’ll take a few moments and write reviews so others will read the series. If readers & fans enjoy the reads, I’ll have done my job.

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Write the best book you can and then invest in a great editor. Know where you want your writing to take you, and focus on your goals every day.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

Having books published has given me validation as a contributor to society. When people buy my books or read them for free, I’ve entertained them. Trying to keep up with details for six books on several platforms can be daunting. I’ve learned to take one book at a time and do my best to make sure its information is current.

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries? Do you add it into your own stories?

Funny you should ask. Normally, I can take or leave romance. I enjoy mystery and adventure more. In my second book “The Ghost Orchid Murder,” I added a touch of romance for both Jillian and Teddy. Later, in the fourth book “The Mark of Eden,” Jillian gets involved with another character. In “Pacific Beach,” book five, reference is made to both amours as she dallies with still another character. Her romances continue on a much larger scale in book six “Waiting for Santa.”

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

I write better fully dressed with street clothes and makeup. Perhaps I feel more professional that way.

 As an author, you create magic offering readers an escape into your story. As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?

My protagonist is totally based on myself. When I began writing, I had no formal training in creative writing – only in music. I wrote from personal experience and then learned to add characters from people I met and saw in everyday life. As a Christian author, I incorporate my faith whenever the situation presents itself. For instance, in “The Ghost Orchid Murder,” people deal with death and funerals – perfect situations to discuss faith and the afterlife.

     Over the years, traveling with my husband to fabulous resorts and restaurants has greatly influenced my settings as well.

 Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

I love beauty and stay away from horror, in my personal life and in my writing.

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much?

 I do read cozies while writing. Good writing style helps my own style in regards to sentence structure and narrative.

Do you feel you must write your cozies in a series? If so, why?

I’ve never had to answer this question before, but since I’ve written six of eight in the series, my answer would be “yes.” I was influenced by Agatha Christie’s sleuths, Hercules Poirot and Jane Marple, along with others like Nancy Drew and Lord Peter Death Whimsy – once you met them, you wanted to be with them again and again.

What are you writing now?

 I’m in the final days of launching “Waiting for Santa” which will be published by this interview.

 Tell us about your newest mystery:

Everyone has gathered at Jillian’s house in Clover Hills to celebrate Christmas, but Jillian’s plans for a lovely Christmas Eve are rudely interrupted by a power failure. And a homicide. Not only does Aunt Jillian find herself with a house full of company to entertain in the dark, but she also receives a call from Walter Montoya, who finds himself in the dark, trying to solve the bizarre murder of a worker found dead in a maintenance shed at the power station. With Teddy at her side, Jillian is determined to solve the mystery.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

I am on Author Central on Amazon.com, write three blogs and have a website connecting all links. Please feel free to follow the blogs and enjoy tea with celebrity authors on “Queen of Afternoon Tea” Celebrity Author Interviews, find out more about my books on Cozy Mystery Author, Nancy Jill Thames, and have some fun on COZY MYSTERY MAGAZINE –collaborating with other Christian Cozy Mystery Authors. I’m also on twitter as @mystriterdva and have my Facebook Page, Author, Nancy Jill Thames.

 Thanks again for letting me help celebrate Mystery Most Cozy’s 10th Birthday!

Cozy Mystery Author,

Nancy Jill Thames

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.

Mystery Most Cozy links:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/188620978695/?fref=ts

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MysteryMostCozy/?yguid=482689562

My links:

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Cindy Daniel

by  Karen E. Rigley

Cindy, it’s so fun to interview you for the MMC tenth.  Thanks for joining the party.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary.  What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

I have to admit that I’ve been a lurking, and haven’t really participated in a long time. But I originally joined because I loved the fan interaction and the author interaction. As an author, I always want to know what the fans think, read, want. I also want to learn from the advice and comments of my fellow authors… MMC is the very best of both worlds.

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

Oh gosh, I first learned of Jenny and MMC on the Yahoo group maybe 6 or 7 years ago and joined the FB group as soon as I heard about it.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I never really knew I was meant to write. But after I edited a medical textbook, as part of my medical secretary job, I decided if they could write so could I. All they did was put their passion – caring for children – on paper. So I decided I would write about my passion – MYSTERY!

What fascinates you about mysteries?

Without a doubt – the puzzle! Exercising your brain without even realizing it…

What inspired you to write mysteries?

Write what you know — I know mysteries.  I know cozy. I know romance. I know normal housewife finding herself in extraordinary situations. I don’t know anything about finding dead bodies – that’s where my imagination comes in.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

No boundaries. The stories can keep coming. You don’t have to shove everything into one book, because you can expand a character, setting, or storyline in the next one.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Working a fulltime job and still making time to write. I’ve sucked at it the last few years. My husband had a heart attack and open heart surgery, when things settled down after that we had our first grandchild, then our second. It seems something always comes up to take my mind off writing. But I have two works in progress and I am going to try my best to set aside some ME time and get back to my passion.

What do you enjoy reading?

Mysteries! I love romance, comedy, and sometimes blood and gore. And I pretty much won’t read anything anymore unless it’s part of a series. I always want more!!!!

Which authors have influenced you?

I’m not sure anyone influenced me, but some of the first authors I read, the ones who made me “a reader,” are: Catherine Coulter, Julia Spencer Fleming, Mary Daheim, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, and Janet Evanovich.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

For my first book, all I had was the manner of death in mind. For the other books I knew the characters first, and developed them in my head a little, before I decided what was going to happen to them.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

I love all my characters. Each one of them has a little trait or mannerism about them that means something personal to me. But if I have to pick one – it would be Ruth. Ruth speaks her mind. (or should I say, speaks MY mind…)

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given me. I’ve been able to meet truly wonderful people and have made lifelong friends all across the country, and even across the world, by networking and sharing my love of books. Hopefully when I finally get my next book out, you’ll still support me. I hope I don’t disappoint!!

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Write. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or anything else that would delay you putting words on paper! Get you story on paper, because you can edit and clean it up later. AFTER I finished my manuscript, I joined Sisters in Crime and their group for newbies the “Guppies.” They were wonderful critique partners and helped me make sure my manuscript was ready to be submitted.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

The most wonderful thing someone can say to me is, “I started on your book last night, and I couldn’t put it down.” I know how great it is to find a book that hooks me and keeps me up past midnight. Knowing I gave that feeling to someone else is AMAZING.

What drives me crazy is wishing I’d started writing twenty years earlier so maybe I could have made a career of it.

If you could meet three people (living or dead) and chat mysteries with them, who would you select?  What would you discuss?

Stephen King – I would discuss his family, what shows he likes, and see what his sense of humor is like.

Kelly Ripa – I would love for her to read Death Warmed Over and tell me what she thinks about it; and then share it with her audience!!!

Patricia Cornwell – I would love to talk with her about her writing history, her forensic background, and her success back in the day when men ruled the thriller genre.

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries?  Do you add it into your own stories?

I like romantic mysteries. Romance and romantic tension, good or bad, is just a part of life. It reflects who we are and the decisions we make. You’ll always find a few romantic undertones in my stories.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

T-shirts and pajama pants.

As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story.  As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?

I’ve never dreamed any of my scenes. But you’ll find me sitting on my back porch for hours at a time talking to myself. Some of my character’s conversations need to be said out loud to make sure they sound right, and to make sure the back and forth flows freely without wondering who is saying what. So I submerge myself into their dialogue pretty extensively.

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

It’s what I know. Also, I just can’t do too much hard stuff, it messes with my mind. So I like to keep it light.

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much?

I read constantly, it doesn’t interfere or influence my story. The only thing I won’t do is read someone I’ve been told I write like. If I’ve never read Jane Smith, and someone tells me I write like her, I think it might influence me if I started reading her. It’s a mental thing.

If someone tells me I write like someone I’ve already read, it doesn’t bother me because I know I don’t really write like anyone else. Silly, right? It’s just one of my ‘things’.

Do you feel you must write your cozies in a series? If so,why?

Definitely a series. In a cozy – it’s about the whole family, or the entire community.They all participate in the story. So, if a reader falls in love with them, it’s just plain unfair to keep their antics to yourself.

What are you writing now?

Two things: “Mad Moms in Minivans”, think Desperate Housewives in East Texas; and “Full Moon Over Dixie”, think sweet southern cop up to her neck in half naked hunks.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

Here’s the blurb about Death Warmed Over:

Emerging from her three-year post-divorce pity party, Hannah Evans believes she may have finally found the confidence she needs to step out from under her parent’s wing, and her promiscuous sister’s meddling, and start a fresh new life for herself and her six-year-old daughter. Little did she know she was stepping smack dab into a lustful new relationship and the murder of a beauty queen-both of which are taboo in the East Texas Bible belt she had run home to.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

Information about all my books, not only my mysteries but my breast cancer book and my children’s book, can be found on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Cindy-Daniel/e/B004XWVP1Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1351477511&sr=1-2-ent

You can find about everything you ever want to know about ME at my Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/iwritemystery

Warning, you’ll see grandbaby pictures!!  Once I get my next book out, I’ll concentrate on a fan page, but right now one page is all I need.

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.

Mystery Most Cozy links:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/188620978695/?fref=ts

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MysteryMostCozy/?yguid=482689562

My links:

 

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Stephen Kaminski

by Karen E. Rigley

Steve, thank you for joining our MMC author interviews.   You’re our first male volunteer, which is very fun. 😉

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary.  What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

My favorite aspect to the Mystery Most Cozy site is the sense of camaraderie. As an author who has been published by an independent publisher, I do a substantial amount of self-promotion—I expected it to be very challenging. I have been pleasantly surprised at how embracing the cozy mystery community of authors and fans (and the MMC group in particular) has been to a new author in this domain.    

How did you know you were meant to write?

I’ve always been an avid reader. Writing seemed like a natural extension of my passion.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

Everything! Mysteries provide a wonderful platform to include all of the things I love about books— unique characters, plot twists and red herrings. Cozies fascinate me because both the authors and readers can take a topic that would otherwise be gruesome (usually murder) and turn it into something that’s lighthearted.

What inspired you to write your mysteries?

Writing allows me to give something back to the bibliophiles of the world and lets me express myself in a creative manner. Mysteries have always been near and dear to my heart, so when I decided to start writing, I knew it had to be in the mystery genre.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

The opportunity for character development is endless. A series allows me to start a subplot (e.g., my protagonist’s love life) and carry it from book-to-book. It also provides a comfortable and familiar setting to the reader and allows the author to leave the reader wanting more.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Finding the time to do it well. I’m the General Counsel of a national non-profit organization and I’m trying to raise a six-year-old with my wife (who is working and pursuing her PhD). That said, I love writing so spending my limited windows of time doing it are relaxing and enjoyable!

What do you enjoy reading?

Mysteries and crime novels of all types (from Lawrence Block to John Sandford). For some reason, I’ve always particularly enjoyed British writers (Ken Follett, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Jeffrey Archer).

Which authors have influenced you?

Agatha Christie and M.C. Beaton have been the most influential on my writing. Ms. Christie is a true role model in developing a mystery from the core. Just reading her books taught me so many elements of mystery writing. Ms. Beaton’s books showed me how to weave playful local characters and romantic undercurrents throughout my first book (and the rest of the series to come).

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

 Quite a large amount. I have the cast of locals already set. Then I sketch out the players in the mystery at hand and plan rough cuts of the plot (including some of the major twists). But a lot of the smaller twists and sub-plots develop as I’m writing.

 Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

I’ve only published one book so far. While I adore my protagonist (Damon Lassard), my favorite characters are Damon’s mother (Lynne Lassard-Brown) and the community gossip (Mrs. Chenworth).

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

Thank you! For me, it’s not about the number of books I sell, it’s about having people enjoy what I’ve written. My goal is to have my stories to entertain as many people as possible. So if you’ve read my first book—It Takes Two to Strangle—I sincerely hope you enjoyed it and are looking forward to my next book in the series (anticipated in spring/summer 2013). If you haven’t read it, please give it a try!

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Write until you finish. Like most people, my life is hectic. You simply have to find the time to write. For me, that’s after my daughter is in bed. With my wife working on her PhD research at night, we can sit side-by-side with our laptops (like nerds) on the couch.

Be relentless when trying to get published. Send out scores of query letters. If you don’t get positive responses, change the query and consider modifying the portions of the manuscript you’re sending.

Finally, don’t be afraid to take a chance. My original manuscript was 93,000 words. Before signing me, Cozy Cat Press (my publisher) asked me to cut 30,000 words. I did it and now the dialogue pops and the story flies at a wonderful pace.

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries?  Do you add it into your own stories?

Yes! I love it when I’m reading them and I certainly put it into It Takes Two to Strangle. I think a touch of romance adds flavor to a book and depending on your characters, potentially comedy and anguish. My protagonist has a capricious love life and I think it adds depth to his make-up.

As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story.  As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?

I delve deeply into my characters, setting and plot. I don’t dream my scenes but I lie awake in bed at night and in the mornings visualizing them. I also spend time in public places observing people and taking note of their physical attributes, facial features and body language.

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

I spend so much time in my professional life being serious—I need a cheerful outlet.

What are you writing now?

The next book in the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series will feature the murder of a person who has a fairly rare physical abnormality. It’s near to my heart because I was born with such a condition. That said, while it’s emotional to me, to the general public it will be a super-fun read.  My principal character—Damon Lassard—gets himself into all kinds of trouble, solves a smaller mystery along the way and tangles his love life even further with Rebecca (his best friend) and Bethany (the woman he’s been pining over for years).

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

http://www.DamonLassard.com

http://www.amazon.com/It-Takes-Two-Strangle-Detective/dp/0988194317/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350952797&sr=8-1&keywords=stephen+kaminski

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6541735.Stephen_Kaminski

http://www.facebook.com/DamonLassard?ref=hl

Thanks for allowing me to participate in the celebration of Mystery Most Cozy’s 10th Anniversary!

  

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of his mysteries.

Mystery Most Cozy links:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/188620978695/?fref=ts

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MysteryMostCozy/?yguid=482689562

My links:

 

Thanksgiving Blessings

by Karen E. Rigley

Happy Thanksgiving!

Though my blog’s dedicated lately to mystery wrter interviews to help MysteryMost Cozy celebrate their 10th anniversary, I’d like to reclaim it today. Thanksgiving is such a special time.  It reminds us to reflect  upon our loved ones, the beauty surrounding us and all that’s good in our lives with thanks and appreciation instead of fretting about what’s wrong. 

I am so blessed with the wonderful people in my life and wish to extend my gratitude to each of you who read or follow this blog.

Here’s a “rerun” of my post from 2010:

November is the month of Thanksgiving and remembering our blessings. At times we can find ourselves so caught up in problems or hectic schedule we forget to appreciate the bounty of blessings surrounding us. From the promise of sunrise to sharing a smile with a loved one to the giggle of a child, we often fail to appreciate the most precious things. I challenge you this month to offer thanks for those you care about, for the beauty surrounding us and for the good moments of your life.

GIVE THANKS

Sometimes we get lost

in our daily crush,

letting life demands

get in the way

we forget

to note the blessings,

great and small,

showered upon us each day.

DISCOVER BEAUTY

Beauty radiates in the silver spill of moonlight
upon undulating ocean waves.
Beauty radiates in the delighted ring of children’s
laughter as they play hide and seek.
Beauty radiates with a night-blooming jasmine’s soft
haunting fragrance drifting through the air.
Beauty radiates in the shimmering peace of snowflakes
blanketing a sleeping landscape.
Beauty radiates with music of a songbird
welcoming the iridescent dawn.
Beauty radiates as a scarlet rose blossoms,
revealing velvet petals one by one.
Beauty radiates with a hushed lullaby as a mother
sings her baby asleep.
Beauty radiates in the luminous reflections
mirrored within a sparkling lake.
Beauty radiates as a glowing sunset
flames the horizon ablaze with color.
Beauty radiates in the warm accepting embrace
of brotherly love for all mankind.

Karen Elizabeth Rigley

My links:

 

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Mary Ellen Hughes

By Karen E. Rigley

Mary Ellen, it’s such a delight to interview you for MMC. Thank you for joining us.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary.  What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

That’s a little like asking which is your favorite child! 😉  I love all those things about Mystery Most Cozy. The best thing about the group is our organizer – Jenny Hanahan. It’s obvious she loves cozy mysteries and loves sharing everything about them. It amazes me how generous she is with her time, because this is a very time-consuming project. Thanks, Jenny!

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

I stumbled on it a few years ago when I first signed onto Yahoo and was looking for discussion groups I might like. That was a definitely lucky day.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I suppose when I started getting positive reactions to things I wrote. That started way back in elementary school when I got a laugh from the class as I read something of mine aloud. Since I meant it to be funny, that was a great feeling. From then on I was hooked.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

I think it’s the psychology involved. What makes a person go to such an extreme as murder? That’s why I like cozies. They’re more involved with the why than the how.

What inspired you to write your mysteries?

Probably what inspired me was the simple fact that mysteries were what I loved to read. When I’d finish a really good mystery I’d savor it, then wonder if I could write something like that. Eventually, I tried and discovered I loved it, though it definitely my first few attempts were definitely forgettable.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

Series are great for giving an author the chance to develop a character much more than in a single book. A series could cover years in the character’s life. That can offer many interesting and challenging changes: love relationships, job changes, location – you name it. Plus, a long running series character can become like an old friend to readers – and to the author too!

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

The hardest thing for me to do is to be tough on my characters. I usually become very fond of them and want to have only good things happen to them. That, however, won’t make for an interesting story. I have to give them problems to solve, put them in dangerous situations and generally be very hard on them. The only thing that makes it easier is knowing that somehow they’ll come through it all right.

What do you enjoy reading?

Mysteries, of course, but I also enjoy a variety of books. I like historical fiction once in a while, biographies, or whatever I happen to be in the mood for.

Which authors have influenced you?

Oh, so many I wouldn’t know where to start – or stop. Growing up I enjoyed Louisa May Alcott and Nancy Drew. But any book that made me think, laugh, cry or shiver probably influenced me.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

I have a general idea of what will happen and how it will be resolved. I work out the details, usually, as I write.

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

Thank you! You don’t know how much I appreciate your encouragement!

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Write, write, write! Then join a good critique group to get thoughtful feedback on what you’ve written. You’ll learn a lot (and develop a tough skin about your writing), plus giving feedback on other members’ writing will help you understand more about what works and what doesn’t.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

I love hearing that someone enjoyed one of my books. (Who wouldn’t?) 🙂 I’m not fond of getting the question, “where do you get your ideas?” because I have no good answer for that. I wish I did!

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries?  Do you add it into your own stories?

I do add it, and it’s usually just a touch. My main characters so far have been young, single women. Meeting an attractive man just seems natural and often adds tension.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

Hah! Anything comfortable, though I try to be presentable in case someone comes to the door!

As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story.  As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?

I don’t think I’ve dreamt of scenes, but when I’m working on a book my story is always in my head. I’ve been known to think something had happened to me once, then realize that no, it only happened to one of my characters. That can be a little weird! 😉

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

I just find it interesting and sometimes fun to have ordinary, every-day people run into something like murder and be able to deal with it. Also, I think you can get into the psychology of the murderers much more in a cozy – not in the clinical sense but it a “what made them decide to do that?” sense.

What are you writing now?

I’ve started a new cozy series: The Pickled and Preserved Mysteries. The first book, The Pickled Piper, might be out in a year or so.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

My most recent books are the Craft Corner Mysteries. Jo McAllister owns Jo’s Craft Corner and teaches craft classes in between solving murders – like that of the clown, hired for her grand opening, who she finds dead in her stock room.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

Check out my website: http://www.maryellenhughes.com  I’ve just started to put the Craft Corner mysteries up as new ebooks. I’ll add news on the new Pickled and Preserved mysteries as it becomes available in my newsletter, which anyone can sign up for on my website.

Website: http://www.maryellenhughes.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/MaryEllenHughesauthor

Wreath of Deception: http://tinyurl.com/9darfv4

Amazon author page: http://tinyurl.com/8percup

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.

Mystery Most Cozy links:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/188620978695/?fref=ts

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MysteryMostCozy/?yguid=482689562

My links:

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Clea Simon

by Karen E. Rigley

Welcome, Clea, and thank you for joining our MMC interviews.  Cats and mysteries certainly go well together as your entertaining books prove.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary.  What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

 Do I have to choose? I love hearing what everyone is reading, what they love, and why. I find this is very helpful to me as I write my own feline-centered cozies.

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

 I don’t remember. It was way before Facebook, I know that!

How did you know you were meant to write?

I have always made up stories to amuse my friends and family, from as early an age as I can remember. My mother kept some of my first stories from when I was learning to write. It was only a question of learning that I could do it professionally – which I dared to try after close to 20 years of being a journalist (which is telling other people’s stories, kind of).

What fascinates you about mysteries?

 I love the puzzle aspect and also the ability to bring order to the world. Maybe not the real world, but my own little universe. I shake things up, like in a snow globe, and then I get to set them right.

What inspired you to write your mysteries?

I have always read them. I had written a nonfiction book about women and cats (“The Feline Mystique: On The Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats,” St. Martin’s Press, 2002), and, Kate, the owner of a local mystery bookstore (the aptly named Kate’s Mystery Books) invited me to sign at her annual holiday party. I said, “But I don’t write mysteries.” She said, “Clea, believe it or not, there’s a huge overlap between women who love cats and mystery readers.” So I came and signed books with about 20 other authors and a few hundred readers and had a blast. And at the end of the night, Kate said to me, “You should write a mystery.” So the next day I started what became, with many revisions, my first mystery, “Mew is for Murder” (Poisoned Pen Pres).

What intrigues you about writing a series?

 I love getting to develop the characters. I hate ending a book, but with series I know I’ll see them all again – and I get to watch them grow.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

 Making myself revise is hard, hard, hard. I love the inspiration. The perspiration part not so much – but it is soooo necessary.

What do you enjoy reading?

 Everything! I am now in a John Lawton World War II mystery (“Bluffing Mr. Churchill”) and have a Stuart Nevile up next. I guess I read darker than I write.

Which authors have influenced you?

My childhood faves were C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, and it has been pointed out to me that my Mr Grey owes a lot to Aslan from those books. Also, Tolkein and Ursula LeGuin.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

I usually have the central puzzle or dilemma in mind, but not necessarily how it will resolve.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

Well, I adore my cats – Mr Grey in the Dulcie Schwartz books and Musetta in the Theda Krakow books. And, of course, Wallis the tabby from my Pru books. She’s got so much attitude!!

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

Thank you!! I am always hoping that readers will take my books as they are – not look for them to be like anyone else’s books. If they try them and they enjoy them, I so deeply appreciate that! Oh, and if they do, they could spread the word!

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Write every day, even if you don’t feel inspired. Oh, and when you’re done with a chapter or a story, put it aside for at least a few weeks and then read it through. You’ll be surprised – so much stuff you thought was in there never made it out of your head and onto the page! Revising is so important. Also, read read read constantly. Writers have to be readers first (and always)!

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

 I love getting to create little worlds, with people and characters of whom I grow quite fond. What I don’t like is realizing that I’ve been sitting at my desk for 10 hours and I have missed daylight… this happens all too often.

If you could meet three people (living or dead) and chat mysteries with them, who would you select?  What would you discuss?

Agatha Christie, of course, Jane Austen, and Hilary Mantel. Mantel is still alive and writing, for which I’m so grateful! But I think of these women as just the masters at creating memorable characters. And that, really, is key to creating a story – and a mystery is a story first.

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries?  Do you add it into your own stories?

I do and I do. I want my characters to be real and have lives – and that includes pets and families and love lives.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

ANYTHING COMFY!! I bought these “velour lounging pants” on sale, so I wear them all through the winter (with a big, soft top). In warm weather, I go the opposite direction – cutoff sweatpant shorts and a T-shirt.

As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story.  As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?

I have dreamt scenes, when I’m deep into a book. I always try to feel my way through my characters – I can’t make them do anything I don’t understand or, really, wouldn’t do myself. Even my killers have to have motives I believe in. I have to see how I could be pushed almost that far.

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

I don’t know. I read darker than I write – but I can’t write a scene where someone is tortured or anything like that. I like my characters and their happy endings too much!

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much?

I usually don’t read mysteries when I’m writing – too close to home! Its funny but I just don’t WANT to when I’m writing. I read a lot of Victorian fiction: Anthony Trolloppe and the like while writing.

Do you feel you must write your cozies in a series? If so,why?

I do. Publishers want series – and I do like staying with my characters!

What are you writing now?

I just sent in the edits for “Grey Dawn,” which will be the sixth Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery (for Severn House). So I should start the fourth Pru Marlowe pet noir, but I haven’t yet.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

That would probably be “True Grey,” the fifth Dulcie mystery – my heroine is working on her thesis, but when she goes to meet a visiting scholar, she finds her lying dead, knocked out by a piece of statuary. And since she was the one who found her, she immediately becomes a suspect…. luckily, her ghost cat, Mr Grey, knows she is innocent.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

You can read excerpts and find out news at my home site at

http://www.cleasimon.com – you can also “friend” me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @Clea_Simon  – thanks so much!

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2F

http://www.amazon.com/Clea-Simon/e/B000APUNRK/

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.

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My links:

 

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Jennie Bentley

by Karen E. Rigley

Welcome, Jennie.   You’re such a multi-faceted writer, we really appreciate you joining our MMC interviews.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary.  What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

All of the above? It’s just a great place for authors and readers to meet and talk, I guess.

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

I’m pretty sure Jenny Hanahan introduced me to it a couple of years ago.

How did you know you were meant to write?

LOL! I’ve always written. I can remember being about five or six, and sitting on a friend’s living room floor, at the coffee table, writing and illustrating a “book” about a black poodle named Top. (I daresay I probably wanted a poodle, and this was my way of getting one. Partly, that’s the reason I still write. It’s a way to live vicariously through other people, and experience things I’m never likely to experience in life. For good or for bad.)

What fascinates you about mysteries?

Partly I think it’s ego and a healthy sense of competitiveness. The ability to pit myself against the sleuth – and more importantly the writer – and try to figure out whodunit before the sleuth does and before the writer spells it out. I can’t resist the challenge. 🙂

And then there’s the noble answer, which is that in mysteries, good always – or almost always – triumphs over evil, the bad guy gets his comeuppance, and when it’s all said and done at the end of the book, all is right with the world. As someone much smarter than me once said: mysteries aren’t about murder, they’re about justice. I guess I like to know that at least in fiction, justice is served, even if it doesn’t always work out that way in real life.

What inspired you to write your mysteries?

I’ve always read a lot of mysteries. I started with the Bobbsey Twins and Enid Blyton, went on to Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Brains Benton and the Hardy Boys – I was an equal opportunity reader – and then I graduated to Agatha Christie, Quentin Patrick, and Ngaio Marsh in my teens.

More specifically, though, back in 2006 I was reading the Stephanie Plum books and going to real estate school, when I had this idea for a mystery about a brand-new real estate agent who stumbles over a dead body in an empty house. That brainstorm became A Cutthroat Business, which was my first mystery, and which eventually – about a year later – became an opportunity to write the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

I prefer both reading and writing series to writing standalone books. Once I get to know and like someone, I want to spend more time with them, both as a reader and a writer… and for that matter as a person.

Besides, you can do different things with characters when you have more time to develop them and their personalities. Some characters need more than a single book to get to where they’re going. Characters always have to end the book different than they were when the book started, but sometimes they have more changing to do than can be easily done in one book, either because the change is too big to tackle in just one short span of time, or because the changes are subtle and incremental and need time to develop.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Sticking to one story, I guess. I always have a few in the backbrain, and they’re always trying to get my attention. Oooh, shiny! So sticking with one manuscript long enough to finish it, while all the others are clamoring in my head, is tough. Other than that, I don’t really have a problem putting the story together or writing it. Although I do not like to edit. If I could write a perfect draft the first time, I’d be a happy camper.

What do you enjoy reading?

Everything, depending on my mood. I don’t usually read horror or BDSM erotica, but other than that, I’ll try pretty much any genre, as long as the book is well written. I read broadly but shallowly. At the moment, for some reason, I’m on a historical kick.

Which authors have influenced you?

Too many to mention, really, and different influences in the different genres I write. I mentioned Janet Evanovich already. Elizabeth Peters. Lois McMaster Bujold. Jennifer Crusie. Suzanne Brockmann. Quentin Patrick. Dorothy L. Sayers. And about a hundred more.

On a more personal level, the fabulous Tasha Alexander. We met in 2005, just before her first book was released, and became fast friends. I got to go through the experience of publishing a first book with her: the first interview, the first TV appearance, the first review, the first signing. She encouraged me to believe that if she could do it – write a book and get it published – then I could do it too. She was the best friend and mentor any girl wanting to write a book could want, and I was incredibly lucky to meet her.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

Basic idea for the first 3rd to half, and a good idea of who the murderer is and why. I don’t outline or plot anything ahead of time, at least not consciously; it’s more like I “see” the first part of the story clearly, just as one thing growing logically from the next in the situation I set up in the beginning. I hit the wall usually somewhere between page 80 and page 150, depending on the book, and then I have to take a step back and reevaluate where I am and where I’m going. But I’m a pretty dedicated pantser, so if I know too much about the details of the story, I won’t want to write it.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

My own favorite characters? That I wrote? Sheesh.

I do like Rafe and Savannah in the Cutthroat Business books. They’re so different from one another, and she has to grow and change so much over the course of the first five books to get to where she needs to be. She had a pretty epic, if quiet, journey, and it was a real thrill and privilege to be able to record it. And Rafe is just a lot of fun, you know? 🙂

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

Thanks very much for buying my books. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love to do. If it weren’t for readers, none of us writers would have a job.

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Read a lot. Read everything. Read in your genre and out of it. Read bad books as well as good books – it’s the only way to learn the difference. And then write a lot. It takes a lot of time to get good at something, and writing isn’t any different from anything else. And finally, figure out how the business works. Because while writing is an art and a craft, publishing is a business, and if you want to succeed in the business of publishing, you have to understand how it operates.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

I love everything about being an author. The adulation, the respect, the big bucks…

Joking.

I do love everything about being an author, though. I get to spend most of my time in my pajamas, talking to the people in my head, living vicariously through them. What could be better? There’s nothing about it that drives me crazy, other than the fact that other people don’t always understand that it’s actually work, and I’m not available to babysit their kids and walk their dogs and run their errands.

If you could meet three people (living or dead) and chat mysteries with them, who would you select?  What would you discuss?

Elizabeth Peters. Ngaio Marsh. Agatha Christie. And I have no idea what we’d discuss; I think I’d just sit and listen to whatever they said, you know?

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries?  Do you add it into your own stories?

All my books are romances, pretty much. The ones that don’t have a HEA – a happy ever after – at the end of the first book, are just working toward it later. Love makes the world go round. And one of my favorite classic mysteries is Dorothy L. Sayers’s Busman’s Honeymoon, about Lord and Lady Peter – Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane – who have just gotten married and are spending their honeymoon at Tallboys, and all they want is some peace and quiet to enjoy married life, but there’s this mystery that keeps intruding. I approach all my mysteries like that.

Or to say it differently, the mysteries are rarely what the books are about. The dead bodies are usually intrusions into the characters’ daily lives. I write amateur sleuths, so catching murderers isn’t their jobs; they stumble into this stuff. They have jobs and careers, families, boyfriends or husbands, friends, commitments… and then this dead body shows up and throws everything into disarray, and they have to deal with the situation before they can get back to their nicely ordered lives, with their love triangles or visiting relatives or houses under renovation. My mysteries are like little slices of the characters’ lives, and since love – romance, relationships – are part of most people’s lives, then yes, they’re there too.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

I don’t really care, as long as it’s comfortable. Sweatpants and a T-shirt, I guess. I don’t actually wear pajamas to work, though.

As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story.  As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?

I think I may have dreamed a scene or two, but it’s not something I regularly do. Both my mystery series are written in first person POV, though, so I have to go pretty deeply into the characters’ heads and do my best to see what they see, feel what they feel, think the way they would. It can be hard to do. The fourth Cutthroat Business book, Close to Home, is probably the most difficult book I’ve ever written. Unconsciously, I set up that whole five book story arc as one long book, with three acts, a dark moment, and a climax and resolution. Book 4 is the dark moment, the whole thing. And it was very, very hard to be in Savannah’s head while her world crumbled around her. I wrote the book – all 90,000 words – in about a month and a half, because I just couldn’t stand living like that any longer than I had to.

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

I didn’t really choose them, they chose me. A Cutthroat Business, which was the first mystery I wrote, isn’t really a cozy. It has some aspects of cozy – amateur sleuth, light and fairly humorous tone, real estate gimmick – but the subject matter is a bit darker, and the voice a bit sexier. Berkley Prime Crime didn’t want to publish it – because it wasn’t cozy enough, one assumes – but they offered me the opportunity to create a different series for them, and that became the DIY books.

Then again, those aren’t as cozy as some, either, really, although they do fit the definition of the cozy, even if there too the subject matter is sometimes outside the cozy realm.

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much?

I can’t read much of anything while I’m writing, and I don’t read a lot of cozies under any circumstances, I’m afraid. Traditional mysteries, yes. Cozies, no.

Do you feel you must write your mysteries in a series? If so, why?

Um… I got hired to write a series. There wasn’t really a question about it. I don’t suppose there’d be anything wrong with writing a standalone cozy, although I don’t have any plans of doing so at this time.

What are you writing now?

I’ve got three projects going right now, two of them mysteries and one a science fiction romance or futuristic romantic suspense; take your pick. The 6th Cutthroat Business mystery I’m hoping to have finished by Christmas. The SFR is due to its editor February 1st, and the 7th DIY mystery is due to its editor March 15th.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

I assume we’re talking about one that’s already published? That would be the 6th DIY book, Wall to Wall Dead, which was released in September. Avery and Derek are renovating a small condo in Josh Rasmussen’s building, when one of the neighbors ends up dead. Hilda Shaw was the resident busybody, with a lively interest in everyone and everything, and as it turns out, everyone in the building has a secret they’re trying to hide, including Josh. It’s up to Avery to determine which secrets are harmless and which someone is willing to kill for.

If it’s the next in line but not yet released, that would be the 6th Cutthroat Business mystery, in which Rafe and Savannah are trying, not very successfully, to settle into a normal life together after Rafe stops working for the TBI, and in which Savannah catches Tim Briggs, fellow realtor, washing blood off his hands in the office sink.

The next DIY mystery, incidentally, will feature a Craftsman bungalow, a missing Christ Child from the nativity outside Bartholomew Norton’s church in Waterfield, and a baby skeleton in a steamer trunk in the attic. It’s a Christmas release for 2013.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

www.jenniebentley.com

www.jennabennett.com

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her books.

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My links: