There’s a lot that goes into writing a cozy mystery. There’s murder and clues galore; suspects and red herrings; setting is important, too, as are the people who live in that place.
The true heart of a cozy, though, is its main character, the amateur sleuth. And for cozy mystery writers, finding, developing, and writing that sleuth is a combination of fun and challenging.
That’s pretty much what I faced when I started tinkering with the idea for the Love is Murder mysteries. I knew I wanted to set my stories in a romance bookstore called Love Under the Covers. And obviously to keep the bookshop front and center, my heroine needed to be the proprietor of the shop.
But who would she be?
Her name struck me first—Lizzie Hale. And there were some givens right from the start: Lizzie had to be a book lover, she had to enjoy the romance genre above all else, and because she had to have the energy to run the shop and solve crimes, she had to be young.
So far, though, Lizzie sounded like a standard character, and readers demand more than that in the books they love.
What could make Lizzie different? For one thing, she needed to afford her own bookstore. I took care of that problem lickety-split: Lizzie’s parents had been investing in Apple stocks for her since she was born. When the stocks came into her possession, she chose to follow her dream and open a bookstore. If only all money problems were that easily solved!
That still wasn’t enough to make Lizzie stand out in the crowd. The idea of making Lizzie a baseball fan and whiz when it comes to statistics wasn’t all that hard since my family has always been big into baseball, so I added that into the mix, and from there, things just started to rock ‘n roll. I needed a hero/love interest, right? I made him a gorgeous park ranger and former major league baseball player. Instantly, Max and Lizzie have something in common, something they can talk about—baseball.
Then just to turns things on their head, I made Lizzie, romance novel lover, a complete loser when it comes to real life romance! When Max is around, Lizzie gets itchy. She gets tongue-tied. If it wasn’t for the saving grace of baseball and the fact that when she and Max talk murder, Lizzie’s in her element, she’s sure he’d discover what a romance dork she is.
Lizzie makes her debut in Death of a Red-Hot Rancher, the first book in the new series, and I’ve already finished the next in the series as well. I discovered more interesting things about Lizzie in that book and I hope I—and readers—will get to know her even better in years to come!
Mimi Granger is a pseudonym for Connie Laux, an established mystery author. She is the author of the League of Literary Ladies Mystery series, the Button Box Mystery series, and the Haunted Mansion Mystery series. Mimi resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Learn more online at.
I’m always excited to start a new cozy mystery series, so I couldn’t wait to read DEATH OF A RED HOT RANCHER, book 1 in the Love Is Murder series by author Mimi Granger.
I loved the lead character’s book store. I had just about every romance you could mention. I also liked her little home town and most of its residents. Protagonist, Lizzie, did fall a notch on my likeability meter because of something I won’t mention as I don’t want to skew how you view her.
DEATH OF A RED-HOT RANCHER is a solid beginning to this new series, and I’m looking forward to the second title to see what changes author Granger may make, and to learn more about the characters as she fleshes them out.
I’ve been a fan of author Debra Sennefelder since I read her first book. She has never disappointed and that includes this wonderful book, THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO. This fifth book in the series is just as tasty as the four titles that came before. Actually, is has even more flavor!
THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO held me prisoner with every page. What seemed to be an open and shut case of our protagonist committing murder, evolved into a twisty turny who-really-dunit that had me second and third guessing myself right up until the heart racing end. In fact, it was so hard to put down it went with me to the kitchen for food and drink, and (Warning: TMI Alert) to the potty. J
Fans of the Food Blogger Mysteries and of Debra Sennefelder, will not be disappointed with this newest installment. Those who aren’t fans . . . that translate to “those who have never read a book by this author” . . . THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO will change that.
Did I mention the amazing recipes?
LKBR: Thank you for joining us today, Debra!
DS: Thank you! I’m so happy to be here.
LKBR: Please tell us a bit about your new book.
DS: Food blogger Hope Early finds herself involved in the murder investigation of a persnickety neighbor. Birdie Donovan likes things a certain way, and it seems that few of her neighbors live up to her standards, including Hope. After a very public argument, Hope finds Birdie dead – murdered. Evidence quickly mounts up against Hope, and she has to find the real killer and clear her name.
LKBR: How many hours a week do you work in order to meet your deadline(s)?
DS: I work about forty hours a week for my writing business. That time includes admin work, social media, and promotion. Some days, my workload is lighter. Other days, it’s all I can do to get one thing crossed off my to-do list. I write my novels in several drafts, so I may be editing one manuscript while writing the first draft of another manuscript. It’s a constant juggling act.
LKBR: Are you working on any new projects?
DS: I am currently writing the first draft of a Resale Boutique mystery, which is due to my editor next spring. I’m also working on something that I can’t discuss at this time. Though, I can share that it’s so much fun!
LKBR: How many books do put out annually (if more than one)?
DS: Typically two a year.
LKBR: What is your brainstorming process like? Do you have a certain order you use when starting a new story? Such as, main character development, do you already have a murder in mind, the location it takes place?
DS: When I get an idea for a story, I first think about if that idea can carry a whole book. Some ideas can’t, and those get filed away to use perhaps as a secondary plot in the future. Once I get an idea for a story like I did for the manuscript I’m writing now, I start fleshing out the victim and the murderer. First, I need to know their history, what brought the two of them to this point, and I need to know what happened during the murder. Then I begin creating suspects and their relationships with the victim and the murderer (if there is one). Then I start plotting the story, and from there, I write my outline. The outline I sent to my editor for the Resale Boutique book I’m currently writing was 28 pages long. Actually, my working outline was closer to 35. In that outline I include snippets of dialogue, description, anything that comes to mind as I’m plotting that I don’t want to forget.
LKBR: Where’s the strangest place inspiration has hit?
DS: I can’t think of the strangest place. Inspiration hits all the time, but as I said earlier, not all ideas can be used.
LKBR: What publishing decisions are made by you, and what are made by the publisher? Such as, cover design, paperback/hardcover, publishing date, pricing, and so on.
DS: The publisher decides all those things. However, I do have input into the cover design. My editor asks for my ideas, and I provide him with a document with images. If the cover depicts the murder scene, I’ll include descriptions of the scene in that document.
LKBR: Have you done both self-publishing and traditional publishing? If yes, how do they differ? And do you as the author have to promote them equally, or does a publisher handle a lot of the promoting?
DS: I haven’t done self-publishing.
LKBR: Multiple questions here. Have you ever thought about giving up on writing? If yes, why? What kept you going? What would you see yourself doing instead? If no, YAY! J
DS: Yes, the thought of packing up my index cards, my plotting sheets, and my thick idea file has crossed my mind more than once. But, the truth is I love what I do, and at this point in my life, I can’t see myself doing anything else. But, if I did stop writing, I’d probably go back to food blogging.
LKBR: If you could make one request of a reader, what would that be?
DS: I would love readers to share what they are reading with their friends and family. think when you share what you are reading, you’re offering a wonderful gift to everyone around you.
LKBR: Thank you for joining us here today, Debra!
DS: It’s been my pleasure. I hope your friends will connect with me on social media so I can get to know them. Thank you!
Debra Sennefelder is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery.
Her first novel, THE UNINVITED CORPSE (A Food Blogger mystery) was published in 2018.In addition to writing the Food Blogger mystery series, she writes the Resale Boutique Mystery series. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.
Born and raised in New York City, where she majored in her hobby of fashion buying, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in retail and publishing before becoming a full-time author. Her writing companion is her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih Tzu, Connie.