Our Authors

Our Authors

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Goodbye for Now

Author Candice Speare Prentice

The authors of Cozy Mystery Magazine wish Candice Prentice all the best blessings as she takes a sabbatical from writing this year. We've enjoyed her excellent, well researched posts and will miss her contributions!

Candice is the author of Murder in the Milk CaseBand Room Bash, and Kitty Litter Killer(Print, Barbour Publishing, 2005-2006), and Mayhem in Maryland—a cozy compilation (Print, Barbour Publishing, 2008). She also co-authored three romances published in 2010 by Barbour. In 2013, MacGregor Literary Agency re-released Candice’s cozies as e-books. You can find out more about them here.

Candice lives in Maryland with her husband and Jack the Whiney Dog, who is the subject of many of her personal blog articles. She reads and researches for fun and especially enjoys medical history, which explains her collection of antique medical bottles and memorabilia.    

Candice Speare Prentice
Intriguing Stories. . .Inspiring Hope. . .Finding Joy in Restoration

Find her on Facebook

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's an Authormorph?

The Before
Welcome to an afternoon tea! Let me pour you a nice cup of Lady Grey. Please help yourself to some yummy treats. 

Do you like to read autobiographies? I do. To me, some celebrities' journeys are better than fiction! Some of my favorites are Jackie Kennedy, Lauren Bacall, and Coco Chanel. Do you have any? Today, I wanted to share how I morphed into an author. I'd love to hear your comments on morphing as well!

How does an ordinary housewife become a writer? It's not like one dreams of writing a book. Being an author was probably the farthest thing from my mind until things began to happen that changed my trajectory. 

Martha Hyer
Years ago, a fellow juror handed me a newspaper clipping of an actress named Martha Hyer and told me I looked like her. Maybe to him I did. But the real kicker was someone telling me I looked exactly like Angela Lansbury. Now, as many may know, Angela Lansbury starred not only in GaslightThe Manchurian Candidate, and Blue Hawaii, but she also starred in a 10-year run of Murder, She Wrote.

Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote
After I believed I looked like Angela, I think I tuned in for all ten years of that series, which left quite an impression on my brain coupled with discovering a special display in the library where I took my young children every week.

A library benefactor had bequeathed the entire leather bound set of the Agatha Christie Mystery Collection, and those books called to me until I had checked out and read every one...again and again.

Over the years raising children, leading the PTA, organizing Vacation Bible School, spending time with girlfriends giving luncheons, throwing tea parties, and reading Agatha Christie, little did I realize it was all a dress rehearsal preparing me for writing the Jillian Bradley Mystery Series

When time came for an empty nest and an outlet for my creative urges, it was if the Lord turned on the switch and the stories began to flow. 

That was the fun part. 

The struggle came when readers would give critical reviews. I wanted to give up, but I prayed hard, asking God for direction. Ever been there? 

He directed me to writing groups and blogs where I found help. There are amazing people out there who I consider to be super heroes. When you ask God for direction, He will always show you what to do.

Four years and nine books later I finally realized I had morphed into an author. 

Worth the struggle? You bet! The only thing I could live without are the "stretch" marks. 

Seriously, it's humbling to know people all over the world read the adventures of Jillian and Teddy. Many have said they can't wait for the next one.

If you want to read a mystery where you find an inexpensive escape to luxurious hotels, a place to eat fabulous food without gaining weight, indulge in afternoon tea without all the work, and have an adorable little fur ball for a virtual companion, then you'd probably enjoy the adventures of Jillian Bradley and her Yorkie, Teddy. 

Begin with Book 1 - "Murder in Half Moon Bay" 

Available on Amazon.com for only $3.99 

The After
~Nancy Jill

P.S. You can also read Murder in Half Moon Bay for free on Wattpad.com
To learn more about Nancy Jill visit http://www.nancyjillthames.com.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In Murder Mysteries, Nothing And No One Is Safe

Okay, I’ve been reading murder mysteries for a while now, and have come across some of the creative ways that authors have bumped off their victims. Untraceable poisons no one can pronounce, crossbows set to kill on a timer or ice bullets which will melt after completing their deadly mission leaving no trace.
In spite of that, I think I’ve come across one that is truly unique, but I could be wrong. I’m sure a lot of you read more than I do. Although my family would have hard time believing that.
Anyway, I finished reading The Mystery of the Boule Cabinet; A Detective Story by Burton Egbert Stevenson. The book was written 1911 so it’s a bit on the sensational side, but the solution does make sense which I appreciated. In my opinion those are the best, they are unlikely, but still possible. In spite of that this story has got to have one of the most ingenious murder weapons I’ve come across.
Forget Professor Peacock in The Library with The Revolver. Or even a frozen leg of lamb or a toaster. 
In this story the murder weapon is…a piece of furniture. A rather large cabinet to be precise. Not a built-in, free standing. No it doesn’t fall on anybody, it’s a little more complicated than that of course.
The plot is a locked room mystery, which basically is that someone is murdered in a locked room. There’s no way they could have been murdered, but yet there’s this dead body. Then another one. And another one. Plus some near misses, but no one realizes that until later. The only commonality is this cabinet, and it’s definitely the murder weapon. No spoiler there that’s established almost immediately. But how is the murderer using it to kill people?
Well that’s the mystery, and if I told you, you'd be mad. So if you're want to know read the book.
The furniture did it, think about that the next time you move it to vacuum behind it.
What about all of you? What is the most creative, unique or bizarre fictional murder methods you’ve come across?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Uh, Excuse Me. Just One More Thing.

Do you recognize that phrase or the person who used a variation of it on a regular basis? If the trench-coat-wearing, cigar smoking, police detective pictured here comes to mind, you know who I mean. Lieutenant Columbo of the LAPD.

In this blog post I’m going to depart from my regular articles about traditional cozy mysteries to talk about this old series--one of my favorites. My husband and I recently began watching them from the beginning (via Netflix), and I found myself comparing the cozy mystery “formula” to the Columbo mystery formula. I found some differences, but I also found some similarities.

The biggest difference between the two is that at the very beginning of each Columbo program, the audience watches the murderer commit the crime, so the viewer has one up on Detective Columbo--we know “who done it.” Then, for the rest of the show, we enjoy watching how he solves the crime.

The biggest similarity between Columbo and a traditional cozy mystery is how Columbo solves the crimes. Although he has access to labs and the usual police stuff, more often than not, he solves the mysteries in ways very like some of our favorite cozy sleuths—he observes people, listens carefully to conversations, trusts his gut, and picks up clues that the other police miss. He also lets the criminal think he’s a blundering idiot, which makes it easier for him to slyly collect facts. And as occurs in cozies, there is usually at least one other suspect, and the murderer is often pushed into killing by some action of the victim—something that somehow threatens the murderer’s wellbeing

Unlike many cozy mystery sleuths, we only glimpse Columbo’s personal life through sporatic comments—mostly about his wife, who we never see. And he often uses these off-hand comments about his wife to distract the suspect. Again, this adds to his bumbling fool demeanor.

In addition to comments about his wife, in many of the shows he’s got some minor personal issue going on. For instance in one, he’d just gotten a new dog, a hound dog that was with him in his car for the length of the show. Columbo was trying to figure out a name for the dog, and he asked everyone for suggestions. In another, he ruined his shoes by getting them wet at a crime scene.  Again, he asked everyone about their shoes and where they got them. In one scene he showed up wearing a new pair that didn’t fit and made him miserable. By the end of the show, he had finally gotten a comfortable pair. Simple stuff, but highly entertaining coming from Columbo.

Like I said, I enjoy Columbo a lot. The shows are well done and the characters are enjoyable. And with some rearrangement, the plots of the shows could be inspiration for cozy mysteries. Speaking of which, I have a book to write, and thinking about Columbo makes me feel inspired.  

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Finish That Book!

With the new year upon us I thought it would be appropriate to post some helpful hints to getting that book published this year. Let 2015 be the year you decide to finish your book and submit it to publishers.

Deborah Malone
 The Road to Publishing
1.      Finish That Novel:  Finish the book. Publishers are not really interested in ideas. They want to see that a would-be author has the skill, the stamina and the discipline to finish the job. After finishing your book set it aside for a couple of weeks then go back to it and start editing. Hire an editor if necessary. Two books I’ve found invaluable for my writing:
“Write in Style” by Bobbie Christmas and “Goal, Motivation and Conflict” by Debra Dixon.
2.      Researching Publishers And Agents:  Study books that are the same genre as your book and see who their agent/publisher is. It is usually listed in the front of their book. Look for publishers on-line and study their guidelines for submissions. Find out what they are looking for. There are also books that are helpful to find publishers such as: “Christian Writer’s Market Guide” by Sally Stuart and “2012 Writer’s Market” by Robert Lee Brewer. Note: It is necessary to have an agent for big name publishers. If you do not want to go this route please do not forget the small presses. Please do your homework and check out small publishers or self-publishing companies. If you go this route a book you will want to read is: “Stress-Free Marketing” by Renea Winchester.
3.      Write A Synopsis And Query Letter: According to Kaye Dacus at www.kayedacus.com  you should first and foremost familiarize yourself with the kind of synopsis your targeted publishing house requests. Most will want a “normal” synopsis (about one doubled-spaced synopsis per 10,000 words of your novel.)  - Your query letter is your introduction to an editor/agent. You do not want to immediately label yourself as a “newbie” or an amateur when they open the envelope. Spend time learning the correct way to write a query.
4.      Prepare Your Proposal: The proposal is where you really brand yourself as a writer. It’s where you show the agent/editor that you’re so much more than just 100,000 words of a story written down on paper. It’s where you show them you understand the industry, you understand what they’re looking for, you know who your competitors are, and you realize that 80% + of the marketing for a published author is done by the author.
5.      Send Out Queries:  Be sure and follow the guidelines of the publishers you’ve researched. Send only what they’ve ask for – do not add anything unless they’ve requested it. It is important to not send any photographs or illustrations. Do not use fancy paper or elaborate fonts. These are the marks of an amateur, and will only hurt your chances. (www.mythicscribes.com)
6.      Be Prepared For Rejections:  You will receive them. Most of the rejection letters will be in form letter style. Do not let this get you down. Keep sending out the queries. Every author has a story to tell about the rejections letters they accumulated before being published. Consider a rejection letter as a sign you are writing. How many people can say they’ve even received a rejection letter? Keep writing and persevere. The writers who persevered are the ones who are now published.
7.      Continue Writing:  Don’t stop writing. The more you write the more you improve in the craft of writing. It will help you find out if you are able to write more than the “one hit wonder.” It might be that it will be your second or third book that gets published so don’t sit idle while waiting to hear from those publishers.
1.      Establish A Website: Once your book is contracted and by the time it shows up in online bookstores, you should have a website – preferably one with your author name as the URL,(www.deborah-malone.com) so that readers can easily find you. Use Google blogspot for free and pay only for the URL.
2.      Start A Blog:  I’ve discovered blogging and reviewing books is a great way to get your name out in the world of writing. You can build a following before you have your book published. If possible use your author name as your URL. Interviews and book giveaways are a great way to draw traffic to your blog. You can use Google or Wordpress for free
3.      Start An Author Facebook Page:  If you start an author page as opposed to a personal page it allows followers to connect with you without having to wait for a friend approval. You can post book news, awards, and book signings.
4.      Get An Updated Author Photo:  This doesn’t have to be a high-priced photograph, but make sure it is updated and of good quality. It won’t hurt to have a couple of different shots.
5.      Set Up Accounts On Reader Sites:  There is a great opportunity in this area. You can sign up at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Shelfari. Then when your book is published you can set up author pages and list your book and your information.
6.       Get Business Cards, Postcards and Bookmarks:  Vista Print offers great prices on these items. You can get your business cards before your book comes out – be sure and put your picture on your card. Someone might not remember your name, but they will remember your face. If you place a small order with Vista Print they will send you discount cards with that order then you can place future orders at a greatly reduced price.
I made my own bookmarks out of heavy duty paper and saved a lot of money. Don’t forget the book I mentioned earlier “Stress Fee Marketing” by Renea Winchester, it includes a lot of detailed information on these marketing strategies.


                                    Deborah Malone’s first novel Death in Dahlonega, finaled in the
                                    American Christian Fiction Writer’s Category Five writing contest!
                                    Deborah was also nominated for 2011 and 2012 Georgia Author of the
                                    Year in Novel category. She has worked as a freelance writer and
photographer, for the historic magazine “Georgia Backroads” since 2001.  She has had many articles and photographs published, and her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails,” edited by Olin Jackson, as well as the “Christian Communicator.” She is a member of the Georgia Writer’s Association, Christian Author’s Guild, Advanced Writers and Speaker’s Association and the American Christian Fiction Writers.