Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Terrific Trio

Please allow me to introduce to you the Terrific Trio from my Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Series. On the left we have Trixie Montgomery. What's that you ask? How much of me has gone into Trixe? Well, it seems Trixie is a divorced, middle-aged woman who has started a new career as a writer for a historic magazine. It just so happens that I've written for the historic magazine "Georgia Backroads" for ten years. So yes, there is some of me in Trixie, but she also has her own personality. She's been through a rough divorce when her husband tells her he has discovered his soul mate on the internet. When he goes to meet her karma bites him in the bum and he finds out that his blonde bombshell is a 300 woman who takes men for all she can get. However, he still wants out of their long time marriage so she moves back to the small town of Vans Valley to live in her mother's garage apartment. This is when she starts working for "Georgia by the Way" and gets her assignments that lead her to dead bodies and crimes to be solved.

In the middle is none else than Trixie's best friend, Dee Dee Lamont. Dee Dee is a bonafide cat lover and runs an antique shop in Vans Valley called Antique's Galore. She usually accompanies Trixie on her research trips and goes antiquing while Trixie works. In the first book of the series "Death in Dahlonega" Dee Dee is a magnet for trouble. She stumbles upon a dead body while snooping around after a bathroom trip for her overly frequent visits to the potty. Dee Dee is loosely based on the combination of two of my friends. I will say a couple of the incidents in "Death in Dahlonega" really happened. They are just too funny to make up. Dee Dee has gone through the sudden death of her husband so she is able to help Trixie heal from her divorce. This friendship has become a win-win situation.

On the right is Belle, aka Nana, Trixie's great-aunt. When Betty Jo's, Trixie's mother, parents died at a young age she went to live with Nana who raised her like a mother. She is more like Trixie's grandmother. Now Nana is an enigma and for those of you who aren't quite sure what that means this is the definition I came up with:  One that is puzzling, ambiguous, or inexplicable. Yep, that's Nana. She is what some would call a "character." At times she seems to be addle-minded and doing such things as wearing Victoria Secret gowns, flirting with younger men, and forgetting where she was going or what she was going to do. Then at other times she is as sharp as a tack. Trixie thinks some of her behavior is a ruse to get away with her quirky behavior. Betty Jo has the patience of Job when it comes to Nana, but Trixie tries to help out when she can. And it seems Nana is determined to help Trixie, and that is how she comes to be a player in crime-solving trio with Trixie and Dee Dee.

You can read more about these fun-loving, quirky characters in the Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Series. The first book, "Death in Dahlonega" has been out since Oct. 2011 and I hope the next installment "Murder in Marietta" will be out by the first of the year. You can contact me for a signed copy, or it is available at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I hope you've had fun learning a little more about my characters. Next time I might just show you how to breathe life into a character!

Deborah has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, since 2001, for the historical magazine “Georgia Backroads.” She has had many articles and photographs published during this time. Her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails” edited by Olin Jackson. She has also had a showing of her photographs at Floyd Medical Center Art Gallery as well as winning several awards. Her debut cozy mystery "Death in Dahlonega", a winner in the ACFW Category Five Writer's Contest, is now available.
She is a current member of the Georgia Writers Association, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Deborah has been nomiated for Georgia Author of the Year 2012. She has an established blog, Butterfly Journey, where she reviews Christian Fiction. You can also catch her at
Sleuths and Suspects, where she reviews mysteries. She also contributes to the Cozy Mystery Magazine every other Tuesday.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Why Write? -- by Linda P. Kozar

Linda Kozar & Patches do their writing here.

Writers are often asked, "Why do you write?" I've heard a plethora of answers to the question from other writers over the years. Here are some:
  • 'Cause I write better than I speak
  • It's in my blood
  • Gotta get these stories out of my head
  • Because I can't not write
  • It's my calling
  • Just comes to me naturally
  • I don't know any other way to express myself
  • I love it
  • 'Cause words last forever when you write them down
  • To be a NY Times bestselling author
  • To get rich and famous
  • I get to make stuff up and get paid for it
  • To write the stories I want to read
  • To find out what happens next
  • I love making people laugh
  • I love making people cry
  • To create my own world
  • Writing is cathartic
  • Writing is fun.
  • I have to write; I don't have a choice.
We may have different reasons to write, some realistic, some not so realistic. But the question to ask next is: are you writing? Talk to any group of people and I'll bet 80% of them have a book they'd like to write. With indie publishing on the rise, the percentage of people who only dreamed of writing their story are now seeing those dreams come true.

But at what cost?

There is purpose in the process. Taking the time and effort to learn the craft of writing, to try and fail, and try and fail, and fail and try again--to paper a wall with rejection letters--is important.  Not a step to be skipped over. These are the rites of passage, the milestones of success for serious writers. 

For writers, it  is natural to think that everything we write is brilliant. A lady came to a writer's group I was in years ago and announced to all of us that we were "in for a real treat" because we would be introduced to her incredible story. We would actually get to read it. Wow. None of us quite knew what to say. Did this woman have delusions of grandeur? 

When we began to read, we did not share her opinion about her work. The tenses and point of view were all wrong. The story was filled with cliche's and adverbs and telling instead of showing. There was more wrong than right about her writing. Our group pointed out what we liked about her work, but also showed her what was wrong--a response that did not go over well. 

The intent of a critique group or partner should always be to help improve another person's work, not tear them down. And we've all experienced those pathetic people who live to tear down another writer's work in the worst way. But our writing group worked from the creed, "to tell the truth in love." The woman wasn't interested in hearing the truth however. She wanted us to do what I'm guessing all her family and friends had already done--gush over her brilliance. When we didn't, she was offended. She never returned to the group.

My mom used to have a similar typewriter--an old Smith-Corona

Now for another truth. There are many indie writers in the same position as this woman, who think their writing is the next best thing. And instead of seeking honest feedback, they look for affirmations. Then they rush to publish their book. Big mistake. Anyone can publish a book, but if you want to publish a book that is memorable in a good way, you can't skip the process.

What I mean by that is, before you self-publish, learn everything you can about writing. Work on those talents and skills. Hang out with other writers and learn from them. Hone your craft. Thicken your hide and join a critique group. By that I mean, don't take offense when someone offers a comment or suggestion to improve your work. Some people are real tenderfoots when it comes to critique. And if you can't accept that your work is not perfect, it never will be. Besides, if your goal is traditional publishing and you can't take critique, what are you going to do when your editor rips up your chapters with changes? Get a thick hide and get it now.

The flip side of delusional writers are those who come to the conclusion that everything they write is trash. Every writer goes through this stage. This usually occurs after you finish reading a really really really good book. Then you compare your work to the other writers work and convince yourself that yours is only fit to marinate in dumpster juice. 

This place is the beginning of wisdom. This revelation is a landmark. Embrace it. Start here.

Balance is key. As a writer, you're not the best, but you're not bad either. From this place, if you truly have what it takes to be a writer, things can only get better. 

Why do I write? Because there's nothing else I'd rather do.


Linda is the co-author of Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith (Hardcover/Ebook, Howard/Simon & Schuster 2009) and author of Misfortune Cookies (Print, Barbour Publishing 2008), Misfortune CookiesA Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail, (“When The Fat Ladies Sing Series,” Ebooks, Spyglass Lane Mysteries, 2012). She received the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award in 2007, founded and served as president of Writers On The Storm, a local ACFW chapter for three years. In 2003, she co-founded, co-directed and later served as Southwest Texas Director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband Michael, married 23 years, have two lovely daughters, Katie and Lauren and a Rat Terrier princess named Patches.
Represented by: Wendy Lawton, Books & Such Literary Agency
Member of: CAN (Christian Authors Network), RWA (Romance Writers of American), WHRWA (West Houston Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW, Toastmasters (Area 56) The Woodlands, Texas. WoodsEdge Community Church, The Woodlands, TX.

Linda P. Kozar
Sweet Tea Fiction
Find me at about.me/LindaKozar

Friday, July 27, 2012

You Are Not Alone! by Nancy Jill Thames

Flying home from Scottsdale last night I was reading an article in some publication (either The Wall Street Journal or the Southwest magazine in the pouch in front of me) that stated 28% of all adults (in America?) live alone these days. That's something like 3.3 million people it said! I wrote a post on my author blog recently about solitude doing a body good and this article backed up that message. To a point.
     Now if you're a workaholic like me, you may think your work keeps you company, right? Truth is we were created to interact with others. The article said even though solitude is something we all need at times, loneliness is a precursor to suicide. That's a bummer. Doesn't have to be that way. People still need friends and that's why we're here - to bring you stories of mystery, adventure, a little humor here and there and most of all characters who are yes, figments of our imagination, but those figures often embody ourselves. So what you get is community with people just like you. And we're real friends! Debbie Malone, Sandra Moore, Cindy Ragsdale, Traci Hilton, Linda Kozar and myself.
      If you're reading this post, you're probably a reader already. But as some of you have commented, you're new to the cozy genre. Well, this is where cozies are different. Our stories are usually based on everyday people solving mysteries - people who could be your next door neighbor - people who want to be in your lives. My old friends are Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and Jessica Fletcher, but I'm making new friends reading new authors all the time.
     So if you live alone (or know someone who does), remember our books are here to give you friendship and fellowship. Who are some of your favorite characters? What kinds of settings do they live in? Do you think of them as friends or acquaintances?

And don't forget the Giveaway Extravaganza going on right now!  


A Fast & Fabulous Salmon Recipe Featured Today 
in the Cozy Kitchen

Nancy Jill Thames is the author of "Jillian Bradley Mysteries," a series often set in exclusive hotels and resorts, based on real life travel adventures with her husband of 44 years. Her mysteries incorporate her love of afternoon tea, which has earned her the title of “Queen of Afternoon Tea.” She holds a music degree from UT Austin and lives in Leander, Texas where she is a member of the Leander Writers Guild. Nancy Jill is busy working on book 6 Waiting for Santa, a murder mystery taking place on Christmas Eve near Jillian Bradley’s home in Clover Hills. She has won awards for her blogs, a pie contest for her Chip Chocolate Cream Pie, and has been on the Author Watch Bestseller List numerous times.

To check out her books, Murder in Half Moon Bay, The Ghost Orchid Murder, From the Clutches of Evil, The Mark of Eden, and Pacific Beach, please visit: 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

And Now A Cozy Mystery Review

The Red House MysteryThe Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne

Okay, I am going to review a book, but being me I decided to review an older cozy mystery you might not have heard of, or maybe you have. I just know I had never heard of it before I accidentally ran across The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne. Yes, it is that A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh. This was the only mystery he ever wrote, which is a shame, and although it is a fun read it is definitely not a children’s book. However, there is one point when the main character is introduced where I could almost hear Sebastian Cabot's voice...sorry had a Disney flashback, back to the book.
Because this is The Cozy Mystery Magazine I did make sure that this qualified as a cozy mystery. I went through the list so expertly laid out in Deborah Malone’s June 8th post, “What Is A Cozy Mystery??” The detective is male, but an amateur. Check. He’s in between occupations, but he’s a member of the English upper crust, and has an independent source of income so he’s not desperate for work. Check. He has a contact who is a guest at the scene of the dastardly crime, and the police don’t take him seriously so he’s free to gather clues at will. Check and check.
Let’s start with bit of literary explanation before I start my review. The Red House Mystery is what is referred to as a “locked room mystery”, where the murder takes place in a room where all the doors and windows are locked. This would make the crime seem to be impossible to commit, yet we have a dead body to contend with. So the question is not only who done it, but how was it done? This is fortunate in the case of this story, I’ll explain in a minute.
The story takes place in an English country manor called Red House. The owner, Mark Ablett is hosting a house party whose guests include such standard mystery characters as a British major, a likeable lug of an athlete, an actress with an unappreciated sense of humor…is it my imagination or is this beginning to sound like a game of Clue? Anyway, while his guests are out for a day of entertainment, the host receives an unexpected and unwelcome visit from his wastrel (i.e. deadbeat) brother Robert who was shipped off to Australia years ago. Apparently that's what was done with deadbeat brothers in 1922 when this book was written. Suddenly, there is a shot in a locked room, and someone ends up dead. Fortunately Anthony Gillingham, our hero, has made an impromptu visit to Red House to meet up with his friend William Beverly, one of the guests, and manages to conveniently arrive just after the murder has been committed. So what’s he to do? Solve the mystery of course. It is only proper.
Milne creates a delightfully different type of detective in Gillingham who is eager to take on the "job" of sleuth. As I said, he’s in between occupations at this time. However, as he has never actually done it before he's on a learning curve. Fortunately, he has a natural talent for sleuthing and doesn’t mind admitting when he has gone wrong, which isn’t often. Also, Gillingham takes his new vocation very seriously as he recognizes murder to be a terrible thing. His friend, the equally likeable albeit not so cerebral William Beverly, is more than willing to play the sidekick even when the reality of solving a murder doesn’t live up to his expectations in the excitement factor. For one thing, he is quite disappointed in the evidence which appears to him to be so ordinary, and is quite surprised when his colleague refutes this notion as he considers it to be all too ridiculous. Which it is, but there’s a point to it, and that is what ultimately leads the murderer to trip up. Don’t they always?
I should warn you that although this is not an inverted mystery, the who of the "who done it" is rather obvious, even so you shouldn’t jump to any conclusions. Because there are a number of tricks the author plays along the way to throw you off as to the how and the why. That’s what you really have to solve, which is fun of this book. Because in end The Red House Mystery is sort of like a game of Clue, so have a good time playing.
Don't forget about the giveaway!
By the way my personal blog is now Short Mysteries And Tall Tales.
Mystery writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files a Christian Mystery Series. A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories with just a bit of whopper in them. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots. She loves to embroider and knit and is a big fan of the old Scooby Doo cartoons.
Current E-Books
THE REBOOT FILES:  The Mystery of Hurtleberry House, The Island of Living Trees, The Harbinger of Retribution, and The Wrong Ghost.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meet Cozy Mystery Author S. Dionne Moore

S. Dionne Moore started writing in 2006. Her first book, Murder on the Ol’ Bunions, was contracted for publication by Barbour Publishing in 2008. In 2009 she moved on to writing historical romances as an outlet for her passion for history. In 2010 her second cozy mystery, Polly Dent Loses Grip, was a 2010 Carol Award finalist and she was also named a Barbour Publishing 2010 Favorite New Author. In 2011 her first historical romance, Promise of Tomorrow, was nominated a 2011 Carol Award finalist.

S. Dionne Moore
Born and raised in Manassas, Virginia, Moore moved to Greencastle, PA in 1993, then to Mercersburg in 2009. Moore enjoys life in the historically rich Cumberland Valley where traffic jams are a thing of the past and there are only two stoplights in the whole town.

New releases include: Promise Brides, (3 in 1 of historical romances set in PA)
Murder on the Ol' Bunions releases from Smashwords as an ebook March of 2012, followed by   
Polly Dent Loses Grip and, for the first time ever,  
Your Goose is Cooked, the third and final book in the LaTisha Barnhart Mystery series.
To learn more about Sandra and her cozy mysteries or historical romances, visit her at: http://www.sdionnemoore.com/, Twitter @sdionnemoore, Pinterest  http://pinterest.com/sdionnemoore/, and  http://wwwtheborrowedbook.blogpsot.com.

Thanks for tuning in today and don't forget the Giveaway Extravaganza going on right now!