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  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. (
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,( 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, 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. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Two--Two--Two Books Are Fun! By Linda Kozar

The tinsel is scattered all over the house. The only thing stirring is your PC's mouse. And you're wondering...

What will these writers come up with next year?

There will be A Cup of Cozy 3 in 2015. And we'll have even more mysteries, menus and mirth to entertain and delight your taste buds! 

Here's hoping and praying that you are all enjoying a wonderful Christmas with family and friends.

Blessings to you all in the new year!

The Writers of Cozy Mystery Magazine

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2015


Cynthia Hickey, Traci Tyne Hilton, Linda P. Kozar, Deborah Malone,
Candice Prentice, C.L. Ragsdale, and Nancy Jill Thames.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Traditional Swedish Christmas Cookie Recipe: Pepparkakor

Do you love Ikea as much as I do?

For me, the cheap, cute, easy to put together furniture and "stuff" is just part of the fun. Every time I go to Ikea, I feel in a small way, like I am back home at Fackelbararnas Bibelskola (Torchbearers Bible School) in Holsby Brunn, Smaland, Sweden.

Christmas at Ikea is especially wonderful.

I'm from Portland, Oregon where snow is rare, even at Christmas. But the one winter I spent in Sweden was like a picture postcard for Christmas. Clear, bright blue skies, hills covered in snowy evergreen trees, and stores filled with gnomes, dala horses, straw stars for your Christmas tree, and of course, pepparkakor.

Right now, my Ikea is filled with the same things!

Not that the store-bought cookies are even remotely as good as Aina's homemade pepparkakar--thin, crisp, sweet and spicy, melt in your mouth ginger cookies that inspired more than one midnight raid on the kitchen. (But I'm not naming names!)

This winter I've been re-living Christmastime in Sweden as I work on Dark and Stormy: A Tillgiven Romantic Mystery. And I bet you can guess what that makes me want...

Aina's Pepperkakor!

Since I can't share a plate of cookies with you over a cup of tea (a delightful tradition called Fika in Sweden) I will share her recipe--straight from my Bible school scrap book! (But with American measurement conversions in parenthesis.)


300g Margarine (1 1/3 C)
300g Corn Syrup (scant 1 C)
300g Sugar (1 1/2 C)
1 T Cinnamon
1 T Cloves
1/2 T Ginger
1 1/2 T Baking Soda
3dl Water (1 1/4 C)
900g  Flour (9 C)

(It's a big batch, since this is the recipe she used to feed the whole school!)

Heat Sugar, margarine and Syrup carefully and stir until smooth.
Add spices and stir it cold.
Stir the soda in water and add it to mixture.
Work in the flour. (Save some for the dough rolling.)
Let the dough sit overnight in the fridge.
Roll out very thin and cut with shaped cookie cutters.

Serve with hot coffee and enjoy a little taste of Christmas in Sweden!

For a first serving of life at the (fictional) Tillgiven Bibelskola, check out Hard to Find: A Tillgiven Romantic Mystery!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Traditions by Cynthia Hickey

When I was a child, we opened one gift on Christmas Eve. After supper, Dad would jump up and shout, "Christmas Eve gift!" and hand us each one present. I never continued that tradition because, marrying and having a blended family, we celebrated on Christmas Eve anyway. But, we have made some traditions of my own, my husband and I. And heaven help us if we stray from them. The kids are sticklers for tradition. Especially during the holidays.


 Now, although our kids are grown, they still come over on Christmas Eve for a large breakfast. Adults and grandkids open presents and spend the day together. Christmas Day is spent at the house of the oldest child. That tradition of opening on Christmas Eve still runs strong.


On Christmas morning, those of us left here, put something in Jesus’s stocking. We write down on a slip of paper something only we can give Him. This is done before our stockings and gifts. Those papers are never read, being for His eyes only, and replaced each Christmas morning. I can honestly say this is my favorite tradition.                                                 




 This year, we’ve decided to bring back an old favorite. When the kids were young (you had to be at least ten years old and able to be quiet for an hour to participate), we would light a fire, fill a plate with finger foods, and listen to an hour of Christian Christmas carols, after reading from the book of Luke. No Frosty or Rudolph here. All the songs depict the birth of Christ. There is no talking during this hour of music. No demands on anyone. We no longer have a fireplace, so will use Christmas lights and candles.


This tradition has proven to help us relax and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. The door is open to any who want to attend and the music starts exactly at the appointed time. I am very excited to reintroduce this tradition to the grandkids.

Here's something we might serve at our fireside concert.

Chocolate-covered bacon

Cook bacon. Let cool.

Melt dark chocolate (chocolate-chips are fine)

Dip cooled bacon three fourths up into the chocolate.


Pepperoni Bread

 Pizza dough (or buy store bought)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
sliced pepperoni

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll the bread dough so that it makes a large rectangle. Sprinkle generously with the mozzarella cheese, then top with desired amount of pepperoni. Carefully roll the dough jelly roll style into a loaf and place seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.


Merry Christmas. What is your favorite tradition?


 Multi-published and Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. Her first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. Her third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as ebooks through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s ebooks for their genre. She has several historical romances releasing in 2013, 2014, 2015 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents, and has sold more than 275,000 copies of her works. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs and two cats. She has five grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”. Visit her website at