Wednesday, February 19, 2014



It's actually a very fun process. While I'm a seats-of-the-pantser writer for my non-mystery books, my cozies require notes. Pages and pages, and post-its upon post-its of notes.

When I wrote my first cozy mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, formerly titled Buried Beneath the Midnight Blue, I had no idea what a cozy mystery was. A friend of mine dared me to write one and to submit it to Barbour Publishing's new cozy mystery line. So, I researched what one was, entered it into a contest, won first place in the inspirational category of said contest, and required an agent. What a whirlwind! I've been hooked ever since. But, I digress.

1 - I choose the crime. Most of the time, I pick murder, but that isn't always the original thought in the culprit's mind.

2 - the main character: Name, occupation, personality, looks, and why they want to get involved.

3- I choose my bad guy/woman and why they committed the crime

4 - Now my suspects and the quirkier the better. All my cozies take place in small towns, usually in
the Ozarks where I grew up. Caution: Don't have your secondary characters outshine your main character in quirkiness. All the suspects must have a believable motive. In the first book of my second series, Deadly Neighbors, everyone needs cash for something - and lots of it. Thus, their motive.

5- Then, I choose a romantic interest. Who doesn't like romance? And the hunkier the hero, the better. BUT: there must be conflict. The hero does not want the heroine to get involved, yet, despite her heart's tugging to the contrary, she does.

6 - Once I have my characters and the whys of their being a part of the story, I come up with my red herrings, or false clues. Again CAUTION: don't mislead your reader to the point where they close the book and go, "Huh?". Instead, you want them to go, "Oh, yeah! I remember when that clue happened." It's a fine line, really, but loads of fun.

And thus, my need for lots of notes. I purchase a very pretty spiral notebook and bright colored post its. After all, I'm working and need something lovely to look at, right? My wall is plastered with the post its as thoughts come to me, and my plotting notes are in the notebook.

I'm not sure if this is the right way to write a mystery, or whether other authors use the same method,
but this is what works for me. In April, I'll be releasing the first in a third series, and I'm having more fun than ever.

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 and 2014 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents. 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



  1. Cynthia--I write seat-of-the pants too:) Like you, I'm continuing to write cozies, first adding on to my original Spyglass series and beyond. I think it's in my blood. Thanks for sharing your tips. I'll bet you go through a lot of post it notes.

    1. Yes, I do :) And Spyglass is where I put all my cozies. Why mess with a good thing :)

  2. Love your ideas, Cynthia. No wonder you're so popular!
    Thanks for joining us on Cozy Mystery Magazine. :)

  3. I try to be organized, but somehow the book I started with is not the one I end up with. It's all for the good, but it's hard to plan for.


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