Morality in Mysteries

In discussing the mystery genre, writers often mention how crime fiction reflects the current state of our society. Morality in mysteries is another important consideration. What are the lessons learned by the protagonist, and in extension, by our readers? Personally, I don’t give heavy thought to these notions when I write a novel. Mostly I aim to entertain. My goal in writing the cozy mystery is to help you escape from reality and enjoy a fun, lighthearted tale. But could there be a morality lesson buried in our stories upon a closer look?

In the earlier Bad Hair Day Mysteries, my hairstylist sleuth seeks redemption for a past mistake. When Marla was nineteen and babysitting a toddler, the child accidently drowned in a backyard pool. I meant to educate readers about this preventable tragedy. Guilt drives Marla and motivates her to solve the crime in Permed to Death. When she meets handsome Detective Dalton Vail, this guilt prohibits her from progressing in their relationship. He has a teenage daughter, and she doesn’t want children. She has to forgive herself before she can move on in life. She volunteers for the Child Drowning Prevention Coalition and helps solve murders to bring justice to victims. This is how she atones for what happened and remembers she has a good heart.

Lesson One — You can move on from past mistakes and be a better person.

As Marla and Dalton grow closer, Marla comes to care for his daughter, Brianna. Their relationship still has its bumps, because Dalton also has some emotional baggage to cast away before he can move ahead. But finally, by Shear Murder, Marla has accepted that she’s stronger with Dalton and he realizes that she completes him.

Lesson Two — Finding love can strengthen you, not cause loss of independence or self-identity. 

But Marla is still nervous. As their nuptials approach, she buries herself in solving another case rather than face wedding details and bickering relatives. Finally, she finds the courage to accept her new family with enthusiasm and love. She sheds her fears and looks forward to a new tomorrow.

Lesson Three — We need to accept who we are to ensure a brighter future.

These moral lessons resonate because they’re universal truths. Mostly, the morals in my stories involve the sleuth as she learns to appreciate the meaning of family. The focus is not on the criminal mind or what effect the crime has on the victim’s survivors. Cozy mysteries focus on the sleuth and her life. In this way, her character growth issues reflect the problems we face in the real world.

That’s why I like reading cozies, too. They’re about someone like you or me who is a lot braver and who has the guts to chase down the bad guys. Along the way, we live vicariously in the sleuth’s world and enjoy seeing her relationships grow and change.

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How about you? Do you determine a theme ahead of time, or does it emerge from your writing as you develop the story? Do your tales focus on the criminal’s motivations and the repercussions of the crime, or more on the sleuth’s life in general? 

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Using Myths & Legends to Enhance Your Story

Weaving mythology into your novel can add depth and resonance. How mythology influences story structure is explained fully in The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, a book that I highly recommend. But aside from structure, you can use myths and legends to drive your story or an entire series.

Myths and Legends

In Circle of Light, book one in the Light-Years Series, attorney Sarina Bretton is kidnapped from Earth to become the legendary Great Healer. For eons, tales had been told of a savior, but as nothing occurred, the myth faded. Then the predicted signs started coming true and talk of the legend revived. Signs of the Coming included a Comet, Conquerors, Internal Strife, and a Plague.

It was said the legend would come to pass when the Great Healer married a Raimorrdan who was highly placed and who was born under the sign of the circle. The healing aura could only be activated by the power of love. But can Sarina learn to love Lord Cam’brii, the man she will be obligated to wed? Or does her heart belong to the rakish starship captain who transports her to meet her betrothed? In reflecting our own times, the similarities seem uncanny. We have a pandemic, political strife, and conquerors throughout the world. All we are missing is the Comet. Where is the Great Healer when we need her?

Sarina

Moonlight Rhapsody, the next volume in the Light-Years series, is based on the mythical sirens who lure sailors to their doom. Ilyssa, the heroine, has the power to mindwash men with her singing voice.

The Drift Lords series also relies on myth and magic. These stories derive from Norse mythology complete with runes, descendants of Odin and Thor, magic devices and mystical realms. The legend in this story is that “The six daughters of Odin must join with the six sons of Thor to utter the ancient words.” By chanting this spell, they will repel Loki and shut the rifts between dimensions. First the Drift Lord warriors must find their destined mates, and the women have to be awakened to their powers. We start with their team leader in Warrior Prince, book one in this saga that also includes mythological creatures like this sea monster.

Sea Monster

Using myths and legends works in mysteries, too. In Facials Can Be Fatal, there’s the legend of an infamous pirate that plays into the story. This was loosely based on the pirate Gasparilla who sailed off the Florida coast. Here’s an excerpt:

pirate

“A pirate nicknamed Red Ted, because of his lust for bloodshed, plied the waters off the Florida coast. He died in battle with an American naval warship. But when the troops arrived at his camp near St. Augustine, it was empty. No captives, no loot.”

“Yes, I read about him.” Even to Marla’s own ears, her voice reflected her excitement. “Warren mentioned this guy in his journal. He thought they might have uncovered part of his hoard.”

“Before his last voyage, Red Ted was getting set to retire. He’d loaded his goods onto a mule train and told his second in command to take it to Key West, where he planned to hole up in his later years. Then a sighting came for one more merchant ship that appeared to be unarmed. He couldn’t resist this last kill and set sail. The vessel turned out to be a warship hiding under a merchant flag, and Red Ted shot himself rather than be captured.”

“What happened to his mule train?” Marla asked.

“They were attacked by Indians on the route south. The natives made off with horses and mules and left them with fewer pack animals. They had to lighten their load and so buried some of the chests. They didn’t have much better luck as they headed into swampland and were beset by storms as well as bandits. With dwindling resources, they buried more loads along the way.”

“Hopefully someone kept track of those locations,” Dalton said in a wry tone.

“Only one survivor staggered into Key West. He waited for Red Ted until word came that the pirate king was dead. Ravaged by disease, he tried to sell his map but nobody believed him. He headed north, afraid he’d be identified as a pirate and hanged. That was the last anyone heard about Red Ted’s treasure. But the man had a pouch of uncut emeralds on him that provided him with a cushy lifestyle in the end. In my mind, that indicates the tales of Red Ted were true.”

Weaving mythology into your novel can add depth and resonance. #amwriting #writingtip Click To Tweet

Adding myths and legends to your story makes them fun and interesting beyond the ordinary. You can delve into history or mythology and magic while adjusting the ancient legends for your own needs. It gives an added dimension to your work and resounds within our storytelling minds.

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 A COZY BOOKWORM PARTY

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT – Join myself along with Debra H. Goldstein, Cheryl Hollon, Diane A.S. Stuckart, and Maggie Toussaint as we talk about our books to celebrate Fall and give away some great prizes! Save the Date for A Cozy Bookworm Party and bring your friends! https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty

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Writer’s Block

Is there such a thing as Writer’s Block? Or is it merely an excuse for poor planning? Because if you’ve properly laid the groundwork for your novel, you should know exactly where the story is headed. Some writers are pantsers and not plotters, and their novel writing experience is a meandering road that will eventually lead to the end. Whichever way you tell a story, the middle might become a muddle where the road ahead is obscured. But this doesn’t have to happen if you retrace your steps and build on whatever is already present.

Writer's Block

In terms of writing the story, I don’t believe Writer’s Block exists. Even when faced with the complexity of writing a novel, we can break it down into baby steps. One hour of writing, one page, one chapter. We keep going until we are done. However, in terms of lost confidence or too many outside distractions, it can definitely be real.

Loss of confidence comes from a variety of sources, such as a bad review, a publisher who rejects your next option book or dumps you altogether, a line that is cancelled along with all its authors. You might feel lost, doubting your talent and questioning which way to go. But if you’re a career writer, you’ll either ignore that nasty review and celebrate the good ones instead, or you’ll pick yourself up and find a new publisher or will decide to try the indie route.

Outside distractions can be another major cause of Writer’s Block. Disastrous world events can become huge roadblocks. Our writing becomes insignificant in the face of these catastrophes. Storytelling seems meaningless, and yet we have to remember that books offer comfort to our readers. It’s our calling to provide escapism and entertainment during troubled times.

Personal events are much more difficult to ignore. Some writers find sitting at the computer to be comforting during personal crises. Others find it impossible to write. That’s okay. We need to allow time to process what has occurred, and hopefully, someday the muse will return.

Speaking of minds, in my fiction writing classes, I advise writers to examine their character’s life space to get to know them. This is what’s in the person’s head at any given moment in time. For example, three items are occupying my mind right now that are blocking my creativity.

Because of Covid 19, I hesitate to start a new project when each day brings the possibility of getting struck down by the virus. I have to avoid the news and shut out the dire prophesies in order to get anything done.

Another big energy drain is our desire to move to be near our kids. We’ve been packing, getting rid of stuff, looking at houses on Zillow every day. After living here for forty years, this isn’t easy for us.

The business of writing is also taking up a large portion of my brain. I am still working on reissuing the remainder of my backlist titles. After these are done, I’d like to bundle them into box sets and run price promotions. These require a learning curve as well as more time and effort to put them into action. In fact, I could focus totally on marketing and never write another book. And what about those standalones buried in my desk drawers? Are they worth publishing?

Physical problems can be inhibiting. People with pain may be unable to focus. Surgeries require time to heal. Along with health concerns come aging issues. How much longer will we be able to keep writing? Is it worth the effort to start a new series? How many more books will we be able to finish in our remaining years, and is that how we want to spend them?

Yet being a writer is who we are. We write stories because it fills our time, satisfies an inner need, expresses our creativity and gives our days purpose. We hang out with other writers and contribute to the writing community.

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We’ve all been distracted by these problems and somehow we’ve found our way back, often to even greater success.  I suspect the secret is what I’ve told aspiring authors. Focus on the writing first thing each day. Shove aside anything else on your mind and spend an hour on your writing project. Then let the world flood your mind.

What advice do you offer writers struggling with these issues?

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Using Models for Settings

Using Models for Settings

In creating the setting within a setting for your story, it’s helpful if you can model your site after one in existence. Then you can transplant the real place into your larger story and alter the details to suit your novel. Writers may find this easier than making up a site from scratch. It doesn’t work all the time but can be helpful when you find just the right place. Or sometimes, it’s a real place that inspires you to write the story.

This happened to me with EASTER HAIR HUNT, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. The overall setting is Broward County, Florida. But the mystery itself takes place at Tremayne Manor, a historic mansion privately owned but open to the public for special events and guided tours.

I modeled this estate after Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington D.C. I’d been entranced by this former home to heiress Marjorie Post when we visited a number of years ago. We had delighted in having lunch at the café out by the formal gardens, strolling the manicured lanes and touring the historic house with its Russian treasures. I love this place, and so I transformed it into Tremayne Manor for purposes of my story. It helped that I had bought a booklet there describing the house and its contents.

Here’s an excerpt from my story:

Marla had only gotten a quick glimpse of the interior at her arrival. The entry hall at the front had faux stone walls, a crystal chandelier, and a grand staircase leading to the second level. Portraits of famous Russian royalty adorned the walls. Marla had gotten a kick out of it, since her own heritage went back to Russian aristocracy before the Revolution.

Voices rose in laughter from the dining room as Marla followed Lacey through a series of rooms. The guests appeared to be ignoring the turmoil outside. Then again, the action was happening back toward the tree line, so it might not be visible from their window view.

“I wish I’d taken the guided tour of your house,” Marla said as they passed into a room containing built-in, lighted display cases holding fancy porcelain dinnerware.

Lacey halted to regard her with a proud smile. “My husband’s grandmother became interested in Imperial art when she visited Moscow and St. Petersburg. Many of these pieces come from dessert services used by Catherine the Great. They bear the insignia of Russia’s most elite orders. The Queen would give dinners each year to honor the people who’d earned knighthoods.”

“These little cups are cute,” Marla said, examining a set emblazoned with silver stars.

“Those are my favorites. The ice cups were used for sorbets and custards, and I have a fondness for gelato. But come, I must see if this egg is truly from our collection.”

They passed through several rooms that would befit a palace with their ornate furnishings and valuable artifacts. Marla wondered why more security measures weren’t evident. She’d noticed the guard patrolling the interior, and each room had video monitors, but what about motion detectors and infrared lasers like she’d seen in movies?

Lacey headed directly to a tabletop display case in the center of one room. “Oh, my Lord,” she said, staring in disbelief.

“What is it?” Marla peered at a label that said the items in the case were made by Carl Fabergé, the famous jeweler commissioned by Russian royalty to make precious works of art. Three jeweled eggs rested on individual stands inside the glass case.

Uh-oh. One of them didn’t look right.

For SHEAR MURDER, I took one of our favorite places in Orlando named Harry P. Leu Gardens and transplanted it to fictional Orchid Isle as the site for a wedding. We’d strolled the lovely grounds at this fifty-acre botanical park and I used my memory, as well as a site map, to describe the intimate details in the story.

Reaching an intersection, Marla examined the signposts. Even though she had been here last night, she couldn’t remember which way to go. She aimed to find the Bride’s Cottage, where Jill was getting dressed.

Lugging her bag full of supplies, she swiped at her forehead, beaded with sweat. Her lavender gown swished about her ankles as she swatted an insect, cursing the humidity. She’d left behind the other bridal attendants, still primping in a private room across from the banquet hall. They had the benefit of air-conditioning, while she sweltered in the afternoon heat.

An evergreen scent pervaded the moist air, likely from the pine needles used as mulch. Colorful orchids mingled among the tropical foliage along with red crotons, pink pentas, and Chinese fringe flowers. Dense growth peppered the area, broken by a trickling stream. Alongside the path, green liriope acted as ground cover while moss-draped live oaks and laurel fig trees provided shade. Ferns, palms, and bromeliads competed for space.

The wedding would take place in the gazebo by the Rose Garden. Should she go left or right? She couldn’t remember if the wedding site was by the Floral Clock or the House Museum. Listening to birds twittering in the branches, she discerned voices coming closer.

“Chill out, babe. The ceremony hasn’t started yet. And anyway, I’m not the danged wedding photographer. My job is to cover the event in conjunction with the park’s debut, remember?”

“So why are you in such a hurry?” a sharp female voice replied. “It can’t be because you want to see the matron of honor, is it? Her husband is here somewhere. You wouldn’t want him to see you having an intimate tête-à-tête.”

“Get off my case, Hally. Focus on what you do best: observing other people and criticizing them.”

The couple rounded a corner and fell silent when they spotted Marla. Her quick glance detected the man’s scowl and the woman’s taut expression.

In my Drift Lords tale, WARRIOR ROGUE, I used Himeji Castle in Japan as a model for the enemy fortress in the story. I’d never visited, but I got the information I needed from the Internet. This castle fascinated me with its complexity. Short of visiting in person, I scoured online for layouts and details and then set my characters at the fictional Shirajo Manor.

At the top of the stairs, she spotted the manor, rising in the near distance. Multiple towers surrounded it. She assumed that site to be their destination.

Prodded in the back with a painful jolt, she stumbled forward toward another gate. Instead of opening to a path again, this door led inside a building.

“Leave the Drift Lord here.” Their commander indicated the wood plank floor in an empty room. The soldiers dumped him on the ground. “You four stay here and guard him until we get further orders. I’ll take the woman to General Morar.”

“What if she has the same power as the other one of her kind?” Gwarp said. He was the shortest among them with tufts of dark, spiked hair on his head. “We’ve heard rumors, Leytnant Bosk. If they’re true—”

“She would have already killed us. See for yourself.” Bosk squeezed her arm, making her wince in pain. “She’s nothing but a puny female.” The officer leered at her, his whiskers nearly poking her in the face. “Maybe the general will give her to me after he’s done questioning her.”

“Not if his wife has any say. Dr. Morar is likely to want this one for her experiments.”

“Too bad, then there won’t be anything left to enjoy.” Grasping Jen’s arm, Leytnant Bosk dragged her toward a spiral stone stairway. “Come, we have to get through this maug building before we can access the citadel.”

TRIMMED TO DEATH has a fall festival with a bake-off contest at a local farm. This was modeled after Bedner’s Farm in Boynton Beach. We’d explored this farmer’s market as well as the U-pick sites and this became Kinsdale Farms in the story.

The sun beat down on her head as she traipsed from one site to another without spotting her quarry. Francine didn’t seem to be anywhere around the main buildings or vendors’ alley. Marla had even sped through the petting zoo and kiddie area, peeking inside the bounce house.

Maybe Francine had taken refuge in the sparsely populated fields. The crowd tended to congregate near the festival tents. Soon the judges would gather on the makeshift stage to announce the winners from the day’s competitions. Country music from the band was still going strong, but the musicians should be winding down soon.

Wait, what about the open shacks behind the marketplace building? Marla had passed various sheds on her way in from the parking lot. They held empty crates, farm equipment, and a variety of tractors. Francine could be hiding in their vicinity. But when Marla tromped over, she didn’t see any sign of her target.

Had anyone else finished the game? Marla meandered over to the registration desk and asked the lady in charge. Nobody had turned in a finished card, the woman told her with a puzzled frown. Usually they had a winner by now.

A pit of worry gnawed at Marla’s stomach. Where could Francine have gone?

These are only a few examples. As you see, if you need to visualize a place where you will set a scene, it’s a lot easier when you have a real site in mind. Then you can alter the details to suit your story’s needs.

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What are some places you’ve used as models in your books?

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Cliche Alert

When you write your first draft, it’s okay to forge ahead and write whatever channels through your mind. The next sweep through will give you the opportunity to eliminate those clichés you planted along the way.

Cliche Alert

I’m preparing to reissue The Drift Lords Series, and my cliché alert meter went into full mode back when I did my initial proofread for Warrior Lord. Here’s what I found then and how I changed these phrases. When writing your novel, try to stay in your character’s head and think of analogies relevant to her mindset. In this case, my heroine owns a pottery studio and is a down-home girl from Arizona. Erika ends up battling evil trolls and demons along the way to finding true love.

OLD: Erika sensed his withdrawal from the way his shoulders tensed and his jaw tightened. Had she done something wrong? She hadn’t said anything when the man next to him commented on his attire. Perhaps he’d detected her negative opinion of his costume. Sure, it looked great on him, but he stood out like a sore thumb. If he was hoping to avoid attention from their enemy, he’d gone about it the wrong way.

NEW: Erika sensed his withdrawal from the way his shoulders tensed and his jaw tightened. Had she done something wrong? She hadn’t said anything when the man next to him commented on his attire. Perhaps he’d detected her negative opinion of his costume. Sure, it looked great on him, but he stood out like gold among clay. If he was hoping to avoid attention from their enemy, he’d gone about it the wrong way.

OLD: As soon as the group passed, she eased open the door. A peek outside told her the coast was clear. She slipped into the corridor, Magnor following as stealthy as a jungle cat.

NEW: As soon as the group passed, she eased open the door. At Magnor’s nod of consent, she slipped into the corridor. He followed, moving with the stealth of a ninja.

OLD: She couldn’t help the pall of depression that settled over her shoulders like a shroud.

NEW: She couldn’t help the pall of depression that settled over her.

Sometimes it’s best to just eliminate the cliché. It also helps to make a list of terms familiar to the protagonist’s career. That’s how I came up with this change:

OLD: Magnor had grabbed her hand, and he let go as though she’d given him a hot coal.

NEW: Magnor had grabbed her hand, and he let go as though she’d given him a firebrick from her kiln.

OLD: A wave of despondence hit her like a punch to the gut.

NEW: I decided to keep this one. It won’t hurt every now and then to use a cliché so do your best and don’t worry about the rest.

When writing your novel, be on the alert for cliches and change them to enhance your character's viewpoint. #amwriting #writetip Click To Tweet

You get the idea? The self-editing process gives you the chance the rake through your words and make improvements. Clichés are only one of the problems you’ll be searching for as you read through your manuscript. Be sure to check those clichés at the door before submitting your work.

 

The Book is Done – Long Live the Book

I have finished the first draft of EASTER HAIR HUNT, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries!

Easter Hair Hunt

Yay, the work is done! Or is it? Yes, the creative part is over, the agony and anticipation of facing a blank page every day and wondering if the words will come. It’s a great relief to type THE END, knowing you’ve reached your word count and have completed the story. But your labor is far from finished.

The first thing I suggest doing next is to revise the synopsis. Inevitably the story has gone in a new direction since you wrote the first version. Now you’ll need to bring this tool up to date. Patch in the new information and polish it so the story reads seamlessly from start to finish.

Why is this important? You may need a synopsis as a sales tool. Your publisher may require one. You might need a synopsis, short or long, to enter your book in a writing contest. Or your marketing department may need it for their purposes.

At the same time, you can start working on your story blurb. If you’re with a small publisher, they may ask you to come up with the cover copy. If you are an indie author, you’ll have to create the book descriptions on your own. Even if you hire one of the services available for this purpose, they most likely will require a synopsis as well. If you’ve gotten a head-start on the blurb, these folks can use it as a jumping off point. You’ll want a one-liner tag line, a few sentences for a log line, then a short one-paragraph description and a longer one of two to three paragraphs. Remember to maintain the tone of your story in the blurb.

Several rounds of editing and revisions will follow. I need some distance from a story before I can begin line editing, so I may work on something else until I’m ready. If you’re writing a series, this is a good time to do research or jot notes for the next story. Or work on a marketing plan for your book. Then it’s time for line edits, read-throughs for consistency and to catch repetitions, editorial revisions, and beta readers. A final polish will always find more to fix. So there’s a lot more work before your baby is ready to face the world.

In the meantime, celebrate your achievement. You’ve finished a book. Savor the satisfaction and give your creative mind a break. Enjoy your well-earned glass of champagne, specialty coffee, or raspberry lemonade. You deserve a treat. Indulge yourself and relax with some fun activities. When you’re ready to return to the story, your muse will let you know.

Writers, what do you do after finishing the first draft of your novel?

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Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition

I’m excited to announce the release of Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition.
CSB2
Do you want to write a cozy mystery but don’t have a clue where to start? Or are you in the middle of a story and stuck on the plot? Perhaps you’re already writing a series, and you need tips on keeping your material fresh. Writing the Cozy Mystery will help you develop your characters, establish the setting, plot the story, add suspense, plant clues and solve the crime.
This Second Edition contains more examples; additional writing exercises; expanded sections; and seven new chapters including The Muddle in the Middle, Romance and Murder, Special Considerations for Cozy Writers, Keeping a Series Fresh, Writing the Smart Synopsis, Mystery Movies, and Marketing Tips. You’ll find everything you need to know in an easy-to-read, clear manner to write your own mystery and maintain a long-running series. Recommended for cozy writers, mystery fans, and creative writing classes. Just in time for your holiday gift bags!
“Too many writer’s guides focus on style and how to write; but Nancy J. Cohen’s Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition doesn’t limit itself to literary mechanics alone. This makes it a highly recommended pick for all levels of writers; from those who enjoy mysteries and need a clearer definition of ‘cozy’ and its applications; to writers already well aware of the genre, but who need tips on how to sustain suspense or sprinkle believable clues throughout a cozy production.” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
If you are thinking about writing a cozy mystery, read this book first! Nancy lays out all the necessary steps in an interesting and informative way that is easy to follow. This book was an invaluable tool when I wrote my first cozy. Highly recommended.” Catherine Bruns, USA Today Bestselling Author
“Nancy J. Cohen offers clear examples, practical writing exercises, and friendly advice designed to help the beginning cozy author start—and finish!—a saleable book. Even seasoned cozy writers can find helpful hints for building better characters and story.” Diane A.S. Stuckart, aka Ali Brandon, NY Times Bestselling Author of the Tarot Cats Mysteries
“If you want to write a cozy mystery—or really, any kind of mystery—this is the book for you! Everything you need to know in one handy volume.” Victoria Thompson, Bestselling Author of the Gaslight Mystery Series
Digital Edition: ISBN 978-0-9985317-2-4, $3.99, Orange Grove Press
Print Edition: ISBN 978-0-9985317-3-1, $9.99, Orange Grove Press
Cover Design and Graphic Illustrations by
Boulevard Photografica
Print Pages: 130 pages. Word Count: 28,000 words
Nonfiction – Reference – Writing Guide

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Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition

Publisher: Orange Grove Press
Release Date: Nov. 12, 2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Available Formats: eBook and Paperback
Digital: ISBN 9780998531724
Paperback: ISBN 9780998531731

Do you want to write a cozy mystery but don’t have a clue where to start? Or are you in the middle of a story and stuck on the plot? Perhaps you’re already writing a series, and you need tips on keeping your material fresh. Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition is a precise reference guide that will help you develop your characters, establish the setting, plot the story, add suspense, plant clues and solve the crime.

This Agatha Award-nominated Second Edition contains more examples; additional writing exercises; expanded sections; and seven new chapters including The Muddle in the Middle, Romance and Murder, Special Considerations for Cozy Writers, Keeping a Series Fresh, Writing the Smart Synopsis, Mystery Movies, and Marketing Tips. You’ll find everything you need to know in an easy-to-read, clear manner to write your own mystery and maintain a long-running series. Recommended for cozy writers, mystery fans, and fiction writing classes.

 

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Reviews

“If you are thinking about writing a cozy mystery, read this book first! Nancy lays out all the necessary steps in an interesting and informative way that is easy to follow. This book was an invaluable tool when I wrote my first cozy. Highly recommended.” Catherine Bruns, USA Today Bestselling Author

“Nancy J. Cohen offers clear examples, practical writing exercises, and friendly advice designed to help the beginning cozy author start—and finish!—a saleable book. Even seasoned cozy writers can find helpful hints for building better characters and story. I wish I’d had Cohen’s book before I started writing my own first cozy mystery. Highly recommended!” Diane A.S. Stuckart, aka Ali Brandon, NY Times Bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries

“If you want to write a cozy mystery—or really, any kind of mystery—this is the book for you! Everything you need to know in one handy volume.” Victoria Thompson, Bestselling author of the Gaslight Mystery Series

“Too many writer’s guides focus on style and how to write; but Nancy J. Cohen’s Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition doesn’t limit itself to literary mechanics alone. This makes it a highly recommended pick for all levels of writers; from those who enjoy mysteries and need a clearer definition of ‘cozy’ and its applications to writers already well aware of the genre, but who need tips on how to sustain suspense or sprinkle believable clues throughout a cozy production.” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

 

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