Welcome Janice Peacock to the Member Spotlight! Janice recently published her first cozy mystery novel, HIGH STRUNG, A GLASS BEAD MYSTERY, Volume One of the Glass Bead Mystery Series. Janice is an award-winning glass artist, whose work has been exhibited internationally. HIGH STRUNG has earned stellar reviews on Amazon. Janice talks about how she got started writing cozy mysteries and the revision process. Connect with Janice on Book Country.
Janet Umenta: How did you get started writing cozy mysteries?
Janice Peacock: As a teen in the 1970s, I shopped the groovy bead stores in Laguna Beach, California, looking for treasures to make my own jewelry. I continued working with beads and making jewelry, and in 1992 learned a process called lampworking so that I could make my own glass beads. The first time I lit a torch and started melting glass to create beads, I knew that I was hooked. I’ve been making beads ever since, and designing jewelry with the glass components that I create.
In 2005 I read Barbara Burnett Smith’s cozy mystery A BEAD ON TROUBLE. It was the perfect combination of two things I loved: mysteries and beads. Barbara Burnett Smith passed away before completing her second book BEADS OF DOUBT. Karen MacInerney finished it, and the book was published in 2007. I hoped another author would start writing mysteries that featured beads, but nothing was ever published.
I thought perhaps that one day I’d have to write a bead mystery of my own.
About five years ago, I was working at a glass studio, learning some new bead making techniques. I had an idea for a perfect murder, right down to the best way to get rid of the murder weapon. Ideas about plots and characters rattled around in my head for a few years. In November 2012, I started writing HIGH STRUNG, A GLASS BEAD MYSTERY as a NaNoWriMo participant.
JU: What did you struggle with the most when writing and revising HIGH STRUNG?
JP: I wanted the revision process to be like Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise—a short adventurous voyage on smooth water. But, it was more like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: spinning, churning, wild stops and starts, a blur of colors and words, panic, then relief, followed by more panic.
A couple things led to the revision wild-ride:
I held onto my manuscript for too long before receiving feedback.
I continued working to perfect the manuscript before sending it out to beta readers, when I should have stopped at good enough. I joked with my friends that it was hard to make every one of the 64,000 words in the book perfect. I couldn’t stop fussing with the manuscript and just let people read it. When I finally let it go, I received some terrific feedback from the early readers, and I wished I had heard those thoughts sooner than I did. By holding on too long, I received a huge amount of feedback late in the writing process, which was difficult to reconcile and integrate, and ultimately slowed my revision progress.
Beta reviewers have lives.
I had a terrific team of beta readers, but my expectations about how fast they would be able to review my book and give me feedback were not in line with reality. I expected when I delivered my manuscript to the readers that they would drop everything, and get to work reading it as fast as they possibly could. I was sure they would be as excited as I was, after I’d toiled as long as I had. Silly me. Beta readers have other books to finish, jobs, and families. It took me about three months to get all the feedback from my readers. I spent a long three months waiting patiently. Well, not very patiently.
JU: Why did you decide to upload your book to Book Country before publishing?
JP: I’d been doing some research into cozy mysteries when I found the genre map that’s on the Book Country web site. I tweeted about the map, and @BookCountry (possibly you, Janet?) encouraged me to become a member of Book Country. I hadn’t participated in a writers group before, and I thought that I could benefit from working in a community for authors. I was at a stage in which I was getting feedback from my beta readers. I wanted to receive advice from other authors, as well as hear from readers who were not craft-oriented. Two of the first people who read HIGH STRUNG were Book Country members and were not bead people. I received constructive and positive feedback from both of them, and was relieved to hear that the book was appealing to people who were outside of the book’s craft- and bead-oriented audience.
JU: I loved the humor in the book! My favorite scene was when the reporter accidently drinks catnip at Jax’s house! What’s the inspiration behind your humor?
JP: For that particular scene, I was inspired by my cat, who always wants to be the life of the party whenever guests arrive. She jumps on everyone’s laps and cruises across the cocktail table knocking everything over in her path. I won’t spoil how these experiences translated into the scene in the book. I’ll leave it for people who read HIGH STRUNG to find out what happens with a cat named Gumdrop and his catnip addiction.
The other way I develop humorous content is by keeping myself amused when I’m working in my glass studio. I often do things that require waiting. (Waiting for glass to melt is similar to waiting for a kettle to boil, except glass needs to heat to 2,000 degrees before I can use it.) During these slow times, the verbal part of my brain is idle, and I keep myself busy by solving problems. It’s much more interesting to solve fictional problems than real ones, so I play out different scenarios with plots and characters until I find something that I think is funny and that can move a story along in the right direction.
JU: In the beginning Jax seems insecure about her talents, but we see her grow in confidence by the end of the book. What do you want readers to learn from Jax?
JP: Jax leaves everything (except her cat) behind to make positive changes in her life, and that’s a challenge for her. She succeeds in creating the life she was meant to lead—a life full of friends (including wacky ones), doing work she loves, in a place that makes her happy. It’s my hope that readers will learn from Jax that while change can be scary, it can lead to wonderful new directions in one’s life.
One success can lead to another, and for Jax that meant that she gained confidence that allowed her to excel in the creation of her bead designs. I hope that readers will be inspired to find ways to recognize and build on their successes so that they, like Jax, can find their own creative passion.
And they should not forget to bring their cat along for the ride.
About Janice Peacock
Janice started making glass beads in 1992 and has not turned back since! She is an award-winning artist, who in 2012 was recognized as one of the Top 50 International Beadmakers by Glass Line magazine. Janice was an artist in residence at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington in 2011. You can connect with Janice on Facebook, Twitter, and on her personal website. You can can pre-order autographed copies of the paperback, read an excerpt of HIGH STRUNG, and even download a bead making tutorial on the official The Glass Bead Mystery Series website.