Tag Archives: Cozy Mystery

“Everything is hard except for the story.” Interview with SUEDE TO REST Author Diane Vallere

Posted by February 18th, 2015

Interview with SUEDE TO REST Author Diane Vallere

I had a great time reading Diane Vallere’s SUEDE TO REST, the first book in the Material Witness Mystery series! Published by Berkley Books, SUEDE TO REST takes you to the accident-prone life of Poly Monroe as she discovers the truth behind the murder of her great aunt in her family’s textile store. SUEDE TO REST has recently been nominated for the 2015 Left Coast Crime Award for best humorous mystery novel. In this Q&A, Diane reveals what inspired her to write SUEDE TO REST and shares her advice to aspiring writers.


Janet Umenta: You’ve worked in the fashion industry for twenty years. What was it like writing during that time?

Diane Vallere: I don’t love flying. My job as a buyer took me to some fabulous places, but there was pretty much only one way to get there. I would take my laptop and write as soon as we were allowed to use electronic devices. My first book was mostly written on flights to and from NY. Even today when I fly to a conference, I look forward to that time as solid, uninterrupted writing time.

After I moved from buying to sales, I wrote on my lunch break. I kept a table in the stockroom, sandwiched between back stock and dismembered mannequins! It was good training for being able to write on command. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Cozy Mystery Writer Janice Peacock

Posted by August 13th, 2014

Member Spotlight: Janice Peacock

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. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Mystery Writer DJ Lutz

Posted by June 6th, 2014

DJ LutzToday we’re getting to know Book Country member DJ Lutz. His WIP on Book Country is a fun, fast-paced Cozy Mystery called THE APPLE PIE ALIBI.

Lucy Silag: How did you get started writing in the Cozy Mystery genre?

DJ Lutz: I started writing about six years ago, experimenting with different forms, genres and voices. Since mysteries had always been a favorite of mine to read, writing them came easier to me than other genres. I eventually drifted toward cozy mysteries because the style seemed to mirror my own life: somewhat fun with a twist of dry humor, not too much violence at all, and full of quirky characters. My life to a T, without the requisite dead body.

LS: Who are your favorite Cozy Mystery authors? What have you learned from reading their work?

DL: In general, I have always loved the intellectual process used by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and I certainly enjoy the whimsical inventiveness of Agatha Christie. I suppose my slant toward the culinary mystery could be due to my quest of reading the entire Rex Stout collection. But of those, I suppose only Agatha would count as a true cozy writer. They all help, though, in that they have shown me it is possible to write a challenging mystery in such a way the reader doesn’t think about the format. They succeed in creating a world of characters that force us to keep turning the page! Recently, I have also started reading Diane Mott Davidson. She is an awesome scribe and very prolific in the culinary mystery sub-genre. I enjoy her books and have discovered it is possible, and sometimes best to break the rules! Continue reading

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Say it with flowers: Cozy Mystery Author Beverly Allen on Creating a Memorable Setting

Posted by April 15th, 2014

BLOOM AND DOOMToday’s blog guest is Cozy Mystery author Beverly Allen, whose book BLOOM AND DOOM is the first in a new series starring wedding florist Audrey Bloom. Below Beverly shares with us how she used flowers to boost meaning and symbolism via the book’s flower shop setting.


It starts with the cheerful “Welcome, baby!” bouquets. Then the sunny fistful of dandelions we present to our mothers on Mothers’ Day.  Followed by the corsage pinned on awkwardly at the prom and the daisies held in sweaty palms behind the young suitor’s back. Full of promise and joy are the lush roses in an elaborate bridal bouquet. All too quickly follow the “Get well soon!” arrangements, complete with cheery balloons, and finally funeral wreaths. Each momentous step of our lives is marked with flowers.

When writing a cozy mystery with a protagonist who’s a florist–and one that specializes in wedding bouquets–I knew that flowers would be a big part of the plot. But I also didn’t want to lead the reader down the primrose path for no purpose. Flowers can function almost like characters: enriching plot, setting tone, evoking thoughts, even speaking dialogue. If we know the vernacular. Continue reading

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Sally Goldenbaum: Cozy Mysteries and Knitting for Charity

Posted by December 23rd, 2013

One of my very favorite things about the Cozy Mystery genre is how authors of cozies blend charming hobbies into the backdrop of their books. Because I’m a knitter, I have a soft spot for cozies about knitting.

A Holiday YarnJust in time for Christmas, I stumbled across A HOLIDAY YARN, the fourth book in Sally Goldenbaum‘s Seaside Knitters series. In this series, a group of knitters in the small New England town of Sea Harbor solves mysteries as they knit up a storm of simple squares, which are sent to South Africa to be made into blankets for orphans.  At the end of A HOLIDAY YARN, Sally Goldenbaum includes a pattern for a simple 8-inch knitted square so that her readers can make the same project as the characters that they have read about.  Plus there is a call to action to send the squares to the KasCare Knit-A-Square Project. KasCare collects these squares from knitters all over the world, then makes them into blankets to keep South African AIDS orphans warm during the winter.

This holiday season, Brandi (also a knitter) and I decided that we wanted to contribute to the project. We wanted to invite the knitters amongst the Book Country community to join in, too. With permission from KasCare, Obsidian (which publishes the Seaside Knitters books), and Sally Goldenbaum, we’re posting the Knit-a-Square pattern below. This easy pattern is a cinch for knitters of all experience levels! Continue reading

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Keep kids creatively occupied with Book Country coloring sheets while you are writing this holiday season!

Posted by November 22nd, 2013

Book Country Coloring Sheets Image

The holiday season is almost upon us!

If you are anything like me, your writing schedule gets totally thrown during the holiday season. Between cooking, shopping for and wrapping presents, entertaining houseguests, and going to parties, my word count stalls at the end of the year. I know that for writers who are also parents, this time of year is even trickier because kids are out of school and in need of entertainment and care.

That’s what gave me the idea of Book Country coloring sheets. If you’re hanging out with kids this holiday season, grab some crayons, markers, or colored pencils, and download and print Book Country genre flags for them to color in while you write. They’ll learn a little about literary genres, and you’ll be able to steal a few minutes to work on your WIP.

Here we offer six kid-friendly Genre Flags, ready to be colored in:

As you can see from our examples above, coloring is not just for kids! We took a breather at lunchtime this week to color in Genre Flags ourselves. We highly recommend coloring as an activity for relaxing and recharging during this busy time of year!

Check out this picture of Nevena coloring–relaxed indeed!

Book Country coordinator Nevena Georgieva colors a Book Country Genre Flag

Share the fruits of your artistic labor with us by tweeting photos to @BookCountry and tagging Instagrams with @BookCountryOfficial. We can’t wait to see how you bring these Genre Flags to life!

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Mystery Versus Thriller: How to Tell the Difference

Posted by September 27th, 2013

Quite often, I walk over to Nevena‘s desk at the Book Country offices to ask her what genre a certain book is, such as NIGHT WATCH by Linda Fairstein, which I’ve been reading this week. NIGHT WATCH is one of Fairstein’s Alex Cooper novels: murder mysteries starring a Manhattan District Attorney who specializes in sexual assaults. Seems like it would be pretty easy to figure that one out: Alex is investigating a case, the main characters work in law enforcement . . . it’s a police procedural, right?

Not so fast. Nevena, having fastidiously read her “genre bible” (THE READERS’ ADVISORY GUIDE TO GENRE FICTION by Joyce G. Saricks), needs to know much more information about a book before she can make her final judgment on what genre it is. Once we chat about the book for a while, Nevena deems NIGHT WATCH a legal thriller. Here are some of the major deciding factors when you are trying to decide whether a book is Mystery versus Thriller:


mystery Thrillers, even literary thrillers, tend to have short, simple titles: NIGHT FILM, GONE GIRL, THE HARD WAY, THE FINAL CUT. The titles tell us the story is fast-paced and to the point. Mysteries, on the other hand, often have more complicated or lyrical titles: THE AMERSHAM RUBIES, WHOM THE GODS LOVE, and THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY (Alexander McCall Smith has the BEST titles, IMHO!). Cozy mysteries in particular are given to very whimsical titles like DO OR DINER (of the Comfort Food series by Catherine Wenger) and MURDER AT THE PTA by Laura Alden. NIGHT WATCH–two punchy, easily articulated syllables–is a perfect title, then, for a thriller.

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Cozy Mystery Guideposts: Start with an Amateur Sleuth!

Posted by September 25th, 2013

cozy_postMystery subgenres are usually self-explanatory: police procedurals feature detectives in uniform and historical mysteries are set in the past. But there’s one category that stops writers in their tracks: “What the heck is a ‘cozy’ mystery?”

Here’s our Book Country definition:

Cozy Mystery is a subgenre of mystery, usually set in a small town or village. Cozies are characterized by their lack of explicit sex and violence. The protagonist is usually a likable female amateur sleuth, who is often viewed as an annoyance by the local police.

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Writing Cozy Mystery: an Author Interview with Amanda Lee

Posted by September 19th, 2013

Amanda_Lee_author_photoWe’ve been talking about mysteries this week, so we turned to author Amanda Lee for insight about writing a cozy mystery. Amanda has two amazing series under her belt: the Embroidery mysteries and the Myrtle Crumb books she’s written as Gayle Trent. Also, hers is our favorite definition of the cozy mystery genre; she calls it: “Desperate Housewives meets Mayberry RFD. Everyone knows everyone, but someone has a deep, dark secret.”

Here, we chat with her about her craft, as well as her most recent Embroidery mystery, CROSS-STITCH BEFORE DYING.

NG: What draws you to writing cozy mystery?

AL: When I was a child, I loved the Nancy Drew books and Enid Blyton’s series, The Secret Seven. As I got older I enjoyed reading Victoria Holt. I was drawn to those types of books–and still am!–because I like to solve puzzles and get caught up in mystery and suspense, but I don’t want to be grossed out with a lot of bloody, gory imagery. I love TV mysteries too. With both venues, I like trying to figure out “whodunit” and why before the big reveal. I like to get it right, but it’s even better if I’m surprised…given that the writers don’t “cheat” the watchers or the readers!

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Unveiling a Book Country Mystery: The Cozy Mystery Flag!

Posted by May 23rd, 2013

It’s time to unveil the mystery… of the Cozy Mystery flag!


Once a writer chooses a genre on the map, it becomes a home. Cozy mystery writers, we want to give you a home… and a friend you can cozy up to while writing.

Cozies are a subset of the mystery genre often populated by crime-solving cats. You may also see knitting needles, baking sheets, and chopping boards—the accoutrements of hobbies of all kinds.

In a cozy novel,  a small-town’s utopia is disrupted when one of the residents drops dead. The protagonist, an amateur sleuth, is swept into the crime investigation—because she’s implicated or because she fears for her own life. The sleuth is not alone on her quest for justice. A male counterpart—often a police investigator or a reporter—comes along for the ride and lends his professional expertise. Of course, there are sparks flying, but the romance isn’t the primary reason the cozy mystery reader is turning the pages. Continue reading

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