News & Events, Writing

New Sale, New Series, New Name

Last week Connie and I were thrilled to announce on social media the sale of HOW THE MURDER CRUMBLES, the first in a new series to be published by Crooked Lane Books. Not only will this be my third cozy mystery series, it will be my first time using a pen name. That’s right, for this new book, I will be writing as Lexie Cooper. I thought I’d share with you how this new book came to be. Ready for a behind-the-scenes look?

Debra Sennefelder with her Shih Tzu, Connie.

It all started with an email to my agent on May 5th. I pitched her a few ideas. There was one that was more fleshed out – it had three chapters written. The two others were summaries – about a couple paragraphs each. About a week later I heard back and neither of the ideas really interested her. Back to the drawing board.

On June 4th, I sent another idea to my agent. It was a summary with about three paragraphs to describe the setting, the characters and story. There was an angle of the story she liked. WooHoo! However, my excitement didn’t last long. While on Amazon looking for comparable titles, I saw another cozy series that I hadn’t read because if I had, I would have known it had the same hook my series idea had. Yeah, these projects were too close to each other. Back to the drawing board. (BTW, I got the first book in that author’s series and it’s in my TBR.)

After some more brainstorming, I sent off another blurb about a new idea. I really liked that one. There were several elements my agent liked, but felt wouldn’t have been attractive to editors. Back to the drawing board.

Some more brainstorming and chocolate, I came up with a new idea. I sent my agent a short email and asked – what about a cookie shop mystery series? I love cookies. I included one paragraph about what the story would be.

Well, that seemed to be a winner! See, everyone loves cookies.

I got the green light to flesh out this story. I knew the main character was someone who had been working in a not-so-personally-fulfilling career. I knew that she had a connection to the town where she’d settle and start her business. I knew she would have a few family members in the town and a lifelong friend who would work with her. Over some hit and misses, I came up with Mallory Monroe. Then her life started to emerge as I started jotting down notes. What I didn’t know until I had to rewrite the first three chapters (in real estate it’s all about location, location, location – in writing it’s all about tighten, tighten, tighten) I discovered that her bestie’s dad is the Chief of Police and his sister is the police officer Mallory spoke with after she found the body of cranky food blogger. See, it’s a process.

Up to this point there were about 21 emails to finally get to an idea that had the potential to sell.

Now I was off to write a partial which included a synopsis, three chapters and summaries for future books in the series. I turned the partial into my agent and it took 30 more emails of going back and forth to get the partial ready to go out on submission.

Between the heat, humidity and feeling that I was hitting my head against a wall, it felt like a really long summer. Now I know it was worth every minute I spent working on the partial because I did sell the series! And I’m thrilled to be joining the Crooked Lane team. Crooked Lane publishes some of my favorite series!

Collage of cozy mystery book covers. Books included are Reading Between the Crimes by Kate Young, Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost, Deadly Ever After by Eva Gates, Murder by the Bookend by Laura Gail Black, and Death on the Shelf by Allison Brook.

Laura Gail Black’s Antique Bookshop Mystery series

Allison Brook’s Haunted Library Mystery series

Jacqueline Frost’s A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery series

Eva Gates’ Lighthouse Library Mystery series

Kate Young’s Jane Doe Book Club Mystery series

I hope you enjoyed this look behind-the-scenes of this writer’s life this past summer. Right now, I’m finishing the first draft of the next Resale Boutique book, which is on track to be finished by the end of the month. Then I’ll start outlining HOW THE MURDER CRUMBLES. I can’t wait to dive into that story. Have a great day!!!