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Writer-to-Writer, Writing

Five Ways to Have A More Sane Relationship With Social Media

Woman's hands typing on a laptop

Writers spend a lot of time on social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok and the next new thing that just came out between me writing this post and publishing it (can somebody say Clubhouse). Social media has a lot going for it and no doubt you’ve been encouraged to have a presence on at least two platforms. You’ve found that you’ve been able to connect with readers, influencers, and other authors. Hopefully, this networking is building relationships and spreading the word about your books. But social media is constant. It’s open 24/7, even on holidays. It can be all consuming if left unchecked.

You know your most important job is to be a writer not a social media manager and yet it feels like you can’t get off your device, tapping one social media app and then the next. And then you finally take a look at the time and realize that a good chunk of the day has disappeared with little work to show for it. What happened?

Mindless scrolling, doom scrolling. Constantly updating your account to see how many new likes you’ve received or comments you immediately need to reply to. You’re looking for good news from author friends –  who sold a new series, who hit a new list, whose book is out on NetGalley. That’s where you block of what should have been writing time went. Now you’re stuck having to make up that writing time somewhere else in your busy schedule. Which puts you on the proverbial hamster wheel and lamenting there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.

If it were the fact that you were just wasting time, that wouldn’t be the worst thing. What’s happening when we’re on social media too much and seeing everyone’s fantastic news and new ranking on Amazon, creates an overwhelming feeling of FOMO. And given enough time in this state, the FOMO creeps into our lives and our writing. It can be detrimental to your creativity and production.

But, social media is a part of an author’s job so what can you do? Here are five tips on how to have a more sand relationship with social media. Creating these rules for your social media consumption and usage will help the relationship.


Set time limits

How much time do you really need to be on Instagram or scrolling through your Facebook feed?

Do you use scheduling tools for your social media posts? If not, consider trying one of them. Benefit: you won’t be distracted and you’ll get your posting done quicker.

After you’ve set the times you’ll check-in to reply to comments, cheer on a fellow author or like your cousin’s fabulous DIY project, you’ll need to assign how much time you’ll be on each platform.


Check comparisonitis before tapping the app

Here’s where FOMO ratchets up. It’s natural and happens to every writer whether they admit it or not. You see another author receiving an accolade, an ad placement from her publisher, hitting a big list or getting oodles (sorry, I couldn’t resist) of comments on her sparse, one-sentence mid-week update while you haven’t hit a list, there’s no ads for your book and your posts go largely unseen because of algorithms. Envy and FOMO happens. Just keep in mind, social media doesn’t always show the entire picture. And while you feel like you’re missing out on something, the author you’re feeling a twinge of jealousy about probably feels the same way about you at times. Before you tap the app, remember that. (Ooh, that’s kinda catchy.)


Turn off notifications

You really don’t need to be notified every time you get a like, a comment or when you’re tagged. Remember, you’re in charge of your daily schedule not Facebook. See tip number one, set time limits.


Set a limit of how many people you follow

You don’t have to follow everyone. I know, it’s an etiquette thing but the truth is it’s okay not to follow a Facebook page or friend or business acquaintance if you don’t want to. There are a lot of reasons not to follow someone and it’s okay if you don’t follow everyone.


Take a break

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Can this be said about stepping away from social media? I’m not sure, but I think it’s a good idea to take a break from your online accounts even if it’s just for a couple of days. Or, you can try a whole week or *gasp* a whole month. Social media is a tool you have in your toolbox to promote your books and your author career and you get to decide how to use the tool.

There you have it, five quick ways to help rebalance your relationship with social media.

Do you have some other tips? Please share in the comments below.

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!!!

Resale Boutique Mysteries, Writing

The Making of Kelly Quinn

The countdown has begun to the release of SILENCED IN SEQUINS, book two in the Resale Boutique Mystery series featuring fashionista-turned-amateur sleuth Kelly Quinn. She’s a hoot to write and I’m so grateful that somehow, someway the nugget of her character graced me one day allowing me to create (in my opinion) a fun, multi-dimensional, strong female character.


One question I get a lot is how stories and characters come to me. Sometimes a story idea hits me as a character goes looking for a missing dog and then finds the dog’s owner dead –murdered. Sometimes a character idea hits me like I want to write about a food blogger. Whatever the first spark of an idea, I think about all the what if’s and build a plot and populating the story with characters.

My plan was to submit the short story to an anthology.

For the Resale Boutique Mystery series, Kelly came to me several years ago when I wrote a short-story on a snowy weekend. Back then Kelly had a different name and was tracking down a missing dog only to discover the dog’s owner dead – murdered. Five-thousand words later I typed THE END and sent it off to my critique partner. My plan was to submit the short story to an anthology. After polishing the manuscript, I emailed it off and waited. And I waited some more. Then the email came and I kind of wished I was still waiting. It was a very polite rejection.

Yes, the rejection was disappointing, but I was busy with work and writing a romantic suspense novel so I dusted myself off and moved on. The short story remained in a file on my computer and in the summer of 2017 I pulled out the short story and revamped it for a proposal to send to my editor at Kensington for a new cozy series.

Kelly got her new name and a new career and then the devastating news her beloved grandmother had died. She then found out she inherited the tired, old consignment shop she spent so much time in as a child before leaving Lucky Cove to attend fashion school in New York City. I continued plotting the story and filling Lucky Cove with its residents.

First up is Pepper Donovan. She’s been the only employee at the Lucky Cove Consignment shop for over twenty years. She worked side-by-side with Kelly’s grandmother and they became the closest of friends. Pepper is having a hard time understanding why Kelly wants to change things in the store.

There’s Kelly’s uncle, Ralph Blake. He was named the executor of the estate by his mother. Ralph expected to inherit the shop, which sits on prime real estate in Lucky Cove and would sell for a very nice sum. Lucky Cove is a quaint Long Island town that’s not as flashy as the Hamptons but still draws very wealthy and successful Manhattanites during the summer months.

We also meet Ralph’s most-recent wife, Summer. She’s a model-turned-Pilates studio owner and can’t understand why her adopted hometown needs a thrift store.

Writing Kelly was a fun departure from writing Hope Early.

Luckily Kelly has her best friend, Liv Moretti, to lean on when things get out-of-control when Kelly is dragged into a murder investigation which begins with a psychic claiming one garment in the shop was worn during a murder. Word spreads quickly in Lucky Cove and business, which wasn’t good to begin with, plunges.

Writing Kelly was a fun departure from writing Hope Early, the protagonist in my Food Blogger Mystery series. She’s in her mid-twenties, whereas Hope is in her thirties. She doesn’t have the comforting support of her family like Hope has and returning to her hometown was the last thing she ever thought she would do whereas Hope always knew she’d be back in the place where she started. What they share is having their careers derailed, humiliating firings and a deep-seated need to seek justice for those who can’t. Oh, and one more thing, they each have a very cute guy that they heart. 🙂

Thank you for spending a few minutes with me today. While you wait for SILENCED IN SEQUINS to be released, MURDER WEARS A LITTLE BLACK DRESS is available and would be a fun cozy read this month if you haven’t read it yet. 🙂


There’s a novella coming

I’m so excited to share that I am writing a novella for the Resale Boutique series and that it will be released in September 2020! Currently I’m halfway through writing the manuscript and I’m having a blast.

Can you guess the what holiday the novella revolves around? You’re right! Halloween. I’m totally ready for pumpkins, cozy sweaters (I just ordered one. Darn Nordstrom’s sale.) and all things that go bump in the night.

The working title for the novella is WHAT NOT TO WEAR TO A GRAVEYARD. This could change but I do love it. 🙂 In the story, Kelly Quinn stumbles into a dognapping plot turned deadly when she finds the missing dog and then his owner murdered. This wasn’t how Kelly was imagining spending her first Halloween home in Lucky Cove.

This manuscript is so much fun to write especially when Kelly shouts to her uncle, “Follow that clown!” I love my job.

I’d love to know if you enjoy Halloween-themed cozy mysteries. If so, which are you favorite. It’s never too early to start adding to our TBR for Halloween reading.

I shared this news in my newsletter earlier this week so if you missed it and would like to know about upcoming projects, sales and the occasional giveaway (I recently did one for an ARC of THREE WIDOWS AND A CORPSE) sign up for my newsletter below.

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Writing, Writing Updates

One Step Closer to Publication

The page proofs of THREE WIDOWS AND A CORPSE have been returned to my production editor. This means the manuscript is one step closer to publication. In a few weeks I’ll receive the advance reader copies (ARCs) and I’m dying to see the idea I set out to write turned into a real-life book!

Proof pages. All 344 pages. All done!


While I dislike this part of the publishing process the most, I do have to admit I love seeing this page. All of my published books listed. 🙂