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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. 🙂

Writing

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. 🙂

 

 

Pets, Writing

My Shih-Tzus Don’t Care About My To-Do List

The struggle is real people. Susie and Billy don’t give two-licks about my to-do list. Just look at them. Do they look like they’re concerned about any of my deadlines?

The correct answer is “no”.

I have copy edits due. I have an outline to write. I have another book to begin brainstorming. I have social media posts to write. A newspaper interview happening. Oh, and a release coming up in a few days.

I try to explain but all I get in return is pure silliness.

And I couldn’t be happier!

It’s a nice reminder to stop and take a breath. Or, in their case a long walk. The days of tossing the ball around or paying tug o’ war with a stretchy toy are long gone. My little mops are now seniors but they’re still little balls of energy (just in spurts these days).

I’ll get through my to-do list and I’ll meet my deadlines thanks to organizing and priortizing my work. I rely heavily on a paper planner to track all my due dates and assigning specific tasks throughout the day. My system isn’t perfect. I’m still looking to tweak it more so that my time spent working is more productive which will give me more time for silliness with the pups. I admit, I can’t resist those faces!

I’m curious, how to you organize your day? Paper planner, digital planner or do you just wing it?

 

Murder Wears A Little Black Dress, Writing

It’s a Wrap!

As I’m writing this post, not only is it a wrap of release week, I’m also wrapped in a cozy fleece blanket because it’s freakin’ cold. The polar vortex is still visiting (some guests really do overstay their welcome).  Oh, and I’m drinking a cup of hot green tea to keep my hands warm in between typing.

What’s release week like? It’s like Christmas.

Excited.

Nervous.

Excited.

Get the picture?

I began planning for release week last fall by contacting the blog tour company who handled the blog tour for THE UNINVITED CORPSE. Shout-out to Escape with Dollycas! Lori did a fabulous job! Once the dates are confirmed, I begin the process of answering interview questions. This time around I opted for only reviews, spotlights and interviews. I had a mix of author interviews and character interviews. I have to say I had a lot of fun answering questions in Kelly’s perspective. I really do like her and it was fun jumping back into her world for those interviews. At the time I was answering those interview questions, I was in the final edits of THREE WIDOWS AND A CORPSE, book 3 in the Food Blogger Mystery series. By the middle of December I was all done with my interviews. I’d returned all my answers, the media kit for the book and photos – author & book cover.

The next thing I did was to set the date for the Facebook release party. I reached out to the company I used for THE UNINVITED CORPSE’s party. Shout-out to A Cozy Experience! Marie did a fabulous job! We set the date, the time and Marie got to work planning and executing the whole party while I got to work on a new writing project (sorry, no details right now).

Christmas and New Year’s happened and ARC’s (advance reader copies) of MWALBD began going out and early reviews started to come in. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and I couldn’t have been happier. While I was writing MWALBD I found myself not just writing a story about finding a murderer, I found myself writing Kelly’s journey from a young woman who had been carrying around a tremendous amount of guilt and shame being forced to face her past and not only give herself some grace but also let those who love her back into her heart, any yeah, she meets a cute guy and exposes a killer. So, seeing glimpses of reviews (I don’t do seeking out reviews to read) that captured what I had been feeling while writing the book was incredibly satisfying and made this author very, very happy.

The days are passing by, flying by actually. January is truly a blur to me. The release day is coming up. The blog tour began a day or two before the actual release day. I made an effort to share all of the interviews I did on Facebook and I reposted Instagram posts from book reviewers. Then release day finally came!

What was different about MWALBD release as opposed to the release of THE UNINVITED CORPSE was that I spent very little time on Amazon tracking the numbers (it can become obsessive), rather I spent a bulk of my time on social media responding to all of the congratulations I received, liking all of the shares that my own release post got along with shares of posts from friends, family and book reviewer who posted on my behalf. I’d cleared my schedule so I didn’t have to divide my attention between release day activity and writing. I probably could have done both but honestly, I wanted to be all-in on the release. It’s not something that happens every day and it’s a big accomplishment so I wanted to be fully engaged with it.

The flurry of online activity continued for the next few days. MWALBD was still being featured on blogs and I still had interviews being published. And I had to get back to work. I’d been so close to finishing the first draft of the secret project when release day happened (not working that day wasn’t the reason why I didn’t meet my final word count goal – I was 20,000 words from the end) and the second Resale Boutique Mystery was due to turn in so I needed to do a final pass on the manuscript. As of writing this post, SILENCED IN SEQUINS has been sent off to my agent and I get to go back to my secret project to finish.

At the beginning of this post I said that release week is like Christmas, filled with excitement and nervousness. The night before release day was a restless one because my mind was churning with dozens of thoughts – what happens if nobody buys the book, what happens if the reviews that get posted on Amazon all say the book sucks, what happens if Facebook and Instagram crash and no one knows about the book, what happens if Kensington’s email server crashes and their readers don’t get the info on my new release???? You get the picture? BTW, those thoughts still lingered into release day even as I saw the reviews going up on Amazon were good reviews, and all of the Facebook posts were being seen and Kensington’s email server didn’t crash. I still kept waiting for something to happen. Well, something did happen. The book sold, the reviews have been wonderful and the support and encouragement and the love that surrounded me on release day was amazing.

I’ll leave off here with a big, fat THANK YOU to all of you!!!

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