Browse Author by Debra Sennefelder
Christmas in July, Hallmark Christmas Movies

Weekly Christmas in July: Hallmark Movies and A Cozy Mystery Recommendation (Week 2)

Just a few days ago we celebrated July 4th and here I am with a long list of Hallmark Christmas movies and a holiday cozy mystery for you to enjoy during the hot, humid days of July.  There’s a lot of movies to get to, so let’s not waste any time. Today I’m going to share with you five of my favorite movies that are airing this week and I’d love to know what your favorites out of the whole week’s lineup are. To see the schedule, click here. Ready to dive into some holly, jolly viewing fun? Get that cup of hot cocoa and grab your favorite throw to cuddle up in. It’s time to watch some movies and do some reading.

Speaking of reading, this week I’m thrilled to share with you a mystery that has all the cozy and festive vibes.

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Friday Faves

Friday Faves 7/5/24

Happy Friday! Happy first week in July! July? Wasn’t I just writing my faves post for June? Yep. Now we’re in a whole new month with a long-stretch of summer ahead of us. So let’s make the best of it, says the pumpkin spice, tall boots loving gal. For this summer, Christmas in July edition of Friday Faves, I’ve added two new categories.

My faves this week include a podcast, a Instagram account that always makes me smile, the workout of the week, a favorite YouTube channel, my current read, hair care products and favorite Christmas movie. Ready? Let’s get started.

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Christmas in July, Hallmark Christmas Movies

Weekly Christmas in July: Hallmark Movies and A Cozy Mystery Recommendation (Week 1)

It’s that time of the year. Christmas in July is in full swing with Hallmark rolling out their amazing collection of Christmas movies that make you want to crank up the A/C, pour a cup of hot cocoa and snuggle under a cozy blanket. I’ve come to realize this is a great way for me to live in denial as the days heat up. I’m not a summer gal. But even if you are, I’m sure you will be enjoying this month long marathon of Christmas movies.

For me, there’s something a little different this year. I’m all in on Christmas in July because a couple weeks ago I turned in the next Food Blogger mystery manuscript to my publisher and it’s set at Christmas. I can’t wait to share more details of the book with you in the coming weeks. Until then, I thought I’d pair a published cozy mystery set at Christmas with the coziest Christmas movies because this gal loves both!


Tucked away inside an old lighthouse in Beacon Harbor, Michigan, bakeshop café owner Lindsey Bakewellis ready to make her first Christmas in town shine bright. But her merry plans crumble fast when murder appears under the mistletoe . . .

With the spirit of the holidays wafting through the Beacon Bakeshop, Lindsey thinks she has the recipe for the sweetest Christmas ever—winning the town-wide cookie bake-off. Unfortunately, striving for a picture-perfect December in Beacon Harbor is a lot like biting into stale shortbread. Low on staff and bombarded by visits from family, Lindsey can barely meet demands at work, let alone summon the confidence to face fierce competition . . .

Self-appointed Christmas know-it-all Felicity Stewart is determined to take the top spot in the bake‑off, and she’s not afraid to dump a little coal in everyone’s stocking to do it. Just as the competition heats up, everything falls apart when the judge is found dead—and covered in crumbs from Lindsey’s signature cookie!

Solving a murder was never on Lindsey’s wish list. But with her reputation on the line during the happiest time of the year, she’ll need to bring her best talents to the table in order to sift out the true Christmas Cookie culprit.

Hallmark Christmas in July Movie Schedule for the week of July 30th – July 6th


Sunday 30th

12:01 AM

Christmas Next Door

Eric Randall, an author of bachelor lifestyle books, is left in charge of his niece and nephew for the holidays. Eric turns to his friend April, a lover of all things Christmas, for help. Stars Jesse Metcalfe and Fiona Gublemann.

2:01 AM

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Coffee & Chat

Coffee & Chat #30

Closeup image of a woman holding a cup of hot latte coffee on the table

Happy Friday!

It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through the year. It feels like it was just yesterday that I rang in the New Year (all cozy asleep in bed that is) and I was shoveling snow. But, it’s the end of June now. Which means, we’re getting closer to the ‘ber months! I know, I know, don’t rush it. But I can’t help it. Especially this year because…a new Food Blogger mystery is coming in one of the ‘ber months. That’s all I can share right now. The manuscript landed in my editor’s inbox a couple weeks ago and we’ll be finalizing the title and cover soon. It’s a Christmas mystery. Okay, that’s all I’m going to say about it. Lips are sealed.

In addition to getting the manuscript to my editor, I was busy this month planning out the next quarter (which starts on Monday!). I set three goals for the quarter which includes writing outlines, pre-release work (setting up events and other good stuff for the upcoming Food Blogger mystery) and working on my systems (I’m trying out a new task management program) to help streamline my things. It’s amazing how much admin work there is as a writer. Who knew?

When I haven’t been at my desk, I’ve been outside in the garden beds. Over the past few years, because of life, those beds have been neglected so I’ve been making an effort to tidy them up. It’s a big process but taking it one section at a time is helping. And I have been enjoying going out on Sunday mornings to weed and maintain those spaces. I’ve also started a new cross stitch project. I purchased the chart last fall but didn’t stitch it. A few weeks ago, I pulled it out along with a piece of linen and started the project. I absolutely fell in love the the sampler and I’m hoping to have it completed by Halloween.

I’m sure I’ll be able to make more progress on this project since it’s that time of the year – Christmas in July, baby! Though, it seems to be starting in June. There’s QVC, which started their Christmas in July last week ( I may have ordered something Christmasy) and there’s Hallmark’s Christmas in July which runs from Friday, June 28 at 8 p.m. Eastern through Wednesday, July 21.  Ready to crank up that A/C and fill your mugs with hot cocoa? If you are, click here for more info on the movie schedule.

I think that’s all I have to share for today. Thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me. I’m going to get a refill and get back to work. Before you get your refill, please drop down in the comments what you’re up to today, or this weekend. I’d love to know.


Writer-to-Writer, Writing

Why Amateur Sleuths Aren’t Just Busybodies

High angle shot of young woman’s hand typing on laptop while sitting at desk in the cafe.

[Originally published on Crime Reads 2023)


There’s nothing quite like a cozy mystery novel for me. From the charming small-town settings to the quirky cast of characters, there’s just something about this sub-genre that always leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. But you know what my absolute favorite thing about cozies is? The amateur sleuths.

That’s right, forget about your typical hard-boiled detectives and seasoned police officers. In a cozy mystery, everyday people are the ones who take action to solve crimes in their hometowns. Whether it’s a talented baker, a curious librarian, or a spunky grandmother with a knack for trouble, these characters bring so much heart and personality to the stories they inhabit. They’re relatable, flawed, and always get to the bottom of a mystery. And as a writer, there’s nothing more satisfying than crafting a sleuth who’s just as determined as they are endearing.

So if you’re looking for a mystery sub-genre that’s full of heart and personality, look no further than the cozy mystery. Remember, the most effective heroes in solving crimes can sometimes be the unlikeliest ones.

A few years ago, social media was awash with phrases like Boss Lady, Girl Boss, and Lady Boss. These terms encouraged individuals, regardless of their profession, to strive for greatness. It made me reflect on the amateur sleuths in cozy mysteries. As someone who has been an avid reader of these mysteries for over twenty years, I realized that the protagonists in my favorite cozy mysteries were nothing short of Boss Sleuths.

Everyone is a suspect. Somebody is lying.

Of course, some may dismiss these amateur detectives as mere busybodies, but I see them in a different light. They are brave, intelligent, and resourceful individuals who take on the formidable task of solving a murder without the help of formal training or access to resources available to law enforcement. It’s these qualities that make them true Boss Sleuths in my eyes.

Amateur sleuths are not just nosy parkers, they are fierce and determined women who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth and serve justice. They’re willing to put everything on the line, from their friendships and family relationships to their careers and social status, and even their own safety, in pursuit of finding justice. These women are not content to sit back and let an innocent person be falsely accused, nor will they let a victim go without justice simply because others don’t see their worth. They are passionate and relentless, with a deep sense of purpose that drives them forward. For these women, the search for truth and justice is not just a hobby, it’s a calling.

When you’re writing a cozy mystery series, the first character you create, which is usually the amateur sleuth, is the backbone of your entire story. That’s why I’ve spent countless hours developing my amateur sleuths. I’m going to be living and breathing these characters for a long time to come. In fact, I’ve created three different sleuths over the years, each with their own unique quirks and traits.

Create a character who’s truly unforgettable…

But here’s the thing: crafting a memorable and engaging amateur sleuth is easier said than done. That’s why I’m excited to share with you my top three tips for creating a sleuth that readers will love. These are the same tips I’ve used to create my beloved characters, and I know they’ll help you too. So buckle up, grab a notebook, and get ready to create your own cozy mystery sleuth.

Tip # 1 – Suspect everyone

To solve a murder case, it’s important to let go of any assumptions and consider all possible suspects, including those who appear innocent. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. After all, somebody is lying, and it’s your job to find out who.

Tip # 2 – Learn when to say “yes”

To really get close to your suspects, you need to learn when to say “yes” to any and all opportunities to hang out with them. Whether it’s a community event or just grabbing a coffee, getting to know your suspects can be key to getting them to let their guard down and reveal some juicy information.

Tip # 3 – Question everyone’s motive

Of course, not everyone is going to spill the beans willingly. That’s when you need to start questioning everyone’s motives. Everyone has secrets, and some of those secrets might just be motive enough for murder. It’s not always going to be easy, and some of those conversations might be downright uncomfortable, but if you want to solve the case, you need to be willing to go there.

I hope these tips are helpful. Creating my own Boss Sleuth has been an incredible journey, one that’s allowed me to explore the depths of my imagination and create a character who’s truly a force to be reckoned with. Whether it’s my newest protagonist, Mallory Monroe, or any of the other amazing amateur sleuths out there, one quote always comes to mind: “Women are like tea bags – you never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.” These words, often attributed to the legendary Eleanor Roosevelt, perfectly capture the spirit and tenacity of these amazing women.

So go forth and let your imagination run wild. Create a character who’s truly unforgettable, and who will keep readers on the edge of their seats with every turn of the page. After all, with a little bit of determination and a whole lot of creativity, anything is possible.