Sometimes I’m asked, “Why do you write cozy mysteries?” Occasionally the question is a bit more pointed. “How can you combine murder and Amish? That’s terrible!” Since my new Amish cozy mystery, Dead Wrong, just released, I thought I’d share with you how I happened to become a cozy mystery writer.
In early 2010 I was a new writer who had one book contracted. It wouldn’t be published until October of that year. It was a one book contract. It was my only Amish book. I wasn’t sure what was next for me, but I was excited to have one book “hitting the shelves” in the fall.
Then I received a phone call from Sue Bower at Harper Collins Christian Publishing. I thought it was a prank call, and I almost hung up on her. (My friends have a strange sense of humor so I have to stay on my toes.) The conversation went something like this:
Sue: “We like your writing, but we don’t need another Amish romance writer.”
Me: “Okay.” ((awkward pause))
Sue: “Could you write an Amish cozy?”
Me: “I guess. Can we do that in Christian fiction? Have a murder mystery?”
Sue: “Sure. Just keep it clean. I’m thinking something like Murder She Wrote.”
Me: “Okay. Ummm…do you have a setting in mind?”
Sue clicks around on her keyboard: “How about Shipshewana?”
I really had no idea how to write a cozy mystery. I went to the library and sat there all morning reading the first chapters of cozies. (There was a big section of them too.) Halfway through writing Falling to Pieces, I realized I’d done it wrong. I didn’t have a dead body until a hundred pages into the story. Apparently you need that in the first chapter. I was still teaching, and I did not have the time to rewrite the entire story. Instead I added a prologue and had a second dead body pop up there. Needless to say, I was a little nervous about the reception for this book, but it went on to win ACFW’s Carol Award for best mystery. (They’ve since combined mystery into the suspense genre.)
I went on to write 9 Amish cozy mysteries–my new release Dead Wrong raises that number to 10. I like to think of them as stories that are fun “who-done-its.” They keep your brain going trying to figure out the mystery, while your heart is falling for the characters. They always have an amateur sleuth, a small town setting, and a close-knit community. There’s a little humor and usually a cat. Perhaps a bit of romance. For me, cozy mysteries are a place to show that God’s grace is present and sufficient, even in the most unlikely of situations.
Have a question about cozies? Leave it in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you. And if you’d like to check out my cozy mysteries, you can view them all here.
Announcements for this week
- Amish Christmas Matchmaker is still available through on-line outlets if you missed it in stores.
- Dead Wrong is now available in print and ebook. Autographed copies are now available in my on-line store. You can purchase only the book or pair it with a Texas package and shipping is always free. Check it out here.
- I have 2 novellas releasing soon. Fading Into the Night (57 pages) first appeared in the Summer of Suspense anthology. If you didn’t read it there, you can pre-order it as a standalone for only 99c. Available for pre-order at Amazon, and other retailers. Midnight Strike (approximately 80 pages) will continue Nora’s story in the Cyber Crime division. This time it isn’t an Amish setting, but I believe you’ll enjoy the suspense. You can pre-order for $2.99 at Amazon and other retailers. Once I have all 4 stories done, I’ll release it in print as well.
- My entire Plain & Simple Miracles is on sale in ebook format. Brian’s Choice is free for a limited time. Anna’s Healing is 99c, Joshua’s Mission and Sarah’s Orphans are both $1.99.
- Lots of new stuff in my on-line store just in time for your Christmas shopping. Check it our here.