Whether it’s cosy or cozy, if you love a good mystery check out this great collection!
When I decided to write my long planned cosy mystery, I had to put myself in a very different mindset to my normal romance books. Although I always have a clear vision of the beginning, middle and end for all my stories, I’m not very good at plotting the journey. My characters often make their own decisions and have been known to do something I really wasn’t expecting, leaving me changing the course of the story to accommodate them.
As a result I found switching over to writing a mystery book to be much more demanding in terms of planning. In the first few chapters of Deadly Whispers, I regularly fell out with characters who were giving away clues, forgetting their alibis and generally not behaving as they should. The secret, I discovered, was much more detailed planning and the story evolved on a huge timeline pinned to the wall where all movements were tracked and clues, secrets and red herrings were all diligently recorded. Of course, there were still problems and I did occasionally find people where they shouldn’t be and saying the most inappropriate things!
But generally, it worked and having lost myself in the mood of the picturesque village of Lower Dimblebrook and it’s delightful inhabitants, I decided that it would be a shame to stop so I continued writing. Even as Deadly Whispers was being proof read and going through the publication process, I was writing the sequel, Wilful Changes in Lower Dimblebrook which will be published on the 16th December. I’ve never written two books in such quick succession but it seemed fitting on this occasion. As a reader, I love discovering a book and then finding that there’s already a sequel waiting for me and I wanted this to be the case for Deadly Whispers. Any reader who enjoyed wandering along the winding lanes of Lower Dimblebrook wouldn’t have to wait long to discover what happened next in Issie’s new life in rural Gloucestershire.
And book 3 won’t be far behind! I’m working on the timeline and will settle down to writing fairly soon. Of course there is the small matter of Christmas to deal with so it won’t be finished as quickly as Wilful Changes but hopefully in the very early part of next year Key Mishaps in Lower Dimblebrook will appear on the bookshelf which will be three books in the Isabelle Darby Cosy Village Mystery series, all written within 6 months. Go me!
It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me to find out that I have always wanted to write a cosy mystery. I don’t know why they appeal to me so much, maybe it’s because they are always set in delightful villages that seem suspended in time and where community is still at the heart of everything. There are always winding lanes and lop sided thatched houses with neat gardens, wicker baskets seem to feature large as does home made jam – oh, and of course murder!
Whatever the reason, it’s been on my to do list for some time and having decided to switch genre and write my very own cosy mystery, I decided I would make life even more difficult and write not one but two books!
Deadly Whispers in Lower Dimblebrook is the first in the Isabelle Darby Cosy Village Mystery series.
It introduces Isabelle who has moved to Lower Dimblebrook to recover from the heartbreak of her failed marriage. One of the few friends she has made is Fiona Lambourne, another relative newcomer to the village who has married into the Lambourne family, the local landowners and the nearest to royalty the village has. But Issie’s world is thrown into chaos when Fiona is murdered. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the village is overflowing with gossip that Fiona was conducting a clandestine affair in the weeks leading up to her murder. Angered by the gossip and the stern faced but wickedly handsome DI Wainwright, who seems happy to believe the rumours, Issie is determined to clear her friend’s name, making both new friends and enemies along the way.
I had a wonderful time writing this book, so much so that I immediately wrote the second in the series, Wilful Changes which will be jumping onto the Amazon shelves in a few weeks. Right now my fingers are worn to stumps and my laptop is demanding a holiday, but there will be more, after I’ve had a rest!
The idea for my latest book came to me while I was walking my dogs and as usual, it was nothing more than a brief ‘what if…’ moment. But I loved the concept and a few months later it turned into Agony Auntics, the story of Fliss Carmichael, an online agony aunt who receives an email and suddenly realises that her own marriage is in trouble!
I love to write strong secondary characters, quite often they say things that my heroine/hero would be far too well behaved to mention and one of my favourite characters is in Agony Auntics. I won’t say who it is but if you read the book you’ll probably be able to guess – and if you want to check if you’re right, drop me a line!
And of course, humour is a part of my books. My first two novels weren’t intended to be funny but after receiving many reviews from readers saying how amused they’d been, I decided that I would call any future books Romantic Comedy and just let it happen. I think that in life we’ve all done slightly madcap things and behaved inappropriately, especially where love is concerned, and I love to write about the slightly more chaotic side of true love.
I’m already thinking about my next book, actually my next two books. I am hoping to write a third in the Did I series ready for publication at the end of the year but I would also love to write a cosy mystery. I have one half-finished but it always gets put to the back of the shelf in favour of other books although I am determined that I will finish it one day. I even have 2 more in the same series plotted out and ready to be written so it’s a major project, I just need to find the time. I wrote two books last year and have casually announced to family and friends that I’m going for three this year! Extremely unlikely but it’s a goal. At least I’ve got the first book out of the way so I haven’t completely failed.
I hope you enjoy Agony Auntics and if you do, please leave a review. That’s what keeps all authors motivated and is especially important to self-published authors such as myself. Thank you for all the lovely emails telling me how much you enjoy reading my books, carry on reading and stay safe.
As an agony aunt, Fliss Carmichael should have all the answers but when her own marriage begins unravelling at the seams, she hasn’t a clue where to start. After a simple mistake causes an unintended role swap, she becomes the one seeking advice from an unlikely source!
I rate Julie Butterfield as one of my top favourite authors and I am very excited to welcome Julie to my Author’s Corner. Read on to find out more…
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been writing all my life. I wrote a play for my class to perform in Primary school, I was the princess of course, and for as long as I can remember I’ve turned to words as a way of expressing myself.
Where do you get your ideas for the plots of your books?
They pop into my head constantly, when I’m walking my dogs, when I’m doing the washing, when I’m watching the TV. Sometimes it’s literally one word or a fleeting image that will start the creative juices flowing, although not all the ideas make it onto the page.
Can you tell us about the characters in your books?
I think that every character I write about has elements of people I’ve met in real life, just exaggerated. I don’t know anybody as truly unpleasant as Daniel in ‘Did I Mention I Won The Lottery’ or Annabelle in ‘Did I Mention I Was Getting Married’, they are an amalgamation of the worst bits of several people!
How long does it take you to write a book?
Writing a book is the part I love and when I’m in the flow I have been known to write 10,000 words a day, so writing the first draft can be done in 4 -6 weeks. Editing is when it all starts to go wrong! It can take me months to edit and fine tune a book. I can spend days on a single chapter before I’m totally happy that it flows as I want it to and presents the reader with the picture I have in my head.
What is your schedule like when you’re writing?
Manic! It absorbs me completely and I forget about everything else. I start writing first thing in the morning, stop to take my dogs for a walk and then it’s back to my computer where I write until I reach the point where I stop making sense. Even then I continue thinking about the story and my characters and often go back to my computer to add a little something that’s just occurred to me.
How do you deal with the characters after the book ended?
When I’m writing I have their backstories in my head and although I write The End, I carry on thinking about them until I start my next book. All my main characters live happily ever after of course! Even if they encountered sadness in the story, it led them towards a happier life.
Your books are self-published. Do you find this gives you more freedom in your schedule as you dont have strict deadlines?
Yes and no. I have no deadlines imposed by anyone else but being self-published means that I have to make my own schedule and stick to it if I want to keep publishing books. My first few books were written when I was working full time and they were a hobby more than anything else. Now I’m writing full time it’s important that I plan out the year ahead, know what I want to achieve and stick to the plan.
Do you have any advice for budding writers?
Decide who you are writing for. I started writing for myself and I had no expectations of success or my books becoming bestsellers. I enjoyed writing and when success came, I was both surprised and happy. But if you are writing because you want to be bestselling author, your approach has to be totally focused and you need to put in a huge amount of research before you even pick up a pen, know your target audience, understand how to reach them and decide on a plan. Then start writing!
Which authors do you enjoy reading?
I love Milly Johnson and Debbie Viggiano. They write the light hearted but sometimes complex kind of romance books that I hope I write, and they both have a wonderful turn of phrase with characters I can emphasises with.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I rarely have a fixed idea of what anybody should be called. I go through lists of names in my head, everybody I’ve ever worked with or known, and suddenly one will seem right, the sort of name that the character should have, Sometimes I change my mind, I’ll be writing and just get the feeling that the name doesn’t suit their personality so it’s back to the drawing board.
I would like to say Thank You to Julie for her time involved in bringing this feature together. If you have not yet checked out the links above, please go do so. You will not regret it and please please do let me, or Julie herself, know what you think.
My husband religiously reviews every book he reads. He is reluctant to leave anything below a 2 star because he understands how debilitating that can be for an author, but when he reaches that final page he sits back, pulls out the laptop and writes a review.
I have written very few reviews in my life even though I am a prolific reader, for some reason it’s never been something that I felt a need to do. Because, after all, who wants my opinion? Surely you should read it for yourself and make up your own mind? So for many years I have read copious amounts, thoroughly enjoyed countless books and found new authors to follow but left only a handful of reviews.
Then I began writing and suddenly my attitude changed because of course I want your opinion! Of course it matters! I can only hang my head in shame and apologise profusely to all the writers who did such a wonderful job entertaining me so magnificently and who I then ignored when Amazon asked me, very politely, if I would like to leave a review. I now realise that reviews are the life blood of authors.
It’s a fact that only thing improves your sales as a writer and that is more sales. But, within the vagaries of Amazon it is undeniable that people are more likely to buy your book if it already has a number of reviews (especially if they are good reviews). And if you have more reviews then more people buy your book, which means more opportunity for people to leave reviews which leads to more sales and … I think you can see where I’m going with all of this. So I’ve learned over the last few years that Amazon reviews are actually crucial to the success of a book.
Family and friends are often unable to leave any comment on Amazon, who seem to know if you’ve ever spoken to your reader, ever liked a photo they may have posted on Facebook or even brushed past them in the street. I fully appreciate that they are trying to protect the reading public. They don’t want distant aunts and cousins several times removed who don’t own a kindle and despise reading as a hobby, populating your Amazon page with sparkling 5 star reviews. But it makes it even harder to get those first reviews when your support group is banned from giving their opinion, biased or not.
So maybe it’s Karma that I now find myself in this position. All I know is that I would ask, on behalf of ALL authors that if you enjoyed the book you’ve just read, please take a few moments to leave a review, I know I certainly will!
Finishing my latest book has not been an easy. In April I lost my Dad to a long fight with myeloid leukaemia and returning to my writing desk a few months later and picking up with everyday life was incredibly hard. There was more than one occasion when I thought about stopping and leaving this book for another time. But with the support of my wonderful family I kept going and despite being a long way behind schedule, my new book, Lucy Mathers Goes Back to Work is now available!
As an independent author I rely entirely on my readers to find, read and review my books and I have been amazed at the wonderful comments that have been left over the last few years. My books have done incredibly well and that’s due to the willingness of readers to try an author they’ve never heard of before and take the time to leave a review. I sincerely hope that my readers enjoy Lucy Mathers Goes Back to Work just as much and thank you all for your incredible support.
When I wrote Did I Mention I won The Lottery, I published it straight onto Kindle. I didn’t submit it to a publisher or an agent because I had read so many stories of rejection, about how hard it was to find someone willing to read an unsolicited manuscript and the difficulties of finding anyone willing to take a chance on an unknown author. So I published via Kindle and felt very pleased with myself for having an eBook on Amazon. A few years later I published my second book and a few weeks ago I launched my third.
And for the longest time I have felt vaguely embarrassed at daring to call myself an author. It was almost as though I had cheated, I bypassed all the traditional methods of publishing by using the Kindle route. I would never voluntarily tell people I had written a book and if my husband announced that I was a ‘writer’ (which he frequently did) I would apologise and make sure everyone knew that my books were ‘just eBooks.’ After all I wasn’t a real writer, I didn’t have an agent, I didn’t have a contract and I didn’t have a publisher.
Shortly after my second book was released, Google Your Husband Back, something happened. I still don’t know how it came about, but suddenly I realised that people were buying my books. Not only were they buying them, but they liked them! I had long since stopped checking every night to see if I had sold a copy or received a review and after a few months of neglect, I checked my Kindle account and found to my astonishment that I had rocketing sales and fantastic reviews.
I was shocked. Delighted, but shocked. I had already started a third book but strangely the discovery that my previous two were a success made me terrified of releasing another. What if the first two were a fluke and my latest offering made everyone realise I wasn’t a real writer at all? What if I got the dreaded review, ‘Such a disappointment, this is the worst book she’s written’? Instead of being inspired to write more, I spent months unable to face the thought of exposing myself to failure and not writing a word. Eventually, I finished Did I Mention I Was Getting Married. Pressing the publish button was traumatic, far more so than previously because then I hadn’t imagined that readers in their thousands may choose my book.
The first review seemed to take forever to arrive but eventually it did – and it was a 5 star, followed by another and another and another. I started to breathe again and after a long hard think about life I had to accept that it was unlikely to be three coincidences, maybe I could actually write?
I still don’t have an agent or a publisher or a contract. But I do have a book that is currently # 1 in Contemporary Romance on Prime, #6 in Contemporary Romance in the Kindle store, # 12 in Contemporary Romance Books and #80 across the top 100 Kindle paid books whilst my latest book after only a month is already #69 in Contemporary Romance in the Kindle Store. So maybe I am a writer after all. I am self-published and in many people’s eyes that automatically makes me a lesser being than a traditionally published author. I am rubbish at self-promoting my books, shy about blowing my own trumpet, a novice at social media and need to learn how to recruit reviewers and followers. But my books are being read and enjoyed by thousands and that’s all that really matters.
So, no more wriggling with embarrassment and squirming under scrutiny. From now on, I am a writer, self-published and proud of it!