Mystery Thriller Week

May 13-23, 2019 will be the week to view all the different sub categories of Mystery. There is a slot where where I would like you to click and read my columns for Cozy Mysteries. It has taken me a long time to understand that I really like this sub genre of mystery.

I am a member of Sisters in Crime-National and Colorado. I am also a member of Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. I have manucript started for both types of material for each organization.

My cozy mystery is about a former teacher who left teaching because of bad decisions, miscarriage and death. The first book is an introduction to form the backstory. After that the stories will incoporate the proganist’s Mom, Dad and the rest of the family. I hope it goes over big.

The manuscript for picture books has a working title of “Backyard Zoo”.

Stay tuned!!

Let’s Salute the Week

This week has begun on a high note:

There was a falcon on the bird bath and moose out by the side of road eating his breakfast.


This will be illustrating some new authors TO ME and their books.  Most of them are on their sophomore book.  I got that expression from the Drew Carey show.  He stated that the third show is considered the sophmore show, so I borrowed it for my description of the books.


I decided that I will address some aspects of the book that really irritate me (my pet peeves):

Here are a few:

  • a sludgy middle
  • too much from the previous story/book
  • a character switch (I remember this quote, but not who said it; “the reader should know as much as the author.”  Translation:  I don’t like transition that come out of no where just to satisfy the ending.

My blog plans are listed above.

Finally . . .

I am going add another page to this blog for my story.  I will be writing a mystery (not a big surprise) story.  After reading the interviews from Mystery Thriller Week, I think it would be interesting to illustrate the process.

Let it all begin!!!





Mystery Thriller Week: Interview with Ritter Ames


How old you when you wrote your first story?


What genre was that ?

Mystery—I was already reading Trixie Belden, and my story was similar to one of those.

Do you think that or do you have another series in mind? Where would it be locate?

I have a new first-in- series I’m doing final edits on now—it’s not published yet—and it’s set in the south central U.S. I have another series I want to start playing around with soon that has a bit of a paranormal slant and Europe is the backdrop for it.

Do you enjoy any sport? Crafts? Other?

I’m a huge basketball and hockey fan, and I used to play basketball but rarely anymore. I walk a lot and enjoy riding horseback. I also knit to relax and I love photography.


Where do write from?

Place in your emotions

I write mysteries because I love to read them. What I love most about mysteries is figuring out the “puzzle,” so I chiefly write from curiosity—if that can be labeled an emotion—to see how my characters use their strengths to solve the mystery. I also love snark and humor, and I write from whatever place draws from the needfor a quick laugh, too—but not a cheap laugh  Most important, I appreciate characters who are smart and think outside the box, and I’m drawn to those kinds of people in real life, too, so it’s only natural I want them in my fictional life.

 Place in your house? From your organizations? if so what organizations)

I have an office in my house where I write and work on the marketing side of my business during the afternoons. But I start each day writing on my laptop in my big comfy reading chair. I get started there with a cup of hot tea to write my sloppy copy of the day and brainstorm on my laptop until I’m ready to get the serious word count that gets completed in my office.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

I honestly can’t imagine anymore. Probably I would do something that ties with the volunteer work I do now. I work a day each week in our local library, and I’m a certified literacy tutor and work with adults who want to learn how to read.

How much support do you receive in relation to your writing and eventual publication? From where and whom?

I’ve been writing full-time for more than 15 years—nonfiction before I signed my first fiction contract in 2013. So, I have a pretty good idea about the business side of things and don’t need as much help there. But on the marketing side, I belong to a number of terrific author groups with fabulously giving authors who share information that works for them and are quick to answer questions that any authors pose. Those groups are a tremendous support. I also have a terrific editor at Henery Press who is always available to help me work through any snags or plot holes.

If you could do only one form of writing, would you write stories or keep a blog? Why?

Definitely write stories. I’m getting better about blogging, but it still isn’t my favorite thing to do.

 How did you find your niche?

I wrote what I love to read.

How much research do you do for your books?

A Lot! It takes about six months to write one Bodies of Art Mystery, and more than half that time is devoted to research and verifying art work or art history, and firming up my info on settings/locations I use in the books.

What surprised you most about the publishing process?

How much non-writing work authors must do after they turn a book into the publisher. Writing the book is only half the job—marketing is probably even more time consuming. Want to thank you for inviting me to interview, Michelle. I appreciate learning about other mystery authors, and this is a great forum for that. Thanks again for including me.

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Contact Info

There are several ways to send a message to Ritter Ames. Try any of these methods.

By Email at:

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Or on Twitter at: @RitterAmes

And Subscribe to Ritter’s Email Newsletter for special features and contests available only to subscribers for the email newsletter.

Mystery Thriller Interview: Judy Penz Sheluk


How old were you when you wrote your first story?

I’ve been writing stories in my head as long as I can remember. I’d walk to school and think up a story, and then finish it on the way home. Some stories I would keep going for a week or more. I actually thought everyone did that. It wasn’t until many years later I found out that’s not the case. I remember, in grade 10, having to write a story based on a picture the English teacher showed us. It was a picture of the jungle, very dark and gloomy. I don’t remember the story, any longer, but I remember the first line I wrote was Loneliness…

What genre was that?

 I suppose it would be considered literary fiction, though the feelings evoked were definitely influenced by the recent death of my father. He was 42 when he died of stomach cancer, and I was just 14. I really was lonely. Your friends don’t really know what to say or do, and back then, there was no counseling, you were just supposed to suck it up and get on with it. My mom was ill prepared to deal with her own grief and a hormonal, rebellious, and angry teenager. It was a very dark period in both our lives.

Do you have another series in mind? Where would it be located?

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 I currently write two series. The Glass Dolphin Mysteries are set in the fictional town of Lount’s Landing, Ontario, Canada. The Glass Dolphin is the name of an antiques shop on the town’s historic Main Street. The protagonists are Emily Garland, a journalist, and Arabella Carpenter, the shop owner. The first book in the series is titled The Hanged Man’s Noose and Barking Rain Press released it in July 2015. I’m just finishing the second book in the series. Lount’s Landing is loosely based on Holland Landing, where I lived for many years.

My Marketville Mysteries are set in the fictional town of Marketville, Ontario, Canada (loosely based on Newmarket, which is a larger town just south of Holland Landing). The protagonist is Calamity (Callie) Barnstable. In book one, Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books, August 2016), Callie leaves Toronto to move into a house in Marketville left to her by her late father. The condition of inheritance is that she find out who murdered her mother thirty years before. When she finds an actual skeleton in the attic, she begins to have her doubts about her decision to move there. I’m currently writing the sequel.

I have a third series idea in mind, but it’s not fleshed out enough to talk about it. I’m thinking along the lines of a novella, vs. novel, for that series, and my hope is that it will be a comedic mystery series.

Where do you write from?

 When I’m at home in Alliston, Ontario, I write in my home office on my iMac. When I’m at our cottage on Lake Superior (near Sault Ste. Marie) I tend to handwrite my stories in a notebook while sitting on the deck, and then transcribe the notes later on my iPad, or first thing in the morning. It’s a very different experience, writing by hand, and my handwriting is atrocious, but it’s quite liberating.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

 I’ve had a lot of different jobs, from Credit Manager to Office Manager to Sales & Marketing Coordinator. I left the corporate world in 2003 to take up freelance writing and editing. I’ve never looked back. I can’t imagine a life without writing, but I also enjoy teaching creative writing, and did some of that online for a while. I may do that again.

How much support do you receive in relation to your writing and eventual publication? From where and whom?

 My husband, Mike, is super supportive. He reads all my work before I send it out and he can find the smallest plot hole. My mom was really supportive, but she died in September 2016. She was handing out my bookmarks to the doctors and nurses in the hospital until the end, and the last book she read was Skeletons in the Attic. My friends are also very supportive, and I’ve had two Friends and Family Book Launches that were well attended and filled with love. But I think to be successful, as a writer, you have to be self-supportive. There’s a lot of rejection in this business, and for every great review, there’s someone who just doesn’t get your writing. This is true, even for runaway bestselling authors. At the end of the day, you have to go the tough stuff alone.

If you could do only one form of writing, would you write stories or keep a blog? Why?

 Stories. I enjoy writing my blog, but it could never fill the void if I stopped writing short stories and books.

How did you find your niche?

 My go-to genre to read is mystery. When I started writing The Hanged Man’s Noose, the goal was to write a book I’d like to read. That’s remained my goal. I also read a lot of mystery novels, and I learn from all of them, those I love and those I don’t. To quote Stephen King, if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.

How much research do you do for your books?

 Anything factual, I do a lot of research. Get a fact wrong, and you’ve lost the reader. I’ve also been the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal since 2007, and so a lot of the antiques side of things in the Glass Dolphin Mysteries comes from that knowledge base.

What surprised you most about the publishing process?

 I knew it would be slow process, but I didn’t realize just how tough it would be to find a publisher. I thought my publishing history as a freelancer (magazines, newspapers) would make a difference but it didn’t. I did self-publish a collection of short stories, and found that process to be very simple, but selling them has been a challenge. Either way, there’s a lot of marketing involved, and very little is taken on by the publishers, so I’d certainly consider self-publishing in future, for another series.

What do you want engraved on your headstone?



Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose (Barking Rain Press), was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books), the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016.

Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, The Whole She-Bang 3, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Find Judy on her website/blog at, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life. You can also find Judy on Facebook ( and Twitter (@JudyPenzSheluk) and on her Amazon author page,

Judy lives in Alliston, Ontario, Canada, with her husband, Mike, and their 14-month old Golden Retriever, Gibbs.


Mystery Thriller Week Interview: Rose Fedele



How old were you when you wrote your first story?

screenshot-2017-02-12-17-51-31-pngOther than some creative writing as a child, I didn’t sit down to write seriously until about five years ago.

I think I needed a trigger, and it came in the form of a beautiful old house. But it was more than a house; the magnificent old building riveted and mesmerised me and in the following weeks I was drawn back to the site, over and over. The mansion was fronted by a brightly painted door, a glossy façade, and I imagined what the door might mask and what it could have concealed over the last 150 years: nasty, shameful secrets, possibly a poor family’s misfortune and tragedy, rotten crimes and heaven knows what other unholy messes … and a story began to form.

Funnily enough, when first I started, I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, I was so embarrassed that I started the project in secret, waiting until the house was empty and I was sure to be completely alone.

What genre was that?

Being a great lover of psychological thrillers and suspense, it wasn’t going to go any other way!

Do you think that or do you have another series in mind?  Where would it be located?

My books are set in Sydney and always built around a central theme: an iconic old house or building in need of restoration. THE RED DOOR is the story of a woman who purchases and restores a beautiful old mansion ‘Rosalind’, but soon begins to believe that one of her tenants is watching her; a reclusive man who happens to share his name with two teenage sisters, victims of a sinister and brutal murder.

As the tale unfolds, you’ll find paintings and drawings I’ve created to illustrate exactly how our main protagonist appears in my mind, to show what the chair in Beadles’ shop window looks like or the iconic Balmain Garage, before developers tore it down.

Here’s one:

The second book, again based on an historic building, is in editing stage and I’m preparing the illustrations now, hopefully to be released later this year. And yes, there will be a third.

Do you enjoy any sport? Crafts? Other?

My passion, and a significant part of my life, is art: by profession I am an artist and portrait painter, with a quirky penchant for painting vintage cars.

I don’t play sport but walk for miles every day, and it’s during my walks that my stories germinate.

Where do you write from? Place in your emotions?

My stories are drawn from life, from observation and from experience.

Visually: I love old architecture, and sometimes my heart profoundly aches at the sheer beauty of a building and I will stop and stare dumbly at the shimmering tarnished Gothic copper roof of a turret, the sun flashing off stained glass windows or the swirling ochres and russets of a Sydney sandstone wall. This is why my stories are always centred on a building.

Emotions: With every experience there is an emotion attached, whether it’s joy or excitement, nostalgia or yearning, anger or fear, and I try to tap into those emotions, using them to illustrate the story.

Observation: Having a portraitist’s eye helps, watching how people integrate with their environment and each other, the inter-personal dynamics, mannerisms, the tilt of a head, a finger rubbed nervously across a philtrum.

I believe everyone could sit down and spin a yarn based on their experiences, if they chose to.

Place in your house? From your organizations? if so what organizations:

I write in my studio, where I also paint and prepare the illustrations for the books. It’s a lovely room, south-facing with a big window and, although I live in inner city Sydney, it has a beautiful tree-filled vista. The walls are covered with paintings and sketches, an easel that holds a large board covered in post-it notes for storyline plotting, and a few vintage cars waiting to go to the next exhibition. Here’s a photo:

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

As explained, I’m actually an artist and that’s what I’d do if I wasn’t writing.  Also, I’ve always fancied the idea of being a landscape gardener!

How much support do you receive in relation to your writing and eventual publication? From where and whom? 

Emotionally – my family are my greatest supporters and cheer squad (and my biggest critics!)

Financially – THE RED DOOR was self-published and self-funded.

If you could do only one form of writing, would you write stories or keep a blog? Why?

If I could only do one form of writing, I would probably keep writing my stories. Now that I’ve started, I’ve unleashed a monster and words are spilling out of me.

My blog is a very visual medium, keeping my followers up to date with new works as well as sneak peeks and excerpts from the next book. Many also follow me on Facebook or Instagram @rosafedele where I invite my readers/art lovers to come along on the journey, watch the images develop, laugh with me as I discard the rejects, and encourage feedback.

How did you find your niche?

I have always known that one day I would write and illustrate my own books, so I think my niche found me!

How much research do you do for your books?

Because my stories are based on actual historic houses in Sydney, much research is needed about the building, architectural drawings, style etc. I explore the process of building and renovation, interior design, fittings, fixtures and furnishings and draw on my own knowledge and tales from the art world. Also, as do many other mystery writers, I study crime, forensics and legal proceedings. I would hate for anyone to look at my Google search history – it would be quite horrific!

What surprised you most about the publishing process?

Two things:

The amount of editing, re-writing, re-editing, proofreading, over and over, required to produce a high quality book; and

The exhausting amount of self-promotion required. The thing is, Australians are a humble and self-effacing lot; in our culture any tendency to “blow your own horn” is sneered at, almost considered abhorrent. It took a long time to overcome that.

What do you want your obituary to say? What do you want engraved on your headstone?

Probably something silly, like: “I told you I was sick.”

Contact Information:



Michelle Dragalin

 Freelance Writer and Educator


Mystery Thriller Week Interview: Dawn Barclay



Dawn Barclay is writing as D.M. Barr

 How old you when you wrote your first story?

I wrote poetry when I was 10 and wrote parodies starting when I was around 11. But I’m not one of those writers who has a desk drawer full of unpublished stories. I haven’t written a lot of fiction but every piece of fiction I’ve written, I’ve published.

Do you think that or do you have another series in mind?  Where would it be located?

I might turn “Expired Listings” into the first of the “Rock Canyon Chronicles.” I have another series in mind but it’s YA and the location would likely still be the Hudson Valley.

Do you quilt?

No but I’ve knitted, crocheted and done rug hooking and needlepoint.

Where do write from? 

This doesn’t apply to my current book but my best songs and poems were always written when I was sad and/or devastated.

Place in your house? From your organizations? if so what organizations?

I usually write on the family room couch or at Starbucks in New City, NY,  in a big comfy chair in the corner.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

I’m doing it now, I’m a Realtor.

How much support do you receive in relation to your writing and eventual publication? From where and whom?

I think the greatest support I’ve received from my husband was an open checkbook as far as editing and promotion was concerned and a pass on house work so I could write. I also get support from my RWA Critique Group and some beta reader friends.

If you could do only one form of writing, would you write stories or keep a blog? Why?

I’d write fiction. I try to blog and since I used to write exclusively nonfiction, it should come easily to me but I always feel it’s a chore and an afterthought.

 How did you find your niche?

That psychological thriller/kink/satire niche? I fell into it and there’s lots of room since most writers focus and therefore more easily sell what they write. I guess I just hate being formulaic.

How much research do you do for your books?

I studied the BDSM scene for a few years, thanks to some friends who brought me to parties and clubs and also were very open with me. The real estate part, I’ve lived for the past 17 years. Anything else is thanks to Google, my bestest best friend.

What surprised you most about the publishing process?

The glacial speed of publishing. You can wait months to hear back from an agent, and then months more before you hear back from publications. And then you could wait another two years to see the thing in print. Also how diligently both agents and publishers are about staying “within the lines” when it comes to genre—they look at cross-genre as if it’s a person with two heads. In a world where most books are sold online and not on bookstore shelves, why is singular categorization so important?

 What do you want your obituary to say? What do you want engraved on your headstone?

I’m a control freak so no doubt I’ll write my own obituary (and it will say something about never believing anything is impossible) and maybe have a headstone with one of those solar powered video thingies so I can pre-record the story of my life and bore all future generations. Or, if I’m buried next to my husband, I will have an arrow with an engraving that says, “I’m with Stupid,” and I’m sure he’ll have an arrow pointing back at me with the same engraving. But it’s all moot, I want to be cryogenically frozen and then defrosted when it’s easier to get readers to review your books on Amazon.


Contact Infomration:

Dawn M. Barclay
Award-Craving Author, Writing as D.M.Barr
Expired Listings is now available!!
Buy Links:
Amazon and Kindle Unlimited:
Barnes & Noble:
Indie Bound
Social Media Websites:
Keep in Touch!
Literary Exhibitionist Blog
Punctuated Publishing Website:

Mystery Thriller Interview: Christine Hoag


How old you when you wrote your first story?

hoag-headshotWhen I was six years old, I won a prize for “writing interesting stories.” I still have the little certificate but I don’t have any of those stories! In high school, I was about 14-15, I wrote a story that made it into the school literary magazine.

What genre was that?

It was a contemporary literary piece about a comic book artist who gets tired of drawing superheroes. I have no idea where I got the inspiration for it!

Do you have a series in mind? Where would it be located?

I’m currently writing a book with series potential about an investigative journalist who travels the world unraveling mysteries. One of the things I love about it that each book would be set in different country tackling a different issue.

Do you enjoy any sports or crafts?

I’ve never been a sporty type person. I like to swim, and I walk as much as I can to take a break from the computer. I have a whole bunch of orchids that I love to coax into bloom.

Where do you write from? Place in your emotions?

I draw from experiences in my own life and things people tell me, as well. I find that works well and gives fiction a realistic grounding.

Place in your house?

My desk is located in my bedroom because it’s quieter. I do most of my writing there. I have written in coffee shops and sitting on the couch, too.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

I would be some type of designer, such as interior design. Many people have told me I have a good eye for that. Or I’d be a comedienne. I love comic acting. I find being zany and way out a huge release. It’s weird because I love reading, writing and watching drama.

How much support do you receive in relation to your writing and eventual publication? From where and whom?

Honestly, while friends and family have been generally supportive, it’s mostly just been me, delving deep inside myself to keep going despite rejection and disappointment.

If you could do only one form of writing, would you write stories or keep a blog? Why?

Definitely stories because I love making stuff up! Writing fiction is both challenging and stimulating.

How did you find your niche?

I think it found me! I like to read character-driven books with crime and drama, especially those with exotic settings, but written in a literary style. So that’s what I aim to write.

How much research do you do for your books?

Quite a bit. The internet is a writer’s best friend. I often look stuff up as I’m writing. I love doing research and find out stuff, so that’s one of my favorite bits of the process.

What surprised you most about the publishing process?

How important knowing your genre is. I thought writing a good story was enough, but it is not. You need to be able to neatly categorize it into a genre because that what publishers use to market your book. If they can’t categorize it, they shy away from it.

What do you want your obituary to say? What do you want engraved on your headstone?

Something simple: “A chronicler of life,” that’s it.



Christina Hoag is the author of Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishers, 2016) and Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, 2016), which was named Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA. She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She lives in Los Angeles.

For more information, see




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Amazon US:



Girl on the Brink

Amazon US:




Mystery Thriller Week Interview: Janice Richardson


How old you when you wrote your first story?

I must have been in Grade 2 or 3, so I might have been 7 or 8 years old.  That was very long time ago.

What genre was that ?

*laughing:  We were raised on Dick and Jane in public school, so its safe to say it was non-specific genre, probably fiction.

Do you think that or do you have another series in mind?  Where would it be located?

Another series is probably not on the radar. We write what we know. Funeral Service was a part of my life, there are many “parts”. I can’t answer that question yet, I am hoping to write two or three more books in The Spencer Funeral Home Niagara series. Should I do another series, it would be located in northern Canada

Where do write from?

There is an old recliner in my bedroom where I sit much of the day with my laptop. Physically that is the space I use, where I fell safe and productive.

When I am writing a book my emotions are constantly active. Writing the first draft is relatively easy, the books, so far, have almost written themselves. My characters seem real to me and I have been known to call my friends by my character’s names. I see the every detail of funeral home, and I can visualize my characters down to what they are wearing. The “town” the series is set in is similar to the one I live in, close to Niagara Falls.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

Volunteering. I wasn’t to keep busy. Reading, I want to keep my mind sharp. I am a news junkie and I enjoy non-fiction. Cozies are a guilty pleasure. Walking. Living in the Niagara Region, a temperate climate area for Canada has allowed me to get out and about.

 How much support do you receive in relation to your writing and eventual publication? From where and whom?

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My first book, the Making of  a Funeral Director was non-fiction. I had no support. I just assumed I could self-publish. I did my own editing, proofing, used a photo I had taken when digital cameras were new for the cover and more or less bubbled my through the uploading to Amazon and Kobo. I paid $5 on Fivver for the lettering. I got the ISBN and copyright myself.

I hit a brick wall with Smashwords meta data process. That formatting completely eluded me, in spite of reading the booklet over and over. I had to get a company to do the formatting. Entire cost of publishing was under $100. That was a lofty sum for a retiree like me.

The old saying—no man is an island rings true. I made a choice to ask for help for Casket Cache. Wise decision on my part. Family and friends are not as excited about my writing as I am and I try not to burden them with my enthusiasm. An editor was recommended, she offers services at an exceptional price, I pick what I can afford. By Winter’s Mourning, we had become good friends and partners, I depended on her expertise for creative content critique, formatting, uploading and editing, proofing, cover assistance. Cost for each book—around $450. I borrowed the money.

Grave Mistake (Book 3) may be a bit longer coming out, I will save again until I can use her services. It would foolish of me to attempt to go it along. What MJ can do in ten minutes takes me hours. She told me her as editor was to work with emerging writers, freeing them to write.  I appreciate and need her mentorship.

If you could do only one form of writing, would you write stories or keep a blog? Why?

Write stories. Blogging is not my cup of tea. I enjoy reading good blogs. My twin sister blogged long before it was fashionable, she was very good at it  (she is a retired journalist). It gave her purpose and she used the platform to educate others.

How did you find your niche?

Believe it or not, a few years ago I didn’t know cozy mysteries were a niche. (smile)

I like to escape when I read. The news is full of violence and inhumanity. When I was little I was orphaned. Life wasn’t kind. I disappeared into books, nice safe places that made me forget where I really was I wasn’t athletic, I failed miserable at sports. Even fantasy, such as C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series scared me. I prefer memoirs and historical fiction. Diana Xarissa’s Aunt Bessie series was my first “ah ha” introduction to cozy mysteries. Aunt Bessie gets cranky and hungry and tired and she is smart and engaging. Course in the real world, female protagonists don’t work with the police.

How much research do you do for your books?

My series has to be current and factual, everyone at some point will need a funeral director. It’s very important to me that my readers are educated as well as entertained. I did call the police for procedural information. They were mostly helpful, I approached some funeral homes to check on the latest procedures and found one was very welcoming, others not so much. I approached a lawyer’s office about legal procedures and they were not very nice.

Most of my research is done online and it ones ongoing as I write.

What surprised you most about the publishing process?

Marketing is work, books don’t sell themselves. There are more books than readers. I learned that once a book goes to press, whether it be self-published or with a publisher, the real work begins. I spend up two hours or more hours a day on Twitter, blogs, Facebook. i check Goodreads and Twitter often throughout the day and respond as quickly as possible to anyone who contacts me. I had to learn to use Twitter and navigate Goodreads and look for ways to stay in touch with potential readers. I seldom promote my books, my tweets entertain and garner followers and I review every book I read.

What do you want your obituary to say? What do you want engraved on your headstone?

Tough question. I suspect my grave marker won’t say anything, I expect I will be cremated and buried in the family plot on the other side o the province. If it could, it would probably say “she was nice. I hear that a lot now. It me sixty years to become nice. My obituary? I don’t want one. I am a special needs mom,  two of my children cannot read or write. I moved south to Niagara several years ago and while I have good friends here, an obituary will not matter.

Mystery Thriller Week Interview Elizabeth Craig

 How old you when you wrote your first story?

I’ve been writing since I was eight years old, but I first started writing novels when I was twenty-three. I never finished one, but I had several projects.

What genre was that ?

I tried writing romance, although I struggled with the pace and the character development and motivation. I also had a YA novel that bordered on literary fiction. Neither one got any traction.

Do you think that or do you have another series in mind?  Where would it be located?

I’m pretty sure I’ll write another mystery series, but it might not be a cozy series—I might experiment with police procedurals. I’m almost certain to continue writing stories set in the Southern US. That’s where I’ve lived most of my life and its full of quirky characters and evocative settings.

Do you enjoy any sports? Crafts? Other?

I don’t quilt myself, so I’ve had to work hard to research it! I’ve been to quilt shows, spoken with quilters, read quilt books and magazines, and watched videos of quilting online. It’s a fascinating art with a lot of narrative built into it . It’s easy to admire quilting and quilters.

Where do you write from?

                  a. place in your emotions

At the beginning and end of my stories. I try to put myself in a very comforting mindset. Everything at the beginning and end is usually happy, cozy, and contented. What come to mind most (besides happy childhood days) are the books from childhood:

                The adventures of Frog and Toad, The Wind in the Willows and even Little Women (in its happiest moments). The idea is a spot of cheerful, contented camaraderie.

                           b. A place in your house? From your            

                                              organizations? If so what organizations?

I usually either write in my kitchen at the counter or in my den at home. I no longer write with my laptop on my lap and my feet on the sofa! My physical therapist told me that was a terrible idea (and my aching back confirmed it). I’ve been known to write at the Matthews Library, coffee shops, and in the carpool line outside the local high school while waiting to pick up my daughter.

How much like Myrtle are you? She seems like a fun character.

Myrtle is a lot of fun to write. Her good traits, her intelligence, her sense of humor, her attitude toward aging and her appearance are based on my beloved grandmother, Mary Spann. Myrtle’s bad traits (her impatience, in particular) and ineptitude int he kitchen are based on me.

Are your characters based on people you know or have met?  I read Myrtle is based on your grandmother and Ms. Marple, but what about the other characters? Do they just “come to you”?

Some of the characters are amalgams of people who I know. Others are similar in appearance to strangers I meet when I’m out. The main characters in my books are frequently based on real strangers I meet when I’m out the main characters in my books are frequently based on real people. Puddin, the wayward housekeeper , for example, is based on a real person who used to clean for my grandmother. I never met her, but my grandmother’s stories about her sparked my imagination. The same goes for Myrtle’s horrible neighbor, Erma. Erma was based on someone my grandmother couldn’t escape at her retirement home.

How much support do you receive in relation to your writing and eventual publication? From where and whom?

I first received support from my family and my teachers in school (in particular Penny Tritt at Calhoun Elementary). As an adult I’ve received support from my husband and children, as well. the online writing community has also been tremendous help to me, both in terms of resources shared and encouragement. Although it’s wonderful to get support from home, it’s even better (in my opinion) to have encouragement from other writers.

If you could do only one form of writing, would you write stories or keep a blog? Why?

I’d definitely write stories. Fiction is what I’m called to do , although I love the interactive element of blogging.

How much research do you do for your books?

For the quilting books, I tend to do a good deal of research. For both series, I’ve studied police departments in small towns. I’ve also spent time researching poisons, as well as other murder methods. Aside from that, I”m lucky that cozy mysteries [being puzzle mysteries and not forensic ones) are relatively free from the heavy research.

What surprised you most about the publishing process?

What’s surprised me most is the amount of time writers put into promotion . . . both traditionally published authors and independent ones?

What do you want your obituary to say? What do you want engraved on your headstone?

I’ve always been amused by funny headstones (I told you I was sick!). Maybe my headstone would have a link to my website. J I’m more of traditionalist when it comes to obituaries and I’d likely stick with mentions of my family, organization I’ve belong to (like Toastmasters), and information on what I’d written, Toto me there’s an element of immortality about writing. I’m 45 now . . . I may catch up with my octogenarian Myrtle. I may surpass her age. But Myrtle has the advantage of living in the pages of my books forever. There’s definitely some comfort in that.


Elizabeth writes the Southern Quilting mysteries and Memphis Barbecue mysteries for Penguin Random House and The Myrtle clover series for Midnight Ink and independently. She blogs at, named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for WRiters. She curates links on Twitter as @elizabethscraig that are later shared in the free search engine Elizabeth make her home in Matthews, North Carolina, with her husband and two teenage children.

MTW Interview: Catherine Dilts

Stone Cold Blooded – A Rock Shop Mystery, published by Encircle Publications LLC, is available in paperback, and in e-book for Kindle and Nook

Stone Cold Blooded – A Rock Shop Mystery

1. How old you when you wrote your first story?

My earliest memory of writing fiction was creating scripts with my siblings. We entertained our great aunts with what must have been dreadful one act plays. The aunts’ delight had to be due to timing our performances to coincide with their happy hour.

2. What genre was that?

We knew nothing about genre. There were farmyard animals involved, and there might have been a mystery. For our aunts, the mystery was probably whether this was a two or three cocktail play.

3. Do you think that or do you have another series in mind? 

Where would it be located?

I’ve been having so much fun with the Rock Shop Mystery series, I’m planning a fourth book. Like the others, it will be set in the Colorado mountains. I’m working on two stand-alone mysteries, one set in Oklahoma and one in Colorado. Are you sensing a theme? My fiction is all set in the West and Midwest USA.

4. Do you enjoy any sport? Crafts? Other?

I run and hike for fitness. Occasionally, I participate in races, just for fun. I have run two marathons, and my husband and I plan to run our second half marathon together this summer. In the arts and crafts realm, I am currently working on an applique quilt for my adult daughter.

5. Where do you write from?

a. .Place in your emotions

 That depends on the story. The first short story I sold was based on unpleasant work experiences with a coworker. I wanted to staple the woman’s head to a cubicle wall. Instead, I killed her. Fictionally, of course. When the story appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (April 2013) I realized tapping into strong emotions was the key to writing convincing fiction. So now, I often take a difficult real-life situation and resolve it in a fictional setting.

6. Place in your house? From your organizations? if so what organizations

The company that provides my day job and that annoyingly necessary paycheck did a major renovation. They gave away the old office furniture to anyone in possession of a truck, a strong back, and not much design sense. Now I have a sturdy, if outdated, desk in our home office. I feel quite professional working at a desk instead of the dining room table. But I prefer to work on the deck in the summertime.

I’m a member of the national groups Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. Locally, I attend MWA and SinC chapter meetings when I can, and am a member of Pikes Peak Writers and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

7. What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

Drinking heavily.

8. How much support do you receive in relation to your writing and eventual publication? From where and whom?

My husband and daughters are incredibly supportive of my fiction writing. When I sold my first novel, they were nearly as excited as I. They anxiously await the day when I buy an island, and we all spend the rest of our days lounging on a sandy beach. Please don’t shatter their illusions.

7. If you could do only one form of writing, would you write stories or keep a blog? Why?

Writing is my first and abiding love. Blogging is just a meaningless affair. Seriously, I enjoy blogging, but if I had to make a choice, I would choose fiction writing.

8. How did you find your niche?

I hit my stride writing fiction when I finally heeded two bits of advice:

1) write what you enjoy reading, and

2) write what you know. Simple, yet it took me decades to work this out for myself.

9. How much research do you do for your books?

I research just enough to – hopefully – get the facts right. For a cowgirl short story, I am learning the horrors of hoof injuries. For my Rock Shop Mystery series, I attended lectures at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, and visited the Denver Mineral, Fossil, Gem and Jewelry Show, where I interviewed Dwayne Hall from television’s The Prospectors.

10. What surprised you most about the publishing process?

There were many surprises. One was how slow the publishing process moves – like a bowling ball through the intestines of a brontosaurus. It can be a year or more from story acceptance to appearance in print. Another surprise was how few writers make a living from writing fiction.

11.  What do you want your obituary to say? What do you want engraved on your headstone?

Catherine accomplished a considerable chunk of her bucket list, and had fun along the way.

Biography –

Catherine Dilts is the author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, set in the Colorado mountains, while her short stories appear in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Catherine’s day job deals with environmental regulatory issues, and for fun she fishes, hikes, and runs.c-dilts-photo-for-directory

You can learn more about Catherine Dilts at:

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