Murder on Cape Cod Cover Reveal!

News Flash: Sheila Golding is the randomly selected winner of the author apron! Congratulations. Sheila, please send your mailing address to edith at edithmaxwell dot com and I’ll get the apron out to you.

Maddie Day here, otherwise known as Edith, at Barb’s Boothbay Harbor home with all the other main Wickeds on our annual retreat, and boy, is it ever lovely.

I’m using one of our occasional Saturday posts to share some exciting news. The preorder page for Murder on Cape Cod, complete with a special exclusive edition cover, is finally ready over at Barnes & Noble. This is book one in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, due out December 18, and I’ve been waiting to show you all this cover for a while. I’ll celebrate by sending one commenter a special author apron!

Here’s a little about the series, but you’ll be hearing more about it in coming months.

The series is set in the quaint fictional Cape Cod village of Westham, which is replete with a salt-water taffy shop, craft distillery, gourmet ice cream store, fudge shop, nautical-themed gift shoppe, bakery and cafe, sushi restaurant, lobster shack, and indy bookstore. The shops are bookended on each end by churches, with the town hall, library, and police and fire stations in the middle. Many of the proprietors are members of the Cozy Capers book group – a group that reads and meets to discuss one cozy mystery every week – as are the almost-due-to-retire police chief, the head librarian, and the town clerk. Unfortunately, murder starts popping up in and around the town’s shops.

Mac Almeida is our protagonist, a wiry thirty-six year old with short black curls, who owns and operates Mac’s Bikes, a bicycle repair and rental shop serving locals and tourists alike.  She lives in a tiny house behind the store. Her parents reside in the UU rectory, her half-brother and his little daughter live in a local lighthouse, and her baker boyfriend is just down the road, too. I’ve loved setting up these new characters and this fictional town.

So are you ready for the cover? Ta-da!

MURDER ON CAPE COD with sticker 1.5

I love it! As you can see, Murder on Cape Cod is an exclusive deal with Barnes & Noble for the first year, but after that Kensington Publishing will re-release it on all platforms. My agent and my editor were both excited about the unusual arrangement, and who was aprontenpercentI to say no? The books will have seaside-based recipes and lots of intrigue. Oh, and murder – on the bike trail in this book!

Readers: Who has been to Cape Cod and what do you love about it? If you haven’t, what’s your favorite waterside place to visit (or live)? I’ll send one of you an author apron!

Cozy Cats and Authors

Recently Fellow Wicked Edith wrote a great post in defense of genre books, which some cluless people consider less important than so-called literary fiction, You know, those books that the critics adore and review all over the place but that only 137 people in the world read. I might be exaggerating a bit, but you know what I mean. I’d like to think cozy writers like us have as many readers as they do, but most of them do not review for The New York Times. Many of you readers responded in defense of genre, and we thank you!

But if you walk through one of the increasingly rare chain bookstores, you will quickly see that some genre books share certain consistent characteristics. Like romances where on the cover everybody’s clothes seem to be falling off. Or, during that time when chick lit was popular, every cover for it was pink, with a pair of very long legs (no body) and stilettos.

And cozies have small furry animals on the cover. Why? There is a practical reason: if you see a book with a puppy or kitten or both from across the room, you can be pretty sure that the book is a cozy. That makes it easy for readers to find them (and buy them, we hope). So who decides on the cover design? The publisher, of course. We may write them, but often that’s the last control we have over them. And publishers generally know what sells books—it’s their business.

But recently I’ve been asking myself, which comes first? The cute animals or the story? And why do I care? Because I’m a cat magnet. I’m not exaggerating—these cats started appearing long before I started writing, most often when I travel (and no, I do not travel with a handful of cat treats in my pockets). I even have the pictures to prove it.

o 1998, Raglan, Wales, with my husband and daughter: we were touring Welsh castles (there seem to be a lot of them, mostly ruined) and I sat down on a bench to admire what was left of the castle somewhere out in the country. A cat showed up and sat next to me.

Cat Raglan

o 1999, Ireland, with my daughter: we stayed at a pleasant B&B south of the Shannon airport. They had cats. Lots of cats. I ended up clutching a tiger kitten (no, I did not bring it home with me).

Cat Abbyfeale

o 2011, Ireland, travelling with a friend I had met online through genealogy: we stayed at a small hotel in Dublin, across from Christchurch Cathedral. We toured the church, and then, since it was a nice day, I sat down on a bench outside the church and people-watched. So of course the official church cat showed up, crawled under my coat, and went to sleep.

Cat Dublin

o More recently we stayed at a nice rental in Union Hall, in Cork—a place that I picked, sight-unseen. We pulled into the parking area and I said, “look, there’s a cat.” And looked again, and there was another cat, and another—I think the final count was six. One took a particular liking to me and watched through the kitchen window.

Cat Union Hall

Those are just the cats I can remember (and that someone managed to take a picture of). I don’t recall that any dogs got quite so chummy. Cats seem to like me. I know, there are lots of cats and many are outdoor or feral cats and not particularly friendly. In fact, a lot of them run away and hide, or at least maintain a safe distance. But me they sit on.

But there may be a logical reason why cats appear on all those cozy covers. I wrote recently that we nice respectable ladies on this blog write about killing people, which seems odd when you think about it. But putting an appealing friendly pet on the cover signals that we aren’t bad people, that we are trustworthy, and that small animals like us–they send a message in shorthand. Not only are the fuzzy creatures a code for “cozy” but they signal that all will turn out well in the book.

What about you? Do you automatically reach for the book with the cat or dog on the cover?