Cover Reveal — Guest Debra Sennefelder

We are delight to welcome back Debra Sennefelder and share the cover of her debut book The Uninvited Corpse! It’s available for pre-order here. It comes out March 27, 2018 from Kensington Publishing.

Thank you Wicked Cozy Authors for inviting me to reveal the cover of my debut novel, The Uninvited Corpse. I’m beyond thrilled to here today and I’m so excited to have the cover my book. It’s truly a dream come true.

Here is the back cover copy for  the first book in the Food Blogger Mystery series: Leaving behind a failed career as a magazine editor and an embarrassing stint on a reality baking show, newly divorced lifestyle entrepreneur Hope Early thought things were finally on the upswing–until she comes face-to-face with a murderer . . .

Hope’s schedule is already jam packed with recipe testing and shameless plugs for her food blog as she rushes off to attend a spring garden tour in the charming town of Jefferson, Connecticut. Unfortunately, it isn’t the perfectly arranged potted plants that grab her attention–it’s the bloody body of reviled real estate agent Peaches McCoy . . .

One of the tour guests committed murder, and all eyes are on Hope’s younger sister, Claire Dixon–who, at best, saw Peaches as a professional rival. And suspicions really heat up when another murder occurs the following night. Now, with two messy murders shaking Jefferson and all evidence pointing to Claire, Hope must set aside her burgeoning brand to prove her sister’s innocence. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer intent on making sure her life goes permanently out of style . . .

I had a blast writing The Uninvited Corpse. For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be an author. I had visions of spending my days writing scenes, chapters and hitting bestseller lists. Silly childhood dreams, right? I discovered mysteries beyond Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, cozies in particular when I found the Miss Marple books. I was hooked.

Fast forward a few more years and I was browsing in the local bookstore of my new hometown after I married and I found the Faith Fairchild mystery series by Katherine Hall Page. Once I read The Body in The Belfry I knew what I wanted to write. Then I discovered Valerie Wolzien, Diane Mott Davidson, Claudia Bishop and so many other wonderful writers. Then life happened and I stepped away from fiction writing. I eventually started a food blog, The Cookbook Diva. In that space I was in control of everything – content, schedule, promotion. No one was editing me. No one was rejecting my work. I loved it. I enjoyed sharing my recipes, I enjoyed the blogger community and I really enjoyed spending time in my kitchen. But over time I felt that tug of something that was missing. What was missing was fiction writing. When I really thought about it I couldn’t see myself in ten years from then still writing a food blog but I could see myself as an author.

One weekend I decided to pull out my idea file (writers usually have thick folders of ideas for books) and I started thinking up plots and characters. I slowly got back into the writing community, found my critique partner, mystery author Ellie Ashe, and set forth to write a novel. I knew my amateur sleuth would be involved with food somehow. I considered several options and the one that seemed the best fit was food blogger. I had experience with that world and it was something different for the cozy world. Once I was well into the first draft of The Uninvited Corpse I made the decision to shut down my food blog and focus entirely on fiction writing. I’m so glad I did because I’m exactly where I should be writing novels.

Thank you for sharing my cover reveal with me today!

Readers: What is your favorite thing about culinary mysteries? Or what is your favorite thing about finding a new series?

 

 

Wicked New England-Our Towns

Jessie: Wondering if typing whilst wearing insulated gloves is something I could actually manage?

All of the Wickeds write books set in New England. We’ve all live here or have lived here and are trying to make it back. We love this patch of the planet and I believe it shows in our work. What we wanted to chat about today was how you give your places the flavor of  New England? How do you make the setting ring true? Do you base your fictional towns on real places? Do you use any real places in your fiction?

Rocks Village Bridge

Rocks Village Bridge over the Merrimac River

Edith: My Local Foods mysteries are set in a lightly fictionalized West Newbury, the town near here where I lived when I was an organic farmer myself more than twenty years ago. I changed the name to Westbury (isn’t that creative, now?) so I could add a fictional road where Cam’s farm is, add other fictional farms and Albert’s assisted living residence, and not upset locals if a new business pops up in the town center or, say, someone gets killed in a public place. But I include some very real landmarks: the Food Mart, Mill Pond, the Rocks Village Bridge. I use the real city of Newburyport, too, and the Merrimac River.

meetinghousesnow

Photograph of Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse by Edward Gerrish Mair.

For the historical series, it’s set in actual Amesbury, where I now live. I have maps from the late 1800s and have done a lot of research about what buildings were standing at that time but are no longer here, and vice versa. I love that the Friends Meetinghouse that I walk to every Sunday morning has not changed in appearance since it was built in 1855.

 

Liz: Around the same time I began having conversations about Pawsitively Organic with

The dogs walking the path on the Lebanon Town Green.

The dogs walking the path on the Lebanon Town Green.

our agent, I had been taking the dogs walking out on the Lebanon Town Green, which is the town next to mine. This is one of the coolest town greens in the area. It’s a mile-long loop, it’s still used in agricultural practices and it has events all the time, from fireworks on the 4th of July to farmers’ markets to concerts. It just seemed like the place where Everything Happened, and I knew immediately it would be the place around which I would set the series. It’s got that true New England feel in the sense of the picturesque setting, the big white church with the steeple, and the reality that more business is conducted here than at Town Hall. It’s absolutely perfect – so I put Stan’s house right on it. For the record, she loves it.

A real clambake on Cabbage Island in Boothbay Harbor, Maine

A real clambake on Cabbage Island in Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Barb: Busman’s Harbor in the Maine Clambake Mysteries is a highly, highly fictionalized version of Boothbay Harbor, Maine and the Snowden Family Clambake Company is an even more highly fictionalized version of the Cabbage Island Clambakes. I like fictionalizing a real place. World-creating is the most fun part of writing fiction for me. The real part saves me untold amounts of time and stress. If I need to know things like: What time does the sun rise on a certain date in August? When is high tide? or How far is it from Busman’s Harbor to Portland?, the answer is at my finger tips. In every book, Julia also goes on a trip to a real place in Maine–Bath in Clammed Up, the blueberry fields of Down East in Boiled Over, and Round Pond and Damariscotta in Musseled Out.

Jessie: I write about two different contemporary fictional towns in New Hampshire. I think photothey feel real because of the enjoyable sorts of people who inhabit them and because of the way the seasons and the lay of the land influence the characters. Weather, distance, the rural, close-knit nature of the villages flavor both New Hampshire series. Visits to the local dump,  standing orders for Italian sandwiches at the general store and chats with neighbors at the post office are all part of real life here and my characters experience these things too.

My new series is a historical and it is set in the real town of Old Orchard Beach, Maine in 1898. Researching real hotels, events and people requires a somewhat different skill set than creating an entirely fictional town. Both ways of crafting settings are tremendously fun and I hope will be equally engrossing for the readers.

Julie: My series is based in the Berkshires, in a fictional town called Orchard. I have been to the Berkshires several times, both on vacation and to go to Tanglewood, Williamstown, and other arts related locations. But my “what does it look like” inspiration came when I was driving back from Double Edge on summer night, right after I’d signed the contract for my series. My GPS took me another way, and I went with it. All of a sudden I came upon a town, Willamsburg, MA. Not technically in the Berkshires, but a terrific setting for cozy series. The Williamsburg General Store is a great place to visit, and helped inspire the Cog & Sprocket.

One of many parties held in the courtyard I lived on at Hanscom.

One of many parties held in the courtyard I lived on at Hanscom.

Sherry: I fell in love with New England when we lived there for five years. So when I had the opportunity to write the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series I decided to set in a fictional version of Bedford, Massachusetts and on a fictional version of Hanscom Air Force Base. Both were wonderful places to live and it makes me happy to write about them. It also gives me an excellent reason to go back and visit — in the name of research.

Bedford, MA town common

Bedford, MA town common

I also think it’s interesting that even with in New England there are differences. Liz calls it a town green but in Bedford it’s the town common. Whatever they are called I miss them!

Readers, have you ever been to New England? Ever lived here? What makes a book’s setting feel real to you?

Wicked Wednesday- Knowing Your Way Around Town

We’ve been talking craft all month on Wicked Wednesdays. This week we’re chiming in about how we keep track of the towns in our series. How do you road map an imaginary place? Remember which stores are on Main Street? So Wickeds, how do you keep it all straight from book to book?

 Jessie: I use Scrivener. It very conveniently has a places category and I import all the places from the previous book into the next one as soon as I create a new file. Then I add any new places to the existing database as I go along.

Map by Phyllis Ann Whippen

Map by Phyllis Ann Whippen

Edith: So far I have used either fictionalized real towns (Ipswich in the Lauren Rousseau mysteries, West Newbury in the Local Foods mysteries) or a real town (Amesbury, in my historical mystery) in my fiction. But when I fictionalize a real place, I add made-up streets and businesses. So far I’ve been able to keep the made-up stuff in my memory, but using Scrivener’s system for a Places folder is a great idea. In my new WIP, however, I created a fictional small town, so drawing myself a map would be a good idea. On the to-do list!

Lea Wait's Wiscasset, Maine from her children's books. Learn more here.http://www.leawait.com/children.html

Lea Wait’s Wiscasset, Maine from her children’s books. Learn more here. http://www.leawait.com/children.html

Barb: My Busman’s Harbor turns out to be a pretty complicated place. It’s a town, and a harbor, two points of land that surround the harbor, a private island and a penninsula that leads from Route One, the main artery of the Maine coast down to Busman’s. As the books have developed, we’ve found out where more and more of the characters live and work. Like Jessie, I’ve kept Scrivener files of all the important places I’ve described– the houses, boats, town pier, marina, shops and hospital. Like Edith, I’ve modeled it on a real town–Boothbay Harbor, Maine. But I’ve made so many modifications and described so many fictional places, if I do get a contract for more books, I think it is time for a map. As an aside–I love, love fictional books with maps in them. Deborah Crombie’s are a particular favorite.

afbchurchSherry: Tagged for Death has two main locations. They are based on fictional versions of Bedford, Massachusetts and Hanscom Air Force Base. Even though I have a good idea  of how the town of Ellington, Massachusetts and Fitch Air Force Base look, I’ve made crude (very crude) drawings of each. I also keep extensive notes about what is where for both. It’s been a lot of fun to use two places I loved living in the series.

Liz: All of the above! I use Scrivener too, and my town, Frog Ledge, is fictional but based on a hybrid of two towns near me. I have a good picture in my mind of how it looks, but like Barb, I think I might need a map…

Julie: My town is based on two different towns. I am keeping place notes, but already feel the need for a map, which I will do before the next book is done. Things like “how long does it take to go from the shop to the lake?”  need to be consistent, and make sense. Anyone have any good map making ideas? Maybe we should create a wicked cozy map of New England?

Edith: I love the idea of a Wicked Cozy map, Julie!

Readers: Do you like maps in a work of fiction? Would you prefer to read about a real place, so you can go and trace the steps of our ficitonal protagonists, or do you prefer to read the fictional towns we and other authors make up?

Blooming Where You’re Planted

I was asked recently by a fellow blogger to participate in an opportunity from DogVacay – a photo sharing campaign about how your dog best represents your city and interests. I checked out her blog post about Milwaukee and her dog Sheba and thought it was terrific. However, my immediate response to the project was to say, “Thanks, but I’m not sure I would do it justice. You see, I don’t really embrace where I live right now, so maybe another time.”

Luckily, she persisted. “I think you can always find something you love somewhere,” she said.

And you know what? She’s right. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about leaving Connecticut, how fast I can make that happen, how desperate I am to be near our precious Boston again. What I haven’t been doing is appreciating what I have and where I am, or accepting the lessons I am here to learn. About seven years ago, at a going-away party before I came here, a friend said to me, “Bloom where you are planted.” I didn’t think too much about her words then. I’d never really thought much about where I lived – I just lived there and accepted it for what it was. Once I got here, it was different. I did begin to understand what I wanted out of a location – and as much as I love cows, that location did not involve the smell of cow manure in the morning, or tractors driving down the road while I was trying to get to work. But it was too bad, because I was already here. And the lessons were knocking at my door.

We live in South Windham, right on the border of Lebanon. It’s quiet on this side of town, save for one rowdy neighbor, and the proximity to Lebanon is lovely. Lebanon has a beautiful town green where we go to walk, and though it’s a small town, it’s become special to us. It was even the catalyst for my Pawsitively Organic books – it was the perfect setting.

But it took one of the smartest members of the household to point that out. When Shaggy, my beloved schnoodle, came to live here, she immediately embraced where we live. Her favorite thing to do as a puppy was walk our street and go visit the neighborhood rescue cow. She loved the cow so much, she even dressed like her one Halloween. Shaggy Cow

When it became too dangerous to walk there, we moved to the green – and she loves it. It’s her absolute favorite place. Lots to sniff, people and dogs to meet, rocks to climb on and she even gets to run with me sometimes. As soon as we turn onto the street, her ears perk up and she whines in anticipation – she can’t wait to get out of the car and hit the trail. And Finny is just happy about everything. Here they are ready to go walking.

Shaggy and Finny

Their attitudes are contagious. I look forward to the green, too. Lately, I’ve even found myself admiring different things about where I live as I’m driving to work, or running errands. It’s beautiful this time of year. Seven years later, I’m finally noticing. So thanks, Shaggy and Finn.

If you live around here and need a dog sitter, or are looking for doggie resources, check out the DogVacay page here. Enjoy.

And always remember to bloom where you are planted. There’s good in everything.