Writing Solo? By Daryl Wood Gerber

Hi all! Liz here, excited to welcome back our good friend Daryl Wood Gerber, who has some fun giveaways today! Take it away, Daryl!

By Daryl Wood Gerber

Writing can be a very lonely venture. You have no one to talk to except yourself  (which some consider a little bit crazy)

Or your characters (which a vast majority considers bordering on nuts)  

Sparky1Or you might have a faithful companion. I have Sparky. He is the joy of my life. He loves coming into my office and simply “being there” to support me. He sits calmly on his pillow and rouses occasionally for a pet. He gazes at me soulfully whenever I introduce him on a live chat on Facebook. He stares at me scornfully if I ask to take yet another picture to post on Facebook.  LOL

If I need to lie on the floor to gather my thoughts (I think well with my eyes closed – it is not a nap!), Sparky “allows” me to pet him. That stroking motion really helps clear my head. Sparky3

If I need to pace the floor to come up with an idea, he follows me. Oy! I have to be extremely careful not to make a sudden turn. He’s so quiet, he could be my shadow. I have tripped at least a dozen times because of him. I’m really glad I never hit my head on a counter top. (Ooh, idea for a murder method.)

But I digress…

If I need to take a long walk to think, Sparky is always up for it. “Snap on that leash, Mom. Let’s go!” He doesn’t even mind if I bring along my cell phone and tape conversations that I want to insert in the book. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m talking to him. Isn’t life all about him?

S2If I need to take a break and read someone else’s book, this is possibly his happiest moment of the day. We settle on the patio and he gets a treat and we listen to the sounds of nature, while I drink in the talent of another author.

Writing solo? Nope. Not I. I’ve got a writing partner. And the best thing is he thinks all my ideas are great.  (Hmm, must reconsider this last point.  It’s not good to have someone who thinks “all” your ideas are great. An author needs a constructive critic.)

Note to self: Get Sparky reading lessons and teach him to speak his mind.

Do you have a two- or four-footed pet that fills your days with love?

Daryl is offering a choice of any one of her books to one commenter.  Winner announced Friday! 

Daryl’s latest book, A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, the first in the French Bistro Mysteries, debuts November 7.

Here’s a sneak peek: 

Mimi Rousseau is throwing the bistro’s first wedding—the nuptials of a famous talk show host. She is sure things will go awry when the bride’s father shows up drunk to the out-of-towners’ dinner. By the end of the evening, things look sweet again…until the next morning, when her benefactor is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. All fingers point at Mimi, whose loan is forgiven if he dies. It’s up to her to éclair—er, clear—her name before the killer turns up the heat.


Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber writes the brand new French Bistro Mysteries as well as the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries.  As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. A DEADLY ÊCLAIR, the first French Bistro Mystery, comes out November 2017. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAY OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

NEWSLETTER: http://darylwoodgerber.com/contact.php#mailing-list


What’s my brand? What does it matter? And a giveaway! by Daryl Wood Gerber

Hey all, Liz here – and today I’m happy to host the lovely and talented Daryl Wood Gerber. She doesn’t need much of an intro with this crowd – so take it away, Daryl!

blue_small_headshotBranding oneself – what does that mean?

When the first Cheese Shop Mystery came out, I “branded” myself as the cheese lady. I did my research. I became knowledgeable. I had fun. Readers at conferences didn’t know my name, but they knew I was the cheese lady.

When the first Cookbook Nook Mystery came out, I re-branded myself as a culinary  or foodie mystery author. It was a no-brainer. I know food. I love recipes. The Cookbook Nook Mysteries are set in a cookbook shop and feature food. Plus I was already posting GTS_coverrecipes and photographs on Mystery Lovers Kitchen.

However, when I decided to publish a stand-alone suspense novel, I hit a wall. How was I supposed to brand myself so that readers knew what they were getting? Would my readers feel that I had betrayed them? What about the food and the recipes and the small town flavors they had come to expect from me?

As I was redesigning my website, I came up with some food terms that I thought might help define my work: Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous.

Tasty and zesty are pretty self-explanatory. Why dangerous? Think of it like three-alarm-chili dangerous.  At first it was a designation for some of my short stories. They are not all cozy. Then I realized that dangerous could also work for my future suspense novels.

However, I got to wondering if that was the brand that would help my fans feel comfortable reaching for my other genre titles on the shelves? I asked myself: Why have my readers truly enjoyed my books? It can’t be just because of the food element. I’m not a celebrity chef.

Then it hit me. My readers like that I write about family. The protagonists in all my books are closely bonded to family. They are loyal. They follow their hearts. Not all families are built the same way, of course. In the Cheese Shop series, Charlotte’s family includes her darling grandparents, her cousin and his daughters, and her good friends Delilah and Meredith. In the Cookbook Nook series, Jenna’s family includes her dad and aunt but also her good friends, Bailey and Katie. [Just between you, me, and the lamppost, I think she would like to make Rhett family sometime soon, too.] No matter what, the protagonist’s devotion to protecting those she loves is vital to her—just like it is to me.

So, though all my novels might be tasty, zesty, or dangerous, the theme is always family.

For example:

GOTR_pngIn Girl on the Run, when Chessa wakes up beside the body of her husband, nauseous and confused, unable to explain to the sheriff why her princess costume is covered in blood, she runs. Over the course of the novel, she must delve into the truth about her husband and her family.

In Grilling the Subject, Jenna’s father becomes the suspect in the murder of one of his neighbors. The woman and he have been at odds over property rights. Jenna won’t sit back and let him go to jail. She has to prove him innocent.

Now, a question you might ask: can my cozy readers read my suspense even though they are categorized as dangerous? Yes. I still avoid using bad language. I do not write explicit sex or violence. The pace is faster, the ante greater, but the theme—family—is the same.

Some might wonder whether writing in multiple genres means I’m scattered. I don’t think so. I’m creative. I have lots of ideas. There are plenty of authors who write for more than one audience. It can be done.

What’s next for me? I’m going to publish another suspense. It will come out in November. I’m going to continue writing more cozy mysteries, too.

No matter what, each novel—whether tasty, zesty, or dangerous—will focus on family because family matters. That’s my brand and I’m sticking to it!

Daryl, thanks for visiting!

Readers, leave a comment for Daryl for a chance to win any of her published books in print or e-book format: Cheese Shop Mysteries (1-7), Cookbook Nook Mysteries (1-4), or Girl on the Run. 

Agatha Award-winning and nationally bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER ventures into the world of suspense with her gripping debut novel, GIRL ON THE RUN. Daryl also writes the bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries. AsAVERY AAMES, she pens the bestselling Cheese Shop Mysteries. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote”. In addition, she has jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. She absolutely adores Lake Tahoe, where GIRL ON THE RUN is set, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky. Visit Daryl at www.darylwoodgerber.com.
Twitter: @darylwoodgerber
Facebook: www.facebook.com/darylwoodgerber
Website: www.darylwoodgerber.com

Wicked Wednesday – Proposal Writing, the First Three Chapters

By Sherry, who’s hoping it’s warmer today than when I set up the post!

This month we’ve decided to all chime in on the process of writing proposals for book series. Mystery series are often sold this way, in fact all of us have sold series in this manner, some of us more than once. The format for doing this is fairly standardized in the publishing industry and each Wednesday this month we will dive into one aspect of the process. This week we are talking about writing the first three chapters for your proposal. Wickeds, did you agonize or did the chapters pour out of you? Give us your best tip!

Tagged for Death mech.inddSherry: Some of you might know this story. When I had the opportunity to write the proposal for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series my agent said: I want it as soon as possible. Four days later I sent him the proposal. Fortunately, I had Liz, Edith and Barb’s proposals to work off of. The whole thing just poured out of me — it’s never happened before or since. But my best tip is to end the third chapter on a suspenseful note that will want to make the editor read the rest.

A Tine To Live A Tine To Die PB COVEREdith: I had written a very early version of A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die eighteen years earlier in between farming seasons. For the proposal (and the book), I knew I had to rewrite the content, but I was able to keep the fictional world I had set up all those years ago. Protagonist Cam Flaherty, former software engineer. Small rural town. Antique saltbox farmhouse. And death by pitchfork in the hoop house. So I had a head start, and it wasn’t that hard for me to craft the first three chapters. The last chapter of the proposal ends right after my farmer discovers the body. So the tip about that might be: make sure you hook your reader, who you hope will be your publisher, with great storytelling and, if not a body, then something that will really grab them.

For my Country Store Mysteries proposal (Flipped for Murder out in November, under pen name Maddie Day!), I had to story-innset up the entire world, the protagonist, the supporting characters. But since the series is set in southern Indiana, a part of the universe I love, and because I had a vision for the near-Southern language and way of life, I had a lot of fun with those first chapters. Totally agree with Sherry, though – you have to start with a good hook, and make sure your last paragraph has one, too. The end of the proposal chapters shows a local police officer telling Robbie and her date about the murder of a local official Robbie had had conflict with – and that the victim had one of Robbie’s signature cheesey biscuits stuffed in her mouth.

Liz: Thanks to the counsel of Avery Aames/Daryl Wood Gerber, I had a good fouKneading to Diendation to use when putting my proposal together. And the idea for the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries, which my agent and I both loved, was exciting to me – so the first three chapters were a lot of fun to write. The one thing I struggled with was how much set-up I needed to do versus just jumping right into the story of the murder. I wanted to set the stage for the town and characters enough that readers immediately felt familiar with them, but didn’t want to kill it with a lot of backstory. It ended up that my victim was found at the end of the second chapter, and when I ended the third it was setting up Stan’s situation of being a suspect.

THE MAINE CLAMBAKE MYSTERY SERIESBarb: Great timing on this question as someone recently asked to see my proposal so I read it again. I was surprised how closely the first three chapters in the proposal were to those that were eventually published in Clammed Up. I remember that I had a lot of fun with these chapters. My agent had emphasized that it was a spec proposal and though he thought clambakes were a subject that should interest publishers, it was by no means guaranteed. So my thought about the first three chapters was–have fun, don’t overthink, don’t get too attached. It’s a fun way to write. The set-up, a wedding, was intended to quell my panic about supplying recipes for a series. A clambake is the same meal over and over and over. I thought if the Snowden Family Clambake Company was the setting for special events, other kinds of food might be served. In the series, I’ve solved this problem in a completely different way, so the wedding was unnecessary, but I’m glad that’s where the series started. Eventually another publisher, who ultimately passed, asked me for three more chapters. Those didn’t end up in the book in the same spot.

Jessie: There’s a lot of business to accomplish in the first three chapters. Introduction of main and a few supporting characters, the inciting incident and the voice of the novel all need to be present and correct. It can be a bit overwhelming. On the other hand, the story is so fresh and the enthusiasm should be so high that it should be a pleasurable challenge. Which brings me to my best tip: if the first three chapters don’t have you chomping at the bit to tell the story then you should ask yourself if you are telling the right tale.  I don’t mean to say that the first draft of these pages should be the most perfect thing you have ever written. I do think, at this stage, your enthusiasm is a strong guidance system and if you don’t have it something is wrong and you should listen. Whether that means tweaking some details, weaving n new story threads or scrapping the whole thing and starting over, it would be wise to set off on a journey you really wish to take. Now is the very best time to do so.

Julie: My first three chapters story is a little different. A year and a half ago I was given the opportunity to audition to write this series. I was given an outline of the characters, and a fairly robust storyline. My job was to show my editor that I could write the series, but also that I could write the series that she had created. So I needed to figure out how to make the story mine, and hers, at the same time. I also needed to figure a way into the story. The series was sold, I just needed to sell my skills as a writer, and a storyteller. Ironically, and interestingly, those first three chapters got me the gig, but I didn’t end up using them in the final product. So my advice, make sure the first three chapters are written really well. If you want someone to give you a contract, they need to trust that you have the craft under control.

Edith again: I love the timing of this post. I am writing the first chapter of the second Country Store mystery this week. Today! And all these comments are helping me.

Readers: What do you want to see in the first three chapters of a mystery? If you’ve written your own first three, what were your joys and challenges doing so?

Wicked Good Beach Reads

Since we love to read at least as much as we love to write, the Wickeds have put together a list of beach reads to be shared once a week for the rest of the summer. Here are this week’s recommendations:beach chair

Edith: Bad Policy by James M. Jackson

Liz: A Potion to Die For by Heather Blake

Sherry: No Regrets, Coyote by John Dufresne

Julie: Not the Killing Type by Lorna Barrett

Barb: How the Light Gets In: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny

Jessie: Final Sentence by Daryl Wood Gerber