Wicked Wednesday – Books to Movies

Writers often cringe when they hear their favorite book is being made into a movie (Tom Cruise as Reacher, anyone?), but there are the occasional books-turned-movies that surprise us and are actually awesome. And of course, as writers, we all dream of having our books turned into a movie! So Wickeds, tell us which of your books you’d like to see made into a movie.

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Edith: Because of the popularity of “Call the Midwife” people are always telling me my Quaker Midwife Mysteries should be made into a television series. I agree! But I wouldn’t argue with any of Delivering the Truth, Called to Justice, or Turning the Tide being turned into a movie, of course. And I think they would translate well to the big screen. Just don’t ask me who should play Rose Carroll. I have no idea.

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Liz: I could totally see the fourth book in my Pawsitively Organic series, Murder Most Finicky, becoming a movie. The book was a blast to write, mostly because it starred a lot of unruly chefs of the reality TV ilk, and I believe they would translate well on screen. Also the book was the only one in which Stan ventured out of Frog Ledge. It’s set in scenic Newport, Rhode Island, which is absolutely gorgeous.

Sherry: I have to pick just one? Sadly, since Hallmark already has a garage sale mystery movies, the chance of mine being made into movies is unlikely. However, a girl can dream. And from what I understand the Hallmark series is set in an antique shop instead of someone like Sarah actually running garage sales. So, okay, if I have to pick I would choose my upcoming The Gun Also Rises. I love that the crime is based on the disappearance of Hemingway manuscripts in 1922. There is also this fanatical (fictional) group called The League of Literary Treasure Hunters who create havoc in Ellington. I think all of it would make for a great movie.

Barb: I’m not dreaming of a movie, but I would love a British-style police procedural series made about Police Chief Ruth Murphy, the protagonist in my first published mystery, The Death of an Ambitious Woman. I say this because that’s the kind of show I love to watch.

Julie: A Christmas Peril would be a most excellent television series. Maybe a six episode Netflix series. It has the holiday hook, amateur sleuth, and great cast of characters. The second in the series, which is coming out next April, would be a great second season. Just saying.

Readers, do you have a favorite book-turned-movie? Leave a comment below.

How I Learned to Relax About Being a “Cozy” Author and Just Write the Damn Books–Part I

by Barb–sad because we’re leaving Key West in three days (or maybe perplexed is a better word. Why are we returning to the frozen north?)

Barbara RossI’ve wanted to write about how I feel about being an author of cozy mysteries for awhile, but it’s always been a complicated and evolving issue. So I’ve decided to split the topic up into three blog posts that I’ll put up during my next several turns here at Wicked Cozys.

The Beginning

I didn’t start out to write a cozy. I started out to write a mystery. All my life I had read widely in the mystery field, without really differentiating by sub-genre. I cut my teeth on those amateur sleuths Nancy Drew and Miss Marple, who despite her maiden state, is the grandmother of all of us authors of amateur sleuths. I read Dick Francis and Ross Thomas and John D. MacDonald and Dennis Lehane and Dorothy L. Sayers and Janet Evanovich. Admittedly, it was a simpler time. I found most of my books through recommendations from friends and relatives, as well as friendly independent bookstore clerks and librarians. Megabookstores and online retailers hadn’t yet created such a strong need for subcategory labeling to help you find a book you would like.

I knew I wanted to write a series. I loved the books of P.D. James and Ruth Rendell’s Wexford series. I loved watching characters change over time, and returning to find out what was going on in their lives. I was particularly taken with Rendell’s Kingsmarkham, it’s strong sense of place and how it evolved from a sleepy market village to a sprawling suburb with a highway on-ramp and a diverse population. Even Christie’s St. Mary Mead evolved, sprouting a housing development after the second World War. To me, it was all magic.

DeathOfAmbitiousWomanFrontMy first mystery, The Death of An Ambitious Woman, had a professional sleuth as its protagonist, a female police chief, but it was also very much a village mystery. Which was one of the many reasons it was so hard to sell, though it was eventually published by Five Star/Cengage.

We’ve told many times on the blog how our agent, John Talbot, approached Sheila Connolly, who was then President of Sisters in Crime New England, to see if any members had an interest in writing a spec proposal for a cozy mystery series. I was very interested. Because of my love of series, I knew I wanted a multi-book contract, something Five Star didn’t offer. I wrote to Sheila behind the scenes and asked her if she thought I could do it. She pointed out that my first book had a lot of cozy elements. With her encouragement, I called John. We batted some ideas around, and chose “clambake.”

JohnTalbotIn that first call, John said, “You know what cozies are, right? Amateur sleuth, small town, ya-da, ya-da.” I’m not sure John actually said “ya-da, ya-da,” but he definitely ya-da, ya-da-ed the definition of a cozy. I assured him that I did and set to work writing the proposal.

During that period, I read a lot of books that were actually defined as “cozy mysteries.” I read books by our own Sheila Connolly, and by Leslie Meier and Kaitlyn Dunnett/(Kathy Lynn Emerson). I read John Talbot’s most successful cozy author, Cleo Coyle and Kensington’s most successful cozy author, Joanne Fluke. I was inspired by all of them. I also read several frankly terrible cozies. I won’t name any names, but ones I couldn’t finish. Ones that made me dread going to bed because I would have to open them.

CLAMMED_UPI was undaunted. What area of literature doesn’t have some absolutely awful books in it? None is the answer. And, as I’ve learned over and over, my absolutely awful book is your favorite and vice versa, because the role of personal taste is huge. Besides, though I had tried to keep a professional distance from my proposal, I was falling in love with my characters and my setting. I really wanted to write these stories.

John sold the series to Kensington, and I started writing Clammed Up in earnest. I still hadn’t processed what it meant to be the author of a cozy novel, but now I was paying attention–and starting to panic. It’s interesting that neither of the things I was panicking about affected the story I was writing.

To wit:

  1. If the author is the brand, and the brand is the author, I was in deep trouble. People might describe me in a number of ways, but nobody, including my kids, would ever describe me as cozy. I’m a city girl at heart. I have no pets, I don’t do crafts. I swear like a sailor. I don’t even cook if I can avoid it. Ulp.
  2. The image of cozy mysteries worried me. So often they’re defined as what they are not. You know, it’s a traditional mystery, with an amateur sleuth, but with no sex, gore or swearing. That drove me crazy. Here I am writing 70,000+ words, and the genre is defined by what’s not in there, instead of what is. It bugged the heck out of me. (Or the hell out of me, as I really would say in my real life.)

So the rest of the posts in this series will be a description of my journey with the two personal challenges above, how I evolved, and how I feel about these issues today.

You can now read Part II here and Part III here.

So Proud of My Wicked Cozys!

by Barb, on the Jersey shore in a house with ten adults and two toddlers

Today, I’m celebrating the Wicked Cozy Authors. Yes, I am one, but nonetheless, I’m stunned by the group’s accomplishments and want to celebrate them.

In early June, 2012, four of us gathered for the first time in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Over the previous winter, Jessie, Edith, Liz and I had all signed with agent John Talbot and sold our first mystery series. We all had deadlines looming, and were excited and happy and scared out of our minds.

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At that time, Jessie and I had published one book each with a small press. Mine was The Death of an Ambitious Woman, published in August, 2010. Jessie’s was Live Free or Die, also published in August, 2010. In case you didn’t know about Jessie’s first book, Live Free or Die has sold almost 100,000 ebooks and won the 2011 Mainstream Daphne DuMaurier Award for Excellence in Mystery. It’s currently being translated into German and will be available in that language in time for the holidays. So check it out, yo!

But anyway, we were four terrified, but hopeful people.

By the next retreat, in June of 2013, we’d added Sherry and Julie to our ranks and started this blog (at Sherry’s instigation). Sherry had also signed with John Talbot, and sold her Sarah Winston Garage Sales Mystery series. Julie had a proposal out with John.

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Note that in the photo above we’re all in sweatshirts and a year later, same weekend, in this photo, we’re in short sleeves. This is normal in New England.

Liz and Edith’s first books in their new series, Kneading to Die and A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die, were out, as was the first book in Edith’s second series (as Tace Baker), Speaking of Murder. Jessie and I were still awaiting our series debuts and we were all writing like crazy.

This is us at this year’s retreat, in April 2014.

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Picture by Meg Manion Silliker

And, as of July 15, when Jessie’s second Sugar Grove Mystery, Maple Mayhem, was released, here are our accomplishments.

Wicked Cozy Accomplishments from June, 2012 to July, 2014

  • 9 books published
  • 5 books submitted, awaiting publication
  • 4 manuscripts currently being completed for deadline
  • 2 new series sold (Sherry’s Garage Sale Mysteries and Julie’s Clock Shop Mysteries, written as Julianne Holmes)
  • 7 proposals awaiting decisions by publishers (4 for continuing series, 3 new–WATCH THIS SPACE FOR UPDATES. Shhhh, we can’t tell. BUT WE REALLY WANNA TELL. But we can’t.)
  • 3 Agatha nominations–for Kneading to Die, Clammed Up and “Bread Baby
  • 330+ blog posts.

No wonder we all look so happy!