BONNIE CEHOVET IS A MUCH-PUBLISHED NONFICTION AUTHOR who is also an aspiring cozy mystery writer. I’m a cozy mystery fan myself—and a fan of Bonnie’s other work!—so I asked her to share some of her thoughts about finding her way in this genre, (You’ll find Bonnie’s bio and a list of her books and other publications below the interview.)
What do you think makes a cozy mystery a cozy?
My personal shortlist of what makes a cozy mystery a cozy, as distinct from other mysteries, is this: no foul language, no explicit sex, and no violence. The one word that describes this genre for me is “gentle.” Cozy mysteries are gentle mysteries. They have great story lines, well-developed characters, and a dash of humor. The main character of a cozy is an amateur at solving mysteries. She generally lives in a small community, or a small community within a large city.
What do you like about reading cozies?
They make me feel good. I can identify with the characters; I understand the difficulties they are facing. I laugh and cry with them. They transport me into another world for the time I am reading them. I can see the streets where they live and work in my mind’s eye as if I were there. In the series that I follow, I may be reading little tidbits about coffee, or baking, or miniature work—and, if I’m lucky, the author will include recipes! I also love trying to figure out who did what to whom before the author closes the story.
Examples of cozy mystery series that I love are The Hannah Swensen series, by Joanne Fluke; The Cat Who series, by Lilian Jackson Braun; The Tea Shop Mysteries series, by Laura Childs; and The Father Brown mystery series, by G. K. Chesterton.
What made you want to write cozies?
It was a natural selection to want to write cozies, because that is what I prefer to read (although I do like legal mysteries, along the line of Haughton Murphy’s work). I also prefer my life to go at a gentler pace than it has perhaps in the past, and I want my writing to reflect that. I can bring in things like the tarot, meditation, astrology and crystals to augment the story, without the story having to be about them.
What’s most challenging for you about writing in this genre?
While I do not find writing in the cozy mystery genre challenging at all, I definitely want to channel a bit of Sherlock Holmes in my writing! However, while I am looking to write a series of cozy mysteries with a female protagonist, when I started the first story, it immediately became evident that it was not going to be a cozy! It falls more into the paranormal category, with references to mind-reading and long-distance viewing. It will be a three-book mystery series. But once I’ve completed the series, I’ll let the cozies flow!
What’s most rewarding about writing in this genre?
What is rewarding to me about writing in the cozy mystery genre is that I can be kind to all of my characters. There will be tension, of course, but no one has to be mean to anyone else. I can present everyday life in, hopefully, an interesting fashion—a fashion that will keep my readers coming back for more!
What software do you use when you’re writing for publication?
Every book I have authored or co-authored has been done in Microsoft Word. No other software was used. It was what I knew, And, yes, it was time consuming.
I am now using Grammerly, and find it a great help, as it corrects as I write. Yes, there are some days that I want to strangle it! But, overall, it polishes what I write and sees mistakes that I do not see.
I have Dragon, which is speech recognition software. I’ve used it off and on, but have found it hard to get used to. I keep the program because I have arthritis, and I know there will come a day when typing may become too much for my hands.
Right now, I am working with Scrivener, and feel this is the ultimate software for any writer to keep their work in good form and change things at will.
What tips would you offer my readers who might be interested in writing cozies?
For my mysteries, I start out by defining my protagonist and gathering some idea of what the story is going to be about. I have a writer’s bible for each of my books, where I keep lists of characters, their backgrounds, and their traits, along with the plot for each story, and its timeline.
My number one tip for all writers is to just start writing! Let it flow. You can always go back and edit. Each of us has something interesting to say—we just need to let it out. Allow the story to flow and allow each character to write their own story. Believe me, they will! If you feel stuck, walk away and do something else for a day or two, then go back. Most times I can edit a story to make it work. If I can’t make it work, I start over again.
I also have a blog where I write flash fiction—little 100-word stories. For me, writing flash fiction clears my head, and allows me to get back to my WIP with a fresh perspective.
For more tips specific to the cozy genre, check out these articles:
5 Tips for How to Write a Cozy Mystery
The Mystery of Mysteries: 16 Steps to Writing the Cozy Mystery
Formula for Writing a Cozy Mystery, Part 1: A Good “Hook”
Do you have any other suggestions for writers?
Something we have to remember as writers is that we need to keep our name out there, and we need to network. I found that, for myself, writing reviews helped me to keep my name out there and helped me meet other writers in the tarot field [the field in which Bonnie is best published], as well as connect with individuals in the deck and publishing industries.
I came across the Aeclectic Tarot site early on in my review writing career and found it to be very beneficial. The site owner, Kate (Solandia), is a lovely lady with integrity and a knack for putting an excellent site together. I was blessed to meet her in person at one of the early Reader’s Studio conferences hosted by Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone. The site is still up, although no longer accepting reviews.
My suggestion would be to read what interests you, and review that. Place your reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, on your own site or blog, or anywhere you feel they will be seen.
What writing resources would you recommend?
Ladies of Mystery
The Creative Penn
Mystery Writer’s Organizations:
Mystery Writer’s of America
Sisters In Crime
Bonnie Cehovet is a professional tarot reader, author, reviewer, and Reiki master. She segued from working for 27 years as a medical technologist to becoming a professional tarot reader, which she has been doing for over 24 years. It was a case of an avocation becoming a vocation. Over the years, she has also added writing to her repertoire, mainly focusing on tarot and self-help, in the form of articles, books, and reviews (most of which have been placed with Aeclectic Tarot, Amazon, and Goodreads).
She currently lives in the state of Nevada with her two cats, Midnight and Pumpkin. Her focus right now is on publishing in the cozy mystery genre. She writes a flash fiction blog and an author’s blog.
Authored by Bonnie Cehovet:
TAROT IN REVIEW (Lulu 2008)
THE WORLD OF TAROT: As Seen Through the Eyes of the Interview (Create Space 2010)
TAROT, BIRTH CARDS, AND YOU: Keys to Empowering Yourself (Schiffer 2011; Karyn Easton, Artist)
TAROT, RITUALS & YOU: The Power of Tarot Combined with the Power of Ritual (Schiffer 2013)
SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS: Taking Charge Of Your Life (Kindle/Create Space 2014)
Co-authored with Brad Tesh:
SEEK JOY … TOSS CONFETTI (Kindle/Create Space 2013)
INVISIBLE ME: Journeying Through The Soul (Kindle/Create Space 2019)
LLEWELLYN TAROT READER: 2004, 2005
THE CARTOMANCER: Spring, Summer, Fall 2015, Spring, Summer, Fall 2016, Spring, Summer 2017, Spring, Fall 2018,
Need help with your book? I’m available for book coaching and manuscript review! And check out “Should I Hire a Writing Coach” in THE WRITER magazine.
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Image “getting-published Atlanta GA” by agilemktg1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0