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Monday, May 16, 2016

Author Guest Post - Peg Cochran

Please welcome Peg Cochran to our little slice of the web.  Peg grew up in New Jersey suburbs 25 miles outside of New York.  Her greatest love though as always been writing - particularly mysteries! She has two cozy mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime: The Gourmet De-Lite series set in Connecticut and featuring Gigi Fitzgerald, who provides gourmet diet meals to a select group of clients, and the Sweet Nothings Vintage Lingerie series, written as Meg London, set in Paris, Tennessee with Emma Taylor who finds murder and mayhem in this quiet country town.  She has a new series, Cranberry Cove, and the newest book is titled Berry the Hatchet.  Please welcome her!
Write Your Own Cozy Mystery in Ten Steps
1. Decide on the locale of your story. Is it going to be a real town or fictional? City or country? If it’s a big city, you’ll want to limit the action to a particular neighborhood that almost feels like a small town. Make it somewhere your readers would like to live.

2. Create your “hook.” A hook is what sets your series apart from others. It can be an occupation for your sleuth like librarian, caterer, bookseller, etc. Or your hook can revolve around a hobby—knitting, scrapbooking, needlework, etc.

3. Pick your victim. This is the fun part! Is there someone you would like to kill on paper? A disagreeable co-worker or an annoying neighbor? Be careful to change names and appearances but you can certainly borrow their irritating or despicable traits and make them your victim’s own.

4. Pick your killer. Why does this person hate the victim enough to kill? They need a good motive for the crime. They can be a decent, upstanding citizen on the outside but evil on the inside.

5. Decide on a murder method. Now that you have your killer, what would be a likely murder weapon? A gun or knife? Poison? The proverbial blow to the head with a blunt object? Something exotic like a snake bite?

6. Create your amateur sleuth. You’ll already know a little bit about this person once you’ve created your hook but now is the time to flesh them out. Make them intelligent, inquisitive and clever.

7. Gather a group of suspects together. Hide your killer among a number of people who also had reason to wish the victim dead. One-by-one your sleuth uncovers their alibis until the only one left standing is the murderer.

8. Plot clues and red-herrings. Clues lead your sleuth closer to the killer while red herrings send her on a wild goose chase.

9. Add a touch of romance. Create a love interest for your sleuth. Better yet, create two or more! When she’s not busy tracking down suspects, she’ll be busy weighing the relative merits of each of the men in her life.

10. Write the book! And have fun immersing yourself in this idyllic world where justice always triumphs in the end. 
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Thank you Ms. Cochran for your tips on writing a mystery. 
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