Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Cozy Up A Cozy Mystery! by Guest Larissa Reinhart

Mystery writer and Seekerville guest blogger,
Larissa Reinhart
Debby Giusti here! 

I'm excited to introduce today's guest blogger, talented author and dear friend, Larissa Reinhart. Many of you will recognize her name from frequent visits to Seekerville. Larissa sold her first book, Portrait of a Dead Guy, soon after hearing about our blog. Of course, we can't take credit for her sale, but we can celebrate her success and the release of her fourth humorous mystery, Death in Perspective, this June. Larissa's books feature Cherry Tucker, a struggling artist turned amateur sleuth, and a crazy cast of characters who hail from a small town in Georgia where zany is normal and dead bodies pop up as sure as dandelions. Her stories contain adult content, but lean more to PG-13 rather than R-rated. Join me in welcoming today's guest blogger, award-winning mystery author, Larissa Reinhart.

Hello, Seekerville. *waves* Long time fan, first time poster! I’ve got my coffee, since I know y’all start early! I’m very happy to be here!

Like romance, the mystery genre is fast growing and contains a lot of sub-genres. Many readers like a light dollop of humor, romance, and suspense in their books, which has meant an explosion of cozy mysteries in the market. In the most basic sense, a cozy has an amateur sleuth solving a mystery that’s more puzzler than thriller. Generally, the setting is small town, the characters are quirky, and the violence is off-page. Think Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, who made the genre famous. Or Jessica Fletcher of Murder She Wrote.

There’s a blending of genres in mystery just like you see in other genre fiction, and because bookstores and libraries need categories, many mysteries are called cozy by publishers. This was the case for me and many of my mystery writing friends. I thought I was writing a humorous, romantic mystery series. Well, I did and am. But it’s a bit long of a title for a sub-genre category! In today’s market, it falls into the cozy category. Cozy mysteries themselves have broadened in their scope. On the shelves today, you can find mysteries with paranormal, humorous, chick-lit, treasure hunters, urban, culinary, crafter, animal (there’s a whole section in Amazon dedicated to cat mysteries), and more as subjects.

So how do you know if you’re writing a cozy? Its easier to define what is NOT a cozy. It’s not hard-boiled or noir (gritty and dark, like The Maltese Falcon). It’s not a suspense or thriller (where the protagonist is pursued, like in The DaVinci Code). Or even romantic suspense because romance is a subplot at best in a cozy, not evenly balanced with the suspense (like Debby Giusti’s The Colonel’s Daughter). It’s not a detective (Sherlock Holmes), because the sleuth is generally amateur, although the amateur can be paired with a detective. It’s definitely not a police procedural (like Tony Hillerman's or Ed McBain’s cop books). And not a courtroom drama (like John Grisham’s) or medical mystery (Patricia Cornwell’s Dr. Scarpetta).

Where you didn’t find rough language or sex in a cozy, those are creeping in as well. However, Malice Domestic, the annual traditional mystery fan convention, defines “traditional” mystery as one that doesn’t have any explicit sex or excessive gore or violence. If you are a mystery writer, I highly recommend attending Malice Domestic (always the first weekend in May in the Washington DC area) to get a sense of all the different types of traditional mysteries out there, which are generally called cozies now, much to the chagrin of some of the authors.
Larissa (far right) took part in a panel at Malice Domestic, entitled,
The Art of Death: When Music and Painting Lead to Murder, with
authors (L to R) C. Ellet Logan, Kave George, Peter Lovesey,
and Karen Mcinerney.
Are you ready to write your cozy? Generally, these are the hallmarks that an agent or editor will look for in a cozy. And I say generally, because as you see above a lot of rules are being broken!

    Around 80,000 words, give or take five to ten thousand.

    Usually first person, whereas traditional suspense is third. It’s important for the reader to solve the mystery along with your sleuth. Cozies are a puzzle more than a suspense.

    Tone is light. Murder is heavy, but because the violence is off-stage, you have room for humor both in your character’s voice, side characters, and situations. Light humor balances the darker subject of the crime.

    An amateur sleuth with some kind of profession or hobby that lends them to crime solving.

    Setting traditionally is small, however it doesn’t have to be a small town. I like to think “tight” rather than “small.” Murder on the Orient Express was on a train. In order to expand from killing off everyone in Halo, Georgia, where my character lives, I’ve had her solve mysteries at a private school, a festival, and now at a hunting lodge.

    Side characters tend to be quirky.

    Crime solving is generally done by gathering clues, listening to gossip, and deductive reasoning. Forensics aren't a part of your sleuth’s job, although your protagonist might have a friend on the force who provides that information.

    Red herrings are a must. However, they can’t be so outlandish that the reader has no way to solve the crime.

    Publishers prefer series, which means your protagonist doesn't have a big character arc like you see in a stand-alone romance or suspense. You can have series arcs, though.

    Romance is a subplot. You don’t have to have any romance, although many do. And because cozies are generally a series, you can have a longer series arc with the romance, building it book by book (which readers love, including me!).

These are only the basics to get your cozy writing on track. I recommend joining groups like Sisters in Crime (SinC) and Mystery Writers of America (MWA), that also have local chapters. I’m in Kiss of Death, the online mystery and suspense group for Romance Writers of America. Other popular conferences and conventions, besides Malice Domestic (, are Sleuthfest, sponsored by MWA’s Florida chapter (; Bourchercon (; Killer Nashville (; and Left Coast Crime ( There’s a host of other ones, look in your area.

The best thing you can do to write a cozy is read the genre. Any of you writing a mystery? I gave you the basics, but would be happy to answer any questions. What mysteries do you enjoy reading? For some lucky person who comments, I’ll send an e-book of any in my Cherry Tucker Mystery series. The fourth in the series, Death in Perspective, releases June 24th! 

After teaching in the US and Japan, Larissa loves writing sassy female characters with a penchant for trouble. The first in the Cherry Tucker Mystery series (Henery Press), PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist. STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW, HIJACK IN ABSTRACT, and DEATH IN PERSPECTIVE (June 2014) follow, with the prequel novella, QUICK SKETCH, in the 2013 anthology, HEARTACHE MOTEL.  Larissa lives near Atlanta with her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Find her on her website ( or on Facebook (, Twitter (@RisWrites), Goodreads, and Pinterest (LarissaReinhart).

Debby again...

Head to the breakfast bar for Southern delights, including made-to-order eggs, Virginia baked ham, biscuits and gravy, fresh Georgia peaches and grits. The coffee's hot. Grab a cup and take time to chat with Larissa. 

Leave a comment to be included in a drawing for one of her books, digital format. I'm adding a second drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card. Now join me in making Larissa feel right at home!


  1. Larissa, you did a great job of explaining cozy mysteries. I love my thrillers, and somehow the mysteries were missing something. Now I will include this genre in my reading. Thank you ... And I'll see if I can find your novels!

  2. Coffee's here!!

    I have a mystery series that I would like to have classified. They feature an amateur sleuth (married teacher with 2 kids)in a small town, but they're more traditional than quirky/humorous.

    Traditional or cozy?

  3. Welcome Lariassa, I was in the Barbour cozy Mystery club until it folded and love those mysteries and the series. They were all different but the ones I read (and still have many to read) did have a single setting like you mentioned but plenty of scope. A few were not as quirky but all were amateur's.

    I loved Agatha Christie. Still remember Cat amongst the Pigeons. Loved Murder she Wrote too.

    Oh on red herrings its ok to have them but the reader hates ones that are left hanging. I have read a couple when one is in and its made to look like something important but its not mentioned again in the book or explained away.

  4. Hi Laarissa, thank you for the detailed explanation of cozy mysteries. I loved Murder She Wrote and I love a good mystery.

    I see in your bio that you taught in Japan. Where did you teach? In my youth (many years ago) I lived in Japan on Tachikawa Air Force Base on the island of Honshu. It wasn't too far from Tokyo. It is no longer an air base as the US gave it back to Japan many years ago and they have basically torn it down. Sad.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  5. Hi Marianne,
    I love thrillers and suspense too, but it's nice to pick up a fun mystery at times and solve that whodunit along with the sleuth. Larissa always has me laughing and shaking my head at the antics of her characters. She does a great job capturing the charm and craziness of small town Georgia, which Southern readers love. Northerns should enjoy the Southern craziness too--even Ruthy! LOL!

  6. Hi Larissa, welcome to Seekerville!

    First off, I love your cover. So clever and cute. Thanks for sharing with us what's needed in a cozy mystery. I grew up reading Nancy Drew. She solved so many mysteries, I don't guess she was an amateur.

    Have a great day!

  7. The coffee's great, Helen!

    I don't think cozy mysteries have to include humor, although some do. Seems the lines are blurred these days.

    Larissa will give you a better answer. I'm sure she's getting her little ones ready for school right now and will stop in soon...needing coffee!

  8. Breakfast????

    Oh thank you, and I'd like some red-eye gravy with my biscuits, please....

    Lovelace biscuits, at the Lovelace Cafe.....

    Oh, South, you had me at BISCUITS!!!!

    Larissa, how much fun to have you on this side of the page!!!

    ♥♥♥♥♥ !!!!!!!

  9. Jenny, I didn't realize Barbour had a mystery club. Great point about the reader being left hanging with red herrings that were not carried through to the end. Something all writers need to remember: tie up loose threads!

  10. Deb, I think you're right. I think the humorous ones are the kind of think that we love in "CASTLE", how the humor off-plays the tragedy.

    Which when you think about it, makes us WRETCHED PEOPLE!!!!

    But still, it's fun!

    And it's not real, so we're okay. (Keeps telling herself that)

    I loved Agatha Christie. I loved Nancy Drew. I can't write a mystery, I don't have that talent, but I appreciate well-written ones! They're amazing!

  11. Ohayo gozaimasu, Cindy! I lived in Japan as a child and remember Tachikawa. My dad was Army and worked at Camp Zama, also not far from Tokyo. We lived at Sagamihara. Do either of those areas ring a bell?

    PBS had a program on last night about Japan, which was fun to watch. When we first arrived, we lived in a Japanese beachfront home...Mt Fuji was across the bay. So beautiful!

  12. Hi Jackie!
    I'm giving you a high five! Loved, loved, loved Nancy Drew!!! Still do. I read the entire series, then re-read some of the stories and still have many of the books.

  13. Ruthy, did you get some grits with your biscuits?

  14. I'll take that breakfast, Debby! Sounds delish! Hey everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

    Thanks Marianne! I like thrillers, too.
    As for your cozy/traditional question, it's hard to say because the too are so blended now. Publishers like to call those cozies at the moment and cozies are traditional mysteries. Humorous mysteries are lumped in with cozy at the moment, although many of the humorous mystery authors wouldn't call their books a cozy.

  15. Morning, Larissa!

    I'm filling a plate for you. I'm sure you like grits, right?

    May I pour you a cup of coffee? Helen's made a great pot of hearty brew. I'm ready for a second cup.

  16. Whoops, I answered Helen's question for Marianne! Helen, look above! ;)

    Hey Jenny! You are so right about red herrings. Agatha Christie always explained them. Writing mysteries is much like spinning plates, you have to make sure all tracks are covered!

    I reread Agatha Christie's more than any other novel, particularly when I'm stressed or sick. I find them so soothing for some reason. I think it's the puzzle solving.
    Thanks for stopping in!

  17. Hey Cindy!

    I've met so many military families that loved living in Japan (Debby included!). Now I think Yakota is the main base near Tokyo. I knew a few families that have lived there. I hope you have good memories!

    My husband speaks Japanese fluently and we've lived there on and off for his studies and business. In the mid-90s, we lived in Yokohama one year, then near Kyoto in Kameoka another year. Four years ago we lived in Nagoya with our daughters. They really loved it and we're going to take a family trip back when school gets out to visit friends (took 4 years to save the frequent flier miles!).

    Thanks for stopping in!

  18. I hope to see more cozies in the CBA market but I know they just do better in the broader market. And that's great when they are squeaky clean. Two of my Inkwell Inspirations buddies have been successful with the genre' - Julianna Deering and Beverly Allen
    (aka DeAnna Julie Dodson and Barbara Early).

    I'd LOVE to write a cozy. I even have one plotted out-- and it's set in the early 19th century...lest I write anything resembling a contemporary. Ha!

    Thanks for a clear primer on the genre' and congratulations on your success!

  19. I love cozy mysteries! They are what I read when I'm writing my inspirational romance novels.

  20. Hey Jackie!

    Thanks so much for your compliments on the cover. My editor actually designed the first one, and now an artist follows that idea. I like them, too.

    I also grew up reading Nancy Drew and have passed them on to my daughters. They're such great books. The Hardy Boys, too. And the Bobsey Twins. I have the complete Bobsey Twin collection, but they don't seem to be catching on with my children for some reason. Oh well!

    Thanks for stopping!

  21. Hey Ruth!!

    Have you ever tried chocolate gravy with your biscuits? Yum! And now I have an idea for Easter breakfast....
    I'm so thrilled to be here today. Thanks so much Seekerville for having me on!

  22. Debby,
    We just caught that PBS show about Japan and recorded it to watch with the girls.

    And I will take grits with my biscuits, as long as they have a lot of cream and butter in them! I'm gaining weight just thinking about it! LOL

  23. Hi Larissa and welcome to Seekerville. I love tv mystery series but never got into reading them. Probably because I;m one of those readers who gets a couple chapters in and then reads the end. Ruins the whole thing. lol

    Anyway hope you enjoy your day here. It is always fun to get to know our friends better.

  24. Good luck with your cozy, Debra. Mysteries are really hot right now in publishing and with the growing inspirational market, I think that's a great place to carve a niche. There are some historical cozies (there's a Jane Austen one, although I can't think of the author at the top of my head), but not many so you may have found a great spot for yourself!

  25. Hey Rose!

    I find that so interesting that you like to read cozies when you're writing inspirational romance. I have a hard time reading while writing because the reading tends to influence my writing. Maybe I need to stick to inspirational romance while writing mysteries!

  26. Sandra you made me literally laugh out loud!

    Yes, reading the ending of the mystery tends to give it away! LOL!

    What's funny is, that I don't watch a lot of TV mysteries, maybe because I like to read them so much. I have watched the new Sherlock, which is good, though. I watched an episode of the new Miss Marple, but I knew the story so well I got mad when they changed it, so I gave that one up.

    A lot of folks like Castle, but I feel like I'd need to start at the beginning. Any other TV mystery recommendations?

  27. Thanks Larissa for the cozy explanation. I've been seeing this term over the past few years and wasn't really sure what differentiated it from other mysteries. I look forward to reading one of your books, I love a good who-done-it!

  28. Thanks Larissa for explaining the cozy! I hadn't heard that term before but it makes perfect sense now!

    Please add me to the drawing pool!

  29. Hi, Larissa! Thanks for an interesting post. I'm a great fan of 'Miss Marple' and 'Murder She Wrote'. Both series are still two of my favorites to watch. Your post encourages me to start another cozy. :-)

    I'll add your post to my 'keeper file'.

    I wrote a VERY short cozy mystery 'story', not a book, and published it on Amazon—Problem is it should be free as it is on Smashwords, but Amazon makes you charge at least .99 for anything—wish they didn't do that! :-\

  30. Nice rundown of cozy mysteries, Larissa. :) I once heard that cozies are called cozies because of the tea-cozy - that people in cozies drink a lot of tea - although it could equally well be because people curl up and get cozy while they read them. They don't bring the adrenaline rush that thrillers or suspense do.

    Cozies tend to be "small" books. The murders are personal, for the most part. You don't find a lot of big-picture issues. I did once get away with human trafficking - although I had to tone the sexual implications way down - but that was an anomaly. Usually it's someone killing someone else for love or money or maybe because the victim knows that the killer has been embezzling the church funds. It's rarely anything on a larger scale than that.

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Hi Tracey & S. Trietsch!

    Thanks so much and I'm glad I could help you understand the identifying of a cozy mystery. Although, now it's a pretty broad term! I hope you enjoy reading them. I love a good whodunit, too!

  33. HI Mary!

    Good luck with your cozy short. I think the 99 cent books are still popular. If you can do a series, you might generate more interest. Cozy readers love series!

  34. Hey Jenna,

    Good point about the type of crime. Y'all Jenna writes fun mystery series, the Do It Yourself series as Jennie Bentley, and the Cutthroat Business series as Jenna Bennett.

    My third book, Hijack in Abstract, definitely has a non-cozy crime (hijacking), but still considered a cozy. (Probably because it's still quirky and not done seriously). Go figure.:)

    But generally, the crime is personal. Motive is really important. There are not a lot of serial killers running around cozy mysteries. Thank goodness.

  35. Mary, if your short story is free on Smashwords, and you go from there to BN and/or Kobo and/or Apple, Amazon should price match it eventually, and it'll be free on Amazon too. I have a tiny short story like that, that's actually based on the Clue characters. (I wrote it as a challenge on a guest blog once, and thought I might as well toss it out there.) It's less than 2,000 words, so I can't justify charging anything for it, but I put it on Smashwords for free, and they distributed it everywhere else, and now it's free on Amazon too. :)

  36. Great advice, Jenna! I don't know much about indie publishing, so I'm glad you could help Mary out.

    Time for another coffee and another load of laundry for me!

  37. Hi Larissa,

    Interesting post. I grew up in a small, one red-light, Georgia town that was just like Mayberry (Andy Griffith) complete with old ladies garden clubs, old men sitting on the bench outside the barber shop and filled with a bunch of crazy people. Oops, that includes me, doesn't it. You'd think with that background I could write a cozy, but I haven't found one yet.

  38. Welcome, Larissa! Thank you for this clear explanation of what constitutes a "cozy." I liked your comparison of "tight" versus "small." Makes sense.

    I haven't read a lot of cozies, but I do love the Miss Marple mysteries on PBS, and I was a big fan of Murder, She Wrote. It's always fun to try to separate the red herrings from the real clues and see how early I can peg the identity of the culprit

  39. Good morning, Larissa, and WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!

    WOW ... I totally agree with Marianne ... you did a GREAT job of explaining cozy mysteries!! WHICH is awesome because to be honest, I LOVED the name "cozy mystery," but that's what it was to me -- a mystery as to what they are, what they are not, and why people love them so much.

    Obviously, I am not a mystery gal, per se, but I did grow up on Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney (and Nancy Drew), so there's a mystery lover in me somewhere, and I think cozy might be a good fit.

    The thing I admire most about you and other mystery writers, cozy or not, is the extra level of keen intelligence/imagination it takes to fool the reader, who in mystery reading automatically strives to be one or two steps ahead of the author.

    Secondly, I LOVE the idea of humor, which reels me in BIG TIME, and especially the titles for cozies because they are SO fun and light!! Love, love, LOVE "DEATH IN PERSPECTIVE" ... HA! :)

    Thanks for being our guest and mega hugs to both you and Debby for a great blog today.


  40. Well, what fun is this??? LOTS!!

    Welcome to you Larissa!

    I'm a big fan of all kinds of mysteries.

    Where does Mary Higgins Clark fall in this?

    And I've been to Bouchercon when it was in Denver. Great fun. I got to hear Elmore Leonard speak IN PERSON!

    Do you feel like this is the genre you are called to write or is there more up your sleeve??

  41. So, I just figured out that Sparkle Abbey, the doggie sleuths are cozies too!


    Knowledge is power!

  42. Hey Elaine,
    That sounds like Halo, Georgia, my fictional setting for the Cherry Tucker books. It also sounds like Andover, IL, my real hometown of 600 people!

    I love that Designing Woman quote, that in the South "we're proud of our crazy people. We bring right down to the living room and show 'em off."

    I think the great thing about small towns (particularly in the South maybe) is that the peculiar characters really stand out and become interesting, not just annoying or embarrassing as they might in the city. That's speaking as a small town girl of course, who's lived in cities. :)

  43. Hi Myra,
    I think that's what I love about cozies, too. The puzzle solving. Agatha Christie really is the Queen. I reread them and still get thrown off by her red herrings!

    Thanks for stopping by to say hello!

  44. Thanks so much Julie! And I'm so pleased to be here. I've been a Seekerville for about 4 years (ever since Debby told me about it). I read your posts by email each morning (even tho they are a day old) and usually learn something useful!

    Cozies do have great titles. Puns are a favorite in the cozy world.

    And as far as being one step ahead of the reader, that takes a lot of editing. LOL!

  45. Hey Tina!
    Yes, Sparkle Abbey are cozy writers. Do you know they are actually two ladies who write together? I see them at conferences and one always wears a shirt that says "Sparkle" and the other says "Abbey". So cute!

    I'd love to go to Bouchercon. It's in North Carolina next year, so hoping I can make it. That must have been pretty amazing to hear Elmore Leonard. I love his writing tips.

    Mary Higgins Clark. It's been a while since I read her (maybe high school!). I think she's more thriller or suspense for the most part.

  46. I love cozy mysteries. I love browsing the cozy mystery section at B&N. The titles are so clever, the devices and niches so unique and witty. Though I write romance, I read mysteries.

    I love the picture that has the Dick Francis mysteries. I have all his books.

  47. Hi Larissa
    Thanks for the clarification post on Cozies. I grew up on Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. I liked the Hardy Boys better because it seemed like they got to do more interesting things than Nancy did. I liked the Encyclopedia Brown short stories in school. Wish I had a complete set of those in my library for my son. Poor kid. I've a whole ton of books I'm eager to get him reading...except he's four. Maybe I should write a toddler mystery for him. A ten page, two sentence per page story? Hmmmm...

    Anyhoo, I really enjoyed today's post. It's inspiring. I would love to be in the draw for one of your books. As a graphic artist, the amateur sleuth being an artist piques my interest.

    Thanks for sharing!!! Seekerville is awesome.

  48. Welcome Larissa!
    Great post today (even for those of us who don't write mysteries!).
    Thanks for sharing, and congrats on your writing success.

    Debby, the breakfast is yummy!

    Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

  49. Sorry I had to be away for a bit this morning. Larissa, of course, is doing a great job and didn't need me to hold her hand.

    Love all the interest in mysteries. Deb Marvin, go for it! Write a cozy! Let's grow this inspie cozy market one book at a time.

  50. Jenna, so good to see you this morning, and thanks for the indie info about your short story. Have any of the readers been upset because it's too short? I've heard that's sometimes a problem.

    I'm still trying to decipher the indie pubbing maze. Ruthy is doing a great job. Virginia too. Julie and Mary and Tina have indie books. Again, I am the slow tortoise! :)

  51. Larissa, do you find a lot of indie mysteries? Are the mystery readers buying them like hot cakes...or do they prefer their print copies?

    Also, keep me posted on Bouchercon. I'd love to go one of these years. Elmore Leonard. Be still my heart.

    How fun about the Sparkle Abbey T-shirts. They've guest blogged on Seekerville. Nice ladies!

  52. Patti Jo, isn't it a beautiful day in Georgia! Love all the trees in bloom. And the rain washed away some of the yucky yellow pine pollen that is so...well, yucky this time of year.

  53. I have heard so much about cozy mysteries, but I never quite understood exactly what one was. Thank you for clearing it up! My daughter loves mysteries -- hello, Nancy Drew! I'm amazed at writers who can pull all those details together. I imagine it takes a lot of concentration and lack of distraction. :-)

  54. Erica,
    I LOVE DICK FRANCIS! His son spoke at Malice Domestic last year. What a great storyteller. I haven't read all his books but I have a ton (you can see some of the collection next to my Agatha Christie's).

    So happy to find another Dick Francis fan!

  55. Yes. Sparkle Abbey have been guests in Seekerville and are returning in August.

    Delightful ladies, not unlike yourself!!!

  56. Hey Deb H!

    I loved the Hardy Boys, too. Primarily because I thought having a club house in a junk yard would be so cool. I also wanted to live in a Boxcar after reading the Boxcar Children.

    My girls liked Nate the Great and Olivia Sharp about six or seven, although they don't seem to be much into mysteries yet. (They're 8 and 11 now).

    However, I brought home one of Penny Warner's Code Busters Club from Malice Domestic last year (she won best children's mystery) and my 11 year old loved it. That's something you can keep in your back pocket for when he's older!

  57. Hey CatMom/ Patti Jo!

    I'm in Georgia, too! Thanks for stopping in today!

  58. The way this started out, I was beginning to think that my Japan-based stories could be classified as a cozy. However, the clashing of swords in my books seems to rule that out.

  59. Debby,
    I don't know numbers for indie mysteries, but I think they do well. I have some indie friends (Denise Grover Swank, Ann Charles, & Jenna) who do very well with their humorous mysteries.
    Publisher's Weekly did a piece on Ann Charles recently on how she's successfully self-pub'd her humorous romantic mysteries because she couldn't
    find a publisher for that market. Look at her now!

    It's something I definitely would consider, but for me, it would be when my children are a bit older and I have some time to study the how-to's. I say that like they'll be less busy as teenagers. LOL

  60. thanks Larissa for the kid's book mentions. i think my little guy would like Nate the Great since his name is Nathaniel and he might decide to go with Nate since it doesn't take as long to spell *heh* (although, he already goes by Guppy - a moniker he got because daddy is a scuba diver. Daddy's the big fish, he's the little fish... hence, Guppy).

    I'm just glad he's been insisting I read books to him. Of course, we read them about five times in a row so he can memorize them and then "read" them to mommy. ;)

  61. Hey Walt,

    I wouldn't rule it out entirely. Like I said, the definition of cozy is growing more broad in scope. I have a lot of action scenes in my books (although some are more zany-action). I think it's more to do with the voice. Are they first person or deep third with a single point-of-view? Do you think they are more mystery puzzler or thriller suspense?

    BTW, in my spare time, I've been working on a Japanese paranormal detective mystery. Modern day, though, so not much sword action. LOL

  62. Deb H,
    Nate the Great sounds perfect, then! I remember those days of rereading the same books. I would try to sneak in new ones and they would reject them. LOL! That's wonderful that he likes to read. What a blessing.

  63. Larissa,

    My stuff is third-person.

    Would love to see your Japanese paranormal. :-)

  64. Walt, did you catch the show on Japan last night? Loved seeing Mt. Fuji again...and Nikko, including the three monkeys--see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Brought back such memories from long ago.

  65. Walt, your Japanese stories need to be published! Sooner rather than later.

    Larissa, is your paranormal detective story humorous?

    Love all the great info today. Thanks especially for your take on the indi mystery market, Larissa.

    BTW, I like Nate the Great too! :)

    DebH, good to know where the nickname Guppy came from. Big fish, Little fish. So cute!

  66. Terrific post! I'm sorry to say I haven't read any of your books yet, but after reading this I can guarantee I will.
    Marja McGraw

  67. Welcome, Larissa!

    I'm a cozy mystery lover! I've been a fan of Agatha Christie's for years, and love to read in the genre when I have time.

  68. Hey Walt,
    Do you like Laura Joh Rowland? I think hers are considered detective or historical mystery genres. Is yours similar? Sounds like something right up my alley!

    The paranormal detective is humorous (I can't take mysteries seriously I guess), and Walt, it's something I work on between projects, so it's not making a lot of headway, but it's a lot of fun. I set it in Nagoya where we last lived.

    Love Nikko and the snow monkeys. Can't wait to watch that with the girls. Nikko was so beautiful. I visited way back in 1996. Hope to get back there some day!

  69. Marja,
    Thank you so much! I'm so glad you stopped in. I know you know mysteries, so I'm very honored to have you say that!

    Check out Marja McGraw's books, y'all!

  70. Thanks for stopping in, Jan.

    I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan, too. I have so many books in my TBR pile, ones written by good friends, and I found myself reading Agatha Christie over spring break last week because I wasn't feeling well. She's my chicken soup.

  71. Hello Larissa!

    Cozy Mysteries, the name says it all. I guess I've watched more shows I'd classify cozy mysteries than books. I need to give them a try.

    I'm trying my hand at LIS right now which is new for me. I'm not certain my heroine doesn't fit more into the cozy category.

    Thanks for sharing.

  72. Larissa said: Cozies are a puzzle more than a suspense.

    That is probably the most concise explanation I've ever seen of what a cozy is! Thanks Larissa. Definitely enjoyed this breakdown of what a cozy is...and is not. :)

  73. Pam,
    Thanks so much for that nice compliment! Glad I could help.

    What's LIS? I'm stumped.

  74. Larissa I go on cozy mystery binges. I'll start on yours :)
    I wrote three cozy mysteries for Barbour and I think I had a bit to much romance in mine but I couldn't control myself.

    They're all available as ebooks, because Barbour returned out rights, under my Mary Nealy pseudonym.

  75. Love the definitions. I think you nailed it.
    I read all the Cat Who books at one time. So funny, that quirky cat always eating lobster....

    I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan though I haven't read her for years. I always liked Hercule Poirot more than Miss Marple for some reason but they're all cozy mysteries...sort of....maybe. :)

  76. My third ??? I think ... cozy for Barbour ... when I turned it in the editor said, "This isn't a cozy it's a suspense."

    I said, "The stuffed mouse saves the day, how can this not be a cozy mystery?"

    The editor said something about the villain and a continuing threat and...oh I don't know...and I think maybe it was the 2nd book.

    It's all lost in the mists of time now!

    Along with my car keys.

  77. BTW, Debbie your breakfast buffett is so stunningly delicious sounding, thank you for making me realize I AM STARVING!!!

    And no food to be had for at least another 45 minutes... :(

  78. Mary,
    I can't stop laughing!
    Stuffed mouse saved the day? That's a must read for sure!

  79. Hi Larissa! I was so excited when I saw that a cozy author was going to be blogging on Seekerville, because I LOVE cozy mysteries, and I am writing my first one right now! It takes place in a fictional symphony orchestra. The MC is an orchestra administrator who solves the mystery of who murdered the very popular symphony conductor. (I am the PR manager of an orchestra currently.) I have tried to populate her world with quirky characters (not hard, as the real performing arts world is quirky anyway!), and there is a romantic interest subplot. I have the mystery plotted out, and I'm doing my best not to make the murderer too obvious.

    Thanks for clarifying that cozies are more "puzzles" than murder. I have tried to explain to folks what it means, and it's difficult, because they always think of thrillers. I've tried to say they are like Agatha Christie: CLEAN! (BTW, your bookshelf looks like mine!)

    Thanks for the tips and advice on the genre. Since I'm just breaking into it (as a writer, as I've been reading them for years), I will keep them handy.

    Have a wonderful day!

  80. JENNA! I just want to give you a quick shout-out: I LOVE the Do it Yourself mysteries! I think I've read four or five of them now, as I only discovered them last year. Great characters and plots, and I love that you always integrate an "older" mystery into the stories. Hi from a fan!

  81. LIS=Love Inspired Suspense.

    Several of us are participating in their Killer Voices contest put on by Love Inspired. I'm used to writing historical western so I'm having fun trying a new genre.

  82. Dear Larissa,

    I love cozy mysteries. It's one of my favorite genres. I grew up reading Trixie Belden and when I was in ninth grade, I read Endless Night by Agatha Christie and I was hooked.

    I have been reading cozies for years. I love Carolyn Hart's series. I met her at a book signing and she was absolutely delightful and encouraging. I love about twenty different cozy series (from Rita Mae Brown to J. B. Stanley to Diane Mott Davidson). I'll have to check your series out since I'm a huge fan of the genre (I could write about this subject for hours!). Congratulations on your series.

  83. Stephanie,
    Good luck with your cozy! Sounds like a great story and its wonderful you can pull from your "wheelhouse" at the symphony. Sounds like a great setting and as symphonies travel, you might be able to have your series in lots of interesting cities!

    Thanks for stopping in! Let me know how it goes!

  84. Connie,
    I was sure when you answered the question, I would have a "duh" moment, and I did. LOL! There are so many acronyms in publishing.

    Good luck with your contest story. Western historicals are so popular. I love historicals and love to read about homesteading, etc.

  85. Tanya,
    Thank you. That's so sweet. There are so many good cozy authors out there.

    Funnily enough, I only learned about Trixie Beldon recently. I'm not sure why I didn't know about her as a kid (I'm plenty old enough), but my cozy writing friend, Diane Vallere, introduced me to her, then sent my girls some from her collection. I still need to read them!

  86. Hi Larissa:

    I’ve always believed ‘cozy’ referred to how the mysteries made you feel as you read them. You should feel warm and cozy when reading these books. It should be somewhat as if you were ensconced in a picturesque mountain cabin sitting next to a crackling fireplace reading a heartwarming book without a care in the world. The feeling is somewhere between experiencing the HEA of a just finished romance and taking a heavenly bubble bath at a luxurious spa.

    About the question: “Is it a Cozy or Traditional?” Ask yourself, “How does it make you feel?” If there is a bad guy who is a continuous threat and keeps stepping on your cozy feelings, then it’s a traditional.

    I read the first twenty “The Cat Who…” mysteries and I don’t think they really got cozy until the hero came into all his money and Alaska became the story setting. I also love all the Diane Mott Davidson, Goldy Shultz, mysteries that deal with the catering business.

    BTW: I just downloaded “Heartache Hotel”. I love the concept of the Christmas Elvis tie-in with three contributing cozy authors. The setting of a rundown hotel just begs for quirky characters. With this book I’ll get to experience three new writers. I’ve been under so much stress the last few months that I am suffering from a cozy deficiency. I will make the time to read these novellas. Cozy is the best reward!

    One last thing on mysteries and suspense novels that might interest Seekerville. I just finished a college course on “The History of American Best Sellers” from the first published before the revolution to the big sellers today. The professor said that the main feature shared by the mega sellers over the last 25 years was that they featured high informational content. Readers love to get smarter and learn new things as they are being entertained by compelling stories.

    One of the most high content best selling authors is Tom Clancy. Also high on the list is John Grisham. Patricia Cornwell’s books are also very rich in medical information. Tony Hillerman was really about Native American culture. (The Navajos didn’t even have a police force when Hillerman began his series! The tribe did not object, as Hillerman thought, because the books make the Diné look good.) I always leave these writers feeling smarter and that makes me feel like buying more of their books.

    My favorite mysteries take place in ancient Rome. I have three favorite authors who make the times come alive. It’s the history as much as the mystery that rewards my reading. For this same reason I really like Debby’s military stories. They really tell a lot about Army life. I was in the military police myself and I still learn things I didn’t know from reading her books. I hope the series goes on and on. The Fort Rickman mysteries are not cozy but then sometimes you feel like taking a ride on a rollercoaster.

    I really enjoyed your post and look forward to reading your novella. Please put me down for a chance to win a full novel.



  87. Congrats, Larissa, on your writings! I am anxious to read them 'cause I have lived in GA all my life. (yeah, Debby, glad the rain washed away some of the yucky pollen)
    Please count me in the drawings!

  88. Thanks Vince! I hope you enjoy Heartache Motel. My story is more caper than mystery, but you'll get the flavor for my voice. The other two mysteries are written by authors from my press, LynDee Walker and Terri L. Austin.

    I like learning something new while reading, too, even if it's something I didn't ever think I'd want to know! I remember reading Summer Blowout by Claire Cook (not a mystery) and finding all the professional makeup and hair stuff fascinating, whereas I'm not much one for beauty reading. I think my favorite stories are where I learn about a new setting. Two of my favorite authors are Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters and Mary Stewart. Both are masters at that, in my opinion.

  89. Hey Jackie!
    Glad to meet another Georgian! What part of Georgia are you from? I've lived here since 1996 (except for two bouts in Japan) and love it.

  90. This comment has been removed by the author.

  91. Excellent post. And you're dead right that the best cozy mysteries are puzzles!

  92. Vince, good to see you today! I know you'll enjoy Larissa's novella!

    The class you took sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing the tip about successful US books providing new information for the reader. Something to remember as we plot our novels.

    Thanks too for your kind words about my military stories! :)

  93. John, thanks for stopping by Seekerville. Come back often. We always have great discussions about books--all genres!

    This is so fun today learning more about the cozy mysteries. As many have mentioned, Larissa's comment about more puzzle than a suspense is a keeper, for sure!

    I'm visiting a local book club tonight that's reading one of my books. Usually I give a little talk about the industry and various genres! I'll include your puzzle comment, Larissa, and give you credit, of course!

  94. Thanks Larissa! I loved the pictures of your bookcase. You can trust an author who's books have been read so much that their spines are permanently indented & worn!

    And thanks for the biscuits, Debby!

  95. Thank you, John! And thanks for stopping in!

    Debby, that's very sweet of you. Have fun at your book club! I'm sure they loved your book!

  96. Debby, you keep those grits right where they are, Pumpkin....

    I'm lovin' on biscuits!!!!!

  97. By the way Murder She Wrote fans:
    I just saw a picture on Facebook of the Queen of England making Angela Lansbury a Dame Commander (whatever that is but looks great!).

  98. Thanks Jana! I'm a rereader. Just like Deb H's son!

  99. Thanks for visiting today, Larissa! I love cozies and plan to write one at some point. Thanks for the info, especially about the conferences.

  100. Hello Larissa!

    Thanks for getting me all excited about finishing my novel again. Once I get my cookbook finished (only a few recipes left to add), I want to work on my novel again.

    I have to say I grew-up with Agatha Christie, but that Larissa Reinhart's books are pretty good too!

    Good luck and thanks again!


  102. Hi Larissa,

    Welcome to Seekerville.
    I'm deducing that I missed the breakfast bar and those made to order eggs, but perhaps there's some late afternoon tea. I say that because the cozy series I've read most recently is the Tea Shop series by Laura Childs. I always crave tea and scones after reading one of those books.

    I'm looking forward to trying on e of yours, Larissa. Thanks so much for sharing about your genre today.

    Hi Debby, thanks for bringing Larissa to our attention!

  103. Hi Debby,

    Since it is now after 6pm, konbanwa to you. Before we moved on base, we lived in Kogonei. Yes, Camp Zama sounds familiar. I lived there when I was 6 until I turned 10 and I was a cheerleader for the base football team. I believe we traveled to Camp Zama for a game.

    Every weekend my dad insisted we go see the sights so he took us all over the island of Honshu. Mt. Fuji was so beautiful!. Such memories. I've always wanted to go back but my heart would break when I see how they let half the base go to ruin.

    Have a blessed evening!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  104. Oh Larissa, such memories of Japan. I was young but I loved it so much. The beauty of the country and the people. I wasn't fond of 'honey buckets' but then I'm sure no one was. We made many trips to Yakota, Fuchu, Yokohama and Yokosuka as well as Tokyo.

    Smiles & blessings,
    Cindy W.

  105. Hi, Larissa! I haven't seen you in a while. Congratulations on your 4th book coming out. That's a BIG deal!!!

    I bought your 1st book earlier this school year so it's at the top of my "to be read this summer" pile. Now, I'm even more excited to get to it.

  106. Cara,
    You are so welcome. I find conferences and writing groups so helpful at any stage in the writing journey. Good luck with your mystery!

  107. Carroll,
    Get excited and get that mystery finished! I can't wait to read it! I'm also excited about your cookbook, which I know will be spectacular! Thanks so much for stopping by! Looking forward to seeing you again!

  108. Thank you, Mary! I'm so glad to be here!

    I always crave whatever the characters I'm reading are enjoying. Diane Mott Davidson's books are downright dangerous and I've made a few of her recipes!

  109. Cindy,
    Thanks for writing back. My children really loved it, too. I had to laugh at your "honey buckets" comment, because I'm only guessing what they were because I grew up in a farming area where there were "honey trucks". You had to plug your nose for those!

    So nice to meet you and everyone here on Seekerville. Such a wonderful place to spend the day!

  110. Thanks so much Dianna! I need to get up to GRW sometime, but the weekends have been so busy between the kids, my husband, and I. I am going to M&M, though, and actually doing a workshop with Debby and Leslie Tentler! Looking forward to seeing everyone again.

    I'm always happy to hear about your writing on Facebook! Lots of exciting things happening in your world!

  111. Back from the book club. The Sassy Sisters. Such a lovely group of ladies...and they were so nice to me! :)

    Konbanwa, Cindy-san. Ikaga desu ka?

  112. Carroll, such great news about your cook book!!! Can't wait for you to get it ready for publication.

    Larissa has all of us thinking about writing a cozy mystery!

  113. Larissa, I know some folks will be stopping by later this evening, but I wanted to extend a big THANK YOU from Seekerville for being with us today before it gets too late. I'm sure you can tell from the comments that everyone enjoyed learning about cozy mysteries. You provided such great information, and I'm sure many of us will be reading your Cherry Tucker series in the days ahead.

    It's been so much fun!!! Thanks for sharing your time and expertise with us!

    Hugs and love!

  114. Thanks so much, Debby! It's just about my bedtime but I thought I'd check back in. It's been such a fun day taking with y'all.

    Seekerville-ers, you are all so gracious. Thank you so much for a wonderful day!! Can't wait to find out who the winners are!

  115. Larissa, welcome!! I'm sorry to drop by so late. What a great post! You answered questions I've had for a long time. Thanks so much for the info.

  116. Larissa, (you asked) I lived about 30 miles east of Atlanta most of my life (many, but we moved to the "country" 5 yrs. ago and are now about 100 mi. east of Atlanta (towards Augusta).
    I have a missionary (retired) friend who served in Japan...going to tell her about your books!

  117. What a great explanation of the subtle differences in the genres! I'll be sure to take note with the next mystery I read :)

  118. Larissa, Mary's books are great! I'm glad you're reading cozy mysteries, Mary. I hope you write more!

  119. I love mystery reads. Growing up I discovered all of the Agatha Christie books.

  120. I had no idea that cozy mysteries had been expanded to cover so much. I remember reading a few badly written cozies and thought EWW! Never again. Then I discovered some light-hearted mysteries, humorous mysteries and some of the other subgenres you mentioned that I throughly enjoyed. Now I am enlightened.
    Cindy Huff

  121. Missy-- big hug! I miss you! Hope to see you at M&M!

    Jackie-- thanks so much & I'm just south of Atlanta. Maybe we'll run into each other some day. Thank you missionary friend for me. Japan needs Christ's hope!

    Thanks everyone for a fabulous day yesterday!

  122. Adding these books to my want to read list. I wonder if there are also cozy spy books. Mrs. Pollifax series comes to mind.

  123. Thanks for the great posting with the helpful definition of what does, and does not, qualify as a cozy. I hope to one day write a mystery, once I am finished with the series I am writing.

  124. Thank you and welcome, Larissa, for explaining the finer points of a cozy mystery. Please enter me in the drawing for both prizes.

  125. Hi Larissa

    Thank you for your interesting blog which has given me a better understanding of what a Cozy mystery actually is.

    Please enter me in the drawing, I would love to win either one of the prizes today.

    Thank you

    Ruth Ann