Category Archives: A-Z Challenge 2016

C for Characters and Chaos #A-Z Challenge


putting order into the cozy mystery
courtesy of stuart miles at

Cozy Mysteries create order from chaos

Cozies traditionally start in an idyllic or, at least, a well-ordered community in which the characters know their place.  They know what to expect of life. They are used to malicious gossip but they are also used to solidarity and support of their neighbors.

The cozy begins by throwing the characters and their established world order into chaos. They can no longer trust each other and this leaves the way open to that other dramatic must-have: conflict.

Conflict is not  bickering and quarreling –it springs from seemingly irreconcilable goals pursued by the main characters. The police detective may need to make a quick arrest for policy purposes. Amateur sleuths, even if anti-heroes ,  take a moral stance that forces them to seek out the real culprit.

Family conflicts, professional conflicts, eco-conflicts are all grist to the cozy mill. Local newspapers can provide a rich source of ideas for characters and conflict.

Create your characters. Let them create havoc. Then restore order.


A for Audacity #A-Z Challenge

man on high wire
audacity on the high wire

The theme is Writing a Cozy Mystery. So why A for Audacity?

Why not A for Author?

Or A for Agatha Christie–the queen of cozies. Her first novel The Mysterious Affair at
Styles was reputedly rejected five times by publishers and her  ABC Murders based on a
train timetable have a tenuous connection to the alphabet challenge of the A-Z?

Or A for Margery Allingham whose aristocratic sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey attracted more intellectual readers?

You want to write a cozy mystery–so what’s audacity got to do with it?

A lot.

It takes audacity–a willingness to take bold risks–as well as courage to write anything
and set it out there for the world to read. A cozy mystery may seem like a simple option
but it most certainly is not.

It takes audacity–bold or arrogant disregard of normal restraints–to plan a successful
cozy where many of your characters must be audacious in every sense of the word.

Audacity is what it takes to start and finish writing an enthralling novel which relies on your “little grey cells” being as finely tuned as those of Hercule Poirot.

Action for Day 1

Read a cozy mystery. Lots of free to download examples on the web. I’m going for The Ex Who Wouldn’t Die by Sally Berneathy,. Mixed reviews but I liked the blurb and she’s a best selling author.

Action for today 2

Save time by recording your thoughts and ideas willy nilly as they come.

Audacity is easy-to-use free recording software you
can download and use exactly as is. Talk to it. . Use it to make notes on characters, plot, random thoughts and scenes as they come into your head.

photo by Chinpipat, Free Digital

A-Z Challenge

A-Z challenge theme
A-Z challenge theme


I wasn’t going to do this. I absolutely wasn’t going to do this again. I succeeded for the first time last year and intended to rest on my laurels.

I have too many commitments, no time, want a stress-free life–you know the litany, I’m sure.  Besides, I’ve disabled my comments to help avoid all the spam and hacking attacks…

But I have been teaching a lot and writing far too little lately. And last year was such fun, meeting new writers, making new friends.

So here we go again but this year I’m mainly focusing on writing rather than marketing.

twelve drummers drumming
Thanks to James Barker.



Drum roll and

Theme Reveal

Write That Cozy Mystery

This is the title of my new column for The Working Writer’s Club . But a once monthly to-do list is not going to get much writing done and I’m over a year late on my deadline.

So my Challenge posts will focus on a daily writing plan with tips and targets. Bookmark for later or write along with me.

Cozy mysteries are taking up a large share of the market right now, perhaps because the world seems such a chaotic place and we love to see order and justice triumph in our small town settings.

No planning done as yet. Will A be for Author, or Agatha or Amazing Openings? Who knows.

Please come back on April 1 and find out.

Better still, join me on the A-Z Challenge 2016.