Sisters in Crime, an organization of crime writers and readers, sponsored a conference last weekend to teach us the inner workings of the TV and movie industry.  My takeaway is that Hollywood is like a blender of money that someone took the lid off and turned on.

The conference started with a presentation by Pam Veasey, executive producer of CSI:NY and CSI: Cyber, on how to pitch your book series to Hollywood. At the end of the day we would be pitching our series to producers and agents for possible adaptation to TV or a feature film, and she wanted us to be ready. She told us that producers, agents, studios would rather have a published book, than an idea. And that we’re storytellers, so we should tell a story, rather than outline a plot.  Don’t pitch dialog.  Pitch action.

All the panelists made it clear that they do not want anything coming in over the transom.   Trust me, authors asked about that in each session.  Remember the phrase, “have your people call my people”?   Yep, that’s how it works.

I’ll jump ahead here and tell you my pitch went really well, if I do say so myself.  She said she loved the premise of my series.  (Three former Georgia beauty queens start a detective agency and, because they haven’t told their husbands, have to meet their clients at the local Cracker Barrel.)  She even took the books to read.  Then she emailed on Wednesday to say that my books were “a fun romp,” but not for her.  Though my series wasn’t chosen, just pitching was a wonderful experience.

For successful projects, having your series or book optioned is the next step.  The option buyer has a period of time to exercise the option and then begin production.  By far most optioned projects never see the light of day.  Some books are optioned 8 or 10 or 12 times, and never made.

Let’s say, your work will be going into production, the next step is hiring a screenwriter.  Most contracts include some amount of collaboration with the author.  EVERY speaker that covered this said that how the author communicated with the screenwriter and producer, and responded to their comments determined the extent of their involvement.

Some authors want to try writing screen plays themselves.  Author, and now screenwriter, Megan Abbott, said that she didn’t read books on script writing because they made her anxious.  Instead, she read all the high quality scripts she could get her hands on.  However, another speaker recommended Pam Douglas’  Writing the TV Drama Series.


Hollywood is such a different world and it was fascinating to have a peek inside – but I wouldn’t want to live there.  On the downside, I found how they ignored new media unsettling.  Something about it felt familiar. Oh, yeah.  Remember when Crown Books and Borders thought no one would ever be interested in that little Amazon thing?    And then all the agents and publishers poo-pooing indie writers?  Hmmm.

I loved hanging out with author friends I don’t see that often, and making new friends.  We’ve promised to keep in touch and we meant it – because this isn’t Hollywood.


Motives For Murder When Plotting A Mystery


by C. 51hWuZ3U3VL__AA160_F. Carter


When I started plotting my first mystery novel, Death Of A Dummy, the first thing I needed was a believable motive for murder.


As an all-around nice guy, I found it difficult to imagine any motive being powerful enough to justify homicide. To my thinking, it would have to be a life-and-death act of self-defence, or revenge for the death of a close family member. If money was the motive, there would need to be a big pile of it, indeed. Certainly nobody in their right mind would bump somebody off for a measly $10,000 life insurance policy, or because they were too lazy to file for divorce–right? Well, the sad truth is that people do commit murder for a surprisingly high number of stupid and trivial reasons.


I know what some of you are thinking: what does this blowhard know about murder? No, I don’t have a PhD in criminology and I have never worked in law enforcement. My expertise comes primarily from my own endless, secret wellspring of knowledge: reality television! I’ve watched hundreds of episodes of Forensic Files and Motives & Murders, and I took copious notes just for you. I’ve also read thousands of stories in Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen, and Mystery Weekly Magazine. And anyway, I make no claim that this list is accurate or complete. I just want to help aspiring mystery writers in any small way I can.


Since I’m most interested in cozy mysteries, I’ll be including specific examples for an imaginary cozy series set around a perfume shop. So here is some backstory. Let’s say that our protagonist, Maria, was a renowned scent designer from Milan, who gave up her lucrative career to marry a single dad she met while attending a perfumers conference in Canada. Her new husband (a taxi driver) was killed during a robbery, leaving Maria to raise his teenage daughter by herself in a small town. Using the generous severance package she received from her last job, she opens a boutique perfume shop and names it “Smell You Later.”


Unlike the subtle fragrances she brews up in her backroom beakers, Maria has a strong presence. She’s sharp-tongued and tough and knows how to deal with fools–like the young suitor who’s been sniffing around her daughter, or the local Barney who is more interested in Krispy Kremes than in finding a killer…



Alright, let’s get to the murder motives!





  1. Kills to cash in on a life insurance policy
  2. Kills to increase his shares or interest in a business or property
  3. Kills other beneficiaries of an inheritance, insurance payout, or lottery windfall
  4. Kills someone who is suing him
  5. Kills someone who is stealing from him or making a hostile takeover of his company
  6. Kills someone who for legal reasons will obtain his money or property
  7. Kills for a winning lottery ticket, treasure map, claim, bearer bonds
  8. Kills to increase drug or business territory (expansion of wealth)


Example: Maria made her commercial landlord a partner in her perfume shop in exchange for free rent. When he winds up dead, the police suspect Maria because she would benefit from his death thanks to a legal clause. So Maria must do her own investigating to clear her name. It turns out that he was actually murdered for his life insurance by his spoiled nephew, who saw an opportunity to frame Maria for the murder. [2 motives used]


Freedom  From prison, abuser, kidnapper


  1. Kills controlling husband or boyfriend who won’t let her go
  2. Kills blackmailer who is threatening to reveal his true identity or details of a crime he committed
  3. Kills a witness to his crime to avoid going to prison
  4. Kills to avoid being deported to his home country


Example 1: Maria’s new shop assistant is a young man who has a good nose for perfume, but learns the hard way that nosiness isn’t always a good thing. In fact, it gets him killed when he confronts a robber that he witnessed fleeing from the bank across the street.


Example 2: A regular customer of the perfume shop is a mild mannered, skittish woman that wants to smell good and feel attractive again. When her husband winds up dead, everyone suspects she did it to escape his abuse [motive 1]. Her husband is one of the contractors who worked on her shop.  In actuality, he was murdered by an electrician who he was blackmailing for being an illegal immigrant [motive 2]. They worked together on the renovations for Maria’s perfume shop.





  1. Kills to remove competing suitor(s)
  2. Kills to exact revenge on spouse or paramour for committing adultery
  3. Kills business partner or partner in crime for double-crossing him.
  4. Kills to get revenge on a snitch
  5. Kills before spouse can take his children away
  6. Kills due to a secret obsession
  7. Kills as mercy killing (terminally ill family member)


Example: A lady from a neighboring business brings Maria a scarf with perfume on it. She claims it was left behind by a customer and that she wanted to know what the amazing scent was. Maria says it was a custom creation for a customer. In reality, the lady found the scarf in her own home, and wanted to find out who her husband was having an affair with. After she discovered the paramour’s name, she murdered her by strangling her with it.





  1. Kills co-worker or boss to get a promotion
  2. Kills a witness to something that would result in demotion
  3. Kills spouse who is about to file for divorce, to avoid embarrassment. Typically involves well-respected community leader.
  4. Kills blackmailer who would embarrass him by revealing a secret (affair, criminal record, unsavoury affiliations)
  5. Kills a competitor who always beats him in a prestigious contest
  6. Kills for power or prestige in gang


Example: It’s election time and Maria’s friend, the town mayor, is arrested for murdering his wife. His wife was flagrantly cheating on him with another woman, and he was being ridiculed in the media by his opposition [motive 1]. In actuality, it was his competitor who was framing him for murder so that he could win the election [motive 2].


Other Motives


  1. Kills someone who bullies/attacks him for extended time
  2. Kills abusive husband/boyfriend, or abuser of family member
  3. Kills someone who looks like him, to avoid a determined hit man.
  4. Kills someone ahead of him or family member on organ transplant list
  5. Kills while intoxicated
  6. Kills someone who looks like him, to fake his own death and claim his own insurance or inheritance (requires conspiracy usually with spouse)
  7. Kills innocent party to hide the real murder target or make the murder look like a random act
  8. Kills as activist to protect animals, unborn babies, etc.
  9. Kills acting as a vigilante



That’s it! Please note that I’ve left out many motives that I felt wouldn’t be appropriate for a cozy mystery (i.e., hate crimes, insanity). Also, keep in mind that most of these could be extended to the killer’s friends and family. In other words, whatever the killer does for himself he could also do in the name of a family member.


If you find this information useful, please share it on your Facebook page or link to it on your own website. It costs you nothing and would mean a lot! Next month, I plan to continue with my Perfume Shop example and discuss the methods of murder.


Until then, happy writing! And happy new year!


Mish Mash Wednesday! Sales, Books and Thank You.

Photo from ClaraDon Flickr
Photo from ClaraDon Flickr

Today is a day to give thanks to our Veterans. We here at The Cozy Cat Chronicles would like to say thank you to all those that served and sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for us each day so that we can have the freedom we do today.




We don’t have a guest post today so this is our chance to highlight some of the things going in the lives of the Cozy Cat Chronicles authors.


Scent of a SwindleAuthor Joyce Oroz has a new book released by Cozy Cat Press. It is called Scent of a $windle. Visit Joyce Blog or pick up a copy on Amazon.






Julie Seedorf has her book Granny Skewers A Scoundrel on sale for .99 until November 28.






mise_Diane Weiner has Murder Is Elementary  on sale for .99.





Cold_Case_ConundrumStop in to Sharon Rose Mierke’s Blog and see what she is up to this week. Sharon is the author of the Parson Cove Mysteries. Her latest book is the Cold Case Conundrum and is on sale for .99.







Barbara Jean Coast is working on her new mystery, so if you need to catch up here is her latest and greatest, A Nate To Remember.





Pickin_Murder-3Vicki Vass Tedeschi has a new book out published by Cozy Cat Press. Pickin’ Murder is part of her Antique Hunters Series.






Amy Beth Arkawy , author of  Killing Time and Dead Silent also has her own Blog Talk Radio Show. Her show features a wide variety of topics. Some of our Cozy Cat Press Authors guest from time to time. Here is her interview with our own Vicki Vass. Blog Talk Radio.

These are just a few things happening with some of our Cozy Cat Authors. Subscribe to our page and get the latest news on new releases from our 12 authors along with specials they might run for the holidays.



LETTERS_FRONT_1800pxStop in at Rita Seedorf’s website and see what she is up to today. Her latest book is Letters From Brackham Woods.





The Baffled Beatlemanica CaperVisit Sally Carpenter’s Amazon Author Page and find out more about her mysteries. They will keep you reading long into the night.





51sAAnXc4qL__SX312_BO1,204,203,200_Visit Lane Stone books to keep up with Lane’s busy life. I have it on good authority that she is steeped deep in writing her next book. Her last book Current Affairs is deliciously delightful and mysterious.





Tie_DiedWe can’t for get about the talented Tim Hall. He too was a guest on Amy Beth Arkawy’s Blog Talk Radio show talking about literature and his Bert Shambles Mysteries.





Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00071]Leslie Matthews Stansfield is the author of the Madeline Teahouse Mysteries. Visit her Goodreads Author Page to learn more about Leslie.





Remember to thank a Veteran today.


Time to say good-bye to summer. If you’re a movie lover like me, it’s also a time to look back at the second most important time of the year – summer movies.
My favorite was Ricki and The Flash. For me, this was a story about the incredibly high price you pay when you try to lead an authentic life. It’s hard and most people won’t understand you.
On the bottom of my list was Entourage. It was so bad I couldn’t get up and leave. Not clever, and even the bathroom humor was bad bathroom humor. Tomorrowland, however, I did leave in the middle of.
Among the action movies, I loved Mission Impossible, Rogue Nation. This franchise does what it does really well. Another fun movie was Man From U.N.C.L.E., which was part action movie, part period piece. Speaking of period pieces, Mr. Holmes was beautiful to watch but slooooow as molasses. The Gift had a classic scary movie vibe. Loved it, too. No Escape was exciting. Owen Wilson was seen as an unusual choice for the lead, but he pulled it off. Aloha starred Bradley Cooper, who never ceases to amaze me. I also saw Minions. Don’t judge me – I took pity on a friend whose wife was hosting her book club, leaving him with the two little girls. Sandra Bullock is such a good actress, even when she is only using her voice. Speaking of good actresses, Melissa McCarthy was wonderful in Spy.
Time to rest up for the Christmas movies!
Do let me know your favorite summer 2015 flick.


Enjoy:  http://www.rickiandtheflashmovie.com/site/


The Editing Pen

1545577_100200456993347_5454265566458776792_nToday D.A.  Sarac (aka Annie EditingPen) is the guest on our Blog.  She describes herself as a playwright, editor, mom

(Also a Scotland obsessed, British historical fan, black belt in Tae Kwon Do, very new runner trying to keep up with her track and cross-country running daughter.)

Annie started reading at age three and probably found her first grammatical error shortly thereafter. Following decades of haunting libraries and bookstores, the university world opened its expensive arms and welcomed her into its bookshelves. From watching her first play performed in college, to sitting through critiques and performances of her early works in graduate school, to directing and writing for her own theatre company in L.A., and finally to writing for a pretty popular dot com entertainment company, Annie thought it was time to offer her education and experience to other writers. Now the mother of an amazing daughter, who also began reading at age three, Annie is delighted to combine the world of books, words, red pens, and funny puns from around the Internet into a tidy Editing package.

“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is our interview with Annie.

Who is Annie Sarac?

I’m a combination of Mom, Playwright, Editor, and Observer.

 What kind of books do you like to review?

I love to review Cozy Mysteries, British Historical Fiction, non-fiction, and anything related to the Theatre.

When did you start the Editing Pen?

EditingPen.net is relatively new.  After reviewing so many books over the years, I saw a need for good editing. Since I could happily edit all day (but the day job gets in the way), I wanted to combine my writing degree, teaching background, and editing history into one pretty package.

​  What is different types of editing that you do? New authors are occasionally confused with the difference, can you explain?

There is proofreading, copyediting and line/substantive editing, and developmental editing. Each level has a higher involvement of attention. My proofreading covers grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and some format cleanup, such as making sure your chapter headings and fonts are consistent, and ensuring the clean use of dashes, bullet points, and capitalization.

For the more daring author, I provide copyediting services, which include balancing sentence type and variety, eliminating unnecessary words, offering suggestions for sentence cleanup, clarifying phrases or confusing words, correcting modifiers, verifying paragraph sequence, and clarifying presentation of quotes, images, links, and style/author’s voice. And more.

Many authors choose the copyediting first, then finish off the project with a good proofread after all the changes and suggestions have been merged.

 Are there other author services that you offer?

Indeed I do. Before your project heads to the editing desk, you may need some developmental analysis. This stage provides a critique and analysis of Form, Style, and Structure, including Plot, Character, Thought/theme, Language, Melody, and Spectacle. I offer suggestions about the core intentions and goals of the story, underlying premise, character development, character through line, goals, obstacles, secondary characters, use of dialogue and sensory description, narrative voice, pacing, and tone.  The author can either have this along the margins of the draft, or as a written separate report.

I also love hosting blog tours so I can share the joy of finding new books to read.​

I am also here to offer chocolate truffle taste testing with honest reviews.

 What makes Annie sad? 

Not having any cookies in the house.  Actually, there are many things that make me sad, but then I’d get sad just thinking about them.

 What makes Annie glad? 

Lots of things make me glad and happy.  Hearing my daughter’s giggle, calling my dad and hearing his ‘high-lo’ greeting, remembering my trip to Scotland, setting up a new style guide for the next book to edit, watching one of my plays performed, and reaching for my cup of tea as I’m settling in with a good British mystery.


What makes Annie mad?

Injustice/unfair treatment. And when the internet goes down or if my car decides to misbehave.  Car problems bring about a curse word or two.


Do you have a favorite quote and how do you apply it to your life?

There are so many wonderful quotes out there and each has a place depending on what kind of day I’m having.  “Hand over the chocolate and no one gets hurt” is a good one.  “Do what ye will and it harm none.”  And “what goes around, comes around.”  I read those as don’t mess with other people’s business and other people (and the government) should stay out of my personal business, and be careful of what you do as it will swing back at you times three.

Coffee or Tea?

Tea.  English or Irish Breakfast with a wee bit of soy vanilla creamer.

Donuts? or Fruit?

Donuts.  Then a piece of fruit to take away some of the guilt. Then another donut because I had something healthy.

Is there anything else that you would like to say?

Yes.  A big thank you.  I have written many plays in my day, but not sure if I could tackle writing a book. So thank you to all the authors who give me hours and hours of such pleasure, entertainment, and inspiration. Both my daughter and I started reading at age three, and we have devoured so many books since then. We want more. So keep writing.

You can visit with Annie and find out about her services at: Sign up for Giveaways: www.editingpen.net
Follow me on Twitter:       https://twitter.com/EditingPen
Friend me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/theEditingPen



The Mystery of the 25 Year Old Cake

Lane Stone
Lane Stone

When Larry & I got married 25 years ago, the tradition was to freeze the top layer of your wedding cake, and eat it on your first anniversary. Do couples still do that? Just wondering. Would someone please post and let me know? We froze it, and then left it in that state.

Anyway, our cake has moved with us from home to home, freezer to freezer. Almost every time I put food in or got food out of the freezer I saw it and thought, “We really should do something about that.” Larry NEVER noticed it. Now this is a guy that can tell you to the ounce how much ice cream he has left. When he was in Vietnam he promised himself that if he got out of there, he’d have as much ice cream as he wanted, and so he eats ice cream every night. Once I went backpacking and came back to see he had filled the freezer with 11 cartons of ice cream. But he never noticed the big aluminum foil rectangle in the plastic bag. Go figure.

On Wednesday, I put the cake in the refrigerator to thaw. More out of respect for this culinary senior citizen, than for any health reason. Yesterday morning, I warned Larry he better not be late, told Larry how much I was looking forward to enjoying the cake with him.

After dinner last night, I brought the cake to the dining room table. As I opened the freezer bag, we both pulled back. I’m happy to report no noxious odors were emitted. Emboldened I pulled away the aluminum foil. It came off in tiny strips. The cake was hard as a rock. We stared at it for a minute then Larry said, “It’s held up amazingly well, just like us.”

Though the cake was like a block of concrete, the cream cheese frosting still felt like cream cheese. I tasted a bit of it. Thought I would die. Horrible. The cake was dried out and I gave up trying to eat it. I still had the taste of the icing in my mouth and wanted to go to the emergency room. Being too embarrassed to admit I had eaten 25 year old anything kept me home. I’m fine now. Thanks for asking.

“What do we do with it now?” Larry, which in Swahili means, ‘he who is afraid to eat 25 year old frosting,’ asked.

I realized I hated to think of our freezer without our wedding cake in it. So I wrapped it back up and we returned it to its rightful place. And there it will stay until our 50th.

At Cozy Cat Press we believe in happy endings!

cake 4cake 3

Introducing the Cozy Cat Chronicles!

Hi there, guys and dolls! Today, I’d like to share with you a new adventure with some of my best author friends. Some of you may know all about them, but there may be a few new writers and stories for you to enjoy, so settle on in and do a little perusing yourself. Click on any of the highlighted phrases to go to the information mentioned.

First of all, there is the new blog, The Cozy Cat Chronicles. Here we’ll have a daily blog post from our various authors, plus a guest post once a week. The members of our blog site are:

Barbara Jean Coast – yours truly and author of the Poppy Cove Mystery Series.

Tim Hall – writer of the Bert Shambles Mysteries.

Sharon Rose Mierke  – storyteller of the Parson’s Cove Mystery Series.

Joyce Oroz – spinning yarns in the Josephine Stuart Mystery Series.

Julie Seedorf  – telling tales in the Fuschia, Minnesota Series.

Rita Seedorf  – pens the Moira Edwards Mysteries, along with Margaret Albi Verhoef.

Leslie Matthews Stansfield – scribes the Madeline’s Teahouse Mysteries.

Lane Stone – wordsmith of the Tiara Investigations Mysteries.

So there you have us in a nutshell. We’re still growing and shaping our site, but do come and play with us. To check out all of our books, click to here to find them.

Also, there is now The Cozy Cat Chronicles Facebook page and Twitter account, where you can interact with the authors, learn about our events, appearances, and featured and new releases from Cozy Cat Press, and some of our other mysterious friends. Do join in on the fun :-).


Barbara Jean

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