Writing a Cozy Mystery: Panic Attack I

Just checking in to tell about my panic attack over writing a cozy mystery.

I was admiring the way that G.M. Malliet handles her characters in Death of a Cozy Mystery Writer. She chooses actions during a conversation that increase readers’ understanding of her characters.

I’d love to be like Jane Austen and have pages of dialogue without any description of what people are doing, but I am not a genius like Austen. That’s too bad because I am pretty doltish when it comes to weaving description into conversations. My choices tend to be mechanical. At least I have learned to avoid the “sipping of liquids” habit. That’s where an author gives her people something to drink and then works it to death, somewhat like below:

“Well, why did he have a bloody knife in his hand?”

Marian sipped her coffee to gain time. “Perhaps he was cooking dinner?”

“In the garage?” Bruce sipped his golden scotch and suddenly waved his drink dramatically. “In the garage?”

“Maybe they buy meat in bulk and keep it in the garage?” Raising the fragile cup to her lips, Marian sipped pensively at the hot brew.

“Wouldn’t it be frozen if they bought it in bulk? And why was he carrying a human head?” Grinning triumphantly, Bruce sipped his scotch.


So, thinking how I do not have the gift of good action choices – which led to general insecurity about my writing — I panicked about cozy mysteries.

Suddenly, I saw myself in the midst of a career: being interviewed, losing weight so I’d look good in author photos, buying new clothes and getting hairstyle for same, tweeting and facebooking and blogging and workshopping, going to conferences, meeting deadlines, trying to top my last great idea, while cooking, cleaning, laundering, cat petting, and figuring who is cluttering up my home at a slightly faster rate than I can declutter.

And I ran away. Ran from the project and this blog.

But now I’m back.

It’s one step at a time. The idea was to write a cozy to improve my plotting. There’s no need to project the troubles of a career – yet.

Website for G.M. Maillet: http://gmmalliet.weebly.com/

Link for one source to buy the book, Death of a Cozy Mystery Writer:


About thebooksonmyshelf

Welcome to my blog. There's always a revolution going on in my home -- between art, writing, thinking, and three boy cats, there's rarely a moment without something hopping. I have lived in three major cities and now am in a small wonderful rural town. The proud author of the world's longest first-draft cowboy novel, I am now plowing into the realm of the cozy mystery. Come along and see how my journey through the woods of inexperience turns out.
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4 Responses to Writing a Cozy Mystery: Panic Attack I

  1. Teri says:

    I just wrote of a similar problem concerning making quilts and what stops me. I guess we are alike in that respect. I came to the conclusion that you just have to work, make (write) things, and not worry about the outcome down the road. I will probably not become a famous quilter, you will probably not become a famous writer, but I suppose it is the journey that counts the most.

    • Teri, you already are a well known quilter — who has quilts in museums? who has a national network of people with whom she quilts? Who is that, cousin? I feel my writing is not yet what it could be. Right now I’m learning to tie my shoes. Of course, masterful dance is the goal — I wonder if I have enough years left. There is that process of trying and failing that is a part of learning complicated new endeavors. Will I ever be a famous writer? Maybe.

  2. Anita Curry says:

    I find these posts to be inspiring because it is scary to commit to writing a story. When I walk into Barnes and Noble I honestly get dizzy looking around at the thousands of titles on the shelves. Not to mention the thousands more you need to order online. Everyone has a story to tell but how is is mine different? Better, funnier, more suspenseful? Where do I put the commas? uh oh, I feel my own panic coming on…

    • I certainly know that feeling. My lifeline is that I think, “Well, they had to have written a first book. Now, they’re only ahead of me in the process. I can catch up just as they caught up with the writers who were ahead of them.” It takes grit to persevere when it’s obvious that the competition is overwhelming. I decided, however, that I have been habitually making the mistake of eliminating myself. That’s not my job. I owe myself, my talent, and my drive to stay in the competition and keep writing. I hope you will, too.

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