I am super excited to welcome Victoria Hamilton here today!!
Cozy Is As Cozy Does
by Victoria Hamilton
When I started writing mysteries I wasn’t really aware of sub-genres. I wrote what I wanted to write, disregarding what I considered arbitrary rules.
And I couldn’t get published to save my life.
I happened upon a great agent who, just before she went on hiatus from accepting any more proposals for a matter of months, gave me some tips, the most important of which was to read some of the cozies she represented. It was the best advice I’ve ever gotten. I ‘got’ it after reading a few.
– Cozies don’t focus on the guts and gore of the murder itself, thought the body may be examined and the death may be gruesome.
– Cozies may, but do not have to, focus on the protagonist (the main character) and the complicating factors in his or her life.
– Cozies may have elements of suspense and action, but these must not overwhelm the working-out of the puzzle by the protagonist.
And that’s about it. I don’t believe that writing in the cozy genre necessarily means you cannot have a sexually active main character, nor does it have anything to do with race, religion or sexual orientation.
But not everyone agrees with me. I had one ‘reviewer’ on Amazon give my book A Deadly Grind one star because he/she said, and I quote: “I like my cozy mysteries to be a true definition of cozy. I felt that having Homosexual characters was not necessary to the plot. Did the author really intend for it to be in there or is the editor trying to push an agenda? If homosexuality is going to be in a book, shouldn’t it be under “Gay/Lesbian” and not “Mystery”?”
So… disregarding that she was factually incorrect about A Deadly Grind, and the crack about an editor pushing an agenda (something that has never happened to me), what about her ‘true definition of cozy’ remark? Is there a true definition of a cozy?
If you asked a hundred cozy readers, you’d probably come up with a wide range of opinion as to what is a ‘true’ cozy, and maybe that’s the way it should be. Some say that a police detective or officer should not be the main character, but Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache mysteries are considered cozy by most. Some, like the quoted ‘reviewer’, feel that there shouldn’t be any gay characters in a cozy mystery, but what, then, do you say about Monica Ferris’s Needlecraft Mysteries and her protagonist’s needlework shop employee, Godwin?
I say it’s individual. Your cozy is not necessarily the next reader’s cozy. Of course there are parameters and conventions, but rules were made to be bent, and the guidelines are malleable. I like stretching them a bit, and I enjoy reading mysteries that will not be bound by the rules. But I think we’re each allowed to make up our own guidelines and decide what cozy is for us.
What about you? As a reader, do you have any guidelines as to what YOU think a cozy is or should be?
Bran New Death
(A Merry Muffin Mystery)
BRAND NEW SERIES
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (September 3, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Ben Perini
Cover Design by Lerley Worrell
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book File Size: 1071 KB
When Merry Wynter discovered that she inherited a genuine American Castle in the ‘wilds’ of upstate New York, her first reaction was to contact a real estate agent to sell it, sight unseen. Things were a little complicated, what with a lunatic employer making her life miserable. But after losing her job and with the castle not sold, Merry decides to trek to Wynter Castle to see what the problem is.
One barrier to selling is immediately evident; someone is digging giant holes on the property! Merry accuses local Tom Turner of being her late night gopher and warns him to stay off her property, or else, but it happens again. Merry storms out to confront whomever is doing the damage, but doesn’t count on finding a dead man at the bottom of the hole.
What is going on at Wynter Castle and in Autumn Vale? How can Merry convince hunky sheriff Virgil Grace that she is not the one who bashed the victim over the head?
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Or in Merry Wynter’s case if life gives you questions you make muffins while you try to find the answers.
She has not recovered from her husband’s death, she has lost her job, and she has inherited A CASTLE!! A castle that needs a lot of work before it will be ready for sale. Plus Autumn Vale is not your normal small town. Just a couple of people welcome Merry, she gets an icy reception from most of the residents. Then she find one of them dead on her property.
Victoria Hamilton has written an extraordinary story featuring some very eccentric characters in some unique situations. This story twists more than Chubby Checker. These characters all have so much depth and we learn so much about them in this series debut but I feel like we are just starting to scratch the surface to their stories. Plus in addition main mystery there are many subplots intertwined and the story flows effortlessly. The reader is drawn right into Autumn Vale and into this wonderful castle and into all the drama that ensues.
I want to visit this castle. It sounds like a place I would love. If Merry is baking I will probably never want to leave. Plus is sounds like in Autumn Vale you never what is going to happen next.
~There are yummy recipes included too!
Victoria Hamilton, nationally bestselling author of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, is the pseudonym of Donna Lea Simpson, bestselling author of romance and historical mystery novels.
Victoria starting reading mystery novels at the age of 12 and devoured Agatha Christie mysteries, as well as those of Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. She still adores mysteries, especially the cozy mysteries of Janet Bolin, Krista Davis, and others.
She loves to cook, and collects teapots and teacups, as well as vintage kitchen utensils and bowls. She also enjoys crafts, especially cross-stitching and crocheting, and spends summer days in the garden, drinking tea or wine. Besides the Merry Muffin Mystery series (Bran New Death – September 3rd) Victoria writes two other mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series (Book 3, Freezer I’ll Shoot debuts November 5th) and the Teapot Collector Mystery series which debuts with Tempest in a Teapot, out June 3rd, 2014.
Merry Muffin Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MerrysMuffinsMysterySeries
Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.
Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.
Leave a comment for Victoria for 5 Bonus Entries !
What about you? As a reader, do you have any guidelines as to what YOU think a cozy is or should be?
If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.
Contest Will End September 18, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.
CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Comments on “Cozy Wednesday with Author Victoria Hamilton (Giveaway too!)”
To me a cozy mystery usually, but not always, has a female protagonist with a handful of close friends/ co-workers/ family members who help them solve the mystery. The murder should not be graphically described.
How great, a mystery with recipes!! I love to read and cook, who could ask for anything more. Thanks for the great chance to win a book that sounds right up my alley.
To me a cozy should have an interesting setting, fun characters and a not to bloody murder. And of course an amature has to solve the crime when the police can’t
A cozy is Agatha Christie with movable boundaries. 🙂 I love the sound of this one…Dee
I love a good cozy, one without violence and gore, a little love intrigue, but makes me really work to figure it out !
A cozy is just what the word implies, a book that you can sit down with for an evening with an old friend, or a new one. It will entertain you, or maybe bring you to tears, or even just let you play Sherlock as you try to figure out the who dunnit before the author reveals all.
A cozy mystery should be an entertaining read with amusing characters, an interesting plot, and a very limited amount of blood and violence.
Looking forward to reading this one!
Congratulations on your new release Victoria! I love your books and this cozy will be keeping me company for a while.
I would really rather a cozy not have sex in it. I like to be able to pass them on to my mom who would not appreciate sex scenes. My opinion of a cozy is quirky characters and mystery without graphic violence.
To me the epitome of the cozy was Agatha Christie – I consider cozies tio be a murder mystery with a PG-13 rating – minimal description of gore and some sexual attraction without excessively erotic details.
My #1 element of a cozy is the same as yours, no guts and really gross detail. I’ve been finding that they seem to focus a little more on the day to day life of the hero/heroine as well since they tend to do sleuthing with coworkers/family/friends.
A cozy is a mystery without a lot of horror. The characters are likeable.
I like a fun read and cozies seem to do that for me. They read fast and I am introduced to some quirky characters along the way.
Your book sounds just that and I have added it to my TBR list.
A cozy is always special for me. Lovely post.
Love your book and cozies soothe my soul and are always enjoyable.
A cozy does not use foul language or detail sex and violence. No rules, but a clue to possible offensive content would be nice to see in descriptions. I can skip paragraphs or pages and ignore things I don’t like that are secondary to the main story.
To me a cozy should be set in a small town with characters that are passionate about what they do, example, bookseller or baker and that characters that the reader can love and feel a connection with and relate too. The villan aka killer also has to be tied into the the story and be hated by everyone in the story even the reader. That’s what makes me want to read a cozy
I like to read a story with vivid descriptions of the setting. I’m partial to New England and England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland for the setting. Cozies excel in setting descriptions without getting all gorey on the murder itself. I don’t want want indepth descriptions of how the protagonist feels or how any other other character feel. And I like a “happy” ending with the protagonist solving the mystery after unraveling a complicated plot.
To me a cozy has a small town feel to it, even if it isn’t set in a small town. Usually a group of friends and family. No gruesome details and enough suspense to keep it interesting without keeping you up at night.
I like cozy mysteries set in small towns or villages, filled with quirky characters and usually centered around a tea house, bookstore, or something similar.
I believe that a cozy is a smooth & comfortable read without shock value. There is no unexpected offensive language, explicit sex, or graphic violence. It can have an amateur detective or even a police presence, but only if he or she is the friend/love interest of the amateur solving the mystery. There are always at least a couple quirky characters as secondary characters. I disagree that it has to be in a small town. Cleo Doyle’s coffeehouse mysteries are set in a city and I’m sure there are more I can’t think of right away.
Thanks for sharing your post–I found it very informative, and by the way, I read that person’s 1 star review of your book on Amazon and I voted it to be unhelpful.
To me, a cozy is a lighthearted mystery. It doesn’t have guts and gore or anything harsh.
I enjoy cozies with that “small town” feeling! If they include food thats good too! ( except the food cozies sometimes make me hungry! ) lol
A fun story set in a small town with a bunch of oddball characters and an interesting but not too heavy plot.
When you say a cozy, I think of a book that’s interesting and makes you feel good.
I think that having an non-professional sleuth is the number one thing that I expect. Usually not having graphic murder or sex scenes is another plus. But, I grew up with Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew books more than boys series but some of them may be considered cozy mysteries also.
I often think of a cozy as being a gentler mystery. No graphic details of murder or death. I prefer heavy on the mystery with perhaps a hint of romance, but am a bit tired of the female amateur sleuth falling for the gruff unbearable detective or police chief. That scenario smacks too much of a “bodice ripper” romance. I’ve enjoyed Ms. Hamilton’s A Deadly Grind & Bowled Over. I’m looking forward to reading a Bran New Death in the new Merry Muffin Mystery series.
I would love to win Bran New Death!
To me a Cozy would be light, fun- almost fluffy. If it involves food- then that is another plus for me!
Cozies are books that after you read them you can sleep with the lights off!
I love cozies. To me they are fun reads, ones that has a good story behind them .And I love the bookcovers and the titles are always quirky : )
To me a cozy should not have any guts and gore–and generally be a “light” read, nothing too serious to worry my brain about—I want to relax when I read one.
I’m with the Agatha Christie crowd — those books epitomize “cozy” to me. The most important factors are that the violence is not dwelt upon, nor described in excruciating detail, and that they aren’t sexually graphic. (As someone said, PG-13.) They also tend to take place either in a small town or within a community of some sort. The protagonist doesn’t have to be an amateur (think Poirot) but often is, and is almost never a member of the police. Occasionally someone breaks that rule: Catherine Aird’s mysteries manage to feel like cozies despite the fact that her detective is a Detective Inspector, because of both the overall tone or flavor of the books and their small-town or rural settings.
As for the reader who was offended by a homosexual character in one of the mysteries, she obviously hadn’t read Christie, who quietly hinted at homosexual characters in a few of her books. (A Murder is Announced, for instance.)
Cozy mystery to me means I go to bed after reading it and don’t feel like I have to sleep with the lights on lol.
I think cozy mysteries should be light hearted. A fun easy read.
Comments are closed.