The Mysteries of the Writing Process
By Peg Cochran
(Guest Post Provided by Publicist)
Readers have expressed an interest in the “writing process.” Each writer’s process is probably as unique as his or her fingerprints, but this is mine.
For my mystery series, I already have some characters in place—protagonist, detective and other regular cast members. But what I need is a victim and a murderer! I start with the victim—the person can seem like the last person anyone would want to murder or they can be very unlikeable. But whichever way I go, I need to surround them with characters who have specific reasons for wanting them dead.
To come up with the victim, motive and suspects, I usually “think out loud” on paper. On the computer—writing longhand always ends up making my shoulder hurt because I tend to grip the pen too tightly! Always have.
I write down all my thoughts just as they occur to me—no censoring my thoughts or backspacing to erase them. Here is an example from my notes—some plot musings that never made it into the book…or at least not that book!
He’s receiving stolen goods—saffron or caviar or something. Why would he be a victim? Maybe this isn’t the real reason he’s killed. Just another red herring. Maybe the goods are meant to be passed to someone else and he double crosses them. He’s a partner with somebody. Or someone paid him to move the goods and he steals them instead. Has to be someone local.
It’s probably hard to believe, but those ramblings eventually coalesce into a plot!
I try to outline…I want to outline…but often I am so excited to get started on the story that I don’t. I don’t sail off blindly though, I have to have my “plot points” – what happens at the end of the first act, at the midpoint (big dramatic happening that changes everything), end of second act, black moment (all is lost!) and the ending.
At some point, I end up with a completed book! And it seems like a miracle each time!
About The Author
Mystery writing lets Peg indulge her curiosity under the guise of “work” (aka research). As a kid, she read the entire set of children’s encyclopedias her parents gave her and has been known to read the dictionary. She put pen to paper at age seven when she wrote plays and forced her cousins to perform them at Christmas dinner. She switched to mysteries when she discovered the perfect hiding place for a body down the street from her house.
When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, cooking, spoiling her granddaughter and checking her book’s stats on Amazon.
A former Jersey girl, Peg now resides in Michigan with her husband and Westhighland white terrier, Reg. She is the author of the Sweet Nothings Lingerie series (written as Meg London), the Gourmet De-Lite series, the Lucille series and now the Cranberry Cove series. Her newest series, the Farmer’s Daughter, debuted with No Farm, No Foul in September 2016. Sowed to Death is available now.
Sowed to Death (Farmer’s Daughter Mystery)
2nd in the Series
Setting – Michigan
Berkley (July 4, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Kindle ASIN: B01M22OR6W
The county fair is the highlight of the year for the small town of Lovett, Michigan—especially for food-and-lifestyle blogger Shelby McDonald, who writes as the Farmer’s Daughter. She’s submitting jams and jellies she’s created from the produce she grows at Love Blossom Farm in hopes of harvesting a blue ribbon.
But the townspeople get more than just the excitement of hayrides, tractor pulls, and cotton candy when Shelby’s neighbor and volunteer fireman, Jake Taylor, extricates the body of Zeke Barnstable instead of a dummy during a demonstration of the Jaws of Life. The fact that Jake and Zeke were known to be at odds plants suspicion in the minds of the police. As evidence against Jake grows, Shelby knows she has to plow through the clues to weed out the true killer and save her friend.
You just can’t go wrong with a book by Peg Cochran. I have read almost all of them and doing my best to catch up on those I have missed.
In Sowed to Death farmer/blogger Shelby McDonald is getting ready for the county fair. She is entering her jams and jellies and her son is participating in the an horse riding event. Both are hoping to come home with blue ribbons. The firemen are also demonstrating the Jaws of Life, something I am very familiar with as it was that device the extracted me from my van after my accident. Their demonstration takes a foul turn when it is discovered that there is a real body in the car, not the dummy the firefighters had placed there. The body turns out to be Zeke Barnstable. Because Shelby’s neighbor, Jake, is a fireman and he and Zeke had a disagreement the police decide he is the prime suspect. Shelby knows she is going to dig up every suspect she can to prove her friend’s innocence even if that puts her in the line of fire.
This was a delightful read. These characters are people I would be friends with in real life. Shelby is a single mom raising 2 children but she has help from her deceased husband’s brother and several other friends, including fireman Jake. Two men that what to be as close to Shelby as possible but understand she is still getting over her husband’s death. I also love that she is a blogger and the way the author includes her posts right along with the story allowing Shelby to communicate directly with us, her “readers”.
The story really flows well and Shelby’s children, Billy and Amelia, play crucial roles in the mystery. One makes a dreadful discovery and one is danger as the story climaxes. As a mom, I would have totally freaked out and Shelby does but she turns into one hell of a fighter.
I enjoy the way Ms. Cochran writes. She is very descriptive making the story easy to visualize without going to far. She lets her characters continue to evolve naturally and realistically. The mystery is filled plenty of twists and has not only drama/action but humor and a bit of romance too. Everything I love about cozy mysteries is found within these pages. A Must Read!!
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