Updated: Sep 14, 2018
The first of the Faerie Apothecary Cozy Mysteries, Herbs and Homicide, is finished!
I just finished the first draft of my debut novel, Herbs and Homicide! Why would I post about that? Well, I'm psyched that it's done and I want to share my thoughts about the first draft with those of you who will, hopefully, be reading it in it's final form next month.
Herbs and Homicide isn't the first novel I've ever written. If you count the 10 page "novel" I wrote in third grade, it's actually my fifth. Technically, it's not the first real, genuine novel I've written either. What's different about Herbs and Homicide is that it's the first one that I'm sharing publicly with an audience.
Not only that, but it's the first one I wrote with the reader in mind and, boy, did I have fun writing it! See, about two years ago I read my first cozy mystery. I was going through a hard time at work and feeling stressed. So, I skimmed for a light book that could read in snippets to get a little relaxation. That's when I stumbled on the Downward Dog Mystery series by Tracy Weber. The main character of the series, Kate, owns a yoga studio and, of course, is drawn into a murder investigation. Yoga? I thought. That could be stress-relieving. Murder? Well, who doesn't like a crime-centric mystery? A little intrigue never hurt anything, in fiction anyway. Well, except for the fictional characters who gave their lives for the novels, I guess.
I won't give anything away, but the first of Tracy Weber's books, Murder Strikes a Pose was a cute, fast read and I enjoyed it so much I read the second book, A Killer Retreat. I then noticed that the genre the book was tucked into was "cozy mystery," which I'd never heard of before. When I found out that it was defined as mystery stories where sex and violence are downplayed, basically just a good natured, light hearted mystery, I was hooked. I fell in love with the genre as a reader before I ever thought to write a single word of it as an author.
I went on to read Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton. That one was less a cozy mystery than a cozy fiction with a little paranormal element, at least that's how I saw it, but it was a pleasant read too. After that I read the first of Agatha Frost's Peridale Cafe Mysteries, Pancakes and Corpses. Then the third Downward Dog mystery, Karma's a Killer, and several more afterwards. I won't list them all here, that could be a separate post in itself.
The point is, I was hooked to the genre as a reader. I haven't yet read a cozy mystery that I didn't like. Which is why, when an idea came to mind for a cozy mystery, I just had to try my hand at writing it. While writing, I kept in mind the delightful twists and turns I'd read, the thoughts I had as a reader trying to figure out for myself who the culprit was, and so on. Most importantly, I allowed myself to be guided by the feeling I had while reading cozy mysteries. If you've ever read a cozy mystery, you know the feeling.
I wrote Herbs and Homicide as if I were reading it. Strange, I know, but it's true. I had an outline, but each chapter I was never quite sure how the events would play out. Instead, I just let it flow out and read it back as if hearing it for the first time. Like magic, it somehow turned into an enjoyable story, for me to read anyway. It'll take a little time before it's shaped into a story to share with readers who don't exist only in my mind. Now, on to my next act: Draft 2!