“Hey, I published a book. Don’t you want to write about it?
It’s not uncommon for a feature publisher to receive this question over the phone, email, Facebook, and even a good old-fashioned regular mail. And I have to admit, it makes me cringe a little. It’s so easy to self-publish. It’s much more difficult to write a good story.
Jane Elzey, an author from Northwest Arkansas who just published her second book, is good – really good! Her “cozy” murder mysteries have twists and turns that would make Agatha Christie proud. Their characters are nuanced and very real, and I really want to sit down with them for tapas and wine. She describes her first book, “Dying for Dominoes,” as “a fast-paced mishap through the back roads of Arkansas in search of a runaway killer,” and if you love rural Arkansas, you’ll be in your element.
“In the cozy mystery genre, readers can expect an off-camera murder with no gore or depravity, little or no swearing, no sex, an amateur sleuth – probably a woman – and a few acolytes or friends who make the resolution. more fun crime, ”Elzey says. “Stories are usually character-driven and centered on a particular hobby or craft. The Cardboard Cottage (series) refers to the main protagonist and hobbyist sleuth, Amy Sparks, who owns a vintage game store. is a very “cozy” vibe. My characters, however, are anything but cookie-cutter adorable. “
Two things make Elzey’s books unique: each has a game in the title – “Dying for Dominoes” is followed by the new “Dice on a Deadly Sea” – and in each book a husband dies.
“One of the levels of membership in the Jane Elzey VIP Club – that is, Very Important Players – is the Killer Club,” says Elzey, who is as charming as her characters. “At this point, the member has the privilege of killing a husband for an upcoming book in the series. It’s their own clue game. This is all ironic, of course, and I have a full literary license, but what woman doesn’t want her husband to disappear at some point in the wedding? I have more husbands, ex-boyfriends and bosses than I imagined intrigues. I will get there, however – and this is exciting to think about the possibilities! “
Elzey, a fifth generation Floridian, was a “Nancy Drew dog” in his childhood.
“I devoured every volume in the Vero Beach library where I lived much of my youth,” she recalls. “I graduated from Agatha Christie in my early twenties. Over the years I have read many mystery writers, but Carolyn Keene and Christie remain my old favorites and of course they’ve got me. have influenced. I love the amateur sleuth and cozy mystery characters, as well as the puzzle that the author offers you to follow. I confess, I never solved any of their crimes before the end! “
Armed with a journalism degree from the University of Central Florida, Elzey worked as a freelance writer and then began publishing magazines focused on tourism, the arts, or business. However, she says, “I like to write fiction more than I like to write facts. I like the creative aspect of writing from an imaginary place, to trace the mystery and the clues, to create characters that I hope readers will enjoy spending time with. “
“My first detective story, ‘Murder My Memoir’, will never see the light of day,” she laughs. “I think it was in the 1980s. It was horrible, like most of the early books. The manuscript was lost somewhere when I moved to Arkansas, and I think it was for the best.
“’Dying for Dominoes’, the first book in my Cardboard Cottage Mystery series, took me over a decade to complete,” she adds. “I wrote, rewrote, revised and studied, and every time I became a better writer and storyteller. Writing a novel really is a process that takes more than vocabulary and a keyboard.”
In “Dying for Dominoes,” readers meet four “older” best friends as they sit on a back porch, playing a game of dominoes. Here’s how Elzey describes them:
Amy Sparks, the narrator of Cardboard Cottage Mystery, is the owner of Tiddlywinks Players Club, a vintage game store in a tourist town in Arkansas. She’s a brilliant almost 50-year-old who hasn’t always made the right decisions in her life (including husbands), but since moving to Bluff Springs things have really changed. Faithful to excess, easily duped and prone to misunderstandings, Amy is devoted to her small group of best friends. Their success as business owners and best friends is at the top of his list of needs. Except … the husbands keep dying and the four of them keep looking guilty, forcing Amy to fight her way to the truth.
Rian O’Deis (say Ryan O-Day) is the tomboy of the group and owner of The Pot Shed at Cardboard Cottage & Company. He’s a cunning person, reluctant to idle conversations, crowds, or rules that don’t make sense. Deep thinker, devoted and pious friend to the pot, Rian grows cannabis for the Arkansas elite. She thinks about her job now that she’s in love with a cop. “We’re like Dave Starsky and Jane Goodall,” says Rian. “Or Belle Starr and Dudley Do-Right.”
Genna Gregory is the oldest of the quartet, but she works hard to look like the youngest. She imports her skin care regimen from France. Tall, slender, wealthy, and bossy (read: Boss Lady), Genna comes from old money and shining promise. Born and raised in Arkansas, Genna knows everyone who needs to be known in their natural state, and she doesn’t hesitate to let you know. Her bark is louder than her bite, and deep down, she wants love and acceptance like everyone else.
Zelda Carlisle owns Zsa Zsa Galore Decor at Cardboard Cottage & Company. The quote on the door of her shabby chic boutique says a lot about Zelda. This is a paraphrased quote from Zsa Zsa Gabor (the whole quote wouldn’t fit on the door!): “I love a masculine man: a man who knows how to talk and treat a woman – not just a muscular man. “A little egotistical with her looks, her hair and her designer shoes, Zelda just wants to have a good time. And men keep getting in the way.
Zelda is also not very happy in marriage at the moment:
“Zack is stubborn, and I don’t like it,” Zelda replied. “I just need him to go. Disappear. Vamoose.” She snapped her fingers. “As if by magic.”
And when he does, his three closest friends – so close they are like sisters – wonder if one or more of them has helped him on his way.
“Zack. Yak. Zombie Zack. We all know him. Let me say I’ve been on horseback three times. I’ve been thrown off horse three times. Marriage is the same rodeo,” Elzey laughs. As for the four friends, “I see myself in all the characters here and there, but since the story is taken from Amy’s POV, I feel like I’m the closest to her. We think about each other a lot. two superstitious. We’re both Florida girls. The characters are more like a composite of just about every woman I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. I’m amused at how people try to guess on who I write, but they’re all fictional characters in my closeness is something we all want if we don’t have it, cherish if we do, and that includes the push and pull that makes a great drama. .
“People watching and spying are my favorite hobbies and research tools,” she adds. “People say and do such story-worthy things! The idea for this little group of characters was based on friends and the dominoes we played a year ago. Their personalities have morphed into completely different characters in my game. head, and have since come alive for me in that way, in this fictional realm. They often wake me up with something to say. “Write this down,” one of them will say. I have a hard time falling back asleep. “Now!” She asks, “OK, so I do. I get up and let them speak.”
As Elzey describes her second book, “Dice on a Deadly Sea,” the four friends dive into murder while celebrating the big five-O – and another husband dies.
“In the second book, we’re on a birthday cruise in the Galapagos Islands, where these best friends make their way through shark-infested waters, a mud spa they never expected and a sexy pirate. with something to hide, ”she said. . “In book 3, we’re back in Arkansas, exploring the beautiful wine country. Oh, and another husband dies. Did I mention that? A husband still dies. In book four, ‘Killer Croquet’, our destination is Ireland and Cork’s famous croquet tournaments, or more likely to become infamous tournaments once the Cardboard Cottage girls arrive! “
The third volume, “Poison Parcheesi and Wine”, is due out in May 2022. Elzey chooses to self-publish, but not in the traditional way.
“After a lot of research among genre writers and authors published by traditional houses, I knew I had to create my own editorial imprint,” she explains. Fortunately, the industry has changed over the past two decades so that self-publishing no longer has an unfortunate stigma. I have been in the publishing industry for many years and knew I could either take on the roles or outsource the roles required from the process – the end result being a product worthy of a business and a bookstore.
“I outsource the cover design to my graphic designer in Paris (France), copy development and editing to a book publisher in Texas, book formatting and design to a professional book designer , and beta readers from near and far. The challenge of self-publishing is knowing who to bring on your team. Publishing isn’t one-person’s job, and each of these people. expertise is essential for a professionally published book. And they all get paid before me! Trust others to help your work shine.
“The advice that other writers have given me is to keep writing,” she adds. “The more you publish good work, the more you get noticed.”
“The Cardboard Cottage (series) refers to the main protagonist and amateur sleuth, Amy Sparks, who owns a vintage game store,” says local author Jane Elzey. “It’s a very ‘comfortable’ atmosphere. My characters, however, are anything but cookie-cutter adorable. (Courtesy photo / Jane Elzey)
“Dying for Dominoes” and “Dice on a Deadly Sea” are both available on Kindle and in print on Amazon or visit the author’s website at www.CardboardCottageMystery.com, where you can get copies. autographed and more.
The third volume, “Poison Parcheesi and Wine”, is due out in May 2022.
A podcast chat between Jane Elzey and Becca Martin-Brown is available at nwadg.com/podcasts.