- Decide on the locale of your story. Is it going to be a real town or fictional? City or country? If it’s a big city, you’ll want to limit the action to a particular neighborhood that almost feels like a small town. Make it somewhere your readers would like to live.
- Create your “hook.” A hook is what sets your series apart from others. It can be an occupation for your sleuth like librarian, caterer, bookseller, etc. Or your hook can revolve around a hobby—knitting, scrapbooking, needlework, etc.
- Pick your victim. This is the fun part! Is there someone you would like to kill on paper? A disagreeable co-worker or an annoying neighbor? Be careful to change names and appearances but you can certainly borrow their irritating or despicable traits and make them your victim’s own.
- Pick your killer. Why does this person hate the victim enough to kill? They need a good motive for the crime. They can be a decent, upstanding citizen on the outside but evil on the inside.
- Decide on a murder method. Now that you have your killer, what would be a likely murder weapon? A gun or knife? Poison? The proverbial blow to the head with a blunt object? Something exotic like a snake bite?
- Create your amateur sleuth. You’ll already know a little bit about this person once you’ve created your hook but now is the time to flesh them out. Make them intelligent, inquisitive and clever.
- Gather a group of suspects together. Hide your killer among a number of people who also had reason to wish the victim dead. One-by-one your sleuth uncovers their alibis until the only one left standing is the murderer.
- Plot clues and red-herrings. Clues lead your sleuth closer to the killer while red herrings send her on a wild goose chase.
- Add a touch of romance. Create a love interest for your sleuth. Better yet, create two or more! When she’s not busy tracking down suspects, she’ll be busy weighing the relative merits of each of the men in her life.
- Write the book! And have fun immersing yourself in this idyllic world where justice always triumphs in the end.
About Peg Cochran
Peg grew up in a New Jersey suburb about 25 miles outside of New York City. After college, she moved to the City where she managed an art gallery owned by the son of the artist Henri Matisse. When her first daughter, Francesca, arrived, the new family moved back to the New Jersey suburbs where her second daughter, Annabelle, was born.
After her husband died, Peg remarried and her new husband took a job in Grand Rapids, MI where they now live (on exile from NJ, she likes to joke). Peg managed to segue from the art world to marketing and is now the manager of marketing communications for a company that provides services to seniors.
Her greatest love though has always been writing-particularly mysteries! She has two cozy mystery series debuting from Berkley Prime Crime-the Gourmet De-Lite series set in Connecticut and featuring Gigi Fitzgerald who provides gourmet diet meals to a select group of clients, and the Sweet Nothings Vintage Lingerie series, written as Meg London, set in Paris, TN with Emma Taylor who finds murder and mayhem in this quiet country town.
As for pets – she has a schizophrenic cat (really) named Frazzle and a Westhighland White Terrier, Reggie, who is desperately in need of losing a few pounds. But you know what they say: If your dog is overweight, it means YOU aren’t getting enough exercise!
When she’s not writing, Peg can usually be found cooking, which she loves. When asked to bring a dish to a potluck she invariably opts to bring dessert – partly because she loves making sweet dishes and partly because she and her husband always manage to be late so there’s no point in putting them in charge of the appetizer
About BERRY THE HATCHET
Cranberry farm owner Monica Albertson is once again bogged down in murder in the second Cranberry Cove mystery from national bestselling author Peg Cochran.
The town of Cranberry Cove is popping with excitement: Monica Albertson is baking cranberry goodies, and shopkeepers are decking out their storefronts for the first annual Winter Walk—an event dreamed up by the mayor to bring visitors to the town during a normally dead time of year.
But it’s the mayor who turns up dead during the grand opening ceremony, his lifeless body making its entrance in a horse-drawn sleigh. Monica’s mother and stepmother quickly become the prime suspects when it’s discovered that the mayor was dating both of them. To make things worse, her half-brother Jeff uncovers a clue buried near a bog on Sassmanash Farm. Now it’s up to Monica to find out who really put the mayor on ice.