This week I’m hosting author, Denise Rogers.
Denise Rodgers spent the first twenty-eight years of her life working in the family jewelry business in Metro Detroit, followed by another more than twenty-something years running a home-based advertising company that catered to (you guessed it!) jewelers around the country. At the same time, she wrote and published two poetry books and a website of funny children’s poetry. Many of her poems have also been published in anthologies and textbooks around the globe. Rodgers’ most recent work, a funny murder mystery series featuring woman sleuth Bella Blumer, takes place in a jewelry store in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit. Book one and two are Deadly Diamonds and Murderous Emeralds. A third Jeweltown Murder Mystery cozy, Poison Pearl, is scheduled for early 2018.
While Denise share many traits with her main character, Bella Blumer, this book is in no way autobiographical. She lives in Metro Detroit—near, but not in Royal Oak—with her husband and two small dogs. She has two wonderful grown sons, two beautiful daughter-in-laws, and four amazing grandchildren, all under the age of three!
Cozy Mystery Author Reveals Secret of Life
Years ago, I read an article in Psychology Today that gave the secret of life. Okay, if not the secret of life, the secret of happiness, which is no secret at all. The gist of it was: those who enjoy what they have are happier than those who pine over what’s missing in their lives. It’s so simple it makes you feel like Homer Simpson: Duh-oh!
Because this is the month of Thanksgiving, and in the spirit of appreciating what I have in my life—I thought I’d make a list of things I’m grateful for—in the narrow world of my mystery books.
- I’m grateful for my writer’s tools. Like many writers, I’m particular about pen and paper. I like to write in thick, 9.5 x 6.5”, five-subject notebooks, preferably with a firm cardboard backer. I absolutely love gel pens, as well as my pricier fountain pen. And don’t get me started on my MacBook Air (on which I’m writing right now). I love the soft keyboard and the size of the screen, as well as my quick access to the Internet, unless I’m too distractible on a given day, in which case I turn it off.
- I’m grateful for my fictional characters. This might sound odd, but it’s so true. It all started with Bella Blumer, the main character of my growing Jeweltown mystery series. They talk about a writer’s voice. Well, I didn’t find my voice, I found Bella’s. Once she started talking about her “lying, cheating, skunk of an ex-husband” in Deadly Diamonds, I knew I had to write to find out what happened to her. And I didn’t even meet Max Fosner (her defense attorney and possible love interest) until I was well into the first book! Now, I love Max. I feel like I know him. And his kids. And Bella’s kids. And on and on. When I’m really into writing, I don’t think. Instead, I actually listen to how these different people/characters talk, because you know we all tend to talk a little differently from one another. And these differences in speech make a big difference when you’re reading a book.
- I’m grateful for the way I feel when I’m writing regularly. I feel whole. I feel centered. I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing on this earth. I know I’m not saving lives, but somehow it just feels right. Instead of meditating, I write. I’m sure if you measured my alpha waves, it would show a meditative state while writing.
- I’m grateful for the new world of online marketing and publishing. In the old days, which I remember well, you’d do all the work to write and polish your manuscript, and then the real work would begin…contacting agents and editors. At that time, I was writing poetry. It was so hard to get noticed that I didn’t even try writing fiction in earnest till the summer of 2010. That was when I took on a new non-creative job, financial management. Because of this job, I allowed myself to write a mystery novel, even if I had no idea what I was going to do with it, once completed. At that time, I was okay with the open-endedness. I was that burnt out on sending manuscripts to publishers.
Since the online publishing revolution, you can write and edit your work, contract for a cover, get the book formatted, and voila! You’re in the online marketplace. Of course, that’s when the work of marketing your book begins. But from what I’ve read, most authors, even those published by big name New York companies, also have to market their own books. So, thank you, Amazon! And Barnes & Noble. And Kobo. And iTunes. And CreateSpace, and on and on! I’m grateful for the opportunity to put my words and characters out there. Bella likes the limelight, believe me!
- I’m grateful for all the wonderful mystery books out there. Our fifth-grade teachers were right! Good readers make good writers. It doesn’t hurt that I love reading anyway, and would do it for the sheer pleasure of it. However, as a writer, I sometimes step back from the action in a book to see what I’m enjoying, or what I’m not. Every book has a lesson for the active reader/writer.
- I’m grateful for my readers! Check out the reviews on my first two books on Amazon—Deadly Diamonds, and Murderous Emeralds. Thankfully, I’ve many more readers than reviews. I’m very thankful for every book sold, and for every person who is inspired to take the time to actually write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I love hearing from readers on Facebook, or via email! So please feel free to write!
This list was easy to compile. I invite you, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, to compile your own grateful list. The truth is, when we concentrate on those things that bring us joy, we tend to notice the joyful things in our lives. The opposite is also true. f you spend a lot of time complaining, even to yourself, you’ll tend to notice more of those annoying things out there. So, get into the spirit of Thanksgiving! Be thankful. Be grateful. Make a list. It might even make you happy!
It’s fall in Royal Oak, Michigan, just two miles north of the infamous Eight Mile Road, and jewelry designer Bella Blumer is ready to live the good life and leave the drama of last summer behind her. But the good life is not quite ready for Bella. In addition to jumping head first into another murder investigation to help a long-time friend, Bella has to deal with her fabulous boyfriend who wants to marry her—even if the thought of marriage makes her more than slightly nauseous. Add to that the fact that her newly sullen daughter is ignoring her, and her dragon-lady of a stepsister is in town and making life miserable for Bella’s not-so-lovable mother. When the murder investigation reveals one sordid secret after another, Bella has to scramble to find the murderer to save both her friend…and herself.
Excerpt from Murderous Emeralds
As soon as I saw Ollie Gleason walk into our store I knew there was going to be trouble. He came up to the front counter, a furtive look about him as he spoke to my son, Vic. They were over by the emerald section of our display cases, so at least he wasn’t looking for a diamond again. All hell broke loose the last time he did that. Call it a sixth sense, but I was pretty sure he wasn’t shopping for his wife and I didn’t like that. I tend to be strongly on the side of the wife in these situations, mostly because lying-cheating scumbags really get on my nerves, if you know what I mean.
I stared at the counter, pretty sure no one would notice me all tucked away in my jewelry studio, off to the side behind my glass door. The first thing you notice about Ollie is his ridiculous toupee. Ridiculous because he owns the Chevy-Cadillac dealership on Main Street in Royal Oak, so you know he can afford better. He wears a business suit most of the time because he probably thinks the straight lines of the suit cover his fifty-six year-old overweight and misshapen body. It’s a fact that the top half of his body and the bottom just don’t line up. It’s not a good look, but I doubt that there’s much he can do about it short of major surgery or exercise, neither of which is an obvious option.