THE GREAT JEWEL ROBBERY: AUTHOR Q & A with Elizabeth McKenna @elizamckenna #blogtour

Today's guest is cozy mystery author, Elizabeth McKenna. Her new book is The Great Jewel Robbery and she is on a virtual book tour this month with Pump Up Your Book! We're very glad to have her here today to talk about her book, writing and what surprised her about getting her book published. 

Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

In the early summer of 2018, I was working on a dark mystery, inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, when I read that Hallmark Publishing was accepting unagented submissions. As an independent author and a fan of the Hallmark Channel, I thought, how cool would that be? I checked out their writing guidelines for mysteries, did some brainstorming with my family, and started writing The Great Jewel Robbery.

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-publish my novels. Previously, I have written two historical romances, Cera’s Place, which is set in post-Civil War San Francisco, and Venice in the Moonlight, which is set in eighteenth-century Italy. I have also published a contemporary romance, First Crush Last Love, which is loosely based on my teens and twenties. The Great Jewel Robbery is my debut cozy mystery and book 1 of A Front Page Mystery series.

Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

For all of my books, I’m always surprised by the reviews. People see things so differently. They comment on details that I wouldn’t even think twice about. One person thinks the book is great and gives it 5 stars, and another person hates the romance in it. I’ve developed a thick skin over the years because I don’t like every book I read, so why should every reader like my writing? Of course, I prefer the good reviews, but I don’t cry anymore when I read a bad one.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

I definitely think it does, especially since I am an indie author. Though it has lessened over the years, there is still a stigma about self-published authors. Paying for a professional cover and a skilled editor levels the playing field. I follow The Book Designer blog, and they publish monthly book cover critiques. You can tell when an author invested in a professional designer—and when they didn’t. I did my own cover for my first novel (because I didn’t know any better at the time) and then had it redone a few years later. It was like night and day. In the case of independent publishing, if the cover looks professional, I think the reader is more likely to give the story a chance. It shows that you are serious about your craft.

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

I wrote The Great Jewel Robbery specifically for submission to Hallmark Publishing, and I was under a lot of pressure because the deadline was in two months from when I started it. I am a slow writer, often taking me years to finish a story, and I figured out I would have to write at least one thousand words a day. Now, there are some days that I consider myself lucky if I write two hundred and fifty words, so this was daunting to say the least. With my previous books, my editor was the only feedback I sought out and it occurred after the story was basically finished. So, for the first time, I enlisted the help of my family. As I finished a chapter, I made them all read and critique it. By getting feedback after each chapter, I was able to change the plot mid-stream without messing up the whole story. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the Hallmark deadline, but I kept writing the story and finished it in May 2019. I would encourage any writer to get feedback throughout the writing of a novel from family and strangers. I used several beta readers on later drafts and was amazed at the helpful comments they gave me. It is better to discover plot and character issues before you publish because you can’t delete bad reviews.

What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

Next, I’m going to finish Killer Resolutions, the dark mystery I put aside to write The Great Jewel Robbery. I hope to publish it by December of 2019. The description is:
In a remote lodge in northern Wisconsin, friends gather for a festive, New Year’s Eve weekend. When a blizzard traps them with a murderer, who will be left to kiss at midnight?

Then, I will write book 2 in the Front Page Mystery series. I have a tentative plot in mind but nothing firm yet.

What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

I’m not sure if readers will be surprised, but I hope they will find it refreshing that the main character is a journalist and not a baker, crafter, librarian, bookstore owner, etc. Cozy mysteries usually follow a formula, but I prefer to write what I know, and I have a journalism degree.

Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

There’s no deep message in my cozy mystery. I’m hoping to entertain readers for a short while because the everyday world is serious enough and we all need an escape.
Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

If you do check out The Great Jewel Robbery and like it, please leave a review on Goodreads or the site you bought it from. It is tough to get noticed in the publishing world, and reviews help to spread the word. Take care!

Elizabeth McKenna’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King’s horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She combined her love of history, romance, and a happy ending to write Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, is loosely based on her life during her teens and twenties. The Great Jewel Robbery is her debut cozy mystery, and she hopes readers will like it as much as they have enjoyed her romances.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

Elizabeth loves to connect with readers!
Twitter: @ElizaMcKenna
Instagram: elizabeth_mckenna_author

Author: Elizabeth McKenna
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 210
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Mystery with a splash of romance…

Chicago Tribune reporters Emma and Grace have been best friends since college despite coming from different worlds. When Grace is assigned to cover an annual charity ball and auction being held at a lakeside mansion and her boyfriend bails on her, she brings Emma as her plus one. The night is going smoothly until Emma finds the host’s brother unconscious in the study. Though at first it is thought he was tipsy and stumbled, it soon becomes clear more is afoot, as the wall safe is empty and a three-million-dollar diamond necklace is missing. With visions of becoming ace investigative journalists, Emma and Grace set out to solve the mystery, much to the chagrin of the handsome local detective.



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