I’m pleased to have author Lena Gregory, a fellow Long Islander, here to speak about her writing and new release, the first of her All Day Breakfast Cafe mystery series, Scone Cold Killer, which is on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book.
Welcome, Lena. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write.
My first cozy mystery, Death at First Sight, released on November 1, 2016 with Berkley Publishing. I currently write the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries series (Death at First Sight, Occult and Battery & Clairvoyant and Present Danger) with Berkley Publishing and the All-Day Breakfast Café Mysteries series (Scone Cold Killer, Murder Made to Order & Cold Brew Killing) with Lyrical Press.
Very nice. I will have to check those out. I currently write a cozy mystery series myself with Solstice Publishing, a small publisher, and I recently submitted a proposal for the first book of a new cozy series with an agent. I’m also a librarian and order the books for our fiction and mystery collection. Cozy mysteries are quite popular among our patrons.
Tell us a little bit about your books and series.
My newest release, Scone Cold Killer, the first book in the All-Day Breakfast Café Mysteries series, which released on January 23, 2018, is about Gia Morelli, a woman from New York City who flees her home to move to Boggy Creek, Florida and open a café. Unfortunately, trouble follows.
In the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries series, book three, Clairvoyant and Present Danger, is due to release on February 6, 2018 and follows the story of Cass Donovan and her small psychic shop on the boardwalk.
Those both sound very interesting. Congratulations on your two new releases.
Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?
My biggest goal is to keep writing cozies! I hope to continue the series’ I am currently writing as well as starting two new series’.
That’s terrific. Your goals sound quite ambitious. I personally love developing characters and settings for cozies, although I do like to write short stories and standalones of other genres.
What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
I think people who enjoy cozy mysteries would be most interested in my books, people who enjoy reading about small towns and trying to solve the mystery along with the sleuth.
I agree that those are the main draws to cozies. People also like cozies that feature pets and recipes. I like to include cats and dogs in mine, although I’m mainly a cat lover.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
I would say, “Never give up!” It’s definitely not an easy road, and there is plenty of rejection along the way, but achieving your dream is so worth it.
I feel that way exactly. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished so far with my small publisher, but I’d love to have my books produced in more formats and distributed on a wider scale with a larger publisher.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
I think figuring out what genre to write was my biggest hurdle. I originally wrote romance, and while I do enjoy some romance in my cozies, I’m definitely not a romance writer. It took me a little while to figure out what I’d be good at writing and enjoy. After romance, I tried fantasy and children’s books. I do have stories published in all of those genres, but it was tough. It wasn’t until I started writing cozies that I really found my niche.
It’s funny you should say that, Lena, because that’s similar to my experience. When I published the first book of my series, A Stone’s Throw, I considered it romantic suspense but readers were reviewing it as a cozy. I decided to make it into a series. While I’ve written other genres, I feel my writing fits best with cozies because I feel uncomfortable writing scenes that feature explicit sex or violence and really like to create characters with whom I would enjoy sitting down to tea or chatting over some muffins.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?
I don’t belong to any right now, but I am hoping to join a couple as soon as I get some free time.
Free time is a rare commodity for writers, isn’t it? I participate in my library’s writing club and belong to several associations and social media groups, but I find it hard to devote so much time to them because I need to have time to write, too.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
I enjoy spending time with my husband and kids, love reading, of course, and I’m a huge superhero fan. I also love dancing, which I taught for many years.
Dancing sounds like a good way to relax and get exercise away from the computer.
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
I enjoy everything about being an author. I think the thing I enjoy most, though, is celebrating my releases with facebook parties. I love getting to know my readers and other authors and have made some great friends that way. My least favorite part is writing the first rough draft. I definitely struggle with that. My toughest challenge is finding the discipline to sit down and write every day.
I love Facebook parties, too, and in fact my character cat from my Cobble Cove mysteries is hosting a Valentine’s Day paw-ty in February. Please drop by if you’d like. These events are great to interact with readers, although they’re a lot of work. I have more difficulty editing the second draft than I do writing the first one because I don’t keep extensive outlines.
What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?
Everything! I enjoy plotting the mystery, trying to make it challenging to figure out. I love the recurring characters that become like old friends with each new story and the small communities that feel like home.
I definitely relate to that. Cozy characters grow on you, and it’s fun to see them develop. The settings are also places that are appealing to the senses.
Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?
Another customer entered.
Since Willow was in the middle of taking an order, Gia turned around and went to seat him. A couple of minutes to cool off might be just what she needed.
“Good morning.” She forced a smile.
The unmistakable New York accent caught her off guard, and she faltered.
“Uh…I mean, um…” She shook her head. She was going to have to get a grip on herself. She couldn’t break out in a cold sweat every time someone from New York walked into her shop. A lot of New Yorkers vacationed in Florida every year, many of them owning homes in both places. “Sorry, I was distracted for a moment. A lot on my mind.” And the tall, muscular stranger from New York just catapulted to the top of the list.
He narrowed his eyes. “No problem.”
“Will anyone be joining you today?”
“Nope. Just me.” After studying her another moment, he smiled, crinkling the corners of his eyes—the darkest green eyes she’d ever seen, their irises surrounded by an even darker ring and framed by thick, black lashes any woman would envy.
“Would you like to sit at the counter, or would you like a table?”
“The counter is fine, thank you.”
She led him to the counter and handed him a menu. “Coffee?”
“Yes, please. Long flight.” He raked a hand through his stylishly disheveled dark hair. “Well, actually, that’s not exactly accurate. The flight wasn’t that long, the delay beforehand was.”
She laughed. “From New York?”
He shot her a charmingly crooked grin. “How’d you guess?”
“Hmm… I can’t imagine what gave it away.” Some of her tension eased. “So, what brings you to Florida?”
“A little business.” He leaned closer and lowered his voice to a husky whisper. “Hopefully, a little pleasure.”
Nice excerpt. Thanks for sharing it.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?
I enjoy getting to know my readers and can often be found on facebook if you’d like to say hello 😊
Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Lena.Gregory.Author/?fref=ts
Thank you so much for having me!
Thank you. It was nice speaking with you, and best wishes on your series and blog tour. I am including your blog tour page and rafflecopter giveaway link below.