I’m pleased to have author Debra Sennefelder from Southwestern Connecticut here to speak about her writing and new release, Death Wears a Little Black Dress that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.
Welcome, Debra. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.
I’ve been published since April of 2018 when my debut novel, THE UNINVITED CORPSE, book 1 in the Food Blogger mystery series was published. MURDER WEARS A LITTLE BLACK DRESS is my second novel to be published.
Congratulations! Tell us a little bit about your books.
MURDER WEARS A LITTLE BLACK DRESS is the first book in the Resale Boutique mystery series featuring Kelly Quinn, an out-of-work fashionista who inherits a tired, old consignment shop from her grandmother. Kelly discovers that there is a little black dress in inventory that could hold the key to a murder. My other series, the Food Blogger mystery series features former magazine editor turned food blogger, Hope Early as she settles back into her hometown after a failed attempt to win a reality baking competition show and a messy divorce. The second book in that series, THE HIDDEN CORPSE, will be released on March 26th and book three, THREE WIDOWS AND A CORPSE will be released sometime in November.
Excellent. They both sound like interesting books with great concepts.
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 goals are to continue writing books in both series for the foreseeable future. I’ll continue to do what I’m doing now, showing up daily at my computer to write.
Nice goals. Good luck.
What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
I think my books will attract readers who want to settle in for a fun time with a friends. I know I do when I pick up a cozy mystery. I enjoy visiting the cast of characters in cozy mysteries, it’s like visiting old friends and catching up on what’s going on in their lives.
I feel the same way. The folks in Cobble Cove in my mystery series are friendly, quirky, and people you’d love to chat with over tea except for the killers, of course – lol.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
I would advise them to continue improving their skills and not to give up. There’s so much rejection in this career that it can become overwhelming and sometimes it feels like you take a step forward and before you know it, you’re knocked back two steps. The frustration is real. I would encourage others to not give up.
That’s important advice. You’re right about the rejection in this field. It can be overwhelming, so persistence is the name of the game.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
There were rejections and the doubts that coincided with those rejections. It’s so easy to focus on the negative. One thing that was a constant struggle was the negative self-talk. I had to realize I’d never say those things to my critique partner or any of my writer friends, so why was it okay to say it to myself? Limiting that type of behavior, it’s very hard to completely banish, I believe is a necessary step to becoming a better writer because I was able to focus on my strengths.
A very insightful comment.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?
I belong to Sisters in Crime and the International Thriller Writers Associations.
I’m members of both those groups, too.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
I enjoy cooking and I love to bake. I have two Shih-Tzus so I enjoy long walks with them. I love to exercise, yes, really. It’s a great way for me to clear my head. And of course, I love to read.
I used to bake but don’t have the time right now. I have dogs instead of cats, but I exercise daily. I agree it helps to clear your mind and relax.
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
The best thing about being an author is that I get to tell stories. It’s really the coolest part of the job. I love brainstorming ideas and putting the plot together like a jigsaw puzzle. The thing I like least about being a writer is balancing all of the responsibilities that come along with writing. It’s a challenge to juggle the numerous tasks that involve managing a small business, which writing is. Writing the next book is the most important thing I do as a writer, but all the other work needs to get done. I’m always striving to improve my time management skills.
I agree. Time management is so essential to writers especially those who work full-time and have a family.
What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?
I love the small-town charm of cozy mysteries and the intrigue of small-town life. The secrets that are kept from neighbors, the indiscretions not talked about and the fact that most everyone knows everyone else. I love writing a strong protagonist who is determined to see that justice is served regardless of what she has to go up against. She’s an ordinary person thrown into an extraordinary situation and usually faces direct threats on her life.
You’ve put my feelings about cozies into words.
Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?
Yes, here’s an excerpt from the beginning of MURDER WEARS A LITTLE BLACK DRESS. It’s day one of a three-day sale to liquidate merchandise in order to revamp the shop into a more trendy consignment shop Kelly had recently inherited.
“How do you explain this? The tag says my dress has been marked down by seventy-five percent. There appears to be a mistake.”
Kelly Quinn turned her head to the raised voice of the woman standing at the sales counter. She held a midi-length floral dress with cap sleeves in one hand while her other was propped on her hip.
“Irene, you know the store’s policy on markdowns,” Pepper Donovan answered with a smile. She always had a smile, except for when Kelly announced she was making changes to the consignment shop.
“How on earth am I supposed to earn any money? Martha never put merchandise on sale,” Floral Dress Lady countered.
As Kelly made her way across the shop, she was well aware her grandmother didn’t do a lot of things, and that was why, in the past few years, the shop’s earnings had steadily declined.
“Good morning. I’m Kelly Quinn.” She extended her hand, but it was received with an intense glare. She pulled her hand back and braced herself for an unpleasant conversation. “What seems to be the problem?”
“Seems? Dear child, there doesn’t seem to be a problem. There is a problem. My dress has been marked down to an unreasonable amount of money. Please explain to me the reason for your decision.”
Kelly bristled at being called a child. She’d just celebrated her twenty-sixth birthday three months ago and, up until forty-five days ago, she had a full-time job with a well-laid-out career path and her own apartment, albeit it tiny, in the West Village of New York City. How many children could say that?
“I was just reminding Irene of the store’s pricing policy.” No doubt Pepper was trying to remind her new boss about the agreement every consignee signed. She was younger than Kelly’s late granny but still old enough to feel she should be in charge.
Kelly didn’t need to be reminded. She was familiar with the document, as well as many other documents pertaining to the shop. The past few weeks had been filled with reviewing papers, meeting with lawyers, and sleepless nights because of her new acquisition.
“When you consigned your clothing, you signed an agreement, which stated how merchandise is priced. After seven weeks, merchandise is marked down by seventy-five percent,” Kelly said.
“I see.” Floral Dress Lady stretched out her arm, and the dress dangled from its hanger while she admired it. “So, this lovely dress that cost me way more than the original consigned price is now a mere ten dollars?” Her brows arched, and her glare intensified.
This isn’t good.
“It’s important to keep turning over merchandise. Especially out-of-season clothing.” When Kelly had gone painstakingly through every item in inventory, she found a bunch of spring/summer clothing that should have been cleared out months ago. “When customers see new stuff, they tend to buy more. This translates into money for our consignees.” Kelly hoped the explanation would appease the woman.
“Except for this consignee. Why don’t you do a better job of selling your merchandise so it doesn’t become old?”
No appeasement there.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
“Kelly, this is Irene Singer.” Pepper jumped back into the conversation. “She’s been consigning with us for a while.”
Irene Singer gave Kelly a stern nod as if her name should have meant something. It didn’t.
The bell over the front door chimed, prompting Kelly to glance over her shoulder. More shoppers. She needed to wrap up this dispute over the pricing.
“Ms. Singer, unfortunately I can’t change the price on the dress as per our policy to mark down accordingly based on length of time in inventory, but I’m going to give the dress back to you.” Phew. She managed to say all that in one breath, and it actually sounded like she knew what she was saying. “Let me just snip off the price tag.”
Irene Singer’s eyes widened. “I don’t have a use for this dress, which is why I consigned it.”
There wasn’t going to be any appeasement with the woman whatsoever. Frustration bubbled in Kelly. She hadn’t worked a sales floor since fashion school, and after graduating, she didn’t think she’d ever be back to arranging displays, restocking inventory, or handling cranky customers. Yet, there she was. The new owner of the Lucky Cove Consignment Shop soon to be renamed Curated by Kelly Resale Boutique. The name change reflected Kelly’s vision for a trendy consignment shop for locals and tourists.
Thank you. I enjoyed that.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?
The cat on the cover of the book is based on the cat we had for fourteen years. His name was Howard, and that’s the cat’s name in the book. Like Kelly, in MURDER WEARS A LITTLE BLACK DRESS, I went to fashion school and studied Fashion Buying and Merchandising. I also had a food blog before shifting my focus to pursuing publication.
Awww. As a cat lover who’s featured my cats in my books, I can relate. It seems you also have a good background for the topics you write about.
Thanks for chatting today, Debra, and I’m sharing the info of your blog tour below. Best wishes on your new release and future publications.
Murder Wears a Little Black Dress (A Resale Boutique Mystery)
by Debra Sennefelder
About the Book
Murder Wears a Little Black Dress (A Resale Boutique Mystery)
1st in Series
Lyrical Underground (January 22, 2019)
Paperback: 200 pages
Digital ASIN: B07CR2CG63
Manhattan fashionista Kelly Quinn thought she’d left her upstate New York town far behind . . . until the Seventh Avenue expat returns home to revamp her grandmother’s consignment shop into an upscale boutique—and unwittingly sets a trend for murder . . .
After her rising career as a Manhattan buyer is derailed, Kelly has mixed feelings about relocating back to Lucky Cove, in spite of her big plans for the soon-to-be-renamed Curated by Kelly Resale Boutique. What’s left of her luck starts running out when a customer puts on a black lace dress that triggers visions of someone being murdered. As if the haunted “Murder Dress” isn’t enough to kill business, the psychic’s doppelganger cousin has just been found bludgeoned to death.
Was Maxine LeMoyne the real target or was it a case of mistaken murder? With some creepy pre-Halloween bargain hunters walking the night and Kelly suddenly a person of interest, a second murder rocks the close-knit town. Now Kelly could be the one who ends up talking to dead people when she’s stalked by a killer determined to take her out in high style . . .
About the Author
Debra Sennefelder, the author of the Food Blogger Mystery series and the Resale Boutique Mystery series, is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.
Born and raised in New York City, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in pre-hospital care, retail and publishing. Her writing companions are her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih-Tzus, Susie and Billy.
She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Romance Writers of America.
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January 21 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
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January 22 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
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January 23 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
January 24 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
January 24 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 25 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
January 25 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
January 26 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
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