Skip to main content

Jennifer J. Chow: Sparking Optimism and Hope With Cozy Mystery Novels (and Sassy Cats)

Author Jennifer J. Chow shares how writing cozy mysteries helps spark optimism and hope, what was different about writing the second novel in her Sassy Cat mystery series, and so much more.

Jennifer J. Chow writes the #OwnVoices Sassy Cat mystery series (Berkley/Penguin Random House). She also published the Winston Wong Cozy Mysteries under J.J. Chow. Her short fiction has been featured in Over My Dead Body! Along with Mystery Writers of America, she's active in Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers of Color.

Jennifer J. Chow

Jennifer J. Chow

(How to write a mystery novel.)

Connect with her online at www.jenniferjchow.com and on social media @jenjchow.

In this post, Chow shares how writing cozy mysteries helps spark optimism and hope, what was different about writing the second novel in her Sassy Cat mystery series, and much more!

*****

Writing the Mystery Novel

Do you love reading a good mystery? Have you always wanted to write one? During the Essentials of Mystery Writing workshop, you'll have the choice of creating a brand new mystery story from scratch or working with a story you already have in progress.

Click to continue.

*****

Name: Jennifer J. Chow
Literary agent: Jessica Faust of BookEnds
Book title: Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines
Publisher: Berkley/Penguin Random House
Expected release date: November 10, 2020
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Last release: Mimi Lee Gets a Clue

Elevator pitch for the book: When a local teacher is found dead, LA's newest pet groomer Mimi Lee finds herself in a pawful predicament—with her younger sister's livelihood on the line.

mimi_lee_reads_between_the_lines_a_sassy_cat_by_jennifer_j_chow_book_cover

IndieBound | Amazon

[WD uses affiliate links.]

What prompted you to write this book?

Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines features an Asian American female lead, and I'm glad for the chance to create a diverse character. Along with her sassy talking cat, Mimi investigates a murder that takes place at a local school. I enjoyed writing this unique detecting duo. The setting was inspired by the fact that I live in Los Angeles and am surrounded by teacher friends.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication?

It took me a little under two years to travel the publication route. The basic premise of the book, with Mimi's sister getting implicated in a murder at her school, stayed the same. I did, however, change a pivotal scene to make the story flow better and to tie up some loose ends. Plus, the cats in the book asserted their independence and took on fiercer roles in the story!

jennifer_j_chow_sparking_hope_and_optimism_with_cozy_mystery_novels_and_sassy_cats

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

There was a really quick turnaround with this second book in the Sassy Cat Mysteries. I guess series followers don't want to wait too long before the next release. Mimi Lee Gets A Clue had just been published when I received the artwork from the publisher for this second book. The pre-order link went live soon after that.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

I'm a bit of a pantser when I write, so sometimes I'm surprised by how things turn out. With Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines, though, I had to turn in an early detailed synopsis, complete with the ending. I needed to flesh out plot points and choose the killer way in advance. 

(7 steps to creating a flexible outline for any story.)

Despite the pre-plotting, I was happy to feel the creative juices flowing, and my characters still managed to shape pivotal scenes.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I want my readers to experience hope. While real life is messy, cozy mysteries provide tidy endings wrapped in ribbons and bows. This sense of order and rightness offers optimism. Within their reading journey, though, I do hope readers also pause to delight in the sparks of humor.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Dive into community. I'm so grateful for the other writers around me. In the query trenches, they buoyed me up with their support. While drafting, they pushed me to work hard by doing writing sprints together or offering critiques. A community also means a valuable group who will offer writing tips, share with candor, and celebrate with fervor.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Last Chance to Nominate Your Favorite Writing Websites, Our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce the deadline to nominate your favorite writing websites, our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and more!

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

From having reverence for the original to making it your own, author Nikki Payne shares four tips for writing a modern retelling.

Faint vs. Feint (Grammar Rules)

Faint vs. Feint (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use faint vs. feint in your writing with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples. Plus, we answer whether it's "faint of heart" or "feint of heart."

6 Books to Cozy Up With This Winter | Book Recommendations

6 Books to Cozy Up With This Winter

Here are 6 book recommendation perfect for winter reading.

12 Things to Consider When Writing Fight Scenes in Fiction (FightWrite™)

12 Things to Consider When Writing Fight Scenes in Fiction (FightWrite™)

Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch shares 12 things all writers should consider when attempting to write effective fight scenes in fiction.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unreal Character

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unreal Character

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character turn out to be less than they seem.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Here are the final steps for the 15th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript. Here are some tips and guidelines.

Valeria Ruelas: On Teaching Tarot, Brujeria, and Witchcraft

Valeria Ruelas: On Teaching Tarot, Brujeria, and Witchcraft

Author Valeria Ruelas discusses the process of writing her new book, The Mexican Witch Lifestyle.

What Is the Hook, the Book, and Cook Query Pitching Technique for Writers?

What Is the Hook, the Book, and the Cook Query Pitching Technique for Writers?

Find out what "the hook, the book, and the cook" are in relation to writing query letters and pitching books to literary agents and book editors. This post answers the question of what each one is and how to successfully assemble the pieces.