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.
Author:
Publish date:

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.

Mary Alice Monroe: On Writing the Family Saga

Mary Alice Monroe: On Writing the Family Saga

Award-winning author Mary Alice Monroe discusses what it's like to draft a series that spans generations and storylines.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Final Competition Deadline, Short Story Virtual Conference, and more!

This week, we’re excited to announce the Self-Published Book Awards deadline for 2021, details on the upcoming Short Story Virtual Conference, and more!

John B. Thompson | Book Wars

John B. Thompson: On Researching Changes in the Book Publishing Industry

John B. Thompson, author of the new book Book Wars, shares the research that went into his account of how the digital revolution changed publishing for readers and writers.

From Script

Supporting AAPI Storytellers and Tapping into Mythical World Building (From Script)

In this week’s round-up from ScriptMag.com, meet South-East-Asian-American filmmakers and screenwriters, plus interviews with screenwriter Emma Needell and comic book writer/artist Matt Kindt, TV medical advisor Dr. Oren Gottfried, and more!

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a personal essay (also known as the narrative essay) is, including what makes it different from other types of fiction and nonfiction writing, examples of effective personal essays, and more.

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

If your character isn't a trained fighter but the scene calls for a fight, how can you make the scene realistic? Author and trained fighter Carla Hoch has the answers for writers here.

April PAD Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts for the 2021 April PAD Challenge

Find all 30 poetry prompts for the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge in this post.

The Problem of Solving a Mystery When You're the Prime Suspect

The Problem of Solving a Mystery When You're the Prime Suspect

Mia P. Manansala, author of Arsenic & Adobo, explains how writers can help their main character solve a mystery when they're the prime suspect.

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is not using your spare 15 minutes.