Writing in Shorts– Wendy Sand Eckel

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This is interview 14 of 14 celebrating the authors in the short story anthology Happy Homicides 6: Cookin’ up Crime. 

Wendy Sand Eckel is the award-winning author of the Rosalie Hart Mystery Series set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Death at the Day Lily Café,* the second in the series, was chosen best cozy mystery of 2016 by Suspense Magazine. Eckel is passionate about living a life filled with good food, love, and lots of hearty laughter.

*Click this hyperlink and watch the BEST book trailer I’ve ever seen. Who was your cinematographer? Wow, so Hollywood! And I mean the California one not the Florida one.

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When and why did you begin writing “in shorts”? Is it harder or easier than full-length novels?

The Naming of Cats in Happy Homicides 4: The Purr-fect Crime, was my first short story to appear in an anthology. I also have a story in our most recent release, Happy Homicides 6: Cookin’ Up Crime. The difficult part about writing a short is trying to uncover and solve a mystery in under 10,000 words. But I really enjoy writing for Happy Homicides. I am in great company and writing shorts allows me to introduce my protagonist, Rosalie Hart, to new readers in an affordable, accessible format.

What is your favorite short story anthology beside the Happy Homicide series?

I view short story writing as being a lot like writing a poem — every word must be vital to the story and move it forward. My favorite short story writer is Alice Munro. I’ve been reading and re-reading her short stories for as long as I can remember. She can develop complex characters, a compelling plot, evoke emotions, and offer up a satisfying ending in very few words. She is a talent!

As an author, what has been your most embarrassing moment, typo, or gaffe?

Upon the release of Death at the Day Lily Cafe, I was invited to the Virginia This Morning television show in Richmond to do a live cooking demonstration. I didn’t come on until the last five minutes of the hour. So while waiting patiently in the kitchen area enjoying the show, I heard the announcer say, ‘coming up later in the hour…’ I looked up to see a live camera in front of me. I was a deer in the headlights until the cameraman mouthed, do something! I quickly picked up a knife and pretended to chop. The good news is they’ve been inviting me back ever since. The people there are lovely and thank goodness they have a sense of humor. You can check out the videos of my appearances on my website.

What is your favorite vacation spot to be in shorts? (I want you to say Miami, but no pressure. wink)

Love South Florida! Just got back from Fort Lauderdale. But I would have to say Italy. In the third book in the Rosalie Hart series, which I am currently writing, Rosalie is returning from a fabulous trip to Florence. My inspiration comes from having attended cooking school in Tuscany a few years ago. That week still simmers in my soul. So, yes, the answer is Italy. Always Italy!

Since this edition of Happy Homicides is food themed, I have to ask—What is your favorite comfort food?

That’s an easy one. A taste of good dark chocolate followed by a sip of aged tawny port wine. Instant warmth and yum. It’s the best and I highly recommend it.

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Writing in Shorts– Linda Gordon Hengerer

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This is interview 13 of 14 celebrating the authors in the Happy Homicide 6: Cooking Up Crime short story anthology. 

I’m excited to have Linda Gordon Hengerer visiting Cozy in Miami. She is a New Jersey transplant to Florida, a member of Mystery Writers of America, and a guru of all things nosh. Really, you must check out her recipes! But the reason I am so pleased to have her on my blog this week is because Linda is the co-editor of the Happy Homicides series. She has had a hand in or rather a critical eye on the series from volume one.

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When and why did you begin writing “in shorts”? Is it harder or easier than full-length novels?

I had drafts of several novels in my files. Joanna Campbell Slan approached me about editing a series of cozy mystery anthologies, with different authors contributing short stories. My problem writing novels was not being focused enough on the core story, and throwing too many sub-plots into the mix. Writing short stories, both novella length and true short stories, was eye-opening. The focus in a shorter length story is all about knowing what the story is, and not having the space to go off on story tangents. It’s easier to write “short” because the story is the focus. It’s harder to write short because you have fewer words to develop characters you care about. Truly, in a short story every word counts.

What is your favorite short story anthology beside the Happy Homicide series?

I like the anthologies that Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers put out each year. I’ve been writing mystery fiction and I like reading other mystery/thriller authors. Knowing where the bar is keeps me upping my writing game.

As an author, what has been your most embarrassing moment, typo, or gaffe?

Thank goodness for sharp-eyed readers! I received an email from a reader who pointed out a mistake in one of my anthology stories – the reference to the dead body was made with a still-living character’s name. I appreciated her telling me so I could correct it.

What is your favorite vacation spot to be in shorts? (I want you to say Miami, but no pressure. wink)

Two of my nieces went to the University of Miami. I haven’t set a story there (yet), but in “Dying for Spice Tea: A Beach Tea Shop Short Story” I mention Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream, which is a few miles from the UM campus and a family favorite! My fictional town, Citrus Beach, is my take on Vero Beach, Florida, where I live. Vero Beach is a vacation destination for many, and as a resident for over twenty years I appreciate what makes it so appealing. We don’t have theme parks, but we do have local sites with national pedigree: Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge was established through Executive Order by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, and was the first National wildlife refuge to be created. Another site is for the Old Vero Ice Age Site, where a human skull dating back to at least 10,000 years was found. McKee Botanical Garden, formerly McKee Jungle Garden, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it has received other national honors, including and endorsement by The Garden Conservancy as a project of national significance.

Since this edition of Happy Homicides is food themed, I have to ask—What is your favorite comfort food?

Ice cream! There’s always room for ice cream, and it’s my go-to when I want comfort and decadence. I love it with something mixed in, like Toasted Coconut Ice Cream from Kilwins. Chocolate is drizzled over the toasted coconut before mixing it into ice cream, and the combination of flavor and texture is to die for.
You can read Linda’s Dying for Spiced Tea -A Beach Tea Shop Short in Happy Homicides 6: Cooking Up Crime. And pick up a free pdf packed with recipes from the contributing authors. Directions as to how to claim the freebie are in the e-book. 

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