Leah began the Cozy Ink Podcast as a platform to connect cozy mystery readers cozy authors. She has introduced new books to readers, held an online conference, and read short stories.
Stephanie Graves, Carlene O’Connor, Nancy Coco, Lynn Cahoon and many more authors have been on Cozy Ink Podcast. If you enjoy cozy mysteries, you don’t want to miss Leah’s podcast. Here’s the link: https://cozyink.buzzsprout.com/
I met J. C. Kenney at Malice Domestic in May 2019. Dawn Dowdle is our agent, and J. C. spoke at the new author breakfast. This was before COVID was a thought, and he always had a smile on his face. I’m such an introvert, his ease with others impressed me. J. C. agreed to join us today.
Welcome, J. C., thanks for joining us.
Hi, Jackie! It’s a thrill to be visiting with you today to chat about A Deadly Discovery.
Where is the setting? How did you decide to pick it? A Deadly Discovery is the fourth book in my Allie Cobb Mysteries series. It’s set in the fictional southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek. It’s based on the real town of Nashville, which was established in the mid-1800’s as an artists’ colony. For decades, it’s been a quaint community and a tourist community. I live an hour north of Nashville, Indiana and visit often. I think it’s an ideal place to serve as the model for a cozy mystery community.
How long have you been writing? I started writing regularly in 2011. For years, I’d wanted to write a book, but had never come up with an idea that kept me going beyond the first few pages. It all changed in August 2011 when an idea popped into my head and wouldn’t let go. A Deadly Discovery is the eleventh book I’ve had published. It’s been a crazy ride!
Did you always dream of writing or have you always worked as an author? Writing has always been a big part of my day job career, even though that’s been more on the technical end. For example, for my current day job I’m in charge of my company’s policies and procedures. While that’s a quite different discipline from creative fiction writing, I think technical writing has helped me with things like clarity, grammar, and conciseness.
What are your hobbies? Reading’s my number one hobby. All my life, I’ve loved to read. I stick mostly to fiction for the escape from reality.
Do you have a favorite character? If you could spend a day with this person, what would you enjoy doing? Allie’s best friend, Sloane Winchester, is probably my favorite character. She’s such a kind soul and is so upbeat. It would be a pleasure to simply hang out with her and revel in her bubbly personality.
Do you have a favorite beach or vacation spot? I love the Florida Gulf Coast. It’s easy to get there from Indianapolis, whether its by plane or car. For my money, the soft, white beaches can’t be beat.
Is there a place you’ve always longed to visit? I’m of Irish heritage so someday my wife and I hope to visit Ireland. My parents vacationed there in 1979. To this day, I remember how excited they were to take that trip.
Have you been to the Indy 500? I’m a big fan of IndyCar and the 500, in particular. I attended my first race in 1977, the year A.J. Foyt won his fourth race. It was really cool to be a part of that. I’ve only missed one 500 in the last ten years. It’s a big deal in my household!
Do you have a pet? What about the cat in your book? I do! Maria is a Russian Blue cat who is also known as the Princess of the House. She’s a rescue and has been with us since February 2014, so almost seven years. She has me totally wrapped around her little kitty paw. I based Ursula, the Cat in the Allie Cobb Mysteries, on Maria. I’m a total cat guy, so it’s tons of fun including felines in my books.
A Deadly Discovery Blurb
Certain she’s seen more than enough death for one lifetime, literary agent Allie Cobb is ready to close the book on her amateur sleuthing, even when she learns that an unidentified body has been unearthed in a local state park. But when a worn and haunted-looking woman shows up on her doorstep with a grim story about her young daughter’s disappearance twenty years ago—and the police confirm that the recently discovered body is hers—Allie can’t bear to turn the poor woman away.
Determined to uncover the truth about the young woman’s murder, Allie begins delving into the circumstances of her life and those she knew so many years before. And when she meets powerful resistance from those she questions—many of whom are now trusted leaders in her small, tight-knit community—she’s sure she’s on the right track. But as she narrows down the list of suspects, Allie realizes too late that a cold-blooded killer is dead-set on keeping the secrets of the past buried, and it will take all her wit and cunning to avoid becoming the second young woman to meet an untimely end…
J. C., thanks for joining us today.
If you’d like to reach out to J. C. Kenney, you can find him in the following places.
I won’t get political here during these turbulant times. Recently I shared my goal to show more compassion to others in 2021. Martin Luther King Jr. believed the only way to change society was to show compassion to others.
When I chose compassion as my word for the year, I didn’t have him in mind. After a year of tragedies, I saw people hurting and decided we could all benefit from receiving compassion from others.
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” Martin Luther King Jr.
We’re still social distancing and wearing masks where I live, but my goal for today is to find one person to show kindness and compassion to today.
What about you? How will you celebrate Martin Luther King Day?
Definition of compassion according to Merriam-Webster is : sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
The Bible has many verses on compassion.
1 Peter 3:8 says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is well known for his compassionate nature.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” ― Plato
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ― Aesop
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ― Albert Einstein
In 2020, we saw horrible events in the news. In 2021, I plan to reflect on compassion. I may not change the world, but maybe I can help one person.
I’d like to thank all of you who’ve recommended my books to others. Whether you’ve done it by word of mouth, social media, Goodreads or Bookbub, thank you. If you’ve left me a comment on book-selling webistes, thank you. I appreciate your support!
Recently Sherida Stewart posted a recommendation and review on Bookbub. I don’t have a big marketing budget, and it means more than you can imagine when readers step up with reviews and recommendations.
Sherida even listed her favorite quote: “You push me to be a better person, without even realizing what you’re doing.”
I wanted to let you know, I’m still married after another NaNoWriMo! Tim is always supportive of my writing.
Besides writing, we were able to meet our newest grandson, we hung out with my youngest son and his wife, and I even got to play disk golf with my oldest son. Considering we’re still living through COVID-19, I felt blessed to see part of my family.
Here’s the newest member of our family. He’s got a sweet temperament, and we’re all in love with the little guy.
I met Jennifer Graeser Dornbush a few years ago at an ACFW conference. She held us spellbound, and I immediately bought her book Forensic Speak: How to Write Realsitic Crime Dramas. Am I a fan? You bet I am, and this is going to be fun!
Have you ever wondered if coroners really eat sandwiches while doing autopsies? Or if investigators wear low cut dresses and high heels to investigate a murder? Can you always find DNA at a crime scene?
There are many common forensic misconceptions portrayed in crime fiction (on screen and on the page). Let’s go behind the scenes to examine why these forensic shortcuts are necessary and how writers fudge forensics in order to make their stories more entertaining.
Forensics is popular in tv, film, novels etc. Is forensics often portrayed accurately in pop culture? What are some popular misconceptions about forensics portrayed on TV?
Here are a couple of my favorite examples of faux forensics in storytelling. And why they work!
The first one I call the Tick Tock Effect. Writers fabricate time in crime stories. Meaning, crime stories have to be compressed for time’s sake. We have to accomplish a great deal of storytelling in a very short time (just minutes for TV or pages for novels!). We have to reveal the crime, the characters, evidence, and investigation, and resolution. We have to introduce a case, weave a story around the event, and get out. We absolutely have to compress time and select exactly which elements of the case and evidence we want to reveal in order to tell the story.
In real-life forensics, investigations take a very, very long time. Months to years to decades. Even lifetimes. Case in point, the Shannon Siders cold case, which Hole in the Woods is based on, took over 25 years from crime to conviction. But I’ve told the story in just over 300 pages. Tick tock!
The second forensic faux pas I find fascinating is what I call, Trigger Happy. This is the myth that all types of investigators carry guns and go around wielding their weapons. Have you ever noticed how in crime storyland investigators do a lot of shooting and get into a lot of gun fights? In fact, many climax moments of crime stories culminate in a gunfight. And Hole in the Woods is no exception to this! I admit I fully leaned on this forensic trope!
In real life, however, only sworn investigators carry guns. CSIs, coroner’s, and M.E.s do not. Also, gun fights on the field are the exception, not the rule. Gun fights are more rare than commonplace.
And if you’ve ever been around gunfire or shot a gun, you know that the sound is deafening without earplugs. Most people involved in a gun fight would have temporary deafness, ringing in ears, or limited hearing right after a gun fight. But on screen or on the page, this is rarely addressed or has any effect on the people involved in the gunfire.
The excessive use of guns is a popular forensic faux pas (or trope) in crime fiction for a couple reasons. First, when your protagonist wears and handles a gun, it depicts power and authority. You want your protagonist to be the power player. And second, gun fights are a dramatic way to increase the stakes of your story because they immediately threaten your protagonist’s life.
Those are just two examples, but you get the idea. Writers should always try to be authentic in their forensic facts. Yet, we need to keep entertainment value at the forefront.
What forensics were used in your latest novel, Hole in the Woods?
I hand selected a few pieces of forensic evidence from the real Shannon Sider’s case to use in my fictional version of it. And then, I made up or massaged a few other pieces of forensic evidence for entertainment purposes.
In the novel you will find the use of DNA detection and witness testimony (but I don’t want to say who from!). There are also several personal articles of identification that help the case forensically.
What are the three biggest mistakes new writers make when writing in the crime genre? How can they best fix them?
Three things. Not spending the time, energy, or research to get the forensic facts right. Thinking that what they see on TV or in movies is correct procedure. Writing crime scenes that come off at cliche, plastic, or static (in action and dialogue!).
Fix it #1 Shameless plug! But please… get yourself a copy Forensic Speak. It’s my labor of love for crime writers! There are over 300 forensic terms, plus, a list of over 50 resources that will make your crime writing better.
Fix it #2 Make friends with a cop, coroner, toxicologist, or crime scene investigator who can show you the real ropes. Get first hand knowledge. It will make your story more authentic and exciting. Always!
Fix it #3 Know the correct forensic terms and how to use them. Don’t over use terms. Layer in the facts of the case/evidence to keep the plot moving, but center the focus of scenes around character conflict, tension, and emotional needs. Focus on great storytelling first. Then go back and authenticate where you can and must.
Jennifer, thank you so much for joining us today.
Readers, here are some links if you want to get to know more about Jennifer.
On December 1, the 12 Days of Cozies begins. You can join the fun on Twitter and Instagram. It’s an opportunity to have fun and enjoy cozy mysteries. There will be daily giveaways on Twitter starting at 8:00 AM EST. In the evenings there will be Author chats from 8:00 to 9:00PM EST. On December 3, I will be leading the chat.
There will be prizes, reading sprints, and daily Instagram challenges. There are Bingo cards too!
This is the place to be to connect with other readers, authors and friends. Spread the word, and I hope to see you soon!