Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A New Cozy Mystery and A Chat With Linda M. Au


Dora Machado

Welcome back to MB4, Linda! It’s great to have you here. We hear there’s a new release in the wings, The Scarlet Letter Opener, a cozy mystery with a murder in it. What is it about and when will it be available to readers?

Howdy! Great to be back, this time from the other side of the writing desk. The Scarlet Letter Opener just went live in both Kindle and print formats. And, it has a coupla murders in it, like a lot of good cozy mysteries. It’s about a freelance proofreader who stumbles upon the body of the editor of the local newspaper … and, with her nitpicky attention to detail, entangles herself and others in a rather silly attempt to figure out whodunnit.

What inspired you to write The Scarlet Letter Opener?

Actually, I’d always wanted to try my hand at a mystery, and I’d read a few cozies and found them to be a lot more fun than darker, scarier, earthier mysteries (there’s often an element of humor and quirkiness in a cozy). And seeing an amateur get involved inadvertently in a murder seemed like the only way I’d certainly ever end up in a situation like that myself. Plus, I needed a new, fresh idea for National Novel Writing Month that year ( I’m usually a “pantser” when I write (by the seat of my pants, so to speak), which works well for NaNoWriMo, but plotting a mystery turned out good for the story, but very bad for my nerves. It was the most challenging NaNoWriMo novel I’ve done because I had to work a lot more slowly and methodically in order to not mess it up completely.

This is your third release. What parts of the publishing process do you like best? Which parts challenge you the most?

As you know, I’ve made a career of doing prepress work (proofreading, interior typesetting) for many years, helping authors and publishers produce books. But I’m finding that I thoroughly enjoy being my own boss and doing the layout and proofing for my own books, too. I love working with talented artists and designers on the covers (because I am NO artist!). I enjoy the control, watching the book go from a raw idea to a finished product, making all the decisions along the way by myself. Well, “by myself”—with a lot of input from writers and friends I trust!

The biggest challenge is right before a book goes live. I get all squidgy inside, I hit walls of self-doubt and second-guessing, and I balk just before uploading the final files. That’s when I turn to those same trusted friends to talk me down off the proverbial ledge. It’s terrifying sending your baby out into the world alone.

LOL. I think most writers would agree that’s exactly how it feels putting out a new release. Tell, us, Linda, how is this book different from your previous ones?

The first two are essentially nonfiction collections of humor essays, in the general style of Erma Bombeck. And by “nonfiction,” I mean I only slightly exaggerate my tales, for humorous effect. It’s always amazed me how little I have to change a true, funny episode in my life when I write the humor pieces.

The Scarlet Letter Opener is a novel—in particular, a cozy mystery (kind of a “lite mystery”). Though it’s not the first novel I’ve written, it is the first novel I’ve published. It was the most stable and “ready” of the tidy handful of novels I’ve finished. Other novels should start showing up in print now that I’ve girded my loins and put the first one out there in the big, wide world.

What kind of reader do you think will enjoy The Scarlet Letter Opener?

A discriminating reader with awesome taste in literature and “lite” cozy mysteries. And, you know, my mom.

LOL! Thanks for the laughs, Linda. We wish you great success with The Scarlet Letter Opener.


Linda M. Au lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband, Wayne, and her intrepid office companions, guinea pigs Bob and Frid. She's been a proofreader and copy editor since 1988.

Information on her books and work can be found at her site:

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.

When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at , email her at, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

The Curse Giver's Amazon's Link:

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