Sunday, May 6, 2018

Our Secrets to Series Longevity by Cleo Coyle, Author of 17 Coffeehouse Mysteries + #Giveaway

(Mason's Memo: Hi all, just wanted to let everyone know who the winner is for this wonderful giveaway. The winner was randomly chosen from the comments by Cleo. Join me in giving a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Rupal Desai. Here's the winning comment:

      I messaged you a few years ago on FB to tell you how much your books meant to me. That holds true today. This one was absolutely amazing. Thank you for bringing Clare into my life. I met her when I was 14 and nearly 10 years later, she’s helped me grow every step of the way. And I’m getting married! -Rupal)

I am always thrilled to welcome author Cleo Coyle back to Thoughts in Progress. It means there’s a new Coffeehouse mystery to savor and a chance for you to win an awesome giveaway.

But first, I can’t welcome Cleo (husband and wife team Marc and Alice) to Thoughts without saying an enormous THANKS to Alice for her encouragements when I first thought of entering the world of blogging. In fact, she was the first person to tell me I should be blogging. Thanks for introducing me to a wonderful world of people, Alice.

Now, please join me in giving a huge welcome to Cleo as we learn a bit about how this amazing series continues to grow and entertain us. Welcome, Cleo.

Longevity is a tricky prospect in this “hit-it-and-quit-it” culture. Keeping our Coffeehouse Mystery series going for 15 years and 17 titles at a traditional publisher has been no easy feat. My husband and I could write an entire book about our journey and what we’ve learned—but for the space of this post on Mason’s wonderful blog, we’ll narrow it down to a few Thoughts (in Progress).

In our experience, the first sercret to series longevity is serving the reader new ideas about old friends. While the core personality traits of our characters remain consistent (which is vital), the relationships they have with each other change and evolve over time. With every book, we also try to bring fresh “dishy” details to the storytelling table, giving readers something new to learn or understand about the characters they’ve come to think of as close friends. What made Mike Quinn become a cop? How did Clare and her ex-husband first meet? Why does the elegant octogenairan owner of the Village Blend know what it’s like to be arrested and thrown in jail?

Another secret to a long-running series is keeping things real. We’re writing fiction, of course. When we say “real,” we’re talking about a solid grounding in believability. And, by the way, achieving that feeling of fictional people, places, and events being “real” applies whether you’re writing about a corner café or a galaxy far, far away—as any SF or fantasy writer will tell you!

Our readers often ask us to write faster. It’s a beautiful compliment, but writing with authenticity and authority takes time—and we always take that time. We write and rewrite until we feel that vital grounding of believability is present, until the dialog crackles, characters are well-defined, and a compelling storyline comes alive.

Finally, no matter what sort of fiction we end up spinning, we always begin with research into a world of facts. For our latest Coffeehouse Mystery, Shot in the Dark, Marc and I researched dozens of topics—from designer drugs to French sandwiches; from the Groovy Murders of 1967 to Jimi Hendrix’s favorite foods. The actual birth of the book, however, began with a single factoid, a simple point of information we discovered about New York’s café and restaurant scene.

As managers of these establishments will tell you, mobile phone dating has become a big contributor to their bottom lines. When we learned that, we knew our fictional Village Blend coffeehouse would be no different.

Consequently, we decided to show our readers what would happen when the modern “dating app” craze descended on our landmark coffeehouse. The story we came up with is a fun and fast-paced piece of crime fiction—and, by design, it goes beyond fiction, giving readers real food for thought about the impact of technology on our culture, our relationships, and ourselves.

How we specifically developed the book’s multilayered plot with its twists, turns, and surprises would take a dozen more blog posts to explain, so we’ll stop here and simply say, thank you for reading this post today—and thanks especially to the wonderful Mason Canyon for hosting us.

If you’re new to our Coffeehouse Mysteries, don’t hesitate to pick up Shot in the Dark. All our books can be read as standalone stories; and, if you like one, you’ll have 16 more to enjoy.

As for our series’ longevity, we’re as excited as ever to continue this journey with our characters and our readers. (Another secret to keeping things fresh, real, and alive—find the joy in writing every book.) Now that Shot is published, we’re at work on finding that joy in our 18th Coffeehouse Mystery, coming in 2019.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries Book Trailer


Click here to download a free title checklist (like above) with mini summaries of all 17 of Cleo Coyle’s bestselling Coffeehouse Mysteries and her 6 Haunted Bookshop Mysteries.

Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini, aka Cleo Coyle
CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the Coffeehouse Mysteries, now celebrating fifteen years in print, multiple starred reviews, and the thrill of being featured as a Jeopardy question. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York City, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together, including the popular Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. Look for a brand-new entry in their Haunted Bookshop Mysteries this October: The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller
Visit their website at

CLEO’S NEWSLETTER: Fun contests, bonus recipes, book news, and videos. To sign up, simply write an e-mail that says “sign me up” and send it to CoffeehouseMystery@gmail(dot)com

You can also friend or follow Cleo on Facebook as well as Twitter and Pinterest


* An autographed copy of SHOT IN THE DARK in its beautiful hardcover first edition.
* An autographed set of Cleo Coyle’s collectible recipe cards.
* A sturdy, canvas Coffeehouse Mystery tote bag with a favorite saying of Clare’s octogenarian employer, Madame: “Survive everything. And do it with style.” And…
* A beautiful porcelain Gimme Coffee cup and saucer, make in Italy

Cleo, thanks so much for visiting with us today and sharing this insight into the longevity of this fascinating series. The fact that the characters seem like old friends is just one of the many reason I can’t wait for the next installment as soon as I finish the newest release. I have also learned so much about coffee from Clare and the gang, not to mention the tasty treats that are shared.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today and visiting with Cleo. What do you think about longevity in a series? What keeps you going back to a series book after book?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tick Tock ... Do You Have the Time?

TICK TOCK: A STITCH IN CRIME, An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
◊ Trade Paperback: 204 pages
◊ Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
◊ Publisher: Freedom Fox Press (May 1, 2018)
◊ Language: English
◊ eBook ISBN: 9781939844552
◊ Print ISBN: 9781939844545 


The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?
Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

Sharing one’s thoughts about an anthology can sometimes be a bit tricky. Do you talk about each story or the group as a whole?

With TICK TOCK: A STITCH IN CRIME I’d like to talk about all the stories, and maybe a little about each story.

This is a fascinating collection of stories dealing with time. One thing that makes it so intriguing is the many varying ways time is the key element or focus of the stories. The amazing authors each have their own unique take on time and how it is blended into their story.

This is not a book about time where every story has the same plot with only a few changes here and there. Each story will take readers on their own entertaining and enlightening adventure and hold you spellbound until the very last line.

The writing styles of the authors is different from story to story, but their ability to draw readers into their world is the same – perfect. The remarkable authors as a group weave a well-balanced anthology that will feed a reader’s appetite no matter what genre they prefer.

Looking for riveting stories with stimulating characters and captivating plots, don’t waste another minute before you pick up a copy of TICK TOCK. This anthology is well worth your time.

Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology, Freedom Fox Press, @2018, ISBN: 9781939844545, Trade Paperback, 204 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have your read TICK TOCK yet? Have you ever thought about how time is so much a part of our lives in so many different ways?