Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Best Writing Advice from the Mutt Mystery Authors - A Guest Post

I'm pleased to welcome the Mutt Mystery authors to Cozy Up With Kathy today. To Fetch a Villain is their latest anthology and it was released.

 The Best Writing Advice from the Mutt Mystery Authors

Heather: Don’t give up. Writing and getting published are hard work. You need to be persistent and willing to learn along the journey. This is a business, and writers need to treat their careers that way. They need to constantly improve their craft, learn new ways to market their work, and find ways to build their social media platforms.

Another piece of advice is that everyone needs an editor. No matter how good your writing is, we can all use a professional set of eyes to review our manuscript for plotholes, inconsistencies, and nasty typos. Often, you have one chance to pitch to a publisher or agent, and your manuscript has to be in the best shape possible.


Jayne: I woke up in 1998 with a book in my head. I honestly thought writing would be as simple as sitting down to the keyboard and letting the words flow in the exact order they needed to tell the story. Soon found out writing a book is much more work than just “reading” a book. Oh, so much, much more. I realized after my first rejection letter (a badge of honor) that I needed help, so I joined a writer’s group. They offered plenty of advice. Most of it good, but some, well, not so much. The worst advice I ever heard is “You can fix crap, but you can’t fix nothing.” In other words, just sit down and get the story out, and go back and fix it later.

I consider that the worst advice because it did not work for me. My process requires me to write one sentence at a time, be happy with it before moving on. Yes, it is a painfully slow process, but when I’m done, my novel/novella/story/blog post needs minor editing, not a complete overhaul. I truly thought I was doing something wrong, that I was a bad writer and would never reap the rewards as a published author.

I almost gave up on my dream, until I attended an author event at my local Barnes and Noble. Susan Elizabeth Phillips was on a book tour! (This was back in the days of in-person book tours, not the virtual ones of today.) Oh, what a gracious and kind lady. And when asked about her writing process, she said she writes slowly, just like me! But the best advice she gave was, “Do what works best for you.” Such a relief to learn I wasn’t a failure before even starting my writing career. So now any advice I receive must pass the SEP-sniff test. Does it work for me? If not, I go back to doing things my way.


Maria: The best writing advice I have been given came from Cynthia Riggs, author of the Martha's Vineyard Mysteries and starring 92 year old Victoria Trumbull. Cynthia and I were riding from Oxford to London in a pre-dawn airport shuttle after an instructive conference at St. Hilda's College. At this time, I had written my first mystery, and Cynthia had read it, but I had not yet submitted it to any agent or publisher. Her advice? Think series. Standalones don't lead to anything, usually, but a series featuring a great character or two can go on and on. After that, I wrote my first Travel Mystery starring Dotsy Lamb, retired history professor. Cynthia was right. With a good character and a reusable premise, you can go on and on.

But I wish I had followed Cynthia's other idea; In her books, time passes on Martha's Vineyard, but Victoria Trumbull is always 92 years old. I know this is impossible, but readers can accept things like this easily. But I let Dotsy age through six books and, as a result, she's now living with her second husband on his vineyard in Italy. No travel, no murders, no fellow travelers, no mystery,

The other best advice I have received came from Deni Dietz, my editor at Five Star. "Don't write from a man's point of view, Maria. You can't do it. You sound like a woman trying to figure out how a man thinks."


Teresa: The best writing advice I've ever received was to allow my work to be edited. Once I finish a story, I send to my writing partners to edit then send round two edits to a proof-reader. It makes my writing stronger, the story better, and catches grammar and other issues I may have missed.  


About the Mutt Mysteries:

Old dogs and new tricks abound in To Fetch a Villain, the third installment in the Mutt Mysteries series. This collection of four novellas illustrates why dogs are our best friends and the perfect companions for digging up clues, solving crimes, and bringing villains to justice. Let sleeping dogs lie? Not when the MUTTS are on the case!

RUFF DAY by Jayne Ormerod
Store owner Darby Moore suffers through a “ruff” day when a dead body is discovered in her custom dog house. With her best friend topping the suspect’s list, Darby knows the police are barking up the wrong tree. It’s up to Darby’s Great Dane Mr. Belvedere to channel his inner Scooby-Doo and save the day.

AT YOUR SERVICE by Maria Hudgins
Mystery writer Jessica Chastain is deaf and relies on her service dog Trey who acts as Jessica’s ears. Kim, a Bichon like Trey, is the latest addition to their family. But life is not a walk in the park when someone threatens all they hold dear. Together they take on an unethical breeder and dog-napper, whose bite is worse than his bark.

A SHOT IN THE BARK by Teresa Inge
Dog-loving Catt Ramsey hires an ex-con as her handyman to help with her dog-walking business at the same time a crime wave hits the neighborhood. But it’s Catt who is accused of murder. She enlists the help of family, friends, and her dogs Cagney and Lacey to prove man’s best friend can be crime’s worst enemy.

STRUT YOUR MUTT by Heather Weidner
Sassy PI Delanie Fitzgerald attends the Strut Your Mutt festival, where her business partner’s English bulldog is a finalist in a pampered doggie pageant. The dog’s new-found fame leads to a client with a missing poodle. Delanie and her team put paws to the pavement, sniff out clues, and show the villain that when you lie with the dogs, you wake up with fleas.


Let’s Be Social:

Mutt Mysteries





To Fetch a Villain - Four Fun "Tails" of Scandal and Murder A Mutt Mystery by Jayne Ormerod, Maria Hudgins, Teresa Inge, & Heather Weidner

About To Fetch A Villain


To Fetch a Villain - Four Fun "Tails" of Scandal and Murder A Mutt Mystery
Cozy Mysteries 3rd in Series
Publisher: Bay Breeze Books Paperback: 244 pages

Old dogs and new tricks abound in TO FETCH A VILLAIN, the third installment in the Mutt Mysteries series. This collection of four novellas illustrates why dogs are our best friends and the perfect companions for digging up clues, solving crimes, and bringing villains to justice. Let sleeping dogs lie? Not when the MUTTS are on the case.

About the Authors


Heather Weidner Heather Weidner writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series (Secret Lives and Private Eyes, The Tulip Shirt Murders, and Glitter, Glam, and Contraband). Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series (To Fetch a Thief, To Fetch a Scoundrel, and To Fetch a Villain). Her new cozy series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, launches October 2021. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers. Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.


Maria Hudgins Maria Hudgins is a mystery writer and a former high school science teacher. She is the author of the Dotsy Lamb Travel Mysteries, the Lacy Glass Archaeology Mysteries and several published short stories. Her favorite things are traveling, reading, dogs, and cats. She lives in Hampton, Virginia with her cat, Lulu.


Jayne Ormerod Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town and attended a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her accountancy degree, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor). She married a naval officer, and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, settled in a cottage by the Chesapeake Bay. Jayne writes cozy mysteries about small towns with beach settings. You can read more about Jayne and her many publications at


Teresa Inge Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hotrods. She is president of Sisters in Crime Mystery by the Sea Chapter and author of short mysteries in Virginia is for Mysteries, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Coastal Crimes: Mysteries by the Sea, and Murder by the Glass. She resides in Southeastern Virginia with her husband and two dogs, Luke and Lena.

MUTT MYSTERIES Purchase Links - Amazon


  1. Thanks, Kathy for letting us stop by and talk about writing and the Mutt Mysteries! ~Heather

  2. Good Morning Kathy, Thanks for the great question. It made me stop and think about my writing journey, and how grateful I am to all the generous writers who paved the path ahead of me and gave me advice and encouragement along the way. For all you writers out there, don't ever give up on your dream. To all you readers...happy reading! We writers need and appreciate you. Have a great weekend! ~Jayne O

  3. What a fun book. It sounds like a great read. Love book cover. Would love to to read and review this book in print format.
    Happy early Thanksgiving

    1. Hi Crystal! The book is available on Amazon and other outlets. It’s a fun read! I would love for you to review the book. Thank you!