Guest Chick: Elizabeth Penney

Please join us in welcoming Elizabeth Penney, author of the Apron Shop Series mysteries. Hems and Homicide, the first book in the series, is available now. Delighted that you are here today, Elizabeth! 

Creating Your Cozy Community

Thank you to Chicks on the Case for including me as a guest! The cozy community of writers and readers is wonderfully supportive and close-knit. We have fun, don’t we?

But the community I’m talking about today is the fictional world authors create when they develop a cozy mystery series. As often defined, cozies take place in a small, confined community, among people who know each other. Although many mysteries are set in small towns, some have extended this definition to include city neighborhoods. Any place that brings sleuth, victim and suspects together.

The Apron Shop Series is set in small town coastal Maine. Not only did I grow up in Maine, this state is popular with readers, with its charming, historic Main Streets, lighthouses, and lobster boats. As an early step, I needed to map out my fictional town, named Blueberry Cove, so I could write about it. Since I’m a visual person, this was literal, on paper with a pen. And because I write contemporary fiction, not fantasy, my imaginary town had to be a place that could exist. This is where the field trips come in.

Camden, Maine, by Doug Kerr*

I visited Belfast and Camden, Maine (again) and poked around like a tourist. For those who haven’t been to Maine, Camden is a perfect jewel of a town, with gorgeous historic captain’s mansions, a brick downtown, and docks filled with sailboats. Set in a bowl created by mountains, the town’s slogan is, “Where the mountains meet the sea.” A quaint stone tower on Mount Battie provides an incredible vista of islands floating in the bay.

Lovely as it is, Camden’s waterfront is no longer home to working fishermen. Belfast, about twenty-five miles up the coast, still retains a bit of real-town grit. Although rapidly gentrifying now, Belfast was once home to chicken farms and sardine canneries. Lobstermen (and women) still work out of Belfast, and it’s a U.S. Customs port of entry.

Blueberry Cove’s geographic layout is similar to Camden, with a north-south Main Street, waterfront park, and neighborhoods on the hill. But, like Belfast, there are working boats and a larger public wharf. I’ve added an environmental college and a lighthouse from other Maine locations. And as I write books two and three, I’m adding new businesses and features to my personal series guide. Like the series, Blueberry Cove is a work in progress.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us about a favorite fictional world, either in your own work or in books you enjoy.

*Photo Credit: Camden, Maine, by Doug Kerr, Creative Commons

About the author:

Elizabeth lives in New Hampshire’s frozen north where she pens mysteries and tries to grow things. She’s the author of the Apron Shop Series, with book one, Hems and Homicide, available now, as well as numerous titles for Annie’s Fiction and Guideposts.

About the book:

Welcome to the first in the Apron Shop mystery series by Elizabeth Penney, set in the quaint village of Blueberry Cove, Maine where an expert seamstress turned amateur sleuth is getting measured for murder. . .

Iris Buckley is sew ready for a change. After the death of her beloved grandfather, Iris decides to stay in her Maine hometown to help out her widowed grandmother, Anne—and bring her online hand-made apron designs to real-time retail life. Her and Anne’s shop, Ruffles & Bows, is set to include all the latest and vintage linen fashions, a studio for sewing groups and classes, and a friendly orange cat. The only thing that they were not planning to have on the property? A skeleton in the basement

Anne recognizes the remains of an old friend, and when a second body shows up in the apron shop—this time their corrupt landlord, whom Anne had been feuding with for decades—she becomes a prime suspect. Now, it’s up to Iris to help clear her name. Enlisting the help of her old high-school crush Ian Stewart who, like certain fabrics, has only gotten better-looking with age and her plucky BFF Madison Morris, Iris must piece together an investigation to find out who the real killer is. . .and find a way to keep her brand-new business from being scrapped in the process.



30 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Elizabeth Penney

  1. Great article, Elizabeth! I really enjoyed this book so much! While I’m waiting on your next in the series, I searched out a couple of the books from the Annie’s Mysteries series. Hems was so awesome and just what I love in a cozy, thinking about it long after it ended and caring about what happens next to the characters. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Great post, Elizabeth! The release sounds really fun. I’ll have to pick it up.

    I love mysteries set in secluded towns in the mountains that somehow haven’t become major tourist traps. Hannah Swenson series comes to mind but I’m sure I’ll think of a better example after I hit “post.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Mountain setting are nice too! I live in the mountains of NH and there is always the struggle between tourist dollars and quality of life. If you read Hems, hope you enjoy!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Huge congrats from a fellow writer/editor in the 603, Elizabeth–and thanks for visiting Chicks today! Your new series sounds fantastic, and I can’t wait to read it. I love living here in New England, a/k/a Cozyland (the frozen version, at the moment). Seashore, mountains, charming villages–we have ’em all, along with seemingly endless creepy secrets, crime-convenient weather, and carefully-tight-lipped characters. Good fences (and stone walls) make good neighbors, indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome to the Chicks, Elizabeth! Of course, I read your title as HENS & Homicide. Oops.

    I love creating fictional towns. I usually take a town I know, and then just change the street names, add some quirks, a lot more trees and mom-and-pop stores, and off I go. There are so many fictional towns I’d love to live in (despite all the murders!) and I bet I’d fit right in with the characters in Blueberry Cove, if they’d have me!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. As much as I love a good puzzle, it is the characters and charm of the location that bumps a series to the top of the list for me. You really need all three.

    Congrats on the new book!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Welcome, Elizabeth, and thank you so much for joining us!

    Blueberry Cove sounds delightful, as do the real-life towns that helped inspire it. Although my books feature fictional towns in the Midwest, I love reading books set in the (real) cities and towns of my home state of Oregon.

    Congrats on the new release and series!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks so much for visiting, Elizabeth, and congratulations on the debut! I love Maine. We went a couple of times when I was a kid.

    I have to say, my favorite fictional village is the one I created for my own series, Pelican, Louisiana. I so want it to be real! I forced my family to visit the real town that inspired it and it was a letdown. It wasn’t nearly as nice as my fictional version of it, lol

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I love the name of your town, since the few times I visited Maine (we used to camp in Acadia Nat’l Park in the summers when I was a kid), we always picked blueberries for our breakfast pancakes. Great memories!

    One thing I especially love is when mysteries have maps of their towns, since I’m also a visual person. Sadly, it doesn’t happen so much any more (authors have to submit their own maps, since publishers no longer will do it, which makes it difficult).

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Elizabeth, and congrats on the new book!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Acadia is wonderful! I love it there. Re: maps, I like them in books too. And I have to make one when I write (and draw house layouts too) so I can visualize better.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Congratulations, Elizabeth, on your new series! So happy that you’re visiting us today.

    Blueberry Cove is a lovely name! So looking forward to immersing in it. As far as settings go, I love all of the settings in the books of my sister Chicks and feel like I can see them so clearly due to their masterful descriptions. I also love mysteries set on college campuses, go figure. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cynthia! I think colleges are a great setting, they’re fun and have a lot of possible subjects (grin) to explore.


  9. Elizabeth, congrats on the new series — Blueberry Cove sounds wonderful! My new series features the fictional tourist town of Utopia Springs in the Ozark Mountains, but it is very much inspired by the real town of Eureka Springs, where my husband and I have vacationed a few times and I’ve had fantasies about buying a house there! Thanks for hanging out with the Chicks today!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Vickie! Utopia Springs sounds wonderful for a cozy setting. Love old resort towns like Eureka Springs, such a rich history.


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