I’m so excited to welcome Sparkley Abbey to A Writer’s House this week.
Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of mystery authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. They’ve chosen to use Sparkle Abbey as their pen name on this series because they liked the idea of combining the names of their two rescue pets – Sparkle (ML’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). The authors co-write the bestselling Pampered Pets Mystery Series which focuses on the wacky world of precious pedigrees, pampered pooches, and secrets in posh Laguna Beach, California.
Tell us about your current release/next WIP?
Our newest release, DOWNTON TABBY, is the 7th book in our Pampered Pets Mystery Series. It features amateur sleuth and pet therapist, Caro Lamont. (Though Caro will tell you her work has more to do with educating pet parents than dealing with misbehaving pets.)
In DOWNTON TABBY Caro thinks she’s keeping office mate and tech wizard, Graham Cash’s, cat for a short time so he can run an errand. When he doesn’t return she takes the cat by his house only to find his business partner dead and Cash missing, leaving Caro with the cuddly cat and a whole lot of unanswered questions. Did Cash kill his partner? Or has he been kidnapped? And what was the Internet billionaire involved in that caused someone to want him dead?
DOWNTON TABBY comes out June 6th. Next up this fall is: RAIDERS OF THE LOST BARK.
I love the names chosen for your series. They are original and funny and really capture the stories and characters. What was the inspiration for your latest/current release?
Like all of our stories, this story began with “what if?” and evolved from there. We wondered what if someone was accused of murder and wasn’t there to defend himself. How would that affect the investigation and for what reason would someone not come forward? And then, of course, because we write a pet-themed cozy series, we have to ask: Why on earth would a pet therapist be involved?
Well that’s certainly a question you don’t hear often. I can’t imagine the conversations people must overhear at your houses! What shares your time when you’re not writing?
Our families and the day job. We both work full-time in addition to writing and we also have very busy families. Anita has four children and one granddaughter. Mary Lee has two children and five grandchildren – two boys and three girls. As you can imagine with those adorable grandchildren in our lives, we don’t want to miss a minute of making memories with them.
I hear they’re called GRANDchildren for a good reason. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend your time. You have the best of both worlds and there’s still so much in front of you. What’s your favorite milestone in your career?
We’ve had several exciting milestones on this journey. Hitting #1 overall on Barnes & Noble Nook was huge. Reaching #1 in mysteries on Amazon was amazing. Our first book launch with over 100 attendees was astounding and gratifying. But without a doubt our favorite milestone was selling the series to Bell Bridge Books. It was awesome!
I agree! And such great milestones. I know you’re both very proud and you should be. How long did it take you to become an overnight success?
It was a long and bumpy road to publication. We’re in the same critique group and we’d both been writing a long time. A very long time. We were completing manuscripts, pitching to agents and editors, getting requests for full manuscripts. And getting rejections. We had both finaled in or won writing contests. The rejection letters began to say nice and encouraging things about our writing. But still no sales.
Then we had the opportunity at an RWA conference to chat with a NY agent who explained some things about the cozy mystery market to us. The biggest point she stressed was that neither of us had a strong enough craft/food/hobby type of hook. She was right.
We brainstormed and came up with the idea of a series featuring people and their pets. We also thought it would be fun to have two protagonists (cousins) who would alternate viewpoint from book to book. Because we’d come up with the idea together, it seemed natural to co-write the series. We started writing and had the opportunity a few months later to share the idea with Deb Dixon who invited us to send it to Bell Bridge Books. She forwarded it on to Deborah Smith. Lucky for us, she loved the concept and as they say the rest is history. BBB offered us a four book deal!
A small note: We think initially they mostly loved our titles. Desperate Housedogs, Get Fluffy, Yip/Tuck, and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang were the books we pitched. We’ve since also sold, Fifty Shades of Greyhound and The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo.
You certainly found an interesting hook. Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?
Would we do it again? You betcha!
Now that you’re here, and would do it again, what would your 12 year-old self think about where you are now?
We were both young readers and devoured Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery books. Our twelve year-old selves would be absolutely thrilled!
Thank you ladies for sharing your time with us tonight.
The upcoming book, DOWNTON TABBY is currently available on Amazon as a pre-order (both e-book and print), and will be available at other outlets in June. Readers, who pre-order the book on Amazon, should send the authors an email with Downton Tabby Pre-Order in the subject line to be entered in a drawing for a Paul Cardew teapot and a canister of Downton Abbey tea. Their email is: email@example.com