About Maddie Cochere

I spent five years working for a major weight loss company by day and playing racquetball by night. I used some of my experiences from both as inspiration for Susan in the Susan Hunter Mystery series. My blog is about my adventures as I continue to write and self-publish. It's not always pretty.

On a Reading Binge

I signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge last year. Ha! That went well. I committed to reading fifty books. I read a whopping twelve.

I decided to give the challenge a go again this year. With a positive mindset, I set my number once again to fifty books. I can say with confidence that my goal won’t be a problem. I’ve already read twenty-two of the fifty.

I’ve definitely been on a reading binge. I read at night before bed, in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, and I read for at least two hours every morning before I start my day. Even though I’d prefer to be able to sleep more, I’m enjoying reading.

I read many books in my own genre of writing, so my list has quite a few fun, light mysteries, but I’ve also picked up some other good reads.


I got a big kick out of the western Unwanted Dead or Alive by Gene Shelton. Two ranch hands lose their jobs and decide to try their hand at being outlaws. A reviewer said they were like “Abbott and Costello go west,” and I have to agree.


Groovin’: Horses, Hopes, and Slippery Slopes by Rich Israel was a hoot! He recounts his travels and travails in the sixties as he traveled around the country during the time of free love and drugs, all the while hoping he wouldn’t be drafted.


One of my favorite reads so far was The Devil and Preston Black by Jason Jack Miller. The book is billed as Appalachian Noir fiction and “… is your ticket into a world where love can save your soul, where a song can change your destiny, and where evil still hides in the dark corners of the night.” I enjoyed the music references and the description of music as the characters played their instruments. Preston Black was a well-written character. It was easy to feel sympathy for him and to root for him.


Summer at the Comfort Food Café is by British author Debbie Johnson and had a wonderful mix of humor, heartbreak, and family life. I like when I continue to think about a book days after I’ve finished reading. This book was like that for me.


I’ve only recently become aware of Richard Branson and what a motivating person he is. I read Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way. Having worked in the music industry for several years, I especially enjoyed the stories around Virgin Records, but the entire book was a good read.

Have you ever heard you should never meet your heroes? Well, I think that should be extended to include don’t ever read tell-all biographies of your heroes. I read a Frank Sinatra biography last year, and although it was fascinating, I was so disappointed to read about the man’s faults. Of course, I knew he would have faults, but I should have left that sleeping dog lie. However, I do still love to listen to him sing. I’m currently reading a biography about Jimmy Stewart. He’s not a hero, but I do enjoy a good biography, and he seems to have led a tamer life.

Have you signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge this year? If you haven’t, it’s not too late. If you have, what have you read, and what has been your favorite book so far?

Sailing Bravely Into the Unknown


I’ve been pretty quiet for well over a year now – not only with my blog but also with my writing. It’s hard to write humor when you feel like your world is falling apart.

I’ll spare you the details, but with my mother’s diminishing health, Rich’s allergic reactions to medications, and my own blood pressure problems, it’s been pretty rough at times.

It all came to a head last week when Rich had no other choice than to quit his job of thirteen years. It’ll be a few months before the adverse effects of the medications are gone, and then we’ll see how he feels.

I don’t know what the future holds for us. We are in unknown territory. It was terrifying to think of no more job security, but I’m calm about it – for now. With Rich finally making the decision to stay home and get well, my stress level has reduced greatly. That’s good for my blood pressure and my heart.

What’s also good for my blood pressure and my heart is that I’ve lost twenty-seven pounds since Thanksgiving. After a particularly rough day of heart palpitations, I went cold turkey off added salt, sugar, caffeine, and processed foods. I’m eating mostly fruit, vegetables, nuts, and protein.

Do I miss pizza, Taco Bell, M&M’s, and junk food in general? You bet I do, but fear is a great motivator, and I’m too afraid to eat that crap. It’s a good thing I like to cook, because there’s a whole lotta cookin’ goin’ on here. I even make my own spice mixes and salad dressings. It would be nice to have a sous chef.


The stress reduction was so immediate after Rich quit his job that I’ve been able to work again – with joy. I’d almost forgotten that he was an audiophile, and he has music blaring from the den for a big part of the day. I actually enjoy this. It’s conducive to his healing and spurs my creativity. I’m happy to say, I finally banged out the ending of the seventh book in the Two Sisters and a Journalist series. I even have the main plot and the beginning of the next book mapped out. Onward and upward! This year can only be better than last year, and I’m expecting great things.

I’ll have the cover to Murder Wears a Veil soon. I’ll post it here with an approximate date of publication. And then I’ll get cracking on those Appleseed cozy mysteries.

In other news …

I think I have my Don’t Starve video game addiction under control. … I think I do. … Maybe I do.

And last but not least, or as Word wants me say, finally yet importantly, my friend Tim Dittmer published his second book this week. Five-Toed Tigress. I enjoyed his first book, The Valley Walker, and I’m looking forward to reading his new work. Take a look and grab a copy for yourself! (Click the cover to go to Amazon.)


Bathroom Humor and a Free Book


My mother is a good sport. I’ve used and abused her in my books but always with a loving heart and with her knowledge and support.

My mother and father were the inspiration behind Susan Hunter’s mother and father. When physically describing Susan’s father, and her close relationship with him, I may as well have been talking about my own late father. Susan’s mother doesn’t resemble my mother in appearance, but many of her characteristics and her love of laughter do. Mom loved reading my Susan Hunter books, and I know she enjoyed knowing so much of her personality went into Susan’s mother.

My mother is now eighty-five years old. A few years back, she proclaimed she didn’t care what people thought any longer. She said she’s lived long enough to say and do what she wants. That made it easy to base Mama in my “Two Sisters and a Journalist” series on my own mother in her later years.

I grew up with three brothers who thought they were comedians. I can’t tell you how many whoopee cushions, fart machines, farts recorded on cassettes, belching contests, and just about any other manner of PG-13-rated potty humor went on in our house. I won’t say which brother, but one of them had so much gas one summer, he kept a notebook and logged each one as it passed.

My mother laughed at those boys until she cried. We all did.

If you don’t know by now, my “Two Sisters and a Journalist” books have bathroom humor in them. With the popularity of Melissa McCarthy and over-the-top humor in movies, I decided to go this route with the series. Where Susan Hunter wouldn’t pass gas in front of herself, Jo Ravens and her family are less couth. There are a few incidences of minor swear words (four in my new book), but they are used as humor rather than as angry swearing.

In Murder Under Construction, Jo laments the fact that her mother passes gas while shopping and then walks away, allowing Jo to come around the corner and walk into the gas cloud. Anyone coming near Jo would assume she was the offender. True story. I told my mother if she didn’t quit doing that to me, I wasn’t taking her shopping any more.

My sister called one day to tell me she picked Mom up to take her to the grocery store, and as Mom walked across the back porch, every step produced a puff of smoke. Upon further inspection, she realized Mom had put foot powder in her sandals. She was laughing so hard, she could barely tell me about it. In Murder Welcomes You to Buxley, Mama has an incident with baby powder in her shoes at the bowling alley.

One of my nieces read Murder Under Construction and asked her mother, “Has Grandma read this? Does she know she’s in here?” The false teeth incident gave it away for her.

My mother has threatened my siblings on occasion. She’ll tell them not to tell me about something she did, because it will end up in one of my books. She’s right, but she always laughs when it does. I know she secretly loves it.

Just last week, I published book number six in the “Two Sisters and a Journalist” series: Murder – A Chummy Affair. Mama is her usual inappropriate and silly self, but her bowling crony Lucille, who was mentioned in a previous book, has a bigger role this time, and she has chronic flatulence.

My mother loved the book and thought Lucille was hilarious. Of course she did! My mother’s middle name is Lucille.

I’m in the mood to give books away today. If you would like a copy of Murder – A Chummy Affair, let me know in the comments section below, and I’ll send a book to you from Amazon. If you need a copy for a different format, I’ll send a code for a free book at Smashwords, and you can choose the file that’s right for your eReader. Just make sure you let me know which venue – Amazon or Smashwords. If you prefer to write and ask me personally, my email is on my About page.

Finally, I was going through old pictures for a family member last week, and I came across pictures of my mother and father. I forgot how attractive my dad was when he was young. He could have been in the movie Grease!

Dad_50s Mom_40s

James Patterson and Me, Part II


James Patterson is a patient man. He’s been sitting in the bay window next to me since June of last year. I tossed a couple of my manuscripts on top of him, but I don’t think he read them. Nevertheless, I finally dusted him off and listened while he presented the next eleven lessons of his MasterClass.

Here are some of my notes as well as some of my thoughts.

Lesson 12 – Building a Chapter. James wants us to choose a viewpoint. He writes in first person with limited third person. Others have told him that’s cheating, but he says, “I don’t give a shit. It’s my creation. I can do whatever I want.” I thought that was rather funny. His reasoning? There are no rules, and you can do whatever you want as long as it works. Ahh, a man after my own heart.

James also wants us to find a voice. I think I’ll save the challenges to my voice for another blog post. Let’s just say, I like my voice in my writing, and one of the most consistent comments in my reviews is that my books are an easy read. I contribute that to my writing style – my voice. I read once that just because something is an easy read doesn’t mean it was easy to write. So true!

The lesson also covered using each chapter to grab the reader’s attention and propel them on to the next chapter.

Lesson 13 – Writing Suspense. We are encouraged to know our genre and what’s already out there. Not to imitate it, but to avoid it. Be fresh, new, and fascinating. Intrigue your reader. Set up questions that the reader must, must, must have answered.

James said he doesn’t always write realism. One of his characters is a detective with ten adopted children and a wife dying of cancer. It could happen, but it’s not a likely scenario. We have to be willing to allow our readers to suspend disbelief. I liked that, and I think that’s what makes writing fiction so much fun.

Sidebar. Do you have a DVR? Do you ever pause a television show and see you have captured an actor with a less-than-flattering look on their face? I pause James frequently while I’m taking notes. I couldn’t stop laughing for a few minutes when I realized I caught him mid-pick. I’m sure he would proclaim, “There was no pick. I did not pick. There was no pick.”


Lesson 14 – Ending the Book. James asks us to think of the endings to books and movies that we have enjoyed and to think about why we liked those particular endings. He also addresses cliffhangers. Cliffhanger for a television show = ok, fine. Cliffhanger for a book = people get mad. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write them, but there will some fallout from people who despise them.

James also imparts an activity for the ending of your book that he says is the secret to all great endings. He claims this one tidbit of information is worth the price of admission to the class. I don’t know about that, but I did think it was a good idea. I won’t share it here. I’ll let James tell you if you choose to take his class.

Lesson 15 – Editing. Not your editor’s editing, but the editing and polishing you do yourself. Keep these thoughts in your head at all times: move the story forward and hold the reader’s attention. If your words don’t do this, rewrite. Remove distractions in your writing and cut the boring stuff – in dialogue, too. Stay positive during your edit. You didn’t make mistakes; you are making your story tighter and better.

I starred this item: Pace will pay the electric bill. Write a page-turner. I love when people write to let me know they couldn’t put down one of my books. And yes, I am paying our electric bill. Maybe one day I’ll be able to replace the wiring in our old house. Or the evil plumbing. Or maybe we’ll just move.

Lesson 16: Working with a Co-Author. Now that I’ve made James sit in my bay window for six months, and then showed him mid-pick, I’m sure he won’t be calling me anytime soon to co-write a book with him.

However, he does clear it up once and for all that writing with another person is a true collaboration with both people writing the book.

Lesson 17: Getting Published. He gives good advice on how to handle your query letters. Publishers are spared my query letters, and I am spared rejection letters, by simply self-publishing whenever I have a book finished. In fact, I published my latest on December 10 but neglected to stop in here to show it to you. Have a look:


Lesson 18: Book Titles and Covers. James didn’t go into what’s good and what’s not with a cover. He mostly wanted to impart that your cover will draw the consumer to your book and communicate what’s inside. A tag line, blurbs from other writers, and your own information will sell your book. I’m happy with all of my covers. My pink covers convey the light, breezy aspect of the stories (also the chick-lit genre), and you can’t miss that the books in my second series have a murder in them.

Lesson 19: Marketing the Patterson Way. James suggests we brand ourselves. I think I did a pretty good job of establishing my Susan Hunter brand. I’ve used pink and her face everywhere. James says that we also establish a relationship between the consumer and ourselves.

James Patterson = page turner
Maddie Cochere = humorous mysteries

What’s your brand?

Lesson 20: Hollywood. I got a kick out of this lesson. The lesson to be learned is if Hollywood comes calling, take the money and run. Everyone will lie to you (even if they don’t have to), and the movie will most likely not resemble your book at all.

Lesson 21: Personal Story. James shares a bit about his life and how he came to be a writer. Very nice.

Lesson 22: Class Closing. Thank you James Patterson for taking the time to present your MasterClass.

So, the bottom line. Was it worth the $90 I spent?

I don’t believe I learned anything that I haven’t read or heard before, but I’m glad I took the class. James’ thoughts and insights helped to reinforce my belief that I’m on the right track, and it was good for me to hear how he writes. He’s also an engaging and motivating speaker. The class was worth the price for his passion, motivation, and encouragement alone.

He finished with a thought that made me smile. He said we don’t have to blindly follow the rules that have been set down for writing. (I split an infinitive to tell you that.) People get too into the rules. Just because it’s been done forever a certain way doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right. You don’t want to walk away from what’s been done, but “we do new shit.”

If you’ve read both of my blog posts about the James Patterson MasterClass, and you think this is something that might benefit you, please tell me in a comment below. On January 15, I’ll be randomly gifting one class from all interested parties. If you’d rather send a note directly to me to be added to the giveaway, my email address is on my About page.


Have you already taken the class? What were your final thoughts?

EDITED TO ADD: 1/15/2016 – All names in the hat for the free class were assigned a number. I used the random number generator at random.org … and the winner is … Jami Gold! Thank you to all who participated.

A Few Reading Recommendations

policeAre there blog police?

If there are, they will be coming to my blog any day now to shut me down for dust, cobwebs, and lack of content.

I love blogging and reading blogs, but I’ve been on a tear writing. This past Wednesday, I published book number four in the Two Sisters and a Journalist series – Murder Wins the Game.

I’m also over fifty percent finished with book number five – Murder Between the Covers. I’m hoping to have the book published by Thanksgiving.

A new series snuck up on me, and I have three chapters finished of Delicious Death. I’m choosing to be optimistic and say the book will be published in time for Christmas. I’ll save the details of that series for later.

A character by the name of Stanley Pearl has been tormenting me since April. He’s not a priority for 2015, but he’s still managed to get me to write three chapters of his story. I expect to finish the book next year.

To top everything off, a reader recently convinced me to write another Susan Hunter book!

I’m sure I’ll be around a little here and there, but for now, let me clear out some of the dust and cobwebs and show you the new book.



I also want to share some books by my friends and fellow bloggers.

Jackie Phillips at To Breathe is to Write has written and published two books! The Canine Caper is a short story introducing her main character, DeeDee Watson. A Case of Deceit is a full-length novel. The books are fun, cozy mysteries featuring a Papillion. A Case of Deceit was just released this week.


Carrie Rubin has a new book – Eating Bull. I was honored to read the book ahead of publication, and it’s a great thriller. Not only does Carrie address topics pertinent to many people today – fat shaming, obesity, and bullying – but she writes about the topics in such a way that you will be thinking about the book long after you’ve finished reading. The paperback is available now; the eBook may be pre-ordered for release on November 12.


And last but not least, Valerie Clarizio has a new release coming out next Tuesday, November 3 – Plan Interrupted. I’ve read other books by Valerie, and I enjoy her writing style. Her books are a mix of romance and suspense, and I’m always entertained.


Happy reading!

Feel free to add your own new releases and recommendations in the comments below.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

I must be having fun, because I can’t believe I haven’t been here since June. It seems like just yesterday James Patterson and I were discussing writing.

In July, I flew to Texas to pick up Princess Pancake and bring her to Ohio. What a whirlwind of playing with dolls, playing games, drawing pictures … and being loud just because we could. Everything in my life took a back seat while I played for five weeks.

CutiepieShortly before she left, Rich dug a hole in our old garden and made a fire pit. Not only did we have fun roasting hot dogs and marshmallows with our granddaughter, but we also spent a few Friday nights around the fire with our neighbors – the ones who moved into the house with the stairway to nowhere. I’m not much of a camper or the outdoorsy type, and I had no idea I would enjoy sitting around a fire so much.

firepitWe took a ride on the motorcycle. Yes, only one ride for me this year, and it was to visit with our friends at the horse manure ice cream stand. I have a knee acting up, so I haven’t been so keen to ride this year, but it sure was nice to feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair again. We have a few ninety-degree days coming up, so maybe I’ll try to ride again.

In book news, I have a few things to share.

5,000_WordsI read this book – 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox – and found the information to be helpful. By putting Chris’ ideas into practice, I’ve been able to quit procrastinating and make steady progress on Murder Wins the Game. Not only will I be able to finish the book soon, but I’ll be able to complete another book I started this year. The $2.99 price for the Kindle edition of 5,000 Words Per Hour is definitely worth it, and if the iphone I have wasn’t a dinosaur, I would have purchased the app he wrote to go along with it.

Speaking of Chris Fox … when I was searching for information on his book, I stumbled upon his WordPress blog – Chris Fox Writes. One of his more recent posts is an inspiring post about time and how his attitude toward time affected his life. It’s very motivating. Give it a read.

bookreportFor those of you who are authors with a book(s) at Amazon, if you haven’t yet seen the BookReport tool – try it out. It’s colorful, accurate, and the ka-ching sound when you sell a book is a pretty cool. BOOKREPORT (click the Learn more link.) The program is free unless you have over $1,000 in sales during the month. The cost is then ten dollars for that month.

bookbubBookBub. Ahh, BookBub. BookBub is frustrating and awesome. I tried for six months to get an ad spot with them. I was turned down every month – once within two hours. I was thrilled when I received word in July that Murder Under Construction was chosen for a feature to run on August 15. The ad would run on a Saturday, and I didn’t know if that was good or bad, but I didn’t care. It was BookBub!

I’ve been blown away by the results. Since the ad ran eleven days ago, there have been over 100,000 downloads of the book (105,555 to be exact). Within twenty-four hours, the book reached #1 in the Amazon Free Store, #1 in Cozy Mysteries, and #1 in Women Sleuths. The book is still holding in the top 100 in the Free Store and remains in the top ten in the two sub-categories (as I type this). Out of thirty new reviews, twelve are five stars and twelve are four stars. This thrills me! I’ve had requests from several people to be added to my mailing list, and I’ve had more interaction with people who have enjoyed the books than ever before – many of them going on to read the Susan Hunter series. It’s been quite a ride.


Now it’s time to get my head out of the clouds and get back to work. As with any good ad, downloads and sales will taper off, so it’s best to keep moving forward and write the next book.

That’s where I’m headed this evening – off to the pink room for some “writing sprints” ala Chris Fox. I’d like to knock out another scene or two today.

I’ll be back soon with my report on the second half of James Patterson’s lessons on writing.

How has your summer been going so far?

James Patterson and Me, Part I

James_PattersonI’m taking the MasterClass, James Patterson Teaches Writing. It’s was a big decision for me.

I am firmly in the storyteller camp rather than the writer camp. Writing is a hobby for me. I have fun writing; it’s enjoyable. I simply start at the beginning and tell my story from day one to the end of the book.

I haven’t yet read books about writing, and to be honest, I don’t want to read books on craft. My eyes glaze over when I see articles on plot points, story arcs, and pacing. If I have to research writing, it will become work, and my hobby will cease to exist.

However … when I read about James Patterson giving twenty-two video lessons on writing, I thought that might be something from which I could learn. I wouldn’t have to read books; James could talk to me.

I thought I’d share a few of my notes and thoughts with you from the class.

The first forty seconds of chapter three were the most helpful to that point. Here is one item from James: “Write every chapter as if it were the first chapter in the book.”

I think that’s great advice. I flinch when I read that every word, every action, every thought should advance the story forward. I can’t do that. Sometimes my characters just want to sit down, take a breather, and have a piece of pie. I like that James says every chapter should propel your story forward. That makes much more sense to me.

Lesson five was Research. I like doing research – for my stories. I usually stop in the middle of what I’m writing to do my research right then. This goes against the usual advice to save research for when the book is finished, but I like to edit as I go, and research is easier for me when a topic is uppermost in my mind.

Along the same lines, James says in lessons six/seven (Outlines) that when you are writing, don’t think about the sentences (structure); think about the story. Write the story – get it down on paper. You can rewrite later.

I tried that once, and it resulted in a horrible mess of a book. It took months to clean it up, and the joy of writing evaporated. I’m not disagreeing with James; it’s simply a method that doesn’t work well for me.

I’m a daily editor. Before writing, I always read what I wrote the day before and make any changes or corrections I see at that time. Some days, I’ll read the entire chapter before – or even the entire book to that point, making corrections and changes as I read. The story is then fresh in my mind as I continue writing, and I feel my work is cleaner than when I left it the day before. When the book is finished, it’s much easier to edit, and there is very little, if any, rewriting.

James creates a detailed outline before writing. He presents outlines as crucial and an extremely important part of the writing process. Ack! I can’t do them. It would take me forever to think the book through to the end and put it in outline form. Once I began writing, my characters (my overactive mind) would then take the story in an entirely different direction from my outline, and I would have lost all that time spent outlining when I could have been writing.

However, I’m not completely rudderless as I write. I use a large sheet of paper from a Crayola floor pad, and I create a calendar. As my story progresses, I add notes to the top and bits of information to the calendar as to what will happen on each day. The days fill up as the story progresses. A notebook accompanies my writing, and I jot down additional thoughts and ideas.

Here is the page for my current work in progress, Murder Wins the Game. The book is fifty percent complete, and you can see I only have events through one week. The book won’t end until sometime the following week. I have no idea what will happen until I get closer to those days.

book_four_map1Some of you may tell me there are programs for this – like Scrivener, but I like having this scribbled paper open beside me as I write, and I can drag it with me wherever I go when I write by hand – as evidenced by the crinkles and numerous folds.

Lesson eight was about writer’s block. I don’t struggle with writer’s block. My biggest downfall is simply sitting down to write and sticking with it. I’m easily distracted. James stresses the importance of being focused. Write anywhere no matter what the distraction(s) and focus on your story. Practice this ability to concentrate if you must.

The next lesson covered creating characters. I had to chuckle when he said not to hurt the pets in your stories. “People get ridiculously attached to the pets.”

First lines were discussed in lesson ten. For the most part, I’m happy with my first lines. Here are the first lines from my last book and my current work in progress:

If that was Mama banging on my front door, I was going to kill her and take my inheritance early. –Murder Welcomes You to Buxley

In exactly one minute, I was going to become a millionaire and quit my job as a private investigator. -Murder Wins the Game

I was so tickled when a reviewer left this comment about Murder Under Construction: “It is well written, has a number of twists and turns and the last line was an absolute cracker.” I think the last line of MUC leaves the reader with a smile on their face, and although this reviewer wasn’t a fan of the cozy genre, the last line made an impact on him. It was a good feeling to know I got it right.

First lines draw a reader in. Last lines leave an impression.

Lesson Eleven was Writing Dialogue. I like writing dialogue, and although James doesn’t say it, the most important advice I ever received about dialogue was that people use contractions when they talk, and they don’t always talk in complete sentences. It seems so simple, yet when we are writing, it’s amazing how many times contractions are overlooked and dialogue becomes stilted. The same thing happens when an unnatural complete sentence is foisted upon a character.

I’m to the halfway point of the lessons now, and I wrote a resounding HA! in my notes when I copied this final thought from James as he concluded his lesson on dialogue:

“Everything you write should be moving the story forward and moving the sense of that character forward. … If it isn’t, cross it out.”

Sigh. I’m stubborn. My characters are still going to eat pie.

cherry_pieSee you after the next eleven lessons!