Welcome Debut Author Korina Moss! #giveaway

Cherie J is the winner of a copy of Cheddar Off Dead!

I’m so delighted to welcome Korina Moss to The Wickeds! There isn’t anything more fun than celebrating an author’s first book. I remember all those feelings when Tagged for Death came out and have loved Korina’s posts on social media this week. It’s a joy to see someone go from unpublished to published author. It’s a lot of work and Korina stuck to it! And I adore her clever titles! Look for a giveaway at the end of the post!

Korina: Thank you, Sherry, for inviting me to the Wicked blog today! Since Cheddar Off Dead’s debut on March 29th, I’ve been in a lovely, chaotic whirlwind of speaking with cozy mystery readers about my Cheese Shop Mystery series. I continue the series with Gone For Gouda and am currently writing Book #3.

Creating a new series is kind of like being invited to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. When I started the first book, Cheddar Off Dead, I was like one of those golden ticket winners—able to enter a world of pure imagination. I was as exhilarated as any of those children walking into the Wonka Chocolate Factory, overwhelmed and amazed by the bounty before them. Just look at all the options I’d have for creating characters, mapping out my fictional town, designing my cheese shop… everything down to choosing the town gossip. But just as the children shouldn’t have given in to their impulses, I would also face consequences if I didn’t use forethought. Once I handed in the completed manuscript to my publisher, it would go through copyediting, layout, binding, etc. Everything it takes to turn a manuscript into an actual book would be happening while I was working on Gone For Gouda. This meant that nothing from Cheddar Off Dead could be changed anymore.

All the characters (well, the ones who didn’t get bumped off or do the bumping off) would still be living in my fictional town of Yarrow Glen. Since there must be fresh characters and new suspects for each book, much like Violet after she stole Mr. Wonka’s 3-course dinner gum, it could get quite overinflated.

While making sure Cheddar Off Dead was a fulfilling book on its own, I also needed to create the beginning of a wider, more subtle arc to the whole series. As much as I wanted to lap at that Chocolate River and allow every dazzling willy-nilly idea I had to spill over into that first book, I had to refrain or else face the consequences. Augustus Gloop’s consequence was falling into the chocolate river and getting sucked out through a tube to the fudge room. Mine could be just as messy—the books could lack focus and I’d have less creative freedom in telling the stories that my characters would eventually demand.

To keep myself in check while still making Cheddar Off Dead satisfying and delicious, I concentrated on my cheesemonger protagonist, Willa, and her two shop employees—retired high school drama teacher Mrs. Schultz and nineteen-year-old Archie. Willa lives in the snug apartment over her shop; therefore, next-door neighbor Baz was introduced. A limited suspect list—the five small business owners who attended her cheesemaking class after hours—allowed me to fully portray those characters and their shops and businesses in downtown Yarrow Glen. Of course, the handsome detective gets plenty of screen time while still maintaining a bit of mystery about him.

As a writer, I like to hang out with my characters for a while, live with them, find out their backstory, and know how they interact with each other before deciding what comes next for them. Although I had to give a general plot description to my publisher for the following books in the series, I had a lot of leeway for the growth of my characters, their relationships, and the town itself.  

Keeping the bigger series picture in mind allowed my subsequent books to grow organically from the story told in Cheddar Off Dead. Like Charlie, with a little bit of patience, all my ideas were able to take flight.

Readers: What draws you into reading a series? I’ll send one U.S. commenter a copy of Cheddar Off Dead.

About the Book

Cheesemonger Willa Bauer is proving that sweet dreams are made of cheese. She’s opened her very own French-inspired cheese shop, Curds & Whey, in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. The small town of Yarrow Glen is Willa’s fresh start, and she’s determined to make it a success – starting with a visit from the local food critic. What Willa didn’t know is that this guy never gives a good review, and when he shows up nothing goes according to plan. She doesn’t think the night can get any worse… until she finds the critic’s dead body, stabbed with one of her shop’s cheese knives. Now a prime suspect, Willa has always believed life’s problems can be solved with cheese, but she’s never tried to apply it to murder…

About Korina Moss


KORINA MOSS is the author of the Cheese Shop Mystery series set in Sonoma Valley. Korina’s short stories are included in the anthologies Crime Travel and Death By Cupcake. She also blogs on Writers Who Kill. You can find Korina and links to buy her books at https://www.korinamossauthor.com/

@wickedcozys #cozymystery #cheese #mysterybooks

95 Thoughts

  1. I get drawn to a series that is interesting and has great characters

  2. Congratulations, Korina! I love your story structure illustrations with Willy Wonka — excellent!

  3. Congratulations, Korina! I picked up my copy yesterday.

    I was also world building earlier this week for a new series. So much fun!

  4. Korina, congratulations on your first book. I can honestly say that when I first heard about the book I added it to my list to buy. I’m a big fan of cheese and while that may not include the more fancy kind of stuff, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to read about it side-by-side with some dead bodies and the ensuing investigation.

    What draws me into a series (that I haven’t read before) is the story. A cover may get me to pick a book off the shelf, or the title of said book. But it is the story that will be the deciding factor for whether or not I’ll walk it up to the checkout counter and say, “TAKE MY MONEY!”

    1. Thank you for your interest in my book! I like to learn and try all cheese, but my every day cheese is still cheddar. You can’t beat it. I hope you enjoy the story in Cheddar Off Dead.

  5. What draws me in is an interesting topic and interesting characters.

  6. Hi, Korina! Oh, Willy Wonka – I always loved those oompa loompas. What draws me into a series is fun, relatable characters plus a town full of quirky people, shops and homes that make me feel I can walk the streets and be welcomed. Congrats on your new book!

    1. Thank you, Kathy! Yes — I love a book that makes me wish I lived in that town!

  7. What first draws me to a book is puny titles and cute covers. What keeps me reading a series are the characters and the mystery. Then I get to the point where I’ll read anything that author writes. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  8. Congratulations on the release of “Cheddar Off Dead”!

    Being drawn to the first book can be easy. It can be the title, the look of the cover, the way it’s promoted or even recommendation by an author or a friend. However, to have a person want to read the second, third or twentieth book in a series, that first book has to pull you in and give you that desire to want more.

    For me, it’s falling in love with the first book. It’s where you keep turning pages, but at the same time hate to see the last page looming. It’s falling in love with not only the main characters, but all the characters in town – for good or bad. The people have to be believable whether they are straight as an arrow or somewhat hair brained. When you end up wishing you could go for a visit, can’t wait to go back through the next book, or better yet move there, then the author’s taken a big leap towards having a hit series.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thank you, Kay! You’ve expressed it perfectly! That’s certainly what keeps me reading and I hope I’ve delivered those things in my book!

  9. For me it’s the theme. An eye-catching cover or fun title will make me look closer at it, but if I read the back and it sounds good and it’s a theme I find interesting (food, crafts, animals, and books being my top favorites) I’ll pick it up. Bonus points for a book with recipes in the back. If I’m on the fence about whether I want to try a book after reading the blurb, a good recipe included will seal the deal.

    1. Yes — I’m a girl who likes to connect to a theme. I used to try Diane Mott Davidson’s recipes. There are two recipes in the back of Cheddar Off Dead and other cheese appetizer ideas throughout the book.

    1. I totally agree. I’m so happy to have more than one book to delve into these characters lives. That’s the beauty of writing and reading a series.

  10. Three cheers to you, Korina, on your debut! Love both covers and the titles are so much fun, too. Best wishes for lots of success!

    1. Thank you so much, J.C. I really appreciate my fellow authors’ support.

  11. CONGRATULATIONS Korina on your new book, and thank you so much for sharing your writing talents with us readers!!! Such a fun blog…I am excited to read your cozies. For me, new cozy mystery books from authors I am not familiar with have to have an enticing cover. If there is a cat or a dog in the illustration…even better! Then the plot summary will clinch the deal. Your Cheese Shop Mystery series sounds fascinating, and they will be read aloud to my wife and me, acting out the character voices, as I so enjoy doing. Blessings! ~ Luis at ole dot travel

    1. Fantastic! This just made my day! If you ever want to share a snippet of your dramatic reading, I would love to see and share it. Find me on FB or through my website!

  12. What draws me into a series is the likability of the protagonist. I appreciate it if the protagonist has an interesting vocation, and having compelling supporting characters doesn’t hurt either! Congratulations on the launch of your series, and kudos to working in a sustained Willy Wonka comparison.

    1. Thank you so much! I agree, you have to be behind the protagonist and want what she wants!

  13. I love a story with lots of fun and funny details, and witty dialogue! A cheese-house sounds perfect for this!

    1. Lots of fun things to learn about cheese! And that’s why I wanted my main character to have a group of friends to help her out — more conducive to witty banter!

  14. Thanks for visiting the Wickeds today, Korina! Congrats on your release! I am drawn to series to witness characters growing and developing over time. It is what I like to write and to read!

  15. Love your analogy! How perfect for the life of a writer. Keeping out of the chocolate river is paramount. :).

    I am always drawn to characters in a series. If I like the characters, I will follow the series to the end of time.

    1. Ha! Yes, that’s the precarious balance we try to keep, isn’t it? No falling into the chocolate river!!

  16. Congratulations, Korina! A book has to have characters I want to hang out with for ~300 pages – and if it’s a series, characters are even more important in making me want to come back book after book.

  17. Congratulations on Cheddar Off Dead, Korina. I cannot wait to read it. As for starting a new series, personal recommendation is the number one way I find out about them. There is nothing like someone you know saying, “You would love this series!”

    1. Thank you, Barbara! That’s the truth! And they never steer me wrong.

  18. Congrats on the launch. I love cheese, quirky characters, and funny banter. But for me to stay with a book, I have to be able to “see” what everyone and everything looks like. I need to be able to walk next to the protagonist and experience what she is experiencing.

    I love the way you look ahead to see what is going to be needed in future books. I can always tell when an author hasn’t done that. The continuity just isn’t there. You are to be highly commended for your forethought.

    1. Thank you, Ginny! I agree with you about wanting to walk through the story with the protagonist. (Or run, as the case may be!) That’s why I write my books in first person point of view, so you’re always right where she is, hearing her thoughts on everything.

  19. Congratulations on your book! I love a series with characters that I really enjoy. I enjoy reading about them developing over time. I admit, I even got for book covers and a catchy title name!

    Love your book covers! Thanks for the chance!

    1. Thank you, B! Covers can be a real draw. I love the way my designer and illustrator perfectly captured my book on the cover.

  20. Hi Korina,

    Although I Port Salut you on the publication of the book, I Havarti a bone to Pecorino with you. Although I’m sure publication is a Grana experience, you need to understand that I have a Burrata under my saddle from reading the titles of your books.

    While I would never wish for the critics to Paneer you, I won’t String you along about this. And just in Queso you think I’m simply Feta up with mysteries or Bleu about other things, I’m not really a Muenster. I regard writers as the Crema the crop.

    And please don’t Teleme that the titles were all your publisher’s doing. I know better. And I’m not trying to Chevre you out either. In fact, I Cheddar.to even think about it.

    But far be it from me to Brie you unkind words on such a celebratory day. So here’s a Pimento to help you mark the occasion. Perhaps your writing will Gruyere on me, but I Stilton think all those cheese puns on your covers . . . well, it would be a Colby day in Hades before I would ever do such a cheesy thing.

    See you at Malice.


    1. LOLOLOL!!!! Fantastic!!! You have out-punned me and my editor, for sure!! Thank you, Lee. Looking forward to seeing you at Malice.

  21. The cover definitely helps catch my eye, especially if I’m at the book store and have to hurry. If I have more time I like reading what the book is about then reading the reviews. If I read the first couple pages and I’m interested that fast then I’ll definitely be interested!

    1. I agree. A cover has definitely stopped me from leaving a bookstore or library before!

  22. The cover draws me in first and then the write up on the back cover.

  23. I am drawn to read a new series sometimes by the cover art 🙂, because it’s a cozy mystery (someone in an unexpected profession inadvertently becomes an amateur detective). I enjoy the humor and interplay between the community of characters. I am looking forward to heading to Sonoma Valley 📖😊

    1. Thank you, Michelle! I hope you enjoy your time in Yarrow Glen with my Willa & her friends!

  24. A great story plot and wonderful characters are what draws me to a series.

  25. The characters and town draw me in! That’s what draws me in 95% of the time, especially a new series.

  26. Sounds like you’ve done the planning needed for a successful series. Can’t wait to dive into the world you’ve created.

    As to what draws me to a series, initially, its the hook of a cozy or something else that makes it seem like fun. Maybe it’s an author I’ve been hearing about. But what keeps me coming back in great plotting and characters.

    (I’ve already bought the book, so no need to enter me in the drawing.)

    1. Thank you, Mark! I hope after reading Cheddar Off Dead, you want to come back for more.

  27. What draws my attention…..bookcovers and cheesy titles! lol Also, the excerpt of the book.

  28. Congratulations on your new series! There are several 5hings that make 5he difference for me: engaging, likable characters, pets, mysteries that are hard to solve, and the careers of the protagonists. The covers of the books are often the 1st step, though! Love the colorful, char,ing covers on so many of the cozies!

    1. Thank you, Jeanie! Yes, I try to put all those things in mine! I think cozies have the best covers.

  29. Initially- the book blurb draws me in. The cast of characters, great storylines and fantastic writing keep me in a series til the end

    1. Hi Amanda. Yes, a blurb is only good for picking up the first one. Then the series has to stand on its own.

  30. Congratulations on your first published book and the start of the series. I’m drawn to books by the cover and the synopsis of the book. I like to read about different occupations and locations.

    1. Thank you, Dianne! I also like learning about a new occupation. And I want it to be somewhere I’d like to be.

  31. I’m drawn to a new book series by the location, if it’s a type of food I like (seafood, cheese, tea, etc.), or cover art if there is a lighthouse involved in the storyline. Heidi

  32. Bright covers and punny titles will draw me to a new cozy series. Great characters and an interesting theme will keep me coming back. Cheese does it!

    1. Yay, Sally! I hope you’ll enjoy the whole series! Cheers to cheese!

  33. Congratulations on the new book. What draws me in to read a new book is first a good cover to grab my attention and then a good synopsis on the back cover to interest me in the story.

  34. A great cover that grabs my attention coupled with an interesting synopsis that sparks my interest in reading the book.
    Congratulations on your new book!

  35. Several things can draw me into reading a mystery series. Setting is very important, and I love libraries, places that serve food including restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and yes, a cheese shop would do just fine! I love settings that include the ocean, mountains, or just a cozy little town with friendly characters (and of course a few unfriendly ones!) I love a series that includes a cat or cats. Dogs are also okay, but cats are what I love more. Yes, I do enjoy a love interest or even just the hint of a love interest.

    1. I’m a cat lover too. You’ve listed all the things in a great cozy!

  36. A good cover will draw me in first. (Cute and colorful are best.) Next, the cover blurb has to be interesting. I really enjoy a little humor or quirky characters and animal sidekicks don’t hurt either. 😁

  37. I love all kinds of cozy mysteries. I would say it is the cover, characters, town, animals, storyline. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

    1. Hi Carole! I agree. We’re spending a lot of time with her, we certainly want to root for her and feel a connection.

  38. Hey There! I was fortunate enough to read an ARC of your book, and LOVED IT! I was drawn in by grilled cheese, and stayed for the story! All of it was a fun escape. Thank you, I can’t wait to read the next one!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. The next one, Gone For Gouda, comes out Sept 27th and is available for pre-order now.

  39. What lures me to read a book is tgat I love to start with new series so I don’t miss anything starting off the series and I tend to read more books in food/culinary/crafting certain things I do myself, and either a location where I’ve visited or have a big interest in, or a location I know well or live in now!

    I also like relatable that have slight flaws as everyone does and logical scenarios tvat hold your interest with surprises!

    1. Hi Cynthia. I agree – I always have to start at the beginning of a series. And I like my protagonist to have flaws too (because we all have them). That’s the wonderful part of a series, is you can see the growth of her character.

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