Cozy Mysteries discussion

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Authors needing help > Are Recipes Necessary?

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message 1: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Blair (jamieblair) | 7 comments Hello! I'm about halfway through writing my first cozy, and I'd like some guidance on using recipes. I've seen quite a few with recipes and some without, so I don't think it's required, but what is your take on including recipes? Are they expected by readers? My novel is more focused on the town as a whole and not centered in a shop where the main character would be making baked goods, for example. The town has all of those types of shops, however (cookie shop, coffee shop, old fashioned soda fountain, etc), and the main character makes her own dog treats, so I was planning to include those.

Basically, right now my novel feels a bit like I've crammed in everything but the kitchen sink, so I'd like to do without the dog treats that I'm attempting to have her eventually open her own shop to sell. I'd like the book to be more Parks and Recreation with murders, about the town and the crazy people who live and work there - and less centered around her working in a shop, but I don't want to shoot myself in a foot with potential editors and readers by straying from a formula.

Any advice is appreciated!


message 2: by Nancy (last edited Jan 22, 2015 08:46AM) (new)

Nancy Jarvis (screalwriter) | 154 comments There does seem to be a connection between food and cozies; if the amateur sleuth doesn't cook, food is still often mentioned in some manner. I compiled a cookbook of cozy mystery writers called "Cozy Food." 128 writers contributed recipes associated with their cozies, but not all had them in their books.

Perhaps you can compromise like I and many of them do. We have a recipe or two associated with our books (my protagonist is a Realtor who bakes cookies at open houses) but offer them on our website instead of in our books. You could say, "for a recipe for crazy Jillian's famous muffins, go to my website and download a free copy."


message 3: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 57887 comments I always ignore the recipes and sometimes I find them distracting. I would do what is comfortable for you and the story will be more compelling.


message 4: by Ivy (new)

Ivy | 45 comments I'm thinking of my favorite cozy reads, Garden Spells and the Coffeehouse both come to mind. I liked the Garden Spells because it was a different kind of recipe i.e. lavender scones, whereas the Coffeehouse recipes bored me. Personally speaking, even though I LOVE cooking, it's not what draws me to a cozy. What I like about the cozies, is the gentle lighthearted whodunit.

I was recently hugely disappointed in a supposed cozy that had a pet get killed. I didn't finish the book, that part finished it for me.

so in a nutshell, I would rather learn about the characters more than a recipe for cookies.


message 5: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 71 comments I like them but they aren't necessary


message 6: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (vallaing) | 26 comments Your book sounds lovely. I like them too and your old fashion soda fountain my lend itself to a good recipe. If you put them in the back of the book then the reader can take them or leave them.


message 7: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina The Book Lover | 388 comments I don't mind if a recipe is included, but what matters most is the story. If that's ok, then an additional recipe is nice, but if the story is lacking, then not even the best recipe in the world can save it.


message 8: by Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews (last edited Jan 22, 2015 10:51AM) (new)

Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews (hugbandit7) | 170 comments if the main character isn't cooking other than dog treats I wouldn't worry about including recipes other than for the dog treats. I like reading the recipes in books and have tried some but they aren't a requirement for me.

and if you do include them, put them at the end


message 9: by Betty (new)

Betty (bettylouise54) | 582 comments Recipes are not necessary for me. One book I read hit on the subject so much it bother me.iIf the book is good enough it will sell without the recipes.


message 10: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (mblisa) | 368 comments I like recipes included in cozies, but if they arent there, thats ok too. =)


message 11: by Mary C (new)

Mary C (marymaryalwayscontrary) | 110 comments I don't usually read the recipes and I hate it when they are at the end of the chapter of an audiobook and you can't skip them without missing part of the story.


message 12: by Barb (new)

Barb | 1072 comments I love when a handful of recipes is included, but only at the end of the book. I find them very distracting when at the end of a chapter or worse yet, in the middle of a chapter. Recipes for something like dog treats would be great, since there are tons of other books with recipes for baked goods, soups, etc. :)


message 13: by Dotty (new)

Dotty (dotkel50) | 120 comments Jamie wrote: "Hello! I'm about halfway through writing my first cozy, and I'd like some guidance on using recipes. I've seen quite a few with recipes and some without, so I don't think it's required, but what is..."

If your protagonist doesn't cook or bake then don't put in recipes. It wouldn't make any sense to do so.


❂ Murder by Death  (murderbydeath) Jamie wrote: "Hello! I'm about halfway through writing my first cozy, and I'd like some guidance on using recipes. I've seen quite a few with recipes and some without, so I don't think it's required, but what is..."

I don't know anybody who buys or doesn't buy a cozy mystery based on whether or not it had recipes in it, and a lot of the recipes aren't worth much anyway (although I have found a few real gems).

but I don't want to shoot myself in a foot with potential editors and readers by straying from a formula.

Just speaking for myself, but I've read enough cozies at this point that the formula is wearing thin - I am actively looking for cozies that don't fit the formula. FWIW.


message 15: by Betty (new)

Betty (bettylouise54) | 582 comments I too look for mysteries that don't fix the formula and are creative. Two that I recently read that I thought was creative are TAGGED TO DEATH by Sherry Harris and CRIMINAL CONFECTIONS by Colette London. Publication Date February 3, 2015. Reviews are already out on it.
Sherry Harris
Colette London


message 16: by Skeetor (new)

Skeetor | 55 comments I don't think any recipes are needed. I've read some cozies with recipes before and I don't even pay any attention to them. The story is the most important part for me.


message 17: by Sandra J (new)

Sandra J Weaver (sandraweaver) | 308 comments I never use the recipes at the end of a cozy. They are not the reason I read the book in the first place. I have cookbooks and craft books. I don't need recipes/patterns in the novels I read. If something like that is at the end, I often just skip that "extra." I really hate finding recipes stuck at the end (or worse, in the middle) of chapters. If including recipes is an integral part of your story, then include them. If not, leave them out. I doubt that anyone buys a mystery for its recipes.


message 18: by Melodie (new)

Melodie (melodieco) | 5280 comments I like recipes if they really fit the book, but they're not really necessary. Your book doesn't sound like the type of cozy that recipes would fit anyway.


message 19: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Decker | 186 comments Recipes can be a nice addition to a book. I do prefer that they be listed at the end so that they don't take away from the story itself.


message 20: by Mary (last edited Jan 23, 2015 01:56PM) (new)

Mary (resort) | 138 comments Jamie, it's usually your publisher who asks for the addition of recipes. It sounds like your book offers natural opportunities for recipes, but I wouldn't add them in the middle of the story, which only interrupts things. My Pickled and Preserved mysteries The Pickled Piper (Pickled & Preserved, #1) by Mary Ellen Hughes License to Dill by Mary Ellen Hughes have (guess what!) pickle recipes and tips, but they're always at the end.


message 21: by Ivy (new)

Ivy | 45 comments Pickled and Preserved! I love it! I will have to check that series out.


message 22: by Frankie (last edited Jan 24, 2015 04:18PM) (new)

Frankie Bow (frankiebow) | 4 comments @Mary, as a cozy reader I agree that recipes are best at the end of the book. I always skip over them when they're in the middle. As a writer, I have to be true to my protagonist. Molly Barda is a very indifferent cook (to the point that she uses her oven to store her extra shoes) so the most elaborate recipe she tackles is this: "I rinsed off a five-pound pork butt, stuck it in the slow cooker, showered it liberally with steak seasoning, put the cover in place, and turned the temperature to auto.”


message 23: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 33 comments Jamie wrote: "Hello! I'm about halfway through writing my first cozy, and I'd like some guidance on using recipes. I've seen quite a few with recipes and some without, so I don't think it's required, but what is..."

In all the novels that I've read, I don't think there's ever been a recipe. Maybe once (as some vague memory teases me).

If I were reading a book where the food was an important story element, then I might appreciate recipes in an appendix, but I can't see that I'd want a recipe in the book unless it was a clue.


message 24: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 33 comments I note that we may be reading different cozies, but I've read many (and from other genres, too) that feature foods.

So far, in Sue Grafton's books, we haven't been graced with one of Rosie's Hungarian specials, as a recipe. I'm glad. And Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels have a side book called The Nero Wolfe Cookbook. But I don't recall a single recipe, in the ones I read.

I would not, however, be against the kind of thing that does happen in Grafton's books, where we see Henry making something, while he chats with Kinsey. Part of that is about character (how they make it, what they think of it, etc). A recipe is just a chunk of exposition that is mostly unrelated to the story.


message 25: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 33 comments Another consideration:

If the food is supposed to be good, then you only risk damaging the story, by including a recipe. I was a cook for a dozen years (from pub grub to gourmet vegetarian)... I'll judge your recipe. Based on that, I'll judge your character's abilities.

If you just tell me that it's good, offer a hint or two of detail and move on... I'll just believe you.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

There are characters in my books who cook, but I don't include the recipes. I have, however, added the recipes on my website with a few words or a paragraph from the book and include pictures of the process. I think I may have tried one recipe from a mystery, and thought of trying others. (I do love recipes and have piles of recipe books, plus I love to experiment.)


message 27: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (finegael) | 283 comments I like the recipes, but not when they are in the body of the book. At the end, then it's fine. But it's not a requirement...


message 28: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 33 comments Norma wrote: "There are characters in my books who cook, but I don't include the recipes. I have, however, added the recipes on my website with a few words or a paragraph from the book and include pictures of th..."

That's great. Maybe you'll eventually come out with a series-themed cookbook, too.

Your approach has no effect on the ability to read the story, which is as it should be.


message 29: by Polenth (new)

Polenth Blake | 8 comments I don't expect recipes or other crafting instructions. Some cozies focus too much on the frills like that, and not enough on the actual mystery part. (You also run the risk of the recipe not being as good as the book suggests it is... if her dog treats are supposed to be awesome, but someone makes them and their dog hates them, they're going to read the book differently.)


message 30: by Leslie (new)

Leslie ☯Emily wrote: "I always ignore the recipes and sometimes I find them distracting. I would do what is comfortable for you and the story will be more compelling."

This is my response as well.


message 31: by Frankie (last edited Jan 24, 2015 04:22PM) (new)

Frankie Bow (frankiebow) | 4 comments James wrote: And Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels have a side book called The Nero Wolfe Cookbook.
How did I not know about this? Thanks for the tip, James! It's on my Want to Read shelf now.


message 32: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 33 comments Frankie wrote: "How did I not know about this? Thanks for the tip, James! It's on my Want to Read shelf now."

You're welcome. Just one of those bits of errata you pick up.


message 33: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Blair (jamieblair) | 7 comments Thank you so much for all the replies!!


message 34: by Dorothy (new)

Dorothy (dorothyx) | 7 comments Mary: Harry Dresden's Love Slave wrote: "I don't usually read the recipes and I hate it when they are at the end of the chapter of an audiobook and you can't skip them without missing part of the story."

I agree. If you have recipes it is much better if they are at the end of the book, not sandwiched in between the chapters for audio listeners. To avoid hearing something like... Betty heard a noise and turned to the left to see what happened... For Brown Bread cookies, take 2 cups of .. etc


message 35: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 33 comments Dorothy wrote: "To avoid hearing something like... Betty heard a noise and turned to the left to see what happened... For Brown Bread cookies, take 2 cups of .. etc "

That actually happens?

Anyone who arranged an audio book that way should never be allowed to produce fiction, again.


message 36: by Dorothy (new)

Dorothy (dorothyx) | 7 comments James wrote: "Dorothy wrote: "To avoid hearing something like... Betty heard a noise and turned to the left to see what happened... For Brown Bread cookies, take 2 cups of .. etc "

That actually happens?

Anyon..."


That actually happens. Not that dramatically normally but a chapter ends, next you hear the recipe for the cookie, cake, etc that was referred to in the chapter. Does get very annoying. I have listened to a lot of Joanne Fluke's books lately and all of her books have that style.


message 37: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 33 comments Dorothy wrote: " Not that dramatically normally but a chapter ends, next you hear the recipe for the cookie, cake, etc that was referred to in the chapter"

THAT'S why it bothers me: a recipe in the middle of a novel feels like a commercial.

"This chapter brought to you by: Apple Cinnamon Bran Muffins"


message 38: by Dorothy (last edited Feb 05, 2015 09:30AM) (new)

Dorothy (dorothyx) | 7 comments Dorothy wrote: " Not that dramatically normally but a chapter ends, next you hear the recipe for the cookie, cake, etc that was referred to in the chapter"

James wrote. THAT'S why it bothers me: a recipe in the middle of a novel feels like a commercial.

"This chapter brought to you by: Apple Cinnamon Bran Muffins"


I never thought of it that way, but it is that type of feeling. In print it is not a big deal since you can skip to the action. Can't do that easily in audio.


message 39: by Dorothy (new)

Dorothy (dorothyx) | 7 comments Nancy wrote: "There does seem to be a connection between food and cozies; if the amateur sleuth doesn't cook, food is still often mentioned in some manner. I compiled a cookbook of cozy mystery writers called "C..."

I located this book on Amazon. I have Kindle Unlimited and grabbed the book to look at. Thanks for letting us know it exists. Mags and the AARP gang looking like a fun read. Death Contingency is on my to read list.


message 40: by Susan (last edited Aug 28, 2015 02:10PM) (new)

Susan Bernhardt | 161 comments My cozy mysteries do have mention of pastries, appetizers, etc. in the story but I don't include recipes. I actually have been asked by many readers to write a companion cookbook for my mysteries.


message 41: by Wendy (new)

Wendy | 31 comments If you are still taking suggestions... I found in some books the Descriptions of the foods was mouth watering good. But, I bypass the inserted recipes..I would be curious if Readers did try the recipes out and the outcome.


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) Hmm I have never come across one with the recipe inserted but plenty with recipes at the end - those I find okay as I can skip the recipes if I want to.


message 43: by Leona (new)

Leona (mnleona) | 123 comments Mary wrote: "Jamie, it's usually your publisher who asks for the addition of recipes. It sounds like your book offers natural opportunities for recipes, but I wouldn't add them in the middle of the story, which..."

I am going to check on these books. Most are dessert recipes in the books. I do not pickle but did in the past.


message 44: by Karen (new)

Karen (xkamx) | 416 comments It's funny thinking about this question. Sometimes having recipes is annoying, but there are books I've read where something that sounds yummy is eaten and there's no recipe and I'm bummed. I don't know that cozies necessarily need recipes. Some have household or organizing tips, sewing patterns, craft projects, etc. Some have nothing. So I guess it depends on how deep you want to get with your character's day job. Are you only going to provide recipes for dog treats? Will you be able to sustain a series of books with new dog treat recipes for each book?

Are these original recipes? Have they been "kitchen tested," etc? I don't know what one has to go through to include recipes, but I believe they have to be original to the author or the author has to have permission to include them or get sued. And because people will try them, they have to be tested and safe for human (or canine?) consumption. I don't know what that would entail. Mystery Lovers Kitchen is a blog by a group of cozy authors who post their recipes. It's a lot of fun. You might be able to find information there.

I don't mind having recipes included in books, but it can get overwhelming. Some have mentioned Joanne Fluke's books. I have liked many of her recipes, but get so tired of skipping through pages of recipes in the middle of story text. They're not important to the story. I see them as an added bonus and would love to see them moved to the end of the book. As it is, I don't really check the recipes until I've finished the story. That's what I like about the Coffeehouse Mysteries. Treats, drinks, etc. are mentioned as part of the story, but the recipes and other information comes at the end of the books.

I like perusing the different recipes and have added several to my recipe files. That being said, I don't feel cozies have to have recipes -- or knit/crochet patterns, or housekeeping tips, etc. (also things I've added to files) for me to enjoy them. Though I like the bonus material, I don't miss it when it's not there. As I said, whether you include them depends on how deep you want to get with your character's day job and whether you can sustain a series with original recipes.


message 45: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 33 comments Okay, here's a way of looking at it.

I was a cook, for about 10 years, which is only to say that I can evaluate a recipe. Anyone who follows lots of recipes can do that.

I also have a wonderful imagination. I can create believable lands of fantasy or galactic empires, in my mind. I can see and hear them.

So, when I read a description of, for example, a meal that Fritz prepared for Nero Wolfe, I am able to appreciate it as an amazing meal. Unless, maybe, a recipe is included...

Suddenly, I am objectively evaluating the meal, rather then subjectively experiencing it.

I think recipes should be entirely separate books, like The Nero Wolfe Cookbook. It's a cookbook and I'm supposed to be objective.


message 46: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 33 comments But, of course, vive la différence.


message 47: by Leona (new)

Leona (mnleona) | 123 comments Karen wrote: "It's funny thinking about this question. Sometimes having recipes is annoying, but there are books I've read where something that sounds yummy is eaten and there's no recipe and I'm bummed. I don't..."

Thanks for the info. I like the recipes and I have made some by Joanne Fluke. Some of her books do have the recipes in the back. I did sign up for the Mystery Lovers Kitchen.


message 48: by Carol (new)

Carol Perry (caroljperry) | 90 comments I put a recipe at the end of my third mystery, Look Both Ways--release date November 1, at the editor's request. It's Aunt Ibby's recipe for "Joe Froggers." I'll be interested to see if readers like it!
Carol J. Perry


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) Dotty wrote: "If your protagonist doesn't cook or bake then don't put in recipes. It wouldn't make any sense to do so.
"


I agree with this. It wouldn't be something I was expecting at all. A lot of cozies I read don't have recipes.


message 50: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Scott (goodreadscomknitknat) | 131 comments I like recipes in a book. Several that I have read put them throughout the book, and when I get to it, I generally stop and try it before continuing with the reading. I also enjoy them at the end of the book.


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