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Cozy Author TK Sheffield Reads First, Asks Questions Later

TK Sheffield, writes the humorous Backyard Model Mysteries. This is her first post for the Blackbirds. You can find out more about her on her website,, or by clicking here, and buy her books here.

This is my first blog post as a Blackbird Writer. Thank you for having me, author friends—chirp, chirp! My instructions were to “write for readers, to pull back the curtain on the process.” Thus, I will answer a Proust Questionnaire through the lens of a cozy mystery author.

What person do you most admire?

The one who is strong in adversity, patient when frustrated, and funny when under duress. Mel Tower, the main character in the Backyard Model Mysteries (TBMM), is excellent in those areas. I have room to improve.

What is your greatest fear?

I’ll wake up one morning and Mel will have chosen between the handsome sheriff, or her on-again, off-again pilot boyfriend. (Their relationship is up and down.) She will have eloped to fly the wild blue yonder, or to live happily ever after at a ranch in the Northwoods, never to be written about again.

On what occasion do you lie?

Hardly ever. Never in blog posts. I confess to misdirection in my mystery books, though.

What is your favorite occupation?

Reading. (Not writing. It’s a ghastly endeavor. The quote, “There’s nothing to writing. All I do is sit at the typewriter and bleed,” is accurate.) Reading a manuscript or screenplay when it’s well and truly finished—when the plot grabs, when the boring parts are cut, and when the cover reflects the action and emotion within—is my favorite occupation. That, or being the owner of a craft mall in a touristy small town like Mel Tower. She’s surrounded by loyal employees and talented artists. She brings her rescue collie with her to work every day. Sweet job.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Mark Twain said, “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very.’ Your editor will delete it, and your writing will be just as it should.” I’m very happy to say my books don’t contain foul language and very few uses of “very.”

What trait do you dislike in yourself?

I don’t drink enough … water. Yes, that’s it. Water. 🥂

What trait do you dislike in others?

That they don’t drink enough water. 😉

Which talent would you most like to have?

To rely less on Power Thesaurus and become a human synonym finder. I believe in using vigorous verbs while writing. Like Wonder Woman, I’d transform with glamour and sass into a super-heroine. I’d jump from my desk, pop Champagne, and whirl madly in a cloud of bubbles to become Thesauress, queen of Synonym Land, fighter of clichés and ho-hum prose. Pardon? Wonder Woman’s transformation does not involve cork and bubbles? Never mind, then. I’d like to be skilled at driving a pontoon boat in reverse. I have trouble with it, similar to Mel Tower. In Model Wave, the second book of TBMM, it’s a problem. Not to spoil anything, but boat driving is a matter of life and death.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Editing adverbs. I love words ending in -ly and sadly strike them from text. Any other writers unhappily doing so?

What is your most treasured possession?

My faith, health, family, and friendships. Beyond those, a quick link to Power Thesaurus.

What do you most value in your friends?

Their glossy coats, dark eyes, and luxurious tails—whoa, those are horse friends. Among human friends, I adore their taste in … water. Yes, that’s it. Water. Or books. I adore my friends who like comic cozy mysteries set in Wisconsin.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

The marvelous thing about writers is that we don’t die; we leave our stories behind. But I would love to return and read my favorite books with fresh eyes. Wouldn’t that be delightful?

Who are your favorite writers?

Aside from the Blackbirds, they include Erma Bombeck, P.G. Wodehouse, James Herriot, and Nelson DeMille. Also, Steven Delavan, Mel’s sidekick in TBMM. Steven is a deliveryman, or “Santa with a CDL,” as Mel says. He writes thrillers between delivering packages.

What is your greatest regret?

That I don’t live in Cinnamon, Wisconsin, the hometown featured in TBMM. I’d shop at The Bell, Book & Anvil craft mall. I’d grab a local paper, The Cinnamon Roll, and eat at the Tool & Rye, a place that’s half hardware store, half cafe. I’d enjoy meeting Mel’s cousin, Louella Jingle, a woman who’s part cowgirl, part firecracker. Also, I’d chat with the town librarian Oliver Roberts, a Shakespeare-quoting charmer who’s a modern-day Bard in Ichabod Crane’s body.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Writing quips and wry observations for Mel Tower. And sending her to parties like the Cheese Ball, the Fish Fry Gala, and Midwinter’s Night at the Library to solve mysteries. Also, writing blog posts that inspire fans of comic cozy mysteries to read my books.

What is your motto?

Read first, ask questions later.

TK Sheffield

TK Sheffield writes the award-winning Backyard Model comic cozy mysteries; they’re The Devil Wears Prada meets a Wisconsin supper club, whodunnits served with a brandy old-fashioned and a side of cheese curds. She believes in the adage, “Write what you know.” Thus, the tales are mostly set in Wisconsin.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. John DeDakis
    John DeDakis

    A delightful read. Welcome to the birdbath, TK.

    1. TK SHEF
      TK SHEF

      Thanks, John. Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. TK Sheffield
    TK Sheffield

    Thank you, John! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  3. Laurie Buchanan
    Laurie Buchanan

    TK — I raise my glass of *WATER* to your first fun-filled post. Great job!

    1. TK SHEF
      TK SHEF

      Thanks, Laurie. Cheers!

  4. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    TK, I enjoyed your funny, first post. It reminded me that some of my former fourth graders used to mispronounce “synonym” as “cinnamon”! And if your Cinnamon, WI, and my Botanic Hill, CA, got together, we’d have quite a mishmash of herbs and spices. Welcome to the Flock!

    1. TK SHEF
      TK SHEF

      Thanks, Sherrill. Yes, that sounds like a great recipe for intrigue and fun!

    1. TK SHEF
      TK SHEF

      Thanks, Christine!

  5. Joy A Ribar Ann A Ribar
    Joy A Ribar Ann A Ribar

    Not to be a Blackbird weirdo, but as a devoted birder, I’d have to return as a bird. Short life, no chance to read books, but flying? Come on, now. I loved your blog. It’s sweet and salty side reminds me of your Model Suspect mystery. Can’t wait for #2. Hope to see you in Wisconsin this summer.

    1. TK SHEF
      TK SHEF

      Thanks, Joy!

  6. Avatar
    Colleen Winter

    Welcome to Blackbirds! What a great, irreverent post. At least you will be well hydrated with all the water. 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Margaret Mizushima

    Loved your post, TK! Thanks for helping us get to know you better. So glad to have you join us in the nest!

  8. Carl Vonderau
    Carl Vonderau

    What a fun post. You are as eccentric as the rest of us. Welcome to Blackbirds.

  9. Avatar

    Wonderful post, T.K. Thinking of you when I drink my daily water. 🙂

  10. Avatar

    Love the visual of bleeding instead of writing. Feels like it a lot of time! Welcome to the flock

  11. Avatar
    Avanti Centrae

    Welcome! When you figure out how to become a human synonym finder, please let me know!

  12. GP Gottlieb
    GP Gottlieb

    Almost as funny as the book itself! Welcome to the flock –

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