What Not to Wear to a Graveyard By Debra Sennefelder

Oct 10, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

This week we have a review of another perfect mystery novella for your Halloween reading, What Not to Wear to a Graveyard by Debra Sennefelder, along with an interesting interview with Debra where we throw in some Halloween questions! Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win either an ebook copy of this book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

What Not to Wear to a Graveyard: A Resale Boutique Mystery By Debra Sennefelder
Review by Cynthia Chow

As much as Kelly Quinn loves the consignment shop she inherited from her grandmother, making ends meet has been a struggle. After moving from Manhattan back to her hometown of Lucky Cove, the former fashion buyer began rebranding the used-clothes shop into the Lucky Cove Resale Boutique, slowly building a social media presence targeting budget-conscious fashionistas. The stars align when during a Halloween-themed photo shoot at their local cemetery Kelly discovers an adorable, apparently lost Shih-Tzu. The purebred Billy comes with a $5000 reward after going missing from his owner Constance Lane, and Kelly is eager to receive the bounty from the famous ex-wife of a senator. It’s too bad then that Constance Lane is busy in her kitchen with a knife stuck in her chest, the result being not only that Kelly probably won’t get the reward but also that she will be a person-of-interest in a murder case.

At least knowing Gabe Donovan from childhood gives her a bit of a break in that he doesn’t immediately accuse her of murder, but that doesn’t mean that he and Detective Marcy Wolman won’t also tell her to mind her own business. That’s going to be impossible for Kelly, and even she can’t fully explain why she cares so much about figuring out how Billy’s kidnapping — dognapping — may have played a role in his human companion’s death. It’s not long before a rather intrepid and somewhat nosy Kelly learns that Constance was writing a scandalous tell-all autobiography, and that the ghostwriter helping her was still in town. An attack by a horrifically creepy clown (which are already creepy, but even more so when they threaten with a real knife), a lurking SUV, and the explosive book worth killing over all make this Kelly’s scariest Halloween ever.

This fun novella is the perfect season treat sure to inspire Halloween costumes and complete fashion makeovers. The plethora of holiday parties allow Kelly and her BFF Liv to use the Boutique’s collections for 70s iconic Big Hair-Tight Pants glamor looks, which are as delightfully vivid as they are regrettable. Clues quickly come together for an exciting and hilarious conclusion, one that comes just in time for Kelly and her friends to still be on time to hand out treats to adorable tricksters. Fashion, jealous pets, and the engaging residents of Lucky Cove all make this fun and compelling mystery that appeals to every reader’s inner child.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Interview with Debra Sennefelder:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Debra: I’d had an interest in writing from an early age and wrote a lot of short stories. It wasn’t until after I was married that I wrote my first book. It was a mystery, and it was bad, really bad. I set writing aside for a few years until we moved to a new town and I became involved in a writer’s group. I spent years taking courses, participating in critique groups and writing many unsold manuscripts.

KRL: When did you first novel come out, what was the title, and would you tell us a little about it?

Debra: The first series I sold was the Food Blogger Mystery series and the first book in that series is The Uninvited Corpse. Hope Early is the blogger behind Hope at Home and she recently moved back to her hometown of Jefferson, CT after a divorce and a very public loss on a reality baking show. She’s getting back into community activity and in support of her friend, a gardening expert and author, she attends a garden tour/book signing.

Debra Sennefelder

Tensions are running high in town because there is a push for new development and there’s a grassroots group determined to stop new building. An unexpected guest shows up at the event and she causes quite a stir. She’s a new, assertive real estate agent that doesn’t always play by the rules and she’s stolen several clients from Hope’s sister, Claire Dixon. At the end of the event, while helping to clean up, Hope stumbles upon the dead real estate agent’s body. When her sister becomes the primary suspect, she has to trade in her Google Analytics for sleuthing.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?

Debra: I’ve written romantic suspense and one paranormal romance novel. All are currently stashed in a file drawer.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

Debra: I’d written a short story a few years ago about a dognapping turned murder and submitted it to an anthology. It was rejected but I loved the story idea. I was interested in expanding it into a novella and thought a Halloween theme would be so much fun to write. I loved the idea of a socialite losing her dog and offering a huge reward for the little guy, who is based on our beloved Shih Tzu who died last year. I’d given my publisher a photo of Billy and they did a great job with his likeness on the cover of the book.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Debra: I write to entertain. It’s my hope that a reader finishes one of my books that she/he has had a good time and had a little escape from the real world. We can certainly use that these days.

KRL: That’s for sure. Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Debra: I have a schedule. I write early in the morning and then do admin work in the afternoon. I try not to write on the weekends but sometimes I do, especially if I’m plotting a new book.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you were writing it?

Debra: I outline. My editor likes long outlines and I love working from as detailed an outline as possible when I’m writing a first draft.

KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?

Debra: Since I write full-time now, I do have my ideal writing days. Prior to transitioning to writing full-time, I wrote in the morning before my day job, at night, on weekends, on holidays. Now, I can take a weekend off or a holiday. It’s a nice feeling.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Debra: My first attempts to get published in the early 2000s were difficult. All I got were rejections. When I decided in 2015 to try writing another cozy mystery after years of working on romantic suspense novels and my food blog, it was a different story. I submitted to an agent in spring of 2016 and I signed with her and by Thanksgiving that year I had a three-book contract offer from Kensington for my Food Blogger Mystery series. Then the following summer, I sold the Resale Boutique Mystery series.

KRL: Future writing goals?

Debra: I’d like to write more books in my current series, and I have an idea for another series and a few standalone books I’d like to write.

KRL: Writing heroes?

Debra: Mary Higgins Clark. Her story is inspiring. She was a widow with five children, and she had to make a career for herself and her family.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Debra: Aside from personal experience of food blogging and retail, I’ve used the internet a lot to help me as well as the writer groups I belong to a few crime/police groups for writers that help with research. I’ve also done the Citizens Police Academy in my town.

KRL: What do you read?

Debra: Mysteries, suspense, domestic suspense, romance and women’s fiction.

KRL: Favorite TV shows or movies?

Debra: I love the Real Housewives franchise. I love paranormal investigative shows. And I love NCIS and I’m hoping that a new show that debuted last year comes back, Evil. So creepy.

KRL: What is your favorite thing about Halloween?

Debra: I’ve always loved the spooky vibe around Halloween. Being out at night with everyone in a costume, you really never know who’s out there.

KRL: Do you have a Halloween tradition?

Debra: I make a big batch of beef stew and serve it in a pumpkin tureen I have. It’s perfect on a chilly, autumn night, and I typically eat way too many mini-Snickers bars.

KRL: What is your number one tip for putting together a Halloween costume?

Debra: Oh, my, gosh. Have fun with it. Remember when we were kids and we were so excited to get our costumes? I couldn’t wait to go to the Five and Dime and browse the shelves for the perfect costume!

KRL: What is something would be surprised to know about you?

Debra: I was a dancing bird in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1989.

KRL: Anything you’d like to add?

Debra: I’ve been reading cozy mysteries for over twenty years and I’ve come to realize the amateur sleuths in all my favorite cozies are strong, independent women. These sleuths are not busybodies as some have suggested. They’re women who are willing to risk friendships, family relationships, their jobs, their standing in their communities and quite possibly their lives all in the search of the truth and justice. These are not women who will standby idly while someone is being wrongfully accused or when a victim doesn’t seem worthy of justice being sought. I’m proud to write these characters.

KRL: Website/Facebook/Twitter?

Debra: My website is: www.DebraSennefelder.com
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/DebraSennefelderAuthor
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/debrasennefelder/

To enter to win an ebook copy of What Not to Wear to a Graveyard, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “graveyard,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 17, 2020. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  2. Would really love to read. Thanks for the chance.

  3. Sounds like an interesting book! I like to read mysteries set at Christmas before Christmas so why not a Halloween mystery

  4. You win come and you lose some.
    No $500 and you get accused of
    murder – what fun. Love to
    read this one. thanks

  5. I’m so sorry you lost your beloved Shih Tzu Billy! What a wonderful tribute to have him in your books! A photo shoot in a graveyard sounds like a good Halloween costume promo and then to come upon a lost dog…poor Billy! His owner is found murdered! That dangerous tell-all book she was writing! Goodness!! I’d like to visit the seventies in Kelly’s boutique and check out the town of Lucky Cove. Sounds like a cozy mystery I’d love to read. Enjoyed the post and interview!! oh_bother88@hotmail.com

  6. We have a winner!


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