Story Crafting on a Whim

Oct 19, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Fantasy & Fangs, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Sarah E. Burr

Thank you so much for having me here today as I celebrate the release of Too Much to Candle, Book Two in my Glenmyre Whim Mystery series.

As an author who juggles four different mystery series—all cozy in nature—it’s great spending quality time with my characters during “release week.” What do I mean by quality time? Well, for me, release weeks require hyper-focus on a specific world and cast of characters. During my usual writing weeks, I’m bouncing around from town to town, character to character, working on whatever project speaks to me the most…or has the closest looming deadline.

When it comes to release week (and the weeks leading up to it), I get to spend more intimate time with the characters featured in my latest launch, whether it be writing guest posts with them or prepping them for interviews. Of course, some of my heroines are easier to work with than others. For example, social media influencer Coco Cline from #FollowMe for Murder is always ready for her closeup at the drop of a dime. In contrast, Hazel Wickbury, my more introverted protag in Too Much to Candle, takes some time to get warmed up.

There’s a reason why Hazel is much more cautious when it comes to interacting with the world outside of her hometown of Crucible, New York. Hazel comes from the mysterious Glenmyre clan, where every family member inherits a supernatural ability. These powers, known by the Glenmyres as “whims,” range from predicting the weather to reading minds to being able to read a book simply by touching its cover. Not all these Glenmyre whims are helpful, as Hazel can attest. Her whim is one of the more burdensome talents within the family. She knows when someone is going to die. Hazel sees a “lifeclock” above the heads of everyone around her, counting down their time left on Earth. It’s weighty knowledge for her to bear, but luckily, Hazel wears a special pair of glasses that suppresses the power of her whim, allowing her to live a somewhat normal life.

I get asked a lot by readers why I chose the word “whim” to represent the powers the Glenmyres have. When Hazel introduced herself to me, I knew immediately that she had a supernatural ability, even if she didn’t mention it. This worked out wonderfully for me; at the time, I wanted to write a paranormal cozy, a warm, lighthearted mystery with a touch of magic.

I was hesitant to use the term “magic,” though, because, to me, magic is something that is practiced and honed. When Hazel described her hometown and the world she lived in, she never gave me the impression that she wanted to improve her power or train to become more powerful. Instead, Hazel just wanted to find a way to live with it, only ever needing to use her ability if the situation called for it.

Sarah E. Burr

So, I began tinkering with words and phrases that might fit this “spur of the moment” use of supernatural skills. I also made a list of my favorite words to help me brainstorm. A few that made the cut were shenanigans, epiphany, euphoria, and whimsical. I kept returning to “whimsical” and the idea of Hazel using her power “on a whim.” It fit my need perfectly.

There’s also this lightheartedness to the word whimsical, and another essential component of Hazel’s world is that her power is very much unlike the other talents in her family. Most Glenmyres have helpful skills, like her aunt and best friend, Poppy Glenmyre. Poppy can see colorful auras around a person depicting their mood or internal feelings. She uses her whim rather frequently because Poppy believes she can help the people of Crucible with it. In contrast, Hazel rarely uses her whim. Knowing when the people around her will die is hardly light and whimsical, so there’s a certain irony to the term whim, indicating that even amongst her gifted clan, Hazel is unique.

However, while Hazel rarely sees the good in her morbid power, she realizes that it can be helpful in murder investigations. Hazel’s whim is the reason she gets involved in the sudden death of a reputable businessman in You Can’t Candle the Truth, and readers will soon see how Hazel’s whim plays a part in the mystery that unfolds in Too Much to Candle.

QUESTION: If you could have a whim, what would it be? Let me know in the comments!

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. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode perfect for Halloween listening went up this week.

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Sarah E. Burr is the award-winning author of the Glenmyre Whim Mysteries, Trending Topic Mysteries, and Court of Mystery series. She currently serves as the social media guru for the New York chapter of Sisters in Crime and is the creative mind behind BookstaBundles, a content creation service for authors. Sarah is also the co-host of The Bookish Hour, a live-streamed YouTube series featuring author interviews and book discussions. When she’s not spinning up stories, Sarah is singing Broadway tunes, reading everything from mystery to manga, video gaming, and enjoying walks with her dog, Eevee. Stay connected with Sarah via her newsletter:
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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, which are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Many thanks for giving me the space to share a bit about myself and my writing!

    • To understand what animals are thinking! What a great whim!!!

    • Would like to read more about the “whims” in the story. Sounds like a fascinating book. I would like to be able to know what the animals are thinking.


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