Your Hope Callaghan Questions Answered

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Thank you to all of my wonderful readers who submitted your questions for me to answer!  I am honored to answer them for you.  Listed below in no particular order, are your most asked questions.  There are clickable links to each series page.


When did you write your first book?  How old were you when you wrote your first book?

I wrote my first fiction book, Waves of Deception, in early 2014 and released it in July of that year. I was 49 at the time. (I was born in 1964, the last year of the baby boomers.)  So…you’re never too old to follow your dream!

How do you keep all of your characters and small details straight?

With copious notes! Each continuing series has a separate file.  For each new book, I start a new section, adding the book title, character names and descriptions under the sub-heading. I’ve even started keeping track of the weather/season, the mystery and the “whodunit” so I don’t repeat the same mystery.

When I finish a book, I jot down notes for the next book in the series – continuing the adventure and tying up any loose ends.

I also have files for names used in all of my books, Bible verses, and even recipes.

The Cruise Ship Series is the most challenging to write. Not only do I have to keep track of the layout of the ship, but also the activities/timeline, the ports, the itinerary, the characters and throw in a mystery – all with a very limited array of weapons since security on cruise ships is tight.

Do you visit the places you write about / Do you travel a lot?

Yes and no. We’re either home working all of the time, or we’re traveling around researching and visiting the places in my stories.

Belhaven, Michigan, the fictional small town where Gloria and the Garden Girls live, is a lot like the small town where I grew up.

Savannah, Georgia is a few hours’ drive north from where we live in Central Florida. After our first visit, Mitchell and I started talking about using Savannah as the setting for a new series. It’s such an interesting and unique city. Made in Savannah and the Garlucci’s seemed like a perfect fit and I could envision so many storylines for the family. (As a matter of fact, I have a bunch of notes for the basic storyline for the next adventure ready to go!)

Many of you already know that Mitchell and I love cruising. I took my first cruise in 1990, and have since taken 28 more – on various lines.

My new Millie Mystery, “Transatlantic Tragedy,” is charting the course for Millie’s new adventures in the British Isles, a cruise Mitchell and I took last year!

You were my first cozy writer. How did you decide on this style of writing?

The Samantha Rite / Deception Series, my first fiction trilogy, is more suspense. After writing those three books, I read a couple of cozies and then came up with the general storyline for the Garden Girls. Back then, most stories featured younger women and their hot, hunky love interests. Series about more mature sleuths were few and far between, an audience of cozy readers with few stories available.

After the success of the Garden Girls, I started the Millie Cruise Ship Mysteries, followed by the Sweet Southern Sleuths Short Stories, Made in Savannah, and now the “Divine Series.”

I would love to know the evolution of writing a book.

I typically start the story using the notes from my previous book – most have a thread of continuing something that happened previously. Since I’m not big on outlining (I’ve tried it before and end up re-writing everything. LOL)

So, I put my laptop on my lap and start typing. On a (really) good day, I can write 10,000 words. My average is around 6,500. After completing the first draft, I read it through (aka my first round of edits.) I take a day off, and then read it again for a cleaner copy.

After the draft and two rounds of edits, I hand it over to Mitchell – who by the way is very good at picking up plot holes and redlining my drafts. Haha.

He gives it back. I do 1 – 2 more rounds of edits to fix what he found. SOMETIMES, he has to read it again. Then I do another round of edits and send it on to my editing / BETA team.

I do 1-2 more read throughs and edits after they give me their feedback… VOILA! Finally – a finished book.

The whole process takes about five weeks. If I have a “clean” copy, I’ll only read/edit about six times. On a story that needs more attention, I would say closer to a dozen rounds of reading and editing. Let’s just say by the time my books are done, I know the story inside and out.

(While my editing team is reading, I start working on my next book.)

What authors / books do I read?

I’m a big fan of Max Lucado. I think he has such a wonderful writing style and has a way of drawing the reader in.

As far as fiction, I’ve enjoyed reading Lorena McCourtney’s “Ivy Malone” series about an older main character. Cynthia Hickey’s “Nosy Neighbor” series is cute, too.

Do you use family members, people you know – in your books?

I try not to use my family in any of my stories (maybe because there’s always a crime being committed – haha.) Having said that, my grandmother’s names were Margaret and Dorothy (both characters in the Garden Girls’ Series) and Mildred/Millie in the Cruise Ship Series – was the name of Mitchell’s grandmother.

I have based one of my characters on someone who impacted my teen years, and you’ll read about her below.

Where do you come up with your story ideas?

The Divine Series was one that came to me in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. I was in the process of plotting and going in a different direction. I believe God changed my direction and nudged me toward the new series and still believe this is true.

The Garden Girls Cozy Mystery Series is loosely based on the small town where I grew up. The Cruise Ship Cozy Mysteries Series was one Mitchell and I decided was a “labor of love” since we love cruising.

We also fell in love with Savannah (I explained this one earlier) and during a drive home from Savannah, dreamed up the Garlucci family.

Who are my favorite characters?

I’m going to take a big, deep breath and say…ELVIRA. (I know a lot of my readers can’t stand her.) But she’s so out there, I never know what she’s going to do next.

As far as main characters, I would have to say Joanna / Jo Pepperdine. Jo is my tribute to a woman I looked up to and who mentored me in my teen years – her name was Josephine. She was tough as nails on the outside but had a heart of gold. She passed away last year.

What are your future projects / plans?

I’ll be continuing the Cruise Ship, Made in Savannah and Divine Series by rotating the three. I planned for the upcoming Garden Girls adventure to be the last in that series, but Gloria & the Gang’s story isn’t quite finished, so there may be one or two more.

Tantor Media has purchased the audio rights for the first three books in my “Divine Series.” These are already in the production phase and should be out later this year.

A large, traditional publisher, who is interested in having me write a series for them, has also contacted me. Details to follow in the future…

Thanks again to all of you, my wonderful readers!  Because of you, I’m able to do what I love best…write good clean stories for you! : )




Your Hope Callaghan Questions Answered


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