A Staged Kitchen
Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Learn more about Grace and her books at her website. 

Home Staging for Now and Later
When I decided to write a cozy mystery, I learned that I needed to give my main character a business or interest, or what writers refer to as a hook. For example, having the main character own a bakery, walk dogs, run a bed and breakfast, be a librarian—things that would be a key element of the story.

Other writers advised me to select a hook that I would enjoy, since I could possible spend years writing about it. I also needed to select a hook that I knew something about or could learn enough about it to write with some knowledge.

My experience at work had been with computer systems related to banking, but that would make for a pretty boring hook. And I didn’t have any hobbies. So I wondered what I could use as a hook that would interest me enough to write about it book after book and that readers might find interesting.

By the time I came home from work and finished with dinner and dishes, all I wanted to do was sit in a chair and turn on HGTV and mindlessly watch home stagers turn ugly duckling homes into swans that would sell fast and for more money. I loved those programs and eventually started helping friends stage their homes. I actually had a knack for it. Either that or I had watched so many staging shows that I was able to do what I saw the designers do. 

That would be my hook. I would have my main character be a home stager, start her own business, and solve the murders she came across.

Home staging is a new concept to many people. When my first book, Staging is Murder, came out, I was asked a lot of questions about home staging. What does a home stager do versus an interior decorator? (Takes the personality out of a home décor so potential buyers could imagine themselves living there.) Why would I want to use a home stager when I put my house up for sale? (To make your home appeal to more buyers and sell faster.) What type of things can I do myself to stage my home? (Declutter, upgrade, minimize, and give every room a fresh coat of paint, etc.) 

To answer questions like this, I drew on the knowledge I gained from watching home staging programs, reading books about home staging, following home staging Facebook groups, and gathering information from the Staging Studio Society, a home staging training and certifying organization. I got so involved in it that when I read about something new, I would start stressing about how I would do that, and had to remind myself that I didn’t have to—I only had to write about it. To explain it more, I added home staging tips to the beginning of each chapter. 

People spend years getting their homes exactly the way they want them, only to be told to change it to appeal to potential buyers, which is very hard for homeowners. Step one for homeowners when they decide to sell their homes is to stop thinking like a homeowner and start thinking like a home seller. For example, a homeowner may love their plaid carpeting, but they need to ask themselves if it would appeal to buyers? A perspective buyer might see it and wonder how much the cost of replacing it would add to the total cost of the house?

People often upgrade their homes to appeal to buyers and regret they didn’t do it sooner.

So even if you aren’t planning to sell your home any time soon, start staging your home now—so you can enjoy the changes.

What changes could you make to your home now so you could enjoy them? 

Staging Wars
A Laura Bishop Mystery, Book 2

Laura Bishop’s new home staging business is growing in popularity, though not with her nemesis. Laura has long suspected established interior designer Monica Heller of sabotaging her fledgling company—and having an affair with her late husband. 

When the ultra-chic Monica is caught at the scene of a murder, Laura is plenty happy to imagine her languishing in a prison cell with bedsheets far from her normal 600-thread Egyptian cotton. But her delight is short-lived.

When Laura’s friends land on the police radar, Laura must overcome her dislike of Monica to help solve the crime. Not an easy task since Laura and Monica have been at war since second grade.

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