Category Archives: Mystery

Member Spotlight: Meet Mystery Writer Steve Yudewitz

Posted by August 20th, 2014

Steve YudewitzIt’s my pleasure to welcome Mystery writer Steve Yudewitz to the Member Spotlight this morning. Steve’s been a Book Country member since the early days of the site. He’s a generous reviewer, and his hard work giving feedback shows as he produces each new draft of his book DEAD MAN’S FLOAT.

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Lucy Silag: Tell us about yourself: who you are and how you see yourself as a writer.

Steve Yudewitz: People describe me as quiet, loyal, and frequently prompt. I’m a secret optimist, a sports fan, fond of technology, a lover of Science Fiction, and consider myself innovative. Like many creative types, I am cursed by being fascinated about a wide variety of topics and blessed with the curiosity to learn more about almost everything. I value the remarkable array of wise, strong, funny, compassionate, talented people that make up my family and circle of friends. They constantly inspire me. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Cozy Mystery Writer Janice Peacock

Posted by August 13th, 2014

Member Spotlight: Janice Peacock

Welcome Janice Peacock to the Member Spotlight! Janice recently published her first cozy mystery novel, HIGH STRUNG, A GLASS BEAD MYSTERY, Volume One of the Glass Bead Mystery Series. Janice is an award-winning glass artist, whose work has been exhibited internationally. HIGH STRUNG has earned stellar reviews on Amazon. Janice talks about how she got started writing cozy mysteries and the revision process. Connect with Janice on Book Country

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Janet Umenta: How did you get started writing cozy mysteries?

Janice Peacock: As a teen in the 1970s, I shopped the groovy bead stores in Laguna Beach, California, looking for treasures to make my own jewelry. I continued working with beads and making jewelry, and in 1992 learned a process called lampworking so that I could make my own glass beads. The first time I lit a torch and started melting glass to create beads, I knew that I was hooked.  I’ve been making beads ever since, and designing jewelry with the glass components that I create. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Mystery Writer DJ Lutz

Posted by June 6th, 2014

DJ LutzToday we’re getting to know Book Country member DJ Lutz. His WIP on Book Country is a fun, fast-paced Cozy Mystery called THE APPLE PIE ALIBI.

Lucy Silag: How did you get started writing in the Cozy Mystery genre?

DJ Lutz: I started writing about six years ago, experimenting with different forms, genres and voices. Since mysteries had always been a favorite of mine to read, writing them came easier to me than other genres. I eventually drifted toward cozy mysteries because the style seemed to mirror my own life: somewhat fun with a twist of dry humor, not too much violence at all, and full of quirky characters. My life to a T, without the requisite dead body.

LS: Who are your favorite Cozy Mystery authors? What have you learned from reading their work?

DL: In general, I have always loved the intellectual process used by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and I certainly enjoy the whimsical inventiveness of Agatha Christie. I suppose my slant toward the culinary mystery could be due to my quest of reading the entire Rex Stout collection. But of those, I suppose only Agatha would count as a true cozy writer. They all help, though, in that they have shown me it is possible to write a challenging mystery in such a way the reader doesn’t think about the format. They succeed in creating a world of characters that force us to keep turning the page! Recently, I have also started reading Diane Mott Davidson. She is an awesome scribe and very prolific in the culinary mystery sub-genre. I enjoy her books and have discovered it is possible, and sometimes best to break the rules! Continue reading

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Say it with flowers: Cozy Mystery Author Beverly Allen on Creating a Memorable Setting

Posted by April 15th, 2014

BLOOM AND DOOMToday’s blog guest is Cozy Mystery author Beverly Allen, whose book BLOOM AND DOOM is the first in a new series starring wedding florist Audrey Bloom. Below Beverly shares with us how she used flowers to boost meaning and symbolism via the book’s flower shop setting.

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It starts with the cheerful “Welcome, baby!” bouquets. Then the sunny fistful of dandelions we present to our mothers on Mothers’ Day.  Followed by the corsage pinned on awkwardly at the prom and the daisies held in sweaty palms behind the young suitor’s back. Full of promise and joy are the lush roses in an elaborate bridal bouquet. All too quickly follow the “Get well soon!” arrangements, complete with cheery balloons, and finally funeral wreaths. Each momentous step of our lives is marked with flowers.

When writing a cozy mystery with a protagonist who’s a florist–and one that specializes in wedding bouquets–I knew that flowers would be a big part of the plot. But I also didn’t want to lead the reader down the primrose path for no purpose. Flowers can function almost like characters: enriching plot, setting tone, evoking thoughts, even speaking dialogue. If we know the vernacular. Continue reading

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SF Worldbuilding: How to Ground Your Science Fiction World with a Mystery Plot

Posted by March 4th, 2014

Alex_Hughes_AuthorBuilding believable worlds is a skill—one that can be honed. Today Mindspace Investigations series author Alex Hughes shares her techniques for marrying science fiction elements to the realism of the murder investigation crime scene. 

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Good mysteries these days have crime scenes. It’s a requirement—and not simple crime scenes either. Since CSI, mystery audiences love seeing detailed clues in crime scenes and on murder victims that help the detective solve the case. So when I sat down to write the latest book in my science fiction mystery series, I knew I needed at least one detailed crime scene. But I also wanted those real-world details to work with the science fiction/fantasy elements of my world. 

To address the mystery elements, I watched a lot of CSI and then did detailed research on forensics to get my head around the reality (and the fiction) of crime scenes. Having a real-world grounding in detail meant that I knew how forensics people and detectives both in the real world and in fiction tended to think. Then, when I added a character who could see in Mindspace (where human minds leave traces of themselves), I could add clues in a way that would help the police find the killer. I could pull ideas and situations from my research, and then add other elements on top of them; the layers and the research make the science fiction elements feel more grounded.

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“Do Try This At Home: Reflecting on My First Year as a Self-Published Writer” by Evette Davis

Posted by February 4th, 2014

Evette Davis author photoNot long after I self-published my first novel, WOMAN KING, I sent out a tweet promising that I would “try never to make the same mistake twice.” If you count the fact that I frequently fall short of my goal to tweet daily (oh the irony) to keep up my social-media presence, then I have made many of the same mistakes more than twice.

Welcome to the world of self-publishing!

It’s a place of vast opportunity, but also great potential disappointment. The roadmaps for self-published authors are newly inked, and all of us are the cartographers of a future that is still taking shape. On some days I feel like an intrepid genius, on other days, not so much.  As I embark on the new year – and Book Two of my trilogy – I thought I’d share some food for thought about the lessons I’ve learned and some fun tools I’ve discovered:

WOMAN KING coverDon’t be in a hurry. In traditional publishing, books can wait years for publication; self-publishing has the opposite problem. The ability to click the “upload” button without any gatekeepers whatsoever to stop you means that many stories reach the public before they’re ready. I did take time to have my first novel WOMAN KING edited, but I should’ve given myself more time. Now as I work on a second edition of WOMAN KING with an editor, I’m contemplating a longer timeline for editing and review of the second book in my planned trilogy.

Free, or nearly free, is often the norm. I used to think that being rejected by an agent was the most humbling experience I could have as an author. I’ve actually encountered something vastly more discomfiting: the frugalness of consumers on the Internet- especially for untested writers. It wasn’t until I made WOMAN KING free as an eBook that I began to see any interest.  My advice? Don’t be afraid to give a certain amount of your work away to build a readership. Continue reading

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Sally Goldenbaum: Cozy Mysteries and Knitting for Charity

Posted by December 23rd, 2013

One of my very favorite things about the Cozy Mystery genre is how authors of cozies blend charming hobbies into the backdrop of their books. Because I’m a knitter, I have a soft spot for cozies about knitting.

A Holiday YarnJust in time for Christmas, I stumbled across A HOLIDAY YARN, the fourth book in Sally Goldenbaum‘s Seaside Knitters series. In this series, a group of knitters in the small New England town of Sea Harbor solves mysteries as they knit up a storm of simple squares, which are sent to South Africa to be made into blankets for orphans.  At the end of A HOLIDAY YARN, Sally Goldenbaum includes a pattern for a simple 8-inch knitted square so that her readers can make the same project as the characters that they have read about.  Plus there is a call to action to send the squares to the KasCare Knit-A-Square Project. KasCare collects these squares from knitters all over the world, then makes them into blankets to keep South African AIDS orphans warm during the winter.

This holiday season, Brandi (also a knitter) and I decided that we wanted to contribute to the project. We wanted to invite the knitters amongst the Book Country community to join in, too. With permission from KasCare, Obsidian (which publishes the Seaside Knitters books), and Sally Goldenbaum, we’re posting the Knit-a-Square pattern below. This easy pattern is a cinch for knitters of all experience levels! Continue reading

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Choosing Your Genre on Book Country

Posted by October 4th, 2013

One of the first things you have to do when you join the community is pick a genre. We’ve structured the Book Country site to guide you in that decision: The Genre Map, the Genre Pages, and the Landmark Titles are there to aid you in making your genre selection and connecting you to writers with similar interests.

“What is this whole genre thing about, anyway?”

A lot of writers ask us that. They feel constrained by the conventions and tropes of a single category. “My book is both funny and romantic,” they say. “It’s a mystery and it has time travel.” Continue reading

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Mystery Versus Thriller: How to Tell the Difference

Posted by September 27th, 2013

Quite often, I walk over to Nevena‘s desk at the Book Country offices to ask her what genre a certain book is, such as NIGHT WATCH by Linda Fairstein, which I’ve been reading this week. NIGHT WATCH is one of Fairstein’s Alex Cooper novels: murder mysteries starring a Manhattan District Attorney who specializes in sexual assaults. Seems like it would be pretty easy to figure that one out: Alex is investigating a case, the main characters work in law enforcement . . . it’s a police procedural, right?

Not so fast. Nevena, having fastidiously read her “genre bible” (THE READERS’ ADVISORY GUIDE TO GENRE FICTION by Joyce G. Saricks), needs to know much more information about a book before she can make her final judgment on what genre it is. Once we chat about the book for a while, Nevena deems NIGHT WATCH a legal thriller. Here are some of the major deciding factors when you are trying to decide whether a book is Mystery versus Thriller:

Titles

mystery Thrillers, even literary thrillers, tend to have short, simple titles: NIGHT FILM, GONE GIRL, THE HARD WAY, THE FINAL CUT. The titles tell us the story is fast-paced and to the point. Mysteries, on the other hand, often have more complicated or lyrical titles: THE AMERSHAM RUBIES, WHOM THE GODS LOVE, and THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY (Alexander McCall Smith has the BEST titles, IMHO!). Cozy mysteries in particular are given to very whimsical titles like DO OR DINER (of the Comfort Food series by Catherine Wenger) and MURDER AT THE PTA by Laura Alden. NIGHT WATCH–two punchy, easily articulated syllables–is a perfect title, then, for a thriller.

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Writing Historical Mystery: Research, Setting, Plot, and Character Development with Author Luke McCallin

Posted by September 26th, 2013

The_Man_From_Berlin_cover Luke McCallin’s debut mystery novel, THE MAN FROM BERLIN, is a deep dive into the shadowy world of the Nazi occupational police forces in Sarajevo in World War II. The story, the first in a series, introduces us to Captain Gregor Reinhardt, a classic lone wolf investigator up against incredible institutional odds: No one–from the higher echelons of the Nazi war machine to the local police force–wants the truth about the grisly murder of a top Nazi officer and a politically active local journalist to come out. I chatted with the author about writing historical mystery: his research process, plotting strategies, and the ways he made his complicated setting easily accessible to the reader.

LS: What was it about Sarajevo that made it such a compelling area to write about? Did you have a formal research process as you wrote?

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