Monday, November 14, 2016

Solving the Genre Conundrum: Suspense v. Mystery




with special guest Christy Barritt.

So you want to write a mystery novel. Or is your story that’s emerging on the page a suspense? A blend of both? 

Both? 

Uh-oh. Is blending both even okay? But what if I want to write a historical mystery novel with underlying suspense elements that takes place in a sci-fi fantasy world?

Gulp.

Are you feeling anxious? Confused? Unsure what genre is what and even worse . . . what’s okay and what’s not?

I’m here to try to put some boundaries on these genre definitions and offer you some peace of mind!

Before I start, my name is Christy Barritt. I’ve written 50 books, which have sold almost a million copies. Eighteen of these novels have been traditionally published, a few are with small presses, and the rest are indie. 

I write both mystery and romantic-suspense and everything in between. My mystery novels have been called suspense, my suspense novels have been called cozies, and my romantic suspense novels are occasionally labeled as thrillers. So, writers aren’t the only one confused about the genre breakdown. Readers are too. 

The good news is that most readers don’t care about whether you’re abiding by genre rules. They just want a good book. But, for the sake of your sanity and curiosity, here are the differences in the genres.


Mystery Novels:
A true mystery novel will focus on the process of solving a crime. The book is like a puzzle where the reader gets to walk along beside the protagonist to figure out who did the crime and why. Readers are exposed to the same information as the detective in the story. Usually, it starts with a crime that’s already been committed, and the reader is one step behind in discovering information. The novel should make a reader think.

Think: Sue Grafton, Lorena McCourtney, Amanda Flower, Traci Tyne Hilton, Cynthia Hickey. 

Subgenres: cozies, historical, noir, amateur sleuth, sci-fi, P.I.

Examples:
Let’s say the basic plot of the story is: Who killed the cupcake baker? Here are the different spins that could be taken on this story based on subgenre:

Cozy: To make this cozy, add some cats, as well as a small, quirky town. No blood or guts, though!

Historical: It probably goes without saying that the story should then take place in the past.

Sci-fi: Throw in a hero with superpowers who helps solve the crime or maybe an alien who visits from another world.

Amateur sleuth: Perhaps an apprentice who works at the bakery has an astonishing attention to detail (she makes amazingly life-like roses out of icing!), which will later help to solve crime.

Police procedural: These mysteries will contain more detail about how the police go about solving the crime.

Suspense Novels:

A suspense novel will focus on imminent danger as the villain tries desperately to reach a goal. The story doesn’t have to be primarily about the villain, but he will play a prominent part in it. Often, parts of the story are told from his POV, though readers are kept in the dark about certain aspects (maybe readers know why he’s doing the crime but not who he is. Or who he is by not why). Readers are aware of things unknown to the protagonist. In other words, the reader is one step ahead of the protagonist. They know something bad is going to happen and wait for the protagonist to discover it (for instance, they see the villain hide in the closet and wait as the protagonist walks through the house, making various stops, totally unaware of the danger that awaits). I love what one person said: a mystery novel will make you think, and a suspense will make you sweat.

Think: Davis Bunn, Ted Dekker, Ronie Kendig, Sandra Brown, Lisa Jackson

Subgenres: psychological, supernatural, military, espionage, medical, legal, romantic-suspense

Examples:
Let’s say for these examples that the overall plot involves a killer who chases his next victim and won’t give up until she’s dead. Here’s how that would break down by subgenre:

Medical: A doctor should have saved the life of the villain’s wife and now the villain wants revenge.

Legal: An attorney doubts that the client she just helped set free is actually innocent. Did she put a killer back on the streets?

Psychological: A killer plays mind games with the victim because he finds pleasure in terrorizing people who remind him of his abusive mother.


Thrillers: 
The thriller is a suspense novel that’s been cranked up a few notches. The stakes are higher, the action even faster moving, and the consequences if the protagonist isn’t successful are devastating to more than just the hero or heroine. The safety of the world could be at stake if the hero doesn’t reach his goal. 

Think: James Bond, The Bourne Trilogy, Joel Rosenburg, Lee Child, Sandra Brown

Try the 1st book in the series FREE!
The Truth

The truth is that most novels are a blend of mystery and suspense. One will usually be stronger, but both elements are often present. 

Think: Colleen Coble, Dani Pettrey, Lynette Eason

One of my best-selling series is the Squeaky Clean series, which is about a sidelined forensic investigator who begins cleaning crime scenes to both supplement her income and feed her curiosity. While doing so, she often finds clues the police overlooked. The books are classified as mysteries, but I also like to have a strong suspense element present in each story. Inevitably, as my amateur sleuth Gabby St. Claire gets closer to finding the truth, the danger against her becomes more imminent as the villain tries to stop her from exposing him.

On the other hand, some of the best suspense novels will show the protagonist playing an active role in figuring out what’s going on. The hero or heroine will not simply sit passively. In doing so, mystery elements are usually added. Clues are followed and found, proven, disproven. In my book Disillusioned, the protagonist’s brother is a POW who’s returned from captivity only to be accused of being a traitor (think Bo Bergdahl). The book opens with men posing as their security team trying to abduct them both at gunpoint. Is it the terrorists he escaped from? Or is it the government, who desperately wants to silence him? The more threats that are made against them, the more obvious it becomes that something big is going on, something that involves more than just this brother and sister duo. The two begin tracking down clues about what’s really happening in order to a stop a terrorist plot that’s slowly uncovered. This book is labeled a suspense, but there’s definitely some traits of a thriller involved, as well as mystery and romance. There’s also a psychological aspect: what if her brother really is a terrorist, released from captivity in order to unleash a plot to destroy the U.S.?


So if your book is a blend, don’t worry about it. Just decide which element is stronger, and you’ll find a way to define your genre.

Now, let’s solve another mystery. 
Which do you prefer to read: Mystery, Suspense, or Both? Why?


Seekerville has opened the prize vault to give two commenters a terrific read in honor of Christy's visit. Leave a comment and your name will go into the forensic files for a chance to win an ecopy of Christy's latest release from Waterfall Press,  Disillusioned. Two winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Get your copy here.
 Nikki Wright is desperate to help her brother, Bobby, who hasn’t been the same since escaping from a detainment camp run by terrorists in Colombia. Rumor has it that he betrayed his navy brothers and conspired with those who held him hostage, and both the press and the military are hounding him for answers. All Nikki wants is to shield her brother so he has time to recover and heal.

But soon they realize the paparazzi are the least of their worries. When a group of men try to abduct Nikki and her brother, Bobby insists that Kade Wheaton, another former SEAL, can keep them out of harm’s way. But can Nikki trust Kade? After all, the man who broke her heart eight years ago is anything but safe…


Hiding out in a farmhouse on the Chesapeake Bay, Nikki finds her loyalties—and the remnants of her long-held faith—tested as she and Kade put aside their differences to keep Bobby’s increasingly erratic behavior under wraps. But when Bobby disappears, Nikki will have to trust Kade completely if she wants to uncover the truth about a rumored conspiracy. Nikki’s life—and the fate of the nation—depends on it.



USA Today has called Christy Barritt's books "scary, funny, passionate, and quirky."

Christy is the author of fifty books, and she writes both mystery and romantic suspense novels that are clean with underlying messages of faith. Her books have won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery, have been twice nominated for the Romantic Times' Reviewers Choice Award, and have finaled for both a Carol Award and Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year. Her novel Hazardous Duty has been optioned for a feature film.

She's married to her Prince Charming, a man who thinks she's hilarious—but only when she's not trying to be. Christy's a self-proclaimed klutz, an avid music lover who's known for spontaneously bursting into song, and a road trip aficionado.

When she's not working or spending time with her family, she enjoys singing, playing the guitar, and exploring small, unsuspecting towns where people have no idea how accident prone she is.

She’s a graduate of Indian River High School, and has a degree in Bible and Communications from Cincinnati Christian University. Her husband is a former teacher turned children’s pastor at Kempsville Christian Church in Virginia Beach. For more information or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website: www.christybarritt.com.


94 comments :

  1. Fun!! I love these genres! I've been reading more and more mystery and thriller lately. I love psychological thrillers because I just. can't. put. them. down.

    But Tina also got me hooked on Jack Reacher...

    Disillusioned sounds amazing, and I've already added The Squeaky Clean Mysteries to my TBR pile!

    I'm glad you're in Seekerville today, Christy!

    ReplyDelete
  2. WELCOME, CHRISTY!!!

    So excited about Disillusioned. Gorgeous cover. And I am on the trail of reading through the Squeaky Clean series.

    There is definitely a different tone between each of your different series. How do you get yourself INTO the frame of mind each requires. Do you only write one type at a time in a linear manner?

    ReplyDelete


  3. Night School by Lee Child just released, Megan Brummer!!!

    ReplyDelete


  4. I brought "mystery" pastries to the Village. Help yourself. See you all in the am.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've read mostly romantic suspense (think Love Inspired Suspense) and love the genre! I don't really care if a novel has a mix as long as it's a good story I can follow along with. As a reader, I never really knew the difference between each genre. Thanks for solving the "mystery" by explaining each one in detail. :-)

    I know I've read reviews on Amazon for some of the LIS where the reviewer complained that we already "knew" who the killer/stalker/bad guy was and it ruined the story for them. Well, in a suspense sometimes you will know who it is because the author reveals them early on. So I'm not sure that reviewer understood the difference either between suspense and mystery. I think if they did, they would have written a different review for that book and given it a better rating.

    I've also read a few cozy mysteries and what I like about them is the often small town setting and it usually has a cat or dog in it. My husband likes the Rita Mae Brown mysteries (with the cat Sneaky Pie as front and center). I also love some of the quirky play on words titles; for example, I read part of a Tea Shop mystery series and one of the books was entitled "Death by Darjeeling". I think I like them because they are fun, light, upbeat and often humorous mysteries. Nothing to "heavy" or depressing.

    I can't tell you why I love this genre so much (historicals tie first place), maybe it's for the reason you said here: "a mystery novel will make you think, and a suspense will make you sweat". Because the pulse-pounding, thrill-a-minute, have-you-on-the-run kind of stories get the old heart going! :-)

    No need to add my name to the forensic file for "Disillusioned" because I already own an ecopy of this on my Kindle. Thanks again Christy for clarifying the differences, now I understand better :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm a reader that doesn't care if it is mystery or suspense, as long as my interest is engaged throughout the book. I love to try to figure things out or watch the protagonist figure things out. Thank you for the great post Christy!

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm such a baby, Megan Brummer.... I can't do suspense or thrillers. I have nightmares. I can't unpicture the pictures....

    And I've been this way all my life, so I learned my lessons young!

    But I am writing a delightful cozy mystery for Guideposts "A Light in the Darkness" and it is so much fun!

    It is charming and sweet and funny and there's a dog instead of a cat, but he's too sweet for words (with a penchant for baked goods)....

    Christy, this is a marvelously wonderful post! Folks are always wondering about the difference between the two and you laid it out perfectly. Thank you so much!!!

    And huge congrats on your growing success! Go you!!!

    Thank you so much for being here today and double thanks for this conference-class-in-a-blog-post lesson!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Trixi, you are absolutely right. Some suspense tracks the known killer/bad guy from the beginning and doesn't surprise the reader... the surprise is that the hero and heroine prevail against amazingly difficult odds.

    And some use that aura of mystery/suspense, with the heroine and hero having no idea who is really after her/them until the end.

    Both are right but they do have split appeal. Folks who like one definition aren't as likely to love a book with the opposite plot spiral.

    Hey, did I hear mystery pastries???? I'm in!

    I brought coffee!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Christy! Go Eagles! Hopefully that's what they still called them when you graduated from CCU. They changed it from CBS to CBC when I went there back in the dark ages..ha. Congratulations on all your accomplishments. Your books sound very intriguing. I'll definitely check them out. Please put my name in the drawing.

    You should have a book signing at CCU. They should be proud of you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Welcome to Seekerville, Christy! I always love to read a good medical or legal suspense, but not anything too scary. It doesn't take much to get me looking under my bed. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Christy,

    Welcome to Seekerville. I like a combination of both mystery and suspense. And of course romance.

    Thanks for sharing today. I enjoyed your post.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello Christy, I LOVE all your books!! It is nice to see you on seekerville. Thanks for the discussion on the talk between mysteries and suspense. Many people don't know the differences. I enjoy reading mysteries, but a good suspense like Steven James' stories grips my attention for hours. Keep writing great books, Christy, and I'll read them.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for the welcome, everyone! So glad to be here.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My son changed my profile picture to . . . whatever that is, and I can't figure out how to fix it! Ha!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Bettie! A fellow CCUer? That's awesome! Love those kind of connections. I've never done a signing at CCU--I should look into that, shouldn't I?

    ReplyDelete
  17. WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, CHRISTY, and THANK YOU for explaining the differences between suspense and mystery -- I honestly had NO idea, but always wondered!! :)

    I am a die-hard romance reader and writer, so I am not normally a mystery or suspense person (except for Debby Giusti's books, of course), but you have definitely piqued my interest! Especially when you mentioned thrillers like The Bourne movies. Oh, and one of my top ten favorite movies is The Fugitive, so I guess that would be classified as a thriller too? Mmmm ... maybe I'm more mystery/suspense than I realize!

    Tina, "mystery pastries"?? Sounds a little bit like Forrest's box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get, and if I don't get cheese, I'm not a happy camper. ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  18. CHRISTY, this is a helpful post. I read both -- well, I read everything -- and I often wondered what exactly was the difference between Mystery and Suspense. I had a vague idea, but you have articulated it so much better. Good thing I don't write them -- yet.
    Kathy Bailey

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Christy, Wow, your column was so insightful. I loved the breakdown and great examples of the genres. I have one manuscript I am working on that is darker and thriller oriented. The villain is a vigilante of sorts. Abused as a child he seeks to rid the world of abusers. It has a legal theme, some computer hacking and kidnapped girls. Trying to weave it all together is the hard part. I gleamed some good points from your column today. Thank so much for sharing. I wish you continued success.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Steven James?? Kelly Bridgewater! I must look up that name. New to me. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Love it. Your son made you a superhero. That's a kid that loves his momma.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm still shocked to this day that after so many suspense releases, and 11 NYT best-sellers, Lee Child is a pantser. Although, I admit that it give me hope.


    Pantser? or Plotter, Christie.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I forgot to mention. I'm adding a mystery flavor coffee to the mix. Hope everyone is raring to write this fine Monday morning. I hope you enjoy some cranberry orange muffins, I brought them to the table too. My favorite.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Tina, I'm a mix of both. I start with an idea, write 50-75 pages and then go back to evaluate what I've written so far. Then I plan out my next few steps, and repeat the process over and over again until the end!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm reading Night School by Lee Child right now. My husband loves Lee Child and has downloaded them all on his iPad. We chose the family sharing option and we get each other's books on both iPads. A nice Apple feature. Recently we saw the second Jack Reacher movie. Loved it. I didn't know he was a pantser. Thanks, Tina.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I managed to change my profile picture! Yay! (it's the small victories sometimes . . .)

    ReplyDelete
  27. I really should read a Lee Child book sometime . . .

    ReplyDelete
  28. Great post, Christy. And your bio is FUN. :)

    I enjoy reading mysteries and suspense. Although, I haven't read either in quite some time. I enjoy thrillers, but sometimes they get a little too dark for me. I tend to dream about what's going to happen next to the characters I'm reading about, and I don't want to have nightmares. :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. You'd enjoy Christy's books, all you scaredy cats. Not dark enough for nightmares.

    My personal favorite is the Squeaky Clean series.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I like your plotsering method, Christy.

    Do you write at a desk, wandering tablet or laptop? or maybe handwriting.

    What's your writing schedule like?

    After you've written as many whodunnits as you, Christy, does the who-dunnit and why part get any easier? Do you ever come up with that part first? Or do you figure it out as you go?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Good morning Christy!

    Loved your post, but most of all, glad you gave your permission to write a mixture of all the genres. I enjoy mysteries/cozies/thrillers as long at they're not too gross or evil. I want to be nervous, not sick.

    Saturday night I came in and watched an episode of Rescue 911. I haven't this show in like 20+ plus. The episode was from the 1990's of a 6-month pregnant lady who had her foot in a cast and had an intruder. She lived in a 3-story house in a secluded area in Colorado and couldn't escape the man. I have not been that creeped out ever. The call lasted 10 minutes, but the way she kept begging for help sent chills down my spine.

    Where do you get your inspiration? The news? Shows like this? Or just you mind?

    ReplyDelete
  32. Tina, I usually bring my laptop to the recliner to write. I'm more comfortable that way. I always edit my first draft on paper and my second draft on my kindle.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Connie, I usually get my inspiration from a lot of places. I do watch the news and true crime dramas. I love traveling and talking to different people--hearing their stories. I find a lot of inspiration just from real life!

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'm a huge fan of mysteries, probably cozies and traditional in first place. About every six months or so I'm ready to read a thriller. I just finished Hazardous Duty - a book I couldn't put down. Literally. I read it all day and at bedtime, I purchased the Audible companion and kept listening. Loved it! I see why it was optioned for a movie and hope they make it!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Well, I tried commenting earlier, on my phone, under the blankets, but obviously that didn't work. Thanks for a great post, Christy. I guess that was why I was disappointed the first time I picked up a romantic suspense. I expected more suspense,. What I want is thriller, looks like. I still love romantic suspense, historical (most anything but scifi and time travel, go figure).
    Thanks for the mystery pastries, TINA. They're going well with my coffee this morning!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks so much, Dana! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. I would love to see it made into a movie also. *fingers crossed*

    ReplyDelete
  37. HELLO CHRISTY!!!! Mystery/suspense is my favorite genre. I enjoy the heart pounding tension that keeps me on the edge of my seat. Thank you for this great post!

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    Have a wonderful day!

    ReplyDelete
  38. This is great, Christy--thanks for the easy-to-understand breakdown! It makes sense that each of the three genres is likely to include a little of the others, but also important to know the primary genre you're aiming for. Early on as a writer, I didn't fully understand the importance of genre breakdowns and that publishers need a handle on which to "hang" any given book when they're marketing it to readers. When a book doesn't fall neatly into a particular niche, no one knows how to market it!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Ruthy, I don't blame you! I've discovered I really enjoy reading suspense and thrillers but there's not way I can watch them in movie form. That's when I get the nightmares.

    You're writing a cozy??? I can't wait to get my hands on it!

    And Tina, Lee Child is a pantser? I'm gaining an enormous amount of respect for pantsers. My brain just doesn't work that way! The vast abyss of unanswered questions is too paralyzing for me when I stare at the blank page. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  40. Christy, welcome! This is so helpful! I'm afraid I've used the terms interchangeably at times. So obviously I don't write in the genre. :) But I do read it. I probably read more of the romantic suspense novels but have read thrillers as well. My sister is crazy about mysteries, especially cozies, so I have a whole list of those that she has recommended that I'd like to try.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Psychological thrillers are the ones that mess with my mind and make me lose sleep! LOL Yes, Tina, I'm a scaredy cat. :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. HI CHRISTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Christy and I started out together. She taught me everything I know about writing!!! THANK YOU!
    If you'd like to disavow any knowledge of this, I understand!

    Great blog post.
    Um these books I'm reading...what are they? You've got Lee Child under thrillers. Okay, that's all sort of mixed up in my head with mystery and suspense.
    I'm also a big Michael Connelly fan and his hero, Harry Bosch is a police procedural...I guess, except now Harry's retired.
    And his brother is in some books with him...a lawyer.
    And David Baldacci...he's got about three series going at the same time. I read them all.
    And Vince Flynn, definitely thrillers...huge terrorist plot, world wide danger type books.
    I really get what you mean about the MIXED genres.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I love the Squeaky Clean series...to me these are sort of borderline Cozy mysteries just because the characters are so charming.
    But Christy's written some real scary books, too. :)
    And of course her LIS stuff. Wow, 50 books! Christy I'm at 48!!!!!!!
    Except we took the Seeker novellas down, so I might be at 42 now. Not sure how to count them!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  44. How do you know, Christy, Mary Connealy?


    Hey, time to put your novellas up again on their own, dear.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Mary and I started out in a critique group together through ACFW. We both got our first contracts around the same time, so we kind of got to walk on this publishing journey together. <3 Mary Connealy! You guys are so blessed to have her here. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  46. Missy, I take it as a compliment when people say my books keep them up at night. You think that's a bad thing? LOL :-)

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hi Christy
    Fellow VA Beacher here. Very cool to know you're in the area. I've always liked the Sherlock Holmes type stories (Encyclopedia Brown when I was a kid). I've enjoyed Anne Perry's books as well. I guess that makes me more a mystery lover than suspense - although I've tried my hand at suspense myself.

    I've been eyeing your squeaky clean mysteries series for awhile, but have put off buying them because of book budget constraints *sigh*. From reading the blurbs I know I'd want them all to read right away and, unfortunately, the bank account doesn't always allow for such indulgences.*double sigh*

    This post is awesome. I'll need to keep it handy for when I encounter other confused readers. Thanks for the Seekerville visit and sharing your wisdom with us. Now, off to get that free squeaky clean book (thank you!!!!!!!!!).

    ReplyDelete
  48. Hi Christy,

    Thanks for being with us today. I enjoyed your post. You did a great job explaining the differences between the mystery and suspense genre. I love suspense. I do occasionally read mysteries, and did so more in my youth, but suspense is my all-time favorite genre!

    Congrats on your success! Fifty stories! Fantastic. When did you start writing for the indie market? Do you have a goal to write a certain number each year? Would love to know how you work your indie writing in with your traditional stories.

    ReplyDelete
  49. DebH, I think Anne Perry is a little scary. So good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  50. I'd like to know too, Debby Giusti. We may have to take a field trip to her house.

    Slow poke writer wants to know.

    1. What's your writing schedule like?

    2. Do you keep it all straight on an editorial calendar?

    3. Do you have specific goals for your indie work? Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly?

    ReplyDelete
  51. You went to school in Cincinnati? Are you originally from Ohio? A Buckeye? I'm an Ohio State Grad! My dad was military, and we moved around but Ohio was always home!

    Go Bucks!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Someone mentioned thrillers being dark. I do find a number of suspense authors eventually embrace the dark side in their writing. When the evil gets too intense, I have to bow out. I love suspense but not the occult or the very twisted evil.

    ReplyDelete
  53. CHRISTY, welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for explaining the differences between suspense and mystery novels and all those sub-genres. I've written a couple of novels with villains that ratchet the tension but not enough to make an historical romance scary. I'm awed by writers who can handle writing suspense, mysteries or thrillers. Too scary or daunting for me.

    Your covers are terrific! I'm impressed by all the accolades your books have received and the number of books you and MARY have published. Congratulations on all your success!

    I was just thinking how fun it would be for our little cyber town to be a setting in a mystery or suspense novel. What better place to seek justice than in Seekerville? ;-)

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
  54. Welcome, DebH from Virginia Beach! Good to see a "neighbor" here!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Debby,

    I started writing for the Indie market about six years ago. I had absolutely no expectations going into it. I'd just gotten the rights back to one of my traditional books--the first book in the squeaky clean series, actually. I'd planned it as a three book series, but the publisher didn't pick up the third book, and I had readers emailing me, asking how everything would end. I had some friends doing some indie publishing so I thought, "What do I have to lose?" I wrote the third book, published it for Kindle, and then republished the first book. I didn't know what I was doing, so I made some mistakes. BUT I was totally shocked and surprised when the books took off. They sold well beyond my expectations! Readers kept asking for more, so I kept going, kept writing. I'm on book 12 right now in that series.

    ReplyDelete
  56. To finish answering Debby's question, I publish probably six indie books a year, which is a lot. But most of these are a part of one of my series. These I can i write a little more quickly because I already know the characters. I almost think of it like writing a weekly TV show.

    It's not always easy balancing my indie books with my traditional deadlines, especially since I'm writing for both LIS and Waterfall. I pretty much sketch out my entire year, including how many words I have to write per week in order to make my goals. Sometimes things throw a wrench in my plans, like when I have an edit come back early from my trad pub or maybe an edit is more intense than I thought, and that will throw me off schedule. I do have flexibility. But I also write my first drafts fast. 20,000 words a week, so I finish my first draft in three or four weeks. It's not great, but it's done. Then I can dig in and start editing and revising and editing some more.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Debby,

    I'm from Virginia, right here on the coast. But I went to college in Cincinnati, and I fell in love with Ohio. It was a great state!

    ReplyDelete
  58. Tina,

    I kind of answered your question also when I answered Debby's. I'm very much into writing out goals for the year. I then break it down by week, and each day I break my tasks down into the immediate. It's the only way I can get things done!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Janet,

    I'm seeing a Seekerville mystery anthology in your future! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  60. I'd been writing longer than Christie (how could I not be, she was a mere CHILD). But she was already smarter than me. We did that for a LONG time, didn't we.
    It really helped me find writer connections.
    It is Christy, with Suzanne and Nicole, who insisted I HAD to go to my first writer's conference.
    They made it great.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Thanks, Christy, that helps me to feel like it is possible in the real world. Well except for the 20K thing. lololol.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Christy, that's an amazing pace for writing your first drafts! I envy that!

    ReplyDelete
  63. I often comment that I love mystery/suspense but I never stopped to analyze the similarities or differences. I.Just.Like.To.Read.A.Good.Book!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  64. This was a very interesting post. My books are definitely blends but lean more in the YA category. As for which of the two I like more (mystery and suspense) I like them both and I like them even better when they're combined, but of the two suspense is probably my favorite. It's not that I don't like reading mystery it's just that as I'm reading mystery I get very obsessive (also the mystery kind of drives me a little crazy as I try my best to figure out what is going on) and don't want to put the book down until I finish it (I'm not a very patient person and not having all the answers just drives me nuts!). While becoming completely engrossed in a story is good if I am looking for a get away it's not good when I've got school and chores to be done and my dad is getting hangry because there is no dinner on the table.

    I'd love to be entered into the drawing because suspense is one of my favorite genres and your book looks very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Thanks, Christy, for answering my questions! I also call VA home! LOL!

    I lived in Norther VA for a number of years and graduated from high school there...Mount Vernon High located close to George's home.

    Virginia Beach is lovely. What's not to love about the ocean! And VA is for lovers, right? At least, that was the old ad promo. I believe they're still using it.

    Congrats on your success! And again, thanks for being with us!

    ReplyDelete
  66. CHRISTY, for me to write a Seekerville mystery, it would have to be a cozy. One of the Seekers could be the heroine, a modern Jessica Fletcher. Of course they all might want that role. :-)

    I'm awed that you--well anyone--can write 20k a week in a draft!! As I thought about this, I wondered if your protagonists' goal of figuring out or evading the killer somehow helped your productivity. Then I realized you have to keep the bad guy a surprise, yet still plant clues so I stand even more amazed.

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
  67. Christy, I look at my schedule the same way. I break it down by word count to see how many books I can handle/year... and it works.

    And if I just stick to that schedule, books magically appear! :)

    I love writing for multiple publishers... and writing indies. It's like the best of both worlds.

    ReplyDelete
  68. TWENTY THOUSAND WORDS A WEEK???!!!!! WOW! YOU GO GIRL!!!

    ReplyDelete
  69. Twenty thousand a week?????

    Can I admit right here that I'm officially jealous!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  70. I believe you have left the speed writers in Seekerville in the dust with their jaws sagging. LOL.

    I want to order six bottles of whatever it is you are drinking.

    Happy to pay for shipping.

    Make that twelve. I'm going to need a double dose since I am the slowest writer in Seekerville.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Meg, yes, I'm writing a cozy... and it's so fun and sweet that I can't even describe it properly in WORDS.

    Suffice to say I'm having so much fun with it that I will feel guilty about being paid... This should in no way be construed as if I'm going to refuse the pay!!!

    :)

    But honestly, it's way fun... and it makes me smile!

    ReplyDelete
  72. Christy, thanks for spending the day with us and giving us some insight into the mystery world and your mystery world.

    ReplyDelete
  73. I didn't realize you lived in Virginia, Debby! So cool!

    ReplyDelete
  74. Ruth, I'm glad you're having so much fun writing your cozy mystery!

    ReplyDelete
  75. Tina, I've been drinking clementine Izze lately. Ever tried it? It's delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  76. Mary Connealy--Admit it, you write more than me. You write in your sleep. I've always suspected it! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  77. Janet, The magic always happens in the revision stage. That's when everything really comes together!

    ReplyDelete
  78. Tina, Earlier you asked about switching between genres and how I do it. I usually alternate between suspense and mystery. After I write an intense suspense, I usually welcome the change of pace into something more lighthearted and fun. It works for me!

    ReplyDelete
  79. This was so interesting and inspiring - thank you, Christy!!

    ReplyDelete
  80. This was a fun post. I love reading those genres. Thanks for explaining them.

    I discovered that Hazardous Duty is free on kindle so I downloaded it. I look forward to reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Oh my goodness, I'm sooooo late and I absolutely LOVED This post. Christy, you're totally speaking my language here!

    I write romantic suspense and suspense...I think. Giggle.

    I love a good suspense and mystery and thriller .... anything that keeps the pages turning!

    ReplyDelete
  82. Christy, Thank you for the discussion of different types of mystery and suspense. I love reading cozy mysteries having discovered Agatha Christie books in ninth grade (I picked up Endless Night), and way before that I loved Trixie Belden as a kid. I also like the amateur detective mysteries. I always love discussing good cozies.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Thank you for your explanation of the mystery, suspense and thriller. I really like cozy mysteries, no blood & guts.definitely steer away from thrillers. I enjoy the romantic mysteries and suspense. I enjoyed the Squeaky Clean books I've read and liked Dubiosity. That one definitely had more of the suspense tension. Along with your books I read Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey & Lynnette Eason. Looking forward to reading more of your books.

    ReplyDelete
  84. I think anyone who's read my books would agree I write in my sleep.
    That explains soooooooooooooooooo much.
    I definitely need to WAKE UP!!!

    ReplyDelete

  85. Hi Christy:

    I'm a fan of your 'Squeaky Clean' books. I just wonder: is that you on the covers? Do you see yourself as the heroine in those books? When your heroine is hurt in a story, do you feel the pain?

    BTW: I'm glad you've come to Seekerville as I didn't know you wrote other books besides the 'Squeaky Clean' series. I figured that a writer would be happy with 12 books in a popular series!

    Besides I only read books on my Kindle and Kindle books open at the first page of chapter one. I usually don't go back to see all the front material. Don't count on readers seeing anything that appears before the first line of Chapter 1.

    I believe, from a marketing point of view, that specifying the genre or subgenre is not as important as having the author fully understand who her best prospects for the book are and then making the title, cover art, and book blurb unmistakably attract the favorable attention of those key readers. I believe the best cover art is for cozy mysteries.

    In the end, don't all genres ask a question which the reader has an interest in having answered?

    Mystery - who done it?
    Suspense - will the threatened parties survive?
    Romance - how will the hero and heroine overcome their conflicts and find love? (We know they will because the HEA is guaranteed but we don't know the how.)
    Mainstream anything- how is this story going to end?

    Thanks for your post. I always enjoy talking marketing. Please enter me in the drawing for one of your non-Squeaky Clean books!

    Vince

    ReplyDelete
  86. Hi Christy, Thanks so much for joining us today in Seekerville. It looks like a terrific day. Again, thank you.


    ReplyDelete
  87. Great post. My debut novel in my mind was a historical fiction. Setting is 1872. But it felt like a suspense western. Secrets abound around a ranch. Mail-order Bride and new beginnings added the romance element. When it was contracted the publisher placed it under Historical Romance rather than Women's fiction. I've read books under the various categories and like you mentioned did not always agree with the label. Your information was very helpful and I'm going to share it with my writer's group.

    ReplyDelete
  88. Vince, all excellent points! I'm so glad you've enjoyed the series. No, that definitely isn't me on the covers! LOL I guess there is a part of me in each of my characters, and sometimes I do feel like Gabby has become my alter ego. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  89. Tanya, I also loved Trixie Belden--and Nancy Drew, of course! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  90. Thanks so much, everyone, for having me here! It was a lot of fun! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  91. Thanks for the book! I'm looking forward to reading it. And resolving the issue of mystery or suspense for my own work. I appreciate your tips.

    ReplyDelete
  92. I wish I had read this yesterday. I have a historical that I've been calling a mystery, but it seems to be a suspense novel, too.

    ReplyDelete
  93. Congratulations on all your success, Christy. Not SO klutzy if you've done so well. :)

    Wow. This is terrific! Thank you so much for giving examples, and such detailed ones at that. Makes it all the more understandable.

    People ask what my books are, but they're for children so I don't know if they'd be classified a wee bit differently? I say middle grade adventure but there's definitely things to figure out... Maybe even sweat a bit? ;)

    Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete