Thursday, June 8, 2017

8 Clues About Writing a Cozy Mystery

I had to change the title of this post... it started as "6" clues... and grew to "8", hence the flexibility of the world wide web... but 8 it is!

I will never write a mystery. (Ruth Logan Herne, 2008)

MY FIRST MYSTERY RELEASES SOON!!!!  (Ruth Logan Herne, 2017)



Grandma Eichas used to say "Never say never."

Sage words.

She'd also say "Better they cry now than you cry later."

More sage words, but that first saying "Never say never" has never been truer than it is today. 

I've written my first mystery and I'm halfway done with my second and I had no idea they would be THIS MUCH FUN!!!!

Huge thanks to Susan Downs of Guideposts for bringing me on board for this delightful series "Mysteries of Martha's Vineyard".  Yes, of course, I want you to go buy the book.... and yes I want you to love it. There are 8 authors in this series, 3 books each... and the heroine is a 58-year-old woman finding a new path after losing her husband.... And I have to believe you will love, love, love Priscilla Latham Grant and her cousins Joan, Trudy and Gail...  

But over and above all of that, lies this: writing a mystery isn't as difficult as I once believed... and it's so much fun that I'm amazed. So if you've ever considered this mode of story-telling, the very same thing that made Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle and Mary Stuart and Daphne Du Maurier world-famous... it's this.

Let's break it down:

1. Sleuth (or sleuths): A mystery needs a problem solver. That's your sleuth. It can be a Jane Marple, a Hercule Poirot, (both Agatha Christie), Kinsey Millhone (The Alphabet Mysteries), Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich) or many, many others.  Your sleuth has to be relatable. They don't have to be perfect, or cunningly bright (Poirot and Monk and Columbo come to mind).... They don't have to be gorgeous ( Jessica Fletcher (Murder, She Wrote) comes to mind, or Jane Marple or the second Mrs. DeWinter in DuMaurier's "Rebecca"...) and they don't have to be  all that likable (Monk, Holmes...) but they have to possess some form of puzzle-solving skill. That ability to put together thin pieces of facade to create a true ornate table-top puzzle.

2. Setting: Whether your mystery is set at 221b Baker Street, the Orient Express, a Midwestern town or a New England village, how you set the story(ies) is a part of your ongoing thread... and can affect each story in different ways. Setting is important in what it adds to the stories... but it is also flexible because CRIME HAPPENS EVERYWHERE!



3. Suspects: There is no mystery without suspects. While that seems obvious, it's important to figure out who those suspects will be, and give them parts throughout the story. Not everyone conveniently has all of the suspects and victims trapped in a house (And Then There Were None) Agatha Christie... So your suspects need to have a reason why they might fall under suspicion. In a "cozy mystery" they don't even have to be real bona fide suspects.... but they need to have a reason to be under a cloak of suspicion. What are they hiding? What do they know?



4. Clues!!!! Oh, this is the most fun yet! Sprinkling clues in and among the regular normal every-day conversations and observations to tempt the reader to wonder... was that a clue??? And if it looks too obvious, the answer might be no!!! Just like the many choices in Milton Bradley's "CLUE" game, there are obviously many options in a mystery... which ones lead to the final solution?

5. Red Herrings.... Here's the bend in the road that takes you down the wrong garden path, the wrong direction.... the assumption that proves it's wrong to assume! 

6. Gripping Opening Chapter... This could be graphic in a suspense or murder mystery (think openings of "Castle" before they ruined the show) and then off-set by humor and human interaction for the duration.... or in a cozy mystery, it's gripping but not necessarily scary or frightening... maybe thought-provoking or emotionally inciting/exciting.... 

7. Action-packed scene toward the end!!! All right, don't get your knickers in a twist... For a cozy, you don't want to go Jason Bourne-deep-end, floating body death scenes here.... but you want something to upset the comfort of the cozy mystery, to threaten the peace and love we find in small towns or island settings, of urban neighborhoods... Something needs to HAPPEN HERE.... and when it does, it might show part of the path or it might show the culprit/villain.... but it's not the end of the book. Because now you want a: 

8. Wrap Up.... After raising myself on a diet of Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Agatha Christie, Trixie Belden and Sue Barton.... I loved the wrap up, the reasoning behind how they figured things out!



Now your readers will be DELIGHTED if they figure this out toward the end and beat you to it! If they figure it out too early, they will Not Be Happy.... Yes, You've Ruined The Book For Them... Because part of the fun of a mystery is the puzzle solving.

The reader longs to pick out the clues and then follow them to a logical conclusion BEFORE THE SLEUTH figures it out!

Now sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't, and if it doesn't work because you didn't give clues... or you didn't lay the groundwork... well... Oops. Your bad!  Because sprinkling in a few hints along the way is our job.

Figuring them out is the reader's responsibility.

Here's my back cover blurb for book 9 of the series:  When a raging storm, a multi-million dollar robbery, a Hollywood movie and a missing child stir up interest in a cold case, Priscilla must risk her friendships and her reputation in order to reveal what really happened to little Katie Farnsworth the night Hurricane Bob slammed into Martha’s Vineyard nearly thirty years ago.

Nothing hits home like the loss of a child, so the poignancy of this story has classic Ruthy depth... wrapped in a cozy mystery package. And I think you'll love it! 

What do you think about mysteries? Have you considered writing them? How is a mystery different from a suspense?

Well, in a suspense, someone is AFTER THE SLEUTH.... or the heroine, or the hero.... Someone generally wants them dead. 

In a mystery, the sleuth may feel threatened.... but the sleuth is after the perpetrator, following clues and deducting theories.

Not a subtle difference... a major difference. 

Think Castle vs. The Bourne Identity.

Castle bumbled his way through, case by case...

Jason Bourne was a human killing machine, misunderstood and programmed to be heartless... except they forgot one thing. They left his heart in his body, and the heart never truly forgets.,

Let's talk mysteries... your favorites and your hopes and dreams!

I've got a couple of other mystery authors coming by this summer for a Summer Series of Mysteries... feel free to consider this Installment #1!

LINK TO BUY BOOK HERE!!!!



And for one lucky commenter, we've got a copy of "A Light in the Darkness" for real! Leave your thoughts to be put into the crock nestled in the cottage garden... and we'll draw a name later!


Multi-published, bestselling inspirational author Ruthy Logan Herne loves to create unforgettable stories with heart-grabbing characters... or maybe it's vice-versa... anyway, she writes a lot of stories, and folks love them, so you should, too. :) Friend her on facebook, follow her @RuthLoganHerne on Twitter, stop by her website ruthloganherne.com or visit her blog www.ruthysplace.com... On the odd chance that the door is locked, simply slip chocolate beneath the door!

122 comments :

  1. What fun! Congratulations on your foray into mystery. Have you seen the trailer for Murder on the Orient Express? I can't wait!

    And Martha's Vineyard for a setting! TOTAL FUN!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tina - I'm so excited about Murder on the Orient Express that I'm taking off work to see it!

      Delete
    2. I haven't seen that. A remake of that book?
      Ah, I haven't read a good Agatha Christie novel in years.

      I guess I'll just read Agatha Ruthy instead!!!

      Delete
    3. Love the trailer! And Poirot!!!!! I think I read every one of Christie's books when I was a teen and younger mother... but never thought I'd write one... and these are cozier than hers by a degree.... and I love that! I'm also loving the resurgence of mysteries as a genre... how fun is that???? And Tina knows I live in a bubble, so I had NO IDEA that Murder on the Orient Express was being made into a movie... BONUS!

      Delete
  2. Hey Ruthy, I love a good mystery. If you haven't read Her Royal Spyness ny Rhys Bowen I highly recommend it.

    I've been tempted by mysteries but not sure I know how to write one. Your post is very helpful.

    I'm thrilled you're moving into this genre! I know the book will be awesome. Guideposts has great mystery series. How and when can I purchase yours?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've read a few cozy mysteries, which I know is a whole genre in and of itself. What I really love, is mysteries on TV. I can figure those out better than reading a mystery...don't ask me why! I don't really care to read mysteries so much, maybe I'm just not smart enough to figure it them out...lol! Murder She Wrote is one of my favorites, then follows Diagnosis Murder, Matlock, Colombo, The Rockford files...just to name a few. I love the old school shows, where a mystery was a mystery and you had to solve clues along with the characters :-)

    I'd have to say what I like to read more is suspense. Sometimes I can figure it out before the end of the book and other times I can't. And it's not always the most obvious suspect either. I like when an author throws a twist in there just when you think you know what's going on. It ramps up the action for me :-)

    I never imagined you writing a mystery Ruthy! But I know whatever you put your mind to doing, you can and will accomplish it :-) Congrats on the new book, love the cover. Since I live on the Oregon coast, lighthouses are my favorite places to visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trixi, thank you.... and those mystery shows were crazy popular for a reason... people love them! I've been more of a mystery reader, but how fun that Hallmark has a MYSTERY CHANNEL now??? LOVE IT!!!!!

      Delete
  4. My grandma used to say, "You can call me anything as long as you don't call me late for dinner."

    Why don't I ever get the cool grandmas?????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grandma Eichas was a sage.... I loved her! She was so straightforward and to the point, and sitting and having coffee and peanut butter smeared crackers with her was a true treat. Laughing!

      The "Better they cry now than you cry later"... I've shared that with many young parents. Crushing little bratty spirits to turn them into responsible young people... Smart cookie!!!

      Delete
  5. PS I always read the ending if the suspense is too much. I want to know who to hate. I enjoy the book more that way.

    Sorry. I know this is terrible behavior.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MARY!!! You're not suppose to do that!!

      But I will admit to sometimes peeking at the ending just to make sure everything did indeed turn out for the best....and since I read romantic suspense, just to make sure the hero and heroine ended up with their happily ever after. I rarely do this anymore though, I've found it ruins the story for me...I'd rather be surprised :-)

      Delete
    2. MARY!!! I DO THAT TOO!!! ALWAYS. It never ruins the story for me. Because really I am dissecting it as we go anyhow. But sometimes it keeps me from getting too SCARED.

      Delete
    3. I do that too Mary. I'd rather 'hate' the correct bad guy then to spend time 'hating' someone else who is innocent.

      Delete
    4. I have never done that. WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOUSE???????

      I'm laughing here! Honestly, I can totally see what you're saying, but I love the ride... I know the roller coaster is going to deliver me safely at the end, but I love the journey!!!

      Delete
    5. I will giggle about this all day.... BUT, having said that, Tina, I dissect things too, mentally. I don't go ahead, but I'm always watching how an author presents his/her story to grab my emotions and attention.

      Delete
    6. My husband has a conniption if he thinks I'm even taking a peek at the end of a book. He doesn't even like to read very much about the description of a book or movie so it doesn't give it away. But I often pick a random page and peek ahead to see if a character I am worried about is still alive later in the book!

      Delete
    7. I am so glad I am not the only one to read the back of the book lol. I do that fairly regularly however. When I get to the end of the book and realize I wasn't tempted to sneak a peek at the ending, I know that was a great book!

      Delete
    8. Seriously, I am shocked and appalled at these true confessions of back end readers!!!!! I can't even....

      Delete
  6. I do enjoy reading mysteries. If they become too intense and I am reading at night I have to stop and continue in daylight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary, I can't read dark suspense for that very reason... Images don't let me rest.

      I think these cozies are like the best combo of sweet and savory... like a really great Chinese meal!

      Delete
  7. I love reading a good mystery but have't read any lately. I have read a lot of suspense novels and love them, but mysteries are a whole different genre.

    I would love to be entered into your giveaway.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cindy, it's funny that we've gotten out of the habit, isn't it??? You're in, and yeah... two very different genres, and both wonderful....

      Delete
  8. I adore that cover, Ruthy. Congratulations! I'm so looking forward to reading this. I have wonderful memories of watching Columbo and Murder She Wrote with my family. As for writing a mystery...I'll leave that to the more clever folks, like yourself. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jill, isn't it wonderful??? The next ones are awesome, too.... and that's exactly how I felt when Susan approached me... but then she reminded me that I'd written an LI continuity... same kind of thing. And I was like.... YES! :)

      Unfolding old clues... and new.... it was so much fun, Jill! Never say never, my friend!

      Delete
  9. Ruthy, congratulations on your cozy mystery! The cover is so pretty for a setting I will love! I used to faithfully watch Murder She Wrote and Colombo. Cozies are not scary but a load of fun.

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what I love about them, Janet... no fear factor. I love the settings, the cozy factor, the action, and the relationships... and a little bit of cunning and analysis is right up my alley!!!

      Delete
  10. OOO, OOO... I want a Ruthy mystery.

    I am laughing about your NEVER going to write a mystery. Yep, saying never usually means it'll happen at some point in time - sort of God saying "Ha ha, you only THINK you know the plans I've made for you."

    I've always loved mysteries, starting with Encylopedia Brown stories, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys (liked the Hardy boys better 'cuz they got to do "cooler" stuff than Nancy), Sherlock Holmes... well, you get the idea. I like figuring things out before the end of the book, but I like it even better when I'm sure I'm right, but the author takes a late left turn and BOOM! the bad guy is someone you LEAST expected. Like the best friend of the sleuth or beloved family member. Of course, that takes expertise well beyond me.

    I'd love to try, but I'm not good at creating puzzles - just fair to middling at solving them. I'd be a good sleuth side-kick (like Watson).

    Loved Columbo as a kid. Congrats on the mystery Ruthy. Now I have another series I must follow and get *happy sigh* This Guidepost series sounds awesome.

    And if you didn't know from my first line, please put my name in the draw for your first mystery please. Will have to bookmark the site for getting all the books in the series...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Putting you in, but here's the thing... I don't do puzzles. Hate 'em. (Puzzle lovers, DO NOT SEND ME HATE MAIL!!! MY BRAIN IS WIRED DIFFERENTLY!!!)

      I don't solve puzzles. I don't do 1000 piece things that drive folks to insomnia, I don't do word hunts or Sudoku thingamajiggies... It's just not me. But this was different... so the puzzle aspect wasn't a part of it, because I KNEW THE PUZZLE.... So my job is to build a frame for it, like any book....

      Once you know the crime and the solution... everything else is crafting the story like we do in any book.

      Something to think about... and look at me, saying never!!!! Oops!

      Delete
    2. So excited for you about your Mystery debut, Ruthy! Sounds as if you're having fun with them.

      I've always loved reading mysteries, and before I started writing contemporary romance for Love Inspired, my unpubbed writing focus was romantic mysteries--so maybe on down the road I'll see if they're worth dusting off and polishing up! :)

      Delete
    3. My goal is to NOT RUIN this for you.

      But I can only do so much, darling. :)

      Delete
  11. Oh my stars! (as an author friend of mine would say) I absolutely can't wait to read this! A Light in the Darkness sounds fantastic. I love reading cozy mysteries but have never even dreamed such a thing as writing one. To me it seems like too much planning, and I'm better with spur of the moment stuff. But your process - 8 steps - it sounds do-able. I'm saving this post! Ruthy dear, has anyone ever told you how awesome you are?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, God bless you, and the steps come straight from the amazing Susan Downs... shoot, I probably should have said that at the beginning!!! EEEKS.

      SORRY, SUSAN!!!!!!

      Isn't it funny how much easier it is once we break it down into story telling mode????

      Delete
  12. Ruthy,
    Congratulations on your newest release. I think I'll love a Ruthy Mystery.

    I have never craved to write a mystery, being a romantic at heart, but you make the process sound like so much fun. And thanks for the explanation between master and suspense.

    I so agree with your grandmother. In all my years of teaching horseback riding the one type I said I would never teach was therapeutic riding. I grew up with a bedridden mother and just couldn't face handicaps. And then along came a family who needed help for their child with no therapeutic centers around and guess what? (No mystery here) I worked with them and several other families until someone established a program. I never regretted it, learned so much, and it filled a huge hole in my heart. Sometimes I feel like when we say never that's exactly what God has us do and it's usually for our own growth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. so I hope we know I meant mystery and not master. Grr to spelling check

      Delete
    2. Silly spell check! Pain in the neck, Barbara!!!! And wise women (and men) understand that putting up roadblocks usually means God's going to come along and make you dismantle them... Oh, that God!!!

      Delete
  13. Ruthy, I can't wait to read A light in the Darkness. It sounds great.

    Thanks for sharing the 8 steps.

    I read all of the Nancy Drew books. As an adult some of my favorites mysteries include Diane Mott Davidson's Goldie Schultz mysteries. I also enjoy Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen mysteries. And it just occurred to me they both involve food.

    Thanks for sharing today, Ruthy!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Congratulations, Ruthy! I can't wait to read your mystery. I love mysteries. Columbo and Perry Mason were my favorites. And Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and Agatha Christie. Now I need to go read one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perry Mason! My mother loved Perry Mason. We got one channel when I was young and it had Perry Mason reruns on it.... I'm getting mystery fever!!!!

      Delete
    2. I started watching him when I had an old black and white tv. I had no idea he was really in black and white lol. The middle grade short stories that I write, they are mysteries. Kind of a mix between Nancy Drew and Goosebumps. I may need to bring them out this weekend and read them again. Just don't tell Tina. I'm supposed to be writing and working on a submission to her by the end of the month lol.

      Delete
  15. Congratulations on writing a mystery. It's even better that you said you never would. LOL.
    I loved Murder She Wrote.
    I wouldn't call Mary Higgins Clark cozy, but hers are definitely mysteries and contain the 8 steps. One of my favorites is the Lottery Winner where her main character is a smart older lady who cleaned houses for a living that wins the lottery. Such a likeable character.

    Love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love that character, too, Connie... just how fun would it be to have the housekeeper win! LOVE IT!!!

      Delete
  16. RUTHY! Congratulations! I am SO excited to hear you wrote a mystery. :D

    Actually, I've been looking forward to this post all week since I saw it announced in the Weekend edition. Because I just finished my first mystery too. It's a historical mystery, but still a bit of a genre stretch for me as well. Keeping the reader guessing while giving enough clues that they don't want to slap you with the book can be super tricky! But it has been fun. Just sent it off to my editor yesterday, so here's hoping it's not a total flop. ;) So thanks for your great summary.

    But you, Ruthy! You never cease to amaze me. You're like a superhero author who can write anything and nail it every time. Lifting my coffee cup in a toast to you, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need a superhero cape!!!! :) Amber, I am so proud of you, writing a mystery! It took me decades more, my young friend. You're amazing! And Susan, Jessica Barnes and JoAnne Simpson at Guideposts have been teaching me tricks of the trade... Good editing is a wonderful thing!

      Delete
  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  18. RUTHY! Congratulations on crossing over to the dark side in the mystery genre! Mystery/suspense is my first love.

    I've brought lots of DARK CHOCOLATE to celebrate!

    Please toss my name in the crock.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh, I had such a love-hate relationship with Castle! I adored it at the beginning (the characters especially) and I hated it at the end (the momenr when Beckett is standing there in her wedding dress staring at the burning car was the moment I knew they had not only jumped the shark, but were using it as a jump rope).

    Congratulations on your mystery! Looking forward to reading it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ditto... it was such a good, fun show, but it was like they couldn't figure out what to do once Castle and Becket were an item... I could have helped!!!!! :)

      Delete
  20. Wow, Ruthy! Just Wow! Congratulations! I cannot wait to read this mystery. I love mysteries and used to be a Nancy Drew fan as a kid. They made me think through the logical process of solving the crime--the story was better than math class for me about how to use logic. I'm making space on the bookshelf now for the many Ruthy mysteries to come!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darlene, I love these mysteries, too.... and it was such fun to work with them on this project... AND.... my second mystery "Swept Away" is over half done.... and I love it! And that logical process sure helps, doesn't it??? And realizing that what we perceive... isn't always what we're seeing! Sometimes our "normal" becomes our stumbling block. ;)

      Delete
  21. Hey Ruthy,
    I'm in Myrtle Beach this morning and its 58°! So I'm catching up on my favorite blog and its Ruthy day, yay!

    As I said on FB, congrats on conquering another publishing line! Before you know it you'll have them all eating out of your hand :)

    I'm so looking forward to A Light In the Darkness
    ...stolen treasure, a chest of old logbooks, a gold coin...I'm all in so please throw my name in the crock in the cottage garden. Oh yes, and that cover, just beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracey, I'm so sorry about having cool weather when you're at the beach. I'm taking my family later in the summer and praying we have warm temps and sunny skies! Hope the current June gloom ends quickly.

      Delete
    2. Hey Debby,
      Sun-Tues were great, yesterday and today are great reading and looking around days. Tomorrow we are supposed to see the sun again. Just being together with family is what its all about anyway.

      Delete
    3. 58°??? TRACEY!!!!! I've got Priscilla going through a similar thing in Martha's Vineyard because an onshore breeze can sure make a difference! But I'm glad you've got reading time!

      And you're right the time with family is the very, very best. That warms up anything!

      Delete
  22. I had a couple mystery books I read as a teen and would love to read again but alas they are out of print and difficult to find--Cherry Ames and Judy Bolton. I own a couple of these books but would love to have others.

    I enjoyed this post.

    Have a great day everyone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How did I forget Judy Bolton??? I only read a few of her books, now I have to give it a look/see...And I don't remember which ones, and those covers don't look familiar. I got them from the Rochester Public Library, so the covers were often the plain cover for library use.

      Great stories!!!!

      Delete
  23. Congratulations on your mystery. I'm excited for YOU and to read it. I love cozy mysteries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rose, I hope you love it.... and I was crazy excited to do it. I think I spent the whole time grinning, even after Jessica gently reminded me that the reader CANNOT READ MY MIND and I have to make sure they can see the clues... Duh. But then I saw the light. :)

      Delete
  24. Ruthy, I am so excited for this series and definitely plan to read it all. I love Guideposts books. I read all the books in the Marble Cove series. Loved them. Please put me in the drawing.

    I have always loved mysteries. I grew up reading Trixie Belden and absolutely loved them. When I was in elementary school, I would ride my bike to the library every week and check out many books, most of them mysteries. But the funny thing is, even though I wanted to write some day, I always thought a mystery would be too hard. Still not sure I can do it, but I might want to try some time.

    I love mystery shows on TV, too. Monk is my all time favorite. Hubby and I are currently watching the series straight through for at least the 3rd time. We really enjoy Columbo, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Monk was hysterical. He's such an odd duck! My daughter loved that series, and she's the one who told me about it... so funny. And Columbo. I loved Peter Falk as Columbo!!!!

      And keep the genre in mind. It's really good for us to try our wings on a few different fences... Not because I want to change genres, but because it's always good to challenge ourselves.

      Tucking your name in!!!

      Delete
  25. I loved playing CLUE as a child. Now I have my granddaughter hooked. We often have tournaments late into the night when I visit. :)

    Great post. Mysteries are different from suspense stories. Thanks for shedding light on those differences that are sometimes difficult for folks to realize.

    Your debut mystery, Ruthy, sounds intriguing! Can't wait to find out what really happened when the hurricane hit Martha's Vineyard.

    An aside: My dil's sister is working on Martha's Vineyard this summer and the pictures she's sent that I've seen are breathtaking. I want to go there and bask in all that beauty. Great setting for your story, Ruthy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deb, you're right about those differences... they're clutch. And I went out the Cape four years ago when Luke was still living in Boston. That whole area, ducking into the ocean, is amazing, beautiful and the settings are beyond quaint.

      I love it.

      I can't even say how much, I could move there and be happy because it's So Stinkin' Beautiful. Rugged storms, winds, rain, snow, sun, waves, surf, tides.... Oh, Deb, I must have some seafaring blood somewhere because the whole thing appeals to me!!!

      Delete
  26. Ruthy, tell us about Guideposts' distribution. What stores carry their publications? Yes, we can buy your book on Amazon. Will it also be available at Walmart or any of the chain book stores?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debby, I will let Ruthy give you an official answer, but I believe the Guideposts books are only carried online at Guideposts. You can get the books through the mail as they come out and pay when you receive them. At least, that is what I did for a previous series.

      Delete
    2. Sandy, perfect!

      Deb, they've got a readers' service that sends books out to folks.... so subscribers will get all 24 mysteries sent right to them.

      Or folks can order them online, any one book or more.... I added links to the post (DUH) but they work very effectively this way. No middle man. No shelf space. Simply direct mail.

      You know (off topic) I keep looking at Sears, and the trouble they're having, and I keep thinking.... GO BACK TO THE CATALOG.

      Give the Zon some competition. ;)

      Sears Catalog was a mainstay in homes nationwide... but trying to maintain big end, high rent mall stores is a lot of overhead.

      I love ordering online or from catalogs. It's easy!!!!

      So when I saw Guideposts' set-up, I realized how very smart it is!

      Delete
    3. Thanks for cluing me in! I read one of Camy's Guidepost stories a few years ago and enjoyed it. She sent it to me for an endorsement. I need to get yours, Ruthy! I always love your stories!

      Delete
  27. Hi Ruthy, I've never been much into mysteries, but I'm proud of you for trying a new genre. How fun is that? Send me any bookmarks or flyers because when I do book signings I ask people if they like romance and if they say yes, I give them a pitch for my books. If they say no, I ask what do you like and 9 times out of ten they say "Mysteries" So then I hand them cards of my mystery writer friends. They like that. smile

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that is so cool, Sandra, what you do for your writer friends. I forgot to let you know the Gupster got your books in the mail. So excited! His best buddy was there and wished for a book, so Gup gave him one of the copies. Guppy kept the coloring book. Thanks soooooo much. Two happy readers.

      Delete
    2. Sandra, I love a good mystery but I haven't taken the time to read and have fun with them in years... now I have the perfect excuse!

      And thank you for that nice offer! I am so grateful! I've got a couple of other mystery authors coming here this summer, so we can chat about the fun in mystery land... and it's enjoying a popular resurgence, so that's even more fun!

      Delete
  28. Ruthy, good for you! I smiled when I saw the Nancy Drew books picture. I devoured those books as a girl!

    Speaking to writing mysteries, wow! I don't think I'm ready to tackle that genre . . . there are so many pieces to consider and to weave together "just so." I love that you've jumped into this genre, and I look forward to reading your mysteries!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, Jeanne, thank you! I will admit to a slight attack of nerves until I was reminded that doing the continuity for Love Inspired was very much like these mysteries... and she was right! And I love working with other authors. Although I sometimes cause a ruckus in the sandbox, I do enjoy working with a group. And getting to know them is pure bonus!

      Delete
  29. SUPER CONGRATS, RUTHY, ON THE RELEASE OF YOUR VERY FIRST MYSTERY!!!

    And talk about timely because Hallmark not only keeps adding new mystery shows to their lineup, but they have an ENTIRE station devoted to them! Right about now, I'm guessing they have about eight new ones like Garage Sale Mysteries and Gourmet Detective and about that many old ones like Colombo, Murder She Wrote, and Monk.

    You asked: What do you think about mysteries?

    Well, I may be the only gal on the planet that does NOT like mysteries AT ALL, but HOW I wish I did because they are hot, hot, hot right now!!

    You also asked: Have you considered writing them?

    Uh, no. The idea of coming up with a mystery to stump people intimidates WAY too much. But I will say that I think I am one of the few strictly romance authors who usually has a HUGE twist or two at the end of my books, so in a way, I guess that's a bit of a mystery, right?

    Finally, you asked: How is a mystery different from a suspense?

    I honestly didn't know, so thank you for explaining that to me. It's been a "mystery" for way too long! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Julie! Laughing.... I know this isn't for everyone, I wouldn't have thought it was for me, but it's got so much women's fiction in it, that I went over the moon in love with it. Priscilla, newly widowed, starting over... three cousins she didn't know and barely remembered... and a new life, on an island. WITH A LIGHTHOUSE!!! Oh my stars, that simply frosted the mystery cake!

      Delete
  30. Well done, Ruthy! I loved this article and really enjoy your writing.

    Congratulations on branching out into this new genre and thank you for the tips on how we might do so as well! I had given up on fiction writing but maybe there's a cozy mystery in my future? You do make it seem fun and totally doable.

    I love mysteries and you are 100% right. It's great if I figure it out before the sleuth but not so great if I figure it out too early and there's so much book left.

    Please enter my name into the crock nestled in the cottage garden.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm printing this one off and putting it in my "How to Write a Cozy Mystery" file.

    And yes, I DO have one of those, because I was bitten by the cozy mystery bug a couple years ago when I submitted a story for a different Guidepost continuity. By the time it was rejected, it was too late. I already had the fever...but I recognized that I don't have the skills.

    Hence the file. I'm soaking it all in while I fulfill my historical Amish contracts. :)

    And I am SO GLAD that after a short hiatus, cozy mysteries are making a comeback!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Drex, I can totally see you doing something like this. Absolutely, positively. And they could be historic, contemporary, or mixed... AND YOU COULD DO AMISH MYSTERIES. Oh, what a wonderful mix, mysteries set around Lancaster or another notable Amish settlement!!!! SWEET!

      Delete
    2. Amish mysteries sound delightful, Ruthy and Jan! I used to read all the Alphabet stories...A is for Alibi, etc. I forget the authors name. I may have made it to the letter M. Of course, my first love was the Nancy Drew series in my childhood. I read every book. Had most of them on my bookshelf and often reread my favorites. Oh that Ned! :)

      Delete
    3. And Amish mysteries are almost as hot as Amish suspense! The wheels are turning..... :)

      Delete
    4. I can see this as a perfect pairing. Honest-to-goodness.....

      Delete
  32. Ruthy, I meant to tell you that my book group is going to read The First Gift for our August meeting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandy... Thank you. I love that story. I love the whole thing, and I'm so glad that Franciscan was willing to put it out there. Tell them thank you for me, and I hope they love it.

      Delete
  33. Congratulations, Ruthy, on your first mystery. Would love to have my name put in the crock.

    My dad read Ellery Queen and Rex Stout, so that's what I read, too. Also, Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. I've named my GPS "Agatha" in her memory.

    My paternal grandmother always used to say, "This won't buy the baby a new dress, nor pay for the one its got on", and so many other wonderful "Besse-isms. She was born in 1885, and lived to be 94, so she had a lot of years to gather her sayings.

    Blessings,

    Marcia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maria, I'm laughing at your Agatha! A perfect name for a GPS. Does yours have a British accent?

      Delete
    2. Wish I could, Debby, but my DH has a hearing disability and wouldn't be able to understand the accent.

      Delete
    3. Marcia, that's so funny! We named ours Debbie, an acronym for Disembodied, Exasperating, Bossy, Bratty, Irritating Entity. That was our original GPS... The one on my new phone isn't like that at all... she doesn't get mad at me!!! And when I tell Google "thank you"... she says "You're welcome!"

      :)

      I like polite entities!

      Delete
    4. hmmm... should I be worried? I spell my name Debbie. I'm not disembodied but my hubby would say I can be exasperating...

      Delete
  34. I adore cozy mysteries!!!!! Have you read Isabella Alan/Amanda Flower? She has a quirky sense of humour and always has a special pet who is just a little entitled. Cracks me up every time. I get so excited when I see she has a new one coming out. Later this summer it's Assaulted Caramel..get it...salted caramel? All her titles are clever like that.

    So the biggest question I have for you is how on earth 8 authors are going to be able to keep the heroine and other repeat characters consistent? You have such a distinctive writing voice -- did you have to mute the Ruthyisms for the greater good? LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kav, lean closer.... (I don't know. It's my first time.... ) :)

      You know we share all the info, and we talk often, but each book will probably have its own flair. We all know and love Priscilla, and because we get to be kind of funny... It should smooth things through, right? Humor fixes everything!!!

      Delete
  35. Hi Ruth:

    I've read so many mysteries that I've become quite opinionated! :) ... even for me!

    Mystery: Who done it?

    Suspense: Will they survive?

    Mystery/Suspense: Will they survive long enough to solve the mystery?

    Mystery/Suspense/Romance: Will they survive long enough to solve the mystery and find a lasting love?

    Mystery/Suspense/Romance/Inspirational: Will they survive long enough to solve the mystery, find love, and discover God's love?

    Rules for Mystery Writers from a Reader's Point of View:

    1. Always play fair with your readers!
    1a. The hero/investigator must never be the criminal.
    1b. The criminal must never enter the story during that last 20% of the book.
    2. Solutions must have foundations and be foreshadowed.
    2a. There must never be a 'Deus ex machina' ending.
    3. The explanation at the end must be short and sweet. There is no beauty or elegance in a three page proof of a simple proposition. A long explanation is a muddle not a mystery. "Dog didn't bark" ... now that's an ideal explanation.
    4. Hide solutions in plain sight but make red herrings hard to find.
    5. make your criminal sympathetic enough so that a percentage of your readers would like to see him get away with it.
    6. Only one clue in the chain of clues should be the result of a coincidence.

    A Great Mystery Should:

    Have its mystery be just the sugar coating for an interesting and rewarding reading experience. If it is just about the mystery, write it as a minute mystery.

    A mystery should be a fun way to also have a tour of a National Park, life in 87 AD Rome, working an archeological dig in Mesopotamia, riding the Oriental Express, boating down the Nile, working as a Navajo policeman, living in the Scottish highlands, being a wisecracking bounty hunter, living in the Oxford University world, or being a best selling mystery writer in NYC!

    A great mystery should stump the reader but leave the reader wanting to kick himself because he should have solved it given the clues that were presented. "You beat me fair and square" the reader should be thinking.

    That's it. Please put me in the drawing.

    Vince

    BTW:
    Would you rather the Yankees be in first place or have Jeter back in the line up?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vince, you are a mystery expert!!!!! Go you!!!

      Oh, first place... always. I love my Derek, but God has sent me Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez (just hit a 3 run homerun!!!) Aaron Hicks (oh my stars!!!) Starlin Castro... :) I love my Baby Bombers!!! Oh, and I forgot DiDi!!!!

      No, I've moved on. But I think they should name that baby girl after me. That's the least they could do, Vince!!!

      Delete
  36. Loved this post, Ruthy - - and although I've never considered writing a mystery myself, I am saving this post and feel like you just gave us a quick class on HOW to write one! Thank you sooo much!
    Congratulations on the release of your very first mystery (and I LOVE that cover - - AND your blurb - - sounds very intriguing!).
    Please add my name to your garden crock!
    Hugs, Patti Jo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tucking you in, my beautiful friend! And honestly, I felt the same way, the whole thing looked complicated, and I suppose you could make it complicated... but gosh, this way was so much fun!!!

      Delete
  37. Congrats on your cozy mystery, Ruthy! Love the cover and can't wait to read it! Please toss my name in the crock.
    THANKS!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TOSSING!!!! Jackie, I hope you love it!!!

      Delete
  38. I just discovered your blog! Yeah! I look forward to exploring more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MARGARET!!!!! Welcome to Seekerville!!!!

      Hey, if you send us your snail mail addy to Seekers@seekerville.net, we'll happily send you a welcome packet. I'm so glad you found us!!!

      Delete
  39. I love your cover and book description! Now I want to read A Light in the Darkness NOW!

    Great 8 tips for writing mystery, and I also like Vince's quick descriptions of the genres above.

    I'm an old Miss Marple fan myself. In terms of current mysteries, I'm enjoying the Drew Fathering Mysteries, which start with Rules of Murder (which are very similar to the rules Vince shared in his post).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Iola... I love that name. So old-fashioned and rich sounding.... It is absolutely beautiful!

      Vince nailed it, didn't he??? Yay, Vince!!!!

      I love Miss Marple...She's such a sweet old lady type character... and so different from Poirot. Totally engaging.

      Delete
  40. Sorry I'm late--busy-busy-busy trying to complete revisions, plus had our 6-month dental checkup this morning. Always something!

    Thanks for these insights into writing mysteries, Ruthy! They sound like fun. I know I enjoy a good TV or movie mystery, especially the ones on PBS. Maybe someday when I get my head above water, I might actually try writing a mystery novel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Myra, good job taking care of your teeth! :) And I like those fun mysteries, too... and those Hallmark channel mysteries are wonderful!!!

      Delete
  41. Ms Ruthy, thank you for this!!! Love it and can't wait to read your mysteries!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tossing you in, and I get delighted EVERY TIME I see your growing success!!!!!

      Delete
  42. Please toss me in for the drawing.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I I hope you put me in the drawing.:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thele, have we met??? Are you new to Seekerville... come back and talk to me!

      Delete
  44. Ruthy, I adore cozy mysteries. I grew up with Trixie Belden, found Agatha (love Tommy and Tuppence) in ninth grade, and I've never looked back. I went to a book signing of Carolyn Hart's (love Max and Annie) and sat enraptured as she discussed her writing process. When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, instead of food cravings, I had cravings to watch the Ellery Queen TV series! So I love a good cozy mystery, and I'll have to add yours to my wish list as Martha's Vineyard sounds like a great location (and yes, I want to visit Massachusetts someday and I'd love to see Martha's Vineyard on that trip.) Congrats on your latest work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tanya! I can totally see you doing this... and it's great fun. With your love for mysteries and your talent, gosh that's kind of a no-brainer. And you'd love Massachusetts.... NY and Mass and NH and VT, PA, Maine.... They look very much alike. Hills, mountains, rivers, streams, deep, dense forests... I am always amazed to go down or up the Hudson and imagine what those first settlers thought.... or those first colonists in Massachusetts... brutal winter... unprepared...

      We came from such woeful beginnings... by some of the strongest, most resilient people on earth, and all for the love of God.

      That says so much more to me than today's kind of crazy rhetoric. :)

      Religious freedom brought us to these shores... I hope you get to visit!!!

      Delete
  45. Love this, RUTHY. Like you, and many others here, I grew up on the mystery "classics" and later added authors like Mary Higgins Clark and Mary Jane Clark to my regular reads. Some of my favorites skew more toward suspense, but you just can't beat a good old whodunit. I started writing a cozy mystery years ago, but never finished it. My MG/YA book is a mystery, and when I get tired of writing for grownups I run back to it and tweak it a little - always good for my heart :-) Thank you so much for sharing this info! And congratulations on such a beautiful, interesting sounding book!!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Mysteries, ah yes, the ever elusive mystery. Often when I'd try to come up with a story I would suddenly decide to make it a mystery and be all like "and then this person is murdered and my characters will follow the clues that lead to I have no idea what, get to know all the suspects who I don't know who all they are yet, and then solve the mystery by figuring out who the culprit is and why he murdered the person even though I have no idea why! It'll be genius and no one will see the end of the mystery coming!" Guess what, they all saw it coming. But I've gotten better with coming up with mysteries, though often I still get the sudden urge to take a perfectly normal story and randomly turn it into a mystery.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hi Ruth, I hope I'm not to late to have my name put into the crock nestled in the cottage garden... I am so excited that you have ventured into my dream world of mysteries. I also grew up with Trixie and Nancy and I always wanted to solve the clues before the end. Congratulations and Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  48. Love this, RUTHY. Like you, and many others here, I grew up on the mystery "classics" and later added authors like Mary Higgins Clark and Mary Jane Clark to my regular reads. Some of my favorites skew more toward suspense, but you just can't beat a good old whodunit. I started writing a cozy mystery years ago, but never finished it. My MG/YA book is a mystery, and when I get tired of writing for grownups I run back to it and tweak it a little - always good for my heart :-) Thank you so much for sharing this info! And congratulations on such a beautiful, interesting sounding book!!

    ReplyDelete
  49. I'm so late! I came by around noon and started reading, but then got called away. I just now got home again.

    What a fun post, Ruthy! I'm not a big mystery reader so was really interested in your list. I really look forward to reading yours! My mom and sister are huge mystery readers. I'll have to tell them about your book.

    ReplyDelete
  50. BTW, I was a huge Castle fan, so I really do need to try reading some mysteries.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Congrats to you, Ruthy!! Can't wait to read your new book. I LOVE mysteries too! One of my best friends writes cozies!

    Would love for my name to be thrown into the crock!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Hi Ruthy
    Thank you for the inspiring post on cozies.

    I think that another "clue" is a scene sometime in the oourse of the book, well before the finl wrap up, in which the sleuth sums up the progress made thus far eg pertinent facts written up on a white board or a discussion with the sidekick.

    Would love to read your new book, please put me in the draw for it. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  53. I love a good mystery. Following the clues and being surprised by unexpected twists makes it a fun reading ride. I stayed away from "cozy" mysteries after reading a few with lame plots and characters to stupid to live. Then I ran across The Ivy Malone Mystery Series and discovered a well-written, fun to read, cheer on the heroine story. And since then I've found some wonderful cozy mystery reads that had as much intrigue as grittier mysteries. Your book sounds like one I need on my to-read list.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hi Ruthy. I, too, grew up reading Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldom. Devoured those books! I've always adored cozies and haven't written one yet, but have been pondering the possibilities. Could it be as fun to write one as to read one? You may have kindled the fire on that one! Thanks for the great post! Can't wait to read your new book. :)

    ReplyDelete