Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nashville arts news (28 Feb 08)

A couple items regarding the Nashville arts scene from The Tennessean:

Patrons can help shape library of future "The Metro Public Library system is about to launch an eight-month 'strategic conversation' to figure out what needs to be done over the next five to 10 years to create excellence."

Writer's Stage gives voice to new works, new talent "In addition to being a new work that will be staged on Saturday, 21 Baker Road is the inaugural piece for a fledgling theater company focused on giving other new works wings. Writer's Stage aims to soften the competition through collaborative efforts, shared resources and mutual encouragement."

Discovering New Mysteries finalists

The 2008 International Mystery Writers' Festival -- which will honor Mary Higgins Clark as "First Lady of Mystery 2008" -- has announced the 2008 Discovering New Mysteries finalists. These fully staged productions will play alongside the U.S. premiere of Agatha Christie's lost play, Chimneys, and the world premiere of Edgar-winning Stuart Kaminsky's new Sherlock Holmes' play, The Final Toast.

The finalists: Cell, by Judy Klass; Flemming: An American Thriller, by Sam Bobrick; Someone to Care For, by Christie Hall; The Last Appointment, by Donald C. Drake; The Third Rule, by Dan Aibel. IMWF's Wide-Screen Audio Live performances, performed onstage like an old-time radio show, will include plays by Ray Bradbury, Rupert Holmes, Lee Goldberg, and Robert S. Levinson, among others.

The festival takes place June 12-22 in Owensboro, Kentucky. Full list of events at the official site.
Related link: Discovering new mysteries onstage

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Free mystery story (LAST WEEK!)

My wife and I just launched our new husband-wife sleuth series, BOOKE CASES MUSIC CITY MYSTERIES. If you want a FREE copy of the world-premiere short story, "Don't Fall For That Trick," download the pdf here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Well_Read/. Enjoy! (Offer ends FRIDAY.)

Mr. Monk And The Continuity Police

TV writer and novelist Lee Goldberg explains the inevitable continuity problems between a television series and the tie-in novels ... in particular, Monk:
I thought the two-part MONK season finale was great, but it points out one of the pitfalls of writing a tie-in series while the TV show it is based on is still in production. It means there are going to be some continuity miss-matches between the TV series and the books...and there's nothing that can be done about it.
Lee also gives his perspective on the upcoming DVD release of the first season of Mannix. (He worked on the crossover episode of Diagnosis: Murder that brought Joe Mannix out of retirement.)

Related links:
Mr. Monk Is On The Run (Pt 2)
Q&A: LEE GOLDBERG (Monk, Diagnosis Murder)
Mystery TV Themes: MONK
Mystery TV Themes: MANNIX
Diagnosis -- Murder!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Q&A: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller authors

Since we recently started a whole new round of author Q&As, I thought it would be fun to look back on the many interviews we have had to date. Here are my Q&As with authors who write mystery, suspense, and/or thrillers (CBA and ABA):

Q&A: JANICE A. THOMPSON (Gone With The Groom)
Q&A: SUSAN PAGE DAVIS (Homicide at Blue Heron Lake)
Q&A: LISA HARRIS (Recipe For Murder)

Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: GINNY AIKEN (Decorating Schemes)

JAMES SCOTT BELL (Deadlock)
Q&A: JON L. BREEN (Eye of God)
Q&A: SANDRA BROWN (Ricochet)

Q&A: MINDY STARNS CLARK (Blind Dates Can Be Murder)
Q&A: COLLEEN COBLE (Fire Dancer)
Q&A: BRANDILYN COLLINS (Web of Lies)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)

Q&A: BRANDT DODSON (Seventy Times Seven)
Q&A: WANDA DYSON (Abduction)

Q&A: ALTON GANSKY (Director's Cut)
Q&A: LEE GOLDBERG (Monk, Diagnosis Murder)

Q&A: T.L. HINES (Waking Lazarus)
Q&A: VICKI HINZE (Bulletproof Princess)

Q&A: ANDREW KLAVAN (Don't Say A Word)

Q&A: ROBERT LIPARULO (Comes a Horseman)

Q&A: KATHRYN MACKEL (The Hidden)
Q&A: CRESTON MAPES (Full Tilt)
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY (On The Run)
Q&A: SUSAN MEISSNER (Widows & Orphans)

Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)

Q&A: CORNELIA READ (A Field of Darkness)

Q&A: RANDY SINGER (Self Incrimination)

Q&A: MELANIE WELLS (The Soul Hunter)
Q&A: ROBERT WHITLOW (Mountain Top)
Q&A: ERIC WILSON (The Best of Evil)

KILLER Q&A: J.T. ELLISON (All The Pretty Girls)
KILLER Q&A: DAVE WHITE (When One Man Dies)
KILLER Q&A: BRETT BATTLES (The Cleaner)
KILLER Q&A: BILL CAMERON (Lost Dog)
KILLER Q&A: MARC LECARD (Vinnie's Head)
KILLER Q&A: GREGG OLSEN (A Wicked Snow)
KILLER Q&A: PATRY FRANCIS (The Liar's Diary)
KILLER Q&A: ROBERT GREGORY BROWNE (Kiss Her Goodbye)
KILLER Q&A: MARCUS SAKEY (The Blade Itself)
KILLER Q&A: SEAN CHERCOVER (Big City, Bad Blood)
KILLER Q&A: SANDRA RUTTAN (Suspicious Circumstances)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mr. Monk Is On The Run (Pt 2)

On the season finale of Monk:

Everyone convinced of Monk's death, Natalie plans a memorial service. But Monk's undercover in Nevada to unravel facts about the crooked small town sheriff. Can he clear his name and come out of hiding? Watch the season finale – "Mr. Monk Is On The Run (Part 2)" – tonight at 9/8c only on USA!
Register to chat with star Tony Shalhoub at 8PM E (5PM P). He'll be logged on via live video feed.

Related links:
Mr. Monk And The Continuity Police
Q&A: LEE GOLDBERG (Monk, Diagnosis Murder)
Mystery TV Themes: MONK

Q&A: JANICE A. THOMPSON

This week we check in with Janice A. Thompson, a Christian freelance author of novels, non-fiction books, magazine articles and musical comedies for the stage. A resident of the Houston area, she also works as a freelance editor and a ghostwriter, and enjoys public speaking. She has multiple titles through Heartsong and the brand-new cozy mystery imprint Heartsong Presents -- Mysteries! Find out more about Janice and her (many) books on her Website, JaniceAThompson.com.

* * *

Q: HOW DID YOU GET YOUR BIG BREAK?
My "big break" came in small snatches. I started pounding on doors in the late '90s and finally got an answer in 2000 when Promise Press (Barbour Publishing) purchased my first book, Duty To Die. Since then, I've continued to pound on doors, continued to work on the craft of writing, and continued to seek God about my story ideas. In 2004, the sale of my historical Hurricane (River Oak Publishing), about the Galveston hurricane of 1900) opened many doors along the Gulf Coast for speaking engagements. Perhaps my biggest break, to date, came with the sale of my first mystery (The Wedding Caper) to Barbour in 2005. It opened the doors for more mysteries and opened my eyes to writing in first-person (which I now love).
  
Q: HOW MUCH DO YOU WRITE FOR AN "AUDIENCE" VS. WRITING FOR YOURSELF?
I'd say a 50/50 mix. I write the stories the Lord puts on my heart, so, in that sense, I'm writing for myself. But as I write, I'm conscious of the fact that people are going to read my books and expect certain things from me. I've become known as something of a wedding expert, so most readers expect my books to have some sort of wedding theme. I'm also a dog lover (dachshunds, to be precise) so I try to incorporate dogs into my stories. I don't want to disappoint my readers. But I'm always looking for fresh ideas and, as I cross genre lines, hope the readers can keep up with me!

Q: WHAT FIVE (give or take) CLASSIC AUTHORS/BOOKS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING? 1. Anything by O'Henry. Might sound odd, but he had a lot of mystery elements in his stories and could get you in the end with a real "grabber." 2. Edgar Allen Poe 3. Agatha Christie 4. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 5. The Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mysteries for children I'd like to add a 6th one: The Bible. It's loaded with mystery elements and quite a few who-dunnits!  

Q: WHAT FIVE (give or take) MODERN AUTHORS/BOOKS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING?
1. Anything by Dorothy Cannell (especially The Thin Woman, one of my personal favorites)
2. Anything from the new Heartsong Presents Mysteries line
3.To learn the craft of mystery writing: Just The Facts, Ma'am: A Writer's Guide to Investigators and Investigation Techniques (Howdunit), by Greg Fallis
4. For technique: Getting Into Character, by Brandilyn Collins
5. Also for technique: Writing The Breakout Novel, by Donald Maas

Q: BEFORE BEING SIGNED, WHAT'S THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION YOU HAD ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR? Like many others, I thought selling my first book would do two things: put lots of cash in my pockets and assure future book sales with that same house (or other interested houses). I have since learned there's not a huge amount of money to be made in the CBA (sorry, folks) and I have to keep "plugging my product" (as it were), no matter how many books I sell. (I've sold over thirty now, with several more projects in the works.)

Thanks to our guest, Janice A. Thompson. Find her online at http://www.janiceathompson.com/ and her blog, Double Booked. Visit her ShoutLife profile at www.ShoutLife.com/JaniceAThompson. Subscribe to Heartsong Presents -- Mysteries!

Related links:
Q&A: SUSAN PAGE DAVIS (Homicide at Blue Heron Lake)
Q&A: LISA HARRIS (Recipe For Murder)
"What is a Cozy Mystery?"
Meet the authors of HPMysteries
MURDER, SHE WROTE still going strong

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Free mystery story (LIMITED TIME)

My wife and I just launched our new husband-wife sleuth series, BOOKE CASES MUSIC CITY MYSTERIES. If you want a FREE copy of the world-premiere short story, "Don't Fall For That Trick," download the pdf here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Well_Read/. Enjoy! (Offer ends Feb. 29.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CFBA: ADAM by Ted Dekker

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance spotlights ADAM (Thomas Nelson) by Ted Dekker. A full-time writer since 1997, Dekker says that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompasses seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies, including Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), and Obsessed. Two more, Renegade and Chaos, come out later this year.

ABOUT THE BOOK
New York Times best-selling author Dekker unleashes his most riveting novel yet, introducing an elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death -- his own.

Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death. Daniel becomes convinced the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again ... and again.

"The detail is stunning, pointing to meticulous research in a raft of areas: police and FBI methods, forensic medicine, psychological profiling ... We have to keep telling ourselves that this is fiction. At the same time, we can't help thinking that not only could it happen, but that it will happen if we're not careful." -- David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna, authors of The Dark Sacrament

"Perhaps Dekker’s best work to date; a well-written and researched novel that also has a clear, passionate message: if we do not serve God, we only serve evil." -- Kevin Lucia, TitleTrakk.com

CFBA

Monday, February 18, 2008

"I said vintage!"

All Julia wanted was an ordinary life. It seems like God has other plans ...
My wife Erica's webcomic The Miller Sisters continues on TitleTrakk with Part 5, #20. (Scroll to the bottom of the page.)

* Catch up on the story at The Miller Sisters Archives
* Erica on ComicSpace
* The Miller Sisters at OnlineComics.net

Planning Ahead

Brandilyn Collins passes long this link from the New York Times that answers the question, "Why does is take so long to publish a book?" The short answer is that the space between turning in your manuscript and the time it shelves -- on the average, a year to a year-and-a-half -- is needed for simple marketing / publicity / word of mouth.

It reminds of marketing guru Seth Godin's advice for authors. Much of it is for non-fiction writers, but valid points for novelists include:

2. The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you'll need later.

5. Don't try to sell your book to everyone ... Far better to obsess about a little subset of the market -- that subset that you have permission to talk with, that subset where you have credibility, and most important, that subset where people just can't live without your book.

18. Bookstores, in general, are run by absolutely terrific people. Bookstores, in general, are really lousy businesses. They are often where books go to die. While some readers will discover your book in a store, it's way more likely they will discover the book before they get to the store, and the store is just there hoping to have the right book for the right person at the time she wants it. If the match isn't made, no sale.
I've started working on my Five-Year Plan. (And Ten-Year Plan. And Thirty-Year Plan.)

Related links:
The Biz of Fiction
"Ignorance is death."
Go maketh a plan
It only works if people can find your book ...
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS FOR WRITERS

Friday, February 15, 2008

Mr. Monk Is On The Run

From the official newsletter for USA Network series Monk:
"Monk believes he is getting closer to solving the murder of his wife Trudy, but the clues only lead to trouble. When he investigates further, things turn deadly. As Monk becomes the prime suspect in a murder, he has to outrun a small town sheriff and plan his escape. Did somebody frame Monk? Can he survive as a fugitive on the run? Watch the first episode of Monk's two-part season finale, 'Mr. Monk Is On The Run,' tonight at 9/8c only on USA!"
Also on the official site: Live Chat with Tony Shalhoub
Register to chat with the Emmy-award winning star right before the season finale Friday, Feb. 22 at 8PM E / 5PM P. Tony will be logged on via live video feed to chat with his fans and answer any Monk questions.

Related links:
Q&A: LEE GOLDBERG (Monk, Diagnosis Murder)
Mystery TV Themes: MONK
Monk's Mind Game (and more)
Mr. Monk and the Amazon review
Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Well Read Newsletter #4 Special Edition

(This was sent out this morning to subscribers to my newsletter. If
you want the short story, sign up for free and download it there.)

"Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these
things will be given to you as well." -- Matthew 6:19

WELL READ: The Official Newsletter of Novelist Chris Well
#4 SPECIAL EDITION Feb 08
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Well_Read/

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
IN THIS ISSUE
1. WELCOME!
2. WHAT'S NEW!
3. MYSTERY TV THEMES!
4. YOUR FREE GIFT!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
1. WELCOME!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Normally, we try to only send these newsletters two or three
times a year. But we send this special edition because we have
a VALENTINE'S DAY present for YOU! (Details below.)

You should only be receiving this if you are a member of the
Yahoo! Group. If you can't remember why you signed up for this,
unsubscribe here: http://groups.yahoo.com/mygroups

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
2. WHAT'S NEW!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
So much can happen in just a few weeks - right after we sent
out our newsletter in January, the company where I worked went
through a massive reorganization and I found myself among
several employees suddenly out on the street.

Erica and I appreciate your prayers. As much as I would love
to say this is me now becoming a full-time novelist (and if
that works out, I won't complain), the statistics make it
impractical for me to *expect* that. So I am looking for
work -- but also developing several new pitches for novels.

With all the changes, you can now find me online at these
new and/or updated locales:

OFFICIAL SITE
http://studiowell.com/

BLOG
http://chriswellnovelist.blogspot.com/

SHOUTLIFE
http://shoutlife.com/chriswell

MYSPACE
http://www.myspace.com/chriswellnovelist

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
3. MYSTERY TV THEMES!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We have also moved our weekly salute to the classic themes
of detective/mystery TV series back to its original home.

Recent adds:
THE MOD SQUAD
THE LONE RANGER
PERRY MASON

Find the whole list at:
http://chriswellnovelist.blogspot.com/search/label/themes
http://www.squidoo.com/chriswell

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
4. YOUR FREE GIFT!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
As our special VALENTINE'S DAY present to YOU, we have a
brand-new, unpublished, world-premiere short story!
"Don't Fall For That Trick" is the very first mystery in
Erica's and my new husband-and-wife sleuth series
BOOKE CASES: MUSIC CITY MYSTERIES(tm).

Since you are our special friends, you get this sneak
peek before anybody else!

How this will work:

1) We'll upload the story to the message board for
a limited time.

2) After it is uploaded, you'll receive an announcement
from Yahoo! Groups.

3) You can download the pdf file and read it at your leisure.
Print it out, or read it on your computer.

4) Enjoy! (Actually, this last step is optional.
But we really do hope you like it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Well, I think that covers it for this time. Thanks for your
friendship. Have a wonderful day - God bless!

-Chris

Chris Well
http://studiowell.com/
http://chriswellnovelist.blogspot.com/
http://shoutlife.com/chriswell

Monday, February 11, 2008

"What a waste of time!"

My wife Erica's online comic strip The Miller Sisters continues with Part 5, #19 on TitleTrakk.com. (Scroll to bottom of page.)

All Julia wanted was an ordinary life. It seems like God has other plans ...

Catch up on the story at The Miller Sisters Archives
Erica on ComicSpace
The Miller Sisters at OnlineComics.net

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ed Hoch, we'll miss you

Mystery writer Edward D. Hoch passed away January 17. He was 77. The legendery author, winner of numerous awards and accolades, was best known for his phenomenal short story output -- a new one appeared in every issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine for almost thirty-five years.

"I did actually publish five quickly forgotten novels between 1969 and 1975," Hoch wrote in May 2007, "but it was clear to me even then that I was a short story writer. The ideas came quickly, as they still do, and I enjoyed the exhilaration of finishing a story in a couple of weeks rather than waiting several months before concluding a novel." ("WHY THE SHORT STORY?", Criminal Brief)

In his almost 950 published stories, Hoch often called upon his stable of regular series characters:

Nick Velvet, a professional thief who only steals objects of little (apparent) value;
Dr. Sam Hawthorne, a retired family practitioner who solves impossible murders;
Rand, a code and cipher expert formerly with British intelligence;
Ben Snow, who solved mysteries in the Old West;
Stanton and Ives, Princeton graduates turned international couriers;
Michael Vlado, young king of a Gypsy tribe in eastern Europe;
Susan Holt, a minor executive in charge of promotions for a department store chain;
Alexander Swift, an intelligence agent for General George Washington during the Revolution;
Captain Leopold, head of the Violent Crimes Squad in an unnamed Connecticut city;
Simon Ark, a 2000-year-old Coptic priest who travels the world searching for evil;
Sebastian Blue and Laura Charme, Interpol officers who investigated international crimes;
Barney Hamet, a mystery writer who stumbles into real mysteries at mystery conventions;
Alan Darlan, a private investigator; and
Sir Gideon Parrot, a loving parody of Golden Age detectives

Some of his short story collections are available at Amazon. (See list.)

Links:
"We'll always be able to find Ed in the wealth of stories he left behind" (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Edward D. Hoch, 77; short-story mystery writer (Los Angeles Times)
Edward D. Hoch, Writer of Over 900 Mystery Stories, Is Dead at 77 (New York Times)
Edward D. Hoch, 77, wrote more than 900 mystery stories (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Ed Hoch Passes Away (Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind)
2004 interview (Mystery*File)
2002 interview (Ellery Queen fan site)
Christmas-themed short story "The Three Travelers" (Mystery.net)
Comprehensive Hoch retrospective

Friday, February 08, 2008

Q&A: SUSAN PAGE DAVIS

This week we check in with Susan Page Davis. She and daughter Megan have written a series of cozy mysteries for Heartsong Presents -- Mysteries! -- the MAINEly Murder series. Their first book, Homicide at Blue Heron Lake, is being sent to subscribers now. It will be followed by Treasure at Blue Heron Lake and Imposters at Blue Heron Lake. All are set in a fictional town in northern Maine. You can read about the mother and daughter team and learn about Susan's other books on her Website, SusanPageDavis.com, where she holds a monthly drawing for a free book.

* * *

Q: HOW DID YOU GET YOUR BIG BREAK?
I'm not sure exactly what a "big break" is, or if I've gotten one yet. (smiley face) The success I've had in my writing is due, I am certain, to God's grace. But if there is one critical factor within the writer's control, I think it is persistence. I sent out many, many book proposals and manuscripts before my first book sold. I paid close attention to every word that came back with the rejections. And then one day Jim Peterson called me (he was acquisitions editor at Heartsong back then in '03), and said, "Yes, Susan, it's really me. I wanted to tell you personally that we are buying your book, Protecting Amy." Ahhhh!

Q: HOW MUCH DO YOU WRITE FOR AN "AUDIENCE" VERSUS SIMPLY WRITING FOR YOURSELF?
I'm very aware of the reader. The only things I write for myself only are to-do lists and my diary. Even that, I suppose, is perhaps for others. But when I'm writing a book, I think about how my readers will perceive what I've written. I don't want the readers to think about me, though. I want them to think about my story and my characters. I try to take "me" out of the story.

Q: WHAT FIVE CLASSIC AUTHORS/BOOKS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING?
1. Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey books (My faves: The Nine Tailors and Clouds of Witness)
2. Agatha Christie's Miss Marples
3. Ditto her Hercule Poirots, especially the ones with Captain Hastings in them
4. Dick Francis -- my personal picks: To the Hilt, and For Kicks
5. Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfaels

Q: WHAT FIVE MODERN AUTHORS/BOOKS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING?
There are so many, I hate to pick out a few as "essential" because I know I'd miss some. I'd encourage mystery/suspense writers to read a variety of authors. We've had some marvelous writers of Christian worldview mysteries and suspense books as guests on the Keep Me in Suspense blog recently. If you're not sure whose book to pick up next, I suggest browsing the archives there.

Q: BEFORE YOU WERE PUBLISHED, WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION YOU HAD ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR?
Once you sell your first book, you've got it made...
Right.

* * *

Thanks to our guest, Susan Page Davis. Find her online at www.susanpagedavis.com. She is also a contributor to Keep Me in Suspense and has a ShoutLife page at shoutlife.com/SusanPageDavis.

Related links:
"What is a Cozy Mystery?"
Q&A: LISA HARRIS (Recipe For Murder)
Meet the authors of HPMysteries
MURDER, SHE WROTE still going strong
FREE mystery story!
Heartsong Mysteries! Book Club

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

"What is a Cozy Mystery?"

Lately, some have asked the definition of "cozy mystery" -- especially as differentiated from other kinds of mysteries. The folks who host the annual Malice Domestic convention define the subgenre as "mysteries which contain no explicit sex or excessive gore or violence; and usually (but are not limited to) featuring an amateur detective, a confined setting, and characters who know one another."

According to the writers guidelines for Heartsong Presents -- Mysteries!, cozy mysteries are "a maze to be navigated by the protagonist or solver. Typically, in a mystery, the protagonist sets out to solve a crime that has already been committed. On the other hand ... a Suspense is best represented as a coil that tightens in around the protagonist. In other words, the protagonist is in a race against time to avoid being the victim of a crime."

Classic authors include G.K. Chesterton, John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers. The long-running TV series Murder She Wrote is also a popular example.

Related links:
Q&A: LISA HARRIS
Meet the authors of HPMysteries
MURDER, SHE WROTE still going strong
FREE mystery story!
Heartsong Mysteries! Book Club

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Keep Me In Suspense

No time for blogging -- my agent is expecting a brand-new pitch from me Friday.

Meanwhile, here are some interviews with mystery authors conducted at Keep Me In Suspense:

Interview with Dana Mentink
Interview with Brandt Dodson
Interview with Nancy Mehl
Interview with Susan Page Davis
Interview with Sharon Dunn!
Interview with Christine Lynxwiler

(This Friday, we'll post another author interview here, too.)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

"What did you get that hat for again?"

My wife Erica's online comic strip The Miller Sisters continues with Part 5, #18 on TitleTrakk.com. (Scroll to bottom of page.)

All Julia wanted was an ordinary life. It seems like God has other plans ...

Catch up on the story at The Miller Sisters Archives
Erica on ComicSpace
The Miller Sisters at OnlineComics.net

Friday, February 01, 2008

Q&A: LISA HARRIS

Today we check in with novelist Lisa Harris, one of the inaugural authors in the brand-new cozy mystery series Heartsong Presents -- Mysteries! She's a mom, a missionary, and an author who has written romance, mysteries, and is branching into International suspense. Lisa, her husband of almost seventeen years, and their three kids are enjoying life in Africa.

Her first book with HPM is Recipe For Murder. Next week, she'll give away five free copies through her online newsletter. (Sign up now!)

Q: HOW DID YOU GET YOUR BIG BREAK?
The first book I sold was a novella in the collection, To Catch a Thief, published by Barbour. (And yes, it was a mystery!) I'd met DiAnn Mills at a writer's conference the year before, and she graciously mentored me during the coming months.

At that time, Barbour Publishing was buying a number of novella collections each year, and, knowing this was a great way to get my foot in the door, I talked to DiAnn about an idea I had for a collection that centered around four women Pinkerton agents in the late 1800s. We invited two other authors on board, sent in a proposal, and a few months later, Barbour bought the collection.

Since then, I've sold about a dozen more books, including Christian romance novels to Heartsong Presents, a romantic suspense to Love Inspired Suspense, and my current cozy series with Heartsong Presents: Mysteries.

Q: HOW MUCH DO YOU WRITE FOR AN "AUDIENCE" VERSUS SIMPLY WRITING FOR YOURSELF?
This is a great question, because I would assume that I'm not the only author who's had to grapple with this at some point. The first book I wrote was a gothic novel. I wrote it for me, not for a publisher or an audience. I wrote it because I loved reading Victoria Holt growing up and always wanted to write one. While I'd still love to sell that story most publishers will say that there isn't much of a market for that genre.

In my case, I made the decision pretty quickly in my career that I needed to combine elements of what I love to write with what the publisher and audience wants. If it was a romance, I made sure that there was a hint of mystery, or some element of history that intrigued me. I believed strongly that if I wasn't excited about what I was writing my readers wouldn't be either, but that didn't mean that I couldn't adapt what I loved to what an audience wanted.

During the past couple of years, I've discovered how much I love writing mystery/suspense and have been given the opportunity to write several. My current WIP is an international suspense which brings together both all the elements I love -- suspense, intrigue and romance -- plus a setting that I love, Africa. The only problem is that an African setting is another one of these difficult sells, because there apparently (to quote a number of editors) isn't an audience. You can imagine my excitement when an editor recently told me that the time is right for publishing this series.

The lesson to me is never to give up on what you love to write. Interests in genres change from year to year in the market. I have a friend who wrote Biblical fiction for twenty years while this genre was supposedly out. She's just sold her series to a major publisher. So write for an audience, but always stay true to the talents and gifts God has given you!

Q: WHAT FIVE CLASSIC AUTHORS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING?
I'm not sure who I'd consider essential, but these are some of the authors I've enjoyed reading throughout the years. I know there are dozens more, and especially now in Christian publishing area where many authors are beginning to make a big splash in this genre. I've added a couple from the Christian market, though some of these authors spill over into suspense.

(By the way, if you're interested as a writer in learning more about the differences between writing mystery and suspense, I have an article that will be posted at www.noveljourney.blogspot.com on February 6 that discusses this.)

Here are some of my recommendations.

1. Lilian Jackson Braun
2. Dick Francis
3. Agatha Christie
4. Victoria Holt
5. Daphne Du Maurier

Q: WHAT FIVE MODERN AUTHORS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING?

1. Mary Higgins Clark
2. Michael Crichton
3. Colleen Coble
4. Brandt Dodson
5. Brandilyn Collins

Q: BEFORE YOU WERE PUBLISHED, WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION YOU HAD ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR?
I had no idea how hard it was, or how much time and effort it takes to continue growing in the craft.

Thanks to our guest, Lisa Harris. Find her online at www.lisaharriswrites.com, and her blog myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com. She also has a ShoutLife page at shoutlife.com/LisaHarris, and is a contributor to the group-author blogs Keep Me In Suspense and Spyglass Lane.

Related links:
Meet the authors of HPMysteries
Book news 29 Jan 08
FREE mystery story!

Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction

SHE'S THE SHERIFF!

A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at StudioWell.com. Watch the trailer on YouTube.