Tag Archives: Charlaine Harris

Let’s Cozy Up

Hey, everybody! Suze here, writing to you on a beautiful fall day. Hope you’re enjoying it!

When people ask me what kind of stories I write, I tell them cozy mysteries. (I have a needs-revision contemporary romance too, and a long-way-down-the-road literary novel or two I’d like to tackle, but the mysteries are what I’m focusing on now). More often than not, I get a blank stare in return, followed by: “What’s a cozy mystery?” So today, I thought I’d try to solve that puzzle for you. I’m pretty sure you already know a cozy when you see one, but you just didn’t have a name for it. Remember Murder She Wrote? How about Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple? And of course, Nancy Drew.

There is no one definition or set of rules for this mystery subgenre, but here’s my take:

  • The heroine (and it’s nearly always a heroine, not a hero) is an amateur who, for whatever reason (bad luck, nosiness) gets involved in a crime. This means she’s not a private detective or working in law enforcement. If she gets paid to find a killer, it’s not a cozy.
  • The heroine is single, usually childless or with children grown and out of the nest, at least at the beginning of the series. There are exceptions (Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Bear Schultz books come to mind), but in general the heroine starts out on her own.
  • The heroine has some interesting occupation that the reader can either identify with or learn more about. Goldy Schultz is a caterer. Lucy Burdette’s Hayley Snow is a food critic. Rosemary Harris’s Paula Holliday is a gardener. Sheila Connolly’s Meg Corey owns a New England apple orchard. Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen owns a cookie shop. There are series about tea shops, knitting/yarn stores, cheese sellers, soapmakers, writers — the list goes on and on. There are also some paranormal variations. Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books started out cozy-like. Heather Blake’s Wishcraft series is about a witch.
  • The stories are often accompanied by recipes or craft patterns/instructions.
  • Setting is extremely important. Cozies are always set in small towns, and as a series develops over time, the reader feels as though they know the village and its inhabitants intimately. You might not want to actually move there, since as an outsider your chances of getting bumped off are pretty good.
  • Close to the beginning of the book, a murder occurs, either of a townsperson, or a stranger.
  • The murder happens off-stage. This is crucial. In a cozy we do not see the murder happen. Our sleuth can, and often does, find the body, but that body is already dead (or dying, but in any event it is too late). There can be some on-camera violence, but it is not graphic (no heads exploding in a shower of bone and blood), and it’s usually done in self-defense.
  • Likewise, sex happens off-stage. People do it in cozies all the time — we just don’t get to, um, experience it.
  • There is often a love interest, but the relationship develops over the course of several books and may never actually end in marriage or an HEA. (Big difference here, between romances and mysteries)
  • As for the mystery itself, there are several suspects, each of whom has a credible motive for wanting the victim dead. It’s up to the sleuth, and the reader, to figure out whodunnit.

What about you? Do you like cozies? What’s your favorite series, either on television or in books? Know of an occupation or hobby that would make a good cozy?

Obsession

Hello wet campers!  It’s pouring here in CT…well it’s supposed to be pouring by the time this post goes live tomorrow am.  J Monkeys here on another happy Saturday.

If you’ve read any of my posts over the past year, this likely won’t come as a shock to you, but I’m just a tiny bit obsessed with True Blood.  Eric Northman, specifically.  I love him.  Especially in season 4, which I bought on DVD yesterday.  As soon as my kiddies nod off, and I’m finished with responsibilities like this post and getting stuff ready for an event I’m doing tomorrow, I’ll be right back in front of the TV.  I’ve got about 10 minutes of episode 5 left to watch – I had to turn it off when the school bus arrived this afternoon.  While I LOVE True Blood, I’m sure we can all agree that it’s wildly inappropriate for anyone under age…well…16ish at least!  And then there are 7 more episodes and some bonus features.  Yippeee!

No, your math skills haven’t failed you.  Somehow I’ve managed to watch 5 hours of TV in the last 24 hours – no mean feat with my brood.  Why am I obsessed with this show?  Aside from the obvious reasons,

Eric Northman
Alcide Herveaux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as a writer, I love how the screenwriters manage to end every episode in a dear-Lord-what-will-happen-next kind of cliff hanger.   It’s very difficult not to watch the next DVD.  And it’s not just the beefcake.  This same thing happened with the first few seasons of 24.  I remember laying in bed at night thinking to myself, “Just one more episode,” at 3:00 in the morning because I needed to know what would happen next.

This is an incredible skill for a writer – making a story a page turner, something that people can’t put down.  I haven’t actually read any of Charlaine Harris‘ Sookie Stackhouse books.  I don’t know why…maybe because I understand that the HBO series follows them fairly loosely and one favorite character from the series didn’t make it out of the first book alive.  So I can’t say if the books have this same incredible momentum that just pushes you along with the story, but on HBO, it’s a wonderful ride.

Today’s Secret: Writer friends, study how True Blood, 24 and other shows do this because it is a very valuable skill.  Constantly hook and rehook your audience to keep those readers coming back for more.

Today’s Question: What other shows, movies, plays, books do this well?

Go Graphic (Novel, that is)

Happy Friday! Casey Wyatt here. Also, please check out my exciting news at my blog (after you finish reading this one!).So who’s noticed the growing trend among paranormal and urban fantasy authors to go graphic? No, I don’t mean sex. That’s a different topic for another day.

I’m referring to graphic novels. You know, those “comic books”. The ones often snickered at as not being “real” books because they have pictures.

Seems like everyone is doing it – Sherilynn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters, Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books, Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden are just a few.

I was listening to Anton Strout’s Once and Future podcast and even Charlaine Harris is getting into the act. Yay, bring on Eric!

For those who don’t believe graphic novels and comics are a legitimate form of art, I would direct them to the movies. There have been dozens of films (The Green Mile, 300, Sin City, Watchmen, The Crow,  A History Violence – all graphic novels).

And do I have to list the comic book movie adaptations? I think we all know what those are. But wait. I mentioned TV. AMC’s Walking Dead anyone?

I admit it. I’m a comic book geek. I grew up reading comic books and I still own my childhood collection (and, ahem, the comics I’ve purchased as an adult). They are lovingly tucked away in protective sheets in an acid free box. Thanks to my teenage boys, I discovered manga (Japenese graphic novels). The stories are engaging and as well written as novels. The perfect fusion of art and drama.

Needless to say, for romance authors, being asked to put your work into graphic novel form is a huge honor (at least to me). Thankfully, comic books, graphic novels, and manga are finally earning some respect.

Yes, us geeks are finally inheriting the Earth. It’s about time!

Who out there enjoys graphic novels? And if you haven’t read any, what’s holding you back? And would you read your favorite author’s books in graphic novel form?

Book vs. The Movie/TV Show – You be the judge

Happy Friday everyone. Casey here. Before I get to today’s topic, a few announcements:

  • The Scribes now have a Facebook Fan page (click here). Please stop by. We’d love it if you “liked” us!
  • And we are also on Twitter – @Secretsof7Scrib. New followers are always welcome.

Now back to our show.

If your family and friends are anything like mine, you’ve had this conversation before. The book vs. the movie (or TV show) – which is better? Usually followed by passionate debate. The book readers tend to favor the book, mercilessly poking holes in the movie or TV version. The non-readers (who don’t have the book as reference) like the movie or show (unless the movie/show is bad and deserves the scorn).

For today’s discussion, let’s talk True Blood. Notice how I have used this opportunity to showcase the eye pleasing actor – Alexander Skarsgard. Yum. Okay, moving along…

Long before the show hit HBO and popular culture, I discovered a book by Charlaine Harris about a Louisiana barmaid who could read minds. The town of Bon Temp was populated with amazing and quirky denizens. In my head, I created mental images of all the characters. Sookie was Barbie doll pretty. Eric was tall, hot and hunky and Bill was dark and brooding. Sam was scruffy, yet cute. Jason was the typical jock, while Hoyt was a big loveable goofball.

When True Blood aired on HBO, I was pleasantly surprised by the casting. I love each of the actors and their portrayals. For me, they all pretty much match the image in my head of Charlaine Harris’ world. The only exception is Sookie. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Anna Paquin. She has the spunk and nerve of Sookie (just not the Barbie doll looks and that is okay!).

Storyline-wise – they have deviated from the books. And thank goodness, otherwise we wouldn’t have the spectacular Lafayette (as portrayed by the fabulous Nelsan Ellis) or Jessica (the fangtastic Deborah Ann Woll). To sustain a weekly TV program, the writers obviously had to stray from the original story. And in my opinion, they are doing an entertaining job.

There have been a couple of times when I thought the movie was better than the book. The two biggest are The Lord of The Rings and Stardust. There are so many book adaptations that have been horrid, that I can’t just pick one (okay, I lied – Percy Jackson – why did they have to do such a bad job!!).

Enough about what I think. What are your favorite adaptations? Which ones did you loathe? Debate and discuss!