Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cozy Is as Cozy Does: Making Your Story Different

One of my favorite forms of fantasy is the cozy mystery. Why fantasy? Because I can't imagine any murder being so charmingly serene. Of course, the "detective" doesn't do the nitty-gritty stuff like collecting evidence. They just shift through the tangled relationships to solve the crime.

Recently read two cozies back to back: Jenn McKinlay's Due or Die and, one of local authors, Bailey Cates' Brownies and Broomsticks. The similarities of both books give some insights on how to twist a trope to come up with something different.

Most American-set cozies I've read seem to be craft oriented in some way. Due, the second book in the series, focuses on a group of friends having a weekly crochet project session at the local library. The MC, the library director, is a recent immigrant to the New England coastal community when one of the library board's husband gets murdered. McKinlay sets up a number of red herring suspects for the MC to shift through with complications coming from a powerful northeaster and love interests. Oh, and I forgot the dog who also plays his part in solving the crime. The plot threads are nicely tangled but get sorted in the end. 

Brownies and Broomsticks is the first of Cates' new series. Again, the MC is a new resident who moves to Savannah to help in her aunt and uncle's new bakery. Yes, artisan baking is a craft ... even when you don't pay a school an arm and a leg for the credentials. Complications here is the MC is introduced to her family's background as hereditary witches and love interests. In between baking scrumptious desserts, the MC tries to solve the murder of the "town bitch" when her uncle is the prime suspect. 

All of which, raises the question in my mind of where do these amateur sleuths find the time to detect. I don't do the 9-to-5, yet I have trouble keeping up with all my writing stuff -- and, I don't have any deadlines.

Neither Cates nor McKinlay need help writing scenes. Yeah, I'm sure they rewrite and rewrite, but the results hook. The books were both 2-AM-reads. If you want help writing scenes or just a check list to see if you covered the bases, C. S. Lakin recaps her blogs on writing that crucial first scene: Five Months on the First Scene. I thought it was worth printing out to underline and study. Even though my pig intro scene is liked by my preliminary readers.

Need a whole week's worth of blogs on writing?

Roni Loren's Fill Me In Friday runs them more regularly than I do. Here's the link to this week's selection.  There's some good stuff here. Came up to the computer in between fixing food sessions [farmer market strawberries] to find the computer still on Twitter. When I check my tweets, from this link and was absorbed until I had to got down and start the artichoke.

On a personal note.
The Poudre River Canyon is suffering from its fourth and largest forest fire in four weeks:
over 41,000 acres and 5% contained in spite
of five planes and a bunch of helicopters.
Where is the Northwest Coast rain when you need it?
I'm willing to give New Mexico the rains from the Mexican hurricanes.
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