Friday, June 11, 2010

Cozy Questions Answered!

See how helpful I am!

So a couple of you asked some really great questions yesterday, and a couple MORE people asked me some questions on Facebook and I'm no expert, but I can sure give it a wack...


What the Heck is a Cozy Mystery?

Mysteries come in a variety of flavors—you have your forensic crime novels, your hard boiled detective tales (I am reading The Big Sleep right now), your thrillers that happen to have a mystery in 'em (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for instance), and your mainstream mysteries... COZY mysteries are for people who don't want all the GORY stuff... they don't want the mind-numbing chemistry of body decomposition, or food digestion. I believe they more often read to solve the crime along WITH the amateur sleuth, so it needs to be solved in a way a very clever amateur could DO IT. Agatha Christie seemed to have been the leader of the genre with Miss Marple... little old lady murder sleuth...

Cozy mysteries are also TOLD with more humor and quirk... they seem to have a couple campy characters, maybe a twist that is just a little 'out there' (but fits with the quirky characters and IF the twist is in place, there is no stretching needed to believe how it fits with the crime).

The pace is a little slower—more time spent on set up and character, rather than a murder on page one (or at least chapter one) which is the rule with most mysteries--mine happens at the END of chapter 2 (off screen, of course). The 'who will die' is more obvious (partially because it is usually on the back of the book, “... until XYZ turns up dead!”

Takes away one piece of mystery, yes, but I think cozy mystery readers don't really want LIKABLE characters to die (a little danger, sure, but not... DEAD!)

MANY (most?) have a sort of side theme... there are pets and hobbies and vocations... were I to do my own idea for the base at some future date I might have a sleuth that is a Parks Ranger, or something... seems to me campers, rafters, etc. end up in situations for a nice 'almost closed room' mystery that could be a real kick, and then I could take rafting trips with my uncle and deduct them [anyone wants to raft the Salmon River in Idaho, let me know, I'll hook you up--I'm serious--my uncle runs a company and it's FUN].


But it doesn't Rhyme with Tart....

Why do I need a pen name at all, then? It's a reasonable question... I mean... I'm WRITING it... BUT... These audition deals are for a SPECIFIC series... they have put out some parameters that the EDITOR at Berkeley Prime Crime came up with, so it isn't the same level of proprietary thing as if I... sent a whole book that I came up with ALL the stuff myself--there is a trade off.  THEIR series, they are willing to chance on me after a certain number of chapters, because THEY have elements they believe in--If I just send... they need to see the whole thing first... or so I understand it. Yes, the parameters are somewhat negotiable, and there aren't a debilitating number of them, but... for instance they told me who the dead guy is and a little about the main protagonist, her colleagues and family... So in the end it is a collaboration. It is NOT as structured as say... the cast of thousands writing James Patterson novels... He gives a whole OUTLINE—I got NOTHING like that... some names and relationships... a Gardening theme, a location: what could I do with it? They've done their market research... they know what niches are promising... and then they pick the voice they think can pull it off that seems to have a PLAN.... (and boy do I ever! *cackles*)

Name Digression

These are the Olsons, Curtis and Ina (3rd generation Americans, I think—Curtis's dad was Sam, as my son is, though that is only a happy coincidence.)

So the Olson and Carlson thing... I don't know how many of you descend from Scandinavian immigrants... the mid 19th century saw A LOT of them... and they immigrated to very odd places... in the case of the Norwegians, Iowa/Minnesota and the Swedes (at least my Swedish family) the Dakotas (The Carlsons have an old county map from their South Dakota county and they were in the same one as Charles Ingalls (THE Charles Ingalls--Laura Ingalls Wilder's dad--this would have been the Little House on the Prairie!)—same time even, as the family names are on the properties, but THAT family (the Carlson's not the Ingalls) moved west, where the Norwegians stayed in Iowa until my grandma decided she needed a little breathing room and went out west to live with an aunt and uncle and date several soldiers at once... not that it is really dating if most of the interaction is by pen... *snickers* (this would be Alyse) But back to names... at the times these immigrations were happening, if you were from Norway and came to the United States, you got to PICK your name... you could be Olson, Larson, or Iverson. If you were Swedish, you could be Hanson, Carlson or Nelson. None of this 'farm you came from' naming they used in the old country! Lets keep this simple! I suspect different generations of immigrants were given different choices... I know Halversons, Jacobsons, Johansons, Ha! I AM a Johnson... sort of... But anyway, THAT is why it looks like we are all related...


Tart Down Under?

I 'google image' Australian men and get this. Who am I to argue with fate... And I'm assured Australian rules football (Go Adelaide crows!) is MUCH more manly than the silly American sport where players are covered in all that pesky padding... Tart under THIS... yeah, I'm not going to argue... he can tackle me and I will take one for the team...

*fans self*  Right.  Australia. Or the UK, or India? I have an unusual network... I began my foray into writing in a place where the International phenomenon of Harry Potter had drawn people from ALL OVER the world. (look at my flag counter—I've had visitors HERE from 83 countries) My WRITER'S GROUP represents seven countries. And I have gotten a resounding 'never seen such a thing' regarding cozy mystery from those three English-speaking countries—until yesterday... My sister in mischief, the ORIGINAL dungeon master, BrioNI CALLED me yesterday from down under... SQUEEEEEE! And she has a new addiction... a mystery writer (who apparently dons a dominatrix costume from time to time) and her description of the books is decidedly COZY. She says in Adelaide bookstores there is a 'mystery and crime' section... so maybe not the sub-genres like the US does for how they are filed, but if someone were to LOOK, cozies are to be found!

That said, I doubt Berkeley Prime Crime is there, so I will have to work out a system to ship books. It's not that I think my network is WEAK in the US, I just think for a US unknown writer, I have an unusual amount of international support, and it kills me to have the first thing I publish be something that I can't use that to help me hit a home run...

And don't forget to come in tomorrow for the PAH-TAY!!!!!

24 comments:

Jojomama said...

(= This was enjoyable to read.

Leanne said...

Subsections in my bookstore, though not always broken out with shelf labels, include Cozy/Amateur, Police Procedural, Hard-boiled, British Mysteries... you get the point. ;-) Meanwhile, thanks for using the pic of the GOOD Miss Marple! (there have been about 4 main ones and she's the best, says me {or was, anyway, as she's now deceased})

Readers Dais said...

each time visit ur blog, i get something new from here...thanks

M.J. Nicholls said...

I can't come tomorrow because I live in Norway. And that calender photo put me off my breakfast. Thanks, Tart.

Hurray for the rest!

Smackenicious said...

I love cozy misteries then ... I don't think we have many here but still once you get your book I'll do everything to get it and read it!!!!

Watery Tart said...

Jo--Welcome! I think this is the first time I've seen you!

Leanne--thanks for the list--you bookstore types have it better in hand than I do!

Readers Dais, thank you!

Mark, you big Scotish poser, you are NOT in Norway. (unless you've managed to convince Mari to take you in) And I am HAPPY to post pics of YOU posting with only a football, if you just send them to me.

Ana-THANK YOU! I'll be sure to get you a copy if you can't get it there!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cozies probably appeal more to women, don't they? And will tune in tomorrow for the party.

cassandrajade said...

I had never heard of a cozy mystery before but I love your discussion and explanation here. THanks for sharing.

Watery Tart said...

Alex, it's true--Cozies are definitely more a woman's genre. I know a lot of women who like OTHER kinds of mysteries too, but I think the aversion to gore is a female trait. The humor in most I've read also seems to have a feminine angle, and MOST of the protags I've seen have been female, though it seems my coworker enjoys a series with a grouchy Rabbi protag *snicker*

Cassandra--thank you! I don't know much, but my knowledge is your knowledge! teehee.

Will Burke said...

A dominatrix sleuth? Is it a good idea to be distracted with clue-connections while putting clothes pins on nipples?

Watery Tart said...

So Will.... you seem to know an awful lot about the activities of the dominatrix *snickers*

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

What? I got distracted by Australian man. I would imagine these would appeal to women. Learn something new all the time on your blog, I had no idea they gave you the murderer before writing the story. Did I get that right?

Watery Tart said...

Not the murderer, Erica, the murderEE. The whodunnit is mine to decide. Easy to see how that would get mixed up though, with the man-candy distraction!

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Right, now I get it! hahaha, Aussie men in Aussie footy. hahahaha. yep, that's all I have to say, ahahahahaaaaaaaa, oh yeah, and .... Ozzie, ozzie, ozzie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Raquel Byrnes said...

I didn't know what cozy mysteries were until I started writing suspense. I used to do action thriller. There is a whole, 'Murder She Wrote'demographic out there. No wonder no matter the time of day my grams can watch Matlock. =) Great post.

Helena Soister said...

The cozy mystery market is so huge (very smart of you to get into it!) that there really should be international distribution. I mean, Agatha Christie's books are pretty much everywhere. Why not yours? And at least half the Masterpiece Theatre shows seem to be cozies. You got some great writing job security in your future!
So have you come back down to earth yet? Personally, I'd be flying for months.

Watery Tart said...

So Jessica, you can get me that guy's number right? I mean Australia only has so many people... *wink* So which Footy team do you like?

Raquel-it's true, and I used to LOVE that show--in fact Cozy TV is something I used to watch all the time, now that I think about it.

Helena-I think this cozy reader demo is the 'book a day' set--they cruise through such INCREDIBLE volume that publishers are actively seeking writers, unlike a lot of other genres...

And I will be flying a LONG time... just ran across a 'how to' on writing mysteries that has my heart pumping again! (and it's the weekend so I finally have TIME to dive in!)

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I hate footy! But I love the testosterone drenched cheering that goes with it ;)

TreeX said...

Sorting of English books? Erm, off the top of my head: Fiction; Crime; Sci-Fi/Fantasy. That's it. Same goes for Dutch books I think, but I never look there...

English-only stores are more sophisticated though, adding children's and several genres of non-fiction to the list...

TreeX said...

Oh, and I DID find a cozy in Amsterdam a few weeks back. In the kiddie section, opposite teen-romance ;)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think they'll probably end up going across the pond...my books are in UK libraries even w/ Midnight Ink. :) And Penguin has a huge reach. I haven't looked into the distribution as closely as I should have! But I think it's pretty good. They may sell foreign rights to other pubs, not sure. That's what MI does.

Watery Tart said...

Jessica- I probably am not a giant game fan either... players on the other hand?

Joris *snort* Kiddie section eh? Wasn't Nancy Drew was it?

Elizabeth--REALLY!!!!???? That would be FABULOUS news! I mean even at libraries is good. I think a library was where BrioNI found her dominatrix cozies, actually. I know PENGUIN has a far reach... I was just hearing NOBODY familiar with the term cozy, and FEW that had seen that type of mystery. Natasha, in India, had read some Iain Pears (of course he's a Brit)--but even THOSE have a connection to the police force (even if it is a student and an art professional who seem to actually solve stuff)

Katy Foster-Dugan said...

I had read the genre before but I do not think I knew it was called cozy mysteries until you started blogging about it. One of my favorite shows was Diagnosis Murder and it would fit the cozy theme. Dick Van Dyke played a doctor who solved mysteries.

TreeX said...

I think it was the one you showed me as an example for the cover, actually ;)