Tag Archives: mystery

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The Gift of Mystery

The Virgin Murders by Nancy Sweetland

Would You Care for Some Humor With Your Homicide, Madam?

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I’ve been addicted to murder mysteries since the age of six when I discovered the Nancy Drew series was far more intriguing than the adventures of Dick and Jane. My first manuscript, “Cindy Parker and the Haunted Mansion,” was written when I turned my third-grade spelling words into a sixteen page novella. If my mother hadn’t made me go to bed at 8:30, who knows what kind of masterpiece I could have created. When the teacher gave me an A plus, I was officially bitten by the writing bug. It’s somewhat similar to malaria. Once you’re bitten, it may go dormant for awhile, but it will never totally go away.

Although a corporate career, marriage, children, and divorce intervened, my personal anti-depressant has always been to read a mystery by one of my favorite authors, a group of writers who not only devised a puzzle for me to solve, but also kept me laughing. They could turn the gloomiest day or mood into pure sunshine. When I sat down to write my first novel, I had one goal in mind. To write an intriguing murder mystery that also provided plenty of giggles. Seems simple, right? NOT!

I discovered it wasn’t that easy to mesh the suspense of a murder investigation with those special laugh-out-loud moments. We can’t have our heroine blithely tripping over dead bodies, right and left. While the premise of mid-life dating itself can provide laughs (ah, the true stories I could share) there is still a definite fear factor involved. What if you don’t meet Mr. Right and instead meet Mr. Wrong?

It’s critical that readers identify with and root for the protagonist as she searches for the killer. She may be forced to do so to save her reputation or to stay out of jail. It definitely helps if your protagonist is relatable to her readers. In one scene in DYING FOR A DATE, Laurel McKay discovers that when faced with a gun, she didn’t want to flee, she just wanted to pee. I know I’m not the only member of the “hot flash” set who can relate to that.

There’s also the romance factor. How do you maintain conflict and tension between your protagonist and the investigating detective? Especially when he can’t decide if he should arrest the adorable soccer mom, or kiss her? We need to keep the audience engaged in the mystery but still provide those moments that sizzle and sparkle with laughter.

I would love to hear from both mystery readers and authors. Does anyone else enjoy a little slice of humor with their homicide? 

Although Cindy Sample’s initial dream was to be a mystery writer, she put aside her literary longings and applied for a job as a receptionist with a real estate office. Her career eventually led to President of a national mortgage banking company. After one too many corporate mergers, Cindy decided it was more fun to plot murder than plod through paperwork. Her experiences with on-line dating sites fueled the concept for Dying for a Date, a humorous romantic mystery set in the California gold country.

Cindy writes a column entitled Hot Flash for the Gold River Community Newspaper. She is a past president of the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime and is the co-chair of the Left Coast Crime Convention, which will be held in Sacramento in 2012. If you’re interesting in volunteering, she’d love to hear from you. Contact Cindy at www.cindysamplebooks.com

 

 

Why I love Mysteries [Guest Blog: Nancy Lynn Jarvis]

I got hooked on mysteries at a tender age. Their logic and careful structure first began fascinating me when,  sworn to secrecy by my grandmother who worried my mother wouldn’t approve of such a young girl reading mysteries other than Nancy Drew,  I sat in Nana’s wicker rocking chair reading books by Agatha Christie.

I became quite good at figuring out who did it before Dame Agatha had Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot tell me, and I offered myself liberal congratulations for my cleverness. It wasn’t until I started writing mysteries myself that I realized  the masterful Christie probably knew on which page I could know, not just guess,  the villain’s identity before she even started writing her book.

Solving a mystery is like solving a logic puzzle—Sudoku on steroids— and if that isn’t fun enough, mysteries can give a reader, or me as a writer, an excuse to delve into a world of fascinating but unsettling things like decomposition, accidental mummification, and how ligature strangulation and death by hypothermia work. For me, researching those topics is akin to being a four-year-old playing with rubber dinosaurs: the game is enjoyable and I can control what might otherwise give me nightmares.  

Mysteries, at least the kind I like and write, let me fill the sleuth’s shoes for a time and, from the safety of my favorite reading spot, live in a more daring world than my own and outwit the murderer within about three-hundred pages.

 

Nancy Lynn Jarvis has been a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years. She owns a real estate company with her husband, Craig.

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News.  A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz.

Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years. Writing is her newest adventure.

She invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries. Details and ideas come from Nancy’s own experiences.

 

Buying Murder

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Murder gets personal when human remains are found in the beach cottage that realtors Regan McHenry and her husband, Tom Kiley, buy. The murder victim has been hidden away for sixteen years, and although the authorities quickly discover his identity, the trail to his killer is cold.

Regan has sworn off playing amateur detective, but when it becomes clear the police have to focus on more pressing crimes, she has to break her promise. As her policeman friend, Dave Everett, says, “Your house, Regan, your murder.”

Welcome back to Santa Cruz, the community whose unofficial motto is “Keep Santa Cruz Weird,” for the twists and turns of the third book in the Regan McHenry Mystery Series.