Tag: Romantic Suspense

Answer to #Mystery Author Whodunit Challenge 5

Did you recognize the mystery/suspense author from last week’s Whodunit Challenge #5Janet Evanovich was the author with the popular series mixing romance and mystery genres. You probably would have recognized her if we revealed the protagonist in the series is bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.

Janet Evanovich started out writing romance novels. She readily admits she collected rejection letters for 10 years prior to publication. In fact, she said she had filled a crate with them . One day she decided to burn the letters, give up, and got a job at a temp agency.  Fortunately for readers everywhere, one of her submissions that was still out caught the eye of an editor and soon she was able to quit the temp agency to write full time.

We were “counting down” to her newest novel because the books in the series all have a number in the title. For example Janet Evanovich’s most recent release in the series is Tricky Twenty-Two: A Stephanie Plum Novel.

If you have a few minutes, you can learn more mystery author Janet Evanovich and Tricky Twenty-two from this interview at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore on Livestream.

Series: Stephanie Plum
Publisher: Random House (November 17, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0385363230
ISBN-13: 978-0385363235

Newest Book:

The next in the series, Turbo Twenty-Three: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich, is due out November 15, 2016. According to Evanovich’s website, Stephanie goes undercover at an ice cream factory and someone gets their “just desserts.” (groan)

Publisher: Random House  (November 15, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0385363249

For Writers:

If you are a writer, you also might want to look for How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich and Ina Yalof.

In the book Janet Evanovich reveals a highly personal view of all aspects of writing. Starting with writing tips, such as how to plot, she takes the reader through revising, publishing and has a whole section on what it is like to be a writer. She has an amazing ability to create quirky, believable, and relatable characters. It isn’t a surprise, therefore, that Part 1 of the book is dedicated to “Creating Great Characters.”

Whether you are a reader or a writer, our whodunit challenge mystery author Janet Evanovich has some sensational books for you.

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Untangling The Genre Labels: #Mystery #Thriller #Suspense

A few weeks ago I shared the premise of my “mystery” work in progress with a published mystery author and she said it wouldn’t work. She gave me the following reasons:  There has to be a dead body in the first few pages, the female main character needs to be an expert from the beginning (my character learns her trade and grows throughout the story), a female main character couldn’t learn from an older male character who is her mentor (which would make her look weak, plus is sexist), and to never, never, never have characters who get or are married (which my characters are likely to do at some point). She suggested I shelve the project.

I was devastated. I put aside my manuscript and started working on another book. The stoppage lasted for about a week, until I started to question what she told me. What about Precious Ramotswe, the main character in Alexander McCall Smith’s hugely popular No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, who rarely encounters a dead body, learns as she goes, and gets married to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni?  Or how about the protagonist in Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax series? She doesn’t fit the mystery detective stereotype. Then it struck me. What if the problem wasn’t the product, but the label?

MysteryThrillerSuspense

The Labels:  Mystery, Suspense and Thriller

The dividing lines between mystery, suspense, and thriller genres can be blurry because:

  • The terms have been used interchangeably in the past.
  • They have been defined differently by various agents and publishers.
  • The definitions are made more confusing by popular novels that cross the boundaries into two or more genres.

Regardless, having a clear genre in mind will help you write and sell your work.

Mystery
Usually the protagonist stumbles on a murder or other serious crime early in the book and struggles to find out the truth about it. The level of danger/action is moderate. The identity of the culprit is the main secret.

Suspense
The crime or murder hasn’t taken place in the beginning of the story and the reader may know more about it than the protagonist. Tension arises from wondering whether the characters will be able to stop bad things from happening. In suspense, the identity of the culprit is usually known. It is not a secret or surprise.

Thriller
Danger and tension are the key words in a thriller. Packed with action, the protagonist and other characters are usually under threat from the beginning and the levels escalate. Some people consider thrillers to be a branch of suspense, or basically suspense on steroids.

Based on these definitions, the best label for my work in progress is suspense. Looking deeper, it turns out there are many sub-genres of suspense.

Some Sub-genres of Suspense

Romantic Suspense
Vastly different novels have been labelled as “romantic suspense,” from the Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels  to Shelley Coriell’s dark, twisty The Apostles series, to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. The common thread is that relationships pop up between characters and prove to be an essential part of the plot.

Domestic or Relationship Suspense
Domestic suspense novels feature crimes revolving around family members. Although examples have been around for awhile, it has recently been gaining in popularity as more readers discover it. Depending on the level of action/danger, this sub-genre may be called a family thriller. Also related is the malice domestic mystery, which involves solving a crime against a family member.

Personal Jeopardy
In this sub-genre an ordinary person goes up against a powerful enemy. Will they be able to prevail? Sometimes if the persons in jeopardy are family members, this may overlap with domestic suspense.

Paranormal/Supernatural Suspense
This is a suspense novel with supernatural or paranormal elements.

Bickering Team or Cohort
Two friends, acquaintances, or a married couple work together to prevent bad things from happening. The less-than-smooth relationship between the two adds to the interest/tension in the story.

Of course, there are more sub-genres of suspense and even more thriller sub-genres. Hopefully, knowing that the different types exist will free you to explore the story you want to tell.

What are your thoughts about these categories? Do you think they are helpful or lead to formulaic fiction?

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If you’d like to learn more about mysteries, thrillers, and suspense, try Carolyn Wheat’s How to Write Killer Fiction

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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@ShelleyCoriell’s The Apostles Series: The Buried

Today we are continuing with Shelley Coriell’s romantic suspense series The Apostles. The second book, The Buried, FBI Agent Theodore “Hatch” Hatcher and his state prosecutor ex-wife, Grace Courtemanche race to find a serial killer who buries victims alive.

(Affiliate link to Amazon)

As a member of The Apostles, Hatch Hatcher specializes in crisis negotiations. His office is a sailboat where he retreats between jobs, ready to respond to a call on his satellite phone at a moments notice. When the call comes to tell him he has a son he didn’t know about, things start to tumble out of control. Running into his ex-wife who is chasing a serial killer further complicates matters. Can the two of them put their personal feelings aside long enough to catch the killer?

Because each book in The Apostles series features a different set of characters, they could be read as stand alone titles or in any order. In The Buried the romance side is less steamy and more of a slow burn than in book one. Once again, the suspense side is dark, complicated, and the author throws in a whopper of a plot twist at the end.

As with The Broken, the setting helps add to the atmosphere of the book. The Buried is set in Cypress Grove, a town in the Florida panhandle. The background oozes swamps and alligators, adding to the suspense.

At the workshop I attended, Shelley disclosed that she actually put off working on this novel for two years. It wasn’t until she added a teenage character did she find the right mix to move the plot forward. I would say the teenager was a brilliant touch because he adds backstory and conflict in a way that ignites Hatch as a character. She also revealed it was difficult to write about the killer, who has a complicated and painful/sad backstory. She talks more about writing the book on GoodReads.

This title won’t remain “buried” in your TBR pile. The Buried is a compelling story that will keep you hooked to the very end.

Related:  Review of The Broken by Shelley Coriell

Series: The Apostles (Book 2)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Forever (October 28, 2014)
ISBN-10: 145552851X
ISBN-13: 978-1455528516

 

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(Public domain photo via Visual hunt)

This review is based on my personal copy of the book.

@ShelleyCoriell’s The Apostles Series: The Broken

Having spent an inspiring day at the Arizona MysteryCon yesterday, I’m ready to review some of the mystery and romantic suspense novels I discovered.

Let’s start with Shelley Coriell’s romantic suspense series featuring members of a special FBI unit known as The Apostles. In book 1, The Broken, FBI Profiler Hayden Reed is trying to catch a serial killer who brutally stabs broadcasters. Hayden’s best lead might be a former broadcaster who went into hiding after she was attacked. Will he be able to find her?

(Affiliate Link to Amazon)

Romantic suspense can be a difficult genre to pin down. In this case, the suspense part is a dark, complicated mystery that will leave the reader guessing until the end. Without revealing too much, on the romantic side a relationship between Hayden Reed and victim Kate soon heats up.

The author introduces several characters who the reader will want to see again. Besides Hayden Reed, we meet other members of The Apostles, some of whom will be the main characters of later books in the series, as well as a feisty Sergeant named Lottie King. Once you encounter bighearted Lottie King and her outrageous shoes, you will see why she needed to be the protagonist of her own series of short stories (reviews coming).

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The setting for the story roams throughout the West, with scenes in Colorado, Nevada and Tucson, Arizona. The wide open expanses add to the feeling of isolation in some of the scenes.

During her presentation, Shelley gave a heartrending account of how this novel was born from a tragic event in her life. Her father had a stroke and then an accident that nearly cost him his life. During his difficult recovery, Shelley began telling the story as a way to distract him from his health problems. Soon they were working out the details together. She told us her father is the model for one of the characters and helped her decide what he would do in a certain scene. More about how the book came to be is included in the back matter in a section called “The Dish:  Where Authors Give You the Inside Scoop.”

The Broken is an entertaining read with a complex and twisty plot, plus characters you will want to root for. Find out why Shelley Coriell is an award-winning author and pick up a copy today.

Related:

Book 2:  The Buried Review

Book 3:  The Blind Review

Series: The Apostles (Book 1)
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Forever (April 29, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1455528498
ISBN-13: 978-1455528493

 

(This book is my personal copy)

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