Showing posts with label romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label romance. Show all posts

30 May 2014

The Romance of Mystery

There is something innately romantic about a well-wrung mystery, isn’t there?

The intriguing allure of Character entwined with Occurrence, sensuously dancing across the tight-sprung terrain of Setting.

The syncopated gyrations of Crime and Motivation bumping against the carefully mitered couple of Puzzle and Solution . . .


. . . while Suspects and Red Herrings crowd the dance floor or sit this one out.

And, through it all, a Question.

A Quest.

To find some Truth or McGuffin that rented the ball room or cheap dance hall, arranged a rave in an empty warehouse—or perhaps just switched on an inexpensive stereo, in a living room with a small space cleared—and called the dancers together.

 It called a time and place, to set all in rhythmic motion.

To me, there is no question about the presence of romance in mystery.

But, is there room for Romance in Mystery, one genre enfolded in another? That’s the question that strikes me, today.

Why? It’s been running in the low hundreds over the past few days. The true heat of summer still waits in the wings, but there can be no question that the short, pleasant, breezy days of balm we call Springtime here in the desert are over. I love the heat of summer, in a painful way I can’t explain. But, during this transitional crux, crossing Summer’s threshold as it were, I miss the biting chill of dark morning, before the rising sun can burn it off.

And this has me thinking Spring thoughts, about Romance sub-plots in Mysteries. Be they short stories, novels, stage plays, radio plays or movies, how often do mysteries seem to contain an element of romance? Does romantic entanglement belong there, or not? Does it work sometimes? Why or why not? Is there some arcane secret formula that allows a writer to skirt the problem of the romance of the Romance clashing with the romance of the Mystery? If so—what is it? And, why and how does it work? These questions and more rebound against the walls of my mind.

All my answers elicit more questions, which thicken the horde of swirling, gnashing unknowns.

Which leaves me asking you, Dear Reader: What are your thoughts on the subject?


17 November 2013

Sex and Sensibility

I don't know a single crime writer in the Orlando area, not one. In my early days of writing, Criminal Brief readers may recall I worked with romance writers. I'm no Travis Erwin, but romancers found me useful for a couple of reasons. Obviously, I could offer a male's point of view and point out passages where the author had unintentionally feminized male characters. (To wit: guys don't 'dish' and they don't gossip about Angie's boyfriend's sister getting pregnant.) Further, a Rollins College writing professor discovered I had a knack for getting inside the head of women characters.

I confess I don't care much for the genre of 'romance with mystery elements,' but I don't mind 'mystery with romantic elements.' The difference is that in the latter, the crimes and solutions come first and follow the rules of mystery writing. The former might turn out 'a caper' or some other variation and not follow the rules, which wouldn't satisfy a mystery enthusiast.

Mystery fans are familiar with writing partnerships, most notably Ellery Queen, but also the team called Michael Stanley, and Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston. Romance writers team up too, including at least one mother-daughter combination and, if rumors are true, one or more husband-wife teams. My friend Sharon has collaborated with others.

And so it came to pass a member of a writing partnership asked me a few days ago to mention their book, Diary of a Bad Housewife, on SleuthSayers. She and her writing partner happen to be loyal followers of SleuthSayers. One looks in often and the other is a constant reader. How could I say no?
Diary of a Bad Housewife
Mystery elements?
Not really.
A crime?
Er, not exactly.
Anybody killed?
No, definitely not.
What genre?
Um, erotica.
Erotica with a capital E?
It can be lower case.
So we're talking 50 Shades?
Of pink. Or blush. But it's better, much better, if reviews are to be believed.
So it's published?
Not yet, that's why we need readers' help.
We want them to sign onto the Harper-Collins Authonomy web site and back Diary of a Bad Housewife,.
So the title character fools around?
That's just it; she doesn't. Reviewers call it 'moral erotica', classy even, literary. And it has humor and stuff.
You know… stuff, like sexy stuff.
Why now?
Because among the thousands of books on the Harper-Collins Authonomy web site, this at the moment is number 1. And if it stays in the top 5 through month end, we might– just might– win a publishing contract.

Authonomy, as mentioned above, is sponsored by the British publisher Harper-Collins and is a favorite site of writers wishing to air their work and collect critiques and criticism. Authors can upload any part of a book from 10 000 words upward, ten chapters or a hundred, up to an entire book. It retains author formatting (even when it's bad formatting!) and allows the reader to resize the text as needed.

I've tried Zoetrope, GoodReads, RedRoom, YouWriteOn, and others, but my ADD finds it hard to stay focused when presented with a huge smorgasbord of great writing sites. I found on those rare occasions when I wanted to discuss a book, I preferred Authonomy. Best of all, writers might earn a professional Harper-Collins critique and possibly a publishing contract.

So back to my friend and colleague's request. It's about good writing, I reasoned. It's about author web sites, I said. It's about support. And we've occasionally discussed music publishing and other odd topics of interest to our writers, I rationalized. That said, I also need to disclose I've worked on the book. And it will be a crime if you don't check it out.

Instructions for Authonomy
Diary of a Bad Housewife
  1. You have to register with
  2. Fill in your profile (you don't have to use your real name) and add a photo, any picture. For some reason, they take profiles with photos much more seriously.
  3. Read the book called Diary of a Bad Housewife by elle. If you like it, back it. This is the key to everything. And give it lots of stars.
  4. If you want to give an extra boost and establish your street creds: Read and rate a couple of books you like over a day or two until you establish a numerical rating. This establishes your bona fides.

Thank you all, whether you participate or not.

A Few Author Community Web Sites