Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From a Reader's Perspective

Please give a big M & M welcome to our guest blogger this week, Pamela James. She’s the author of: A MATCH MADE FOR MURDER by Pamela James & Merry Stahel, A MURDER MADE IN STITCHES by Pamela James & Merry Stahel, A MURDER MADE IN PIECES by Pamela James & Merry Stahel and The CROSSED STITCHER by Pamela Sue James.

But more importantly for this blog subject, she is an avid reader. In fact, she’s the owner of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cozyarmchairgroup/ and would love to have you come visit.

Here she is giving us her perspective of mysteries as a reader.

When reading a mystery my first thought is that I want to be entertained. As a mystery author I know that entertaining readers is not always easy. Here are the ways I like to be entertained when I curl up with a good mystery. I want humor (not a lot of humor.) Quirky is good - crazy not so much. I love smart protags who know how to use their noggins for more than pretty hats…and I want a strong plot.

In other words when I become lost in a mystery I want to believe the story. I read traditional mysteries, cozy mysteries and some chick lit mysteries. These are the genres that speak to me as a mystery reader.

As the author of four mysteries myself, what I try to give my readers is a sense of fun and adventure. Living in Kansas, I can tell you a snowstorm in October here is no fun unless it's Halloween… and you add a murder… now you’ve got fun. For me writing and/or reading mysteries is like creating a new recipe. You have to see what works for you.

I am the owner of cozyarmchairgroup, a yahoo group where today's most savvy mystery readers and authors come together as members to share their favorite books, their not-so- favorite books and anything else they want to talk about. They’ll tell you in no uncertain terms what works for them when reading and writing mysteries.

Our world is so never ending with to-do lists and meeting goals that I can’t sit down in my comfy armchair and relax with a good mystery. At the end of the book I can close it and walk away with a sense of justice. I had fun getting there, became involved emotionally with the characters, and if the mystery had a good plot twist I never saw coming, then I have a sense of satisfaction. I hope I provide that same satisfaction in the books I write.

I close by adding that atmosphere plays a huge part in why I write mysteries. Whether I read a mystery with a ghost or a mystery that takes place on a cruise ship, in a bookstore, a small town or a coffee shop, I want to love the atmosphere. I hope as you read this blog you’ll think of the reasons why you love to read mysteries and blog your thoughts to us.


Liz Lipperman said...

Pamela, thanks for stopping by to offer your thoughts as a reader. What you said kinda goes along with Monday's blog about setting up the mystery. Nobody wants to know too soon in the story who the killer is. I know on the cozyarmchair group loop, there are lots of avid readers who can spot a poorly written mystery faster than most. I love the conversations on that loop because frankly, with writing and deadlines, my own personal reading time has suffered. I rely on others to recommend the "must" reads.

Your perspective should have us all rethinking our edits and how to make our stories more enjoyable for the reader.

Thanks again for the great blog.

Cassy Pickard said...

Pamela: I echo Liz's comments. I think you are right on in saying that if we aren't able to escape, relate to the characters, puzzle over the bad guys, and have a surprise at the end the mystery fails as good entertainment.

I know in my writing I worry endlessly about that. Hopefully I pull it off.

Thanks so much for joining us today. I'm sure there will be many comments streaming in.

Anita Clenney said...

I have always loved mysteries,a good puzzle to solve. As a kid I devoured Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and I think I've seen every episode of Murder She Wrote.

Whether it's a cozy mystery or a thriller or has a paranormal feel, I think the atmosphere is really important. For a few hours, I'm swept away and entertained as I engage my brain and play Sherlock Holmes so I can figure out who the bad buy is, what's really happening in the story.

I LOVE twists, to be shocked, but if the atmosphere is good enough, I can even deal with knowing who the killer is up front, and be satisfied with watching the story unfold.

I write Paranormal Romance with a strong emphasis on suspense, and I try, as a writer, to include the elements of what I want to see as a reader. Great blog.

Mare F said...

Yeah, what you said, Pamela. LOL. Seriously I completely agree with everything you've said. I've walked away from books featuring dingbats. I want a smart protag who may occasionallly have a "moment," but for the most part has her stuff together. Atmosphere is very important. I hate it when I can't remember a thing about the setting and feel of the story....not an author I'm likely to revisit. You just keep doing what your doing....we love it.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Great post, Pamela! I am writing my first mystery, so this is perfect timing. Pleasing my editor is scary enough, pleasing readers is terrifying. You gave some fabulous tips and believe me, I took note ;-)

PamelaSueJames said...

First I want to thank Liz for inviting me today. It was great fun to blog and I'll be checking back later today. THANK YOU EVERYONE who took the time to read my blog and comment.


Mary Moreno said...

Pamela, this was just what I needed to start off a day of intensive editing on my own mystery. Thanks for the inspiration. For me, nothing is more relaxing than escaping into a good cozy or whodunnit, and I look forward to joining your group for more discussion.

Mary Martinez said...

Thanks Pamela for joining us! What a great post. I love mysteries. And I told someone the other day I read to lose myself and be entertained.

I'm not one of those who has to have dark heavy subjects, or mind debating story lines. I want to love the characters and go on the adventure with them.

I'll have to check out your group.

Cassy Pickard said...

Pamela: It's clear your posting is truly appreciated! Thanks again.

I just left a fantastic meeting in a small coffee shop with a fellow writer. We spent four hours (I can't believe it) working on our plots. We did JUST what you were saying, Pamela. We each took a turn and the other came at the ideas with pitch forks and hay rakes. Red herrings were flying (can they do that? or only swim?).

What a fun job we all have.

Meet you all back here tomorrow for Mary's blog. I'm on for Friday.

PamelaSueJames said...

Cassy I'm so glad you had fun plotting at the coffee shop today. I've really enjoyed reading all of the comments and by all meanbs everyone you are more than welcome to join cozyarmchairgroup.
Terri Parsons and I share a blog over on http://mayhemandmagic2.blogspot.com
I'm adding Mysteries and Margaritas to my daily blog list.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Oooh, yay, I'll be sure to check out your blog, Pamela. It sounds like it's my kind of blog :-))