Friday, August 8, 2014

Three Fun Elements to Add to Your Mystery {+ Giveaway}


9780451469502_large_Shear_TroubleIt is my great pleasure to welcome friend, fellow blogger and award-winning author Elizabeth Craig here today. Elizabeth is touring with her latest release, SHEAR TROUBLE, the fourth book in her Southern Quilting Mystery series.

This is a fun series to follow, but each book can be read as a stand-alone. While you don’t have to be a quilter to enjoy the books, Elizabeth does include quilting tips with each one as well as recipes. 

With the release of SHEAR TROUBLE this week, Elizabeth joins us to talk about ‘Three Fun Elements to Add to Your Mystery.’ In addition, thanks to Elizabeth and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print of copy of this delightful story to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details.

As the leaves begin to fall in idyllic Dappled Hills, someone puts too fine a point on a local ladies’ man. Fortunately, the detective skills of quilter Beatrice Coleman are a cut above the rest....
        The Village Quilters of Dappled Hills, North Carolina, are desperate to finish their quilts before an upcoming show. To help, fellow member Posy has opened the back room of her shop, the Patchwork Cottage, for everyone to use. But the ladies are less than thrilled when Phyllis Stitt and Martha Helmsley—members of their rival quilting guild, the Cut-Ups—ask to join them.
        Phyllis is hoping to leave the Cut-Ups and join up with the Village Quilters now that Martha’s dating her ex-fiancĂ©, Jason Gore. She’s not pleased when he visits the shop and even more upset when her new shears disappear. After offering to search for them, Beatrice discovers Jason with the shears buried in his unfaithful heart. Now she must sharpen her sleuthing skills to find a killer before someone else’s life is cut short.… 

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Elizabeth.

I grew up reading mysteries and they were the natural genre for me to write when I turned to writing. I love coming up with interesting characters, laying clues, and wrapping everything up neatly in the end. 

I’ve also enjoyed adding several additional elements to my traditional mysteries. If you’re a mystery reader, you may recognize them.

Three Fun Elements to Add to Your Mystery:


An Unreliable Witness. This is a trick I learned from reading Agatha Christie’s mysteries. Christie loved including a character who seemed completely unreliable to both the other characters and readers. But this unreliable character would either intimate that he knew something or would actually spew out a vital detail in the midst of his babbling. While the other characters would completely discount everything he said, he actually spoke the truth and frequently held the key to the mystery.

Who could unreliable witnesses be? There are plenty of possibilities, including garrulous dim-witted types, characters a bit too fond of drinking, characters with poor memories, or young children. 

A Touch of Nancy Drew. If you were ever a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys fan, you probably know what I’m talking about. As a kid, I would get totally wrapped up in books with secret passageways, hidden rooms, and abandoned houses. I finally released my inner Nancy Drew in one of my Southern Quilting mysteries, QUILT TRIP. I like to think that most mystery readers get a happy feeling of nostalgia when encountering any Nancy Drew tropes. 

Secrets. The fun thing about secrets is that they make mysteries more complex. With each murder mystery, you have at least one secret—the killer’s identity, which the murderer is trying desperately to protect. But the story gets a lot more interesting, and fun, if some or even all of the suspects are protecting secrets. If all the suspects have something to hide, there are not only red herrings galore, but lots of interesting discoveries about the suspects and what their motivations are.

As a reader, have you run into any of these elements? Do you have any favorite elements of your own to add?

Elizabeth, thanks for joining us today and sharing these elements. I’d have to say as a reader, secrets enhance a story and keep me wondering until the end.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Elizabeth, let me give you a bit of background.

Elizabeth Craig writes the Memphis Barbeque series as Riley Adams and the Southern Quilting mysteries under her own name. A lifelong resident of the South, she enjoys finding inspiration for the Southern Quilting mysteries in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. 

She is currently at work on her next novel. Her newest Southern Quilting Mystery, Shear Trouble, released August 5th. 

For more about Elizabeth and her books, visit her website and connect with her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one print copy of SHEAR TROUBLE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end Saturday, Aug. 16. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Elizabeth Craig’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by during Elizabeth’s visit. What elements do you enjoy in a mystery?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

52 comments:

  1. I want clues, but I do so enjoy surprise twists. Bobbipad at gmail.con

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    1. Barbara--Twists are the best! I always want to be surprised at whodunit, as a reader. :)

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  2. I know that awesome author!!! I didn't know her book was out this week though. (She is sneaky with her releases.) I did grow up reading The Hardy Boys and like that aspect of a mystery.

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    1. Alex--Or forgetful with her releases. :( This one sneaked up on me...oops! I loved the Hardy Boys, too (read them after I finished all the Nancys).

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  3. Elizabeth, thanks again for making Thoughts in Progress a stop on your tour. Your books contain a good blend of all of these elements, that's one reason they're so hard to put down once you start reading. Wishing you much success.

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    1. Mason, thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate your hosting me for the release...it's fun to have a Southern stop on the blog tour! :)

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  4. Congrats, Elizabeth! I loved Nancy Drew as a kids and still have my mother's set of books.

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    1. Diane--The covers on those older copies were amazing, weren't they? I've got a few older copies and then the newer 70s ones. Well, they were new at the time...ha!

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  5. Mason - Thanks for hosting Elizabeth.

    Elizabeth - Congratulations on your release! Thanks too for that look at elements to add to a mystery. One of the great things about your ideas is that they can be adapted for almost any type of crime novel. And who doesn't love that vicarious 'creepy' feel of exploring a hidden passage... :-) I wish you much continued success.

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    1. Thanks, Margot! And you're right--the tips could be used for any type of crime fiction, I think. Hidden passages are the best. :) And I'm a sucker for a gothic touch in mysteries.

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  6. I love stand-alone novels; looks like a fun read, thank you for the chance to win and read it :)

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  7. Thanks, that was great! Now back to my story to add a few more secrets!

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    1. My Friend Ronnie--Good luck with it! And thanks for dropping by Mason's blog.

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    1. Dezmond--Thanks! That was sort of lucky, actually. I wrote the story last fall, and included the setting I was seeing around me. My editor told me it would work out fine since the book was being published at the end of summer. :)

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  9. Two of my favorite people in one place. A treat for me!

    It's hard to surprise me, but when I am--I am thrilled. I love(d) Nancy Drew Mysteries and still suspect there are secret rooms in every house I visit.

    Wishing you much luck on sales. I need to go buy it!!!!

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  10. Teresa--I love to be surprised, too--and it's definitely hard to. :) I'd love to be in a house with a hidden room or staircase.

    And thanks!

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  11. These are terrific elements, Elizabeth, and I love them all (both reading and writing them in). Isn't reading Christie and Nancy Drew a fun way to get ideas? Another element I enjoy including in a mystery: the unlikely ally. And if he/she was an early suspect, even better. ;) Good luck on your tour and congrats on the new release!

    ~Kathy

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    1. K.B.--Great element to add to mysteries! And one I need to play around with...thanks for the reminder, Kathy!

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  12. I love trying to figure out the clues, while reading. A twist usually foils me, though. :)

    patucker54 at aol dot com

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    1. Pat--That's the fun thing about twists! I just love to be surprised at the end of a mystery.

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  13. This is a neat book cover.
    CABWNANA1@bellsouth.net

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  14. Charlotte--Thanks so much! Wish I could credit the designer's name, but he or she isn't identified in the book. :(

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  15. Thanks for this great giveaway. I read the Nancy Drew series which I was young and was captivated with the books. Secrets and twists add so much to a mystery. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  16. Traveler--Thanks! Secrets and twists are the best, for sure.

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  17. I love the Welsh corgie and the fact that each book can be read in a standalone!!! I can rarely afford to buy each book in a series so that means a lot to me.

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Carol! The corgi is based on my own dog, Chloe, a Pembroke. :) And thanks for reading!

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  18. I have not as yet read anything by this author but I would love to—perhaps Shear Trouble will be my first!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

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  19. I love the clues and trying to figure them out, and to figure out who to trust and believe, it adds tension and excitement.

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    1. Debbie--That's the best part--especially if some suspects lie some of the time and then are truthful other times. Makes it fun to try to figure out.

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  20. A quilting mystery - how adorable! I guess this is the perfect definition of a "cozy" mystery - can't get much cozier than a quilt. lol Thanks to Elizabeth for her pointers on writing mysteries. I wish her huge success! :)

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  21. I love these tips - especially adding "a touch of Nancy Drew." I still enjoy reading the occasional ND mystery, twenty years after I first discovered them.

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  22. Informative guest post! I've been traditionally published for many years, and am now two books into my Mac McClellan Mystery Series for Seventh Street Books. I always love to learn from those more experienced than yours truly. BTW, I live on the other side of the Blue Ridge in the Upstate of SC. Congratulations on your career, and here's wishing you continued success! --Michael

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    1. Michael--I'm from Anderson, SC, originally. :) So you must be in the GSA area? Great location. Good luck with your Mac McClellan series!

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  23. congrats, Elizabeth!!!!
    & continued success to you!!!!

    what I like about mystery is that unknown element, or something so minor, that it is missed, but later on, it is brought to light as the 'smoking gun'........

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    1. Cyn--That's fun, isn't it? We think it's something completely unimportant and it's the key to everything!

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  24. Congrats on the new release! I, too, loved reading Nancy Drew and the old Trixie Belden books as a girl.

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    1. Holden--The books sometimes scared me as a kid, but that made them even better!

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  25. Good luck with the series and the blog hop. Love the post and wish I had the knack for writing a mystery :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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  26. My favorite mysteries are cozies with paranormal elements, animal sidekicks, or a librarian lead character. Bonus points for those with more than one of these (like Sofie Kelley's Magical Cats).

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    1. Heather--Jim and Joyce Lavene have a fun paranormal series. And I think Jenn McKinlay has a great librarian series. :)

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  27. Hi Mason and Elizabeth - having read one of your BBQ series I can see how you draw us in and then twist us around your little typing finger .. til we're released to find out the killer. This looks a fun read with some intrigue, and then the recipes - always an added draw as far as I'm concerned ..

    Cheers to you both - Hilary

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  28. I like characters that are interesting, and clues. I usually don't figure it out however.

    kaye.killgore@comcast.net

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    1. Kaye--It's definitely more fun if you *don't* figure it out...at least, I think so! Glad the mysteries you read stay mysterious until the end. :)

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  29. This is a fun series, I enjoyed reading about this installment. Thank you

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I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.