Today we have a guest post from author Denise Grover Swank. I had the pleasure of meeting Denise in Seattle in August and am happy to be a part of her blog tour for Thirty and a Half Excuses. Welcome, Denise!
I’ve loved mysteries since I was a little kid. Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew. I cut my teeth on trying to solve the case. Adding an element of mystery makes a story that much more intriguing to me.I write four genres—mystery, urban fantasy, YA sci fi/romance, and NA contemporary romance—and even though only one is a straight up mystery, all of my books have an element of mystery to them, even my contemporary romances.
When I write a mystery, I follow these rules. (And then sometimes break them.)
1) Know who done it when you start the book. You need to know who committed the murderer when you begin writing the book. You need to leave enough clues pointing to the real culprit so your reader can go back and say “Ah HA!” But sometimes I start writing, and halfway through the first draft, I realize that someone else actually committed the murder. Because I like to make things more difficult for myself. But sometimes, the red herrings you’re creating make you realize they actually had better motive.
2) Plant lots of red herrings. You need to give your sleuth—and your reader—plenty of suspects to consider. It’s not much fun reading a mystery where the obvious murderer is revealed on page thirty. Unless, of course, they’re not actually the murderer.
3) Don’t be afraid to misdirect your reader. Lead your reader down the opposite path away from the murderer and the motive. The TV show Castle excels at this.
4) Make sure your murderer has a solid motive. Don’t make up some namby-pamby reason. Give the reason some meat. Something really big had to drive the murderer to kill. Unless they are just a flat out whack job. But even they have a motive. Make it a good one.
5) In the vein of rule #4, if your detective is an amateur sleuth, give him or her a real solid reason for investigating the case. It may be tangible or emotional. But often the sleuth puts him or herself in danger to find the truth. Make it believable they would risk their safety.
THANK YOU, DENISE!!
THIRTY AND A HALF EXCUSES Synopsis:
Life in Henryetta, Arkansas is turned upside down with the arrival of a televangelist, but it’s the death of a little old lady on Rose’s street that catches her attention. The Henryetta police deem her death natural causes, but Rose suspects foul play and so does an unlikely supporter–-the president of the Busy Body Club, her eighty-two year old neighbor Mildred.
But Rose is in the middle of opening her nursery with her sister Violet, who’s separated from her husband Mike, as well as stalling her boyfriend Joe’s family, rich socialites who are determined to meet her. Along with her multiple encounters with Fenton County’s new assistant DA, Mason Deveraux III, it’s just another day in the life of Rose Gardner–-chaos.
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New York Times andUSA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty Facebook comments (in own her mind) and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.
You can find out more about Denise and her other books at: www.denisegroverswank.com.