By Sherry — I’m looking forward to some time at home
I’m just back from a busy season of traveling to conferences. Last weekend was Malice Domestic which celebrates traditional mysteries – the kind of mysteries I write. Recently, I’ve notice a growing trend in the normally supportive crime writing community that makes me mad enough or maybe sad enough to write this post. It’s a trend of mocking people who write traditional and cozy mysteries.
It happens in many different forms. Sometimes it’s the sneering comment on a panel where someone says “Oh, I don’t write cozies” like writing cozies is beneath them or “I write real books.” Sometimes it’s a post on Facebook mocking titles with puns and then people pile on in the comments. It’s the overheard comment in the hall after a panel that goes something like, “now we can go swear.” Cue the superior laughter. I’ve heard people calling cozies “cutsies” and people dismissing the entire genre because of the covers.
Cozies run the gamut from very fluffy where the author creates a idyllic town where only a bad person dies to the more traditional side where no one deserves to die but someone does. Cozies often include some humor and who doesn’t need a laugh? I try to write books that fit the parameters of the cozy genre but also have emotional depth with complex male and female characters who are trying to live their lives when a murder interrupts it. And frankly, I think my Sarah Winston (like most cozy writers’ protagonists) is as real or more real than many of the people we see in thrillers. (Let me just say that I LOVE thrillers and read lots of them.) But I don’t mock writers who have protagonists who can beat up five men blindfolded, after they’ve been stabbed, shot at, run over, and tortured.
Yes, my books have cute covers with cats and titles that are most often puns. Does that mean the story isn’t good or worth reading? And just because you might not like cozies does that mean you have to denigrate the genre publicly? People have different tastes in reading and there’s nothing wrong with that. As Julie Hennrikus always says that’s why there’s different color refrigerators. Just because you like your orange refrigerator, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with my pink one. (Okay, I don’t have a pink refrigerator, mine is boring, but you get my point.)
Let me add that there are many crime fiction writers who don’t participate in this kind of nonsense. I have to give a shout out to E. A. Aymar, a talented thriller writer, who in a recent blog and on panels has said how hard he thinks it would be to write a cozy.
So to all of you who mock the cozy mystery genre, I invite you to write one, find an agent to represent you, get it published by a major publisher, get nominated for a major award, earn out your royalties, get positive reviews, get your contract renewed multiple times, have your editor ask you to write a second series, and hit a bestseller list. Maybe then you’ll understand that all writing is hard and give cozy writers a little respect.
Many thanks to Malice Domestic for providing a conference where authors and readers can come together for a weekend of celebrating mysteries. This year felt magical and was a balm to my soul.
Readers: What do you like about reading cozies?
Bravo, Sherry! Well said. I am passionate about the same topic. A women’s fiction writer friend of mine said – in my presence – a couple of years ago that mysteries (not just cozies) “of course are formulaic.” Uh, YOU just try following a formula for my books, or any of ours! In fact, I wrote a blog post here about it last year (https://wickedauthors.com/2018/02/23/whats-wrong-with-genre-fiction/). Sheesh.
I remember when you told us that story!
I only reapd cozies. I also like more violent or artsy mysteries…charles todd. Peter livesey…charles finch. And a bunch more. I will say that just because the title mentions chocolate or a cat doesnt make a good book and some are pretty lame. But thats true of spy novels. And historical and political books. Some nonfiction books r not great either
You are right there are good and bad across the spectrum of books!
As a lifetime reader of tough-guy fiction and thrillers, I avoided cozies. But a chance meeting and befriending of a very prominent cozy author (initials S.H. but no more clues!) turned my reading around. A well-written, well-plotted, fully characterized cozy story with interesting settings, happy people and event momentum captures readers’ attention and devotion as well as any shoot-em-up. And now that I am a writer too I see how challenging the cozy form is to work within. It’s easy to pull guns and blow things up, but to rely on our heroes to think, and talk, and move through their mystery world without violence and sex to paint the pig of an otherwise leaden plot is laudable. and entertaining.
And we are glad you found her books, Mark!
Thank you, Mark.
Thank you, Mark! I so appreciate your support and can’t wait to read your book when it comes out!
There are always people who need to put down others to feel better about themselves. Annoying but they don’t seem like particularly happy people either. Your books are enjoyable to read and we need all of that we can get so forget about small minded critics. Your fan base is much larger and we appreciate you!
Thank you, Betsy! I’m so lucky to have such wonderful readers!
As the author of multiple cozies, I’ve given this some thought. Cozies are a wonderful escape. Tongue in cheek, I call them fantasy in the sense that readers enjoy a world where ordinary but competent women inherit gorgeous properties, live in charming towns with cute pets, and have groups of witty, wonderful friends. Sigh!! I want to live in our books. A well-written cozy has atmosphere, character development, humor, an intricate plot and a great pay-off at the end. Just because it looks simple doesn’t mean it is. And we have some of the most loyal, voracious readers anywhere. Entertainment at its best.
Hi, did I break a rule? I see posts after me are visible. If so sorry!!! xxoo
Not at all! If you haven’t commented before or for a long time we have to go through and approve comments!
We do have wonderful readers!
I love the way you characterized this, Elizabeth! I absolutely agree.
Thank you!! And thanks, Sherry.
I like cozies, and I write cozies, because I despise the idea that torture can be entertainment and I prefer sex that is private. In writing or reading a traditional mystery, I can legitimately avoid both.
I like other books and read prolifically and promiscuously, but when I’m in the mood for a cozy, only a cozy will do!
I love saying you read promiscuously — I do too!
If cozies were easy to write and weren’t popular how would we have Agatha Christie or Murder She Wrote as examples..and all the different cozy Mysteries on Hallmark…
I agree. We have to thank Agatha for laying the groundwork for the modern day cozy!
Thank you, Sherry, for writing about what cozy writers have been experiencing for years. When people who are unfamiliar with cozies ask what they are, I like to describe them as intriguing mysteries, sometimes with a bit of comic relief, that present the puzzle of who committed a murder without horrifying the reader. Just as challenging to write as any other crime-related book.
It’s sad that we have to defend what we are doing.
One of my neighbors said how thrilled she was about my cozy mystery being published and said she was going to suggest it to her book club. I saw her recently and told her that I would be happy to attend the meeting to tell them about writing and publishing a book. The look on her face was enough to tell me the wasn’t going to happy. She said, “I suggested your book to one of the members, but…” I rescued her from having to explain by telling her, “I know, book club snobbery.” Good. That saves me from spending precious time with a group that would look down on what I write.
Humph, kudos to your neighbour but grumbles about the book club member
I read a variety of things, among them cozy mysteries, and I think as long as the story is good and the characters are interesting, it doesn’t matter what genre you are writing in. Well rounded characters make a story. An interesting setting helps, as does a story that engages you. I like cozies when I don’t feel like too much blood and gore, or just want to relax and read a well written story.
What is the saying — “those who can’t criticize/commentate?” I like everything about cozies: their titles, settings, protagonists, mysteries, humor, twists, friendships, and much more. To me, cozies are like a good friend and are always a great read ~
Excellent point. I like all of those things about them too.
As a reviewer, I remember the “Those who can’t critic” line. 🙂
Resemble. Resemble the line. Stupid auto correct on my phone.
Bravo. Thank you Sherry for writing this post. I love cozies. They bring me joy. They bring me to a place I can re-visit multiple times. They entertain me. They evoke many emotions. They are real to me. What I also find is that cozy authors are more accessible to readers, as evident of the many conferences I attend.
Most of all I think people who put cozy/traditional authors down are plain jealous.
Thank you, Dru Ann! What would we do without supporters like you who lift up and draw attention to our books?
I love cozies!! I’m a huge reader and the hardcore murder books are too much for me. A well written cozy has great characters, a good plot and a great ending. I also love having a series to read – it keeps me coming back for more. I can also tell you that, as a librarian, a lot of patrons like cozies because they don’t have the stomach for graphic details and violence. Cozies are great puzzles to keep your mind guessing! Cozies 4ever!!
It is so wonderful to hear from a librarian and to hear about your patrons to are enjoying our books. Thank you.
Before I began writing cozies, I wrote “middle grade” novels. Talk about “I don’t get no respect!” MIne were distributed by School Book Fairs–lots of readers, but still got the old “Writing for kids must be easy.” and the ever popular “When are you going to write a real book?” This year I’m planning to do three books and at least one will be a romance. New genre for me and I’m expecting a whole new barrage of negativity. I agree with Dru. They’re jealous!
As I wrote this I was thinking about romance writers too. I have a partially finished romance that I hope to finish one of these days.
I’m one of those adults (and VERY adult, in terms of years) who regularly reads YA books. I always read the Malice Domestic Juvenile/YA nominees, and at least once each year I discover an author who goes on my “Read Everything He/She Writes” list. I agree with you that good writing is good writing (and it’s ALWAYS difficult to do) regardless of its audience. And I’m one of those who strongly feels that there are a huge number of YA and even juvenile books that can be read with great pleasure by those of us no longer in our teens!!!!!
(And it took all my sense of restraint not to put this whole message in caps.)
People who put down cozies are just asking to be killed off in your next book.
Oh, that made me laugh!
You are so right. Perhaps we could compile and share an “enemies” list of people to be laid to rest in our novels? No, probably no. There was a guy who tried something similar in the early 70’s and it didn’t end well for him.
Now I’m curious who the guy is, Lee!
I was talking about Richard Nixon and his enemies list.
Ah, thanks for explaining, Lee!
The thing about mysteries, including cozies, is that they require a real plot. There has to be action, development of characters, and three acts that actually present, torture (or contort, or however you want to express all the action around it), and resolve a crime. It’s an absolute for that genre. The typical fiction without a crime does not necessarily have to have all that, and in fact, lots of books of that type do not include more than the flimsiest excuse for a plot.
So for a non-mystery fiction writer to look down on cozies as “formulaic” invites criticism of their own genre, frankly. I’ve always found mysteries a lot more interesting than the Bridget Jones-type novel, largely because the form is more intellectually stimulating.
My opinion, only. Your mileage may vary. But I do read over 250 books a year, sometimes more, and across genres.
Wow, that is a lot of books. I read a lot of different types too some I like more than others.
Brilliant!!! I’ll be sharing this everywhere.
Thank you, Ellen. It was so good to see you at Malice and have our gabfest on the way home!
Great seeing you at Malice—and long live traditional and cozy mysteries!
It was great to see you and your family at Malice. You are an amazing support to all writers and are teaching young minds as well. I wish we could clone you.
I’ve always felt that the “important” authors gathered at Bouchercon look down on mere cozy writers, which is why I’m often on the fence about attending that conference. I write what I define as cozies, with an amateur woman as the protagonist, a small and friendly setting, and a crime that is solved so that justice is achieved. I’ve included dogs, cats, goats and cows. At the same time, I’ve included drug gangs and human trafficking in various forms in some of my books, and I don’t apologize for it or try to invent a compromise category (“cozies with an edge”?). We write books that people enjoy reading, with varying degrees of violence. Let the readers choose their comfort level.
Exactly, Sheila. Although I confess that even I’ve thrown out the “edge” word out there on occasion and thought about that as I wrote this.
I’ve had the same experience with Bouchercon attendees which is one reason I don’t go regularly (despite missing the Nero Wolfe banquets held there which are enormous fun). I’ll break my rule and go next year when it’s in Sacramento, but I’m afraid I’ll be spending way too many minutes feeling annoyed and stifling snarky remarks.
By the way, “cozies” are a wonderful venue for snarky remarks. Another reason to love cozies!
Unfortunately, this happens all across the literary landscape. When I wrote for children, it was the “when are you going to write a grown-up book?” Then JK Rowling came along, and suddenly everyone wanted a piece of the juvenile market. Very recently, in a blog post, someone made a “joke” about literary writers that was really a dig. My poet friends could share an earful, too.
We need “all writing is hard” pins. I wrote a couple of children’s books for my daughter about moving when my husband was still in the military. It isn’t easy. And poetry — I can’t do it.
I tried to write a cozy once. It was really hard. So bravo (brava?) to those of you who are good at it!
Thank you, Liz — like I said all writing is hard. I really enjoyed Root of all Evil!
So glad you liked it!
After reading hundreds (thousands?) of books of all genres over 60+years, I choose to read cozies because they are “comfort food for the soul.” I read about way too much violence, blood and gore in the news every day. For entertainment I want a “fun” book to take me away from real life for a while. Well written cozies are every bit as much serious reading as a hard core thriller or suspense novel, and I suspect much harder to write. Viva la cozies!
I’m not sure much harder but at least as hard. I agree that they are an escape from the world around us.
Very well said! As the old saying goes – different strokes for different folks.
I love cozies! Love everything about them. I love that they are a clean read. Love that they show you both the good and bad in the world but that the good always out weighs the bad. Love that even in the worse scenario if you try you can find something to smile about. Cozies are about friends helping friends, communities coming together and for showing that sometimes it’s the little guy that wins. I love the covers and the play on words in the titles. It makes one think. There are very often clues to the story right there on the cover, but you have to be open to find them.
I would never try to tell someone that what they are reading is wrong and that cozies are the only books worth reading. Reading is another form of living that is a personal choice – no right or wrong way, just what is right for that person.
In everything in life, there will always be naysayers. Ignore them, raise your head and walk forward. Life is too short to listen to their squawking. The numbers of people with praise and love will drown them out. <3
May the cozies live on, multiply and continue to bring forth a new generation of cozy readers!
2clowns at arkansas dot net
I love your line that “cozies are about friends helping friends!” That is such a perfect description!
The world can be a very ugly place. What I love about cozies (and makes them so challenging to write) is that they do not ignore this ugliness, rather they touch upon it while also reminding us of all the beauty in life–through setting, relationships, character development, humor, and justice prevailing. They are a very needed genre and my hat is off to all those who write them. Sherry, thank you for such a great article. And, thanks to all the cozy mystery writers who keep me turning pages year after year after year after year.
I love this “They do not ignore this ugliness, rather they touch upon it while also remind us of all the beauty in life” — that is perfect!
This is lovely!
Amen! Well said and written! I love cozies and am utterly bored by those who feel that they need to put an entire genre down.
I love cozies because they are, for the most part, well written, have a touch of romance, humor and interesting plots. I love the richness of characters that evolve in a series. Many characters become “friends” if you will, that you can visit or revisit time again. Cozies remind me that in the midst of all that is ugly in the world, there are still people working to make things better.
Please keep writing Wickeds! Your stories are a source of joy and good reads!
I love that others like you also feel that characters become friends. I get so excited when I see a new book in a series coming out so I can escape for awhile into another world.
Excellent post, my friend! I am proud to write in the genre. Also sock of genre bullies.
All will be well and there won’t be sections that it would embarrass me if people knew I read them.
That is a great point!
I’m so glad you wrote this. Countless authors of other genres send me books for review that amuse and thrill their regular readers, but are filled with blood and gore that give me pause. I may give those a pass, but they are popular somewhere. Many of the books at NBR are traditional mysteries and/or cozies for a reason. A good book is a good book, no matter the genre or sub genre, with nuanced characters and an intriguing plot. There are plenty of ‘cozies’ with page-turning stories and surprise endings, with characters that develop, with tragedies that befall the leads. There is space on the library shelves for all the great books. To disparage ‘cozies’ in one fell swoop is a tragedy. Let me show you a few solid authors… 🙂
I love your “There’s room on the library shelves for all the great books.” And thank you for your excellent Nightstand Book Review blog!
It’s a labor of love and a huge ‘thank-you’ to the writing community for giving me sooooooo many hours of absorbing, fabulous reading. 🙂
Here, here, Sherry! I raise my tea (or in my case probably coffee) cup to you!
And my, glass of water to you!
You go, girl!!! Very well said!!! I read mysteries, cozy to thriller, but as you know COZIES are my favorites and I would be lost without them!!!
I read the gamut too! Different moods require different books!
The sense of community and kindness in world that is not always kind stands out for me in cozy mysteries. I love to revisit my friends and to see them grow and their lives evolve. I have a serious problem with anxiety that pushed me towards extending my acquaintance with cozy mysteries. While my favorite authors do include the evil that we see in real life, they don’t let that evil destroy the friends that I count on. I can enjoy fluff when that is what I need, but I can also respect the author of those books for the world that she has created and the characters that keep me coming back. Yes, most of my authors are female. I can love your novels that offer a challenge for the protagonist that goes beyond finding a body and solving a mystery. I can safely turn to another favorite whose work straddles the line between amateur and cozy even though some of her books offer heartbreak and disappointment because I know that those characters who have become important to me will be there when I go back, changed but still good people who will offer me laughs even as they move forward from pain and loss. Everyone of those authors worked hard to create a world that feels real and that matters. I can’t even imagine what it takes to write any book, but I appreciate all the hard work that each writer put into their work to make my life a little better for those wonderful escapes. It is sad that even among mystery writers, there are those who need to denigrate others who are different.
This is so beautifully said. Thank you!
Oh, Sherry, this is a great blog! I’ve given a lot of thought to this criticism of cozies. The people who hate on cozies usually mention the covers – I think that’s all they see and they don’t bother to read the books. Sure, a lot of the covers are cute, but that’s marketing and the publishers’ decision. Maybe if the detractors actually read the books, cozies would get more respect.
There’s a reason they say you can’t judge a book by the cover, right? My mom just finished Against the Claw and loved it!
Great point, Shari! Besides, the covers are for the readers, telling them that this book contains the kind of mystery they love. If the detractors aren’t going to read it, anyway, why should they care?
Amen, Sherry! A well-told story is a valuable, entertaining escape for a reader, no matter what the genre/sub-genre. As a reader, I’ve been grateful to be able to escape into the pages of a fun, cozy mystery and forget about the world for a while. As an author, it’s the greatest satisfaction of all to know I have readers who feel the same about my books.
I echo what you said about refrigerators (ice cream is my go-to metaphor): some like their mysteries cozy, some like them creepy…some (gasp!) don’t like mysteries at all…but we won’t talk about them, they must be nuts. *wink* Keep rockin’ your genre, Sherry! You’re killing it.
The ice cream analogy is a good one!
Agree completely. Writing a book is a lot of work. I don’t care if it’s a thriller or a cozy or a 10 page story or a book with cussing or a children’s book. No genre or type of author should be looked down upon for any reason. In the mystery genre, no matter what your sub-genre, it takes a lot of planning because you usually are writing about a crime and throwing in suspects to keep the reader guessing. Personally, I love punny titles. Oh.. and one other thing… obviously cozy mysteries aren’t that stupid because they have a large audience and are very successful. Publishers are ordering new cozy series all the time!!
You are so right, Grace! (I almost said you are so write! And I hope you are working on your mystery because I can’t wait to read it!)
Great post, Sherry. Sadly, as some have already said, there are always a few who will snipe at genres they think are less important than others. Sometimes it’s hard to ignore their stupid remarks. I console myself with the knowledge that they don’t know what they’re missing. My 60 traditionally published books over a 35+ year career include children’s books, romances, and cozies. Gee, maybe someday I will get around to writing a “real” book. Today? I’m too busy polishing the next cozy so I can meet my June 1 deadline.
Good luck with the deadline! You are an amazing writer!
I love reading murder mysteries (I was reading Agatha Christie at 7!!) but I have seen too much violence in my life to enjoy the hard core thrillers, a decently written cozy mystery can transport you away from mundanity and give you a glimpse of life you would like to see (err but I am not sure I would move to Cabot Cove or Midsummer mind you!), please keep writing these enjoyable escapes from reality!
Laughing because Cabot Cove’s murder rate was unusually high! I love to be transported to another world when I’m reading!
I have to say I agree with you about Cabot Cove and Midsummer. (I really don’t want to live in any town that would elect such a nincompoop as mayor … which leads to some uncomfortable thoughts at a national level), but I must admit that I would move to Krista Davis’ town of Wagtail in a New York Minute.
And I, too, read my first Agatha Christie at 7. My was What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw (aka The 4:50 from Paddington). Do you remember your first?
Mine was The Body in the Library and I was hooked!
I think a lot of us got a start with Agatha Christie!
Well done, Sherry! I can see this is already getting the attention that it should. My hope is that we always create a world for fellow writers where writers can write the novels that come to them – it’s the only possible way to create a good book!
I love that, Ed — that writers can write the novels that come to them. And I can’t wait for The Missing Ones to come out so I can spend time with Hester again!
I love books. I love reading across the mystery genre. I’m even crazy enough to read other genres like romance and fantasy! Gasp. But i love cozies the best. They can blur genre lines and have a greater depth than their punny titles would belie. Cozies have a solid mystery that requires the author to be far more clever with protagonist motivation than because “it’s their job.” Cozy writers build an entire world of characters and keep all the backstories and relationships working together – sometimes for many years. With themes often found in women’s fiction and chick lit, there is a depth of issues, emotions, and message for readers of the genre that goes beyond guns blazing and blowing stuff up – although i do enjoy a good explosion from time to time. Cozy writers lay the foundation of romance with an undercurrent of tension rather than the “how to” obvious description of sex. Let’s not forget the skill required to get our point across while not being offensive. As Carol Burnett once said, “Sometimes I’m tired of hearing the F-bomb. Like, OK, all right, can you think of another word?” Cozy writers can think of lots of other words. And when we can’t, we’ll make them up karnflabbit! Thank you Sherry, for having our back and being our voice.
Thank you, Libby! Keep writing your wonderful books and I love karnflabbit!
I enjoy reading cozies for the very reason that they aren’t ugly or brutal or graphic. There is enough ugliness in this world that I don’t want it to seep into my reading time, too. I read for enjoyment. Cozies offer the thrill of a mystery to unravel, without blood and sex and gratuitous violence. Cozies offer well-plotted stories, characters I can relate to (since many are in small-town settings, and I grew up in a small town), and if there are recipes at the end, well, that’s a tasty bonus. To all the cozy writers out there, I see you. I appreciate your work. They will pry cozy mysteries from my cold, dead hands, and if publishers think they should quit publishing them, I will riot. Keep writing, and I’ll keep reading!
I love this so much: To all the cozy writers out there, I see you. I appreciate your work. They will pry cozy mysteries from my cold, dead hands, and if publishers think they should quit publishing them, I will riot. Thank you!!!!
My favorite things about cozies are the realistic characters who I’d love to spend time with, charming towns or neighborhoods where the protagonist knows most of their neighbors, well-written plots with mysteries that aren’t too obvious or convoluted, and that they’re generally a series so I can get to know the main characters and follow how they develop and change from book to book. Outside of the books themselves, I’ve found cozy authors and readers to be some of the friendliest people to interact with! Maybe the complainers haven’t actually read a cozy, or maybe it isn’t their cup of tea. Totally fine, but they can keep their opinions to themselves!
Cozy authors and readers are so friendly! It’s been so great being a part of this community!
I like cozies because generally the characters I’ve become fond of over the life of a series are still standing at the end of the book after figuring out “whodunit”! (I remember one miserable year when a couple of “serious
mystery” authors killed off significant others in their books!) There is room for both types of writers because as a reader, sometimes you feel like a massacre and sometimes you don’t!
I’m laughing at your “sometimes you feel like a massacre and sometimes you don’t!” It’s so true!
You go girl!!!! I am so tired of people putting down cozies. They are fun, they are uplifting, they are an escape from our everyday crazy world and I couldn’t write one if my life depended on it so I am so grateful for all you wonderful authors who give me such wonderful stories to look forward to and enjoy. Not to mention that it is always a pleasure to speak to authors in person at conventions and find out how lovely and kind and inspiring you are. Keep on writing for all of us fans.
Thank you, April! I know people get put down for reading them sometimes too. They are my escape.
Amen, sister! Thanks for starting such a great conversation.
Thank! Love you!
Loved this blog post.I was disappointed to think another author would bad mouth another author because they write cozies.I read 200 plus books a year and yes a lot are cozies but a much loved cozy author wrote a rom-com and I now read more of those.Actually I read lots of different kinds of books but it is my cozies that get me through the bad days . My only problem now is keeping the Wicked authors straight with use of different names..
Rom-coms are what I read after I read something really dark! I love them. Ha. Keeping names straight it a challenge!
I could have said the same exact thing about cross stitching. It seems like there’s a whole group of people who enjoy criticizing anything that’s tame or doesn’t include profanity. One of the things that I like about cozies is knowing what I’m in for.
I had forgotten how people criticized cross stitching and I used to to it all the time.
Wonderful post, Sherry–thank you! It is always disheartening to hear genre bashing (and oh yes, I’ve heard it too). But I take heart in the fact that there are so many others who love cozies too, for all the reasons previously mentioned. So thrilled to be able to write what I love to read and to be part of this wonderful mystery community. Toasting all the cozy books, cozy readers, and cozy authors with my teacup (full of coffee oops). 💕
Thank you! You are such an amazing writer and person. I’m lucky to know you — coffee of not!
Oh my goodness–YOU are, Sherry! And all the Wickeds! So happy to know you. 😍
ps: Need to clarify that I meant “to be able to write IN THE GENRE I love to read”–ha–I didn’t mean that I love to read what I write…gack…blush…cringe.
Why is “real” life only the dark parts? Police may swear but they have friends and families, volunteer, cook, etc. People get divorced but there are plenty of long marriages. I love cozies and romances that emphasize the positive. As for hard to write, any book can be that. Let the naysayers write both kinds of books before they criticize.
I agree! Not sure why one of our books is less realistic than someone outrunning a international spy ring on their own with a jackknife in their pocket.
Excellent points, Sally! Thank you!
I know I’m responding late in the day, so this may not be read by anyone, but I still want to say that I am in full agreement with your post and all the comments!
You definitely touched a nerve in me (and in a lot of others as well), and it raises a couple of related comments for me.
First, I’ve wondered if the use of the term, “cozy” is part of the problem. I suspect that the word itself leads to a dismissive attitude in others. Except when I’m amidst the “family,” I always use the term “Traditional Mystery” and immediately bring up Agatha Christie. While I wouldn’t have the nerve to compare a anything I’ve written or will write to the quality of Dame Agatha’s work, describing it in those terms makes it a tiny bid harder for people to be openly dismissive.
Second, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that EVERYONE who comes to Malice experiences joining a “family of choice.” I haven’t ever heard an attendee at Malice describe any other genre or even a specific book dismissively. (And don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard plenty of people express their dislike of a given book or even a given author, but that is NOT the same thing as taking a dismissive attitude toward a book, author, or genre.) I think that being on the receiving end of so many insults has made us as a group more sensitive to such insults and less likely to do it to others. I’ve never heard anyone at Malice put down police procedurals, romances, thrillers (psychological or other), or any other genre. In fact, they’ve regularly honored, with Agatha nominations and awards, books at the very edges of the Traditional Mystery genre. I think our community does a very good job at appreciation of quality, whether it comes from our community or elsewhere.
I’ll step down off my soapbox, now.
Stay on your soapbox Lee! I differentiate cozy and traditional a bit. My Julia Henry series is cozy. My Theater Cop series is more traditional–more than one body, a bit of language. I think that cozy, for readers, sets up a specific expectation. I’m thrilled to work hard to meet that expecation. That said, I do wish there was another term for it, since we are dealing with issues, and life.
I really loved Malice this year, and getting a chance to talk to so many readers. We are all lucky to have this community, and to have the folks who support us on our path).
Your point about the distinction between cozy and traditional is well-taken, and I agree with your desire for a good synonym for cozy that could not be dismissed and disrespected so easily.
I, too, really loved Malice and particularly loved being given the opportunity to share a lovely evening with you and Sherry at the Agatha Banquet. I also very much enjoyed the books from Sherry, the candies and tiny pot of Forget-Me-Nots from you, and the wine from our tablemate, Maury. I had a great time! In the interests of full-disclosure, however, I feel obligated to tell you that there is no living botanical thing that I lay hands upon that does not die.
For those of you who weren’t there, the announcement of the Agathas was particularly exciting this year with ties in two categories! There’s never even been a single tie in the previous 30 years of Agathas, and this year we had two! And as usual, almost none of the nominees for which I voted won.
Actually, this was one year when I could have been happy no matter who won Best Contemporary Novel since every one of the five nominees was deserving of a win!
I’m halfway through your first Theater Cop book and enjoying it. For some reason, it isn’t available on Kindle (boo, hiss), so I didn’t actually get it in my hands until Tuesday. The second one was sitting on my Kindle for almost a week, waiting, and taunting me saying, “Go ahead. Start me first. The order won’t matter,” but I heroically resisted anyway.
The rights have been sent back to me for A CHRISTMAS PERIL, so I’m working on getting it back on line.
I agree with you and Julie. There is a fine line. Malice was truly spectacular this year and made better by spending time with you.
Everyone has said what I would say about cozies, so I’m not going to touch on that. But I will mention this: This year may have been the first time there have been two ties for the Agatha Award, but it’s not the first time there ever was a tie. In 2003 Margaret Maron and Marcia Talley tied in the short story category, Margaret for her story “The Dog That Didn’t Bark” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, December 2002) and Marcia for her story “Too Many Cooks” (in the anthology Much Ado About Murder).
Thanks for that correction. I had just heard people saying that it was the first time for a tie in the Agathas, and I was too lazy to look it up for myself. Thank you for not only correcting the record, but giving us the specifics of the first tie.
And isn’t it interesting that the stories (both written by masters of the craft, by the way) had titles that were either very close to extremely famous works by classic authors (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Arthur Conan Doyle and Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout). Interesting.
And I should add that if Barb Goffman doesn’t hold the record for Agatha Nominations, she’s undoubtedly very close to it with (I think – I had to do a manual count and I ran out of fingers and I was wearing my shoes) 11 nominations, all in the Best Short Story category. Woo Hoo Barb! Because there’s a bug right now on the Malice Domestic website, I can only tell you she’s won at least twice (but likely more than that).
I’m laughing, Lee. I wish I had won an Agatha twice (or more than that). I’ve won once, for which I’m quite happy. And I’ve been nominated twelve times, which is a short-story category record. But there are other authors who have been nominated more times than me overall. Margaret Maron has been nominated for the Agatha Award at least nineteen times, and Donna Andrews has been nominated at least thirteen times (possibly more for both of them; the records I’m consulting are incomplete). Anyway, thank you for your woo-hoo. I’ll take it!
I didn’t know that, Barb!
Good post! This is exactly why I wrote Writing the Cozy Mystery at a time when there was nothing specifically for writers of this subgenre. I felt we needed visibility and respect. That hasn’t changed, and I address it less eloquently than you in a chapter called Special Considerations for Cozy Authors. It was so nice being at Malice where we all like the same kind of books.
It was great to see you at Malice and it’s great that you wrote a book the specifically addresses writing cozies!
As a reader I have occasionally had the same kind of attitude from people at some of the big book sales. I’ll be standing in line, waiting for the sale to open, and someone will ask me what kind of books I’m looking for, what do I like to read, etc.. my response is always that I’m mainly looking for cozies, vintage kids series and then if anything else catches my eye…. well, more often than not, I get a confused look and then they ask what is a cozy. When I explain to them that a cozy is a book that isn’t particularly graphic or gory even though someone dies, that there can be a sweet romance or an angst-ridden one without super suggestive scenes, there are nosy neighbors, lots of laughs, and people getting into trouble, just not too much of it….I get the comments that suggest that cozies aren’t real books, and why would an adult want to read OLD kids books…..
REALLY!!! Argggghhhh! The first few times I just ignored what they said and then one day I decided enough was enough! Now I remind them that the reason there are so many genres of books is to please everyone’s reading tastes and then I tell them that it is probably a good thing they aren’t after my cozies, that I’d hate to have to hip-check them out of my way to get to my books! LOL! I do read other genres of books, but since I discovered cozies they have become my absolute favorite type of book. I do read a few thriller series of books, I read romance occasionally, as well as children’s series, but I don’t read horror or scary stuff.
But I would NEVER deride someone for reading them, or anything else, the whole point is to read what makes you happy! Renee
Oh, Renee you made me laugh. I’m picturing you hip-checking people at a library sale!
Yeah Sherry, don’t come between me and my books! I get serious at book sales. LOL! Ok, so I don’t really hip-check anybody, but I can power walk with the best of them to reach a table first! Renee
First of all I love your cozy mysteries Sherry!
I love cozy mysteries cause I can read about special favorite interests. For instance what first got me wanting to read Sherry’s cozies mysteries was, I love Garage sales and mysteries. There are so many great cozies mysteries to enjoy. Don’t stop writing Sherry and all the other cozies mysteries writers!!! We love you!!!
Oh, thank you, Sherry — this means so much to me!
Here is a link to one of the best descriptions I’ve read of what a cozy is. http://www.edifyfiction.com/articles/the-mystery-of-the-cozy-mystery-what-makes-them-cozy-by-m-sakran
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