Friday, December 2, 2011


Greetings to all my friends. I’m delighted you’ve stopped by on this 8th day of our MYSTERY WE WRITE HOLIDAY BLOG TOUR. Remember: our 15-member tour group is giving away over 50 FREE BOOKS during this tour. For a chance to win one (or more) of these mysteries, visit each blog and leave a comment.

Today’s featured mystery writer is Beth Anderson, a multi-published, award winning author in several genres including romance and mainstream crime fiction. A full time author, she now lives in Washington state. Beth has appeared on Chicago's WGN Morning Show, The ABC Evening News, as well as numerous other radio and cable television shows. She has guest lectured at Purdue University, Moraine Valley College, and many libraries and writers' conferences.

Now I’m turning the virtual podium over to Beth Anderson:

Beth Anderson


by Beth Anderson

This is a continuation of two other blogs by me in this tour explaining, for the new writer, the differences in different types of mysteries, depending on the sub-genre. Today we start with LEGAL, MEDICAL, and HISTORICAL:

Big, Big, Big on the market. These are often six-figure advance books, folks. As with the police procedural, accuracy in a legal, medical or historical mystery is crucial to weaving a believable plot. You have to do some serious research to be able to write one of these and make it believable if you’re not already a lawyer or doctor or historian.

These books are loaded with legal and medical or historical terminology, although as with anything else, this shouldn’t be overdone because you don’t want to irritate your reader. If you’re a pro at any of these jobs and can toss out the jargon naturally, you’ll be okay. The lay person is going to have a tougher time at this and dialog is the main place where he’s going to fail if he’s going to.

So be aware, if you’re not a pro at one of these professions, better allow yourself lots of time for editing your dialog till it sounds perfect to someone who is a pro, and have one check it. Remember, the editor who may be interested in this type of book has read hundreds of them, maybe more, and this editor will spot phony dialog in a heartbeat. So be aware of that and have it checked out first.

To add to all of this, the main sub-genres have split out into sub-sub-genres. Confused? Don’t be. That simply means using careers like quilting, gardening, cooking, dog sled racing, cleaning establishments, and other main elements, which have become a big part of the cozy scene.

Police procedurals have also split out, now featuring different types of law enforcement agencies, for instance National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, etc.

Now we come to some new sub-sub categories, which aren’t strictly traditional mysteries as we’ve discussed them above. How about the Woo Woo category, which contains supernatural elements? My newest book, RAVEN TALKS BACK, contains some supernatural/paranormal elements even though it's a mainstream mystery.

Raven Talks Back

You have to be careful with supernatural and paranormal elements so that the book will be believable. Remember, your mystery reader is pretty sophisticated about normal mysteries anyhow, and a paranormal mystery will have to be able to make that same reader suspend disbelief in a big way.

One of the tricks to writing this type of book is to not overdo the drama. Over-explaining can actually wreck the whole thing. Not easy to do, which is why I wanted to do it. Just writing it and making sure I got it right so it would be completely believable had me a little spooked, but the way I wrote it, the supernatural things just are what they are and I never tried to explain them other than what went on in the book. I believed them when I wrote them and I think that has made it come across as believable to people who’ve read it. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve never had anyone challenge me on the paranormal elements in RAVEN TALKS BACK. (So far…;-)

Links for Beth Anderson books:





Barnes & Noble:

Also available at your favorite independent bookstores nationwide.


Thanks, Beth for stopping by. I loved your article on sub-genres and I know our readers have, too.

I’ve read RAVEN TALKS BACK myself, and loved every minute.

Remember Folks, our 15-member tour group is giving away over 50 FREE BOOKS during our tour. For a chance to win one (or more) of these mysteries, visit each blog and leave a comment.

I’ll be giving away a signed copy of THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE and another of FOXY STATEHOOD HENS AND MURDER MOST FOWL, a collection of 3 novellas. My story, “The Spinster, the Pig, and the Orphan,” is a Historical Mystery set in 1889 Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory. To get your name in the hat for my free books, leave a comment below.

 Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for another mysterious writer.




Jackie King said...

Thanks, Beth, for so clearly explaining mystery subgenres. As both a reader and a writer, I've loved the different occupations that creative minds have explored for our mysterious protagonists. (Heros and heroines in plain speak.)

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I love your explanation of the sub-genres. Good job.


Beth Anderson said...

Thank you, Ladies. The hardest type to explain would be the woo woo books, but having just written one, and successfully, it appears, I'm pretty convinced that the way to do it is simply to just write it and don't try to overexplain it. Just let it be what it is and if you keep that in your mind, it'll transfer to the reader's mind. Raven Talks Back was my one stab at supernatural and it took me a long time to get it right.
Thanks for stopping by, and I'll be back a little later.

Timothy Hallinan said...

Very informative, Beth, and also a good tip about not overdoing things on the woo-woo. I'm writing a book right now that has a ghost as a minor character, and I'm learning the hard way that the whole book can go out the window if I'm not essentially matter-of-fact about it. Thanks a lot for clarifying the problem

Alice Duncan said...

Interesting on the sub-genres, Beth. They're kind of like sub-species :-) One of my series is marketed as a mystery series, when it's actually merely historical fiction. Go figure.

Jackie King said...

Marilyn, Tim and Alice, each of your comments were spot-on. Thanks for stopping by.

M.M. Gornell said...

Good information, Beth--for new and experienced writers!


Jean Henry Mead said...

Great advice from a very good writer! I look forward to the next book in the series.

john M. Daniel said...

Wonderful post, Beth. Writing in the WOO WOO subgenre would intimidate me, and I admire you for taking it on. I agree about not overdoing that aspect of the story.

WS Gager said...

Great post Beth. I would rather write historical or police procedural before a "woo-woo."
I love that term for paranormal.
W.S. Gager on Writing

jenny milchman said...

Do you feel these sub-categories change, Beth? Some of the definitions feel fairly intuitive, but some, I have the sense, might ebb and flow a bit with new meems and conventions and devices. That's part of what I love about crime fiction, I think--how it evolves. Thanks for a great post!

Jackie King said...

Hi Jenny, Thanks for stopping by. You'll get your name in my drawing for one of the free books I'm giving away.

I know that question is for Beth, and I'm sure she'll be by later. But what you said sounds right to me.

Jackie King said...

Beth, Thanks so much for your excellent post. I've loved having you as my special guest, today.