Thoughts While Waiting

My third mystery, Death on Sacred Ground, will be published sometime in 2020, so while waiting, I’m tweaking my marketing plan and adding posts like this one to my new website,

Cozy Mysteries and Genre Fiction: I wasn’t familiar with the term genre fiction when Camel Press accepted my manuscript for Death in the Memorial Garden in 2011. I just knew that this Seattle publisher was providing me with the support and feedback (and upfront financing) that a new author craves. 

Camel, which is now an imprint of Epicenter Press, publishes genres besides mystery, including sci-fi, romance, paranormal, young adult, and something called speculative fiction.   

Each genre has what I call sub-genres.  In my mystery genre, Death in the Memorial Garden is known as a cozy.

The cozy sub genre in recent years has become associated with themes beyond the traditional village mystery.  I wouldn’t read a cozy focused on quilting or pastry making, but give me a sleuth who likes gardens, libraries or interior design, and I’m hooked.

Another thing about cozies: they attract readers who prefer an amateur sleuth over the private investigator or police detective, preferably a quirky protagonist who avoids excessive blood, gore and kinky sex.  Think of the recent interest in the Grantchester Mysteries, and the enduring appeal of Agatha Christie.  One of my favorite authors is the recently deceased MC Beaton (the Agatha Raisin and Hamish MacBeth series, set in England and Scotland).  is the go-to website for my type of reader. The blogger, Janna, writes a post most every day.  She lists the new titles released each month, and also the mysteries adapted for film or tv. She even maintains a list of cozies by sub-genre.  Death in the Memorial Garden is listed under ‘mysteries with little or no profanity’ and also ‘religious mysteries’. These aren’t just for Christians.  On my list is Ruby, the Rabbi’s Wife, by Sharon Kahn.

Janna generously includes worthy mysteries outside the cozy genre.  She recently mourned the death of Ruth Rendell, the esteemed British author of the Inspector Wexford novels, which are technically Police Procedurals. However, she knows that the Inspector has been unfailingly decent over the years, and concerned about social issues, which appeals to cozy-lovers. We also recognize that Rendell elevated her mysteries to the level of literary fiction, a level which we pray to attain.

I’m sticking to Janna’s categories for my books, because as what they call a ‘clergy spouse’, I’ve used my knowledge of places such as Grace Church, an in-city parish  where all sorts of people  meet on somewhat neutral ground.  For example, clients of Seattle’s centrally-based food banks, whether they know it or not, encounter kind-hearted members of the city’s elite handing them a bag of groceries or advising them on housing resources.

City living appeals to people like my character Dr. Lucy, a retired dentist who shepherds less fortunate neighbors to the available clinics. In the upcoming book, formerly homeless Lester escorts low-sighted Reverend Katherine around the neighborhood, including the freeway entrances where he used to panhandle.

I know that these encounters happen mostly during the day. The rich return to their enclaves, Dr. Lucy and Katherine to their condos. Father Robert, Grace Church’s rector, has moved from the barred-window rectory to his new wife’s home near the lake. But the next day they’re back in- you could say- the urban equivalent of an English village.

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