Tag Archive for: thriller

Mystery! Suspense! Thriller!

When I pitched my first book to a publisher, I described it as a mystery. “Tell me about it,” said the acquisitions editor. After hearing the the storyline, she asked to see the full manuscript and gave me her card.

 Glancing at the card, I noticed that the publisher she represented specialized in romance novels. I repeated that the book I had written was a mystery.

“Sounds like romance is a substantial part of it,” she countered. “Send the manuscript and let us decide.”

Long story short, her company published The Body Business as a Romantic Suspense novel. Thus began my initiation into the wacky world of genre madness and the marketing issues that plagued the book for the duration of the publishing contract.

Fast forward to the day the contract ended. At last, I had more control over how, when, and where the book was advertised.

Thankfully, the new edition took off and led to the launch of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series. As published authors know, trying to slide your novel into the perfect preset niche that book retailers and other marketers require can be daunting. My books tend to cross genres, so picking a single category was like aiming a fistful of darts at one teeny tiny target and hoping the right dart would hit the bullseye.

Mystery? Thriller? Suspense? Which one suits the stories best?

Here’s a simple way to differentiate them according to best-selling, multi-award winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan: “I always think a mystery is ‘who-done-it?’ A thriller is ‘stop it before it happens again.’ And suspense is ‘what’s going on here?’

These simple guidelines help me define the books in my series, even though each one fits into a different category.

Reviewers describe The Body Business as a “roller-coaster ride” and a “page-turner.” In other words, it reads like a thriller. As for The Body Next Door, some reviewers have called it a cozy. Like a cozy, there’s humor and a quirky character or two, but the absence of cats, crafts, or a charming village could risk the wrath of traditional cozy fans. It’s also been described as “full of suspense,” which is how I wrote it, straight-up.

Romance runs through the series as a subplot, due to my fiercely independent-minded main character, who continues to deflect the happy-ever-after ending romance readers crave. The romance continues into the next book, but the main plot is a true who-done-it.

To label a book as a mystery, suspense novel, or thriller is purely a marketing game. What an author really cares about is that people enjoy reading it. When our readers share a book they really like with their friends, they can describe it however they want.

Readers, do you rely on a bookseller’s categories to choose a book?

Writers, have you struggled with labels, too? Tell us about it.

Gay Yellen is the award-winning author of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and the upcoming Body in the News.


By Genre!

By Bethany Maines
One of the best parts of the Stiletto Gang is hearing about
the spectrum of genres that our authors work in.  I work in several and I know that can get
confusing for readers, so here’s a primer of genres and how they apply to me.
Mystery – A detective either professional or amateur
must attempt to solve a mystery, usually a murder.
  In my San Juan Island Mystery series amateur
detectives Tish (an ex-actress) and her grandfather Tobias (an ex-CIA agent)
solve murders in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. 
Crime – The main plot revolves around some form of
crime. There can be elements of deduction and mystery, but the main elements
involve some sort of criminal behavior.
In my Shark Santoyo Series, Shark is attempting to navigate his way out
of the criminal life, but faces enemies on both sides of the law. 

Thriller – While a mystery detective finds a crime and
steps in to solve things, the thriller protagonist has the crime happen to them
and must fight their way out to simply get back to his or her ordinary
In my Deveraux Legacy Series,
the Deveraux family must face a series of antagonists who seek to bring them

Romance – A book where the relationship between the
two protagonists takes center stage.
The best part about Romance is that like a good wine, it pairs well with
anything.  Most of my novels contain an
element of romance, but not all of them push the romance to the forefront.  But in the Deveraux Legacy series, each of
the cousins will find love while battling the baddies, making the series genre “Romantic
Want a free romantic thriller from me?  Get Blue Christmas today: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/to271maetc

Science-Fiction –
Sci-fi explores the future of science and
humanity as they intertwine.
participate in an anthology series called Galactic Dreams that translates fairy
tales to science-fiction.  Each author in
the anthology assists in building the shared universe of Galactic Dreams,
meaning that each of our stories share the same background, timeline and rules.

Fantasy – Fantasy stories contain elements of magic
and wonder. 
My mother read us The
Hobbit when we were quite young and so I always assumed that fantasy was
something that everyone enjoyed. Then I grew up and realized that some people
think that it’s not “real” literature (what does that even mean?!) and
sometimes hate it for appearing to have no rules if magic can simply make
things happen.  So fantasy is my little
secret.  I don’t write a lot of it, but I
periodically dabble to make myself happy. 
Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous
short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some
serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her
daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel.
You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.


by Bethany Maines

Ahhhhhh… The soothing feeling of not being in a mad
marketing scramble.  
Being in a post-book release time frame is both relaxing and a little bit of a
let-down.  The majority of sales happen
around the book release week and after that, there’s just general marketing and
gulp, waiting for reviews to come in. Reviews, believe it or not, are quite
hard to come by.  In a world where
literally every service seems to ask for you to thumbs up, rate, review, rave
about, the good old fashioned recommendation of a book has become both more
important and yet, even harder to get.
Readers get intimidated by the process – do I need to write a book report?
  The answer to that one
is no.  Short reviews are frequently the
best.  For example, here’s the latest
review for The Second Shot
“A drunken mistake in college cost U.S. Marshal Maxwell Ames
the love of Dominique Deveraux and six years later, he’s determined to fix the
slip-up. But there’s just one tiny problem. When I started reading I couldn’t
put it down. Bethany Maines is magnificent and amazing writer. I cannot wait to
read more of her books. Keep up the great work. You should definitely read this
book. Can’t wait for the next book.”
Now obviously any review that calls me an amazing writer is
going to be tops with me, but beyond that, the reviewer did the one thing
that is required in a review – said what she liked. Then she gave it a rating
and moved on with life. No synopsis, spoilers, no over thinking or hard work.  Read the book, reacted, bam, done.
Then readers think
does it really matter if I leave a review?
Short answer, yes, it really, really does.  Even on
older books?
  YES!!  There are some marketing options that I can
only get if I have enough reviews or a high enough rating.  Your kind words really matter.  And of course, saying I’m an awesome writer
is the kind of thing that keeps me going when some meanie leaves me a two star
review. (It happens to everyone, we are breathing, we are breathing, and
letting it go…)
So to anyone who has left a book review, even if it wasn’t
for one of my books, I say thank you. 
And if you’d like to give a writer a gift… may I suggest leaving a
review on Amazon, BookBub, or Goodreads.

Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous
short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some
serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her
daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel.
You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

The Marketing Paradox

by Bethany Maines

A funny thing happens when you begin marketing book. Suddenly
a project that has been intensely personal becomes public property. And even
worse, once it’s public, the public begin to have opinions about it. (The
nerve!) And as much as an author wants everyone to universally love our
precious baby novel, not everyone is going to. From reading while in a bad
mood, to just not being someone’s cup of tea, not everyone is going to like a

But even if everything does go as smoothly as possible and
someone does love the book, suddenly ownership becomes shared with everyone who
loves it. The story takes up residence in someone else’s head which, for an
author who has had those characters living in her head for months or years, is
intensely strange and disconcerting. With each book I write I start out wanting
to share about it immediately.  It’s like
falling in love.  You’ve met these
wonderful, hilarious, romantic, daring people and you want to tell everyone
about them. But as I move into the marketing stage I find that in some ways I
become more protective of my characters and story. Please love that one even
though I’ve made him annoying.  And don’t
make fun of her – she has hidden depths! Although, yes, go ahead and hate
him.  We all should hate him.

Except that a book needs to be shared to be successful. I
want strangers to talk about it, readers to review it, and friends to share it.
Those things are literally what make a book a success. It is a very strange dichotomy
of wanting to shout as loud as possible while at the same time hoping nobody
looks at me while I’m doing it. So nobody look at me while I say this next

The Second Shot is coming out in two weeks!!! Please share the news with others.
A drunken mistake in college cost US Marshall Maxwell Ames the love of Dominique Deveraux. Six years later, he’s determined to fix the slip-up, but there’s just one tiny problem: someone wants the Deveraux family dead. Now Max must make sure that the only one getting a second shot at Dominique is him.

Pre-order on all epub platforms (Kindle coming soon!): CLICK HERE

Want a chance to win a free print edition of The Second
Shot? Enter to win at Goodreads!   CLICK HERE to Enter!

Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous
short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some
serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her
daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel.
You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

Cross Genre

by Bethany Maines
Cross-genre.  You’ll
hear the term a lot in writing circles. 
But what is it?  It’s book that
melds the elements of more than one genre together.  Books are coded by something known as a BISAC
code that allows libraries to appropriately shelve a book and search engines to
find it.  The list is extensive and
usually books can have two BISAC codes. 
(You can check out the list for fiction here: bisg.org/page/Fiction But
be warned—it’s extensive!)
My forthcoming book Shark’s
, book #3 of the Shark Santoyo Crime Series, can appropriately be filed
under FIC031010 FICTION / Thrillers / Crime, but it’s possible that it
could be filed under FIC027260 FICTION / Romance / Action & Adventure
or FIC022000 FICTION / Mystery & Detective / General.    Or I could just go for a broad category and
label it: FIC044000 FICTION / Women. 
Am I the only one who finds it odd that women are a category of
fiction?  There isn’t a category for
Men.  Or is all fiction assumed to be
men’s fiction and we need to let people know that this book over here is just
for women? Seems odd, but we’ll just leave that one alone for now.
But beyond the BISAC codes, which while useful, are not the
end all definition of a book, there is marketing and that’s where things get
persnickety.  An author and a marketer
need to be able to tell and sell someone on a book in 30 seconds or less. 
The Shark Santoyo
Crime Series is a witty, romantic saga about a violent suburban underworld.
Shark Santoyo and Peregrine Hays are the Romeo and Juliet of the criminal set
and they are determined to find justice, revenge, and true love. There’s just
an entire mob and a few dirty FBI agents in the way.

So from my “elevator pitch” you should know that there’s
going to be violence, romance, crime, and a touch of humor.  But all of those things are hard to encompass
in a single book description and a cover.  
Which is why you’ll see cross-genre books “pushed” toward one genre.  There’s a girl in the book – make it sexy on
the cover!  Don’t mention the humor –
humor doesn’t sell!  On the other hand,
when a book succeeds you’ll hear people knowingly say, “Well, it’s really
cross-genre.”  Of
course, it’s cross-genre! No book is ever one thing entirely. It’s as though an author just can’t win. 

On the other hand, if you think cross-genre witty, romantic saga about a violent suburban underworld sounds fun, then check out Shark’s Instinct and Shark’s Bite and pre-order Shark’s Hunt today.

Bethany Maines
is the author
of the Carrie Mae Mystery Series, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous
short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some
serious butt with her fourth degree black belt in karate, she can be found
chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You
can also catch up with her on
YouTube, Twitter
and Facebook

Stiletto Heels, a Witch and a Deadly Dinner–TK Thorne

   Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

I love the idea of vicariously wearing stiletto
heels because that is the only way that will ever happen!  What Rose Brighton discovers, however, is
they might very well be good for something else.

Rose is a police officer who discovers she’s a
witch of House of Rose. She’s received an invitation to dinner from a
devastatingly handsome man, a warlock of another House of Iron. All she knows
is that someone from his House has been trying to kill her and wipe out her

So, of course, she goes—

The Club (pronounced with emphasis on “The”) is a private
dinner club atop Red Mountain overlooking the city. Very posh. I wear my black
dress and a pair of heels I bought, which are killing me. How do women walk in
these things? I let the valet park the car, because I don’t think I could make
it all the way across the parking lot.
In spite of the fact that she is dead, I can hear Aunt Alice
in my head protesting how dangerous it is to meet Jason Blackwell anywhere. I
wonder if any of my family members were prone to do dangerous or impulsive
things. If so, I inherited it, and it’s not my fault, right? Besides, I’ve got
to have info, and I’m not going to get any sitting on my butt.
So, for the sake of gaining intelligence about House of
Iron, which I know nothing about, I am practically standing on my toes trying
not to fall on my face. My sympathies to the Chinese girls whose feet were
bound in ancient times to keep them small for the aesthetic taste of Chinese
men. Thinking about that horrid practice makes me angry. Why am I torturing
myself on these stilts for the pleasure of men?
By the time I make it to the private dining room, I’m
Ciao, Rose!”
Jason Blackwell greets me, rising from his chair at a table by the expansive
window. “You are beautiful even when you look ready to eat the first person in
your path.”
“I look like that?”
“It’s the shoes.”
“Ah.” He pulls out my chair, and I sit . . . gratefully.
A bottle of wine chills in a bowl on a small stand by the
table. I’ve seen setups like this in movies, but this is way out of my comfort
zone. Jason gestures at the wine. “I took the liberty of ordering. It’s a fine
year. Would you like to try it?”
He lifts a finger and a waiter I didn’t even see glides to
our table and opens the bottle, pouring a small amount in Jason’s glass. It
would be nice to have a touch of James Bond sophistication with wine at this
point, but I can see it’s a French white from the label, and that’s about the
extent of my wine knowledge. Fortunately, Jason seems at home with the
requirements and takes a sip, savoring it on his tongue for a moment before
nodding assent at the waiter, who pours my glass first, then his. I watch all
this with fascination, and because I am afraid to look at my date. He almost
hurts the eyes.
Suddenly Becca’s voice is in my head: Oh my God, Rose. Does he have a brother?
That breaks the spell and I smile. Thank you, Becca.
“So, has anyone tried to kill you lately?” Jason asks,
turning his attention to me.
I laugh and chastise myself for being so easily charmed.
This man, I remind myself, may have lived a lot longer than I, despite his
youthful looks.
“Actually, I have managed to outwit a sniper since we last
saw each other.”
His face, which I am now watching carefully, hardens. “I didn’t
know that. He missed, I assume.”
“How do you know it was a ‘he’?”
Now it is his turn to laugh. “Be easy, detective. I do not
know that. It was a chauvinistic guess.”
The waiter sets down a basket that smells heavenly. Jason
folds back the white linen to reveal the warm breads inside. “You must try an
orange roll, house specialty.”
I bite into it and close my eyes. After I swallow, my tongue
finds the bits of crystalized sugar on my lips.
Jason clears his throat. “I’m not sure if I wish to eat or simply
watch you eat.”
I open my eyes, my earlobes burning, and snatch at the menu.
I order fish, and he orders lamb. Appropriate. I feel like a
lamb stalked by a wolf and wonder if I used enough deodorant to last through
Jason’s gaze drifts to the huge window that looks down into
the valley. “It is a beautiful view, isn’t it?” Below us, the lights gleam like
multicolored gems.
“It is.”
“Sometimes,” Jason says, “when I cannot sleep, I look down
on this from my bedroom window.”
Warning bells ding in my head. This personal revelation is a
bit of intimacy meant to make himself appear more human, a little bait thrown
out to gain my sympathy.
 I can play the game
as long as I know there is a hook beneath the bait . . . right?
“You have trouble sleeping?” I ask.
“More often than I’d like.”
I wonder what his
nightmares are about.
I take another swallow of wine and decide it is time to stop
flitting around. “I have a question.”
He arches a brow.
“Who is trying to kill me?” I ask.
For a swiftly passing moment, his face tightens. Anger? Then
the lines smooth and he considers me.
“I do not know.”
“You have no idea?”
Was there the slightest hesitation before that answer? He
takes my hand and lightly rubs a thumb down the inside of my wrist. My pulse
jumps. ‘Jump’ is the wrong word, more like catapults.
. . . I take a deep swallow of wine and feel it burning into
my chest. “Are we going to have an honest discussion?”
His mouth crooks again. “That would be novel.”
“Answer the question,” I demand.
“Yes. Yes, we are going to have an honest discussion.” He is
amused again, which is irritating.
“You know more about who might have tried to kill me than
you are telling me.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I’m a detective, remember?”
“I think you are prejudiced against the House of Iron.”
He leans back. “I honestly don’t know. At times I’ve thought
it could be someone in my House, but I’ve no proof of any kind. Most of my
youth was spent in Italy where my father had a villa and a mistress. After his
death, I remained there. It is still my primary residence.”
“So who comes to mind when you think that?”
“Let us not play this game. I have no knowledge that my
family is involved. If I ever have, I will tell you. I find I have a desire to
keep you alive.
 Frutti proibiti sono i più dolci.”
“Which means?”
“Forbidden fruit is the sweetest.”
My ears burn again. “Is that a promise, Mr. Blackwell?”
“It is a promise.” He smiles. “Enough of that. Now, let’s
talk about you.”
My defenses rear up. “What about me?”
“I take it you are not a social butterfly.”
“Was it the shoes thing?”
He laughs. “In part. You are intriguing, Miss Brighton,
though forbidden fruit.”
I sip my own wine. “Forbidden? In what way?”
“House of Iron and House of Rose never . . . intermingle.”
“Really? Why is that?”
“Let us call it a strong cultural tradition. Both Houses must
marry outsiders.”
His reaction makes me suspect this prohibition is more along
the lines of prejudice, and my jaw tightens. “Them” and “us” exist even among
the witches and warlocks.
. . .Our food comes at that moment. It is beautifully
presented, with a small sprig of cilantro and a lemon wedge cut artfully in a
spiral design, and I realize I’m starving. While he talks, I eat, feeling his
eyes on me again. I want to believe he had nothing to do with my family’s
murder. I can’t explain why. I just do. Maybe because his eyes are so blue.
When our plates are whisked away, I excuse myself from the
table to powder my nose and wobble my way down the hall. “If I ever try to wear
heels again, just shoot me,” I mumble aloud.
A platinum-haired lady exiting the women’s restroom gives me
an odd glance. I smile and point to my ear. She sniffs in disapproval of the
concept of people talking on invisible phones in public and walks on with her
nose in the air.
Once inside, the first thing I do is kick off the shoes, sit
on the toilet seat and rub my arches. I linger just long enough to give my feet
a reprieve, wash my hands, and reapply lip gloss. Lipstick requires far too
much aim and control. My hair is curling wildly from the moisture outside, but there’s
not much I can do about that. I wash my hands and dry them in the curls, a
temporary taming technique. Reluctantly, I slip the heels back on.
In the hall, a girl with freckled skin and bony elbows steps
carefully around the corner, balancing a tray of glasses. Unbeckoned, a surge
of living-green sweeps into me. The girl freezes, and a shadow girl steps ahead
of her, slightly out of focus, moving in my direction. I am seeing the future,
moments from now.
A portly shadow man exits the men’s room, which is next to
the women’s room where I stand, and bumps into the girl, spilling her tray. He
turns on her, angry and wobbly, probably drunk. I can’t hear anything he says
to her, but it isn’t necessary. The slump of her shoulders reflects his abuse.
The whole thing fades, and the girl in my universe or time-line resumes walking
toward me.
Without thinking about it, I step to the men’s room and lean
against the door. Someone on the other side pushes to get out, but I set my
weight into it.
“What the hell?” he slurs from inside.
When the waitress is safely past, I move away from the door,
and it bursts open. The man staggers out like carbonated foam pent up in a can.
At that moment, the headache that seems associated with seeing into the future
hits me, and I just happen to step on his foot with my heel. “Oh, I am so
sorry,” I say and leave him cursing and limping in a circle.
These shoes might be good for something, after all.

Click HERE to preorder on Amazon
Click HERE to preorder on BarnesandNoble.com

A retired police captain, T.K. has written two award-winning historical novels, NOAH’S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, filling in the untold backstories of extraordinary, yet unnamed women—the wives of Noah and Lot—in two of the world’s most famous sagas. The New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list featured her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, which details the investigators’ behind-the-scenes stories of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing case. Coming in November: HOUSE OF ROSE, the first of a trilogy in the paranormal-crime genre. 

She loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. T.K. writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, Alabama, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap. More info at TKThorne.com. Join her private newsletter email list and receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.