Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: mysteries


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

CHOOSE YOUR GENRE: Mystery vs. Romantic Suspense vs. Thriller

 This is a great topic for authors and readers.

CHOOSE YOUR GENRE: Mystery vs. Romantic Suspense vs. Thriller

This is like saying "What's the difference between a romance and a mainstream novel with romantic elements?"

The answer is: No one knows for the second one. Oh, there are scads of opinions!!! But it's up to the individual editor. My wonderful editor at Amazon's Waterfall Publishing (They bought the initial Wishing Bridge books before the line closed. NOT MY FAULT!!!! Although it was the THIRD time it happened, but still... I maintain my innocence!)  :) Anyway, she listed Wishing Bridge as "women's fiction" and "contemporary romance" because it was focused on the woman's story... but it also had a romance.

Anyway, another editor looked at one of the Wishing Bridge stories and said no way was this women's fiction, and it was boring and no way did she even care about what happened to this woman. So the lines are not clearly drawn, right? And that's okay. (By the way, the book is anything but boring.) :) 

It's different for the mystery/suspense/thriller categories. More obvious.

A cozy mystery (think Agatha Christie, Guideposts) may have murder and mayhem, but it minimizes the element of fear. The protagonists aren't in constant danger, although they may be targeted to throw them off or scare them away. It can be funny, poignant and generally is "G" or "PG" rated.  My newest one "Merciful Secrecy" is set in Charleston, SC.... a city of old bleeding into new... and a hospital filled with hard-working people, some of whom have BIG EGOS. :) 

CHOOSE YOUR GENRE: Mystery vs. Romantic Suspense vs. Thriller

"When a lovely young E.R. nurse is being stalked, Anne, Shirley, Joy and Evelyn combine forces to figure out who's doing what... and why. But someone doesn't want them interfering. Someone has a lot more at stake than they bargained for... but the ladies aren't about to back down until they're sure that Katie can go back to her life as a hospital nurse without looking over her very pretty shoulder. Unless it's to glimpse the to-die-for head of security that thinks keeping Katie safe ranks pretty high on his list."

Now, Romantic Suspense is different.

That heroine can be kick-butt (Becket in "Castle") but she will be in danger... she will have some sort of awesome hero at her side, often reluctantly on both parts, but his job is to keep her safe EVEN if he thinks she's guilty. Heroine may be a suspect in a major crime/felony or she can be a target who's being hidden because she may know too much... Stakes are raised with babies or children being involved and/or threatened. Cabins in woods are a popular setting... but NYC basements (or any big city) paint a scary picture all on their own. Romantic suspense novels are a great read, and extremely popular right now. I love romantic suspense, but I can't write them and still sleep at night. My mind can't "unsee" things and it's not worth the nightmares.... Ditto for thrillers. :) I've learned to stay in my mental health comfort zone. 

Thrillers are in a class of their own. They are not horror stories.... 

Think Jason Bourne. Jack Reacher. John Grisham stories. 

The idea behind a thriller is often a conspiracy. Conspiracies allow the writer to make the heroes and heroines multi-targeted so you never know where the next shot/poison/car accident or plane crash is coming from. Execution-style killings are common. Violence is bedrock most of the time, but that would be different with psychological thrillers.... that's different, and we're sticking with standard "kill everyone attached to hero to see if he falls apart" type. 

Yes, I'm grinning, but it is mostly true and you know it!!!! 

There is a spectrum within each genre... Some cozies have murders and targeting. Some thrillers are psychological, not targeted at hero/heroine. Some romantic suspense play out over a series of books, not one. But whatever you write, aim it at one genre and then play the aspects of how you envision the finished product. That will help you (and the reader) be satisfied with the completed work.

And I have a copy of Merciful Secrecy to send out to one commenter today....

Leave a comment below, my friends! I'll enter your name into the freshly cleaned cat dish!

CHOOSE YOUR GENRE: Mystery vs. Romantic Suspense vs. Thriller

Multi-published bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves God, her family, her country, dogs, chocolate, coffee and Diet Mt Dew and she loves writing stories. Friend her on Facebook, email Ruthy at and stop by her website She'd love to hear from you! 


 From the gal who said "I'll never write a mystery... my brain just doesn't work that way..." comes a new mystery for a new Guideposts mystery series "Miracles and Mysteries of Mercy Hospital"!

Prescription for Mystery



I've always felt that the past trods on the heels of the present in so many ways, so writing time-slip mysteries... with a past story and a current story... is right up my alley. Who knew that it would be a natural fit for me? 

And this story grabs the heart and feeds the soul. A story of self-sacrifice and putting children first marks the historical.... and then we find out how that old story feeds into the present day narrative.

And writing these mysteries has inspired me to a few other stories because the past truly does cast its joys and shadows on the present. But it also gives us the chance for forgiveness... restitution... remembrance.

"While digging through dusty hospital archives, Anne Mabry discovers a box tucked away in the darkest recesses of the windowless room. The contents of the box compel Anne, Shirley, Evelyn, and Joy to join forces and find out whatever happened to the promising young ER doctor who went missing thirty years before—a young doctor whose family had long roots in Charleston society, roots that pre-dated the Civil War.

When Dr. Byron Wellington disappeared without a trace, no one knew what to think. Was he forced to leave without saying goodbye? Or was it something worse? Something even more sinister? As the ladies search out tidbits of information, they discover much more than they were looking for.
In this lingering mystery of the past, the women realize that all is not what it seems on the surface and that, in the end, the truth does indeed set you free."

That's the official description of the story, and as the four women work together to figure things out, they uncover an unknown past that helped build Charleston's future. 

And that's the fun of time-slip. We can look back and see how our present hasn't just happened. It's evolved based on the actions of the past. That can be sacrificial... or greed. Honor... or crime. Good and bad combine to build the cornerstones of today with the actions of the past. 

I hope you love this book and the whole series! I've been working with a great group of authors and we've had a ball! 

I've got two copies of Prescription for Mystery to give away... leave a comment or question below. If you're a writer and want to talk mysteries, I'm in. If you're a reader and want to talk mysteries, well... I'm in there, too! 

Because I love, love, love a good mystery!

And here's a link to an article about... you guessed it!.. ME! :) Guideposts Magazine interviewed me for this month's issue and it was so much fun to be part of it. I love the magazine, the stories of hope and expectation.



Award-winning, bestselling inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne has over 60 novels and novellas in print and has sold over 2,000,000 books in the last ten years... and she loves doing what she's doing! Visit her website, email Ruthy at or friend her on Facebook. 

Backwards Mystery Plotting for Amateurs

I'm not calling names, here.

Backwards Mystery Plotting for Amateurs

I'm not saying you're an amateur, but hey... if the shoe fits, don't just wear it. Grab that leather loafer, pull on your Sherlock Holmes' hat and lets get down to it, because I used to be flamboozled by the very thought of plotting a mystery.

How do you come up with a culprit? How do you set up a crime? (Really, I had six kids, I should be totally golden at setting up crimes, right????) How do you plant clues, red herrings, shuffle things around and have any of it make sense?

In this case, this ONE case of writing (because I am a linear writer/storyteller, meaning I begin at the beginning and go through to the end...) I don't begin at the beginning. I begin at the end. With the perpetrator, the culprit, the crime.... And then I spin my way backwards by figuring out who might have an interest in the outcome.

Who might dislike another person?

Who's short on money? People in tight circumstances become prime suspects because they are in need. A reader will see that "need" and realize that person has a great reason to be a suspect... even if they're not the culprit.

Who's got a grudge to bear against another? Who has a history they don't want revealed? Who's uncle/aunt/cousin has dirty laundry?

Probably all of them. And that's what's different about a mystery/thriller/suspense story.

As an investigation deepens, more is revealed. Hidden pasts take on onerous overtures... because can a zebra change its stripes?

Not as a rule, so a bad youth leads to an evil adulthood...

But not always, and there's a red herring for you... because people do change, they get redeemed, they strike out on new paths and that makes them less a suspect and more a person to respect.

So here's the skinny:

1. Begin with the crime. Who did it? Why? (Money, Sex, Power are the three big players)

2. Who is hurt by the crime?

3. Who in town/city/neighborhood would want to hurt that person?

4. Add an odd character or two to the playlist

5. Animals work well in cozy or humorous mysteries. Not necessarily so much in thrillers. (The poor rabbit in "Fatal Attraction" is a prime and horrible example!!!!)

6. Setting varies from cozy mystery (small towns like my Martha's Vineyard mystery series with Guideposts) to straight mystery (Agatha Christie's books, pure classics) to amateur sleuth mysteries (Nancy Drew style) and on...

But the main trick in plotting these is to start at the end and work your way back mentally... at least that works for me. 

In a straight story, I'm absolutely linear. I don't quilt a story together and build in patches. Lots of folks do that successfully! 

But not me, and if you've tried and failed (like crashed and burned, utterly) then it might not be YOU failing... it could be the strategy you're employing.

Shake it up a little! Pretend it's a Christmas tree, a stately blue spruce or a scrawny white pine and then begin at the peak, the summit.... with the crime...

Then work your way down to the ever-growing branches, building several as you go.

If this is a romance, then you need to thread the romance into the story as well, and that's not always easy. Clever writing and quick timing/pacing come to mind there.

But if there's no romance, or just hinted romance, then you've got room to play. And who doesn't want room to play???

My second mystery "Swept Away" releases soon. I had so much fun returning to Martha's Vineyard and all the great characters we've got there... and seeing what my friend Priscilla is up to!

Here's the blurb on this delightful book 9 of the Mysteries of Martha's Vineyard: 

The arrival of a Hollywood film crew revives memories of three dramatic events in Martha’s Vineyard’s history: a little girl’s unsolved disappearance, a daring heist, and a major hurricane. When Priscilla learns that all three events occurred over the course of the same weekend, she is convinced that they were connected. But how? With her daughter, Rachel, visiting, Priscilla dives into the mystery, but she isn’t alone. The son of the detective who oversaw the case of the missing girl tells Priscilla he is seeking answers to put his ailing father’s mind to rest. But is his story true, or is he just interested in recovering the missing money from the heist? 

As Priscilla pieces together the clues, a smaller—but no less vexing—mystery hits closer to home. When her newly painted lemon-yellow door ruffles feathers in her neighborhood, someone begins leaving ugly scratches in the paint. Who is behind this disturbing vandalism—and can Priscilla catch the culprit to put a stop to it?

Backwards Mystery Plotting for Amateurs

Our deep freeze has broken here in Western New York and I suspect there will be snowmen showing up soon, now that the snow is growing "heavier"... you can't build a snowman with dry, super-cold snow! While we're making snowmen up here, tell me what it is about mysteries that attracts you... The fun of figuring out the clues before the end of the book? Or the engaging characters? And do you like murder mysteries or prefer your cozies without a body necessarily attached?

Leave a comment and I'll tuck your name into a drawing for my absolutely beautiful soon-to-be-released Love Inspired "Her Secret Daughter"... a poignant story of sacrificial love and God's perfect timing... which sometimes doesn't seem all that perfect, does it? 

Backwards Mystery Plotting for Amateurs

Backwards Mystery Plotting for Amateurs
Multi-published and bestselling inspirational author Ruthy Logan Herne has over 40 published novels and novellas and she's living her dream of touching hearts... and souls...  from a VERY COLD AND SNOWY farm in Western New York! Thanks for visiting with her here in Seekerville... and you can friend her on facebook, follow her on Twitter and her editors really, really love it when you follow or like her on Amazon and Bookbub! And she loves  making editors happy! 

CHOOSE YOUR GENRE: Mystery vs. Romantic Suspense vs. ThrillerNEW MYSTERY FROM RUTHY!!!!!Backwards Mystery Plotting for Amateurs

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