ARE YOU HOOKED YET?
or, How to Keep a Series Fresh
By Mary Marks
The challenge of writing a series of books like The Quilting Mysteries, is to keep each story fresh and entertaining. Dredging up the same characters and the same few plots book after book, is a sure way to bore the reader and ensure the death of the series. Here are some ways I try to keep you engaged and make each book unique.
Martha, my main character, treasures her old friends like Birdie and Lucy. But in each story, she makes new friends, often in the most unlikely places. Each new person who comes into Martha’s life brings with them some quirky trait that will hopefully amuse and entertain.
In the first story, Forget Me Knot, Martha befriends a homeless woman named Hilda who provides Martha with an essential clue leading to the killer. Hilda’s not a main character, but she’s interesting because most of us don’t know any homeless people. So, in the next book, Knot In My Backyard, Hilda reappears as an important character who gives us a more in-depth look at the world of the homeless. Along the way, we get to know Hilda’s interesting back story.
In the next book, Gone But Knot Forgotten, Martha befriends a colorful psychic named Paulina, who provides some important information in the solving of the crime. Despite her own misgivings about Paulina’s honesty, Martha’s live-and-let-live attitude allows her to once again call upon the friendly Paulina in a later book.
In Something’s Knot Kosher, Martha, Birdie and Lucy invite a new friend, Jazz Fletcher, into their inner circle. Jazz’s alternate lifestyle and success as a menswear designer, adds a whole new dimension to the stories as well as many opportunities for humor. Through Jazz’s character, we also get a long look into Birdie’s surprising back story.
Martha’s psychic friend Paulina reappears in the next book, Knot What You Think. We get to - once again - witness Paulina in action as she contacts the dead and foresees the future. One of the things the reader has to decide is whether Paulina has genuine paranormal abilities or is she just faking it?
In my newest book, Knot My Sister’s Keeper, Martha discovers a half-sister Giselle she never knew about. Giselle is everything Martha is not: young, slender, straight hair, athletic, Catholic and rich. Yet despite these major differences, Martha not only befriends Giselle, she manages to form a close bond and together they solve a decades-old crime.
Another way I try to keep my stories fresh is to introduce a different social theme in each one. Whether the topic is child abuse, government corruption, homelessness, spousal abuse, gay rights, bank fraud, investment fraud, or infidelity, I try to gently remind the reader that very real social issues impact very real people. Sometimes with fatal results.
One of the fun things about being an author is trying to think of many different ways to commit murder. I’ve used poison, a baseball bat, strangulation, gunshots, and even a dumbbell. And the motives for murder are equally diverse, although they all seem to boil down to love or money.
I enjoy including a quilting theme in each of my stories. Not all of my readers are quilters, so I try to introduce them to quilting lore and techniques. The readers who are quilters will recognize them, and the non-quilters will hopefully find them interesting and instructive.
The same can be said for the theme of Martha’s Jewish faith. Some of my readers are already familiar with the rituals of the Jewish Sabbath and Holidays. But for those readers who are not, I aim to introduce a little bit of Jewish history and practice in each of my stories. Hopefully, my readers will find this both fascinating and insightful.
So, have I hooked you? Each of my stories can stand alone. But if you read them as a series, I think you will find some common threads that slowly weave a richer tapestry.
Knot My Sister's Keeper (A Quilting Mystery) by Mary Marks
About the Book
Cozy Mystery 6th in Series
Kensington (July 31, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
In tracing her ancestry, quilter Martha Rose discovers a ritzy half-sister, a stash of family secrets, and a decades-old mystery that only she can unravel . . . Martha Rose is shocked to find she has a half-sister, especially one so different from her. Giselle Cole is wealthy, widowed, and lives a glamorous life in West Los Angeles. At least her grandmother was a quilter! But Giselle can’t answer Martha’s many questions about their father—he disappeared when she was only a child and the few clues left behind indicate he may have been murdered. So Martha and Giselle team up on an investigation that weaves them through the streets of L.A., their father’s hidden love affairs, and into some mysterious unfinished Cole family business . . .
About the Author
About the Author:
Born and raised in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mary Marks earned a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. in Public Administration from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. In 2004 she enrolled in the UCLA Extension Writers Program. Her first novel, Forget Me Knot, was a finalist in a national writing competition in 2011. She is currently a reviewer of cozy mysteries for The New York Journal of Books at www.nyjournalofbooks.com.Readers can visit her at www.marymarksmysteries.com and https://www.facebook.com/mmarks2013
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