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Author's Books > Forgive Myself by Bruce Morse

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan Albert Nicole (and a couple of others have mentioned "cozies." Here's what she wrote: <>

Sometimes mystery authors don't like the tag "cozy." Carolyn Hart (for instance) says she feels that it denigrates the series. So I'm wondering. How do you know a cozy when you see it? How would you describe a cozy, to differentiate it from another kind of mystery--or another genre altogether? Is it merely the amount of blood spilled (measured in buckets), or is it something else? Are there "hard" and "soft" cozies? Are there "dark" cozies and "bright" cozies? "Nice" and "nasty" cozies?

Or am I taking this thing waaaay too far? (That's okay--I do that often!)

message 2: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Morse (brucemorse) | 1 comments It is the story of a romantic, an artist and, at one time, a diagnosed schizophrenic, to make peace with himself and learn to embrace life.
It is a journey through darkness to light.

message 3: by Nicole (last edited Mar 28, 2008 11:38AM) (new)

Nicole (alwaysreiding) As I've understood the definition of a cozy, the main character sleuths in their free time--they're normally professionals in other fields and stumble upon mysteries throughout their normal body of work.
These sleuths usually have great knowledge about their field, and are usually looked at as the 'Problem solvers' of their communities. This comes into play when their peers ask them to figure out something that they'd like to keep discreet, etc.
I'm sorry for using the term, it sparks a debate similar to that of "chick lit." When I think of a cozy, or rather a new book in a series I am currently hooked on (such as the China Bayles series!) I normally think of curling up by the fire on a cold winter night and revisiting an old friend, or sitting with a nice tall glass of iced tea on a warm summer day, I'm definitely relaxed and I look forward to checking in on where everyone in the books is after a little vacation.
I think cozies can be dark and bright, depending on the series. I also think there can be hard or soft, but I can usually tell a cozy by the cover. It's normally warm and inviting--a clever clue or play on a theme might also be included on the cover. I mean, I read Darkly Dreaming Dexter, and even though the subject matter is dark, I think it's a series, and Dexter fits the cozy definition as I've laid out.
Now that I'm looking at things, there may not be much of a difference...the only marketable difference being that most of the books classified as 'cozy' are usually in a series.
I will admit that I've never read Agatha Christie, despite my understanding that she was the master of the mystery genre. Maybe the prefix cozy just evolved? I will say that my local big box book store (Barnes and Noble) has a mystery section nestled in between the literature section, and those two shelves seem to have more series mysteries than anything else. However, if I pull out a thriller from the literature section of the same store, it's almost guaranteed that it will say some combination of mystery/thriller either on the jacket or in the reviews, so I'm not necessarily sure how or why the cozy prefix came to be.
I'm sorry if I was irresponsible in saying cozy in my previous post. If anything, it was meant as a compliment because it's gotten me to get back into a genre (mystery) that I hadn't read in a long time.

message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan Albert ACK! NOT a problem, Nicole! Your comment simply interested me, and I thought it merited a separate discussion. I'm not one who is disturbed by the word "cozy." And I'm interested to hear what comes into people's minds when they use that term. Thanks for sharing your perceptions!

message 5: by Marla (new)

Marla (desertcat) Well... I never actually thought of China Bayles as cozy! Much too intelligent for that. Never realized there was a definition for the cozy mysteries. But Nicole's comment made some sense.
To me when I read a "cozy" mystery I don't have to think much - just read. And its mostly forgotten a day after reading it.

While a good story in my opinion involves me to the point of me thinking its real and I have to really work at it to put the book down and get re-adjusted in the real world. I will often find myself using things I'd read in the book in conversations for a long while after. (i.e. references regarding herbs/plants, etc.) I even looked up Pecan Springs on a map... sigh... I want to live there and have a application on hand to turn in...

message 6: by Susan (last edited Mar 29, 2008 08:06AM) (new)

Susan Albert Well, don't toss that application, Marla. Watch for an announcement about that, coming soon, exclusive to Goodreads! (I'll leave you in suspense on that one for a bit.)

Marla is adding "light entertainment" to our list of cozy definitions, right? I agree--there are lots of light/easy mysteries. But Janet Evanovich is often described as being light/easy entertainment. Would you define Stephanie Plum as a cozy character?

Oh, and thanks for describing China as "intelligent," Marla--she loves it when people say things like that about her! But Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta is also very intelligent. Would you call Cornwell's mysteries "cozies?"

Mmmmm....this is getting interesting!

message 7: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) For me cozy would come from the fact that there is story about the person and the life of the person who is solving the crimes which fits with the reader's life either past or present or even dreamed of/wished for. It offers friendships, familys both with and without baggage and conflicts and problems similar to those we all face in our own families. It offers role models -- education and the struggles to get that education, finding jobs which fit and do not fit or which become uncomfortable, finding new pathways to contentment (as when China made the daunting decision to jump ship from law to entrepenour). Cozy is in no way simple nor even "fluffy" in my opinion.

As for China Bayles books being cozy, they meet most of what I said above fits my own definition of the word and one other factor was the icing on the cake for me which was discovering that these books are set in and described the very area of TX with which I was just becoming familiar. And for me there is significance in the fact that I found the first three of the books which I read at an AAUW book sale because China is certainly intelligent and self-motivating both of which seem to me qualities needed by all women which make her a definitely positive role model.

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Bruce, your book sounds very good. I, too, lost my eldest child, and only son, in a car accident.
He was hit by one in El Paso, Tx. in 1987. Only 19 and 1/2 years old at the time. But we have our two two daughters and now six grandchildren!
:) Life is still good. Anyway I just got my own
first kiddie book out in print and would surely be honoured if you would take a look at it on Amazon or B & N. Here are the links if you go see:

Have a beautiful day and may you and yours remain
in peace and love all your life. Katie

message 9: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly (whatkreads) I look at it the same way Marla does...light entertainment. I don't think that I have ever heard the term "cozy" to describe a genre. I know that my friends and I say "fun, light mystery" as a classification instead. To us, that means a book contains a wonderful, intriguing mystery with fun and entertaining characters. They usually have a set theme like owning a herb shop or a tea shop, running a dancing school or partaking in a cooking class. The characters often make us giggle and we can relate to them as normal everyday people that we might meet any day of the week in our hometown. The point that classifies it as light would be that the author doesn't get into gory details when describing the crimes like say James Patterson would.

message 10: by Mary (new)

Mary (maalwalker) I have been following the discussion of 'cozy.' I hadn't heard or read the term before and find it interesting. I had always divided the mystery genre into 'puzzlers' and 'hard boiled.' Hard boiled are those with a good bit of blood, brutality and violence. The mystery often seems to be an add on, not central. The puzzlers are just the opposite. Sometimes, rarely, a hard boiled has characters I like and involve intriguing mysteries. Those I follow. Sometimes the puzzlers lose me either because the characters become annoying or the mysteries uninteresting. The word 'cozy' just never occurred to me as a description.

message 11: by Marla (new)

Marla (desertcat) No I would not describe Steph as a cozy character - tho the term character fits her well. While I enjoy that series - I read it for the humor, tongue in cheek wit (so yeah - light entertainment!) and while the joy of actually reading something and laughing out loud, it doesn't hold a candle to China's growth. Her struggle to allow a man and his son (and dog!) into her life after being so independent and then being able to keep some of that independance after settling into the relationship. I love all the struggles you have put her through. I have always loved strong intelligent heroines especially those that we readers can see their vulnerable side also.
I have read a couple of Cornwell's books and while well written, at least the earlier ones, they are too dark for me. Too filled with evil. I have a very hard time with them. So definitely NOT cozy!

If I have a choice between the three I will pick China every time. In fact can hardly wait for the newest one to come out!

Someone, either on this thread or another, asked about your other series - where you would start with them to read. I apologize if I missed the answer - I too, am getting use to this format.

Okay! I'm hanging on to my application - now with some zing along the spine! Such a tease you are Susan!

message 12: by Susan (new)

Susan Albert I've really enjoyed these comments about cozies. If you'd like a definition (humorous and otherwise), here's one: cozy -- A "traditional" mystery whose best-known practitioner is Agatha Christie. Common elements include: a domestic setting such as a country house or quiet neighborhood; a limited roster of suspects, all part of the victim's social circle; little or no description of violence or sex; a mildly romantic subplot; and an amateur sleuth or eccentric professional. I found it here:
along with a humorous definition that you'll enjoy.

For a site that's all about cozies, here's my favorite: There's a monthly newsletter that's fun and informative.

More later. I'm on blog tour this week, and things are just a wee bit hectic!

message 13: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Schiller Hi Susan, As a transplanted Texan (I am currently in COLD Wisconsin) I really enjoy your books set in Texas. I also LOVE your Beatrix Potter mysteries! They have such an easy flow to them- just right for a "cozy" read. Will there be another soon? I am awaiting your new China Bayles mystery- have fun on your tour. I also loved your beautiful flower photos. It makes me so envious- spring is another month in coming here. Thanks for recommending this site.

message 14: by Spuddie (new)

Spuddie My own definition of a cozy is that, as others have said, it is "light, entertaining mystery" but I agree with Susan's assessment about the lack of "sax and violins" and violence mostly takes place 'off stage.' There's no blood and gore or messy, detailed descriptions of the murder victim or the crime itself, no graphic sex (if it exists at all, sex is mostly just 'implied' or glossed over) no four letter words (or they are limited to things such as 'crap' and 'damn.' There's very little in a cozy that would offend anyone. (Although, truthfully I don't know if that's possible--there will always be someone to take offense at just about anything these days it seems!)

I don't think of the China Bayles series as a cozy series--it's more complicated than that. In fact, it sort of defies classification aside from the generic 'mystery.' It's not hard-boiled, but not a cozy either. The series addresses real (and often difficult) issues, and provides a great balance of the 'visit with old friends' with learning something new, and some humor with being made to THINK about issues that can take you outside of your comfort zone. If there's such a thing as a perfectly balanced mystery series, I think the China Bayles series fills the bill very nicely.

message 15: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) Spuddle, I agree with your final assessment and I think this is why I've fallen into this series so readily. I always saay about my light reading (which I have given a shelf on GR titled "fluff") that it is fluff with just enough meat to satisfy. China Bayles real and difficult issues and her intelligence and her independent spirit housed in a romantic being fit that bill very well and could as easily be on my fluff (with meat) shelf as on my mystery shelf. In other words, they are light but not in any way mindless reading.

message 16: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) Oops, I mean Spuddie -- maybe I DO need to get my glasses changed soon. I've been thinking that for a few weeks and there's concrete exampl;e of why I've had that feeling.

message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan Albert Nice to see you here at Goodreads, Lucinda! and thanks for the comment about the Beatrix Potter books. I think of these as "ultra cozy, plus fantasy." I've loved writing them. The next book in the series (#5, The Tale of Briar Bank) will be out in early October. I'm about to settle down to writing #6, The Tale of Applebeck Orchard. There will be eight books, spanning the years 1905-1913.

For those of you who don't know them, the Cottage Tales ( have no on-the-page violence, and are written to be read by everyone, young, old, whatever. I've been hearing from homeschooling families that they make great read-aloud projects.

message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan Albert It's always a challenge for me, to build a serious book (a book around a difficult theme) that is also entertaining and inviting to those who don't like violence. I use Ruby as a kind of relief--not exactly comic, but light-hearted. When I want a very serious book (BLOODROOT for instance), I have to leave Ruby at home.

News: There will be a spinoff in this series, a novel featuring Sheila Dawson, to be published in 2011. The next China (09) is Wormwood, Holly Blues after that, and then Sheila's book, Hard Line (working title). This will be harder-edged, and more of a police procedural than a cozy. Hope you'll like it!

(Just thought I'd drop this tidbit in to see if you guys are still reading these conversations!)

message 19: by Sheila (new)

Sheila I am very excited about the prospect of a new "hard line" series from you Susan. I love a good hard edge book from time to time.
As for cozy, it means sitting down in a comfy chair with a cup of tea and just losing yourself in the book. That doesn't mean it isn't a hard hitting book, it just means it take me away and refreshes my spirit.

message 20: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly (whatkreads) Oh wow!!! I'm very excited to hear about the spin off featuring Sheila. Can't wait!!!!!

message 21: by Debra (new)

Debra (debralee) Yeah, Sheila is a good character - I'd think a book centered on her would be gripping. I'm excited.

Of course, Ruby could be pretty cool as well. Granted we see more of her in China's stories, but getting her inner thought processes would be fun.

Hmm, have you folks read the mysteries set in Jesus Creek TN written by Deborah Adams? She had an intriguing hook of having each book in the series feature a different point of view. I can see Pecan Springs mysteries maybe ....

message 22: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Schiller Thanks Debra, for your author suggestion and thank you Susan for your reply. I cannot believe you have the time to write so many books AND have them all planned out so well in advance. Wow! This is why YOU are the successful author- what discipline.
Another prolific author I love who many of the bloggers may also enjoy is M.C. Beaton. She also writes a victorian series under the name Marion Chesney. Beaton writes two separate series about the characters Agatha Raison and Hamish Macbeth- set in England and Scotland, respectively. They are truly wonderful and very fun to read. Definitely cozy...

message 23: by Lori (new)

Lori Mason I think I found your books with "rosemary remembered." I read so much, I'm not sure. I have greatly enjoyed your books so far, and look forward to reading the next China and Beatrix books. I would echo another reader and say that it is almost like family to come back to familiar characters. I love the tidbits of herb information and also have the "book of days" book.

I usually enjoy it when a favorite author branches out into a new "genre." I look forward to a Sheila series.

message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan Albert Hey, that's a nice reaction to the news about Sheila. I chose her over Ruby for a book because I want to do a harder-edged book. (Ruby would probably be a paranormal! LOL)

Thanks for all your well-wishes for Sheila's story.

Lucinda, one reason for planning ahead for the series is that I have to provide titles and brief outlines to my editor. All series authors are working at least one, sometimes two books ahead. Because China's life is such an important part of the series, I usually try to think three books ahead. (That's how Bleeding Hearts/Spanish Dagger/Nightshade became a trilogy.)

message 25: by MJ (new)

MJ I always think of a "cozy" as a book I could reccomend to my mom. She does not like a lot violence sex or blood and she wants a good story with characters that are not to dark or "broken" (her term not mine). She does not like any book that has the "f-word". I would not reccomend China Bayles to my mom I dont think she would like them so I would not classify them as "cozy" but I did reccomend the Cottage Tales and she loved them.

It is funny how are own life experiences cause each of us to use a slightly different criteria for "cozy" mysteries

message 26: by Susan (new)

Susan Albert Michael, I agree--moms who don't like "broken" characters (a very good term, BTW) probably wouldn't like the China mysteries. As I said, I'm always a little uncomfortable with the term "cozy" as applied to China, because there is a sharp edge to her character and to the situations themselves--particularly in a mystery like Bleeding Hearts, where the theme is sexual molestation. Beatrix, OTOH, is cozy in the extreme. Tell your mom I'm glad she's enjoying the books.

Incidentally, the first printing of the first book, Thyme of Death, had an occasional f-word. After I became better acquainted with my audience, I had my editor take it out. I had used it without understanding how off-putting it might be to some readers. I've learned a thing or two since then.

message 27: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (alwaysreiding) A new series AND the names of the forthcoming China books?
Wow, it's like Christmas.

I had no idea about the printing of Thyme of Death! Thanks for the insight.

message 28: by Susan (new)

Susan Albert Well, we don't know whether the Sheila Dawson book will launch a series. That's really up to the readers. If the sales look good (this is a bottom-line business, folks, and more bottom-line all the time), it's possible to build a series. If not--well, a Sheila book will be fun and interesting for me, whatever happens after that.

message 29: by *Nan* (new)

*Nan* (nan4471) Susan I am looking forward to the next China Bales books Wormwood and Holly Blues and it would be great if you do a Spinoff Series on Sheila Dawson. I have read several of your books already and just purchased several others to read.

message 30: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) I'm looking forward to the Sheila book as well even if it doesn't become a new series. I think though that China and her friends and family will certainly keep me connected to them whatever new directions a series based on Sheila might take.

Also -- somewhere here you mentioned your "apprenticeship in connection with Nancy Drew -- I found that interesting indeed. I read Nacy Drew books in my teens -- one after the other like the Wheat Thins in those old commercials.

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