Posted in Monday blogs

How I Started Binge Watching TV Series and Why You Should, Too

As a writer who also works full-time as a librarian and is married with a soon-to-be-teen daughter, each minute of my day is precious. However, I also realize the importance of taking a break to wind down. Recently, I started to watch shows on Netflix and other stations with my husband. It was great to be able to view them every night instead of waiting each week and then until the following season to continue the series, but I had no idea how addictive this type of binge watching could be.

Since I prefer shows based on books and also enjoy mystery and murder with a touch of romance, we started with Bones, the series about the forensic anthropologist and FBI agent that’s based on the novels by Kathy Reichs.  We watched 2 to 3 shows a night and finished all 11 seasons way before the anticipated 12th season was scheduled to be aired. By that time, we’d moved on to Castle, close to my heart because it featured a mystery author and a homicide detective. Based on books by the actual Richard Castle, a pseudonym for an unknown author who is not the actor, we enjoyed these shows very much. I found some episodes funny especially the paranormal ones, but I also enjoyed the dramatic action scenes and the cameo appearances by James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and other well-known actors during the poker games. My husband also related to Castle’s relationship with his teen daughter since we have a 12-year old daughter. I even got him a pajama set for Valentine’s Day with Castle’s “ruggedly handsome” slogan.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the first two shows we tried, we were worried we wouldn’t be able to find something else after they were finished. However, three is definitely a charm because we gave Dexter a go. Even though it seemed different from the others, starring a serial killer who murders killers, it turned out to be an incredible show mixing dark elements with humor and containing emotionally gripping scenes, as well.  It was based on the books by Jeff Lindsay.

Now that we’ve mastered binge watching, it’s hard to watch one show a week. We started watching Emerald City and The Catch, but both are new series. We either have to view them once a week or wait until a season has passed to binge watch them. We also checked out Limitless and was pleased to see that it featured our favorite actress, Jennifer Carpenter, who played Dexter’s sister but then was sad to learn the show was canceled after just one season.

Although my husband claims I may be getting ideas for my next novel from the mystery-themed shows we watch, I’m still concerned that I’m wasting time I could be writing, exercising, or sleeping. However, I still make time for those activities.

What about you? Is there a series you enjoy binge watching? One you would recommend to others? Comment with your suggestions. I’d love to hear them.

 

 

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Posted in A Stone's Throw, Authors, Books, Characters, Romantic Suspense

Romantic Suspense vs. Mystery

gothic I consider my upcoming book, “A Stone’s Throw,” a romantic suspense novel, but it contains a mystery, so why isn’t it classified as one? There are many types of mysteries. Most people are familiar with the Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie detective mysteries or, more currently, the crime solving amateur sleuths featured in Sue Grafton or Janet Evanovich’s books. “A Stone’s Throw” features two detectives, the nasty and arrogant, Ron Ramsay and the nice cop, Michael Faraday. Neither of them are very useful in solving the mystery but that is not why “A Stone’s Throw” is romantic suspense. Would you classify a Mary Higgins Clark novel as a mystery? What about a Nora Roberts book? Compare them to her JD Robb series  of books which are mysteries (but include romance, too).

The Romance Writer’s of America define romantic suspense as a subgenre or romance in which “suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.”

When I was a young girl in the 1970’s, my older brother gave me my favorite Christmas gift. It was the novel, “Winter People” by Phyllis Whitney. Once I read that book, I was hooked. I gobbled up everything Whitney wrote and then began reading similar authors – Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels, and others. I was transported to faraway places. I fell in love along with the main character with the mysterious and attractive stranger who might or might not be a killer. These books, sometimes referred to as gothic novels, were very popular at the time. They were also a form of romantic suspense. Daphne Du Maurier was one of the master writers of this genre. All these authors were my teachers and mentors in writing because I was learning their style as I absorbed their words.

The Wikipedia defines romantic suspense as “a blend of romance and mystery.” According to the Wikipedia, “This blend of the romance and mystery was perfected by Mary Stewart, who wrote ten romantic suspense novels between 1955 and 1967. Stewart was one of the first to seamlessly combine the two genres, maintaining a full mystery while focusing on the courtship between two people. In her novels, the process of solving the mystery “helps to illuminate” the hero’s personality, helping the heroine to fall in love with him.”

As I matured, I progressed to other authors and sampled many genres. As a librarian, I had the advantage of access to a wide variety of reading material. However, I still had a preference for mysteries that featured a heroine thrust into danger who was saavy enough to save herself and find love in the process. I began reading Nora Roberts, Mary Higgins Clark, and others. I also realized that romantic suspense authors are not exclusively female and neither are the protagonists or main characters of these novels always women.  The prolific James Patterson writes novels that might be considered romantic suspense in addition to his mystery series.

So how would you define romantic suspense? Is it mystery or romance? It’s actually both and that’s why it’s such a popular form of writing and reading.