Digital Technology in Mysteries

Person with long, blonde hair sitting at a laptop with hands on keyboard. Photo taken from over their shoulder.

The more I read, the more I notice when digital technology isn’t a part of the story. It’s become a way for me to quickly decipher how old a book is. If I’m reading a novel and there’s no mention of texting or social media, or even Googling something, it sometimes pulls me out of the story.

The thing is, I’ve been a frequent texter for more than a decade. I’ve used social media regularly that long as well. But it feels like publishing has been slower to accept digital technology in stories and it’s only becoming more common in the past couple of years.

Digital technology is such an important part of our lives. Sure, the extent of that importance may vary from person-to-person, but you’re here reading a blog so it’s important to both of us on some level. 🙂

When I read a romance, I like seeing one character Google another. If I’m going on a date with someone or crushing on another person, you bet your britches I’m going to be checking them out online. Not only for curiosity’s sake, but for my own safety. My true crime obsession doesn’t help.

It’s even more glaring to me as a reader of mysteries. Particularly when a sleuth is a millennial or younger (late 30s or below). I’m at the upper end of the millennial group, which means I’m part of a small subset of millennials who remember life before cell phones and computers, but they’re important to how I operate daily because they were introduced during childhood. That’s the big difference I see between myself and my parents. When I’m curious about something, one of my first instincts is to Google it. That’s not instinctual to my parents because these digital technologies were available later in their lives.

So, when I read about a sleuth in their 20s or 30s (at least, but not limited to those ages), I expect to see them using the internet in their investigations or slyly using their cell phone to record someone, or sending out a help beacon from their Apple Watch if they’re in trouble. Granted, age does not equate to technological comfort and skill. I have friends who don’t have a social media presence and only switched from a flip phone to a smartphone in the last year or two. But, to me, that’s the exception not the rule.

I feel like I see the use of digital technologies more in television. Hallmark has been doing a great job of incorporating texts, video chatting, internet searches, and more into their movies (I’ve been watching Hallmark movies pretty non-stop since June). I’m not sure if it’s because authors are hesitant to write it, publishing professionals advice against adding a technological shelf life, or some other reason I haven’t thought of.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot during revisions of my cozy mystery. I’ve been intentionally trying to find ways to incorporate digital technologies.

Do you incorporate digital technologies in your stories? Do you think there’s a trend toward seeing more of it? Curious about your thoughts!

 

Using social media to learn about authors and books

I love social media. So much, in fact, I’ve built a career around it managing social media for a university and coaching authors on using it. One of the things I love most about social media is using it to learn about things, like new (to me) books and authors.

Social media helps people find others who share the same interest. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love cozy mysteries. I’ve joined some Facebook groups for cozy readers, like Cozy Mystery Corner and Save Our Cozies. These groups are a great place to share book recommendations, hear from authors about their upcoming releases and ask for book suggestions if you’re in the mood for something specific. Are you in any reader Facebook groups? Share a link in the comments!

Another perk of social media is the social proof factor and the authentic reviews/recommendations. How many times have you seen a friend recommend a book they just read and you stopped to consider getting it for yourself? For many, myself included, peer reviews hold more weight than ads. If I see an ad for something on Amazon, you bet your britches I’m going to go read the reviews before I consider buying it. The same goes for books. If a friend, whose opinion I’ve agreed with in the past on books, suggests something, I’m far more likely to check that book out. I’ve snagged so many books for my TBR pile that way.

Hashtags are also a great way to learn about books and authors, especially on Twitter and Instagram. I just did a search of the #cozymystery hashtag on Twitter and saw mention of several new books that I may not have otherwise learned about. Are there any hashtags you look on to find new books/authors? Or, for those of you who are authors, what hashtags do you use to promote your books to readers?

I’d love to know how you use social media to find new books and authors!

Cozy mysteries… on TV

I love cozy mysteries so darn much (so much that I’m saying darn instead of something with a bit more bite). I love to read them and I definitely love to watch them. There’s something about the quirky characters and charming settings brought to life on the screen that makes them so enjoyable.

I’m a huge Hallmark fan. Park me in front of my TV, turn on Sling and let me binge watch Hallmark Christmas romances and I am a very happy woman.

Very. Happy.

Guess what I love as much as a Hallmark Christmas romance? A cozy mystery on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. There are so many great ones and I wanted to share a few of them with you.

As a writer, I love to see how the stories are assembled in film form. As a reader, I can watch a cozy much faster than I can read one 😀 And some of the Hallmark cozies are based on books, which is like super duper extra bonus round.

Mystery 101 series

I LOVE this series. There’s two out currently with a third releasing in September. This series combines several of my favorite things: criminology, academia, romance, and a good mystery.

The setting is great and the chemistry between the two characters sizzles. I love a slow burn romance. But you know what I love most about this one? The female amateur sleuth is brilliant. She’s not ditsy and she doesn’t stumble upon the answers by accident. She’s smart and respected.

Also, the detective respects her. Instead of spending the whole series giving her crap and telling her to stay out of his way, he respects her contributions and acknowledges that she’s helping him solve the murders. I really enjoy the banter, cheekiness and respect these two characters have.

Morning Show Mysteries series

This series first drew my attention because it’s set in the Pacific Northwest (where I live). The family and friends of the characters are so charming, loving and downright silly sometimes.

This mystery also includes a second-chance romance between the amateur sleuth and the detective. Their chemistry is fantastic. Also #RickFox #swoon.

This one does a great job blending several interests, specifically television and cooking. If you like either or both of those things, this is the series for you.

Your turn! Do you watch any Hallmark mysteries or other cozies? I’d love your recommendations!

 

 

New Member

To fill in the fifth Monday of the month, I’ll introduce you to our new member.

We were sorry to see Sally Carpenter leave the Ladies of Mystery, but I’m excited to say I found some to take over her day.

Lisa Leoni is a writer I’ve known for many years. I met her when we were both members of the Salem, Oregon chapter of Romance Writers of America. We roomed together at a conference and spent time together being officers of the chapter.

I moved on from RWA and began working on writing mysteries, not realizing Lisa was too. When I discovered she is writing mystery books, and then Sally said she’d like to step down from the blog, I immediately thought Lisa would make a good addition.

Lisa will have her first post on this blog next Monday, the first Monday of every month. I look forward to hearing what she’ll have to add to the blog.

Here is her bio: Lisa has found a way to combine her lifelong love for happily ever afters and her (un?)healthy fascination with crime by writing cozy mysteries. She writes cozies set in her own backyard of the Willamette Valley of Oregon and writes contemporary romances set in Scotland. When she’s not plotting ways to murder people, she’s being herded by her ginger cats and juggles a dozen craft projects.

Welcome, Lisa!