If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

May Interviews

5/5 Lynn Calhoon, Murder 101
5/12 Annette Dashofy, Death By Equine
5/19 Krista Davis, The Diva Serves Forbidden Fruit
5/25 Debra Goldstein, Four Cuts Too Many

Saturday WWK Bloggers

5/1 V. M. Burns
5/8 Jennifer Chow
5/22 Kait Carson

Guest Blogs

5/15 M. K. Scott


E. B. Davis's "The Pearl Necklace" will appear in the new SinC Guppy anthology The Fish That Got Away to be released in July by Wildside Press. The anthology was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Paula Gail Benson's monologue "Beloved Husband," from the perspective of Norton Baskin the second husband of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling and Cross Creek), appears in the Red Penguin Collection's An Empty Stage (released March 28, 2021).

Martha Reed's "Death by GPS" will appear in the Spring 2021 issue of Suspense Magazine, which will be released in the second week of April. Congratulations, Martha!

Susan Van Kirk has a new audiobook, A Death at Tippitt Pond, that will be released this month. Marry in Haste will be released in May by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, as will Death Takes No Bribes in September. Congratulations, Susan.

Congratulations to Martha Reed. Her short story, "The Honor Thief" was chosen for the 2021 Bouchercon Anthology, This Time For Sure. Hank Phillippi Ryan will edit the volume, which will be released in August at the time of the convention.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Killer Weeds," appears in the January 20 edition of Texas Gardener's Seeds: From Our Garden to Yours. Congratulations, Margaret, who, if you follow Facebook know, is a superb gardener herself!

Congratulations to Jennifer J. Chow for garnering a 2021 Lefty Nomination for Best Humorous Mystery Novel. We're crossing our fingers for Jennifer!

Congratulations to Paula Gail Benson whose "Reputation or Soul" has been chosen for Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical anthology to be released this spring.

KM Rockwood's "Stay Safe--Very Safe" appears in this year's 2020 BOULD anthology. Congratulations, KM!

Annette Dashofy signed with agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Congratulations, Annette!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

To Cuss or Not to Cuss

To Cuss or Not to Cuss

When writing a cozy mystery, how do you handle your character’s language? Do your main characters use cuss words, or only your secondary characters?

I was reading on the Sinc Guppy Cosy group a discussion about swear words or even some words like “dang” or “darn” and writers wondered if even those words are okay to use in a cozy novel. I’ve always wanted to write a cozy, but somehow, somewhere, one of my characters will say a cuss word—not the worse ones, but maybe “shit” or “damn”. And I’m not sure I wouldn’t slip up and put one of those words into the mouth of a sweet little old lady.

I find my main characters watch their language, but my secondary characters aren’t so good. Maybe that’s because when I was growing up the women in our family didn’t cuss but some of the men could cuss like sailors, including my father.

When I married I was surprised to learn my sweet looking mother-in-law could throw out some words I wasn’t used to hearing out of the mouth of a woman. But that was when she was younger. As she aged, her language didn’t include so many of those words.

I have an older woman in one of my novels that doesn’t cuss, but she says mean things. She tells her daughter-in-law she’s an idiot or a hussy and she flirts with all the men and asks them to take her dancing. She’s in her 80s and has dementia.

My mom had dementia and until I could get her out of the unit, they stuck her in with Alzheimer’s patients. One night while visiting her, a woman came into her room and said to me, “Do you see all those people outside dancing?” There were none. So she then sang and danced for us. And when my cousin would visit she’d say to him, “When the others leave, you can come to my room.”

I wonder how much of what we write comes from people we’ve met over the years, or family members. One of my grandmothers used to kick her leg in the air when she was in her 80s and say, “Look, kid.” My grandfather would get upset because I didn’t want to kiss him. He chewed and spit tobacco and had a stained mustache. My dad’s family cussed when playing cards. Grandpa would roll his beer bottle on the floor and yell to my grandmother to get him another beer.

My other grandmother was from Croatia and sometimes made us hide when people came to the door, because she feared they were gypsies. Later in life I learned we did have gypsies that hung out not far from Grandma’s house. But at the age of 5 or 6, I didn’t believe her. She made us kids hide behind the couch. I also learned her fear was valid. Gypsies in Croatia are known for kidnapping children. And by the way, Grandma could cuss in Croatian, but we kids didn’t know what she said, only that our mothers told us those were bad words and not to repeat them.

I guess my question is, to cuss or not cuss? And which type of writing do you use profanity in and what books do we leave out those words?

Although I love reading a cosy novel, I’m afraid one of my characters might just slip up and be naughty. Guess I better pass on writing them.


Pauline Alldred said...

I don't write cosies but I think if cussing is part of a character's language pattern,then they should cuss whaever subgenre they appear in.

As far as little older ladies cussing goes, as an RN I've heard language come out of the mouths of revered grandmothers that young sailors haven't yet learned.

Representing the true speech of a character doesn't mean an author believes everyone should cuss.

Warren Bull said...

My novel, Abraham Lincoln for the Defense was popular with the over 80 crowd, a growing demographic group, because of the lack of cursing. I didn't plan it that way. It's jut how the particular characters talked.

E. B. Davis said...

In general, I really notice when characters swear in books, not that it is inappropriate if characters are to be authentic. So far, I have one character that swears in my current WIP. His swearing isn't extrememly foul. But the character himself is so foul, little else is needed.

Lorna said...

Whether there's cussing or not, I believe it depends on the genre. That's why I probably couldn't write inspirational (grin). I also think if the writer is not comfortable with doing it, it will not sound natural in the story. So I say, if the genre and/or story calls for it, and you as the writer can flow it into the story, then what the hell - do it! Lorna