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

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


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