Monday, July 2, 2018

Guideposts Continuity Mysteries - Part One

Engaging characters . . . Fascinating settings . . . Faith . . . These are three of the ingredients that make up all of the Guideposts continuity series. Add intriguing whodunits, and you’ve got the recipe for Guideposts continuity mysteries. The icing on the cake? Books in each of the series are released monthly—no waiting for months to revisit your favorite characters. And if that wasn’t enough, there are enough books in each series to keep an avid reader supplied for a long time. There is one downside, though. When a series ends, you’ll be so invested in the characters you might go through a period of mourning, but that’s okay! There are a lot more series in the Guideposts continuity line-up. And new books and new series keep coming.

So, what is a continuity mystery, you ask? I wondered that, too, and I asked the in-house editorial team at Guideposts, Susan Downs, Jon Woodhams, and Caroline Cilento, to explain.  “A continuity is any series of books that shares the same premise, setting, and cast of characters. The most familiar metaphor might be a TV series. While there are often guest stars and walk-on secondary characters, most of the actors in the series are the same from week to week, and you get to know them over the course of the series. Our continuity books are the same way, except that readers get one book every four weeks.”

That makes sense! People love following characters on TV and in books. We develop a vested interest and eagerly wait to find out what they’ll do next. My favorite characters are those that I want to get to know over a cup of coffee. Guideposts continuities characters are just like that.

Setting is an important part of any good story, and the Guideposts mysteries settings are characters in their own right. For instance, one of the series is set in Martha’s Vineyard, aptly called Mysteries of Martha’s Vineyard, and the heroine’s home is a lighthouse. How cool is that? Another series, Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries, takes place in (you guessed it!) beautiful Amish country, complete with quilts and Amish food. Seriously, the name “Sugarcreek” is enough to make you want pie. Then there’s the Tearoom Mysteries, set in a stately Victorian home-turned tearoom in a charming lakeside town in Maine. Tea and an old Victorian home--the perfect combo. The latest series is called Secrets of Wayfarers Inn, about three friends who buy a historic hotel that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. It’s got secret passages and an old journal—secrets, past and present.

I asked the editorial team how the settings for each mystery series are picked. They said, “Our readers have made it clear that they love to read about places that would be their dream hometowns. They love to be swept away to cozy, charming locations where they can see themselves visiting favorite shops, sipping tea or coffee in a cozy cafĂ©, or attending a concert in a town square. So, locations—either real or fictional—are chosen because of their appeal. Our series have taken readers to islands, the Rocky Mountains, lake towns, Amish communities, the rocky coast of Maine, and more.” So, how about a little vacation from the comfort of your favorite chair? You won’t have to spend a dime on gas while you enjoy the sights.

When I first began to familiarize myself with Guideposts’ mystery continuities, I realized there were no murders. Yes, I know! I can hear my fellow cozy lovers exclaiming now, “What? Really? Mysteries with no dead people? Is that even possible?” Yes, it is, and to be honest, I found the change surprisingly refreshing. I asked Susan Downs why this was so. She told me, “Guideposts’ fans prefer ‘softer’ crimes. The publisher sticks with missing people or things or mistaken identities or white-collar crimes.” No worries, though. You won’t miss the bodies or the murderers. The sleuths in these books still have plenty of motivation to solve mysteries. Like, for instance, trying to figure out why a ghostly, but very human, apparition appears at night near a lighthouse.

These lovely Guideposts mysteries aren’t available on Amazon. However, they can be purchased through the Guideposts’ website. And readers who love getting books in the mail every month can purchase a series subscription. No need to remember to buy a book—it comes right to your mailbox! Everyone loves a package. I do, too, especially when it contains books. When I get one, the rest of the day, I anticipate curling up in my chair or bed and settling in for a few hours with my favorite characters. And with these mysteries, you won’t need to read slowly just to make the book last (although you can), because when you’ve finished one mystery, you know another one is on its way in just a few weeks.

When I inquired why Guideposts doesn’t market its books through Amazon, the editorial team said, “Guideposts is both a publisher and a direct-marketing company. We send detailed, multi-piece mailers to thousands and thousands of potential customers to market our series. The mailers include such elements as a sample chapter, a letter from the editor, a colorful brochure, and more. Customers can opt in by returning a postage-paid mailing piece. This accounts for the majority of our sales, but our books are also available—both in print and as e-books—on our website. We are also striving to grow an integrated marketing approach via social media and alternative media avenues.”

As I finish typing this article, I’m looking at the beautiful cover of Family Secrets, which is book one in Guideposts’ latest continuity series, Secrets of Wayfarers Inn. I just finished it, and I’m in love with this series already. Really, I just want to hug this book.

The best thing about Guideposts’ continuity mysteries (besides everything I already mentioned), is the way they leave me feeling. Happy. Hopeful. Warm. When I have a day where I can’t seem to escape the barrage of bad stuff that seems so prevalent in the world of late, settling down to read a gentle mystery is comforting. I can ignore the latest dramas on the Internet, snuggle in my favorite chair with a cup of tea, and just relax.

I’ve got a lot more to tell you about Guideposts mysteries, including additional details about the Secrets of Wayfarers Inn. I also want to share where those stunning covers originate and who the talented authors are. Next I’ll be going behind the scenes to give our readers a closer look at how the series are developed and how the authors are chosen. It’s not the usual publication process, so stay tuned. Meantime, if you want to check out all the Guideposts continuity mysteries and get your own book to hug, below is a list of the series in order, with links.

Church Choir Mysteries (out of print)
Mysteries of Sparrow Island (out of print)
Mystery and the Minister’s Wife (out of print)

Note: Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries will wrap up the summer of 2018, with 30 volumes in the set. Mysteries of Martha’s Vineyard is at about the mid-point in its publishing cycle. The last of 25 books in the Tearoom Mysteries released in June 2018. Secrets of Wayfarers Inn is a new series, just launched this summer.

Click here for part two.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds interesting-especially the no murders angle. A nice departure!


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