Mystery Mondays: Bonnie McCune on Writing and Today’s Book World

Today on Mystery Mondays, I’m happy to host author Bonnie McCune. Bonnie’s novel, Never Retreat, was published by Imajin Books on March 15th! Congratulations Bonnie.

Writing and Today’s Books World

by Bonnie McCune


Are you a cowboy? A spy? A sexy lover? A child at heart? Somewhat intellectual? If so, you probably read in a genre like children’s books, westerns, mystery, romance, or literary.

But what if your tastes aren’t so cut and dried? What if the book has characters like my new novel, Never Retreat? Two regular people, Raye Soto, a feisty single mom, and Des Emmett, an ex-military, macho corporate star, meet at a telecommunications firm where both work. Thirty-something Raye is concentrating on her career in a major telecommunications firm and funding college for her teenaged son. Enter Des—a fast talker and smooth operator, who possesses every negative quality for a guy Raye should avoid.

My books to date have been women’s fiction with strong dollops of romance. But each contains mystery because, after all, who’s heard of a relationship without mystery? A relationship real or fictional might contain out-and-out subterfuge, like one of my early boyfriends who claimed he ran secret missions for a presidential candidate. Or the novel might include mysterious issues whose answers unravel over the course of the plot, such as why is Des trying to win a huge bonus?

Then there’s the mystery of “what’s gonna happen?” Who will survive? Who get ahead? My two heroes, thrown together at a corporate retreat in the wilderness, struggle to complete management’s extreme mental and physical tests for a huge reward. But only one can win the prize. Then when a massive flood imperils their love and survival, that becomes the unavoidable mystery of their situation.

No longer are book genres simple and innocuous. Sub-genre succeeds sub-genre. I’m not sure I even know what some of these mean. For example, urban romance fantasy. Is this several dragons who live in a large city off-world and become enamored of one another, or an historical period piece in which Cleopatra and her lover Marie Antoinette battle the evils of Czar Peter the Great in St. Petersburg? Or both?

Publishing is defined by specialized categories of book, which also identify readers by age, gender, interest, locale. These seem to become more targeted by the week. The process helps greatly in marketing books to try to insure readership.

Which brings me to authors who defy categorization and leap-frog genres: Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing, P.D. James, among others. I’m sure their publishers would prefer they didn’t. It makes marketing their work more difficult. But these are big names, and they can do as they please. Successfully.

A challenge for both writers and readers. If a book doesn’t fit into a 30-second elevator pitch, should a writer ignore her creative urge? Should a reader refuse to purchase the novel? Instead let’s think about good writing. Even if a book is a particular genre (i.e., waddles like a duck), I think good writing should be possible in any genre and across genres.

“Women’s fiction,” close to my approach, covers the journey of the main characters to succeed in meeting life’s challenges. Of course, this also describes a great many novels outside that classification. Being a writer and always ready to split hairs or argue until I’m blue in the face, I don’t like to assign labels at all. Just be aware this category can incorporate a great deal of mystery as well as passion, depending upon author, plot, and publisher.

My story hurries on to show the mismatched couples, Raye and Des, see-sawing between attraction and antagonism, to face their biggest challenge: learning the meaning of true partnership. In a cliffhanger finale, when the torrent sweeps down the rocky canyon and threatens their survival, they must put aside their differences to rescue their colleagues—and their own possible future.

So if you read about a stormy human relationship in my future writings, don’t assume it’s a romance. It might represent mystery, thrills, even a whodunnit. A multitude of possible adventures lie before every character.

Never Retreat

Never Retreat Create Space_240 - front cover webA feisty single mom clashes with an ex-military, macho corporate star at a business retreat in the wild Colorado mountains, where only one can win a huge prize. But when a massive flood imperils their love and survival, they learn the meaning of true partnership.

Years ago, Ramona (‘Raye”) Soto faced harsh reality when a roving con man knocked her up. Now at thirty-something she’s concentrating on her career in a major telecommunications firm and funding college for her teenaged son. Enter Desmond Emmett—a fast talker and smooth operator. New to the office, the ex-serviceman possesses every negative quality for a guy Raye should avoid. Thrown together at a corporate retreat in the wilderness, the reluctant duo struggles to complete management’s extreme mental and physical tests for a huge reward. But only one can win the prize, and Des needs the money to underwrite medical treatments for his adored younger sister.

See-sawing between attraction and antagonism, the mismatched couple, Raye and Des, face their biggest challenge: learning the meaning of true partnership. When a massive flash flood sweeps down the rocky canyon and threatens their love and survival, they must put aside their difference to rescue their colleagues—and their future as a couple.


WRITING: This is the new fiction for you: unafraid to debate contemporary concerns. . . pulls no punches. . .provides a fresh look at age-old issues. This is your kind of writing if you think. . .People are smarter than any phone. . .Feminism is just starting to come alive. . .You’ll always take a human over the most advanced app. . . .You can laugh at yourself. . . Women use four-letter words, including l-o-v-e.

Who is Bonnie McCune?

B 1 edited webBonnie McCune has been writing since age ten, when she submitted a poem about rain rushing down the gutter to the Saturday Evening Post (it was immediately rejected). This interest facilitated her career in nonprofits doing public and community relations and marketing. She’s worked for libraries, directed a small arts organization, and managed Denver’s beautification program.

Simultaneously, she’s been a freelance writer with publications in local, regional, and specialty publications for news and features. Her civic involvement includes grass-roots organizations, political campaigns, writers’ and arts’ groups, and children’s literacy. For years, she entered recipe contests and was a finalist once to the Pillsbury Bake Off. A special love is live theater. Had she been nine inches taller and thirty pounds lighter, she might have been an actress.

Her true passion is fiction, and her pieces have won several awards. Never Retreat is her third novel and her fifth book of fiction. For reasons unknown (an unacknowledged optimism?), she believes one person can make a difference in this world. Visit her at,,,,

PUBLICATION INFO: PUBLISHING MARCH 15, 2018, 978-1-77223-350-6 Kindle ebook, 978-1-77223-351-3 Trade paperback, 240 pages., or. Imajin Books, Ebook and paperback.

ADVANCE PRAISE: “A breathtaking page-turner that will leave you exhausted but wanting more!” —Corinne Joy Brown, award-winning author of Hidden Star; “Likable, relatable characters…a real treat!” —Cindi Myers, author of The View from Here; “Intriguing…engaging…A great vacation read for sure!” —Meg Benjamin, author of the Brewing Love Trilogy; “A compelling story about a hard-working single mom who faces adversity head-on, learns from her mistakes, and perseveres.” —Kim McMahill, author of Marked in Mexico; “Few novels operate on such different levels, moving their characters to challenge not just each other, but their own not just each other, but their own perceptions. . .McCune provides just the right blend of comic relief, interpersonal encounters, and outside environment changes to make her story a powerful blend.” –Midwest Book Review


8 thoughts on “Mystery Mondays: Bonnie McCune on Writing and Today’s Book World

  1. Wonderful post! I’ve leap-frogged genres dury my writing career. My first book was a memoir of my tour of duty with the USMC in Vietnam. It’s still in print (since 1990). I’ve also written a “literary” -type novel, a two-volume historical fiction saga, and currently an on-going private eye mystery series. My books have been well-received review-wise, but not very successful in sales/money. My most successful book is the memoir–nice to see those royalties still rolling in after all these years–but how many memoirs does a writer have in him/herelf? Personally, I’m having fun with mysteries, and have a new character on the horizon, a hard-boild P.I. in post-WWII Las Vegas. I applaud Bonnie McCune for taking the leap outside her comfort zone, and wish her well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do appreciate genre-bending books, especially if a mystery is involved. If it’s a crime novel, for me it’s more about the process of crime solution even than whodunit. If it’s a novel with a romance, it’s the process of two people figuring out each other and themselves. When they do finally get together, it’s satisfying in the same way as the revealing of the killer is. But neither would be satisfying without the process, and that’s where good novel writing is most evident: good plotting, good character development, and good writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have heard that it is important to “know your audience.” A book can be interesting to a number of different demographics. Some people may read it because of romance; others because the story takes place in their geographic area; and, yet others because of the period in which it is set. I would think that how to market a book would depend on who the author and the publisher want to reach. The challenge is to know which parts of the book appeal to the audience at hand. Getting inside the head of one’s audience could be as intriguing as getting inside the head of the characters. Crossing genres may broaden one’s buying public.

    Liked by 1 person

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