About Nancy Radke

A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse's nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said "Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes." It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.  View website

Choosing a Series Title by Nancy Radke

Sometimes a title can make or break a book or a series. It used to be that the book cover was the deciding factor, but in our digital age the title is usually the first thing to catch a reader’s attention.

There are several books that I wouldn’t have read based on the title alone. Then there are titles that intrigue the searcher to go beyond the title and open the selection long enough to view the cover and maybe read the first chapter.

Getting Readers Excited

The same holds true for a collections of titles, but amplified. Readers will read the first book in an anthology, then go back and read all the books in that series if they like it. Because of this, series titles receive a lot of thought.

When the ladies of Authors’ Billboard choose a series title, such as our highly popular The Unforgettables, it is done with much deliberation by the authors in that series. This title keeps the series going while letting each collection in that series have a distinct theme. Unforgettable Danger will contain a different collection of books than Unforgettable Passion or Unforgettable Christmas Dreams.

Series Titles are Important

A title can reflect (and limit) the nature of the content. The title of our popular cozy mystery series, Diehard Dames, was researched to come up with just the right amount of humor plus have a light-hearted feel to it. Then each book in the series had the titles light enough to show that they were “cozy” mysteries. My books, Any Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood, and Any Dog Can Find a Missing Child would naturally have less blood and danger in them than my thriller, Trouble Never Knocks.

Today, Friday, March 10th, I have my book Closed Doors on sale for 99 cents. This book is available as a free read to Kindle Unlimited members.

Closed Doors


My Cozy Mystery Plans for 2023 by @_NancyRadke

I started writing the first chapter of my cozy mystery story, number 3 in the series, about the sheriff and Jenna and her dog named Lucky. Here’s an excerpt from the first page, when Sheriff Craig is on patrol. Lucky has come along for the ride. It is snowing heavily and getting dark out.

Jenna’s dog, Lucky, had appropriated the passenger seat of his Range Rover, the vehicle he used most often for his patrol duties. The black Lab was staring through the windshield as if considering the fact that the white sedan in front of them had both brake lights out. A dangerous problem that increased with the snow and the darkness.

Any Lucky Dog Cozy Mystery Series

Cozy Mystery

This series is set in eastern Washington in the Palouse Hills, which are an extension of the low mountains called the Blue Mountains. The first two books had the dead bodies found in the mountains:  Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood and Any Lucky Dog Can Find a Missing Child.

I used to write more than one book at a time. Although, I don’t know if I’ll get back to that or not as I had congestive heart failure in 2020 and it really slowed me down, both mentally and physically. I wrote three books last year, but it was a struggle, so I plan to only write two this year. If I can do more than that, I will. This will be the last of my Lucky Dog series.

There are a couple of other series that I’d like to add to. I’d like to do at least one more of the Golden Legacy series (since they almost write themselves) and a couple more of the Brothers’ series that I write with my son. The Brothers of Spirit includes Keeping Tatum Safe, which is on pre-order now (ending on Feb.10th). This is about Evan, another of Hugo’s brothers, who has joined the Secret Service.

Keeping Tatum Safe

Plotting Mystery Novels by @_NancyRadke

Mystery novels are a little bit different than regular stories because you need to plot backwards on some things. I wrote two cozy mysteries, Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood, 2021, and Any Lucky Dog Can Find a Missing Child, 2022, and am starting to plot the third one, Any Lucky Dog Can Save Her Master’s Life (working title).

Mystery Novel

Because this is a series, I already have the dog’s name, Lucky, and the hero, Sheriff Craig, and the heroine, Jenna. I also have the town and many characters in the town. But because this is a series, I have to figure out what time of year I want it. Right now I think I will put this in December, when Jenna and Craig plan to have their wedding. Nothing like a murder to interfere with wedding plans.

Plotting backwards involves deciding on the villain or villains—who they are and what their motive is before you plan anything else. Once I have that, then I have to decide who they will kill and how. Since I am just starting to plot, I haven’t made these decisions yet. I am at the stage of just jotting down ideas in a notebook.

Next, I need to figure out what clues the sheriff and Jenna will follow to solve the mystery. I also need to decide on what are called “red herrings.” These look like clues but lead nowhere.

Who will find the body? I’ve already decided that it will be Lucky who leads them to the body, and I’ve decided where I’m going to hide it, as this will be the opening chapter. I might have to change it, but that sounds good right now.

Two other books which I plotted backward were Scorpion’s Trail (my all-time favorite) and Stolen Secrets, both written in the late 1900’s.

I am not an author who enjoys plotting. It “ruins” the excitement of writing the book when I know all the answers. But a mystery can’t be written totally plotless. If I can, I will avoid plotting some scenes and let them write themselves. Then I’ll enjoy it more and I think the book just turns out better.

I enjoy watching Korean mystery series on Netflix and pick up some ideas from them. Two series I watch over and over are “Stranger” and “Beyond Evil.” Neither are “cozy” but I enjoy the characters and watching how they work the clues into the plot.

If you enjoy mystery novels, take a look at Murder Is To Die For, a boxed set featuring diehard dames who don’t give up.

Diehard Dames

Find other Authors’ Billboard Boxed Sets by clicking here.

Be Prepared

It pays to be prepared. Little things can make a big difference in how you handle an emergency.

I remember when Seattle had some pretty deep snowfalls. The weight of the snow and ice brought down tree limbs, resulting in power outages for two weeks or longer. The snow took our electricity, but because it wasn’t a city-wide outage, we got our power restored in six hours. As I lit my candles and made sure my natural gas stove was burning, I wondered how people with only electric appliances were doing.

Be Prepared

The first step to being prepared is to check the weather history of your area and see what weather emergencies are the most common. In Seattle, we don’t worry about hurricanes, but we do have high winds in the spring and fall that topples trees, sometimes an entire forest area at a time. In my area, the trees fall to the north, so I took down large Douglas Fir trees on my south side and planted some “people friendly” trees that won’t destroy my home or cars when they fall.

Prepare alternate sources of heat, light, water, and money.
  • Heat: have a pellet stove, wood burning, or natural gas stove that will keep your house warm. Avoid what happened a few years ago in Texas where the windmills froze, killing some people without electricity.
  • Light: flashlights are nice, but batteries don’t last forever, so keep some candles in a box, along with some matches or a lighter.
  • Water: in case of flooding, clean drinking water is a must.
  • Money: when the cash registers won’t take your credit cards for lack of electricity, cash is always accepted. Keep a reasonable amount on hand, to buy food or medicines.

Forest fires are on the rampage because the federal forests are not being managed like they used to. If the underbrush is not cut (making tinder) and mature trees not harvested like we used to do, then it sets up a situation where the forests burn so hot it is almost impossible to put them out. If you live in an area where this might happen, make sure you have fireproof shingles and siding and cut away trees from the house. Hot fires send sparks airborne, so that a strong wind carries the fire miles ahead of the actual burn. Also fix a “bug-out bag” so that you can leave instantly if you have to. Know your escape routes before you have to drive.

Think ahead.

Don’t be like the man who prepared for a hurricane by buying a large amount of steaks to put in his freezer so that he’d have enough to eat. After he got them home, he realized he wouldn’t have any electricity to keep the freezer going. So, he set up his barbecue and invited all his neighbors over for a steak dinner.

One of my books, Stolen Secrets, is set during an unexpected pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm that we had some years ago in Seattle. Another book, Turnagain Love, is set on a small island, where the heroine discovers she doesn’t have any water or electricity or a way to get off the island. Another survival book, The Toughest Man in the Territory, is set in Wyoming near Yellowstone Park.

Nancy Radke Christmas

A FREE gift for you!

Avalanche Puppy is FREE in the Kindle Store Dec 9, 10, and 11.

Avalanche Puppy