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

Writing the Cozy Mystery by @_NancyRadke

I had written what I thought was a cozy mystery in my Sisters of Spirit series, entitled Stolen Secrets. So before writing Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood, a cozy mystery for the Diehard Dames series, I reviewed what constituted a cozy mystery to see how close I came.

Cozy Mystery

Pssst… you can get STOLEN SECRETS free, Oct 8th through the 11th. Did you hear that? FREE! Now, back to the blog…

Cozy mysteries have a theme, showing a level of expertise.

In Stolen Secrets, the hero has a computer security company that the heroine, Angie, learns about. In my Lucky Dog series, the heroine, Jenna, is an expert on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, traveling around the county with Lucky, her dog, to check out artifacts, while the hero is a big city detective, transplanted to a rural county. He needs her knowledge of the people and the county to solve the mysteries.

Cozy mysteries are often set in a small community or rural setting.  

Stolen Secrets is set in a houseboat community on Lake Union in Seattle. The houseboat people include a wise old grandmother that the hero, Ryan, helps. Angie stays at the elderly woman’s home. In my Lucky Dog series, the setting is a small town in a rural county. The people in the town and county can all be suspects.

Cozy mysteries involve a middle-aged heroine.

Oops, missed this one on Stolen Secrets. Angie is twenty-two, a former Olympic gymnast left homeless by a series of happenings. Ryan gives her both a job and a place to stay, giving her back her self-respect. In Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood, both Jenna and Craig are in their thirties. Craig really likes his best friend’s wife. And he doesn’t think he find anyone for himself. Jenna has male friends, but none she wants to get serious with.

Cozy mysteries are G-rated.

That’s the only type of book I write, so both fit this criteria.

Cozy mysteries are usually part of a series.  

Stolen Secrets is linked to several other books through the characters, including Courage Dares, Tennessee Touch, and A Tennessee Christmas. Of these, Tennessee Touch is the one with the most mystery in it, as the group try to figure out who is killing pro-football players. Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood is the first of the Lucky Dog series, which is part of the brand new Authors’ Billboard Diehard Dames cozy mystery series.

Diehard Dames

The Diehard Dames first set, now available, is Murder Is to Die For. Here’s a sample of Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood, which is in that set. Jenna has found a dead body at the top of Lone Willow’s Trail and called for the sheriff.

Excerpt:

“Are you all right?” Sheriff Craig asked, bending over to check on her. “It’s hard for anyone to sit with a dead body.”

Jenna was glad that he realized it. She was still sitting on the ground where her weak legs had dumped her. “Sort of.”

He touched his hand to her shoulder. “Do you need help getting up?”

“Not really.” But it would be nice. Maybe she did need help. She hadn’t tried to stand up yet.

He must have heard her thoughts, or else from experience knew that a woman sitting on the ground near a body was there because her legs wouldn’t support her. He put his hands under her arms and lifted her up, holding her long enough that she could gain her balance and stand on her own. He left one hand on her shoulder, maintaining contact.

“Thank you,” she said, and meant it. She took hold of his arm while she kept her face averted from where the forensic team was working. He must think her pretty weak, to react in such a way. She was somewhat ashamed of herself. Farm folks were supposed to be tougher than this.

She liked holding onto his arm. He had rolled up his sleeves almost to the elbows, leaving his forearms bare. They reminded her of her father’s, who had been a strong, healthy man before he’d been killed by a falling tree. Sheriff Craig was a solid figure of a man, and his arm offered the support she needed right now.

But she had to let go so he could do his job, and she did so reluctantly, silently chiding herself for needing his support. She wasn’t a child.

But he didn’t step away, just stood there next to her, his hand still on her shoulder, and his very presence gave her strength. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Nodded as she began to feel stronger.

“Okay, now?” he asked, still not moving.

“Yes. I don’t want to keep you from your work.”

“They work fine without me.” He motioned toward the forensic team and stayed where he was, his concern clearly readable on his face. “I’ll talk to you more, get your statement, once you’re really ready.”

Wasn’t that now? But no, she was still very upset. He had gaged her feelings better than she had. She closed her eyes, struggling to gain control of her emotions.

One of the forensic men straightened up and shook his head. “Shouldn’t there be some shotgun pellets in the fence post?” he asked the team leader. “I mean, given the angle?”

The leader, Lance Newman, nodded. “This isn’t adding up, Craig,” he called out. “There should be a lot more blood here.” He turned to the other three members of his team. “That means we need to be even more careful collecting the data. Step back, re-asses the situation and assume this wasn’t an accident.” He put a lot of emphasis on the word, “wasn’t.”

 

Plotting Around Cell Phones by @_NancyRadke

Cell PhoneThe first books I wrote, the Sisters of Spirit series, were written before cell phones were even thought of, much less used, by everyone. That’s not very many years ago and I wrote them on a typewriter.  When I went to publish them, I had to bring some of them up-to-date by adding modern things like the cell phone and the personal computer, which I switched to while we still needed to open it in DOS (the disk operating system).

Not Easy To Do

The addition of cell phones changes a plot. Instead of being out in the wilderness without a phone, the injured hero just calls rescue. Now the plot must be changed so that there is no coverage, or his phone is broken during his fall, or the battery is dead.  Authors are forced to use these excuses so that they can keep the hero in trouble longer. In my latest Brothers of Spirit book, Terminal Pursuit, the hero has thrown his phone out the car window onto the highway so he can’t be traced, and is wishing that the phone booths that used to be on the street corners were still there. He threw his first phone into the river earlier in the book, along with a bomb that had been placed in the car.

Terminal Pursuit

Into The Future

I found a TV show called Tunnel especially interesting. The detective hero is sent 30 years into the future. He doesn’t know what has happened to his typewriter, what a computer is, or what the things are that folks are carrying around with them. How can a picture get on their phone? He hasn’t heard of DNA or CCTV (closed circuit television). He doesn’t have a driver’s license and has to bum rides and borrow money. But his detecting methods still work.

I was in my seventies before I got a cell phone. I don’t use it every minute of the day. And I don’t carry my phone on me as it is heavy and pulls my jeans down. It sits wherever I’ve left it, and I have to run through the house to answer it. If I’m outside, I’ll miss a call. I can deposit money and do online banking on the phone. But I just found out that you can get a pinpoint GPS with your phone, which I then added to the latest book I’m writing, a cozy mystery called Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood. This book is part of the Authors’ Billboard anthology called Murder is to Die For. The anthology will be available a week from now on 9-17-21. Technology grows faster than I can write.

Writing A Book Takes Time

So when you read a book and the technology isn’t up-to-date, just realize how long it takes to write a book sometimes. Modern technology might not have even been around when the author was plotting the book. Things like drones, or computer phones as part of your wrist watch. That last was first envisioned by the author of the Dick Tracy comic strip; the detective had a two-way wrist radio. The real watch far surpasses the wrist radio, but I remember thinking that we’d never have anything like that. Now my daughter talks to her wrist all the time.

The Mini-Trampoline – A Healthy Alternative To Walking by @_NancyRadke

Walking on pavement is hard on the joints, you breathe in exhaust fumes, and you can’t stop if you get hurt some distance from where you are going. But you need to exercise so is there anything better? Well, have you ever used a mini-trampoline for exercise?

Mini-Trampoline About fifty years ago, my friend sold me a Rebounder, also called a mini-trampoline. It was developed by a trampoline coach who noticed how healthy his children were while using a regular-sized trampoline. I have used mine for over fifty years as the only exercise equipment I ever needed. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate it more and more, since other types of exercise equipment simply do not do as complete a job in such a short time (usually under 30 minutes).

The mini-trampoline uses GRAVITY as a form of LOW IMPACT resistance, working every muscle in your body, even the muscles in the eyes. It has been “prescribed” by surgeons after knee surgery, to speed up healing in the knees without doing any damage. Because the trampoline surface flexes up and down, there is no impact to harm the joints, while gravity moves the fluid in the joints to help heal.

HOW A MINI-TRAMPOLINE HELPS YOU:

MUSCLES: It strengthens every muscle in your body, including the muscles that support your abdominal area. A week or two using the Rebounder will stop those embarrassing leaks most ladies get after childbirth. Rebounder exercise keeps older ladies from having to buy adult diapers. It strengthens your tummy muscles and tightens your rear.

A paralyzed person can sit on the Rebounder while someone stands on it with him and bounces. Remember that the resistance used is gravity, so the paralyzed person doesn’t have to do anything. As long as he is being moved up and down, he’ll benefit. Try holding your babies in your arms for short periods of time while bouncing gently on it.

CIRCULATION (BLOOD AND LYMPH): Bouncing against gravity acts like a pump, assisting in both blood and lymph circulation. My brother, who sat too much and suffered with swollen legs, told me he was going to go buy some support socks. I asked him if he still had his Rebounder. He did. It was in his garage. As soon as he put it back in his house and used it for around a week, his legs and ankles returned to normal size. Now it sits in front of his TV and he bounces and runs in place while viewing.

BREATHING: Practice deep breathing while bouncing and it becomes an aerobic form of exercise. The longer you bounce, the harder you’ll breathe.

BALANCE: One fellow I know bought a Rebounder and told me that he noticed his balance was better after his first use. I told him that basketball coaches used it right before games to improve the jumping ability of their teams. Rebounders come with an attached bar which is especially useful for the elderly. The bar is convenient to grasp while bouncing and improving balance.

FUN: You’ll use this because it is fun to use. Put it in your house and enjoy it, bouncing and dancing to music. Kids will use it and be exercising without knowing it. It really helps wiggly kids learn, and you can have them memorize math and other facts while bouncing. If you live in an apartment and there is a blizzard outside, you can still get your daily exercise. Stay safe and stay off the hard sidewalks that damage your feet and knee joints.

Mini-Trampoline 2

Go online and look at the different mini-trams available. They even have some that fold flat. They last a long time for their price. When you first get it, you may only be able to move slightly up and down, and for a short period of time…maybe less than 5 minutes. By the end of a week, you will notice that your time has lengthened and you can already feel body changes. I usually try to do twenty to thirty minutes, with high bounces for short periods of time.

No worries. I don’t own any stock in a mini-tram company or know anyone connected to one. I just happen to be an over-the-top Rebounder enthusiast. If you already own one and can think of other ways it helps, or just want to add your praise, comment below.

Remember to check the ABB monthly board for great books and prizes. Oh, and check out this week’s ABB newsletter where you’ll find lots of free and bargain ebooks.

Stargazing: Beautiful Scenery that is Everywhere by @_NancyRadke

The joys of stargazing and cloud-watching are that they go with you wherever you are, as long as you can see the sky. Summer, winter, the season doesn’t matter nor does the surrounding landscape. What does affect stargazing is the amount of light on the ground, or if there is a full moon, which hides the stars around it.

Stargazing

If you are in a city with many lights, it is difficult to see more than a few stars. But get away from the city and the sky reveals that it is covered with stars everywhere. In Alaska, the stars were often joined by the Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights decorate the night sky with beauty and color. This is especially lovely during the dark winter months when we only have a few hours of sunshine.

The Joy of Stargazing

Stargazing was probably one of my greatest joys when growing up on a ranch. I used to sleep outside during harvest time so that I could look at the stars. They rotate around the North Star, so that the Big Dipper acts like the hands of a clock. I used to be able to tell time by them, since I saw them so often. When I rode my horse at night, which I often did, I would try to see how close I could come to the actual time by reading the star rotation. The same can be done with the sun during the day.

Cloud-watching is best done with cumulus clouds. The big fluffy kind that lets you imagine figures and landscapes, and that constantly change as you watch them. Teach your children the names of the different kinds of clouds, the names of some of the stars, and the constellations. No matter where they are in the world, the information will enrich their lives. If they travel to the Southern Hemisphere, the stars will rotate in the opposite direction and there will be different constellations, but the basic knowledge will get them started.

Star Rotation

I usually mention the stars in my western books. The pioneers used the stars to set their directions, placing the wagon tongue at night to point north.

Nancy Radke