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.”

 

Who Loves Enemies-to-Lovers Romance–and Why?

 In the world of new adult & college romance, the enemies-to-lovers trope reigns supreme.

Fact: 12% of the top 100 New Adult/College Romances are Enemies-to-Lovers💜

Friends-to-Lovers only make up 2% of the top 100!

Something to Think About

💜 But WHY the enemies-to-lovers trope?

I love a good angst filled enemies-to-lovers story. The thing is though, it’s very tricky to strike that balance for the enemy to be hateable and likeable at the same time. Sometimes as a reader, I take sides if the war is too intense.

On the other hand, the worst thing is one of those stories where the hate-reason is pathetically petty and you just want to roll your eyes.

Needless to say, this is one trope that is wicked hard to write! But I do anyway and give it my best shot.

When done right, all the angst oozes off the page and the fiery back-and-forth fuels a hot-hot story.

My favorite thing: That first breach of physical restraint, the first kiss

Why are you a fan of enemies-to-lovers romance?
What’s your favorite Enemies-to-Lovers romance novel?

There are a lot of great examples out there, but if you’re looking for something new…

Notorious Man on Campus – an Enemies-to-Lovers College Football Romance

Just released TODAY and it’s on sale for $0.99 until Thursday or FREE on Kindle Unlimited! Here’s the blurb:

Brick

To say I don’t trust women is impossible. I would never use the word trust and women in the same sentence.

In the universe of un-trustworthy women, there’s Nyla, the she-devil, the girl who broke my brother’s heart, the one who caused him to drop out of college to work at the family business in nowhere Pennsylvania. She holds a specially vile place in the black hole that would be my heart.

And f*ck if she isn’t the girl I’m looking at right now in the kitchen at BMOC House where I live, where I rule. Nyla Rhoades stands at the sink, washing pots and pans more temptingly forbidding than ever.

Some unholy deity could not have dialed up a more heinous torture, a more poisonous punishment than to force me to spend my senior year living under the same roof as that girl.
But Majik hired her and there’s no going against Majik’s decree that she needs Nyla’s help to cook and clean at BMOC House.

Welcome to my senior year. Turning from the best time of my life as star QB on campus on my way to the NFL, to a living purgatory where I’m reminded daily of the one most absolutely f*cked up mistake I’ve ever made.
My dreams of a pro football career could come crashing down. Worse, I could lose whatever shreds of a family I still have.
Unless I deal with her… my personal Eve from the garden of hell with with her tempting apple.

Notorious Man on Campus is a sizzling stand-alone enemies to lovers romance in the world of Big Men on Campus at St. Paul University. If you love stories where the giant immovable oak in the form of a grumpy smokin’ hot football god is felled by an s sunshiny spitfire in a battle of wills and forbidden attraction, then you’ll love this one! (Warning: language and sex for a mature audience)

Available at AMAZON

Hot Mulled Cider #Recipe by @Donna_Fasano

I love mulled cider. In trying to decide which recipe to use for this post, I was torn between recipes offered by 2 Food Network chefs that I love—Bobby Flay and Ina Garten. I went with Garten’s recipe because I love the flavor and scent of star anise. If you’ve never used this spice, you have got to try it! It smells like a holiday all by itself. I often put a few star anise and few whole cloves into a saucepan of simmering water. This concoction makes my house smell wonderful. Be careful not to let the water evaporate completely or you’ll end up with scorched spices. Now, on to the recipe.

Hot Mulled Cider

By Ina Garten of Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon fresh apple cider
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 6 star anise

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients into a pot and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or until all flavors are combined.
  • Pour into mugs and serve hot.
  • Makes 12 servings.

This month, I’m celebrating fall by putting MOUNTAIN LAUREL on sale for just 99¢ for Kindle readers. This sweet romance is the first book I ever wrote. It won a finalist spot on what was then called The Unpublished RITA Contest (now known as The Golden Heart). Although the book did not win a trophy, editor Tara Gavin of Harlequin bought and published the book. I was so proud!

Mountain Laurel

Links to buy in the Kindle Store:

US  #Ad

UK

Canada

Australia

The sale price is available in all Kindle Stores! Don’t see a link to your store? Search for “Mountain Laurel Donna Fasano” in your Kindle Store. Thank you!

Have you checked out the list of fabulous Authors’ Billboard Authors?

 

A Visit to Vietnam

For most Americans the word Vietnam evokes painful memories, a cherished person gone too soon, and a hateful war we’d rather forget.

Our welcome committee in Nha Trang, Vietnam

I probably would have never visited Vietnam if our cruise ship hadn’t put it on its Far-East itinerary that included five days in China, Beijing and Shanghai, a stop in Okinawa (Japan), a visit to Taiwan, two days in Hong Kong, and two days in Vietnam, before we reached Singapore to fly home.

NHA TRANG is one of Vietnam’s most popular seaside destinations. It offers white-sand beaches, azure and turquoise waters, coconuts palms swaying in the breeze, and gaily painted fishing boats in the harbors of small villages. We took a guided tour to visit the Long Son pagoda, the Reclining Buddha, the Cham Tower complex and a couple of factories.

Long Son pagoda, or White Buddhist Pagoda as called by the locals, is a beautiful Buddhist temple built in the 19th century, on top of Trai Thuy hill. A pair of dragon mosaics stands firmly at the entrance, while lush topiary lines the main grounds.
On the way to the top of Trai Thuy hill, we admired the reclining Buddha statue made of marble. People say that The Reclining Buddha represents the potential that all beings have to release themselves from suffering. The serene and smiling expression of the reclining Buddha statue portrays the compassion and calmness that come with the enlightenment. 
Po Nagar Cham temple complex was built between 8th and 11th centuries by the Cham people who once ruled the central plain of Vietnam. They are renowned for their skills in sculpture and architecture, and left behind a legacy of artifacts and temple settlements not only in Vietnam, but also Cambodia and Thailand.

 

The towers of Po Nagar Cham are square red brick structure with protruding support frames and tapering roofs. Their towers are shrines to different deities. The tallest building, the Po Nagar Kalan, is the most impressive. 
Cri Cambhu, goddess of fertility.
Vietnamese women practicing the art of picture embroidery, at a local workshop for embroidery..

 

A lacquer factory where I bought a gorgeous jewelry box

Our second day in Vietnam was spent in the capital, Ho Chi Minh–or Saigon– a bustling metropolis where bicycles, motorbikes and cars fly down at dizzying speed. We took a walking tour around the downtown.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Independence Palace
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
Pedicab is a special type of transportation for Vietnam. 

Unfortunately I haven’t cruised for two years. Now I spend my time writing. My latest book is released today. I hope you will celebrate with me and enjoy RESCUE PLANS, book 3 of Love Plans Series.

RESCUE PLANS

To forget the drama that shook his life years ago, Captain Rafael Lopez dedicates himself to his career as a helicopter pilot, transporting patients in need of urgent care. His new flight nurse holds his attention with her gorgeous face, sassy mind, and indomitable spirit.

With determination and a lot of guts, Arianna Garcia survives life in the slums, learns to conquer her fears, and fights for herself. Rafael gives her the courage to break from her past. And Arianna is delighted to be Rafael’s flight nurse by day and passionate companion by night. After meeting a few jerks, she doesn’t believe in crazy promises and sex-driven hypocrisy.

Will Rafael discover the skeletons in her closet, gain her trust, and restore her faith in love?

Rescue Plans is book 3 of the Love Plans Series