Chill Out in the Garden!

April 11, 2022, Willamette Valley, Oregon (my yard)

In the northern hemisphere, it’s springtime! Or, depending on where you are, summer! Here in Oregon, USA, we’ve had a very long winter. We had snow on April 11 and only last week, there was frost on the windshield in the morning. It looks like I won’t be getting any cherries, plums, or peaches this year. The apples and pears bloomed late, so we may be okay there.

Gardening is great exercise!

What does the warm weather mean to you? To me, it’s gardening season. That also means I need to get in shape. Here’s a chart that should make you happy about spending time weeding and trimming. Need a butt lift? Move loads of soil or compost around!
Before you commit to your garden project, be sure to have your gear. Plenty of water to drink, a hat, sunscreen, gloves, and of course, a camera to take before and after pictures. Stretch all those muscles first, too. I have a five-gallon bucket with a swivel seat on it that holds my tools. Very nice to have portable accommodations. I never have been a fan of the kneeling pads but my chair/toolbox combo with a handle is great.


MOST IMPORTANT: Audio gear! For me, it’s my Echo frames. Not only do they hold the lenses that help me see, these also have little speakers above the ears and a mic somewhere in front. Since they’re linked with my smartphone, phone calls come through, too. Gloved hands are dexterous enough to tap the right temple, and it’s answered. Need tunes? I tell Alexa, “Shuffle music by Led Zeppelin” or Leonard Bernstein, depending on my mood. I wear scrubs so the phone’s nearby in a big pocket.

Tunes are good, but my go-to request while working and always while driving is, “Alexa, read my book.” Whatever book I’ve been reading on my Kindle device, continues. It DOES NOT have to be an AUDIBLE book, either. Alexa’s voice is pretty cool and way better than the first generation of book readers.

Any story that is ‘Text-to-Speech: Enabled’ on Amazon will work on your Echo. You can do so much more work when you’re listening, waiting for an exciting scene to finish. Even when I’m spent and finally go inside, the story follows me. No Echo frames? Any Kindle or Echo device will keep up with your place in the story. Just ask, “Alexa, read my book.” Smart stuff is awesome!

MURDER IS TO DIE FOR: Diehard Dames Amateur Detective Series

Looking for a long read to listen to for the road or a special project, check out MURDER IS TO DIE FOR. This cozy mystery set won’t make you blush (it’s not spicy) but will keep you intrigued.

Brighten Up Your Life!

If life seems dull, do something about it! You don’t need a lot of money, either. If you have a fabric stash and a sewing machine and/or serger, there’s zero cost.
Make throw pillow covers! If you have a theme you like, you can use that. I made vibrant Day of the Dead pillow covers for pillows my daughter already had. It looked like she had redecorated the whole living room after she put them on her couch.
Here’s how I put these all together:

Press fabric, measure, cut, make a narrow hem on the two back/reverse pieces, arrange the top and back sections, sew around the whole outside, and take a breath. I always make a diagonal cut across the points of the corners, close to my stitches. That reduces the bulk of fabric when the project is turned right side out. Press, urging the rounded corners of the pillows into sharp angles. Don’t skip ironing! This is what makes homemade look professional.

If you have lots of spare blankets or throws, you can fold them, estimate the size pillow it would make, and make covers/containers for them. The spare room can be decorated with pretty, functional storage units.

What an inexpensive way to decorate for the seasons and holidays! Swap out colors or themes of the covers, bringing Christmas or the seasons with a quick twenty-minute project. If you have too many blankets or throws, bundle them up and make a cover for them, too. Remember to share your pillowcase creations with the gang, too.

Looking for a new read? Check out these deals. MURDER IS TO DIE FOR, a #CozyMystery collection is #99cents. DEAR SANTA: A CHRISTMAS WISH is on sale until April 19th for only 99cents or read for free with Kindle Unlimited. HEROES FIGHTING FOR A CAUSE is $2.99 but ALL of the money earned for this set goes to Ukrainian Refugee Relief.

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.”

 

Murder Is To Die For, the first boxed set of the Diehard Dames cozy mystery series!

The Diehard Dames have put together their very first boxed set. If you love cozy mysteries, then get ready for Murder Is To Die For!

Now on sale for only 99 cents at Amazon! Free in KU!

AMAZON

We’re doing something new at Authors’ billboard. In the past, we’ve been known for our gripping romantic suspense, laugh-out-loud romantic comedies and lots of steamy romance. We’re still going to bring you a plethora of great new stories in all of those romance genres, but we’ve ventured into new territory and we’re pretty excited about it. Cozy mystery!

Cozy mysteries are much different than romance in that they are a subgenre of crime fiction. The detective is an amateur sleuth, the murder is committed “off stage” and the story usually takes place in a socially intimate community such as a small town. Cozies can be humorous and also include romance—but the focus is on solving the mystery.

We’ve put together a boxed set of four brand new stories titled Murder Is To Die For. Miss Marple, anyone? If you’ve never read a cozy mystery, think of J.B. Fletcher, the famous mystery writer turned amateur sleuth in the popular television series Murder, She Wrote.

In Murder Is To Die For, the stories are as diverse as they are delightful!

Diehard Dames don’t give up!

These ladies are smart. They’re clever. And they never give up.

Whether on a quest to solve a murder or to right a wrong, they’re tough and determined, ready to step forward when needed.

Join these daring and tenacious amateur sleuths as they solve crime in this collection of ALL NEW Whodunits. Special new release price, too!

Just because they’re amateurs doesn’t mean these ladies can’t get the job done. A few foils, fumbles, and missteps taken only make their tasks more challenging and interesting. Enjoy a few giggles as crime-solving takes on a bright new glow in these light-hearted international mysteries by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Authors.

Meet the Dames:

Mimi Barbour: Murder in the Mall: The proprietor of a bakery finds the owner of the shoe store murdered. All the mall owners have reasons for this horrendous deed, but who is the culprit? In this small town full of upstanding, warm-hearted people, who can possibly be the cold-blooded killer? New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author.

Denise Devine: Dark Fortune – “Your life is in danger, watch out for the stranger.” Fortune telling was just bunk, right? Stephanie hoped so. USA Today Bestselling Author

Dani Haviland: Crazy Ladies in Capes Debut – Louie witnessed a murder… Or did he? Midtown Anchorage is overrun by crime and this group of little old lady activists is ready to do something about it! USA Today Bestselling Author.

Nancy Radke: Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood – When Sheriff Craig leaves the city and arrives in the rural county of West Falls, he is soon dealing with the murder of a man everyone wanted dead. So, who wanted him dead the most? He finds that when switching from pavement to mountain trails, a dog with a good nose is a necessity. So, is a pretty woman. USA Today Bestselling Author.

Snuggle up and grab the first ever Cozy Mystery Box Set from THE AUTHORS’ BILLBOARD. MURDER IS TO DIE FOR, DIEHARD DAMES, AMATEUR DETECTIVE SERIES.

Murder is to Die for Meme

Now on sale for only 99 cents at Amazon! Free in KU! Get your copy now!

AMAZON

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