Wednesday, March 18, 2020

COVID-19 What is Going to Happen Now?

When I lay down at night, my mind whirls with thoughts of the day:

How long will our food last?
If my husband gets sick, will I?
Will hospitals overflow with virus victims?
Will we have enough medicine to get through this virus if we catch it?
What about those losing jobs?
In essence, what is going to happen now?

No one knows.

But I can begin to see good things emerging:

The environment in Italy is clearing of pollutants due to less traffic. Wild life is returning.

Children, home from school, are with their parents.
Parents are spending less time on their cell phones and tending to their family’s needs.
Many businesses are finding ways to give back to the community.
Less time is being spent commuting.
Many are cooking again because they have to and some are enjoying it!
Families are drawing closer together.
Older parents are receiving attention.
Neighbors are stepping up to help the elderly and those at risk.

You can probably think of more. 

I also believe our country will become more self-sufficient, which is a good thing.
We as a nation have endured hardships in the past. We have also revived and learned valuable lessons along the way. 
Yes, the worst may be yet to come. Let us hold onto our faith, our values, and most importantly, each other. For then we focus on what we can do each day instead of wondering what is going to happen tomorrow. #FlattenTheCurve

~Nancy Jill

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

What Inspires Me To Write

When I was a little girl living in California my family would travel to Arkansas to visit my grandparents. It was a little long drive, so my parents would tell stories. Sometimes they would even make them up, like “The Dog With Radar Ears” or “How to Find a Good Wife.” That was my first inspiration along with reading every book I could put my hands on.

After I got married my husband and I traveled on his business trips and I kept diaries so I could remember details. The first trip we took to great Britain and France I fell in love with afternoon tea and good coffee. I brought the customs home with me. Those travels and afternoon tea inspired me to put them in books, again, so I could remember.

It all started when we had to get rid of Sandy, our daughter’s pet rat that we all loved dearly. To help soften the sad news I wrote a story called “The Sacrifice” explaining how detrimental the rat’s allergens were to my husband. After I wrote that story I discovered something. I liked to write!

In 2001, Murder in Half Moon Bay was my very first attempt at writing a novel. I loved reading murder mysteries but was burned out with the authors I had been reading, so I decided to write a mystery of my own. 

My inspiration for Jillian Bradley and her Yorkie companion came from staying at The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay for four days where my husband and I were attending an off-site board meeting for his company. With time on my hands I began creating a murder mystery based on the hotel and inspired by different people I met. I began taking notes of the surroundings and used my imagination to create a protagonist that might be a guest at a gardening conference. I used my husband's name Ted for her little dog, Teddy, since I would have her be a widow.

After writing 12 chapters I shared the plot with my 14 year old daughter and was told how dumb it was and that nobody would ever read it. Discouraged, I ltucked it away for 8 years until one day our son suggested I write a blog.

I began with Camp Grandma Fun but decided to publish my manuscript one chapter at a time for feedback. A newspaper called The Half Moon Bay Review became interested in the story and wanted an interview. Now I was really inspired to finish my book.

A few months later I self-published “Murder in Half Moon Bay” and put it on the market. I included afternoon tea and created the character of Teddy, an intelligent little Yorkshire terrier who is the protagonist’s inseparable companion. And people bought it!

My son inspired me to write the second book using the setting of our next conference in Scottsdale, Arizona called The Sanctuary. He suggested writing about a murder centered on an endangered species since the protagonist is a garden columnist. “The Ghost Orchid Murder” now initiated the series of 11 books and a collection of six short stories to come. 

I must add that my husband and I enjoyed collaborating on plots and I credit him for much of my inspiration.

I hope you enjoy the reads. Stay safe. #FlattenTheCurve

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Can Cozy Mysteries Stir the Imagination or Touch the Heart?

Authors are often loath, like some actors, to review their own work. We are too critical and want to constantly edit or rewrite. But when we achieve a stirring of the imagination or touch the heart we succeed in our craft.
 Yesterday I read a short story I'd written a few years ago called "Raven House."

Scene of the Crime

As writers often do I'd created an unlikable victim and the handful of possible murderers. When I read the story again, surprisingly, tender elements emerged creating moments that were heart touching indeed. Without giving too much away, one character finds forgiveness and freedom from guilt, as the main character, Jillian Bradley, sees an opportunity for reconciliation. In another instance a different character finds true contentment in spite of overwhelming odds his life has dealt. 
   Can a cozy mystery stir the imagination or touch the heart? This one did.

   "Raven House" is included in The Jillian Bradley Short Story Collection along with "Teddy Saves Christmas," another heartwarming tale, "Final Performance," not your average Nutcracker
presentation, "Lawrence Buys a Gift," a story full of imagination, "Birthday Bash," with a blast from Jillian's past, and "Sweets, Treats and Murder," a rather grisly story revolving around Valentine's Day. The candy shop is cozy, but not the actual murder. I do apologize.
      Amazon Paperback

See you in my books!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

It’s a Wonderful Life

When I was a little girl I really only remember two Christmases. The first was when I was eight. Santa brought me a bride dress for my doll and a chalkboard that said, “Merry Christmas from Santa.” My mom had made the dress from an old satin formal of hers because we had very little money for gifts. I’ll always believe in Santa Claus!
The other Christmas was the morning we four kids tore into our packages Santa brought, but I remember how haggard my mom looked, as if the gifts had been a financial burden they couldn’t afford. I was ten. Still, we never went without and we all grew up and lived fairly happy lives.
   Now as we are retired and have grandchildren I realize what a wonderful life God has blessed us with. He has allowed us to be neither rich nor poor. We have everything we need or want to the point of having to tell our children no more gifts! We’ve run out of room! But we will always have room in our hearts for the Christ child who is the very one making our lives so richly blessed.
  May you have a wonderful Christmas this year as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.

~Nancy Jill Thames

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Cozy Mystery Lovers Gift Ideas!

Hello, dear readers! 

I hope this holiday season finds you and your family well and safe. With traveling more to grown children's homes for the holidays, I'm toning the decorations down a bit. Anyone else experiencing this change of events?

The next thing to start thinking about is gifts and what to give. Last year my son gave me a mystery anthology and I’ve loved reading the stories. I count a new book as a definite treat!

If you'd like to give a friend or a loved one a gift that keeps on giving, the Jillian Bradley mysteries might be a good choice. Rated G with no profanity or offensive scenes, they are the perfect gift choice for readers on your list. Books range in price from $7.99 to $11.99 for paperbacks and FREE to $3.99 for eBooks. Not bad when you consider one can purchase the entire series for under $99.00 + tx and s/h. (Amazon Prime members enjoy free s/h!) 

Besides the 10 book series, there are short stories about Jillian and Teddy included in "The Jillian Bradley Short Story Collection."

Here is a complete list of books and buy links:

Whatever gifts we give and receive, may we be reminded of the greatest gift of all - Jesus, God's only begotten Son. 

Happy Holidays!

~Nancy Jill

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Hello everyone! With the cold weather setting the mood for the holiday season coming up, I just had to share my new favorite (and easy) for cranberry sauce. 

And with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner and for many of you Black Friday, too, I've decided to offer my first book "Murder in Half Moon Bay" as a free gift. You can download it now to read later when you're ready for a break during the hectic holidays. (Or January perhaps?)

      Barnes and Noble
All Jillian Bradley wants is to spend a quiet weekend by the ocean and enjoy her afternoon tea. But a startling discovery draws Jillian and her garden club friends into solving a mystery that threatens her life and changes her future.
"Murder in Half Moon Bay" Book 1 in the Jillian Bradley Mystery Series, introduces Jillian's little companion Teddy, a Yorkie who falls prey to danger but rises to become a sleuth dog in the next book.

Please feel free to share this offer with anyone who might enjoy a cozy mystery. Thank you! 

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving full of blessings with friends and family this year.

Cabernet Cranberry Sauce


~Nancy Jill 

Friday, November 8, 2019

When I Grow Old

As I age one thing is certain-I only have today. Just today to do what’s important. For me, making a cozy home for my husband and me is the thing I care about most. 
   Around the holidays now, instead of trying to plan around our children’s families, I have laid out a plan to bake and cook meals for only the two of us. Extra cookies and candies will be gifts for neighbors and my husband’s friends at the golf course. Special meals will be shared as luncheons for friends.
   Because I’m older the holiday decorations are put up as soon as Halloween is over and not taken down until after New Years. Since it takes us four days to decorate I want to enjoy the festive atmosphere for more than one month!
  Today I baked these White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Cookies. I found the recipe on Pinterest. If all goes well, I’ll be making ten kinds of homemade cookies, four homemade candies, three special desserts (four if I can find persimmons), seven appetizers, and five holiday meals. All for my husband and me and our friends. 
   Yes, we’ll be with children on the holidays but they’ll be cooking their own special recipes. Perhaps they’ll make one or two of mine. But if they don’t, it’s quite all right. 
   Happy Holidays!
~Nancy Jill Thames