Our Authors

Our Authors

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Two Heads are Better Than One - Meet Blanche Day Manos

Lately, recreational reading has re-entered my life for reasons I may choose discuss someday. But not today. One book worth telling you about was "The Cemetery Club" by Blanche Day Manos and Barbara Burgess. I was curious about how the two authors came to write the book, so I asked Blanche. Here is what she told me:

The three Darcy and Flora cozies, The Cemetery Club, Grave Shift, and Best Left Buried, were written with a friend of mine who lives in a neighboring town, Barbara Burgess. This is how it all came about:


Barbara and I had a mutual friend, Levern Jones, who introduced us as two writers who should get to know each other. This we proceeded to do over coffee and an orange Danish in a tearoom.

“You know,” I said to Barbara, “we could collaborate on a book. It might be fun.”

Barbara is of Cherokee descent and so am I. We were both brought up in small towns, and cozy mysteries were our favorite genre. Cherokee legends and the people who live in rural areas should be what our books centered around, we both decided. So, The Cemetery Club began its journey toward publication.

We began with a legend of Cherokee gold and the greedy men who were out to find it. Adding a murdered body which disappeared, a dim and faded map, an old romance about to be re-kindled, and a couple of more murders, Barbara and I had our book.

Working with a co-author is fun and rewarding. You’ve heard the adage, “two heads are better than one”. Well, in collaborating on the Darcy and Flora series, this proved to be true. We were the sounding boards for each other. If the plot hit a snag, one or the other came up with an answer. We emailed, talked on the phone, and met in person. At last, The Cemetery Club made its debut.

Writing with a partner is not for everyone, but for those who think it might be fun, I heartily recommend it. It certainly worked for co-author Barbara Burgess and me.

Currently, I am working on the fourth Darcy and Flora cozy. This one I am writing solo with no co-author.

In December, Moonlight Can Be Murder is to make its debut. This is a brand-new series, in addition to the Darcy and Flora series. MCBM has a different protagonist, different Oklahoma town, but the same spine-tingling mystery. Instead of a mother and daughter team, MCBM involves a woman and two childhood friends who are reunited after a number of years. It involves a Victorian house, a couple of mysterious murders, and a surprise ending.

There was nothing I didn't like about this cozy mystery. From the gruesome discovery of the body under a pile of brush, which gave me chills, to escaping the bad guys, this book held my attention until the end. If you like a great story with a sprinkling of Oklahoma history and heart, read "The Cemetery Club." Here is a link to the series:

http://www.amazon.com/Blanche-Day-Manos/e/B0090018EI

Blanche’s Bio

It might seem strange to some that a mild-mannered kindergarten teacher would resort to murder and mayhem but never fear! The murders all happen on paper only and it’s a good fit. After nearly three decades teaching in public schools and numerous articles and stories being published in a hometown newspaper and various periodicals, this writer found a niche in the field of cozy mysteries.

A native Oklahoman, Blanche’s books reflect her small-town upbringing and the values as well as the legends she grew up with. Nearly a life-long Oklahoma resident, Blanche moved to Northwest Arkansas a few years ago. Now she makes her home within hollerin’ distance from her son and his family. And, she couldn’t be happier with the arrangement.

Other places where you can read more about Blanche Day Manos and her books:

http://pen-l.com/Mystery.html

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=blanche+day+manos

https://www.facebook.com/blanchedaymanos.author?_rdr=p

https://www.pinterest.com/blanchemanos/




Cheers!

~Nancy Jill Thames~

Nancy Jill Thames was born to write mysteries. From her early days as the neighborhood story-teller to the Amazon Author Watch Bestseller List, she has always had a vivid imagination and loves to solve problems – perfect for plotting whodunits. In 2010, Nancy Jill published her first mystery Murder in Half Moon Bay, introducing her well-loved protagonist Jillian Bradley, and clue-sniffing Yorkie, “Teddy.”

When she isn’t plotting Jillian’s next perilous adventure, Nancy Jill travels between Texas and California finding new ways to spoil her grandchildren, playing classical favorites on her baby grand or having afternoon tea with friends.

She is a member of Leander Writers’ Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW CenTex Chapter), and Central Texas Authors.

To learn more about Nancy Jill, visit  http://www.nancyjillthames.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

AN EXERPT FROM JOGGING IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH by Cynthia Hickey




When Stormi's nephew asks her to help him stop the abuse to a friend of his, Stormi is more than willing to step in. What she finds is worse than anything she imagined. No amount of research prepared her for a group of men so evil, Stormi must dig deep inside herself and call on God to rescue the man she loves.

This is the fifth book in the Nosy Neighbor series. While still fun to write, the characters took the story in a direction I hadn't planned on while plotting out the book. I was as surprised as I hope my readers will be. Enjoy the exerpt!







I retrieved my dog and spotted the skittish teenage girl from before getting out of yet another car. She flashed a grin at someone inside before turning as looking as forlorn as a boy who had lost his dog.
She kicked at a rock on the sidewalk, thrusting her hands into shorts barely long enough to be called decent. It wasn’t until I took a good look at her face that I noticed the ruby lips and smoky eyes of skillfully applied makeup.
As was normal for me, curiosity reared its head and I decided to follow her.
She ducked between the bakery and the bookstore, now with new owners. I hurried across the street after her.
She turned right at the alley, back toward Oak Meadows Estates, but stopped behind the drugstore. My nephew, Dakota, stepped from the shadows and pulled her into his arms.
Very interesting. He hadn’t said anything about having a girlfriend. I pressed against the building, keeping a hand on Sadie’s muzzle to keep her quiet.
“I thought you were never going to show,” Dakota said.
“I had a hard time getting away,” the girl replied. “I only just now snuck out.”
“Your foster parents shouldn’t keep such a tight rein on you.”
The girl was lying. I’d seen her leave her house an hour ago. I wasn’t na├»ve enough to believe teenagers didn’t lie, they did, but why would she lie to Dakota?
I averted my face when they started an embarrassingly heavy make-out session. After what seemed like an eternity, they kissed one last time and parted. The girl ducked back between the buildings and Dakota continued in the alley. This time I actually jogged as I caught up with him.
“Hey.”
He glanced over his shoulder and scowled. “Are you spying on me?”
“Nope.” I held up my coffee. “Jogging and drinking. Who is your friend?”
“Heather Miller. She’s new to the neighborhood.” His eyes narrowed, glittering under the street lamp as we stepped onto the sidewalk. “You were watching me.”
“Completely by accident.” I wrapped my lips around my straw so I wouldn’t say more than I should and get myself into trouble.
“We need to help her,” he said, his young face hardening. “Her foster parents are horrible. They hardly let her out of the house, and I’ve seen bruises on her arms and thighs more than once.”
“Have you told anyone?”
“I’m telling you.” He stopped and faced me. “As your investigating assistant, I’d like this to be our first case.”
No one actually said he was my assistant, but he wouldn’t hear otherwise. “We can look into it if you think she’s being abused. What about the other kids? Have you spoken to them?”
“I’ve only seen them. There’s two other girls. One black and one Mexican. Heather said her foster parents only take in girls. She won’t talk much about her home life. If I mention the bruises, she changes the subject.”
It definitely sounded like abuse to me. “I’ll talk to Matt and see what he has to say.”
“We can’t get the police involved!” Dakota shook his head. “And you call yourself an investigator. Just ask some questions. Make friends with her mother. Do your job.”
“My job is writing books. My PI license is to give me leeway when investigating.” I held up a finger as he opened his mouth to protest. “But … I will look into this. My way. And you will remember your manners when speaking to me.” I gave him a stern look and strolled away. Yes, strolled. Jogging hadn’t done anything that night other than cause me more work. Besides, I didn’t want to risk spilling my drink.
I wasn’t making light of his friend’s plight. To the contrary. Abuse of any living creature did not sit well with me. I’d be knocking on my new neighbor’s door come morning.

To read the full story, click here 

To read the first book in the series, click here 




Multi-published and Amazon Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. Her first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. Her third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as ebooks through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s ebooks for their genre. She has several historical romances releasing in 2013, 2014, 2015 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents, and has sold more than 300,000 copies of her works. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads, and is a contributor to Cozy Mystery Magazine blog and Suspense Sisters blog. Her and her husband run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the CBA’s well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs and two cats. She has five grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”. Visit her website at www.cynthiahickey.com










Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Are You Being Watched?


Do you ever wonder where cozy mystery authors get their ideas? Agatha Christie, one of the most famous mystery writers of all time, revealed that she would go out into the public and study every day life.

She would draw her characters from people watching – – a woman riding in a bus, or perhaps a man holding a brown parcel. She would then imagine them caught up in a world of murder and mystery.


For "Pacific Beach," I wanted to write a book preserving the memory of our beloved family reunions at the Pacific Terrace Hotel, a five-star venue right on the beach in San Diego. What fun to combine all the activities our family enjoyed with a murder mystery!

For the plot, I used the murder of a teen starlet out on the patio doing a photo signing one year while we were there.
In addition, I used the unfortunate death of one of my husband's childhood friends as a way to open the book.   

For a summer read, why not try "Pacific Beach?" It's on sale for only $.99 using a special Smashwords coupon for June 17 and 18.  In the coupon box please enter YT23F and then hit "apply." 

I hope you'll take advantage of this offer and enjoy the adventure with Jillian and Teddy.

CouponYT3F2




Cheers!
~Nancy Jill

NANCY JILL THAMES

Nancy Jill Thames was born to write mysteries. From her early days as the neighborhood story-teller to the Amazon Author Watch Bestseller List, she has always had a vivid imagination and loves to solve problems – perfect for plotting whodunits. In 2010, Nancy Jill published her first mystery Murder in Half Moon Bay, introducing her well-loved protagonist Jillian Bradley, and clue-sniffing Yorkie, “Teddy.”

When she isn’t plotting Jillian’s next perilous adventure, Nancy Jill travels between Texas and California finding new ways to spoil her grandchildren, playing classical favorites on her baby grand or having afternoon tea with friends.

She is a member of Leander Writers’ Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW CenTex Chapter), and Central Texas Authors.

To learn more about Nancy Jill, visit these sites.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What Happens At AWriter's Convention Stays At A Writer's Convention!

Southern Christian Writer's Convention
by
Deborah Malone
 
 
Well that is usually the case, but I'm going to give you a special insight into what goes on at a writer's convention. First I drove for an hour to pick up another writer friend and both of us crammed all of our luggage and books into her car. The back seat was full and the trunk was full. Fortunately there was enough room in the front for us. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that my GPS took me the long way around getting to her house. That's including dirt roads! After loading up we take off for the 2 and 1/2 hour drive. We hadn't seen each other in a while so we talked non-stop in the car.
 
Finally we arrived at our destination and checked in the hotel. We went out for supper and of course had to stop by the Lifeway book store on the way back. I picked up two books from the bargain shelf and when I went to purchase them was told it was buy two and get one free! Whoop! A free book. Night was uneventful and we were up early the next morning. We had a little time before we had to be at the convention so we went to Bear Bryant Museum at University of Alabama. Wow - it was fun looking at the history of football. Then on to the stadium to get a view of this huge venue. We missed the tour by a few minutes. Maybe next time.
 
Now on to the convention held at First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. First thing to do is set up my author table and hope that readers will stop by and take a gander at my Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Series.

 
 
The rest of the day is spent attending classes, listening to speakers and meeting old friends we haven't see in a while. I was blessed to be in a room with Joe McKeever who is an author, minister, and artist. He is known for sketching your portrait in 30 seconds. I watched person after person come and sit in front of Joe to get their keepsake. I was fortunate to be Joe's first sketch of the day.



 
 
We ate a good supper of spaghetti provided by the wonderful cooks at SCWC. By the time we got back to the hotel room we were beat. It was time to get a bath, put on jammies and curl up in the bed with a good book. It was nice to be away from the routine and to be able to relax for a while. That is until there was a knock on our door at 4 am in the morning. I remember hearing the knock but thought I was dreaming. Debra, my friend who went with me, discovered the knock was coming from someone who had the wrong room. Really! at four in the morning? Well we were up by then so it was time for a little snack and some girl talk until six in the morning. Then we were able to get a couple of hours before it was time to get up again and start the day all over again. 
 


 
 
One great thing about going to a convention is that you get to rub elbows with other authors. The keynote speaker for this year was Cindy Woodsmall (yes I spelled it right) who writes Amish fiction. I'd read several of her books and was thrilled to meet her and have her sign a book for me. Yes, us authors are awed by other authors. At the end of the convention the writing awards are announced. I was thrilled to learn that I'd won second place in magazine articles. 
 
 
 
 

Debra Collins (Author and Friend)

 
Now the day has come to and end and it's time to say good-bye to our old friends as well as our new friends and hope to see them again next year. We're tired but happy to have had the experience. I'm already looking forward to Southern Christian Writer's Conference 2016. Now there is just one more stop before we get home. That was Top of the River Restaurant in Gadsden, Alabama. If you live anywhere near this area you have to go visit this one of a kind place. Here's what we had to eat: mustard greens, fried pickles, slaw, and the best cornbread ever. Where is the fish you say? Well, turns out neither one of us like fish, but boy do we like the fixins. If you're a writer or aspire to be a writer please check SCWC out for next year. It is sponsored by David and Joanne Sloan and their family. It is one I look forward to attending every year! Now you have the inside scoop on what goes on at a writer's convention.
 
 
 
 
Image result for author deborah maloneDeborah Malone's first novel Death in Dahlonega, finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer's Category Five writing contest! Deborah was also nominated for 2011 and 2012 Georgia Author of the Year in Novel category. She has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, for the historic magazine "Georgia Backroads" since 2001. She has had many articles and photographs published, and her writing is featured in "Tales of the Rails," edited by Olin Jackson, as well as the "Christian Communicator." She is a member of the Georgia Writer's Association, Advanced Writers and Speaker's Association and the American Christian Fiction Writers.
 
 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Food Baby

Yes, I write mysteries--primarily. Cozy mysteries are my passion! But I write other books, even short stories on the side. For instance, last year I wrote a speculative fiction (short) story for an anthology (Out of the Storm, Chalfont House Publishing). Alongside my other projects, I've been writing Food Baby for the past five years. After I turned it over to an editor for scrubbing and buffing, then sat on the story some more, scrubbed and buffed it again--I was ready to let my baby--er--Food Baby go.

Buy on Amazon


Here's the back cover blurb: 


JoBeth Tomlin loses everything—her family, her job, her figure and the man of her dreams, all before her thirtieth birthday. And just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, she has to move in with her eccentric aunt, two feisty cats and a flatulent old dog named Roscoe. With all the sorrow snacking going on, JoBeth’s food baby is starting to show. Will she turn to God or Little Debbie for answers?

As I wrote the book, I consulted women who had food addictions and compulsions to get a good feel for the character and her motivations. One of the women had undergone gastric bypass surgery and lost an enormous amount of weight, but she still had strange food peccadilloes. She liked to drive through Long John Silvers and order "the crunchies." Now, if you're wondering, "crunchies" are not on the menu there. She wanted the crunchy pieces of leftover batter in the fryer. Yes, this is an actual thing, and she buys them, AND loves 'em. 

One of JoBeth's (my character) favorite snacks is a banana studded with Hershey's kisses, then dipped in chocolate syrup and rolled in nuts, covered in whipped cream and topped with a maraschino cherry. (Yummers!) That little jewel came from two sources--my own daughters AND a beloved food truck I love in Austin, Texas called Bananarchy!

Do you have food peccadilloes? (In case you're wondering, here's the definition: a very minor or slight sin or offense; a trifling fault.). I would love to hear about them!