Friday, June 29, 2012


Happy Fourth of July coming up next week! I'm sharing my recipe for Potato Salad that my husband insists I make every year. I'll post the recipe in our Cozy Kitchen for you. And now to my thoughts about beginning with the end in mind!

Some writer's are very methodical. John Grisham uses legal terms for his titles, such as "The Confession" or "The Firm," for instance. As a reader, I enjoy knowing I'll be looking into the legal world every time I pick up a book. When I decided to write a mystery novel, at first, that's all I was thinking I would do. But later, my protagonist, her little dog, Teddy,  and her garden club begged for more adventures so I had no choice - I would write a series. At that point, I too became a methodical writer. Now, some writers go on forever with their stories, like "The Cat Who" series by Lilian Jackson Braun. Hats off, I must say. For me, I decided eight books would be just about right considering the age of Jillian Bradley to be in her senior years. One reader caught the fact that Teddy was going to be 19 in one of the books, so I had to change the story to say he'd passed on and I'd inherited another Yorkie from my niece. Details, details. I recently heard from some fans that the characters in my Jillian Bradley Mystery series were taking on so much life that they seemed real and these fans really identified with them. They are looking forward to reading how I'm going to get Teddy across the Atlantic Ocean to London in book 7, "The Ruby of Siam."
     After a while, writing the adventures of Jillian and Teddy become a necessity to satisfy the readers who are hooked on the series. I can't think of a better incentive, can you? Now, Jillian is attracted to "bad boys" in most of the novels, some of which turn out to be the murderers, others, just involved in the cases in other ways. Towards the end of the series, however, I'm scheming on which way to go. Will Jillian fall in love again? Will she ever be able to put being a widow behind her? Will she ever stop getting another Yorkie when one passes away? Fear not. The happy ending is just two books away. And for the last book in the series? You are going to love the way the story ends.

Nancy Jill Thames is the author of The Jillian Bradley Mystery Series based on her life experiences of traveling with her husband, staying in exclusive hotels and resorts. She loves serving afternoon tea and is known as Queen of Afternoon Tea. Writing is her latest creative outlet, along with playing classical piano. She holds a music degree from UT Austin and lives with her husband in Leander, Texas. She is a member of The Leander Writers Guild.

To check out my books, Murder in Half Moon Bay, The Ghost Orchid Murder, From the Clutches of Evil, The Mark of Eden, and Pacific Beach, please visit the COZY BOOK STORE here on Cozy Mystery Magazine, or go to: ,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

You Know It’s Time To Rethink The Book When The Characters Start Arguing With You – C.L. Ragsdale

Okay now that the fourth e-book in my Reboot Files series is finally out of my head and out on the publishing sites I can vent a little about my writing process. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a writer, most of the time, but when I’m trying to get a plot to work that isn’t working I wonder if writing likes me. Especially when my characters start arguing plot points.
Now I do know it's really just me, myself and I arguing out whatever it is that I’m stuck on, but when you’ve got an imagination these make believe people can get downright obnoxious. Especially when they’re right.
In the case of The Wrong Ghost, the trouble started when I finished the book about six months ago and determined that I was going to have to either write it again or get rid of it completely. Now I’m not talking about a first draft, it was the final manuscript, and something was just not right. The problem was that I didn’t know what was wrong, aside from the fact that I had failed to notice how bad it was.
You know this is why I never work with outlines. The book never turns out the way I originally plot it, so why bother? But I digress. Back to The Wrong Ghost going really wrong.
Rather than follow my original impulse, which was to forget the whole thing and start over with a different plot, I decided to try to figure out if I could save it somehow. Mostly because I had locked myself into this particular plot in the previous book of the series. Anyway, I discovered that the first quarter of the book where I had set up the plot was fine, but then I got to the critical section where it had gone off. I knew it was the section because it was there that my main characters decided to put in their two cents. As a side point, it’s usually my male character, Troy Stenson, who picks the fight.
Imaginary men, don’t get me started.
Anyway in the original story I had this nice little romance all plotted out for Troy to take place in the series. It involved another character who had done him wrong, but had reformed. It was a beautiful story of redemption. I cried a few times when I wrote it was so good.
Troy, however, did not agree.
"This isn’t going to work,” he stated, “She’s not my type.”
“What do you mean by that? You’re the character, I’m the writer. I will decide who your type is. Besides this is good,” I argue with him, well myself really.
“I don't care,” he retorts. “This isn’t going to work out, she doesn’t belong in this story. Besides she’s not that nice, and she hasn’t reformed, you're just wishing she has. I don't buy it, because you don't buy it and that means no one else will either. Face it, she’s the reason the whole story is not working.”
"But I can't get rid of her," I insist, "If I do I will have to tear out pages, and I hate tearing out pages. I worked hard to write those pages!"
At this point my main character, the wise and reasonable Irene Waters, decides she is going to take Troy’s side by pointing out, "You know how he is when he gets like this. He doesn’t like the woman. She’s got to go. Besides there are some other characters that aren’t working either and it’s throwing the whole story off.”
“What do you expect me to do rewrite everybody?”
“Just change their names, that’s how you make a different character. We’ve been through this before, the longer you wait, the harder it will be. You’ll think of something else. Remember, you’re the writer.”
Of course, I don’t listen, at least at first, but after days of trying to save a plot that’s never going to work I do have to lose the beautiful romance that will never be, delete and rename a few characters, and tear out those pages I wanted to keep. Once this is done I do think of something else and it does fix the plot, and my characters shut up. Until they decide there’s something else they don’t like that is.
I know this make believe conversation is a device I use to work through my plot issues, but it’s still aggravating. Especially considering the fact that if I would just listen to myself in the first place this writing thing would go a lot smoother.
Oh, and in case you were wondering the book was originally entitled “The Ghost In The White Satin Dress”, but I changed it to "The Wrong Ghost". It just seemed appropriate.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Milkcases, candy stores, little old ladies and murder? What could they possibly have in common? They’re all inhabitants of a street called Spyglass Lane in a town called Mystery.
I first moved to Mystery when I was about ten, and discovered a wonderful series of books about a girl name Nancy Drew. I loved the town of Mystery and as I grew older, I met many good friends. Agatha Christy, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dickson Carr and his alter ego, Carter Dixon. Sometimes I ventured to the outskirts of town and met strange, new friends such as Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. At first I was a little unsure of whether or not they belonged in Mystery, but soon the whole town welcomed them.
One day a new street was constructed or whatever they do to make streets. The signpost said Spyglass Lane. Being of a curious nature, I checked it out and found just what I’d been looking for.
I’m Frances Devine and I’m an author who loves to write, among other genres, cozy mysteries. One day as I was having lunch at my local senior center, I had a call from my daughter. She gave me news that would change my life. A new cozy mystery line was being formed by a well known faith-based publishing house.
I was pre-published at the time, although I did have one historical romance proposal out there on a publisher’s desk. But the chance to write a mystery? I didn’t have to be told twice. I went home and wrote a chapter by chapter synopsis and three sample chapters over the weekend and sent it off, breathless with fear and hope. God is good. Soon, I received an email from the editor with an offer for a contract. This was the beginning of a couple of years of extreme joy as I wrote my three Miss Aggie mysteries with one of  the best editors in the world.
Sadly, the joy didn’t last forever. The new line couldn’t withstand the sinking economy. Although the first two books of my series, The Misadventures of Miss Aggie had made it to print, book three didn’t. At least not in its original form. Some of the authors in the line didn’t see their contracted books published at all.
But you simply can’t keep a good mystery writer down. Last year, we had the opportunity to be part of a new e-book venture sponsored by MacGregory Literary Agency, and since the rights to our cozies had reverted back to us, many of us jumped at the chance to see a new home for our mysteries. So Spyglass Lane Mysteries was formed. Our books are thriving in their new home and can be found on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble. In fact, they’ve done well enough that our fearless leaders have given the go ahead for new books.
You can find out about the books and their authors at with links for purchasing depending upon your type of electronic reader.
If you love mysteries with humor and romance, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I’ve read nearly all of them and intend to grab the ones I’ve missed. Fortunately for my insatiable appetite for more cozies, most of them are priced at 99 cents and occasionally a freebie is offered. My three titles are Miss Aggie’s Gone Missing,Miss Aggie Cries Murder, and Rest in Peace, Miss Aggie.
Oh yes, besides authors and readers, we also allow editors, publishers, designers and agents on Spyglass Lane. We all get along quite nicely.

Frances Devine, author of ten published novels and three novellas, grew up in Texas, where she wrote her first story at the age of nine. She moved to Southwest Missouri more than twenty-five years ago and fell in love with the people, the hills, the fall colors, snow, and Silver Dollar City. Frances attended Ozark Technical College and Southwest Missouri State University when she was in her fifties. She is the mother of seven adult children, has fourteen wonderful grandchildren, and is eagerly awaiting her fifth great-grandchild. Frances has always loved to read and considers herself blessed to write in one of her favorite genres, cozy mysteries, of which three have been published in both print and electronic versions.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's So Funny?

Award winning mystery author Rhys Bowen of the Molly Malone, Even Evens, and Royal Spyness cozy mystery series-es writes hysterical historicals. If I could pick any writer in the world to spend a weekend with, it would be her. I’d tie her to a chair and force feed her tea and crumpets until she taught me speak fluent British flapper slang. But if she is as keen as I imagine her to be, she has had a google alert of this post by now and is off to secure a restraining order against me as we speak. So I suppose I have to turn to her books to learn what I can and eat all of the crumpets myself.

What do I love best about Bowen’s books? From page one to the denouement, they have me in stitches. Humor is a surprisingly formulaic art with several tricks to secure a laugh. I could be tempted to tell you all of them, with enough chocolate and coffee, but for now, you’ll have to settle for two tricks, and examples from Bowen to illustrate them.

 #1 Specificity.

 “He choked on his dessert and died,” is kind of sad. “He choked on the last bite of the last bacon-maple long john that Voo-Doo Donuts ever sold. Mayor Felix Honeyworth the III attempted to administer the Heimlich maneuver but the exertion was too much and he had a heart attack. They both died,” is much funnier.


Because of all the detail. How does Bowen use this trick?

In the first few pages of the first book of the Royal Spyness series, Georgie, the amateur sleuth, describes her future like this: “I am constantly being reminded that it is my duty to make a good match with some half-lunatic, bucktoothed, chinless, spineless, and utterly awful European royal, thus cementing ties with a potential enemy.”

Bowen could have had her character say, “I am constantly being reminded that it is my duty to make a good match,” but frankly you might as well cut that line. Georgie is a minor royal. We all know she needs to make a good match. Instead she gave us an overly detailed and specific description of who Georgie is expected to marry. The description tells us as much about Georgie’s personality as it does about what her future holds. Plus, it’s funny so the editor would never cut it out.

#2 Subverted Expectations.

You expect me to say, “It was a dark and stormy night.” You don’t expect me to say, “It was a dark and stormy nightclub.”

Subtle changes that surprise are much funnier than the same-old same old.

Bowen begins the second chapter of Her Royal Spyness with a delightfully subverted expectation. Georgie, the peeress-sleuth, muses, “I wonder how many people have had life-changing experiences while on the loo?”

Were you expecting that? I wasn’t.

I wouldn’t have been surprised by life-changing experiences on a moonlit night, or life-changing experiences over breakfast. But on the toilet? The surprise and the contrast between the serious and the vulgar are my kind of potty humor.

Well, that’s it. That’s all you’ll get from me without the afore-mentioned chocolate and coffee. (Preferably a grande Americana with three creams and a glazed chocolate cake donut. (The cafĂ© it comes from is less important than the coffee being hot and the donut being in my hands.) But it's enough to get you started, if you (like me) are hungry to make your writing funnier.


Traci Tyne Hilton is a mom, Sunday School teacher, novelist, and award winning playwright from Portland, Oregon. She is madly working on her next mystery series which has finaled in the Books of Hope Contest at Write Integrity Press and has an impending deadline.

Traci earned a degree in History from
Portland State University and lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director from Kansas, their two daughters, and their dog, Dr. Watson.

More of Traci's work can be found at

Her cozy mystery series, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries, can be found here: 

Review by author A. S. Anand:  "Foreclosed is a thoroughly entertaining and superbly plotted debut novel from Traci Hilton. The book approaches the genre of mystery from an unusual but extremely engaging setting: the world of real estate.

And alongside the book's delightful protagonist Mitzy Neuhaus, the reader loses himself in the grandeur and enigmatic qualities of the stunning mansion that the author so authoritatively conveys.

The chemistry between Alonzo and Mitzy is apparent from their first encounter and adds a layer of tantalizing romance to the book; their chemistry is electric and their battle of wills really brings the book's main plot to life.

But it is Mitzy who deserves the greatest plaudits. She is an emotionally engaging character with an incredible amount of depth; resourceful, polite, entrepreneurial and caring, she is the book's main attraction and could quite easily sustain a lengthy series of mysteries that the book's many readers would enjoy.

Finally, the author's writing must receive its deserved praise. Often with light reads such as Foreclosed, the writing can be suspect. But Traci Hilton displays effortless control and command of language. A highly recommended read. "

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Club of the Pubb’d by Linda P. Kozar
Many writers start out with a Hollywood-style vision of fame and fortune that they hope will come from that very first book they write. A bestseller, of course! One that practically flies off the bookshelves. Barnes and Noble can’t keep up. Borders is having a breakdown. Amazon customers are burning up the internet trying to order your book. Oprah wants to interview you! ABC, NBC and CBS too. And Fox, CNN, the wire services. They’re all fascinated with this strange, new uber-writer that is YOU. Limos arrive to whisk you away to parties with admiring superstars. Product lines and merchandizing follow. 
But it’s all a grand dream. . .
            The truth is--writing is hard work though it hardly pays for most, at least not at first and certainly not for the amount of time and effort you put into it. Hard-working writers can indeed make a tidy living even if they never make it to the NY Times Bestseller list.
And when they're not writing? Most authors market their books when they’re not writing. Remember the ballerina with the red shoes who couldn’t stop dancing? If you’re trying to make a living at writing, you’ll feel like that ballerina. 
            You’re probably saying to yourself—right. I’m not really interested in all that stuff. I don't want to speak or get into social networking. I just want to find out how to get my first book published. Maybe I won’t have to work as hard at it as everybody else. My manuscript is brilliant. In fact, I think the first publishing house that takes a look at it and gonna snap it up. 
            Well, you never know. You might be the exception. However, no writer ever got published without doing the work. Which brings me to the first point of our discussion.

1.     Become a student of writing. According to award-winning author Randy Ingermanson, "It takes an average of 7 years for a would-be author to get a book published.”
2.     Join a writers group. ACFW American Fiction Christian Writers, Christian Writers Guild, RWA (Romance Writers of America,  Texas Christian Writers—to name a few).
3.     Join or form a critique group of no more than 4 people. You can critique each other online and in person. Use “Track Changes” in Microsoft Word. A personal critique group is great because these people will come to know you and your characters. The characters in your groups will change over time as some move away or become too busy, etc., but if you keep replacing those who leave, you will get a fresh infusion of new ideas with each new person. Of course, you’ll miss the partner who knew your characters almost as well as you, but it works out in time.
4.     Have a teachable spirit. If you begin thinking that you know it all, you are at a disadvantage. The more you start to learn, the more you begin to discover just how much you don’t know.
5.     Attend writers conferences and workshops. You will learn from the best at these conferences. Jerry Jenkins puts on an excellent and expensive one at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado—Christian Writers Guild, usually with a big name speaker like Frank Peretti. Mount Hermon in San Jose, California is awesome, and the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference, Greater Philly Writers Conference. ACFW, Blue Ridge Writers Conference, Glorieta Christian Writers Conference etc. are great.)
6.     Enter writing contests at conferences, online sources and writer’s groups.
Often for a small fee (sometimes not so small), but if you win, the reward is that you get to add “award-winning writer” to your name. Tools. Get yourself some good reference books.
7.     Develop excellent grammar skills. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the editor’s job to fix your work. You should turn in the best, most polished manuscript you can. This is where all those reference books come in handy. Use them. Read them. Apply what you learn from other writers.
8.     Become a self-editor. Be as good an editor of your own work as you are of others.
9.     Read and write what’s out there. Know the market. Books these days are generally written to sell to people with a small amount of time and short attention spans. The sentences are shorter and to the point.
Study publishing houses. If they are looking for a word count of no less than 75,000, send them a MS with that word count. Don’t get rejected by making some silly mistake. Write your best. Write from the heart. Writing that sparkles and has a unique voice is what will set you apart from the rest and attract editors to YOU.
10.  Get published in different venues first. Blogs and online magazines offer great opportunities for new writers.
11.  Prayer and Patience—You do your part and God will do His. Pray, but try not to get manic about it. Lots of writers go through this—waiting by the laptop all day for the email responses you’re expecting, stalking the mailman, getting depressed or even mad at God.
12.  Accept Rejection—Rejection letters are inevitable, and no matter how many books you’ve had published, they still come and still hurt the same. But don’t take them personally. The publishing house may have something similar or aren’t looking for your type of book right now, etc. Rejections are an opportunity for you to reexamine your work and ask other for your opinion. There is a possibility that you need to revise your manuscript or proposal.

Hope these tips help you to get on the right track to your writing career. Hard work, prayer and perserverence will help you to achieve your goal. So what are you waiting for? Get back to that keyboard and write!

Biographical Info

Linda Kozar is the co-author of Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith (Hardcover/Ebook, Howard/Simon & Schuster 2009) and author of Misfortune Cookies (Print, Barbour Publishing 2008), Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail, (“When The Fat Ladies Sing Series,” Ebooks, Spyglass Lane Mysteries, 2012). She received the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award in 2007, founded and served as president of Writers On The Storm, a local ACFW chapter for three years. In 2003, she co-founded, co-directed and later served as Southwest Texas Director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband Michael, married 23 years, have two lovely daughters, Katie and Lauren and a Rat Terrier princess named Patches.
Represented by: Wendy Lawton, Books & Such Literary Agency
Member of: CAN (Christian Authors Network), RWA (Romance Writers of American), WHRWA (West Houston Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW, Toastmasters (Area 56) The Woodlands, Texas. WoodsEdge Community Church, The Woodlands, TX.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Kevin and Amanda's Grilled Chicken Penne Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce

We all want more time to read, right? So here's a plan...Make fabulous suppers for your family. They will be so grateful that they'll offer to do the dishes! And then you can slip into your jammies, climb into bed, get cozy, and read until you fall asleep. Trust me. A supper like Kevin and Amanda's Grilled Chicken Penne Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce is a dish they'll love. I've included the step by step recipe with pictures (when you click the link) so you can't go wrong. I hope you enjoy this fabulous dish that I got from my daughter as much as I have. Good luck! Cozy Mystery Magazine will be posting more delicious recipes to help make you the most popular member of your family! 

Grilled Chicken Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Montreal Steak seasoning
1/2 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup chicken broth
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 to 1 tsp salt & pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
Rinse chicken breasts in cold water. Layer between sheets of wax paper and pound to even thickness. Season both sides with Montreal Steak seasoning. Preheat grill for medium high heat, lightly oil grate, and grill chicken breasts on medium high heat for 6-8 mins each side. OR heat 2 tbsp butter & 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter and olive oil is nice and hot, add chicken breasts and cook 5 mins each side. Set chicken aside to cool. In a large pot, boil water with 1 tbsp salt. Add 1/2 lb penne pasta noodles and boil according to package directions. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender, but do not let the garlic turn brown (about 3-5 mins). Add the chicken broth to the pan and allow to reduce by half. Meanwhile, slice chicken. Once the broth has reduced, stir in tomato sauce. Add the heavy cream and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low. Chop the parsley and basil, add to sauce and mix well. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Stir well to coat. Serve pasta on plates, top with sliced chicken.
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Nancy Jill Thames is the author of The Jillian Bradley Mystery Series based on her life experiences of traveling with her husband, staying in exclusive hotels and resorts. She loves serving afternoon tea and is known as Queen of Afternoon Tea. Writing is her latest creative outlet, along with playing classical piano. She holds a music degree from UT Austin and lives with her husband in Leander, Texas. She is a member of The Leander Writers Guild. Nancy Jill has received three blogger awards and has been listed on Author Watch Best Seller's List numerous times.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I sometimes feel like a writer without a genre, although I think I’ve finally found a home with the Cozy Mystery crowd. However, when it comes to actually posting my e-books on the publishing sites, that’s where I can have some trouble. When I try to explain it people tend to get confused. There’s a reason for that.
Be prepared, this is going to get complicated.
You see I'm a Christian and I write mysteries, but the sites where I post my e-books do not have a Christian mystery section, or even a Cozy Mystery Section come to think of it. There is only a mystery section or a Christian Fiction section. I do write mysteries, but they are not murder mysteries and even most cozy mysteries are murder mysteries. Also, the mystery and thrillers are grouped together, but my books aren’t scary. Due to the titles of my books some people think I write paranormal stories, but the plot lines are similar to the Old Scooby Doo cartoons where the ghosts, monsters, etc. were fake so that’s not right. They are humorous, but they are not humor books. Since I am a Christian and my books are fiction you would I would fit there, but the nearest category is General and I write mysteries. That means we’re back to the mystery and thriller thing…and I covered all of this already.
Story of my life, I just don’t seem to be easily slotted. Of course, 1 Peter 2:9 (Old King James version of the Bible) does say that Christians are a peculiar people. The definition of peculiar is 1. Unusual or eccentric; odd, 2. Distinct from all others, 3. Belonging distinctively or primarily to one person, group, or kind; special or unique: So maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
So to be clear, just in case I confused you, which I probably did, I write Christian Cozy Mysteries where no one dies, there’s nothing paranormal or thrilling is going on, and they are humorous. There. That sounded almost logical. Kind of.
Now if I can just convince one of the publishing sites to add a Christian Humorous Non-Murder Cozy Mystery Section, I'm set.
On second thought, maybe you should just check for the titles instead. I have links!
However, I am curious, do you do you other writers have trouble fitting in as well? And readers, do you have trouble finding the types of books you like? If not, it's me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cozy mysteries, also referred to simply as "cozies," are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. The term was first coined in the late 20th century when various writers produced work in an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.[1]

The detectives in such stories are nearly always amateurs (village policeman Hamish Macbeth, featured in a series of novels by M. C. Beaton, is a notable exception) and frequently women. They are typically well-educated, intuitive, and often hold jobs (caterer, innkeeper, librarian, teacher, dog trainer, shop owner, reporter) that bring them into constant contact with other residents of their town and the surrounding region.[2] Like other amateur detectives, they typically have a contact on the police force who can give them access to important information about the case at hand, but the contact is typically a spouse, lover, friend or family member rather than a former colleague.[3] Dismissed by the authorities in general as nosy busybodies (particularly if they are middle-aged or elderly women), the detectives in cozy mysteries are thus left free to eavesdrop, gather clues, and use their native intelligence and intuitive "feel" for the social dynamics of the community to solve the crime.[2]
The murderers in cozies are typically neither psychopaths nor serial killers, and, once unmasked, are usually taken into custody without violence. They are generally members of the community where the murder occurs, able to hide in plain sight, and their motives—greed, jealousy, revenge—are often rooted in events years, or even generations, old. The murderers are typically rational and often highly articulate, enabling them to explain, or elaborate on, their motives after their unmasking.
The supporting characters in cozy mysteries are often very broadly drawn and used as comic relief. The accumulation of such characters in long-running cozy mystery series, such as those of Charlotte MacLeod, frequently creates a stock company of eccentrics, among whom the detective stands out as the most (perhaps only) truly sane person.
Cozies virtually never dwell on sexuality or violence, or employ any but the mildest profanity. The murders take place off stage, and frequently involve relatively bloodless methods such as poisoning and falls from great heights. The wounds inflicted on the victim are never dwelt on, and seldom used as clues. Sexual activity, even between married characters, is only ever gently implied and never directly addressed, and the subject is frequently avoided altogether.
The cozy mystery usually takes place in a town, village, or other community small (or otherwise insular) enough to make it believable that all the principal characters know, and may well have long-standing social relationships with, each other. The amateur detective is usually a gregarious, well-liked individual who is able to get the community members to talk freely about each other. There is usually at least one very knowledgeable, nosy, yet reliable character in the book who is intimately familiar with the personal history and interrelationships of everyone in the town, and whose ability to fill in the blanks of the puzzle enables the amateur detective to solve the case.[2]
Cozy mystery series frequently have a prominent thematic element introduced by the detective's job or hobby. Diane Mott Davidson's cozies, for example, revolve around cooking, Parnell Hall's around crossword puzzles, Monica Ferris's around needlework, and Charlotte MacLeod's "Sarah Kelling" series around art. Other series focus on topics ranging from fishing, golfing, and hiking to fashion, antiques, and interior decoration. Cat-lovers are well-represented among the ranks of cozy-mystery detectives, notably in the work of Rita Mae Brown and Lilian Jackson Braun, as are herbalists (of whom the best known is Ellis Peters' medieval sleuth Brother Cadfael).[4]
Avoidance of explicit sex and violence, emphasis on puzzle-solving over suspense, a small-town setting, and a focus on a hobby or occupation are all frequent elements of cozy mysteries. The precise boundaries of the sub-genre remain vague, however, with the work of authors such as Aaron Elkins and Philip R. Craig considered borderline cases.

Monday, June 18, 2012


By Scarlett Rains

Something’s fishy at the Ritz…and it doesn’t sit well on a cracker!  


Book Description (per Amaon)

Publication Date: April 10, 2012

When a shocking murder disrupts the West Coast Garden Club Society's second annual conference, gardening columnist Jillian Bradley joins with Chief Frank Viscuglia to help in the investigation. Could it be the mean spirited conference director? Perhaps it's the wealthy widow on the make for her next husband; or maybe the killer is the haughty business woman who shows no regard for her brow beaten husband.

Set in beautiful Half Moon Bay at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Jillian moves through the exclusive hotel property, local nurseries, colorful restaurants, and private mansions searching for the truth, pausing with her friends for cups of afternoon tea along the way. She uncovers a series of mysterious events that lead to solving several murders, both past and present. With the help of her garden club friends and her Yorkshire terrier 'Teddy', Jillian discovers not only a killer, but a far greater menace that could threaten us all.

Product Details
·         Paperback: 178 pages
·         Publisher: CreateSpace (April 10, 2012)
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 1452882088
·         ISBN-13: 978-1452882086

My Review

Murder in Half Moon Bay, (Jillian Bradley Mysteries, No. 1) is an entertaining, fast-paced, read. Nancy Jill Thames’s clever protagonist, Jillian Bradley, doesn’t miss a beat.  She, and her garden club friends, arrives at the West Coast Garden Club Society’s Annual Conference in Half Moon Bay expecting to relax, spend the weekend gleaning gardening tips, whiling away pleasant hours surveying plant specimens, and sampling great food.  Jillian quickly realizes there is something fishy going on at the Ritz…and she’s not talking about fertilizer! The soil at the Ritz-Carton doesn’t need enrichment.  Bodies are popping up over there faster than bean sprouts on steroids!  Good thing Jillian is not only a gardening expert, but a VERY good listener, a keen observer of detail…and a list-maker.  Put all that together, stir in the ‘contributions’ of Teddy (Jillian’s little Yorkie –who may just be telepathic!) and you’ve got yourself a great potting mix for a budding detective. 
As Nancy Jill Thames’s delightful story unfolds, a botanist might prove more useful than the FBI or the local police department.  All sorts of cross-pollination seems to be going on, what with social butterflies flitting around, landing in who knows whose room, and things taking root where they never should have been planted!   I’m not one for spoilers, but there are weeds that need pulling at the Ritz-Carlton and Jillian’s just the gal for the job. She and her friends waste no time. They get to work, digging in the dirt, to solve the mystery.
I enjoyed Thames’s family-friendly mystery very much.  This charming book earned 4/5 hearts. I would have given it 5/5, but one of the plot points troubled me.  As brilliant as Jillian clearly is, I couldn’t see a police chief allowing her to question suspects, until later in the series —after she establishes her stellar reputation as a sleuth. That trifle aside, Murder in Half Moon Bay is the sort of book to enjoy on a rainy day, snuggled in a recliner with a nice cup of Jillian’s favorite, Lady Earl Grey, tea.  I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a clever mystery that’s not soaked in blood and gore.  I look forward to reading all of the Jillian Bradley Mysteries.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cozy Question of the Week

"What do Agatha Christie and Janet Evanovich not have in common?"
a. both wrote romance novels
b. both wrote non-fiction
c. both wrote under pseudonyms
d. both had movies made from their books

Please comment for your guess.

Next Monday we'll reveal the answer!