Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Book in Any Other Format would Probably Not Smell as Sweet

Have you ever noticed how delicious old books smell? That almost warm tone, with hints of vanilla? Or, as one scientist said, "A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness, this unmistakable smell is as much part of the book as its contents."

That smell can take us back to stories we've read and places we've dreamed of faster than the words on the page can, sometimes. And it's the natural, chemical result of aging paper.You can read more about it here:

I think, even if I go blind someday (a distinct possibility since I plan to live long enough to meet my great, great grandchildren and I already wear pretty strong glasses/contacts!) I think, even then, I'll keep old books around, just to smell them while some machine reads to me.
Freebies from Amazon, right here!

And yet, I do a lot of reading on my Kindle. I have a pretty simple one. It does have a touch screen, but it's not back lit. It can read aloud to me, but in an awful computer voice, so I don't use it. It doesn't go on the internet, or have color, but it doesn't hurt my eyes. I love that I can carry dozens of books in my purse. I love that once I get snuggled down with the Kindle in bed, I don't have to adjust to turn the page. I also love that I can adjust the size of the text as the light gets dimmer when the sun sets. There are a lot of good things about these devices, even if they don't smell good, or make that lovely crinkle noise library books with plastic dust jackets make.

What about you? What type of book (or ereader) do you use the most? What type do you like the best?

Traci Tyne Hilton, author of the Plain Jane Mysteries and the Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries, loves to give away free books! Foreclosed, and Good Clean Murder are always free, for all eReading devices! Pop by her blog to get them today!

Don't want to miss a freebie or a new release? Sign up for her  newsletter! ;) 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014



It's actually a very fun process. While I'm a seats-of-the-pantser writer for my non-mystery books, my cozies require notes. Pages and pages, and post-its upon post-its of notes.

When I wrote my first cozy mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, formerly titled Buried Beneath the Midnight Blue, I had no idea what a cozy mystery was. A friend of mine dared me to write one and to submit it to Barbour Publishing's new cozy mystery line. So, I researched what one was, entered it into a contest, won first place in the inspirational category of said contest, and required an agent. What a whirlwind! I've been hooked ever since. But, I digress.

1 - I choose the crime. Most of the time, I pick murder, but that isn't always the original thought in the culprit's mind.

2 - the main character: Name, occupation, personality, looks, and why they want to get involved.

3- I choose my bad guy/woman and why they committed the crime

4 - Now my suspects and the quirkier the better. All my cozies take place in small towns, usually in
the Ozarks where I grew up. Caution: Don't have your secondary characters outshine your main character in quirkiness. All the suspects must have a believable motive. In the first book of my second series, Deadly Neighbors, everyone needs cash for something - and lots of it. Thus, their motive.

5- Then, I choose a romantic interest. Who doesn't like romance? And the hunkier the hero, the better. BUT: there must be conflict. The hero does not want the heroine to get involved, yet, despite her heart's tugging to the contrary, she does.

6 - Once I have my characters and the whys of their being a part of the story, I come up with my red herrings, or false clues. Again CAUTION: don't mislead your reader to the point where they close the book and go, "Huh?". Instead, you want them to go, "Oh, yeah! I remember when that clue happened." It's a fine line, really, but loads of fun.

And thus, my need for lots of notes. I purchase a very pretty spiral notebook and bright colored post its. After all, I'm working and need something lovely to look at, right? My wall is plastered with the post its as thoughts come to me, and my plotting notes are in the notebook.

I'm not sure if this is the right way to write a mystery, or whether other authors use the same method,
but this is what works for me. In April, I'll be releasing the first in a third series, and I'm having more fun than ever.

Multi-published and 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 and 2014 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads. 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


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Buffets for Readers? Coming Right Up!

 By Nancy Jill Thames

Conjecture about where Amazon is headed with book distribution is always in the back of my publishing brain. Subscription services? What's that all about?

Think "NetFlix" for books. 

It turns out that the next wave of book distribution is already making headway with ravenous readers in the form of "book buffets" as a recent article on Jane Friedman's blog put it.

Now, I'm one who not only reads magazines back to front, I also read the fine print. Here's what I think -- on the positive side, book subscription services, which charge roughly between $8.99 and $9.95 a month for all the books you can read will enable voracious readers to download all they want. For readers who read a book or more a week that's a good deal!

If you don't have time to read, and pay for a subscription every month -- that's a disadvantage. But that's the way a subscription service works.

Personally, we have NetFlix for movies, Pandora for music (upgraded for no commercial interruptions), a home warranty plan with First American and Ameriplan for dental. Why not books?

How do authors make money? I'm glad you asked. Whenever readers download a portion of our books or the entire file, we are paid a percentage accordingly. I say, great! Book subscription services are simply other platforms to get people to read.

The Jillian Bradley Mystery Series can be read from the two following subscription services:


Just a hint - both services offer a 30-day trial subscription for FREE! Are you hungry yet?

What do you think of this idea? Do you have a subscription? Inquiring authors at Cozy Mystery Magazine would like to know.

See you in my books.

~Nancy Jill 

Nancy Jill Thames is the author of seven books in the Jillian Bradley series. She is an award-winning blogger and  listed frequently on the Author Watch Bestseller’s List. In addition, she won first place in her church's 4th of July Celebration for her chocolate cream pie.

When she isn’t plotting her next book, she spends time with her six grandchildren in two states, tags along with her husband on business trips, and plays classical piano for her own personal enjoyment. She is an active member of the Leander Writers' Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW CenTex-Chapter), Central Texas Authors, and supports the Central Texas SPCA with a portion of her book sales. She resides with her husband in Leander, Texas.

To learn more about the author and check out her books, please visit her blog at  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

There's No Mystery On This One. It's War!

First off, I must warn you that I am a little cranky right now.
Why you may ask? Why Cindy? That’s what the C of C.L stands for, in case you wondered. Why are you cranky?
Well keep reading and I’ll tell you.
I’m under invasion by an army that I am convinced is doing it just to tick me off! They are relentless and what they lack in size they more than make up for in sheer numbers.
That’s right, I’m under constant threat of being overrun, by ants.

Insulting Annoying Freeloading Ant
(Molestus Contumeliae Parasitus Formicae)
Oh how I hate my house
Oh don’t tell me I’m overreacting. You try waking up at 5:00 (that’s 5:00 am) and find that the local colony has sent out a scouting party to your kitchen counter top and see how cheerful you are about it.
It's not my favorite way to wake up let me tell you. Besides it’s rude! I didn’t invite the little freeloaders in, and they don’t help with the mortgage so don’t get to come in and be annoying whenever they please!
So I spend all morning getting rid of them, instead of getting ready to go to work, to which I am almost late, and then come home to see there are few stragglers came a callin'. 
I’m glad it wasn’t a full scare invasion. Yet.
That’s right they’ll be back. Me and the ants have done this dance before.
That’s another reason I’m cranky, because what have I been doing for the last hour? Sweeping and mopping my floors. Do you know how often I sweep and mop floors on a weekday unless there is major spillage involved? Not very often. That’s weekend work.
Anyway, ants aren’t supposed to like vinegar, and I clean with vinegar and water (hey, it’s not fatal to humans and it’s cheap and I’m on a budget). However, right now my house smells like a pickling factory. But the ants are gone. For now. But they’ll be back. They always come back.
Fish got to swim. Birds got to fly. Ants have got to be annoying until they die.
What really gets me is I don’t know what they’re after. I keep a clean kitchen folks. I was trained to do so by my mother, who was obsessed with her own war with dirt. I do not leave out dirty dishes or food. Ever! My mother would get special permission from God to come and haunt me if I did. Besides, the ants also invade the bathroom. Why? I don’t have any food in the bathroom!
So it’s back to my theory that they’re doing just because it drives me crazy.
Annoying freeloading ants.
As you have probably guessed by now, I’m not an ant lover. Oh yes, I know, the Lord invented them for a specific purpose. They are nature’s garbage collectors, and are very good at it. Cool. Outside, not in my house! By coming in they are insinuating that I don’t keep a clean house. You see? They’re not only annoying freeloaders, they are insulting annoying freeloaders. Not all that bright either because they totally ignore the fact that if they come into my house they will die. End of story.
Hey, it’s not my fault. If they would just stay outside, where they belong, doing the job God invented them to do we could have signed a peace treaty a long ago.
But no, they exist to annoy me. And you too I bet.
So you see it is the ants’ fault for coming into my house, insulting my housekeeping and defying God’s Will.
Excuse me now while I go check to see if the enemy has called it a night. If not, I have bug spray, and I’m not afraid to use it!

Mystery writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files a Christian Cozy Mystery Series, and a superhero story called Chasing Lady Midnight. A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots. Although that is where she got her idea for The Secretary, she is not an evil mastermind. Although some of her former employers might disagree. These days she contents herself with knitting while contemplating her next diabolical plot. Story plot that is.

Current E-Books
THE REBOOT FILES:  The Mystery of Hurtleberry House, The Island of Living Trees, The Harbinger of Retribution, and The Wrong Ghost.
Chasing Lady Midnight  (A Cozy Christian Mystery With Superheroes)