Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Goodbye for Now

Author Candice Speare Prentice

The authors of Cozy Mystery Magazine wish Candice Prentice all the best blessings as she takes a sabbatical from writing this year. We've enjoyed her excellent, well researched posts and will miss her contributions!

Candice is the author of Murder in the Milk CaseBand Room Bash, and Kitty Litter Killer(Print, Barbour Publishing, 2005-2006), and Mayhem in Maryland—a cozy compilation (Print, Barbour Publishing, 2008). She also co-authored three romances published in 2010 by Barbour. In 2013, MacGregor Literary Agency re-released Candice’s cozies as e-books. You can find out more about them here.

Candice lives in Maryland with her husband and Jack the Whiney Dog, who is the subject of many of her personal blog articles. She reads and researches for fun and especially enjoys medical history, which explains her collection of antique medical bottles and memorabilia.    

Candice Speare Prentice
Intriguing Stories. . .Inspiring Hope. . .Finding Joy in Restoration

Find her on Facebook

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's an Authormorph?

The Before
Welcome to an afternoon tea! Let me pour you a nice cup of Lady Grey. Please help yourself to some yummy treats. 

Do you like to read autobiographies? I do. To me, some celebrities' journeys are better than fiction! Some of my favorites are Jackie Kennedy, Lauren Bacall, and Coco Chanel. Do you have any? Today, I wanted to share how I morphed into an author. I'd love to hear your comments on morphing as well!

How does an ordinary housewife become a writer? It's not like one dreams of writing a book. Being an author was probably the farthest thing from my mind until things began to happen that changed my trajectory. 

Martha Hyer
Years ago, a fellow juror handed me a newspaper clipping of an actress named Martha Hyer and told me I looked like her. Maybe to him I did. But the real kicker was someone telling me I looked exactly like Angela Lansbury. Now, as many may know, Angela Lansbury starred not only in GaslightThe Manchurian Candidate, and Blue Hawaii, but she also starred in a 10-year run of Murder, She Wrote.

Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote
After I believed I looked like Angela, I think I tuned in for all ten years of that series, which left quite an impression on my brain coupled with discovering a special display in the library where I took my young children every week.

A library benefactor had bequeathed the entire leather bound set of the Agatha Christie Mystery Collection, and those books called to me until I had checked out and read every one...again and again.

Over the years raising children, leading the PTA, organizing Vacation Bible School, spending time with girlfriends giving luncheons, throwing tea parties, and reading Agatha Christie, little did I realize it was all a dress rehearsal preparing me for writing the Jillian Bradley Mystery Series

When time came for an empty nest and an outlet for my creative urges, it was if the Lord turned on the switch and the stories began to flow. 

That was the fun part. 

The struggle came when readers would give critical reviews. I wanted to give up, but I prayed hard, asking God for direction. Ever been there? 

He directed me to writing groups and blogs where I found help. There are amazing people out there who I consider to be super heroes. When you ask God for direction, He will always show you what to do.

Four years and nine books later I finally realized I had morphed into an author. 

Worth the struggle? You bet! The only thing I could live without are the "stretch" marks. 

Seriously, it's humbling to know people all over the world read the adventures of Jillian and Teddy. Many have said they can't wait for the next one.

If you want to read a mystery where you find an inexpensive escape to luxurious hotels, a place to eat fabulous food without gaining weight, indulge in afternoon tea without all the work, and have an adorable little fur ball for a virtual companion, then you'd probably enjoy the adventures of Jillian Bradley and her Yorkie, Teddy. 

Begin with Book 1 - "Murder in Half Moon Bay" 

Available on for only $3.99 

The After
~Nancy Jill

P.S. You can also read Murder in Half Moon Bay for free on
To learn more about Nancy Jill visit

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In Murder Mysteries, Nothing And No One Is Safe

Okay, I’ve been reading murder mysteries for a while now, and have come across some of the creative ways that authors have bumped off their victims. Untraceable poisons no one can pronounce, crossbows set to kill on a timer or ice bullets which will melt after completing their deadly mission leaving no trace.
In spite of that, I think I’ve come across one that is truly unique, but I could be wrong. I’m sure a lot of you read more than I do. Although my family would have hard time believing that.
Anyway, I finished reading The Mystery of the Boule Cabinet; A Detective Story by Burton Egbert Stevenson. The book was written 1911 so it’s a bit on the sensational side, but the solution does make sense which I appreciated. In my opinion those are the best, they are unlikely, but still possible. In spite of that this story has got to have one of the most ingenious murder weapons I’ve come across.
Forget Professor Peacock in The Library with The Revolver. Or even a frozen leg of lamb or a toaster. 
In this story the murder weapon is…a piece of furniture. A rather large cabinet to be precise. Not a built-in, free standing. No it doesn’t fall on anybody, it’s a little more complicated than that of course.
The plot is a locked room mystery, which basically is that someone is murdered in a locked room. There’s no way they could have been murdered, but yet there’s this dead body. Then another one. And another one. Plus some near misses, but no one realizes that until later. The only commonality is this cabinet, and it’s definitely the murder weapon. No spoiler there that’s established almost immediately. But how is the murderer using it to kill people?
Well that’s the mystery, and if I told you, you'd be mad. So if you're want to know read the book.
The furniture did it, think about that the next time you move it to vacuum behind it.
What about all of you? What is the most creative, unique or bizarre fictional murder methods you’ve come across?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Uh, Excuse Me. Just One More Thing.

Do you recognize that phrase or the person who used a variation of it on a regular basis? If the trench-coat-wearing, cigar smoking, police detective pictured here comes to mind, you know who I mean. Lieutenant Columbo of the LAPD.

In this blog post I’m going to depart from my regular articles about traditional cozy mysteries to talk about this old series--one of my favorites. My husband and I recently began watching them from the beginning (via Netflix), and I found myself comparing the cozy mystery “formula” to the Columbo mystery formula. I found some differences, but I also found some similarities.

The biggest difference between the two is that at the very beginning of each Columbo program, the audience watches the murderer commit the crime, so the viewer has one up on Detective Columbo--we know “who done it.” Then, for the rest of the show, we enjoy watching how he solves the crime.

The biggest similarity between Columbo and a traditional cozy mystery is how Columbo solves the crimes. Although he has access to labs and the usual police stuff, more often than not, he solves the mysteries in ways very like some of our favorite cozy sleuths—he observes people, listens carefully to conversations, trusts his gut, and picks up clues that the other police miss. He also lets the criminal think he’s a blundering idiot, which makes it easier for him to slyly collect facts. And as occurs in cozies, there is usually at least one other suspect, and the murderer is often pushed into killing by some action of the victim—something that somehow threatens the murderer’s wellbeing

Unlike many cozy mystery sleuths, we only glimpse Columbo’s personal life through sporatic comments—mostly about his wife, who we never see. And he often uses these off-hand comments about his wife to distract the suspect. Again, this adds to his bumbling fool demeanor.

In addition to comments about his wife, in many of the shows he’s got some minor personal issue going on. For instance in one, he’d just gotten a new dog, a hound dog that was with him in his car for the length of the show. Columbo was trying to figure out a name for the dog, and he asked everyone for suggestions. In another, he ruined his shoes by getting them wet at a crime scene.  Again, he asked everyone about their shoes and where they got them. In one scene he showed up wearing a new pair that didn’t fit and made him miserable. By the end of the show, he had finally gotten a comfortable pair. Simple stuff, but highly entertaining coming from Columbo.

Like I said, I enjoy Columbo a lot. The shows are well done and the characters are enjoyable. And with some rearrangement, the plots of the shows could be inspiration for cozy mysteries. Speaking of which, I have a book to write, and thinking about Columbo makes me feel inspired.