Archive | murder and mystery RSS feed for this section

How to write a cozy mystery. (Part 1)

Okay, let’s have a little fun!

This is part tongue-in-cheek, part serious to introduce my new cozy mystery series. Glad you stopped by!










Free for newsletter subscribers!                               Releasing early May!




1. Must have fun-loving amateur sleuth.    CHECK

Meet Holly Hart. She has a passion for cheesecake. She’s open to a little bit of romance. And she has a strong sense of justice and wants to see criminals receive their just reward–especially when she’s one of the suspects and her business is on the line!

I’ve read many cozy mysteries and they all seem to have this ingredient. Not many sleuths are brooding and unhappy.


2. Must have food! Something sweet. Something sexy.   CHECK

Holly used to escape down to the kitchen and bake cheesecake when she was a teen. Slowly, over time, she mastered the art of cheese and cake when combined. Don’t ask for the secret ingredient though because she’s taking that to the grave. (Hopefully not literally!)

Cheesecake is sexy. And Holly loves to get creative with her creations. Chocolate chip cream cheese cookies. Cheesecake smoothies. Of course, her creations aren’t all successful, but she keeps those disasters a secret.


3. Must have some kind of furry, little, cute animal.   CHECK

Holly loves her dog, Muffins. He’s small, but he’s a firecracker. He’s occassionally been known to run away, causing all sorts of havoc. The history of how he became her dog will be found in the free cozy mystery, Murder with a Slice of Cheesecake. Exclusive to newsletter followers. So go sign up to the right.

The animal doesn’t have to be a dog. I’ve seen cats too, in particular black cats. Not sure why. I suggest a cute animal, though the challenge of having a pet snake could make interesting fodder for a plot line. Goldfish not so much. I don’t see goldfish accompanying the amateur sleuth on undercover investigations or sniffing out clues. But don’t let that hold you back.

This concludes part one!

If you didn’t catch the previous clues in this post. Sign up for my newsletter to receive Murder with a Slice of Cheesecake. Look for HOW TO WRITE A COZY MYSTERY – PART TWO next week! (Capitals are for emphasis. I promise I’m calm, cool, and collected right now. Not yelling.)

See you next week!


** No animals were injured in the writing of this post.
** This list is in no way exclusive or a set of hard and fast rules that absolutely have to be followed. In other words, the cozy mystery police will not be knocking on your door if you create a brooding and unhappy sleuth. Or if they have a fettish for asparagus.

Comments { 0 }

A new sleuth and a FREE cozy mystery!

I don’t really know why it took me so long to write a cozy mystery. I grew up on a steady diet of mysteries. I love mysteries. I still read mysteries. All different kinds–not just cozies. A lot of what I write and what I’ve published has a mystery element. So I decided to go for it. It’s been a lot of fun.

It’s fun putting the pieces together. It’s fun developing a character in a small town who has enough depth and life to be a series. It’s fun creating secondary characters and side kicks and the romantic interest. And it’s especially fun creating a worthy adversary!


If you’ve signed up for my newsletter, in the next week or so I’ll be sending out a free cozy mystery novella, introducing the sleuth. And then, early May, the first cozy mystery will release on Amazon. Clue: Newsletter signup is on the right!

With no further ado, meet Holly Hart

amateur sleuth and cheesecake connoisseur!


Stay tuned!

Next week will be the cover reveal for Holly’s first mystery!

Footprints in the Frosting!

And there just might be review copies available!

Comments { 1 }

Heist is FREE! And a new release!

Hi everyone!

As writers whether we self publish or go traditional we have to decide between writing for love or money. Do we write the trendy genre? Or write what’s in our heart. These books, even though written several years apart, are from my heart. I combined my love of heists with the emotional resonance of families working through healing and heartbreak and truth.

Finally, after days of price matching, Heist, my young adult time travel mystery is FREE!

Available everywhere. Also in print.

Download today!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ Google Play

Sixteen-year-old Jack Brodie time travels back to the world-famous Gardner Heist. When he returns his life has changed for the worst. He keeps returning to the crime to fix his mistakes until he has the ultimate choice: his family and his own happiness, or the girl he loves.

A Royal Heist is live! This is the sequel to Heist.

Available everywhere. Also in print.

Download today!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ Google Play

Alternate timelines collide.
Only one will steal the jewels.
Only one will have a happy ending.

Annabelle longs for freedom, trapped in a life where she feels like nothing more than a vapor, a ghost flitting through time. Under the strict and often cruel direction of her grandmother, she travels back to famous heists and steals art. In a moment of utter despair and rage she commits an unforgivable act. As a result, she’s sent back to the 1600s on a royal heist—to steal the Crown Jewels—in nothing more than a state-issued nightgown. A death sentence.

In a second reality, in that moment, she receives a weathered scroll with instructions not to kill her grandmother and to pass a message onto Fiasco. But who is Fiasco? And how can he help? On her next big royal heist, she faces the stark reality that she is in a race to steal the Crown Jewels with another version of herself from a different reality.

It’s a race for survival.



Comments { 2 }

How can four high school students pull off a major heist? Find out!

If you’ve known me for any length of time as a writer and/or reader or have stopped by the blog at all in the past few years, then you might know that I love heist movies and books! Love them.

My post on the story structure of a heist movie in 15 sentences is my most viewed post and shows up on the first page if you google: How to write a heist novel.

I recently read Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig and loved it! And I’ve read and watched a lot. I considered this one excellent.

I was psyched when Elisa said she’d guest post on the background behind writing Coin Heist! Oh, and watch the video (link at the bottom). It’s pretty cool.


Check out Elisa Ludwig’s book page for purchase links and more information!

Pulling a heist is no joke, and while the process of writing about one is somewhat easier, there are still plenty of challenges for the author at the helm.

I had some preparation for the climactic scene in COIN HEIST as I’d already written the three books in the PRETTY CROOKED series (Katherine Tegen), all of which involve thievery, break-ins, scams, carjacking, computer sleuthing and code breaking.

Even so, getting four teens into the Philadelphia Mint required research—a lot of research. First, I read as much as I could about the Mint, its history and heists at all of the U.S. mints over the years.

Then, because I live locally, I cased the joint on foot, walking in as a tourist. (FYI: It’s a very cool place to visit, but it often gets slept on in the middle of Philly’s historic Old City district.) I wore my baby in an Ergo carrier, which, I hoped, would help me evade suspicion. Meanwhile, I took copious notes on my iPhone.

The tour allows you to watch the coins as they’re being made on the production floor, so after a couple of visits, I got a sense of how to physically stage the night of the heist.

However, I still needed some more information about how the computer hacking portion of the heist would take place. That’s when I called on Michael Viscuso, a computer security expert. (Conveniently, one of my day job freelance gigs happens to be writing for a company called Net Diligence, which offers cyber risk management services.)

Michael walked me through multiple scenarios for how it could go down, and together we decided on the best one for the purposes of the book—something teens could feasibly pull off. I knew I wanted a combination of hacking and real-life stealing, because frankly, reading about someone sitting at a computer, no matter how many risks they’re taking, is kind of dull.

Oh, and the part about the prom at Franklin Institute? I didn’t need to research it. I lived it. My own senior prom took place there, but we didn’t have a cool band like Jason’s headlining. We had a band called the Flaming Caucasians—which was about as terrible as it sounds.

For more information about the making of the book, and a tour of the sites involved, check out this video from Adaptive Studios. 


Thanks Elisa!!!

Comments { 3 }

Trilogies and cliffhangers…and some book news!

Trilogies and cliffhangers…and some book news!

Before self publishing offered authors a chance to strike out on their own, I always wrote books with the thought that it could be a series or a trilogy. I jotted potential storylines or subplots in notebooks that could continue in other books, some thread from the previous story that could be explored.

Personally, I don’t care for cliffhangers that end the story in the middle of a climax. In fact, sometimes, it annoys me so much that I don’t keep reading book 2 or book 3. I like each book to be a complete story. The kind of cliffhanger I don’t mind is the one where the story is wrapped up, but some new element or question or shocking reveal is introduced, one that keeps me thinking about the book until the next one is published, or at least one I remember when the next book is published.

How do you like your endings and cliffhangers?

On that note, Vanishing Point, A Circle of Spies novella has been published. This is an adult novella, revealing the secret past of Marisa Bent, Savvy’s mom.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Lies can be deadly.

Before Paris, before Greece, Marisa Bent was nothing but a bored housewife, willing to do anything to protect her family. When she learns that espionage runs in her blood line and that a family of assassins are her archenemy, she’s willing to do anything to protect her husband and daughter and keep them in the dark. She even follows Will, the young, arrogant assassin, into the heart of trouble.

Using a mother’s instinct, she becomes the hero. More than once. This only seems to prove to Will that she is indeed a spy, bent on ruining his family’s enterprise. In the defining moment of her life, she must make the biggest sacrifice a mother can make.

Finally, the untold story of Savvy’s mother. Learn why she disappeared from Savvy’s life and the sordid details of her past with Malcolm’s family. 


And, to finish off the series, Twist of Fate ( book 3) will be out in October. Add to Goodreads.


Thanks everyone! Tell me your good news!


Comments { 10 }