Back to a cozy

I’m hugging myself. I finished my Vella medieval fantasy AND a short story for a future podcast AND a short story for this blog. I even wrote another short story to post here in October. And no, I don’t usually think that far ahead. But when I start thinking about short stories, I often get a rush of ideas. So I wrote this one while it was fresh in my mind. And then I jotted down ideas for the rest that came. They have to wait their turn. Because….

Today, I started work on my second Karnie cozy mystery. I’m back in the butcher shop trying to find out who killed Glendale’s councilman. And it wasn’t Earl Thromm, Jethro’s older brother. The two men own the plumbing shop a few doors down from A Cut Above. Jethro’s a frequent customer, but Earl’s practically a hermit. He doesn’t talk much, but he loves to write to the local paper, complaining about…you guessed it…the local representative.

I have a bunch of character wheels for suspects and witnesses, and I tossed in having Karnie’s “perfect” brother coming home to work for a while in their family shop. That should stir things up for the Cleaver family. I wrote chapter one today and part of chapter two. I’m ready to have some fun!


I finally finished the first draft of my straight mystery, and my critique partner/friend has already given me back her notes on it. I’m waiting on my daughter, Holly, to give me her feedback, but she’s so swamped right now, she might not get to it. If not, I’ll do rewrites with just Julia Donner/M.L. Rigdon’s red ink suggestions. We trade manuscripts, and we trust each other. We’re also each other’s biggest fans. Not just because we’re friends. Because I think she’s that good. She caught two big trip ups in my story, but they’re both easy fixes. Hopefully, the rewrites will go pretty fast.

Also, I just finished the first draft of the Muddy River novella I’m trying for Vella. It’s going to come in at about 28,000 words. I’ve done a lot of rewrites as I go so that I can put up one chapter at a time. Soon, I should have the entire story available there. And then I’ll see how it does, but so far, nada. Nothing. No luck with Vella.

But now I can get to the wonderful news. Once I polish both manuscripts, I can start work on my 8th Jazzi and Ansel. And it’s going to feel like going home. Like being in the heart of a family, surrounded by people you love. This time, I want to have Jazzi, Ansel, and Jerod take an old barn and turn it into a house. When I was in high school, I borrowed my mom’s Grace Livingston Hill novels to read. LOL. I’d read one of those and then Germaine Greer or Betty Friedan and throw in Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, along with Agatha Christie. Quite a contrast, but it was all interesting to me. Anyway, one of Hill’s books was titled The Enchanted Barn. I don’t remember a lot about it except that a girl who was mostly broke got an old barn and made it into her home. That fascinated me. Of course, there was a romance with an HEA involved, too. I’ve seen a few barns in our area get converted into studios or homes. I thought that would be a fun project for my fixer-uppers.

I’m featuring Jerod’s dad, the mechanic, for the mystery part of the story. A few books ago, he hired an ex-con to work for him, and Jarrett’s doing his best to stay clean. But when one of the guys in the shop is found stuffed in a trunk, the cops immediately focus on him, even though Eli insists he’s innocent and Jerod asks Jazzi and Ansel to help prove it.

More added fun, for me, in this book is that Ansel gets good news that makes him a happy man. And I’m guessing many of you can guess what that news is:)

I have part of the book plotted already, but I have more plotting to go. And it’s going to feel good to be back flipping houses and cooking big family meals on Sundays. It usually takes at least three months to finish a first draft of a cozy. It will be three months of being with old friends. I’m so ready.


Yesterday, I loaded my seventh Jazzi Zanders mystery onto Amazon. It’s the first time I’ve self-published a Jazzi, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that readers find it. I love writing this series. I’ve grown so fond of the characters, I look forward to seeing what they’re going to do in each book.

This time, Jazzi isn’t the one who’s asked to solve a murder. Ansel’s uncle, who promised him a job when he came to River Bluffs, then let his sons drive him away, asks for his help. I’m not as nice of a person as Ansel is. Len treated him like crap. I’d tell him to stuff it and secretly rejoice that he was in trouble, but Ansel has high standards that he lives up to, even when others don’t. When Len tells him that one of the members on his construction crew was buried when a retaining wall gave in a trench, and that the police suspect Trey–his son, Ansel agrees to look into what happened.

Trey’s a jerk. HIs brother Willy’s weak. And Len is…Len. But Ansel likes Hammer and Jerry, who trained him when he first worked for Len. When he and Jazzi go to talk to the entire crew, Ansel realizes he really wants the accident to be just that–an accident. He doesn’t want anyone he knows to be guilty of murder. But this is a mystery…so…you know.

If all goes well, The Body in the Trench will go live on Friday, March 26.

A First for me!

If you belong to Goodreads, my publisher–Kensington–is offering The Body in the Attic in a giveaway from Aug. 30-Sept. 13 and will give away 100 FREE e-copies to winners.  You can sign up here:

I’ve belonged to Goodreads for a long time.  I’ve even worked with the wonderful Tana from Making Connections and given away 10 free copies of my self-published urban fantasies before.  But I’ve never given away 100 copies.  And Kensington has never promoted my books this way before.  It’s a first for me, and I love it!  So, if you’re a member, and you like mysteries, I hope you give it a shot.  And good luck!

The Body in the Attic ebook