Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fudge-Laced Felonies

I don’t want a lot out of life. Just a few things really. My own candy store, a prize winning rose bush, and Ethan Banning. Some people would say one out of three isn’t bad. But I’m skirting around the issue of why I’m writing to you. Something I, Summer Meadows, does well.

I walked into church on Sunday, not to find God, but to search for a killer. There he stood, blond, with dimples a girl could drown in. I can’t believe Ethan thought he could get around my anger with a smile! Can’t a girl go on vacation without a man killing her prize roses?

Anyway, while Ethan and I were transplanting a new Midnight Rose, we discovered diamonds. Of course my immediate response was that I was rich, but once again Mr. Reality put me in my place. I decided if I couldn’t keep them, I’d find out who they belonged to. I couldn’t rely on my bumbling cousin Joe, aka Chief-of-Police to find out. He did everything way too slow. So, I did the next best thing and roped my aunt Eunice into being my side-kick. She ranted and raved a bit, but she’ll come through.

With the candy-store humming along nicely, I nosed around town like Nancy Drew. I had second thoughts, though, when a dead body turns up. Then to complicate matters more, a gorgeous, right-out-of-a-magazine man walks into church. So, I decided since Ethan’s attentions seemed to be elsewhere, I'd dabble in a little romance myself.

Can you see why my life is so confusing? I jump from one thing to the next faster than one of those rubber bouncy balls! And if Ethan doesn’t stop calling me Tinker Bell, there might just be another murder mystery to solve. Anyway, blogging world, I’d best get to gum-shoeing if I want this solved before Christmas. Y’all have fun, and I’ll keep in touch.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Introducing Victoria Storm and Friends


I'm Victoria Storm, and at thirty years of age, sole proprietor of Cedar Lodge Boarding House, which I recently inherited. Cedar Lodge was originally a real hunting lodge in my family for many years, then it was a private home for many more years. But after the death of my grandfather, my grandma turned it in a boarding house for senior citizens.

Since all the boarders are old friends of my grandparents, I've known them all my life. And that's where the problem sometimes pops up. They've taught me everything I know. Or so they think.

All was rolling along quite nicely until that cold day in January when the Cedar Chapel Bank was robbed and Miss Aggie Pennington-Brown disappeared. Since Miss Aggie was our friend and housemate, and we didn't think the sheriff was making much progress, we simply had no choice but to start our own investigation.

All eventually turned out well. In fact so well, we thought we were pretty smart, so we wrote all the details down for posterity. If you'd like to hear about our adventures, you'll find them laid out neatly in Miss Aggie's Gone Missing.

Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of Miss Aggie's misadventures. She simply can't seem to stay out of trouble. And she isn't even nice about it.

Her best friend, Miss Jane, can pretty much hold her own with just about anyone, especially me. But I don't think she'll every get over her slavish devotion to Miss Aggie. That bothers me because Miss Jane is one of my favorite people.

Then there's the rest of the gang. Sweet, nervous Miss Georgina, who reminds me of an aging southern belle. Her cousin Miss Evalina, level headed, practical, who turned out to be the classic example of still waters run deep.

I can't forget to mention the gentlemen who reside at Cedar Lodge. Frank Cordell is the retired owner of a chain of candy stores, now in the capable hands of his son. He moved out of a two-story brick home and into the lodge to be near his friends, one friend in particular.

Martin Downey, resident expert on classic movies and movie stars, especially, W.C. Fields, loves to crack jokes and pull pranks. But as it turned out Martin had his secrets, too.

I hope you'll love the quaint little town of Cedar Chapel, Missouri, and its quirky people as much as I do. Come visit us often.

Marvelous Mystery Theater

Love a good mystery? Then check out this cozy case:

The Case: "I didn't mean to kill him," Dennis Twitchell moaned. "It was an accident. I just wanted to teach him a lesson."

The young man was on trial for murdering his friend Arnie. Although the jury believed him and was sympathetic, they still felt obligated to return a verdict of involuntary manslaughter.

The Mystery: How did Dennis kill his friend? And what lesson had he been trying to teach?

The Clues: 1. Dennis studied harder but Arnie got better grades. 2. Cheaters never prosper. 3. Arnie died coughing and sneezing.

THE ANSWER?? Arnie was cheating on his high school tests. His method was to write out a tiny crib sheet and hide it in his palm during a test. When he was through using it, he would slip it into his mouth, chew it up and swallow it. Without success, Dennis had often warned Arnie that cheating was wrong.

One night before a test, Dennis secretly wet Arnie's crib sheet and rubbed white peper into it, hopig that Arnie would finally develop a bad taste for cheating. Next day, when Arnie stuffed the pepered paper into his mouth, he had a severe allergic reaciotn to the pepper. He lost consciousness and ws rushed to the hospital, but was dead on arrival. Dennis who couldn't lie any more than he could cheat, confessed immediately.

Congratulations to ausjenny for correctly solving this week's mystery!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Creating a Cozy World

The question I've been asked more than any other is, "What is a cozy mystery?"

More often than not, people mistake cozies for their grittier siblings--suspense and thrillers. Fortunately for fans of Christie, Doyle, and Keene, Barbour Publishing has recognized the lack and begun providing true cozy mysteries to eager readers through its new line, Heartsong Presents: Mysteries. But how to get the word out? How do we, authors and lovers of pure cozy mystery, make the public aware of this amiable alternative to edge-of-your-seat, high-crime drama?

Part of my plan for introducing readers to the cozy genre is simply by spreading the word, one reader at a time. Listed below are some tricks and trips for making sure YOUR friends learn to love cozies as much as you do.

1. Schedule blog tours. Readers love getting to know authors, so the more personal you can be, the more willing they are to read your work.

2. Order promotional items like bookmarks, postcards, knick-knacks, etc. Have them handy for giveaways, contest prizes, and speaking engagements.

3. Bulk mailings--Got a long Christmas card list? Put your postage to good use and mail postcards to people you normally send Christmas cards to. They'll appreciate the contact, and you'll have help spreading the word about your newest cozy mystery.

4. Enlist family and friends. Give them a free book along with a few business cards and bookmarks for them to give out. Include ordering information on the back of the business cards.

5. Donate books to public libraries, schools, and churches.

6. Send a bulk email to everyone in your address book announcing the release of your book, along with ordering information.

7. Volunteer to judge contests. Get your name out there while you help new and aspiring authors hone their craft.

8. Create a book trailer and link it to your website or blog.

9. Write a press release to go out to all the local newspapers, radio stations, and tv stations.

10. Schedule booksignings

11. Contact local libraries for booksignings and promotions

Can you add to this list? How are you helping spread the word about your favorite genre?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Marvelous Mystery Theater

Think you could be a sleuth for Heartsong Presents: Mysteries! Then try your hand at this:

The Case:

Marvin is found dead near a bicycle surrounded by marbles.

The Mystery:

Who killed Marvin, and how?

The Clues:

1. Too late, Marvin realized the gravity of the situation.
2. Marvin had a rival who was a little off-balance.
3. Not your typical bicycle.


Tip Moore and his bicycle had been famous for his circus high-wire act until Marvin joined the troupe. Marvin's balancing feats on a higher wire and a unicycle made him a headliner and Tip a has-been. But Tip had a plan to recapture the spotlight.

After dark, Tip sneaked under the big top and removed the special non-rolling ballast that weighted the ends of Marvin's balance bar. He then replaced the ballast with four pounds of marbles and returned the bar to the rafters where it was stored.

During Marvin's next performance, Tip tossed the bar to him as always, after Marvin mounted the bike on the wire. Marvin tilted in vain to stabilize his balance, while the marbles rolled wildly in his bar. Finally, Marvin plummeted to the concrete floor below, losing not only his marbles, but his life as well. Matching marbles found in Tip's trailer tipped off the police, who promptly put Tip behind bars.