Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cozy Mystery Inspired by Nancy Drew

Here's an excerpt from my cozy mystery about a teenage sleuth who goes on vacation with her father and friends and becomes part of the investigation when a docent at Oak Alley Plantation is found dead inside the famous mansion. Part travelogue, party ghost story, this book mixes voodoo, ghosts, and bayous into a spicy gumbo of a whodunit.

In the following scene, the tour group goes to Oak Alley
and finds the dead body:

As the tour bus traveled to Oak Alley Plantation, the docent told them that the famous pink mansion was built in 1837. "It is best known for the double rows of live oaks leading up to the plantation. The trees were planted before the house was built. The design of the building is Greek revival with some of the features of Caribbean architecture. She asked the crowd, "Anybody know what that looks like?”

Once again, Nancy raised her hand and waited to be called on.  The guide told the crowd, “It’s nice to see that some young people on this bus have good manners.”  The troublesome teenage boy who made fun of the guide earlier rolled his eyes upon hearing this.

The guide told Nancy, “Yes, young lady.  What is your answer?”

“It means that it has shutters on the windows to keep out high winds and an open floor plan to keep the house as cool as possible.”

A man on the tour bus said, “Like some of the houses in Key West.”

“Very good,” the tour guide said.  “Because it’s so warm in these here parts, we need as much air circulation as possible; so the many windows and open floor plan provide that.”  She paused to catch her breath and continued, “Okay. Y'alls’ architecture lesson continues.  The exterior of the home has a free standing colonnade of 28 Doric columns on all four sides.  Has anyone ever been to Greece?  Or seen pictures of the Parthenon?” Several people raised their hands.  “Imagine,” she said.  “A little bit of ancient Greece right here in the good old U.S. of A.”

The bratty kid asked her, “Don’t you think you’re trying a little too much to sound like Paula Deen?  Is that really how you actually talk?”

At this point, Hannah, Nancy's tomboy friend, got up out of her seat and walked over to him.  “We all have had just about enough of you and your mouth.  I, personally, am about ready to throw you off this bus.”  She glared at his sheepish looking parents and said, “Can you please do something to stifle him?”

Everyone on the bus applauded.  Hannah bowed and took her seat.  “Carry on,” she told the tour guide.

“Well, well.  We sure have an interesting group of young people on this bus this morning.  How’s about I just stop talking and let ya’ll enjoy the scenery, okay? Feel free to ask me any questions.”  With that, she whispered something to the bus driver and they both laughed as she sat down.  It was a beautiful drive and everyone became excited when they see the tunnel of oak trees leading up to the plantation house.  They got off the bus and were eager to take a look inside the house.  Several people took pictures of the beautiful alley of trees.  Nancy gushed, “This is just how I imagined it.  It is so wonderful!”

The tour guide told them to take a look around, but don’t journey too far away. After waiting about 20 minutes, everyone started getting restless for the tour inside to begin.  Another bus load of tourists had just pulled up, disgorging all of its passengers.  Nancy’s guide told her group to stay together and guaranteed them that they will go first.  “The docent was supposed to open the door for us. I can't find her anywhere."  

The churlish boy said to her, “Why don’t you just unlock the door?  Don’t you people have your own set of keys?”

Their tour guide finally loses her cool with him and snaps, “Duh!!  Do you think we’d be standing around here looking helpless if we did?”

He answered, “This is so lame.”

Nancy told Hannah, “Control yourself.  Count to ten.”

“I’d sure like to sucker-punch him.”

“I know.  I know.  Just try to chill.”

Their tour guide told the crowd to hang on while she called the manager of the tour company.

To her father, Nancy said, “Evangeline was supposed to be the first docent here this morning.  I hope nothing’s happened to her!”

About 15 minutes later, the tour guides' boss arrived with the key to open up the plantation house.  He and the guides walked in first, telling everyone to stay back outside.  Suddenly, everyone heard a loud scream coming from inside.

Nancy was first to run inside the house to see what’s happened.  When she saw Evangeline, the concierge at her hotel, stretched out on the floor of the parlor, she told the crowd, “Stand back.  I know CPR.  Somebody call 911.”

It was suddenly bedlam with everyone rushing inside to see what’s happened. The tour boss told them, “Everyone get outside!  Don’t make things even worse than they already are.”  Nancy was not able to revive Evangeline and noticed that the poor woman had been having another bloody nose this morning: blood was caked on her nostrils and a bloody Kleenex lay nearby.  People came up with all sorts of theories about what happened: some thought she was murdered; others said she had a heart attack; and some even raised the idea that she was scared to death by a ghost.  “Poor, poor Evangeline,” is all that Nancy could say.
Would you like to read what happens next?

This cozy mystery is available at all your favorite on line books stores including Amazon, where it's also available in paperback.  Here's their direct link:

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Regency Period and Jane Austen

Here is an excerpt from The Forgotten Sister: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice 

My family and I are visiting Brighton today.  My sisters’ husbands have stayed behind. Everyone thinks that the fresh sea air will be good for our constitutions.  I must admit that it’s nice to get out of Longbourn for a change.  It’s so provincial.  I am hoping to see what “the real world” is like.

Whilst there, my sisters got it into their heads that they wanted to rent a bathing machine.  I had never seen one of these contraptions and was eager to learn all about them.  They are basically large covered wagons attached to a horse who tows people out into several feet of water. Once there, the the swimmer undresses inside the machines, puts on her bathing costume, and is lowered into the water by a female attendant.  Once in the water, one may swim or hang on to a rope attached to the “machine” while the waves wash over you.

I had never swam in the ocean.  I have dipped my feet into the waves a few times, but this was a first. Once inside the wagon, I found it was small, badly lit, and poorly ventilated.  The only light that came in was from small openings placed high up to deter voyeurs.  We changed into our bathing costumes and an old hag of a bathing attendant who seemed to have imbibed in the sherry a bit too much assisted us as we boldly dropped into the sea.

Mama demanded to go first.  Once in the water, she screamed, “It’s too cold!  I’m going to die of hypothermia!  Quick! Somebody get me out of here!”
Lydia said, “For heaven’s sake, Mama!”
The attendant helped Mama back up into the covered wagon and wrapped her with a blanket.
To show everyone that she wasn’t afraid, Lydia jumped into the water with the confidence of Aphrodite riding ashore on an oyster shell.  “Come on,” she told us sisters.  “The water is fine!”
The rest of us followed suit.  I must admit, I did not care for it.  Mama was right: it was too cold! I didn’t stay in the water for very long and asked the attendant to help me up.  The old woman thought she’d regale us with her stories.  She said that women and men swam miles apart in Brighton.  She went on to say that men swam nude.
Once Lydia heard that, her ears perked up.  She asked the hag to lift her out and inquired, “Where exactly do the men swim nude?”
My sister Jane chastised her saying, “We mustn’t go there.  What would people say?!”
Elizabeth, my other sister, said, “Papa would be appalled.”

My sister Kitty started coughing and frantically asked to be pulled out of the sea.  I’ve been worrying about her.  She’s had this cough for a long time.  I hope she doesn’t have consumption!  I shall demand that Papa have a doctor give the poor girl a thorough checkup the minute we arrive home.

Would you like to read what happens next?

Please check out The Forgotten Sister: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice 
by Louise Hathaway.

Friday, April 21, 2017

New Mystery by K.M. Hodge

True Blue Son (The Syndicate-Born Trilogy Book 3)
by K.M.Hodge

The Son—born to save them all.

Dr. Zander Ride grew up a son of The Syndicate, his fate as a career criminal all but sealed. With the help of his mother, he escaped a life of crime… until the night he heard The Syndicate had shot his mother in cold blood.

Zander soon finds refuge in the hands of his mother’s hacktivist group, who want his help bringing down the notorious group once and for all. But it comes with a cost. Managed by a different leader and guided by a new deadly mission, the hacktivists force Zander to confront the truth about his parents and the sacrifices they made for the cause.

In the end, Zander must decide how far he’s willing to go and what he’s willing to sacrifice. Can a child born of The Syndicate bring it all down, or will he be another pointless sacrifice in their struggle for money and power?

[Crime Thriller, Suspense, Women's Fiction]
True Blue Son by K.M. Hodge
Evolved Publishing presents the third book in The Syndicate-Born Trilogy, an exploration of what happens when one well-placed group possesses too much power, and how it affects those who just get in its way. [DRM-Free]

What Others Are Saying about RED ON THE RUN by K.M. Hodge:
"Move over Baldacci. Prepare for competition from this new author! Spellbinding - hard to put down." ~ Patrisha Ehlert

"Ms. Hodge has crafted an interesting tale of suspense amid a beautiful love story. You don't know who to trust, so you are suspicious of everyone." ~ Melinda McIntosh, author of 'A Bit of Tickle for the Mind'

"Domestic abuse and addiction can be pretty tough topics but K.M. Hodge delivers in a debut novel that is fast-paced and very suspenseful." ~ Gail Olmsted, author of 'Guessing at Normal'

"This adrenaline-fueled thriller captivates from the first chapter until it hurtles to the dramatic finale." ~ RandomBadger

Books by K.M. Hodge:
Red on the Run (The Syndicate-Born Trilogy - Book 1)
Black and White Truth (The Syndicate-Born Trilogy - Book 2)
True Blue Son (The Syndicate-Born Trilogy - Book 3)
Walker Texas Wife (The Book Cellar Mysteries - Book 1)
Texas and Tiaras (The Book Cellar Mysteries - Book 2)
More Great Thrillers from Evolved Publishing:
Broometime Serenade by Barry Metcalf
Forgive Me, Alex by Lane Diamond
Shatter Point by Jeff Altabef
Whispers of the Dead by C.L. Roberrts-Huth

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Who Loves Mysteries with Female Detectives?

Do you like female detectives as much as I do? I love Helen Mirren's, Jane Tennison, from the series "Prime Suspect"; Rachel McAdams' character in the second season of "True Detective"; and looking further back in time: Agatha Christie's "Miss Marple"; and every baby boomers' favorite teenage sleuth, Nancy Drew.

I've created three female characters who solve mysteries in my novels.  The first is Nancy Keene and she stars in a five book series: The Nancy Keene Mysteries.  These books are funny PG-rated stories inspired by the adventures of the famous teenage sleuth Nancy Drew. She was my childhood hero. My Nancy Keene Mysteries take place in some of my favorite travel destinations, so they are travelogues in addition to being cozy mysteries. 

Female Homicide Detective Clarissa Santy from Orange County, California stars in my four-book series entitled, "The Detective Santy Mysteries".  The series begins with the murder of her father when she was a young girl. When she turns 18, she looks into the court records of the murder trial and realizes that the wrong man was arrested.  As the series continues, she discovers who killed a priest at a nearby abbey and finds love where she wasn't expecting it.  While on her honeymoon in Savannah, Georgia, she becomes involved in a murder investigation when her cousin, a famous chef, is murdered.  All of the books in the series can be enjoyed as standalone stories.

My most recent detective, Yvonne Dauphin, struggles with bipolar disorder and lives in New Orleans. She risks her life and sanity when she checks herself out of the hospital after a meltdown, determined to prove to her boss and coworkers that’s she still up to the job of capturing a serial killer who has been terrorizing New Orleans. To further complicate matters, she’s hoping to reunite with her ex-husband while feeling a blossoming attraction to a young fellow detective.

I hope you like our latest leading lady and come along with her story in our latest mystery, "Fighting Demons: A New Orleans Mystery."

All of my books are available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring in Savannah, Georgia

Happy first day of Spring!  One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to go on home and garden tours, especially the ones in the American South.

My husband and I have been lucky to do a lot of traveling in the United States and Europe through the years, but we both agree that our favorite city in the United States is Savannah, Georgia (with New Orleans coming in as a close second).  What is it about this Southern city that has captivated us so much that we've traveled from our home in California four times to visit it?  

What we love is its beauty; its people; and its history.  It is that quintessential southern town that reminds me of where Scarlett O'Hara might have gone to visit her elderly aunt. It's the old South, with its beautiful moss-draped trees, sweet smelling tea olive bushes, red azaleas, and creepy yet beautiful cemeteries.  It's so different from Atlanta, which was mostly burned to the ground in the Civil War.  When Sherman marched to the sea to plunder and burn everything in sight towards the end of the war, he was met at the gates in Savannah and told that the city would surrender, as long as Sherman's army left the city unspoiled.  Thank goodness it was spared.

Here is a list of some of my favorite things to see and do, starting with our favorite hotel there, The Ballastone Inn.  For fans of the wonderful book: "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," this is the hotel where Kevin Spacey stayed when he was starring in the film version. If you'd like to see "where the scene of the crime" took place, be sure to visit  the Mercer Williams House. There are guided tours of the interior.   For a tour of the places mentioned in the book, try "All About Savannah Tours".

If you'd like to see one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world (outside of Pere Lachaise in Paris) be sure to visit Bonaventure Cemetery.  It's more like a park than a cemetery.  If you'd like to eat at someplace besides Paula Deen's, try Elizabeth's at 37th.  It's our favorite.  Definitely see a Home and Garden Tour during the Spring when the kind residents of Savannah open their doors and allow us to peek inside their homes and get a taste of what we're missing. This year, it will start on March 23, 2017 and go through March 26, 2017.  I hope you will like it as much as we have.

If you'd like some reading material to bring along, please take a look at our mystery, "Honeymoon in Savannah: A Detective Santy Mystery."  It costs only $2.99 and is available at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords.  Paperback versions are available at Amazon.

Here are the links to buy Honeymoon in Savannah:

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Mystery Writer's Field Trip to the Coroner's Office

My husband and I have been writing mysteries together since 2011 and many of them feature a scene or two of our detectives going to the coroner's office to look at the crime victim. We've never been to one ourselves, so we figured that it was about time to go see one instead of relying on the way it's featured in crime shows or books. My husband called our county's office and asked if they give tours.  We was pleasantly surprised when they said that tours are given once a month.  

We went on a tour a few days ago and the following is what we discovered.  Contrary to what’s portrayed on the NCIS shows, the Coroner’s office is a pretty dull place.  There isn’t a wall full of vaults containing dead bodies that can be pulled out for viewing whenever the detective comes by.  Instead, the deceased are housed in a body cooler, which is a large, smelly, ice-cold room where they unceremoniously lie on gurneys wrapped in heavy white plastic.  Their toes peek out and their belongings rest in a plastic black bag placed on their stomachs.  It is a sobering sight; one that sticks in your memory.  I was surprised to hear that some of the deceased in the room were there because they died in a car accident.  Because insurance companies want to find out if the deceased died because of the crash or for an underlying health issues such as a heart attack, the coroner is responsible for keeping them until the victims are autopsied.  Bodies are stored there for 365 days and if nobody in the family claims them, they are sent to funeral homes to be cremated.  All at the tax payers expense.

When an investigating detective wants to see a body, the coroner doesn’t pull aside a white sheet to reveal the face, as if he’s a magician saying, “Ta Da”.  In fact, the investigating detective isn’t in the same room. He watches from above in a special room where he can look down and watch as the coroner weighs various organs and catalogs them.  For a close up view, the detective can watch a TV monitor focused on the autopsy table which he can zoom in and out.  If he has any questions, he can speak into a microphone lodged in the middle of a low shelf.

My favorite part of the tour were the scenario rooms.  The coroner's office uses mock ups of crime scenes where students come in and try to figure out how the victim died.   We saw three rooms made out to look like a front room and two bedrooms.  One I particularly liked had a very realistically looking naked fat man lying on a sofa, whose his eyes bugged out and whose scrotum have ballooned up to be the size of a cantaloupe.   The room was littered with a pizza box, a bottle of whiskey, empty bottles of medication made out to different people.  The tour guide told us, "You all watch crime shows on television.  What do you think happened here?"  We all agreed that something was fishy about his death and an autopsy and further investigation was required.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Free Murder Mystery

Good news! I'm now offering for FREE the first book in the popular, four-volume Detective Santy Mysteries. These murder mysteries are about the life and career of Clarissa Santy, a female homicide detective from Orange County, California. The series begins with the murder of her father. When she turns 18, she looks into the court records of the murder trial, and realizes that the wrong man had been arrested. When she contacts him, she finds out more about her family and learns the hard way that there are some questions best left unanswered. This series has earned many 4 and 5 Star ratings. All of the books in the series can be enjoyed as standalone stories.

To get your free copy, go to this link:

On the right hand side where it says "Buy" click on it and you will be taken to a page where you can enter coupon code "QL97E" This deal expires on Jan. 2nd, 2017.

(If you don't have an account, you will be prompted to create one. It's perfectly free.)

These books are also available at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble,
 Google Play, and Kobo  at the regular price of $1.99.