Nancy Lynn Jarvis's Blog

February 23, 2017

This article originally appeared in Mystery Readers Journal: Small Town Cops II (volume 32, No 4)

I write cozy style mysteries with a Realtor protagonist named Regan McHenry. She comes across the occasional body selling houses — she and her husband even bought a house with a partially mummified body in it — and she has friends and clients who sometimes find themselves in a mess. She’s a bit of a meddler who tries to help, but it’s not reasonable to think when she becomes embroiled in a murder investigation that she could stroll into the police station, sit down with a cop, and ask to be filled in on what’s happening. Enter her best friend, Dave Everett.
His official title is Santa Cruz Police and Community Relations Ombudsman. He used to be a cop until he lost an eye in a shootout. He was going to be forced into an early retirement, but convinced the police department that, since Santa Cruz police and the community at large don’t always see eye to eye, (no irony intended) they needed him to handle the media, do public relations, and help out with paperwork and anything else that could be done from a desk.
He’s a meddler, too, and a gossip, or rather a slightly bored sort of ex-cop who seems to have his fingers in many law enforcement pies and insinuates himself, at least verbally, into many investigations. Through him, Regan can get information she needs.
It might be argued that Santa Cruz, population over 62,000 is too big to be considered a small town, but Dave and I would argue otherwise. You’ve heard of the rule about six degrees of separation, haven’t you? Well, in Santa Cruz, it’s more like one degree of separation. I was in my doctor’s office recently and started talking to the receptionist. Before our conversation ended, we discovered his wife did the same job for my husband’s doctor, that his aunts are Realtors I know well as is his best friend, and that he knows one of my sons because they are both musicians. He and his wife intended to come to my recent book signing but couldn’t because his band was hired to play at the birthday party of my former aerobics instructor whose husband is a real police sergeant who in a non-made-up Santa Cruz reality would work with Dave. See why Dave and I think of Santa Cruz as a small town?

Dave is special to me because when I started writing, all my characters began as people I knew. I began outlining my stories using their real names. They quickly got renamed as they were developed and took on their own personalities … all except for Dave who is based on my real one-eyed former cop friend. In the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series he got a new last name and a new job, got blended with my twin cousins who were cops, and the local police officer who does media interviews, but Dave is still the one I visualize as I write his character.
Although my real Dave says he doesn’t sound at all like Dave Everett, he does. He and I don’t tease one another the way Dave and Regan do, and I make up what I call his “Daveisms,” but Dave really could say them. In fact I’ve almost heard him say, “I think you’re right about him being a bully, and bullies don’t usually make waves once they run into bigger, badder dogs,” or “I wouldn’t lose sleep over tinfoil momma’s baby boy.” I love writing him and coming up with phrases he would use. Dave has evolved; he’s not my real friend any longer, but he really has become Regan’s best friend which makes him special to me.
Dave will always have a prominent place in Regan McHenry Real Estate mysteries. Several times in the early books, I intended for him to have a smaller role, but he wouldn’t stand for it. Sometimes he talks to me as I write and demands a more prominent part and informs me of facts about him that I didn’t know — like that he speaks German, for example — that allow me to use him for extra duty. It’s worth it to let him have his run in the books because it’s fun for me to watch him get agitated and worried because of Regan.
Dave is constantly frustrated by Regan’s foibles but it’s his own fault in part. After six books you would think he would learn that sayings something like, “Your house, your murder,” to Regan would only egg her on, but they have such a friendly competition in their relationship he sometimes forgets himself and so he does...and she’s sets off playing amateur sleuth.
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Published on February 23, 2017 15:32 • 2 views • Tags: amateur-detective, cozy-mysteries, mystery-series, real-estate-mysteries, woman-sleuth, woman-writer

November 8, 2016

Do you ever wonder what goes through a writer's mind as they start a new book? I fessed up to B.K. Stevens on her blog. Read the inside scoop at http://www.bkstevensmysteries.com/201...
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Published on November 08, 2016 08:07 • 14 views • Tags: mysteries, writer-s-mind, writing

October 22, 2015

You can skip the interview if you like and scroll down to my take on a Halloween mini story. http://yolandarenee.blogspot.com/2015...
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Published on October 22, 2015 21:34 • 100 views • Tags: flash-fiction, halloween, murder, spiders, witches

September 29, 2015

As part of promoting my books, I was on CNN once. I don't know if I sold any books as a result, but I did pick up a stalker. He was crazy, of course, saying it was my fault his daughter wasn't getting the education she deserved, (how my Realtor/amateur sleuth was responsible for that he didn't say) and then he threatened to kill me.

After that experience, I figured having a stalker was a bad thing. That changed today. I have a new stalker and couldn't be happier. https://newyorkarmymom.wordpress.com/...
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Published on September 29, 2015 09:55 • 47 views • Tags: amateur-sleuth, cozy-mystery-comedy, death-treats, mysteries, stalkers

July 3, 2015

It turns out I’m trendy. A decade ago I bought an octagonal table at a garage sale. It had an oak top and turquoise metal pedestal and was so beat up it only cost twenty dollars. Somehow I got it home. Shortly after that I scored eight windows — beautiful mullioned white double-paned 6 X 2 ½ foot windows — still in their wrappers for a couple of hundred dollars. If you see a pattern here, you’re right: to me nothing is more fun than finding other people’s rejects and repurposing them.

I presented my finds to my husband and suggested he should build something to go around the table that would use eight windows. Clever man that he is, he built a greenhouse overlooking my garden. He did the math and worked out a greenhouse that was one square foot under the size limit for needing a permit. OK, don’t tell the County that we broke the height rules — it’s quite tall at the center of its pointed rooftop — but we live in the country surrounded by redwood trees so it’s hardly imposing.

We took out chairs and blankets, a bottle of champagne and crystal glasses, and christened it in a rainstorm when it was just green slate tile flooring, framing, and a roof. That was when I realized the roof structure was too beautiful to cover with sheetrock…and that the greenhouse needed a crystal chandelier, candle lit of course because there’s no electricity.

That’s how my she-shed started before she-sheds became a craze mentioned in everything from Houzz, to decorating magazines, to Time Magazine, so yes, I started the trend. My she-shed does have garden tools hanging from its upright framing and does function for starting spring seeds and overwintering tender plants, but it also sports blue cushioned rattan chairs, needlepoint pillows and wall hangings, a beautiful bookcase rather than shelves to hold potting materials, lots of wrought iron, and a copper duck from France. It’s the perfect place to have tea. How hip is that?
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Published on July 03, 2015 14:14 • 172 views

May 20, 2015

Stacy Juba asked some questions I hadn't thought about in a long time. For the skinny on how Regan stopped being Nancy, take a look. http://stacyjuba.com/blog/2015/05/20/...

Real Estate Mystery Author Nancy Lynn Jarvis and Cozy Food
Mystery author Stacy Juba interviews fellow mystery author Nancy Lynn Jarvis, author of the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mystery series.
STACYJUBA.COM
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Published on May 20, 2015 08:59 • 68 views • Tags: adventure-books, cookbooks, cozy-mysteries, mystery-writing

March 11, 2015

Like Tom Brokaw, my husband has multiple myeloma, a plasma cell cancer. He was diagnosed a little more than two years ago. If he’d developed this disease a decade ago, he’d likely be dead by now, instead he’s doing well. Fortunately great strides have been made and survival times keep getting pushed out because of research, new medicines, and new treatments.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has been instrumental in fundraising dedicated to finding a cure for the disease. Supporters have answered their call to do creative fundraising. There’s a cat litter manufacturer who donates a portion of sales as part of a “Cats for Cancer” campaign. Ditto a Louisiana seafood producer who sells “Crayfish for Cancer.” It seems this group loves alliteration and it occurred to me that as a mystery writer I could donate books for sale and dub them “Mysteries for Myeloma.”

Five of my books are real estate mysteries set in Santa Cruz. My husband and I also edited a terrific cookbook called “Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes” which qualifies in the mystery category because all the recipes are from mystery writers.

This year’s Greater Bay Area MMRF event is a 5K Walk/Run which will be held in San Francisco at the Marina Green on March 22nd. I’ll be there selling books. All proceeds will be donated to MMRF. For people with e-readers or those who can’t make the event, profits from e-books purchased on Amazon that day will also be donated. (My Amazon Author page is http://tinyurl.com/6uq4gsx if you want to take a look at the books or get ready to buy one on March 22nd. “Mags and the AARP Gang,” another book I’ve written will also be included for those who prefer humor to mysteries or cookbooks.

Please spread the word about the fundraiser. Email your friends. Post about it on your blog. Tweet and share thru social media. E-books are only $3 or $4 each such a small donation to make — but if enough people buy one, not only will they get a book they may enjoy reading, but we will raise some real money…perhaps enough to keep my husband and many others around for those who love them.

Thank you so much.
Nancy Lynn Jarvis
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Published on March 11, 2015 13:38 • 192 views • Tags: donations, fundraisers, good-cause, mysteries

June 18, 2014

Dames of Dialogue is hosting me today. I didn't realize how revealing of the way writing mysteries differs from organizing a (big, huge, varied) group of writers is until I reread the post. (And yes, it does have one of my notorious should-have-edited-one-more-time goofs where handy came out hand.)http://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/...
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Published on June 18, 2014 09:37 • 87 views

February 18, 2014

Writing The Murder House was especially fun for me because the book is about a house — every community seems to have one — that is rumored to be haunted. I had a great time playing with protagonist Regan McHenry’s ambivalence about whether or not she believes in ghosts.
As an added complication for her, the story is set in Santa Cruz, California and Regan is a Realtor. Never mind her own beliefs; California is a highly litigious state. Deciding what to do about the reported ghost sightings becomes a matter of ethics for her. The Murder House, as it is called by locals, certainly has a history of murder and mayhem, but can it really be haunted by more than its past?
During my time as a Realtor, I remember walking into a house and having to leave at once. I felt a cold presence I could only describe a pure evil; no way was I going to show the house to clients. Other Realtors have told me about having experienced similar phenomena.
While writing, I started asking people if they believed in ghosts. The answers I got were fascinating. Believer or skeptic, almost everyone reported having had some sort of interaction with what they called a ghost or a presence.
I’ve had my own experiences with “something.” The first was seeing a blue ball of light moving rapidly through the woods outside of The Wayside Inn in Massachusetts. It wasn’t until I read the pamphlet they distributed describing ghost sightings at the Inn that I discovered my blue glowing globe was one of the alleged ghosts spotted by many visitors.
Years ago my then six-year-old son and his friend talked about Georgie, the ghost in their play space in the attic. I assumed they were influenced by Robert Bright’s children’s book Georgie the Ghost which I had recently read to them. I thought no more of Georgie until I sold the house years later and the house inspector said some frayed electrical wires were touching flammable material. He said by rights the wires should have started a fire.
The inspector told me he had seen a mustachioed man in the attic who he dubbed our fire-preventing guardian spirit. I was intrigued and couldn’t resist asking my then grown son if he remembered Georgie. “You mean the guy with the big mustache who lives in the attic?” he asked.
I used the blue ball of light in The Murder House and used my favorite ghost story in the book’s dedication. You can read it if you like by going to Amazon and using the “look inside” tool on the book’s page http://www.amazon.com/Murder-House-Mc...
If you happen to buy the book after that, the book’s ghosts thank you…that is if you believe in them.
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Published on February 18, 2014 08:57 • 101 views • Tags: amateur-sleuth, cozy-mystery, haunted-house, mystery-series

December 5, 2013

Joanne let me do a guest post today:
This is my favorite time of the year, not for the obvious reasons like holidays and my husband’s cancer being under control, but because I’m currently living in a writer’s fantasy world. I have written a perfect book. The Murder House is off to the editor who this time, I’m certain, won’t find any errors, lapses in logic, run-on sentences, or areas that will elicit the comment “what?” in the margin. My baby is perfect, as yet untouched by ugly red slashes.
My writer’s wonderland will dissolve by next week when I start hearing the first hints that, as with all the other books, “there are a few changes that need to be made.” I’ll rail at first. “What does the editor know?” That snarky-to-me-comment about needing a stronger opening paragraph will be proof of the editor’s lack of skill. Doesn’t she understand what it was I was trying to accomplish with those carefully chosen and arranged words?
And what? What! She thinks my favorite line in the whole book needs to be rewritten because its meaning is unclear? How can that be? Look, I don’t mind requests for consistency — is it “the Murder House” or “The Murder House” — in reference to the house in the book’s title where grisly murders were committed in the past and ghost sightings have been reported by neighbors, but my favorite sentence…?
I’ll shed a few tears when the book comes back covered with nasty editor’s scars on it; and then I’ll get to work. Giving birth is a joyous process, but uncomfortable, whether the result is a beautiful baby you’ll love for the rest of your life or a book you will cradle like a newborn when the first copy arrives. The big difference is, when your second child is born, you know how much you will love him in spite of his imperfections; with a book, you still hope for perfection even when you know it’s not possible.
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Published on December 05, 2013 19:20 • 106 views