Cover Reveal!

Coming in November!

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When beauty salon owner Melanie Hogan joins six of her pals from beauty college for a reunion in Pinewood Village, Minnesota, one of the gang turns up dead the morning after the party. With Melanie’s shears as the murder weapon, she’s the prime suspect in the investigation. As Melanie launches an investigation of her own to clear her name and to eliminate each of her friends as the murderer, she uncovers secrets of the victim that rocks her world.

As Melanie digs into her old friends’ histories, her own past comes back to haunt her. With someone working overtime to set her up as the killer, Melanie enlists the help of her beauty salon cohorts to find the real Shears Slayer before she’s next.

Calling for Recipes

Kitchen

With Camp NaNoWriMo over today, it’s time to get moving on my work in progress.

A portion of each book in the Melanie Hogan cozy mystery series includes some time spent in Nana’s kitchen. There, not only does she teach Melanie how to cook, but they make lasting memories with time spent together and connecting as can only be done in the warmth and love of a kitchen. With good food, coffee or tea, and good company, what could be better?

Each book also includes a recipe. In fact, Shear Madness, book one in the series, contains three recipes! Since the series is set in northern Minnesota (fictional Birch Haven, to be exact), the recipes included are either hotdish or some other recipe native to Minnesota. What is hotdish some non-Minnesotans may ask? It’s a casserole that contains some sort of starch, meat, canned or frozen vegetables, and canned soup.

I’m currently searching for recipes for my upcoming book, Shear Murder, book four in the series, scheduled for publication in November, 2018,  If you have a hotdish recipe, or another that is native to Minnesota, that you would like featured in the book, send it to me via email at rjblackhurst0611@gmail.com. If your recipe is chosen, your name will appear in the book as well. I will also select recipes for any upcoming books in the series.

I’m looking forward to trying the recipes I receive. The chosen recipe, along with the sender, will also be featured on an upcoming blog post.

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CI – Jack Dancy

Jack Dancy

Jack Dancy is the third party in Melanie and Claire’s circle in the Melanie Hogan cozy mysteries. Sit back, grab yourself a cold one, and get to know Jack.

Beer

Can you provide the readers with a physical description of yourself?
My heritage is half Asian from my father’s side and half Caucasian from my mother’s. I look more like my father, unfortunately. I’m about 5’9, have thick black hair, moussed back so it’s distinctly different from my father. I wear black-rimmed glasses, loafers, and designer jeans. Since I’m a clothing and jewelry designer, I like to look the part. I also like sports jackets. Melanie tells me I’m stuffy and too proper, but I’m hoping maybe the proper part will rub off on her a little bit.

Where do you live?
In Minneapolis. I lived in upscale Linden Hills until my partner and I split. Now I own an apartment in Logan Park which is in the heart of Northeast’s Art District. It suits me fine.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Switzerland or Germany. Europe in general. Actually, anywhere but Asia. But that’s just because of my father.

What is your favorite pastime?
Wandering around the Art District. I enjoy short trips to California as well, gleaning inspiration for my designs. I also enjoy reading the classics. I especially like The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird.

What is your favorite way to spend a weekend?
Hanging out with Melanie and Claire. I give those girls a lot of grief but they know how to give it back. Especially Melanie. But it’s a relationship I would do anything in the world for. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them. Lately, most of our time has been spent with me trying to keep her out of trouble. Man, that girl can find trouble! In her defense, though, her trouble landed her a find man. Let’s just hope she doesn’t go messing it up with her escapades.

What is your biggest secret?
I’m gay. It’s not exactly a secret, but I don’t flaunt it, either. It’s personal to me. I was dating Bryce for several years but he’s always been resentful of my relationship with Melanie. Forced to choose, I chose Melanie. His control and anger issues helped make that decision easier.

What makes you angry?
My father putting my mom in an uncomfortable spot with her only child–me. The man is stubborn as a mule, has disowned me because I’m gay, and makes my mom pay for not sharing his opinions. I don’t know why she stays with that old goat. She’s a good, honest, hard-working woman who deserves better.
And, also, people being late. Punctuality is non-negotiable. When someone is chronically late, it shows a lack of respect for another’s time.

What brings you the most joy?
Melanie, Claire, my mom, and, of course, Melanie’s grandmother, Rose Donnelly. And my work. I love what I do. It’s an outlet for my creative side and I make a darn good living at it. Getting paid to do what I love is grand.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
I’d rather not say. Some people tend to remember those things and throw them in your face at the most inopportune times. Like Melanie did in Shear Malice. But I got her back. 🙂

What is your guilty pleasure?
Microbrew beer. I guess you could say I’m a beer snob.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Perhaps to be a little less uptight and take more time to enjoy life. Melanie is right about that, but I think I’ll keep that to myself.

 

***To read more about Melanie, Claire, and Jack, enter the Goodreads Giveaway to win one of three signed copies of Shear Madness. The giveaway runs September 1st through the 30th.

 

 

Development of the Melanie Hogan Cozy Mysteries

Melanie Hogan Cozy Mysteries
I’m often asked by my readers, “How do you come up with your ideas?” To which I chuckle and joke, “My mind is a scary place.”

Okay, so maybe I’m not joking. Not completely, anyway. But since I write cozy mysteries and suspense, both that contain “clean” romance, I think I’ll pass my mother’s inspection.

When asked “What’s a cozy mystery?” my answer is always, “Something you would be comfortable with your grandmother reading. Think Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote.” That usually does the trick. In fact, it was watching so many episodes of Murder She Wrote that made me fall in love with mysteries, though I don’t think they were coined “cozies” back then.

My cozy mystery series is set in small town Birch Haven, Minnesota, which is essentially its own character. The steady cast includes the protagonist, Melanie Hogan, who co-owns a hair salon with her best friend, Claire Davis. Enter Jack Dancy, the third musketeer with Melanie and Claire. Jack is a clothing and jewelry designer from Minneapolis. Add Rubie and the rest of the stylists who work in the salon, as well as Melanie’s grandmother, Nana, a retired nurse who raised Melanie since she was four years old, and Melanie’s go-to. Nana is modeled after my own grandmother who was my go-to. Most of Nana and Melanie’s chats occur around the kitchen table or when Nana is giving Melanie one of her famous cooking lessons. Each book includes one of Nana’s recipes at the end. In fact, Shear Madness, book one, includes two recipes. The cast is diverse in every way possible, which makes for fun interactions and endless story lines.

Birch Haven is a combination of two towns I’ve lived in, towns that hold a special place in my heart. Melanie’s lake house is fashioned after the house I grew up in. So when writing the books, I get to be back in those places again, which makes it fun and more intimate. When I read the newspaper, watch TV, or read a book, I will frequently ask myself, “So what if that happened in Birch Haven?” From there it takes on a life of its own.

As each day unfolds, it’s ripe with potential storylines. It’s a matter of training the mind to actively think like a writer rather than passively watch and listen. Just be careful what you say to another in the grocery line or waiting for a latte at Starbucks, because if a writer is within earshot, it could end up in a book.

The series includes three books so far, Shear Madness, Shear Deception, and Shear Malice, which was just released on June 11th. Shear Murder is in the works and scheduled for a 2018 release. Stay tuned for more.

Carpe Diem