Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cozy Mystery Holiday Gift Guide

Hello, dear readers! 

I hope this holiday season finds you and your family well and safe. In these turbulent times, I'm reminded that we must treasure each day God gives us.  As we press on, Thanksgiving seems to be officially blended in with Christmas as more and more people choose to decorate early, including myself. With traveling more to grown children's homes for the holidays, I find myself compelled to decorate earlier every year when the holidays get closer. Now, instead of decorating the day after Thanksgiving, we will be having our tree-trimming party the weekend before. Anyone else experiencing this change of events?

The next thing to start thinking about is gifts and what to give. I find parents are the most challenge. My mom didn’t need a thing, but she did love to read. Books bring a different world to readers and provide great entertainment for hours. I count a new book as a definite treat!

If you'd like to give a friend or a loved one a gift that keeps on giving, the Jillian Bradley mysteries might be a good choice. Rated G with no profanity or offensive scenes, they are the perfect gift choice for readers on your list. Books range in price from $7.99 to $11.99 for paperbacks and FREE to $3.99 for eBooks. Not bad when you consider one can purchase the entire series for under $99.00 + tx and s/h. (Amazon Prime members enjoy free s/h!) 

Besides the 10 book series, there are short stories about Jillian and Teddy included in the holiday anthologies "A Cup of Cozy" series, and the latest one out "Happy Homicides." The "Cup of Cozy" anthologies include recipes and menus, and recipes and crafts abound in the bonus issue of "Happy Homicides."

Here is a complete list of books and buy links: 

Whatever gifts we give and receive, may we be reminded of the greatest gift of all - Jesus, God's only begotten Son. 

Happy Holidays!
~Nancy Jill

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"A Cup of Cozy 3" is Out!
And now there are three, with the first book as our free gift. So excited to announce the launch of  "A Cup of Cozy 3"  in this cozy mystery anthology series filled with short mysteries and holiday recipes.

This issue introduces Janice Hanna Thompson, a popular award-winning and well-loved author familiar to many in the Christian literary world.

Linda P. Kozar writes a story taking place in Turkey, while Cynthia Hickey's story revels in a masquerade mystery. My story "Final Performance" takes place in San Francisco when Jillian and her garden club friends attend "The Nutcracker" in the heart of downtown.

I hope you enjoy the stories as well as the yummy recipes at the end. Happy Holidays! And reviews would be simply lovely. Thank you, dear readers.

~Nancy Jill 

Monday, October 12, 2015

"Happy Homicides" Big Event

Calling all cozy mystery lovers to the huge release of 13 holiday mysteries in one anthology with 669 pages of some of the industry's  best mystery authors. These heartwarming, brain-puzzling, and character-driven traditional mysteries will keep you reading for hours.
And the good news is this collection is only $.99 - our way of introducing readers to writers who may be new to you. 
That's not all! When you order your copy of "Happy Homicides" there's a bonus offer of a collection of our favorite holiday recipes, crafts and tips inside.

So join me and authors Joanna Campbell Slan, Neil Plakcy, Lois Winston, Annie Adams, Teresa Trent, Jenna Bennett, Nancy Warren, Sara Rosett, Camille Minichino, Linda Gordon Hengerer and Joyce and Jim Lavene for some holiday stories guaranteed to keep you entertained throughout the holidays.

Available now for only $ .99! Join the fun! Click links to order.

Kindle    Nook   Kobo
~Nancy Jill

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Do You Know Your State Flower and Tree?

What a delightful read! "The Official State Flowers and Trees Their Unique Stories" by Glynda Joy Nord was an extremely interesting history of our beloved flowers and trees that we often see, are studied in classrooms, and appear in government institutions. I had no idea what battles were fought in passing adoptions of some of these symbols. California's golden poppy, for instance, took 13 years to become the state flower! My favorite story, though, was about the bluebonnet, the great state of Texas' flower. It was chosen from a Comanche legend about the sacrifice of a Chief's daughter. You'll have to read the book to learn what happened. The sketches were renderings based on the author's granddaughter initial drawings, which added a personal touch to the book. I also enjoyed the author's humorous comments laced throughout the stories. It's a book I'll treasure!

Learn more about Glynda Joy on her Website.

~Nancy Jill Thames

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Purple Plums Dripping With Memories

Oh, yum! As I passed through the produce section at Walmart the other day, I inhaled a whiff of purple plums. Not only did the scent of the sweet fruit engage my senses, but the childhood memory of the plum trees in our backyard also flashed in my mind.

There were two mature trees smack dab in the back of our yard, big enough to climb and hide in, and prolific in the amount of plums they bore each summer. Mom would make plum jam, which would last through the winter, and we never ran short of fresh fruit to eat. With a family of six, that's saying something.

Looking back at all the fun I had with my brothers and the neighbor kids, I realized the incredible importance child's play has on the development of the imagination. For instance, we'd overturn the Adirondack furniture on the lawn, scooting the  pieces together to make a fort, or even better, we'd make a pretend airplane which we would fly all over the place, taking off and landing in exotic places. Of course, we'd be munching on plums while we played, climbing up the trees for supply as needed. 

During other times of play, our bikes became horses which we'd water in little red wagon troughs, then take on a cattle drive around the block, setting up camp in a vacant lot around the corner. Yes, we morphed into Spin and Marty from the Micky Mouse Club.

Sadly, we moved from that fun existence when I was in the 6th grade. By the time I was in the 8th grade, though, I had determined to be a yacht designer, an architect, or a foreign diplomat. I spent hours drawing boats, buildings, or reading about foreign lands, believing I could become anything I wanted to be.

It turns out after taking piano lessons, I wound up in music, playing the organ in church, and eventually leading a choir. But I never forgot the childhood ambitions. Now, I write murder mysteries where I can incorporate all the dreams of my youth, as well as experiences we've shared as a family. "Murder at the Empress Hotel" is a good example. The story is based on a summer vacation our family took, along with both sets of grandparents. 

What about you? Did you have ambitions as a child that turned into reality? Or do you sometimes bite into some delicious food that reminds you of your past? It would be fun to hear about your experiences.

Until next time,

~Nancy Jill

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bird Wars

It began when we discovered a huge nest in one of our trees in the backyard built by a long-tailed grackle, which is in essence a big blackbird. The nest must have been a foot and a half in diameter, nestled 20 feet up in the tree.
Their squawking was annoying but that was not the worst of it. 
A young sparrow ventured too close to the nest and was brutally attacked by a female grackle,  while its mother watched helplessly. The blackbird viciously pecked the small bird's eyes out, and then five or six of them went for its face. My husband's righteous indignation grew to the point that he was ready to go to Walmart and buy a shotgun to blast the venomous creatures. He tried shooing the grackles away, but it was too late. The poor little sparrow just sat there on the ground with no face.
If that wasn't bad enough, the female blackbird was now empowered to call a bunch of her  group to settle in our trees to form a community.
After the vicious attack, we weren't going to let that happen.
We wanted our robin and mockingbird families back with their sweet songs, and so the Bird Wars began.
Whenever the blackbirds attempted to land in our trees, I'd run outside shooing them away by waving a dish towel, and yelling, "Go away, get out of here. Shoo!" I'd yell and scream at them until they would finally take the hint and fly into a different yard.
My husband took a different tactic by attaching an extension handle onto the hose creating a powerful water canon to discourage them away. 
That worked well until the hose sprung a leak and the water turned to a trickle.
Finally, when we asked our gardener to remove the nest, he scurried up the tree and knocked it down.
The birds were not discouraged. Not wanting to give up the place they'd chosen to nest, their numbers increased.
We keep chasing them away whenever they fly into our trees.
My husband will buy a new hose, and keep spraying them.
For now, the blackbirds seem to understand the message that they're  unwanted, and other birds are returning to our yard.
We'll see if we won the war now that we've been gone a few days.
Who knows? Maybe they will only have moved to the front yard.
Do any of you have tips for getting rid of unwanted blackbirds? We'd love to say, "Quoth the grackles, never more."


~Nancy Jill

Monday, July 20, 2015

Tea Party Launch of "Murder at the Empress Hotel"

O Happy Day! Book 10 is out this summer! Thanks for joining me today. Please have some treats - zero calories online. We'll also need a nice cup of tea. 

I'd like to share with you a few notes on why I wrote the story of "Murder at the Empress Hotel." 

The main reason I used Victoria, British Columbia for the setting was in remembrance of a family trip in 1986.  That was when my husband and I started our second family together, unbeknownst to us. We were on a road trip up the Pacific Coast with our two older children at the time and both sets of grandparents. What a wonderful vacation we had visiting many attractions along the way. In Victoria, we strolled the docks of  the inner harbor and fisherman's wharf, and took a day to see the Butchart Gardens. 

Some things have changed since our visit, like moving the Ann Hathaway Cottage as it was called to a nearby island, and the addition of Blue Heron House at Royal Roads University. But one thing remains the same. Afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel still serves their famed spread every afternoon. 

In doing research for "Murder at the Empress Hotel," I learned about the First Nations people who were the first inhabitants of Vancouver Island. It wouldn't be an authentic setting without a few of their stories, even though they're from my imagination. The book is dedicated to them.

"Set in the beautiful city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, a bitter conflict over fishing rights and the love of one woman turns deadly with the murder of a young attorney, drawing Jillian and Teddy into yet another intriguing adventure."

Well, that sums up the story all right, but there's a little more to it. Like the characters for instance: 

Jillian Bradley, garden columnist and amateur sleuth

Teddy, Jillian's Yorkie companion and fellow sleuth
Arthur Wingate, fellow collaborator and good friend
Diana Wingate, wife of Arthur and newly appointed hotel reviewer
Father Goodman, priest and university professor of aboriginal relationships 
Rainbow Knight, sister of Badger and grad assistant to Father Goodman
Gerald Dawson, associate professor of aboriginal studies
Leo Hunter, Director of Canadian Oceans and Fisheries
David Blackwolf, lawyer for Canadian Oceans and Fisheries
Badger Knight, opposing lawyer for First Nations
Kelly Morrison, administrative assistant to David Blackwolf and Leo Hunter
Sergeant Nick Stone, head of Victoria homicide division

Mix all together and somewhere you'll discover a victim and a motive for murder! 

To order copies of "Murder at the Empress Hotel" and Books 1-9, please follow the links:


~Nancy Jill 


Nancy Jill Thames was born to write mysteries. From her early days as the neighborhood story-teller to the Amazon Author Watch Bestseller List, she has always had a vivid imagination and loves to solve problems – perfect for plotting whodunits. In 2010, Nancy Jill published her first mystery Murder in Half Moon Bay, introducing her well-loved protagonist Jillian Bradley, and clue-sniffing Yorkie, “Teddy.”

When she isn’t plotting Jillian’s next perilous adventure, Nancy Jill travels between Texas and California finding new ways to spoil her grandchildren, playing classical favorites on her baby grand or having afternoon tea with friends.

She is a member of Leander Writers’ Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW CenTex Chapter), and Central Texas Authors.

To learn more about Nancy Jill, visit:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

In Loving Memory

Today, I pause to reflect on the passing only this morning of my sweet mother-in-law, known to most everyone as Meemaw. She was 92.

When I think of her, it comes to mind that in the South, the practice of afternoon tea is uncommon due mostly to the heat! Instead, sweet tea reigns.

Whenever we visited from California, Meemaw always served sweet tea at meals. Granted it was instant tea, sweetened with the addition of liquid sweet and low, but it was delicious along side brisket, ribs, and whatever wonderful soul food they made. 

And it was not as if afternoon tea did not have a place. Quite the contrary, for you see, my mother-in-law and her mother collected teacups.
The most famous one was a teacup with Queen Elizabeth's picture in the bottom. Once, my mother-in-law even saw fit to give me a pick of her collection, as long as it was not the Queen Elizabeth. I chose the one you see in the photo above. 

Interestingly enough, my mother-in-law's mom and aunt did go in together and buy a tea cart and a silver tea service. Living out-of-state I never joined them if they did actually use these things. Now the cart and service sit in the corner unused. Quite sad, I think.

When a loved one passes, it's nice to have something to remember them by. For my mother-in-law, it will be the beautiful yellow teacup and saucer.

~Nancy Jill

Sunday, June 14, 2015

What Do British Royals and Queen of Afternoon Tea Have in Common?

When I saw the news of Prince George viewing his first Trouping of the Colors last week, I was transported back to my visit to see Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. 

At the time, Prince Charles was still a bachelor with no apparent heirs to the throne. 

What a thrill to see Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip step from their limousine, wave to the crowds, and tour Sutter's Fort in downtown Sacramento, California, where we lived.

I took my two children out of school for the event, and bought them British flags to wave. I wore a navy hat in honor of the occasion.

Back then, we used Polaroid cameras to take photos instead of our iPhones. Alas, the hard copies faded. Here is what's left of that memorable day.
If it hadn't been for a professional photographer next to me in the crowd offering to sell me one of his images, the picture of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip would have faded, too.

Perhaps seeing the British Royals in person and inheriting the last name of Thames, it was inevitable that I would come to love afternoon tea and include it in all of my books. 
Free on Amazon Kindle!

And now, you may ask, what do the British Royals and Queen of Afternoon Tea have in common? Well, today, the Queen Mum is a Queen Great Grandmum, Prince Philip is a Prince Great Granddad, and my two children have made me a Queen of Afternoon Tea Grandma six times. I think that qualifies us having something in common, don't you?

Have you seen any members of the Royal Family in person? I'd love to hear about it.


~Nancy Jill

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tea Party Bridal Shower

The Tea Table
What could be better than a tea party for your daughter's bridal shower? In the first photo, our daughter Wendy (far left) flew in from California for the occasion to honor her little sister Holly (second from left). Daughter-in-law Jen (far right) was also on hand to help with the festivities.
It was such fun to serve dainty tea sandwiches, pasta salad, and desserts. And we mustn't forget the sherry. Some had never tasted the quintessential English drink.
For the Guest of Honor

Dessert Bar~French Macarons,  Chocolate Mousse in Demi-tasse cups, Fruit Tartlets, Madeleines, and Cupcakes-Champagne and Chocolate-Chip

Opening Gifts~The Best Part!

I hope you enjoy the photos and will read more about afternoon tea in all of the Jillian Bradley books. See you next time!


~Nancy Jill 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tea Party Tuesday Review of THE CEMETERY CLUB by Blanche Day Manos and Barbara Burgess

Won't you join me for a nice cup of tea? Please help yourself to some refreshments, too.
Lately, recreational reading has re-entered my life for reasons I may choose discuss someday. But not today. One book worth telling you about was "The Cemetery Club" by Blanche Day Manos and Barbara Burgess.
There was nothing I didn't like about this cozy mystery. From the gruesome discovery of  the body under a pile of brush, which gave me chills, to escaping the bad guys, this book held my attention until the end. If you like a great story with  a sprinkling of Oklahoma history and heart, read "The Cemetery Club." Here is a link to the series:


~Nancy Jill Thames~