A New Place, Another Murder
A Sheridan Hendley Mystery Book 1
by Christa Nardi
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for.
Pretty much settled into her new home in Appomattox with Brett and his daughter, Sheridan longs for something to keep her busy. That is, until Maddie and her new friend are framed for theft and murder. Not quite the distraction she had hoped for, but she’ll turn over every rock to prove their innocence. In the process, she learns about the powerful Buchanan family and the history of the local community. Will the truth come out before the person calling the shots takes Sheridan and Maddie out of the picture?
Dogs and More Dogs, Another Murder
A Sheridan Hendley Mystery Book 2
An abandoned house, an abundance of dogs. And a dead body or two.
Sheridan Hendley’s volunteer position at Pets and Paws takes a new turn when more than twenty malnourished dogs are found at a rundown house on the outskirts of town. When the body of an elderly woman is found amidst mountains of clutter in the house, a search of the property leads to startling revelations. And another body. While Herman Stoneham’s death is deemed natural causes, his wife’s is not. Where did all the dogs come from and who’s responsible for Justine’s untimely death? Are the two connected? With dogs and murder at stake, Sheridan can’t help but get involved in the investigation.
Old Friends and New, Another Murder
A Sheridan Hendley Mystery Book 3
A touch of nostalgia, a murder, and good friends.
When a former colleague is implicated in his neighbor’s demise, Sheridan Hendley returns to Cold Creek to prove his innocence. Annoying as Max can be, she can’t imagine the quirky professor is capable of murder. Unfortunately, not everyone shares her opinion. Of course, it doesn’t help that Max threatened his neighbor in a public place soon before the man was murdered. Or that the victim’s drug shipments had a habit of turning up on Max’s doorstep.

Christa Nardi – Writing Process

 

Different authors approach writing from different perspectives. Most often, authors either identify as a “pantster” (i.e., writing from the seat of their pants) or “plotters” (i.e., writing an outline first and following in a very sequential format).  I’m definitely left of center or more of a “pantster” than a “plotter.” I start with a general idea of the characters and the story line. Nothing that resembles an outline; however, usually the victim is identified early. The story is driven if you will by the series continuing characters and the victim’s circumstances.  From there, I start writing.

 

Characters.  The Sheridan Hendley Series is a spin-off of the Cold Creek Series. Sheridan was the protagonist amateur sleuth and she marries the hunky detective she met in the first book in the series. For a number of reasons, she moves to his house and no longer works or lives in Cold Creek.  In the new series, she still maintains many of her old friends. At the same time, she becomes step-mother to a teen-ager, gets involved with a local animal shelter, and makes new friends. Characters make the story and keeping her old friends present, along with the new, was important to me. I’m a dog lover, so there have to be dogs somewhere in the story.

 

Motive.  Sheridan’s motive is consistently to help find the real killer and protect someone innocent who is accused. Not quite as lofty as “justice” or “truth” as the stories don’t include a trial, but generally aligned with making things right.  The motive for the murderer, however, varies along the lines of greed, jealousy, power, or retaliation, with drugs, gambling, and other obvious criminal activity.  Although the stories are “clean reads” with no graphic sex or violence, there are allusions to the behaviors.  In most cases, the victim is not mourned by many; rather, many have a motive for murder.

 

Research. At various points in the process, an idea comes up that warrants some fact-checking. If I refer to a chain store or restaurant, does it even exist in the story location. McDonald’s may be every where, but Five Guys is not in every state. When it comes to legalities, there are also many variations from state to state.  I haven’t included it in my books (yet), but marijuana is legal in some states, only legal for medicinal purposes in some states, and against the law in other states.  The laws related to animal shelters or dog rescue are very different from state to state, particularly in regard to kill versus no kill shelters.  Because I don’t have a detailed outline, some of the research gets done as the story progresses.

 

Location. I’m an east coaster, from the Northeast to the Southeast.  My stories take place in Virginia, in the middle, sort of.  I’m not a city person, don’t like all the traffic and noise, and much prefer green spaces. As a result, Sheridan goes from small town Cold Creek to suburban Clover Hill where there are lots of parks, green space, and residents know each other less or more by choice. A stranger is noticed and there is a lot of family history for many.

 

I hope that gives you a feel for how I approach writing the Sheridan Hendley Mystery Series.  A holiday novella is planned for Fall release along with a 4th in the series later in 2020.

Christa Nardi is an accomplished author of cozy mysteries. Christa’s background is in higher education and psychology, much as her protagonist, Sheridan Hendley in the Cold Creek mystery series. She has always loved mysteries – reading them, writing them, and solving them. Christa is a member of Sisters in Crime.
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