Tag Archives: Nancy J. Parra

A Day in the Life With Allie McMurphy by Nancy Coco

To Fudge or not to fudgeHi, Allie McMurphy here. I’ve visited before with a typical day in my life, but things change so quickly. One minute you’re on your way to place a classified advertisement in the paper for a part-time maid and the next minute you’re pressing yourself against a closed door dialing 9-1-1 worried there might be a ferocious animal outside.

Let me elaborate. I was walking with my bichonpoo puppy, Mal, to the Town Crier when Mal went digging in the fresh mulch under the lilac brush outside of the newspaper office. Mal popped out with a bone-a rather large bone. Let’s say lower leg size bone and attached to the bone was a sock remnant. Now I was thinking maybe the bone belonged to a dog that liked socks and hiding its bones. That’s reasonable, right?

But then Mal dug back into the mulch and came out with a piece of shoe. She shook the shoe and little bones flew out–bones with neon orange painted toenails.

That’s when I grabbed my doggie and raced inside the newspaper office ensuring there was a door between me and whatever mauled that poor person’s leg off.

It’s also the first time I met Angus MacElroy. That old man didn’t help. As soon as he found out who I was, he pulled a rabbit’s foot out of his desk and placed it carefully between him and me. Why you might ask? I mean, I asked.

“Because I don’t know how to make an evil eye,” he said.

“An evil eye? I don’t get it.”

“It wards off bad omens and such.”


“The way I see it,” he said. “You’re the bad luck.”


“You’re the one who finds old men dead and since I’m an old man…” He let the rest of the sentence fall off and pointed at the rabbit’s foot.

But then I wasn’t the problem. The possibility of a vicious animal mauling people outside his door was the problem. That’s how I saw it anyway. I dialed Officer Manning who was not only a friend, but who also didn’t jump to conclusions about me and old men.

It only took a few minutes for Officer Manning to show up and ensure that Mal did, indeed, discover a partial body under the lilacs. None of this boded well for the upcoming Lilac festival.

On Mackinac Island the Lilac festival is one of the first festivals of the summer season. The lilacs bloom in time for the festival and we have the only motor prohibited parade in the USA. That’s right. Mackinac Island is the island time forgot where all transportation on the island is strictly horse drawn carriage, bicycles and walking. The only exception is the thoroughly modern ambulance and fire truck. Sometimes there needs to be exceptions to the rules.

As for me and Mal, we are safe for now, but it would be some time before I actually got back to placing that classified advertisement. Before we can do that there is fudge to be made and a killer to be found.

Angus MacElroy has his rabbit’s foot. What’s your lucky talisman?

You can read more about Allie in To Fudge or Not To Fudge, the second book in the “Candy-Coated” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first book in the series is All Fudged Up. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 12 for the chance to win a copy of TO FUDGE OR NOT TO FUDGE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Nancy J Parra AKA Nancy Coco is the author of 19 published novels which include three mystery series: The Gluten-free Baker’s Treat Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), The Candy Coated Mysteries (Kensington), and The Perfect Proposal Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime). Her writing has been called witty and her protagonists plucky by reviewers around the world. All Fudged Up, the first in the Candy Coated Mystery series was a National Best Seller when it debuted in November 2013. Nancy is a member of the Killer Character Blog and loves to hear from readers. Find her www.nancyjparra.com, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Engaged in Murder by Nancy J. Parra

Engaged in MurderEngaged in Murder by Nancy J. Parra is the first book in the new “Perfect Proposals” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, June 2014

There’s no planning for murder…

Event planner Pepper Pomeroy is making the most of her current unemployment by arranging a surprise for her sister, Felicity. Warren, Felicity’s boyfriend, plans to lure his lovely lady into a private jet, propose, and whisk her away on a romantic vacation. He just needs Pepper to handle all the fine details in order to make it the perfect proposal—and it is. Everything goes so well when Warren pops the question that he suggests Pepper do this sort of thing professionally.

But before she can get her new business off the ground, there are some disturbing questions. Like who’s the dead guy Pepper finds in the ladies’ room of the jet hangar? Is it possible Felicity’s high-flying fiancé has been hiding more than the engagement ring? Pepper’s not married to the idea of having a criminal in the family, so in order to protect her sister, she takes off in pursuit of a killer.

Being at the wrong place puts Pepper on the trail of a murderer when her sister’s fiancé is arrested. What follows is a wonderfully crafted light whodunit filled with a mystery that fueled my interest with every page that I turned. The pace was comfortable and the action was non-stop as our heroine took all opportunities possible to expose a killer. The author did a great job in setting this drama up with plenty of suspects and it was fun watching how it all played out. I like Pepper is and I hope we get to see more of her and her blossoming professional business and prospering relationship. This was a great debut novel that grabbed my attention immediately from the beginning and kept its hold even when I turned the last page. I can’t wait to see what exciting new adventures Pepper will take us on in the next book in this pleasantly appealing series.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

A Day in the Life of Pepper Pomeroy by Nancy J. Parra

Engaged in MurderHi, I’m Pepper Pomeroy and I was recently downsized from my job working as an event planner for a high-end hotel in downtown Chicago. When my sister’s boyfriend Warren asked me to help plan an extravagant wedding proposal for my sister Felicity, I was happy to help.

The event went off without a hitch…almost. There was that drunk guy passed out in the girl’s bathroom. But I took care of that after the engagement.

Warren was so impressed that he suggested I start my own business.

“Doing what?” I asked.

“Planning extravagant wedding proposals,” Warren said. “You really have a knack for it.”

When Warren offered to help me start the business and I was off and running. Soon, I had a scuba diving proposal and a Great Gatsby proposal to plan there was just one little hitch.

Remember the drunk guy passed out in the girl’s bathroom? It turns out he wasn’t passed out. He was dead. Murdered is what the police said, and their prime suspect was Warren.

Well I couldn’t let my sister’s new fiancé go to jail for a murder he clearly didn’t commit. So in between planning proposals, I investigated a murder and discovered that no matter how careful the planning, no event-especially murder-went off without a hitch. Now if only I could get the lead detective on the case, Detective Murphy, to follow the clues I gave him. Then maybe, just maybe I could also successfully plan Felicity’s engagement party.

Chicago is a pretty big city and the proposals I plan are just as big. What is your favorite wedding proposal? Flash mob singing “This Guy’s in Love with you?” Or Kiss Cam at a basketball game?

You can read more about Pepper in Engaged In Murder, the first book in the new “Perfect Proposal” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by 6pm EST on June 6, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of ENGAGED IN MURDER. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Nancy J Parra has been gluten free for six years and it was while posting her gluten-free recipes on Facebook that another author said she ought to write a book set in a gluten free bakery. Nancy did and the “Baker’s Treat” mystery series was born. Nancy also writes the “Perfect Proposal” series for Berkley Prime Crime and the “Candy Coated” Mystery series for Kensington Books. Nancy lives in the Midwest with her plucky Bichonpoo known as “little dog”.

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A Day in the Life of Toni Holmes by Nancy J. Parra

Murder Gone A Ryeowner of the Baker’s Treat Gluten-free bakery

My day started pretty early. If you remember the old donut commercial where the old donut baker got up and stumbled into work half asleep and said, “It’s time to make the donuts.” That’s pretty much how it was for me.

I’d like to think I live an ordinary and uneventful life, getting up before dawn and cooking up gluten-free treats such as breads, cakes, cookies and pies. But I’d be wrong. Living in Oiltop, Kansas surrounded by my large and eccentric family was not uneventful-especially when murder was involved. The last murder was no cake walk, but I figured that was a once in a lifetime event.

I was wrong. So wrong.

It was Thanksgiving and my best friend Tasha and I were hard at work on the Baker’s Treat float for the Homer Everett Day parade. Now, remember, I was a baker, not a float designer so I can’t say ours was the worst float, but it certainly wasn’t the best. There was a lot of tissue paper involved and I was praying that the rain stayed away or we’d have a watercolor mess on our hands.

Then I got a call from my Grandma Ruth. Now Grandma was in her nineties and an ex-investigative reporter as well as a lifetime Mensa member. When I picked up the phone I figured she was going to complain that I didn’t have enough of her favorite cookies in my house, but that was not the case. Not this time.

No, this phone call had Grandma far more excited than my cookies ever got her- even the gluten free Samoas I made. “Toni,” Grandma said breathlessly, “You’ll never guess what happened to me.”

“What, Grandma?”

“The best thing ever.”

“Did you win the lottery? Find that lucky half dollar you lost?”

“Nope and nope,” she said and I could hear her grin. “I’m a person of interest in a homicide. The police have me down at the station and are questioning me now. How cool is that?”

“Wait…what? Grandma, what murder?”

“Lois Striker bit the dust and it seems there were incriminating scooter marks at the scene. So, here I am having the time of my life.”

I hit my head on my desk in the office in the back of the bakery. “Grandma, don’t talk to anyone. Lawyer up. Promise me. You’ll lawyer up.”

Grandma chuckled. “Now why would I go and do a silly thing like that?”

“Grandma, everybody needs a lawyer. That’s why we have them.”

“But, honey, it’s so much fun. They ask me all sorts of interesting questions. I question them back, of course. That’s why they had to take a break.”

“Grandma-Please tell me you didn’t tell them anything.”

“Oops, got to go, that nice young officer is bringing me a glass of water.”


She hung up and I knew that my new life in Oiltop just got a little more complicated. The Thanksgiving pies would have to wait as I would do everything I could to keep Grandma out of hot water.

Which, dear reader would you rather do? Win the lottery? Or be a part of a real-life murder investigation?

Click HERE to download a recipe for Gluten-free SAMOAS GIRL SCOUT COOKIES

You can read more about Toni in Murder Gone A-Rye, the second book in the “Baker’s Treat” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Gluten For Punishment. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on May 15, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of MURDER GONE A-RYE. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Nancy J Parra has been gluten free for six years and it was while posting her gluten-free recipes on Facebook that another author said she ought to write a book set in a gluten free bakery. Nancy did and the “Baker’s Treat” mystery series was born. Nancy also writes the “Perfect Proposal” series for Berkley Prime Crime and the “Candy Coated” Mystery series for Kensington Books. Nancy lives in the Midwest with her plucky Bichonpoo known as “little dog”.

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Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for book giveaways, contests, posting about discounted books and some of my reading musings.

Murder Gone A-Rye by Nancy J. Parra

Murder Gone A RyeMurder Gone A-Rye by Nancy Parra is the second book in the “Baker’s Treat” mystery series. Publisher: Berkly Prime Crime, May 2014

Toni Holmes is the best gluten-free baker in Oiltop, Kansas—okay, she’s the only one—but when her grandmother becomes a murder suspect, she’s more concerned with keeping Grandma free.

When Toni’s beloved—and eccentric—grandma Ruth is arrested for the murder of her archenemy, Lois Striker, it’s time for a senior moment of truth. Telltale tracks from a scooter like the one Grandma Ruth rides lead the police to suspect the outspoken oldster, but Toni knows her grandmother wouldn’t burn a cookie, let alone extinguish a life.

In fact, the case has Grandma more revved up than her infamous scooter. A former investigative journalist, she decides to solve the murder herself—with help from Toni—by digging up long-buried town secrets. But as Grandma scoots in where others fear to tread, Toni needs to make sure she not only stays out of jail but out of harm’s way.

Grandma is at it again in this wonderful sophomore entry from Ms. Parra. The fun begins as grandma is on a case that will expose some well-hidden secrets. When grandma become a primary suspect in a murder, it will take the whole quirky and eccentric family that is Toni’s to bring a killer to justice.

This was such a great read with a mystery that was nicely prepared that kept me entertained in this hilarious romp in crime solving with the dynamic trio that is Grandma Ruth, Aunt Phyllis and Toni. I love the comfortable feel and flow of this fast-paced and action-filled whodunit that I could not put down because I had to know what antics grandma would get herself involved in. I enjoyed following the clues that the author presented with some surprises that gave this lighthearted drama a nice little twist. Boasting a great cast of characters and engaging conversations, this is a fantastic read and I can’t wait for the next book in this delightfully charming series.

All Fudged Up by Nancy Coco

All Fudged UpAll Fudged Up by Nancy Coco is the first book in the new “Candy-Coated” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, November 2013

Welcome to the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop–where life is sweet, revenge is sweeter, and murder is here to to stay.

You Can’t Fudge An Alibi

Allie McMurphy is up to her neck in renovations at the grand old hotel that’s been in her family for generations. With its quaint Victorian charm–and world-famous fudge shop–the place is one of Mackinac Island’s most beloved landmarks.

Sure, every family has a skeleton or two in the closet. But Allie didn’t expect to find an actual corpse inside hers, especially one Joe Jessup, who had a long-running feud with her dear departed grandfather. Which makes Allie the number-one suspect.

Can she sniff out the culprit before another victim checks in?

This is a good read. Allie returns to continue running the family business which is marred when she discovered the body in her utility closet. Becoming the prime suspect, Allie begins to look for a killer while trying to save her family’s name and reputation. This was very enjoyable with a comfortable tone and an easy flowing storyline. Allie is a lovable protagonist surrounded by an eclectic cast of characters that support her in this delightfully charming whodunit that includes delectable fudge recipes. The author did a great job in keeping the mystery fresh and fulfilling with plenty of suspects and it was fun to watch it all play out in a great location. I love Allie’s interactions with the various people on the island and the dialogue was both witty and entertaining. This is a great debut series and I can’t wait for more sweet adventures with Allie and her friends.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

Meet Allie McMurphy by Nancy Coco

All Fudged UpGrowing up I was lucky enough to spend summers on Mackinaw Island helping my Papa Liam and Grammy Alice run the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shoppe. Mackinaw Island is nestled between the upper and lower peninsula of Michigan and is known for its Victorian charm (no automobiles are allowed on island,) and its World Famous Fudge.

My father had chosen not to go into the family business and so it was left to me to fill Papa Liam’s rather large shoes. The plan had always been for me to get my degree in hotel management, my master’s in the culinary art of candy making and spend a year or two under Papa Liam’s tutelage before taking over the business. But just before I graduated, Papa had gone toes up-or in his case, nose down at the senior center while playing his weekly game of pinochle. By the time I had gotten through the funeral and the reading of the will, I had thirty days to get the McMurphy ready for the tourist season that started with the Memorial Day weekend.

I was in the middle of a much needed remodel when I discovered that Papa Liam had more than a skeleton in his closet. He had the completely dressed and slightly bloated body of his rival–Joe Jessop.

A frustrating call to the 9-1-1 dispatch brought me a visit by the handsome, man-of-action, Officer Rex Manning who confirmed that Joe Jessop was indeed in my utility closet, very dead. As I was kicked out of the crime scene which also happened to be my residence, Joe’s handsome wealthy grandson, Trent Jessop was called in to identify the body and make the family arrangements.

Before I knew it I had more than a remodel to worry about before the opening weekend of the season. I had an island taking sides over whether I was innocent or guilty of murdering Papa’s enemy.

To keep my business plan on track and prove my innocence, I set out to figure out who really killed Joe Jessop. Not an easy feat considering I was handling contractors, a nonexistent handyman and an island dividing itself into the Jessop camp and the McMurphy camp. To help keep me safe, Papa’s reservation desk manager and family friend, Frances Wentworth, gave me a bright eyed, fluffy bichonpoo puppy. Marshmallow, Mal for short, had one job -– to keep me safe from bad guys. Apparently keeping a fluffy. shed-free puppy in a hotel and fudgeshop was the best idea ever. While I searched for the killer, supervised the remodel, and created new fudge recipes, Mal was busy sniffing up clues and making friends with the most interesting islanders.

If a cute puppy, the island where the movie “Somewhere in Time” was set, and hunky policemen aren’t enough reason to read my story, I’ve included ten original fudge recipes. The majority are part of my 21 and over fudge series based on classic cocktails.

Here’s a taste:

Easy Pina Colada Fudge

5 cups white chocolate chips
4 tablespoons butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 8oz can crushed pineapple
1 tablespoon coconut milk
1 cup shredded coconut
1 oz spiced rum (to taste)

Butter an 8x8x2 inch pan. Line with wax paper or plastic wrap. Drain pineapple reserving juice. Combine pineapple juice, rum, coconut milk – mixing well.

In a double boiler – melt chocolate, butter, and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Be careful not to burn. Add liquid 1 tablespoon at a time stirring after each. (more or less to your taste)

Remove from heat. Add crushed pineapple (I added only half the can.) and coconut. Pour into pan. Cool. Tip: let cool outside of the refrigerator for 30 minutes so that no condensation mars the top. Refrigerate overnight. Remove from pan. Cut into pieces. Store in a covered container.

Until next time, enjoy! Allie

You can read more about Allie in All Fudged Up, the first book in the new “Candy-Coated” mystery series, published by Kensington. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Nancy is giving away one (1) copy of “ALL FUDGED UP”. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends November 7; US entries only.

Meet the author
All Fudged Up is the debut of Kensington’s new Candy Coated Mystery series by Nancy Coco also known as Nancy J Parra. Inspired by the gentile Victorian feel of Mackinac Island, Nancy asked the people at The Island Bookstore if anyone had ever written a mystery series set on Mackinac Island. The answer was no. Nancy went to work with a poll of Island visitors and locals. If an amateur sleuth lived on Mackinac Island, what would she do for a living? The overwhelming answer was run a Fudge Shop, of course. Mackinac Island is known for its world famous fudge. The rest is history. Nancy’s alter ego, Nancy J Parra has an MA in Popular Fiction and a day doesn’t go by when she isn’t working on a new story or walking her own bichonpoo known affectionately on line as Little Dog.

You can visit Nancy at her website or on Facebook.

A Day in The Life of Toni Holmes by Nancy J Parra

Gluten PunishmentHi, I’m Toni. My day starts very early. There used to be this funny commercial on television where the donut maker got up in the middle of the night and practically slept walked to the bakery to make the donuts. Yes, I think of that some days when I stumble out the door at the crack of dawn. But for the most part I’m okay with getting up so early. There’s something wonderful about the deep quiet of the middle of the night when the sky is filled with too many stars to count. You have the only car on the road and even the birds haven’t woken up yet to fill the air with their morning chorus. Getting up and going to work by 3 a.m. makes you feel like you know a secret everyone else sleeps through.

I usually get to my bakery, “Baker’s Treat” by 3:30 or 4 a.m. I turn on all the lights and lock the door behind me. It might sound a little paranoid, but I check all the closets and restrooms to ensure I’m alone in the bakery. I don’t know if that stems from my years in Chicago or if I’m simply paranoid. I’d like to think I’m prudent and safety conscious instead of paranoid and silly. That’s what I tell myself anyway.

Once I’m certain I’m alone in the locked bakery, I’d wash my hands, make the first pot of coffee, and pull the dough out of the fridge. You see I make up the yeast dough the night before to give it a chance for extra lift. There’s nothing worse than dough that hasn’t been given enough room to rise.

After that my day goes quick. I bake, manage the counter, take orders, make endless pots of coffee and visit with my regulars. The best part about a small town is everyone knows everyone. Even though I grew up in Oiltop, I’d spent ten years in Chicago. So the community still sees me as an outsider. It doesn’t help my case that I cook wheat-free in the middle of wheat country. I think some of the town’s people are coming around to the idea that you can have tasty baked goods that aren’t made with wheat. But it’s an uphill battle. Small town people tend to be stuck in their ways.

The final bakery chores are making the morning dough and putting it in the fridge. Then I clean up the front and the kitchen.

I usually drag myself back to the homestead after 9 p.m. My feet hurt my uniform of black slacks and white tee-shirt smells of sugar and yeast. There are parts of my fly-away red hair that are stiff with something – probably glaze. More times than I can count I arrive home to visitors – usually my Grandma Ruth and her boyfriend Bill. Sometimes my good friend Tasha and her son Kip would be there. You see, I inherited the family homestead – a four story Victorian with three floors of bedrooms and countless bathrooms. My friend Tasha wants me to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast. I might consider it if I had time. But for now I’m too busy building my bakery business to even consider doing anything else. Besides my mom’s last will left the homestead to me with the caveat that I let any family member crash at the Homestead anytime.

Sounds simple, right? Except that I have 52 first cousins and some of them have been married multiple times. All of them have multiple children. So basically my house is a family Inn where I pay the bills and make repairs while the rest of the family gets to stay for free.

I refuse to complain. I’m of the firm belief that when life hands you lemons, you make lemon margaritas and celebrate the best you can. I have an endless supply of family. Hopefully soon I’ll have the same amount of friends.

That’s a typical day in my life. Now your turn, when life gives you lemons, do you rim your lemon margaritas with salt or sugar?

Thanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of GLUTEN FOR PUNISHMENT to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. Contest ends May 9; US entries only per publisher’s request.

You can read more about Toni in Gluten For Punishment, the first book in the new “Baker’s Treat” mystery series.

Meet the author
Best known for writing “…strong stubborn heroes and plucky heroines who aren’t afraid to go toe to toe with them,”(Shelley Mosley, Booklist Magazine), Nancy J. Parra has ten published books. Recently, You Gotta Read Reviews wrote “The mind is a devil’s playground in Nancy J. Parra’s (latest book) Dream Man. Throw in politics and a race for the Presidency, romance and a ton of suspense and what you have is a roller coaster ride that straps you in and won’t let go. Wonderful and one you need to read. ”The Counterfeit Bride was named one of the top ten romances of 2011 by Booklist Magazine.

You can visit Nancy on Facebook.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Gluten for Punishment by Nancy J. Parra

Gluten PunishmentGluten for Punishment by Nancy J. Parra is the first book in the new “Baker’s Treat” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, May 2013

Gluten-free baker Toni Holmes may not cook with wheat, but when there’s a criminal on the loose, she’ll do what it takes to figure out who has their finger in the pie.

Even though Toni is used to going against the grain by preparing allergy-safe, gluten-free products for her online bakery, Baker’s Treat, opening a storefront in the middle of wheat country Kansas might be biting off more than she can chew. The town is already skeptical of her flour-free ways, but when a local wheat farmer is murdered outside her patisserie, skepticism turns into outright suspicion.

With the help of her eccentric grandmother, her handsome lawyer, and the sexy new widower in town, Toni is determined to find the real criminal before bad publicity and increasingly personal acts of vandalism shut her down. But when another suspect winds up dead, Toni realizes that this half-baked killer isn’t just trying to get her to close shop—he’s trying to make sure that she’s made her last gluten-free cookie…forever.

What a delightful introduction to the world of Toni Holmes in Oiltop, Kansas. Toni springs into action when a lone protestor of her bakery is later found dead outside its door. Aided by her feisty grandmother, the duo begins looking into the dead man’s life to see who wanted him dead.

This was a great read that I could not put down as I quickly turned the pages to see what happens next. I love the tone of the story and how it flowed from chapter to chapter. The author did a good job in keeping me on my toes with plenty of viable suspects; including some twists that gave me pause. I love the people that inhabit this small town in Kansas from Toni, her BFF Tasha; gutsy grandma Ruth and the two men who are after Toni’s heart. This was nicely done and gave me a better sense of celiac sensitivity. This is a sweet read that will whet your appetite for more in this pleasantly appealing series and is a welcome addition to the cozy genre. I look forward to the next adventures with Toni and her friends. Bonus recipes are included.

FTC Full Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of this book, in hopes I would review it.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog