Posts Tagged ‘Eureka Springs’


May 4, 2013

I haven’t been on a vacation since my first mystery novel (A VALLEY TO DIE FOR) was published in 2002.

Until that year, husband John and I went on yearly vacations in August.  The gift/decorating/antique shop where I worked closed for three weeks in August to have cleaning and painting done, and so I could take a vacation.  Since it was August and we were camping–sleeping in the back of our van–we went north for comfort.  We love the ocean, so most frequently headed for a northern coast in the United States or Canada, though we saw quite a bit of the Great Lakes and central Canada as well.  I have wonderful memories of all those vacations.

However, by the time my second novel, MUSIC TO DIE FOR (Ozark Folk Center State Park), had appeared, vacations turned into book research/and/or book promotion trips.  In some ways, these were mini-vacations as well.  Conferences and conventions?  We have seen Austin, TX at a Bouchercon Writers’ Conference, and El Paso at Left Coast Crime.  We fell in love with Omaha over and over during repeated visits to Mayhem in the Midlands, and enjoyed visiting the Washington DC area after a long trip by car to attend Malice Domestic.  We have seen some of  Indiana and Tennessee, several additional locations in Texas, plus Missouri and Kansas and, of course, Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Which brings me to another type of “vacation.”  Book research trips.  Since I site my novels at tourist destinations in the Arkansas Ozarks, most of my research is done on day trips.  One of the more distant exceptions is A TREASURE TO DIE FOR,  set in Hot Springs National Park. That required one two-week vacation stay, and two additional overnight trips. This was all the fault of my major characters, Carrie McCrite and Henry King.  Carrie wanted to attend what was then called an Elderhostel, sited in Hot Springs. (As did her creator, Radine. What a happy coincidence.)

John and I enrolled in the chosen Elderhostel.  Carrie, wanting to lure Henry into attending with her, followed friend Elinor Stack’s advice, and made a meatloaf, since (Elinor assured her) feeding a man meatloaf and oven potatoes was guaranteed to make him say yes to most anything. However, Carrie is no cook, and her road to meatloaf is covered, I hope humorously, in that novel.  The eventual result did the trick, and Henry agreed to go along. ( He may have had regrets later because he ended up in more pain and more danger than even Carrie, though she had trouble enough on her own.)  At the end of the novel, moved by many exterior and interior hazards lived through, he finally asks Carrie to marry him.

Which takes us to A WEDDING TO DIE FOR (The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Eureka Springs, AR), A RIVER TO DIE FOR (Buffalo National River), JOURNEY TO DIE FOR (A&M RR Passenger Excursion Train ride to historic Van Buren, AR), and A FAIR TO DIE FOR (War Eagle Craft fairs and Hobbs State Park).

Coming next year, A GARDEN TO DIE FOR.  Now that doesn’t require a long trip at all.

Radine, at




January 25, 2013

Are romance writers the only ones who write about love and sexperience?

Gosh,  no.  At the moment I am thinking back to the mystery novels by Dorothy L. Sayers.  If several of those aren’t part romance (as it was seen back in the 1920’s) I’ll eat one of my one hundred hats.  (Yuck — wool, straw, hemp, cotton, and a lot of goodness-knows-what. ) But then, I’m not worried in the least.

People will be people in mysteries as well as most other places.  Detective novels, and many popular mysteries in all the categories of that genre–even a few written earlier than those by the “Dead British Ladies,”– as well as up until present day, include a large dose of romance and even sexy romance.

In my own mystery novels featuring two mature adults and their friends, I manage to stuff in (between crimes and sometimes because of crimes), the meeting and growing romantic interest between widow Carrie McCrite and retired police officer Henry King. When Carrie convinces Henry, her Ozarks neighbor, to take part in an Elderhostel (as they were then called) in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, she explains that if two women can share a room to save money, why can’t they?  After all, there is a private bathroom and two beds!  This works out just fine until extreme danger divides the pair, and one of the things they realize is that they are in love–and it’s about time they did something about it before–horrors–one of them gets killed.

The next series novel, A WEDDING TO DIE FOR, is by far my sexiest book.  Not only are Carrie and Henry concerned about what an appropriate wedding for them would be like, both are dealing with wild concerns about what will happen on their wedding night.  Carrie’s first marriage was, after all, more a business arrangement with her criminal lawyer husband than a love affair, and Henry’s very wealthy first wife cut sex out of their relationship after their European honeymoon.  Though both WERE married, neither is exactly sexperienced.

And then, when they are exploring wedding venues, (and being shot at) there is a scene in the Crescent Hotel elevator when both forget themselves, and, well, later Henry apologizes, saying  ” I felt like I was a teenager again” and Carrie, flying wildly out of her normally ladyfied self, promises great things on their wedding night.   Ooooooo.  (No, this is NOT an X-rated book and is suitable for teens.  After all, it can awaken them to fresh thoughts about their grandparents.)

So, tell me about where you have discovered that true romance can, indeed, be part of all types of crime novels, not just those detective stories with the macho men and beautiful broads flaunting — whatever.   Prepare to have fun!


May 25, 2012

Books in Bloom is one of Arkansas’s premier book festivals, and, without a doubt, the most beautiful. Held each spring in the gardens of the 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, it draws book lovers from several states.  Authors are all there by invitation, and are right to feel honored when invited to appear under fluttery tent roofs spaced throughout the gardens during the festival. Flowers are everywhere.

This year was to be a special Books in Bloom for me. My newest novel, A FAIR TO DIE FOR, was near its release time, and my publisher said work on the book could be expedited so at least one case would be ready in time for Books in Bloom. I offered to pay the nearly $50.00 extra shipping to assure quick arrival, and UPS guaranteed delivery by the Friday before the event, which always begins at noon on a Sunday in May. So–in spite of the fact several earlier blips had come up to slow the novel’s appearance (vanished e-mails about cover art,  for example)–everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and I left for an already scheduled book signing featuring my earlier novels in Branson, MO. The new books would be safe on our porch until my return.

But they weren’t. The porch was empty. Frantic phone calls to UPS, reaching mostly recordings, finally told us that the books were re-scheduled for Monday delivery because there was a mistake in the address. (We later learned it was three numbers off–11444 instead of 11447.  We live in a rural area and no one has an address close to ours, so if it had been our regular driver the box would have been left. He was on vacation, and the substitute had to work to rule.)

My husband decided to make the sixty mile round-trip to the UPS distribution center to see if they’d release the box to him.  I prayed that some miracle would bring us those books.  The answer to my prayer was “No.”  My husband returned without the books.  For a time I wondered if I could claim that some awful disaster made it impossible for me to be at Books in Bloom and not mention I had no new books.  Then I changed my prayer to one asking that I could be able to see whatever good things were in store for me the following day.

That prayer was answered.  Eureka Springs’ residents are a cross-section of every type of humanity, from left-over hippies to sedate church ladies; from those living whatever their chosen alternative lifestyle might be to Mr. and Mrs. Mainstream America.  They were all at Books in Bloom, including many from adjoining states who were just as colorful and varied as local folks.  I think all stopped by my tent to chat, and many bought one or more of my earlier books. My publisher had sent publicity material to a large part of the USA, and some did come to buy a copy of A FAIR TO DIE FOR.  However, not a single person seemed upset when learning why the books weren’t there.  Though I offered to mail books, postage paid, to some, no one took me up. I gave the name of area bookstores and also information about how to connect with other sales venues. I suspect it was too beautiful a day tor anyone to be unhappy.

The case of books arrived Monday evening at 6:30.  Most are already spoken for.

Aren’t life’s lessons interesting?

Does Branding Hurt?

December 23, 2011

Does branding hurt?  Nope, not when you’re talking about author branding  Brands are considered a good thing when it comes to identifying cattle and some other four-footed farm animals (though cows may not agree) and branding of another type is good for authors.

Why?  Because in the case of an author, branding means the special niche or type of writing or some other significant continuing quality that readers will find in the work of that author.   Want vampires, or women with peculiar life experiences?  Then think of  CHARLAINE HARRIS.   How about cozy mysteries featuring a sometimes bumbling but very caring ghost?  Try CAROLINE HART.  You all know about what to expect from Stephen King, or Kathy Reichs (“Bones”) or Nora Roberts.  Right?  If you enjoyed one book from these people, the assumption is that you’ll enjoy them all, and that often proves to be the case.

For canned goods or candy bars, motels or restaurants, shirts or shoes, branding of a good product helps build customers.  This is just as true when the product for you to buy and enjoy is written on paper or a screen.

For example:  If you want to learn about the Ozarks and what life is like here,  I suggest  I’m one brand for you to try.  (Learn more at Whether in fiction or non-fiction, all my writing is inspired by my love for the Ozarks area, its hills and hollows and forests, its people, its unique caves and geology and . . . . everything else Ozarkian.   You can trust the Ozarks you visit in my writing because extensive research spurred by the mentioned love and appreciation saturate the stories I write, the tales I tell.  And there’s plenty of material here for me, whether I’m writing about gardening or weaving a tale of mystery and adventure.

The history of the Ozarks,  its landscape and tourist attractions, offer fertile ground for mysteries to happen and, indeed, in many areas, real mysteries already have.  My non fiction writing reflects that, and, though the fiction IS fiction as far as most characters and the plot are concerned, you can rely on the locations to be about what you’ll find if you choose to visit them yourself.  (And, many people have after reading stories set there.)

Though I will never be wealthy, I am rich in happy experiences.  Though I will never visit far-away places I once dreamed of seeing, what’s better than discovering the wonderful tourist destinations near home?  And, after all, what’s better than daring to be me, doing what I enjoy, and sharing it with people who find they like the brand.