On Conversations: #cozymystery #author Brenda Collins

Please welcome mystery author Brenda Collins! She's here to talk about the third book in A Frost Family Christmas, The Holly & the Ivy. So, check out the cover, blurb and excerpt! And be sure and check out her interview too, and get to know Brenda.

Lisa ~

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FZUI2C8/?tag=crlaofsu-20THE HOLLY and THE IVY

Relationships don’t come with a rulebook . . .

Police Officer Joey Frost has her hands full this Christmas in Carol Falls, Vermont. A vandal is painting the town red, green and every color in between, plus someone left baby Holly in the manger of the town’s Nativity display and no one has a clue where her mother is. But Joey can handle it all... until a snow storm blows former military cop, Noel “Fletch” Fletcher, back to town. 

Joey and Fletch have a history. But he’s no longer the cute boy who kissed–and–dismissed her in high school. He’s grown into a dangerously attractive man—who also nabbed the promotion Joey was gunning for.

When the Police Chief assigns them to be partners, Fletch’s by-the-book law enforcement style is almost as irritating as the resurfacing of their old attraction. Is Fletch trying to distract her from her career aspirations? Or is true love going to be her surprise Christmas gift this year?

Reviewers are saying THE HOLLY & THE IVY is, “…A perfect Christmas tale that will get you in the mood for the holidays and leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I give this one 5/5 stars.” So, if you want a little romance and mystery over the holidays this Christmas, then visit with the Frost Family in Carol Falls, Vermont.

THE HOLLY & THE IVY, a 50,000 word sweet romance novella, is Book Three of "A Frost Family Christmas" trilogy. Each novella is a complete romance, with a mystery running through all three books that is resolved in this last story. Enjoy these three heartwarming stories:

Book 1: “What Child is This” by C.J. Carmichael
Book 2: “Home for Christmas” by Roxy Boroughs
Book 3: “The Holly & the Ivy” by Brenda M. Collins


     Flipping on the flashers, Joey coasted along the shoulder until she was close enough to confirm a dark colored sedan angled in the ditch with its front wheel up to the axel in snow and mud. Was this where the dog had come from? Was the owner hurt? After a quick radio call to report her location, she was out of the patrol car, using her flashlight to scan the area for signs of life, human or wild. No movement inside the car, as far as she could see. Hopefully the driver hadn’t disregarded the cardinal rule of survival—never leave your vehicle—and wandered off looking for help. If so, in a storm like this, whoever it was would be an ice cube by now. She picked up her pace but that didn’t mean much when she had to fight the suction of the ankle-deep snow pulling on her boots.
     Suddenly, a series of colorful profanities exploded from the car’s rear. The driver, looking more like a black bear due to his heavy winter parka, popped into view and threw an evergreen bough off to the side. He must’ve been trying to use it for traction. At least, he’d had the sense to dress for the severe weather. Joey stopped in her tracks, clutching the flashlight more tightly. She pulled her scarf away from her mouth and yelled for his attention, “Carol Falls Police. Do you need assistance?” The wind snatched her words before they reached the stranger. She trudged forward as he leaned into the wind and worked his way around the uphill side of his car. When they were a couple of feet apart, and he still hadn’t looked up, she waved her arms to get his attention afraid he’d bump right into her.
     He immediately caught her movement and closed the rest of the distance. Even face to face, she couldn’t see his features with his head buried deep inside his hood. He tried to say something but she still couldn’t hear over the howling storm. She pointed to the patrol car.
     His hood moved up and down, and he jogged back to pull a large canvas duffle bag from the trunk of his car. Despite the slippery footing, he moved with surprising agility for such a big guy—over six feet tall by several inches and with broad shoulders—even allowing for the bulk of his outerwear.
     She took the lead back to the patrol car, following the path left by her earlier footprints. After her first few steps, it occurred to her that her back seat, where she’d normally put a passenger, was already occupied by the dog, who might be dangerous if disturbed. If it was the stranger’s dog, it would be okay but she couldn’t be sure of that at this point.
     She considered her options as she listened to the man’s heavy footsteps crunching through the snow behind her, closing the distance. If he’d wanted to highjack her car, he would have tackled her by now, she decided, although she’d keep her guard up. When she popped the trunk for him to stow his gear, she noticed his parka and the canvas bag were military issue. He might have survived the storm without her help.
     Once she was back in the driver’s seat, she stretched across the bench seat to push open the passenger door. The dog sat up and barked, probably saying, Forget him. Turn on the darn heat.
     Good idea. She unwound her scarf, pushed back the hood of her parka, jammed the keys into the ignition and got the engine going. Even in the short period she’d been out of the vehicle, the outside temperature had dropped the interior temperature below freezing again. A thin layer of frost coated the inside of the windshield.
     She felt the seat sink as the stranger got in with a heavy sigh, so she turned to get a good look at him. He raised his hand, pushed off his hood.
     Joey choked. “Fletch?”
     She hadn’t seen him for ten years, but he didn’t appear much different. His hair was much shorter, but the same ink black of her memory. And that aquiline nose and strong jaw were unmistakeable. But the lines etched on his forehead and around that beautiful mouth, hadn’t been there before. Evidence of a harsher life, telling of things he’d seen and done since leaving Carol Falls that had seasoned him. It made her want to ask him about that life, where he’d been, had he thought about her at all.
     His startling, glacier blue eyes scanned her face, widened, and she caught a flash of something more than recognition in them. “Hi, Joey. It’s been a long time.”
     Yes, it had been a long time. What was he doing in Carol Falls now? Joey wasn’t sure she was ready for the answer. Maybe she should have left him and his car stuck in that snowdrift.


It’s easy to feel Christmas-y sitting in Alberta Canada today. The snow started falling in October and hasn’t stopped since—we’ve accumulated almost two feet so far. Because the city where I live is in the mountains, we can get snow any month of the year—including July—but we may also get a weather pattern called a Chinook that can send the temperatures soaring into the high 60˚s F or even low 70˚s in December and melt every flake of snow. 

What would our readers be surprised to find out about you? Any stories you care to share?

My first career was in international banking so I lived through the evolution of the internet as computers took over from paper processes. It was unusual to be a woman in that field and at the time. My job required travel all over the world. There was one occasion, in the late 80s, when I sat in a meeting with the CIA on one side of the table and the KGB on the other. Another incident, when I was in my late twenties and in Paris on business, I got lost in the warehouse district late one night when the subway shut down. I was terrified but after almost two hours, I was rescued by a tall, dark and handsome stranger—with a French accent! I finally wrote that whole episode down after having to repeat it to friends so often. It’s posted on my website if anyone wants to read about it. It’s great to be able to pursue my dream of being an author at this point in my life, but my earlier career experiences certainly feed into my plots. And, now I have more time to pursue other interests with my hubby, such as rock hounding and silversmithing.

Where did you grow up and do you think it influenced your writing?

I was born on an island in the North Atlantic, off the east coast of Canada, called Newfoundland. Its history dates back to the Vikings, and, culturally, we lean heavily to Irish. Supposedly my family line goes back to the pirate, Michael Collins. And I did navigate a pirate ship once (see photo), but that’s a whole other story. Suffice it to say, folktales and storytelling are bred into my family genes.

What genres do you like to write?

I’m a bit of a genre bender I’ve always got a cozy mystery running through my stories, as I do in my holiday romance, THE HOLLY & THE IVY (A Frost Family Christmas - Book Three).  And, I’ve learned most of the craft from romance writers so there’s always a hero and heroine who have to build a relationship of some kind to resolve the puzzle and reach their goals. But then I may weave in paranormal elements, or give it an old style detective twist, or wander into the international suspense thriller genre…really wherever my imagination takes me.

How many books have you published and long does it take you to complete a book?

Practice makes you faster in the publishing world and that seems to be my experience as well. It took me ten years, and lots of classes and workshops, to write my first two manuscripts (which live under my bed and will stay there), but only ten months in 2012 to write my debut novel, a sweet paranormal romance entitled WITCH IN THE WIND. I guess I needed a deadline to really motivate me to get my bootie in that chair and write. I also released STORIES OF CHANCE ROMANCE in 2012. My writing partner, Roxy Boroughs, and I had written almost a dozen sweet romance short stories over the years  so, when we were both touched very personally by breast cancer, we decided to publish them as an anthology and donate all our author royalties from sales of that book to the Breast Cancer Foundation. This year’s holiday romance, as part of A Frost Family Christmas, is my fourth story and it took me a very intense five months from first draft to final proof. I’d like to settle eventually into a comfortable pace of two books a year.

The Holly and The Ivy is a Christmas carol, isn’t it? Is it your favorite? And do you have a favorite holiday tradition in your family?

The Holly & The Ivy is a traditional English Christmas carol that I’ve loved since I was a child. When I was researching my story, I discovered there was a midwinter custom in ancient English villages of holding singing contests between men and women, where the men sang carols praising holly for its "masculine" qualities and disparaging ivy, while women sang songs praising the ivy for its "feminine" qualities and disparaging holly. The two sides would resolve their differences under the mistletoe. Isn’t that romantic?

My mother started a tradition in our family called “The Christmas Ball” that’s still keeping our extended family in touch once a year, even though we’re now spread across North America. She makes the ball out of paper streamers, coins and dollar store Christmas trinkets– with a funny verse she writes attached to each wrapped ‘prize’—and mails one ball to each of us every year. After the big family dinner on Christmas Day, we pass The Ball around the table, stopping so each person can read their verse and open their prize. New rules have evolved over the years, like if the streamer breaks, it’s bad luck, and, as more of us moved farther away, whoever gets the $1 coin has to write the thank you note to Mom. Last year, my gang wrote a thank you verse on a napkin that we sent off to her—we definitely don’t have her talent for jingles. LOL

What would you like readers to know about A FROST FAMILY CHRISTMAS series?

Readers who enjoys sweet, sentimental Christmas romances, will love A Frost Family Christmas trilogy . It’s three heartwarming stories that all take place in the fictional town of Carol Falls, Vermont. Each novella is a complete romance, with a mystery running through all three books, that’s resolved in my story which is the last. 

Book 1: “What Child is This” by C.J. Carmichael
Book 2: “Home for Christmas” by Roxy Boroughs
Book 3: “The Holly & the Ivy” by Brenda M. Collins

CJ, Roxy and I hang out on our Frost Family Facebook page most days, if readers would like to stop by. We chat about the characters in the stories, and lots of other topics, but we won’t be giving away the answer that everyone wants: Who abandoned the baby in the manger? No spoilers, just prizes. So they’ll just have to read the books, if they really want to know. >;-)

Thank you so much for inviting me for this visit today. I wish everyone a happy holiday with their loved ones.

BRENDA M. COLLINS is a recognized speaker and much quoted expert on business issues for writers, an award-winning technical writer, and published contributor to numerous industry trade magazines, including two annual editions of Writers Market (Brewer, R.L., ed. F&W Media Inc.).

In addition to THE HOLLY & THE IVY (A Frost Family Christmas - Book Three), she has also published the sweet paranormal romance,  WITCH IN THE WIND and STORIES OF CHANCE ROMANCE, with Roxy Boroughs, for which all author proceeds are donated to the fight against breast cancer.

For upcoming titles visit Brenda’s website at: www.brendamcollins.com. You can also find her on: FACEBOOK, GOODREADS, AMAZON and TWITTER.

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