Nancy Lynn Jarvis has been a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor for twenty years.  She owns a real estate company with her husband, Craig. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News.  A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz. Nancy's work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years.  Writing is her newest adventure.

When Nancy suggested "coincidences" as a blog topic, I had no idea how many eerie examples she could come up with! Honestly? I read this blog and ran out an purchased my first Regan McHenry mystery! 

From Nancy Lynn Jarvis:

The Widow’s Walk League, the fourth book in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series I write has me wondering if I should stop writing before I cause something awful to happen.

My protagonist is a real estate agent like I was. What happens to her at work is based on real events that happened to me or to other Realtors I know. The real estate stories, strange as they may be, are true; everything else in the books, especially the murders and deaths that occur, are not based on anything except my imagination. At least they’re not supposed to be. And that’s the problem.

The first series book, The Death Contingency, began with a young surfer partying too much, getting swept out to sea, and dying of hypothermia. I got a couple of outraged emails telling me that would never happen to a fit, experienced young man…until headlines in our local newspaper proclaimed a young surfer died just as I described his death  in my book.

 Buying Murder, book three in the series, opens with the discovery of a partially mummified body hidden in a wall anomaly. That idea began innocently enough when a home inspector investigating a similar wall irregularity laughingly said, “I found Jimmy Hoffa.”  It only took three weeks after my book’s release for a similarly mummified body to be discovered hidden in a local house.

In a double yikes, shortly after the book came out, one of the members of the real family who inspired the villainous family in the book was arrested for being exceedingly bad— drugs, assault rifles, stuff like that—and for using vacant houses to hide nefarious goings-on, just like in my book.

I’m not a psychic —it’s not like I can really foretell community tragedies. I don’t believe in psychics or mediums who say they can communicate with the dead, and as Regan demonstrates during a séance in The Widow’s Walk League, neither does she. Still, Regan finds that coincidences sometimes confuse what she believes and doesn’t believe.

Some of the murders in the newest book happen at my favorite local events.  I set one at Woodies on the Wharf, an annual old-time car show held the last Saturday in June on the Santa Cruz wharf. The car club president had been very helpful with the scene so I took him a thank you book the day of the event. Just for grins, I decided to tease the car displayer parked in the murder victim spot and warn him about what happened to the “last” person parked there. It turned out he shared a name with the murder victim.

It gets worse.

There’s a recurring character in the books named Dave. He’s very loosely based on a friend of mine: a former cop who lost an eye in a shootout some years ago. Turns out my placeholder murder victim was a retired cop who was with the real Dave the night he was shot and even told us the last words he said to Dave before the incident.

Do you see why I’m worried? (And that’s not even mentioning that a mother-in-law character I imagined for The Widow’s Walk League was based on the mother of a teenage boyfriend—the one who recently contacted out of the blue after forty years.)

I want to give Regan a vacation and write something very different for my next book. I plan to write in first person about an eighty-three year old woman who is running out of money…I hope it won’t be a future autobiography.

Regan wants to share her recipe for Mysterious Chocolate Chip Cookies but is adding a disclaimer for those of you brave enough to try them: they factor in each of the books. Of course you’ll see exactly how if you are brave enough to read one of the mysteries.

Cream together until light and fluffy:
    1 cup butter
    3/4 cup light brown sugar
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 eggs
    1 1/2 t vanilla
    1 t baking soda
    1 t habanera chili oil *
    1 t cinnamon
Mix well.
    2 1/4 cups flour
Mix again until well blended.
Stir in:
    18 ounces chocolate chips *
    2 cups rolled oats or oatmeal
Regan's recipe for keep-in-your-freezer dough features a
mystery ingredient that makes her cookies especially good.
See if your friends can "detect" it.

 Drop by generous spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350º for between 12 and 15 minutes, depending on
 Size of the cookies. Cool before removing from the cookie sheet.
*Regan uses Coeur D'Olives Habanera Oil and Trader Joe's Chocolate Chips, but you may substitute your favorites.

Read the first chapters of books in the Regan McHenry Mystery Series at or get a copy in trade paper, large print, or for your Kindle or e-reader at

Thank you so much, Nancy! Readers will want to check out her website . As for me, I'm off to make the cookie recipe so I have something tasty to munch on while I read The Widow's Walk League!

I wanted to add that you can read these books in any order you like, so feel free to go with the coincidence--er, plot that intrigues you!


  1. Thanks for having me as a guest today, Jackie. I hope you enjoy the cookies.

  2. Nancy, thanks for the entertaining stroll down Coincidence Lane. It's almost a little spooky. Next time will you write a story about a fellow writer from Minnesota who writes children's books and then goes on to become stunningly wealthy when her next book hits the best seller list? I'd appreciate that. :o)

  3. Sorry ladies, I already have a long request list. My favorite is a young woman who wrote down her name because it's unusual and said she would like her character to meet a gorgeous, rich man who falls madly in love with her.

  4. I'm thinking you might not have the usual success at holding an auction to have a character in your book named after the bidder! This is eerie, all right. Good luck with the next one!


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