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  • N. N. Light

N. N. Light's Book Heaven presents Charlotte Stuart #authorspotlight #mystery #adventure #humorousmystery #mustread

When I sat own to write my first book, I didn’t know I would be writing a humorous mystery, and that, despite featuring a PI as the protagonist, it would be labeled a cozy. To be honest, I didn’t know what a “cozy” was at that point. But I couldn’t stop the laugh lines, didn’t want to write either graphic sex or violence, and couldn’t abide writing unhappy endings. What I did want to do was write about real people who lived normal lives while having adventures. And although I wouldn’t label any of my books as traditional cozies, I am fine with the cozy 2.0 label for most of them.


Several of the disagreements I had with my agent were about ways in which I deviated from the traditional cozy. For example, you don’t swear in a cozy. I don’t swear a lot, but it seemed to me if a bad buy was pointing a gun at your head, you couldn’t simply say, “Oh darn.” That kind of situation took a lot of rewriting to satisfy both my agent and the situation. Then there’s the rule about not killing animals in a cozy. How do you talk about the wilding of an island with three families of coyotes looking for food and not at least hint at the fact that they “remove” cats and small dogs? “Bring the cat back to life,” was my agent’s advice in one instance. So, after an absence in which someone assumed their cat was dead, it reappeared on their front porch, unharmed. (Too bad that doesn’t happen in real life.)


Another issue I didn’t think about when I started writing was what it meant to write a series. The first book is easy. And my memory of details about characters and location descriptions from the first book stretched to the second, started to break down in the third, and was an absolute blur by the fourth. Who liked their coffee black and who liked three teaspoons of sugar? What kind of table was in her mother’s kitchen—wasn’t it something fancy? What was on the mug that her colleague wasn’t supposed to use around clients? Which ear on the dog stands straight up and which one flops? Obviously, these aren’t important questions, but you don’t want inconsistencies to become a distraction to readers with better memories than yours. Enter “the matrix of locations and character details.” Some call it a character bible.


Those were a few of the unexpected things that I didn’t anticipate about writing. But for the most part, I’m living the good life. I write in the mornings, take a walk early afternoon, and complain about the need to market my books toward the end of my work day. I actually put in almost as many hours as I did when I held down a full-time corporate job. But my commute is much nicer—seven steps downstairs to my office instead of a frustrating hour on the freeway.


Since 2019 I’ve published ten books with two more due out this year. All but three feature strong female characters. I have a three-book contract for what I refer to as my “murder with a laugh track” series with a klutzy claims adjuster named John Smith. These also have serious plots, but the emphasis is on humor. In addition, I have one traditional mystery set in the late 1970s in a small Alaskan village. The protagonist is Jonah St. Clair, someone who spent time living with a Tlingit elder when he was in his early teens. That combined with a tour in Viet Nam and six years in the LAPD make him a complex character. Except for some occasional banter, there aren’t any laughs in this book. And the ending has closure but isn’t 100 percent happy.


That’s a little about how I got started and where I am at this point. The one thing I haven’t mentioned is that my husband is also a writer. He has a mystery series about a lobbyist, several non-fiction books about farming and the environment, and a sci fi book about the evolution of intelligence in humans and AIs. We’ve even written a thriller together that we hope will be out soon. We talk about writing a lot. On our walks. Over dinner. Running errands. And presently, we share a one-room office. This isn’t the first time we’ve worked together in a small space—we commercial fished for nine seasons on a 47-foot sailing/fishing boat in Alaska. But this is by far the most fun we’ve had “sharing” a profession, and I’m never seasick.


If you have any questions about any of my books, please get in touch. And, if you have any suggestions about how I can get more reviews from readers, please enlighten me! I find it easier to win awards than to get reviews. Finally, I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.


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Title: Raven’s Grave

Author: Charlotte Stuart

Genre: Mystery/adventure

Publisher: Vine Leaves Press


Book Blurb:


A runaway becomes the object of a search in the Alaskan wilderness after a young boy dies during a midnight ceremony. A fish buyer and $75,000 goes missing. And Jonah St. Clair, Koloshan’s only police officer, becomes both prey and predator during his investigation.


It is 1979 in a small native village in Alaska. The Tlingit language, the clan structure, and ancestral stories are no longer central to village life, although some traditions remain powerful. Jonah must use his investigative skills as well as his knowledge of the local culture to discover the bittersweet secret of the Raven’s Grave.




RAVEN’S GRAVE – Prologue


A full moon dusted the treetops with light. Far below, beneath the outspread branches, the forest floor was dark. It was a darkness filled with night sounds, clicks, snaps, leaves moving restlessly. The soft padding of a hunter. A wink of bright eyes, then nothing.


In a small clearing a bonfire licked the night. A slim figure stood before the fire, arms raised above the flames, motionless. Hands erect, eyes closed, waiting. In one hand he held a wooden rattle shaped like the head of a bird, its once-bright colors faded with age. In the other hand was a small leather bag containing his kuts, the source of his power as an icht’a.


Suddenly the young icht’a began to sing.







The red caves were across the island from the village of Koloshan, facing out on an isolated inlet, a honeycomb of chambers slowly carved by nature into the side of a steep cliff. The area was considered sacred by some older natives from the village.




Today, Jonah was in his twenty-foot Alumaweld boat headed to the red caves to search for the young icht’a known as Chaaky, from tscha̅k, eagle.


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Author Biography


Charlotte Stuart PhD left a tenured position to go commercial fishing in Alaska. She spent a year sailing in the Washington and Canadian San Juans, became a partner in a management consulting group and later a VP of HR and Training. Her current passion is for writing character-driven mysteries with complex plots, most with a smattering of humor.


Her books have placed or made finals in various competitions including: 1st Place in the Chanticleer International Mystery & Mayhem Book Series Award and finals in Foreword Indies, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion and Eric Hoffer Awards.


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Title: In$ured to the Hilt (A John Smith Mystery)

Author: Charlotte Stuart

Genre: Humorous Mystery

Publisher: Level Best Books


Book Blurb:


In$ured to the Hilt is a serious mystery with a laugh track. John Smith, an insurance investigator as ordinary and nondescript as his name, is a magnet for mayhem and a symbol of everyone’s inner klutz. His well-intentioned but unorthodox investigative techniques quickly become a catalyst for murder. In the end, everyone is “insured to the hilt,’ some more literally than others.




BUZZZZ. BUZZ. BUZZZZ. A persistent drone interrupted my mid-morning nap.


“Are you in there, Mr. Smith?” a voice snapped at my left elbow. The sleepy haze slowly lifted, taking with it the scantily clad women dancing to the refrain of Fanta, Fanta! Don’t-cha wanna wanta Fanta.


“Mr. Smith!”


I blinked at the angry red light on my Intercom. Groggily punching buttons, I managed to announce to half the staff that I was in my office before finally hitting the right one and putting an end to the buzzing.


“It’s about time you answered.” Emma’s short-order cook voice left no doubt that she was displeased. “Your door is locked. I’ve been trying to let you know that Mr. Van Droop wants you in his office in fifteen minutes.” Click.


That was Emma’s urbane way of telling me that employees have no right to privacy, that she didn’t like me any better than she had ever liked anyone, and that I’d better hustle because you don’t keep the vice president in charge of claims waiting, especially if you are an insignificant “trainee in claims,” barely above an amoeba in the corporate ecological food chain.


Dazed but determined, I pushed myself away from my desk and willed my body to unlock the door. Then I stumbled back to my chair just in time for Emma to open the door, poke her head in and say, “That was fifteen minutes from fifteen minutes ago, and you have a red spot on your forehead.”


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Title: Survival Can Be Deadly (A Discount Detective Mystery #1)

Author: Charlotte Stuart

Genre: Humorous mystery

Publisher: Amphorae Publishing Group


Book Blurb:


In this lighthearted mystery set in Seattle, single mom and recent widow Cameron Chandler grabs a chance to reinvent herself by taking a much-needed job at Penny-wise Investigations located in a suburban shopping mall – “Vigilance You Can Afford.” Her first case is to locate a runaway teen-age girl. The trail leads to a survivalist camp on a remote island in northern Puget Sound. Armed with only a Swiss Army Knife and her quirky on-the-job training as a suburban sleuth, Cameron uncovers more than she bargained for and soon finds herself in a fight for her own survival.




Chapter 1 – Employed at Last!


It was the only store in the mall that didn’t invite shoppers to take a look inside. Sandwiched between Ye Olde Candle Shoppe and Sew What?, its mirrored storefront looked impenetrable. Images rebounded off the mirrors, challenging passers-by to guess what went on inside. I slowed down to guess.


It was then I saw the “Help Wanted” sign to the right of the pale oak door. Although I had never bothered to check out the place before, the sign drew me like a powerful magnet.


“Hey, watch it,” an angry voice said. An elderly woman in a hot pink sweat suit pushed past me, leaving no doubt that I had violated one of the mall’s unwritten traffic rules. You don’t cut across the wave of bodies, you go with the flow. I mumbled an apology and stepped out of the mainstream.


The name of the shop was painted in a cobalt blue arc that spanned three quarters of the mirror: “Penny-wise Investigations.” Within the arc in smaller, straight line print was: “Discount Detection.” Lower down and to the right was a tiny griffin emblazoned in gold next to “P.W. Griffin & Associates. Vigilance you can afford.”


A detective agency in a shopping mall? Suburban sleuthing for the middle-class consumer? No way, I said to myself. This isn’t for me.


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Title: Not Me! Speluncaphobia, Secrets and Hidden Treasure (A Macavity & Me Mystery #3)

Author: Charlotte Stuart

Genre: Cozy Mystery


Book Blurb


Aztec gold artifacts from the 16th Century, a fake treasure map, and cryptic clues leading to a cave in the Canadian wilderness.


Two cousins get together to investigate the death of a favorite uncle and to honor his legacy by fulfilling his dream to recover Aztec gold. They are thwarted in their efforts by greedy family members, a jumble of challenging clues, a prank from the grave, and unscrupulous treasure seekers.


What begins with a letter from the deceased leads to a sailboat trip up the Inside Passage and ends with revealed secrets, betrayal, and a confession.




Every family has at least one—a crazy uncle, an eccentric aunt, an outlandish grandparent, a weird shirttail relative, or an odd hanger-on who has attached themselves to the family like a barnacle to a piling. In my family, we are blessed with several. Mostly unsympathetic characters I wished belonged to someone else’s clan. Except for my unconventional Uncle Wade. I’ve always idolized him as a romantic figure in his own adventure story.


Even after his move to Canada, stories of his treasure seeking escapades traveled south to Seattle on the family grapevine. Trips to faraway places. The occasional discovery of a valuable antiquity. Unsuccessful treasure hunts. Sunken ships. Rumors of smuggled goods and near arrests. Unlike the mundane lives most of us lead, his was filled with fanciful dreams, risk taking and intrigue.


When I unexpectedly received a package from Uncle Wade, I was both surprised and a bit excited. He’d never sent me anything before. The possibilities seemed endless—something recovered from a shipwreck or unearthed in an ancient ruin. Something he’d picked up on an excursion to an exotic location. Or maybe a family keepsake. But surely something unique. He was, after all, my adventurous, part folk hero, Uncle Wade.


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Apr 17

Love your writing!! 10 books out already? Wowza! I was feeling pretty good about just finishing my fourth!


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Apr 17

Thank you for sharing your writing journey and books!

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