Writing a Popular Cozy Gay Comedy Mystery Series by Joe Cosentino – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Joe Cosentino as he joins us to celebrate the release of his newest installment of the Nicky and Noah series, Drama Detective. Tell us why you like cozy mysteries for a chance to win an audio book of he first book in the series.

WRITING A POPULAR COZY GAY COMEDY MYSTERY SERIES
by Joe Cosentino
with the release of Drama Detective, the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery

I was a Broadway musical nerd as a kid. My bookcase was loaded with Broadway show albums, each of which I could sing from opening number to finale. My bedroom was my Broadway stage as I delighted my bureau, bed, and desk with my renditions of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady, and even Mama Rose from Gypsy. When family members visited, I entertained them with “Welcome to the Theatre” from Applause. New friends were treated to “Getting to Know You” from King and I. While vacationing in Hawaii, my travel group marveled at my performance of “Bali Hai” from South Pacific. A widow in the crowd garnered my take on “What I Did for Love” from A Chorus Line.

Realizing the healing benefits of laughter, I was also quite the comedian. I often brought visitors to tears with stories of my family members, which I’m sure my parents “appreciated.”

When I wasn’t performing for friends and relatives, I read cozy mystery novels, especially Sherlock Holmes. I marveled at Holmes’ analytical mind, ability to separate clues from red herrings, and his nearly psychic methods of deduction. The warm and fuzzy settings of many cozy mysteries, humor, plot twists and turns, quaint characters, and shocking endings kept me awake until the wee hours of morning.

After working as a professional actor in theatre, film, and television, I became a college theatre professor/department chair. Though I loved and still love my job, I wanted an even more creatively fulfilling outlet. As I was observing others in the theatre building, it dawned on me that a college theatre department is the perfect place for a cozy mystery series. Realizing there aren’t many gay cozy mystery series out there, I decided to create my own. Of course I would combine my love for Broadway musicals, humor, mystery, and a bit of romance (I am of Italian origin after all).

So the Nicky and Noah mysteries feature adorable couple Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver who use their theatre skills (including impersonating others) to solve murder mysteries on the quaint New England campus of Treemeadow College. In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of 2015) college theatre professors fall over like heavy stage curtains while Nicky directs the school play. Nicky and Noah must figure out whodunit. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention 2016) Nicky directs the bodybuilding competition on campus. He and Noah must find out why bodybuilding students and professors are dropping faster than hundred pound barbells. In Drama Cruise Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard a ten-day cruise to Alaska. Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors in the cast are going overboard like life rafts on the Titanic. Complicating matters are their both sets of hysterically funny parents who shadow the handsome couple. (The first three books are also available as terrific audiobooks!) In Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at a large hotel in Hawaii. He and Noah need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are going down faster than their grass skirts.

Now I combined my infatuation with Sherlock Holmes and musical theatre for the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery novel, where Nicky is directing and ultimately co-starring with Noah as Holmes and Watson in a new musical Sherlock Holmes play at Treemeadow College prior to Broadway. Also in the cast are their department head and best friend, Martin Anderson (who I want to play if there’s a television series), Martin’s husband Ruben, their office assistant Shayla, Nicky’s brother Tony, and Nicky and Noah’s son Taavi. Dead bodies begin toppling over like intoxicated actors at a curtain call. Nicky and Noah use their drama skills and more to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before the handsome couple get half-baked on Baker Street.

So grab your Sherlock Holmes hat, coat, and pipe. Take your program and your front row seat for the musical. The game is afoot in Drama Detective!

Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing a Sherlock Holmes musical in a professional summer stock production at Treemeadow College, co-starring his husband and theatre professor colleague Noah Oliver as Dr. John Watson. When cast members begin toppling over like hammy actors at a curtain call, Nicky dons Holmes’ persona on stage and off. Once again Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before the handsome couple get half-baked on Baker Street. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fifth novel in this delightful series. Curtain up, the game is afoot!

“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven’t discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine

“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” Optimumm Book Reviews

“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews

Enjoy an Excerpt

As if on cue, Corey slouched through the lobby double doors with Mark Melody at his heels. Corey’s blue and white striped polo shirt and tight jeans showed off his muscles. His cheeks were as red as his hair as he said, “I can take care of myself, Mark.”

In his black sweatshirt and slacks, Mark looked more like a stagehand than the author. “Christine in Phantom said she could take care of herself before she was abducted. And look what happened to her!”

She went on a theme park boat ride.

Corey and Mark stopped at a large sofa in a corner of the lobby as Corey said, “Look, dude, I grew up in foster care. I survived twenty-two years without parents. I don’t need one now.”

Mark seemed hurt. “I didn’t sing ‘Kids’ from Bye Bye Birdie to you. All I did was ask Harvey to lay off you.”

“Well, don’t. Nobody takes care of me, but me.”

Mark blinked back tears. “Doesn’t that get lonely?”

“What?”

“Building a wall around yourself? Hiding your feelings? Not getting to know the real you, like in the song, ’I Am My Own Best Friend’ in Chicago?”

“You don’t know me.”

“I agree. But I’d like to be your friend.”

“You don’t want to be friends with me.”

“Why not? Is Grease your favorite musical?”

Corey rested his hands in his head. “I don’t deserve to have a friend.”

“Everybody deserves to have a friend.” Mark sat on the sofa and rested Corey down next to him. “You seem like a good person to me, Corey. As good as Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music.”

Corey whispered (as I strained my ears to listen), “I did something bad, dude. Something really bad.”

“I don’t believe it.”

Corey’s gaze seemed haunted. “Believe it.”

Mark thought a moment, and then said, “Were you backed into a corner like Jean Val Jean in Les Mis?”

Corey slid to the edge of his seat. “Look, you’re a nice guy, Mark. But you don’t want to get involved with me.”

“Is it because I’m so old?”

Thirty is old?

“Or is it because you’re a big movie star, and I’m a musical theatre geek?”

Corey laughed with melancholy. “I did one indie film where my naked backside got more film time than my face.”

“I don’t care about that. And I don’t believe you’re a bad person.” Mark took his hand. “Please. Can’t we be friends?” His face lit up like a right wing politician at a Super PAC fundraiser. “Hey, let’s go back to the synthesizer and sing ‘Friendship’ from Annie Get Your Gun.”

Corey shook his head from side to side and flashes of auburn flew around his face. “For your own good. Don’t get involved with me, dude. I mean it.” He headed back into the theatre.

Mark noticed Noah and me and headed over to us like a puppy with his tail caught between his legs. “Did you hear all that?”
I stammered, “N-no, no-not at all. We-we were talking about…how great the show is going.”

Mark sat on the other side of me. “You heard every word, didn’t you?”

Noah and I nodded.

“I’m sure you think I’m a fool, but I’m not giving up.” Mark explained, “Like the song in South Pacific, I’ve always been a cockeye’d optimist.”

No pun intended.

Mark said, “Corey’s a good guy. I can tell. He’s just hurting about something. I wish I could help him.”

Noah patted his shoulder. “Corey was a pensive student when he studied at Treemeadow. I sensed he was struggling with something. I remember an activity I did with my acting students where they had to use emotional recall to remember a sad event in their lives. Corey burst into tears in class.”

“Why is he so unhappy?” Mark asked.

Noah shrugged. “I asked him and he wouldn’t tell me.”

Cutting to the chase à la Martin, I said, “Mark, do you have feelings for Corey?”

Mark’s eyes rolled around in his head. “Nicky, a guy as gorgeous and sexy as Corey would never be interested in someone like me.”

“Don’t put yourself down, Mark.” Noah added, “You’re handsome, sweet, and talented. As a matter of fact, you remind me of…”

My sweet Noah.

“…Nicky’s brother Tony.”

Why didn’t I drown Tony in our pool when we were kids?

“But I’m ancient, eight years older than Corey,” Mark said.

“That’s all right. Nicky’s seven years older than me,” Noah explained.

Speak up, sonny, I can’t hear you. Unable to hear any more about my sexy brother and my ripe old age, I said, “Mark, I didn’t ask you if Corey likes you, I asked if you have feelings for him.”

“I’ve known Corey only a short time, but I already like him very much. And it pains me to see him so hurt and depressed.”

Mark’s face dropped like a movie star’s at forty. “You guys must think I’m as foolish as Don Quixote fantasizing about his Dulcinea in Man of La Mancha.”

Noah smiled like a guardian angel. “Don’t ever be ashamed of caring about someone, Mark. It’s a noble thing for us to love, even if that love isn’t returned.”

I added, “And if it’s meant to be with you and Corey, it will be.” Rising, I said, “In the meantime, we have a show to open in just a few days.”

About the Author: Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise (Lethe Press), Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland, The Perfect Gift; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and his books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.

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Giveaway: Post a comment about why you love cozy mysteries. The one that tips our Sherlock Holmes hat the most will win an Audible code for a free audiobook of Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Michael Gilboe, published by Lethe Press.

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