Please join us in giving author Linda Lovely a very warm welcome! Linda has kindly offered to give away one copy of With Neighbors Like These–all commenters below today will be entered to win.
The HOA Funny Papers
With Neighbors Like These, the first book in my new HOA Mystery Series, doesn’t fit in the humorous mystery category. Yet, since homeowner associations provide the homicidal backdrop, I couldn’t resist weaving a bit of humor into the mystery. The heroine of this series, Kylee Kane, is a retired Coast Guard investigator. She’s helping a friend who owns an HOA management company. As a security consultant, Kylee attends HOA board meetings and bites her tongue as she listens to directors deliberate policies and penalties, some of which she finds giggle-worthy.
I’ve lived in four HOAs, researched community disputes, and listened to tales repeated by friends and family. Some sound like urban legends, but I’m sure somewhere there’s an HOA director ready to make and enforce rules to prevent the homeowner “horrors” noted below. I’ve included how Kylee (and yours truly) might suggest enforcing these rules if her consulting gig didn’t require her to keep her mouth shut.
Shades of Nitpick: An architectural review committee must approve all exterior paint colors including contrasting trim for doors, shutters, etc. The trim is where my husband and I once got in trouble. We had a grayish house and wanted a splash of color at the entry–a red front door. We were told the red we’d chosen wasn’t an approved shade.
Enforcement: To help homeowners avoid inadvertently choosing verboten shades, advise them to look for colors with names that imply they bear little resemblance to the prime color, e.g. Murky Red, Ancient Brick, Dusty Auburn.
Obese Pets: Some associations, especially condo and townhouse governing bodies, impose weight-limits on pet dogs. For example, your pooch may be illegal if he tips the scales at more than 35 pounds. While the intent may be to discourage ownership of larger breeds, small fat dogs could be rule breakers.
Enforcement: Set up a weight management program for pet dogs with weekly weigh-ins just like Weight Watchers suggests for humans. Owners can take off dog collars prior to weigh-in, but no shaving long-haired breeds to shed unwanted ounces. Overweight dogs must report to fitness centers for daily sessions with owners and pups both hoofing it on treadmills.
You Say ‘Tomatoes’ I Say @&*#(&: Some associations prohibit veggie gardens, even in backyards, as persnickety neighbors consider tomato plants with haphazard growth and yellowing leaves unsightly.
Enforcement: Prohibit netting/fencing around gardens. In no time, rabbits, chipmunks and/or neighborhood deer will nibble the offending plants to stubs.
Holiday Décor: Some HOAs limit outdoor holiday lighting to white bulbs, no gaudy reds, greens, or blues, please!
Enforcement: A giant Rudolph the Reindeer wreath with a brightly-lit red nose will be placed on the front door of any offender as a means to shame the owner in their bright-white communities.
Throwing in the Towel: Hanging towels (or clothes, sheets, etc.) outdoors on balcony railings or clothes lines is no-no in some communities.
Enforcement: Equip a drone with a bird doodoo option. Fly the drone over the neighborhood and bomb any wet items on display with guano. This is sure to discourage repeat offenses and/or increase the incidence of drones lost to enemy fire.
Parking Peevement: In neighborhoods that dictate all vehicles must be garaged, there’s often a provision that guests can park their cars and trucks in driveways or on streets so long as they’re moved before a 24-hour clock runs out.
Enforcement: This provides an excellent opportunity to employ neighborhood teens of driving age. They can be hired to joyride so the vehicles never sit in the same spot for 24-hours. Owners pay up if the vehicles are returned undamaged.
So, HOA dwellers and/or directors, what rules would you like to change? Which ones are written in a way that makes them impossible to enforce? Do any of your rules seem silly?
A journalism major in college, Linda Lovely has spent most of her career working in PR and advertising—an early introduction to penning fiction. With Neighbors Like These is Lovely’s ninth mystery/suspense novel.
Whether she’s writing cozy mysteries, historical suspense or contemporary thrillers, her novels share one common element—smart, independent heroines. Humor and romance also sneak into every manuscript.
Her work has earned nominations for a number of prestigious awards, ranging from RWA’s Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense to Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion for Best Cozy Mystery.
For more information, please visit lindalovely.com.
Managing an HOA can be murder…
Murder victims in separate Lowcountry homeowner associations appear to have had only two things in common—they antagonized neighbors and their dead bodies were posed to shock. Are HOA feuds provoking these murders? Kylee Kane, a retired Coast Guard investigator, agrees to help her friend’s HOA management company find the answer. After uncovering decades-old links between the murder victims, Kylee IDs the killer’s next target. Can she foil the third act in the killer’s death-as-theater game or will she be the next corpse on display?