June 2024 Special Offers

It is with a sad heart that I share the news that my husband passed away last month. While adjusting to his loss, I am slowly getting through all the tasks that need to be done. In the early morning hours, I’ve once again been working on my latest mystery. This brings me comfort and a sense of normalcy. It also means I am ready to return to the writing community.

Here are some current promotions that you might find appealing:

Booklovers Bench Monthly Giveaway

Enter June 1-22 to win Two Free Books from Booklovers Bench in our June giveaway, including my title STAR TANGLED MURDER, just in time for the July 4th holiday – https://bookloversbench.com/contests/win-two-free-books-june-2024/


Wedding Themed Books

Check out these books with a wedding theme, including my title SHEAR MURDER, at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Celebrate Weddings Bookish Event. Be sure to enter the giveaway to win an Amazon gift card – https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/post/shear-murder-cwbe

 

FREE First-in-Series Mystery

FREE First-in-Series Cozy Mystery! Hairstylist Marla Shore is giving grumpy Mrs. Kravitz a perm when her client dies in the shampoo chair. If that isn’t enough to give her a bad hair day, handsome Detective Vail suspects Marla of poisoning the woman’s coffee creamer. Delve into small-town secrets, colorful characters, plot twists, and suspense in this series starter. https://books2read.com/PermedtoDeath


Kobo Plus Subscribers Read Free

Did you know the Bad Hair Day Mysteries are all Free on Kobo Plus? Kobo readers, get started reading this fun cozy mystery series now – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/series/the-bad-hair-day-mysteries

<><><>

That’s all for now. I may post from time to time but it’s going to take me a while to get our household in order. It’s spring-cleaning time, not only for clothes and accessories but also for the knickknacks, kitchenware, towels and linens, and other things that are no longer needed.

When’s the last time you’ve cleaned out your closets?

Get These Book Bargains While They Last!

Are you getting ready to stock your summer reading basket? I’m pleased to offer you two book deals for your reading pleasure. Buy them for yourself or as a Mother’s Day gift for someone special.

ON SALE – BOX SET ONE

The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume One: Books 1-3 is on sale May 1-14 for only $0.99. In this humorous series starter, hairstylist Marla Shore finds the culprit when her client dies in the shampoo chair, saves a gala fundraiser from sabotage, and gets a workout while solving a murder at a sports club.

“A delightful box set that I blazed through in less than a week! The believable characters and plausible situation drew me in from page one. Author Nancy J Cohen has me wrapped around her series’ perm rods.” Muddy Rose Reviews 

“Cozy mystery readers will fall in love with the wacky characters in this series. Hairstylist Marla Shore reminded me of Lucille Ball. A fun series!” Lois Winston, Bestselling Author of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries

“Marla Shore is a delightful protagonist. If you’re looking for a cozy series that teases you with plenty of fun, the Bad Hair Day Mysteries are sure to satisfy!” Terry Ambrose, Author of the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mysteries

Grab a Copy Now

ON SALE – KEEPER OF THE RINGS

Romantasy is the new term for a blend of romance and fantasy. Just in time for your summer reading basket, I’m putting Keeper of the Rings on sale at $0.99 May 12-22. Embark on a new adventure with this action-packed tale.

It’s Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone when an archaeologist and her mysterious protector search for a stolen sacred artifact on a faraway world. “This complex multi-level story captures the reader with intrigue, adventure and mystery. Prepare yourself for exotic locales, evildoers galore, and two splendid romances!”

Join the Adventure


GIVEAWAY

Enter Here to win two free books at Booklovers Bench May 1-22. While you’re there, check out our blog posts, characters/authors on the bench, and weekly puzzles.

P.S.

Have you seen the 5-star review by N.N. Light’s Book Heaven for The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume Six: Books 16-18: “What a brilliant cozy mystery box set! Featuring three full-length cozy mysteries, this box set is a feast for cozy mystery lovers. The plots move at a fast pace. The dialogue is witty, sharp, and hilarious. The characters are so funny, especially Marla. The descriptive narration is intricate, and the writing is superb… If you’re looking for a good laugh, pick up this box set right now. Even though this is box set six, it can be read out of order or as a standalone.” Read the Full Review

Get Your Copy Here

 

When Plans Go Awry

We make plans, and the Fates laugh in our face. Life can change like a flash of lightning. In one of my 2024 initial posts this year, I set my writing goals and then said… Of course, the best laid plans often go awry. Who knows what the universe has in store for us?”

Little did I know the divine truth in those statements. Our world turned upside-down when my husband became ill and ended up in the ER. He’s home now but our world has shrunk to focus on his care. We live on a day-by-day basis while managing his illness. These include chemo treatments. It’s impossible to plan ahead or to focus on anything except his immediate needs.

As for my writing, the muse is on a break. I’ll be taking a hiatus from this blog unless a subject strikes me that I want to share. Your understanding and support would be greatly appreciated.

Nancy

Getting Reviews on NetGalley

NetGalley is an online site where publishers solicit advance reviews for upcoming titles. This has mostly been the realm of traditional publishing houses, but now indie authors can take advantage of this opportunity.

Authors can join a co-op created for the purpose of reducing costs. For example, Anne Victory from Victory Editing has a NetGalley service, and you can find other sites as well. I jumped on board Anne’s co-op for my latest release, Star Tangled Murder. I scheduled this for two months prior to release. Any shorter, and readers won’t have enough time to read your work. Too long an interval, and it might get lost in their TBR pile. You can also make your book available for more than one month if you wish.

I appreciated how I could filter the requests. I’d research each member profile and then accept or decline entries based on my impressions. At the end, I got a spreadsheet from NetGalley with a list of reviewers who had downloaded my title along with their email addresses.

In total, I approved 105 requests. Out of these, 44 posted reviews. I felt that a 42% return was a pretty good rate.

The Risks

My first two reviews were one-star bombs that threatened to crush my self-confidence. They referred to elements in the book that apparently hit these readers’ hot buttons and didn’t truly reflect upon the story or my writing. I was afraid the book would fail.

But then four and five-star reviews started pouring in, both from NetGalley reviewers and from my personal reviewer list. At present, Star Tangled Murder has 60 ratings on Amazon with a 4.5 average. I got some great quotes from these reviewers.

How do you get started?

Sign up for the author co-op. Once you get a link to your book on NetGalley, design some memes to let people know your book is available there. Share these graphics on your social media sites, in your newsletter and blog posts, and notify your personal reviewer list. Include the link to your book’s site on NetGalley in your posts.

How do you evaluate a request?

You don’t want to give a free book to anyone who asks, so you need to be careful. Use these criteria to check each person out:

For Reviewers, look at their member profile. Do they have links to social media sites or a personal blog?

If they’re a Bookseller, realize they may not review your book but might recommend it to their customers. Plus, the listing puts you on the radar of independent booksellers who are interested in your genre.

Librarians may order a copy and/or recommend it to patrons and book clubs. They might also post a review on LibraryThing or Goodreads.

Consider why an Educator might want to read your book. Do they teach in an age-appropriate grade? Would your book be appropriate for their school library? Are they still teaching or have they retired?

Are their reviews on NetGalley current? How are the ratings?

Where else do they post reviews aside from NetGalley? If you want general readers to see them, you’ll want people to post on Goodreads at the very least.

Check their Goodreads profile. Are those reviews current? Do they review books regularly, and how are their ratings? Do the same for each of the other sites they mention.

Are their reviews more than one or two lines? Do they read like a generic review, or do they actually say something relevant to the story?

As Reviews Arrive, you’ll get emails like this sample:

Susie Star, Reviewer
Member Profile: [NetGalley Link]
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Links included to NetGalley, Amazon, Goodreads

Star Spangled Murder is #18 in the bad hair mystery series. Salon owner Marla and her detective husband Dalton, visit a living history village over the fourth of July weekend. When someone is murdered during a Seminole battle reenactment, Dalton gets assigned to the case and Marla does her best to help him find clues to solve this last case before he retires from the police department. This was a fun quick read with likeable characters and plenty of red herrings. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

Are you interested in connecting with this author (interviews, events, etc)? Yes
Would you purchase this book for yourself or a friend? Yes
Will you recommend this book/author to your audience? Yes

Keeping a Spreadsheet

Download your list of reviewers from NetGalley. Look to see if the people who made requests have followed through with a review. When the book goes live, send a reminder email to each person who downloaded your book and provide links as to where they can post reviews.

For my spreadsheet, I added columns for the Reviewer’s Name, Email, Category (i.e. Reviewer, Librarian, etc.), Approved or Declined; Downloaded the Book – Yes or No; Number of Stars Rated; Review sites, i.e. NG, Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, Blog, or Other to show where they posted. Also I included a Reminder Letter and Date Sent.

Next time you have a new release, you can email those reviewers who posted about your book and offer them a copy, either through NetGalley or through a BookFunnel link.

In Conclusion

NetGalley can be a great way to get exposure for your upcoming release and to gain advance reviews. Revel in the good ones, pull quotes from them, and share these across your social media sites. For bloggers who post about your book, thank them in the comments section and share the post.

Getting Your Book Reviewed on NetGalley #indieauthor #marketing Share on X

As for what to do with the reviews, Read This Post.

STM Five Star Review

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here to win Two Free Books from Booklovers Bench in our March giveaway!

BB March 2024 Giveaway

Leu House Museum

The Leu House Museum is located inside Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, FL. Overlooking Lake Rowena, this stately residence is on the National Register of Historic Places. Although we’ve been to the botanical gardens many times, this was our first tour of the house.

 

The original owners were the Mizell family who claimed the land in 1858. There they grew sugar cane, cotton and corn. David Mizell was the sheriff of Orange County. He got killed in an ambush in 1870. Duncan Pell, the next owner, hired David’s son to add two more wings to the house. He made this a weekend getaway for him and his second wife, silent screen star Helen Gardner.

The Woodward family came next in 1906, adding on to the house to make it the present size. They used the house for a winter retreat.

Finally, Harry P. Leu and his wife Mary Jane bought the property in 1936. They traveled widely and brought back seedlings and plants for their garden. They donated the acreage and house to the City of Orlando in 1961.

Inside, the rooms have been restored with a mixture of original furnishings and donations. The lifestyle reflects turn-of-the-century living. The first families lived without plumbing and electricity, which were later additions.

       

Through the front door, we entered the living room. There’s a pleasant parlor to the left and a dining room straight ahead, with a staircase next to a bookshelf I’d like in my home. Most of these rooms had fireplaces.

       

              

    

The kitchen has been modernized in some ways but still has a wood-burning stove and an old-fashioned refrigeration unit. Originally, it was a warming room while the food was cooking in an outbuilding accessible from a breezeway. But then the kitchen moved indoors.

   

The upstairs held several bedrooms that looked bright and airy. They appear easily habitable.

     

 

A screened porch out back would have been a pleasant place to relax during temperate weather.

  

On the paths back to the garden entrance, we viewed some of the glass and steel sculptures by Alex Heveri for a special exhibit. Otherwise, try to time your visit to include a tour of the house. Go to https://leugardens.org for more information.

 

Leu House Museum is worth a trip to Leu Gardens in Orlando #Florida #history Share on X

We enjoy touring botanical gardens and historic homes. Are there any near you?

Quick Prep Recipes

Here are some quick and easy recipes that will serve you well for breakfast and dinner. They’re fast to prepare for your family.

BANANA OAT FRITTATA

This is a quick preparation breakfast that’s healthy and nutritious. It’s as hearty as any omelet and gives you a serving of grains as well.

Banana Oat Frittata

Ingredients

3 Bananas
0.98 oz. packet Quaker Original instant oatmeal (4 Tbsp.)
3 eggs
¼ tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Honey

Directions

Mash one banana in a medium bowl. Add 3 eggs and oats. Sprinkle in cinnamon and stir to blend. In a separate bowl, slice remaining two bananas. Heat olive oil in large nonstick frypan. Place rings of sliced bananas inside pan. Pour oat mixture over top and tilt pan to spread evenly. Cover and cook on medium heat until bottom is browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove cover and flip frittata over to set on other side for 5 minutes or less. Slice and serve warm. Dribble with honey or use maple syrup if preferred. Serves 2-4.

Note: To downsize for a smaller frypan, use only 3 Tbsp. oats, 2 eggs, and 2 Tbsp. olive oil.

STRING CHEESE MANICOTTI

Make sure the food is cooked through enough that the string cheese melts. This tastes even better heated for leftovers the next day. Serve with garlic bread and a fresh salad.

String Cheese Manicotti

Ingredients

12 oz. package string cheese (12 pcs)
8 oz. package manicotti pasta (12-14 pcs)
1 jar spaghetti sauce (24-32 oz.)
Grated parmesan cheese
Dried parsley
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh chopped basil
Dried oregano

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the manicotti in boiling water according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool. Roll string cheese in a mixture of parmesan cheese and dried parsley. Stuff cheese sticks inside manicotti noodles when not too hot to handle. Pour a coating of tomato sauce on bottom of greased 9 x 12 baking dish. Place manicotti on top in single layer. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil and dried oregano. Add shredded cheese. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until heated through. Serves 6.

Quick prep recipes for breakfast and dinner #cooking #recipes Share on X

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here to win 7 First-in-Series Books AND a Logo Mug from Booklovers Bench in our 11th anniversary blowout giveaway!

A Valentine’s Day Gift for You

Happy Valentine’s Day Month!  As a gift to you, I’m offering a copy of Permed to Death for FREE. Yes, you heard me. My First-in-Series for the Bad Hair Day Mysteries is Free!

Sassy salon owner Marla Shore is giving grumpy Mrs. Kravitz a perm when her client dies in the shampoo chair. If that isn’t enough to give her a bad hair day, handsome Detective Vail suspects Marla of poisoning the woman’s coffee creamer. Figuring she’d better expose the real killer before the next victim frizzes out, Marla sets on the trail of a wave of wacky suspects. Her theory regarding whodunit gels only after she looks for the culprit closer to home.

Click Here to Get Your Free Copy Now

What can you expect from this story?

Amateur sleuth
Colorful characters
Family Drama
Humor
Intriguing plot twists
Red Herrings
Small-Town Secrets
South Florida Charm

A Sample of Industry Reviews

“Fast-paced and jaunty.” Publishers Weekly 

“A plot with more tangles than an uncombed perm.” Kirkus Reviews

“An amusing tale, buoyed by a likable amateur sleuth and enhanced by the South Florida atmosphere.” Sun-Sentinel

“A very successful mystery in a new series.”Fort Myers Life Magazine

As a reader, I’ve found many favorite new authors through their freebies. I’ve gone on to buy their entire series. I’ll discover them through daily newsletters such as BookBub, The Fussy Librarian, Freebooksy and Book Doggy. These allow you to try new authors without financial risk. It’s a great way to find your next great read. Subscriptions to readers are free and you can filter your genres.

Will you be my Valentine and download my book? Please share the link with friends and help spread the word. Happy Reading!

Download your free copy now: https://books2read.com/PermedtoDeath

What are your favorite ways to discover new authors or series to read?

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here to win 7 First-in-Series Books, plus a Logo Mug, from Booklovers Bench in our 11th anniversary blowout giveaway!

Goal Review 2024

As a writer, setting goals each year will give you a path to follow. Each item you cross off your list will provide a sense of accomplishment. You might add new goals as you go along and find additional tasks to do.

Setting Goals for Writers

Each January, I set myself new creative and business-related writing goals. For 2024, since I have many business tasks to do, I’ve separated my goals into monthly projects.

January 2024
Upload revised editions of Books 1-3 in my series – DONE
Update Box Set One, my Book Sampler and audio covers – DONE
Publish Box Set Six on Jan. 23, 2024 – DONE
Do blog post and newsletter for new release and reissues – DONE
Promote new release on social media – ONGOING
Revise Murder at Your Service version 3 – ONGOING 

February
Set the price on Permed to Death to Permafree to attract new readers – IN PROGRESS
Schedule a promo stack and other ads.
Announce sale on social media sites, blog and newsletter.
Apply for distributor promotions.

March/April
Continue Above Projects.
Consider a BHD short story for newsletter subscribers.
Consider a newsletter automation sequence.

May/June
Initiate audiobook production of Writing the Cozy Mystery.
Plan the Launch.

Fall
Finish current WIP. Send to Editor.
Plot a new BHD holiday mystery novella.

File Management – Mindless tasks for spare time.
Improve SEO on older blog posts.
Sort through photos to clear storage space.
Delete old files.

Of course, the best laid plans often go awry. Who knows what the universe has in store for us? We just have to go with the flow and get as much done as we can. This is why I like being an indie author. No deadlines and no pressure to attend distant conferences. I can stay home and work at my own pace.

Have you set your goals for this year?

Goal Review 2024 #writetip #writingcommunity Share on X

Bad Hair Day Box Set Six Release Day

The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume Six: Books 16-18 is now available!

I am excited to announce the release of my latest box set in the Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. This collection includes Easter Hair Hunt, Styled for Murder and Star Tangled Murder.

Digital ISBN: 978-1-952886-35-5
Published by Orange Grove Press
Cover Design by The Killion Group, Inc
Interior Design by Formatting4u.com

BOX SET SIX

A deadly Easter egg hunt, a remodeling project gone awry, and a Fourth of July murder at a living history village make for a sparkling cozy mystery collection.

EASTER HAIR HUNT

An Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor leads hairstylist Marla Vail to discover more than just dyed eggs. The dead man in the bunny suit is definitely not having a good hare day. Marla’s husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail, knows she finds solving mysteries to be irresistible, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can Marla use her eggcellent sleuthing skills to crack the case?

Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner

“This story will fill your reading basket with entertainment, charming characters, plot twists, tasty recipes, and a cozy murder mystery to solve.” Thoughts in Progress

STYLED FOR MURDER

When salon owner, Marla Vail, gets a frantic call from her mother that there’s a dead body in her shower, Marla realizes this wasn’t part of the home remodel plans. The victim turns out to be the project manager, who had a shady reputation in town. Disgruntled customers, unpaid suppliers, and the design company’s staff are among the suspects, but Marla is more concerned about her stepfather’s connection to the victim. Can she flush out the clues and nail the killer before he strikes again?

Suspense Magazine “Best Cozy Mystery”
Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner

“A charmingly funny whodunit!” Woman’s World Magazine

STAR TANGLED MURDER

Hairstylist Marla Vail and her detective husband Dalton are having a blast visiting a Florida living history village over Fourth of July weekend. But when a battle reenactment turns up a dead body, it sets off fireworks among the villagers. One of the cast members has gone off script to murder the town marshal. Soon it become apparent that every one of the villagers is a suspect. Instead of spending the holiday chilling and grilling, somebody’s mind is on killing. Marla needs to find the culprit before she becomes the next victim.

FAPA President’s Book Awards Silver Medal Winner

Star Tangled Murder shines with excellent plotting, lots of twists and turns, and a satisfying ending. Highly recommended.” Suspense Magazine

Play the Jigsaw Puzzle for Box Set Six

Download Now – Get Three Books for the Price of Two!

Amazon Kindle
Apple Books
BN Nook
Kobo
Google Play
Books2Read

 

Get your copy of Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Six now - a sparkling cozy mystery collection! #boxset #cozymystery Share on X

Refreshing Your Backlist Titles – Cover Reveal

Swapping an outdated cover for a new, fresh look can help to improve sales for a backlist title. It’s also a good opportunity to update the interior file if needed. Your book description might need an overhaul as well. These are all things you can do to revive sales on earlier books.

As an indie author whose books are available “wide” (meaning beyond Kindle Unlimited), I have taken the time to update the first 3 books in my 18 book Bad Hair Day mystery series.

New readers always want to start with book one, unless they’ve won a later book in a contest, bought one on sale, or picked up a review copy of your upcoming release.

It’s ironic that you have to hook them with the first book in your series, because this was your starter title and you may have written it years ago. It’s been 25 years since Permed to Death was first published in 1999. Reviews can reflect those early renditions if you’ve linked editions.

My original mysteries were published by Kensington. Then they were digitally published by eReads in the days when e-books were fairly new and books had to be scanned in to get a digital file. Scanning mistakes abounded because my subsidiary publisher did not appear to have proofread their versions (see my article HERE on scanning).

Unfortunately, some older Amazon reviews mention these errors, but there’s nothing I can do about them. This is why we need reviews on our latest versions to encourage new readers to take a chance on the book. If you reissue your backlist title as a new edition with a new ISBN and don’t link the issues, then you’ll lose all those early reviews, good and bad.

Permed to Death

I’d already changed my indie cover for Permed to Death, #1 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, from its original design that I used after I got my rights back. There is one glaring review on Amazon that shows this older design. I tend to agree that it’s way too busy with too many colors, but this criticism no longer applies. You can see my changes here. The current cover is on the right. This design is by Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica.

             Permed to Death

 

I am just now updating the covers for Hair Raiser and Murder by Manicure (Books #2 & #3). These new designs are by Kim Killion from The Killion Group. I chose images this time to depict the story elements more accurately.

Hair Raiser

In Hair Raiser, my original indie cover was overly busy with the pool in the background. I wanted to keep the chef, but we couldn’t find a good illustration for an update that would work. Kim found this image and I loved the expression on the chef’s face. It perfectly suits the opening in the story where Chef Pierre’s rum-soaked Bananas Foster blows up in his face. I can’t help smiling when I look at this cover.

Hair Raiser           Hair Raiser High Resolution


Murder by Manicure

For Murder by Manicure, I felt the spa scene on my original indie cover was too vague, even though I like the colors. The image did depict the story where a woman drowns in the whirlpool at a sports club, but my new cover is more distinctive. It’s clearly identifiable as a story that involves a manicure. Maybe it’s my opinion, but the nail tech seems to have a devious expression on her face and the customer doesn’t look happy. Makes you wonder what’s going on between those two, yes?

Murder by Manicure           


Interior Files

I took this opportunity to do another round of light revisions on Permed to Death since book #1 is so critical in attracting new readers. Hair Raiser gained some smoothing out as well while Murder by Manicure hardly had any changes at all.

I’m hoping Amazon will offer updates to its verified purchasers of these titles but there’s no guarantee. If you check (Go to Accounts & Lists, then Content Library, then Books), see if the title says Update Available in your list of digital books. If not, please let me know. Maybe there’s some way I can enable this feature. I’m rolling out these changes now so keep watch for them.

Book Description

Any new change necessitates reuploading your books to the different distributors. In addition to Amazon, Apple, BN, Kobo, Google Play, Draft2Digital and Ingramspark, these may include MyIdentifyers.com, BookFunnel, and your own Website. And don’t forget the audio editions if you have new metadata. It’s also a good time to improve your Book Description. See if you can make it sparkle and drop in key words when possible.

Let’s not forget the Box Set including these three titles. Box Set Volume One: Books 1-3, plus my Book Sampler for newsletter subscribers, will both need to be updated as well.

In Conclusion

It’s a brave step to go back to your earlier books and make changes. You’re not sure if it’s worth the time, effort and expense, but at least you can be proud to know you’ve put your best work out there. Again. As they say, revisions are never done.

Refreshing Your Backlist Titles #indiepub #writetip Share on X

I would love to hear what you think about these new changes.