Happy Book Birthday to me! Today is the release day for Trimmed to Death, #15 in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Savvy hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Vail enters a charity bake-off contest at a fall festival sponsored by a local farm. While she waits to see if her coconut fudge pie is a winner, Marla joins a scavenger hunt where people playing character roles are the targets. Instead of scoring points with a live person, she finds a dead body planted face-down in the strawberry field. Who would want to cut short the life of food magazine publisher and fellow bake-off contestant Francine Dodger? As she investigates, Marla learns there’s no shortage of suspects. A celebrity TV chef, food critic, olive oil importer, food truck owner, pastry chef, and cookbook author may be stirring up more than their next recipe. Can Marla unmask the killer before someone else gets trimmed from life? Recipes Included!
Excerpt “Do you know anyone who might have wished to harm Ms. Dodger?” Dalton swayed slightly on his feet as he spoke. Marla gave him a sharp glance. Was the incessant chanting getting to him, or was it the drink he’d ingested? Colin tented his hands together in prayer formation. “Francine did sound excited about an article she’d been researching. ‘Now I’ll finally get my revenge’ are the exact words she said to me. But when I pressed her for details, she wouldn’t say more.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I can’t believe she’s gone. We were good together, and now…” “I’m sorry for your loss,” Marla told him in a soothing tone. “Is there anything else you can tell us that may be helpful? I’m sure you want to see justice done for Francine same as we do. Even something seemingly irrelevant might be important.” “Her colleagues might have more information, especially the lady who took over her job. Maybe she orchestrated the whole thing to get a promotion.” “I’ve interviewed them,” Dalton said, “and no one seemed to bear Francine any ill will that I noticed. As for the topic she’d been pursuing for her alleged exposé, she was keeping it a closely guarded secret, same as her relationship to you.” As soon as those words left his mouth, Dalton’s legs folded. He sank to the ground in a sliver of lantern light that illuminated his senseless form. Early Reviews “From fundraiser activity, culinary insights, and probes into Marla’s logic to recipes and romance which pepper the story line and embellish its twists and turns, readers who want a cozy mystery filled with atmosphere, intrigue, and adventure should settle a chair by the fire for a good evening’s read.” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review “This sweet cozy mystery has an interesting cast of characters along with plenty of suspects to thicken the plot.” FS Brown, InD’Tale Magazine “Trimmed to Death is a solid cozy replete with olive facts, dogs, small town rivalries, entrepreneurship, and killer recipes. Another entertaining read from author Nancy J Cohen. She kept me guessing to the end!” Muddy Rose Reviews Trimmed to Death Digital ISBN: 978-0-9985317-5-5, $4.99, Orange Grove Press Print ISBN: 978-0-9985317-6-2, $14.99, Orange Grove Press Cover Design by Boulevard Photografica Book Trailer Pinterest Story Board Add to Goodreads Order Your Copy Now Amazon Print Amazon Kindle iBooks Kobo BN Nook BN Print Booksellers and Librarians:This title is available at Ingram. Enter Sept. 17 – 26 to win 30+ Women Sleuth Mysteries and a new eReader, along with FREE reads just for entering. You could also win a copy of MY book, Hair Brained. CLICK HERE TO ENTER
I am excited to share this review of Trimmed to Death fromMidwest Book Review: Trimmed to Death is the 15th book in the cozy mystery ‘The Bad Hair Day’ series that profiles hairstylist/sleuth Marla Vail. One would think that, with such a long-standing series of adventures behind her, any newcomer to Marla’s world would at least need some degree of prior familiarity with the series, but no such expertise is required in order to delve into the world of South Florida and Marla’s endeavors to succeed. In this latest story, Marla has entered a local charity bake-off contest at a Fall festival, and stumbles upon the dead body of fellow contestant Francine while she awaits the results. This sets off a chain of events in which Marla uncovers a host of food-related possible perps who each would have had a stake in Francine’s demise. As Marla plans her own benefit to support a local historical museum, the threat of repeat deaths looms over her promotion plans for her salon and the community. One reason why Nancy J. Cohen is an award-winning cozy mystery author is that her stories are packed with personality, upbeat scenarios, and the solid pairing of a murder mystery with broader community entanglements. In this story, Marla isn’t just a sole proprietor operating independent of her world; she’s thoroughly connected to the community through her salon and work. Descriptions are thus nicely crafted and filled with atmosphere and detail that bring Marla’s world to life, sometimes with a touch of ironic observation, as when she and her companion venture into an eclectic restaurant during the course of their investigations and have to confront a decidedly sophisticated menu that challenges their taste buds: “I don’t see anything here that I like. You didn’t tell me the menu was this eclectic.” Marla took a look. Crawfish cocktail, conch fritters, gator bites, deviled crabs. Those didn’t appeal to her, either. “How about the guacamole?” she asked in a less than enthusiastic tone. It wouldn’t be her appetizer of choice. “The dip comes with pita bread. And what’s this pawpaw martini?” Dalton asked. “Some kind of fruit drink, maybe? We could always get a salad to start.” “That seems like the best bet. I wouldn’t want the sunray salad. That’s got oranges and onions and cream cheese balls. Ugh.” As for the investigation itself, it’s filled with the kind of realistic flavor that cements the idea that Marla and her fellow partners in non-crime are not professionals, but informed amateurs: “Marla drew a stool over to the counter, sat on the vinyl seat, and unwrapped her sandwich. After taking a few bites, she said, “We have some promising leads, but nobody stands out as the main suspect.” “Who do you have so far? In the mystery novel I just finished, the guilty party was the business partner.” From fundraiser activity, culinary insights, and probes into Marla’s logic to recipes and romance which pepper the story line and embellish its twists and turns, readers who want a cozy mystery filled with atmosphere, intrigue, and adventure should settle a chair by the fire for a good evening’s read. Trimmed to Death is a delicious story to savor primarily because the focus on Marla and her community is so realistically and compellingly done that readers will relish the final results and the path that leads Marla and her detective hubby Dalton to move from the concerns of the Cut ’N Dye Salon and Day Spa to probing Francine’s life and the motives of who would want to murder her.” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review <><><> Digital ISBN: 978-0-9985317-5-5, $4.99, Sept. 25, 2018, Orange Grove Press
Print ISBN: 978-0-9985317-6-2, $14.99, Sept. 25, 2018, Orange Grove Press Pre-Order Your Copy Now: Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2xXmY57 Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Kb7oIK iBooks: https://apple.co/2xWHSRP Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/trimmed-to-death BN Nook: http://bit.ly/2sH9vcH BN Print: http://bit.ly/2lEUhkB Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/AHwKfK-vTIY Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40504820-trimmed-to-death
Hairball Hijinks: A Bad Hair Day Cozy Mystery Short Story, is now available in ebook format.
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9985317-4-8, $0.99, Orange Grove Press
Hairstylist Marla Vail agrees to help find a neighbor’s lost cat and discovers a ransacked house where more than the pet is missing.
Savvy hairstylist and super sleuth Marla Vail visits her friend Tally who just got out of the hospital after a serious car accident. Marla has been caring for Tally’s baby and is sad but grateful to return him to his mother. She and Tally reconcile their friendship that had become estranged before the crash.
Happy to have her friend back, Marla is about to leave when a knock summons her to the door. It’s a distraught elderly neighbor who claims her cat is missing. Marla, unable to turn down a person in need, accompanies the lady home. But when Marla enters the house, she realizes much more is missing than a lost feline. The place has been ransacked, and when she calls the police, they inform her the neighborhood has been beset by a series of thefts. Can she find the crooks before they cause another cat’astrophe?
Bonus One: An interview with Marla Bonus Two: 5 new recipes! Bonus Three: A sneak preview of Trimmed to Death
Spoiler Alert! This story comes after Hair Brained, #14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. It contains spoilers so you might want to read that book first.
With special thanks to Lois Crockett for suggesting the story title.
Marla hastened to the front door. After a glance through the peephole, she opened the door to face an elderly woman with white hair.
“I heard you were taking care of Tally’s affairs after her accident, and I recognized your car in the driveway. You have to help me,” said the lady with a frantic expression.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t believe we’ve met.”
“I’m one of Tally’s neighbors. I understand you’ve a reputation for solving crimes. Thanks to your efforts, the police discovered who hurt Tally and her husband. Poor thing to lose her man that way. Now my guy is missing. I can’t find Mr. Stanton anywhere.”
“What do you mean?” Did the woman really address her spouse in that formal manner?
“I went out on some errands. When I got back, he was gone. I don’t know how he could have slipped out of the house on his own.”
Marla gave her a sharp glance. She wanted to learn more, but Luke had quieted, and she didn’t dare risk waking the baby by asking this person inside. Besides, it wasn’t her house. She didn’t have that right.
However, Marla couldn’t turn the woman away. Her natural inclination was to help people, so she stepped outside and shut the door behind her. The first order of business was to determine if this lady was legit or a scam artist preying on folks in the community.
Are you an #audiobook fan? I’m excited to announce the release of Body Wave Audiobook, #4 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries! Join my Book Launch Party on Thursday, May 17 from 7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT for Fun & Giveaways at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty
Narrated by Mary Ann Jacobs. Published May 11, 2018 by Orange Grove Press
Stylist Marla Shore goes undercover in a hair-brained scheme to catch a killer in her latest South Florida adventure. In a story braided with unexpected twists and curls, she takes on a role as nurse’s aide for wealthy Miriam Pearl. While Marla snoops into the elderly matriarch’s affairs, her boyfriend, Detective Dalton Vail, is afraid that the only affair she’ll snag is with her ex-spouse, Stan. Juggling work at her salon, crime solving, and two amorously inclined males, Marla fights a race against time to save Stan before the dashing detective nails him for murder.
Marla tried to fathom the dynamics of their conversation. Florence seemed to be attacking Kimberly’s values while Stella was defending them. Why was the elderly aunt coming down so hard on the dead girl? Did it have anything to do with Florence having been in love with Kim’s father?
She wheeled Miriam away to a discrete distance, on a slight rise where the driveway curved toward a tree-lined avenue leading to the obscured entrance beyond the woods. It was far enough that she wouldn’t appear to be eavesdropping yet could still hear their faint voices.
“Morons,” Miriam muttered. “The poor thing is gone. Why won’t they let her rest in peace?”
Marla didn’t respond, too intent on listening. Her hands placed lightly on the wheelchair handlebars, she inclined her head.
“I don’t know how I’m going to get those albums if Stanley won’t cooperate,” Stella said, wringing her hands. “I should have gone myself. Maybe he’d have listened to me.”
“You tried at the funeral, and he ignored you,” her sister sneered. “Can you blame him, when you came right out and accused him of murdering his wife?”
“He knew what Kim was planning. You, of all people, should understand how it would cause him to react the way he did.”
“By killing her?” Florence said in an incredulous tone.
“Who else could have done it? You?”
“Don’t be absurd.”
“You always resented my daughter. I know how jealous you were that she wasn’t your child.”
“Stop screaming. I hate it when you get hysterical.”
“Did you do it?”
“Hell, no.” Florence shook her elegant head. “If you want to know, Kimberly was messing in things she didn’t understand. She should have minded her own business.” Leaning forward, she spoke in such a low tone that Marla couldn’t catch what she was saying.
Damn, she needed to be closer. Frustrated, Marla took a few steps forward. Suddenly, she heard a shriek. Whipping around, she let a cry erupt from her lips at the sight that greeted her.
Miriam’s wheelchair coasted down the hill at an increasingly perilous speed.
“Ms. Cohen’s plot has more twists than a French braid, and Marla is a shear delight.” Joanne Fluke, author of the Hannah Swensen mysteries
“In Nancy J. Cohen’s fourth bubbly Bad Hair Day mystery, Florida hairdresser Marla Shore agrees to help her snake of an ex‑husband, Stan Kaufman, who’s been arrested for the murder of his third wife, Kimberly, find the real killer.” Publishers Weekly
“In Body Wave, Marla faces more shades of guilt and malice than she has colors of nail polish in her salon ‑‑ and exposes herself to a hidden killer who may decide that eliminating Marla is a permanent solution for getting away with murder.” Barnes & Noble Ransom Notes
“You will find it all within the pages of Body Wave: a touch of romance, laugh out loud moments, hilarious characters, and a puzzling mystery.” Romance Readers Connection
This title is also available in ebook and trade paperback formats. Body Wave was originally published by Kensington. This audiobook and related versions are the revised Author’s Edition. For more details, visithttps://nancyjcohen.com/body-wave/
I’m excited to announce the reissue of Silver Serenade. This science fiction romance was originally published by The Wild Rose Press. My newly revised edition has been updated with added bonus materials.
A beautiful assassin and a desperate fugitive join forces to catch a terrorist and prevent a war between worlds.
Starship pilot Jace Vernon is forced to flee his home world after being framed for murder. He seeks justice, but a lovely S.I.N. agent gets in his way. Not only does she distract him with her silvery hair and violet eyes, but she counters his every move in the quest to clear his name. As he attempts to sway her to his cause, he doesn’t count on the personal consequences of success.
Rookie assassin Silver Malloy refuses to abort her deadly mission even if it means killing the one man Jace needs alive to prove his innocence. The leader of Tyrone’s Marauders murdered her family and ended her career. She’s dedicated her life to getting revenge, and now she finally has the chance. She won’t let a wanted criminal get in her path. But as Jace’s charms melt the barriers around her heart, she finds her resolve wavering. Can she help him win his case, even if it means failing her assignment and betraying her people?
Best Book 2010 in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews
The door buzzer sounded, indicating imminent departure. She swallowed, preparing for the gut-wrenching angle of ascent. At the last minute, the man in the black robe jumped from his seat and squeezed out the doors. He’d been so silent, she’d forgotten about him.
She slid over on the bench seat for more space. As the tram tilted into the air and zoomed toward the rooftops, something fell to the floor.
“Oh no, that guy forgot his package.” Silver moved to retrieve it, but she halted at Jace’s sudden intake of breath. She knew at once what he was thinking even before she felt the impact of his fear.
“Stop this thing,” she shouted. The sky tilted outside the windows as they careened to a new heading.
She credited Frok for quick thinking. He leapt up and yanked an overhead pulley. The sudden stop made them crash into each other.
“Quick, open the doors,” Jace urged.
With Frok’s assistance, he forced them wide enough to squeeze through while the tram hovered above a tall building.
“What’s wrong?” Kira asked, glancing at Silver for guidance.
“Bomb.” She couldn’t get another word past her dry throat. Nor could she explain to their newfound friends how she and Jace knew without a doubt they’d been set up. That Elusian had been waiting for them outside the Institute.
Jace stood aside to let the others pass. “We have to jump. Aim for that roof. We should be able to make it. Hurry.”
Silver tapped her utility belt. “I have a tensile line. Let me—” Her words died on her tongue as Jace snatched her and tossed her out the open door.
“Get ready for an epic adventure, as vast as the universe in which it is set! With a touching love story, a great blend of humor, action and passion, and a great cast of characters, this is a book that won’t let you go until the very last page.” The Romance Reviews
“Silver Serenade is an exciting, action-packed space adventure with more attention-grabbing twists and turns than a West Virginia highway. I loved it.” Two Lips Reviews
Silver Serenade by Nancy J. Cohen Published by Orange Grove Press
Glam Up for the New Year! January 9 – 29 Glam up for the new year with a crystal pendant from Effy. To celebrate the reissue of Silver Serenade, I have FIVE to give away. ENTER NOW. Color of stone may differ from what is shown in this picture. U.S. Residents only due to postal constraints.
Booklovers Bench, January 1 – 18 Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.
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As a beginning writer, I didn’t understand what it meant to stay in viewpoint. I was guilty of bouncing heads, or switching viewpoints within the same scene. This confuses readers because they become unsure of who is the main character. You should stay within one person’s head or else use a space break to delineate a change.
Books in the thriller genre often use multiple viewpoints, a technique that can work as long as there’s one clearly identifiable hero. If not, your reader isn’t going to care about any of the characters. Sure, you can catch their interest using bait and switch tactics. This means, you leave off each scene with one person in jeopardy before switching viewpoints with a space or chapter break. But get inside too many different heads, and the reader will cease to care. Maybe this is why I like single third-person or first person viewpoint in the mysteries I read. In a romance, it’s standard to alternate the hero and heroine’s viewpoint and sometimes this includes the villain as well. That’s okay as long as the character switch is well marked.
In revising Keeper of the Rings, one of my earlier romances that I wrote originally as Nancy Cane, I caught a perfect example of changing viewpoints in the same scene. Here’s an example:
[B’s viewpoint] Wellis, the village priest, had requested Bendyk’s presence. Now, as he sat across from the older man in the living room of his oceanfront bungalow, Bendyk fingered the medallion hanging from his neck.
“I fail to understand your meaning when you say people are straying from the Faith.” He squared his shoulders. “The turnout at the service this morning was phenomenal.”
“That’s because the villeins are putting on a pretense of piety for your benefit.” Wellis wagged his finger. “They’re afraid you’ll report to the Docent about their indiscretions.”
[W’s viewpoint] Pursing his lips, Wellis felt he should know his flock better than any representative from the central authority, such as Bendyk Worthington-Jax. He’d sent for help, realizing the situation could get out of control. After all, on whose head would the wrath of Lothar fall if he failed? His own, of course. But the golden-haired missionary, despite his zeal, had found nothing amiss.
It wasn’t Bendyk’s fault, considering how fearful the villeins were about retribution. The blasphemous talk circulating throughout the town was bound to bring dire repercussions. Wellis had hoped Bendyk would inspire a renewal of faith and, indeed, the service he’d conducted this morning had been exemplary. Perhaps his visit had done some good after all.
Bendyk faced him across a table laden with fresh fruit and nuts. The young man quirked an eyebrow. “Don’t forget it’s tithing time. The tax collector is here, even in the midst of Renewal celebrations. That’s enough cause for heightened tension.”
Wellis gave him a weary smile. “Not in this case. We’ve been fortunate to have the same agent each year. She counts in our favor and exacts a toll of ten percent on less the amount actually produced.”
Bendyk’s eyes darkened to a shade of indigo. “You mean this agent reports an inaccurate count? Why, that’s a criminal offense.”
Wellis leaned back in his chair, relishing the warm salty breeze blowing in from the open windows. His bungalow, a short distance from the ocean, stood on stilts like the rest of the houses by the shore. Further inland, other dwellings rose along a gentle slope that footed the Jerrise mountain range.
His congregation enjoyed a simple life living off the bounty of the sea and their industries of ropemaking and small boat construction. No one had enough revenue to fuel an investigation, so he didn’t see any harm in telling Bendyk of the tax agent’s favoritism.
“It appeases people,” he said with a shrug. “There’s enough grumbling about laws that don’t take into account the needs of individual districts.”
Bendyk scraped a hand through his short, wavy hair. “That’s not true. The Docents are responsible for making adjustments. If they rule unfairly, you can appeal to the Candor.”
“The Candors are concerned mainly with their own wealth. Things have gotten out of hand.”
Bendyk shot to his feet. “My father is a Candor. He’s always judged his people fairly and considered their needs.”
[B’s viewpoint – we can’t see if our own eyes look shrewd] Wellis regarded him with shrewd eyes. “Cranby is an exception. Do you deny that dissatisfaction with the Synod’s power is growing? Aren’t your services widely in demand in an attempt by local priests, like myself, to stem this tide of disloyalty?”
[W’s viewpoint] “It is the work of the Truthsayers.” Bendyk’s jaw clenched. “They seek to undermine the Faith and establish anarchy in its place.”
Footsteps sloshed outside, and Wellis held up a hand to silence his guest. “Hush, here comes the village council. I have summoned them to hear your advice. Go easy, young man. Your fiery tongue does you well in sermons but not in debate.”
I decided this scene should be told from Bendyk’s viewpoint since he’s a major player in the story. So here’s the new scene. See if it flows better and keeps your interest more.
Wellis, the village priest, had requested a private audience with him. Now, as he sat across from the older man in the living room of his oceanfront bungalow, Bendyk fingered the medallion hanging from his neck.
“I fail to understand your meaning when you say people are straying from the Faith,” he said. “The turnout at the service this morning was phenomenal.”
Wellis wagged his finger. “That’s because the villeins are putting on a pretense of piety for your benefit. They’re afraid you’ll report their indiscretions to the Docent.”
Bendyk tightened his lips. No doubt Wellis felt he knew his flock better than any representative from the central authority. But the priest had sent for help, realizing the situation there could get out of control. After all, on whose head would the wrath of Lothar fall if he failed? Yet the blasphemous talk circulating through town wasn’t evident during Bendyk’s inspection. He wasn’t surprised, considering how fearful the villeins were about retribution.
Wellis had hoped his arrival might inspire a renewal of faith. In truth, the service Bendyk had conducted this morning had been exemplary. Perhaps his visit had done some good after all.
He faced the priest across a table laden with fresh fruit and nuts. “Don’t forget it’s tithing time. The tax collector is here, even in the midst of Renewal celebrations. That’s enough cause for heightened tension.”
Wellis gave him a weary smile. “Not in this case. We’ve been fortunate to have the same agent each year. She counts in our favor and exacts a toll on ten percent less than the amount actually produced.”
“You mean, this agent reports an inaccurate count? Why, that’s a criminal offense.”
Wellis leaned back in his chair, while a warm salty breeze swept in through open windows. His bungalow, a short distance from the ocean, stood on stilts like the rest of the houses by the shore. Further inland, other dwellings rose along a gentle slope that footed the Jerrise mountain range.
“It appeases people,” Wellis said with a shrug. “I hear grumblings about laws that don’t take into account the needs of individual districts. My people enjoy a simple life. They live off the bounty of the sea, plus their industries of rope-making and small boat building. No one earns enough revenue to warrant an investigation.”
“That’s not true. The Docents are responsible for making adjustments. If they rule unfairly, you can appeal to the Candor.”
“The Candors are concerned mainly with their own wealth. Things have gotten out of hand.”
Bendyk shot to his feet. “My father is a Candor. He’s always judged people fairly and considered their needs.”
“Cranby is an exception.” Wellis regarded him with shrewd eyes. “Do you deny that dissatisfaction with the Synod’s power is growing? Aren’t your services widely in demand in an attempt by local priests, like myself, to stem this tide of disloyalty?”
“It is the work of Truthsayers. They want to undermine our Faith and establish anarchy in its place.”
Footsteps sloshed outside, and Wellis held up a hand to silence his guest. “Hush, here comes the village council. I have summoned them to hear your advice. Go easy, young man. Your fiery tongue does you well in sermons but not in debate.”
You may have noticed that I polished up the prose as well. So what do you think? Were you better able to identify with Bendyk in the second sample?
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Today is Release Day for Hair Brained (#14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries)! Digital ISBN 13: 978-0-9970038-7-1 Print ISBN 13: 978-0-9970038-8-8
Published by Orange Grove Press
Book Launch Partytonight at 7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT. Join us at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty/ Fun and Prizes! When hairstylist Marla Vail’s best friend is hurt in a suspicious car accident, Marla assumes guardianship of her infant son. No sooner does Marla say, “Baby want a bottle?” than she’s embroiled in another murder investigation. Her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, determines the crash may not have been an accident after all. But then, who would want Tally—or Ken in the car with her—out of the way? As Marla digs deeper into her friends’ lives, she realizes she didn’t know them as well as she’d thought. Nonetheless, it’s her duty as their son’s guardian to ensure his safety, even if it means putting her own life at risk. Can she protect the baby and find the culprit before someone else ends up as roadkill? Excerpt Marla crossed the pavement toward her Camry, so deep in thought that she didn’t pay attention to her surroundings. A sudden roar made her lift her head. She gasped as a car barreled straight toward her. She leapt to the side, crashed against a parked sedan, and slid to the asphalt. With a squeal of tires, the car sped away. She glimpsed a flash of silver and the back end of an SUV. Shaking from head to foot, she rolled to her knees and managed to stand. It wouldn’t be smart to wait around in case the driver returned to make another pass at her. She had no doubt this had been a deliberate attempt to injure her, or worse. She brushed off her pants, grabbed her purse from the ground, and hobbled to her car. Safely locked inside, she examined herself for damage. Her wrists throbbed, having taken the brunt of impact. They didn’t appear to be broken, thank goodness. And her hip felt bruised but nothing more. She’d been lucky. She sat immobile, her heart racing like a squirrel on steroids. Get a grip, Marla. You’re okay. This proves you’re on the right track if you’ve riled someone enough to take a potshot at you. A Sampling of Praise
Research Insights – Shipwrecks and Suspense I like adding bits of history into my mysteries. In Facials Can Be Fatal, I mined our Florida past concerning shipwrecks. Did you know the waters off Florida teem with sunken vessels? Spanish galleon ships alone may account for up to forty wrecks off our coast. Millions of dollars in silver, gold, and jewels lay at the bottom of the sea, much of it undiscovered. But Spanish treasure ships are not the only ones sunken off our shores. Pirate vessels, slave ships, merchant transports, and Civil War ships plied these waters, too. Storms, shallow water, coral reefs, and pirates were responsible for many of the wrecks. Buried treasure has long been exploited in stories, and my book is no exception. An old family journal is recovered that hints at a nefarious past for a couple of characters. How does this relate to the present? That’s the key that my hairstylist sleuth must uncover. Marla and her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, travel to Key West to learn more about Florida’s history from a reporter who has an interest in Dalton’s latest case. The victim is society matron Valerie Harper, who expired in the middle of a facial at Marla’s day spa. Here’s how the conversation goes with the reporter: “The waters around Florida have seen ships flounder for decades, starting with Native Americans who used dugout canoes to travel up and down the coast. As civilization increased, ships and boats became vital to our development. Waterways were the most efficient means to transport people and cargo. Florida became a hub for maritime trade routes, but our waters can be treacherous. Hence we have a large number of shipwrecks offshore.” “What about treasure ships from Spanish fleets?” Marla asked, shifting in her seat. “My estimate is that maybe thirty to forty Spanish ships, dating from the 1500s to the late 1600s, lay at the sea bottom. The Spaniards would pick up gold, silver, jewels, and rare spices from the Caribbean islands and the South and Central Americas. Sometimes, they’d stop at a mint in Mexico before grouping together to return home. Or they’d gather in Havana and leave from there under convoy.” “But not all of them made it.” “That’s right. They’d get grounded on our reefs or floundered during hurricanes. For example, the Tierra Firme fleet set sail in 1622 from South America. Twenty-eight ships headed home to Spain. They ran into a fierce storm off the Florida Keys. Both the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita were lost. In 1985, Mel Fisher discovered the Atocha’s resting place and its treasure.” “That’s amazing,” Marla said. “Those ships must have been heavy with all the gold coins, silver bars, and jewels aboard. No wonder they sank. Who owns the salvage rights to a sunken ship?” “According to the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1988, any historic find becomes the property of its respective state.”
<><><> To accomplish my due diligence, I paid a visit to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, a fascinating attraction in Key West. Here you can see many of the relics recovered from the Atocha. Read about my experience and see my photos HERE. Shipwrecks and buried treasure will always provide fodder for stories. Do you like a bit of history mixed in with your mystery? Does it enhance the story for you? <><><> For more details on Facials Can Be Fatal, CLICK HERE. Buy Here: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kDhr9k Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2d1PuUj iBooks: http://apple.co/2mqrEdj
<><><> Goodreads Giveaway ENTER HERE July 6 – 20 to win a signed ARC of HAIR BRAINED (Bad Hair Day Mystery #14). Hairstylist Marla Vail determines to learn the truth when her best friend is hurt in a suspicious auto accident.
Murder by Manicure Audiobook, book #3 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is now available at Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. Narrated by the talented Mary Ann Jacobs. Hairstylist Marla Shore joins a fitness club to get in shape but discovers a dead body instead of an exercise routine. Jolene Myers, a client at Marla’s salon, has drowned beneath the frothing waters of the whirlpool. When Detective Dalton Vail determines Jolene’s death was no accident, Marla decides to give her deductive skills a workout and help solve the case. Excerpt: Arnie wrung his hands. “She’s a former classmate. We went to high school together, and she had a crush on me. The ugliest dog in school, that was her. A real fresser, too. Ate everything in sight. And now she’s here! Oy vey, what am I going to do?” “What do you mean?” Marla glanced furtively at the reception area, hoping her next client would be delayed. Arnie needed her, making her nurturing instincts surface. “Hortense is in town. She wants to see me. She’s on her way over here.” “So? You can exchange a few reminiscences and then she’ll leave.” He leaned forward, breathing heavily. “You don’t understand. She likesme. Hortense said she’d been sorry to learn my wife had passed away, and how difficult it must be for me to raise two kids on my own. I could tell from her tone of voice that she’s still interested in me.” “Hortense never married?” “She’s divorced.” His brows drew together. “I said the only thing I could think of to get rid of her. I told her I was engaged.” Marla smiled gently. “Arnie, how could you? The poor woman probably just wants an hour of your time.” “No, no. She’s moving back to Palm Haven. I had to discourage her. Tell me you’ll play along. I knew you wouldn’t mind, since you’re such a good friend.” Taking her by the elbow, he steered her into the rear storeroom. “She’ll come to the salon. Tell her off for me, would you please?” “Me?” She wrinkled her nose. “Why would she come here?” His eyes grew as round as bagel holes when the front door chimed. “That may be Hortense,” he croaked. “Marla, you have to save me.” How bad could this woman be to make Arnie so afraid of her? Intensely curious, Marla strode toward the reception desk. The woman standing by the counter wasn’t the ugly horse Arnie had depicted. Nor was she Marla’s next client. A tall, sexy blonde, she wore a short skirt and bolero jacket with black high heels. Wavy hair cascaded like a river down her back. A delicate lilac fragrance wafted around her. “This is Marla Shore,” said the receptionist. “She owns Cut ’N Dye.” “Hi, I’m Hortense Crone.” The woman grinned, displaying a row of perfectly aligned teeth. “I was told Arnie Hartman came in here. Y’all can call me Jill; I use my middle name now,” she added, extending her hand. Marla exchanged a firm handshake. This was Hortense? A bubble of laughter welled within her. Would Arnie be surprised to see what a looker his classmate had turned into! “He’s in the storeroom. I’ll get him for you. Hey, Arnie,” she called, eagerly anticipating his reaction. “Someone here to see you.” All eyes in the salon turned in their direction as Arnie shuffled toward the front, gaze downcast like a condemned man. “Congratulations, Arnie,” crooned Hortense. “You have a lovely fiancée.” Marla, entertained by Arnie’s sudden, shocked glare as he raised his eyes, didn’t catch on right away until she heard snickers from her staff. “Don’t tell me,” she said to Hortense. “Arnie told you we’re engaged?” Listen to a sample from Murder by Manicure Audiobook
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Research Notes: Pirates – Fact or Fiction? Pirates have always fascinated readers. Witness the myriad romance novels wherein the hero, or even the heroine, is a pirate. How about the swashbuckling movies featuring pirate heroes? Yet for all their romantic image, these scourges of the high seas reaped death and destruction in their wake. We tend to overlook the reality and cling to the fictional counterpart. Florida has a romanticized pirate named José Gaspar. Tampa has a Gasparilla Pirate Fest every year to celebrate this renowned character. So how does this apply to Facials Can Be Fatal, my latest Bad Hair Day Mystery featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail? Marla uncovers an old family journal belonging to a lady who died while getting a facial at her day spa. This journal tells about a pirate and his buried treasure. Here is a conversation Marla and her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, have with a journalist in Key West. My fictionalized pirate is based on the Gasparilla legend. The reporter is speaking. “I recalled the story of the infamous brigand known as Red Ted. Born Thaddeus Montoya, he was a nobleman’s son from Spain whose exploits with the ladies caused his hasty departure aboard a naval vessel. Because he could read and write, he rose to officer’s status and got himself appointed as a liaison to the court. But his old habits died hard, and he once again found himself fleeing Spanish authorities. He commandeered a ship and set sail, forcing the crew to either join him or be hanged. His nickname came from his fondness for bloodshed. “Wanting to get even with Spain, he set out for the next decade to raid helpless merchant ships. But his inflated ego eventually caused his demise. Before his last voyage, Red Ted was getting set to retire. He’d loaded his goods onto a mule train and told his second in command to take it to Key West, where he planned to hole up in his later years. Then a sighting came for one more merchant ship that appeared to be unarmed. He couldn’t resist this last kill and set sail. The vessel turned out to be a warship hiding under a merchant flag, and Red Ted shot himself rather than be captured.” “What happened to his mule train?” Marla asked. “They were attacked by Indians on the route south. The natives made off with horses and mules and left them with fewer pack animals. They had to lighten their load and so buried some of the chests. They didn’t have much better luck as they headed into swampland and were beset by storms as well as bandits. With dwindling resources, they buried more loads along the way.” How do these past events relate to the present? Facials Can Be Fatal has real journal entries from my father’s 1935 trip to Florida. He discovered a buried chest along the wilds of Fort Lauderdale beach. What was in this chest? In my fictional tale, it’s something quite different than what my father found. Read more in Facials Can Be Fatal. What’s your favorite pirate movie?
<><><> Facials Can Be Fatal (Bad Hair Day Mystery #13) Salon owner Marla Vail’s new day spa hits a snag when a client dies during a facial. To salvage her reputation, Marla jumps on the trail of the killer. Soon she’s unraveling clues involving historic buildings, family journals, pirates, and shipwrecks off the Florida coast. The victim may have stumbled onto secrets others would kill to keep.