I’m excited to announce the release of Facials Can Be Fatal (Bad Hair Day Mystery #13) from Five Star Publishing. This cozy mystery title is available in hardcover and digital editions.
Salon owner Marla Vail’s new day spa hits a snag when a client dies during a facial.
“Take a twisty mystery, add a cast of amiable characters, a dash of family drama, and a pinch of South Florida during the holiday season—they all add up to the recipe for a delightful cozy!” —Lucy Burdette, bestselling author of the Key West Food Critic Mysteries.
“Marla and Dalton solve a mystery that includes pirates and shipwrecks off the Florida coast, and readers will be standing in line to get on this series as fast as possible. Marla and Dalton work extremely well together and are a whole lot of fun to read. This is one book in a series but is also a fantastic standalone for anyone who might not have met this couple before.” Reviewed by Mary Lignor for Suspense Magazine. “Facials Can Be Fatal is a nice, comfy, cozy mystery starring Marla Vail and her new family. Although this is one book in a series, it is a great standalone. I recommend this book to those who are cozy mystery fans and enjoy a sleuth mystery with many twists and turns.” 5 Stars! Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite Note: This story includes excerpts from a true-life travel journal titled Florida Escape written by my father. Join my Book Launch Party TONIGHT from 6:30 – 8:00 pmEST. Fun and prizes!https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty/
Click Herefor Author Appearances and Blog Tour. Coming next is: Feb. 22: Dru’s Book Musings,“A Day In The Life” Guest Post Feb. 28, Terry’s Place, Character Interview, View the Book Trailer Add to Goodreads Order Now at Amazon or BN or get a Signed Copy from Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore. Reviews are always appreciated. Please send me the link if you post a review so I can thank you personally. CLICK HERE TO TWEET about the new release.
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I’m excited to share with you the book trailer for Facials Can Be Fatal. I had fun selecting the photos to match the characters in this story, coming on Feb. 22 from Five Star. What’s up for Marla in this story, #13 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries? Salon owner Marla Vail’s new day spa hits a snag when a client dies during a facial. With the holidays approaching, Marla has her hands full keeping her busy schedule on track and solving another murder.
“Take a twisty mystery, and add a cast of amiable characters, a dash of family drama, and a pinch of South Florida during the holiday season—they all add up to the recipe for a delightful cozy!” —Lucy Burdette, bestselling author of the Key West Food Critic Mysteries
Mystery book reviewer Oline Cogdill spoke to the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America at the August meeting. Oline’s reviews have appeared nationwide as well as regularly in the Sun-Sentinel. Oline offered some useful tips for writers on repetitive elements to avoid in crime fiction.
· Strippers as murder victims or confidential informants are overused. Also, male writers seem to have an obligatory scene with a woman in front of a mirror fantasizing herself in this role. How many women secretly long to be a stripper? Not many.
· Coffee habits can take over the story. Count how many times your sleuth meets someone for a cup of coffee, drinks the coffee, heats up a mug of coffee, or tosses the empty cup in the trash. Go lightly in this regard.
· Restaurant scenes where a conversation occurs, and then the diners get up and leave in a huff before finishing their meal, are unrealistic. At least, have them sit down and finish eating or ask for a takeout box.
· Don’t neglect the kids or the pets. Show them being cared for and not being left alone at home or in a car. If you stay away all day, remember to let the dog out when you come home or to feed the cat.
· The sleuth shouldn’t wish for a murder to relieve her boredom. She should have a personal reason for getting involved in solving the crime. The death should be treated with gravity and respect.
· Don’t have your character rush out at night or go into a dark cellar alone without telling anyone or calling for backup.
· How many times is the cell phone left at home or runs out of its charge or there’s no signal? Don’t overuse this excuse. Just as important, if the phone rings, have your character answer it. Too often the ignored phone call means doom and gloom are in the next chapter.
· Less is more regarding graphic violence. It’s better left off-scene for the most part.
· Use the word “woman” instead of “girl,” where appropriate.
· Avoid the “talking killer” who explains the entire crime to the sleuth while holding a gun to her head.
· Talking animal stories don’t have to be silly. Treat them more seriously.
· And a non-story tip: Keep your website updated. Have a short bio, a longer bio, a good headshot, and author contact info. Do not play music in the background.
Oline spoke next about ethics among reviewers. She mentioned “sock puppets,” which are false online identities some people create to praise their own books and to trash others. Respected critical reviewers give objective opinions. It’s best for new authors to avoid paid reviews.
It was really fun hearing these clichés, some of which I’ve been guilty of using. Thanks to Oline, now we’ll all be more alert to these foibles in the future.
These are some cozies I’ve enjoyed reading in the past month or two. I hope you’ll share some titles in the comments, too! Flourless to Stop Him by Nancy J. Parra (Mystery)
This installment in the “A Baker’s Treat” mystery series has Toni Holmes whipping up gluten-free holiday treats in her bakery despite December blizzards and a murderer who’s left her brother framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Unable to avoid her sisterly duty in clearing his name, she sets on the trail of a killer who may be someone closer to her than she realizes. Stonewalled by the police who refuse to look further for the culprit, she conducts her own investigation while fending off a couple of potential suitors. This amusing, quick-paced mystery will have your mouth watering for bakery treats while you consume the pages to finish the story.
When Savannah’s father dies, she takes over his stained glass art studio, hoping to turn management over to his right-hand man. But when Hugh keels over next, she realizes something is amiss. Her father, who’d worked for the government prior to retirement, leaves clues for her to follow. She uses her geocache experience and code-breaking skills to track the killer. Can she trust the handsome bar owner who works next-door? What about the students in her stained glass class? A rival shop owner? Or a real estate developer who covets the property? Suspects abound in this charming debut title in the Webb’s Glass Shop mystery series. Interesting tidbits about the artisan craft add detail to this story.
The Victorian Bookshop Mysteries featuring bookstore owner Georgia Fenchurch continue to delight. In this installment, Georgia’s association with the Archivist Society brings her into contact with Sir Edward Hale, whose dead wife is found by the waterfront and whose son is missing. While Hale was estranged from his wife, he wasn’t the only one with a motive for murder. Georgia’s investigation takes her from the aristocracy to a group of ladies whose mysterious network might have contributed to the victim’s death. And when the handsome Duke of Blackford returns from his overseas trip, Georgia has a lot more to cause her concern. He wants to talk to her in private, and her heart beats fast at what that might mean. Another trip into Victorian London will hopefully continue this charming series.
When Maggie Hope accompanies Winston Churchill to Washington D.C. right after the attack on Pearl Harbor, she doesn’t expect to become embroiled in a case involving civil rights, intrigue, and murder. Yet Maggie is unable to stay out of trouble even as she juggles a couple of suitors. She meets Mrs. Roosevelt, who commandeers her to help prevent a scandal involving the First Family. It’s entertaining to see Maggie on this side of the “pond” and to view her English colleagues’ reactions to American culture. Enhanced by historical detail, this engrossing mystery will have you deep into post-Pearl Harbor politics and intrigue as Churchill and Roosevelt attempt to cement an alliance between their countries to battle a fearsome foe. Another Winner!
July 11-Aug 8 Enter to win over 40 cozy mysteries and a Kindle Fire. You can win my novel Permed to Death, plus books from many more of your favorite authors. Click Here to Enter
July 1-31 Body Wave (Bad Hair Day Mystery #4) ebook is on sale for $1.00 at Smashwords until July 31. Use Coupon Code SSW75. Marla the hairstylist goes undercover as a nurse’s aide to help solve the murder of her ex-spouse’s third wife. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/580614
In 1935, my father and two fellow adventurers headed to South Florida hoping to discover an idyllic paradise. Instead, they found boggy wastelands, rats and mosquitoes, sticks of dynamite, black panthers, rushing rivers, and skunks.
An explorer at heart, Harry I. Heller had already spent one summer hitchhiking 12,000 miles across the United States, which he describes in his book titled Thumbs Up. Not to be daunted, he and his friends persisted in their search until they came upon an abandoned log cabin on a deserted beach. Here they recreated their fantasy of a tropical paradise.
Harry wrote his adventures in a short journal titled Florida Escape. I’ve edited his work and have now made it available for readers of Florida history, travel memoirs, and true-life adventure.
Note that passages from this work will appear in Facials Can Be Fatal, my next Bad Hair Day mystery from Five Star due in Feb. 2017. If you want a sneak peek at the real story behind those excerpts, you’ll find it in Florida Escape.
Excerpt from Florida Escape
Lester and I were pretty well disgusted by the time we reached Fort Lauderdale. We had investigated a number of possibilities for a campsite, but nothing suited us. Murray was of the diehard breed and urged us to keep going. Rather than argue with him, we agreed. His persistence was not fruitless.
At a fork in the highway, we decided to take the dirt road that ran parallel to the ocean. The sight that greeted us when we had travelled a short distance brought forth cries of enthusiasm and joy. The sky blue waters of the ocean and a wide expanse of beach stretched into the far distance. In the middle of this panorama of beauty, sitting in splendid isolation, was a rugged log cabin. It seemed to have been built to order for our benefit. A few lonesome coconut trees stood romantically outlined in the reflected glory of the setting sun.
A strong odor of skunk filled the air. We turned up our noses in disgust as we approached the door that stood invitingly open.
When we entered, it was to find a scene of disorder. Rubbish littered the cement floor. Piles of empty tin cans, old newspapers, and a varied assortment of odds and ends covered every inch. The wind had blown in sand through the many holes between the logs. Where there had once been windows now were yawning gaps. Someone had attempted to close the openings with boards, which hung loosely from rusted nails. Thousands of fast-moving ants scattered at our arrival. Spider webs stretched overhead, and their disturbed occupants scurried around in great excitement.
But this sight did not discourage us. We were only interested in the knowledge that we had at last found our ideal spot. Without bothering to make inquiries regarding the place’s ownership, or to consider that we might be trespassing upon private property, we rolled up our sleeves and began to clean house.
Contest Alert! Booklover’s Bench Enter June 1-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners.
Romance the Summer
June is wedding season, so get ready for the festivities with my Romance the Summer Contest. Enter June 7-21 to win a sparkling gemstone necklace from Effy and a signed hardcover of Shear Murder, my wedding mystery. Two runners-up will each win a print proof copy of Permed to Death newly revised Author’s Edition.
As an author, I’m often asked what I like to read. Basically, my taste runs to genre fiction. I like to escape to other worlds far away from the reality of daily news. Here are some of my recent reads from Fall 2015. You can also follow my reviews on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/91508.Nancy_J_Cohen
A Matter of Honor by Jamie McFarlane (Science Fiction) Captain Liam Hoffen and crew are determined to rescue the survivors from Cape of Good Hope, a ship abandoned by the powerful Belirand Corporation. But even as they set this goal, they’re marked for death. Because now they know the secret that Belirand will kill to keep. Aiding their quest is the mysterious inventor, Phillipe Anino. While avoiding Belirand’s assassins, Liam and friends discover the issue is way bigger than they’d thought. It could blow a hole in everyone’s concept of the known universe. And Belirand is willing to guard this knowledge at the expense of Liam, his crew, and their families. Is he willing to risk all to save the forty-five crew members of Cape of Good Hope?
A Matter of Honor is another action-packed installment in the Privateer Tales. What makes you care are the characters who are noble at heart and take the moral high road. They are heroes you can cheer for until the final page is turned, and then you have to wait impatiently for the sequel.
Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron (Mystery) Cajun cuisine mixes with murder and history in this delightful debut novel from Ellen Byron. Maggie Crozat, an artist from Manhattan, goes home for a stay at her family’s B&B. The mansion’s rooms are filled, but no sooner can you say “Laissez les bons temps roulez,” than the shenanigans begin. First one guest meets her demise. When her death appears suspicious and the finger points to Maggie’s relations, Maggie vows to uncover the truth. Impeding her progress is the sheriff, whose feud with the Crozat family is legendary. Fortunately, his handsome relative shows up on the force and quickly becomes Maggie’s ally. Will she unmask the murderer before more guests meet their untimely end? Can she save their plantation from financial ruin? Maggie needs to fire up her southern charm and sniff out a killer to save the estate. With the richly Southern setting, quirky characters, and evocative descriptions, you’ll be wanting more in this charming series.
Kris Longknife: Unrelenting (Science Fiction) Admiral Princess Kris Longknife is in charge of Alwa’s defense, a planet under imminent threat of attack from a homicidal race. Her resources are limited. But it’s hard for her to remain focused when an act of sabotage within her own ranks neutralizes a number of military women’s birth control devices. Kris is one of the affected officers who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. With a baby on the way, she faces her biggest battle yet. The survival of the planet depends on her. Will her forces be strong enough to defend this one world and prevent the aliens from eradicating humanity elsewhere in the galaxy? Natives, colonialists, scientists, and soldiers join forces in the ultimate confrontation.
Kris Longknife is a sympathetic, strong female protagonist who keeps being forced into military space battles when she’d rather seek peace. But with her brilliant strategic mind, she’s best suited to lead her people toward victory. I’m eager for the next installment.
A Cup of Jo by Sandra Balzo (Mystery) The grand opening of Maggy Thorsen’s coffee shop by a train station is proceeding according to plan, until the event organizer is found dead inside an inflatable coffee cup. Suspects abound, from the woman’s husband to various acquaintances, most of whom have motives. When her boyfriend’s integrity is called into question, Maggy decides to do some investigating of her own. A solid mystery, a cast of quirky characters, and a savory setting make this a pleasant whodunit to add to your shelves.
Killer Transaction by Catherine Bruns (Mystery) Real estate agent Cindy York has the job from hell. She’s consistently cheated by rival Realtor, Tiffany Roberts. Tiffany steals her listings and woos her clients while their boss looks the other way. Being cheated one time too many, Cindy leaves a nasty message on Tiffany’s voice mail. This comes back to haunt her when she discovers the woman’s dead body. The police focus on Cindy as the main suspect. With her job in jeopardy and being a hairsbreadth away from serving jail time, can Cindy find the culprit and clear her name?
Smuggler’s Dilemma by Jamie McFarlane (Science Fiction) In Book 5 of the Privateer Tales, Captain Liam Hoffen and company are hired to locate a battleship operated by the deadly pirates known as Red Houzi. The pirate fleet has just decimated a naval force, and the Navy must regain control so people don’t panic. Liam’s unorthodox tactics are the only thing that might help them gain the upper hand. But when Liam spies the enemy ship, he decides that rather than call in the Navy as he’d been ordered, he’ll attack the vessel and take it over instead. Meanwhile, he struggles with his girlfriend’s recovery from disabling injuries. Can she manage well enough to come along as his pilot? This story contains the usual battle scenes, along with personal interactions that develop the characters.
Mercy’s Prince by Katy Huth Jones (Fantasy) Valerianis second in line to the throne until his brother is killed in battle. Now the Crown Prince, Valerian must live up to his father’s expectations and become a warrior. While he’s struggling with his fate, Mercy lives in a nearby village and has to discover her destiny. Aware only recently of her healing power, she has no idea how extensive her gifts are until forced to use them. When Valerian and Mercy meet, they slowly realize they belong together. United, they can defeat the enemy. But how long will the peace last before the fearful soldiers come back stronger? Dragons, mind melds, magic, and romance blend together in this coming-of-age tale. Mercy’s Prince is a pleasant escapist read.
The Savants by Patrick Kendrick (YA SciFi Thriller) The Eastern seaboard of the U.S. is imperiled when a nuclear bomb explodes underwater off the coast, triggering a fault line to crack apart. A gigantic tsunami will flood a number of states unless the President can find a solution. He discovers unlikely help at a research institute for savants, individuals who’ve suffered brain damage but are gifted in unique ways. Working together for the first time, these young people believe they can help. But their leader, who has brought them there to study the group’s dynamics, hides a secret of his own. Much worse is the secret guarded by the Vice President, who sows the seeds of distrust in our government. Can disaster be averted and the traitors in our midst exposed in time to save the world? Scientific theories collide with political intrigue in this fast-paced thriller. Kudos to Mr. Kendrick for educating us about savants and their special talents.
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen (Historical Mystery) This installment in the Royal Spyness series is the best yet. A trip to America for Lady Georgiana, distant cousin to the royal family, provides laughs with its fish-out-of-water theme. Add to this a wacky cast of film stars, an eccentric producer, and a jewel thief, and the fun accelerates. Georgiana’s suitor, the mysterious Mr. Darcy, appears when the crew congregates at a glitzy Hollywood mansion. He’s after the jewel thief, but then someone turns up dead. As the puzzle deepens, Georgiana wonders which one of her new friends is the culprit.
G-2 (The Guardian of Earth Series) by Nigel Carson (Science Fiction) When Zeke discovers a hostile alien fleet is headed to Earth, he is determined to stop them. His role as Guardian of Earth and descendant of a faraway race is a secret. He trusts no one for help, including his robot valet, Forman. It’s a good thing, since Forman’s creator has tampered with his programming. She’s put a locator inside him, and this becomes useful as Zeke and Forman are compromised by the Maleem invaders. Zeke has a narrow escape aided by his girlfriend, Jessie. Could they use the way she freed him as a means to repel the alien force? Why is it that humans are disappearing around the globe? As more world leaders succumb to the Maleem mind link via a mysterious necklace, Zeke consults his Taman relatives for answers. How can he defeat an ingenious enemy who is seemingly unstoppable? They tell Zeke that he needs to have faith in his own powers and the help of others who believe in him. Can he use his newfound heritage to protect the planet? Filled with action, adventure, and suspense, this story will take you on a ride that’s out of this world. The secondary characters are memorable and unique. An exciting, edge-of-your-seat read!