Peril by Ponytail (#12 in the Bad Hair Day mystery series) is available! Join me TONIGHT for a book release party, 7:00 pm EDT, https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty
Hoping for a romantic honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch, hairstylist Marla Vail and her husband Dalton arrive to find a series of mishaps plaguing the resort. A nearby ghost town is suffering similar problems. Is it mere coincidence that Dalton’s Uncle Raymond owns both properties? When Raymond asks for their help in finding the culprit, Marla and Dalton eagerly accept. Then news of a local forest ranger’s death raises the stakes.
With sleuthing more natural to Marla than horseback riding, she delves into the investigation. But as she digs deeper, she discovers skeletons in the family closet. Someone means to drive Raymond out of business, and the reason may be linked to his past misdeeds. Raymond isn’t the only one with secrets. The trail leads Marla from an environmental activist group to saguaro poachers to water rights proponents to an abandoned copper mine beneath the ghost town. She’d better saddle up, rein in the clues, and find the killer before she becomes the next spirit inhabiting the haunted hillside.
“Cozy fans will have fun.” —Publishers Weekly
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/T2Vao7yDIVY
View my Arizona photo album (and Like my page while there): https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor
Excerpt from Peril by Ponytail:
The door banged open, and a wrangler stuck his head inside. “Have any of you seen Carol?”
Doc Harrigan shook his head. “No, why?”
“She went for her usual ride this morning. Her horse has returned with a limp. She wasn’t on it.”
“Dear God. Has Wayne been informed?”
“He’s gathering a search party as we speak. Do you want to join the posse, Doc? Carol might be hurt if the horse tossed her.”
“I should tend to the beast, but maybe I can be of some use.” Dr. Harrigan jerked his thumb at Marla and Dalton. “You guys wanna come along?”
“I’ll join you.” Dalton stood, and Marla followed suit. “Can you get a horse ready for me?” he asked the wrangler.
“Yes, sir. Won’t take me but a minute. Meet me in the corral out back.”
“I can’t go,” Marla said in a disappointed tone. “I’d slow everyone down. I’ll wait for news in the main lobby.”
Wayne might return to his office eventually, or at least he’d notify one of the other managers when they’d found Carol. Her heart thumped as conjecture flashed ugly images in her mind of possible scenarios. Carol was a seasoned rider who wouldn’t fall from her saddle without reason
Outside, the men rode off in a cloud of dust toward the trail Carol normally took each morning. Their group got smaller and turned into specks against the mountainside. Marla recalled a time in the recent past when she’d been warned to vary her morning routine by a killer who’d taken advantage of her habits. With a possible saboteur on the ranch, Marla should have given Carol the same advice.
Enter now at http://freshfiction.com/contest.php?id=7600 to win a Collectible Handcrafted Porcelain Drummer Doll or one of two runner-up prizes – a pair Arizona crafted earrings and a signed paperback Hanging by a Hair. I bought the doll while in Arizona doing research for Peril by Ponytail. U.S. Residents only please.
Enter Sept. 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.
My Blog Tour Continues. Check out my guest posts today at:
Sept. 16 – “Hunting Ghosts,” Mystery Playground
Sept. 16, “On-Site Research Tips”, Southern Writers Magazine, Suite T
A Bad Hair Day Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen
Hairstylist Marla Shore volunteers for Taste of the World, a fund-raiser sponsored by Ocean Guard. It’s a decision she soon regrets. First Chef Pierre’s rum-soaked Bananas Foster goes up in flames, making her wonder if sabotage caused the incident. Her suspicions deepen as more chefs drop off the roster and Ocean Guard’s attorney is murdered. Does the lawyer’s death relate to an estate being managed by the group? If their gala fails, this property will fall into the hands of a mysterious heir.
Marla’s friend, dashingly handsome Detective Dalton Vail, believes the culprit might be one of Ocean Guard’s esteemed board members. She determines to help him untangle the clues. With a killer on the loose, Marla has a lot more to worry about than which canapés her chefs should serve. She’d better comb through the knot of suspects and catch the saboteur before he strikes again.
With her witty style and flair for local color, Nancy J. Cohen has created another page‑turner that will leave readers eager for their next appointment with sassy salon owner Marla Shore.
NOTE: Hair Raiser (Bad Hair Day Mystery #2) was originally published by Kensington Publishing Corp. This Author’s Edition has been revised and reformatted with added bonus material. Coming next in a revised edition will be Murder by Manicure.
Print Edition: https://www.createspace.com/5253406
Add to Goodreads List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24478683-hair-raiser
Hair Raiser was nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice Award by RT Book Reviews
“A saucy murder mystery by Nancy J. Cohen.” Publisher’s Weekly
“An easy-to-take series title with the ready appeal of an independent female sleuth and colorful Florida settings.” Library Journal
“Hair Raiser is a light, funny, cozy read…I had the serious urge to call my hairdresser and schedule an immediate appointment.” Cozies, Capers, & Crimes
“Hair Raiser is curled around a likable amateur sleuth who can handle a curling iron and murder clues with aplomb.” Sun-Sentinel
“Hair Raiser is a fast‑paced, one sitting read that may keep all but the sharpest‑eyed readers confused until the very end.” The Mystery Reader
“Cohen has richly filled this novel with quirky characters, twists and turns that make for a completely satisfying reading experience. The plot will keep you guessing, and Ms. Cohen’s writing style will keep you coming back for more.” MyShelf.com
“Curl up with Nancy Cohen’s stylishly witty and chillingly suspenseful tale of murder on the Florida coast—Hair Raiser is a cut above.” Joanne Pence, author of the Angie Amalfi mystery series
NOTE: New Reviews for this revised edition would be greatly appreciated!
Enter Jan. 27 – Feb. 14 to win a signed hardcover copy of Shear Murder & a $10 Starbucks gift card. Two prizes to be awarded. https://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/
Book Launch Party
Join me tonight (Jan. 27) from 6:00 – 8:00pm EST for fun and giveaways: https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty
Increase the Chaos. Engage the Reader. by Julie Anne Lindsey
Chaos is one of my favorite things about fiction. This is especially true in a cozy mystery. I truly enjoy the insane amount of juggling required by the heroine. As a woman, I can relate to the pressure and frustration of handling too much- minus the murder investigation, of course – and it’s fun to see the scenarios unfold on someone else for a change. I can relate. It’s no secret women handle unthinkable amounts of responsibilities while maintaining the peace and meeting unreasonable expectations of others. We hold down the household, punch a time clock, volunteer in the community, date, please our family, entertain our friends and so much more. (We really are the more miraculous portion of our species. In my humble opinion). Which is why we all deserve a good book and a break from time to time.
As writers, it’s our job to connect strangers with a character we dreamed up. Chaos is a common ground we can use to our advantage. When I fall into a great new cozy or amateur female sleuth series, I immediately connect with the heroine if she’s got her hands full. I nod along and smile, thinking, man-oh-man am I glad it’s not me this time. My heart goes out to her. It’s hard keeping things afloat, and honestly, the chaos can be pretty entertaining when I’m not on the business end of things.
As I write each mystery, I want my heroine overwhelmed, well-liked and spread paper-thin. I want readers to feel the pull of hands on her time and person. So, as I plot and scheme a fun new investigation, I ask myself “What do I do every day?” and then “What do my friends do?” What keeps us so busy? The snowball method takes over from there because the short answer is we do too much.
Piling up the trouble is a great writers’ tool. It’s a fun and easy way to increase the chaos and pacing of a story. It keeps the pages going and stops the story from stagnating. I spend extra time on my outlines peppering in all the commitments my heroine, Patience, has to maintain in addition to surviving the wrath of a provoked killer and exploring the leads in her investigation, not to mention all the people she wants to please.
Add responsibilities to connect readers to your heroine. Give her problems they can all relate to, like family and romance. Those things are complicated. Messy. Real.
In my newest release, Murder Comes Ashore, I’ve piled up the everyday things that make a woman bananas. As my heroine pursues her investigation, (the crux of the story), she’s drawn away repeatedly by phone calls from clients, impromptu visits from family and a frustrating love triangle she’d prefer not to think about. She’s running from a killer, volunteering at the grade school and questioning birders about anything unusual they might have seen since the murder. Local law enforcement is running a parallel investigation and they get in her way, too.
Adding reality to the fiction anchors readers to your story. Who can’t related to a boss that expects us to show up on time? Or a sister who takes it personally if you’re five minutes late for dinner? The predicaments don’t have to be fantastical because they’re fiction. Take the things that make you the craziest and share them with your heroine. It is fun to move the burden onto someone else and it bridges the gap between you and women readers everywhere. Hey, it’s no fun when I have to fold laundry, check homework assignments and explain to my mom why I haven’t called all week, but when those things fall to a character, I smile because we share common ground. And us XX chromosome types have to stick together.
If you’re looking for a fun new mystery to cozy up with, I hope you’ll consider my new release, Murder Comes Ashore. It’s packed with chaos and a heroine who understands. Besides, who couldn’t use an island escape right now?
Murder Comes Ashore
Patience Price is just settling into her new life as resident counselor on Chincoteague Island when things take a sudden turn for the worse. A collection of body parts have washed up on shore and suddenly nothing feels safe on the quaint island.
Patience instinctively turns to current crush and FBI special agent Sebastian for help, but former flame Adrian is also on the case, hoping that solving the grisly crime will land him a win in the upcoming mayoral election.
When the body count rises and Patience’s parents are brought in as suspects, Patience is spurred to begin her own investigation. It’s not long before she starts receiving terrifying threats from the killer, and though she’s determined to clear her family’s name, it seems the closer Patience gets to finding answers, the closer she comes to being the killer’s next victim.
Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.
Murder Comes Ashore is a sequel in her new mystery series, Patience Price, Counselor at Large, from Carina Press.
Learn About Julie at:
Paranormal research isn’t an exact science, but investigators use certain tools to help determine if an anomaly is present. In my Bad Hair Day mystery, Dead Roots, hairstylist Marla Shore attends a family reunion at a haunted Florida resort. Along with her fiancé, Detective Dalton Vail, she unearths dead bodies along with fond memories in the midst of Thanksgiving dinner. Also present that weekend are a group of ghost hunters. As the lead researcher explains to Marla, spirits can be active at any time. More readings are taken at night because there are fewer distractions. It’s also better for video to have a dark background. Here are some of the instruments at hand:
Electronic Voice Phenomena Recorder
EVP recorders capture voices and sounds that are not heard by human ears at the time. Researchers will enter an empty room with a recorder on, invite anyone present to speak, and then maintain silence while the recorder is running. Later, voices may be evident on the recording. It is important to attempt duplication from other sounds in the vicinity in order to eliminate natural causes. Pipes and duct work, for example, may conduct sound.
Electromagnetic Field Meter
This device measures electromagnetic energy in the area. Spirits produce a disruption of energy, but so do many of our common household appliances. Therefore, it’s essential to get a reading during different times of the day to detect household electricity. This gives you a base reading on normal EMF fluctuations. As with the EVP recorders, you have to locate normal sources before you can detect unusual spikes.
There may be a colder reading when a spirit is present because it sucks up energy from things around it. Again, check for drafts or other common sources, and correlate the temperature change with EMF variations and video recordings.
Cameras and Camcorders
Supposedly, entities emit near infrared radiation, or NIR. The most common type of anomalies caught on film are orbs. You might also see vortices, energy rods, or other unusual sources of light. Rarely does one capture an apparition. What’s the difference between an orb, apparition, energy rod, and vortex? Not much; they’re just different forms of spiritual energy.
How do you know you’re photographing an orb rather than a speck of dust on the lens? Orbs have a spherical shape. Sometimes you’ll catch them where you have EMF fluctuations. Researchers have caught videos where anomalies have gone through walls, hit ceiling fans, veered around people. You need to see if the anomaly can be recreated from any known sources. Go through the process of elimination before you consider anything to be actual evidence.
If there’s a ghost, how can you tell who it is? Often by the history of a place. Residual hauntings, for example, are like recordings. They reflect events that occurred at a particular location. Think in terms of an energy residue that keeps repeating itself. Footsteps going up and down stairs, soldiers fighting on battlefields, people walking down hallways; these are experienced in the same place over time like the apparition in St. Augustine, FL who’s always seen doing her laundry. By repeating the same action, she’s left an impression on the place. It’s a replay of the scene, like a traumatic event that has stamped its imprint on the locale. This type of haunting is simply a recording of an event in time. Anniversary ghosts are similar. They only appear on the anniversary of a significant event, so their appearance is a type of residual haunting.
Then we have intelligent ghosts who will try to get your attention by rattling doorknobs, creating odors, moving furniture, making noises. They’re the ones who create mischief. Poltergeists, for example, don’t intend to hurt people, but their high energy level can make them dangerous. They want people to know they’re around.
Marla and her family are staying at Sugar Crest Plantation Resort in Dead Roots. Besides her late Grandfather Andrew whose ghost affectionately pinches her in the tower elevator, there is Alyssa, the love-struck daughter of the original plantation owner, who met her demise during a fire in the sugar mill where she waited for her lover. There’s the Union solder shot to death outside the old homestead, now converted into concierge suites. And finally, Marla puzzles over the two strangers wearing Cossack hats who confronted her grandfather before they mysteriously disappeared. It’s said their spirits haunt the condemned wing of the hotel. Which ones of these ghostly tales are real and which ones may be stories meant to frighten visitors away?
Marla’s family reunion at a haunted Florida resort turns up dead bodies instead of fond memories. She and her fiancé, Detective Dalton Vail, launch another murder investigation in the midst of Thanksgiving dinner.
“Ghost stories, nifty secret passages, tales of gemstones and family secrets enliven this tale.” Oline Cogdill, Sun-Sentinel
“If you like ghosts and ghoulies and things that go blink in the night, you’ll love this book.” Mysterious Women
“Condemned wings of the hotel, secret passages, and a gaggle of paranormal experts investigating the resident ghosts, all add up to a frenetic mixture of mirth and mayhem.” I Love A Mystery
“The setting, a Florida resort complete with ghosts, ruins and secret passages, makes a terrific site for a mystery.” RT BookReviews