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.
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My official book blog tour starts today. I hope you’ll follow along and leave comments to support my tour hosts. Some of these posts offer individual prizes. I keep adding new sites, so check my Appearances page often. I’ll do my conference posts from the FRW cruise and SleuthFest on days when I am not a guest elsewhere. See you on the tour!
Feb. 28 – Christa Reads and Writes – BOOK REVIEW
Feb. 28 – Terry’s Place – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
March 1 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, EXCERPT
March 1 – Island Confidential – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 1 – The Big Thrill – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 2 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW
March 2 – Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
March 3 – Brooke Blogs – “History, Mystery, and Buried Family Secrets” GUEST POST, EXCERPT
March 3 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
March 4 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
March 4 – Readeropolis – REVIEW
March 4 – Kings River Life Magazine – REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
March 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – “Hair is Gold” GUEST POST
March 6 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 6 – The Revolving Book – SPOTLIGHT
March 6 – The Pop Culture Divas – SPOTLIGHT
March 7 – A Holland Reads – “Backstage at a Fashion Show” CHARACTER GUEST POST
March 8 – The Mysterious Ink Spot – “Theme Parks – Fun or Fearsome?” GUEST POST, EXCERPT, and GIVEAWAY
March 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
March 9 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
March 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
And in case you missed these:
Jan. 14 – Life of Writers, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Feb. 11 – Carla Loves to Read, BOOK REVIEW
Feb. 22 – Dru’s Book Musing – “A Day In The Life” CHARACTER POST
Feb. 22: Socrates Book Reviews, BOOK REVIEW
Feb. 23 – I Wish I Lived in a Library, BOOK REVIEW
Feb. 24, Omnimystery News, SPOTLIGHT
Feb. 24, Open Book Society, BOOK REVIEW
Sunday, March. 5 at 1:00 pm, “Mystery and History” Discussion and Booksigning with Nancy J. Cohen (Bad Hair Day Mysteries), Alyssa Maxwell (The Gilded Newport Mysteries), and V.S. Alexander (The Magdalen Girls) at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444, Phone: 561-279-7790. http://murderonthebeach.com/
Saturday, March 11, 1:00 pm, “Writing is Revising” with Nancy J. Cohen in Room 108 of the L-building at Florida SouthWestern State College – adjacent to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Check the Lee Campus map here for more details http://www.fsw.edu/about/maps Park in Lot 7 next to the L-building on Saturday. http://mwaflorida.org/events/special-events/
March 16-19, Coral Springs Festival of the Arts, http://www.csfoa.com/
Thursday, March 16, 6:00 Meet & Greet Cocktails and Snacks at Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts, Rooms A&B, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065.
Friday, March 17, 6:00 – 6:45 pm, “Conflict and Character” with Nancy J. Cohen at Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts, Rooms A&B, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065.
Sunday, March 19, Signing in the Author’s Tent at “The Walk” between 26th and 29th Streets on the west side of University Drive in Coral Springs, FL
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.
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Click Here for 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.
Tropical Treats Giveaway, Feb. 21 – March 14
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“A fun cozy read with mystery, family drama and some romance.” Check out this new review of Facials Can Be Fatal from Carla Loves to Read!
When writing a cozy mystery, you need to decide upon crime scene details even though interpersonal relations and not forensic investigations are your story’s focus. Here’s an example of what this means. For my next book, I decided to start the tale at a bake-off contest, but the setting bothered me. Our city fairs are held on athletic fields or a flat stretch of grass in a park. This doesn’t leave much opportunity to stash a dead body.
I was telling this to my manicurist and mentioned that I needed a more interesting setting. She suggested Bedner’s Farm as a possible model for my story. The next day, my husband and I drove north to visit this farmer’s market in Boynton Beach. See my post for a report on this visit. The varied structures and grounds were ideal for my purposes, but I’d move my fictional site nearer to Marla’s hometown. Marla Vail is my hairstylist sleuth and the star of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Now what? Francine Dodger is the target of the festival’s Find Franny scavenger hunt. I got this idea by looking up harvest festivals online. This drove me to research living scavenger hunts until I had an idea of how mine would work. Think about the five W’s when you’re in this phase.
Who ends up dead? Let’s say Francine is the victim.
Where is she killed? How does she arrive there? Is she lured on purpose, or it is a crime of opportunity? Did the killer follow her? Determine Where-dunit.
How does he do it? She could be drowned in a ditch. Water-filled canals line the U-pick rows. But other customers might be milling around there. Will it look like an accident or right away be identified as a homicide? She can fall down a silo. But what would make her climb up there in the first place? Or she could be runover by a tractor.
What knowledge does the killer need? If the murder involves an equipment accident, it’ll have to involve someone who knows to operate the machinery. Ditto the hazards inside a silo. You don’t want to point the finger at a particular suspect like the farmer, because it’s too obvious. Maybe give one of the other characters a secret history of working on a farm or of selling agricultural machinery.
If you poison a victim, who has knowledge about the type of poison used as well as access to it? Is it fast-acting enough for the circumstances, or do you need a slower more insidious death? What are the particular symptoms? Consider your means of murder very carefully when you’re making these decisions so your story will sound plausible.
When does it happen? Think about not only the time of death, but also why not a week or a month ago? Why NOW?
How does the killer get away? Does he have blood on his clothes? Are his shoes wet or muddy? Is he able to blend back into the crowd? How does he act when he encounters the heroine?
Now let’s throw a wrench into the works.
What if it’s a case of mistaken identity? He thought he had killed one woman but he got somebody else who was similarly attired. How will he react upon seeing his intended victim alive and well? This leads to another set of problems. It means he can’t see the victim’s face before he kills her, or he’ll realize it’s the wrong person. So again, we go back to Howdunit?
Once you figure out these details, you’ll have to determine how your amateur sleuth stumbles across the dead body. And this is when the story actually begins.
If you missed my previous posts on this topic, go here:
Writing the Mystery – Whodunit
Writing the Mystery – Whydunit
Five Stages of Writing
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Booklover’s Bench Anniversary Giveaway, Feb. 1 – 18
Enter Here to win a Galaxy Tablet from Booklover’s Bench in our anniversary contest
Thanks to Ian Hughes for this 5 Star review of Hair Raiser audiobook!
I’m pleased to announce the reissue of Highlights to Heaven. This title, #5 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, was originally published by Kensington. My new Author’s Edition has been revised and updated with added bonus materials.
Hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Shore lands a case close to home when her animal-loving neighbor—a man aptly named Goat—disappears, leaving his pets alone and a dead body in his master bedroom. Even more disturbing is the pattern of highlights Marla notes in the victim’s hair. She recognizes the signature technique of her former mentor, master stylist Cutter Corrigan. Soon she’s untangling clues that link Goat, Cutter, and the unsavory pet fur trade to her own past. Someone at her former beauty school has a hair-raising secret worth killing to keep.
Author Chat with Nancy J. Cohen tonight 7:00 – 8:00 pm EST at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty/ Two lucky commenters will win an advance reading copy of Facials Can Be Fatal (Bad Hair Day Mystery #13) at tonight’s event.
She opened Goat’s mailbox and retrieved his correspondence. Juggling a large manila envelope in one hand together with the dog’s leash, and a stack of assorted items in the other, she proceeded along the dimly lit sidewalk. Words scribbled on the front of the large envelope jumped out at her as she lengthened the line to let Spooks do his business.
“Articles on Harperites enclosed” read the message.
How strange. Had Goat sent for these? Why was he interested in Martha Matilda Harper’s followers? According to the return address, the sender was a woman, Jenny Stanislaw, from Mount Dora. This case got more curious by the moment.
Goat had been reading up on a famous icon in hairdressing history. He becomes associated with a dead man who might have a connection to Cutter Corrigan, master stylist. Did the past provide some sort of link between the three of them?
She signaled Spooks it was time to move on. They’d only stepped a few paces ahead when something slammed into her shoulder from behind with the force of a deranged flamingo.
Note: The original edition is still available from Open Road Media in ebook format at all online retail sites.
Enter Jan. 1–18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench
Leave a comment on Nancy’s Let’s Talk post this week to win an ebook copy of Permed to Death Author’s Edition.
I’m pleased to share an exciting new cover for the upcoming reissue of Highlights to Heaven. This title, #5 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, was originally published by Kensington. The Author’s Edition has been revised and updated with added bonus materials.
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Published by Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN 13: 978-0-9970038-5-7
Print ISBN 13: 978-0-9970038-6-4
Hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Shore lands a case close to home when her animal-loving neighbor—a man aptly named Goat—disappears, leaving his pets alone and a dead body in his master bedroom. Even more disturbing is the pattern of highlights Marla notes in the victim’s hair. She recognizes the signature technique of her former mentor, master stylist Cutter Corrigan.
Wanting to impress sexy Detective Dalton Vail, she hurries to interview Cutter first so she’ll have the inside scoop. Soon she’s untangling clues that link Goat, Cutter, and the unsavory pet fur trade to her own past. Someone at her former beauty school has a hair-raising secret worth killing to keep.
While Marla and Dalton chase leads despite their growing attraction for each other, the body count rises. And the closer Marla gets to the truth, the more she puts her life in peril. She’d better unmask the culprit before she becomes the next target.
“Full of twists and turns, great characters, and an interesting setting. Who could ask for more?” Denise Swanson, author of the Scumble River mystery series
“If you want a mind-candy read somewhat reminiscent of Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, you’ll enjoy Highlights to Heaven by Nancy J. Cohen.” Duffbert’s Random Musings
“Highlights to Heaven is a treat and just might be the answer to your quest for a gift for your hairdresser or manicurist!” Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore
“For a quick escape from the chaos of the holidays, look no further than the latest Bad Hair Day mystery. Cohen outdoes herself, delivering a story that’s flirty, fun, witty, yet suspenseful and intense.” 4 Stars! RT Book Reviews
“Fun Florida settings and adorable eccentrics make a popular series.” Inkwood Books
“Lively fun.” Library Journal
Pre-Order Now: http://amzn.to/2iM7KUj
Leave a comment below for a chance to win an advance reading copy of Facials Can Be Fatal. That’s my New Year’s gift to you. Random drawing on January 1st. Winner will be announced here. Open to U.S. Residents only.
Hair Raiser Audiobook, book #2 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is now available on Audible and iTunes. Narrated by the talented Mary Ann Jacobs from Voice Over Visions.
When South Florida hairstylist Marla Shore takes charge of a fundraiser for a coastal preservation society, she has to comb through a knot of suspects to determine who’s sabotaging their gala event. Participating chefs are dropping off the roster like hot rollers. It’s only through a series of hair-raising exploits that Marla can tease the truth from a tangle of suspects. Too late to stop a murder, she must salvage the grand affair before she’s moussed into oblivion.
If you haven’t tried audiobooks, here are some good reasons to check them out:
• A story can come to life in a new way when read by a professional narrator.
• You can listen while working out, driving, or doing chores around the house.
• If you have trouble reading due to vision problems, you can listen to a story instead.
• If you buy the ebook along with the audiobook, you can switch devices using Whispersync and never lose your place.
How to listen to audiobooks on your phone, Kindle, tablet and computer: https://www.audible.com/mt/Apps
Listen to this sample from Hair Raiser: https://soundcloud.com/mysterygal/hair-raiser
LAST DAY!!!! Nov. 15 – 21 Audiobook Extravaganza
Enter to win up to 20 free Audiobooks at https://www.authorsxp.com/giveaway
Nov. 4 – 25 Goodreads Giveaway
Enter to win a signed ARC for Facials Can Be Fatal