Holiday Events as Research

It’s easy to feel guilty about not writing over the holidays. We’re overwhelmed with festive meal preparations, gift shopping, out-of-town guests, and myriad social activities. Yet everything we do can be considered fodder for the imagination. Be observant, note the characters around you, and describe your surroundings in your head. One of these items might prick your story brain and inspire a scene later on.

Holiday Events as Research

As an example, I recently strolled through the Longwood Festival. Imagine my surprise when I happened upon Judy’s Dolls, a site I’d looked up online as research for Star Tangled Murder, #18 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Marla, my hairstylist sleuth, interviews a suspect at her boutique doll store. I modeled some of the descriptions on what I’d read online. It was delightful to step inside this Victorian house to see the actual shop and meet the proprietor. As Marla has a son, and I have a grandson, I’d wondered if they had gifts for boys. And yes, they did. I bought a couple of items and put them away for Hanukkah.

 

Next, we strolled the lanes of tents and admired the craft items for sale. I found a unique handmade trivet and bought one as I’m always needing them for dinner parties.

 

Then we came upon a hat vendor. Having seen one before at the Apopka festival, I was reminded of a scene just like this one in Star Tangled Murder. Marla attends a July Fourth town festival where she encounters a hat lady. The woman shares gossip about one of the murder suspects.

      

This is why as a writer, we should not discount our experiences even if it seems like we are not writing. Everything we do becomes potential research for our books.

 

Holiday Events as Research #holidays #amwriting Click To Tweet

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Favorite Fall Recipes

With the holidays rapidly approaching, you’ll be thinking about menu items for your festive dinners. These items are some favorites of mine, aside from the traditional roast turkey meal. Personally, I look forward to the leftovers more than anything. These are dishes you can try on other nights or add them to your holiday menu.

Fall Recipes

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

This soup serves as a starter dish for a dinner party or can be a meal in itself with a salad on the side. It’s perfect for chilly fall evenings.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, diced
1 pound peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 carrot, sliced
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
2 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp. unsulphured molasses
1 cup half-and-half

Directions

Melt butter over medium heat in large soup pot. Add onion and cook until translucent. Then add squash and carrots. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Add spices and cook until vegetables start to caramelize. Add chicken broth and thyme. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and discard thyme sprigs. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. (It can be frozen at this stage.) Stir in molasses to blend. Add half-and-half and mix to combine. Ladle into individual bowls and serve hot.

If frozen, defrost gradually and then reheat in large pot. Stir in molasses and half-and-half and serve as above.

TURKEY TENDERLOINS

 I love roast turkey same as anyone, but this is an alternative if you don’t feel like roasting a whole bird or even making a boneless breast of turkey. You can slice the tenderloins into serving sizes and make a nice presentation with the sauce. If the liquids get absorbed during cooking and the tenderloins aren’t done, add more broth.

Turkey Tenderloins

Ingredients

2 lb. turkey tenderloins
2 Tbsp. butter
½ cup chicken broth
½ tsp. dried thyme
4 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. light rum

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown turkey on both sides in melted butter in large skillet. Remove tenderloins from pan and place into greased baking dish. Deglaze pan with chicken broth and pour drippings over turkey. Sprinkle with thyme. In a separate bowl, combine molasses and rum. Spoon over tenderloins. Bake turkey in oven uncovered for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Slice and serve warm. Makes 6-8 servings.

RITZ CRACKER DRESSING

I use the terms ‘stuffing’ and ‘dressing’ interchangeably. However, if you want to be technical, stuffing is a seasoned mixture of bread, vegetables, and oil or butter that is stuffed inside poultry. Dressing is cooked in a separate dish on the side. In the South, cornbread dressings are popular. This recipe is inherited from my mother.

 Ingredients

3 or more rolls of Ritz Crackers
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 eggs or ½ cup egg substitute
8 oz. container chopped onions
8 oz. container chopped celery
6 oz. matchstick carrots
Garlic powder
Salt
White wine (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Crumple crackers into a large bowl. Add eggs, mix, and set aside. In a frypan, sauté chopped onions and celery in olive oil until wilted. Add to crackers along with grated carrots. Sprinkle in salt and garlic powder to taste. If you want to moisten the mixture further, add some white wine. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.

SWEET POTATOES WITH MARSHMALLOWS

You all have your favorite sweet potato recipes for the holidays, and here’s mine. It’s quick and easy, which is how I like to cook. For a larger crowd, add extra cans of potatoes.

Ingredients

(2) 40-oz. can sweet potatoes or yams
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup light corn syrup
1 bag mini marshmallows

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain and mash potatoes and put into large bowl. Stir in melted butter and corn syrup. Pour into greased 9x13x2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle marshmallows on top and bake 20 minutes or so, until dish is heated through. Remove when marshmallows are lightly browned. Serves 8 to 10.

CRANBERRY SAUCE

Personally, I prefer jellied cranberry sauce and buy the cans for expediency. This recipe is easy if you want a healthier version.

Ingredients

12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 cup water

Directions

In a medium pot, mix all ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes or until cranberries are softened. Cool and store in refrigerator until served. Makes 2 cups.

PUMPKIN MOUSSE

This is a light dessert if you want an alternative to pumpkin pie.

Ingredients

 1 ½ cups fat free milk
1 oz. package sugar free instant butterscotch pudding mix
½ cup canned pumpkin
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground allspice
½ cup fat free whipped topping
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Directions

Whisk milk and pudding mix in large bowl for two minutes. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Add to the pudding mixture. Gently fold in whipped topping until blended. Spoon into individual dessert cups. Sprinkle nutmeg on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 4 to 6.

****

Favorite Fall Recipes #holidays #recipes Click To Tweet

For more recipes, check out A Bad Hair Day Cookbook available at most online bookstores. With 160+ recipes, plus anecdotes and cooking tips offered by savvy sleuth Marla Vail, this award-winning title will become a handy reference guide for quick and easy meals.

Deals and Steals

Booklover’s Bench Giveaway – Last Day!
Enter Here to win a free book at Booklover’s Bench.

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Author Interviews with Nancy J. Cohen

Nov. 17 – George Cramer’s site – https://gdcramer.com/2022/11/17/nancy-j-cohen-look-out-for-bad-hair-days/

Nov. 8 – Feed my Reads at https://timetofeedmyreads.blogspot.com/2022/11/nancy-j-cohen-interview.html

On Sale

The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Sets are on sale at Kobo for 30% off in Canada, U.S., U.K., Australia, & New Zealand. Use promo code 30NOV at checkout. Get started on this humorous cozy mystery series now! Don’t own a Kobo device? Download their free app. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/series/the-bad-hair-day-mysteries-box-set

Box Sets

DEAD ROOTS, my Thanksgiving mystery with ghosts, is on sale at Amazon. A haunted hotel with secret passages & paranormal experts provides the scare factor over Thanksgiving weekend at Marla’s family reunion. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PZBYD1P/

Dead Roots

Happy Thanksgiving!

New Book Release – Easter Hair Hunt

Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is now available in print and ebook formats!

Easter Hair Hunt


LAUNCH PARTY
tonight on Facebook from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm EDT. Join us for Fun & Prizes!

 

Ebook: ISBN 978-0-9997932-6-8, Orange Grove Press, $4.99
Print: ISBN 978-0-9997932-7-5, Orange Grove Press, $14.99
Genre: Cozy Mystery | Print Pages: 302

Hare today, dead tomorrow… Can a stylish sleuth pull a rabbit out of her hat to solve an Easter murder in this to-dye-for cozy mystery?

When hairstylist Marla Vail attends an Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor, she’s only there to fix hair for a client, Bonnie “Blinky” Morris. But when she’s asked to comb the grounds for leftover goodies, Marla discovers more than just a few dyed eggs. The dead body in the bunny costume is definitely not having a good hare day. And Blinky seems to have disappeared down a rabbit hole.

When trying to solve a murder, everyone needs a friend who’s all ears. For Marla, that’s her husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail. They make an eggcellent team. Dalton isn’t the kind to leap to conclusions, but with his wife seven months pregnant, and knowing Marla finds crime-solving to be irresistible, he worries about her running off on another hare-raising adventure.

Marla’s peeps are hoping for a happy ending, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can she crack the case before Blinky becomes the next victim?

Recipes Included!

“Marla is drawn into an investigation that involves a missing friend and a stolen Fabergé egg. As Marla and husband Dalton proceed, she finds her family life and pregnancy challenged in more ways than one, with everything overshadowed by Easter and a mystery steeped in South Florida history and culture.” Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“Intrepid sleuth Marla Vail goes looking for her friend Blinky and instead finds a dead gardener. She also finds a Faberge egg on the estate grounds. In a case of classic misdirection in which no one is who they appear to be, Marla snips out the lies to reveal the truth and the killer. Another fun installment in Cohen’s entertaining Bad Hair Day series.” Muddy Rose Reviews

“Easter Hair Hunt is another delightful mystery for Marla as she embarks on new changes in her life while she works to solve a mystery that delivers an exciting and fun read.” 5 Stars! Liz Konkel, Readers’ Favorite

BUY LINKS

Amazon Kindle – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083TZ78G1
Amazon Print – https://www.amazon.com/Easter-Hair-Hunt-Bad-Mysteries/dp/0999793276/
BN Nook – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1136016947?ean=2940162711889
Apple – https://books.apple.com/us/book/easter-hair-hunt/id1494917053?ls=1
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/easter-hair-hunt
Books2Read – https://books2read.com/EasterHairHunt
IndieBound – https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780999793275
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50494022-easter-hair-hunt
BookBub – https://bit.ly/2u7ggIu
Website – https://nancyjcohen.com/easter-hair-hunt/

Booksellers & Librarians This title is also available on Ingram.

Follow my Blog Tour March 11 – 18 for Reviews, Spotlights, Interviews, Guest Posts & Giveaway. Please leave comments to support my hosts.

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New Book Release - EASTER HAIR HUNT, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. An Easter egg hunt is not all it’s cracked up to be in this #mustread #cozymystery Click To Tweet

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Enter Here March 10 – 23 to win an Easter Fun Box with a signed proof copy of Easter Hair Hunt, a scarf, cosmetic bag, gardening gloves, candy, hair ties, dish towel and socks.

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March 2020

Easter Hair Hunt Cover Reveal

COVER REVEAL! Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is now available for pre-order.

 

Easter Hair Hunt

 

Cover Design by Patty G. Henderson from Boulevard Photografica

 

Hare today, dead tomorrow… Can a stylish sleuth pull a rabbit out of her hat to solve an Easter murder in this to-dye-for cozy mystery?

When hairstylist Marla Vail attends an Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor, she’s only there to fix hair for a client, Bonnie “Blinky” Morris. But when she’s asked to comb the grounds for leftover goodies, Marla discovers more than just a few dyed eggs. The dead body in the bunny costume is definitely not having a good hare day. And Blinky seems to have disappeared down a rabbit hole.

When trying to solve a murder, everyone needs a friend who’s all ears. For Marla, that’s her husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail. They make an eggcellent team. Dalton isn’t the kind to leap to conclusions, but with his wife seven months pregnant, and knowing Marla finds crime-solving to be irresistible, he worries about her running off on another hare-raising adventure.

Marla’s peeps are hoping for a happy ending, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can she crack the case before Blinky becomes the next victim?

Recipes Included!

“Marla is drawn into an investigation that involves a missing friend who is possibly a victim and a stolen Fabergé egg… As Marla and husband Dalton proceed, she finds her family life and pregnancy challenged in more ways than one, with everything overshadowed by Easter and a mystery steeped in South Florida history and culture. Nancy Cohen excels at capturing this atmosphere, injecting it into Marla’s life and choices with a series of seasonal egg-related revelations and surprises that keep readers immersed in both town affairs, personalities and politics and an Easter egg hunt like no other.” Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

Release Date: March 10, 2020

Ebook: ISBN 978-0-9997932-6-8, Orange Grove Press, $4.99
Print: ISBN 978-0-9997932-7-5, Orange Grove Press, $14.99
Publisher: Orange Grove Press
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Print Pages: 302

BUY LINKS

Amazon Kindle
Apple
BN Nook
Kobo 
Website
Goodreads
BookBub

Print editions coming soon including Ingram

GIVEAWAY

One more day – Enter to win a Free Book at Booklovers’ Bench

New Book Release – A Bad Hair Day Cookbook

I am proud to announce the release of A Bad Hair Day Cookbook featuring over 160 quick and easy recipes from my home kitchen to yours!

A Bad Hair Day Cookbook

This cookbook was a labor of love. I’ve enjoyed posting on my social media sites about my cooking classes, food tastings, kitchen experiments, and other adventures in dining. My list of recipes grew until the idea came to me to compile them into a cookbook. I hope you enjoy making the recipes for your friends and family as much as I enjoyed sharing them.

BOOK LAUNCH PARTY tonight from 7:00 – 8:30 EST. Fun & Games! Join us online at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty/

Book Launch Party

Book Description

Are you having a bad hair day? Whip out your whisk, snatch up your spoon, and prepare your palate. Inside the pages of this cookbook are recipes that will bring you good cheer.

Enjoy 160+ tasty recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s popular Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. Included in this cookbook are excerpts, cooking tips, and anecdotes written by hairstylist and savvy sleuth Marla Vail. From appetizers to desserts, Marla offers cooking tips and tricks along with commentary about the dishes she prepares for her family. Whether you’re a skilled cook or an eager novice, this cookbook will unravel the mystery of cooking. Put on your apron and plan to make some killer recipes! Bonuses Include:

• Meet the Sleuth
• Introduction by Marla Vail
• Cooking Tips
• Excerpts from Series Titles
• Themed Menu Suggestions
• “A Sabbath Dinner” by Nancy’s Mother

For Home Cooks, Mystery Fans, and Cookbook Collectors

Digital ISBN: 978-0-9997932-4-4, Orange Grove Press, $4.99
Print ISBN: 978-0-9997932-5-1, Orange Grove Press, $15.99

“Reading through this cookbook has revived my interest in getting back in the kitchen.” Rhonda Gilliland, Author and Editor of the Cooked to Death Series

“Mysteries and cookbooks belong side by side on readers’ shelves. A Bad Hair Day Cookbook serves up both food and justice.” Christine A. Jackson, Ph.D., Author of Myth and Ritual in Women’s Detective Fiction

“A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK brings to readers the amazingly delicious recipes from the series of the same name. Easy, fancy, and favorite standbys, they’re all covered, making this book packed with something for everyone!” Lisa K’s Book Reviews

“Designed for busy cooks who may not be out solving crimes, but whose time is equally challenged.” Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“This book is not only a treasure to add to any cookbook collection, but a pleasure to read.” Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Readers’ Favorite

ORDER NOW

Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/2mgwoTZ
Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2mlIR8W (Coming Soon!)
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2kS12mf
BN Nook: https://bit.ly/2kvrySl
BN Print: https://bit.ly/2QpGu1W
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2kixIVN
Books2Read:  https://books2read.com/ABadHairDayCookbook
BookBub: https://bit.ly/2lSUAvw
Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2mezSpQ

New Release! A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK - Enjoy 160+ quick & easy recipes plus holiday menus. #recipes #cookbook Click To Tweet

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Enter Here Nov. 18 – Dec. 4 to win a Kitchen Gift Box including a signed copy of A Bad Hair Day Cookbook.

Kitchen Gift Box Giveaway

 

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Top 20 Gifts for Writers

What should you buy for the writer on your gift list? You can be imaginative or be simple. Whatever you give will be appreciated. I’ve come across some fun ideas below to share with you if you’re in a quandary about what to get the writer in your life. Put these in your holiday gift bags and make someone happy.
Gifts
Gift cards are always an option, but which ones in particular may appeal to an author? Let’s take a look and start going down the list.
1. A gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble or your local independent bookstore.
2. A gift card to Starbucks if they like coffee or tea.
3. A gift card to a favorite restaurant so your writer can save time in meal preparation.
4. A gift certificate to a day spa to reward a long day spent at the keyboard.
5. Office Supplies are always useful, such as sticky notes, highlighters, paper clips, notepads, mailing envelopes. You name it, we can use it. Here are some ideas to jumpstart the imagination:

 
notepad  514zc4z s6L._SX495_BO1,204,203,200_
6. Journals are handy for notes at conferences or for scribbling down our ideas for plot or characters. Go old-fashioned or modern with these choices:
 
91Rra9Ny1vL._SL1500_ rocketbook
7. Desktop or wall clocks help tell us when we need to get out of the chair and take a break.
 
clock
8. USB flash drive to store important files, or a portable charging device like this Mophie that’s handy in a power blackout. Or how about a pen/flash drive combo?
 
mophieFlash Pen
9. Coffee, tea, chocolate, and other food items are always welcome. Find out what your writer pal favors for snacks and beverages and make sure there’s a handy supply available.
 
Novel Teas  61lKBJtRXJL._SX679_61iMyvsy9oL
10. Body lotions, hand cream, and scented soaps are always helpful to induce relaxation.
11. Stylish pens are a well-appreciated gift as are pens for booksignings. We can never have enough.
 
Pen  crystal pens
12. A decorative case for a pen collection may come in handy.
 
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13. Mugs come with cute remarks for writers.
 
mug  mug2
14. Decorative coasters are needed to protect our desk from mugs holding our favorite beverage.
 
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15. Jewelry can make a statement about who we are to the reading public.
 
71YUaE2 DYL._SY500_  71ldJmnRfFL._UY675_ 71SNpCp8qAL._SY500_
16. Inspirational Gifts such as this Storymatic activity box and Writer’s Toolbox.
 
81D9vmpEM4L._SX679_  toolbox
17. Tee shirts, pillows, or other clothing items for writers.
 
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18. Movies. Look for films about writers or favorite genre films/TV shows.
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Lastly, these intangible gifts might be appreciated more than any material goods.
19. Write a review of their latest book and post it online.
20. Give the gift of Time. Take over some chores so your writer can have more time to write.
What else would you add to this list?
CLICK TO TWEET
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GIVEAWAYS
Enter Here Dec. 1 – 15 to win a signed hardcover of Peril by Ponytail along with a DVD of “Author’s Anonymous” and a bag of microwave popcorn. Two Runners-up get either a signed paperback of Shear Murder or Hanging by a Hair.
Enter Here Dec. 1 – 18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.
 
 

Gifts for Writers

What should you buy for the writer on your gift list? Some of the more interesting gifts I’ve received have come from my writer pals or my kids, like the jar labeled Writer’s Remedy that holds little squares with different words for inspiration, or the figure holding a hammer to his computer with a plaque that says #1 Author & Mom, or the coffee mug with my book title. My husband gave me a glass blown Disney castle to represent my dreams coming true. Be imaginative or be simple. Whatever you give will be appreciated.

Gifts

1. Books on their Wish List, or a gift card to Amazon or BN.
2. Gift Card to Starbucks or their favorite shopping site.
3. Office Supplies: Sticky notes, highlighters, novelty ballpoint pens, paper clips, pocket notebooks. You name it, we can use it.
4. Personalized notepads or sticky notes.
5. Cute desk accessories like Brighton desk clocks or magnetic paper clip holders.
6. Scented candles to make the office smell good.
7. Body lotions, hand cream, scented soaps. These are always welcome.
8. A gift certificate to a day spa. A manicure or massage can go a long way toward relaxation.
9. USB Flash Drive. We can use several of these as backups to keep in different locations.
10. Portable charging device for electronics.
11. Food baskets, chocolates, and wine. You can never go wrong here.
12. Decorative coasters for their desk or side table near where they work or read.
13. Collectible paperweights.
14. Restaurant gift cards so they don’t have to cook.
15. Cute novelty items for writers. Look in those catalogs you get in the mail. Tee shirts, mugs, nightshirts or other items with funny sayings relevant to writers.
16. Movies. Look for films about writers. For example, Her Alibi starring Tom Selleck is a very funny movie about a mystery writer. See the many take-offs on Jane Austen (Austenland, Lost in Austen, plus the works themselves), English period murder mysteries such as Gosford Park or seasons of Downton Abbey. Remember how we all loved Romancing the Stone? The classics never go out of date. See more suggestions here:
https://killzoneblog.com/2015/12/mystery-movies.html Or give a Fandango gift card, so they can buy movie tickets of their choice.
17. Did I mention chocolate?

What else would you add to this list?

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my online friends. I am thankful for your follows and comments throughout the year. Your feedback and support are immensely important to me, and I just want to take this time to let you know how very much I appreciate each one of you.

Turkey

Here is wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday,

Nancy