A Treat for Halloween


When I was asked to participate in a multi-author anthology five years ago, I had to think quick about what to write. With the theme being autumn, my thoughts turned to Halloween. At the time, I’d written fourteen novels in the Bad Hair Day mystery series, but not one of them highlighted this holiday. An idea hit me that would be the perfect fit for a shorter story. Each book in my series can be read as a standalone so no worries if you start with this novella.

A Treat for Halloween

The Premise – Hairstylist Marla Vail hopes to win her stepdaughter’s approval by helping to decorate a school haunted house. All goes well until Marla stumbles across a real dead body on the spooky estate grounds. It’s the teacher who is loaning his estate for the project. Marla sets off to investigate with the goal of keeping the kids safe.

I’d only written one other novella (“Three Men and a Body” in Wicked Women Whodunit), and I knew this form of fiction didn’t have room for subplots. Instead, I had to focus exclusively on the crime and suspects. Who would have reason to want the teacher dead? A kid in his history class? One of the overprotective parents there that night? The mysterious school janitor? Or perhaps the greedy principal?

Once I had the suspects and their possible motives in mind, I was ready to start writing the story. It flowed naturally, and I didn’t have to do a plotting chart or chapter outline like for a longer novel. Shorter chapters were the norm, and I kept writing until I reached the end.

How do you feel about novellas in a series? Love them or leave them?

I hope you’ll enjoy this story and that it will put you in the mood for a spooky fall season. It also would make a great addition to your holiday gift bags. In the meantime, Happy Halloween!

A Bad Hair Day Cozy Mystery Novella

Haunted Hair Nights

Copyright © 2016 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published by Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9970038-3-3
Print ISBN: 978-0-9970038-4-0
Cover Design by Boulevard Photografica
Digital Layout by www.formatting4U.com

A haunted house turns into reality when hairstylist Marla Vail finds a dead body on the estate grounds in this spooky Halloween cozy mystery novella.

When history teacher Bill Ripari offers his property for a Halloween school haunted house project, hairstylist Marla Vail volunteers to help put the scare factor into the place. She joins her stepdaughter along with other students, parents, and teachers to transform the wooded estate into a creepy attraction. She’s busy creating decorations when a splash of red on the estate grounds catches her eye. Upon a closer look, she realizes the dark stain isn’t fake blood meant to be part of the scene. The trail leads to the history teacher’s dead body.

Worried about the kids, Marla puts on her sleuthing hat to investigate. She discovers that every one of the volunteers present that night had a possible motive. Between slacker students, helicopter parents, unexpected heirs, and a stonewalling school administration, Marla has her hands full in solving the murder and keeping her stepdaughter safe. Can she sift through the suspects and unmask the killer before Halloween fright night turns into reality?

Third Place Winner in the IDA Contest in the Suspense Short category
Finalist in the IAN Book of the Year Awards in the Novella category

Haunted Hair Nights is the perfect treat for Halloween! #cozymystery #novella Click To Tweet

“I enjoyed this Halloween cozy mystery set in South Florida. Between the scary ‘gifts’ left for Marla’s family and the mysterious murder at the school’s haunted house, you are bound to get some chills. Grab some hot apple cider and read this Halloween tale!” Ms. Loves to Read

“It was gratifying to observe Marla, Dalton and Brianna’s family dynamic mature. This is a good cozy mystery that can be enjoyed by young adults on up.” 5 Stars! Readers’ Favorite

“A haunted mansion is the perfect setting for a Halloween read.” Socrates Book Reviews

“Loved the story! Halloween, mystery, dead body, oh my! This novella, although short, was filled with lots of twists and turns, interesting complex characters and a great storyline!” Charlene’s Reviews

Order Now

Amazon Kindle – https://amzn.to/3B1xvrr
Amazon Print – http://amzn.to/2d3jK0C
Apple https://books.apple.com/us/book/haunted-hair-nights/id1150699875
BN Nook – http://bit.ly/2eBOWcf
Books2Read: https://books2read.com/HauntedHairNights


Highlights to Heaven Author Edition

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.
Highlights to Heaven
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.

Story Excerpt:

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.

Order Now:

Amazon  Createspace

Note: The original edition is still available from Open Road Media in ebook format at all online retail sites.
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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.