I am excited to announce the launch of the Bad Hair Day mystery series box sets. Volume One will be released on May 1, 2021. Meet Marla Shore, a Florida hairstylist and salon owner with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. In her debut case, the brazen beautician unravels a shocking murder that’s making waves all over Palm Haven, a small southern town where almost everyone has something to hide.
The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume One: Books 1-3
Copyright © 2021 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published by Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN: 978-1-952886-16-4
Cover Design by The Killion Group, Inc.
Digital Layout by www.formatting4u.com
PERMED TO DEATH – Book 1
Sassy salon owner Marla Shore is giving grumpy Mrs. Kravitz a perm when her client dies in the shampoo chair. If that isn’t enough to give her a bad hair day, handsome Detective Vail suspects Marla of poisoning the woman’s coffee creamer. Figuring she’d better expose the real killer before the next victim frizzes out, Marla sets on the trail of a wave of wacky suspects. Her theory regarding whodunit gels only after she looks for the culprit closer to home.
HAIR RAISER – Book 2
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, and it’s only through a series of hair-raising exploits that she can tease the truth from a tangle of suspects. Too late to stop a murder, Marla must salvage the grand affair before she’s moussed into oblivion.
MURDER BY MANICURE – Book 3
Hairstylist Marla Shore joins a fitness club to get in shape but discovers a dead body instead of an exercise routine. Jolene Myers—a client at Marla’s salon—has drowned beneath the frothing waters of the whirlpool. When Homicide Detective Dalton Vail determines Jolene’s death was no accident, Marla decides to give her deductive skills a workout and help solve the case.
If you enjoy murder and mayhem with a touch of humor and romance, you’ll love the Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. Pre-order your boxed set today!Pre-Order the Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set One now! #amreading #mysteryseries Click To Tweet
I am pleased to announce the reissue of Hanging by a Hair, #11 in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries. The new Author’s Edition is available in ebook and print formats.
Copyright © 2014 by Nancy J. Cohen
Digital ISBN 978-1-952886-00-3; $4.99; Orange Grove Press
Print ISBN 978-1-952886-01-0; $14.99; Orange Grove Press
Cover Design by Boulevard Photografica
Digital Layout by www.formatting4U.com
Snarky neighbors, sordid secrets, and community politics play a role in this madcap murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.
Hairstylist Marla Vail’s joyous move to a new house with her detective husband, Dalton, is marred by their next-door neighbor who erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man of local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found dead the following day. Alan Krabber was president of the HOA, making Marla wonder if a member of the board had an interest in his death. But before her husband’s investigation can begin, he is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest. Now it’s up to Marla to clear her husband’s name and make the neighborhood safe again. Can she unravel the clues and pin down the culprit before he targets her as the next victim?
Reader Discussion Guide
Five Easy Recipes
Peril by Ponytail Excerpt
“Marla is short for marvelous. If you like your mysteries ‘cozy,’ you’re going to enjoy every minute you spend with her!” Joanna Campbell Slan, author of the award-winning Kiki Lowenstein mystery series
Suspense Magazine “Best of 2014” Cozy Mystery
Night Owl Reviews 5 Stars Top Pick
Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore Bestseller
“Marla Vail tackles married life and a slimy homeowners’ association in Cohen’s cheerful 11th series entry…A pleasingly lighthearted cozy.” Publisher’s Weekly
“The suspense element in this unusually funny mystery is gripping. What many readers will enjoy is the sensitive, realistic portrait of domestic life and the gently satiric treatment of the South Florida suburban milieu.” Phil Jason, Florida Weekly
“Funny, quirky, fast-paced with just the right amount of romance and humor mixed in with the mystery. Great series!”—Socrates Book Reviews
“…a madcap murder mystery that will have you laughing and guessing until the very end.” Mason Canyon, Thoughts in Progress
Amazon Kindle – https://amzn.to/2X3rDNx
Amazon Print – https://amzn.to/2X1ZDtt
Apple – http://books.apple.com/us/book/id1515005221
BN Nook – https://bit.ly/2ZBYVF5
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/hanging-by-a-hair
Books2Read – Coming Soon
Ingram – Coming Soon
BookBub – https://bit.ly/36wqbX9
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53471369-hanging-by-a-hair
Website – https://nancyjcohen.com/hanging-by-a-hair/
A Word About Reviews
Reviews are always welcome even on older titles and reissues. The number of reviews and average ratings count toward promotional opportunities and help attract new readers to my books. Scroll down on a book’s page to where it says Add a Customer Review and write a few lines on why you liked the book. My thanks in advance!
When you propose a book that’s number one in a series, it helps to have blurbs for the next couple of titles ready to go. You can send this along with your query or later with your full manuscript. Create a tagline for your series title, and check online to make sure this title hasn’t been taken. Then craft a query letter and mention this is the first book in a series.
My route to selling the Bad Hair Day mystery series was a circuitous one. When I first presented a proposal for Permed to Death, book #1, I sent out the first three chapters and a synopsis in a multiple submission to various agents. Here is my original query letter.
As we’ve mentioned before in a post on Tips for Query Letters, your one-page letter should include three paragraphs. The first one introduces you, gives the word count and the story genre. Next comes a catchy story blurb, followed by your writing credits. A marketing hook can also be included or suggestions for possible markets. In this case, that extra paragraph is where I mention a series.
Dear Ms. P.:
I’m a published author seeking a new agent to represent me for a mystery book proposal. PERMED TO DEATH is a 75,000 word novel featuring beauty salon owner Marla Shore.
When one of her clients is poisoned while getting a perm, Marla becomes a prime suspect. She attends the woman’s funeral and meets her relatives and business associates, all of whom have logical motives for murder. But so does Marla, as Homicide Detective Dalton Vail learns during his investigation. Desperately seeking to salvage her reputation, Marla tries to identify the killer before the next “permanent” solution is her own.
PERMED TO DEATH is the first book in a proposed series. Also available is a synopsis for the next story, HAIR RAISER. The title for the third installment is MURDER BY MANICURE.
I have four futuristic romance novels in print and am the winner of the 1995 HOLT Medallion Award in the paranormal category. PERMED TO DEATH is my first mystery. Would you be interested in seeing the complete proposal? An SASE is included for your reply. Please note this is a multiple submission. Thank you for your consideration.
I received rejections from all ten plus agents. (See my earlier post on this topic.) Some of them gave insightful comments as to what needed fixing. I decided to put this book aside to focus on romance again. I’d met an agent at a Florida Romance Writers conference who recommended me to a colleague of hers. I sent this person a query for Phantom Bride, a contemporary romance I’d written. Here is a copy of that letter:
Dear Agent L.:
I’m a published author seeking a new agent. This past weekend, I had a delightful conversation with Agent R. at the FRW Conference in Ft. Lauderdale. She is familiar with my four published futuristic romance novels for Leisure Love Spell Books and urged me to send you my new proposal.
Enclosed are the first three chapters and synopsis for Phantom Bride, a 60,000 word contemporary romance novel. I’ve already sent this proposal to Brenda Chin at Harlequin Temptation and am working to finish the book within the next couple of months. I’m seeking representation for this and other works in progress.
Included are my bio, one of my books, and an SASE for your convenience. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Agent L. took me on in Feb. 1997. While she was trying to sell my romance novel, I rewrote the first three chapters of Permed to Death as per the suggestions in those earlier rejection letters and completed the manuscript. In June 1997, I sent this agent a query for Permed to Death mentioning the series title.
Dear Agent L.:
Enclosed are the manuscript and synopsis for Permed to Death, a 75,000 word mystery novel and first book in my proposed series called The Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
I’ve already spoken to RC, Senior Mystery Editor at St. Martins Press, whom I met at SleuthFest in Fort Lauderdale this past spring. I told her about this story and she expressed interest in looking at it.
If you like the story and think JS at Avon might be interested, please feel free to send it along. GB is on my list as a mystery editor at Berkley Prime Crime, and I may have more marketing ideas in my files. As always, I’m open to suggestions for revisions.
At this point, I didn’t follow my own advice and had merely a completed manuscript for Permed to Death, a synopsis for Hair Raiser, and a title for Murder by Manicure. And that’s how I sold the series in a three-book deal to Kensington. Then and Now book covers:
Below is how I would write this proposal now:
Series Proposal for The Bad Hair Day Mysteries
Hairstylist and salon owner Marla Shore solves crimes with wit and style in sultry South Florida.
PERMED TO DEATH – Book 1
Sassy hairstylist Marla Shore is giving grumpy Mrs. Kravitz a perm when her client dies in the shampoo chair. If that isn’t enough to give her a Bad Hair Day, handsome Detective Dalton Vail suspects Marla of poisoning the woman’s coffee creamer.
HAIR RAISER – Book 2
Hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Shore volunteers for Ocean Guard, a coastal preservation society. When someone sabotages their gala fundraiser, she must comb through a knot of suspects to unmask a killer.
MURDER BY MANICURE – Book 3
Hairstylist Marla Shore joins a fitness club to get in shape, but she finds a murder instead of an exercise program. To complicate matters, handsome Detective Dalton Vail disapproves of the charade she’s playing to help a friend.
My First Mystery Sale
Permed to Death sold to Kensington and appeared in hardcover in December 1999. The sale was a 3-book contract, and the series took off from there.
The Lesson – If you’re presenting a book that is part of a series, have blurbs on books 2 and 3 available along with the overall series title and a tagline. The same goes when you are pitching your book in person. Mention that it’s part of a series. See my post on Tips for the Hot Pitch for more details.Query Letters for a Book Series #amwriting #pubtip Click To Tweet
As your series grows in the number of books, it becomes critically important to keep track of your timelines. This came home to me recently when writing my latest work, tentatively titled Easter Hair Hunt. Hairstylist Marla Vail’s stepdaughter Brianna will be leaving for college soon. I wrote that she was a senior in high school but then realized I’d better check to make sure. The story takes place in March. The last one, Trimmed to Death, took place in October. Brianna was only in the eleventh grade in that story. She wouldn’t have graduated yet. Whoops. I went back and made her a junior for the current WIP.
So what sorts of things do you need to keep track of from book to book? Here’s a handy list:
Grades for any school-age children
Notes on secondary characters regarding their current status
Dates for Holidays
For Easter Hair Hunt, I determined the holiday would take place in late March. I set Passover a week later. But was this plausible? I looked up dates on the Internet and found this:
Easter Sunday can fall between March 22 and April 25.
Easter is March 23 in 2008 but then Passover is April 20
Easter is March 27 in 2016 but then Passover is April 23
Easter is March 31 in 2024 but then Passover is April 23
I picked one of these dates for Easter in my story and had to remove Passover since it didn’t come until a month later.
Marla attends the egg hunt on a Saturday. She celebrates Easter with her interfaith family on Sunday. Monday is her day off, and that’s when she begins her snooping into the latest murder mystery. So for each individual book, you also need to know these factors:
Month your story takes place
Days of the week for each chapter or scene. Using one of those free calendars you get in the mail might be helpful.
Special events you mention in the story that will be coming up, such as a bridal shower for one of Marla’s friends.
Here’s an example of my timeline notes for Trimmed to Death:
Marla is 38 (BD Feb.). Royal Oaks, her housing development in southwest Palm Haven, is four years old.
Dalton is 46 (BD Nov.)
Brianna is 16, is in 11th grade as of Sept., and has her driver’s license (BD March). She takes acting classes to help with public speaking, belongs to the drama club and debate team at school. She’s aiming for college in Boston. Mentions a boy named Jason in Trimmed. Jason has an older brother who plays in a band.
Tally’s baby Luke is 14 months. (BD Aug. 3). Tally is 38 (BD Aug. 28)
Arnie, deli owner and Marla’s friend, is 42. Married to Jill.
Robyn, Marla’s neighbor and salon receptionist, is 36 (BD is August)
Nicole, a hairstylist at Marla’s salon, spends weekends at her boyfriend Kevin’s place. His parents and siblings live in Miami. Nicole meets them in Trimmed and then Kevin takes her to the Bahamas before Thanksgiving (Nov).
What you want to do with each installment is add to this list and then copy and paste it to your next book’s files. It’s easy to get lost unless you keep detailed notes regarding these timelines. You could say the same for family trees. Figuring out who is related to whom gets even more confusing if you don’t draw a diagram or make notes.
For the writers out there, what else do you include on these timeline lists?
CLICK TO TWEET
Hairball Hijinks: A Bad Hair Day Cozy Mystery Short Story, is now available in ebook format.
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9985317-4-8, $0.99, Orange Grove Press
Hairstylist Marla Vail agrees to help find a neighbor’s lost cat and discovers a ransacked house where more than the pet is missing.
Savvy hairstylist and super sleuth Marla Vail visits her friend Tally who just got out of the hospital after a serious car accident. Marla has been caring for Tally’s baby and is sad but grateful to return him to his mother. She and Tally reconcile their friendship that had become estranged before the crash.
Happy to have her friend back, Marla is about to leave when a knock summons her to the door. It’s a distraught elderly neighbor who claims her cat is missing. Marla, unable to turn down a person in need, accompanies the lady home. But when Marla enters the house, she realizes much more is missing than a lost feline. The place has been ransacked, and when she calls the police, they inform her the neighborhood has been beset by a series of thefts. Can she find the crooks before they cause another cat’astrophe?
Bonus One: An interview with Marla
Bonus Two: 5 new recipes!
Bonus Three: A sneak preview of Trimmed to Death
Spoiler Alert! This story comes after Hair Brained, #14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. It contains spoilers so you might want to read that book first.
With special thanks to Lois Crockett for suggesting the story title.
Marla hastened to the front door. After a glance through the peephole, she opened the door to face an elderly woman with white hair.
“I heard you were taking care of Tally’s affairs after her accident, and I recognized your car in the driveway. You have to help me,” said the lady with a frantic expression.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t believe we’ve met.”
“I’m one of Tally’s neighbors. I understand you’ve a reputation for solving crimes. Thanks to your efforts, the police discovered who hurt Tally and her husband. Poor thing to lose her man that way. Now my guy is missing. I can’t find Mr. Stanton anywhere.”
“What do you mean?” Did the woman really address her spouse in that formal manner?
“I went out on some errands. When I got back, he was gone. I don’t know how he could have slipped out of the house on his own.”
Marla gave her a sharp glance. She wanted to learn more, but Luke had quieted, and she didn’t dare risk waking the baby by asking this person inside. Besides, it wasn’t her house. She didn’t have that right.
However, Marla couldn’t turn the woman away. Her natural inclination was to help people, so she stepped outside and shut the door behind her. The first order of business was to determine if this lady was legit or a scam artist preying on folks in the community.
Customer reviews are always appreciated and very much needed for a new title!
TRIMMED TO DEATH is now available for Pre-Order. This title, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, will be released on Sept. 25, 2018.
Publisher: Orange Grove Press
Series: A Bad Hair Day Mystery, Book 15
Release Date: Sept. 25, 2018
Available Formats: eBook and Paperback
Digital: ISBN: 9780998531755
Paperback: ISBN: 9780998531762
Hairstylist Marla Vail enters a bake-off competition that’s a real killer when a contestant ends up dead.
Savvy hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Vail enters a charity bake-off contest at a fall festival sponsored by a local farm. While she waits to see if her coconut fudge pie is a winner, Marla joins a scavenger hunt where people playing character roles are the targets. Instead of scoring points with a live person, she finds a dead body planted face-down in the strawberry field. Who would want to cut short the life of food magazine publisher and fellow bake-off contestant Francine Dodger?
Francine is wearing a jacket borrowed from another entrant, food blogger Alyce Greene. With their similar builds, hair colors, and pixie haircuts, the women could have been mistaken for each other from behind. Was it possible Alyce had been the intended target instead of Francine? When another entrant is killed, Marla fears the rest of the contestants might be next.
Marla’s friend, deli owner Arnie Hartman, knows the farm owner’s son. He begs Marla to investigate to help clear the smear on the farm’s reputation. She’s joined by her husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail, in interviewing the bake-off contestants and judges. There’s no shortage of suspects. A celebrity TV chef, food critic, olive oil importer, food truck owner, pastry chef, and cookbook author may be stirring up more than their next recipe. Can Marla unmask the killer before someone else gets trimmed from life?