Series Timelines

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.
Timelines
So what sorts of things do you need to keep track of from book to book? Here’s a handy list:
Character Ages
Character Birthdays
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

Easter eggs2
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.
calendar
Here’s an example of my timeline notes for Trimmed to Death:
Date: OCTOBER
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.
Generations
For the writers out there, what else do you include on these timeline lists?
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Hairball Hijinks – New Book Release

Hairball Hijinks: A Bad Hair Day Cozy Mystery Short Story, is now available in ebook format.

Hairball

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.

Excerpt

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.

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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.

Trimmed to Death

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Trimmed to Death

Publisher: Orange Grove Press
Series: A Bad Hair Day Mystery, Book 15
Release Date: Sept. 25, 2018
Genre: Mystery
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?

Recipes Included!

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On Sale Permed to Death

The Open Road Media ebook edition of Permed to Death (Bad Hair Day Mystery #1) is on sale TODAY ONLY for $1.99. This edition is based on the original version published by Kensington.
Cohen_PermedDeath
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If you want my revised Author’s Edition instead, also available in print and audiobook, Go Here.

Booklover’s Bench Anniversary Giveaway, Feb. 1 – 18
Enter Here to win a Galaxy Tablet from Booklover’s Bench in our anniversary contest

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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.
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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.
 
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Hair Raiser Audiobook

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.

Hair Raiser Audiobook

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

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Giveaways

LAST DAY!!!! Nov. 15 – 21 Audiobook Extravaganza
Enter to win up to 20 free Audiobooks at https://www.authorsxp.com/giveaway

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Nov. 4 – 25 Goodreads Giveaway
Enter to win a signed ARC for Facials Can Be Fatal
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/210280-facials-can-be-fatal

Facials Can Be Fatal ARC

 

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Cover Reveal: Facials Can Be Fatal

FacialsCanBeFatalFront

Facials can be Fatal (Bad Hair Day Mystery #13) by Nancy J. Cohen
Release Date: February 22, 2017
Publisher: Five Star
ISBN-13: 9781432832827
ISBN-10: 1432832824
Hardcover Price: $25.95

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During the frenzy of the December holidays, the last thing salon owner Marla Vail needs is a dead body slathered in a green facial mask at her new day spa. The victim, Valerie Weston, had been a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a nonprofit historic building preservation society. Marla’s stylists are scheduled to work backstage at their upcoming gala fashion show, but Val’s demise might put a crimp in their plans.

Hoping to salvage her reputation, Marla determines to track down the suspects. Although Val had been well liked by most people, she may have stumbled onto secrets that others would kill to keep. As more bodies pile up, Marla races to uncover the clues. What are the connections between a greedy land developer, a dress designer whose husband may have links to the Asian mob, a mortician who might be involved in the human hair trade, and members of the nonprofit group’s board of directors? Are the latter as dedicated to their cause as they’d like Marla to believe, or do they have their own self-interests at heart?

Sparks are sure to fly when this smart stylist joins forces with her sexy detective husband to solve a decades-old mystery that includes a secret journal, pirate tales, and shipwrecks along the Florida coast. With the rollercoaster excitement, you might need a trip to the day spa to relax. But beware of body treatments that have nothing to do with herbal scrubs and hot stone massages and everything to do with murder.

“Take a twisty mystery, and 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

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Limited Time Offer: Two-for-One Limited Time Offer: Buy Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime and get Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime absolutely FREE! Two books for the price of one (only 99 cents) –and you get two bonus files full of recipes and craft project ideas for no extra cost. Offer ends Sept. 11 http://amzn.to/2cleJ8r

Follow me on our HH Blog Tour here. Leave a comment to win an ebook copy of PERMED TO DEATH.
September 9 – “A Story for Halloween” at
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September 11 – “Haunted House” at
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Giveaways
Happy Homicides—Ends Sept. 11 Enter to win a tote full of goodies for a fun fall afternoon
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Cozy Mystery Giveaway—Ends Sept. 11 Enter to win up to 38 cozy mysteries, including a digital copy of Permed to Death http://authorsxp.com/giveaway

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Mystery Author Christa Nardi

Let’s welcome Christa Nardi, author of the Cold Creek cozy mystery series.

 

Why did you choose to write in the mystery genre?

As a reader, I’ve always loved mysteries. I am a big fan of cozy mysteries in particular, although I do like romantic suspense as well.

Tell us about your story and the setting.

The Cold Creek series is set in a fictitious small town in Virginia, centered around a private four-year college. For Murder in the Theater, the murder takes place in a nearby small town, Altavista, at a community theater. The victim is the Director of the holiday production of “A Christmas Carol” and his personality is reminiscent of Scrooge. There are many possible characters with motive, but Sheridan (protagonist) has vested interests in proving the accused innocent.

What are the traits of your main character?

Sheridan Hendley (protagonist) is a smart, independent female character; she is educated, middle-aged, and divorced. She’s a professor and a psychologist – she looks at problems very analytically. In the first book of the series, she is told to help the detective assigned to the murder of her colleague. Her natural curiosity, and her ability to draw connections between people set the stage for her amateur sleuthing. 

Did you do any special research for this book?

Yes, I did. I investigated Virginia Hate Crime laws, the mechanics of a blow out, and distance/time information. I also researched the history of community theaters. Probably the most interesting was the information on hate crimes and finding out that the laws (what constitutes a hate crime) varies by state.

What do you like best about a writing career? The least?

I enjoy coming up with ideas and having the freedom to put those ideas together however I please, change them around, and see what comes out. I can write in my pajamas or all dressed up. In many ways I find writing relaxing and exciting. The downside? The times when the story’s not quite coming together.

Are you a plotter or pantser?

More pantser than plotter. I start off with a basic idea of the plot, write some scenes that go with my initial idea, and go from there. When I get stuck or something doesn’t seem to work, I backtrack and create a plot line from what I have – sometimes throwing out parts or rewriting – to figure out the next steps. The fun part is that when I start writing, I know who gets killed, I have an idea of the motive, but I haven’t decided who did the deed yet.

Do you set a daily schedule or wing it?

I work full-time so my writing schedule varies. I have established specific times when I can write for about 2-3 hours without interruption over the weekend, but otherwise I wing it. On the positive side, when I’ve put down the work for a while, it forces me to start reading from the beginning again. Sometimes that provides momentum and direction (or re-direction) for the story.

What do you plan to write next?

I plan to work on Book 5 of this series starting this fall. I only have a vague idea right now where that one will go. I am working on a new series right now, also mystery, but young adult. We’ll see how that works out.

Do you have any special interests outside of writing?

Reading? I read constantly – usually mystery or romance. I also enjoy dance and theater, though I am not talented in either. I love to travel, most recently to Barcelona.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Write, write, and write. There are many author groups locally or regionally with workshops and most are very supportive. Be prepared to throw out whole parts and start over. Get lots of feedback. Then write some more.

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Murder in the Theater

Murder-in-the-Theater2 (5)The drama program has never been so dramatic.

It’d be the season to be jolly if only someone hadn’t set the stage for murder. When a student is arrested for the crime, Professor Sheridan Hendley is cast in the role of amateur sleuth. Tensions run high, friendships are strained, and the college administration is beginning to panic. As the plot thickens Sheridan is yet again drawn deeper into danger. Will she find the truth before the final curtain call?

Cold Creek Series Book 4, Murder in the Theater by Christa Nardi, is another great cozy mystery.

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Books in the Cold Creek Series


MURDER AT COLD CREEK COLLEGE
MURDER IN THE ARBORETUM
MURDER AT THE GRILL
MURDER IN THE THEATER

For more information on the Cold Creek Series:
http://christanardi.blogspot.com/p/cold-creek-series.html
https://www.facebook.com/ColdCreekSeries/?ref=aymt_homepage_pane

 

 

Meet Christa Nardi

ChristaHeadshot1Christa Nardi is and always has been an avid reader. Her favorite authors have shifted from Carolyn Keene and Earl Stanley Gardner to more contemporary mystery/crime authors over time, but mystery/crime along with romance are her preferred choices for leisure reading.

Christa also has been a long time writer from poetry and short stories to the Cold Creek series, Christa has joined many other reader/writers in writing one genre she enjoys reading – the cozy mystery. Christa Nardi is a pen name for a real life professor/psychologist from the Northeast.

Stay in touch with Christa:

https://www.facebook.com/christa.nardi.5
https://twitter.com/ChristaN7777
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00G8SBCKK
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7257539.Christa_Nardi

 

 

CONTEST ALERT!

Enter Christa’s giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of Murder in the Theater. Click Here to Enter

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