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.
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 buildingpreservation 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
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. 11http://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 Brooke Blogs September 11 – “Haunted House” at Shelley’s Book Case
Giveaways Happy Homicides—Ends Sept. 11 Enter to win a tote full of goodies for a fun fall afternoon http://bit.ly/2b7Cm3I
Cozy Mystery Giveaway—Ends Sept. 11 Enter to win up to 38 cozy mysteries, including a digital copy of Permed to Deathhttp://authorsxp.com/giveaway
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.
Murder in the Theater
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.
Christa 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.
Permed to Death, book #1 in the Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series, is now available in audiobook at Audible and iTunes. Narrated by the talented Mary Ann Jacobs from Voice Over Visions.
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.
I’ve learned a lot from doing an audiobook for the first time. I’ll be describing the experience in upcoming posts. Meanwhile, my new audiobook needs reviews, so I hope you will help spread the word. For audiobooks, reviews are especially helpful on Audible and iTunes, where you can set up free accounts. But they’re also welcome on Amazon, BN, and Goodreads.
You can listen to audiobooks on your iPhone, tablet computer, or ebook reader device. Have a long car trip or commute coming up? Listen to an audiobook. Do you routinely jog, walk, or spend time on the treadmill? Listen to an audiobook. Have trouble seeing well enough to read lately? An audiobook will fulfill your need with less effort. Want a new way to relieve stress and lower your blood pressure? Lie on the couch, close your eyes, and listen to an audiobook. Keep in mind that you can gift an audiobook to someone else. Also, if you buy the Permed to Death Kindle ebook, you can get the audiobook at a discount.
Or make your own clips and send me the links when you post to social media!
Body Wave (Bad Hair Day Mystery #4) ebook is on sale for $1.00 at Smashwords until July 31. Coupon Code SSW75. Marla the hairstylist goes undercover as a nurse’s aide to help solve the murder of her ex-spouse’s third wife. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/580614
Friday, October 9, at Bouchercon started out with the Sisters in Crime Breakfast. Here we heard about all the wonderful programs this organization offers.
Then I attended a panel on Paranormal Mysteries with Heather Graham, Alexandra Sokoloff, Lorena Peter, Toni Kelner, and Rochelle Staab as moderator.
Disclaimer: These notes are based on my interpretation and any errors are mine.
The definition of paranormal includes any phenomena that is beyond normal experience and scientific explanation.
Is there evil in the world? Do we believe in witches? This question of belief is part of the mystery. Some elements used in the speakers’ stories include witches, energy vampires, skeletons, and ghosts. Ghosts are more possible than other creatures, Heather said. We want to believe in the afterlife. Alex agreed people like to be scared. Lorena admitted that family experiences and personal stories influence her books. Tony was inspired by TV shows, such as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. Heather liked The Twilight Zone.
Alex said the scariest things are what people do to other people. She has to scare herself as an author, note the experience, and then scare the reader. Heather suggested the scariest things are what we do in our own minds. Lorena delivers messages from spirits. “They are out there.”
Why do people read these stories? They want more control over their lives. They like to have the powers. The little bit of magic is appealing. Ghost stories relate to the history of sites. Heather mentioned residual versus active hauntings. Alex likes the sensual thrill of the unknown with a slow build to an exciting climax. As for ideas? They are all around. Keep a dream journal. And listen to people with interesting stories.
Besides these authors, check out Maggie Toussaint’s Gone and Done It series with a psychic sleuth.
Preventing a Mystery Series “Jumping the Shark”
Panelists included Nancy J. Cohen, Candace Robb, Lisa Unger, Laurie R. King, and Francine Mathews as moderator.
We spoke about how we keep a series fresh and then fielded questions from the audience. Ideas that I spoke about included:
The relationships between recurring characters should evolve and change like in real life. Switch locations every few books but not too often. Learn something new that excites you for each story. Bring in new characters or focus on a different secondary character for a change of pace. Also consider having a continuing personal thread that isn’t resolved right away. If you really need to step away for a break, think about doing a short story or novella, either with your main characters or from the viewpoint of a secondary character.
Join hairstylist sleuth Marla Shore in unraveling a murder case with wacky psychics, bingo mamas, and ghoulish family keepsakes in this clever cozy mystery.
Hair shop rivalry comes to a head when hairstylist Marla Shore finds the body of her competitor behind their South Florida shopping center. Carolyn Sutton may not have been her friend, but Marla takes on the case for the sake of justice. And she’s curious as to why a hank of Carolyn’s hair is missing.
Her quest becomes personal when Wilda Cleaver, Carolyn’s trusted psychic and the new owner of her salon, insists that Carolyn’s spirit wants Marla to solve her murder. The psychic hints that she’d better succeed fast, or someone Marla loves might be hurt. Carolyn’s resentful sister, her bingo partner, her chiropractor, a mysterious benefactor, and a local lawyer fill the expanding list of suspects. With a hurricane approaching, Marla needs to untangle the snarl of clues before the storm hits and the murderer strikes again.
Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore Bestseller
Died Blonde was originally published by Kensington. This Author’s Edition has been updated with added bonus materials.
“Intrepid Marla Shore is up to her elbows in hot water when a rival salon owner turns up dead and shorn. Nancy Cohen has penned another follicle‑raising frolic with a wry twist of romance.” – P.J. Parrish, NY Times Bestselling Author
HAIR RAISER A Bad Hair Day Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen
Hairstylist Marla Shore volunteers for Taste of the World, a fund-raiser sponsored by Ocean Guard. It’s a decision she soon regrets. First Chef Pierre’s rum-soaked Bananas Foster goes up in flames, making her wonder if sabotage caused the incident. Her suspicions deepen as more chefs drop off the roster and Ocean Guard’s attorney is murdered. Does the lawyer’s death relate to an estate being managed by the group? If their gala fails, this property will fall into the hands of a mysterious heir.
Marla’s friend, dashingly handsome Detective Dalton Vail, believes the culprit might be one of Ocean Guard’s esteemed board members. She determines to help him untangle the clues. With a killer on the loose, Marla has a lot more to worry about than which canapés her chefs should serve. She’d better comb through the knot of suspects and catch the saboteur before he strikes again.
With her witty style and flair for local color, Nancy J. Cohen has created another page‑turner that will leave readers eager for their next appointment with sassy salon owner Marla Shore.
NOTE: Hair Raiser (Bad Hair Day Mystery #2) was originally published by Kensington Publishing Corp. This Author’s Edition has been revised and reformatted with added bonus material. Coming next in a revised edition will be Murder by Manicure.
Hair Raiser was nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice Award by RT Book Reviews
“A saucy murder mystery by Nancy J. Cohen.” Publisher’s Weekly
“An easy-to-take series title with the ready appeal of an independent female sleuth and colorful Florida settings.” Library Journal
“Hair Raiser is a light, funny, cozy read…I had the serious urge to call my hairdresser and schedule an immediate appointment.” Cozies, Capers, & Crimes
“Hair Raiser is curled around a likable amateur sleuth who can handle a curling iron and murder clues with aplomb.” Sun-Sentinel
“Hair Raiser is a fast‑paced, one sitting read that may keep all but the sharpest‑eyed readers confused until the very end.” The Mystery Reader
“Cohen has richly filled this novel with quirky characters, twists and turns that make for a completely satisfying reading experience. The plot will keep you guessing, and Ms. Cohen’s writing style will keep you coming back for more.” MyShelf.com
“Curl up with Nancy Cohen’s stylishly witty and chillingly suspenseful tale of murder on the Florida coast—Hair Raiser is a cut above.” Joanne Pence, author of the Angie Amalfi mystery series
NOTE:New Reviews for this revised edition would be greatly appreciated!
Marla’s joyous move to a new house with her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, is marred by their next-door neighbor who erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man of the local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found dead the following day. Dismayed when Dalton is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest, Marla decides it’s up to her to find the killer. Can the intrepid hairstylist untangle the clues and pin down the culprit before he strikes again?
“Marla is short for marvelous. If you like your mysteries ‘cozy,’ you’re going to enjoy every minute you spend with her!”—Award-winning author Joanna Campbell Slan
Top Pick 5 Stars! “The author is always keeping you guessing as to where the story will lead you next. Ms. Cohen has just joined the list of my favorite authors and I look forward to reading the other books she has written. I hope you find Hanging by a Hair as great as I did.”—MerryNoelle, Night Owl Reviews
“Clues abound, as do quirky characters, wonderfully described South Florida settings, intriguing insights into the beauty salon business and into the wild world of Florida home-owning communities, and flavorful recipes. All in all, Hanging by a Hair is entertaining, enjoyable, and informative. I look forward to Number 12 in this delightful series.”— Stephanie Saxon Levine, Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore
April is a super busy month for me, so I won’t be able to write many regular blog posts. It’s my release month for Hanging By A Hair (April 18). As a result, I have a blog tour, online launch party, various appearances, contests, and all this while doing a final reading of Peril by Ponytail before turning it in to my editor. At the end of this month, I leave for the Malice Domestic conference in Maryland. So please bear with me during all these announcements and SAVE THESE DATES!
April 15, Tuesday, Blog Hop sponsored by Florida Chapter of MWA. You can start with my topic, “Characters Too Weird To Be True” and follow along from there. Enter to win a Kindle Paperwhite and other prizes! So come back here on April 15 for this special event. http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com
April 19, Saturday, 11:30 am, “Writing the Cozy Mystery” including 4 Giant Steps to Self-Publishing with Nancy J. Cohen, Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, Doubletree by Hilton, 100 Fairway Drive, Deerfield Beach, 33441. Reservations Required, http://mwaflorida.org/
We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Go there, Like my page, then click on Photos. Next click on Albums and then SleuthFest 2014.
In choosing what to read, knowing a book is part of a series might convince you to buy it since there’s a certain degree of success involved. If you really love a book, you’re also happy to know there are more to come in a series. So readers gravitate to series for many reasons. “The richer the world you create, the richer the experience for your readers.”
What returns readers to a series? It feels like you’re revisiting an old friend. This offers a sense of comfort. Plus you know what you’re getting. Familiarity is at the heart of a series. Characters, setting, and occupation may be recurrent.
“You create a universe and populate it.” Do a street chart and a floor plan. Sensory details make the story rich for readers. Have a timeline for your characters. Determine the timing between stories, character ages, grades, and birthdays. “The best part of being an author is when readers believe your characters are real.”
Keep track of places as you write. If you have a fake town, get a map of a real town and change the names. Use it as a model for your town. In your story bible, put a snippet of background on each character, locations, stores in the town, along with stylistic notes such as the chapter heading. Include a style sheet for grammar and special items, such as how to put in craft instructions or recipes. This story bible may also include social issues, time of year, and more.
“Novels are about people. You don’t have a novel about scrapbooking. You have a novel about a character who does scrapbooking.”
If you have a scene that doesn’t go anywhere in a long novel, consider writing a short story. Short stories are also good for side issues, like pre-wedding details or for exploring secondary characters.
Poll your readers and ask what character they would like to see more prominent in your next story.
“Every strength overused is a weakness” in your character. Try to give each person a personal problem to overcome. What are they trying to work out? What are they worrying about? Make the characters different ages because then they’ll have different issues. Everybody has angst. Every now and then, your character’s mask should slip so the reader gets a glimpse of what’s there.
End every book with a cliffhanger. Solve the mystery in this story but start a new one. Ask yourself, what seed can I plant now that will bear fruit in a future book?
“The first line sells that particular title; the last line sells the next book.”
Joanna is the author of the Kiki Lowenstein mystery series and the Jane Eyre Chronicles.