Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Posts Tagged ‘books’

The Poisoned Pen

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 7, 2013

One night in Scottsdale, I was invited to do a booksigning and discussed at The Poisoned Pen Mystery Bookstore. After a quick gourmet dinner nearby at Virtu, I entered the inviting store and introduced myself to the staff. Lee, Patrick, and David were all very helpful. They were enthusiastic about my books and set up a ring of chairs for guests.

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The seats quickly filled and a lively discussion ensued. I talked about my Bad Hair Day mysteries and related how I was researching my next mystery while in Arizona. I’ve already written the synopsis for Peril by Ponytail and determined my cast of suspects. But I can’t begin writing without seeing the setting details in person. My experiences already caused me to make plot changes and altered my impression of the desert.

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A good time was had by all. Many thanks to the Poisoned Pen. Hope to see you guys again soon! If you’re in the Scottsdale area, be sure to stop in. http://www.poisonedpen.com

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Tomorrow, I am visiting Query Letters that Worked at http://dylannewtonwrites.blogspot.com/. Stop by and see what worked for me. And coming next on this blog is the Tanque Verde Dude Ranch.

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Fall into Reading Contest, Oct. 28 – Nov. 15
Enter to win an ebook copy of Dead Roots, my haunted hotel mystery and a $10 Starbucks gift card or one of three runner-up prizes. http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

November Booklover’s Bench Contest  Nov. 4 – Nov. 18
Enter to win a $25 Amazon or BN gift card or one of six runner-up ebook prizes. http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Halloween Reads

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 26, 2013

Looking for a spooky read this Halloween? Look no further than here:

Halloween Reads

Note that my own haunted hotel mystery, Dead Roots, is listed. Marla and Dalton spend Thanksgiving weekend at a haunted resort. Which is scarier– for Dalton to meet her relatives or for Marla to encounter a ghost?

“The setting, a Florida resort complete with ghosts, ruins and secret passages, makes a terrific site for a mystery. With Marla, Cohen has created a plucky heroine, and it’s great fun to watch her negotiate the investigation, her nosy relatives and her consuming attraction for her fiancé, Dalton.”  RT BookReviews

“Ghost stories, nifty secret passages, tales of gemstones and family secrets enliven this tale.” Oline Cogdill, Sun-Sentinel

“If you like ghosts and ghoulies and things that go blink in the night, you’ll love this book.”  Mysterious Women

“Condemned wings of the hotel, secret passages, and a gaggle of paranormal experts investigating the resident ghosts, all add up to a frenetic mixture of mirth and mayhem.” I Love A Mystery

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COMING NEXT: My Ghost Hunt tour at a real haunted resort, the Grand Hotel in Jerome, AZ. See my photos with orbs and hear about our adventures in this former hospital for local copper miners.

Posted in Book Reviews, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Booklover’s Bench March Contest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 5, 2013

Once again at Booklover’s Bench, I’ve joined with a group of four other authors to offer readers a chance to win exciting prizes. This month you can enter to win a $50 gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Amazon$50     B&N$50

One lucky runner-up will win ebooks from all five of us. So you have two chances to hit gold! Contest runs from March 4-17. So click on the picture below or go here to enter now: http://bookloversbench.com/category/featured/

Booklover's Bench

**Please note that by entering the contest, you are giving the authors permission for your name to be entered on their email newsletter lists. You will be able to unsubscribe later should you wish to do so.

What kind of prizes would you like us to offer in the future? And what other fun stuff would you like to see on this site?

Posted in Contest | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Booklover’s Bench

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 7, 2013

I am excited to announce that I’ve joined with a group of other writers, and we’ve started a new website for readers called Booklover’s Bench. We’ll be holding contests and giveaways so we hope you’ll visit often.

Booklover's Bench

Our first contest runs from Feb. 7-14. Enter now to win a Nook Simple Touch and an ebook from each of our authors!

Please bookmark our site while you are there so you can return and celebrate with us our love for books. We’ll be having more opportunities for you to win exciting prizes.

Participating authors include Terry Ambrose, Nancy J. Cohen, Karla Darcy, Terry Odell, and Maggie Toussaint.

Share this post with your friends!

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Looking for a Good Book

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 5, 2013

Recently I read through a bunch of novels to judge for the RITA contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America. Out of the 7 books sent me, I truly liked only one. That’s not to say I didn’t attempt to be fair and to objectively evaluate the others according to the supplied criteria. But only one out of the seven books appealed to my taste as a reader.

This exercise made me realize what I like about my favorite genres, and also what factors I don’t like that will make me put aside a book.

DISLIKES

No plot: In many of these romances, the romance portion was beautifully done but not much else happened. Reading page after page of angst and relationship problems quickly lost my interest. Now keep in mind that my cup of tea may be your cup of coffee. You may be an avid fan of contemporary romance and love these types of stories. I am not.

I like adventure, danger, and intrigue along with my romance. Or at the very least, I like something to be happening other than the emotional rollercoaster of the main couple. My taste runs to historicals, scifi/fantasy, and paranormals. That’s why romance can delight everyone. Different subgenres broaden the appeal.

Of course, the opposite problem can also be a deterrent: too much plot and not enough emotion. Haven’t you read stories where you don’t get a feel for the people? The action keeps moving along but you want more reaction? Balance is the key.

Graphic Language: Erotica may be a hot selling genre, but I don’t get off on the f-word or other graphically depicted details. You don’t even need a plot when these people are in bed for most of story. Or they’re thinking of doing it. Where’s the falling in love when two people are hot to trot right from the start? I’d be happier with a Jane Austen novel.

Contemporary Settings: I like to escape reality when I read, hence I prefer historical romance or futuristic/scifi/fantasy settings, or a contemporary setting with a paranormal element. My reading pleasure is focused on escape and entertainment, not enlightenment on heavy issues or a rehash of societal woes. All stories reflect on society in some manner. I prefer my tales Star Trek style, i.e. in disguised parallels to humanity’s foibles. As for location, Texas doesn’t draw me in although it seems to be a favorite among readers.

Unlikeable Characters: If the people are too far out from what’s normal for me, too eclectic or weird or damaged or tortured, I am apt to not be engaged. I want people I can admire and aspire to be like, not whom are unpleasant so that I can’t wait for the story to end.

So if these were the main things I disliked, what do I look for in a story? You may ask yourself the same thing. What draws you to a certain type of writing? A certain genre or a time period?

LIKES

Out of Time/Place/Experience: As I said above, I like to escape the toils of daily living, and so historical settings or futuristic/fantasy stories appeal to me. Ditto these elements or a paranormal angle in a modern setting.

Humor: I’m a sucker for humor. In any kind of story, if you make me smile, I’m more likely to keep reading.

Strong Plot: I want something to matter other than the relationship. Let the main couple race to find an artifact, missing sister, stolen chalice, spear of Atlantis, or anything that adds suspense. Throw them into situations that make me turn the page.

Archetypes: While I’m not fond of reunion stories, I do like hidden identity, royalty, rags to riches, and certain other archetypes. Some of these turn me off, like cowboys. What about you?

Mystery: A smidgen of mystery, even about a character’s background, adds tension. If you know everything up front and the characters like each other right away, where’s the story going?

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Now that I’ve finished the books I had to read, I can’t wait to dive into my TBR pile. Adventure, romance, fantasy, mystery, scifi—here I come.

So what kind of stories do you gravitate toward and which types do you generally avoid? How much will you read before you put a book down?

Posted in Florida Musings, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

Book Reviews Fall 2012

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 1, 2012

So many good books to read, not enough time! Especially now with all the titles loaded onto my Kindle plus the books overflowing our shelves at home, I wish I had more time to lie on the couch and read. Still, I’ve managed to get through the below titles in the past few months. I’m sharing them with you in case you’re in a quandary as to what to read next—besides those listed in the sidebar to your right. There’s nothing like a good book to transport you to a magic place, whether past, present or future, and immerse your mind in another world.

DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL by Joanna Campbell Slan  (Historical Mystery)

This debut title in The Jane Eyre Chronicles will charm you into wanting to read more. Jane is now married to Mr. Rochester. She enjoys an elevated status in society and has given birth to a son. However, she leaves the comfort of home when a mysterious message arrives from her husband’s ward, young Adele Varens. The frightening missive indicates the girl’s life may be in danger. Jane travels to the child’s school where she is mistaken for a new teacher. With the help of an old friend who recognizes her, she goes undercover to catch a killer. Someone has murdered Selina Biltmore, one of the superintendent’s favorites. As Jane gets to know Selina’s classmates along with the house staff, she notes a wealth of suspects. The victim may have appeared a cherub, but she hid a dark side. Jane has to catch the killer fast if she wants to save Adele from harm and prevent an innocent teacher from getting the blame.

Death of a Schoolgirl will immerse you in Jane’s world, and you’ll be sorry to see the story end. I’m eager for the next installment in this delightful series.

Death of a Schoolgirl (The Jane Eyre Chronicles)

THE FIRST CONFESSOR by Terry Goodkind  (Fantasy)

This prequel to Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series features Magda Searus, widow of First Wizard Barracus. Magda senses something isn’t right about her husband’s death. Her investigation leads her to a dark conspiracy, a threat to the Wizard’s Keep and to the very fabric of life itself. The undead play a role in this captivating tale. I enjoyed reading how Magda became the first Confessor and how the Sword of Truth was created. It’s a true origin story and Goodkind’s initial venture into digital first publishing. I love his writing and can’t wait for the next installment in his fantasy world, whether it’s another prequel or a sequel. His exquisite attention to detail and to character depth and the fast-paced action will pull you into the story, and you won’t want it to end.

The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus)

104 PUZZLE QUIZZES HD by the Grabarchuk Family

If you’re looking for a diversion when waiting in a doctor’s office or on a trip, download this puzzle book into your eReader device. Dozens of puzzles await your pleasure: mathematical, geometry, words, spatial, logic, and more. It’s a fun challenge to see if you can solve these brain teasers. You can download the book onto your Kindle or iPad. It’s very easy to operate with an iPad. You touch the responses to see if you have the correct answer. Navigation is a breeze on this device and do-able on the Kindle as well.

It’s a great book to have available when you want a quick puzzle fix or need to kill time. If you like brain challenges, add this book to your collection.

104 Puzzle Quizzes HD (Interactive Puzzlebook for Tablets)

SUNRISE ON THE MEDITERRANEAN by Suzanne Frank  (Historical Novel)

Time Travelers Chloe and Cheftu end up in the Biblical era of King David and the birth of Jerusalem. Mistaken for a mermaid goddess then captured as a slave, Chloe eventually ends up as a trusted advisor in King David’s court along with her husband Cheftu, appointed court scribe.

Old enemies aren’t far behind, and our heroes must prevent a plan that would destroy the holy city. And when they succeed, they’ll face a choice. Chloe can’t return to her own time, so will they stay in this era or move on?

Sunrise on the Mediterranean

WHY MERMAIDS SING by C.S. Harris (Historical Mystery)

Lord Devlin once again gets embroiled in a series of tragic murders. This time young men—the sons of prominent noblemen—are found dead and their bodies mutilated. Clues point to a sea voyage their parents had in common. What happened on that ship that is driving someone to make a statement in such a gruesome fashion? As Lord Devlin rushes to find the killer, he arouses someone’s interest and soon becomes a target himself. The secret of that voyage is one that people will kill to keep, even if it means sacrificing their own children. Can Lord Devlin save himself and track the murderer before more young people die? And can he hang onto the love of his life, actress Kat Boleyn, who gets herself immersed deeper into intrigue and her own danger? This captivating mystery will have you reaching for the sequel.

Why Mermaids Sing: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Book 3

A NECESSARY HUSBAND by Debra Mullins (Historical Romance)

Lucinda Devering’s future rides on the success of her protégée, young Meg Lynch. The Duke of Raynewood has hired Lucinda to train his American granddaughter to fit in with the nobility and position due her as a lady. However, Meg’s sea captain brother shows up with other plans. He wants to take Meg home to Boston but delays their voyage at his sister’s pleas. In the meantime, the Duke instructs Lucinda to tame this ruffian who is his only heir. Can Lucinda accomplish this difficult task when Garrett Lynch makes her heart beat faster and her hidden desires flare into life? Garrett finds himself drawn to his sister’s mentor against his will. He doesn’t want to like this life in England or take his role as Lord Kelton. But the longer he stays, the deeper the danger that Lucinda will tempt him to remain.

A Necessary Husband

HEART FATE by Robin D. Owens (Fantasy Romance)

Lahsin Yew escapes from an abusive husband into a hidden sanctuary where she seeks peace and her Second Passage to acquire the magic known as Flair. But she’s not the only resident in BalmHeal. Tinne Holly is there, too, allowed inside only because he’s anguished over his divorce. Both emotionally wounded by broken relationships, they are drawn together by their unacknowledged Heart bond. Will they be able to reconcile their pasts in order to move ahead into the future? With Lahsin wary of men, Tinne has to approach her carefully even as his heart yearns for her. Forbidden by law to mention their connection, he can only hope that time will heal them both so they can be together. But when Lahsin learns the truth, will she turn away from him? Excellent world building and likeable characters will pull you into this imaginative tale.

Heart Fate (Celta's HeartMates, Book 7)

ARK ANGEL by Anthony Horowitz (Teen Spy Fiction)

Teen spy Alex Rider is recovering from a gunshot wound in a private hospital when thugs burst in meaning to kidnap the boy in the next room. Wanting to protect the son of wealthy Nikolai Drevin, Alex takes his place. The bad guys, who don’t know one kid from another, forcibly take Alex to a deserted warehouse. There they await a response to their ransom demands. But Alex isn’t one to sit idly by, especially when the thugs threaten to cut off one of his fingers and send it to Drevin as proof they have his son. To forestall the horrendous act, Alex reveals his true identity and learns that the gang belongs to the terrorist group, Force Three. He manages a harrowing escape after the terrorists lock him up and set fire to the deserted building.

In gratitude to Alex for saving his son from a traumatic ordeal, Drevin invites Alex for a holiday on a private island in the Caribbean. Drevin’s space station is set to become the first hotel in space. But is that all Drevin plans? Engaged by both MI6 and the CIA, Alex attempts to discover Drevin’s secrets while pretending to be his son’s friend and an honored guest. His visit quickly turns dangerous as the Force Three gang shows up and Alex becomes the hunted instead of the hunter.

Another rousing episode in the Alex Rider series, this story is just as fast-paced and exciting as the rest. It’s pure escapism at heart.
Ark Angel (Alex Rider Adventure)

WHEN GODS DIE by C.S. Harris (Historical Mystery)

Viscount Devlin is once again tapped to use his unique sleuthing abilities to discover who has murdered the Marchioness of Anglessey. Is it the Prince Regent, who is caught with her body nearly in her arms? Or is it one of the prince’s political enemies who seeks to discredit him and put another claimant on the throne? Or is it the lady’s husband, jealous because she took a younger lover? Or maybe it’s the lover, whom she cast aside?

Lots of suspects abound in this intriguing mystery set in 1800’s London. Amid a deepening conspiracy, Devlin seeks justice and determines to find the killer. The stakes rise as traitors in high places attempt to silence him. Detailed settings and a dashing hero will have you seeking the next book in this engaging series.

When Gods Die: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery

SHIP OF DREAMS by Brenda Hiatt (Historical Romance)

Della, a medicinal herbalist, escapes from a possible murder charge in San Francisco onto a cruise liner headed to Panama and eventually the States. Needing a quick disguise, she proclaims a stranger onboard to be her husband. For reasons of his own, he plays along until the ship sails and he gets her alone in his cabin. When she reveals her ruse, he explains that he needs a wife for business purposes. They agree to an arrangement but their fake marriage soon changes into deep affection. Their marriage becomes real when the ship’s captain performs a secret ceremony.

Unfortunately, their wedded bliss is cut short when the ship founders in a storm and sinks. The two are separated, and she believes her husband to be dead. She makes her way to the eastern U.S. to meet his family, where she is not very welcome. She’s about to run away when her husband turns up, alive and well. Will their troubled start allow them to settle down, or are they each better off on their own? This heartwarming romance, along with vivid scenes of a shipwreck based on true stories, will keep you turning pages.

Ship of Dreams

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July Contest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 10, 2012

JULY AUTHOR CONTEST: Win a free book!

Find the answer to this question on my website: “Where did Marla Shore discover the body in Shear Murder, and what was the victim’s relation to the bride?”

Prize: Mystery gift box including a signed ARC of Shear Murder    

Contest begins on July 3, 2012 and ends on midnight, July 24, 2012. Drawing will be held using Random.Org. Winner will be announced on Nancy’s blog and website the next day.

Rules

To enter the drawing, send an email to contest@nancyjcohen.com

In the Subject line, put Contest

In the Body of the message, put your first and last name and email address along with the answer to the question.

*One entry per person, please! U.S. Residents only due to postage constraints.

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No purchase is necessary. By your entry, you certify that you are at least 18 years of age and agree to the conditions of this contest. You will hold the Author harmless for any misdirected emails and release her from any liability claim that may arise from your entry. By this entry, you give permission for your name to be added to the author’s email newsletter list.

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Addicted to Books

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 23, 2012

I am addicted to books. I’ll confess right now that I can’t go anywhere without a book. The format doesn’t matter. Kindle, iPad, or tree-based physical books will all serve the purpose. You’ll find books in my car, in the bathroom, in the bedroom and the den. Sometimes I’ll read three at once, usually in different genres. But as my Amazon wish list grows longer, so do the piles of books in our house. We have crates of them spilling over into every room.   books2

Some books I’ve gathered at conferences, others in goodie bags at various book events. Some authors have sent me their work for endorsements. And of course I have to buy the books my friends write. Then there are my favorite authors and new writers to try. So many good books to read, not enough time!

You say I can save space if I give up the physical tomes and settle for digital? The futurist in me fears an electromagnetic surge/weapon/solar flare that will knock out our electronics. Where would I be then without a paper book to hold?

No matter what format books take in the future, I can’t live without them. I need a story to transport me to other places and other times, to experience adventures I’ll never have in my lifetime, and to learn about different ways of life and people. Storytelling lies at the root of the human experience. Even if the delivery methods change, the need for this form of expression will not go away. So join me, and read a book today!

Posted in Florida Musings | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »

UCF Book Festival

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 2, 2012

UCF BOOK FESTIVAL
March 31, 2012

This was my first year participating in this illustrious event. Last Friday evening, my husband and I attended the author reception on campus. It was a delightful event where we mingled with other authors while sipping wine and eating shrimp appetizers, stuffed mushrooms, baked brie in pastry, and more. A chocolate fountain tempted our sweet tooth with marshmallows and pound cake to dip. There was a brief welcome talk and then everyone dispersed.

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Daniel & Michael Palmer, Nancy Cohen, Neil Plakcy

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Neil Plakcy and Nancy Cohen

The next day, I arrived at the UCF Arena and made my way through the building’s maze to the author hospitality suite on the third level. Here our sponsors offered snacks throughout the day. I greeted my fellow panelists, Bob Morris and Neil S. Plakcy, and we headed for our allotted room. Our panel, “Killing People in Exotic Places”, brought a good crowd—mostly young aspiring writers. They asked intelligent questions and kept the conversation flowing. All three of us speakers set our stories in tropical locales, from Florida to the Caribbean to Hawaii. We discussed how the setting influences our work and dispensed writing tips to the audience. A brief signing followed in the main arena lobby.

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Nancy Cohen, Neil Plakcy, Bob Morris

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Nancy J. Cohen

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Neil and Nancy

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Bob, Neil and Nancy

On Sunday, we met our kids and tried to go to CSI: The Experience, but it hadn’t opened yet. This attraction looks like fun but we’ll have to wait until our next trip to Orlando. It’s on International Drive next to the Titanic exhibit. Instead, we explored Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, had lunch in the fast-food restaurant, and strolled the landscaped grounds. Dinner was at House of Blues in Downtown Disney.

Here’s a parting shot of our latest friend, the alligator in the lake by our condo.

alligator

The gator looks like a log on the water.

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On Wednesday, April 4, I am guest blogging over at The Lady Killers on the theme of Second Choices and how it relates to Shear Murder. Please drop by and leave a comment!

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Kirkus Review of Shear Murder

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 3, 2012

SHEAR MURDER by Nancy J. Cohen

Finding the bride’s sister’s corpse under the dessert table can ruin most of your day, as hairstylist Marla Shore (Killer Knots, 2007, etc.) discovers at her friend Jill’s wedding.

With her own special day a scant two weeks off, Marla plays close attention to the Barlow-Hartman nuptials. And at first things look perfect. Jill Barlow has even converted to Judaism so she and Arnie can include the traditional Seven Blessings in their service under a gorgeous, flower-bedecked chuppah. Jill’s sister Torrie, a fashion reporter from Boca Style Magazine, has talked philanthropist Falcon Oakwood into allowing the wedding to take place on the opening day of his Orchid Isle nature preserve, so Boca Style photographer Griff Beasley is on hand to take lots of fabulous pictures. Florist Phillip Canfield has outdone himself in supplying cascades of rare blooms. Of course, Jill’s quarrel with Torrie over what to do with the parcel of land they co-own, managed by their realtor cousin Kevin, doesn’t bode well. But the real downer is Marla’s discovery of Torrie’s body tucked under the table just before Jill and Arnie cut the wedding cake. Marla is so bummed out that she can hardly make tender love to her sexy fiancé, Dalton Vail, that evening. Instead of writing out place cards, she spends the time before she ties the knot asking pointed questions of anyone she thinks may be responsible for Torrie’s demise, until of course someone decides to shut her up—unfortunately, not soon enough.

Cohen takes the amateur-sleuth-who-asks-too-many-nosy-questions formula to new depths. It’s enough to make your hair curl.

Kirkus Reviews


Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4328-2554-6

Page count: 246pp

Publisher: Five Star

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4th, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2011

http://search.comcast.net/?cat=web&con=homepage&q=Shear+Murder

**Don’t forget to follow my blog tour and leave a comment for a chance to win free signed books! Coming next:

Saturday, February 4, Poe’s Deadly Daughters, Topic: Florida as Character

Sunday, February 5, Cozy Chicks, Topic: Love and Murder

Thursday, February 9, The Stiletto Gang, Topic: Why I Like Cozies

Thursday, February 16, Patricia Stoltey, Topic: Obsessions and Orchids

Tuesday, February 28, Killer Characters, Topic: Hair Care Q&A with Marla Shore

 

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