Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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    Facials Can Be Fatal

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

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    Haunted Hair Nights

    Cozy Mystery Novella

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    Writing the Cozy Mystery

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    Peril by Ponytail

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

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    Hanging by a Hair, a Bad Hair Day Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

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Archive for the ‘Excerpt’ Category

Behind the Scenes

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 6, 2017

If you’re interested in behind the scenes details on Facials Can Be Fatal, my new book release, check out these guest blog posts. Some of them offer giveaways for commenters. Get your bid in before the tour ends. Comments must be made on the site listed. Please support my tour hosts! Hint — One of these posts tells about a derivative of human hair that may end up in your baked goods.

March 3 – Brooke Blogs – “History, Mystery, and Buried Family Secrets” GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY

March 4 – Kings River Life Magazine – REVIEW and GIVEAWAY

March 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – “Hair is Gold” GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY

March 6 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY

March 6 – The Revolving Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 6 – The Pop Culture Divas – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – A Holland Reads – “Backstage at a Fashion Show” CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 8 – The Mysterious Ink Spot – “Theme Parks – Fun or Fearsome?” GUEST POST, EXCERPT, and GIVEAWAY

March 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 9 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

March 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

For the full list of tour stops, Go Here.

blog tour

Cozy Mystery Giveaway, Feb. 28 – March 6
LAST DAY! Enter Here to win up to 40+ cozy mysteries, including an ebook copy of Hair Raiser.

Tropical Treats Giveaway, Feb. 21 – March 14
Enter Here to win a Tropical Treats package with a blue scarf, a blue crystal pendant necklace from Effy, a West Indies cookbooks, and a signed hardcover copy of Killer Knots (Bad Hair Day Mystery #9).

Booklovers Bench Monthly Giveaway, March. 1 – 18
Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench

 

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Posted in Appearances, Author Interviews, Book Excerpt, Book Reviews, Contest, Excerpt, New Release, Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Word Repetitions

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 30, 2016

When I’m editing my next novel, one of the things I look for are word repetitions. Here is a perfect example of what I mean:

Marla took the printout from Keri. They’d better head over to Liam’s house while the day was still young. Later, he’d be busy getting ready for his charity event. She fumbled inside her purse and took out her checkbook.

“I appreciate your getting this information for us,” she told Keri. “How much do I owe you?”

Keri gave her a warm smile. “My rate is discounted to twenty dollars an hour for new clients. This didn’t take me much time at all, even though Liam keeps his home address private. So let’s call this a complimentary visit. Any referrals you can make my way would be appreciated.”

“Are you sure? You gave up your free time to meet with us today.”

“No problem. I had a few things to catch up on this afternoon anyway.”

“I appreciate it. If you ever come to Palm Haven, stop by my salon. I’ll return the favor.” Marla put away her checkbook and rose.

What word did I repeat? I used “appreciate” three times. Here is the revised version:

“I appreciate your getting this information for us,” she told Keri. “How much do I owe you?”

Keri gave her a warm smile. “My discounted rate for new clients is twenty dollars an hour. This didn’t take me much time at all, even though Liam keeps his home address private. So let’s consider it a complimentary visit. Any future referrals you can send my way would be welcome.”

“Are you sure? You gave up your free time to meet with us today.”

“No problem. I had a few things to catch up on this afternoon anyway.”

“That’s generous of you. If you’re ever in Palm Haven, stop by my salon and I’ll return the favor.” Marla put away her checkbook and rose.

Look for these types of word repetitions when revising your work. This is separate from a read-through where you try to pick up snatches of dialogue that repeat conversations between your characters. Often when you’re writing chapter-to-chapter, you lose track of what’s been revealed. Your editing sweeps should help you cut through the clutter and expose these faults. So be diligent and comb through your work as a detective might comb through his list of suspects.

 

Posted in Excerpt, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Peril by Ponytail New Book Release

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 16, 2015

Peril by Ponytail (#12 in the Bad Hair Day mystery series) is available! Join me TONIGHT for a book release party, 7:00 pm EDT, https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty

PerilbyPonytail

Hoping for a romantic honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch, hairstylist Marla Vail and her husband Dalton arrive to find a series of mishaps plaguing the resort. A nearby ghost town is suffering similar problems. Is it mere coincidence that Dalton’s Uncle Raymond owns both properties? When Raymond asks for their help in finding the culprit, Marla and Dalton eagerly accept. Then news of a local forest ranger’s death raises the stakes.

With sleuthing more natural to Marla than horseback riding, she delves into the investigation. But as she digs deeper, she discovers skeletons in the family closet. Someone means to drive Raymond out of business, and the reason may be linked to his past misdeeds. Raymond isn’t the only one with secrets. The trail leads Marla from an environmental activist group to saguaro poachers to water rights proponents to an abandoned copper mine beneath the ghost town. She’d better saddle up, rein in the clues, and find the killer before she becomes the next spirit inhabiting the haunted hillside.

“Cozy fans will have fun.” —Publishers Weekly

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/T2Vao7yDIVY

View my Arizona photo album (and Like my page while there): https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Excerpt from Peril by Ponytail:

The door banged open, and a wrangler stuck his head inside. “Have any of you seen Carol?”

Doc Harrigan shook his head. “No, why?”

“She went for her usual ride this morning. Her horse has returned with a limp. She wasn’t on it.”

“Dear God. Has Wayne been informed?”

“He’s gathering a search party as we speak. Do you want to join the posse, Doc? Carol might be hurt if the horse tossed her.”

“I should tend to the beast, but maybe I can be of some use.” Dr. Harrigan jerked his thumb at Marla and Dalton. “You guys wanna come along?”

“I’ll join you.” Dalton stood, and Marla followed suit. “Can you get a horse ready for me?” he asked the wrangler.

“Yes, sir. Won’t take me but a minute. Meet me in the corral out back.”

“I can’t go,” Marla said in a disappointed tone. “I’d slow everyone down. I’ll wait for news in the main lobby.”

Wayne might return to his office eventually, or at least he’d notify one of the other managers when they’d found Carol. Her heart thumped as conjecture flashed ugly images in her mind of possible scenarios. Carol was a seasoned rider who wouldn’t fall from her saddle without reason

Outside, the men rode off in a cloud of dust toward the trail Carol normally took each morning. Their group got smaller and turned into specks against the mountainside. Marla recalled a time in the recent past when she’d been warned to vary her morning routine by a killer who’d taken advantage of her habits. With a possible saboteur on the ranch, Marla should have given Carol the same advice.

ORDER NOW
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Contest Alert!

Enter now at http://freshfiction.com/contest.php?id=7600 to win a Collectible Handcrafted Porcelain Drummer Doll or one of two runner-up prizes – a pair Arizona crafted earrings and a signed paperback Hanging by a Hair. I bought the doll while in Arizona doing research for Peril by Ponytail. U.S. Residents only please.

Enter Sept. 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.  Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

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My Blog Tour Continues. Check out my guest posts today at:

Sept. 16 – “Hunting Ghosts,” Mystery Playground

Sept. 16,  “On-Site Research Tips”, Southern Writers Magazine, Suite T

Posted in Excerpt, New Release | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Body Wave Book Launch

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 16, 2015

I’m excited to announce the release of Body Wave, #4 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Body Wave was originally published by Kensington. This Author’s Edition has been revised and updated with added bonus materials.

Body Wave

Join my Book Launch Party TONIGHT from 7:00 – 8:00 pm EDT for Fun & Giveaways at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty

Stylist Marla Shore goes undercover in a hair-brained scheme to catch a killer in her latest South Florida adventure. In a story braided with unexpected twists and curls, she takes on a role as nurse’s aide for wealthy Miriam Pearl. While Marla snoops into the elderly matriarch’s affairs, her boyfriend, Detective Dalton Vail, is afraid that the only affair she’ll snag is with her ex-spouse, Stan. Juggling work at her salon, crime solving, and two amorously inclined males, Marla fights a race against time to save Stan before the dashing detective nails him for murder.

Excerpt from Body Wave

Marla is being interviewed on Sunday for the part-time nurse’s aide position. Also present are Morris, a family member, and Agnes, the woman’s regular nurse.

“We’ve had a death in the family,” Morris explained to Marla, “so things aren’t well organized right now. Why don’t you come on Thursday next week? We’ll expect you to wear a white uniform when you report for work.”

Marla glanced at Agnes, who wore slacks and a pullover sweater. Did that mean the nurse was already off-duty for today?

“You can run off now, Agnes,” Morris said, answering Marla’s silent question. “Miss Shore will begin at once.”

Marla nearly dropped her handbag on the floor. “Now? But I’m not ready. I mean, this was just supposed to be an interview. I thought you said you wanted me to start on Thursday.”

“It doesn’t matter that you’re not in uniform today,” Morris said. “Come upstairs, and I’ll introduce you to my mother.”

“B-but what do I do? Agnes, aren’t you going to instruct me?”

“I already did.” Agnes paused. “Good luck, Miss Shore. May I call you Marla?”

“Of course.”

The woman’s gaze cooled. “A word of caution, Marla. Mrs. Pearl is a special lady, and I care deeply about her. See that you follow her orders explicitly. If she has any complaints, I’ll hear about them. I may be an employee here, but I report directly to Miriam. She’ll listen to me if I advise her to dismiss you.”

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“Ms. Cohen’s plot has more twists than a French braid, and Marla is a shear delight.” Joanne Fluke, author of the Hannah Swensen mysteries

“In Nancy J. Cohen’s fourth bubbly Bad Hair Day mystery, Florida hairdresser Marla Shore agrees to help her snake of an ex‑husband, Stan Kaufman, who’s been arrested for the murder of his third wife, Kimberly, find the real killer.” Publishers Weekly

“In Body Wave, Marla faces more shades of guilt and malice than she has colors of nail polish in her salon ‑‑ and exposes herself to a hidden killer who may decide that eliminating Marla is a permanent solution for getting away with murder.” Barnes & Noble Ransom Notes

“The Bad Hair Day mysteries have been noted for their humor, quick pacing and an intelligent amateur sleuth. Author Nancy J. Cohen continues to offer a refreshing and fun series.” Creatures ‘n Crooks

“You will find it all within the pages of Body Wave: a touch of romance, laugh out loud moments, hilarious characters, and a puzzling mystery.” The Romance Readers Connection

BUY NOW
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1G9sInY
BN: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/body-wave-nancy-j-cohen/1017540833
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/body-wave-2
iBooks: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/book/body-wave/id1001688541?mt=11&uo=6&at=1l3vsrx
Print Edition: https://www.createspace.com/5542372

CONTEST ALERT
Go here for a chance to win free books: http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

 

Posted in Excerpt, Marketing, New Release, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hanging by a Hair Paperback Edition

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 1, 2015

Hanging by a Hair (Bad Hair Day Mystery #11) is now available in a mass market paperback edition from Worldwide Mystery Library.

Hanging by a Hair

Florida salon owner Marla Vail is happily settling into domestic life with her husband, Dalton, and her teenage stepdaughter. Too bad her dream house comes with a neighbor from hell. Alan Krabber, president of the Royal Oaks Homeowners’ Association, throws up roadblocks on everyone’s projects—except his own. But after he and Dalton argue about an illegal fence, Krabber is found hanging from his second-floor balcony.

It’s homicide masquerading as suicide—and Lieutenant Dalton Vail is the prime suspect. Between ferreting out the culprit who’s pilfering from her salon and clearing her husband’s name, Marla’s got a lot to untangle…especially after another resident is killed. But can she follow the twisty trail of blackmail, betrayal and fraud to stop a killer who’s getting in everyone’s hair?

“A pleasingly lighthearted cozy.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“The suspense element in this unusually funny mystery is gripping.”—Phil Jason, Florida Weekly

“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.”— Stephanie Saxon Levine, Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore

“If you’ve ever had neighbors that lived too close for comfort, then you’ll get a laugh out of author Nancy J. Cohen’s latest release, HANGING BY A HAIR. This is a madcap murder mystery that will have you laughing and guessing until the very end.”—Mason Canyon, Thoughts in Progress

Suspense Magazine “Best of 2014” Book
Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
Nominated for BTS Red Carpet Award

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/gv5ldn9uw7I
Pinterest Board: http://www.pinterest.com/njcohen/hanging-by-a-hair/
Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1bn0tyl

*This book would make a great gift for Mother’s Day!

BUY NOW
Mass Market Edition: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=58627
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1hKdOns
Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/1e0ZA2E
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/174Gcjj
International: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00JJ2XVUQ

Customer reviews are always appreciated on Amazon, BN, and Goodreads, as are shares and tweets.

Save the Date! Hanging by a Hair Paperback Edition LAUNCH PARTY
https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 6:30 – 8:00 pm EDT

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Excerpt, New Release | Tagged: | 60 Comments »

Journaling for Research

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 20, 2014

Your experiences and travels provide fodder for future works and should be recorded. When I wrote travel journals years ago, little did I realize that I’d be mining those notes decades later for my Drift Lords series. I’d been to Hong Kong in 1978. Yet today, many of the sights, sounds, and sensory impressions remain the same. Thus I sought my notes for Warrior Rogue, where a scene takes place in that great city. Ditto for the other locations around the globe for my paranormal series—Los Angeles, Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, and Arizona. You never know when a bit of research will come in handy.

I’ve been journaling my travels ever since I can remember. And I never related this talent to my father’s writing ability until I edited his 1929 true life travel adventure titled Thumbs Up. Who knew this is where my drive to write everything down came from? Thanks, Dad. And from my mother came the attention to detail. She described every scene in a way that made me more observant.

And now, for my latest Bad Hair Day mystery, I’ve turned again to my notes. Years ago, I accepted an invitation to go backstage at a fashion show to observe the goings-on. In particular, I took note of the hairdressers and their role in prepping the models. I used all this info in a chapter I just completed for my current WIP.

How did I find this material? I write my observations, travel journals and on-location research notes in various small notebooks. I use colored tabs to divide the sections. Then I sticker them with a number and detail the contents on a separate list. Conference notes, on-scene research and experiences that may someday be relevant to my work go into these journals. So this time, I looked on my list and saw Fashion Show under number two. I pulled out this notebook and there they were: copious notes that would prove highly useful for my scene in progress.

IMG_1062

Here’s an excerpt:

Marla had brought four stylists plus herself for eight models. She’d let her staff do the actual work while she supervised. She had supplied each of them with Luxor products specifically for this event. The fashion designer had sent pictures of each woman ahead of time so her staff could consult on the look. Yolanda wanted a sleek, elegant appearance to go with her gowns.

In another corner, the makeup artist was laying out her cosmetics. Each model would head over there for a touch-up once her hair was done.

Marla glanced at the racks of gauzy, glittering dresses, wishing she had time to examine each gown and drool over the creations. Sparkling burgundy, bright yellow, sexy black, tropical turquoise, sublime coral, chocolate and lime stood out in satins, silks and chiffons along with sequins, seed pearls and intricate beading. A separate rack held a dazzling array of wedding gowns. Who else but a wealthy socialite could afford these outfits? Each one cost thousands of dollars. With a sigh, Marla realized this was the closest she’d ever get to high society.

Yolanda bustled about, greeting each person and keeping her tote box at hand. What was in there? Needle and thread for last minute repairs? Jewels to go with her gowns?

“Thirty minutes per person, ladies,” Yolanda shouted. “That’s the goal.”

Marla winced. That wouldn’t give them much iron time. “The guests have to eat dinner yet. It’s still relatively early.”

“Our show starts before the entrée course to get people in the mood for dancing. We have to get the models through makeup and into their gowns by eight-thirty at the latest.”

“How many changes does each girl have to make?”

Yolanda pursed her lips. “The show is divided into four segments, although the bridal procession at the end requires only four models. So some girls will have three changes and some will have four. You’ll have mere seconds between scenes to fix any stray hairs, so make sure your stylists do their jobs right the first time.”

The lesson here is for you to pay attention to your surroundings and experiences. Take notes on ANYTHING that might become useful to your writing. Chronicle your trips and record the sensory impressions along with unusual observations, sights and experiences. Take notes during conference workshops. Then organize the material so you can find it later. Consider it a legacy to pass down to your kids. They might throw out your journals, or they might treasure them like I do my parents’ writings. Never miss an opportunity to record a slice of life.

Do you take random notes when you go places, even if you can foresee no immediate use for them?

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Don’t forget to visit me over at The Kill Zone, where I blog on alternate Wednesdays. This week my topic is Attending a Writers Conference, very appropriate since I’ll be at the Novelists, Inc. event in St. Pete Beach.

Posted in Book Excerpt, Excerpt, Fiction Writing, Research, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Kindle Countdown Day 4

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 9, 2014

Kindle Countdown Deal: Get a copy of Thumbs Up by Harry I. Heller today only for $3.99! Free on Kindle Unlimited. Edited by Nancy J. Cohen: http://www.amazon.com/Thumbs-Up-Harry-I-Heller-ebook/dp/B00MR4SFMW/

True adventures of a hitchhiker on a 12,000 mile journey across the U.S. in 1929

Excerpt #4 from Thumbs Up by Harry I. Heller

The enthusiasm with which I had started to climb Pike’s Peak gradually died as time passed. My progress slowed as my strength ebbed away. The strenuous climbing began to show its effects on my legs. More and more of an effort was required to raise and lower them as I gained altitude. The grades became steeper and steeper. In order to surmount them, I had to bend over so far that it seemed, at times, as if my forehead would touch my shoes.

Pikes Peak

The day blended into an inky night whose black curtain seemed to cut me off from the rest of the world and left me alone in a wilderness. Silhouettes of high mountains reared their heads into the very heavens and hemmed me in on all sides like a prisoner. Escape lay in reaching the very pinnacle of them all.

On and on, ever upward, I urged my leaden feet. At the end of every struggle to ascend a few more paces, I stopped to allow my overtaxed and pounding heart to recuperate. How good it felt to lie on the bare and windswept ground, but over the enjoyment of these rest periods, just like a sword of doom, hung the thought that they were brief interludes in an agonizing attempt to gain more altitude. Hour after hour, I continued to struggle onward.

Intermittent flashes of blinding lightning turned the night into weird day before they faded. The only sounds to be heard in all the emptiness were the threatening rumble of thunder and the occasional patter of rain. I came around a curve and there before me was a big orange moon that scurrying clouds soon hid.

Sitting on a rock high up on the mountainside and away from the civilized world, whose lights blinked faintly in the valley below, I realized the insignificance of a puny human in comparison to the rest of the universe. Many questions framed themselves in my mind, but I ran against an unassailable stone wall when I tried to answer them.

When I got above the timber line where the earth is strewn with boulders, the clouds broke and the moon came out in its entire cold splendor. A frigid wind howled, searching for victims to assault. My nose became numb, and my ears followed suit. It was necessary to massage them vigorously to keep the blood circulating.

Tower

Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Thumbs-Up-Harry-I-Heller-ebook/dp/B00MR4SFMW/

Print Edition: https://www.createspace.com/4938071

Customer reviews would be appreciated!

Contest Alert:

Enter to win a signed copy of Died Blonde and $10 Starbucks card http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

Enter at Booklover’s Bench Oct. 4-18 to win a $25 gift card or free books from Booklover’s Bench authors

Posted in Book Excerpt, Excerpt, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Kindle Countdown Day 3

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 8, 2014

Kindle Countdown Deal: Get a copy of Thumbs Up by Harry I. Heller today only for $2.99! Free on Kindle Unlimited. Edited by Nancy J. Cohen: http://www.amazon.com/Thumbs-Up-Harry-I-Heller-ebook/dp/B00MR4SFMW/

True adventures of a hitchhiker on a 12,000 mile journey across the U.S. in 1929

Excerpt #3 from Thumbs Up by Harry I. Heller

Cars  Harry_Heller2

At seven o’clock, after a hearty breakfast, I was again engaged in my duties in the kitchen. Dishes piled up in an endless stream. As soon as one batch was cleaned, a new one replaced it. The chef yelled continuously for pots and pans, and I felt like crowning him with one of them.

Lunchtime came and passed. The rush gradually decreased so that I was able to catch up with my work. When the chef saw my present job would soon be completed, he gave me another assignment that I undertook with a great deal of pleasure and anticipation. I was shown a big electric ice cream freezer and a tub full of crushed ice and told to feed the latter, mixed with salt, into the opening of the machine. The ice was cold, and when I saw a closely meshed wire tray on a nearby table, I had the bright idea of using it to convey the ice from the tub to the freezer.

What followed as a direct result would surely mean the separation of an efficient worker from his position. The tray slipped out of my hands and into the opening where it caught in the revolving cylinders of the machine. After a noisy squawk of protest, the machine gave up its ghost and stopped. It was a predicament that called for deep thought, and I wondered what story I could invent that would sound credible to my boss.

I decided to tell him part of the truth and said that shortly after the freezer had started, it made a funny noise and stopped. Circumstances helped to support my story. It seemed that an unsatisfactory employee had been discharged the previous evening. The chef, upon being informed about the presence of the tray by a mechanic who examined the machine, immediately blamed the ex-employee for having purposely caused the damage in a spirit of revenge.

I felt greatly relieved when the chef accepted his own explanation, and I returned to my dishes and attacked them with much energy. I continued the freezing operations after the machine had been repaired, but since the crushed tray was no longer serviceable, I had to use my hands to transfer the ice. The freezer, as if to punish me for my carelessness, liberally sprayed me with icy salt water, and I was not sorry when the ice cream was frozen.

Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Thumbs-Up-Harry-I-Heller-ebook/dp/B00MR4SFMW/

Print Edition: https://www.createspace.com/4938071

Customer reviews would be appreciated!

Contest Alert:

Enter to win a signed copy of Died Blonde and $10 Starbucks card http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

Enter at Booklover’s Bench Oct. 4-18 to win a $25 gift card or free books from Booklover’s Bench authors

Posted in Book Excerpt, Excerpt, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Kindle Countdown Day 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 7, 2014

Kindle Countdown Deal: Get a copy of Thumbs Up by Harry I. Heller today only for $1.99! Free on Kindle Unlimited. Edited by Nancy J. Cohen: http://www.amazon.com/Thumbs-Up-Harry-I-Heller-ebook/dp/B00MR4SFMW/

True adventures of a hitchhiker on a 12,000 mile journey across the U.S. in 1929

Excerpt #2 from Thumbs Up by Harry I. Heller

We had been advised to take the trail homeward that passed Vernal and Nevada Falls. Although it was eleven miles long, the greater part of that distance was downhill. Our informant, well acquainted with the trail, told us it should not take more than three hours for the trip.

It was early afternoon when we began the hike back to camp. We were convinced we would have no difficulty in reaching our destination before dark. We made good speed to the bottom of the first hill, and the sign there indicated we had already covered nearly a third of our trip. Under the impression that we were heading in the right direction, we continued straight ahead and, as the sign told us, over the Buena Vista Trail.

Waterfall  Yosemite2

The bed of the forest we passed through was strewn with leaves, pine needles, and cones, and made a soft and silken carpet for our feet. We had eaten the two boxes of fig cakes early in the morning and had not had anything to eat since. As a result, we were ravenously hungry. However, we were in excellent spirits and thinking we were not far from food, we teased each other by describing various tempting dishes that appealed to us.

Three and a half hours passed without a sign of the Falls. Another hour followed, and we began to get worried. If our information had been reliable, we should have already reached Yosemite Valley. Another thing that entered into the situation was the fact that we had been, for the last few miles, gradually going uphill. Of course, we thought it was only a temporary change and that before long we would be going downgrade again. Nevertheless, the fact that we were ascending did not help our peace of mind.

Not a sign of habitation could be seen in any direction, but only an endless stretch of forest whose deathly silence was scarcely disturbed by the noise of our progress. Freshly-made impressions of horseshoes showed us that a number of humans had been in the same neighborhood recently, and that fact bolstered our hopes. Each time we came to a clearing in the woods, we thought we had reached the top of the trail, but upon traversing the open space we were invariably mistaken. After we had repeated the same experience an untold number of times, we began to feel disheartened.

When we had been pushing forward for five hours, we knew for certain something was wrong, and that we were as far from home and food as ever. How gladly we would have welcomed a sign post assuring us we were on the right path, but such things evidently did not exist in this part of the park. We began to have difficulty finding our way. The trail was not well defined, and we had to depend upon the blazed trees for guidance. Things did not look very promising, but we moved steadily ahead.

Night gradually descended and covered everything with its mantle of darkness. The trees assumed vague and, at times, terrifying shapes. Our searchlight at first brightly penetrated the black void and then, as if weary of life, it slowly expired and died. Still we blundered on. We continuously kept peering into the darkness with the hope of seeing a glimmer of lights but in vain. Only the crackling of dry branches upon which we stepped disturbed the calm serenity of the lonesome forest.

It had become very cold with the setting of the sun, and we were dressed in our shirt sleeves without any other protective covering. As we subsequently learned, we were nine thousand feet above sea level and to sleep at such a height without plenty of blankets was attempting to do the impossible. Fortunately, my companion in misery had three matches and with one of them, we built a big, roaring, crackling, cheerful blaze and took turns watching it and sleeping.

I was jumpy and super sensitive to noise. The least disturbance in the surrounding woods startled me. My imagination worked overtime, and I seemed to see, just beyond the fringe of the clearing, big grizzly bears whose tongues hung from mouths that watered as they looked at their two prospective victims separated from them by a frightening red monster.

The few times that I slept during my reliefs, I dreamt we were continuously running into cowboys who told us how to return to camp. Upon awakening from such pleasant wanderings of the mind, it did not take me long to realize we were about a million miles from nowhere.

Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Thumbs-Up-Harry-I-Heller-ebook/dp/B00MR4SFMW/

Print Edition: https://www.createspace.com/4938071

Customer reviews would be appreciated!

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Kindle Countdown Deal

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 6, 2014

Get a copy of Thumbs Up by Harry I. Heller today only for $.99! Free on Kindle Unlimited. Edited by Nancy J. Cohen:  http://www.amazon.com/Thumbs-Up-Harry-I-Heller-ebook/dp/B00MR4SFMW/

True adventures of a hitchhiker on a 12,000 mile journey across the U.S. in 1929

“I felt like I was on the road with Harry. There were places he went that I had never heard of so I had to look them up to get more information. It was fascinating to travel the world by foot though the eyes of someone back in 1929.”

Harry Heller

Excerpt #1 from Thumbs Up by Harry I. Heller

When I stood between the rails upon which the caboose rested so as to get a better look through its open rear door, it was without realizing the roadbed was a hazardous place on which to stand.

The car contained a young man who, judging from his attire, was a member of the crew who occupied the home on wheels during its travels. He obligingly answered my questions pertaining to his business. Then an unknown duty summoned him to the front, and he disappeared from view behind a partition. Thinking his absence would be temporary, I waited for his return. However, he had forgotten all about me.

As I stood there, no ringing bell or whistle warned me of impending danger. One moment all was quiet and peaceful. The next moment, I was face-to-face with death.

A terrific crash shattered the silence. Simultaneously, the caboose seemed to leap toward me.

Being a few feet away from the end of the car at the time it had started to move, I instinctively raised my hands as if to thrust it back. Extending outward from the end of this caboose was a short, thick iron bar that resembled a battering ram. As this met my hands, the same thing happened to me that might occur to a person shoved backwards by a playful friend. I staggered, tried unsuccessfully to recover my balance, and then fell heavily to the ground between the rails.

A person’s mind is never more alert than when he is in physical danger, and mine was no exception. In this emergency, I thought and acted with lightning speed. The caboose was so close when I fell that I was unable to rise to my feet and run out of its way. I had fallen on my side but managed to turn over on my stomach. Extending my feet toward the North Pole and my hands in the opposite direction, I hugged the ground closely and tried my best to imitate a pancake. If it not been for my pack, still strapped to my shoulders, the imitation would have been a perfect one. I had a chill of apprehension as my pack, scraping along the bottom of the caboose, caught on a projection. With a feeling of relief, I heard the sound of tearing canvas, and it jerked free.

A feeling of unreality attached to the whole adventure until I heard the puffing of an engine. It seemed to be someone else lying between the tracks and hugging the ground so fervently. But the noise, connected with the progress of the engine, penetrated my mind and made me realize the seriousness of my predicament. There is very little clearance between the undercarriage of a locomotive and the road bed. Perhaps there is enough room for an outstretched person but hardly enough space for one as burdened as I.

These were my thoughts as I watched, through the corner of an eye, the passage of two more cars overhead and saw a third approach. It was when this last one was directly above me that a way of escape presented itself.

On the bottom of this car was a row of brake rods, something the other cars had lacked. What I did, when I became aware of their presence, was done intuitively. By twisting my body around, my hands were able to grasp the rods. My legs were dragged for some distance over the wooden ties before I managed to twine one of them around the rods and then the other. With my pack bumping along the ground, I held on for dear life and rode the brake rods in a new and novel manner.

I heard the sound of pounding footsteps on the wooden platform alongside of which the train was passing, and my attention was attracted to a runner keeping up with the train under which I swung. A white face appeared, and I recognized the horror-stricken features of my friend from the caboose. When he saw me unharmed, his worried look was replaced by one of surprised relief. He was not very coherent when he spoke to me, but I gathered he was making inquiries regarding my injuries. I assured him I had none. He had expected, he later informed me, to find my dismembered body strewn along the tracks.

The speed of the train was gradually decreasing. When it had almost ceased moving, the brakeman succeeded in relieving me of my pack and then helped me from my precarious perch to my shaking feet. He then hurriedly explained how his absentmindedness had nearly resulted in my premature demise. Upon making his abrupt exit from the caboose, he had gone to signal the engineer of a nearby locomotive that the track was clear. The latter, being ignorant of my presence on the tracks, had immediately backed into the cars.

Upon returning to his caboose, the brakeman had suddenly remembered me and realized the probable consequences of his forgetfulness. He had jumped to the moving ground at the same instant that he signaled the engineer to stop the train and, not at all enthused with the task, had gone to look for my remains.

Probably not more than two minutes had elapsed between the beginning and end of this experience. Because of the fast-moving action, it was not until afterward that I was able to appreciate the narrowness of my escape from a frightful death or serious injury. When I thought of what might have happened and listened to the brakeman’s stories concerning individuals less fortunate than myself, it was hard to believe I had suffered only a few scratches.

Thumbs Up

Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Thumbs-Up-Harry-I-Heller-ebook/dp/B00MR4SFMW/
Print Edition: https://www.createspace.com/4938071

Customer Reviews would be appreciated!

Contest Alert:

Enter to win a signed copy of Died Blonde and $10 Starbucks card http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

Enter at Booklover’s Bench Oct. 4-18 to win a $25 gift card or free books from Booklover’s Bench authors

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