Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

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Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Revisiting Earlier Books

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 17, 2019

I’m revising my very first published novel, Circle of Light. This title won the 1995 HOLT Medallion Award and blends my love of science fiction with romance. When I was a fledgling writer, it gave me great joy to let my imagination go wild and create this soaring fantasy. This story began a trilogy and was one of four books I did with Dorchester writing as Nancy Cane.

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The story follows the hero’s journey in that first we see attorney Sarina Bretton in her natural habitat. She is kidnapped from Earth by Captain Teir Reylock of the Coalition Defense League. His mission is to deliver her to the alliance for her marriage to Lord Cam’brii, a stiff politician. Through this union, Sarina will become the Great Healer and save the galaxy from a devastating plague. Sarina, unhappy about being forced from her home, refuses to cooperate. But after an encounter with one of Teir’s enemies, she crosses the threshold and accepts the challenge. Along the way, she falls in love with Teir instead of the councilman she’s destined to wed.

Oh, what fun I had creating this tale! It brings me great pleasure to reread this story and make it even better. It’s amazing how much a writer’s skill advances over the years. Revising may be a tedious job, but it’s necessary to polish a book to perfection. I might be writing mysteries now, but these stories were my first love. They’ll be available to you again with new covers and bonus materials in my revised Author’s Editions.

Tropes: abduction by a hot alien, space travel, starship captain, political intrigue, betrayal, psychic ability, strong female lead, royalty, star-crossed romance, legends & prophecy, secret identity.

What are your favorite elements in the books you read?

ONE MORE DAY to enter the Booklover’s Bench contest to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card. Enter Here and check out our latest Let’s Talk post while there.

 

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Writing Goals for 2019

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 8, 2019

Setting goals is critical if you want to get things done. For a writer, making a list of what you want to accomplish each year will put you on the right path. In an earlier blog post, I reviewed my goals for 2018. We discussed what got done and what didn’t. Authors can break down their goals into creative and business oriented tasks.

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So now let’s take a look at 2019. This might seem less ambitious than last year, but revising and reissuing my backlist titles is my main goal. That project could take the entire year, because I go through each book to tighten the writing and then do a full read-through once for any further changes and again to check for conversion errors after formatting. It takes time, because I want each book to be the best possible version. So I am not going to set myself too many tasks beyond this one.

CREATIVE GOALS

Reissue remaining backlist titles (6 romances + 4 mysteries)

Write and publish Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries

Write and publish a Bad Hair Day recipe book

BUSINESS GOALS

Enter latest releases in writing contests

Carry on with newsletter, blogs and social media

Update website in terms of hosting and other behind-the-scenes decisions

Bundle books into box sets

Consider wider distribution for audiobooks

LEARNING GOALS

Learn how to use various book production tools as new opportunities arise

Learn how to plan and promote book sales after all my backlist titles are under my control

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Five years ago, I wrote a list of long-term, five-year goals. I am pleased to say that I am on target with most of these items. Once this year’s goals are met, it will be time for a career reassessment. Only by resetting our overall goals periodically can we gain clarity on the best path to take next.

What is the main item you want to get done this year?

GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN Gift Card at Booklovers Bench.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Year-End Goal Review

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 30, 2018

Each year, it’s important to set personal as well as business goals. And accordingly, at the end of the year, we should review how much we’ve accomplished and what needs to carry over for next time. I hold myself accountable to you, so let’s see where we stand on the writing aspect. As for the personal angle, I survived our daughter’s wedding. That is a herculean task in itself.

finish line

CREATIVE GOALS

Reissue ebook Author’s Edition Silver Serenade – January 9, 2018

Reissue print Author’s Edition Died Blonde – February 6, 2018

Produce Body Wave Audiobook – May 11, 2018

Promote Large Print Edition of Hair Brained – Aug. 8, 2018

Finish and Launch Trimmed to Death – Sept. 25, 2018

Publish Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition – Nov. 12, 2018

Write Epilogue to Hair Brained – Launched as short story Hairball Hijinks – June 12, 2018

Revise Keeper of the Rings – Reissued July 13, 2018

Revise Dead Roots (Revisions Done; Needs read-through)

Continue backlist title reissues (Revisions Done on Perish by Pedicure and Killer Knots)

Plot Easter Hair Hunt novella (In Progress)

BUSINESS GOALS

Prepare PowerPoint lectures and handouts for upcoming events (DONE)

Enter Hair Brained in writing contests (DONE – Also entered latest titles into contests)

Keep up with newsletter, blogs and social media

LEARNING GOALS

Learn how to do Facebook Ads (NOT DONE)

Learn how to put books on sale across various vendors (NOT DONE)

As you see, I did great in the creative arena but didn’t reach my learning goals. In January, I’ll formulate new goals for 2019. How about you? What were your major accomplishments this year?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Tips for Query Letters

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 13, 2018

Do you want to send an agent a query letter but have no idea what it should include? Or perhaps you’ve sent out several queries and you keep getting rejections. What could you be doing wrong? Here are some steps you can take to put yourself on the path to success.

Query Letters

· Check the guidelines for submissions on the agent’s website. This will tell you what genres the person represents and if they prefer email or snail mail submissions. The guidelines will also state if you should include any sample chapters.

· Make sure the agent does not require an exclusive submission. If so, you’d lose months while waiting for a response. See if the agent mentions their expected response time.

· Write a one-page snappy query letter introducing yourself, giving the word count and genre for your book, a catchy story blurb, and your writing credits. If possible, include a hot premise or marketing hook that makes your story stand out. This means using keywords such as “paranormal” or “dystopian” or “domestic suspense” or saying your story is “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone.” If you can compare your style to similar published authors, do so without bragging about how your book is as wonderful as Ms. Bestselling Author.

· Be careful not to sound as though your writing is all over the board in terms of genres. Be clear about your focus. For example, don’t give the genre as a suspense novel and then mention that it takes place on another planet and your next book will be a vampire story. You’ll want to build your author brand by focusing on one genre as you grow your readership.

· Do not describe your life history or any personal details unless they relate directly to your book. Do include if you belong to a critique group, have won writing contests, or if you’ve attended writing workshops and conferences.

· You can also mention why readers might want to read your book. What is the value in it for them? Again, don’t brag and say it’s the most exciting book they’ll ever read, or it’s a fast-paced thrill ride. This is for readers to determine. But if it helps them appreciate family values or learn about how you can rise above past mistakes, this could be useful to include as a theme.

Basic Structure

First Paragraph – State your book’s title, genre and word count. Here you can put if you’re a published author seeking representation or a new author seeking an agent for your first book.

Second Paragraph – This is your catchy book blurb. Write it like a log line for a TV show or like the back cover copy of your book. You’ll want to engage the reader’s interest.

Third Paragraph – Here offer your biography as it applies to your writing, including works you’ve published, memberships in professional writing organizations, writing workshops you’ve attended, critique group participation. Mention any expertise or work credentials that apply to your book. You can also make marketing suggestions or mention your proposed target audience. Mention if your story is book one of a series.

Last Remarks – Thank the agent for their consideration and offer to send the completed manuscript upon request. Do mention if this is a multiple submission.

Signature Line – Here is where you can add your social media links. Doubtless the agent, if interested, will look you up to see if you have an online platform.

If you hear nothing back from the agent for a couple of months, send a follow-up email to ask if she’s received your query. Be courteous and respectful of the agent’s time. Be aware that some agents won’t respond at all, and this can be taken as a rejection. But follow through at least once to make sure your email was received. As an alternative, you can request a return receipt for when the agent opens the message.

If you receive a rejection letter with detailed suggestions for your work, write a thank you note. Remember, an author-agent relationship is a two-way street. Just as you want to hire the ideal agent, the agent wants to land the ideal client. Be courteous, professional, and savvy about the industry. Also respect that while the agent might offer suggestions for improvements, this is not an invitation to resubmit your work unless the agent says so in her response.

Resources

http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
http://bit.ly/2OuiFX2
http://wp.me/pHSwk-3e3

 

**CLICK TO TWEET

 

GIVEAWAYS

Enter Here Dec. 1 – 15 to win a signed hardcover of Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen along with a DVD of “Author’s Anonymous” and a bag of microwave popcorn. Two Runners-up get either a signed paperback of Shear Murder or Hanging by a Hair.

Enter Here Dec. 1 – 18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 12, 2018

I’m excited to announce the release of Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition.

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Do you want to write a cozy mystery but don’t have a clue where to start? Or are you in the middle of a story and stuck on the plot? Perhaps you’re already writing a series, and you need tips on keeping your material fresh. Writing the Cozy Mystery will help you develop your characters, establish the setting, plot the story, add suspense, plant clues and solve the crime.

This Second Edition contains more examples; additional writing exercises; expanded sections; and seven new chapters including The Muddle in the Middle, Romance and Murder, Special Considerations for Cozy Writers, Keeping a Series Fresh, Writing the Smart Synopsis, Mystery Movies, and Marketing Tips. You’ll find everything you need to know in an easy-to-read, clear manner to write your own mystery and maintain a long-running series. Recommended for cozy writers, mystery fans, and creative writing classes. Just in time for your holiday gift bags!

“Too many writer’s guides focus on style and how to write; but Nancy J. Cohen’s Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition doesn’t limit itself to literary mechanics alone. This makes it a highly recommended pick for all levels of writers; from those who enjoy mysteries and need a clearer definition of ‘cozy’ and its applications; to writers already well aware of the genre, but who need tips on how to sustain suspense or sprinkle believable clues throughout a cozy production.” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

If you are thinking about writing a cozy mystery, read this book first! Nancy lays out all the necessary steps in an interesting and informative way that is easy to follow. This book was an invaluable tool when I wrote my first cozy. Highly recommended.” Catherine Bruns, USA Today Bestselling Author

“Nancy J. Cohen offers clear examples, practical writing exercises, and friendly advice designed to help the beginning cozy author start—and finish!—a saleable book. Even seasoned cozy writers can find helpful hints for building better characters and story.” Diane A.S. Stuckart, aka Ali Brandon, NY Times Bestselling Author of the Tarot Cats Mysteries

“If you want to write a cozy mystery—or really, any kind of mystery—this is the book for you! Everything you need to know in one handy volume.” Victoria Thompson, Bestselling Author of the Gaslight Mystery Series

Digital Edition: ISBN 978-0-9985317-2-4, $3.99, Orange Grove Press
Print Edition: ISBN 978-0-9985317-3-1, $9.99, Orange Grove Press
Cover Design and Graphic Illustrations by
Boulevard Photografica

Print Pages: 130 pages. Word Count: 28,000 words
Nonfiction – Reference – Writing Guide

Order Your Copy Now: 

Apple Books
Amazon Print
Amazon Kindle
BN Nook
Kobo
Universal Link

Booksellers and Librarians: This title is available at Ingram.

Note: Amazon will not link the 190+ reviews from the first edition, so I need ALL NEW REVIEWS on the book’s Amazon page. Please take a few minutes to say how this book helped you if you find it a useful read.

CLICK TO TWEET

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GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN Gift Card from Booklover’s Bench

Posted in Fiction Writing, Marketing, New Release, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

After Your Book Launch

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 16, 2018

What should you be doing in the days following your new book release? Promotion doesn’t end when your book launch is over. You’ve tossed the ball into the court. Now you need to keep it rolling. Let’s say you have sent advance reading copies to reviewers and are participating in a blog tour or doing guest posts along the way.

Book Launch

What else can you do? Here are some suggestions:

  • Start a file for Amazon reviews and copy down each review as it’s posted, along with the date and reviewer. Do the same for Goodreads. Repeat for bloggers and other review sites. If you start getting tons of reviews, skip this step and go to item two.
  • Check these names against your personal reviewer list and mark each one as done. Then you’ll know which reviewers followed through so you can approach them with your next release.
  • Send a thank you email to the reviewers on your personal list who have posted.
  • Send a reminder to the reviewers who have not yet posted.
  • You should have already written a page of tweets and posts for your new book. For each reviewer, note their Twitter and Facebook handles. Now pull relevant quotes from these reviews and add them to your Tweet page. Remember to tag the reviewer.
  • Also write a tweet or post for each stop on your blog tour. Tag your hosts and add a link to their site.
  • Set your Twitter posts to rotate automatically at a site like SocialJukebox.com or schedule them ahead of time at Hootsuite. Space out your Facebook posts between your own pages and your groups.
  • Add quotes from reviews to your website.
  • Check your Amazon book’s page. If you don’t see reviews posted by your reviewers, you can add them as quotes via Amazon Author Central.
  • If you are doing a blog tour, return daily to each site and respond to comments. Leave your own comment thanking the host for having you there.
  • Get the specific URL for each post about your book and update it on your Appearances page. Shorten the link for tweets.
  • If you’re running a contest, don’t forget to mention this to your followers.
  • Remember to promote your friends’ books and retweet their posts so it’s not all about you.
  • If you’re doing concurrent sales on your other books, you’ll need to advertise these as well.
  • Gauge the effectiveness of the newsletter you sent out the day of your book release. Update your mailing list by removing bounces and unsubscribes.
  • If you boosted your Facebook post, was it effective? How many engagements and clicks did you get?
  • Keep meticulous records so that when you have another release, you can contact the reviewers who posted about your book and drop the people who got an advance copy but never responded. Then you can seek new readers to fill in the gaps.

I’m sure you can think of many more activities you’re doing in the couple of weeks following your book release. It’s a busy time when the pace seems relentless, but it will ease off. You’ll have to keep the promotional ball rolling, but at least it’ll be more of a steady pace than a race. What would you add to this list?

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Posted in Book Reviews, Business of Writing, Marketing, New Release, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blog Tour for Trimmed to Death

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 26, 2018

Join me on my virtual book tour to celebrate the release of Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Please leave comments at each site to support my hosts.

September 25 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW & EXCERPT

September 27 – Dru’s Book Musings – GUEST POST “Get to Know Marla Vail”

September 27 – Open Book Society – REVIEW

October 1 – The Big Thrill – SPOTLIGHT & AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 2 – Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers – GUEST POST “Food Fiction”

October 3 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW

October 4 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW

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September 26 – October 5 – Great Escapes Blog Tour 

September 26 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST “Farm Festivals”

September 26 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

September 27 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW

September 27 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 28 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

September 28 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY

September 29 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST “Tree of Life”

September 29 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

September 30 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 30 – Lori’s Reading Corner – GUEST POST “Reality into Fiction”

October 1 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

October 1 –Laura’s Interests – REVIEW 

October 2 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 

October 2 – Mysteries with Character  – “Beyond the Story of Trimmed to Death by Nancy J. Cohen” 

October 3 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

October 3 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 4 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 4 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT & EXCERPT

October 5 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY

October 5 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

IN PERSON EVENTS

Saturday, Oct. 6, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Multi-Author Booksigning, Helen B. Hoffman Plantation Library 50th Anniversary Celebration, 501 N Fig Tree Lane, Plantation, Florida 33317, Phone: 954-797-2140. http://www.plantation.org/Library/ Attending Authors include Barbara Fox, Bob Brink, Christopher Bigney, Dawn Davies, Dora Vilk-Shapiro, Glen Ogden, Harriet Ottenheimer, KB Schaller, Laura Burke, Lauren Doyle Owens, Marlo Bromfield, Michal Sherring, Nancy J. Cohen, Neil Plakcy, Ray Flynt.

Library Signing

Saturday, Nov. 10, 6:00 pm, Booksigning & Discussion with Nancy J. Cohen and Diane A.S. Stuckart at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444. Phone: 561-279-7790. http://murderonthebeach.com

GIVEAWAY
Enter Here Sept. 26 – Oct. 12 to win a Fall Festival Gift Basket! Contents include a signed print copy of Haunted Hair Nights and Hair Brained and other autumn-themed goodies! Physical prize for U.S. Resident only. Ebooks for international winner.

contest

Posted in Appearances, Book Reviews, Business of Writing, Marketing, New Release, Reviews, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 24 Comments »

Trimmed to Death – Book Trailer

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 25, 2018

Mix together a cocktail for murder, add a few salty suspects, toss in a dollop of sweet humor, and you have the recipe for Trimmed to Death, #15 in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

 

 

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? As she investigates, Marla learns 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!

Early Reviews 

“From fundraiser activity, culinary insights, and probes into Marla’s logic to recipes and romance which pepper the story line and embellish its twists and turns, readers who want a cozy mystery filled with atmosphere, intrigue, and adventure should settle a chair by the fire for a good evening’s read.” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“What a great read! Marla and Dalton make a wonderful team… I like how it shows some realistic dimensions to Marla and Dalton’s professional lives. They both are concerned with doing a good job professionally, doing what’s right and having a life of their own. This book is believable, well-written and well-developed. The storyline is fast-paced and keeps readers guessing to the end.” Kathleen K. on Goodreads

“This is Book 15 in the Bad Hair Day Mystery Series. I have read each of these books and they just keep getting better and better…This book is wonderful and I highly recommend it.” Sandy B. on Goodreads

“In Trimmed to Death, Marla once again falls upon a murder; this time while enjoying herself at a fall festival sponsored by a local farm. I enjoy following Marla and her escapades. The stories are always light-hearted and easy to read.” Jan K. on Goodreads

TRIMMED TO DEATH, Sept. 25, 2018, Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9985317-5-5
Print ISBN: 978-0-9985317-6-2

Cover Design by Boulevard Photografica

Pre-Order Your Copy Now:
Amazon Print
Amazon Kindle
iBooks
Kobo
BN Nook
BN Print

Add to Goodreads

 

Posted in Marketing, New Release, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Too Many Great Posts, Not Enough Time

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 22, 2018

Do you get so caught up in reading blogs, webinars, and posts and/or listening to podcasts, that you get nothing else done? I have been catching up on reading newsletters from my professional writing organizations, trade journals to which I subscribe, plus blogs on marketing and other business aspects of writing. If only I could clear my Inbox, I tell myself, I’d turn my focus to the nine backlist titles that I still have to reissue.

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And yet the more of these articles that I read, the more that keep popping up in my email. Moreover, reading this advice makes me feel terribly guilty. Why am I not able to do all these things? The articles offer wonderful marketing strategies and tips, and yet I’d need to be either thirty years younger to have the energy or three clones to manage it all.

Meanwhile, I am accomplishing nothing else. Is it because I’ve lost my mojo? Or is it that I can’t move on to new material until I get these backlist titles done? Then again, maybe it’s burnout and time for a break. It used to be that I put my writing goals first in the morning before glancing at email or social media. What happened to this self-discipline?

So I’ve decided to skim these articles, file the information for later, and do only what I can for now. It’s more important to move on to the next project. This means I need to practice BICHOK more often – Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. Get off the couch, and go to work.

This goes for you, too, my fellow writers. Let’s pay less attention to the “should” demons (i.e. the things you should be doing) and more time to the work we can control. Your success is only as good as the next book. It’s not dependent on how many social media posts with cute memes you’ve posted.

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here Aug 9 – 23 to win a signed advance reading copy of TRIMMED TO DEATH, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 12 Comments »

Hair Brained Large Print Edition

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 8, 2018

The Large Print Edition of Hair Brained is now available!

Large Print

ISBN: 9781432852771, $26.99, August 8, 2018; Wheeler Publishing

Murder on the Beach Bestseller List
Finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards

Large print editions are great if you want to reduce eye strain. Order your own copy or ask your librarian to order the book for you. Reviews are always appreciated.

When hairstylist Marla Vail’s best friend is hurt in a suspicious car accident, Marla assumes guardianship of her infant son and becomes embroiled in another murder mystery. Her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, determines the crash may not have been an accident. But who would want to kill Tally—or Ken in the car with her? As Marla digs deeper into her friends’ lives, she realizes she didn’t know them as well as she’d thought. But it’s her duty as their son’s guardian to ensure his safety, even if it means putting her own life at risk.

“You are always thinking and on your toes while reading this book.  And when you get to the end and everything is revealed….it will blow your mind!” Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

“Spending time with Marla and Dalton is like visiting old friends and I think Hair Brained is one of Ms. Cohen‘s better entries in the series.” Buried Under Books

“The story actually has a couple of mysteries within its pages and all is worked out by the end, but there are a lot of plot twists along the way.” Carla Loves to Read

“From page one, you’ll hang on every word as the twists and turns of the mystery are revealed and Marla goes into overdrive to prove that the friends she trusted all this time were definitely worthy of that trust.” Amy Lignor, Suspense Magazine

Order a Copy Now or Buy a Copy for a Friend.

Gale/Cengage: http://bit.ly/2Gval13
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JzmTpZ
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2l3afV4

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN Gift Card at Booklover’s Bench

 

Posted in Marketing, New Release | Tagged: , , , , | 18 Comments »

 
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