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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    Hairball Hijinks
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    Facials Can Be Fatal

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

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    Writing the Cozy Mystery

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    Permed to Death

    Bad Hair Day Mystery #1

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Key West 2018

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 26, 2018

We drove down to Key West on the Thursday before the Mystery Fest Key West conference began. Once you hit the Keys beyond Miami and Homestead, you pass interesting little towns on each island along with scenic ocean vistas on either side of the highway. On Ramrod Key, we stopped for lunch at Boondocks. Their creamy New England clam chowder was one of the best. I liked the crabmeat salad and cole slaw that accompanied the soup. A half portion of salad was more than enough.

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After arriving in Key West, we checked in at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort and then took the hotel shuttle into town. Here we meandered around until our friends Alyssa Maxwell and her husband joined us for dinner. We dined at Conch Republic Seafood Company. Richard and I shared stuffed mushrooms and grilled mahi mahi. We were as stuffed as the mushrooms when we’d finished.

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Friday morning, we were free, so we visited the East Martello Museum, a Civil War era fort. Exhibits tell about how the fort was used during the war as well as a bit of Key West lore including ghost stories and the creepy Robert the Doll tale. Doll houses, a treasure chest, and a cannon were among the relics displayed. Then we went outside toward the tower where a spiral staircase takes you to the top. Here are some scenic views.

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Hungry from our exertions, we drove into town and lunched at Pinchers Crab Shack on Duval Street. Then it was back to the hotel for the start of the conference.

 What’s your favorite place in Key West?

See all my Key West Photos Here

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Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Trimmed to Death – Cover Reveal

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 15, 2018

Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, will be released on Sept. 25, 2018 and is available for pre-order.

 

TRIMMED TO DEATH eBook

 

Hairstylist Marla Vail enters a bake-off competition that’s a real killer when a contestant ends up dead.

Savvy hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Vail enters a charity bake-off contest at a fall festival sponsored by a local farm. While she waits to see if her coconut fudge pie is a winner, Marla joins a scavenger hunt where people playing character roles are the targets. Instead of scoring points with a live person, she finds a dead body planted face-down in the strawberry field. Who would want to cut short the life of food magazine publisher and fellow bake-off contestant Francine Dodger? 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!

Cover Design by the talented Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica.

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

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Note: I have review copies available in ebook format. If you are a blogger or reviewer, please notify me via email that you’d like to be added to my reviewer list. Include a link to the site(s) where you post reviews.

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Preparing for a Book Launch

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 14, 2018

Once you or your publisher sets a date for your new release, you can start planning ahead for the big day. You’ll need to begin months earlier and get your pieces lined up ahead of time. Planning for a new release can be a full-time marketing job, so I’d advise you to set aside a few weeks to get everything done. Here’s a basic countdown schedule to act as a guideline.

Book Launch

4 to 6 months ahead

Prepare your story blurbs and tag lines.

Update the author biography on your website. Have a short and long one along with a separate speaker introduction.

Send out advance reading copies to reviewers and bloggers.

Announce the launch date in your newsletter and on your social media sites.

Schedule a virtual blog tour.

Reserve ad space in trade journals, e-magazines, and online reader sites.

Set up speaking engagements and signings.

Consider doing a Pinterest story board.

2 to 4 months ahead

Send out a press release about the new release and include signing dates.

Do a Cover Reveal once your book is available for pre-order.

Write a page full of tweets and Facebook posts about the new release.

Create your book trailer (optional) and add to social media sites.

Write guest blog articles and interviews for your virtual book tour.

Run contests or giveaways with your ARCs as prizes.

Order print promo materials and swag for conferences.

Consider if you want to put another book in your series on sale during the window of your book launch.

1 to 2 months ahead

Set a book launch party date, time and place. Here’s an example of the online site I share with author Maggie Toussaint: https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty/. Other authors might invite their writer friends to participate. Note what appeals to you and use these elements in planning your own book party.

Write the party posts, determine the prizes, and schedule all posts ahead of time.

Create memes for your launch party and the new release.

Send out “Save the Date” notices. Treat the launch as an “event” and broadcast it on your social media sites and to your influential contacts.

Schedule a newsletter and blog to post on the launch date.

Update your website with reviews as they come in. If time permits, thank each reviewer.

Write a book club discussion guide (optional).

Post the first chapter on your website.

Put excerpts on your blog to entice readers to want more.

Do as much of this work in advance as you can. This is simplifying all the effort a book launch entails, but being prepared relieves some of the stress as your book birthday approaches.

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Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, New Release, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 17 Comments »

Hairball Hijinks – New Book Release

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 12, 2018

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

Hairball

Digital ISBN: 978-0-9985317-4-8, $0.99, Orange Grove Press

Hairstylist Marla Vail agrees to help find a neighbor’s lost cat and discovers a ransacked house where more than the pet is missing.

Savvy hairstylist and super sleuth Marla Vail visits her friend Tally who just got out of the hospital after a serious car accident. Marla has been caring for Tally’s baby and is sad but grateful to return him to his mother. She and Tally reconcile their friendship that had become estranged before the crash.

Happy to have her friend back, Marla is about to leave when a knock summons her to the door. It’s a distraught elderly neighbor who claims her cat is missing. Marla, unable to turn down a person in need, accompanies the lady home. But when Marla enters the house, she realizes much more is missing than a lost feline. The place has been ransacked, and when she calls the police, they inform her the neighborhood has been beset by a series of thefts. Can she find the crooks before they cause another cat’astrophe?

Bonus One: An interview with Marla
Bonus Two: 5 new recipes!
Bonus Three: A sneak preview of Trimmed to Death

Spoiler Alert! This story comes after Hair Brained, #14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. It contains spoilers so you might want to read that book first.

With special thanks to Lois Crockett for suggesting the story title.

Excerpt

Marla hastened to the front door. After a glance through the peephole, she opened the door to face an elderly woman with white hair.

“I heard you were taking care of Tally’s affairs after her accident, and I recognized your car in the driveway. You have to help me,” said the lady with a frantic expression.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“I’m one of Tally’s neighbors. I understand you’ve a reputation for solving crimes. Thanks to your efforts, the police discovered who hurt Tally and her husband. Poor thing to lose her man that way. Now my guy is missing. I can’t find Mr. Stanton anywhere.”

“What do you mean?” Did the woman really address her spouse in that formal manner?

“I went out on some errands. When I got back, he was gone. I don’t know how he could have slipped out of the house on his own.”

Marla gave her a sharp glance. She wanted to learn more, but Luke had quieted, and she didn’t dare risk waking the baby by asking this person inside. Besides, it wasn’t her house. She didn’t have that right.

However, Marla couldn’t turn the woman away. Her natural inclination was to help people, so she stepped outside and shut the door behind her. The first order of business was to determine if this lady was legit or a scam artist preying on folks in the community.

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW

Customer reviews are always appreciated and very much needed for a new title!

Add to Goodreads

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TRIMMED TO DEATH is now available for Pre-Order. This title, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, will be released on Sept. 25, 2018.

Trimmed to Death

Pre-Order Now!

 

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Fine Tuning Your Novel

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 7, 2018

You’ve read through your novel for the umpteenth time and can barely look at it anymore. Then your advance reading copy or final pdf file arrives, and it’s time for a last glance before sending your baby into the world. Will you still find changes to make? Undoubtedly. Sometimes these are conversion errors. Or you may notice typos or word choices that need a tweak.

Fine Tuning

Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is set to debut on Sept. 25. Check out the latest changes I’ve made and you’ll gain some insight into the mind of a writer. Caution – There may be spoilers.

p. 74 – bustled … bustle.

A few minutes later, Janet bustled down the stairs along with her housekeeper. After giving the woman an order and watching her bustle off toward another part of the house, Janet turned to Marla.

Change “bustle” to “scurry” so it reads …watching her scurry off…

p. 78 – “get involved” x 2

Janet clapped her hands. “It sounds wonderful. I’d love to get involved. Tony, you could ask Tristan to donate some of his desserts. You cross paths on occasion.” She turned to Marla. “His restaurant buys vegetables from our farm. They like to advertise how their dishes contain ingredients from sustainable food sources.”

“That would be amazing if his restaurant would get involved in our charity event. They’d benefit from the publicity as well.”

Change “I’d love to get involved” to “be included.” So it should say, I’d love to be included.

p. 103 –Marla winced. “I know what you mean. I’m wondering if you knew Francine Dodger, publisher of Eat Well Now magazine.

Delete “Marla winced” on this line. I use “wince” too many times.

p. 125 – “It says, ‘Meet me at midnight by the Living Tree. All hail Osiris.’ “

Last quote mark is reversed.

p. 148 – “You can tell, huh? Your dad called with bad news. Another woman is his case was found dead.” Change “is” to “in”

p. 154 – “Why are you so afraid, Janet?

Add quote mark at end of sentence

p. 161 – “Actually, I came to order lunch. Can get you get me a turkey delight to go?”

Can get you get me. Delete first “get”

p. 165 – “Lynette theorized that Francine would have made an effort to buy the magazine from the conglomerate that owns it.

Made an offer, not made an effort. Change effort to offer.

p. 170 – “I’ll give you a taste of our olive oil varieties after we return.”

Marla’s jaw dropped as she noticed the variety of goods for sale.

Varieties … variety. Change “variety” of goods to “range” of goods

p. 178 – Used “message” x 3.

Chills ran up Marla’s spine as she scanned the message. Mind your own business or you’ll be next.

[Chapter Break]

“It looks as though the message was printed on a sheet of white computer paper.” Marla snapped a photo and messaged it to Dalton.

Change “messaged” to “sent” in this last sentence.

p. 180 – The word “property” is used too many times.

“Without color of title means we’ve been paying property taxes and any liens on the property, as well as meeting the other conditions. Besides occupying the property for a minimum of seven years, we have to be in open use of the property, essentially acting as the sole owner.”

Change “occupying the property” to “occupying the place”

p. 199 – Used “man” x 3.

“If his column is losing readers, it’s because the man has lost his edge.”

“Could he have wanted to get her out of the way?” Dalton studied the other man’s face.

“Are you kidding? Man, that guy couldn’t hurt a fly. He doesn’t have it in him.”

Remove this “Man” and just say, “That guy couldn’t hurt a fly.

p. 204 – She could have quite a list of personal indiscretions hidden away. Change to: She could have had quite a … Add “had” in this sentence. This refers to the victim.

p. 231 – Used “took” x 2

The camera wasn’t in Francine’s purse and hasn’t been turned in by anyone.”

“Do you believe the killer took it?”

“It’s possible. The pictures Francine took could be useful to the case.”

Change to, Do you believe the killer kept it?

p. 249 – Referencing Marla’s stepdaughter in this paragraph:

Meanwhile, it promised to be a bumpy ride. Dalton likely wouldn’t approve of any guy she brought home for them to meet until he’d done a thorough background check and conducted a personal interview. She couldn’t blame the girl for being guarded about her love life and had to trust her to make the right decisions.

Change “she” to “Marla” in the beginning of this sentence to clarify: Marla couldn’t blame the girl for being guarded about her love life and had to trust her to make the right decisions.

Recipes:

p. 274: spice cake mix is not capitalized

p. 275: Yellow Cake Mix is capitalized

Choose one or the other for consistency

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It is not easy to scrutinize your work line-by-line and word-for-word, but this is part of the writing process. You want your book to be the best it can be, and this is the way. Positive feedback from readers makes it all worthwhile.   CLICK TO TWEET

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Hollywood Studios and Beyond

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 31, 2018

We spent an afternoon last weekend strolling around Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. Turning right at the first main intersection, we passed the fast food places on our left and gift shops on our right. Straight ahead was the Tower of Terror. I went on this theme park ride for one time in the past, and it was my only time. However, I like to admire the structure because it reminds me of Dead Roots, my haunted hotel mystery. I had this attraction in mind when planning the layout for my fictional resort, which was also inspired by the delightful Tower of Terror movie.

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Many of the former attractions were closed and we couldn’t access the back streets. Remodeling is underway for the new Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway and the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

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We viewed the tourists along with this local resident.

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Then we went into Star Wars: Path of the Jedi to see a 12 minute film and get cooled off in the air-conditioning. The film follows Luke Skywalker from when he began his journey as a Jedi to when Rey took up the challenge in the latest saga film.

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We saw the new Star Wars Solo movie at Disney’s Dine-In Theater. The action kept me on my toes throughout along with keeping track of the various political factions. I especially liked how Han met Chewbacca and Lando. If you want a good escapist film, I’d recommend it for an entertaining couple of hours.

We ate at several restaurants in the area. Here’s the stuffed mushroom appetizer we enjoyed at Longhorn.

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Breakfast one day was at Wilderness Lodge.

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Dinner at Ahi Sushi.

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We also went to the Farmer’s Market in Winter Park and then strolled along the shops at Park Avenue after lunch.

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This was a welcome break. Back home, I completed my final read-through of Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day mystery series. Now it’s ready for production!

 

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Where Do You Write?

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 25, 2018

“Where do you write?” is a common question for writers during book talks. Readers might imagine us toiling away on an old typewriter in some attic with a tiny window. Or perhaps they see us working on a sleek laptop while enjoying the breeze from a seaside veranda. We could be creating our masterpiece in solitude while viewing a lake and sipping tea on a screened patio as crickets drone in the nearby woods. Or maybe we pound away on our keyboards while drinking coffee at the local Starbucks. Don’t you see folks there working on their laptops and wonder if they are aspiring writers?

My work environment is more mundane. I work at home. I have a dedicated home office. I am surrounded by things I love, such as books and memorabilia and gifts I’ve bought myself to commemorate my published works.

I love my corner desk so much that I don’t ever want to leave this house. As I sit here now, straight ahead is my Dell computer monitor. I use an ergonomic keyboard by Adesso that has saved my wrists. On shelves above, I have writer-related gifts from my kids and others, and a collection of trolls to represent the Trolleks who are the bad guys in my Drift Lords series.

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Looking to my left, down below are lots of drawers. One extension to my desk serves as a printer stand. Above this are my latest plotting notebooks, some books on writing, and proofs for my latest works in print. On the very top are a collection of novelty pens and a train locomotive from a fan painted with the cover from Murder by Manicure. Most treasured behind a glass door are my Flamingo Award from MWA Florida Chapter and a Lifetime Service Award from Florida Romance Writers. Behind these awards is a signed photograph from Star Trek star Jonathan Frakes.

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To my right are how-to writing books in the crime fiction field, copies of all my books in various print formats, a jeweled calculator, a world clock, and a pencil holder from Area 51. Flashlights, emergency radios, and portable lanterns stand at the ready on every surface in case we have a power blackout during hurricane season.

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Bored yet? We’re not done! I have a separate mahogany desk for correspondence, and this is where I pay bills and do the household accounts. Above this is a bulletin board and various medals and framed certificates for accolades I have earned.

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The closet in this former bedroom had been converted into bookshelves before we moved in and was one reason why we loved the house. The shelves are totally full. Besides my reference books on all subjects and more books on writing, I have a paperweight collection, an onyx chess set, a sword I bought in Spain, and other tchotchkes.

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The room is completed by three more sets of plastic drawers from office supply stores, mailing supplies, two tall bookcases, and more reference materials.

I spend all day in this room. It’s my home within a home. Can I work elsewhere? I’ll dabble at marketing and revisions when away from home, but I can only create in this environment with silence for company. No background music or coffee house chatter for me. I need quiet.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into my work space. Now for those stacks of papers that need filing…. Until next time!

 

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Cover Reveal for Hairball Hijinks

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 23, 2018

Hairball Hijinks: A Bad Hair Day Cozy Mystery Short Story, is now available for pre-order.

Release Date: June 12, 2018 by Orange Grove Press

Digital ISBN: 978-0-9985317-4-8

Hairball

 

When hairstylist Marla Vail agrees to help find a neighbor’s missing cat, she doesn’t expect to get tangled in a series of home burglaries. She gets on the trail of the lost feline, surprised to find more than the pet missing from the elderly woman’s house. The lady’s valuables are gone, and according to the police, it isn’t the first incident in the neighborhood. Can Marla outwit the crooks before they cause another cat’astrophe?

Bonus One: An interview with Marla
Bonus Two: 5 new recipes!
Bonus Three: A sneak preview of Trimmed to Death

With thanks to Lois Crockett for suggesting the book title.

Spoiler Alert: This story comes after Hair Brained and contains spoilers, so you might want to read that one first.

Pre-Order Now

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Dining Out Fort Lauderdale

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 21, 2018

You may be wondering why I write about food so much on this blog. Authors have lives, too, and I happen to enjoy dining out, taking cooking classes, and experimenting on recipes. Everything we do feeds into our creative works. You’ll find recipes and food mentioned throughout my Bad Hair Day Mysteries. So here are some local spots aside from the usual chains.

Dar Tajine is a Moroccan Restaurant that draws you in with its lush décor. The menu selections were varied enough to appeal to everyone at our table.

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We started out with Zaalouk, an appetizer with grilled eggplant, tomato, garlic, olive oil and spices. It tasted like Ratatouille and came with triangles of pita bread. For my entrée, I had the Beef Tajine that was wonderfully tasty and tender. My husband had the Vegetarian Tajine that looked substantial enough for his appetite. In my estimation, tajine means it is slow-cooked and served in these interesting pots. We’ll have to go back to try the Shish Kabob and Chicken Bastilla. Mint tea and a selection of pastries concluded the meal. The restaurant is located at 8281 W. Sunrise Blvd in Plantation. Go to http://www.dar-tajine.com

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On Mother’s Day, we dined at Vienna Café & Wine Bar. This is a favorite when we want a special night out. It has a continental atmosphere with Vienna classics on the menu. I started with the Mushroom Fricassee. The mushrooms are sautéed with port wine and cream and served in a flaky pastry. My main dish was the potato-crusted salmon, which came with a pinot noir cream sauce and steamed asparagus. I ordered a side dish of potatoes au gratin. This is located in Davie at Pine Island Plaza. http://www.ViennaWineBar.com

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So here’s my question for you. Do you like to read about my dining and travel adventures? Or would you rather I stick to how-to articles on writing and the writing process? Perhaps you like a mixture of both? Please let me know what interests you.

 

Posted in Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Body Wave Audiobook

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 14, 2018

Are you an #audiobook fan? I’m excited to announce the release of Body Wave Audiobook, #4 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries! Join my Book Launch Party on Thursday, May 17 from 7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT for Fun & Giveaways at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty

BODY WAVE AUDIOBOOK

Narrated by Mary Ann Jacobs. Published May 11, 2018 by Orange Grove Press

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.

Listen to a Sample: https://soundcloud.com/mysterygal/body-wave

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iTunes

Excerpt from Body Wave

Marla tried to fathom the dynamics of their conversation. Florence seemed to be attacking Kimberly’s values while Stella was defending them. Why was the elderly aunt coming down so hard on the dead girl? Did it have anything to do with Florence having been in love with Kim’s father?

She wheeled Miriam away to a discrete distance, on a slight rise where the driveway curved toward a tree-lined avenue leading to the obscured entrance beyond the woods. It was far enough that she wouldn’t appear to be eavesdropping yet could still hear their faint voices.

“Morons,” Miriam muttered. “The poor thing is gone. Why won’t they let her rest in peace?”

Marla didn’t respond, too intent on listening. Her hands placed lightly on the wheelchair handlebars, she inclined her head.

“I don’t know how I’m going to get those albums if Stanley won’t cooperate,” Stella said, wringing her hands. “I should have gone myself. Maybe he’d have listened to me.”

“You tried at the funeral, and he ignored you,” her sister sneered. “Can you blame him, when you came right out and accused him of murdering his wife?”

“He knew what Kim was planning. You, of all people, should understand how it would cause him to react the way he did.”

“By killing her?” Florence said in an incredulous tone.

“Who else could have done it? You?”

“Don’t be absurd.”

“You always resented my daughter. I know how jealous you were that she wasn’t your child.”

“Stop screaming. I hate it when you get hysterical.”

“Did you do it?”

“Hell, no.” Florence shook her elegant head. “If you want to know, Kimberly was messing in things she didn’t understand. She should have minded her own business.” Leaning forward, she spoke in such a low tone that Marla couldn’t catch what she was saying.

Damn, she needed to be closer. Frustrated, Marla took a few steps forward. Suddenly, she heard a shriek. Whipping around, she let a cry erupt from her lips at the sight that greeted her.

Miriam’s wheelchair coasted down the hill at an increasingly perilous speed.

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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

“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.” Romance Readers Connection

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This title is also available in ebook and trade paperback formats. Body Wave was originally published by Kensington. This audiobook and related versions are the revised Author’s Edition. For more details, visit https://nancyjcohen.com/body-wave/

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