Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I welcome Nancy J.Cohen to the blog!


My guest is Nancy J. Cohen, author of the Bad Hair Day mysteries!

Nancy J. Cohen writes the humorous Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairdresser Marla Vail. Several of these titles have made the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association bestseller list. Nancy is also the author of Writing the Cozy Mystery, a valuable instructional guide for writers on how to write a winning whodunit. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. Her titles in this genre have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews. A featured speaker at conferences, libraries, and community events, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who's Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. Currently, Nancy is President of Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

R:  Welcome Nancy! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

 Thanks ROCCO. I’ve always had an interest in writing, but I pursued nursing as a career. I earned my master’s degree in nursing and worked as a clinical nurse specialist. While in grad school, I bought a book called Structuring Your Novel and learned how to write a full-length work of fiction. I wrote six books before I sold one. That was a futuristic romance titled Circle of Light, and it won the HOLT Medallion Award. What really made a difference in my writing career was joining Florida Romance Writers and getting into a critique group.

R: Is there a writer you credit with having the most influence on your own writing?

 I started reading humorous mysteries with Jill Churchill. I liked her funny titles and cute covers. I went on to find other authors in this genre, but she was the one who got me started. In the romance field, it was Barbara Cartland who hooked me on historical romance. Marilyn Campbell, a published author in my critique group in the early days, suggested I write a scifi romance since I liked reading romance and was a Star Trek fan. The subsequent book I wrote was the first one that got accepted.

R: Tell us about your “Bad Hair Day” series and the latest entry, HANGING BY A HAIR.

 Hairstylist Marla Vail owns and operates the Cut ‘N Dye Salon in sunny Palm Haven, Florida. In Hanging By A Hair, #11 in the series, Marla and Detective Dalton Vail are newly married. They move into a new house and attend their first homeowners’ meeting, where Dalton gets into an argument with the HOA president. Unfortunately for Dalton, the man is found dead shortly thereafter. Who could have done it? One of their neighbors? The fellow’s nephew and heir? An ambitious Board member? Maybe a spurned lover? Or a Native American shaman who has an interest in the dead guy’s secret? When her husband is pulled from the case due to a conflict of interest, Marla determines to find the killer and make her neighborhood safe again.

R:  You write both mysteries and romance. Do you prefer one over the other and why? Which if either, is easier to write?

 I very much enjoy plotting the mystery, and you can see how I do it in my nonfiction title, Writing the Cozy Mystery. This concise guide will teach you how to write a winning whodunit. My mysteries are logical, grounded stories, and they’re fun to research. I get to visit some neat locales and learn about interesting issues. However, every now and then, I like to cut loose and write fast-paced adventure spiced with romance, and that’s when I’ll change genres. It refreshes me creatively to write something different. I’d say it’s easier for me to slip into Marla’s skin since I’ve written twelve books in her series now.

R: Where did you get the idea for your “Drift Lords” series?

I got inspired on the Maelstrom ride at Epcot. It’s in the Norway pavilion and features Norwegian history, including myths and trolls. The mythology intrigued me, and that’s what I base my series on. A prophecy states that the six sons of Thor must unite with the six daughters of Odin to prevent the coming darkness. The Drift Lords are warriors from afar who’ve come to our world to fight invaders from another dimension. They need the help of a select group of Earth women who possess special powers. Think Thor meets Lord of the Rings near the Bermuda Triangle. Warrior Prince, book #1, starts out in Orlando, Florida and involves a sinister theme park. I loved the idea of tourist attractions that have a nefarious purpose. Warrior Rogue, the second book in the series, is a finalist in the Carolyn Readers Choice Awards. Coming next is Warrior Lord.

R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?

 After submitting my seventh book, I never figured it would sell so fast. But it did, within six months of submission. I was thrilled. I got my agent at a Florida Romance Writers conference. That’s one of the best places to meet agents and editors. If not at a conference, enter a contest where editors/agents are the final judges.

R: What’s a must-have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?

 I like to be surrounded by my books and mementos of the writing life. I also need silence in which to work and a private space. Fortunately, I have a home office where I can retreat to write.

R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?

I have no wish to meet historical figures. I’d rather go back into my own past when my parents were alive, and we had a summer meal out on our porch. Those were carefree days. But I don’t suppose I could be in the same place as myself, or it would cause a time paradox. What would impress me? Maybe to see how penicillin was discovered. Or electricity. Those were pivotal moments in time.

R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?

I almost chose ballet as a career.

R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 

Maybe going around Europe with a friend for six weeks on a Eurailpass.

R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?

A few hours well spent with my book, a happy ending, and a smile. And anticipation for my next book in whichever series they’re reading.

R: What are you working on at the moment / next?

I have turned in Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Since I got the audio rights back on my earlier mysteries, I want to work on getting those books available to readers in audio format.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter. I write a detailed synopsis before beginning the story.

R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)

Reading, outlet shopping, cruising, visiting Disney World, meeting friends for lunch, more reading, taking walks.

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

 Learn the craft, and don’t look for the secret door to success because there isn’t any such thing except for hard work. Be willing to put in the time and study to learn technique as well as the business aspects of a professional career. Be in this for the long term. Never give up, never surrender. And join your professional writing organizations.

Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  Day

Dog or Cat? Dog (ROCCO: Really?  And I really liked you too….)

Beach or Pool?   Beach

Steak or salad?  Salad

Favorite Drink?  Iced Coffee

Favorite Book?  My own works

Favorite TV Series?  Castle

Favorite Movie?  Star Wars (Episode 4)

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Pina Colada

Hawaii or Alaska?  Hawaii

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Jane Austen. I love her stories.

If I had just one wish, it would be for everyone to enjoy good health to a ripe old age.

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be … Nobody. I am happy where I am.


Folks, here’s what Nancy has coming up:

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

Marla’s joyous move to a new house with her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, is marred by their next-door neighbor who erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man of the local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found dead the following day. Dismayed when Dalton is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest, Marla decides it’s up to her to find the killer. Can the intrepid hairstylist untangle the clues and pin down the culprit before he strikes again? 

Amazon Kindle:

You can Follow Nancy Online here:

Nancy will give away to two lucky commenters an ebook copy of your choice, either Shear Murder (mystery) or Keeper of the Rings (romance).

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:

* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

*Follow Nancy on FB or Twitter

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest ends midnight, June 7th. Good luck!


  1. Thanks so much for having me here!

  2. What fun, Nancy! Though I can't believe you prefer dogs to cats, or salad to steak, for that matter. Oh, well, I still like you and still adore your books. Please don't ever stop writing! One other thing - I've published half a dozen mysteries of one stripe or another, but still learned so much from your book WRITING THE COZY MYSTERY. It is a classic!

  3. Thanks so much, Susan. I am glad you found my instructional book to be useful. Yes, I am a dog person, although right now we don't have any pets and like the carefree lifestyle. And I do eat steak, just not often.

  4. Nancy, your mystery series sounds intriguing. As a mystery writer and avid reader, I would love to win a copy of Shear Murder. My email address is pgligor@zoomtown.com.

  5. Every bit of your experience shows in your writing. Thanks for sharing such wonderful stories with the rest of us!

    1. You are sweet, thank you for your kind comments.

  6. I have told my hair stylist about your series because i think she will enjoy the "take" on the world of salons.

    1. Thanks, Libby, I really appreciate that! I love for hairstylists to read my books.

    2. Nancy, you are an inspiration to us all, and you never ever have Bad Hair. I have always been a fan of Marla. Thanks for your generosity and your willingness to share your knowledge.


    3. I DO have bad hair, you just don't see it at book events! LOL Thanks for stopping by, Marcia.

    4. Libby, again I forgot to say I we are friends on facebook and I follow this blog regularly. I do not tweet.

  7. Looks like a fun book, Nancy! Congratulations on your release! Bonnie