Joanna Campbell Slan / Vendetta: A Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery – The House of Refuge on Gilbert’s Bar is known for its 150-year history as a way station for shipwrecked sailors. But when Cara Mia visits, the museum becomes the scene of a crime.
Linda Gordon Hengerer / Dying for School Tea: A Beach Tea Shop Novella – Chelsea Powell and her sisters are providing treats for Citrus Beach High School’s freshman orientation. Can they solve the murder of the beloved softball coach before someone else dies?
Carole W. Price / The Glass Birdhouse – Glass artist Bella hopes to find clues about her student’s death in the woman’s unfinished glass birdhouse.
Lesley A. Diehl / Bobbing for Murder – A visit from Darcie’s family is always chaotic, and this time the relatives bamboozle Darcie into having a Halloween party. It’s a decision that definitely comes back to haunt her.
Nancy Jill Thames / Raven House – When a reporter is murdered after a fundraiser at the historic Raven House, the police call on Jillian and her Yorkie Teddy to help them investigate.
Teresa Trent / Falling for Murder – Helpful hints columnist Betsy Livingston is an expert at household organization but her skills are put to the test when she’s called upon to conduct an efficiency review for a haunted house.
Maggie Toussaint / Dead Men Tell Tales – In this third installment of the Lindsey & Ike romantic mystery novella series, things don’t add up after a suspicious hunting accident. The more Sheriff Ike Harper and newspaper editor Lindsey McKay dig, the more questions they find.
Anna Celeste Burke / All Hallow’s Eve Heist – Date night for Georgie Shaw and handsome detective Jack Wheeler goes terribly wrong. A botched heist at Marvelous Marley World has everyone scrambling as trigger-happy bad guys head for the Halloween celebration in Arcadia Park.
Randy Rawls / Accident, Suicide, or Murder – Retired policeman Jonathan Boykin’s primary interest is improving his golf, but a grieving father’s request to investigate his son’s suspicious death is an entirely different ballgame.
Nancy J. Cohen / Haunted Hair Nights – As a new stepmother, hairstylist Marla Vail hopes to win brownie points by helping her daughter with a school haunted house project. Marla has her work cut out for her when she stumbles over a corpse on the spooky estate grounds.
Terry Ambrose / Spirit in the Rock – An invitation to a museum’s grand opening turns into a showdown with the spirit world for amateur sleuth Wilson McKenna.
Deborah Sharp / Haunting in Himmarshee – When a ghost comes to call, Mace must sort out the haunted from the homicidal in Himmarshee, Florida.
Joanna Campbell Slan/Kiki Lowenstein and the Doodoo – A fun family outings turns into a fearful fright, but Kiki Lowenstein is good at sniffing out bad guys.
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A Story for Halloween by Nancy J. Cohen
I’d only written one novella in my repertoire of over twenty published works when I was asked to participate in Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime. With the theme being autumn, my thoughts turned to Halloween. I’d written fourteen books in the Bad Hair Day mystery series, but not one of them highlighted this holiday. An idea hit me that was the perfect fit for a story in between volumes twelve and thirteen. Each book in my series can be read independently so no worries if you start with this one.
South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail, recently married to Detective Dalton Vail, volunteers to help her stepdaughter with a school fundraiser. It’s a haunted house project, and she can use her skills to help create the decorations. Having no children of her own, Marla has been reluctant to get involved in school activities, but this seems the perfect opportunity. She drives the teen to the wooded estate where this event will take place. The historic property is owned by the girl’s history teacher. As Marla is in the midst of her work making a frightful hairdo on a mannequin, she notices a trail of red outside leading into the surrounding woods. Is this part of the attraction? When she discovers the history teacher’s dead body, she realizes it isn’t a fake prop. Soon she’s involved in solving another murder.
I’d only written one other novella, so I knew this form of fiction doesn’t have room for subplots. Instead, I focused exclusively on the crime and suspects. Who would have reason to want the schoolteacher dead? A kid in his history class? One of the overprotective parents there that night? The mysterious school janitor? Or perhaps the greedy principal? Once I had the suspects and their possible motives in mind, I was ready to start writing the story. It flowed naturally, and I didn’t have to do a plotting chart or chapter outline like for a longer novel. Shorter chapters were the norm, and I kept writing until I reached the end. New readers can start with this story, but series fans will be pleased this tale adds a fresh dimension to Marla’s character.
To fill in a bit of the series history, Marla and Dalton have just come back from a delayed honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch owned by Dalton’s uncle. Peril by Ponytail (book 12) takes place in early October. Haunted Hair Nights occurs around Halloween. Then comes Facials Can Be Fatal (book 13, due out Feb. 22), which takes place in November/December. Since I’d already mentioned the other holidays around this time of year in my previous books, it was fun to set a story during Halloween. I hope you’ll enjoy my story and that it will put you in the mood for a spooky fall season.
How do you feel about novellas in a series? Love them or leave them? Enter a comment below, and I’ll pick a winner for an ebook copy of Permed to Death, book 1 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
About Nancy J. Cohen
Nancy J. Cohen writes the humorous Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list and been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery. Nancy is also the author of Writing the Cozy Mystery, a valuable instructional guide on how to write a winning whodunit. Her imaginative romances, including the Drift Lords series, have proven popular with fans as well.
A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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and Deborah Sharp