Nancy J. Cohen is author of the popular Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairdresser Marla Shore who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. KILLER KNOTS and PERISH BY PEDICURE are the latest titles in this humorous series. Author of thirteen published novels plus a novella, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors & Poets. A Florida resident for over thirty years, she has served as president of Florida Romance Writers, and as secretary for the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Several of her books have made the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association Bestseller List.
- Tell us about your latest book/project.
KILLER KNOTS is the ninth book in my Bad Hair Day mystery series. I’ve been on over 20 cruises, and I love sailing to the Caribbean, so I wanted to share my experiences with readers. In this story, hairstylist Marla Shore and her fiancé Dalton Vail go on their first Caribbean cruise. Marla hopes for a romantic interlude, but troubled waters lie ahead when their dinner companions start disappearing one-by-one. Onboard art auctions, tropical islands, and sumptuous buffets beckon, but Marla ignores temptation and musters her snooping skills to expose a killer. It was fun reliving the ports of call through Marla’s adventures, and I hope readers enjoy the voyage as much as I did.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I’d always been writing poems and short stories. Then one day, I bought a book called Structuring your Novel, and that taught me how to write an entire book. I wrote three books of fiction totally in the blind. Naturally, they got rejected. Then in 1988, I joined Florida Romance Writers and got an agent at my first conference. That agent tried to sell three more books. Meanwhile, I also got involved in a critique group, and my writing improved at a faster pace. One of my critique partners inspired me to write a book in a different genre, futuristic romance, and that’s the book that sold. Circle of Light, my first published book, won the HOLT Medallion Award. I wrote four futuristic romances for Dorchester before switching to mysteries. Kensington has published nine books in my Bad Hair Day series plus a novella for their Brava line.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
After I drink coffee, take a walk, and let the dog do her business, I begin working usually by 8 a.m. My best creative time is early morning. When I’m in a writing phase, I’ll set a quota of at least five pages per day. I must finish these pages before doing anything else. The rest of the afternoon is often spent on promotional and marketing activities.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
I’m fortunate to have my own office, a converted bedroom in our single-story ranch-style house. My computer sits on one wraparound corner style wood desk with bookshelves and drawers. My laser printer sits on the countertop. I have a separate wood desk to work on correspondence, bills, and such. The closet is converted into bookshelves which are full, along with bins for stacks of manuscripts around the room. I love my office, which is one reason why I don’t want to ever move. In a second bedroom, I keep a color printer and copier machine and file cabinets for all my clippings and articles.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
Here are just a few:
Debra Dixon, Goal, Motivation & Conflict, Gryphon Books, Memphis, TN, 1996.
Sherrilyn Kenyon, Character Naming Sourcebook, Writer’s Digest Books, Ohio, 1994
Barbara Norville, Writing the Modern Mystery, Writers Digest Books, Ohio, 1986.
Martin Roth, The Fiction Writer’s Silent Partner, Writer’s Digest Books, Ohio, 1991.
Joyce Spizer, Power Marketing Your Novel, Intercontinental Publishing, VA, 2000
Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey, Michael Wiese Productions, Studio City CA, 1992
Let’s see. I’m a graduate of the Barbizon School of Modeling in New York City. I worked at a few modeling jobs in my spare time but decided it wasn’t for me.
I almost had a career in ballet. I had to make a career choice between auditioning for a professional ballet company or becoming a nurse. I chose the latter.
I earned a Master of Science degree in Nursing and worked as a clinical nurse specialist before retiring to write full time.
7. Favorite quote
“Never give up. Never surrender.” (From Galaxy Quest, one of my favorite movies)
It applies aptly to a fiction writing career.
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
The best part is hearing from fans that you’ve touched their lives in some way. The worst part is the uncertainty of the business. No matter what stage you’ve reached as an author, there are no guarantees.
9. Advice for other writers
Follow the three P’s: Practice, Professionalism, and Perseverance.
Network as much as you can with other writers and join different writing organizations. Networking is critical to the business aspects of writing as well as to learning new craft techniques. Other writers also supply support and encouragement which we sorely need when we work alone all day.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
Let’s talk about Booksignings. One of my worst experiences was being invited for an event at an indie bookstore. The clerk on duty that evening set me up in the back of the place where no one could find me unless they came specifically for my talk. No one showed up. I had driven over five hours to get to this place. A waste of time and gas money.
One of my best experiences, on the other hand, was being invited to speak at a small local library in a country setting where I had dim expectations for selling many books. Lo and behold, the librarians were most gracious and welcoming. They had painted a mural depicting my sleuth’s hair salon to decorate the room, served refreshments, and filled the place with eager readers. I was very impressed and would gladly return there anytime they asked.
Where can people buy your books?
My books are available at all online and retail bookstores.