Guest Blogger Nancy J. Cohen – Far-Flung Family Ties

Nancy J. Cohen
Nancy J. Cohen

“Far-Flung Family Ties” by Nancy J. Cohen

As we approach the holidays, we begin planning our family celebrations. These may not always be the joyous occasions we’d like. Disagreements, envy, cultural gaps with married partners, and secrets can keep families apart. In PERIL BY PONYTAIL, my recent release and #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, Marla and Dalton Vail embark on a honeymoon to an Arizona dude ranch.

Dalton’s uncle owns both the resort and a nearby ghost town that he’s renovating. Marla soon learns that Uncle Ray had an ulterior motive in inviting them out there. Mishaps have been plaguing both properties, and he suspects a saboteur. With Dalton being a homicide detective and Marla an amateur sleuth, Uncle Ray figures they can help him catch the culprit. But when a local forest ranger is found dead, the stakes escalate.

Marla is happy to meet Dalton’s extended family, especially since his mother isn’t speaking to his uncle for reasons unknown. Uncle Ray is just as tight-lipped, refusing to mention his past. However, he blames neighboring rancher Hugh Donovan for his troubles. Evidently, their animosity goes back to their childhood. Dalton’s cousins are more warm and welcoming. Annie is a dietician in town and Wayne manages the ranch. It’s a good chance for Marla to get to know this side of the family, but as she digs deeper into Uncle Ray’s secrets, she’s afraid exposing the truth might tear her new family apart.

Some of us may not know our extended family too well. We gather for holidays, exchange superficial news, and go on ourPerilbyPonytail merry ways until the next event. It’s not like the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where everyone is in each other’s business but is also there for support. Your old childhood roles might surface when the relatives gather. Were you the shy one? The troublemaker? The lazy kid in school who never studied? It’s hard to surpass those reputations. Getting together more often and in different settings than a holiday dinner might be the answer.

So how often do you see your relatives? Do you feel comfortable around them? Would you rather be somewhere else at those times?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of Peril by Ponytail.


Peril by Ponytail (Bad Hair Day Mystery #12)
Marla and Dalton’s honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch veers from dangerous to downright deadly faster than a horse headed to the corral. With her husband’s uncle—the resort owner—on the suspect list for murder, Marla races to prove his innocence. She hopes her blind trust isn’t misplaced, especially when she learns their relative has secrets he’d rather keep buried. As the bodies pile up, she digs deeper to find the killer. With her new family in jeopardy, she’d better figure out who’s adding to the spirits at a nearby ghost town before someone she loves is hurt.

Excerpt from Peril by Ponytail

Marla and Dalton are invited to dinner at his cousin Wayne’s house in Arizona. Present are Wayne and his wife Carol, Wayne’s sister Annie, and their father who is Dalton’s Uncle Raymond.

After they’d eaten a hearty vegetable bean soup, Raymond addressed Wayne. “Did you get that leaky water heater fixed?”

Wayne’s mouth tightened. “Yes, we did. The plumber said a valve had been loosened. Maybe it got knocked open by a broom that may have fallen over, but I think it was deliberate. At least we were able to clean the dining hall in time for the next meal.”

“I told you to put more video cameras in place.”

“Carol is still waiting for an estimate from the security company. Why do you look like you swallowed a lemon pit? I’ll take care of it.”

Raymond gripped his water glass. “I attended a town council meeting today. Hugh Donovan is stirring up trouble again.”

“What did he want this time? Donovan owns the Dead Gulch Ranch on the other side of the mountain,” Wayne explained in an aside to Marla and Dalton.

“His cattle aren’t doing well, and he blames my renovations,” Raymond said. “The guy’s an idiot. We’ve done the proper environmental impact studies, and they were approved. There’s no way our ghost town project can be contaminating his property.”

“Why does this fellow worry you so much?” Dalton asked, voicing the thought in Marla’s head.

“The man has it in for me, and don’t ask why because it’s nobody’s business but mine. I’ll need more approvals for my construction. If the council refuses to issue even one permit, it’ll put us behind schedule.”

“And how does that benefit Donovan?” Wayne said in a frustrated tone.

Marla figured he must have asked his father before about Hugh Donovan without satisfaction. What had happened between the two men to cause animosity?

“He hopes I’ll run out of money if he delays things long enough. I’ve had offers to buy that property, and I suspect he’s behind them. If the council doesn’t heed him, he’ll find other ways to shut me down.”

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Nancy J. Cohen writes the humorous Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring hairdresser Marla Vail, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list and been named 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, visiting Disney World, cruising, and outlet shopping.

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0 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Nancy J. Cohen – Far-Flung Family Ties”

  1. I love this series and look forward to each new release! Although I have not read this one yet, I can’t wait to do so! Thank you for the chance to win the Kindle version of this title!

  2. lindagordonhengerer

    We have a new baby in the family, and I’ll meet her at Thanksgiving. Can’t wait! Glad we won’t have the problems Marla and Dalton do 🙂

    1. You made me chuckle….have to agree that it is a good thing you won’t have the problems Marla and Dalton do …. but at least, while you are enjoying the new baby in the family, you also can be enjoying the newest challenges for Marla and Dalton :).

  3. Hi, Nancy — Congratulations on your latest publication. Sounds like a good read. Good luck with Sleuthfest–my favorite conference. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to attend this year.

  4. I have a VERY large extended family and it’s sad , but we only gather for weddings and funerals.


  5. My extended family on both my parents sides have reunions every year. We usually try to go now but for years we didn’t. I’m gay. For the longest time, it was a big secret (my mom was worried my dad would be embarrassed). Now it isn’t as more on both sides have come out. The oldsters on both sides are too busy gossiping about all the old family skeletons they’ve always known about to worry about who’s with someone of the same sex. It’s actually pretty refreshing given what I really expected. There are those who avoid me/won’t talk to me, of course but they aren’t perfect and I just hold up a mental mirror when they pass by, face turned the other way lest I dare speak to them.

    1. It’s sad that you are met with this behavior. I have a cousin who is gay, and when he was living in the area, he brought his boyfriend to all our events. The guy was like another member of the family. One’s preferences have to be respected.

  6. Great post. Families, right? We are the only ones who still live in this area so holidays are usually just the 3 of us (granddaughter lives with us). Health and schedule have prevented us from doing much traveling their way, finances and lots of kids prevent the other way. And there seems to be an expiration date on a good visit with a large family gathering. Us moms have the vision of getting all our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren together but they seem to get tired of being with their siblings pretty quickly. Oh well, I just had a marvelous visit with my sister. Unfortunately I am in California and she is in Florida so visits are not often enough.

  7. The winner of the give-away is Sally Cootie. Sally, if you will send me your email address ( we’ll see to it that you get your Kindle copy of Peril by Ponytail. Congratulations!!!!!

  8. This is ADORABLE! Props for creativity. I would be interested in putting some copies out in my hair salon (Virginia Beach on Shore drive, if you want to check it out and see if you might want to work with me). I can probably help raise some awareness! Our clients are all tech-savvy and like to book their hair appointments online, so I’m sure they can probably figure out all your details even if they just see the cover once. Let me know.

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