Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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

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Archive for the ‘The Writing Life’ Category

Hanging By A Hair Release Day!

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 18, 2014

April 18, Friday, Facebook Launch Party 10:00 am – 8:00 pm with Nancy J. Cohen and Maggie Toussaint. Giveaways all day! Join now: https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty

 

HANGING BY A HAIR (Bad Hair Day Mystery #11)  Hanging By A Hair
Now Available!

Amazon Hardcover: http://www.amazon.com/Hanging-Hair-Nancy-J-Cohen/dp/1432828142
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Hanging-Hair-Bad-Day-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00JJ2XVUQ/
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hanging-Hair-Nancy-J-Cohen/dp/1432828142
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hanging-by-a-hair-nancy-j-cohen/1116603785

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?

“Marla is short for marvelous. If you like your mysteries ‘cozy,’ you’re going to enjoy every minute you spend with her!”—Award-winning author Joanna Campbell Slan

Top Pick 5 Stars! “The author is always keeping you guessing as to where the story will lead you next. Ms. Cohen has just joined the list of my favorite authors and I look forward to reading the other books she has written. I hope you find Hanging by a Hair as great as I did.”—MerryNoelle, Night Owl Reviews

“A pleasingly lighthearted cozy.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Clues abound, as do quirky characters, wonderfully described South Florida settings, intriguing insights into the beauty salon business and into the wild world of Florida home-owning communities, and flavorful recipes. All in all, Hanging by a Hair is entertaining, enjoyable, and informative. I look forward to Number 12 in this delightful series.”— Stephanie Saxon Levine, Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore

Pinterest Board: http://www.pinterest.com/njcohen/hanging-by-a-hair/

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/gv5ldn9uw7I

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18351891-hanging-by-a-hair

Coming Up

April 21 – 27, The Big Thrill Roundtable, “Do you enjoy reading books out of seasons?”
http://www.thebigthrill.org/thriller-roundtable/

April 21, Monday, “Story Magic,” Mayhem and Magic, http://mayhemandmagic2.blogspot.com/

April 22, Tuesday, “Creating Hooks in Cozy Mysteries,” Musings From the Slush Pile, http://blog.juliealindsey.com/

Join the fun now: https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty

Posted in Appearances, Contest, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Characters Too Weird To Be True

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 15, 2014

Characters Too Weird To Be True by Nancy J. Cohen

“Florida is a giant bug light for crazy people.” ~Phyllis Smallman, Sleuthfest 2014

It’s no surprise to any author living in Florida that some of the craziest stories we can write are actually inspired by true events in our sunshine state. Join us in exploring a different side of Florida than the travel bureau promotes with our first Blog Hop sponsored by Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Read on, click the links below to read another member’s view of crazy Florida, comment, share your favorite stories, and enter the contest to win a Kindle Paperwhite.

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Florida has its share of wacky characters. Every Sunday, I buy a newspaper and read through it with a pair of scissors in hand. Inevitably, there’s some article about an interesting resident or an issue that intrigues me. I cut out these articles and file them. Whenever I’m searching for a secret to give a suspect, I’ll glance through these clippings. That’s how I found a cool character who was a funeral director by day and a Samoan fire knife dancer at night. I tracked down the guy, interviewed him at his funeral home and based a character on him in Hair Raiser.

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There’s no lack of strange people living in Florida. Criminals move down for the good weather same as other citizens. But most of the interesting characters in the news appear less in the spotlight. It might be a housewife running a prostitution ring, a non-profit administrator embezzling money, or a local teacher found with child porn files on his computer. These are secrets worth considering, because they’ll make the characters in my books seems suspicious. And Florida does have its share of wackos where truth is stranger than fiction.

Another character I used in a book was inspired by a reader at a talk I gave. She’d owned a clothing boutique and mentioned a guy who came in and wanted to try on women’s clothes. This idea was perfect for Murder by Manicure who now has a transvestite in the story. So you never know where inspiration will strike.

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For Hanging By A Hair, #11 in the Bad Hair Day mysteries, neighborhood communities played a role in story development. Who hasn’t had trouble with their homeowners’ association? Marla’s husband has a disagreement with their HOA president who is later found dead. Our state’s Native American heritage comes into play in this story with a suspect who is a tribal shaman.

clip_image006  Hanging By A Hair

Florida has a rich history, a diverse ecosystem, and a hotbed of issues. All we have to do is read the newspaper for ideas. Thus I’ve dealt with citrus canker, illegal immigrant labor, exotic bird smuggling, child drowning prevention, melanoma detection, and a host of other matters that affect Floridians. Although these issues can be serious, my stories contain humor, a satisfying ending, and a lesson learned. And what have I learned? We never lack for material in sunny South Florida.

Amazon Hardcover: http://www.amazon.com/Hanging-Hair-Nancy-J-Cohen/dp/1432828142 
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Hanging-Hair-Bad-Day-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00JJ2XVUQ/
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hanging-by-a-hair-nancy-j-cohen/1116603785

Nancy J. Cohen has written over twenty romance and mystery novels. She wishes she could style hair like her hairdresser sleuth, Marla Shore, but can usually be found reading instead.

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Blog Commenters can win an ebook copy of either Shear Murder or Writing the Cozy Mystery (your choice). Winner will be announced on April 23. Leave a comment, and your name will automatically be entered. And don’t miss our Grand Prize contest below!

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Click on the link below to Win a KINDLE PAPERWHITE

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kindle Paperwhite

No purchase is necessary. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. By submitting your entry, you agree to be entered into the participating authors’ email newsletter list. Your information will not be shared with anyone else, and you may unsubscribe at any time. Winner will be notified by email. Authors are not responsible for transmission failures, computer glitches or lost, late, damaged or returned email. Winner agrees for their name to be used in conjunction with the contest on FMWA and authors’ social media sites. U.S. Residents only due to postage constraints.

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Visit our other FMWA Authors and win more prizes:

Victoria Allman, Gator Bites, http://www.victoriaallman.com/blog
Miriam Auerbach, Bonkers in Boca, http://www.miriamauerbach.com/bonkers-in-boca
Gregg E. Brickman, Crazy South Florida—How it got to be home, http://www.GreggEBrickman.com/blog.html
Diane Capri, Fishnado!, http://www.dianecapri.com/blog
Joan Cochran, The Million Dollar Squatter: Crazy in the Land of  Coconuts and Bagels, http://www.joanlipinskycochran.com/blog.htm?post=952677
Nancy J. Cohen, Characters Too Weird to Be True, http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com
JD Daniels, He Did What? http://www.live-from-jd.com
Joy Wallace Dickinson, In Florida, It’s Great to Be a Cracker, http://www.FindingJoyinFlorida.com
Linda Gordon Hengerer, Crazy Treasure on the Treasure Coast, http://footballfoodandfiction.blogspot.com/
Victoria Landis, Eavesdropping 101, http://www.victorialandis.com
Sandy Parks, Keep your eyes to the Florida skies, http://www.sandyparks.wordpress.com
Neil Plakcy, Moscow on the Intracoastal, http://www.mahubooks.blogspot.com/
Johnny Ray, Utilizing Google Plus Air to Facilitate Author Interviews, http://www.sirjohn.us
Joanna Campbell Slan, Honey, You’ll Never Guess What Rolled Up in the Surf, http://www.joannaslan.blogspot.com

 

Posted in Fiction Writing, Florida Musings, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , | 42 Comments »

New Release, Contests, More

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 4, 2014

April is a super busy month for me, so I won’t be able to write many regular blog posts. It’s my release month for Hanging By A Hair (April 18). As a result, I have a blog tour, online launch party, various appearances, contests, and all this while doing a final reading of Peril by Ponytail before turning it in to my editor. At the end of this month, I leave for the Malice Domestic conference in Maryland. So please bear with me during all these announcements and SAVE THESE DATES!

Blog Hop

April 15, Tuesday, Blog Hop sponsored by Florida Chapter of MWA. You can start with my topic, “Characters Too Weird To Be True” and follow along from there. Enter to win a Kindle Paperwhite and other prizes! So come back here on April 15 for this special event. http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com

Online Launch Party

April 18, Friday, Online Launch Party 10:00 am – 8:00 pm with Nancy J. Cohen and Maggie Toussaint. Giveaways all day! Join now: https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty

Personal Appearance

April 19, Saturday, 11:30 am, “Writing the Cozy Mystery” including 4 Giant Steps to Self-Publishing with Nancy J. Cohen, Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, Doubletree by Hilton, 100 Fairway Drive, Deerfield Beach, 33441. Reservations Required, http://mwaflorida.org/

Blog Tour

April 18-May 20, Go here to get my complete schedule: http://nancyjcohen.com/appearances

Contests

Fresh Fiction Contest April 1-30

Enter to win a Hanging By A Hair T-shirt & door hanger, plus a signed print copy of Shear Murder at http://freshfiction.com/contest.php?id=6389

Booklover’s Bench Contest April 4-18

Booklover’s Bench, April 4-18, Win a $25 gift card or 1/6 books, including an ebook copy of Writing the Cozy Mystery, http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Blog Hop

Enter to win a Kindle Paperwhite April 15-22 in FMWA’s first Blog Hop. Begin here on April 15: http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com

Media Coverage

Fabulous Florida Writers: http://www.fabulousfloridawriters.blogspot.com/2014/04/nancy-cohen-hair-raising-whodunits.html
Interview in The Big Thrill: http://www.thebigthrill.org/2014/03/hanging-by-a-hair-by-nancy-j-cohen/

SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER for quarterly updates on new releases, cover reveals, contests, recipes, and more. Go to http://nancyjcohen.com and fill in the box in the Left Sidebar.

Have a Great Day!

 

 

Posted in Appearances, Author Interviews, Contest, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Marketing and Selling Your Books

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 31, 2014

Marketing and Selling Your Books with Sophia Knightly

At a recent meeting of the Florida Romance Writers, Inc., USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Sophia Knightly shared her promotional strategies. A two-time Maggie award finalist and a P&E Readers’ Poll finalist, she is traditionally published by St. Martin’s Press, Kensington, and Samhain Publishing. Her popular indie published Tropical Heat Series books have consistently been on Amazon bestseller lists and sold over 100,000 copies.

Sophia Knightly

Sophia started off by mentioning 7 book promotion strategies:

1. Image and Promotional Strategies
2. Website and Social Media
3. Conferences and Book Signings
4. Promotion and Advertising
5. Collaborative Initiatives
6. Publishing Sales Infrastructure
7. Measuring and Tracking Performance

Start by defining and creating your brand. Consider your style and marketing image. Personalize your message as much as possible. Toot your horn in your signature line and create a tagline for your brand.

Packaging the image includes your book covers, series branding, bundled box sets, stock photos. Label your work a “short novella” if it is one so readers know what to expect. Sophia recommends Gilded Heart Designs and Kim Killion as designers. For herself, she uses Pikasa for graphic design.

You’ll want to put out a newsletter featuring your author news, events, contests, and appearances.

A street team can be helpful in creating buzz, cheerleading, and reviews. Send ARCs to your team with a deadline for reviews. In return, you can provide swag and online parties. Sophia currently has 33 people in her team. She takes members off after six months if they don’t participate. She’ll show team members her new covers, ask them questions on a message board, and provide swag and a welcome package that may include T-shirts, postcards, bookmarks, trading cards, magnets, and Emery boards. She holds reader contests and gives appreciation gifts of chocolates or a gift basket at special events where she appears in person.

Build your story and themes. For example, if there’s a dog in your story, put a picture of the dog online and feature him in your Facebook posts. Create a holiday message from the dog. Sophia did a Facebook page for her dog character “Romeo”, but you could use any other secondary character as long as you do steady posts.

Attend industry conferences, hold contests, and do signings. Sign up for Autography with iPad and Authorgraph on Kindle.

“The more books you put out there, the more you’ll sell.” Check out the Author Network and Indie Romance Ink which have lots of resources.

Embed your book blurb for the sequel in the back of a book. Use vendor specific links and a newsletter sign-up link in your back material.

Promotion and Advertising Sites

Check out paid ad sites such as Book Bub , E-reader News Today, Kindle Books and Tips, Kindle Book Blast, and Book Gorilla.

Do Facebook sponsored posts for five dollars a day when you want to announce a new release, have an online party, or get people to sign up for your newsletter.

Collaborative Initiatives

Sophia reached the USA Today bestseller list when she combined her two Tropical Heat Series books, Wild for You and Sold on You in a boxed set and reduced the price to $0.99 for a limited time sale.

She made the New York Times bestseller list through a collaborative effort with 6 other authors in the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Boxed Set. Lucky 7 Bad Boys Boxed Set has been on the USA Today bestseller list for three consecutive weeks since publication in early March.

Pricing

Price according to the word count. Run sales often and bundle books in a series. Offer occasional freebies or make things Permafree. Have a loss leader pricing, like the first book in a series for $2.99, while subsequent titles are $3.99. You can drop the price on sale to $.99 for a limited time like 1 to 2 weeks. Sophia will offer a box set for $3.99 and then she’ll put it on sale for $.99.

Be current on models and trends. Go back further on royalty-free sites to find images, or the same image might be used too often by other authors.

Website and Social Media

Facebook will tell you which posts are doing better. Use visual images with Facebook and Pinterest. Put up photos of fun stuff to connect with readers. If a post doesn’t have an image, less people will read it. Like your own post. The more Likes, the more people who will see it.

Use Twitter, HootSuite, Goodreads, Instagram, and do giveaways. Offer short videos. Put a video in your newsletter inviting people to your Facebook party. Interview members of your lifeboat team on video and invite people to enter your group contest.

Have a contest on Facebook giving away e-books, fun stuff that women love, and gift cards. Network by joining book groups on Facebook. Twitter is better in the morning, late afternoon, or after dinner. Have your buy links everywhere. Have a tab on your Facebook author page for your mailing list sign-up.

A lot of readers are on Wattpad. It’s a free site where you can put up the first few chapters of your book including buy links.

“Write more books. Release them often.” She believes you should have a product out every three months. It’s the number one way to sell more books and build a large readership.

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Follow Sophia Online:

Website: http://www.sophiaknightly.net/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Knightly/e/B00663POSI/

 

 

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Social Media Tips

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 28, 2014

Humanizing the Web with Marc Ensign

Marc Ensign

At a recent meeting of the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, nationally acclaimed social media expert Marc Ensign advised us to be a Dick and follow the Ten Virtues when it comes to social media. He described his neighbor named Dick who welcomed him into the neighborhood and was always looking after Marc’s interests, sharing his resources and time very generously. From studying Dick’s manner, Marc decided this approach could work on social media as well. His philosophy is akin to Do Unto Others as you would have them Do Unto You. Be kind, generous, and giving, and you’ll help to save the Internet. Here are his Ten Virtues, subject to my interpretation and the accuracy of my notes:

Be Engaged with other people. Listen intently to your connections. Build relationships. Market the people around you. Listen to them and comment on their sites. Like aspiring authors’ posts and websites. Help others get their message out. Connect and give people what they want.

Be Valuable by helping other authors who want to get published. Mentor them, tell them how you did it, and offer tips. Add value to your relationships. Make it about “let me help you” and not about selling.

Be First to offer help before you’re asked. “Let me give something to you first.”

Be Welcoming by putting people at ease, sharing ideas, introducing new options. Welcome everyone even if they disagree with you. Talk about it with them. Make it a conversation. Be open to hearing what people have to say.

Be Humble. Your purpose should be bigger than yourself as an author, than being on the bestseller list or having a high Amazon rating.

Be Authentic. Be true to yourself in all that you do.

Be Generous by helping people and giving information away. People will see you as a resource. On your website, offer free articles and other resources. Your philosophy should be “Let me give to you” rather than “Let me give to you and see what I’ll get from it.”

Be Transparent to appear more human. Talk about what problems you’re having in your writing. Like, “Here’s what I’m doing with this character. Why isn’t it working?” or, “Why isn’t this book selling?” Let people into your life and into the scary stuff of your career.

Be Perceptive by being aware of what’s going on in other people’s lives. Follow up on people’s blog posts by returning later and inquiring about an earlier issue.

Be Awesome. Reach out through your blogs, comments, and sharing. How can you be awesome for someone else?

It’s all about caring, giving, and sharing yourself without being concerned about what you’ll get in return.

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Marc Ensign has been featured in/on CNN, the Huffington Post, Inc 500, Forbes, New York Post, PR Daily, Jezebel, and ProBlogger.

Website: http://www.marcensign.com
Twitter: @MarcEnsign
http://Googleplus.marcensign.com
http://Facebook.marcensign.com
http://Linkedin.marcensign.com

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Technology, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Teamwork for Cross-Promotion

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 27, 2014

Teaming up for Cross Promotion with Nancy J. Cohen, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Erin Mitchell and moderated by Maggie Toussaint

This is my last recap of panels from SleuthFest 2104. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

Cross Promotion

Erin says cross-promotion works best when there’s something in it for everyone. When you have an audience, you have something to bring to the table. Readers are a good resource. Ask them questions and engage them directly. Know where you can find them. The purpose is to build your brand. Write some valued content and distribute it into various venues.

I discussed my lifeboat team, Booklover’s Bench. We’re a team of seven multi-published authors who have a website together where we offer monthly contests, behind-the-scenes glimpses of our working life, excerpts, profiles, and more. We cross-promote by offering prizes for each other’s contests in some cases as well. Measurable results include increased numbers of names for our mailing lists, added Likes to our Facebook author pages, more followers on Twitter, additional Likes on our Amazon author pages, and having our books placed on Goodreads TBR lists.

I’m also a regular blogger on The Kill Zone, a blogging site with 11 mystery/thriller authors where we offer writing instruction, publishing advice, and marketing tips along with our musings on The Writing Life.

Libby cautions that you should be careful and must really like the work of people in your group. Some may be more invested than others. Personalities are important. She belongs to a group of suspense writers, both hybrid and traditionally published authors who’ve moved on to self-publishing. They have done a round robin story together, two anthologies, and a how-to write crime fiction work. They’ve tweeted and shared posts on FB for each other. One advantage of a sizable group is that they can negotiate terms with online book retailers.

Her group invested money to hire a website designer who also maintains their site. They also paid for a cover designer on the anthologies. Their income helps counter expenses. They have rules for dissolution in their LLC’s operating agreement or for dissolving the LLC in the future. This helps members take their commitment seriously.

Libby recommends the following blogs:

The Passive Voice

Digital Book World

Joe Konrath

Kris Writes

The Dames of Dialogue

Indie Chicks

Nancy J. Cohen and Maggie Toussaint

Maggie and Nancy from Booklover’s Bench.

This concludes my SleuthFest report. I hope you have enjoyed these summaries and will consider attending in person next year! Keep watch for details at http://mwaflorida.org/

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Laura Lippman

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 26, 2014

Lunch with Laura Lippman at SleuthFest

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

Laura Lippman

Bestselling Author Laura Lippman discussed what it means to be a professional writer. Publishing has changed in terms of e-books, self-published writers and hybrid authors. “The conversation has become so charged and so vitriolic. I’ve yet to see any reliable numbers on either side.” The argument for traditional publishing is couched in money and control.

No one argues that self-publishing will lead to better books. This avenue can produce as good a book as traditional publishing. But where is the true masterpiece in self-publishing? “Show me a masterpiece that could only have come” from a self-published work.

Find someone you can trust to tell your dreams about publishing. What are you prepared to do to get there? Professionalism is taking your work seriously, and being respectful of other people’s time and expertise.

Laura calls indie publishing “a less precise euphemism” for self-publishing. The key is in doing the work and reaching a reasoned decision to self-publish but not for instant gratification. Is the work ready? Be a ruthless critic of your own work. The goal has to be to write the best book you can. Your words are your legacy. Make them precise. Make them good.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Editors Roundtable at SleuthFest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 21, 2014

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

Editors Roundtable with Neil S. Nyren, Shannon Jamieson Vazquez, Deni Dietz, Matt Martz and moderated by P.J. Parrish

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How have the changes in publishing affected you?

Matt said social media tools can take up a lot of time and become distracting. However, electronic submissions are great. “Queries written like tweets don’t fly.” Be professional in your queries.

Shannon mentioned that e-mail has revolutionized multiple submissions like the Xerox machine did earlier. E-books are growing.

Neil said e-books are a big change in our business. If you plan to save self-publish, please make sure the book is ready. Respect the reader. Hire a professional copy editor to edit your work and a professional artist to design your jackets.

Kristy (aka P.J. Parrish) warned listeners to be careful of typos especially if you get your backlist scanned.

Is the editing process gone, or how has it changed?

Matt said, if an editor has to dig in deep to line edit, then he probably shouldn’t be working with you. An editor works on tone, pacing, developmental issues, and broader strokes.

Shannon said there’s no one way to do it. “I red-line the hell out of a manuscript. We’re working to make the book the best it can be.” She’ll spend at least two weeks on a manuscript. Altogether, a book might take her five to six months for the different stages.

Neil gives the manuscript a complete first read and then sends the author notes on what works and what doesn’t.

Deni said historical mysteries take longer to work on due to the research involved. She works with three associate editors. She advises writers to learn your toolbar and track changes. The days of sticky notes on manuscripts are over. Formatting is very important.

Also, there is a misperception that if it’s wrong, an editor will fix it. That is untrue. Deni will do brief edits as she reads through the work and then sends it back to the writer for corrections. She believes that if someone doesn’t show you what’s wrong, how are you going to learn?

If the writing is dazzling, but the story is not compelling, Neil said that’s called an “MFA” [Master of Fine Arts] manuscript.

Where do most books fall apart?

Shannon says this happens for her between pages 1 and 150. The book gets off to a good start but gets tangled in subplots, or else the story peters out. Or the solution isn’t what she’d expected.

Deni said sometimes this happens in the middle or at the end because the writer is anxious to finish. Or else there’s a Too Stupid To Live moment. But that’s fixable, so don’t despair.

Neil looks to see if the author has control of the book from the very beginning. He says a good agent should know an editor’s particular taste.

You will learn more by writing a book, putting it in a drawer, and starting a new one than by working on that same manuscript for years.

How often do books come out?

Shannon said romances are at the forefront of three month back-to-back book releases but not mysteries. Deni said her house puts out one book a year due to reviewers’ lead time.

Short stories and novellas are making a comeback with e-books, according to Shannon. Nobody is buying short story collections, but they can be used as teasers for book-length novels. Neil pointed out pricing on a short story could be $.99 or free, while a novella can be sold for $2.99.

What about print-only deals?

Matt said it’s not much of a partnership if the author retains e-book rights.

Neil adds, “We’re giving up the potential, so for most people print-only deals won’t be a possibility.”

Deni said Five Star will not take a self-published book.

Shannon said they would consider buying e-book rights from self-published authors, but you would have to take your book down at the online sites where you have it on sale.

Coming Next: Kobo and ACX

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Cracking Discoverability

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 19, 2014

Contest
Enter to win 1 of 4 signed ARCs of Hanging By A Hair in my Goodreads Giveaway: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/81598-hanging-by-a-hair

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We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

“Cracking Discoverability” with Terry Odell, Neil Plakcy, Eileen Robertson, Peggy Hanson, and Sandra Balzo as moderator.

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Find your public and reach out to them. Look for mystery listserves like Dorothy L and 4 Mystery Addicts, and join their discussions to establish a presence. Check out groups on Goodreads and LinkedIn for mystery readers. Look for book blogs. Check out Novel Spot for readers.

Terry said, “The key to social networks is being social.” Don’t push your book. You want people to like your post and then they will look up your books.

Peggy gets a lot of hits posting about her cats so she agrees with Terry. “PR stuff is very hard, but if you present yourself as a person, people may become interested in you as a writer.”

Eileen belongs to a group of women mystery writers, and they tour together for events. “The reader is far more important than the writer.” And even if they get your book at the library, then they’ll want to read the rest of your works.

According to Terry, “The best thing you can do on Facebook is to share.” She mentions Rafflecopter for contests and then discussed how to get your Facebook friends to migrate to your Facebook page. Ask them periodically to Like your page.

Neil discussed what makes a good newsletter. You can pepper in short chunks of research, fun and interesting facts, sneak peeks at your next work, giveaways, contests with prizes including other authors’ books. Get readers onto your blog with recipes, pets, or other interesting tidbits.

Friday Lunch Keynote Speaker Ace Atkins

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Ace discussed his road to publication and how he kept persisting. You get knocked down, you get back up and listen how to improve your work. Get out to meet people, real people related to your work. If you’re not passionate about the material and love it, think about why you’re in this business. Leave out the stuff people skip over and get to the story. Listen to people talk to learn to write dialogue. Don’t watch television to learn.

Examine who you’re targeting when you submit to an editor. What are their tastes and interests?

Don’t ever stop writing. If it’s not working, start something else. Keep going. If an agent or editor aren’t working out, move on. Always keep the book going. You’ll only get better.

Coming Next: Editors Roundtable

 

 

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Increase the Chaos. Engage the Reader.

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 19, 2014

Increase the Chaos. Engage the Reader. by Julie Anne Lindsey

Chaos is one of my favorite things about fiction. This is especially true in a cozy mystery. I truly enjoy the insane amount of juggling required by the heroine. As a woman, I can relate to the pressure and frustration of handling too much- minus the murder investigation, of course – and it’s fun to see the scenarios unfold on someone else for a change. I can relate. It’s no secret women handle unthinkable amounts of responsibilities while maintaining the peace and meeting unreasonable expectations of others. We hold down the household, punch a time clock, volunteer in the community, date, please our family, entertain our friends and so much more. (We really are the more miraculous portion of our species. In my humble opinion). Which is why we all deserve a good book and a break from time to time.

As writers, it’s our job to connect strangers with a character we dreamed up. Chaos is a common ground we can use to our advantage. When I fall into a great new cozy or amateur female sleuth series, I immediately connect with the heroine if she’s got her hands full. I nod along and smile, thinking, man-oh-man am I glad it’s not me this time. My heart goes out to her. It’s hard keeping things afloat, and honestly, the chaos can be pretty entertaining when I’m not on the business end of things. Murder-Comes-Ashore-jpg

As I write each mystery, I want my heroine overwhelmed, well-liked and spread paper-thin. I want readers to feel the pull of hands on her time and person. So, as I plot and scheme a fun new investigation, I ask myself “What do I do every day?” and then “What do my friends do?” What keeps us so busy? The snowball method takes over from there because the short answer is we do too much.

Piling up the trouble is a great writers’ tool. It’s a fun and easy way to increase the chaos and pacing of a story. It keeps the pages going and stops the story from stagnating. I spend extra time on my outlines peppering in all the commitments my heroine, Patience, has to maintain in addition to surviving the wrath of a provoked killer and exploring the leads in her investigation, not to mention all the people she wants to please.

Add responsibilities to connect readers to your heroine. Give her problems they can all relate to, like family and romance. Those things are complicated. Messy. Real.

In my newest release, Murder Comes Ashore, I’ve piled up the everyday things that make a woman bananas. As my heroine pursues her investigation, (the crux of the story), she’s drawn away repeatedly by phone calls from clients, impromptu visits from family and a frustrating love triangle she’d prefer not to think about. She’s running from a killer, volunteering at the grade school and questioning birders about anything unusual they might have seen since the murder. Local law enforcement is running a parallel investigation and they get in her way, too.

Adding reality to the fiction anchors readers to your story. Who can’t related to a boss that expects us to show up on time? Or a sister who takes it personally if you’re five minutes late for dinner? The predicaments don’t have to be fantastical because they’re fiction. Take the things that make you the craziest and share them with your heroine. It is fun to move the burden onto someone else and it bridges the gap between you and women readers everywhere. Hey, it’s no fun when I have to fold laundry, check homework assignments and explain to my mom why I haven’t called all week, but when those things fall to a character, I smile because we share common ground. And us XX chromosome types have to stick together.

If you’re looking for a fun new mystery to cozy up with, I hope you’ll consider my new release, Murder Comes Ashore. It’s packed with chaos and a heroine who understands. Besides, who couldn’t use an island escape right now?

Murder Comes Ashore

Patience Price is just settling into her new life as resident counselor on Chincoteague Island when things take a sudden turn for the worse. A collection of body parts have washed up on shore and suddenly nothing feels safe on the quaint island.

Patience instinctively turns to current crush and FBI special agent Sebastian for help, but former flame Adrian is also on the case, hoping that solving the grisly crime will land him a win in the upcoming mayoral election.

When the body count rises and Patience’s parents are brought in as suspects, Patience is spurred to begin her own investigation. It’s not long before she starts receiving terrifying threats from the killer, and though she’s determined to clear her family’s name, it seems the closer Patience gets to finding answers, the closer she comes to being the killer’s next victim.

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About JulieJulie Lindsey

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.

Murder Comes Ashore is a sequel in her new mystery series, Patience Price, Counselor at Large, from Carina Press.

Learn About Julie at:

Julieannelindsey.com

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

 
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