Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Marco Island Revisited

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 26, 2014

Marco Island is our favorite beach getaway during the summer months. Located in southwest Florida below Naples, this quiet island holds pristine beaches and tempting seafood restaurants. We stay at the Hilton, enjoying its amenities and the café overlooking the water. I shop at Beachworks for tropical wear in Marco Town Center, a shopping strip with fun gift shops and boutiques. We visit Sunshine Booksellers that has two branches on the island. And we dine in our favorite eateries.

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Our first day, we had lunch at Snook Inn. I like their baked stuffed shrimp with a salad bar.

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That evening, we headed to Café de Marco. I had to get their seafood stuffed mushrooms again. It’s one of the best appetizers ever. We had butterflied shrimp there the last time, so now we tried delicious grouper with mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Crusty rolls and salads accompanied the meal. We enjoy this restaurant’s elegant atmosphere and excellent service.

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The next day, lunch was at the pool bar as we spent the day at the beach.

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For dinner, we returned to Capri Fish House for grilled salmon while overlooking a sandy stretch at a waterway where kids cast fishing lines and boats bobbed at a marina.

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We’d hoped to take the lunch cruise on the Marco Island Princess the following afternoon, but it was cancelled due to lack of patrons. So we visited the Marco Island Historical Museum instead and learned about the early Calusa Indians and the Spaniard explorers who brought disease that wiped them out.

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Lunch was casual at NeNe’s Kitchen and dinner was coconut crusted tilapia at our hotel’s Paradise Café.

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It was another refreshing weekend at the beach and just what I needed to get away from the computer. Here’s the blazing sunset that’s always a celebration on the west coast of Florida, and just a snippet away, an approaching thunderstorm.

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Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hurricane Season

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 10, 2014

Hurricane Season officially began on June 1st. Are you prepared? It’s supposed to be a mild season, but you never know. So here’s a list of what to do if you see the orange cone of concern coming your way.

hurricane season

HURRICANE PREP LIST

1. Buy bags of ice. Put on lower shelves in freezer, and later in fridge if power is out, so melting ice doesn’t flood the interior. Or freeze water in plastic containers ahead of time to help keep food cool. Turn fridge to colder setting ahead of storm.

2. Buy bottled water and fruit juices; sports drinks if you like them. Fill unused plastic pitchers at home with tap water and refrigerate for drinking.

3. Have enough snack foods in stock. Fruits that keeps well: grapes, apples, bananas. Buy bread for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

4. Cook and eat perishable foods. Hard boil your eggs, and make sure you cook dinner early in case the power goes out.

5. Consider boarding your pet at a kennel or make plans to have a secure place for the pooch and enough supplies.

6. Backup important computer files. Send an email to yourself at another online address or to an out of state relative or friend with your important data files attached.

7. Bring in all loose objects from outside.

8. Do the laundry.

9. Perform personal grooming essentials. It’s hard to shave and wash hair with no lights, and the water might get contaminated.

10. Fill gas tank in car.

11. Get extra cash to have on hand. ATM’s won’t work in a power failure.

12. Pay bills.

13. Charge cell phone and other portable electronic gadgets.

14. Prepare list of repairmen and tree trimmers who might be needed.

16. Buy hand sanitizer and moist wipes in case the water is contaminated.

17. Have paper plates and cups on hand along with plastic utensils and paper towels.

18. Stock up on trash bags to clear away debris.

19. Place a flashlight or battery-run lantern in each room. Buy extra batteries, cooking fuel if necessary, duct tape, and a roll of plastic sheeting. Candles can be a fire hazard and they don’t provide enough light to read by in the dark.

20. Put insurance papers and other important documents into a plastic bag for quick departure or store copies in a separate location.

21. Eat all the ice cream in your freezer!

hurricane

Watch the weather reports at:

National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

National Weather Service, Miami: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mfl/?n=tropical

The Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com/

 

Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

Florida homeowners’ association meeting plants seeds for murder

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 17, 2014

Nancy J. Cohen:

Here is a great review of Hanging By A Hair, just in time for tomorrow’s release date!

Originally posted on Phil Jason's Web Site:

Hanging by a Hair , by Nancy J. Cohen. Five Star Publishing. 288 pages. $25.95.

Fans of Ms. Cohen’s “Bad Hair Day” mystery series will be totally satisfied with this latest outing in which, aside from the main story line, readers enjoy the delightful maturation of Marla as she adjusts to her recent marriage to Detective Dalton Vail. Readers have waited to see these characters coupled and tested, and now the test is underway. What happens when Dalton brings his work home to curious, often headstrong Marla – who is used to acting on her own ideas about how a mystery should be investigated?  HangingByAHairFront

She has a very good track record, too.

The couple has recently set up housekeeping in a new Broward County community. It’s one of those typical South Florida communities cursed with a rule-bound president of the homeowners’ association and a bunch of nosey residents. Things…

View original 342 more words

Posted in Book Reviews | 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.

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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: , , , , | 47 Comments »

Changing Seasons in Florida

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 11, 2014

Florida’s Change of Seasons by Nancy J. Cohen

How can you tell it’s Spring in Florida? Bougainvillea burst forth in vibrant colors. Coconuts ripen on the trees. The last cold fronts of the year sweep down from the north. Then suddenly, the humidity rises and winter is over.

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Yes, we have changing seasons in Florida. You have to live here to notice the subtle changes.

Trees do shed their leaves, but only certain varieties and at different times of the year. Vegetables grow in winter, not summer. Ducks and birds visit in the winter, escaping the arctic temperatures up north.

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The most distinctive changes are the wet and dry seasons. From November to May, we experience low humidity and temperate climate. Sometimes it can drop into the 40’s in South Florida, but that’s as cold as it gets. Winds bring cold fronts and chilly air down from the north.

Sunny skies, temperatures in the seventies, and cool mornings bring tourists to our coasts. Orange trees produce fruit during the winter while farmers grow tomatoes, squash, eggplants, and more. Alligators sun themselves so if you’re a gator watcher, you have a better chance in the winter to spy the creatures than the summer when water levels rise.

But everything changes in May. The humidity returns along with the heat. And then the winds change again, bringing stormy skies from the Caribbean and the Gulf northward into Florida. June to November is our hurricane season, and afternoon thunderstorms are frequent. You learn to bring an umbrella because you never know when a quick tempest will sweep by. This is the season when our lychee tree bears fruit and our banana plants thrive on the extra rainwater. Flooding is a hazard as the canal systems get overwhelmed and the groundwater table rises.

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Regardless of which way the wind blows, you can play outside nearly any day in Florida or luxuriate in air-conditioned comfort. You can see flowers bloom year round and watch palm fronds sway in a balmy breeze. If we give up snow and ice or daffodils and dogwoods for this privilege, it’s worth the sacrifice. Florida has its own change of seasons that must be appreciated accordingly.

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Nancy is the author of 20 romance and mystery novels. She writes the humorous Bad Hair Day mystery series and the paranormal Drift Lords series and is a HOLT Medallion winner. Many of her stories are centered in Florida. http://nancyjcohen.com

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for an ebook copy of Keeper of the Rings.

What do you like best about Florida?

 

Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 18 Comments »

SleuthFest 2014

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 23, 2013

February 27 – March 2, 2014 Wyndham Grand Orlando, Bonnet Creek Orlando, FL

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO SLEUTHFEST 2014?  

New York Times bestselling authors, Edgar Award winners, and many of the top mystery and suspense writers in the country! In addition to our amazing keynote speakers—Laura Lippman, Ace Atkins, and Hank Phillippi Ryan—here are just a few of the talented authors who will be joining us on panels on Friday and Saturday, February 28 and March 1:

Wendy Corsi Staub, Jennifer McMahon, Lisa Unger, Alison Gaylin, Michael Sears, Susan Elia MacNeal, Chris Grabenstein, and Heather Graham.

(For a complete list of attendees, please visit the SleuthFest Attendees page.) 

And you won’t want to miss our ‘Third Degree Thursday’ workshops on February 27!

Craft workshops will be taught by fabulous author/instructors Elaine Viets, Nancy J. Cohen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Greg Herren, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Wallace Stroby, Kristy Montee (PJ Parrish), and Joanna Campbell Slan. We will also have special workshops led by author/professors Neil Plakcy and Christine Kling on creating a successful eBook program and on Scrivener, a powerful writing software tool. Click to see the Thursday workshop schedule.

But SleuthFest isn’t only about the craft of writing!

This year we’ll be ‘Thinking Outside the Book’ with some of the most respected publishers, literary agents, and industry professionals in the business.  Meet with and pitch your book to editors and publishers from St. Martin’s, Putnam, Berkley Books, and Five Star Mysteries, and literary agents from The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, McIntosh & Otis, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, and Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. Click to read more information about the publishers, editors and agents attending. Also joining us will be representatives of Kobo, Autography, Bookigee, and WriterCube, to talk about changes and opportunities in the world of publishing.

Register today to reserve your place at one of the most exciting writers conferences in the country! 

Rates for the 3-day conference are only: 

  • $285 for MWA members, $305 for non-members—includes luncheons, cocktail party, Sunday breakfast
  • $85 for Third Degree Thursday, a full day of workshops
  • Rates go up after January 15, 2014 

See you at SleuthFest!

 www.sleuthfest.com

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hanging By A Hair Book Trailer

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 2, 2013

I’m excited to have finished the book trailer for Hanging By A Hair, book #11 in my Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Marla and Dalton Vail move into their new neighborhood and discover a murder next door. Check out the video and see what you think. Shares and Comments are welcome!

I’m going to revise and repost my How-To Make A Book Trailer when I get the chance. It’s been so busy around here with the holidays, visits from the kids, and an upcoming cruise that it might not be any time soon. But I would like to share with you again the steps I took using Windows Movie Maker to create this video.

Pre-Order this title now on sale:

Amazon, http://amzn.to/1e0ZA2E  

Barnes and Noble,  http://bit.ly/174Gcjj

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Joys of June

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 17, 2013

June is a month to frolic by the pool, attend June weddings, enjoy the outdoors, and laze under the shade. For those of us writers with self-imposed deadlines, it can be hard to get anything done. This past weekend is an example. On Friday, we saw the Man of Steel film.

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While I liked the interpersonal moments and the new take on this old classic, I did miss some of the traditional tropes including baby Kal-el’s arrival on earth and discovery by the Kents. And while Amy Adams was cute and feisty, she didn’t fit my image of Lois Lane. Neither did Perry White. I thought the lead actor did a good job and was hunky enough for the part, though. The intense action sequences with almost continuous explosions went on way too long, almost to the point of boredom. Enough already. Just defeat the bad guys and move on. If you like non-stop action, this is for you.

Dinner that night was Thai food and then home to watch Ghost Protocol with Tom Cruise on TV. Saturday found us taking a brisk walk along the Broadwalk at Hollywood Beach. We breakfasted at an oceanfront café and then worked up an appetite for another meal. Instead of lunch, we opted for ice cream sundaes at historic Jaxson’s in Dania Beach. Groaning under the weight of excess calories, we drove home to rest until partaking of an excellent dinner at Seasons 52 in Galleria.

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We ate once again on Father’s Day at Toojay’s for breakfast before it got too crowded. Then our kids left to drive home several hours away. Our weekend was capped off by a frantic call from our daughter that she had left her house keys at our place. Some $235 later, she had a new lock on our condo door. This door is cursed (see previous month’s article for why).

This morning delivered more unpleasant news. I have a cavity, and while the dentist is hoping to restore the tooth, a root canal and crown might be necessary. Oh, joy. I haven’t had dental work other than cleanings in years, and need I tell you how I feel about this upcoming visit? Can I crawl under the porch now? I put off my next appointment for two weeks to get past another out of town visitor and two speaking engagements.

Despite all of this hectic activity, I am up to page 315 (out of 466) in my WIP second draft/final copy and have succeeded in knocking off ten pages worth of prose.

So what have you accomplished this month so far?

Posted in Florida Musings, Food, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Animal Kingdom at Disney World

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 29, 2013

We’ve visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom numerous times, and I never fail to admire the lush tropical landscaping, the attention to detail in the various lands, and the excellence of the live shows. This time we strolled around at our leisure, roaming first toward the great artificial tree of life. Myriads of paths criss-cross around the tree where you can stop for photo ops or to admire the animal life.

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At Africa, we passed on the safari ride that is my favorite, on the train ride to the conservation station, and on the longer nature trail. Instead, we opted to veer toward the Asian section where the snowy mountaintop towers over all, along with its thrill ride.

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We passed by the Dinosaur land and the kiddie carnival to head back once again toward the entrance and to lunch at the Rainforest Café. Their portions are generous and I had leftovers. Fortunately, we headed home thereafter as it began to rain heavily. The tram station at this park has no shelter. Once aboard, we got wet, despite my having brought along an umbrella. At least we’d accomplished our purpose in getting our morning exercise.

Another day here we started out eating breakfast at the Riverside Resort. We ate in the food court and then strolled among the lush grounds. It’s one of the most scenic resorts on Disney property.

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We ate dinner one night at Bahama Breeze, or rather we had drinks and appetizers and that was enough of a meal. I had coconut shrimp. My husband had a crab cake. And we shared the hummus platter. Make you hungry?

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BB Shrimp      BB Hummus

Bahama Breeze

Posted in Florida Musings, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Morikami Japanese Gardens

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 28, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

Recently we spent a delightful afternoon at Morikami Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach. This attraction is best visited in Spring or Fall or during winter months when humidity is low and temperatures are comfortable. Starting at the central building, we strolled through the grounds where there’s much to admire. I love the foliage that shades the path and provides lots of photo ops around a lake. Hedges shaped like a hill and a bamboo section are artistry in nature.

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Stone lanterns abound as do Japanese serenity gardens with raked pebbles. If you’re curious about the park’s founders, you can view the memorial gravestones erected in their honor. Various festivals take place at Morikami throughout the year.

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The museum house showcases life in a typical household. Nearby is a bonsai plant display and a pool from a waterfall where large fish gravitate along with turtles.

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Hungry from our walk, we headed back to the main building and the restaurant situated there overlooking the lake. We sat outside and enjoyed the view while indulging in the bounteous Bento lunch box and iced green tea. This meal is worth the trip alone.

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Be aware the park is closed on Mondays and there is an admission fee.

Posted in Florida Musings, Food, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

 
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