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 ‘Nancy Cohen’

New Release Day!

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 1, 2014

Today is the official launch day for Warrior Lord, book #3 in the Drift Lords series. Join my LAUNCH PARTY today only 10am – 4 pm at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty   Giveaways all Day!

Warrior Lord

Pottery sculptor Erika Sherwood has no idea her televised wedding in Las Vegas is for real until an official confirms she and the stranger she’s just met are legitimately wed.

A Drift Lord and warrior of the Tsuran, Magnor tricks the redhead into marriage because she’s one of six women prophesied to save Earth. But as he’s forced into her company in their race against the apocalypse, he wonders if he risks his heart more than his life.

Can a free-spirited ceramic artist and a fierce swordsman trust each other enough to prevent disaster?

 

 

Add on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22710040-warrior-lord

Order at Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=831

Amazon Print: http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Lord-Nancy-J-Cohen/dp/1628304456/

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Drift-Lords-Nancy-Cohen-ebook/dp/B00MAUCB3W

Enter my Contests Here

Follow my Blog Tour and win More Prizes

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

World of Chocolate

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 22, 2014

On our recent visit to Orlando, we stopped by the World of Chocolate Museum and Café on International Drive. While waiting for our tour to begin, we studied the exotic chocolates offered for sale from around the world and the artistic creations inside display cases.

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We couldn’t resist tasting some of the baked treats. This is our daughter’s portion of chocolate lava cake.

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My husband and I ate our chocolate bombe filled with mousse so fast that I forgot to take a picture. It was heavenly! The café serves desserts along with coffee, tea and hot chocolate. It’s not for calorie watchers by any means. Put on your sweet tooth for this visit.

The guide began his tour amid rumblings of thunder and the pounding of rain from outside. This was appropriate as he led us into a faux rainforest to explain the origins of the cacao plant. Discovered by natives in South and Central America years ago, the plant was made into a drink that was bitter and spicy. Conquerors brought the plants to Spain where the resultant hot chocolate drink was consumed by royalty, and from there it made its way to France.

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At some point, sugar was added to the mix. Cacao eventually made its way to the U.S. where Hershey grabbed onto it. Theobromine is an alkaloid found in cacao that is similar to caffeine. It is usually not present in white chocolate. Dark baking chocolate has the most content.

We saw sculptures made in Europe by artisans and crated to the U.S. for the museum. The intricacy of detail was amazing. You can smell the chocolate as you walk along.

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Next the guide explained the chocolate making process while pointing out various pieces of machinery. They do not make the chocolate in front of you here so don’t expect a demo.

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Finally, we were taken to a room full of display cases showing chocolate bar wrappers from around the world. Then we sampled various bits of chocolate that ranged from bitter to quite sweet.

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Of course, we ended up buying a few bars each in the gift shop. Who could resist?

What is your secret chocolate vice?

 

Posted in Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Proofreading Your Novel

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 10, 2014

No matter how many times you review your manuscript, you’ll always find something to correct. I am reading through Peril by Ponytail for the third or fourth time. And here are the kinds of things I am still finding to correct.

Moustache or mustache? Both spellings, according to the dictionary, are correct. But I use the first variation 5 times and the second variation 3 times. I changed them all to “mustache” because it seems to be more common.

Nightstand or night stand? I have these both ways. Which is it? Considering that my editor did not correct the first usage, I changed the second one to match.

Consistency is the key. A particular word should have the same spelling throughout the story.

I also am looking to reorder sentences for better flow of logic, like these passages:

Original:

An attractive redhead at the front desk glanced up at their approach. “Carol, I see you’ve brought our guests. How was the drive?”

“Not bad. What’s going on, Jan? Why is the sheriff here?”

The fortyish lady thumbed her finger at an inner staff door. “You’d better ask your husband, hon.”

“Marla and Dalton Vail, meet Janice Sklar. Jan is our Director of Reservations.”

Janice flashed them a smile. “I expect you’ll want your room keys. You have Hacienda Number Seventy-Five. Here’s a map.” She circled a few buildings and offered a quick review of their room location and other highlights. “Do you need help with your luggage?”

“I’ll get it, thanks.” Dalton stepped up to the counter to complete the formalities. That included the key to a loaner car from Wayne.

“This way,” Carol said when he’d finished. She led them through a door marked Private.

Revised:

An attractive redhead at the front desk glanced up at their approach. “Carol, I see you’ve brought our guests. How was the drive?”

“Not bad. Marla and Dalton Vail, meet Janice Sklar. Jan is Director of Reservations.”

Janice flashed them a smile. “I expect you’ll want your room keys. You have Hacienda Number Seventy-Five. Here’s a map.” She circled a few buildings and offered a quick review of their room location and other highlights. “Do you need help with your luggage?”

“I’ll get it, thanks.” Dalton stepped up to the counter to complete the formalities. That included the key to a loaner car from Wayne.

“What’s happening, Jan? Why is the sheriff here?” Carol asked.

The fortyish lady thumbed her finger at an inner door. “Ask your husband, hon.”

“This way,” Carol told her guests. She led them through a door marked Private.

I felt Carol would more logically introduce her guests right away then ask about the sheriff.

Go for more precise wording, like in this example. I also changed swarthy to sinewy to avoid stereotyping:

From:

The swarthy laborers glanced at the new arrivals and then went back to work. Marla hoped they spoke English as they approached one fellow applying a coat of paint to a window trim. She was careful to sidestep past a ladder on the walkway and tools on the ground.

To:

The sinewy laborers glanced at the new arrivals and then went back to work. Marla hoped they spoke English as she and Dalton approached one fellow applying a coat of paint to window trim. She sidestepped past a ladder on the walkway and tools on the ground.

Here’s a sentence that needs completion to improve clarity.

Original:

“He [the sheriff] came to tell us Garrett Long is dead. His body was found out on the Snakehead Trail by a couple of hikers.”

“What? That’s not possible.” Jesse’s tan faded under his sudden pallor.

“I know. It’s hard to believe Garrett would let his caution slide. Hopefully the sheriff will investigate and determine what really happened.”

Revised:

“He [the sheriff] came to tell us Garrett Long is dead. His body was found out on the Snakehead Trail by a couple of hikers.”

“What? That’s impossible.” Jesse’s tan faded under his sudden pallor.

“I know. It’s hard to believe Garrett would be so careless as to fall off a ledge. Hopefully, the sheriff’s office will investigate and determine what happened.”

One must have sharp eyes and an alert mind to inspect your own work. Eventually, we get too close to the material. We send it off to our editor, who hopefully picks up any errors we missed. We’ll get back the clean copy for another read-through and then it’s done. If anything slipped past, it wasn’t due to negligence on our part. We tried to catch everything. But no matter how many times we scrutinize our work, the editing process is never done.

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , | 18 Comments »

Amazon Author Central

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 9, 2014

Amazon provides opportunities for authors to have input on their book pages through Amazon Author Central. Watch out that this opportunity doesn’t bite you.

Recently, a reader emailed to say that when she went to order one of my earlier mysteries, two author names showed on the page. I should notify Amazon that the other person wasn’t me.

Actually, I replied, I am Nancy Cane. That’s the pseudonym I’d used for my earlier romance novels. However, this name does not belong on my mystery titles.

I went to the URL the reader had sent me, and sure enough, when you scrolled down, both Nancy Cane and Nancy J. Cohen were listed under Authors.

Accessing my account at Amazon Author Central, I clicked on Books, selected this title, and requested a correction. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because each title has several editions. I had to request a correction on each edition by filling out a form.

All was fine until I got a response from Amazon that they’d made the corrections I had requested, totally removed my Nancy Cane author page and merged it into my Nancy J. Cohen author page. However, this author page had a TOTALLY DIFFERENT URL and was missing 4 of my videos, my 400+ Likes, my events, plus it had an outdated bio.

All over the web (and in my ebooks), I have given this link as either http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-J.-Cohen/e/B001HD1ELI/ or https://www.amazon.com/author/nancyjcohen. Now this link goes nowhere.

Panic set in. I spoke to a rep on the phone who said he’d notify the technicians to see if they can restore my original page. This can take 3 to 5 days, if they ever respond. I hope they fire the guy who misread my corrections and totally screwed things up.

If they can’t restore it, I have to go around to my numerous sites, including any self-published works on Amazon, and change the URL. I’ll also have to campaign to readers like yourselves to Like my page again, add in all my lost videos and events, etc. Let’s hope they can restore the original. What they can’t restore in my faith in them. I don’t dare request any more changes through Author Central or they might mess up again.

I’ll let you know what happens.

 

 

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Brisket with Prunes

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 3, 2014

I made this recipe over the past weekend. It’s enough to last us most of this week but likely serves a family of 6 to 8. I tossed in some extra red wine and cooked it for ten more minutes until it was fork tender. We eat it with a salad as potatoes are included in the meal.

BRISKET WITH PRUNES

3-1/2 lb. flat cut beef brisket
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup Marsala wine
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. honey
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (about 3 large potatoes)
1 cup pitted prunes
6 oz. package or 1 cup dried apricots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim fat off brisket. Heat oil in heavy Dutch oven and add meat, browning on both sides. Remove brisket. Add onions and sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix beef broth, Marsala wine, vinegar, honey, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon in a bowl.

Put brisket on top of onions in pot. Pour broth mixture over meat.

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Cover and bake for 2 hours.

Then add sweet potato chunks. Scatter dried fruit on top. Cover and bake for 1 more hour or until meat is tender.

Transfer meat to cutting board, and spoon out fruit with slotted spoon. Cut meat thinly across the grain.

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Serve with potatoes, fruit and pan juices.

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**Another version of this recipe appeared in Hanging by A Hair, #11 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

 

Happy Independence Day!

 

 

 

Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Agents and Editors: Do Your Due Diligence

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 1, 2014

 Do Your Due Diligence

My husband and I have been investigating local contractors prior to doing an update on our three bathrooms. Here are the results of our search. Stay with me, and I’ll relate this process to your writing career.

Contractor #1 has a modest showroom that offers a variety of product choices and designs. Their rep came to our house, took measurements, and made knowledgeable suggestions. He pointed out the electrical outlets that he said needed to be updated to code, and that would cost $150 for an electrician. He gave us a written estimate, and the pricing seemed reasonable.

We got the name of this company through ads in the unsolicited home circulars we receive. I looked the company up online. Bad reviews. Then I called an electrician as one of those outlets he’d mentioned failed. The electrician found the fault in the overhead light wiring, fixed it, put in a new dimmer switch at my request and charged only $85. He said the other outlet was fine and neither needed to be changed to be brought up to code. Uh-oh. If Contractor #1 wasn’t telling the truth about one item, what else might he suggest that would inflate the price? My husband was turned off by the negative reviews.

Here is what we have:

FamilyBR Cabinet  Shower Wall

Contractor #2 has a ritzy showroom with high-end sinks, cabinets, toilets and accessories. A receptionist greeted us upon our entry and asked if we’d like coffee or a soda. Then a salesman came to guide us around and ask about our needs. Right up front, without viewing our measurements, he quoted a remodeled shower at $10-15,000. This wasn’t for anything else we needed and seemed extraordinarily high, nearly double what the first guy had quoted. We weren’t changing the configuration, just redoing the walls and fixtures. Glancing at our casual clothes, he didn’t bother to have us fill out a customer form but gave us his card.

How did we learn about this company? It was recommended by a friend, who knew another friend who’d used them and was happy. They lived in a waterfront condo on the Intracoastal and no doubt had funds to spare. Clearly this company, with its high overhead, catered to wealthy customers. My husband didn’t care for their arrogant attitude.

Here is what I want:

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Contractor #3 has a showroom in a quiet back street downtown but not in a great area. The office is tiny with a few choice cabinetry samples as well as a narrow choice of hardware and sinks. You have to order your own tile but they would install it. We were referred to the owner by a friend who’d used her services and was pleased with the results. The lady in charge wouldn’t give us a quote until we gave her our measurements and picked samples of styles we might like. Her base quote was within range of what we’d like to spend. When I looked them up online, I found a basic website but not much else.

Contractor #4 we discovered by viewing their name on a truck in the neighborhood and seeing their workmen in action. I found their website and got the address. Where was it? It turned out to be a mail box in the local UPS store. No physical presence. As I walk around the block, I see their logo trucks in front of the neighbor’s home. They’re obviously working there. But no physical office or showroom? That’s always a warning sign for me.

So what’s our choice? We’ve asked Contractor #3 to come out with her installer and see our layout before giving us a more accurate quote, and that won’t include the cost of the tile. But so far, she’s the best of the bunch.

Which one, if any, would you choose?

So how does this lengthy dissertation relate to writing? You need to be just as careful when researching agents and editors. Do they work for a reputable firm? What can you find out about them online? Can your fellow authors provide recommendations? Who’s worked with this person or publishing house, and were they happy? Check over at Editors and Predators for warnings about unscrupulous persons to avoid. Google them online and see what pops up. Look for them on Linked In, Twitter, Facebook and other sites. In other words, do your due diligence. Don’t accept someone who looks good, like that company with the ritzy showroom. They might be perfect for certain clients but not for you. Check the approved publisher list of a professional writing organization in your genre. And determine your criteria before starting your search. If you get any negative vibes, listen to them. Here are some additional resources:

http://aaronline.org/
http://www.agentresearch.com
http://www.agentquery.com
http://pred-ed.com/
http://www.publishersmarketplace.com
http://www.querytracker.net
http://www.savvyauthors.com
http://www.sfwa.org/Beware


Tomorrow I’m at the Kill Zone speaking about “Avoiding Info Dumps.” Be sure to visit!

 

 

Posted in Business of Writing, That's Life, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Follow my Guest Blogs

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 25, 2014

Please follow me this week around the blog sphere in these locations:

June 24, Tuesday, The Write Chris – Author Interview “From Fantasy to SciFi to Mystery”
http://thewritechris.blogspot.com/2014/06/from-fantasy-to-sci-fi-to-mystery.html

June 25, Wednesday, Writing Novels that Sell – “10 Tips To Make Your Cozy Mystery Sell”
http://writingnovelsthatsell.com/10-tips-to-make-your-cozy-mystery-sell/2014/06/
Commenters on this blog will be entered into a drawing for an ebook copy of Hanging by a Hair.

June 27, Friday, Femmes Fatale – “Giving Back to the Writing Community”
http://femmesfatales.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/06/giving-back-to-the-writing-community.html

 

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

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 »

Self-Publishing Bookkeeping

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 5, 2014

In attempting to fill in my tax spreadsheet to bring it up to date, I am muddled in the expenses for self-publishing from back in February. Like, where does the purchase of ISBN numbers fit into the grid? I’ve added line items for my formatter and cover designer, and it took me over an hour to track down those costs and date the invoices for my records. Then there are the bookmarks, postcards, and door hangers I’d ordered. Those go under advertising expenses. But what about the proofs from Createspace that I had printed and mailed? The copies of my book that I bought, and the cost difference compared to the number sold on consignment via bookstores?

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Hey, and this doesn’t even include the royalty income. Talk about confusing! Amazon alone sends me five different payments, not including Createspace. And lest you think I am making gobs of money, one of those payments was for thirty-five cents. Barnes and Noble and Smashwords are added to my list. By now, I’ve started a separate sheet just for ebook income, and another sheet that includes all royalty income for the year.

I hope my accountant understands all this when I send it to him. It sure is easier when a traditional publisher sends you a statement and a check. Being an indie publisher means keeping track of all the income streams and expenses yourself.

Do you have any tips to offer? What’s your method?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

Vegetable Shepherd Pie

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 29, 2014

I like to experiment with healthy cooking, and recently I adapted this recipe from one we ate at Disney’s Rose and Crown Pub at Epcot.  Their version may have had cheese on top and been called Cottage Pie, but in the interest of lowering the fat content, I omitted the cheese in my version. As you’ll see, I take the easy route and buy prepared mashed potatoes that can be heated in the microwave. Buying other pre-chopped ingredients also speeds the process.

VEGETABLE SHEPHERD’S PIE

Ingredients

12 oz. low-sodium vegetable broth
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 small can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
24 oz. package prepared garlic mashed potatoes
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
2-6 oz. packages chopped fresh celery
1-8 oz. package chopped fresh onions
5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium turnip, peeled and diced
2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
8 oz. crinkle cut carrots, halved
6.5 oz. package peeled pearl onions
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. Worchester sauce
Paprika

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together vegetable broth, wine, tomato paste, and flour until evenly combined. Stir in dried mushrooms and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Strain and chop mushrooms when softened and reserve liquid.

Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half the mushrooms and 1 Tbsp. olive oil and cook until mushrooms are browned. Remove this batch of mushrooms from pan. Repeat process to cook off the remaining mushrooms. Remove to bowl.

Return pan over medium high heat and add remaining butter and olive oil, onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until softened and golden, about 2 minutes. Add turnip, carrots, parsnip, herbs, pearl onions, and Worchester sauce. Cook until vegetables are softened.

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Add wine mixture to pan and deglaze by scraping up any browned bits. Stir in reserved mushrooms and mix well. Remove from heat and transfer vegetable mixture to a greased baking dish.

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Prepare potatoes according to package directions. Thin with butter and milk or half-and-half if desired. Spread potatoes on top of vegetables. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees until top is golden and mixture is bubbly, about 20 minutes. If you want a more browned look, put briefly under broiler. Or sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top and put dish back in the oven until melted. Serve hot. A salad makes a nice accompaniment. Makes 6-8 servings.

Veggie Pie1

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Play the Mystery & Mayhem game and win prizes from authors Nancy J. Cohen, Hannah Dennison, Author Melissa Bourbon/Misa Ramirez, and Kate Carlisle. Visit the Mayhem Contest tab on each of our Facebook pages to see what antics Mayhem is getting up to, then complete the entry form on any of the pages. Deadline: May 31. Start here: http://statictab.com/yykobw8

 

 

Posted in Food, That's Life | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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