Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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Marketing Tips from Book Publicist

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 24, 2015

Maryglenn McCombs, book publicist, spoke at the recent Florida Chapter of MWA meeting. These are my notes from her speech.


“Publishers are looking for authors who have platforms.” How do you get one?

  • Join professional writers’ groups and get involved. Besides the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Maryglenn mentioned Crime Writers Association of North America, Independent Book Publishers Association, and
  • Attend conferences and get connected with other people in the industry.
  • Ask your writer friends for endorsements. Make sure they are recognizable names in your genre.
  • Write a good book.
  • Have a professional product so that you’re taken seriously.
  • Also: Write a blog; comment on other authors’ posts; become active on Facebook and Twitter; share news and interesting articles.

Maryglenn mentioned that an off-press date is when the printing is finished, but it’s different from the release or pub date when the book is available for sale. If you can do it, time your pub date with an event or holiday. For a historical, you can set the release date around an event or a particular date in history.

Aim for review coverage at or after the book is available for purchase. Reviews any earlier are not helpful. The exception is trade media that serve bookstores and libraries.

Readers read. Radio people listen. TV viewers watch. So how do you reach the readers?

“Book promo is a marathon, not a sprint.” Three to six months ahead of your pub date, send info to syndicated reviewers, consumer print media, trade media, and larger online outlets such as:

The Freelance Star
The Bismarck Tribune
Mysterious Reviews
Mystery Fanfare
Stop You’re Killing Me

Promote your book for up to one year after its release. Target local media, alumni groups, newspapers where you grew up, niche markets relating to topics in your book, other groups where you’re a member, media in the town where your book takes place.

Share your news if you win an award, your book goes into a second printing, or you sell more rights.

Have available advance reading copies in print and digital formats; a jpg of your cover in 96 dpi and 300 dpi; a professional headshot; a website with your contact info; a one-page press release or media sheet with your book’s data; a 175 word or less story blurb; web links, and an author bio. “Brevity is the soul of wit” for press releases and pitches. Also prepare your elevator pitch.

To find reviewers, look for similar titles and Google them for reviews and media coverage. When contacting reviewers or press people, cast a wide net. Do your research ahead of time and address the proper person by name. Be polite, but also be persistent. Follow the submission rules on blogs and review outlets. Be accommodating to their requests. Do not ask a reviewer to send you a copy of the review. It shows you’re not reading her posts. Follow their sites and leave comments to maintain a relationship. Send a follow-up thank you for a review and ask the reviewer’s permission to use quotes from it. What counts is how you react after media coverage. Always say thank you, even for a bad review. i.e. “It’s feedback like this that will make me a better writer.”

What Works

Print Media
Launch Parties
Steady Media Coverage
Personal Contact with Booksellers
Starred Reviews
Winning Awards or Being Nominated
Big Endorsements
Your book put on “Best of…” Lists or Gift Guides

What Doesn’t Work

Radio Tours
Bad Covers
Lengthy Book Tours
Book Trailers
Mass Mailings
Swag and Gimmicks
Asking Readers for Amazon Reviews
“Buy my Book” Social Media Tactics. Share your real news, research tidbits, history of a region, writing tips. Work on social media for up to thirty minutes twice a day. Be engaging and play nice.

Seek “evangelists” or fans who will tell everyone about your book. But don’t let them manipulate posts online as that’s unethical. You want people who will tell their friends and book clubs about your work, hand out your bookmarks, and recommend your titles.

Disclaimer: These statements are my interpretation and any errors are my own.

Here I am with Kathryn DePalo and Kat Karlton aka Karen Kendall.

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


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 19, 2015

You can’t complete a full-length novel without a strict code of self-discipline. Imagine all the distractions we have throughout the day. How can a writer put these aside to focus intently on a book? How can we face a blank page each day, knowing we have to fill in the words? How can we concentrate day after day, month after month, on the same story until it’s done?

It takes immense self-discipline. You can train yourself to do it. First, you must set an attainable goal. Don’t think about the 300 page manuscript you have to complete or the 80,000 minimum word count. Consider how many pages you can reasonably complete each day. Set a daily goal. Determine what time of day is your most creative and set your starting hour. You will complete your pre-writing rituals and get down to business each day…when?

Now consider how many days per week you’ll be able to get this done. Do you want a five-day work week with weekends off? Or do you have a day job, so you have to binge write on weekends? How about allowing for doctor appointments, lunch with friends, and business meetings? Now set a weekly goal.

Use your tabulations from above to figure out your monthly projections. Then set monthly goals.

Beyond all this is the deadline you set for the first draft. Always leave leeway for sick days or vacations or unexpected visitors from out of town. When is your expected completion date?

Keep in mind that these deadlines are somewhat variable. Let’s say you’ve set five pages per day as your attainable goal. One day you might write two pages. Another day you might write seven pages. But your overall goal is twenty-five pages per week. As long as you reach the weekly goal, you’re okay.

Now comes the hard part. You need to practice BICHOK: Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. You must do this day after day, no matter how tedious it becomes. Progress may seem slow, but even if you complete two pages a day, you’re moving forward. That’s the important thing. Do not stop to revise your work. You can fix it after it’s done. Keep moving ahead.

woman computer

Non-writers don’t realize how hard it is to accomplish these goals. It’s easier to make plans with friends, play on Facebook, or do the household projects you keep putting off. You’d rather do a hundred other things than stick to a writing schedule. But the only way you’ll write that book is through sheer determination. You WILL do it despite temptation.

So set your goals, grit your teeth, and get your butt in the chair. You’re allowed to take an exercise break, but then sit back down and finish your daily goal. When done, you can have the reward of checking your email and social media and going out to have fun. The next day, it starts all over again. Put on those blinders while you write and keep going full-speed ahead. Many people say they want to write a book. Only a true writer at heart will finish one after the other.

What’s your method for getting the work done?

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Fun in the Sun Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 13, 2015

Florida Romance Writers Fun in the Sun Conference

Featuring Keynote Speaker NYT Bestselling Author, Carla Neggers, with Special Guest Speaker, Dr. Debra Holland, Bestselling Indie Author

Conference 2016

DATE: Saturday, January 16, 2016
TIME: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
PLACE: Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., 6th Floor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

Editors & Agents:
Kristine Swartz, Berkley
Charles Griemsman, Harlequin Desire
Karen Thomas, Publisher of Cleis Press
Marlene Stringer, Stringer Agency

Great Workshops:
Marketing on a Shoestring
The Indie Road to Success
Maintaining a Long-Term Career
Beginning Writers’ Boot Camp
Conquering the Synopsis
Editor/Agent Panel Spotlight

Event will conclude with a public BOOK SIGNING that is open to all registered authors! Anyone interested in signing should email

PLUS…PLUS!!! A Sunset Cruise on the Intercostal Waterway – Friday @ 6:00 pm

FRW Members:
Saturday only – $90
Conference + Sunset Cruise – $115
Sunset Cruise only – $35

Saturday only – $100
Conference + Sunset Cruise – $125
Sunset Cruise only $40

Hotel accommodations are available. Visit our website for more information and to register:
For questions, please email

Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

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

South Florida History Museum

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 11, 2015

Located in downtown Bradenton, Florida, the South Florida History Museum offers two levels of exhibits. Short on time, we bypassed the Bishop Planetarium which is included in the admission price ($19 adults, $17 seniors). Our first stop was the Parker Manatee Aquarium, where a guide demonstrated the qualities of several manatees under their care. These huge, intelligent creatures were impressive. They prefer warm water and can be sensitive to cold temperatures, pollution, and boats that get in their path.

IMG_1781 IMG_1780


From here, we moved on to dioramas and displays of native habitats, shell collections, and pine uplands with a pioneer cabin.

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There’s a Spanish house with a chapel that has a lovely stained glass window.

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My favorite was the Medical Gallery with an ancient operating room, dental suite, torturous looking instruments, and an apothecary shop.


You could easily spend a couple of hours here or more. It was an unexpected bonus of our trip to the west coast, and I’m glad we could enjoy this attraction. Note there’s a gift shop but no café on premises.

Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

Posted in Florida Musings, Research, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

SleuthFest 2016

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 10, 2015

Register Now for SleuthFest 2016 to be held February 25-28 at the Doubletree Hilton,100 Fairway Drive, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441


Florida’s premiere mystery writers’ conference sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Keynote Speaker: CJ Box
Florida Guest of Honor: PJ Parrish
Forensic Guest of Honor: Valerie Plame
Publisher Guest of Honor: Neil Nyren

Sunday Brunch Speaker: Recovering Hollywood Writer, Stand-Up Comedian and Publishing Exec John Hartnett will speak on “Never Use Craigslist to Find Your Muse (& Other Lifesaving Advice for Authors)”

Four Tracks of Fantastic Workshops & Sessions for Writers at Every Level; Agent & Editor Appointments; Manuscript Critiques; Author Auction; Agent/Editor Cocktail party; 101 Dinner; Flamingo Pitch Tank; Raffle; and more!

* Agent Appointments to pitch your finished work
* Critiques of your 10 page manuscript submission
* Forensic track with current forensic techniques and hands-on forensic workshops
* Social events to mingle with agents, editors and your favorite authors
* Auction to purchase critiques of your work by bestselling authors
* Sessions on the craft of writing
* Sessions on marketing and promoting your work
* Practice your Pitch sessions with experienced authors
* Panels on crime investigations, forensics, poisons, & other research topics
* Friday Night Banquet to announce Freddie Writing Competition Award Winners

Hotel Rate is $159.00 per night

Register Now:

Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.  Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

Posted in Appearances, Conferences, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 9, 2015

I was invited to give a talk for the Manatee Arts and Lecture Series in Bradenton, Florida, followed by a high tea, on Wednesday, October 21.

We arrived the day before at this surprisingly large town on Florida’s west coast just north of Sarasota. After crossing a bridge spanning the Manatee River on Business Route 41, we swung left to the Palmetto Riverside Bed and Breakfast. This lovely historic house was built in 1913 and later expanded as a wedding venue. It has six bedrooms, each with private bath. The rooms are decorated with many interesting knickknacks. From the moment you enter, the host and hostess greet you warmly and see to your every need.

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Here’s the house next door:


Drinks and appetizers are complimentary pre-dinner. We enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and chatting with other guests before heading over to the Riverhouse Reef and Grill for dinner. This was a lovely setting on the river, and we enjoyed our meal of salmon with a lemon dill sauce. Here we visited with my former critique partner, author Sharon Hartley, who’d made the trip to join us. Our appetizers, besides a bowl of green olives and another one of a strange orange fruit:

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In the morning, our B&B hosts served us a sumptuous breakfast on the sunny enclosed porch. The choices were too many and highly tempting. A cart was rolled over to our tableside. It held a bread basket (croissants, nut bread, French bread slices); yogurt parfait; fruit cup; selection of cheeses; orange juice; watermelon smoothie. Who could eat all this? But that wasn’t all! Our host brought over a plate with scrambled eggs and a panini sandwich. More weight gained!


Barely able to move after this enormous meal, we staggered to the car and headed into town. Free until the afternoon, we visited the South Florida History Museum before moving on to my first engagement of the day at the Manatee Performing Arts Center. I gave my scheduled talk, which was video recorded for an educational TV station, fielded questions from readers in the audience, and signed books courtesy of Bookstore One from Sarasota.

P1050056Nancy Bradenton

Then we moved on to Latte Luna, a delightful café in town, where we and other guests were treated to a high tea. More food! This meal started with scones and jam, then proceeded to a plate filled with some sort of spinach and cheese concoction, plus three little sandwiches. We finished with desserts including an iced banana cake, oatmeal cookie, and iced cupcake.


If you’ve been following my blogs, now you know why going away from home is a sure way for me to gain weight. A couple of Halloween events coming up will be fun but won’t help in that regard. Then I MUST focus on losing the extra pounds before our upcoming cruise.

Since we got out of the tea room late, we stayed for a night at the historic Hampton Inn in downtown Bradenton. I liked the décor and architecture of this hotel that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

See my Guest Blog on “Far-Flung Family Ties” at and leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of Peril by Ponytail (Bad Hair Day Mystery #12).

Posted in Appearances, Business of Writing, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Nancy J. Cohen Speech

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 6, 2015

Check out the video from my speech at the Manatee Performing Arts Center in Bradenton. It was part of the Manatee Arts and Lecture Series.


Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

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

Epcot Food and Wine

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 5, 2015

We had a great time as usual at our annual excursion to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. As it’s their twentieth year anniversary, I bought the hardcover cookbook. Here’s the cranberry bog, back again.

Cookbook IMG_1764

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Here is what we tasted this year.

Scotland: Potato Pancake with Smoked Salmon $4.25 (my favorite!)

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Dominican Republic: Grouper $4.75

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Canada: Beef Filet Mignon $7.50


Belgium: Potato Leek Waffle with Beef $4.25 and Fruit Waffle $3.75


Germany: Apple Strudel $3.50

IMG_1768 IMG_1765

South Korea: Raspberry Wine $3.50 and South Korea Vegan BBQ $4.75

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Coming Next: Our Trip to Bradenton


Posted in Disney, Florida Musings, Food, Recipes, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Trip Home: NC to FL

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 2, 2015

Coming home from Bouchercon, we took the western route as I-95 hadn’t fully reopened after the flooding in South Carolina. This gave us some lovely hilly vistas before we descended to the lowlands with their cotton fields and other crops.

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I got to shop for pecans along route I-75. I use pecan meal to coat tilapia, after dipping the fish into egg substitute, and then pan fry or bake it. The ground pecans are healthier than bread crumbs and give it a nice, crisp flavor. You can’t buy this in Florida, so it’s only on trips through Georgia or South Carolina that I can get them. I put the bags into my freezer until use.

Pecan Meal IMG_1762

We were lucky to spot a southern country buffet along the way. I stuffed myself with the bounteous feast that included a salad bar, soups, breads, fried chicken, nut-crusted mashed sweet potatoes, veggies, and I forgot what else I ate but it was mostly comfort food. And the dessert bar had peach cobbler plus many more sweet choices. This meal probably accounted for the extra weight I gained.

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Doesn’t this make you hungry? Then stayed tuned for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Coming Next!

Posted in Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Bouchercon: Day 3

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 30, 2015

Saturday at Bouchercon began with the New Author Breakfast. Anyone could attend, but each table ideally held one or two debut authors with a centerpiece of books. The authors were introduced one at a time, and each had a few minutes to tell us about his book. A list was provided on each table with the authors’ names and their debut titles. I checked off the ones which interested me, and I hope to add those titles to my TBR list.


That afternoon, I attended a panel on Danger and Death in Suburbia. Speakers included Greg Herren, Mary Sutton, Meredith Anthony, and Lori Roy, with Katrina Nildas Holm moderating.

These stories involve a dichotomy, with beautiful settings where nothing bad should happen but crimes do occur there. We have expectations of people who live in suburbia. You’ll often hear, “He was the nicest man,” about a neighbor who commits a crime. Suburbs are not as peaceful as they appear.

People believe marriage is forever. Then you live together and experience the pressure cooker of constantly being with someone else. This togetherness can inspire crimes.

These types of mysteries often involve ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The highest stakes come from your loved ones. Romantic suspense involves things that frighten women. These are more internal stories.

Why do people keep secrets? Shame is often the motivator. People will kill to hide their secrets, so others will not think badly of them. There is also the pressure to succeed. If we all work hard, why aren’t we at the top? So we cast blame on others. We say, “She slept her way up the ladder”, or “He must be corrupt.” We’d like to believe successful people are not as perfect as they seem.

The Anthony Awards Ceremony capped the evening.


As for the rest of the time, I hung out and schmoozed. Here are photos of my writer pals.

BeckOliveSuzBeckyCarla NortonCherylNanConSanNancyDirk WyleDon BrunsDonConSandyJamesJim NanHeather

Toni Kelner RickMaryLou NeilNan

From left to right, starting at the top: Rebecca Swope, Olive Pollak, Suzanne Baginskie; Rebecca Swope; Carla Norton; Cheryl Hollon, Nancy J. Cohen; Con Lehane, Sandra Balzo, Nancy J. Cohen; Dirk Wyle; Don Bruns; Don Bruns, Con Lehane, Sandra Balzo; James W. Hall, James O. Born, J. Kingston Pierce; Nancy J. Cohen, Heather Graham; Toni L.P. Kelner; Rick Wymer, Mary Lou Benvenuto;  Neil Plakcy, Nancy J. Cohen

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


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