Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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Yesteryear Village

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 18, 2018

Yesteryear Village is located at the Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach. It’s a living history museum that tells the story of Florida up until 1945 or so. The nine acres house various historic buildings, shady oak trees, and brick-lined paths. A general store offers nostalgic goods for sale. But bring your own snacks. There’s a picnic area under shelter but no café on premises. The park is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. There’s an admission fee. Allow a couple of hours to stroll around and enjoy the exhibits.

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Inside the gated grounds, we turned left from the Welcome Center and passed equipment for sugar processing and a small building describing the Pineapple growing industry in Florida. As the interior was roped off, we couldn’t read the signage inside, but I got enough of a view to get the gist of it. I hadn’t even been aware Florida had pineapple plantations.

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Next was a train caboose next to a switching station housing model trains and other railroad memorabilia.

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Inside the next structure, which held one set of public restrooms, was a shoe repair place, a print shop, and a fire house.

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From here we went to the jail, which held a one-person cell. Note the noose on the outside.

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We passed an old hunting shack and moved on to the church, which is still in use today for services and weddings.

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Beyond the Bait and Tackle Shop and the Smokehouse, we came to a two-storied (plus attic) Victorian house that dominated the area.

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Riddle House must have been very large and well-built for its day. Downstairs were the common rooms and kitchen, while upstairs were several bedrooms. It was rumored someone killed himself in the attic, and indeed, the park offers seasonal ghost tours. Some of the places have costumed guides, and this was one of them. We got our own private tour of this impressive house.

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We peeked inside the visitor cabins, sewing circle room, old telephone exhibit, and a shotgun house. I liked the school, a large building with two classrooms on either side of the teacher’s desk. A single schoolteacher taught all the grades, and she wasn’t permitted to be married. The old wooden desks each had a hole presumably for an inkwell.

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You can visit the old post office, farm buildings, a blacksmith shop, and more as you stroll among the shady grounds. Although the temperatures hit the nineties, a breeze kept us comfortable as did the leafy branches overhead. Some, but not all, of the buildings are air-conditioned.

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You can see all of my photos HERE. If you visit the park, ask for a map at the Welcome Center. They’re busiest during the Fair season, so you might want to go at a less crowded time. This site is owned and administered by the Fairgrounds, which somewhat surprised me. I guess it’s a way for them to earn some income when the fair or other events aren’t in session, but you’d think a historical society would be interested in this display of early Florida life. Be sure to visit if you’re in the area.

Do you like visiting recreated villages or living history museums with costumed guides?

 

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

Keeper of the Rings – Reissue

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 16, 2018

Keeper of the Rings, one of my earlier science fiction romances, is the book that taught me how to write a murder mystery. It was the fourth book I wrote for Dorchester in my early days as a romance writer. I’m happy to announce the reissue of a newly revised and yes, better written, edition. It’s the last romance I wrote before switching to mysteries and starting my Bad Hair Day series. So how did this book inspire me to write a straight mystery novel? First let’s see what the story is about.

Keeper of the Rings

A PRISM Awards Finalist

Story Blurb

Taurin is shrouded in black when Leena first meets him, his face shaded like the night. At first she believes him to be a simple farmer, but the man exhibits skills worthy of a warrior. With his commanding presence, he’s an obvious choice to be the lovely archaeologist’s protector on her quest for a stolen sacred artifact. Curious about his mysterious background, and increasingly tempted by his tantalizing touch, Leena prays their perilous journey will be a success. She must find the missing relic, or dangerous secrets will be revealed that may forever change her world.

Who stole the holy artifact? Only the members of the ruling priesthood, the twelve-member Synod, had access to the sacred closet where it was kept. Was it Zeroun, the stern Minister of Religion? Perhaps Karayan, Leena’s family friend and Minister of Justice, is involved. Or maybe Sirvat is guilty. The Minister of Finance has something to hide. So does everyone on this elite council, including the Arch Nome, Dikran.

Leena is assigned the perilous mission is to retrieve the artifact. She engages Taurin Rey Niris as her protector. Together, they journey on a desperate quest around the globe and deep beneath the ruins of a hidden temple. Meanwhile, Leena’s brother investigates the backgrounds of the ministers. He finds that each one of them has a secret to hide.

Sound familiar? An amateur sleuth investigating a murder follows a similar process.

Here’s an excerpt wherein Leena and Taurin discuss the suspects with her brother, Bendyk, and his lovely assistant, Swill. Oh, and be prepared for two love stories! This is a romance novel, after all. The spice level is hot.

Excerpt

“We’ll pretend to be new settlers when we go to Woden,” Leena explained. “Dikran is arranging for the proper documentation. Now tell me, have you and Swill made any progress?”

Swill answered, tugging at the long sleeves of her burgundy blouse. She’d tucked it into a black skirt that hugged her hips. “Magar makes regular entries in his receipt book. These deposits have no mention of the source. Sirvat transfers the money into the Treasury account. Her financial records are impeccable, but she takes trips every so often, returning with a new piece of jewelry each time. It’s odd, because normally she’s not one to adorn herself.”

“I’ll bet I know where she gets those pieces.” Leena related what they’d learned about Sirvat’s relationship to Grotus.

Bendyk shook his head. “She seems so strait-laced. It’s hard to believe she’d fall for a rogue like him.”

“Perhaps Sirvat hides a passionate nature. Now that I think about it, some of the items I saw in Grotus’s mansion are similar to pieces in Karayan’s house. The minister has quite an extensive art collection.”

“Are you implying he buys goods from Grotus?” Bendyk asked with a horrified expression.

“Not necessarily. They may simply share the same tastes, although Karayan is a much better dresser.”

Taurin snorted. “We’re not here to discuss anyone’s preference in art or clothes. Did you investigate Zeroun? As Minister of Religion, his department is responsible for administering the Black Lands. Someone there has granted illegal rights to the Chocola Company.”

“We’ll check into it,” Swill assured him. “We’ve cleared most of the other Synod members but weren’t sure about Sirvat’s trips or Magar’s secretive dealings in his trade commissions. I still feel he’s withholding information from us.”

“I’m more willing to trust Magar,” Taurin said. “It’s Zeroun who needs further investigation.”

They could easily be discussing suspects in a murder. We have a limited number of suspects, most of who know each other and have a secret to hide; an amateur sleuth; and a confined setting. It’s the prescription for a cozy mystery, albeit combined with a “quest” theme in the search for the missing horn. Mystery, adventure, romance and danger—what could be better?

What was my favorite part to write? I loved planning the booby traps in the secret temple and figuring out what was hidden there.

Praise for Keeper of the Rings

“A dark, dangerous hero and imaginative adventures make Keeper of the Rings an entertaining read.” Phoebe Conn, NY Times Bestselling Author

Keeper is a lot like Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone. A good mystery, action/adventure, sci‑fi, and romance all rolled into one.” Mary Saums, Author of the Thistle & Twigg Mysteries and the Willi Taft Series.

“Prepare yourself for exotic locales, evildoers galore, and two splendid romances! Ms. Cane’s done it again!” The Paperback Forum

“Fascinating! Nancy Cane combines the elements of science fiction and fantasy into a marvelous love story. Her books capture the imagination with their originality.” The Literary Times

“The spellbinding action gets more terrifying and enthralling as the uniquely different plot thickens. The conclusion is stunning!” Rendezvous

“Intense and fast, Keeper of the Rings has an absorbing and complex plot that expands over and over again. And like ripples in a pond the reverberations are felt throughout the book to the very explosive climax. 4-1/2 stars.” Affaire de Coeur

Buy Now

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NTkzwg

Nook: http://bit.ly/2LfyQF1

iBooks: https://apple.co/2miwneM

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/keeper-of-the-rings-1

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/KeeperoftheRings

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Do you read archaeological thrillers? Or books like The Da Vinci Code? Perhaps you prefer movies like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft? Leave a comment below and you might win a signed first edition print copy of Silver Serenade published by The Wild Rose Press. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday.

Silver Serenade

 

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Book Giveaways

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 13, 2018

Freaky Fridays

Is Friday the 13th your lucky day? I’m talking about today, July 13. It could be. (And so could be every Friday for the following three weeks.) I’m teaming up with my friend Joanna Campbell Slan to give away one book a week.

Cohen author page

She’ll give away one of mine on her Facebook Author Page http://bit.ly/JCSgroup (Or put in “Joanna’s Readers” in your search box.) and I’ll give away one of hers on my Facebook Author Page at https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor/

Here’s how to win: Starting today, Joanna and I will post a question. We’ll randomly select an answer (Saturday morning) from the folks who comment. The winner will get her/his choice from a selection of our books. So…mark your calendar and visit our Author Pages TODAY and every Friday for four weeks in total.

LibraryThing

If you’re a member of LibraryThing, you could win one of two advance reading copies of Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Enter here July 9 – July 23: http://www.librarything.com/er/giveaway/list

Booklovers Bench

Enter July 1 – 18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench, where readers are winners: http://bookloversbench.com

 

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Having Too Many Story Ideas

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 9, 2018

Writer’s Block is often interpreted to mean that a writer stumbles over what to write next. Or he comes to a complete halt due to outside distractions or loss of confidence. But what about when he has so many ideas, that he can’t complete a single one? This can be conceived as another type of writer’s block.

Story Ideas

“I have too many ideas at once, and I don’t know which one to pick,” an aspiring author wrote to me. “What is your advice on this issue?”

It’s great if you have lots of story ideas. It’s not so good if you allow them to distract you until you can’t write anything. Or maybe you’ll write a bit on each one but never finish a single novel. My suggestion would be to pick the one idea that excites you the most and keep writing until you finish the first draft. Yes, it’s that simple.

“You’ve had two series going on together. How did you manage it, both mentally and during the actual writing? Was it difficult going back and forth? Is it easier to finish one at a time?”

I can only work on one project at a time. Even when I was writing two series in different genres, I would focus on one book until it was finished and in the hands of my editor. When that book was completely done, I would turn to the next project.

What happens when you have so many ideas that they interfere with your concentration? Write them down. Keep a “New Idea” file or a “Plotting” file and jot down your notes. Then put them aside until you finish your current project.

Set yourself daily and weekly writing goals for your story of choice. Then sit your butt in the chair and drive yourself each day until you meet your quota. Do not stop if one of those tempting ideas entices you. Concentrate on the book at hand. Later on, those ideas will either be viable or not. You’ll know better when you gain some perspective. For now, you have one project only that you need to finish. To reiterate:

· Pick your project.

· Set your writing goals.

· Write down all the distracting ideas in your head and set them aside.

· Begin on your daily writing quota.

· Keep writing until you finish the first draft.

Next come revisions, and that’s another topic we’ve already addressed here. Your book isn’t done until it’s done. Edited, Revised, Polished, and Submitted.

Then and only then, you may turn to your list of potential new projects. If you’re writing a series, you will need to begin the next installment. If not, listen to your heart and determine which idea is calling to you. Your passion will shine through in your words. Have some ideas that don’t resonate anymore? Scratch them off the list. You want to be excited enough that the buoyancy will sustain you throughout an entire novel. One idea at a time. One day at a time. One page at a time.

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench.

 

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Publix Cooking Class – Seafood

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 5, 2018

We started the evening at Publix Aprons Cooking School with a glass of light golden sparkling Chloe Prosecco. This was a pleasant drink that’s good for sipping before dinner.

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The first course began with Grilled Shrimp Skewers accompanied by Corn and Pineapple Relish. This corn would make a good side dish by itself. The dish seemed reasonable to make at home, although I’d substitute parsley for the cilantro. The wine with this starter was a Buried Cane Chardonnay. It was a medium gold color, and I liked it enough to put it on my buy list.

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Cooking Tip: If you want to know if the oil in your pan is hot enough, add a couple of kernels of popcorn. When they pop, the oil is ready. Be careful the popped corn doesn’t hit you in the eye, so avoid leaning over the pan.

Next we watched the chef prepare Louisiana Lump Crab Cakes with Tasso Tartar Sauce. These were really good; crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I could eat a meal just with these crab cakes. They were served with salad greens.

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In keeping with our seafood theme, the main course was Key West Jerk Snapper with Papaya and Red Pepper Jam. We each got a firm piece of fish that was moist and tasted good with the sauce. The wine was a Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc with a medium gold color. This was light and fruity.

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Cooking Tips:

Don’t marinate fish or shrimp with citrus, such as orange or lime juice, for more than an hour and a half or the citrus might cook the seafood, as in ceviche.

Dry the fish by patting it with paper towels before frying it. Our chef used a stainless steel sauté pan.

Pigeon Peas with Rice accompanied the fish as a side dish. This had a tomato base, unlike the version I like to make. The Earth Heart Erath Pinot Noir was good with this entrée.

Dessert was a divine Mississippi Molten Chocolate Cake, otherwise known as a lava cake. It melted in our mouths, the heat dissolved by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. My mouth is watering at the memory. I wasn’t fond of the Stella Rose Prosecco that came with this last course.

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Needless to say, I came home and conked out. Too much to eat and drink, but it was definitely worth the effort. I can’t wait to sign up for another class. Look for one near you at Publix Aprons Cooking School.

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GIVEAWAY

Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN Gift Card from Booklovers Bench.

 

Posted in Food, That's Life | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Mystery Fest Key West 2018 – Part 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 30, 2018

Panel discussions at the Mystery Fest Key West on Saturday afternoon began after lunch with a panel on Co-Writing a Mystery and next on Writing Historical Mysteries. Below are panelists Alyssa Maxwell, Diane A.S. Stuckart, Robert Coburn, John Guerra, and Charles Todd.

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A panel discussion on Audiobooks followed. After an on-site booksigning run by Books & Books from Key West, we took a conch train from our hotel to the Key West Lighthouse.

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At the historic lighthouse, Shirrel Rhodes introduced Ace Atkins and Otto Penzler, who spoke about publishing and the mystery genre.

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The conference concluded on Sunday morning with a brunch at the Schooner Wharf Bar in Key West’s Historic Seaport district. We hit the road heading north for our last view of seascapes on either side of the highway. It was time to return to reality.

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See all my Key West photos here: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor/

 

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

Mystery Fest Key West 2018 – Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 28, 2018

The first workshop on Friday afternoon at Mystery Fest Key West writers conference had Debbie Richardson and Shirrel Rhodes speaking about the business of writing. Next, we heard author Lisa Black give an informative talk on fingerprints. I learned there are three types of fingerprint patterns, which are loop, arch, and whorl. Glossy, smooth surfaces like porcelain or marble are good for fingerprints while wet or rough surfaces, upholstery, and laminate aren’t so great. However, no matter the surface, it appears there’s a method for obtaining prints. This is good info to know for any mystery writer.

Photos below include Debbie Richardson, Heather Graham, Michael Joy, Suzanne Baginskie, Olive Pollack, Lisa Black.

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Two more panels followed on How to Write and Sell a First Novel with Dianna Collier and Crisis Negotiation with an expert in the field. Then we met at a poolside room for appetizers and drinks. It was nice to have a chance to circulate and meet my fellow attendees. Heather Graham gave a welcome talk and we all got busy schmoozing for the rest of the evening.

Photos below include Alyssa Maxwell, Michael Joy, Paul Manuel, Richard Cohen, Diane A.S. Stuckart. Second row has Olive Pollak, Suzanne Baginskie, Catalina Egan, Lou Ann Williams, Patrick Kendrick, Carol Tedesco.

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Saturday started early with a panel on the State of the Publishing Industry. Moderated by Diane A. S. Stuckart, the panel included Patrick Kendrick, Dianna Collier, Alyssa Maxwell, and Otto Penzler. The general outlook was positive, and I was happy to hear that cozies are doing well.

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Next I sat on a panel about Promoting Your Book. My fellow panelists were Lewis C. Haskell and Wayne Stinnett with Patrick Kendrick as moderator. We discussed different techniques that we each found useful and exchanged ideas for getting word out about our books.

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Shirrel Rhodes introduced the winners of The Whodunit Mystery Writing Award, who each read from their work before lunch. Prime Ribs was the star feature on the buffet line. Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author Ace Atkins gave a talk during the meal.

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See all my Key West Photos here: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor/

 

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Key West 2018

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 26, 2018

We drove down to Key West on the Thursday before the Mystery Fest Key West conference began. Once you hit the Keys beyond Miami and Homestead, you pass interesting little towns on each island along with scenic ocean vistas on either side of the highway. On Ramrod Key, we stopped for lunch at Boondocks. Their creamy New England clam chowder was one of the best. I liked the crabmeat salad and cole slaw that accompanied the soup. A half portion of salad was more than enough.

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After arriving in Key West, we checked in at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort and then took the hotel shuttle into town. Here we meandered around until our friends Alyssa Maxwell and her husband joined us for dinner. We dined at Conch Republic Seafood Company. Richard and I shared stuffed mushrooms and grilled mahi mahi. We were as stuffed as the mushrooms when we’d finished.

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Friday morning, we were free, so we visited the East Martello Museum, a Civil War era fort. Exhibits tell about how the fort was used during the war as well as a bit of Key West lore including ghost stories and the creepy Robert the Doll tale. Doll houses, a treasure chest, and a cannon were among the relics displayed. Then we went outside toward the tower where a spiral staircase takes you to the top. Here are some scenic views.

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Hungry from our exertions, we drove into town and lunched at Pinchers Crab Shack on Duval Street. Then it was back to the hotel for the start of the conference.

 What’s your favorite place in Key West?

See all my Key West Photos Here

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Trimmed to Death – Cover Reveal

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 15, 2018

Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, will be released on Sept. 25, 2018 and is available for pre-order.

 

TRIMMED TO DEATH eBook

 

Hairstylist Marla Vail enters a bake-off competition that’s a real killer when a contestant ends up dead.

Savvy hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Vail enters a charity bake-off contest at a fall festival sponsored by a local farm. While she waits to see if her coconut fudge pie is a winner, Marla joins a scavenger hunt where people playing character roles are the targets. Instead of scoring points with a live person, she finds a dead body planted face-down in the strawberry field. Who would want to cut short the life of food magazine publisher and fellow bake-off contestant Francine Dodger? As she investigates, Marla learns there’s no shortage of suspects. A celebrity TV chef, food critic, olive oil importer, food truck owner, pastry chef, and cookbook author may be stirring up more than their next recipe. Can Marla unmask the killer before someone else gets trimmed from life?

Recipes Included!

Cover Design by the talented Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica.

TRIMMED TO DEATH, Sept. 25, 2018, Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9985317-5-5
Print ISBN: 978-0-9985317-6-2

Add to Goodreads

ORDER HERE

Note: I have review copies available in ebook format. If you are a blogger or reviewer, please notify me via email that you’d like to be added to my reviewer list. Include a link to the site(s) where you post reviews.

CLICK TO TWEET

 

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Preparing for a Book Launch

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 14, 2018

Once you or your publisher sets a date for your new release, you can start planning ahead for the big day. You’ll need to begin months earlier and get your pieces lined up ahead of time. Planning for a new release can be a full-time marketing job, so I’d advise you to set aside a few weeks to get everything done. Here’s a basic countdown schedule to act as a guideline.

Book Launch

4 to 6 months ahead

Prepare your story blurbs and tag lines.

Update the author biography on your website. Have a short and long one along with a separate speaker introduction.

Send out advance reading copies to reviewers and bloggers.

Announce the launch date in your newsletter and on your social media sites.

Schedule a virtual blog tour.

Reserve ad space in trade journals, e-magazines, and online reader sites.

Set up speaking engagements and signings.

Consider doing a Pinterest story board.

2 to 4 months ahead

Send out a press release about the new release and include signing dates.

Do a Cover Reveal once your book is available for pre-order.

Write a page full of tweets and Facebook posts about the new release.

Create your book trailer (optional) and add to social media sites.

Write guest blog articles and interviews for your virtual book tour.

Run contests or giveaways with your ARCs as prizes.

Order print promo materials and swag for conferences.

Consider if you want to put another book in your series on sale during the window of your book launch.

1 to 2 months ahead

Set a book launch party date, time and place. Here’s an example of the online site I share with author Maggie Toussaint: https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty/. Other authors might invite their writer friends to participate. Note what appeals to you and use these elements in planning your own book party.

Write the party posts, determine the prizes, and schedule all posts ahead of time.

Create memes for your launch party and the new release.

Send out “Save the Date” notices. Treat the launch as an “event” and broadcast it on your social media sites and to your influential contacts.

Schedule a newsletter and blog to post on the launch date.

Update your website with reviews as they come in. If time permits, thank each reviewer.

Write a book club discussion guide (optional).

Post the first chapter on your website.

Put excerpts on your blog to entice readers to want more.

Do as much of this work in advance as you can. This is simplifying all the effort a book launch entails, but being prepared relieves some of the stress as your book birthday approaches.

CLICK TO TWEET

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GIVEAWAY

Enter Now to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, New Release, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 17 Comments »

 
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