Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for March, 2010


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 31, 2010

What is an enriched ebook and how does it differ from an ordinary one? An enriched ebook has bonus features like on a DVD. These can include research material, references, deleted passages, alternate endings, footnotes, audio interview with the author, research photos, interactive maps that follow the action, music to accompany scenes in the story with music, commentary by the author.

As you may have guessed, adding these features means more work, but we do a lot of this anyway. For example, I’ve added a glossary to the ebook edition of Circle of Light, my first book published in 1994 and just now debuting in digital format. Imagine if I’d added these features to my mysteries when they came out in ebook format. I’d have been able to share my research photos, info I gathered at on-site locations, research material that didn’t make it into the story.

Do readers care? When you’re engrossed in a world the author has created, often you don’t want the story to end. I know that when I finished the Harry Potter series, I wanted to read more about the lives of Harry and friends after they left school. The brief epilogue wasn’t enough to satisfy me. So the question is, will readers want to read more about your fictional world and your characters? Do they care to learn about the writing process involved in creating the story? Or would they rather close the page and wait for the sequel? Will this enhance reading experiences or add more burden on the author’s shoulders? Will it draw in young readers who look for multi-media presentations? There’s no doubt the publishing industry is changing. Authors have to embrace these changes or risk getting left behind in the dust.

*This post originally appeared on the Novelists Inc. blog:

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Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 29, 2010

ALLISON CHASE is the author of the Novels of Blackheath Moor, paranormal historical tales set in the wilds of nineteenth century Cornwall. At the April 2009 Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention, she received a Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Romantic Gothic of 2008, for DARK TEMPTATION. Her latest release, MOST EAGERLY YOURS, debuts her new Victorian series, Her Majesty’s Secret Servants, featuring four sisters who risk their Allison Chase lives, hearts, and occasionally their virtue in the service of their new young queen. While Allison has somehow found herself living in ultra modern South Florida, she and her family love to travel, especially to Great Britain and Ireland, and she’s never happier than when exploring castle ruins, ancient abbeys, and the rambling environs of old country manors. But no matter where her travels take her, you can always find her at or

10 Tips for Successful Blog Touring

 Here we are at the end of March, and my “blog tour” to promote the new release has wound down for now. Blog touring has become a major way to promote a book, so much so that a few months back my editor sent me an article about it and urged me to do it during the month my book came out.

So what are the benefits?

 1. It’s FREE! A blog tour costs you nothing…but time, that is. Depending on how many “stops” you schedule, it can be very time-consuming, so if you also happen to be on a deadline or have other pressing time constraints, you’ll want to have your blog posts written up well ahead of time. This doesn’t get you entirely off the hook, though, because for a successful blog tour you need to be available to comment on your comments. More on that in a minute.

 2. Exposure. Blog touring spreads your name across the internet. One thing I learned is that a lot of blogs seem to be part of networks, so blogging at one will get you at least a mention on others. Bloggers also post their schedules on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Did I mention that all this publicity is free?

 3. Readers have a chance to get to know you. You’re plugging your latest release, yes, but a good blog strategy is to reveal something personal about yourself so readers feel they are connecting with you as an individual. 

 4. Invitations. Once you’ve blogged in a few places, you’ll probably start receiving invitations to blog on other sites as well.

 So what are some strategies for a successful blog tour?

 1. Look for popular blogs that attract readers. How do you do that? I found several blogs through Facebook, and some through readers sites like Romance Junkies and Coffee Time Romance. I also found bloggers by doing a search of my book and seeing who had reviewed it so far. Contacting them or leaving a thank you in their comment section often opens a dialogue that will result in an invitation to blog.

 2. Check the comments sections to see which blogs are lively and interactive, and if the majority of visitors seem genuinely interested in books and authors, and aren’t simply hoping to win something. You can tell this by the kinds of comments they leave.

 3. Don’t over-schedule. Be realistic about how much time you can invest. I’ve heard of people who blog every day for an entire month. Yikes! If you can do that, great. I found 2-3 per week quite sufficient, thank you. Especially because of #4 below…

 4. Vary your posts. I’ve seen authors repeating posts on different sites, but while I used some variations on similar themes, each post was unique, highlighting a different aspect of my book and the history that inspired the story. Don’t forget, readers tend to follow multiple blogs, and identical posts won’t hold their interest.

 5. Don’t just talk about your book. As I mentioned, your posts should contain some personal insight that reveals something about yourself to your reader. Explore your setting, time period and themes by including some interesting real life tidbits. Think about your research. What unexpected discoveries surprised you most? Design your posts around those things.

 6. Make your posts relevant to your readers’ own lives. That means discussing themes in your book that others can immediately relate to. Some of mine were the power of friendship, standing up for oneself in difficult situations, female empowerment, alpha men vs. beta men in real life relationships… At the end of your post, ask a question that invites your readers to share their personal experiences – you’d be surprised how lively the discussion can become!

 7. Don’t blog and run! Be available to comment on comments throughout the day. This helps keep the discussion going and assures your readers that you’re interested in them – that they are very much worth your time.

 8. Giveaways attract attention! You can offer a signed copy of your latest release, a backlist title, or other small prize like a gift card. Don’t go overboard for two reasons: 1) it will get too expensive and 2) this is a token offer to attract real readers to you and your work. Too large a prize may attract those who are only interested in “free stuff.” So keep it real! At the end of each blogging day, I add up the comments and plug the number into The number generated determines who wins the prize – in my case it’s been copies of Most Eagerly Yours.

 9. Good manners! Don’t forget to thank your hosts and visitors! You posts should always include something like, “Thank you…(plug in names) for having me here today…”  And your last comment should be a thank you to everyone who came by to read and/or comment. Remember, not everyone who reads your post will be inclined to comment. It’s often a privacy issue, but do know that you are reaching more people than might be apparent.

 10. Have fun, and take this opportunity to shine!

Catch me at my next blog engagement with Sue Grimshaw at Borders True Romance, April 15th.

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Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 26, 2010

While researching book two for my proposed new mystery series, I came across the delightful town of Winter Garden, FL.  This town, located west of Orlando, may be considered part of the greater metropolitan area, but its quaint historical buildings and small town atmosphere remain intact. While W. Plant Street, the main avenue, doesn’t last for long, you can visit the historic Edgewater Hotel originally opened in 1927 (and now a viable B&B), the Garden Theater dating from 1935, the Central Florida Railroad Museum, the Winter Garden Heritage Museum, and the   West Orange Trail. If dining interests you, stop in at the French bakery on W. Plant Street for crepes and croissants, or stay for dinner at Thai Blossom or the elegant The Chef’s Table in the Edgewater Hotel. 

Edgewater Hotel

Edgewater Hotel

The Garden Theater itself is worth a visit. Designed inside in Mediterranean Revival style like a scene out of Romeo and Juliet, it boasts a dark ceiling full of “stars” and plush seats with cup holders like a movie theater. We saw the hilarious play, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Need I say that my second mystery takes place in an old theater? It’s a murder mystery involving the cast and crew of a community theater production and this restored theater serves as a model for my fictional creation. So if you get tired of the theme parks, take a drive to this historic small town for a taste of old Florida.


Edgewater Hotel

Love the old typewriter!

Railroad museum

Railroad Museum











Garden Theatre


Theatre Interior


Mediterranean Revival style


COMING NEXT: Author Allison Chase will offer “10 Tips forSuccessful Blog Touring.”

Posted in Florida Musings | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 23, 2010

The Lake County Library System holds a week-long reading festival each year. It must be the best attended library event in the state.  Friday night, March 19, found my husband and I along with 20 other authors at a delightful Author’s Reception in Leesburg Library. Leesburg doesn’t seem like a big town but the library is a two-story modern building with a café. While waiters circulated with canapes, we met library patrons, readers, staff members, and fellow writers. We had the opportunity to shmooze and hand out promo materials. It was a great event for mingling and getting to know everyone. I knew many faces: Agent and author Lucienne Diver from the Knight Agency, Authors Cynthia Thomason, Julie Compton, Dara Edmonson, Catherine Kean, Michelle Young, Dolores Wilson, Elizabeth Sinclair, Elaine Viets, Mark Schweizer, and more.                                                 
Nancy Cohen & Lucienne Diver

Nancy Cohen & Lucienne Diver


Nancy Cohen

Nancy at Reception

Cynthia Thomason, Elizabeth Sinclair, Delores Wilson

Cynthia Thomason, Elizabeth Sinclair, Delores Wilson

Dara Edmonson & Nancy Cohen

Dara Edmonson & Nancy Cohen

Elaine Viets

Mystery Author Elaine Viets


Julie Compton & Dara Edmonson

Julie Compton & Dara Edmonson

We crashed later that evening at the Holiday Inn Express in Tavares located on the tranquil Dead River. A quaint seafood restaurant, Fin’s, is nearby. It was about fifteen minutes away on 441 which was good, because my workshop started in the morning at nine o’clock back in Leesburg.

I spoke on How to Get Published: The Business of Writing. My talk covered the basics on manuscript preparation, query letters, synopsis, how to get an agent, the value of networking, contests and critique groups, self-editing, and more. We had about forty people in the audience and they asked good questions. I enjoyed speaking to such an enthusiastic crowd.

Nancy presents workshop

Nancy presents workshop

For a lunch break, my husband and I cruised 441 and settled on the Red Lobster. Then we headed back to the library for my afternoon session, a panel entitled “Murder, Love, and Laughter” with mystery authors Elaine Viets, Mark Schweizer, Elizabeth Sinclair, Delores Wilson, and Nancy J. Cohen.


Nancy, Mark, Elizabeth, Elaine, Delores

Nancy enjoys speaking to group


Kudos to Judy Buckland, Lake Co. Library System’s Program Coordinator, for a terrific turnout and a great event.  Thanks, also, to Raintree Books for selling our work.

And now for the plug: Support your local libraries! Take out books and DVDs, join Friends of the Libraries, attend their events. I can’t tell you how many readers have written to me to say they first discovered my mysteries on the library shelves. Libraries are more like media centers these days with videos, computers, even digital downloads. Take advantage of this public service and visit your local library. Hugs to all librarians!

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 15, 2010

Piracy is becoming an increasing concern among published authors. I am not referring to folks like Captain Jack Sparrow here. I mean Internet pirates, shady characters who offer unauthorized downloads of our books for free. Why does this hurt us authors? We’re not paid any royalties, for one thing. Secondly, those downloads don’t count towards our sales figures. When our sales figures stay flat, the publisher is less likely to buy our next book. Your favorite series might be discontinued. Thus no one wins. And it hurts to see a new release, or even a book that hasn’t yet come out in digital format, being offered this way to any Joe who wants a free ride.      

So what’s an author to do? Until publishers start using their clout to oppose these sites, all we can accomplish is to file a protest and request that the book be removed. Most of these sites originate outside the U.S. where they don’t respect our copyright laws. But at least authors are sharing these sites now so we are becoming more aware of them. Here is a yahoo group about the topic:

They offer the following statement to use when requesting your work be removed:

“The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.”

It takes time from our daily writing schedules to police the Internet, looking for illegal copies of our books. What can you, the reader, do to help? Report to us if you see our book listed at an unauthorized site. Don’t be tempted into buying it for a cheap price or downloading it for free. Get the book at the library instead. Think of it this way: Would you want to labor for a year on a project only to see it given away for free? Do you feel authors should be compensated fairly for their work? It’s bad enough when our books are so deeply discounted that we’re lucky to make a dollar per  book. Usually, it’s less. That’s why authors keep their day jobs. Ultimately, readers will pay because there will be fewer choices on the bookshelves for your reading pleasure.

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


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 9, 2010

CIRCLE OF LIGHT, my seventh manuscript, became the first novel I sold. It began as a dream, wherein I was at my job as a clinical nurse specialist. The dream unfolded in much the same manner as the excerpt on my website. My dream ended at the same place, but I couldn’t let it go. I had to finish the story! I wrote the whole thing, and that’s my first book that sold. CIRCLE OF LIGHT became number one in a trilogy and went on to win the HOLT Medallion Award in the paranormal category. The story has ancient prophecies, mysterious glowstones, a magical Blood Crystal that foretells the future, and a transcendent healing power inspired by love. It also has villains: the evil Souks, a slaver race; the nasty Horthas with their stun whips; the Twyggs with their grasping branches, a traitor in the central government; and mercenaries who hire their services as assassins. It’s an exciting story. No wonder I felt compelled to finish it.

CIRCLE OF LIGHT, originally published by Dorchester when I was writing as Nancy Cane, is now available in digital and trade paperback formats. And lest you think it’s all purely made up, I used a National Geographic article on volcanoes for the scenes on Taurus, a volcanic planet. I used my Star Wars and Star Trek sourcebooks and technical manuals for inspiration in terms of ships and weaponry. The capital city of Bimordus Two is a biome, a self-contained ecosystem. I cut out articles about these habitats at the time, and they’re probably still in my files. So research took many forms for this futuristic romance. And because it’s at heart a romance novel, woven throughout the exciting adventure is the developing love story of Sarina and Teir.

Attorney Sarina Bretton is kidnapped from Earth to become the legendary Great Healer, thus saving the galaxy from a dreadful plague. To activate her power, she must marry Lord Cam’brii, a stiff politician. Instead, she falls in love with the spaceship captain transporting her to the wedding.

Captain Teir Reylock is drawn to the feisty woman he’s escorting to the capital city, but he must fulfill his duty. He doesn’t count on being assigned as her bodyguard once they arrive. Now not only must he protect Sarina from the Coalition’s enemies, but also he must guard her from his heart.

Digital edition available from Belgrave House

Circle of Light                       Belgrave House

Trade Paperback edition available from iUniverse

Circle of Light

Posted in The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 7, 2010

It’s hard work to breathe life into your backlist but well worth the effort. Fans who get hooked on your latest title will search the bookstore shelves for everything else you’ve written. Hoping to catch new fans with my upcoming futuristic romance, SILVER SERENADE, I’ve begun the process of updating the offering of my very first three published books. These futuristics ended up as a threesome that I now call the Light-Years Trilogy. Belgrave House is converting them to digital media so people with eBook readers will be able to download them onto their Kindles, Sony Readers, Nooks, and more. Originally published in mass market by Dorchester, these titles are currently available online in trade paperback format at You’ll have to look for me under the name Nancy Cane. That’s my alter ego for my earlier titles.

It may seem like an easy transition, but I have spent hours reading through CIRCLE OF LIGHT, book one in the trilogy. Not only am I proof-reading for conversion errors, but I’m tightening the prose and adding a Glossary. So my ebook fans will get a new and improved version plus an added bonus!

Hoping to attract interest to the digital version, I’ve posted a new blurb and excerpt on my website as well as on iUniverse. And this doesn’t even count the numerous other places where my books are listed. I still have to do books two and three, but I feel it’s worth the effort. I’m very excited about the potential to bring these titles to a new audience.

If you have the rights back to your earlier works, now is a great time to exploit them. With digital formats, self-publishing, and print on demand, you can breathe new life into your backlist. A whole new generation of readers is out there, just waiting to discover your fabulous stories.

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Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 2, 2010

SLEUTHFEST is one of the best mystery writer conferences around. I had a great time schmoozing with old friends and meeting new people. On Friday, I participated in a panel called “The Power of Publicity”. Rod Pennington narrated, and I had the pleasure of listening to my fellow panelists discuss their tips for promotion: Sandra Balzo, James Grippando, Charles Todd, Pearl Wolf, and Dirk Wyle. Sandra suggested targeting bookmarks and other printed material to booksellers, librarians, and book clubs. I gave the pointers that were in my last blog regarding free Internet promotion since many of us authors wish we had bestsellers like James or Charles. Pearl offered her pearls of wisdom, and Dirk chimed in advising us on niche promotion like he does with his science background.

Attendees had a choice of four tracks of workshops: Craft for the Beginning Writer, Career development for Advanced Novel Writing, Hollywood tips and tricks on the Stage and Screenwriting track, and Forensics. I skipped the bomb squad visit because I’d heard a similar topic at one of our regular meetings. I also avoided the CSI stuff since my books deal more with relationships than crime scenes. Instead, I stuck to the career track options.

EDITORS ROUNDTABLE with editors from G.P. Putnam, Poisoned Pen Press, and Berkley The Berkley editor said their cozy program is very successful and some titles have even become bestsellers. Thrillers work well for them also, and they do true crime and historical mysteries. The Poisoned Pen Press editor prefers stories with no graphic sex or violence. They’d like to see strong historicals and classic mysteries with detection, not so much thrillers. They are open to new, unpublished authors. This editor in particular is tired of bed & breakfast settings and quilting cozies. She’d like to see a medieval historical mystery. Email submissions are accepted and an agent isn’t necessary. Putnam wants work that is fresh and polished with something extra. They’re interested in building a career, not just one book.

NEGOTIATING A KILLER CONTRACT with an editor and two agents discussed deal points, boiler plate contracts, and e-rights, a hot and touchy topic. They said e-books are appealing to younger and older readers and are cutting into large print sales.

HOOKS, LINES, AND STINKERS  found agents and editors dissecting what makes a good query letter. One of them said she appreciates thank you notes even for rejections where she’s taken the time to comment on a work.

Lunch followed with guest speaker Stephen J. Cannell from Hollywood, who gave an inspirational talk about his rise to fame. Auctioneer and author Cynthia Thomason conducted our annual author auction where bidders could win critiques from our chapter’s experienced scribes.

Finally, I attended Randy Rawls’s BOOK BROADS, a humorous look at the writing life presented by authors Kris Montee (aka P.J. Parrish), Deborah Sharp, and Christine Kling, and bookseller Joanne Sinchuk.

The cocktail party followed with food and drink for all, and then it was home and back to reality. What I enjoyed most was chatting with everyone and seeing people I hadn’t greeted in a while. Making friends is the best part of any conference, although the four tracks of workshops offered something for everyone. Kudos to the conference organizers and volunteers!

Cynthia Thomason and Nancy J. Cohen

Cynthia Thomason and Nancy J. Cohen

Nancy, Kathy, Karen

Nancy J. Cohen, Kathy Pickering, Karen Kendall

Sandra Balzo & Rhonda Pollero

Sandra Balzo & Rhonda Pollero

Christine Jackson & Sharon Potts

Christine Jackson & Sharon Potts


Traci Hall, Pearl Wolf, Linda Conrad, Nancy J. Cohen

Vicki Landis, Kathleen Pickering, Karen Kendall

Vicki Landis, Kathleen Pickering, Karen Kendall

Johnny Ray & Olive Pollak

Johnny Ray & Olive Pollak

Sharon Potts & Christine Kling

Sharon Potts & Christine Kling

Joanne Sinchuk & Randy Rawls

Joanne Sinchuk & Randy Rawls

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