Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for June, 2010


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 27, 2010


And so it begins…Tropical Storm Alex has formed in the Gulf of Mexico. Fortunately, the forecast track doesn’t appear likely to threaten Florida but this could be considered a warning to get prepared. Last year we were lucky, and it’s easy to get complacent until something springs up in our neighborhood. Stocking up on a few items each time you’re in the supermarket won’t pinch your budget too much. So take stock of what you have in your pantry, test your flashlight and lantern batteries, and prepare to hunker down.


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. Turn fridge to colder setting ahead of storm. Freeze water in plastic containers to help keep food cool. If you drink/use bottled water, save containers and fill with tap water to freeze or refrigerate.

2. Buy bottled water and fruit juices; sports drinks if you like them.

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 pet at kennel.

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.

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. Eat all the ice cream in your freezer!

What else would you add?

Watch the weather reports at:

National Hurricane Center:

Navy Tropical Cyclone Page:

National Weather Service, Miami:

The Weather Channel:

Broward Co., FL, Hurricane Page:


Posted in Florida Musings | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 23, 2010

I’m sitting in the car at a traffic light, and my mind wanders. My hero accesses the villain’s fortress to determine how they are keeping open a dimensional rift. He’s been there before but missed some important data. What is different this time? He has gone shopping in the interval. Did I have him buy electronics so he could use his spacefaring skills to assemble a sensor device? Oops, better add that into the story.  What data would he collect this time that he wasn’t able to acquire before? He has to determine the rifts are being kept open by a particle generator. So it makes sense that he detects the particles. A ideaconstant bombardment of these particles from the other side could be what the evil Trolleks are using to force open the rifts. The pressure would have to be tremendous. I’ve already mentioned neutrinos in the story, but they pass through matter. What about anti-neutrinos? Or better still, something with mass. More research required! Or, I could just make up my own quantum particles.

The light changes to green. My mind shifts into reality. I’ll have to wait until I get home to follow this train of thought. As my foot presses on the accelerator, I’m also thinking that I need to look up Manga along with Islands of Adventure at Universal. My characters are entering a fictional theme park called Manga World. For a map and a model of the types of rides, I’ll use the Orlando site. I’ll just swap them with imaginary Manga heroes. Oh, have I arrived at the post office? File that thought until later!          idea

No wonder my husband says he talks to me in the car and I don’t respond. That’s the hazard of being married to a writer. Our mind is always lost in another world.


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


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 20, 2010

If you’d like to escape for several days to a beach haven away from it all, visit Marco Island. There’s as much or as little as you want to do here, with expansive sandy beaches, boat rides, fine dining, shopping, water sports, and more. Driving onto the island, a two hour drive west from Fort Lauderdale and just south of Naples, we stopped at the Snook Inn for lunch. Located on a waterway, this rustic restaurant offers a scenic view along with outdoor dining. I had Baked Stuffed Shrimp while my husband had Conch Chowder and Crab Cake Sliders. Then we went for cocktails later to Quinn’s on the Beach at the Marriott. Again, we chose outdoor seating so we could watch the sun descend on the horizon.

Snook Inn

Snook Inn

We spent two nights at the Hilton with its lovely pool area, big wide beach, three dining places, plus a lounge. The food in Sandpipers and the Paradise Café was excellent, better than many other restaurants we’ve experienced, with an artistic presentation worthy of the best worldwide establishments. For dinner in the Paradise Café, I ordered Coconut Crusted Tilapia that was absolutely delish. My husband ordered Salmon Oscar, and we shared a Key Lime Pie for dessert. Here you have a choice of eating outside on a screened patio with a view of the sunset and beach or inside in the air-cooled restaurant.

The last night found us at Capri Fish House where we ate outside under the chickee hut facing a waterway. While we waited for our food (I ordered grilled grouper), a thunderstorm struck and lightning flashed all around. Rain poured down, necessitating our moving to another table to avoid getting wet.        

Snook Inn

View from Snook Inn

Other than the food, we enjoyed the beach. The lounge chairs and towels are free at the Hilton. If you want an umbrella, it costs $19 per day. We hunted for seashells, splashed in the sea foam, sniffed the salty sea air, and floated in the bathtub warm water. This mini-vacation came with its comedic moments, such as when the spouse spilled ketchup all over himself or got lost walking on the beach looking for the hotel entrance. I tried to unlock someone else’s room until I realized I was at the wrong door. Good thing our daughter came along to laugh at our mishaps. Family vacations, however short, are treasures to be stored away with memories and photos.

Quinn's on the Beach

Quinn's on the Beach

Hilton Hotel view

Hilton Hotel view

Marco Island Beach

Marco Island Beach

Nancy in the ocean

Nancy in the ocean

Capri Fish House

Capri Fish House

Capri Fish House

Capri Fish House

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

Nancy at Capri Fish House

Nancy at Capri Fish House






Posted in Florida Musings, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 14, 2010

Congratulations to Karin Tillotson from Sharpsville, PA for winning my MAY MADNESS CONTEST. Since Karin is a newsletter subscriber, she has also won the bonus prize. 

The winner is selected using a random integer generator at

We had 91 entries.  Thanks to all who responded! 

Keep watch here or on my CONTEST website page for the July book launch contest to celebrate the debut of Silver Serenade.

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


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 11, 2010

Only three more days to enter my May Madness contest!  

PRIZE: A free signed copy of one of my books, your choice of romance or mystery.

To enter the contest, please send an email to

 In the Subject line, put Contest

In the Body of the message, put the following:

 Your first and last name

Your email address

And the answer to this question:  

 Who does Silver intend to kill on Al’ron? 

Answers can be found in the excerpt on my website at or on the Romance Books page at

PRIZE: A free signed copy of one of my books, your choice of romance or mystery.

Bonus Drawing for Newsletter and Blog Subscribers: A blue gemstone necklace with a silver-toned chain.  (Open to U.S. Residents Only Due To Postage Constraints).  

Contest ends on June 13, 2010.  Three more days so enter now!  Winner will be announced on my website and blog the week of June 14. 


FOR MORE CHANCES TO WIN A GREAT PRIZE of signed books by the Book Belles, VISIT

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


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 10, 2010

When you research an area in person for your story, observe your surroundings with the Writer’s Eye. What does this mean? Use the five senses in recording your observations. Back up your notes with photos and recordings if you wish. But later, when you have plenty of reference materials, you might forget just how hot it was outside or what sounds    you heard unless you’ve jotted it down. So what are you looking for in your on-site research?                                      

SIGHT means more than just seeing with your eyes. It means looking at things with a critical view. Examine the buildings along your route. What color are they? Is the paint fresh or peeling? What are the construction materials? How well is the roof maintained? What do the windows remind you of? Think in terms of analogies. Are they yawning windows like open mouths? Or blank like vacant eyes?

How does this object make you feel? Layering your observations with attitude or emotion contributes to the experience. Describe the front door. Is there a doorbell or knocker, and how does it characterize the occupant if it’s a house? Examine the lawn. Does the grass need a trim? Are weeds taking over? Note elements like overhead electric wires, stray cats, tilted street signs, cracked sidewalks. These details make the setting come alive in your mind after you go home.

Be observant of nature: plants, animals, weather.  Inside a place, note the furniture, art work, knickknacks, room layout, decorating accessories. Look for new ways to describe things, such as objects possessing reflective nature like water, glistening like a cobweb in sunlight, moist with dew, glossy like a polished piano, and so on. You’re not only writing down what you see, but also its characteristics.

What SMELLS do you notice: Stale cigarette smoke? Floral perfume? Barrel-aged Cabernet? Beer and pretzels? Pine wood smoke? Vanilla and nutmeg? Heated asphalt, or rain-tinged ozone? Newly cut grass, or fresh paint? Tar or diesel fumes? What emotional reaction do these scents evoke in you? You can use these smells to convey mood in a story. A honeyed scent will make the reader feel differently than the odor of burnt toast.

SOUNDS:  Close your eyes and listen to what you hear. Birds singing (melodious, raucous, or warbling?), ducks quacking, pounding construction, car engines, airplanes zooming overhead, trickling water, rustling branches, droning air-conditioners, loud grass blowers. See how many different sounds you can distinguish. Are these pleasant or unpleasant to you?

While your eyes are closed, consider your sense of TOUCH.  How does the air contact your skin? Is it warm or cool? Does a breeze lift the hairs on your arm? Ruffle your skirt against your legs? Does the sun beat upon your back and raise perspiration on your brow? Do you feel an insect crawling over your ankle? When you are walking, do you feel the uneven pavement underfoot? Do you trip over an unseen rock? Or is the ground wet sand with a spongy surface? Now consider objects that you encounter. Are they rough or smooth? Silken or thorny? Describe the texture along with the temperature, and if the sensation is welcome or not.

TASTE  is often related to your nose. If you smell sea air, you may taste salt on your tongue. If you smell ripe grapes, you may taste wine. We’re not talking about describing only what you eat. That’s too easy, although you can note the temperature and texture in that regard. This is where you try to detect a taste where there may be none obvious. It’s just another way bringing the scene alive for you when you’re back home.

When you meet people along the way, note their physical appearance, mode of dress, dialect, gestures, gait, and accessories. Take photos so you can remember details later. Ditto for street scenes. A picture can be worth a thousand words as long as you record the sensory details.                                               

Collect useful resources as you go, such as maps, tourist brochures, history books, guides to the flora and fauna, menus, and postcards.

Virtual tours online can get anywhere these days, but they will not convey the five senses that you need to bring your scene alive. Steep yourself in the sensory details, and readers will exclaim how real the place feels when they read your story.


Posted in Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 8, 2010

Interview with Author Sandra Sookoo     

Sandra is a writer of romantic fiction.  Her portfolio includes historical, contemporary, and paranormal romances and she loves to blend genres and spice them up and often times will add humor as well.    

After catching the writing bug at the young age of ten, she’s gone on to grow her unique writing style.  She’s a regular contributor for the Paranormal Romantic’s blog and blogs bi-monthly with a great group of women at Embrace the Shadows.

When not immersed in creating new worlds and interesting characters, Sandra likes to read, bake and travel.  Her favorite place to spend vacation hours is Walt Disney World.  It’s where dreams come true, and that suits her just fine.

Writing is her ultimate dream job.



 My latest book is my first (and probably only) mystery, LOL. Why my only one? Because I really confused the heck out of myself while writing it, and it took a while to unravel. But it was great fun to write. It’s a “locked house” mystery where all the suspects are already there.

Here’s the blurb:

Dancing may be hard…but no one expected it to be murder.

When sexy tap dancer Abigail Carlton, a.k.a. Ruby Slippers, is found dead and arranged in an artistic fashion on her coffee table, it’s up to Special Agent Quentin Banks to solve her murder.

But nothing is ever as it seems. Not only is Quentin a FBI career man, he doubles as an officer for the Institute of Magical Instruction…and the dancer’s death has supernatural energy written all over it.

Quentin must find who murdered Abigail, and he only has 24 hours to do it before his superiors take over his case.

Book video:

Buy link:


 I’ve always been interested in mysteries. My bookshelves are full of cozy who-dunnits. One day I decided to try my hand at writing one, and while I had fun writing, trying to keep all the balls in the air while holding onto a story line, adding tension, etc., was a bit stressful. So, while I had a follow-up book planned, I’m not sure I’ll finish it. Of course, knowing me, that bug will come back to bite and I’ll be gripped by mystery writing again. LOL.


 Not a whole lot for this book. It ties into my Holiday Magic series (the first three books out now with Lyrical Press) so I already had a good handle on the magical side of the book. The rest was getting the characters down and motivation. After that, it pretty much fell into place.


 With this book, a few months; however, the edits took several weeks because of the details surrounding the mystery and set-up. Thank goodness for my super awesome editor (Steph Syzmanski) for her knowledge and insight into the crime solving world. Without her guidance, this book would have been one hot mess. LOL. I have a huge amount of respect for authors who write in this genre all the time. How do you keep the facts straight?


 On a good writing day, I’ll usually begin writing around one in the afternoon. Sometimes, I’ll be gripped by an idea and will start work earlier. Most times, I use the morning hours to do promo work or busy work (filling out forms, etc). Of course, all this is subject to change depending on my personal schedule.


 At the moment, I’m working on two books. The first is a historical romance set in 1900 Indiana. The second is a fantasy romance (which is a new genre for me).


 Always write. Write something everyday and don’t worry about the rules. You will learn the craft best by writing. And don’t ever give up no matter the negative you’ll come across.


 I would love to be able to tell if people were telling the truth when they talked.


 Hands down, Walt Disney World. The hubby and I try to go every year for our anniversary instead of giving each other gifts.


 My website:

I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. Links to both of these sites are on the front page of my website along with blog sites I participate in and a recipe of the month.

Thank you for having me on your blog today. As a special gift, I am offering a prize pak to a lucky commenter. Please remember to leave your email address with your comment. Winner will be drawn the following morning.


Posted in Author Interviews, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 20 Comments »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 4, 2010


The Florida Romance Writers are proud to present              

Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas

Heather Graham, Joan Johnston and Sally Schoeneweiss
as the keynote speakers for the 2011 Fun in the Sun Conference.

Join us and Cruise with your Muse January 20th-24th, 2011
on-board the Carnival Destiny
Departs from Miami, Fl.
Ports-of-Call: Key West, Fl. & Cozumel, Mexico

Confirmed Agents and Editors are:
Wanda Ottewell- Harlequin,
Erica Tsang- Avon,
Lucienne Diver- The Knight Agency, and
Lucy Childs- Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency.

Current pricing valid thru June 15th, 2010, register today!               

Other Highlights include:
A sampling of events and workshops is available on our website at:
* Sizzling Workshops
* Floridian Idol, Season 4
* Shipboard Entertainment
* Panoramic Ocean Views

Conference with FRW on our 25th Anniversary!
We promise to make it an amazing experience!

Space is limited, so don’t delay. Reserve your spot and get those passports ready.

For more information visit our website at

Passport is required!

You can also find us on Facebook @ FRW Cruise With Your Muse
http://www.facebook .com/group. php?gid=33410248 0558#!/group.php? v=wall&gid= 334102480558

We look forward to seeing you in January,
Kimberly Burke
Conference Coordinator

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 2, 2010

Last weekend, I gave a talk at Jupiter library, but first, my husband and I drove around to explore the town.   Jupiter Lighthouse

We  stopped at Dubois Park but it was Memorial Day weekend and the park was mobbed with picnickers. It looked to be impossible to get a parking spot so we drove on. We went next to Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, in service since 1860 with a museum and gift shop. Tours cost $7 but you can get a good photo from the parking lot. We took another photo from across the Intracoastal where we ate lunch at The Crab House. Another trendy restaurant, Guanabanas (, is down the street but self-parking is a few doors down and the skies were heavy with threatening rain clouds. We’ll have to try that one next time. I am grateful to my Internet Fan, Suzie Burrows, for traveling to the library to meet me, and the other authors who attended: Melissa Alvarez, Traci Hall, and Marilyn Campbell. Readers filled the other seats and we had a lively discussion. Thanks, too, to Classic Bookshop from Palm Beach for bringing my books to sell. You gotta love our libraries and indie bookstores!

Jupiter Lighthouse                      

View from Lighthouse

Coming on Tuesday, June 8th:  Interview with author Sandra Sookoo


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

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