Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for March, 2011

Revisions

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 30, 2011

I’ve finished the first draft of my WIP, a new mystery. Whereas in the old days, 300 pages equaled 75,000 words based on Courier font, 25 lines per page, and about 10 words per line, nowadays we have word processors with more accurate word counts. Now my 300 pages comes in at less than 70,000 words. Oops. What to do? Add new material as I approach revisions. I’d planned to do this anyway, strengthening my heroine’s motive for solving the murder while perhaps introducing a new subplot thread that can carry over into sequels. Plus I’ll be adding more descriptive details based upon my on-going research as described below.

So far this strategy is working. I’ve gone through the first five chapters and added three new pages to date. Then again, as I revise, I’m cutting out extraneous material. Uh, oh. Will I end up with less than my expected word count again? It was nice in the earlier days of publishing when we could estimate 250 words per page. Now we have a higher standard to meet.

I’m making a lot of changes as I edit through the chapters. After the revelations that happen later in the story, I have to go back and made modifications accordingly. For example, it appears there may be a closer connection between my sleuth and the victim than was originally apparent. So in any interactions with the deceased’s family, I need to bring up this subject.

I’ve also learned more about powerboats and the proper terminology, so I’ll be making those corrections as I go along. And I need to tone down my heroine where she sounds snippy and make her kinder toward her mother. Now that I know her better, I have to alter some of her insights about the suspects. So I am modifying dialogue, deleting repetitive/unnecessary passages, adding character details, correcting boating terms, plus the usual revisions like switching passive voice to active, using action verbs, getting rid of gerunds, smoothing transitions etc.

This process takes time and cannot be rushed. It’ll take me at least two rounds before the story is where I want it to go, but it will be much improved. Then I’ll have a story of which I can be proud.

Do you revise as you go along, or save all the corrections until your first draft is complete?

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

Palm Beach Boat Show

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 26, 2011

I attended the Palm Beach International Boat Show ( http://bit.ly/gkJK9O) on Friday. This must be one of the more interesting things I’ve done lately in the name of research, seconded by the Flagler Museum as reported below. I’m immersing myself in the yachting world for a proposed new mystery series, and this involves a tremendous amount of world building in an unfamiliar milieu. It’s similar to how I created my hairdresser sleuth, Marla Shore, for my Bad Hair Day series. Only now it’s a totally different setting where I have no prior experience and limited contacts, so there’s a steeper learning curve. Personal interviews, on-site research, trade magazines, and trade shows are some of the ways I’m gaining the knowledge I need.

We drove north on I-95, exiting at Okeechobee Blvd and then heading east, past City Place, toward downtown Palm Beach. There we followed signs to a parking garage where event parking cost $20. By the time we arrived at 10:00am, the only remaining spaces were on the roof. Imagine what it will be like this weekend?

We walked two blocks to the show entrance where we showed our E-tickets ($12 each as opposed to $14 at the door) and were given pink plastic bracelets to fasten on our wrists. Then we entered a white tent filled with exhibits of all sorts of marine related items: branded tee shirts, insurance, thin leather wallets, Coast Guard exhibits on boater safety, Wi-Fi setups, fiberglass coatings, fishing rods, binoculars, sunglasses, fish sculptures, and even Egyptian sheets.

How do I remember what was there? I took notes. I went armed with the tools of the writing trade: notebook and pen, camera, business cards, and a canvas bag for collecting brochures. Oh, and a husband for toting said bag and providing pleasant escort duty.

More interested in the boats, we headed to the docks. A brick walkway borders the waterfront, probably a pleasant stroll when it isn’t so crowded. The sun beat down upon us, but being Floridians, we’d worn hats.

         

I looked at the show guide for the three boats that are in my story. I wanted to get a firsthand experience seeing and touching and feeling them.

Our mission was successful. I went aboard all three models, glad I was right on the mark about some things in my story and seeing other details I’d have to modify. We learned to remove our shoes before stepping onto the swim platforms and boarding the yachts. We explored the flying bridge, the cockpit and salon, the lower helm, the galley and dinette. We climbed down narrow stairs and peered into staterooms that looked cozy and inviting. We drooled at the luxurious interiors with rich woods and designer fabrics.

         

          

           
        

If I didn’t have a specific goal in mind, I would have liked to explore the megayachts parked at the far end named after James Bond movies like Octopussy and Quantum of Solace.

          

Seeking information, I must have asked the dumbest questions anywhere but the yacht brokers were happy to enlighten me. “Hi, I’m a mystery writer,” I would start out. “I’m writing a book with scenes on different yachts, and I need my information to be accurate.”

Now tell me which of my questions sounds the dumbest [and remember, All blog commenters this month get a chance to win a collection of romance novels; click on Contest tab for more details]:

“Would you mind telling me, is this deck space called the cockpit?” [Initially I thought the cockpit is where you drive the boat like on an airplane; but now I know better. That’s the helm.]

“What do you call this kind of wood flooring?

“Is this upholstery actually leather?”

“What do the squiggles in this diagram mean?”

“What is this type of door called?”

“Is that an engine room? Oh, I’ve never seen one of those before.”

One of the bigger yachts had the aft section open to view, showing storage space and a stairway that dipped downward. I accepted an invitation to take a look and soon was being given a tour by the engineer. Yes, this ship was big enough that she needed a full-time engineer to tend the twin engines, generators, a/c system, waste cleansing system, desalinization machine, and more. The lean man who spoke with an accent explained about separating fuel from sludge and who knows what else. I felt like I was being given a tour by Scotty on the Enterprise. By then, my head was spinning with bits of technology that I would never need to know. Like, if a fire broke out in the engine room and it couldn’t be contained with the fire extinguishers, they’d evacuate the room and pump in carbon dioxide to smother the oxygen. No one could reenter for twenty-four hours. At least, I think that’s what the engineer said, but don’t bet on it. My thoughts reeled, and I bumped my noggin on the way out, forgetting to duck under the low ceiling.

The guy outside asked if I’d lost a necklace. My hand went to my neck: empty! Thank God he was honest and gave me back my gold chain. I hadn’t even noticed it had dropped off. Was the heat getting to me, or was I a total ditz?

We consumed hot dogs and ice cream at the food court, which offered outdoor seating by the amphitheater with cheery red and blue umbrellas and white plastic chairs. If your tendencies run more toward alcoholic beverages, there are a couple of tents by the water where you can buy beer or rum drinks. One of these bars had a guitar player serenading guests. Various vendor stands offered fast food and soft drinks.

         

As for other facilities, the lavatories are inside trailers conveniently located by the show entrances. There’s also an indoor exhibit hall with air conditioning if you want to cool off.

It was a fun experience and a glimpse at a life many of us will experience only in our dreams. As for my research, mission accomplished!

Posted in Business of Writing, Florida Musings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Hatsume Fair

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 21, 2011

Yesterday we drove north to Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden in Delray Beach, anticipating a pleasurable stroll around the park followed by a lunch box meal at the Cornell Café adjacent to the main building. Supposedly the museum opens at 10:00am on Sundays. We arrived at 10:30 to find police directing traffic and Festival signs emblazoned along the road. It appeared we’d come during the Hatsume Fair, a weekend event that must draw thousands. And the gates didn’t open until 11.

Annoyed that we’d have to stand around for a half hour and yet excited by the prospect of something new to do, we waited in line until the fair opened. It cost $12 per person to get in, and that included the festival tents, museum, and grounds. Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn’t serving the normal menu, we realized as we selected a fixed meal. I got teriyaki salmon and barbecued chicken with rice. We sat outdoors on the terrace overlooking the lake, a serene spot with a fabulous view.

The whole park imbues the visitor with a sense of serenity. Lakes and waterfalls, stone lanterns, rock gardens with combed gravel designs, and winding paths invite exploration. During the festival, we were allowed inside the simple one-story Japanese house which normally costs extra. We saw the sliding panel doors and various rooms. I was fascinated by the toilet and shower facilities and the kitchen. The rooms were arranged around a central courtyard, again with raked pebbles instead of grass.

All of the bushes and shrubs throughout the park are carefully shaped and pruned. It was a perfect day, breezy with low humidity, and fluffs of clouds providing momentary shade. Temperatures in the seventies didn’t allow things to get too hot. We paused by the bonsai gardens to view the turtles and large golden (Koi?) fish swimming around the murky brown waters. Have you noticed the resemblance between a turtle head and a snake? Ugh.

Booming sounds reached us from the festival field, where you could watch a thundering Taiko Drum performance or a martial arts demo. Yamato Island housed a Tea Ceremony. Food vendors offered everything from hot dogs to vegetable tempura and soba noodles. People roamed around costumed like Anime characters, while various Japanese goods could be bought at the different stands.

We left by 2:00pm, and a line of cars snaked all the way out to the main street with people waiting to get in. The crowds were incredible. We’d happened upon the festival purely by chance, yet our arrival time couldn’t have been planned better.

Nonetheless, next time we go, we’ll choose a weekday when the peaceful gardens will be truly tranquil.

Posted in Florida Musings | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Diversity vs Intolerance in SFR

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 16, 2011

Blog Commenters on my sites today will be entered into a drawing for a $7 gift card to The Wild Rose Press, and commenters throughout March will be entered into a drawing for a collection of romance novels (see my Contest page). Also read my blog on “World Building: Fun with Food” at Romance Author Hotspot  and my one-page critique at Kill Zone Authors and leave a comment for more chances to win.

DIVERSITY VERSUS INTOLERANCE IN SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE

Science Fiction, and by extension, Science Fiction Romance, often deals with relevant issues in the news, thinly disguised in an otherworldly setting. Remember the old Star Trek episode with the species whose face was half white and half black? Just looking at that guy brought to mind our own prejudices here on Earth. Star Trek was so popular because it showed that different races could live and work together in harmony.

The third book in my Light-Years Trilogy, Starlight Child, deals with racial relations and intolerance. In this case, it’s two different species that are involved, humans and Yanurans. My heroes have opposing attitudes toward the Yanurans, motivated by incidents from their pasts. A child has been kidnapped, and Deke and Mara are assigned the task of searching for her on Yanura.

Deke’s Attitude:

He looked forward to investigating the underwater seaweed farms on Yanura. Mariculture was familiar to him from his home planet, so he knew what to expect. If the Yanurans were fooling anyone with their story about an age-preserving drug, he’d be able to detect the truth. And if the Yanurans had anything to do with Jallyn’s abduction, he’d find her, too. He wouldn’t let them get away with any more of their dirty tricks, not after what happened to Larikk.

His good friend and colleague, Larikk, had mysteriously disappeared on Yanura three annums ago. Deke had reason to believe foul play was involved, but the Yanurans had effectively blocked any attempts at an investigation. At the time, they were not members of the Coalition, so he couldn’t pursue the case. But now that the Yanurans were applying for admissions status, they would come under Coalition provisional law.

Mara’s Attitude:

The people on her planet were naturally psychic, but in most cases the full range of their ability didn’t develop until after puberty. Mara had manifested her innate talents much earlier. Although other Tyberian children were able to sense emotions at an early stage, it was rare for one so young to be able to travel the astral plane. Usually it took years of study for an adult to reach that level of consciousness.

Because she didn’t know how to discipline herself, Mara would jump into her friends’ viewpoints without warning. Her ability frightened her playmates, who were too young to understand. Under those circumstances, no one wanted to be her companion for long. Eventually it became too painful to make friends because she knew it would only lead to ridicule or rejection.

Her own experiences gave her the motivation to specialize in cultural relations. In her opinion, the key to accepting alien cultures was in understanding them.

Comdr. Sage didn’t seem to feel that way. If he approached the Yanurans with his biased attitude, he might destroy the progress she’d made with Fromoth Trun [the Yanuran leader]. Mara would have to convince him to view the Yanurans more objectively.

This conflict between them fuels their reactions toward each other:

“Do you think we’ll succeed?”[Mara] asked. Where his fingers gripped her shoulders, heat blazed a path along her sensitized nerves.

“Succeed? At what?” Deke drew her closer so their bodies touched.

Her will seemed to evaporate and she could barely speak. “Our mission to Yanura.”

“Our mission is obvious, although how we’re going to face down the Yanurans in this unwieldy ship is beyond me. We’ll find a way.” He bent his head toward her, clearly wishing to dispense with small talk and get on with his seduction.

Her anger flared. “What do you mean by ‘facing down’ the Yanurans?”

Deke’s face folded into a frown. “Our weapons array shows a minimal configuration. It concerns me because the amphibians are sure to cause trouble.”

She twisted out of his grasp. “We’re not planning a commando raid. Our visit to Yanura is a diplomatic affair.”

“That’s what the Yanurans are supposed to think, but we’re searching for a missing child. We have to be prepared for any contingencies.”

“I expect the Yanurans will be glad to cooperate with our efforts,” she said stiffly.

“Well, I don’t.” His voice rang with annoyance. “Are you so gullible that you believe those creatures? Didn’t you see the preliminary survey that was done when they first mentioned joining the Coalition? Hints of political unrest came to light, but the extent and nature weren’t known. Jallyn’s disappearance might be related to whatever problems the Yanurans are having at home.”

Mara insists on defending the Yanurans, because she’s been a victim of prejudice herself. Little does she know that Deke is right, and the Yanurans have their own problems. Two factions, the Croags and the Worts, are on the verge of civil war.

Just like in real life, all sides have to learn compromise, tolerance, and an end to personal bias in order to achieve their aims.

* * * *

This blog originally appeared July 21, 2010 at The Galaxy Express

To Purchase Starlight Child e-book: http://www.belgravehouse.com/bookstore/

For a print version, go to iUniverse

Posted in Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Setting the Scene

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 13, 2011

Last week, I took a trip to the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach. In my WIP, my sleuth visits there to interview one of the docents who has information on the victim in the story. Claire goes on the tour with a friend and then they treat the docent to lunch in the café. Claire gets the scoop from Ann, the part-time docent who also has a business selling faux jewelry to wealthy women. I took pages of notes and lots of photos at this National Historic Landmark. Back home, I condensed this information into my story, trying to focus on the mystery rather than a history lesson. It’s not easy when the history is so fascinating.

Flagler Museum

Flagler Museum

 

 
Grand Hall

Grand Hall

Henry Morrison Flagler was one of the founding fathers of Florida real estate and a railroad magnate as well as being a founding partner in Standard Oil. He built the railroad going all the way down to Key West and erected many of the resort hotels in Florida still standing today. But what intrigued me more was his family history. He had three wives and only one surviving heir.

His first wife was Mary Harkness. They had three children: a daughter, Jennie Louise; a second child, Carrie, who died when she was three years old; and a son, Henry Harkness, nicknamed Harry. Mary’s health deteriorated after the birth of their son and she died some ten years later. In 1883, Flagler married Mary’s nurse, Ida Alice Shourds. Then tragedy ensued. His daughter Jennie died in childbirth in 1889, and the baby girl didn’t survive. Flagler’s wife, Ida Alice, became insane and was institutionalized. Flagler later divorced her after providing for her care. Then in 1901, Flagler married an old family friend, Mary Lily Kenan. He died at age 83, less than eighteen months after his Florida East Coast Railway reached Key West.

Gold trim

Gold leaf trim

 

Grand Ballroom

Grand Ballroom

Breakfast Room

Breakfast Room

Drawing Room

Drawing Room

          

Here the plot thickens. I’ll let my characters show you how the story unfolds. Characters: Claire, the amateur sleuth, her friend Grace, and Ann the docent. This is unedited material from my first draft:

 

“After Henry Flagler died, Mary Lily married Robert Worth Bingham in November of 1916. She died within the year under mysterious circumstances.”

My interest peaked. “Tell us more.” Outside, a barge drifted past on the Intracoastal.

Ann took a sip of her brewed tea. “When Flagler died at age eighty-three, he left Mary Lily a fortune worth millions. His first wife had died after an illness, and he’d divorced his second wife, who’d been the first wife’s nurse. She was declared insane and institutionalized. So Mary Lily became one of the wealthiest women in America.”

“Didn’t Henry leave any money to his son, Harry?”

“They were estranged. Henry left his son shares in Standard Oil stock. When Harry died, he was survived by three daughters. He left each one twenty thousand shares of Standard Oil stock, giving them an inheritance worth over a million dollars apiece.”

Grace’s brow folded. “So Mary Lily inherited most of Flagler’s fortune.”

“Correct.” Ann sat back while the waitress delivered a two-tiered platter, cut triangular sandwiches on the bottom and desserts on the top. “Bingham was an old family friend. He was a lawyer, newspaper publisher, and politician. He and Mary Lily signed a pre-nup before their marriage waiving any claims to each other’s fortunes.

“Upon their marriage, she presented him with a wedding gift of fifty thousand dollars. From what I understand, he gave her nothing in return. Within six weeks, her health deteriorated. She had chest pains. Her husband hired a doctor who gave her shots of morphine. Sometime before June 1917, she’d added a secret codicil to her will giving Bingham five million dollars upon her death. The following month, she was found unconscious in her tub. They treated her again with morphine. She had convulsions and died.”

“That certainly sounds suspicious.” I stuffed a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich in my mouth.

“The family thought so, too. Her brothers had a team of doctors perform a secret autopsy. Presumably they found high levels of morphine and heavy metals, like arsenic or mercury. They sued Bingham but the case was dropped. It could have been murder, or she might have died from syphilis contracted from her first husband as some people suspect.”

I gulped down a morsel. “Mary Lily didn’t have any children, did she? Who inherited the rest of her fortune?”

Ann helped herself to a tuna salad and apple sandwich. “She left Whitehall to her niece. The niece sold the estate to a group of investors, and the property was turned into a resort. Eventually the hotel fell into financial distress. Flagler’s granddaughter, Jean Flagler Matthews, bought Whitehall and formed the nonprofit corporation that runs it today.”

So tell me how you like this excerpt. Does it hold your interest? Isn’t this bit of Florida history an intriguing story?

        
Nancy at high tea

Nancy at high tea

     

Cafe

Cafe

   

Outside

Outside on the grounds

                                                                                                                       
         
Florida

Don't you wish you were here?

Posted in Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Contests

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 12, 2011

All blog commenters on my sites in March will be entered into a drawing for a collection of romance novels.

 Books

Find me on my blog at https://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com

March 16 & 30, I’m at http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com

March 16, I’m also guest blogging over at http://romanceauthorhotspot.com

Winner will be announced the first week of April.

U.S. Residents only, please, due to postage constraints.

Also to remind you to please vote:

Silver Serenade has been nominated by The Romance Reviews for Best in Romantic Science Fiction/Futuristic/PNR for 2010. Please vote for my book at http://www.theromancereviews.com/bookvote.php

Scroll down until you see the category for Best Romantic Science Fiction/Fantasy. Voting ends March 31. Thanks!

I’m also participating in the Fool For Romance contest. You can win a Kindle and other prizes!

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

Sleuthfest: Dennis Lehane

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 8, 2011

Bestselling Author Dennis Lehane gave some great writing advice during his luncheon speech on Saturday at Sleuthfest as the rapt audience hung on his words.

Disclaimer: Any misinterpretations are mine alone. This is what I heard to the best of my ability. The words were flying so fast, it was sometimes hard to catch them.

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Bestselling Author Dennis Lehane

So here is the essence of the speech which was full of wonderfully practical advice:

A story or a novel must have action, i.e. a character doing something in pursuit of a goal.

Motive does matter when it comes to writing.

If you’re a writer to make money, you’re insane. Why do you write?

We want to seduce, enlighten, engage readers and make them wonder What Happens Next.

Story is about engaging the reader and illuminating the human condition.

Don’t become a comedian if no one has told you you’re funny. Similarly, don’t become a writer if no one has said you’re a good storyteller.

You have to have a reason to tell the story and the reader must have a reason to read it.

Ten Tips on Writing:

1. Does the story begin on page one?

2. Does the main character act soon enough? Stasis in a novel is death. Someone must be doing something in chapter one.

3. Does the main character have a recognizable want? Want leads to action which leads to the inner life of the character. Want is plot.

4. Does the main character have a recognizable need? The writer may not know what this need is at the outset. Need is theme.

5. Does the main character’s action come across as authentic?

6. Does the main character go on a journey that results in an epiphany? The story is a journey. A plot shouldn’t call attention to itself. Anyone can write Act 1. Act 2 is where you discover who you are as a writer.

7. Do events in the story have dramatic inevitability? By the end, the reader should feel a universal truth.

8. Is something at stake in the story? Preferably what’s at stake is a piece of the main character’s soul. Otherwise, the story is just an amusement ride.

9. Write the book you want to read (and not the Great American Novel or you’ll write a pretentious piece of crap).

10. When in doubt, just tell the damn story. Try to transcend the genre in which you write. Never stop learning.

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Sue Peek, Sharon Hartley, Cynthia Thomason (standing)

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Sandra Madden, Carol Stephenson, Nancy Cohen

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Auctioneer Cynthia Thomason

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Britin Haller & Neil Plakcy

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

Sleuthfest: Part 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 7, 2011

Here is my continuing report on Sleuthfest.

Reinventing Yourself

Speakers: PJ Parrish, Carol Cope, Lisa Unger, Jonathan King, Moderated by Elaine Viets

· Keep writing; don’t give up.

· Think about what you love to write and see if you can give it a new spin.

· It’s humanity that pushes stories no matter what you write.

· Come out there in different forms.

· Don’t count on this career to pay the mortgage.

· Pigs get fed; hogs get slaughtered (referring to modest versus big advances).

· Paperback originals are dead.

· Write every day. Write from the heart. Write from the best of your ability.

· Try to be a better writer than you were the day before.

· By the time you figure out the market, it’s over. Write the book that’s in you.

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Nancy Cohen & Christine Kling

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Pearl Wolf, Shelley Freydont, Sue Peek

 

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Dr. Christine Jackson & Sharon Potts

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Sue from Murder on the Beach & Randy Rawls

 

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Sharon Hartley and Nancy Cohen

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Alternatives to Publishing

Panelists were Paul Levine, Jonathan King, Mike Jastrzebski, Moderated by Neil Plakcy

There are three ways to get published in ebook form:

1. Legacy Publishers, who put out traditional print books and who will also make your book available in ebook formats

2. Dedicated e-publishers (sometimes called “digital first” publishers)

3. Self-publishing

For self-pubbed authors:

Unlike the other two choices, you’re responsible for cover design, editing, formatting, pricing, and uploading to all the different online sites.

You’ve got to work at the book. You can’t just put it up online. It must be your best work.

Consider the free preview. The first page and the first chapter must grab the reader.

Re Promotion:

Promotion and marketing are very distracting and time consuming and they do take away from writing time.

Think about adding the first chapter of another one of your books at the end of your self-pubbed work as a teaser.

Promote on blogs, Kindle Nation Daily, Goodreads, Library Thing, yahoo groups for readers. Add to discussions on the Kindle & Nook boards and on FB.

Post on your friends’ FB pages and ask them to post to their friends.

Offer to give away a copy of your book to a reader who agrees to post a favorable review on Amazon and B&N if they like the story.

Aim for the top 100 in your chosen genre. If you get a high rating, use the snipping tool and show the pix to your fans or in your next newsletter.

If you choose to go with POD at Createspace, remember to put a spine on your book. You’ll have to buy the proof and then you’ll need to review and approve it. Their premium service gives you better pricing options.

Disclaimer: Any misinterpretations are mine alone. This is what I heard to the best of my ability.

More Photos may be accessed here: http://bit.ly/gj5Up3

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

Votes Needed!

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 7, 2011

I am excited to announce that  Silver Serenade has been nominated by The Romance Reviews for Best in Romantic Science Fiction/Futuristic/PNR for 2010!                         

Voting ends on March 31.  Please help me out by voting for my book at http://www.theromancereviews.com/bookvote.php

Scroll down until you see the category for Best Romantic Science Fiction/Fantasy. You’ll have my infinite gratitude. Thank you!  Tell your friends!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Sleuthfest: Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 6, 2011

Sleuthfest, the annual mystery writers conference sponsored by the Florida chapter of MWA, was in full swing when I arrived on Saturday.

I attended several sessions which I’ll describe in three pieces so come back tomorrow for more.

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This is from my panel on Keeping It Real.

The Editors Panel

A panel with five editors spearheaded the morning on Saturday. Following is a paraphrasing of what I heard.

  • The more platforms we have, and the more e-books, the more books we’ll sell.
  • Formats may shrink when the dust settles on the e-book revolution.
  • Bookstores are just one of the places today where you can buy books.
  • The real problem is the American economy. When workers are laid off, it creates an instability in the entire industry.
  • Small press haven’t had to reduce staff like the big companies. They offer a miniscule advance and have a small print run, but then they consider 3,000-4,000 books sold to be a good number and 5,000 or more even better. Most often the print runs are set on expected sales.
  • Library sales have been decreasing due to the economy.
  • It’s easier to get reviews for a debut author than for an author on their fourth or fifth book. It’s also easier to sell someone without a track record.
  • Small press may be okay with steady sales as opposed to soaring growth, although they do like to see some growth. They might try different sales incentives to raise an author’s profile.
  • If you want to sell outside the U.S., you have to write what the foreign market understands. Certain sports games, for example, will need to be explained. Dark thrillers do better in foreign markets than cozies.
  • Series are easier to sell than stand-alones because readers fall in love with the characters. When a series starts to falter, a stand-alone novel can reinvigorate a career.

Disclaimer: Any misinterpretations are mine alone. This is what I heard to the best of my ability.

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Mary Lou Wymer & Victoria Landis

Julie Compton & Suzanne Adair

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Oline Cogdill & Linda Hengerer

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Lynette Hallberg & Barbara Bent

More Photos may be accessed here: http://bit.ly/gj5Up3

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

 
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