Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for April, 2011

Special Casserole of the Day

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 28, 2011

This is a put-together casserole using leftovers and other ingredients I keep in stock. Substitute whatever food items are in your fridge and pantry.

Cooked Leftover Turkey, Shredded
Cooked Leftover Spaghetti
4 oz Shredded Swiss Cheese
14.5 oz can Mixed Vegetables
14.5 oz can Petite Diced Tomatoes, No Salt Added
1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup
Sliced Almonds

Mix first six ingredients in large bowl. Pour into greased casserole dish. Sprinkle nuts on top.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until bubbly hot. Serves 4-6.

Notes: You can use chicken instead of turkey, and a package of cooked chicken works just as well as leftovers. Spaghetti or rice will serve for the starch. Any kind of cheese, like cheddar, will do in a pinch. Toss in whatever veggies you have lying around. For the soup, choose cream of chicken, celery, or mushroom soup. My meals are all low in salt, so add seasoning to your taste. As for the almonds, you could also sprinkle slivered almonds, bread crumbs, or Parmesan cheese on top. Bon Appetit!

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Party and Prizes at TWRP

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 27, 2011

Five days and more than $500.00 worth of prizes.                                        

April 27th – May 1st on the Wild Rose Press yahoo groups.                   

Join us for a celebration in the garden.

The Wild Rose Press Yahoo group

How to Win…

For chances to win more than $500.00 worth of prizes all you have to do
is party with us. Everyone who participates will be entered into the
prize drawings. Non-stop fun from Wednesday, April 27 – Sunday, May 1st.
Join the fun and help us celebrate 5 years in the garden.

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Business for Writers

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 26, 2011

One of my ongoing projects is to clean out old files. This afternoon, I poured through my Business writing file. I’m sad to say that I threw out nearly everything. Since the digital revolution and the introduction of e-books, email, etc., so much of what I’d saved has become out of date. Snail mail an editor your query letter? Forget it. Most of them want submissions online. Formatting details? Varies by publisher more than ever. Promotion? Toss the advice telling you what to do before the Internet became the place to be.

So what’s left? How to write a synopsis. Copyright info. Career planning. Those things don’t change a whole lot, although the career planning may include different goals…like staying published or self-publishing one’s backlist.

I even threw out explanations of bestseller lists. How is that relevant today with new lists for e-books and online reader sites and Listmania recommendations? So much important data from yesterday is irrelevant today.

Now I have new files: Book Trailers, Blog Tours, E-book Conversions, Cover Designers, etc.

Our world has changed. We have to adapt or else we risk becoming as extinct as those pages I tossed today.

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Downtown Disney

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 19, 2011

We had a pleasant stroll through Downtown Disney this past weekend. A free attraction, this site welcomes visitors with its myriad shops and restaurants. Beginning at West Side, we started at Cirque du Soleil’s bright white performance hall which anchors this end of the complex. DisneyQuest is next, with five floors of interactive indoor games for kids of all ages. It’s across the way from House of Blues, a restaurant and adult concert hall. In the space occupied formerly by Virgin Megastore now stands RideMaker2, where young guests can customize and build their own model cars. We moved along, past the movie theater, a collection of gift shops, Wolfgang Puck Café, and Bongos Cuban cuisine. The sign for Pleasure Island looms ahead, but wait! Just to the left is an enormous hot air balloon. You can take a thrill ride on a tether for a fee.

Pleasure Island doesn’t have much to offer right now. Its nightclubs are closed and scheduled for renovation into more family oriented venues at some future date. We strolled through and past the Latin American restaurant, Paradise 37. Soon we came to Raglan Road, an Irish pub. It’s nice to sit outside here with a glass of wine or indoors when the entertainment starts.

Moving on, we bypassed Portobello Italian Trattoria, Fulton’s Crab House shaped like a showboat, and T-Rex, the dinosaur-themed restaurant. We’ve eaten at all of them but the pub wins our favor. We noted that Pollo Campero, a chicken place, has replaced McDonalds. As we stride ahead toward the village Marketplace, we noted the Lego store is being refurbished and has been temporary located to a tent further along.

We ducked into World of Disney, our favorite shop to savor all things Disneyesque, then moved outside again past the tempting sweets at Ghiradelli’s chocolate shop and toward the carousel. Round and round went its brightly colored horses. We kept our pace, glancing at the Earl of Sandwich restaurant, Cap’n Jack’s on the waterfront, and the Rainforest Café. Even Goofy couldn’t tempt us to enter his candy store. We did, however, duck inside Mickey’s Pantry to browse the cookbooks, kitchen tools, spices, and home goods. Then we exited, turned around, and headed back. We enjoyed the view of boats on Village Lake and the happy families who’d left their cares behind to savor the magic of Disney.

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

Dark Kingdom

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 14, 2011


Serendipity may be defined as making a fortunate discovery while looking for something unrelated. Recently, I visited our local Blockbuster store that was going out of business and bought some pre-viewed DVDs on sale. One of the films that looked promising was a fantasy epic titled Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King with Benno Fürmann, Alicia Witt, and Kristanna Loken.

Dragon King

As I watched it at home, I realized two things: One, I’d seen the tragic tale before on television, and Two, it tied in almost exactly as told to the second book in my Drift Lords paranormal romance trilogy. The movie’s storyline could have been extracted from these two pages in my book, Warrior Rogue [Spoiler Alert!!!]. Jen is my heroine, and Paz is my hero. We’re in his viewpoint. Warning: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, this gives away the story. They change the name of Sigurd to Siegfried in the film.       

Dragon King

Jen pulled a printout from her pocket.

“What’s that?” He waved a hand at it.

“While you were gone this morning, I went to the hotel’s business center and looked up Fafnir the Dragon on the computer.”

“What did you learn?” His lip curved in bemusement. She seemed to be taking to these myths same as her prophesied sister, Nira.

She brushed a stray hair off her forehead. The humidity made her hair curl around her face. He watched her graceful movement, entranced by her slender wrist. He’d like to take her palm and swirl his tongue on her sensitive flesh.

“In Norse mythology, Fafnir was a giant who disguised himself as a dragon to defend his treasure. One of the items he guarded was a magic ring that brought its wearer unending wealth. However, the trickster Loki had taken that ring from the dwarfs who created it. The dwarfs were metal workers who made magical items for the gods.”

“Like our friend, Smitty?”

She nodded. “The dwarf who originally guarded the treasure cursed the ring that Loki took. Now instead of creating wealth for its wearer, it would bring death.

“A descendant of Odin named Sigurd killed Fafnir and stole his treasure. Sigurd ate the dragon’s heart in order to understand animals. He bathed in the creature’s blood to become invulnerable except for a spot on his shoulder.

“Sigurd was in love with a Valkyrie named Brynhild. The Valkyries were virgin warriors of the god Odin. They could fly and carried the souls of dead warriors to Valhalla.”

He scratched his jaw. “Nira told us some of these stories but I don’t recall this one. What is Valhalla?”

“It’s Odin’s hall where dead warriors lived in honor while they prepared for Ragnarok, the end of all times.”

According to the prophecy, Ragnarok was coming again. Loki wanted to bring chaos and destruction to the multiverse in revenge for the gods banishing him.

He kept his dark thoughts to himself. “You’ve certainly done your homework.”

Jen beamed at him. “Listen to the rest. To mark his engagement to Brynhild, Sigurd gave her the magic ring he stole from Fafnir without knowing he’d been cursed by possessing it.”

“So what happened?”

“He set off on a journey to a foreign court. There a magic potion made him fall in love with the king’s daughter. When Brynhild found out he’d betrayed her, she persuaded one of the king’s sons to kill Sigurd. The fellow pierced him at his weak spot on the shoulder. Brynhild repented and killed herself on his funeral pyre.”

“Ah.” He tilted his head. “And what does this tale of woe have to do with us?”

“How can Fafnir be here if he’s supposedly dead?”


My heroes are in Hong Kong searching for a dragon that still lives. This story is based on Norse mythology, which in turn is based on a Germanic epic called the Edda. My series was inspired by a visit to Epcot at Disney World where we went on the Maelstrom ride in the Norway pavilion. The scenes take you back in time to the early days of Norse myths when trolls roamed the land. Thus was my Drift Lords trilogy born, for which my agent is still seeking a home. Once I finish my current mystery project, if nothing else is pressing, I will work on book three in this trilogy so the entire set will be complete.

It was just such a coincidence that I’d written this mythic tale before I’d seen the film. But then if you’re familiar with Joseph Campbell’s work on The Hero’s Journey, you’ll know that mythological structure anchors many stories told throughout time.

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Naples Press Club Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 11, 2011

I was fortunate to participate in the Naples Press Club Writer’s Conference in Naples, FL as a guest speaker this past weekend. On Friday, I appeared at the Celebrity Luncheon held at the popular Vergina Restaurant on 5th Avenue South.

Vergina Restaurant

Vergina Restaurant


Fifth Avenue is the center of downtown Naples with trendy boutiques, gift shops, and restaurants with indoor/outdoor seating. After a delicious meal, we transferred across the street to The Inn on Fifth,  the hotel where I was staying. There I gave my talk on “Publishing in a Digital World” to the interested audience, speaking on how being a writer has changed from when I started out in the early 1990’s to now, when everything is going digital, and to where this might lead us in the future. As writers, we have more markets available but we also have tough choices ahead.

The Inn on Fifth

The Inn on Fifth

   Hotel Lobby

Nancy Speaks

 The Audience

The audience

Author Sara Williams on left


Nancy Cohen & Sandy Lender

Nancy Cohen & Sandy Lender

Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue


Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue

 The rest of the day was free unless I chose to attend workshops, but instead my husband and I explored the shops until the cocktail party for the speakers at 6pm. Then we grabbed a bite to eat at the adjacent Irish pub before retiring. The avenue was hopping after dark, with mobs of people dining and shopping (the stores stayed open) or just sitting around watching the goings-on. It’s the liveliest we’ve ever seen a downtown in the evening, but then we don’t usually venture from the suburbs at night.

         Night on Fifth Ave.

Sunday morning, I gave a workshop on “Writing Fiction for Fun and Profit”. I covered the elements of fiction writing as fast as I could in the limited time, supplementing my talk with printed handouts.

We met some lovely folks over the weekend, including YA fantasy author Sandy Lender and mystery author Sara Williams. I was grateful for the chance to chat with friends as well as to revisit downtown Naples. Then we hopped in our car and drove home via Alligator Alley. Didn’t spot any gators this time. They must have been hiding under water.

Dockside in Naples

Dockside in Naples


By the water

By the Water

Now I’m back home for a brief interval, trying to get caught up in work although I have speaking engagements today and tomorrow. I’m on chapter 12 out of 21 on revisions for my WIP, and I am losing track of what’s happened already and what’s to come in the story. See what being away for one day will do? I’ve lost my train of thought.

When I come back next week, I might have to reread the whole first half of the book to get my head immersed in the story again, but by then I’ll be ready and will have time to focus. This is a good month to travel in Florida because although it’s already hot and humid, the rainy season doesn’t usually start until May or June. And then we have to stock up on emergency supplies for potential hurricanes. I’d like to finish this book before the storms begin.

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Busy Schedule

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 7, 2011

Whew, I barely have time to breathe, let alone write blogs right now. I’ve finished my Shear Murder copy edit corrections and am back to revising my WIP, almost halfway through. But I have to put that aside to prepare for four speaking engagements within the next few days.

Preparation means getting handouts made, organizing my notes, gathering promo materials, getting hair and nails done, packing since I’m going out of town, and juggling the plumber and window man who are coming today. One of these days, I really have to learn how to put my notes into a Power Point presentation but I don’t have time right now.

Saturday, we’ll drive to Naples where I have two days of talks. That day, I’m guest speaker at the celebrity luncheon for the writer’s conference. Sunday morning, I give a fiction writing workshop. Monday, I’m speaking at our local Hadassah group, then Tuesday it’s off to Delray and a talk at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore. Wednesday is critique group at my house. Then we drive to Orlando for a quick break before rushing home in time for Passover.

During May, I’ll work on completing my revisions. Man, I sure would like to relax over the summer! My next talk won’t be until August 6 in Jacksonville for the Sisters in Crime chapter, so I’ll have a few months where the pace can slow. Although, once I get the cover for Shear Murder, my promotional campaign will have to kick into gear. Sigh.

Maybe I’ll lay out by the pool with my Kindle later and escape into someone else’s good story.

Here are my upcoming events if you’re in the area. I’ll be signing my mysteries and my latest romance.

April 9-10, Naples Press Club 9th Annual Writers’ Conference, FGCU Renaissance Academy,
1010 5th Ave S # 100, Naples, FL 34102. Register now:

April 9, Saturday, 11:30 am – 1:50 pm, Celebrity Luncheon with Nancy J. Cohen

April 10, Sunday, 9:30 am – 10:20 am, “Writing Fiction for Fun and Profit”

April 11, Monday, 1:00pm, “Publishing in a Digital World”, Zipporah Chapter of Hadassah, Jacaranda Country Club, 9200 West Broward Blvd, Plantation, FL 33324, 954-474-8998. For more info and reservations, contact June at

April 12, Tuesday, 1:00pm, Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 Pineapple Grove Way (NE 2nd Ave), Delray Beach, FL  33444, 561-279-7790. Advance reservations requested.

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


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 1, 2011

First, congratulations to Sherry Gloag who has won my blog commenters contest for March! Please keep watch on my contest page for new chances to win.

It’s taken me two days to rewrite chapter six in my WIP. Why so long?

I’m adding new material based on a plot thread I’ve added since I started the book. This relates to the sleuth’s personal background and her relationship to the victim.

I am correcting inconsistencies, as in stating one character has a son and daughter in this scene when I’ve established somewhere else that he has two daughters.

I’m filling in boating details since I attended the Palm Beach Boat Show and walked aboard some of the yachts, so now I can apply these first-hand observations to my story.

And I’m deepening two of the secondary characters because their roles will recur in sequels. Before, all I had was their eye and hair color. Now I know what they do for their day jobs and how old they are. It’s not a whole lot more but it gives me something to build on.

I’m cutting repetitions, such as the page where a woman says “Oh, no” twice.

I’m rewording lines for clarity. i.e. “People are always leaving things inside the pages that they use as bookmarks” becomes “People are always leaving things they use for bookmarks inside the pages.” It may seem trivial but I want the words to be just right.

And I am adding more to the scene between the sleuth and the victim’s husband based on the new plot thread. She asks some additional questions of the husband that are relevant now.

I’m sure when I reread through this again for my second round that I’ll find additional things to fix. Revisions never end. We send the book off to the editor/agent when we reach our deadline or when we can’t gain any perspective anymore because we’re too close to the material.

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