Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for July, 2011

Upcoming Events

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 30, 2011

Please join me at the following upcoming workshops where I’ll be speaking. I’d love to meet some of you in person!

August 6, Saturday, 10:30am – 2:30pm, “Writing Fiction for Fun and Profit”, Florida Sisters in Crime, Southeast Regional Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32256. Advance registration required. For more info, contact Kathy at 904-477-4687.

September 24, Saturday, 10:00am – 12:00pm, The Authors Academy, “Finding an Agent: Query Letters, Synopses, and the Pitch!” Murder on the Beach Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, 33444, $25 per person. For information on classes and/or reservations, call 561-279-7790 or Advance registration required.

October 1, Saturday, 10:00 am – 1:00pm, "Story Development: How to Jump-Start Your Plot", Central Florida Romance Writers, Casselberry Public Library, 215 North Oxford Rd., Casselberry, 32707

October 11, Tuesday, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm, Sun, Sand & Suspense Panel, “Three Dangerous Dames,” Nancy Cohen, Elaine Viets, and Deborah Sharp; Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301, 954-357-7444

Posted in Business of Writing, Florida Musings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Contest Winners

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 29, 2011

The winners of my July blog commenter drawing are: Sharon Sullivan-Craven and Jeanne Meeks.

You’ve each won a Kindle copy of Keeper of the Rings.  Please contact me by email to receive your prizes.

Stay tuned for more chances to win!

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

Ebook Conversion Tips

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 27, 2011

I’ve just successfully converted a backlist title and uploaded it to Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. How did I manage the formatting? I’ll share my insights with you, with credit due to other authors along the way whose advice helped me and is incorporated here.

I’m assuming you know how to do basic operations in Word.

When you write your initial document, do not use Tabs. Instead, use Paragraph, Special, indent first line 0.5. This will make things a lot simpler. Otherwise, you’ll have to go through and indent the first line as above and then eliminate all tabs (I think it’s Find ^t and Replace with nothing).

Save your file under different names, one for Kindle and Nook conversions, and another one for Smashwords. Save these as a Word Doc. If you have Office 10, save them as a doc file, not docx.

Working with each of these two files, Single Space the entire document.

Use a Times New Roman 12pt font. I tried it with a 14 pt font and it came out too large on my Kindle.

Remove section breaks (Look for paragraph symbol to reveal codes in Word and also eliminate any odd spaces before paragraph symbols)

Remove headers and footers and page numbering.

For space breaks, use 3 lines. On the center line, do this: <><><> (look on your keyboard; it’s shift key-comma; shift key-period, repeat two more times)

Chapter breaks with Kindle and Nook: Do two returns at the end of a chapter then a page break. My chapter heading begins 6 lines down on the next page and is centered. Space down two more returns from chapter title to begin text.

Chapter breaks with Smashwords: Do two returns at the end of a chapter then a page break. Do not space down the chapter title; center it at the top. Again, do two returns between the chapter title and the text.

Prepare front matter excerpt if desired, copyright page, and any additional material, i.e. About the Author, Glossary, Author’s Note, etc. For a backlist title, the copyright date is the date of original publication.

Smashwords requires special wording on the copyright page. Please read their Style Guide.

For Smashwords, don’t have more than 4 empty lines at a time. You can, however, use page breaks despite what you might have read elsewhere.

In a nutshell, that’s how I did it. Do you have more tips to add?

Posted in Business of Writing, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

Do It Yourself

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 20, 2011

These days, writers are expected to do everything themselves: create video trailers, write back cover copy, run contests, suggest cover art scenarios, maintain social networks, offer newsletters to readers, update their websites, even publish their own books. What happened to simply writing the story? Is it any wonder that our production levels may have decreased due to these other demands on our time? When you decided upon fiction writing as a career choice, were you aware of what you were signing up for?

On the other hand, we have so many new things to learn that it can keep our brains active until we can no longer stand on our own feet. E-books! Royalty-free images! Movie making software! Smashwords! iPads and iPhones and Kindles and Nooks! Enriched e-book content! Digital autographs! Virtual book tours!

Where does it end?  idea

I’ve recently spent hours of my time formatting a backlist title for the Kindle, consulting with the cover artist, then doing the upload myself. Now it’s time to tackle Smashwords.

Do It Myself, or hire someone to format the work for me? Sure, I could probably learn how, after hours of trial and error. But is that time well spent just to save a few bucks, or is it better to work on the next project instead?

Readers want more books by their favorite authors. They don’t care if we’ve done our own book trailer or figured out how to upload the work to Kindle. It’s the results that matter.

In the days of advances, this would be an easy decision. Hire somebody. But nowadays, when we get no money up front and have to spend every dime out of our own pocket, it’s not such a swift decision. We can save a considerable amount of money by Doing It Ourselves. The main cost is to our productivity and creative energy.

So how do YOU balance your time between learning new techie tricks and writing the next book?

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Recent Reads

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 14, 2011

LOUISA AND THE MISSING HEIRESS by Anna Maclean (Historical Mystery)
Journey back to Boston circa 1887 for a historical mystery starring Louisa May Alcott before she became famous. As a budding writer, Louisa has an observant nature, so when her friend Dot is late for a tea party and arrives in a disheveled state, Louisa’s suspicions are raised. Everyone wonders why Dottie married Preston Wortham, especially so Dottie’s wealthy family. So when Dot is found dead by the wharf, it’s no surprise that Constable Cobban suspects the victim’s husband of being a fortune-hunter. Afraid the officer of the law might not look any further than the obvious, Louisa determines to unmask the killer. It appears all of Dottie’s relatives have something to hide, and a few near misses on her life tell our heroine that she’s getting closer to the truth.

This is a delightful debut for a new series. I look forward to reading more about Miss Alcott’s exploits in the sequel, Louisa and the Country Bachelor.

CHAINFIRE by Terry Goodkind (Epic Fantasy)
Lord Richard Rahl wakes up after being treated for a life-threatening wound. He asks for his wife, Kahlan, but his friends claim they’ve never heard of her. Desperate to find his beloved bride, he insists that she exists. No one believes him, and even those closest to him fear he’s gone mad. At the brink of a final battle in the war against Emperor Jagang’s forces, he is Kahlan’s only voice in the dark. He knows she must be in terrible danger by whoever took her. He’ll stop at nothing to find her, even if it means ignoring prophesy and bringing about the destruction of all he knows.

This installment in Terry Goodkind’s epic Sword of Truth series will have you turning pages to find out what has happened to Richard’s wife. You’ll sympathize with his horror and despair and his fear that his friends might be right. My only contention is that you have to follow the story into the next book because it’s not resolved by the end of this one.

STARQUEST by Hywela Lyn (Science Fiction Romance)
Jess is piloting her spacecraft on a vital mission when a disaster befalls her ship. She sends out a distress call and is picked up by a passing vessel. During the voyage home, she falls in love with the second in command. The crew helps her people when they’re attacked by a vicious race. They repel the invaders, but Jess takes enemy fire and is presumed dead.

Unknown to the crew who depart without her, she is taken to a healing center and kept alive. Desperate to find the man she loves once she’s well again, and puzzled as to why he’d leave without her, she hires another pilot and craft so she can search for him. Thus begin many adventures where Jess and her new partner draw closer together until Jess realizes which man it is that she truly loves.

The story has some unexpected twists and turns and a satisfying conclusion. If you’re a fan of futuristic romance, you might like this story that’s told in a unique journal format.

TO TEMPT A SAINT by Kate Moore (Historical Romance)
Cleo fears for the safety of her younger brother and marries Sir Alexander Jones in a hasty wedding. Being wed will protect her from her uncle’s unscrupulous claims on her trust fund. For Xander, marrying an heiress provides the means he needs to search for his missing brother among the dark alleys of London. Together they face danger from unknown enemies and a growing attraction that may seal their bargain forever.

This charming historical romance will hold your attention until its exciting finale.

KNIGHT OF DESIRE by Margaret Mallory (Historical Romance)
Lady Catherine Rayburn barely has time to celebrate the death of her abusive husband in battle when the king forces her to wed another man or go to prison for treason. His majesty doesn’t care if it was her intelligence that tipped him off to Rayburn’s treachery. He declares her lands and castle forfeit and grants them to Lord William FitzAlan, who agrees to marry the lady to save her from an unjust fate. Once he catches sight of the beautiful woman boldly meeting him at the castle gates, his passion ignites. As danger surrounds them, they must learn to trust each other in order to unmask the traitor in their midst.

ROYAL FLUSH by Rhys Bowen (Historical Mystery)
This third installment in Rhys Bowen’s historical A Royal Spyness series is as charming as the rest. Lady Georgiana, a relation of the royals, heads to her family estate and country home, Castle Rannoch, at the urging of Scotland Yard to search for an assassin bent on eliminating members of the royal family. Accidents abound as the mystery deepens and a house party of guests contribute to the confusion. One of these eccentric characters may be a murderer and responsible for the mishap in the woods that nearly cost Georgiana’s brother his foot. When one guest ends up shot to death during a hunt, it doesn’t appear to be an accident at all. Will Georgiana learn everyone’s secrets and unmask the killer before she’s next on his hit list? This historical cozy mystery is a delightful addition to Bowen’s entertaining series.

ATLANTIS REDEEMED by Alyssa Day (Paranormal Romance)
Cursed by Poseidon to experience no emotions until he meets his soul mate, only to forget her the moment his attention diverts, Atlantean Warrior Brennan still teams up with journalist Tiernan to rout a villain who’s discovered the secret of mind control. Not only does he have to fight the vamps and shapeshifters turned by the evil man but he also must battle the influx of feelings long suppressed when Tiernan awakens his passions. But the curse states that she must die before he can fully remember her. Can he defeat death along with his enemy in time to save the love of his life? This further installment in Alyssa Day’s Warriors of Poseidon series is as enthralling as the rest.

MURDER IS BINDING by Lorna Barrett (Mystery)
Tricia Miles operates a mystery bookstore in a small New Hampshire town where she doesn’t expect to find the cookbook store owner dead next door. Who might have wanted to harm the poor dear? Her sister, recently come to town? The local politician or the real estate agent? Or maybe the building’s owner looking for a higher rent tenant? When the sheriff suspects her, Tricia has to find the killer before someone else ends up stiff as a page in an old book.

This latest installment in the Booktown Mysteries is as delightful as the others. I kept guessing who might be guilty until the exciting end. It has a great puzzle, interesting characters, and a perfectly cozy bookstore setting. I’ll be looking for the next book in this charming series.

MURDER OF A BOOKSTORE BABE by Denise Swanson (Mystery)
School psychologist Skye Denison is hoping the new bookstore in town will do well, but when a young woman is found dead inside, she wonders who wants to sabotage the grand opening. And was the victim the intended target, or might it have been one of the bookstore owners? As Skye gets to know the people involved, she sees that more than one citizen is harboring a deadly secret. Murder of a Bookstore Babe is a delightful addition to the Scumble River mystery series.

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Keeper of the Rings

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 12, 2011

Keeper of the Rings, my science fiction romance originally published as Nancy Cane by Dorchester, is now available for the Kindle for only $2.99!


Here’s the story blurb:

Indiana Jones meets Star Wars!

A beautiful archaeologist and her mysterious protector search for a stolen sacred artifact.

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

A PRISM Awards Finalist!

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

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

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

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

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


I’ve managed to add this new edition to my Website. You’ll find there a chapter excerpt and some reviews on the Romance page. So much excitement! I’ve also started posting my new cover for Shear Murder on my sites. Isn’t it fabulous?

Please remember when you visit my Amazon pages to “Like” the page, Agree with the Tags, and post reviews after you’ve read a book!

I’m so happy to bring this romantic story to you in digital format. It combines my love of Indiana Jones adventure films with Star Wars in that my heroine is an archaeologist in search of a missing artifact, while the hero—unknown to her—comes from another planet. Suspicious allies, deceitful diplomats, and booby-trapped temples abound in this exciting story.

Inspiration for this story came from a What If question: What if we were devout followers of a faith, and our beliefs were proven to be wrong? Would we be better off not knowing, clinging to our traditions and the belief system that sustains us? Or should we learn the truth? How would you react if everything you knew about your world was shown to be invalid?

In Keeper of the Rings, Taurin knows the truth, but he fears that telling Leena will make him lose her love forever.

BUY NOW on Amazon


To celebrate the digital release of Keeper of the Rings, I’ll give away two free copies of the Kindle edition. A drawing will be held from all my blog commenters between July 12 to July 28. Winner announced at the end of the month.

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

Action Scenes

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 8, 2011

How do you write an action scene when you’re an armchair adventurer? As writers, we use the same technique as we do for other unfamiliar experiences: we research them. Here are four books in my home library that can help with these scenes.

US Army Survival Manual, Dorset Press, New York, 1992.

What will I use from this book in my WIP? There’s a chapter on Desert Survival, and my hero and heroine are about to be chased from Las Vegas by the bad guys. They end up at a safe house in the desert, but not before surviving some difficulties along the way. The book includes chapters on survival in different types of terrain, how to find food and water, poisonous plants, shelters, building a fire, and water crossings, among other subjects.


The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1999.


This book teaches all kinds of cool things. I used its How to Land a Plane for book two in my paranormal series. Advice ranges from how to escape from quicksand to survival when adrift at sea. Need to jump from a moving car? Find out how here. Oh hey, I may not be able to use the how-to on what to do if your parachute doesn’t open, but my characters can profit from surviving in the desert and maybe escaping from a mountain lion.

The Action Hero’s Handbook by David Borgenicht and Joe Borgenicht, Quirk Books, Philadelphia, 2002.

action hero

Similar to the info offered above, this book tells you how to drive a bus at high speed, save someone hanging off a cliff, fend off a ghost, crawl through a ventilation shaft, crash through a window, negotiate a hostage crisis, even how to do a Vulcan nerve pinch.

Fight For Your Life by Dr. Ted Gambordella, Barricade Books, New Jersey, 1982.

This is great for street fighting scenes when you need to know the moves your guys can make to defend themselves. It includes escapes and counters, women’s defense moves, and guarding against knife attacks.


Unfortunately, I didn’t find the immediate information I need, which is how to jump from building to building.


I suppose I’ll have to give my hero some sort of tensile line that he can shoot at the opposite surface, and then hook on a harness of sorts. He doesn’t have his bag of tricks with him so the line has to be secured on his person. In his belt, perhaps? Any suggestions, people, other than watching spy shows on TV?

Posted in Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Playing Tag at Amazon

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 3, 2011

Tags are labels we apply to our works on Amazon. They’re like keywords, so when readers search for a particular genre or subject, tags increase the chance of our book popping up in their search window.

Find your book page then scroll down to where it says Tags Customers Associate with this Product. You can add up to 15 tags yourself. Then direct your fans there to “Agree” with your tags. They have to click on the Agree with these Tags box and then check off each tag. You can see the little numbers beside each one increasing if you’re doing it right.

Remember to add tags to every edition of each book. This means that for my latest science fiction romance, Silver Serenade, I had to tag two pages:

Paperback edition:

Kindle edition:

Tags that I added are science fiction romance, futuristic romance, iwofa, paranormal romance, space opera, The Wild Rose Press, action adventure, romance, Silver Serenade, Nancy J. Cohen.

Other people added exciting, suspense, sci-fi romance, thriller, thrilling, book recommendations. The Kindle addition has some of the above plus Florida author, Kindle, and Faerie Rose.

Oh, and you can also “Like” a book page and an author page now. So do this as well.

Now let’s visit Killer Knots, my latest Bad Hair Day mystery.

The Kindle edition has these tags: cozy mystery, romantic mystery, amateur sleuth, cozy, cruising, female detective, murder mystery, mystery, mystery series, women sleuths, bad hair day. Also added are beach read, Caribbean cruise, cruise, cruise mystery, hair care, humorous mystery, islands, Kensington, Kindle, female detective, female main character, Florida, Nancy J Cohen, travel mystery, women detectives.

Now for each edition—paperback, trade pb, large print—I have to add tags all over again.

Consider that I have fifteen books in print with multiple editions for each one. That’s a lot of tags! Some of the author loops will run tag parties, where people post links to their Amazon sites and they help each other by Agreeing to the tags on these pages. But it helps to educate your fans, too. This is one of the ways they can help their favorite authors.

Please “Like” my author page at and check out my book pages to Like and Agree to the Tags.

Post some of your links here and let’s get a tag party going!

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

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