Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for December, 2011

Cliche Alert!

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 29, 2011

When you write your first draft, it’s okay to forge ahead and write whatever channels through your mind. The next sweep through will give you the opportunity to eliminate those clichés you planted along the way. I’m in the revision process now, and my cliché alert meter when into full mode with the latest doozies. Here they are, before and after. Try to stay in your character’s head and think of analogies relevant to her mindset. In this case, my heroine owns a pottery studio and is a downhome girl from Arizona.


Erika sensed his withdrawal from the way his shoulders tensed and his jaw tightened. Had she done something wrong? She hadn’t said anything when the man next to him commented on his attire. Perhaps he’d detected her negative opinion of his costume. Sure, it looked great on him, but he stood out like a sore thumb. If he was hoping to avoid attention from their enemy, he’d gone about it the wrong way.


Erika sensed his withdrawal from the way his shoulders tensed and his jaw tightened. Had she done something wrong? She hadn’t said anything when the man next to him commented on his attire. Perhaps he’d detected her negative opinion of his costume. Sure, it looked great on him, but he stood out like gold among clay. If he was hoping to avoid attention from their enemy, he’d gone about it the wrong way.


As soon as the group passed, she eased open the door. A peek outside told her the coast was clear. She slipped into the corridor, Magnor following as stealthy as a jungle cat.


As soon as the group passed, she eased open the door. At Magnor’s nod of consent, she slipped into the corridor. He followed, moving with the stealth of a ninja.


The self-editing process gives you the chance the rake through your words and make minute improvements. Clichés are only one of the problems you’ll be searching for as you read through your manuscript. I prefer a printout, recycling my pages through the printer for the various drafts. At the end, I have a clean polished manuscript printed out like in the old days. But you know what? It’s nice when I have to look up something from several chapters back. Plus, I have an actual work that I can send to my manuscript collection at the Bowling Green State University’s Popular Culture Library. But however you go about the process, check those clichés at the door.

AND NOW, here’s an exercise for you. Would you change this passage, and if so, how?

Finally, they could proceed. Magnor had grabbed her hand, and he let go as though she’d given him a hot coal. A wave of despondence hit her like a punch to the gut.

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

Post-Holiday Greetings

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 26, 2011

We’re finally past the gift giving and holiday meals for now. Nothing much happens in the business world between Christmas and New Year’s, so I am enjoying the quiet and our balmy Florida weather. Not one to waste time, I’ve started revisions on Warrior Lord, final book in my Drift Lords trilogy. This means I’m tightening sentences, correcting inconsistencies, filling in emotional reactions. It’s a slow process as I examine every line for possible improvements. Doing revisions is so much better after putting aside the project for a few weeks. I have a fresh perspective on the story, and reading it through in one chunk helps me catch a lot of fumbles.

It’s also a quiet time of year for reflection on what we’ve accomplished. Did you meet your goals for this past year? Here were mine. Let’s tally up the successes:


Warrior Lord—Write synopsis and finish book (DONE).
Murder at the Yacht Club—Submit proposal and finish book (DONE).
A Little Night Murder—Complete proposal and finish book (MOVE to 2012).


Revise Keeper of the Rings and convert into ebook format (DONE).
Compose Quarterly Email Newsletter (DONE).
Prepare video book trailer for Shear Murder (DONE).
Update mailing lists (DONE).
Create marketing plan for Shear Murder. (DONE).
Revise handouts for speaking engagements (DONE).
Hold an Author Chat (Move to 2012).
Publish a Podcast (Move to 2012).
Self-publish father’s true-life travel journal of his hitch-hiking adventure in 1929 across the U.S.. (Move to 2012).

Wow, I got a lot done but I still didn’t get to do everything. No matter; that’s to be expected. What is most important is that you try.

What’s next for me? After Warrior Lord is ready for submission, I plan to decide on which mystery novel to work on at the start of 2012. I should polish the blogs I’ve written for my upcoming blog tour. And I could prepare my winter newsletter.

Or…should I laze in front of the television and watch the Star Trek episodes I’ve recorded on VHS tapes? Which would you choose? And what would YOU like to see me work on next?

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

Writing a Biography

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 23, 2011

Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer.   Jeff5

After writing numerous mystery author profiles, Jeffrey chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice. That biography (Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. His works include Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s, and Criminal Appetites, an anthology of cooking related mysteries. His latest work is a biography of mystery author and critic Anthony Boucher entitled Anthony Boucher. It has been nominated for an Agatha and fittingly, won an Anthony.

Jeffrey is the long-time moderator of MurderMustAdvertise, an on-line discussion group dedicated to book marketing and public relations. He is the author of Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel, the only how-to book for promoting genre fiction.

His work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize and he was nominated for a Maxwell award (DWAA), an Edgar (MWA), three Agathas (Malice Domestic), two Macavity awards, and three Anthony awards (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his partner and two dogs.

How Do I Pick A Biography Subject?
y Jeffrey Marks

Most people would think that the years of research, the critical reading of tens or possibly hundreds of books or the focus on details might be the most difficult part of writing a biography for me. It’s not. The first step for me is always the hardest. Who am I going to write about next?

I find that I tend to be drawn to the authors I’ve read in my youth. Perhaps it’s nostalgia or perhaps it’s other reasons discussed later, but all of my biographies have been written about authors I read when I could only afford a few used paperbacks a week. When I was making $2.12 (at a roller disco, no less – It was the 1970s and I have no other excuse!), I found that 25¢ could buy a used paperback while a new paperback made me labor for more than an hour while listening to “Boogie, Oogie, Oogie.” I chose the writers from the 1940s and 1950s, whose works were available used.

As an adult, I was fascinated by the stories of authors, and when I began to look around for a suitable subject to write about, I narrowed my list down to 10-15 names. I began to investigate each one. As I did, I made a list (can you tell I’m an unrepentant listmaker?) of questions to be answered.

They included:

· What has been written about this author? I don’t have any desire to rehash the same facts repeatedly; I want to have a biography which is new and different.

· What is the author’s contribution to the genre?

· Can I stand working with this person for the next 3 years? You’d be amazed how much time you spend with a biography subject, making it a requirement for me that they be pleasant and easy to get along with.

· Is there sufficient material to create a full-length biography of this subject?

My first subject was Craig Rice. She was the only subject who had conflicting biographies with so little factual information provided that it intrigued my interest. I couldn’t fathom how in the 20th century we did not know how many children she’d had or how many times she’d been married. It made me want to know why.

Jeff3      Jeff4

That biography, Who Was That Lady?, was published in 2001 and nominated for every major mystery award. All of the acclaim told me that I was on the right path, in terms of my writing. People began to ask what was next for me.

Interestingly enough all of my subsequent biographies have come from my previous works. In looking for a second biography, I looked around for another subject. Several women authors I had corresponded with regarding Craig Rice had passed away in the interim. I decided to do a group biography of them, looking at how the reading public had passed by these remarkable women in favor of Fleming, Spillane, and other hyper-masculine authors in that era. Thus was Atomic Renaissance born.

Next came Anthony Boucher, who of course was known to all of the authors of the era as The New York Times book critic. The idea was first suggested to me by an editor in a bar (which would have been more suitable for my biography of Rice.) Despite having been a lifelong resident of California, Boucher’s papers were all at Indiana University, a mere hop-skip-and-not-even-a jump from me. Jeff1

I stumbled upon Erle Stanley Gardner because of my earlier research. I’d read Dorothy B. Hughes’ biography of Gardner for Atomic Renaissance, and Gardner had reluctantly contributed to Los Angeles Murders, edited by Craig Rice. The Gardner biography by Hughes was an odd duck, and I wondered why it did not cover the elements of Gardner’s life that the reader would be most interested in, Perry Mason, the TV show, and Gardner’s own relationship with his secretary. So I began to dig there and learned so much that had never been printed before.

As I am winding up the Gardner book, I am beginning to look around for new subjects. I don’t allow myself too much time between books. There’s an ennui and emptiness when I’m not writing about an author. As always, my top four names have come from my previous works, and I’m investigating each according to the questions I have listed.

And of course, I listen to the suggestions of others. I’d love to hear who you’d want to read about and learn more about.

For more information about Jeffrey, go to:

Posted in Author Interviews | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Happy Hanukkah

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah to all those who celebrate this joyous holiday! Tonight we light the first candle. If you wish to delve into my childhood holiday secrets, check out my Winter Holiday Fireside Moments Interview.

We celebrated the holidays with our adult kids this past weekend since we wanted to be with them for our 35th anniversary. On Friday, my husband and I visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a leisurely stroll around. We heard the rumbles from the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, saw Jedi fighting at Star Tours, and observed the Auditions call at the American Idol Experience. It was a pleasant sunny day in the seventies.

Main Street

Hollywood Studios

Sorcerers Cap

Hollywood Studios2

Hollywood Studios3

American Idol



Tower of Terror

Saturday we spent with family, driving into the hilly country north of Orlando to visit my brother and his offspring. Here I am bravely sitting on one of his vehicles.


On Sunday, we went to Downtown Disney’s AMC Dine-In Theater to see Sherlock Holmes. This was fun! You have table service while sitting in reclining seats and can eat and drink through the movie. Try it out if you’re in the area. You can buy tickets online or at walk-up windows. The food was very good with enough variety of choices. You can have salads, sandwiches, appetizers, desserts, or full hot entrees. Beer and wine are available. As for the movie, we liked it better than the first one in the series.

That evening, we went to Timpano’s for dinner. We enjoyed the elegant atmosphere, the delicious food, and the excellent service. They brought us a complimentary slice of ice cream cake for our anniversary. It was the perfect close to a memorable weekend.

Have you finished your holiday preparations? Here’s wishing you a wonderful winter season and a healthy New Year!

Posted in Florida Musings, Food | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Book Trailer Showcase

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 15, 2011

Today is the Grand Opening of the Book & Trailer Showcase. 

Pop on over for a chance to win free books and other prizes!

One of the prizes is a copy of my sci-fi romance, Keeper of the Rings.  Sign up now for your chance to win.

And while you’re roaming the Net, enter my contests at Goodreads and Fresh Fiction. You may win a signed ARC of Shear Murder!

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

Avoiding Writer Burnout

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 13, 2011

Karen McCullough is the author of eleven published novels in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy. She’s also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. Her most recent releases are MAGIC, MURDER AND MICROCIRCUITS, a paranormal romantic suspense now available in most electronic formats; her Christmas vampire story, A VAMPIRE’S CHRISTMAS CAROL; and A GIFT FOR MURDER, published in hardcover by Five Star/Gale Group Mysteries.

Avoiding Writer Burnout by Karen McCullough                                            Karen book

In a long and varied series of careers, I’ve burnt out of more than one profession. Right out of college I took a job as a social worker. I was too young and naive to realize it was no job for a tender-hearted, workaholic-leaning introvert. I actually lasted three years, which was longer than most people in the agency I worked for remained on the job.

After a return to school for a further degree, I moved into computer programming, which turned out to be a much better fit for me. I worked for a number of different small companies, and they tended to go out of business or be bought out by megaliths, so I changed jobs fairly often. The last time was with a small company under a lot of pressure. Changes in the computer industry were eating away at their niche. They’d had to let people go, with the result that they leaned harder and harder on their remaining staff. My stress level grew with each day. I knew I was burnt out when I realized I was dreaming lines of code. No kidding. Lines of COBOL or Basic would scroll through my dreams.

I’d already started writing short stories on the side, so I moved into doing freelance writing and editing. I was hired by a magazine as an associate editor, but ending up running their newly formed web department. Then a larger publishing conglomerate came calling and lured me to the same job on a bigger scale. Pretty soon I was a corporate bureaucrat managing a bunch of websites with the associated stress and high blood pressure.

All this is just a preamble to my real point and meant only to show that I know what burnout feels like and have some understanding of what leads to it, since I’ve been there more than once.

Most beginning writers laugh at the idea of burnout. They’re so excited to discover the way writing opens up new worlds and to find the satisfaction of creating something completely (dare I say it?) novel and uniquely theirs that it’s hard to imagine it could ever become old, even a burden or a drag.

But authors who’ve been at it a while no longer laugh. As with any activity you do too long and/or too intensely you can become overwhelmed by it. I know of at least two multi-published authors who felt that they’d written all they could and were done with it. I don’t want that to happen to me.

I’m sharing a few things that have helped me in hopes that they might be of use to you, too:

First, and most important, know yourself. Assess your habits, your work style, your motivating factors, etc. Are you the sort of person who needs deadlines to keep you moving and who works well under pressure? Great! If you’re published, your publisher will help you with those deadlines. If not, set your own goals and resolve to stick to them.

But if you tend, as I do, to be a bit too driven at times, be sure to schedule some down time for yourself. That includes days off from writing, too. Yes, I know a lot of authorities will tell you that if you want to be a serious writer you have to write every day. No, you don’t.

You have to have the discipline to write enough to get your story done. You have to keep moving forward with the story you’re working on. If you’re under contract you have to meet your deadlines. But you need to figure out what pace and schedule works best for you.

If three hours a day every single day doesn’t stress you out, fine. Or if setting yourself a word count goal for every day works, so be it.

If those don’t work, don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead figure out what does work for you. Personally, I can’t write every day, but I do write for several hours on Saturdays and Sundays and for an hour or two on days I can manage it.

Still find yourself getting tired of writing, reluctant to face the blank screen or even think about your current work in progress? If you can, give yourself a break from it. Try writing something different. Because I write both mystery and paranormal/fantasy, I like to alternate genres. It helps to keep me fresh when I come back to one after completing a book in the other.

Finally, sometimes you just have to stop and remind yourself why you started writing in the first place. For me, I began writing because it was fun to turn my fantasies into stories to share with others. It satisfed a creative urge that had no other outlet.

If you’re not enjoying the process anymore, stop, back up, and figure out why not. Then change whatever needs to be changed so you can get that feeling back.


Karen invites visitors to check out her home on the Web at and her site for the Market Center Mysteries series,

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Allure Cruise: Relaxing At Sea

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 12, 2011

Day 6 & 7, At Sea
Friday & Saturday, Dec. 2-3, 2011

We enjoyed the ship’s amenities during our two remaining days at sea. The show, Blue Planet, was the best out of them all. The performer’s acrobatics were astounding. The scenery changes were awesome, and the theme about the different natural habitats was appealing. Make sure you don’t miss this one. We saw the ice show on the last afternoon, which is also amazing. Our kids skated for a half hour one of the afternoons. The rink is small by arena standards but adequate for the performances with dazzling costumes and a cute shipboard monopoly theme. We visited the casino, an enormous expanse down on Deck 4 where the ice rink, comedy club, and main theater are housed. We never got to the jazz club that’s here as well, but there’s just so much to do. I also like the Viking Crown Lounge, although this one is smaller and more mid-ship than on the other vessels in RCCL’s lineup. Eating was one of our favorite pasttimes, as witnessed by this meal:

mushroom pastry

Sauteed Mushrooms in Puff Pastry



Dessert Trio

Trio of Desserts

We never got to see any of the 3-D movies being shown in the theater, although I would have preferred a choice of more adult fare than the animated films being offered, and more than once a day showings. You had your choice of arts and crafts workshops during daytime but nothing to challenge the intellect. I missed special interest lectures and cooking demos like on other cruise lines. Also, other than wine tastings in Vintages lounge, there was only one formal wine tasting in the dining room, and it cost $29 per person. That’s an unreasonably high cost in my opinion compared to tastings on other ships that run $10-15 per person and include a selection of foods (see my prior reviews of Princess ships). As for big band music for dancing, Dazzles offered it around dinner time but nobody danced. Other times were too late for us to stay up.

Ship's Wake

Ship's Wake

Sunday, December 4, 2011

You can choose early or late disembarkation. We left the ship at 7:30, the earliest of any cruise we’d ever been on. Customs and immigration proceeded smoothly and we emerged from the terminal in record time. This huge ship with all those passengers is the most efficiently run of any of them. The interactive screens throughout each deck are also wonderfully useful, letting you locate any of the venues on board with directions how to get there from your location. I’ve heard RCCL may be putting iPads into each room. If so, beware the charge if you lose them. If you lose a beach towel, it’ll cost you $20. That’s a bit much in my opinion. Also be aware that the same person who takes out the towel has to return it and have their Seapass card scanned.

Shopping specials on Royal Promenade are nothing to save your pennies for. They offer 14k gold layered chains that doesn’t even pretend to be solid gold, and good luck getting the attention of a busy clerk to size you. The $10 accessories from Bijoux Turner are the same stuff you can buy in the Florida Turnpike plazas. And who wants to buy anything in the onboard Coach store? Foreign tourists, maybe. I’d rather shop at the Coach Outlet in Sawgrass Mills Mall. My family did like the clothing store on the Boardwalk, though.

Would I go on this ship again? You betcha, but I might like to try its sister ship, Oasis, first so as to see different shows. I think they should change the shows more often to appeal to repeat cruisers. And they should do something to open up the interior to more ocean views during the day. Otherwise, unless you’re on Deck 5 or 15 or have an outside balcony cabin, you feel you’re on a big floating city. Despite its size and number of passengers, though, you never feel crowded and you do run into some of the same people. There are so many things to do and places to go that you can keep busy or find a quiet spot and read undisturbed. The food is excellent with so many choices you can’t possibly try them all in a week. The cuisine alone is reason enough for a return cruise. We had a great time, and I look forward to our next journey wherever it takes us.

Nancy at rail

Goodbye until the Next Voyage!

Coming Tomorrow: Multi-Published Author Karen McCullough discusses Avoiding Writer Burnout


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Allure Cruise: St. Maarten

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 11, 2011

Allure Cruise, Day 5, St. Maarten
Thursday, December 1, 2011

I love Philipsburg, the downtown area on the Dutch side of St. Maarten. It’s much more appealing to me than the upscale and expensive Marigot on the French side. From the pier, take a $6 fee round trip water taxi ride into town. Philipsburg is paved for pedestrians and much cleaner than Charlotte Amalie that’s really deteriorated since our last visit to St. Thomas. I have my favorite shops here too, but it’s just so pleasant to stroll down Front Street and through the narrow side lanes and peek in the stores.

St Maarten

Allure St Maarten



Front St

Front Street

We lunched at Holland House, albeit expensive, but an elegant open-air restaurant with an ocean view that’s worth the money. It’s part of a hotel so you can find a restroom downstairs from the lobby.

Holland House

Holland House

After our meal, we rented lounge chairs on the free beach by the Boardwalk. The chairs with umbrellas cost $5 each and were a few feet from the water. Women walk by selling native goods while you bask in the sun. This is my favorite port these days.

Philipsburg Beach

St Maarten beach

My feet

My Feet!

That evening, we dined on board in the specialty restaurant, Chops Grille. It was superb. The service, the interior, and the food were reminiscent of the Capital Grill back home. Excellent meal, more than we could eat, but oh so good.

Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon

side dishes

Side Dishes

chocolate dessert

Chocolate Dessert

Nan Rich

The Happy Couple

Tomorrow: Final Days at Sea and Disembarkation. It’s not over yet!


If you haven’t seen this reminder before, don’t forget to check out my contest over at Fresh Fiction for a chance to win a signed ARC of Shear Murder, a deck of tropical drink playing cards, and a Virgin Islands cookbook.


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Allure Cruise: St. Thomas

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 10, 2011

Allure Cruise, Day 4, St. Thomas
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The ship docked in St. Thomas at Crown Bay. From here we took a van to Magen’s Bay, billed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The ride took us across the hilly island with breathtaking vistas of the sea below. The fare cost $9.00 each plus tip, and $4.00 additional for park admission. We rented chairs for $7.00 each. A rum punch cost $5.00 and had a pleasant kick. The beach is indeed lovely, fringed with overhanging palms and tropical trees so  there’s plenty of shade if you prefer to avoid the sun. The strip of sand is rather narrow by Florida standards but it stretches wide on either side, with green hills surrounding the bay. Even in late November, the water was warm enough for us to dip in. Changing rooms, snacks and drinks, and a gift shop are available.



St. Thomas View

St. Thomas View

Harbor View

View of Harbor

Magen's Bay

Magen's Bay

Magen Bay


Nancy at Magen

Nancy Drink

Rum Punch, My Favorite!

Magen Last
Once we’d sat around for a couple of hours, we were ready to move on. For $8.00 each, we took a taxi into downtown Charlotte Amalie. Here we visited my favorite stores after lunch at the Greenhouse Restaurant facing the harbor. A taxi from downtown back to Crown Bay cost $4 each plus tip.


Greenhouse Restaurant

That night onboard was the headliner show, a one-man singer and entertainer who spent too much time letting the audience belt out old songs and not enough time performing himself and appealing to a wider age range. If the same guy is aboard when you cruise on the Allure, this is one show you can skip unless you’re seventy or above.

Dinner Pix:



Shrimp Steak

Shrimp & Steak


Chicken Dinner

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee

Come back tomorrow for a review of St. Maarten.

Remember to check out my contest over at Fresh Fiction for a chance to win a signed ARC of Shear Murder, a deck of tropical drink playing cards, and a Virgin Islands cookbook.

Posted in Cruising | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Allure Cruise: Day 3 At Sea

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 9, 2011

Allure of the Seas, Day 3 At Sea
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Late this morning was the Cruise Critic’s Meet & Greet event, held at the same time as the repeat cruisers party. Held in the Dazzles lounge, the first event wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. People sat around in their own little groups instead of standing and meeting people. Fruit, cheese, and juice were available as snacks. After a brief raffle by cruise line staff, many of us dashed out to attend the Crown & Anchor Society party outside at the Aquatheater. Here we got free cocktails and an address by the ship’s executive staff.

Ready for lunch, we discovered the Wipe Out Café by the ping pong tables and miniature golf on the sports deck. Here you can get tacos, quacamole and tortilla chips, burgers, and hot dogs. There’s free frozen yogurt here as well. The sports section also includes a Flowrider, zip line, and basketball court. If you want chocolate soft ice cream, head mid-ship on Deck 15 near where the steel band plays.


Miniature Golf

Beach Pool

Beach Pool


Pool Deck

After lunch, we claimed lounge chairs in the Solarium, a quieter location than the four pools on the same deck. Glass-enclosed, you’re protected from the wind although the sun can get hot.



That evening, we had been scheduled to see Oceanaria, but the show got cancelled because the water in the pool was sloshing too much for the performers to make a safe dive. We were given an alternate time, that unfortunately coincided with our specialty dining reservations.

Royal Promenade

Royal Promenade

Interior View

Interior View Toward Rear

Rising Tide

Rising Tide

Check out the Rising Tide bar, which rests on the Royal Promenade and then elevates toward Central Park three decks higher. It’s cool to watch it rise toward the stars like a spaceship. Inside, it’s shaped somewhat like Jabba the Hut’s barge in Return of the Jedi. We had drinks there the last night of our trip.

Here are pix from dinner:

Butterflied Shrimp

Butterflied Shrimp in Garlic Sauce



Coming tomorrow: Magens Bay at St. Thomas

Don’t forget to check out my contest over at Fresh Fiction for a chance to win a signed ARC of Shear Murder, a deck of tropical drink playing cards, and a Virgin Islands cookbook.

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