Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for April, 2012


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 23, 2012

I love weddings, so I was happy to attend one last night. My critique partner’s son was getting married, and all of us in critique group were invited. The six of us have been together for years. We celebrate our book sales and rave reviews, bemoan our rejections, and generally support each other through life’s events. Sometimes our pre-work chatter seems more like a therapy session than a discussion of the book biz. It’s wonderful being part of this group of committed and caring friends, especially when we get together with our spouses and socialize.

While dining at the reception, listening to the dance music, and watching the bride, I couldn’t help but feel I had stepped into my latest book, Shear Murder. In this story, hairstylist Marla Shore is attending her friend Jill’s wedding as a bridesmaid when she discovers the matron of honor dead under the cake table. Naturally, I sneaked a look there last night, but thankfully the cake cutting ceremony took place without a hitch. It was a lovely evening which engendered many happy memories.

Bride Dance








Cindy Toast

Author Cynthia Thomason, mother of the groom, giving a toast.

Zelda, Nancy, Allison

Zelda Benjamin, Nancy Cohen, Allison Chase

Oline Cogdill

Mystery Reviewer Oline Cogdill

Critique Chorus

Zelda Benjamin, Allison Chase, Cynthia Thomason, Karen Kendall, Sharon Hartley








Has anything unusual ever happened to you at a wedding?

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

FRW Cruise Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 20, 2012

Florida Romance Writers is thrilled to announce our

Keynote for the 2013 Fun in the Sun Conference


Charlaine Harris


Charlaine is the author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels,

the basis for the hit HBO series, True Blood.


Our other Guests include

Angela James, Executive Editor of Carina Press

Elaine Spencer, Agent with the Knight Agency

Leslie Wainger, Editor-at-Large for Harlequin


We set sail from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida onboard

Royal Caribbean’s beautiful Liberty of the Sea,  

on Thursday, January 24, 2013 and

return to port Monday, January 28, 2013.


Join us to see the beautiful blue seas of

Cozumel and bask in the Caribbean sunlight.


Other highlights include:
* Stellar Agents and Editors
* Sizzling Workshops
* Floridian Idol
* Shipboard Entertainment
* Panoramic Ocean views


  This year our conference will include a Pre-sail party

on Wednesday night January 23, 2013.

This will not be included in the conference registration.

Location, cost and time to be announced.


For additional information:



Agent & Editor


FRW Chapter website



We have a few slots left to fill in our workshop schedule.

Send your proposal and a brief bio to our workshop coordinator

Heidi Lynn Anderson at

Feel free to contact Heidi with any questions you may have.



We look forward to seeing you onboard!


Kimberly Gonzalez

FRW Conference Coordinator

Come Cruise with your Muse




Posted in Conferences, Cruising | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lost Skills

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 16, 2012

I’ve been sorting through a box of memorabilia dating back to congratulation cards my parents received when I was born. In the interest of decluttering, I’ve thrown out all greeting cards except the ones from my immediate family, old report cards, menus and certificates that are no longer meaningful.

I’m more hesitant to discard letters. Some are written by me to my parents describing my travels and experiences. Some are letters that my parents wrote to me. And some are from my husband in our early acquaintance days. What a treasure these represent! And what a sad loss to society today that we no longer receive hand-written letters like these.    Letters

Emails and text messages are so much more impersonal, quick paragraphs in abbreviated language that don’t describe events with the depth found in a hand-written letter. A person had to take the time to compose their thoughts, write them neatly in legible script, and mail the letter. These missives had emotional impact sorely lacking in today’s form of communication. One used to find such a letter in the mail and open it with anticipation and joy. Pages of handwriting would unfold, and we could share the scribe’s life albeit vicariously.

In this age, end of the year holiday letters might summarize events in typewritten form that goes out to all the people on a sender’s mailing list. It’s not personal, directed to the receiver. Nor is an email a keeper. Sure, we can print one out, but it lacks the personal touch, the ink on paper, the crinkly feel of a real letter on a piece of pretty stationery. When’s the last time you used old fashioned stationery? Sent a real greeting card? In schools today, cursive writing is no longer being taught. I am sad for this loss. I am sad that we no longer get letters that are worth saving in our time capsule boxes of memorabilia. Writing letters is a lost art, subjugated to the progress of technology. Or maybe it’s just one less thing for our heirs to throw out some day.

Are you a saver of memorabilia or are you a minimalist? Do you miss the days of hand-written letters and personally penned greeting cards?

Posted in The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 21 Comments »

Time Management

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 13, 2012

Things used to be simpler several years ago when all we had to worry about was selling to a NY publishing house. When I wrote for Kensington, I turned in one book a year. Easy, right? I wrote my Bad Hair Day mysteries and nothing else. No blogs or Facebook posts. I didn’t have a second publisher to worry about making deadlines with double the work.

It wasn’t until my option book was turned down that I started writing in other genres to see what would sell. Now it’s years later, and while I’m still looking for a home for my two new mystery series, Wild Rose Press has picked up my romances. I am preparing to launch a new paranormal series with Warrior Prince.

Meanwhile, Five Star published my tenth Marla Shore mystery. So years after I thought this series was dead, I’m writing it again. Before starting the eleventh book, I completed the first three books in my Drift Lords series. So those are all done, except for the edits, page proofs, and promotion.

And herein comes the juggling act. I am attempting to move forward with Bad Hair Day mystery #11, but I keep having to halt work on this project to do page proofs and revisions for the Drift Lords series, not to mention planning the promotional campaign for the series launch.

Meanwhile, those two completed mysteries linger in the back of my mind. Should I continue submitting them to small press or self-publish? If the latter, should I publish them as stand-alones or as the first books in new series?

Before deciding on these titles—and we’re still waiting for responses so hope remains in that regard—I would like to self-publish my deceased father’s book. He hitchhiked across the U.S. in 1929 and his journal includes some fascinating adventures. So my projects include:

1. The Drift Lords series from The Wild Rose Press
2. A new Bad Hair Day mystery
3. The possibility of self-publishing three titles
4. The possibility of one of my other mysteries selling in the interim

Never before have we had so many options. It’s an exciting time but it’s also consuming. Who has free time when we can publish our entire body of works through various formats, and then when we have to spend hours on the social networks promoting them? And this discussion concerns new works, not backlist titles. Those need time and attention, too, in the accelerating ebook market. So does writing additional material for world building extras for readers, and more.

Soon I’ll be heading off to Malice in Bethesda. I’m excited to meet new friends and visit with mystery writer pals I haven’t seen in a while. So if my posts are sparse in the next few weeks, it’s because I am happy and busy or we’re on the road.

Are you still writing at the same pace with the advent of new technologies? How have your writing/reading habits been affected?

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 8, 2012


Holidays are often associated with the special foods that we share together. Passover is one of these special events for me. I have fond memories of seders at our house where I grew up and of the various relatives who attended. At the time, my mother kept kosher, so the night before found us going through the house with a feather and a candle to search out any remaining bread crumbs (which my mother had placed there earlier). I don’t remember if she actually collected these in a cloth and burned them or just threw them out, but the ritual retains a place in my mind. She’d put out two entirely new sets of china dishes just for Pesach, one for dairy and one for meat.

Oh—maybe this is why I have four sets of good china?

Anyway, delicious aromas would fill the kitchen the next morning: chicken soup boiling in a large stockpot on the gas stove, brisket roasting, sweet potatoes baking. I’d help set the table and put the Haggadahs around, the prayer books that tell the story of the slave exodus from Egypt. My mother made up individual dishes of salt water to dip our hard boiled eggs in, and she roasted the symbolic bone herself for the seder plate.


Finally the hour would come when we all sat around the table, dressed for company and mouths watering for the feast that would follow. My uncle conducted the service, each person taking a turn reading a paragraph at a time, telling the story of Moses and the ten plagues that beset the Pharaoh’s people. We got to dip parsley in salt water as part of the ritual and ate Hillel’s sandwiches, a forkful of charoses and a bit of maror (bitter herbs served as horseradish) in between pieces of matzoh. I could eat the charoses—chopped apples, walnuts, and sweet grape wine—by itself. Finally, we came to the break when we could eat. All right!

Usually I ate my hardboiled egg first, slicing up chunks and dipping it in the salty water. The egg symbolizes eternal life. Next came a plate of gefilte fish artfully arranged on a bed of lettuce, with beet horseradish on the side. Matzoh ball soup was up next. Oh, so good. And then we come to the main dishes, brisket or roast chicken with tzimmes—a mashup of cooked sweet potatoes, carrots, and prunes—and a green vegetable. Some people might make matzoh or farfel stuffing. I can’t remember if we ate this or not. Dessert had to be flourless so this often consisted of macaroons, although nowadays you can buy almond cookies and cakes at the grocery store. I’m also fond of the candied “fruit” slices available at this time of year.

Stuffed to the gills, so to speak, we finished the seder service. I’d watch carefully Elijah’s cup of wine to see if the prophet drank from it when we opened the door for him. He must get pretty drunk by the end of the night, considering how many households he has to visit. We’re not immune, either, since we have to keep refilling our wine glasses (grape juice for kids) so as to meet the requirement of drinking four glasses of wine. Mostly this means topping off our glasses, but no wonder one of the Four Questions always asked by the youngest child is, “Why do we recline on this night and on no other night?” It’s because we’re too full and tipsy to move!

Just think, if you’re religious or have a lot of friends, you can do it again on the second night. Oy, vey. Hold the diet until next week!
For Jewish recipes, go to:

What are some of your food memories from either Easter or Passover?

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

UCF Book Festival

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 2, 2012

March 31, 2012

This was my first year participating in this illustrious event. Last Friday evening, my husband and I attended the author reception on campus. It was a delightful event where we mingled with other authors while sipping wine and eating shrimp appetizers, stuffed mushrooms, baked brie in pastry, and more. A chocolate fountain tempted our sweet tooth with marshmallows and pound cake to dip. There was a brief welcome talk and then everyone dispersed.


Daniel & Michael Palmer, Nancy Cohen, Neil Plakcy


Neil Plakcy and Nancy Cohen

The next day, I arrived at the UCF Arena and made my way through the building’s maze to the author hospitality suite on the third level. Here our sponsors offered snacks throughout the day. I greeted my fellow panelists, Bob Morris and Neil S. Plakcy, and we headed for our allotted room. Our panel, “Killing People in Exotic Places”, brought a good crowd—mostly young aspiring writers. They asked intelligent questions and kept the conversation flowing. All three of us speakers set our stories in tropical locales, from Florida to the Caribbean to Hawaii. We discussed how the setting influences our work and dispensed writing tips to the audience. A brief signing followed in the main arena lobby.

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Nancy Cohen, Neil Plakcy, Bob Morris

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Nancy J. Cohen

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Neil and Nancy


Bob, Neil and Nancy

On Sunday, we met our kids and tried to go to CSI: The Experience, but it hadn’t opened yet. This attraction looks like fun but we’ll have to wait until our next trip to Orlando. It’s on International Drive next to the Titanic exhibit. Instead, we explored Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, had lunch in the fast-food restaurant, and strolled the landscaped grounds. Dinner was at House of Blues in Downtown Disney.

Here’s a parting shot of our latest friend, the alligator in the lake by our condo.


The gator looks like a log on the water.


On Wednesday, April 4, I am guest blogging over at The Lady Killers on the theme of Second Choices and how it relates to Shear Murder. Please drop by and leave a comment!

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

15 Tips for Blog Touring

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 1, 2012

I haven’t posted on this topic for a while so it’s time for a revisit. I’ve just finished my blog tour for Shear Murder so these points are fresh in my mind. Here’s hoping they’re useful to you.

Write down possible blog topics as you write your WIP. This way, you’ll have a ready list of subjects available when you need them (i.e. research aspects, the writing process, what inspired you to write this story, world building details, themes, settings, etc.).

Compile a list of bloggers whom you would like to approach. Aim for popular blogs that get a lot of traffic but also include friendly authors who host guests and who may expose your work to a different audience.

Write a polite email mentioning your upcoming release and asking if the host would be amenable to you doing a guest post on his blog.

Schedule three to five guest spots a week around the release date and for the next few weeks. Space them out so you don’t clog the loops with your announcements. As courtesy to your host, don’t schedule more than one per day.

Read the host’s blog and determine a topic appropriate to the audience. Note if the blog is slanted toward readers or writers and also note the length of the articles. Some hosts will offer guidelines. You may also ask your host if there’s a particular topic he’d like you to address.

Vary the formats by doing some Q&A interviews, a chat with your character, “A day in the life” of your sleuth, or talk about a relevant hobby. Just be mindful to slant your post to the host blog’s readership.

Choose your blog title carefully so that the subject matter is clear and enticing to the reader.

Type up your schedule including, for each post, the date and day of the week, blog title and URL, host’s name and contact info, and your chosen topic. Save the file and print a copy.

Bring up this same schedule on your computer, remove each host’s contact info and name, and save it as a separate file. This will be your public schedule that you can post around the Web on your various sites.

Block off two weeks before your release date and write all the blogs. Or do them one day at a time, as long as they are finished well ahead of your tour start date. Include a book blurb, a buy link, and your social networking sites at the end of each post.

Consider offering a giveaway for commenters at selected blogs or as a grand prize at the end of the tour. Include this announcement in each post and also tell the hosts.

Send your article to the host along with an author photo, book cover photo, and a short biography. After you send each blog post to the host, mark that one as Sent on your schedule.

Publicize the blog tour on your social networks, website, personal blog, and elsewhere.

When the day comes, be available all day to answer comments. It’s helpful if you pop in to the guest site every few hours. Be sure to promote the event on all your social networks, including Facebook groups and listserves. Tweet about it several times a day with slightly different wording. Thank your host at the end of the day.

To evaluate your tour, write down the number of comments you received at each site. Consider which topics and sites brought the most responses and use this info when you plan your next blog hop. Good luck and have fun!


What advice would you add?

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

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