Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for February, 2013

Florida Writers Groups

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 27, 2013

If you are a writer living in Florida, you are lucky to have so many writing organizations to join. You need not worry about working in a vacuum. So if you reside near any of these sites, check them out and consider attending a meeting or two. Many of them also hold conferences so be on the lookout for news and announcements that will help you further your writing career.

FL Chapters of RWA

Ancient City Romance Writers
St. Augustine

Central Florida Romance Writers
Orlando

First Coast Romance Writers
Jacksonville

Florida Panhandle Romance Writers
Tallahassee

Florida Romance Writers, Inc.
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/Palm Beach

Southwest Florida Romance Writers
Naples/Estero/Fort Myers

SpacecoasT Authors Of Romance
Melbourne

Sunshine State Romance Authors
Homosassa

Tampa Area Romance Authors
Tampa

Volusia County Romance Writers
Lake Helen

Florida Writers Groups

Florida Writers Association

Mystery Writers of America, FL Chapter

South Florida Writer’s Association
Miami

Space Coast Writers Guild
Melbourne

Treasure Coast Writers Guild
Fort Pierce

Writer’s Network of South Florida

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

Noting the Details

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 26, 2013

Observing a place with a writer’s eye is totally different than going as a tourist. In the latter capacity, you notice the bigger picture. For example, while on a movie studio tour, you might be hunting celebrities or be excited about seeing the costume department. But do you notice the trash bin labeled with a show’s name, the color of the tram that takes you around, or the signs on the soundstage walls?

As a writer, these are the sensory details that make a scene come alive. For Warrior Lord, where my heroes investigate the dire goings-on at a studio where guests go in and don’t come out, I watched an online video of an actual tour and searched my memory of studio visits I’ve made. These gave me the details I needed.

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In a similar fashion, Warrior Rogue has a scene set in Hong Kong. How did I do this when I’d been there years ago? I kept travel diaries of everywhere I went, so first I combed through my journal for descriptions of places that might remain. Then I looked on the Internet to verify they still existed, like the tram ride going to Victoria Peak. I remembered Tiger Balm Gardens, and this became an important—albeit renamed and reimagined—scene in the story as well.

The wedding in Shear Murder takes place at an orchid park, but it’s based on Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando. On site, I strode through while taking notes of the plants, the layout, and any unusual observations. Did you know there’s a cemetery inside this oasis? It’s exciting what you’ll discover when you search for unusual and different details to spice your tale.

Next time you are out and about, try to notice these little details and think about how you’d describe them. It will enhance your experience and solidify your memory. And remember to include your five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch.

Writers, what scenes have you used based on personal observations?

Readers, what scenes have you read that stick in your mind due to the descriptive detail?

Posted in Florida Musings, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

When It Rains, It Pours

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 18, 2013

You’ve heard the saying: When it rains, it pours. Or how about this one: One thing leads to another. Nowhere more is this true than in household repairs. First we had a roof leak. We had the leak fixed but not before it stained our living room ceiling. Since our roof tile was over 30 years old, we contracted for a new white barrel tile roof. This got done.

Meanwhile, an insurance adjuster came by and paid for our ceiling repair. These contractors are due to start tomorrow. We’ve spent a couple of days moving everything fragile or mobile out of the living room, dining room, and hallway since the men will be removing the popcorn ceiling and replacing it with knockdown. The bathroom also needs a makeover as water dripped through from the leak there, too.

So we are moving away my years-old crates of books from the dining room when we notice coffee ground size particles on the ceramic tile floor…and a few dead insects. And more particles sprinkled among the books. Lately, we’ve seen some flying insects around the light sources at night. Could this be where they are coming from? I call the termite guy, swallowing my dread that we might need the house tented next. I hope it’s drywall termites that can be spot treated. Otherwise, we may be in for more unpleasantness.

I really should get rid of those books in my never ending TBR pile. My Kindle and iPad are looking even more attractive, and my piles of print books less so. The pages are yellowing and who knows where I got them.

Speaking of yellowing, we’ve noticed a section of roof tile outside turning yellow. Could this be due to the black olive tree nearby whose leaves can stain? But they didn’t stain our previous white flat tile roof. Or is this section defective? I call the roof people. They’ll call back to schedule an inspection—I hope. They’ve been paid, so they have little incentive.

My husband suggests we cut down the black olive tree, and maybe our mature lychee tree along with it. They’re both too close to the house and rain dead leaves upon our gutters (that need a cleaning). The fruit on the lychee, which we’ve enjoyed for many years, is now too high to reach. And the tree’s roots are encroaching on the house.

Then there are the driveway and the pool that need renovations, and…the list goes on. Maybe we should call this the Homeowner’s Lament. I’m glad my Kindle free promotion is over so I can pay attention to these issues. It’ll be impossible to work anyway with people in the house tearing down the popcorn ceiling outside my office door.

What will we discover next? Are you sticking it out in your aging house or running to buy a condo?

Posted in Florida Musings, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

Last Day Free Kindle Book

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 17, 2013

Warrior RogueToday is the LAST DAY–FREE on Kindle: Warrior Rogue (The Drift Lords Series) by Nancy J. Cohen will sweep you away on a thrill-packed ride with legendary villains, Norse myths, and ancient prophesies. Download it now: http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Rogue-Drift-Series-ebook/dp/B00AU62NQS/ Please Like the page and share the link with your friends.

Last Day to enter Nancy’s Valentine’s Day Contest for a free ebook of Warrior Prince and a $10 Amazon gift card. Go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nancy-J-Cohen/112101588804907  and Click on the Contest tab button.

Valentine's Day Contest

 

Congratulations to DAVID ENGLISH who won the Booklover’s Bench  launch contest. David won a Nook Simple Touch and 5 ebooks to put on it. Watch our site for a new contest coming in March!

And for one more chance to win, Enter for a Book Basket with books from 12 Florida Romance Writers authors at http://www.booktalk.com/contest/

Readers–What kind of prizes do you like to win?

 

 

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Valentine’s Day Contest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 13, 2013

Valentine’s Day Contest

Get in the mood for romance by entering my Valentine’s Day Contest on Feb. 13-17. You can win a free ebook copy of Warrior Prince and a $10 Amazon gift card. Click on the Contest tab on my Facebook Author Page to enter. Please “Like” my page while you are there. Rafflecopter will choose a winner.

Valentine's Day Contest

And if you haven’t already downloaded your free Kindle copy of Warrior Rogue, Click Here!

You don’t even need a Kindle. With Amazon’s free Kindle app, you can read the book on your computer, laptop, or Apple device.

So obtain your free download of Warrior Rogue (The Drift Lords Series #2) and then Enter my Contest to win a free copy of Warrior Prince (The Drift Lords Series #1) and a $10 Amazon gift card.

Kindly share this post with your friends!

Posted in Contest | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

FREE Kindle Book!

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 13, 2013

FREE KINDLE BOOK!

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time for romance. How better to get in the mood than with a fast-paced romantic adventure?

Warrior Rogue will sweep you away on a thrill-packed ride with legendary villains, Norse myths, and ancient prophesies. The spellbinding action swings across the globe, but you don’t have to leave your armchair. Just CLICK HERE to download the Kindle book for FREE!Warrior Rogue

Yes, Warrior Rogue is FREE on Kindle from Feb. 13-17. Get your copy now and please tweet, share, and spread the news to your friends.

(And if you don’t have a Kindle, never fear! You can download the free Kindle app from Amazon and read the book on your computer, laptop, or Apple device.)

Warrior Rogue (The Drift Lords Series #2)

When fashion designer Jennifer Dyhr loses her lead actor for a video-game commercial, a replacement literally drops from the sky. Reluctant to let him leave, she hires him as a model for her studio. But when terrorists attack their flight home, Jen must awaken powers she didn’t know she had to protect them both.

Excerpt:

Jen tilted her head, taking the plunge. “I’m just wondering where we’re going with us.”

“Are you embarrassed because of my job, is that it?”

“I brought you home to meet my parents, didn’t I?”

“That’s not a proper answer.”

She folded her arms across her chest. “All right, I really like you. I want to be with you. But what happens when your mission is over?”

His eyes hardened. “I go back to my job.”

“Exactly. You leave me. You leave Earth.”

“Why, would you come with me?” For a moment, something flickered behind his expression.

“Not if you’re a space jockey hopping from one port to another. I want to settle down and have a family.”

“Well, then I guess you’ll have to look for someone more stable and suitable to your goals.”

Hurt and disappointment slashed through her. “I guess so. Someone like you can never understand drive and ambition. You just know how to kiss women or kill people.” She regretted the angry words as soon as she flung them at him, but his refusal to consider her feelings wounded her.

He grinned, but his eyes were two cold ice chips. “I’m very good at killing, Jen. It’s my best trait. Too bad you don’t count that among your requirements for a mate.”

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/cjV-PRVGoVs

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/njcohen/warrior-rogue/

Get your copy now FREE on Kindle from Feb. 13-17. Download your copy and please tweet, share, and spread the news to your friends.

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

Writing the Military Hero

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 10, 2013

Have you ever thought about writing a military hero into your story?

If so, be sure to get your facts and lingo straight. At a recent Florida Romance Writers meeting, we had the good fortune to have as guest speaker a Navy Captain and the brother of one of our members. Let’s call him Captain X for the sake of anonymity to respect his privacy. His experience includes flying helicopters, missions over Iraq, and special ops support.     soldier

He explained (Disclaimer: All comments are subject to my interpretation) that Special Forces means U.S. Army and Special Operations Forces (SOF) refers to any service. In general, these guys are professionals, fairly introverted with quiet personalities, and very patriotic. Rogue agents like you see in the movies probably would be “PNG-ed” or deemed “persona non grata” in reality. A QRF refers to Quick Reaction Force. These are the guys who stand by in case “things go sideways.”

Captain X mentioned how you don’t really know how you’ll react until you are actually under fire. A brave man faces his fears and chooses to overcome them.

The Captain talked about Iraq and how he’d rather be there in the summer because it’s too hot for the bugs to come out. It rains in the winter and the powdery sand becomes like mucilage. Some of the wildlife includes camel spiders (“as big as a dessert plate”), no-see-ums, mice, and scorpions.

His helicopter had two pilots, two gunners, and a medic. He wore armor and a helmet with a boom mike. He says they never use the word “gun” but call it a “weapon” instead. They refer to members of the military as “teeth or tail”, i.e. going to war or staying behind. He says they are careful not to cause collateral damage in terms of injuring civilians. They’re allowed to say No to a mission if they deem it to be too dangerous in this regard.

This was reassuring to me. It’s nice to know our military officers’ opinions are respected and they’re not expected to blindly follow orders, the excuse for too many atrocities in the past. At least, this is one officer who makes conscientious decisions based on the information available. I hope there are many others like him out there.

Captain X also mentioned his deep respect for Vietnam Veterans, and from his personal experience, they are as brave and honorable as anyone who ever wore the uniform.

And if anyone wishes to support the service, please consider the Wounded Warrior foundations.

The writing lesson learned is to be true to the lingo if you write a military hero. Captain X’s talk was peppered with colorful language that probably wasn’t as bad as it is in reality. Honor is still important, and so is bravery. And when your hero raises his rifle, it’s a weapon, not a gun. Or better still, it’s a specific model weapon. So just as cops and other folks in our books have their own jargon, so do the military. Get it right.

My hairdresser sleuth has a particular way she looks at things. How about your characters? What occupations have you researched for accuracy?

Posted in The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Booklover’s Bench

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 7, 2013

I am excited to announce that I’ve joined with a group of other writers, and we’ve started a new website for readers called Booklover’s Bench. We’ll be holding contests and giveaways so we hope you’ll visit often.

Booklover's Bench

Our first contest runs from Feb. 7-14. Enter now to win a Nook Simple Touch and an ebook from each of our authors!

Please bookmark our site while you are there so you can return and celebrate with us our love for books. We’ll be having more opportunities for you to win exciting prizes.

Participating authors include Terry Ambrose, Nancy J. Cohen, Karla Darcy, Terry Odell, and Maggie Toussaint.

Share this post with your friends!

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Looking for a Good Book

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 5, 2013

Recently I read through a bunch of novels to judge for the RITA contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America. Out of the 7 books sent me, I truly liked only one. That’s not to say I didn’t attempt to be fair and to objectively evaluate the others according to the supplied criteria. But only one out of the seven books appealed to my taste as a reader.

This exercise made me realize what I like about my favorite genres, and also what factors I don’t like that will make me put aside a book.

DISLIKES

No plot: In many of these romances, the romance portion was beautifully done but not much else happened. Reading page after page of angst and relationship problems quickly lost my interest. Now keep in mind that my cup of tea may be your cup of coffee. You may be an avid fan of contemporary romance and love these types of stories. I am not.

I like adventure, danger, and intrigue along with my romance. Or at the very least, I like something to be happening other than the emotional rollercoaster of the main couple. My taste runs to historicals, scifi/fantasy, and paranormals. That’s why romance can delight everyone. Different subgenres broaden the appeal.

Of course, the opposite problem can also be a deterrent: too much plot and not enough emotion. Haven’t you read stories where you don’t get a feel for the people? The action keeps moving along but you want more reaction? Balance is the key.

Graphic Language: Erotica may be a hot selling genre, but I don’t get off on the f-word or other graphically depicted details. You don’t even need a plot when these people are in bed for most of story. Or they’re thinking of doing it. Where’s the falling in love when two people are hot to trot right from the start? I’d be happier with a Jane Austen novel.

Contemporary Settings: I like to escape reality when I read, hence I prefer historical romance or futuristic/scifi/fantasy settings, or a contemporary setting with a paranormal element. My reading pleasure is focused on escape and entertainment, not enlightenment on heavy issues or a rehash of societal woes. All stories reflect on society in some manner. I prefer my tales Star Trek style, i.e. in disguised parallels to humanity’s foibles. As for location, Texas doesn’t draw me in although it seems to be a favorite among readers.

Unlikeable Characters: If the people are too far out from what’s normal for me, too eclectic or weird or damaged or tortured, I am apt to not be engaged. I want people I can admire and aspire to be like, not whom are unpleasant so that I can’t wait for the story to end.

So if these were the main things I disliked, what do I look for in a story? You may ask yourself the same thing. What draws you to a certain type of writing? A certain genre or a time period?

LIKES

Out of Time/Place/Experience: As I said above, I like to escape the toils of daily living, and so historical settings or futuristic/fantasy stories appeal to me. Ditto these elements or a paranormal angle in a modern setting.

Humor: I’m a sucker for humor. In any kind of story, if you make me smile, I’m more likely to keep reading.

Strong Plot: I want something to matter other than the relationship. Let the main couple race to find an artifact, missing sister, stolen chalice, spear of Atlantis, or anything that adds suspense. Throw them into situations that make me turn the page.

Archetypes: While I’m not fond of reunion stories, I do like hidden identity, royalty, rags to riches, and certain other archetypes. Some of these turn me off, like cowboys. What about you?

Mystery: A smidgen of mystery, even about a character’s background, adds tension. If you know everything up front and the characters like each other right away, where’s the story going?

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Now that I’ve finished the books I had to read, I can’t wait to dive into my TBR pile. Adventure, romance, fantasy, mystery, scifi—here I come.

So what kind of stories do you gravitate toward and which types do you generally avoid? How much will you read before you put a book down?

Posted in Florida Musings, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

FRW Cruise Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 1, 2013

FRW Cruise Conference
Liberty of the Seas
Feb. 24-28, 2013

Click Here to See Photo Album

Day 1, Thursday

Ninety registered guests attended the Florida Romance Writers Cruise with your Muse conference aboard the RCCL ship Liberty of the Seas. We boarded easily, getting right onto the ship after parking and checking our luggage at Port Everglades. Upstairs at the Windjammer Buffet, we ate lunch and waved to fellow FRWers who’d already arrived. We checked into our cabin and then set out to explore the ship. This is a beautifully appointed ship of the fleet with its traditional interior Promenade, ice skating rink, and usual bars and lounges. Downstairs at the conference center, we picked up our registration materials. Then we hustled to the lifeboat drill before departure time. At 5:00pm, we met our conference shipmates at a Welcome Aboard party in the Sphinx lounge on deck five. The editors and agents shared industry news and writing tips.

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Editor/Agent Tips
Get rid of the prologue
Hit the ground running
Avoid clichéd writing
Shorter works, less than 100,000 words, are more desirable these days.
Don’t overuse dialogue tags.

Next, my husband and I dashed to the Diamond Club lounge where, as repeat cruisers at a certain level in the Crown & Anchor Society, we enjoy benefits like free drinks and appetizers. Of course, this was my favorite activity and we made it up here on deck 14 every evening. Our dinner seating was late at 8:30 so we had plenty of time to meet fellow cruise enthusiasts.

Day 2, Friday

This morning, workshops were held with authors Traci Hall, Kathleen Pickering, and Karen Kendall. I found some time for walking the decks with my husband. We sat the pool and watched the action or lounged on our balcony to stare at the ocean.

P1020239  KimKris   P1020208

Along the way, I got a glimpse of an interesting lady who would intrigue me for the entire trip. On previous cruises, I always spotted a character who would be great in my books. Thus the elegant white-haired woman from a prior voyage became the Countess in Killer Knots, my cruise ship mystery. I haven’t placed the witch lady from our previous cruise yet, but she’ll make her way into one of my stories. On this trip, I saw someone who definitely had an air for dramatics.

This woman had blond hair that she wore teased and curled atop her head like a poodle. I swear, she even had poodle bangs. But this wasn’t all. No matter the time of day or place, she wore a chiffon dress with spaghetti straps and sparkles and high heels. One day her shoes were black velvet with rhinestones. Her dresses glittered and the hemline swayed as she moved. I saw her in ivory, burgundy, and gold variations of the same dress, often with sequins. She wore a heavy application of makeup as well. I assumed she must be European. She just had that air about her. We always saw her clinging to the arm of a dapper gentleman who looked fairly ordinary in comparison. Neither one of them were youngsters. She’ll end up in one of my stories for sure.

Later that afternoon, I sat in on a workshop with bestselling authors Heather Graham and Charlaine Harris. Here’s what they said about writing humor:

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Charlene: “When you’re writing sex, there is no dignity, and it can be funny.”
Heather: “It’s fun to have supporting characters where things don’t always go well. You can make jokes with these people.”

Floridian Idol followed, where the editors and agents tore apart submissions from attendees. You could learn a lot by listening to their comments, and this session was well attended.

Day 3

Saturday, we arrived at Cozumel. My husband and I took a taxi into town for $8.00 each way. Even though I had vowed not to buy anything, I ended up with a pair of earrings, rum cakes, and Mexican vanilla. That evening, we went to the show on the ship. The entertainer was a magician who kept the audience laughing.

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Day 4

Sunday morning was my workshop on Mystery Writing 101. I had a great group and the time went fast. We hustled out to attend Charlaine’s keynote speech where she talked about her long career history and provided inspiration for the rest of us.

keynote    NanCharlaine

That afternoon, ten of us authors held a booksigning in the dining room. Since the notice had gone into the ship’s daily newsletter, readers flowed into the room to buy our books. I couldn’t believe it when I’d sold my last copy! It was one of the best conference booksignings I’ve done.

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We hurried off to see Saturday Night Fever in the main theater while others went to the ice show.

At the end of the day, we had a farewell party led by our FRW president Rose Lawson and the hard-working conference planners before our final dinner together.

The four days went by too fast. We hung out; we talked; we learned and we shared. We got to know each other and the editors and agents who had nowhere else to go. We watched a dazzling parade of famous animated characters on the Promenade, sampled as much food as our stomachs would allow, and explored the hidden nooks of the sleek vessel. We each came away with something different—an invitation to submit pages to an editor/agent, a sense of peace, a few extra pounds.

I hope you can join us next time.

Nancy  TracHeath Kristin  SharKar

 

Posted in Conferences | Tagged: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

 
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