Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for February, 2014

Plotting Murder Among Friends

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 25, 2014

Join our imaginary conversation in a restaurant between two mystery writer friends:

Coffee Cup

Writer A: “I need to kill somebody while they’re getting a facial.”

Writer B: “How are you gonna do it?”

Writer A: “I’d like to use poison.”

Writer B: “You can’t involve the beautician. That would be too obvious.”

Writer A: “I know. What if my victim has one of those mud masks applied, and she has to lie there with a towel on her face for ten minutes or so? The beautician might leave for a few moments, at which time somebody can come in and smother the woman?”

Writer B: “Smothering works, but it doesn’t use poison. What if the killer taints the mud instead?”

Writer A: “Then the beautician would have to wear gloves when applying it so she wouldn’t be affected.”

Writer B: “How long do you want the victim to take to die? You’ll need the poison to be fast acting if she’s dead when the aesthetician returns.”

Writer A: “Yes, it should be quick. I have a book on poisons at home. And I don’t want it to be immediately evident to the cops that the woman died from unnatural causes.”

Strange Male Voice: “Are you talking about us, ma’am?”

Writer A and B glance up. Two policemen are standing by their table.

Cop A: “You’ll need to come to the station, miss. The customer in the next booth says you’re planning a murder.”

Writer A glances at their nosy neighbor. “We’re mystery writers. I’m talking about my next book, Fatality by Facial. Here, have a bookmark.”

Cop B: “No kidding? You know, I’ve always wanted to write a mystery. How do you get published? Do I need an agent?”

Writer A and B abruptly get up, pay their tab, and leave after exchanging bemused glances.

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So if you were the plotting partner, how would you suggest doing the deed?

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Hanging By A Hair Top Pick Review

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 24, 2014

Here is one of the early reviews in for Hanging By A Hair, #11 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries coming in April from Five Star.

Night Owl Reviews Top Pick—5 Stars!    NOtoppick

http://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Reviews/Merrynoelle-reviews-Hanging-By-A-Hair-by-Nancy-J-Cohen

The twists and turns will keep you guessing to the end and just about the time you think you have it all figured out she surprises you by steering you away with another clue. The author is always keeping you guessing as to where the story will lead you next. Ms. Cohen has just joined the list of my favorite authors and I look forward to reading the other books she has written. I hope you find Hanging by a Hair as great as I did.

Marla Vail, owner and operator of the salon Cut N’ Dye, and her husband, Detective Dalton Vail a homicide investigator, moved into Palm Valley recently following their recent marriage. They are attending their first Home Owners Association meeting when Dalton stands up to the Board president, Alan Krabber, for breaking the association rules after forcing another resident to comply with one Alan himself was breaking. After the meeting the man makes a suggestive offer to Marla within Dalton’s hearing followed by some very bigoted and derogatory remarks and Dalton loudly puts Alan down. Unfortunately for Marla and Dalton, Alan was their neighbor and a bigot and religious fanatic. To say life has its trials and tribulations in Palm Valley is an understatement.

The following day Alan hires someone to erect a fence and plant some trees. The problem is that he is having the fence put on the Vail’s side of the property line and is planning on planting trees whose roots will quickly grow into the pipes of their sprinkler system. After another loud shouting match between Dalton and Alan, which was heard by neighbors, Dalton threatened to go to the zoning board regarding Alan’s lack of property survey, building permits, and the workers’ failure to have a business license. The following day Alan Krabber is found dead, hanging from his second story banister railing. Dalton is removed from the case and neighbors are quick to tell the police of Dalton’s confrontations with Alan and the heated words they exchanged. Dalton is one of many named a person of interest. How on earth was such a vile man elected president of the HMA board?

Suddenly their quiet community is a hotbed of liars, thieves and a murderer who has not finished. Marla must be careful as she tries to prove to her husband’s new partner that he had nothing to do with the murder of Alan. The killer is watching and Marla is starting to become an unwanted nuisance that needs to be permanently removed. The body count is rising and Marla is finding more suspects every day. Can she figure this out, prepare the first Seder in their new home, cope with her mother and her on again, off again relationship with her crass and obnoxious boyfriend, and all the drama going on at the Cut N’ Dye?

Hanging by a Hair is the latest in the Bad Hair Day Mystery series, but is written in such a way you can easily read as a standalone novel. Not so good for me is the fact I fell in love with Marla and Dalton and their extended family and friends. Now I need to get the other books in the series to see if they are all this fascinating. The characters in the book are very well developed and balanced with enough good and bad traits to make them believable. Nancy Cohen has provided numerous clues, both blatant and subtle, to keep you invested in the story. NO Reviews

—Night Owl Review by MerryNoelle

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Book Blurb for Hanging By A Hair

HangingbyaHair (518x800)

Marla’s joyous move to a new house with her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, is marred by their next-door neighbor who erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man of the local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found dead the following day. Dismayed when Dalton is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest, Marla decides it’s up to her to find the killer. Can the intrepid hairstylist untangle the clues and pin down the culprit before he strikes again?

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/gv5ldn9uw7I

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18351891-hanging-by-a-hair

Pre-Order Now at Amazon or B&N

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

Preparing for a Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 21, 2014

How long does it take to prepare for a conference? Soon I’ll be heading to SleuthFest in February, Lake County BookFest in March, Malice Domestic in April, the Florida Library Association Convention in May, and Mystery Writers Key West Fest in June.

It can take me several weeks to get ready for each event and another couple of weeks to decompress and get caught up upon my return home. That’s a lot of time lost, not to mention money for gas, lodgings, registration fees, promo materials, etc. However, it’s time and money well spent from the benefits you receive by meeting other authors, booksellers, fans, and industry personnel.

FLA2013 Mystery

Conferences necessitate a lot of preparation, especially if you’re going as a speaker. Aside from determining your particular goals for this event—i.e. attending specialized craft sessions, learning about new publishing options, meeting editors, making new author friends, greeting fans—there’s the physical prep. Here’s a checklist of things to consider.

  1. Prepare for your talks. If you’re a panelist, it can be easier because you might not have to do much prep other than jotting down some notes about the points you want to get across. Moderator-run panels in general mean more work for the moderator but less work for the panel guests, unless you are each expected to present your material for xx minutes.
  2. If you are conducting a workshop on your own, you’ll need to compose or update your material and get copies made of handouts.
  3. If you’re speaking on different topics, assemble each handout in a separate manila envelope to keep them organized.
  4. Order business cards unless you have them already. Consider updating them with QR codes or with your social network URLs.
  5. Design, order, and pack brochures, bookmarks, and/or postcards about your books. Bring along display containers so they don’t get strewn across the tables.
  6. Design, order, and pack swag for the promo tables or goody room. These are items such as magnets, pens, door hangers, candy, and other giveaways.
  7. If you are driving, toss a box of extra books into your trunk in case the on-site bookseller doesn’t get your books in time or is unable to obtain copies of a particular title.
  8. Bring a checkbook in case the bookseller offers to sell you leftover stock at a discounted price.
  9. Pack a book or two to display at your presentations and panels.
  10. Consider giving a couple of books away at the Q&A sessions for your talks.
  11. If you’re donating a raffle basket, either get your materials to the coordinator ahead of time or bring the basket prepared and ready to go.
  12. Bring a signup sheet for your newsletter to put out at signings.
  13. Print out the conference workshop schedule and highlight your appearances. List these on your website and other online sites and include these papers in your suitcase.
  14. Bring a highlighter along so you can go through the conference schedule and mark sessions you want to attend.
  15. Print out contact info for friends you want to meet at the conference.
  16. Decide which outfits to wear to the different events. Business attire for daytime, dressier clothes for evening? Don’t forget matching shoes, handbags, and jewelry.
  17. Determine what gadgets to bring along: iPad or Laptop? Kindle or Nook? Camera to take photos for your blog? Charging devices?
  18. Pack a notebook to take notes. Later, write blogs about the sessions you attended to share your knowledge.
  19. Include Sharpie pens for signing books and ballpoint pens for note taking.
  20. If you belong to a professional writing organization, bring along chapter brochures to hand out to potential members.

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And the countdown begins. What else would you add to this list?

To see my upcoming conference appearances and virtual blog tour, go here: http://nancyjcohen.com/appearances/

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

Valentine’s Day Contests

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Contest

Take advantage of these three chances to win a signed ARC of Hanging By A Hair, #11 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries!

Valentine’s Day Contest
Enter Feb. 10-24 to win a signed ARC for Hanging By A Hair, a door hanger, and a $10 Starbucks gift card: http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

LibraryThing Giveaway
Enter Feb. 7-21 to win 4 signed ARCs Hanging By A Hair. http://www.librarything.com/er/giveaway/list

Booklovers Bench, Feb 4-18: Enter our anniversary contest Feb. 4-18 to win a Kindle Paperwhite or 1/8 free books: http://bit.ly/13qZ4oF including a signed ARC for Hanging By A Hair.

And if you haven’t read my latest blog post on “Story Magic” over at The Kill Zone, take a look now: http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2014/02/story-logic.html#.Uv4g7omYYdU

Have a sweet day!

 

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

Building Reader Loyalty

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 11, 2014

Barbara Vey was the guest speaker at the February 2014 meeting of Florida Romance Writers.

Barbara Vey1

As Contributing Editor for Publishers Weekly, Barbara Vey brings readers and writers together with her popular Beyond Her Book blog. An avid reader as well as a blogger, Barbara spoke about how authors can build and retain their readership.

“Think in terms of one reader at a time,” she advised listeners. Here are her pointers for gaining and retaining readers. Any mistakes in paraphrasing or interpretation are mine.

Find a common ground with your readers and form a community. How can you do this? By branding yourself. Be consistent with your brand. Use your author name and brand for everything.

“You are your product. You are a business. Act like it.” Avoid religion, politics, or anything controversial so you don’t alienate people.

“Be prepared when you go out in public. Carry copies of your books, bookmarks, and business cards. Talk to people everywhere, i.e. restaurants, bookstores, airplanes, the supermarket. Ask folks what they like to read, get a discussion going, and then mention you’re an author.”

“Visit and comment when people mention you online in tweets, posts, etc. Show that you have noticed and are paying attention.”

If you get a good review or a reader makes a positive comment on your work, be polite and say “I’m so glad you enjoyed my book. Thank you.” But don’t go near a negative reviewer.

Be seen on Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. Talk about fun and interesting things rather than your books all the time. On Facebook, focus on your Author page and not on your personal page.

For unpublished writers, “the time to start marketing is before you publish your book.”

Re advice others will give you: “Listen to what people say and then pick what applies to you.”

Barbara Vey2

“Be yourself. Talk like you’re talking to friends. Be friendly, ask questions, reply and retweet.”

Don’t have someone else do your posts and lie about it. If you have an assistant, for example, have them identify that they are posting on your behalf. Don’t let them pretend to be you.

Use hashtags during TV shows, sports events, elections etc. and tag people with the @ symbol.

Don’t use foul language or talk politics/religion, or you’ll always offend someone.

Map out your plan of action for the day and do what needs to get done.

“Follow people who are fun and who say interesting things” to learn what they do.

Comment. Like. Share. If you Like someone’s FB post, you’ll keep seeing their posts in your newsfeed.

Help each other out. Link to websites in blogs when you mention someone. Everyone MUST have a website. Make sure your About page shows something interesting and unique about you.

Post daily, share yourself, and ask readers their opinions.

“Giveaways are huge.”

Promote others. If you promote them, they’ll promote you. Barbara especially loves the romance community because “everyone helps everyone else.”

If you build your community, readers will come and they will stay.

“If you want to be successful, consider this a career.”

Tell people about your writing and let them make the decision about what they read. Don’t make assumptions, like a guy won’t want to read your book. You never know what will appeal to someone.

What do Readers want?

“Series that pull you in so the characters become like your family.”
“Respect for the reader.”
“Consistent writing.”
“Authors must have a warmness, or at the very least, politeness.”

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An avid reader, Barbara consumed a book a day before taking on the glamorous life of a roving reporter. Traveling all over the United States to Barbara Veyconferences from Romance to Thrillers, Mysteries to Horror, Historicals to Comic Con, Barbara has even broken through the barrier into the entertainment industry by covering Red Carpet Events and interviewing the likes of Richard Dean Anderson, Joshua Jackson, Joss Whedon, Chris Evans and others. But her love of Romance keeps her grounded while she offers readers a place to step away from life’s daily trials to take a positive journey through the world of books.

Website: http://barbaravey.com/
Blog: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/beyondherbook/
Reader Events: http://www.readerevents.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barbaravey
Twitter: @BarbaraVey

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ENTER MY VALENTINE’S DAY CONTEST NOW. Go here to enter and for more contest info: http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

If you’re a reader, what do you want from an author?

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

Writing the Cozy Mystery

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 5, 2014

Do you want to write a mystery but don’t have a clue where to start? Or maybe you’ve begun a whodunit but are stuck on the plot? Perhaps you’re already writing a series, and you need tips on how to keep track of your material?Cozy

After hearing numerous aspiring writers ask for advice on how to write a mystery, I decided to compile an easy-to-read instructional booklet on this needed topic.

What makes a cozy different from other crime fiction? How do you plot the story? Where does your sleuth originate? How do you plant clues?

The answers to these questions and more are in Writing the Cozy Mystery.

This title is now available on Amazon but will appear soon in multiple digital formats, including Nook, Kobi, iBooks, & SW. A print edition is coming next. Please keep watch on my website for links to these editions.

For the affordable rate of $0.99, what have you got to lose?

BUY NOW at http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Cozy-Mystery-Nancy-Cohen-ebook/dp/B00I8O1KYA/

International: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00I8O1KYA

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Writing-Cozy-Mystery-Nancy-Cohen-ebook/dp/B00I8O1KYA/

CUSTOMER REVIEWS are requested. Please write a blurb about the book if you find it to be useful and post it on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, etc. Also any shares and tweets would be appreciated.

This morning we are at:

#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Reference > Writing, Research & Publishing Guides > Writing Skills

Let’s keep the momentum going!

And here’s another reason to celebrate: I just finished, as of this morning, my first draft of Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries! Yes, I actually typed “The End.”

Watch for my Valentine’s Day contest coming soon. In the meantime, enter our Booklover’s Bench anniversary contest to win a Kindle Paperwhite or 1/8 free books by our authors, including an advance reading copy of Hanging By A Hair, #11 in the Bad Hair Day series. http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

 
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