Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for December, 2014

Goals Met

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! It’s traditional on this day to revisit what’s been accomplished over the past twelve months. So I dug up my goal list from this time last year to see what actually got done. Here we go:

WRITING GOALS

Finish Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. (DONE; Turned in, edits finished, book is scheduled for release in October 2015)

Do edits for Warrior Lord, #3 in the Drift Lords series, when I get them from my editor. Read through the page proofs until this project is complete and in production. (DONE; Book Released August 2014)

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Complete edits on Murder at Your Service, an original mystery that I plan to indie publish. (NOT DONE; put this project on the back burner.)

 

BUSINESS GOALS

Implement marketing plan for Hanging By A Hair, #11 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, due out in April. (DONE)

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Complete legal preparation for indie publishing venture by the end of January (DONE). Hire book cover designer and book formatter (DONE).

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Publish Writing the Cozy Mystery in time for SleuthFest at the end of February. (DONE).

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Design marketing plan for Warrior Lord (DONE).

Begin prep work for Thumbs Up, my father’s travel memoir, a true adventure of his cross-country hitchhiking journey in 1929. (DONE AND PUBLISHED).

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So it appears I’ve accomplished all but one of my goals. I had two works of fiction and two works of nonfiction published in 2014. That’s quite enough, since launch parties and promo took up the rest of the time. In fact, that’s more than what I hope to do in 2015. In another post, I’ll share my new goals for the coming year.

How about you? Did you get done all you set out to do?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Disney Revisited

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 23, 2014

The Magic Kingdom never loses its magic for us, even though we’re approaching our later years. We celebrated our engagement there, and this year we celebrated our 38th anniversary at this magical theme park.

First we had a lovely dinner at Eddie V’s on West Sand Lake Road. I’d made the reservation and said it was our anniversary, so they greeted us with a “Happy Anniversary.” The white clothed table was strewn with red rose petals and a congratulatory note from the restaurant. Then they offered us a complimentary champagne toast, which we gratefully accepted. Dinner was delicious. We’d definitely return again.

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The next morning, we parked at the ticket and transportation center and took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. The streets were festively decorated for the holidays. A mini-parade was going on so we stopped to watch.

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Then we boarded the People Mover in Tomorrowland. This sedate ride is our speed these days. We skipped another favorite, the Carousel of Progress, to see if we could get in for lunch at the Beauty and the Beast castle. Alas, reservations were full. We proceeded past Fantasyland toward the Haunted Mansion, noting the store that used to hold kitchen wares now sold Haunted Mansion souvenirs. Why not? Every other ride has an associated gift shop. Some of the items were imaginative. We ate lunch in the nearby Colombia House, then strolled around the rest of the park. That’s the beauty of having a condo nearby and annual passes. We don’t have to stay late because we’re trying to make the most of our money. We can go for a walk and a pleasant lunch out then go home to read and rest.

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Another day found us at Fort Wilderness for another lunch and stroll. We like this wooded park where guests can rent camping sites or log cabins. It feels more like a wilderness area than the other theme parks. It’s interesting how trees have changed color in Central Florida. You’ll see vibrant reds and golds like up north mixed among the greenery. It gave us a taste of Fall.

We couldn’t resist trying the new parking garage at Downtown Disney to see what was going on with their renovations into Disney Springs. Lots of changes are coming. We saw one restaurant under construction called the Boathouse and another one that looks like an airplane hangar. Captain Jack’s restaurant is gone. The Rainforest Café now has a Lava Lounge, and there’s a bridge being built across the lagoon. We ate lunch and watched the latest Night at the Museum movie in the Dine-In movie theater. The film was entertaining, good family fare for the holidays. Here’s the new Starbucks at Downtown Disney. It has a cool outdoor seating area and a reserve coffee bar separate from the regular counter.

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And we even made time for a restful stroll around our condo lake. Didn’t spot the resident alligator this time. Now we’re at our house gearing up for more holiday parties while I’m trying to get back on a work schedule. I miss those walks around the Disney parks.

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Happy Holidays to all!

Posted in Disney, Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Turkey Tetrazzini

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 19, 2014

It’s always useful to have some leftover turkey recipes around the holidays. Here are two of mine for turkey tetrazzini. I recently made the second recipe with accompanying photos. If you wish, you can freeze some fresh cut up cooked turkey right away after roasting. Then when you’re ready for a new dish and aren’t sick of poultry anymore, defrost the turkey meat and create a new dinner. Recipe number two serves 6 to 8 and is a one-dish meal that goes well with a salad.

TURKEY TETRAZZINI – 1

16 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or vermicelli
2 cups chopped, cooked turkey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
12 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
10 oz. can Healthy Choice cream of mushroom soup
12 oz. package frozen mixed vegetables, defrosted
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup white wine
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Paprika

Cook spaghetti according to package directions, drain, and set aside in large bowl. In a large skillet, heat oil. Sauté onion, green pepper, and mushrooms until wilted. Add to spaghetti along with mushroom soup, mixed vegetables, cheddar cheese, white wine, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well to blend. Pour into greased baking dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and paprika on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, or until heated through.

 

TURKEY TETRAZZINI – 2

16 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or vermicelli
2 cubes chicken bouillon
2 Tbsp. butter
12 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
2 Tbsp. flour
¼ cup sherry, white wine, or chicken broth
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup fat free evaporated milk
4 oz. jar sliced pimento
14.5 oz. can peas and carrots, drained
2 cups chopped, cooked turkey
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti in large pot according to directions. Drain but save 2-1/2 cups cooking liquid. Dissolve bouillon cubes in this remaining liquid. In a separate nonstick skillet, sauté mushrooms in butter until wilted. Blend in flour. Add sherry and reserved cooking liquid. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Heat to boiling and simmer until slightly thickened. Next: Put cooked spaghetti into large bowl. Stir in mozzarella cheese and milk. Add turkey, mushroom mixture, peas and carrots and pimento. Stir until blended. Transfer to greased baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and paprika. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly at the edges.

Left Side: Before Baking                        Right Side: After Baking

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Posted in Food, Recipes, That's Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Marketing to Bloggers

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 16, 2014

At a recent meeting of Florida Romance Writers, we heard Ana Ivies speak about Marketing, Blogs and Reader Events. She runs http://wickedbookevents.com and http://anasattic.com which cater to readers.

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For those who use affiliate links on their blogs, Ana says blog revenues have decreased since Kindle Unlimited got started. KU “has changed the landscape of reading.” Many bloggers won’t promote KU books. Ana sells books from her sites and puts up free and $.99 book specials there too. She advises authors that KU may be better for backlist titles. Bloggers want to promote new releases. Don’t undervalue your book to $.99 unless it’s a novella. When the third or fourth book in a series comes out, put book one on sale.

Advice For Approaching Bloggers

Find bloggers who review books similar to yours.
Research the site before querying to see if a blogger will promote your book.
Review their submission requirements. Ana says Net Galley is a good way to reach bloggers. Make sure you grammar check your query.
Follow the blogger on social media.
Address the blogger by name. Say, “Hi, I’d like to introduce myself…”
Give your name, book title, and a link to your book on Amazon. When asking to sign at an event, provide all of your links.
Support other authors.
Interact; don’t only promote.
Include all of your social media links in your email signature.
Put your Amazon author link on your FB page.
If a blogger gives you a positive review, comment on it and share it. Express your gratitude. “Thank you for taking the time to read and review my book.”
If you do a blog tour, go over and thank the host for being part of your event. A tour-wide giveaway draws readers in but don’t give away the ebook the blogger is promoting.

What Not To Do

Do not post your book or buy links on a blogger’s Facebook page. It’s okay to comment on a blogger’s FB posts and share their links.
Don’t tag a blogger in a promo post.
Don’t have your street team hijack a thread on her site and flood it with comments. One of two of your fans replying to a post is enough.
Don’t have your virtual assistant pose as you.
Don’t compare one blogger to another.
Don’t sign up a blogger for your email list without asking.
Don’t make fun of 1 star reviews.
Deal with drama privately, not online.

“When you write a book, it’s thirty percent writing and seventy percent promotion.”

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Brio Tuscan Grille

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 14, 2014

I love trying new restaurants, especially when they’re right around the corner from where I live. A new Brio Tuscan Grille just opened on the southeast corner of Westfield Mall in Plantation. We had an excellent meal, starting with the tomato and mozzarella Caprese salad. My husband had shrimp and crab cakes and I had grilled salmon. The fish was accompanied by roasted diced sweet potatoes, asparagus and other vegetables. It was delicious and the service was excellent. I can’t wait to go back. We also liked that they served butter instead of olive oil with the crusty bread. Prices are reasonable, and they are open for lunch. And who can resist the mini-desserts for $2.99?

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Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in Florida Musings, Food, That's Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Final Words from #Ninc14

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 12, 2014

Final Advice for Writers from #Ninc14
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

To summarize the concluding talks from #Ninc14, here are the final points.

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If you have a lifeboat or collaborative team, specify your goals. Is it to increase sales or readership, or to reach bestseller status?

Series or related books sell the best. Make the first one $.99 so it can be called a bestseller as opposed to free.

Check to see if you have some rights back if not all, i.e. Do you have the rights for non-US territories, audio, translation rights?

Hire translators from the United States and not from other countries. If you hire somebody from outside the US, you will have to pay them royalties.

Don’t get discouraged. Just get more material out there. It’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. Once you’re making money, hire people to do everything.

It’s the technology age and you have to do social media, whether or not it’s in your comfort zone.

Ask your readers what they prefer in how they buy books. Do they pre-order?

Don’t just dip your toes in the brave new world of self-publishing. Jump in naked.

Don’t make decisions based on fear. Make it based on your intuition. Know what you are good at and what you need help with. What does success mean to you?

Get your titles out there. They don’t all have to be full-length novels.

Ask your publishing partners these questions: What can you do better than anyone else? What do you think I do well? How could I do better? What skills can you contribute? What market intelligence do you have that we can use together? What information do I have that you need, and for what purpose? What’s the best way we can add value for each other?

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Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery, Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

 

Posted in Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

iBooks Tips for Writers

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 10, 2014

Working with iBooks
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

iBooks

Representatives from iBooks spoke at the Ninc conference. They said their readers like free ebooks, so Apple offers the first free in series promotion. Their readers are also willing to pay more for a book so don’t be afraid to price higher.

Pre-orders count double toward your sales ranking—when a pre-order comes in and when the book releases. You can do pre-orders up to one year before the book’s release. You can offer a sample of the story when the book is in pre-order. So Step One is to set the pre-order date, which is when the book is available for ordering. Step Two is to set the sales start date, when the book can be sent out.

iBook sales count on the USA Today list. iBooks are only allowed on five devices for one person. You should put your iBook links on your websites, Twitter, newsletter and elsewhere. For Twitter, use the hash tag #iBooks, not #iTunes.

It takes time to build readers on this platform. They recommend you have three books minimum in your series when you offer the first one free. In the back material, make sure you include links along with covers for your other books.

Make sure your name is readable on a thumb-sized cover. For the URL, take out the specific country, and the URL will redirect to the country of the buyer.

i.e. Take out the U.S. part from this link:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/nancy-j.-cohen/id411505950?mt=11&uo=4&at=1l3vsrx

And it becomes this link that redirects to the buyer’s country. See if this works for you:
https://itunes.apple.com/artist/nancy-j.-cohen/id411505950?mt=11&uo=4&at=1l3vsrx

They can only link your series titles if the books are uploaded by the same publisher. So if the books come from different sources, they won’t be able to link the titles in a series. [NOTE This is no longer true. It doesn’t have to be the same publisher but be consistent with your series title in the Metadata for each book.]

You might want to join their Affiliate program so you can share in some of the revenue from sales.

iBooks is in 51 territories. The German market is huge. We need to think more globally. Apple has a strong worldwide presence. India will be an emerging market for ebooks.

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery, Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

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Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Buy Books for Gifts

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 9, 2014

As you do your holiday shopping, consider supporting authors and booksellers by buying books for gifts. You can find something for everyone’s taste. Even your friends who don’t own an e-reader device can download free apps to their cell phones or tablets. So you can still gift them an ebook. If you have an indie bookstore in your area, stop by and make a purchase. We need to show our support for these stores that still exist. And now for the commercial. Here are some of my titles for you to consider:

For Your Hairdresser, Nail Tech, Beautician and/or Readers Who Love Mysteries

Give them a Bad Hair Day Mystery. The adventures of hairstylist and salon owner Marla Shore will thrill them with murder, mayhem, humor and romance. If you want a brand new hardcover, start them off with the latest title, HANGING BY A HAIR.

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If you want a brand new paperback, order SHEAR MURDER from HQ Worldwide Mystery Library.

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Most of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries are available in digital copies. Look for them here:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iBooks
Kobo

For the Armchair Traveler, History Buff, True-Life Memoirs or Adventure Travel Fan

Try my father’s 1929 cross-country hitchhiking adventure, THUMBS UP.

Thumbs Up

For the Writer

Whatever genre they write, they can use a copy of WRITING THE COZY MYSTERY. This instructional guidebook will take them step-by-step through the process of writing a winning whodunit.

Cozy

For the Romance Fan

For friends who like a hot, sexy read, give them a book from my Drift Lords series. These romantic adventure tales will sweep them away to a modern world mixed with myth and magic. WARRIOR PRINCE, WARRIOR ROGUE and WARRIOR LORD are available in print and digital formats.

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Contest Alert!
Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or 1/6 free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest:
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

HAPPY SHOPPING!

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Flamingo Gardens

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 7, 2014

Yesterday, we revisited Flamingo Gardens where we’d been members years ago. It’s the only botanical gardens in the Fort Lauderdale area. For an $18 admission fee, you can enter the lush grounds through the gift shop. In the back is the entry through an impressive arch of holiday lights.

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Along winding paths, you can admire the tropical greenery and enormous trees like the live oaks that have grown here for 200 years. Who said south Florida didn’t have tall trees? Colorful flowers abound amid trickling waterfalls and spreading plants.

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Next comes the Aviary where birds run free, then a caged section holding owls, eagles and hawks. These birds of prey are all injured and can’t be released into the wild. So they are, in effect, rescue animals.

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We skipped the snakes behind glass cases and the guide-led wildlife encounter to head toward the historic Wray home. I love seeing how people lived in 1930’s Florida.

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After eating hot dogs at the outdoor café, we viewed the zoo area with a bobcat, turtles, alligators, a black bear, and more. We passed on the tram ride, annoyed at the extra cost and that they don’t allow visitors to stroll the expanded acreage because you have to take the ride there. That’s one reason why we dropped our membership. The place isn’t as well maintained as Fairchild in Miami or Leu Gardens in Winter Park. It’s pleasant for visitors but limited for locals due to these reasons.

See the iguana in the picture below on the right? And you do know that flamingo get their color from eating shrimp?

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I am not sure, but I think that might be a breadfruit tree above. The path ends again at the gift shop which always has an appealing array of Florida knickknacks, books, souvenirs, snazzy umbrellas and more. The gardens are certainly worthwhile for visitors who wish to experience our ecological environment. I suggest you go in the cooler months when it isn’t buggy. Yesterday was perfect, in the seventies and sunny.

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Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/. Unfortunately, if you entered before, you’ll need to enter again. Rafflecopter screwed up and lost all our entries.

Now speaking of flamingos, Freddie the Flamingo is the official mascot of Florida’s MWA chapter. Come join us for SleuthFest 2015 in Deerfield Beach on Feb. 26. Guest speakers include bestselling author James Patterson and humorist Dave Barry. For more info, go to http://www.sleuthfest.com

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Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Pitching your Book to Hollywood

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 5, 2014

How to Attract Hollywood to your Book
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

Why does Hollywood keep doing sequels and remakes? The simple answer is fear. Studios are filled with people who have legitimate fears about their jobs.

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China is a huge market right now. A movie might not do as well in the United States as it does in the international market. Character dramas and romantic comedies do not travel globally. The failure rate for romantic comedies in the United States is high. They are under-performing in theaters, so they’ve migrated to television. Romance is alive on the big screen but in melodrama, not comedy. These films do well in English-speaking, Western European countries but not in Asia. Character driven stories do not perform as well as dialogue driven ones. Hollywood honchos have to consider the P&A Cost or Print and Advertising budget. A $100 million movie costs $200 million to market. Smaller movies do not work as well because of this factor, and they do not attract as much attention.

Movie Sequels

Television has a bigger audience, so character driven stories can work better here. Authors should point to their sales to convince filmmakers there is an audience for their work. Pitching in Hollywood is for seasoned writers-producers. These people create TV shows. The speaker said she does a preliminary pitch first and then a more formal pitch. Then they “clear the arena” to see who else is doing similar projects.

Tips for Authors

Understand Hollywood is looking for something different.
Boil your novel down to one sentence.
Don’t say “this meets that” to describe your work comparing movies.
Be open about casting.

Trends

Hollywood is making more features for the international markets.
African-American romantic comedy ensembles are finding audiences.
Low-budget Christian films are finding audiences.
There is a market for romantic melodramas in feature films.
TV is great for character driven stories. They can deliver bigger audiences than features.
Traditional romantic comedy has migrated to TV.

How to Approach a Writer-Producer

Have your agent submit your published novel. The writer-producer may request a “shopping agreement” which gives them one year to pitch your story with no payment. If interested, the studio or network will pay the author and the writer-producer separately.

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery, Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

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

 
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