Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for December, 2015

2015 in review

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 31, 2015

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Writing Goals Met

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 30, 2015

It’s traditional at the end of the year to revisit what we’ve accomplished and to set new goals for next year. So I dug up my goal list for 2015. Let’s see what actually got done.

WRITING GOALS

Finish and Submit Facials Can Be Fatal, #13 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. (DONE. This title is scheduled for release on February 22, 2017.)

Revise backlist mystery titles, starting with Hair Raiser, Murder by Manicure, and Body Wave. (DONE. These titles are available in ebook and print formats.)

Commence audio book process starting with Permed to Death. (Not Done. Move to 2016.)

Hire editor for two standalone mysteries and consider bundling them as a box set. (Not Done. Move to 2016)

Begin plotting #14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. (DONE. I’m more than halfway through writing Hair Brained.)

Consider timeline for writing books #4-6 in the Drift Lords Series. (Not Done. Postponed indefinitely.)

BUSINESS GOALS

Hold launch party for each backlist title as the revised Author’s Edition is published. (DONE.)

Plan promo campaign for Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, due out Sept. 16. Plan contests, buy ads, order swag, set up blog tour, write newsletter, plan launch party. (DONE.)

Enter books in writing contests. (IN PROGRESS. Now entering Peril by Ponytail.)

Keep up with quarterly newsletter, blogs and social networking sites. (DONE.)

Finish Line

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

 

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

Winter Park

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 29, 2015

We decided to visit the Farmer’s Market in Winter Park last Saturday. Not all the vendors were present since it was a holiday weekend, so we grabbed croissants at a food stand and jumped back in the car. The perfect weather led us to Harry P. Leu Gardens, a lovely botanical gardens that we’ve visited many times before. This garden was the model for Orchid Isle (minus the orchids) in my wedding mystery, Shear Murder. It was a perfectly clear and sunny day to stroll the many tree-lined paths.

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From here, we went for lunch at the popular barbecue place, 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Then we headed over to Lombardi’s seafood market. We purchased fresh salmon farmed in the U.S. without hormones and gazed in awe at the other offerings.

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Our daughter made delicious salmon balls for dinner, accompanied by cauliflower mash and potato latkes. The latter caused some hilarity in the kitchen as one mishap led to another, and we ended up dumping out the cooked and peeled potatoes in favor of using a handy box mix. No matter; the family that cooks together, stays together.

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With wonderful holiday memories to treasure, my husband and I headed home. Now it’s time to clean things up from 2015 and move ahead toward the new year.

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Star Wars at Disney Springs

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 28, 2015

We spent Christmas Day at the movies as is our tradition. This year, we saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Disney’s Dine-In Movie Theater. I love this experience where you lounge in comfy seats, order a meal, and dine during the film showing on a big screen.

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As for the movie, I loved it. It has action-packed scenes and emotional resonance similar to the original film that started it all. The new characters are complex and engage your interest right away, while seeing familiar faces brings you back to an earlier era when the same universe fired your imagination. It appeals to both old and new fans and satisfies both. Surprise plot twists will startle you even if you thought you saw them coming. As for the final scene, all I could say was, “How can they end it NOW?” We breathlessly await the sequel to see if it will bring another reveal. Meanwhile, I’m ready to pre-order this DVD.

After the movie, we strolled along the west end of Disney Springs amid the Christmas Day crowds, crossed the bridge and headed for a glimpse of the new Hangar Bar. This themed lounge is very small so be prepared to wait for a seat.

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We passed by the Boatyard, a popular restaurant which we’d tried before. It’s next to a landing where you can rent an amphibious car to cruise the lake. We went over to Morimoto Asia instead for drinks and appetizers. I had the sake sangria and an order of steamed dumplings. Reservations are suggested for a seat in the dining room. Otherwise, you can sit in the bar area and order food.

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The mobs of people discouraged us from exploring further changes at Disney Springs, so we headed home.

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Hollywood Studios at Disney

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 26, 2015

We went to Disney World’s Hollywood Studios to see what changes had taken place since our last visit. Aside from the Christmas decorations, there were a couple of Star Wars related attractions that we visited. The first was Path of the Jedi. This ten-minute film showcases highlights from the first six movies and shows teasers from The Force Awakens. It’s still a thrill to hear the majestic theme music reverberating through the theater.

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Next we strolled around, bypassing Star Tours except to browse in its shop. We’d been on this simulation ride before, but now we chose to avoid the stomach-shaking experience.

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The Backstage Tour is closed, presumably to turn into part of Star Wars land when it’s built who-knows-when in the future. We skipped all the other familiar rides we’d been on before and headed over to the former animation building. This now houses Star Wars Launch Bay. Here you’ll find another short film with a behind-the-scenes look at The Force Awakens. Our fervor to see the latest movie is now at a peak. We toured the exhibits here with model spacecraft, works of art, character uniforms, weaponry, and more. Of course the exit is through another shop, this one with expensive collectible items.

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With the crowds and humidity increasing, we decided to call it a day. As annual passholders, we don’t need to get the most for our money on any single visit. So we left to go do some necessary shopping and to watch our DVD of Tomorrowland in the comfort of our condo.

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Happy Holidays!

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Gifts for Writers

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 22, 2015

What should you buy for the writer on your gift list? Some of the more interesting gifts I’ve received have come from my writer pals or my kids, like the jar labeled Writer’s Remedy that holds little squares with different words for inspiration, or the figure holding a hammer to his computer with a plaque that says #1 Author & Mom, or the coffee mug with my book title. My husband gave me a glass blown Disney castle to represent my dreams coming true. Be imaginative or be simple. Whatever you give will be appreciated.

Gifts

1. Books on their Wish List, or a gift card to Amazon or BN.
2. Gift Card to Starbucks or their favorite shopping site.
3. Office Supplies: Sticky notes, highlighters, novelty ballpoint pens, paper clips, pocket notebooks. You name it, we can use it.
4. Personalized notepads or sticky notes.
5. Cute desk accessories like Brighton desk clocks or magnetic paper clip holders.
6. Scented candles to make the office smell good.
7. Body lotions, hand cream, scented soaps. These are always welcome.
8. A gift certificate to a day spa. A manicure or massage can go a long way toward relaxation.
9. USB Flash Drive. We can use several of these as backups to keep in different locations.
10. Portable charging device for electronics.
11. Food baskets, chocolates, and wine. You can never go wrong here.
12. Decorative coasters for their desk or side table near where they work or read.
13. Collectible paperweights.
14. Restaurant gift cards so they don’t have to cook.
15. Cute novelty items for writers. Look in those catalogs you get in the mail. Tee shirts, mugs, nightshirts or other items with funny sayings relevant to writers.
16. Movies. Look for films about writers. For example, Her Alibi starring Tom Selleck is a very funny movie about a mystery writer. See the many take-offs on Jane Austen (Austenland, Lost in Austen, plus the works themselves), English period murder mysteries such as Gosford Park or seasons of Downton Abbey. Remember how we all loved Romancing the Stone? The classics never go out of date. See more suggestions here:
https://killzoneblog.com/2015/12/mystery-movies.html Or give a Fandango gift card, so they can buy movie tickets of their choice.
17. Did I mention chocolate?

What else would you add to this list?

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The Final Journey

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 21, 2015

The Final Journey on the Celebrity Constellation
Day 9, Sunday, December 6, 2015

We arose to the rising sun over the sea, looking forward to our final day of relaxation before we’d have to disembark.

 

We were wined and dined with a wine tasting as Captain’s Club Elite members.

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Later we attended an afternoon tea in one of the dining rooms. Add in breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we were eating nearly all day.

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As we were strolling by the pool deck, I was startled to see a guest reading my cruise mystery, Killer Knots. What a thrill this gave me! Imagine the chances to finding someone with my book in their hands! I introduced myself and offered to personalize her copy. Susan was kind enough to let me take her photo:

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The rest of the day, we packed our suitcases, lounged around, and enjoyed the ocean view. The trip was almost at an end. We’d had a wonderful time, and the weather gods had been with us. Now we could face whatever waited at home with renewed energy.

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Day of Departure
Day 10, Monday, December 7, 2015 on the Celebrity Constellation
We sat in Ocean Liners with other Elite members waiting for our number to be called. Pastries and coffee were available. We were off the ship by 9am. And so ended our journey. It’s time to plan the next one, after I lose the weight I’d gained.

View all cruise photos here: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Contest Alert!
Holiday Bonanza
Last Day! Win a pair of Arizona crafted earrings and a silver evening bag for your holiday parties. Two runners-up will each win a signed hardcover Perish by Pedicure (A Bad Hair Day Mystery). http://nancyjcohen.com/contest/

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Labadee: An Island Paradise

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 20, 2015

Day 8, Saturday, December 5, 2015 on the Celebrity Constellation

Labadee is a beautiful beach hideaway private to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. It’s at the very tip of Haiti if my geography is correct. The sea is a magnificent aqua color and mountainous terrain adds beauty to the scenery.

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RCCL (which owns Celebrity) supplies chairs and towels for all guests. All you need do is tip the beach attendant to put a chair where you want it. Then you can laze about, swim, or participate in various activities sponsored by the cruise line. Bring sun screen, sunglasses, a hat and beach sandals. It gets hot.

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Plenty of bars and rest rooms are scattered about for your convenience. The peninsula is big enough that you can even ride a free tram around to the various stops. Be aware that swimming is allowed on one side only, at the bay with its multiple beaches. The other side faces the ocean and is suitable for sunbathing and admiring the sea.

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The beach barbecue is always fun. You can choose hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, or chicken plus side dishes and cookies. Free cold drinks are available in dispensers.

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At one end of the place is a zip line and roller coaster up on a hill. Near this at the base is the shopping village, where you can buy lovely gifts for your friends at home. Mahogany bowls, colorful Haitian art, native jewelry, dolls, wood carvings and more all can be yours, preferably for cash. Bargaining is expected.

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This area had grown since I’d last been here, and I lost my cousin Janice among the warren of shops. We reunited later at the tram stop. An air-conditioned indoor section offers a respite from the heat. The marketplace is a good site to pick up gifts for folks back home. Here’s a lovely serving dish I couldn’t resist:

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I could revisit this setting endlessly. The scenery is magnificent; the bay water gentle and warm; the beaches rife with palm trees and lounge chairs. Food is provided, and there are shopping opportunities. What more could you want?

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View more photos here: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Contest Alert!

Holiday Bonanza, Dec. 7 – 21
Last Two Days! Win a pair of Arizona crafted earrings and a silver evening bag for your holiday parties. Two runners-up will each win a signed hardcover Perish by Pedicure. http://nancyjcohen.com/contest/

Coming Next: The Final Journey

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San Juan Food Tour

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 19, 2015

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Day 7, Friday December 4, 2015 on the Celebrity Constellation

We took the ship’s Food and Cultural Tour of San Juan for $82.00 per person. It turned out to be a moderately strenuous walking tour so beware if you think about signing up for this one. Having seen the old city and visited the rainforest, we were looking for something different to do. This fit the bill. We got a nice tour of the city along with several food stops.

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Our first stop was for Puerto Rican coffee and a pastry covered with powdered sugar. This coffee is unsweetened but tasted good to me without adding sugar. The pastry was like a beignet, a soft warm concoction that was easy to consume but one that wouldn’t be on my daily diet.

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From here we went to a restaurant where we sat at one long table. We made our own Mojito cocktails: Add 4 to 5 mint leaves to glass and crush with pestle. Add a spoonful of natural or light brown sugar. Use pestle to blend. Pour in 1 shot of rum. Add club soda.

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Using a thicker pestle, we ground up fried plantains then added shredded (pulled) cooked chicken with Creole sauce. This Mofongo was our main dish, served with rice and red beans.

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For dessert, we headed to another restaurant for a flan that tasted more like cheesecake.

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Here we are on the ship waiting to leave port:

 

View more photos here: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Contest Alert!

Holiday Bonanza,
Dec. 7 – 21
Win a pair of Arizona crafted earrings and a silver evening bag for your holiday parties. Two runners-up will each win a signed hardcover Perish by Pedicure (A Bad Hair Day Mystery). http://nancyjcohen.com/contest/

Coming Next: Labadee

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Cruzan Rum Factory

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 18, 2015

Celebrity Constellation
Cruzan Rum Factory on St. Croix
Day 6, Thursday, December 3, 2015

Our island tour of St. Croix included a stop at the Cruzan Rum Distillery. Another rum factory exists on the island, and some of the tours go there. That’s Captain Morgan’s place, which our guide said is a newer facility. It’s where they make spiced rum. But the Cruzan brand is more historical and is responsible for much of the rum exported from the island.

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We began at the visitor center, where we bought $8 tickets that gave us the tour plus two drinks. For the same price, you can just get the drinks and hang out at the visitor center, which also serves as a gift shop.

Outside, our tour guide told us about the factory’s history and about some of the buildings.

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Then she led us to a series of vats under a covered structure. A brown liquid swirled around before the fermenting stage. It smelled divinely like molasses in this section.

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We followed the young woman up and down stairs, through twisting corridors, indoors and back outside while I snapped photos everywhere. The catwalks and twisting paths inspired my imagination as did the fuel tanks where I could envision a James-Bondish scene.

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Eventually, we ended up back in the visitor center where we imbibed our drinks, a pina colada and a rum punch. Note how happy my cousin Janice looks. Needless to say, we felt pretty good on the ride back to Frederiksted.

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View more photos here: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Contest Alert!

Holiday Bonanza, Dec. 7 – 21
Win a pair of Arizona crafted earrings and a silver evening bag for your holiday parties. Two runners-up will each win a signed hardcover Perish by Pedicure (A Bad Hair Day Mystery). Enter Now!
http://nancyjcohen.com/contest/

Booklovers Bench, Dec. 1-18
LAST DAY! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/ Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

Coming Next: San Juan

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