Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for February, 2017

Book Giveaways

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 28, 2017

Cozy Mystery Giveaway, Feb. 28 – March 6
Enter Here to win up to 40+ cozy mysteries, including an ebook copy of Hair Raiser.

(2) Grand Prize “Gift Baskets” of ALL eBooks!
(40) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

cozy mystery giveaway

 

Tropical Treats Giveaway, Feb. 21 – March 14
Enter Here to win a Tropical Treats package with a blue scarf, a blue crystal pendant necklace from Effy, a West Indies cookbooks, and a signed hardcover copy of Killer Knots (Bad Hair Day Mystery #9).

Tropical Treats

 

Booklovers Bench Monthly Giveaway, March. 1 – 18
Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench

gift cards

 

Save

Save

Posted in Contest | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Writers Conference on Independence of the Seas

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 27, 2017

Fun in the Sun Writers Conference on Independence of the Seas
Sponsored by Florida Romance Writers
February 16, 2017

As soon as we boarded Independence of the Seas, we headed to lunch in the Windjammer Café. Entrees were tempting. They had the grill with burgers and hot dogs inside here instead of out on the pool deck like on other ships. Desserts were not overly appealing, especially after the artistic confections on Celebrity Equinox. The cookies were the crunchy type, whereas I prefer soft, chewy centers. However, there is a soft ice cream machine on the pool deck that’s free to guests.

IMG_2840 P1060284P1060317

We strolled around and unpacked a bit before the lifeboat drill. This one took place outside on the deck where we lined up like sardines and stood there for a half hour until dismissed. No life vests required for the drill, which was a bonus. However, I prefer the cruise lines where you sit in an air-conditioned lounge to hear the spiel.

IMG_2842 IMG_2846

The FRW Meet & Greet Welcome Party had the editor/agent panel where we heard what each industry guest has on their wish lists. This event gave us a good chance to mingle in the Olive or Twist lounge on Deck 14. Here I am with my agent, the wonderful Evan Marshall from The Evan Marshall Agency.

P1060275 P1060267

Shortly thereafter, we attended dinner in the King Lear Dining Room. I’m not a late diner, and eating at 8:30 led to a long evening on a full stomach. Some nights we didn’t finish until after ten. While the food was good, it wasn’t exceptional. Nor was the dining room service as efficient as on other vessels.

P1060298P1060279P1060280P1060281

Our cabin service was excellent, though. The balcony cabin was spacious with adequate storage. We had an extra-long couch across from a desk console. The shower is the round manhole cover shape but at least it has a glass door. Don’t drop your soap on the floor. You have to be a contortionist to pick it up. I used my slumber mask as light came in from outside the ship at the edges of the drapes. Bathroom amenities included bottles of lotion, shampoo, and conditioner. The bar soap was very thin. I missed the robes we get on other cruise lines.

P1060262 P1060263P1060319

 IMG_2847P1060312 P1060302

We awakened at our usual early hour. I prefer the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast in the Windjammer Café offered varied choices, but they didn’t change much from day-to-day. A chef would do made-to-order omelets. Pancakes and waffles were always available along with the usual fruits, pastries, yogurt, and more.

P1060282P1060283P1060285

Our conference workshops began promptly at 8am on Friday. Stay tuned for more in the next installment. See all photos HERE.


Tropical Treats Giveaway, Feb. 21 – March 14

ENTER HERE to win a blue scarf, a blue crystal pendant necklace, a West Indies cookbook, and a signed hardcover Killer Knots.

Facials

 

 

Save

Posted in Conferences, Cruising, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Facials Can Be Fatal – New Book Release

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 22, 2017

I’m excited to announce the release of Facials Can Be Fatal (Bad Hair Day Mystery #13) from Five Star Publishing. This cozy mystery title is available in hardcover and digital editions.

 

clip_image002

Salon owner Marla Vail’s new day spa hits a snag when a client dies during a facial.

“Take a twisty mystery, add a cast of amiable characters, a dash of family drama, and a pinch of South Florida during the holiday season—they all add up to the recipe for a delightful cozy!” —Lucy Burdette, bestselling author of the Key West Food Critic Mysteries.

“Marla and Dalton solve a mystery that includes pirates and shipwrecks off the Florida coast, and readers will be standing in line to get on this series as fast as possible. Marla and Dalton work extremely well together and are a whole lot of fun to read. This is one book in a series but is also a fantastic standalone for anyone who might not have met this couple before.” Reviewed by Mary Lignor for Suspense Magazine.

“Facials Can Be Fatal is a nice, comfy, cozy mystery starring Marla Vail and her new family. Although this is one book in a series, it is a great standalone. I recommend this book to those who are cozy mystery fans and enjoy a sleuth mystery with many twists and turns.” 5 Stars! Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite

Note: This story includes excerpts from a true-life travel journal titled Florida Escape written by my father.

Join my Book Launch Party TONIGHT from 6:30 – 8:00 pm EST. Fun and prizes! https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty/

launch party


Click Here
for Author Appearances
and Blog Tour. Coming next is:

Feb. 22: Dru’s Book Musings, “A Day In The Life” Guest Post
Feb. 28, Terry’s Place, Character Interview,

View the Book Trailer
Add to Goodreads

Order Now at Amazon or BN or get a Signed Copy from Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore.

Amazon     BN     MOTB-icon-150x150

Reviews are always appreciated. Please send me the link if you post a review so I can thank you personally.

CLICK HERE TO TWEET about the new release.


Giveaways_thumb.jpg

Tropical Treats Giveaway, Feb. 21 – March 14
Enter to win a blue scarf, a blue crystal pendant necklace by Effy, a West Indies cookbook, and a signed hardcover Killer Knots

Facials

Sign up for Nancy’s newsletter to learn about her book news, appearances, contests, and recipes. FREE Book for new subscribers.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in Book Reviews, Marketing, New Release, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

A Fun Cozy Read

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 16, 2017

“A fun cozy read with mystery, family drama and some romance.” Check out this new review of Facials Can Be Fatal from Carla Loves to Read!

Carla Loves To Read

Facials Can Be Fatal (Bad Hair Day Mystery, #13)byNancy J. Cohen

Expected publication: February 22nd 2017 by Five Star Publishing

4 Stars

View original post 431 more words

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 20 Comments »

On Sale Permed to Death

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 13, 2017

The Open Road Media ebook edition of Permed to Death (Bad Hair Day Mystery #1) is on sale TODAY ONLY for $1.99. This edition is based on the original version published by Kensington.

Cohen_PermedDeath

  Kindle   Apple   Nook  Kobo

If you want my revised Author’s Edition instead, also available in print and audiobook, Go Here.

Booklover’s Bench Anniversary Giveaway, Feb. 1 – 18
Enter Here to win a Galaxy Tablet from Booklover’s Bench in our anniversary contest

galaxy tablet

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

Wick Costume Museum

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 12, 2017

The Wick Theatre and Costume Museum at 7901 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton offers several unique experiences. We chose to do the museum tour and lunch. First we gathered in the lobby of the museum where Kimberly Wick described the various dresses on display.

P1060233P1060237IMG_2827

P1060234P1060235P1060236

From here we entered a cavernous hall with an exhibit titled Where Runway Meets Broadway, showcasing a range of costumes from the 1800s on up that represented the changing fashions of the times. The beautiful designs and vintage couture were fascinating.

P1060239P1060238P1060249

P1060254 P1060242P1060243P1060241

P1060248P1060251

Next was a quick tour backstage before we headed into the delightful restaurant. The first course is a fruit cup. Then you have a choice of three entrees. I chose the stack of avocado and shrimp with salad greens. A tray of pastries followed.

P1060256 P1060257IMG_2828

P1060259P1060260IMG_2830

After lunch, Kimberly gave us a presentation about the place’s history. I’d had no idea their own costume designs were a worldwide enterprise. Her mother, Marilynn Wick, was an entrepreneur who started the business and grew it into an empire. I found their story as fascinating as the museum.

Before leaving, we swept through the gift shop, took a peek at the theater lobby and box office, and headed out.

Booklover’s Bench Anniversary Giveaway, Feb. 1 – 18
Enter Here to win a Galaxy Tablet from Booklover’s Bench in our anniversary contest

Feb 2017 promo 3

My next newsletter is going out on Monday. Sign up now and get a FREE book sampler including a peek at my current Work in Progress.

Book Sampler (392x640)

Save

Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Hillsboro Pineland

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 11, 2017

This nature refuge, located at 5591 NW 74th Place in Coconut Creek, FL, is a hidden oasis in a sea of suburban congestion. Just off Route 441 north of Sample Road, Hillsboro Pineland is a small park compared to others but its two hiking trails will give you a brief respite from civilization. It’s far enough removed that you can hear the crickets instead of the traffic. The first trail leads you through pinelands as per the park’s name. It’s a pleasant shady walk among tall trees.

IMG_2822IMG_2824IMG_2825

P1060222P1060223P1060227

P1060228P1060224

The second trail takes you through marshland adjacent to a river that you can’t see from the boardwalk but you can see the water seeping through the grassy vegetation. Lots of wildflowers attract butterflies in this portion.

P1060229P1060230P1060231P1060232

This park exhibits what I love about living in Florida. The trails go to what seem like two different ecosystems. Our state has a variety of terrain, from the sea-studded Keys to the hilly and cave-ridden north to the sandy beaches to the mangrove coastlines. Nearby, we can go to Flamingo Gardens and see hundreds-year-old trees or go to Volunteer Park to watch the turtles or take a shady walk on a trail in Tree Tops Park. Our peoples are just as diverse, celebrating our heritage as a melting pot of cultures. Our history, too, provides for a colorful past. And then there are the haunted hotels and plantations. We won’t talk about hurricanes. They’re offset by the flowers and balmy winter temperatures. What more could a writer want?

Booklover’s Bench Anniversary Giveaway, Feb. 1 – 18
Enter Here
to win a Galaxy Tablet from Booklover’s Bench in our anniversary contest

Feb 2017 promo

My next newsletter is going out on Monday. Sign up now and get a FREE book sampler including a peek at my Work in Progress.

Book Sampler (392x640)

Save

Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Writing the Mystery – Howdunit?

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 7, 2017

When writing a cozy mystery, you need to decide upon crime scene details even though interpersonal relations and not forensic investigations are your story’s focus. Here’s an example of what this means. For my next book, I decided to start the tale at a bake-off contest, but the setting bothered me. Our city fairs are held on athletic fields or a flat stretch of grass in a park. This doesn’t leave much opportunity to stash a dead body.

I was telling this to my manicurist and mentioned that I needed a more interesting setting. She suggested Bedner’s Farm as a possible model for my story. The next day, my husband and I drove north to visit this farmer’s market in Boynton Beach. See my post for a report on this visit. The varied structures and grounds were ideal for my purposes, but I’d move my fictional site nearer to Marla’s hometown. Marla Vail is my hairstylist sleuth and the star of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

Bedner's Farm  sheds

Now what? Francine Dodger is the target of the festival’s Find Franny scavenger hunt. I got this idea by looking up harvest festivals online. This drove me to research living scavenger hunts until I had an idea of how mine would work. Think about the five W’s when you’re in this phase.

trophy

Who ends up dead? Let’s say Francine is the victim.

Where is she killed? How does she arrive there? Is she lured on purpose, or it is a crime of opportunity? Did the killer follow her? Determine Where-dunit.

How
does he do it? She could be drowned in a ditch. Water-filled canals line the U-pick rows. But other customers might be milling around there. Will it look like an accident or right away be identified as a homicide? She can fall down a silo. But what would make her climb up there in the first place? Or she could be runover by a tractor.

What knowledge does the killer need? If the murder involves an equipment accident, it’ll have to involve someone who knows to operate the machinery. Ditto the hazards inside a silo. You don’t want to point the finger at a particular suspect like the farmer, because it’s too obvious. Maybe give one of the other characters a secret history of working on a farm or of selling agricultural machinery.

If you poison a victim, who has knowledge about the type of poison used as well as access to it? Is it fast-acting enough for the circumstances, or do you need a slower more insidious death? What are the particular symptoms? Consider your means of murder very carefully when you’re making these decisions so your story will sound plausible.

When does it happen? Think about not only the time of death, but also why not a week or a month ago? Why NOW?

How does the killer get away? Does he have blood on his clothes? Are his shoes wet or muddy? Is he able to blend back into the crowd? How does he act when he encounters the heroine?

Now let’s throw a wrench into the works.

What if it’s a case of mistaken identity? He thought he had killed one woman but he got somebody else who was similarly attired. How will he react upon seeing his intended victim alive and well? This leads to another set of problems. It means he can’t see the victim’s face before he kills her, or he’ll realize it’s the wrong person. So again, we go back to Howdunit?

Once you figure out these details, you’ll have to determine how your amateur sleuth stumbles across the dead body. And this is when the story actually begins.

If you missed my previous posts on this topic, go here:

Writing the Mystery – Whodunit
Writing the Mystery – Whydunit
Five Stages of Writing

CLICK TO TWEET

Booklover’s Bench Anniversary Giveaway, Feb. 1 – 18
Enter Here to win a Galaxy Tablet from Booklover’s Bench in our anniversary contest

galaxy tablet

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Writing the Mystery – Whydunit?

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 3, 2017

In the previous post, we discussed character development. As you figure out each person’s goals and secrets, you need to determine how that character relates to the others. Think of a spider web. The victim is in the center, and all of the other threads are the suspects. Or visualize it as a character wheel with spokes. Whichever model you choose, you’ll want to connect the characters to each other.

characters

Here are examples from my WIP to show you how it’s done. The characters are involved in a bake-off contest held during the spring festival at a local farm.

Tally Riggs, my hairstylist sleuth’s best friend, met Becky Forest at a local historical museum. She told Tally about the bake-off.

Becky, a scientist, is a cookbook author and curator of the museum. She studies plant remains of ancient peoples, including early Florida food practices. Every time Becky has a new cookbook out, she’s a guest on Chef Raquel Hayes’ TV show.

Raquel, a judge at the bake-off contest and a TV chef, did something in the past that could scandalize her. Francine Dodger recognizes her on TV and threatens to spill her secret.

Francine, a contestant at the bake-off, is a food magazine editor. While researching an article on the farm, she uncovers something that could ruin the owners’ reputation.

Zach Kinsdale, eldest brother of four siblings who run the family farm, hasn’t told his two brothers and sister Janet about this looming disaster.

Janet is married to Tony, who runs an import-export business. He sells his imported olive oils to Zach for the farm’s marketplace. But Janet suspects something unethical about her husband’s business. She’s the one who organized the bake-off since her husband’s company is a festival sponsor.

Tony, Janet’s husband, is worried about an exposé that Francine has mentioned. He’s also concerned about Tristan Marsh, pastry chef at The Royal Palate and a judge at the show. Tristan has been making inquiries that concern him. He’s not the only one. Alyce Greene, a blogger who supports the farm-to-table movement, has been troublesome as well.

Alyce is a contestant at the bake-off. She’s married to Jon, a food truck operator. Jon got a loan to start his business from Alyce’s brother, Steve Madison. Steve, an investment advisor, manages Tony’s accounts.

And so on. You get the idea. It helps when the puzzle pieces fit together as a whole, but this process may take a while. In the meantime, allow your subconscious to stew on these ideas until story magic happens. The connections will pop into your brain. It’s a joyful moment when this occurs. It always does; you have to maintain faith in the creative process.

Now you know as much about these people as I do. Next comes Writing the Mystery – Howdunit.

CLICK HERE TO TWEET

Booklovers Bench

Booklover’s Bench Giveaway, Feb. 1 – 18
Enter to win a Galaxy Tablet from Booklover’s Bench in our anniversary contest!

galaxy tablet

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Writing the Mystery – Whodunit?

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 1, 2017

During the Discovery phase of your novel, which I discuss in my post on Five Stages of Writing, you’ll begin formulating the characters. If you’re writing a mystery series, you may already know the protagonists and recurrent characters. So now you have to determine the suspects that are specific to your WIP (work-in-progress).

As a plotter and not a pantser, I’ll create these characters before I can begin writing. This means knowing their goals, conflicts, and motivations as in Debra Dixon’s book by that name. I’ll assign each person a secret with a motive for murder. At this stage, I may not know which one is the killer because it could be any of them. Or, the person I pick to be the killer might turn out later to be a red herring.

Here’s an example of how I develop my characters. This guy is one of three judges for a bake-off contest in my current WIP.

Round One

Alton Paige, food critic, has a pudgy face and a rotund figure that reminds Marla of a dog. He’s a bit of a philanderer. Alton extorts money from restaurant owners in return for a good rating.

Oops, I have an Alton and an Alyce, one of the contestants. Watch out for similar names when creating your characters. I will change the judge’s name. In the next round, I fill in his secrets and start working on his relationships to the other characters. Okay, this guy below doesn’t have the face or frame of my character, but he depicts the attitude.

food critic

Round Two

Carlton Paige, 44, food critic, has a pudgy face and a rotund figure that reminds Marla of a dog. He’s a bit of a philanderer. Carlton accepts gifts from restaurateurs. In return, he gives them a high rating but only if warranted. The word to describe him would be smarmy. His wife, Sally, who accompanies him on his food jaunts, spends most of her spare time at the gym. She’s always criticizing his lack of restraint in eating…and in other things. Since she’s having an affair with her personal trainer, she overlooks his marital transgressions. Secretly he has an inferiority complex, being the younger brother of three siblings and on the plump side even as a kid. He strives for recognition. Food has been his means of consolation. He’s worked his way up in journalism and aspires to be editor of the entertainment section. Carlton’s reputation is all important to him, and he resents the attention being given to upstart bloggers like Alyce Greene (a contestant in the bake-off). Her blog is eroding his ratings and putting his job in jeopardy. He has to learn self-respect in order to refuse bribes and move ahead in his career…or to realize his worth in his current role.

Round Three

Carlton Paige, 44, food critic, has a pudgy face and a rotund figure that reminds Marla of a pug breed of dog. He’s a philanderer whose sensual attitude in life appeals to women. Carlton accepts gifts from restaurateurs. In return, he gives them a high rating but only if warranted. The word to describe him would be smarmy. His wife, Sally, who accompanies him on his food jaunts, spends most of her spare time at the gym. She’s always criticizing his lack of restraint in eating…and in other things. Secretly he has an inferiority complex, being the younger brother of three siblings and on the plump side even as a kid. He strives for recognition. Food has been his means of consolation. He’s worked his way up in journalism and aspires to be editor of the entertainment section. But this won’t happen unless he gains readers. He resents the attention being given to upstart bloggers like Alyce. Her blog is eroding his ratings and putting his job in jeopardy. What will he do to protect his reputation and his readership?

Sally Paige, Carlton’s wife, knows Francine Dodger, another contestant, from the gym. When Carlton complains to her about Alyce, he suggests Sally should discredit her to Francine. But Sally hesitates to approach Francine because the food magazine publisher knows about Sally’s affair with her personal trainer. And while she overlooks her husband’s marital transgressions because she’s unfaithful as well, she still loves Carlton. How far will Sally go to protect her husband and her marriage?

angry woman

You see how each round adds another layer? These people will come alive when they walk onstage for the first time. I don’t bother with long biographies. I’ll see how they move and speak and act when I meet them on the page. What matters now are their motives for murder. If you want to get a better handle on their physical descriptions, search for images online at the royalty-free sites.

After you have a profile on each character, it’s time to connect them to each other. These interrelationships are crucial for a cozy mystery, because the focus of this subgenre is on personal connections among the characters rather than on forensic details or police procedure. More on this next time.

CLICK TO TWEET

Giveaway

Booklover’s Bench, Feb. 1 – 18
Enter to win a Galaxy Tablet from Booklover’s Bench in our anniversary contest!

galaxy tablet

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: