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

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Archive for the ‘Business of Writing’ Category

Tips for Query Letters

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 13, 2018

Do you want to send an agent a query letter but have no idea what it should include? Or perhaps you’ve sent out several queries and you keep getting rejections. What could you be doing wrong? Here are some steps you can take to put yourself on the path to success.

Query Letters

· Check the guidelines for submissions on the agent’s website. This will tell you what genres the person represents and if they prefer email or snail mail submissions. The guidelines will also state if you should include any sample chapters.

· Make sure the agent does not require an exclusive submission. If so, you’d lose months while waiting for a response. See if the agent mentions their expected response time.

· Write a one-page snappy query letter introducing yourself, giving the word count and genre for your book, a catchy story blurb, and your writing credits. If possible, include a hot premise or marketing hook that makes your story stand out. This means using keywords such as “paranormal” or “dystopian” or “domestic suspense” or saying your story is “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone.” If you can compare your style to similar published authors, do so without bragging about how your book is as wonderful as Ms. Bestselling Author.

· Be careful not to sound as though your writing is all over the board in terms of genres. Be clear about your focus. For example, don’t give the genre as a suspense novel and then mention that it takes place on another planet and your next book will be a vampire story. You’ll want to build your author brand by focusing on one genre as you grow your readership.

· Do not describe your life history or any personal details unless they relate directly to your book. Do include if you belong to a critique group, have won writing contests, or if you’ve attended writing workshops and conferences.

· You can also mention why readers might want to read your book. What is the value in it for them? Again, don’t brag and say it’s the most exciting book they’ll ever read, or it’s a fast-paced thrill ride. This is for readers to determine. But if it helps them appreciate family values or learn about how you can rise above past mistakes, this could be useful to include as a theme.

Basic Structure

First Paragraph – State your book’s title, genre and word count. Here you can put if you’re a published author seeking representation or a new author seeking an agent for your first book.

Second Paragraph – This is your catchy book blurb. Write it like a log line for a TV show or like the back cover copy of your book. You’ll want to engage the reader’s interest.

Third Paragraph – Here offer your biography as it applies to your writing, including works you’ve published, memberships in professional writing organizations, writing workshops you’ve attended, critique group participation. Mention any expertise or work credentials that apply to your book. You can also make marketing suggestions or mention your proposed target audience. Mention if your story is book one of a series.

Last Remarks – Thank the agent for their consideration and offer to send the completed manuscript upon request. Do mention if this is a multiple submission.

Signature Line – Here is where you can add your social media links. Doubtless the agent, if interested, will look you up to see if you have an online platform.

If you hear nothing back from the agent for a couple of months, send a follow-up email to ask if she’s received your query. Be courteous and respectful of the agent’s time. Be aware that some agents won’t respond at all, and this can be taken as a rejection. But follow through at least once to make sure your email was received. As an alternative, you can request a return receipt for when the agent opens the message.

If you receive a rejection letter with detailed suggestions for your work, write a thank you note. Remember, an author-agent relationship is a two-way street. Just as you want to hire the ideal agent, the agent wants to land the ideal client. Be courteous, professional, and savvy about the industry. Also respect that while the agent might offer suggestions for improvements, this is not an invitation to resubmit your work unless the agent says so in her response.

Resources

http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
http://bit.ly/2OuiFX2
http://wp.me/pHSwk-3e3

 

**CLICK TO TWEET

 

GIVEAWAYS

Enter Here Dec. 1 – 15 to win a signed hardcover of Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen along with a DVD of “Author’s Anonymous” and a bag of microwave popcorn. Two Runners-up get either a signed paperback of Shear Murder or Hanging by a Hair.

Enter Here Dec. 1 – 18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.

 

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

After Your Book Launch

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 16, 2018

What should you be doing in the days following your new book release? Promotion doesn’t end when your book launch is over. You’ve tossed the ball into the court. Now you need to keep it rolling. Let’s say you have sent advance reading copies to reviewers and are participating in a blog tour or doing guest posts along the way.

Book Launch

What else can you do? Here are some suggestions:

  • Start a file for Amazon reviews and copy down each review as it’s posted, along with the date and reviewer. Do the same for Goodreads. Repeat for bloggers and other review sites. If you start getting tons of reviews, skip this step and go to item two.
  • Check these names against your personal reviewer list and mark each one as done. Then you’ll know which reviewers followed through so you can approach them with your next release.
  • Send a thank you email to the reviewers on your personal list who have posted.
  • Send a reminder to the reviewers who have not yet posted.
  • You should have already written a page of tweets and posts for your new book. For each reviewer, note their Twitter and Facebook handles. Now pull relevant quotes from these reviews and add them to your Tweet page. Remember to tag the reviewer.
  • Also write a tweet or post for each stop on your blog tour. Tag your hosts and add a link to their site.
  • Set your Twitter posts to rotate automatically at a site like SocialJukebox.com or schedule them ahead of time at Hootsuite. Space out your Facebook posts between your own pages and your groups.
  • Add quotes from reviews to your website.
  • Check your Amazon book’s page. If you don’t see reviews posted by your reviewers, you can add them as quotes via Amazon Author Central.
  • If you are doing a blog tour, return daily to each site and respond to comments. Leave your own comment thanking the host for having you there.
  • Get the specific URL for each post about your book and update it on your Appearances page. Shorten the link for tweets.
  • If you’re running a contest, don’t forget to mention this to your followers.
  • Remember to promote your friends’ books and retweet their posts so it’s not all about you.
  • If you’re doing concurrent sales on your other books, you’ll need to advertise these as well.
  • Gauge the effectiveness of the newsletter you sent out the day of your book release. Update your mailing list by removing bounces and unsubscribes.
  • If you boosted your Facebook post, was it effective? How many engagements and clicks did you get?
  • Keep meticulous records so that when you have another release, you can contact the reviewers who posted about your book and drop the people who got an advance copy but never responded. Then you can seek new readers to fill in the gaps.

I’m sure you can think of many more activities you’re doing in the couple of weeks following your book release. It’s a busy time when the pace seems relentless, but it will ease off. You’ll have to keep the promotional ball rolling, but at least it’ll be more of a steady pace than a race. What would you add to this list?

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Posted in Book Reviews, Business of Writing, Marketing, New Release, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blog Tour for Trimmed to Death

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 26, 2018

Join me on my virtual book tour to celebrate the release of Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Please leave comments at each site to support my hosts.

September 25 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW & EXCERPT

September 27 – Dru’s Book Musings – GUEST POST “Get to Know Marla Vail”

September 27 – Open Book Society – REVIEW

October 1 – The Big Thrill – SPOTLIGHT & AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 2 – Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers – GUEST POST “Food Fiction”

October 3 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW

October 4 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW

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September 26 – October 5 – Great Escapes Blog Tour 

September 26 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST “Farm Festivals”

September 26 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

September 27 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW

September 27 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 28 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

September 28 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY

September 29 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST “Tree of Life”

September 29 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

September 30 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 30 – Lori’s Reading Corner – GUEST POST “Reality into Fiction”

October 1 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

October 1 –Laura’s Interests – REVIEW 

October 2 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 

October 2 – Mysteries with Character  – “Beyond the Story of Trimmed to Death by Nancy J. Cohen” 

October 3 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

October 3 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 4 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 4 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT & EXCERPT

October 5 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY

October 5 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

IN PERSON EVENTS

Saturday, Oct. 6, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Multi-Author Booksigning, Helen B. Hoffman Plantation Library 50th Anniversary Celebration, 501 N Fig Tree Lane, Plantation, Florida 33317, Phone: 954-797-2140. http://www.plantation.org/Library/ Attending Authors include Barbara Fox, Bob Brink, Christopher Bigney, Dawn Davies, Dora Vilk-Shapiro, Glen Ogden, Harriet Ottenheimer, KB Schaller, Laura Burke, Lauren Doyle Owens, Marlo Bromfield, Michal Sherring, Nancy J. Cohen, Neil Plakcy, Ray Flynt.

Library Signing

Saturday, Nov. 10, 6:00 pm, Booksigning & Discussion with Nancy J. Cohen and Diane A.S. Stuckart at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444. Phone: 561-279-7790. http://murderonthebeach.com

GIVEAWAY
Enter Here Sept. 26 – Oct. 12 to win a Fall Festival Gift Basket! Contents include a signed print copy of Haunted Hair Nights and Hair Brained and other autumn-themed goodies! Physical prize for U.S. Resident only. Ebooks for international winner.

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Posted in Appearances, Book Reviews, Business of Writing, Marketing, New Release, Reviews, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 24 Comments »

Bouchercon World Mystery Convention – Friday

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 15, 2018

Friday morning was the Sisters in Crime breakfast at Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. This is always a fun event where we learn what SinC is doing and how we can participate. Here I am with friends R.V. Reyes, Rick Wymer, Mary Lou Benvenutto, Harriet Ottenheimer, and Deborah Shlian, among others.

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Later, I attended a panel on Audiobooks, and it was interesting to hear the viewpoints of the panelists who were authors, narrators, and producers. I wished they’d discussed marketing for indie authors, but it wasn’t a topic brought up.

Then there was lunch with Lisa Scottoline who gave an inspiring and witty talk. Seated at my table were Olive Pollak and Suzanne Baginskie.

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Friday night was the most fun of all. Florida Chapter of MWA held a party for all its members in the area, and we had a great time reconnecting with friends and meeting some new people. The chapter Board did a great job organizing this event. Too many members to mention here, but you can check out our chapter at https://mwaflorida.org/

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See all my photos HERE. Coming next: Bouchercon Day 3

Sept. 1 – 18 Booklovers Bench Monthly Giveaway

GiftCards

Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card at Booklover’s Bench.

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

Bouchercon World Mystery Convention – Thursday

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 14, 2018

I started off at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention speaking on “The Business is Cozy” panel on Thursday morning. Fellow panelists were Cheryl Hollon, R.V. Reyes, and Jane Cleland with Emily Giglierano moderating. We had good attendance and numerous questions during the Q&A session.

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Earlier I had attended a panel on writing suspense. Don Bruns moderated. Here is a rundown of points learned:

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· The best suspense comes from character rather than action

· The “What’s Next?” question creates suspense. As writers, how do we delay this answer while drawing readers in?

· You have to include suspense in the first paragraph of your story. Raise questions for the reader right away.

· You draw readers in with your first question. You bring readers back with your last question.

· Don’t follow other people’s rules. What works best for them might not apply to you.

After lunch, I sat in on “Make ‘Em Laugh – Writing Humor.” The panelists discussed how murder isn’t funny, but characters can be. It’s their quirks and the situations they find themselves in that provide mirth.

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Of course, schmoozing is the real work at a conference. You go to see and be seen and to make new friends. In these photos, excluding me, from left to right: Cheryl Hollon, Victoria Landis, Rick Wymer, Mary Lou Benvenutto, Marlene Stringer, and Marty Ambrose. See all my photos HERE. Coming Next: Day 2 at Bouchercon

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Sept. 1 – 18 Booklovers Bench Monthly Giveaway

GiftCards

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card at Booklover’s Bench.

 

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

Too Many Great Posts, Not Enough Time

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 22, 2018

Do you get so caught up in reading blogs, webinars, and posts and/or listening to podcasts, that you get nothing else done? I have been catching up on reading newsletters from my professional writing organizations, trade journals to which I subscribe, plus blogs on marketing and other business aspects of writing. If only I could clear my Inbox, I tell myself, I’d turn my focus to the nine backlist titles that I still have to reissue.

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And yet the more of these articles that I read, the more that keep popping up in my email. Moreover, reading this advice makes me feel terribly guilty. Why am I not able to do all these things? The articles offer wonderful marketing strategies and tips, and yet I’d need to be either thirty years younger to have the energy or three clones to manage it all.

Meanwhile, I am accomplishing nothing else. Is it because I’ve lost my mojo? Or is it that I can’t move on to new material until I get these backlist titles done? Then again, maybe it’s burnout and time for a break. It used to be that I put my writing goals first in the morning before glancing at email or social media. What happened to this self-discipline?

So I’ve decided to skim these articles, file the information for later, and do only what I can for now. It’s more important to move on to the next project. This means I need to practice BICHOK more often – Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. Get off the couch, and go to work.

This goes for you, too, my fellow writers. Let’s pay less attention to the “should” demons (i.e. the things you should be doing) and more time to the work we can control. Your success is only as good as the next book. It’s not dependent on how many social media posts with cute memes you’ve posted.

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here Aug 9 – 23 to win a signed advance reading copy of TRIMMED TO DEATH, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

Cover Reveal – Writing the Cozy Mystery 2nd Edition

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 16, 2018

Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition by Nancy J. Cohen

 

WRITING THE COZY MYSTERY Expanded Edition eBook

 

Do you want to write a cozy mystery but don’t have a clue where to start? Or are you in the middle of a story and stuck on the plot? Perhaps you’re already writing a series, and you need tips on keeping your material fresh. Writing the Cozy Mystery will help you develop your characters, establish the setting, plot the story, add suspense, plant clues and sustain your series. This Second Edition contains more examples; additional writing exercises; expanded sections; and seven new chapters including The Muddle in the Middle, Romance and Murder, Special Considerations for Cozy Writers, Keeping a Series Fresh, Writing the Smart Synopsis, Mystery Movies, and Marketing Tips. You’ll find everything you need to know in an easy-to-read, clear manner to write your own mystery and maintain a long-running series. Recommended for cozy writers, mystery fans, and creative writing classes.

“If you are thinking about writing a cozy mystery, read this book first! Nancy lays out all the necessary steps in an interesting and informative way that is easy to follow. This book was an invaluable tool when I wrote my first cozy. Highly recommended.” Catherine Bruns, USA Today Bestselling Author

“Nancy J. Cohen offers clear examples, practical writing exercises, and friendly advice designed to help the beginning cozy author start—and finish!—a saleable book. Even seasoned cozy writers can find helpful hints for building better characters and story.” Diane A.S. Stuckart, aka Ali Brandon, NY Times Bestselling Author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries

“If you want to write a cozy mystery—or really, any kind of mystery—this is the book for you! Everything you need to know in one handy volume.” Victoria Thompson, Bestselling Author of the Gaslight Mystery Series

Digital Edition: ISBN 978-0-9985317-2-4, $3.99, Nov. 12, 2018, Orange Grove Press
Print Edition: ISBN 978-0-9985317-3-1, $9.99, Nov. 12, 2018, Orange Grove Press
Cover Design and Graphic Illustrations by
Boulevard Photografica

Print Pages: 130 pages. Word Count: 28,000 words
Nonfiction – Reference – Writing Guide
First edition has over 180 reviews with a 4.5 average rating!

Pre-Order Your Copy Now:

Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2MHOZRH
Amazon Kindlehttps://amzn.to/2Pbmwoh
iBooks:
https://apple.co/2JVdQ6E
BN Nook: http://bit.ly/2yImTCz
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2tFjsqC
Universal Link: http://books2read.com/cozymystery
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40642868-writing-the-cozy-mystery

GIVEAWAYS

Enter Here to win one of two signed advance reading copies of Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

Last 2 days to enter the Booklover’s Bench contest for a $25 Amazon/BN Gift card. Go Here to enter.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, New Release, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mystery Fest Key West 2018 – Part 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 30, 2018

Panel discussions at the Mystery Fest Key West on Saturday afternoon began after lunch with a panel on Co-Writing a Mystery and next on Writing Historical Mysteries. Below are panelists Alyssa Maxwell, Diane A.S. Stuckart, Robert Coburn, John Guerra, and Charles Todd.

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A panel discussion on Audiobooks followed. After an on-site booksigning run by Books & Books from Key West, we took a conch train from our hotel to the Key West Lighthouse.

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At the historic lighthouse, Shirrel Rhodes introduced Ace Atkins and Otto Penzler, who spoke about publishing and the mystery genre.

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The conference concluded on Sunday morning with a brunch at the Schooner Wharf Bar in Key West’s Historic Seaport district. We hit the road heading north for our last view of seascapes on either side of the highway. It was time to return to reality.

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See all my Key West photos here: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor/

 

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

Mystery Fest Key West 2018 – Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 28, 2018

The first workshop on Friday afternoon at Mystery Fest Key West writers conference had Debbie Richardson and Shirrel Rhodes speaking about the business of writing. Next, we heard author Lisa Black give an informative talk on fingerprints. I learned there are three types of fingerprint patterns, which are loop, arch, and whorl. Glossy, smooth surfaces like porcelain or marble are good for fingerprints while wet or rough surfaces, upholstery, and laminate aren’t so great. However, no matter the surface, it appears there’s a method for obtaining prints. This is good info to know for any mystery writer.

Photos below include Debbie Richardson, Heather Graham, Michael Joy, Suzanne Baginskie, Olive Pollack, Lisa Black.

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Two more panels followed on How to Write and Sell a First Novel with Dianna Collier and Crisis Negotiation with an expert in the field. Then we met at a poolside room for appetizers and drinks. It was nice to have a chance to circulate and meet my fellow attendees. Heather Graham gave a welcome talk and we all got busy schmoozing for the rest of the evening.

Photos below include Alyssa Maxwell, Michael Joy, Paul Manuel, Richard Cohen, Diane A.S. Stuckart. Second row has Olive Pollak, Suzanne Baginskie, Catalina Egan, Lou Ann Williams, Patrick Kendrick, Carol Tedesco.

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Saturday started early with a panel on the State of the Publishing Industry. Moderated by Diane A. S. Stuckart, the panel included Patrick Kendrick, Dianna Collier, Alyssa Maxwell, and Otto Penzler. The general outlook was positive, and I was happy to hear that cozies are doing well.

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Next I sat on a panel about Promoting Your Book. My fellow panelists were Lewis C. Haskell and Wayne Stinnett with Patrick Kendrick as moderator. We discussed different techniques that we each found useful and exchanged ideas for getting word out about our books.

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Shirrel Rhodes introduced the winners of The Whodunit Mystery Writing Award, who each read from their work before lunch. Prime Ribs was the star feature on the buffet line. Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author Ace Atkins gave a talk during the meal.

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See all my Key West Photos here: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor/

 

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

Key West 2018

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 26, 2018

We drove down to Key West on the Thursday before the Mystery Fest Key West conference began. Once you hit the Keys beyond Miami and Homestead, you pass interesting little towns on each island along with scenic ocean vistas on either side of the highway. On Ramrod Key, we stopped for lunch at Boondocks. Their creamy New England clam chowder was one of the best. I liked the crabmeat salad and cole slaw that accompanied the soup. A half portion of salad was more than enough.

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After arriving in Key West, we checked in at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort and then took the hotel shuttle into town. Here we meandered around until our friends Alyssa Maxwell and her husband joined us for dinner. We dined at Conch Republic Seafood Company. Richard and I shared stuffed mushrooms and grilled mahi mahi. We were as stuffed as the mushrooms when we’d finished.

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Friday morning, we were free, so we visited the East Martello Museum, a Civil War era fort. Exhibits tell about how the fort was used during the war as well as a bit of Key West lore including ghost stories and the creepy Robert the Doll tale. Doll houses, a treasure chest, and a cannon were among the relics displayed. Then we went outside toward the tower where a spiral staircase takes you to the top. Here are some scenic views.

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Hungry from our exertions, we drove into town and lunched at Pinchers Crab Shack on Duval Street. Then it was back to the hotel for the start of the conference.

 What’s your favorite place in Key West?

See all my Key West Photos Here

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
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