Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

  • Subscribe

  • Hanging by a Hair

    Hanging by a Hair, a Bad Hair Day Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Hair Raiser

    Hair Raiser

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Writing the Cozy Mystery

    Writing the Cozy Mystery

    Writing Guide

  • Warrior Lord

    Warrior Lord

    Paranormal Romance

  • Archives

  • Categories

Archive for the ‘Business of Writing’ Category

The Art of Embalming

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 2, 2015

SleuthFest Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday at SleuthFest is a day of special workshops. I got there after lunch and ended up at The Art of Embalming talk by George Rafaidus from Ford Funeral Home in Michigan. Attendees were treated to slides and descriptions of the embalming process, plus other behind-the-scenes details of how funeral homes prepare bodies. While it was a morbid topic, it was also a fascinating one. We received many handouts along with a show-and-tell of various props.

The Art of Embalming

Disclaimer: These notes are based on my interpretations. Any errors are unintentional and are mine alone.

P1040289

Bodies are refrigerated from hospitals but not nursing homes. There’s more than one type of autopsy. There’s a partial wherein the thoracic cage is carved in the classic “Y” or there’s a cranial, like for Alzheimer’s patients or for medical studies. And then there is the double or complete autopsy. There may still be slight rigor mortis after 48 hours but that’s generally how long it lasts. Through washing of the body and manipulation, the stiffness lessens. The morticians need to know injection and IV sites, medical waste issues, birthmarks, and more, about the deceased. A trocar is a tool used to release gases and fluids from the body in the belly button area. Morticians shave people so they’ll look better for relatives.

How does the embalming work? They make an incision in the carotid artery, bring up the artery and inject embalming fluid. This part is done by machine. Up to 3 gallons of a formaldehyde and water mixture are injected in through the carotid and out through the jugular. This may take a couple of hours. The blood that is replaced goes through a filtration process before it’s released.

P1040292

A dye in the fluid helps give the person a more natural complexion. Cosmetic enhancements may include a tissue fluid that works like Botox to fill in areas under the skin, so if the victim is emaciated or ill, they’ll look better for viewings. They may prepare the face with eye caps and mouth-formers. Look in the upper right corner of this photo to see these items.

Funerals

If the person is being cremated, they could still have a visitation and viewing prior to the cremation. They could have a memorial service and embalming as well. Even if it’s a closed casket funeral, they would do the same, because a relative has to come in to identify the deceased. Difficult cases are trauma or accident victims. Regarding cosmetics, normal cosmetics have bluing agents that may distort a person’s color. So they use special makeup that’s like a foundation and brush it on the skin. (It’s sort of gummy and has an unpleasant odor—we tried it on). Waxes may also be used.

P1040291

The state may dictate when embalming has to take place. Usually it’s at 48 hours. Embalmers are licensed. There are 38 mortuary schools throughout the country. A vault holds the casket to protect the body from the elements. The casket is labeled with the deceased person’s name, its burial location in the cemetery, and the name of the funeral home. In cases of flooding, this helps to identify the casket and where it belongs.

After the lectures finished, we were welcomed to Sleuthfest by Conference Co-Chairs Joanne Sinchuk and Vicki Landis.

IMG_1264

Then publisher Neil Nyren spoke on Myths and Truths About Publishing.

P1040297

Sleuthfest 101 Dinner followed, where we got to meet and mingle over a meal.

P1040299

Coming Next: The agents and editors panels

View my SleuthFest 2015 photo album at https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor and Like my page while you’re there.

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

Hair Raiser Release Day

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 27, 2015

HAIR RAISER
A Bad Hair Day Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen

HAIR RAISER1flat

Hairstylist Marla Shore volunteers for Taste of the World, a fund-raiser sponsored by Ocean Guard. It’s a decision she soon regrets. First Chef Pierre’s rum-soaked Bananas Foster goes up in flames, making her wonder if sabotage caused the incident. Her suspicions deepen as more chefs drop off the roster and Ocean Guard’s attorney is murdered. Does the lawyer’s death relate to an estate being managed by the group? If their gala fails, this property will fall into the hands of a mysterious heir.

Marla’s friend, dashingly handsome Detective Dalton Vail, believes the culprit might be one of Ocean Guard’s esteemed board members. She determines to help him untangle the clues. With a killer on the loose, Marla has a lot more to worry about than which canapés her chefs should serve. She’d better comb through the knot of suspects and catch the saboteur before he strikes again.

With her witty style and flair for local color, Nancy J. Cohen has created another page‑turner that will leave readers eager for their next appointment with sassy salon owner Marla Shore.

NOTE: Hair Raiser (Bad Hair Day Mystery #2) was originally published by Kensington Publishing Corp. This Author’s Edition has been revised and reformatted with added bonus material. Coming next in a revised edition will be Murder by Manicure.

Kindle: http://amzn.to/14M9l5B
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/book/hair-raiser/id957020158?mt=11&uo=4&at=113vsrx
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/hair-raiser-2
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hair-raiser-nancy-cohen/1017599109?ean=2940149980222
International: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00S4VCUM8
Print Edition: https://www.createspace.com/5253406
Add to Goodreads List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24478683-hair-raiser

Reviews

Hair Raiser was nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice Award by RT Book Reviews

“A saucy murder mystery by Nancy J. Cohen.” Publisher’s Weekly

“An easy-to-take series title with the ready appeal of an independent female sleuth and colorful Florida settings.” Library Journal

Hair Raiser is a light, funny, cozy read…I had the serious urge to call my hairdresser and schedule an immediate appointment.” Cozies, Capers, & Crimes

Hair Raiser is curled around a likable amateur sleuth who can handle a curling iron and murder clues with aplomb.” Sun-Sentinel

Hair Raiser is a fast‑paced, one sitting read that may keep all but the sharpest‑eyed readers confused until the very end.” The Mystery Reader

“Cohen has richly filled this novel with quirky characters, twists and turns that make for a completely satisfying reading experience. The plot will keep you guessing, and Ms. Cohen’s writing style will keep you coming back for more.” MyShelf.com

“Curl up with Nancy Cohen’s stylishly witty and chillingly suspenseful tale of murder on the Florida coast—Hair Raiser is a cut above.” Joanne Pence, author of the Angie Amalfi mystery series

NOTE: New Reviews for this revised edition would be greatly appreciated!

Contest
Enter Jan. 27 – Feb. 14 to win a signed hardcover copy of Shear Murder & a $10 Starbucks gift card. Two prizes to be awarded. http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

Book Launch Party
Join me tonight (Jan. 27) from 6:00 – 8:00pm EST for fun and giveaways:
https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty 

 

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

Book Cover Design Process

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 25, 2015

When designing a book cover, a number of items need to be considered. What is the genre? The mood of the story? The background setting? What type of “look” do you want to get across? Is this best done with photography or illustration? Do you like people on the cover? Can you describe a particular scene you envision, or images that might work?

When I contacted Patty G. Henderson from http://boulevardphotografica.yolasite.com about doing my cover for a revised edition of Hair Raiser (Bad Hair Day Mystery #2), I gave her a basic summary of the plot. Hairstylist Marla Shore volunteers for Taste of the World, a fund-raiser to benefit a coastal preservation society. Someone is sabotaging the chefs involved in this gala event set in South Florida. I wanted to blend elements of the tropical setting with the food theme and also give a hint about the murder mystery.

I mentioned Bonnet House to Patty. This Fort Lauderdale historic attraction served as the model for cousin Cynthia’s estate in the story. Photos on their website could provide inspiration. After a while, Patty sent me these two mock-up covers for my initial inspection. What did I like or dislike about them? What should we change?

clip_image002 clip_image004

I was awestruck at how Patty instinctively understood my brand as an author and the genre in which I write. Since I write humorous cozies, I’ve noticed these covers are mostly illustrations rather than photographic portrayals. Readers like me want to be able to tell the genre at a glance. I had sent her a list of covers on Amazon that appealed to me as a reader. This mockup got the concept just right.

Patty covered the murder mystery aspect perfectly with the bloody scissors. She got the chef part of the plot correct with the serving dish. And she got the seaside location fine. However, Florida doesn’t have mountains. So that hill behind the building had to go. I’m also not fond of pastels. I like sharp, bright colors representative of the tropics. But I did like the green, coral, beige, and turquoise tones. However, they needed to be sharpened and made darker.

On proof number one, the cover on the above left, the title font is cute and appropriate to a humorous mystery. But it’s too light. So is my name. And from far away, you can’t see the series title at all.

On proof number two, I don’t care for the series logo either. We need a different symbol than the shears because Five Star uses them on my new titles. And this wave design would have to be carried through on subsequent books in the series. I liked the one on the left but that wording doesn’t show up. So let’s get rid of the wave altogether and work on a series title that’s more visible.

clip_image006 clip_image008

These are better with brighter colors and sharper wording. Looking at proof number 3 on the left, I note the mountain is gone. I like my name at the top in dark green. The top of Hair Raiser, though, is hard to see because of the busy background elements. And I’m not crazy about the three combs. They’re cute but show no element of mystery.

Number 4 on the right is better. But oops, the mountain is back. I like the title font, color and placement. I like my name where it is but more to the right, so it’s all in the turquoise section. And I like the crossed teasing combs for the series logo but not dividing up the wording. What if we move the series logo above my name? That might work.

clip_image010

“Is this the winner?” Patty asked. “Oh, yes,” I replied. ”It’s perfect.” Finally, we had our cover! I do love it, the images, the fonts, the colors—everything.

But were we done? Not yet! Next came the paperback edition. What did I want on the back side? A solid color or some of the front image? Did I want the book title at the top of the back or the series title? What do we want on the spine? And so here is the final result of this process:

clip_image012

 

It requires a lot of patience between both parties to get things done just right. But the results are definitely worth the thrill you get when everything falls into place.

To contact Patty G. Henderson, go to http://boulevardphotografica.yolasite.com/

Join my book launch party on Tuesday, Jan. 27, from 6:00 – 8:00pm EST at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty for Fun and Giveaways!

HAIR RAISER Buy Links:

Kindle: http://amzn.to/14M9l5B
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/book/hair-raiser/id957020158?mt=11&uo=4&at=113vsrx
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/hair-raiser-2
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hair-raiser-nancy-cohen/1017599109?ean=2940149980222
International: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00S4VCUM8
Print Edition: https://www.createspace.com/5253406

Add to Goodreads List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24478683-hair-raiser

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Mystery Writers of America

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 21, 2015

Our festivities for the Mystery Writers of America national board meeting began at a signing event on Friday night at Mysterious Bookshop. Here we chatted with other authors, fellow board members, and fans while sipping wine. A good time was had by all.

P1040139 P1040146

P1040142  P1040144

Dinner followed at Sammy’s Noodle Shop. It was great to meet each other in person this way.

P1040148

Following was an all-day session on Saturday where we got down to the serious business of the organization. I scribbled down many great ideas to try at the chapter level, as I was there in my capacity as president of the Florida chapter.

P1040153  P1040152

Then we had a lovely dinner at Bobby Van’s before it was time to say fond farewells.

P1040155  IMG_1201

As temperatures had dipped into the teens on Saturday morning and Sunday arrived with dreary rain, I was glad to board the plane for sunny Florida.

SaraNan

For more photos, visit my Facebook Page to view the album.

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Writing Goals for 2015

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 4, 2015

Usually I split my career goals into two paths, the creative end and the business of writing. So here are my upcoming objectives for 2015.

WRITING GOALS

Finish and Submit Facials Can Be Fatal, #13 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Revise backlist mystery titles, including Hair Raiser, Murder by Manicure, and Body Wave.
Commence audio book process starting with Permed to Death.
Hire editor for two standalone mysteries and consider bundling them as a box set.
Begin plotting #14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Consider timeline for writing books #4-6 in the Drift Lords Series.

BUSINESS GOALS

Hold launch party for each backlist title as the revised Author’s Edition is published.
Plan promo campaign for Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, due out in October.
Enter books in writing contests.
Keep up with quarterly newsletter, blogs and social networking sites.

And what do you hope to accomplish this year?

<><><>

There’s still time! Vote for Hanging by a Hair under Mystery Novels in the Annual Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll: http://critters.org/predpoll/novelmys.shtml

Today begins the next Booklover’s Bench contest. Visit our site and enter now: http://bookloversbench.com. I’ll be giving away a first edition signed copy of Moonlight Rhapsody, one of my earlier sci-fi romances.

coverMR

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

2014 in Review

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 1, 2015

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 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 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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

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)

WarriorLord_w8513_300

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)

HangingbyaHair (518x800)

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

OGP MINI LOGO BLACK

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

Cozy

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).

Thumbs Up

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 »

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.

IMG_1094

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 »

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.

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/

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 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.

HangingbyaHair (414x640)

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

Shear Murder

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.

WarriorPrince300 WarriorRogue300 WarriorLord_w8513_300

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 »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,402 other followers

%d bloggers like this: