Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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    Facials Can Be Fatal

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

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    Haunted Hair Nights

    Cozy Mystery Novella

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    Writing the Cozy Mystery

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Archive for the ‘Business of Writing’ Category

SleuthFest 2017 Recap

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 22, 2017

SleuthFest 2017 was another stellar event held at the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton. This premier mystery writers’ conference is sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Third Degree Thursday kicked off the weekend with a bunch of workshops and Dirk Wyle’s Readers’ Corner. That evening, co-chairs Victoria Landis and Joanne Sinchuk welcomed everyone to the conference. We heard publisher Neil Nyren discuss the state of the industry and agents in particular. Then those folks who had signed up attended the “Sleuthfest 101” dinner followed by a trivia contest.

Flamingo VickiJoanne

Friday morning, I attended a workshop by publicist Maryglenn McCombs titled Seven Secrets to Promoting a Book. Then I moderated a panel on How to Keep a Series from Getting Stale with authors Lynnette Hallberg, Cheryl Hollon, Carol J. Perry, and Nancy G. West. Using different settings, interesting research, new characters, evolving relationships, and character arcs were some of the techniques mentioned.

P1060343Series Panel

Lunch in the ballroom followed with a talk by our Forensic Guest of Honor, Dr. Vincent DiMaio. His graphic slides made swallowing our meal difficult but his talk was fascinating. He spoke about cases that appeared to be natural deaths or accidents, but upon closer examination, proved to be murder.

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Another round of workshops followed. Next came my own presentation on Preparing for Your Book Launch. I spoke about the various ways writers can publicize a new book release.

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The banquet on Friday evening included the Freddie Awards Ceremony. The winner in the Mystery category was Graham Reed from Vancouver for his entry, The Chairman’s Toys. The winner of the Thriller category was Millie Naylor Hast from Texas for her entry, Takeover.

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Saturday morning found us back attending workshops. I moderated the one titled Crime Solving Couples with speakers Carol J. Perry and Nancy G. West. The three of us spoke about how the couples work together in our respective series.

Luncheon brought us Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author David Baldacci, who entertained and educated us while we ate. He’s a great speaker, and I couldn’t wait to read his book “The Finisher” that I’d bought in the on-site bookstore run by Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore.

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Then former chapter president Randy Rawls presented the Flamingo Award to the very deserving Rick Wymer, who with his wife Mary Lou, have spent hours of selfless devotion as volunteers in the service of FMWA.

At this point, I’m sorry to say, I went upstairs to my hotel room to rest. I’d contracted a cold and sinus infection at the end of the FRW conference cruise, and I was getting worse instead of better. But I made it to the cocktail party that evening and had a nice chat with fellow authors. Still not feeling well, I cut out early on Sunday morning and had to miss our Sunday Guest of Honor, Jeff Lindsay. I’ve heard he was a great speaker and very entertaining.

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And so now we must begin to plan for next year. Go Here to see more photos.

 

 

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

Book Promotion Secrets

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 7, 2017

At SleuthFest, we heard publicist Maryglenn McCombs speak on Seven Secrets to Promoting a Book.

MaryGlenn

Timing is everything. Coordinate your publicity around the release date. Target holidays if your book has a holiday theme. Ditto for a historical angle. Start your launch campaign at least three months prior to release. Don’t have media coverage or reviews posted until the book is available. Trade media that serves bookstores and libraries is the exception.

Brevity in a short synopsis is an important tool. The synopsis is your book’s advertisement. It should be similar to book jacket copy to entice readers. Write three different lengths: 175 words or less, 100 words or less, and 50 words or less. Create a one-liner soundbite.

A stellar press kit can help you stand out. You need advance reading copies (ARCs) in print and digital formats. Have low and high resolution author photos. Get a professional headshot taken. Make sure your website is polished. Write a press release and a one-page sale sheet that tells about your book and mentions any endorsements. You can include a sample author interview. Have a biography written in third person. Tell where your books can be found but don’t mention specific vendors (i.e. at most major online retailers).

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Identify your target readers. How can you reach them? Three months before release, send ARCs to the trade media. Contact syndicated reviewers, radio/TV media. Plan signings and launch party 6 to 8 weeks ahead. Look at smaller, local media and online venues. “Promotion is a marathon and not a sprint.”

What works?

· Print Media.

· In-person launch parties.

· Steady media coverage.

· Book awards.

· Big endorsements.

· “Best-of” lists.

· Gift guides.

What doesn’t work?

· Radio tours.

· Lengthy book tours.

· Social media caveman tactics.

· Book trailers.

· Mass mailings.

· Asking buyers to review your book.

· Gimmicky promos.

Find people who will review your books. Look at local news sources, community groups where you belong, school alumni, work resources, places related to the book’s setting. See who’s reviewed books similar to yours.

Be polite and persistent when pitching your book. Follow review policies. Never ask for a copy of the review because that shows you don’t follow their publication. Don’t make outlandish comparisons of your work to others.

The most important part of a media campaign is the book. Get a professional, eye-catching cover design. And write the best book you can.

Disclaimer: Any errors are due to my misinterpretation.

For more information, visit Maryglenn.com

CLICK TO TWEET

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing | Tagged: , , | 16 Comments »

5 Tips for Compelling Library Programs

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 3, 2017

“Librarians want programs that fulfill at least two of the Three E’s: Engage, Educate, and Entertain.” This is not only true of libraries, but also works for community groups where authors may be invited to speak. These tips will enhance your chances of garnering an invitation.

Kobo Writing Life

By Andra Watkins

Are you an author who’s interested in working with libraries? Whether an author has one book or twenty, libraries are still one of the best ways to connect with engaged readers. In a world overrun with choices, library patrons rely on librarians to turn them on to new books and emerging authors.

Even though author programs are no longer a library’s primary focus, librarians want to host authors who offer engaging, educational, and entertaining fare to library users. A compelling library program is a still great way to connect with new readers.

andra_hardtodieAndra’s new novel, HARD TO DIE

Use these tips to build a library programming platform:

Get to know local librarians. A relationship with a local librarian is a great place for an author to start. An engaged librarian can not only stock an author’s titles, but they can also find creative ways to help…

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

Writing and Recreation

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 16, 2017

These two terms seem to be mutually exclusive, right? Actually, what I’m doing these days is mostly marketing. With a new book release and two conferences next month, it’s essential to be supremely organized. So here are some of the things I did this past week. Why mention them here? I have to be accountable to someone, and you’re it. Besides, this will give you some idea of what goes into book promotion. This does not count my daily visits to social media.

· Post the blog tour dates on my website for Facials Can Be Fatal – Done.
· Create the posts for my Facebook launch party on Feb. 22 and schedule them ahead of time – Done.
· Configure my next contest, get the Rafflecopter code, and load to my sites – Done.
· Complete interview at
Life of Writers and share to social media – Done.
· Track reviews for Facials Can Be Fatal on Goodreads and for Hair Raiser audiobook on Audible – Done.
· Prepare handouts and complete PowerPoint for next month’s writing workshops – Done.
· Contact panelists and devise questions for panels I’m moderating at Sleuthfest – Ongoing.
· Prepare my February newsletter – Done. Sign up now if you want a copy!
· Prepare blog post for the Feb. 22 release of Facials Can Be Fatal – Done.
· Order copies of books for upcoming events – Done.

That’s enough. You get the picture. I’m in a marketing phase. It’s necessary to set aside a couple of weeks to prepare for a book launch. I’ll be speaking on this topic on Friday afternoon at SleuthFest. I hope you’ll join us if you’re attending.

For a welcome break, we enjoyed dinner Friday night at All That Jazz Café in Sunrise. A jazz band played while we dined on a delicious dinner of pecan-crusted salmon, broccoli, and rice pilaf. It was a pleasant diversion from a work-filled week.

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Saturday, we took our afternoon exercise at Plantation Preserve Trail. It’s always an invigorating walk.

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On Sunday, I felt like using up some ingredients in our fridge, so I made blueberry pancakes and an omelet with cheddar cheese and fried salami. Not too healthy, right? Then we took a long walk at Sawgrass Mills Mall to burn off the calories.

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I hope to get caught up in my chores so the Muse will turn back on, and I can plot my next book. In the meantime, have a great week!

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Booklovers Bench, Jan. 1 – 18

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench

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Posted in Business of Writing, Florida Musings, Food, Marketing, That's Life, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Setting Goals

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 4, 2017

At the beginning of every year, I set writing goals. These are further divided into Creative and Business Goals. I am always hoping that I can cut back on my activities, to spend more time at leisure, to do more things around the house, or to go places with my husband. But 2017 will be busier than ever. I am still slogging through my backlist mystery titles to revise all of them so I can offer new print editions as well as audiobooks. So here we go with my ambitious list. Let’s pray for good health and strength of purpose so many of these get done.

Setting Goals

CREATIVE GOALS

· Finish Hair Brained, Bad Hair Day Mystery #14. This story is written and has been through the various editing stages. I keep proof-reading and finding things to improve. This time, I am printing out a clean copy. I’ll put this aside for a couple of months. Then I’ll do a last reading before sending it to production.

· Plot the next story, Bad Hair Day Mystery #15, tentatively titled Trimmed to Death.

· Continue the audiobook process with Murder by Manicure and Body Wave.

· Revise backlist mystery titles Died Blonde and Dead Roots.

· Write a short story or another novella in my mystery series.

BUSINESS GOALS

· Write blogs for upcoming blog tour to promote Facials Can Be Fatal.

· Publish Highlights to Heaven Author’s Edition (Bad Hair Day Mystery #5).

· Hold book launch parties for new releases.

· Enter Facials Can Be Fatal in writing contests and keep up with reviews.

· Engage with readers via newsletter, blogs and social media sites.

· Expand Writing the Cozy Mystery into a second edition.

Lots of goals; not enough time. I didn’t even mention the other mystery I have waiting in the wings that isn’t a Marla story. I’d really like to get my backlist titles done so this project is complete. Then there are my old romance titles that could use facelifts. Where can I get a few clones to do all these jobs?

How are you doing with your goal-setting? Think in terms of writing, not how much more you need to exercise or watch your diet or play with your dog. Those are givens. What’s the one thing you most want to accomplish this year in your writing career or in your book reading?

Giveaways

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

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

Cover Reveal – Highlights to Heaven

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 30, 2016

I’m pleased to share an exciting new cover for the upcoming reissue of Highlights to Heaven. This title, #5 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, was originally published by Kensington. The Author’s Edition has been revised and updated with added bonus materials.

HIGHLIGHTS TO HEAVENeBook

Release Date: January 10, 2017
Published by Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN 13: 978-0-9970038-5-7
Print ISBN 13: 978-0-9970038-6-4

Cover Design by Patty G. Henderson at http://boulevardphotografica.yolasite.com/
Digital Layout by www.formatting4U.com

Hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Shore lands a case close to home when her animal-loving neighbor—a man aptly named Goat—disappears, leaving his pets alone and a dead body in his master bedroom. Even more disturbing is the pattern of highlights Marla notes in the victim’s hair. She recognizes the signature technique of her former mentor, master stylist Cutter Corrigan.

Wanting to impress sexy Detective Dalton Vail, she hurries to interview Cutter first so she’ll have the inside scoop. Soon she’s untangling clues that link Goat, Cutter, and the unsavory pet fur trade to her own past. Someone at her former beauty school has a hair-raising secret worth killing to keep.

While Marla and Dalton chase leads despite their growing attraction for each other, the body count rises. And the closer Marla gets to the truth, the more she puts her life in peril. She’d better unmask the culprit before she becomes the next target.

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“Full of twists and turns, great characters, and an interesting setting. Who could ask for more?” Denise Swanson, author of the Scumble River mystery series

“If you want a mind-candy read somewhat reminiscent of Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, you’ll enjoy Highlights to Heaven by Nancy J. Cohen.” Duffbert’s Random Musings

“Highlights to Heaven is a treat and just might be the answer to your quest for a gift for your hairdresser or manicurist!” Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore

“For a quick escape from the chaos of the holidays, look no further than the latest Bad Hair Day mystery. Cohen outdoes herself, delivering a story that’s flirty, fun, witty, yet suspenseful and intense.” 4 Stars! RT Book Reviews

“Fun Florida settings and adorable eccentrics make a popular series.” Inkwood Books

“Lively fun.” Library Journal

Pre-Order Now: http://amzn.to/2iM7KUj

CLICK TO TWEET

Leave a comment below for a chance to win an advance reading copy of Facials Can Be Fatal. That’s my New Year’s gift to you. Random drawing on January 1st. Winner will be announced here. Open to U.S. Residents only.

 

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Posted in Business of Writing, New Release, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Year-End Review

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 28, 2016

Year-End Review of Writing Goals

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s time to review what you’ve accomplished as a writer and what goals you’ll carry forward to the following year. Aside from my personal goals of eating healthier, exercising more, and spending time with family, I set career goals. These are further divided into creative and business objectives. So let’s see how I’ve done.

Goals

WRITING GOALS

· Finish Hair Brained, #14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries – IN PROGRESS.

· Publish Permed to Death revised Author’s Edition (Bad Hair Day #1) – DONE.

· Commence audiobook process via ACX, starting with Permed to Death – DONE.

· Revise backlist mystery titles Highlights to Heaven, Died Blonde and Dead Roots – INCOMPLETE. I’ve finished Highlights to Heaven, and it’s set for release in January. The others will carry over into the new year.

BUSINESS GOALS

· Enter Peril by Ponytail in writing contests – DONE. This title won third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. 

· Consider bundling books 1-3 in the Bad Hair Day series as a box set for the holidays – NOT DONE. This goal has been set aside until all nine of my original titles from Kensington are available in revised Author’s Editions.

· Hold launch parties for each reissued backlist title and for the audiobooks – DONE.

· Plan promo campaign for Facials Can Be Fatal to be released Feb. 22, 2017 – IN PROGRESS. I’ve scheduled my blog tour, sent ARCs to reviewers, done the book trailer, and held a Goodreads giveaway. There’s more to do.

· Engage with readers via newsletter, blogs and social media sites – ONGOING.

· Learn how to put my lectures on Power Point – DONE. I am proud of this one. I try to learn something new each year, and this was it.

Extra Accomplishments

I edited and published Florida Escape by Harry I. Heller. This is my father’s account of his 1935 journey to Florida and the adventures he experienced during the state’s simpler days. Excerpts from Florida Escape are used in Facials Can Be Fatal, so now the true historic tale is available to readers in ebook format.

I wrote Haunted Hair Nights, a Bad Hair Day mystery novella. This was published first in the Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime anthology and later as a standalone edition in print and digital formats.

So even though 2016 didn’t see any releases from Five Star, I published the following:

March 4, 2016: Permed to Death Author’s Edition
June 7, 2016: Florida Escape by Harry I. Heller
June 27, 2016: Permed to Death Audiobook
Aug. 29, 2016: Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime
Oct. 13, 2016: Haunted Hair Nights
Nov. 7, 2016: Hair Raiser Audiobook

I’d say that’s pretty good, wouldn’t you? CLICK TO TWEET

Resource: https://thewritelife.com/year-end-review-for-your-writing/

Did you accomplish all you’d set out to do this year?

 

 

 

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

Blood, Bones and Books Halloween Party

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 24, 2016

Blood, Bones and Books: A Gathering of 13 Goblins and Ghouls Day-Before-Halloween Party

Sunday, October 30, 6 – 8 pm at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444. Phone: 561-279-7790 http://murderonthebeach.com/

Halloween

Join us for bloody brews, creepy cuisine, and goblin and ghoul authors as they discuss their work, writing habits, and publishing. Featured authors include:

Prudy Taylor Board
Ali Brandon
Nancy J. Cohen
Susan Cox
Eliot Kleinberg
Fred Lichtenberg
Sharon Menear
DJ Niko
Jeffrey Hammerhead Philips
Randy Rawls
Michal Sherring
Mark Spivak
Tom Swick

· Spooky but delicious refreshments will be served.
· Free treat bag with every purchase.
· Mingle with your favorite authors.
· Fortune teller on hand to predict your future.
· Costumes encouraged, but optional.
· Booksigning will follow.

Admission is free and the public is invited! For more information, contact murdermb@gate.net

NOTE: If you can’t come but want signed copies of Nancy’s books, contact the bookstore and they can oblige.

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Oct. 10-24 Fabulous Fall Halloween Giveaway  

LAST DAY! Enter to win a $200, $100, or one of four (4) $25 Amazon gift cards. https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/fabulous-fall-giveaway/

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Oct. 24 – 31, Halloween Reads Giveaway
Win up to 20+ ebooks at
https://www.authorsxp.com/giveaway

Halloween Giveaway

 

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

Strippers and Sock Puppets

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 23, 2016

Mystery book reviewer Oline Cogdill spoke to the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America at the August meeting. Oline’s reviews have appeared nationwide as well as regularly in the Sun-Sentinel. Oline offered some useful tips for writers on repetitive elements to avoid in crime fiction.

Oline1

· Strippers as murder victims or confidential informants are overused. Also, male writers seem to have an obligatory scene with a woman in front of a mirror fantasizing herself in this role. How many women secretly long to be a stripper? Not many.

· Coffee habits can take over the story. Count how many times your sleuth meets someone for a cup of coffee, drinks the coffee, heats up a mug of coffee, or tosses the empty cup in the trash. Go lightly in this regard.

· Restaurant scenes where a conversation occurs, and then the diners get up and leave in a huff before finishing their meal, are unrealistic. At least, have them sit down and finish eating or ask for a takeout box.

· Don’t neglect the kids or the pets. Show them being cared for and not being left alone at home or in a car. If you stay away all day, remember to let the dog out when you come home or to feed the cat.

· The sleuth shouldn’t wish for a murder to relieve her boredom. She should have a personal reason for getting involved in solving the crime. The death should be treated with gravity and respect.

· Don’t have your character rush out at night or go into a dark cellar alone without telling anyone or calling for backup.

· How many times is the cell phone left at home or runs out of its charge or there’s no signal? Don’t overuse this excuse. Just as important, if the phone rings, have your character answer it. Too often the ignored phone call means doom and gloom are in the next chapter.

· Less is more regarding graphic violence. It’s better left off-scene for the most part.

· Use the word “woman” instead of “girl,” where appropriate.

· Avoid the “talking killer” who explains the entire crime to the sleuth while holding a gun to her head.

· Talking animal stories don’t have to be silly. Treat them more seriously.

· And a non-story tip: Keep your website updated. Have a short bio, a longer bio, a good headshot, and author contact info. Do not play music in the background.

Oline spoke next about ethics among reviewers. She mentioned “sock puppets,” which are false online identities some people create to praise their own books and to trash others. Respected critical reviewers give objective opinions. It’s best for new authors to avoid paid reviews.

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It was really fun hearing these clichés, some of which I’ve been guilty of using. Thanks to Oline, now we’ll all be more alert to these foibles in the future.

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

 
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