Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

Mystery Fest Key West

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 6, 2018

Mystery Fans, don’t miss this fabulous event in Key West!

 

Key West

Register Now for Mystery Fest Key West
June 22-24, 2018 in Key West, Florida
Panels, Workshops, Speakers, Meals, Fun!

Two Dozen of Your Favorite Mystery Writers
Featuring Ace Atkins, Otto Penzler, Heather Graham
Friday – Sunday Only $195

Celebrated mystery writers, acclaimed storytellers and the fans who love them are set to infiltrate the tropical island where so many have found their inspiration during the 5th Annual Key West Mystery Fest, set for June 22-24, 2018 at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand Key in Key West, Florida. You’re invited to join them!

Why is Key West such a popular incubator and setting for generations of authors – from Hemingway to Heather Graham, Tennessee Williams to John H. Cunningham to Roberta Isleib? Maybe it’s the archipelago’s history as a haven for pirates and drug-runners, its salty off-the-grid renegade energy – or simply the hypnotic effect of swaying palm trees reflected against water on a tiny island surrounded by endless miles of ocean. Whatever it is, the locale has spawned a multitude of tales and a small army of authors.

Mystery Fest Key West was founded in 2014 and while it has grown in fame since then, “It still has the intimacy of a boutique-sized convention with lots of direct interaction between authors and audience,” commented author, publisher and Fest co-founder Shirrel Rhoades.

During the weekend’s series of panels, presentations and social events, Mystery Fest attendees will have the opportunity to learn first-hand how to craft their own tales of crime, murder and mystery from a stellar line-up of high-profile mystery and suspense luminaries and true-crime experts.

2018 headliners are Keynote Luncheon Speaker Ace Atkins, the multi-award winning, New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one novels, including the recent Robert B. Parker “Spenser” mysteries…

Special Guest of Honor, the multi-award winning editor and publisher Otto Penzler – proprietor of the famed The Mysterious Book Shop in New York City…

And Special Guest Presenter, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham.

Other featured presenters include New York Times bestselling author Lisa Black, bestselling and award-winning author Nancy J. Cohen; New York Times bestselling author Diane A.S. Stuckart; New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, award-winning authors Patrick Kendrick, Lewis C. Haskell and many others.

Event highlights include presentation of the 2018 Whodunit Mystery Writing Competition Award, workshops on the business of being an author, how to write and sell a first novel, crisis negotiation, the forensic use of fingerprints, as well as panel discussions on subjects ranging from the state of the publishing industry to book marketing and promotion, along with author book signings, a Conch Train mini-tour of Key West, an ice-cream social event with Ace Atkins and Otto Penzler at the historic Key West Lighthouse, and a Bloody Mary Morning breakfast at Key West’s historic Schooner Wharf Bar.

Sponsored by the Key West Citizen daily newspaper, Mystery Writers of America – Florida Chapter, the Helmerich Foundation, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, and the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, all panels and presentations will take place at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand Key in Key West. Event registration is $195 and includes all panels and presentations, a luncheon and a brunch at Key West’s historic seaport. For a full Fest schedule, online registration, and links to accommodations visit MysteryFestKeyWest.com.

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

Orlando Book Festival

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 26, 2018

This was my first time participating in the one-day Orlando Book Festival held on April 21, 2018 at Orlando Public Library in downtown Orlando. I got there by 10:00 am and listened to part of the opening speech by bestselling YA author S. Jae-Jones.

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My panel came next, so I hustled to the second floor tech center where our table waited. Other panelists were bestselling thriller author David Hagberg, Amy Christine Parker, and Lori Roy with Jennifer Morrison as moderator. We discussed mysteries and thrillers and answered audience questions. It was interesting hearing what my fellow panelists had to say.

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Although the library supplied a “green room” with snacks and water bottles, we were on our own for lunch. My husband and I bought sub sandwiches at a nearby fast food place for a meal. Then I attended an interesting workshop about writing tools by Dr. Roy Peter Clark from the Poynter Institute. He discussed the phrase, “The Queen, my lord, is dead.” Which parts of this sentence matter? It could have been written differently, such as, “My lord, the Queen is dead.” Or, “The Queen is dead, my lord.” Dr. Clark pointed out how in any sentence, the word next to the period is the emphatic word. Thus the word “dead” in the original phrase is the most important one. The second most important word would be “Queen” and this comes in the beginning. The lesson? Have the most important word or phrase at the end of a sentence and preferably also at the end of a paragraph.

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The final speech of the day was an entertaining talk by bestselling thriller author David Baldacci. He’s a great speaker with stories about his adventures that kept the audience enthralled.

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The entire event was well-organized with an on-site bookstore run by Writer’s Block Bookstore. Various local writing organizations offered informative materials at exhibitor tables. A mass booksigning followed the day’s talks. I was honored to be included in this year’s book festival.

Orlando Book Festival

 

 

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SleuthFest – Day 4

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 23, 2018

Sunday, March 4, 2018

On Sunday morning at SleuthFest mystery writers’ conference, some brave souls pitched their books to all the editors and agents at Flamingo Pitch Tank. Dirk Wyle held his Reader’s Corner where people could read aloud from their works in progress. I went to a panel on “From Crime to Conviction” with Judge Frederic Block, Retired Police Major Doug Giacobbe, former FBI Special Agent Steven K. Brown, and retired Police Captain Lou Ann Williams. Don Bruns moderated.

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Brunch included a buffet breakfast while we watched certified hypnotist Glenn Miller demonstrate his skills with a group of audience volunteers. Thereafter, he and forensic guest of honor Dr. Katherine Ramsland discussed “Hypnosis as a Tool for Your Sleuth.”

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With all this information overloading our brains, we said goodbye until next year. Save the Date for SleuthFest 2019: March 14 -17 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Boca Raton. In the meantime, sign up HERE for monthly meetings of Florida Chapter, Mystery Writers of America.

 

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

SleuthFest – Day 3

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 21, 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018

On Saturday morning at SleuthFest mystery writers’ conference, I listened to Gregg E. Brickman talk about book interior design for indie authors.

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Then I hung around chatting with friends until lunch. Here is literary agent Evan Marshall from The Evan Marshall Agency with myself and historical mystery author Alyssa Maxwell.

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The Saturday luncheon had Guest of Honor Andrew Gross give his inspirational speech on “Career Transitions: Meeting the Challenge of Change.”

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Following the GOH’s talk, our chapter’s winner of the prestigious Flamingo Award was announced. Guess what? It was ME!!!!! I was thrilled and excited to receive this honored service award.

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In the afternoon, I heard Dr. Katherine Ramsland, Al Hallonquist, Dirk Wyle, and Richard Wymer discuss the Natalie Wood case and all the conflicting theories about what happened that fateful night.

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Next, book reviewer Oline Cogdill interviewed all of the guest authors. Then it was time to party at cocktail hour with a buffet food line and cash bar. We mixed and mingled and relaxed with our friends, both old and new. The FlaMANgo award nominees were announced and the men donned their boas. Bestselling author P.J. Parrish is in these photos along with Joanne Sinchuk and Sue Wilder from Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore. Patrick, our recording expert, is in the middle photo.

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You can view more pictures on my Facebook page. Look for the SleuthFest 2018 album.

 

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SleuthFest – Day 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 19, 2018

Friday,  March 2, 2018

Friday morning at SleuthFest mystery writers’ conference offered a choice of three workshops. I attended the talk on “Why Marketing Can Sometimes Yield Little to No Results” given by Maryglenn McCombs. See my workshop recap below. After this talk, I gave my own presentation on “Audiobooks with Amazon’s ACX.”

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Lunch came next with guest forensic specialist Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D, who spoke to us about serial killers. It was a chilling topic to hear during a meal.

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Friday afternoon, we had to choose from four workshop tracks. I went to the talk by Patrick Kendrick, thriller author and Fire Rescue Training Consultant. He spoke on USAR or Urban Search and Rescue as part of the nation’s disaster preparedness. The goal is to train the armed forces in fire-fighting and rescue techniques.

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Topics covered include technical rescue skills, site surveys and recon, mass decontamination procedures, personal protective equipment, atmospheric monitoring, and incident command organization. What do we expect in terms of domestic terrorism? CBRNE stands for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive. Patrick defined each one and made us glad we have people working to keep us safe.

The formal dinner this evening included the Freddie Awards Banquet. The winner in the Mystery category was Laura Brennan for The End of All Things. The winner in the Thriller category was Howard T. Konig for The Serial Killer’s Brother. Our infamous author auction followed until the evening’s conclusion.

You can view more photos on my Facebook page. Look for the SleuthFest 2018 album.

 

 

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SleuthFest – Day 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 16, 2018

SleuthFest 2018 began on March 1, 2018 with “Third Degree” Thursday and a full day of writing workshops at this premier mystery writers’ conference held in Boca Raton, Florida. I arrived in time to give my presentation on “Developing a Mystery Series.” It was well attended and attendees asked a lot of good questions. That afternoon, I did my stint at the registration desk while greeting old friends and making new ones. In the middle photo is Steve Brown and Jeffrey Philips. Then to the right is Marty Ambrose with me and Michael L. Joy.

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Panelists from earlier that day had a booksigning in front of the on-site bookstore run by Murder on the Beach. We had the chance to buy raffle tickets from the boa ladies. Here I am with James R. Benn and Hallie Ephron.

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After a welcome speech by conference co-chairs Michael L. Joy and Victoria Landis, we heard guest publisher Neil Nyren from G.P. Putnam’s Sons give his presentation on “Myths and Truths, Part IV.”

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Thursday evening provided an occasion to eat dinner in the lobby for those of us not attending the SleuthFest 101 banquet dinner. A mystery trivia game followed. On the left are Ann Meier, Vincent H. O’Neill, and Susan Brandt. To the right with me are Kell Levendorf  and Dr. Chris Jackson.

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 You can view more photos on my Facebook page. Look for the SleuthFest 2018 album.

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Book Marketing

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 7, 2018

SleuthFest 2018 was a great conference for mystery writers and fans. One of the first workshops I attended was given by book publicist Maryglenn McCombs. These are the points I took away from this workshop on marketing. Any mistakes are due to my misinterpretation.

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Reasons why readers buy books:

Placement (i.e. in library or on bookstore display or in airport store)
Physical Product
Online Exposure
Direct Email
Advertising
In-Person Appearance
Interest in Topic or Setting
Need for Entertainment
Author Endorsements
Hand Sales by a Bookseller
Reader Recommendations
Media such as blogs, radio, interviews, etc.

Public Relations is only one component in selling books. A publicist’s job is to create awareness of your book. But there’s no guarantee that you’ll get media coverage.

Why your book might not be selling:

You’re not meeting the above requirements
Not wide enough cast of promotional efforts
Trying to do too much at once
No advance planning
Product isn’t professional
Cover isn’t appealing
Too much “buy my book” social media
You’re offensive on social media (i.e. talking politics or using bad language)
Book is overpriced
Not targeting your audience
You get a great review and don’t share or promote it. But make sure you have permission first.
Your book doesn’t have any endorsements.
You aren’t doing signings and appearances. Look for non-traditional outlets.
Writing/editing needs improvement
Bad cover copy

What does not work:

Radio tours, with a few exceptions like Authors on the Air
Lengthy book tours
Purchased editorial ads
Purchased reviews
“Buy my book” social media tactics
Book trailers
Swag
Gimmicks such as dressing in costume for an appearance

These may work or not:

Street teams
Soliciting Amazon reviewers
Facebook ads

What works:

Major media coverage
Attending conferences
Print media
Launch parties
Steady media coverage over time
Personal contact with booksellers
Finding your superfans
BookBub ads/deals
Starred reviews
Winning awards
Big author endorsements
Making the “Best of” lists
Getting into Gift Guides
Writing a Great Book
Having a Professional Product

GIVEAWAY

GiftCards

ENTER HERE to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Readers Favorite Awards Ceremony

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 21, 2017

This was my first time attending the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Ceremony. I won a gold medal in the Southern category for Facials Can Be Fatal. I’d submitted this title in their contest a while ago and forgotten about it until I received an email one day telling me I had won. This was indeed a pleasant surprise! Most writing contests let you know when you’re a finalist, but the winners aren’t announced until the actual event takes place. This usually happens at a conference away from home. I really liked that I knew I’d won ahead of time.

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Because the Readers’ Favorite Awards Ceremony was being held nearby, I signed up to attend along with my husband. We checked into the Regency Hotel Miami on Friday afternoon. The hotel is conveniently located near the airport for winners flying in for the ceremony. People came from all over the country, plus Canada and Australia. Since the event didn’t include a full meal, we ordered a snack in the lobby bar/restaurant.

Dress for the event was billed as formal or semi-formal. Ladies wore cocktail dresses or gowns and men for the most part wore jackets and ties. The doors at the hotel’s nightclub opened at 6:00 pm. The evening before on Friday, there had been a Meet and Greet in the lobby, but we hadn’t attended. So I picked up my name badge Saturday night along with a pin and a complimentary pen. Then we took our seats. A cash bar was available in the rear.

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I was impressed by the production that made this event special for the award winners. Chairs were draped in white like at a wedding and arranged auditorium style. The stage was flanked by two huge floral bouquets and a back screen projection of the award logo. We could take photos before and after on the stage or over by the official photography station.

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The event was filmed, while the photographer took pictures of each candidate standing beside the host. The awards were not called by category, like at other ceremonies. Instead, beginning at 7pm, people sitting in a certain section of the room were directed to line up. One-by-one, we climbed the steps to the dais and handed the emcee a card from our name badge. He read from this card, which included our name, book title, award level and category. Then we proceeded to the center stage to receive our medallion, shake the host’s hand, and pose for the photographer. When one group finished, the emcee called another section to come forward.

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This method proved to be efficient as we were done in an hour. A buffet of finger foods followed while contestants mingled. We ate triangles of grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, turkey slices, chicken empanadas, cookies, or pastry. Free soda and coffee were available.

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I truly did feel special. My book had been picked by anonymous judges for this honor. There might have been hundreds of submissions. I liked that my story had been evaluated for its merits and wasn’t a popularity contest with votes like some other writing awards. This made it more meaningful, and so did the sponsors for giving winners an evening to showcase their talents.

Find the list of winners here: https://readersfavorite.com/2017-award-contest-winners.htm

Visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ReadersFavorite/

Enter the 2018 contest at https://readersfavorite.com/annual-book-award-contest.htm

Posted in Appearances, Book Reviews, Conferences, Contest, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

FWA Conference Recap – Staging Fight Scenes

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 6, 2017

Fight Scenes

Author L.E. Perez gave a good talk on fight scenes at the Florida Writers Association 2017 Conference . Here are the tips I garnered. Any errors are due to my misinterpretation.

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  • Focus on character emotions.
  • Defending yourself is not the same as being prepared to injure someone.
  • PTSD happens to anyone who experiences a violent event or is a crime victim. This also applies to domestic abuse since the characters are at war.
  • Consider words that reflect a fight: sudden clarity, adrenaline rush, freeze up, smashed, buffeted, rage, pain.
  • If your character punches someone, he may need to shake his hand out afterward. It hurts to throw a punch.
  • Allow for recovery time. Either use the recovery in the story, or skip ahead and have the character recount what happened during this interval.
  • In a knife fight, someone invariably gets cut. Or your hero might survive a knife fight and then cut himself chopping vegetables for a bit of humor.
  • Act out your action scenes to get a sense of motion. How is your character moving during the scene? How is he holding a weapon?
  • Kamas is a weapon with a scythe-like blade on one end and a pointed blade on the other end.
  • Not all knives are throwing knives. They have to be properly balanced.

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

FWA Conference – Day 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 30, 2017

Saturday morning at the Florida Writers Association annual conference found me starting off the workshops with a talk on “Book Promotion on a Budget.”

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Next I attended Penny Sansevieri’s presentation, “Help! My Book Isn’t Selling.”

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A buffet lunch followed with barbecue chicken and accompaniments. Awards were given to youth writers. After lunch, I had a booksigning and later a video interview.

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Then it was time to get ready for the Royal Palm Literary Awards banquet. My family came to support me as a finalist. It was interesting to see the blurbs about each author’s book on big screens as we ate. I didn’t win, so I’ll have to try again next year. I’m still thrilled to have made the finals.

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On Sunday, I attended a workshop “Bring that Action Scene to Life” by author L.E. Perez. I learned a few tips during her entertaining presentation.

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Then I checked out and packed up the car to meet our family for lunch.

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If you want to see all my photos, visit my Facebook Author Page. Please Like the page while you are there.

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

 
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