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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 ‘Marketing’ Category

Tips for the Hot Pitch

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 27, 2017

Pitching Your Novel to an Editor/Agent

Are you preparing for a conference but your knees get shaky at the thought of an editor/agent appointment? Be prepared, not scared. Begin your ten minute pitch session by offering the editor or agent a handshake along with your name. If you have a business card, hand it over. Sit down and smile and state your story’s genre and word count. Mention which imprint at the publishing house you are targeting. Then continue with the following.

Do not bring your manuscript. Do not ramble on with plot details. Do have a completed book ready to submit. Do hit these high points and then let the editor do the talking.

interview

LOG LINE: When planning your pitch, think in terms of Key Words and Hot Premises for a one line summary of your work. Look at TV Guide for examples of log lines. Examples of key words are “humorous cozy”, “legal thriller” or “courtroom drama.” Be prepared to compare your work to movies or other authors in the same genre.

Facials Can Be Fatal: Salon owner Marla Vail’s new day spa hits a snag when a client dies during a facial in this killer cozy mystery.

Warrior Lord: A fantasy wedding in Las Vegas turns into a nightmare when contest winner Erika Sherwood realizes she’s married an alien.

CHARACTERS: Don’t crowd your pitch with too many character names. In a mystery, stick with the sleuth, victim, and killer. In a romance, just the hero and heroine count. Identify your main characters by means of an adjective and a noun. i.e. sassy hairstylist, scandalous socialite, shy schoolteacher, reckless ranger, dashing detective.

OPENING HOOK: Describe the initial set up or how the story opens.

Permed to Death: Hairstylist Marla Shore is giving her client a perm when she goes into the back room to get some clean towels. She hears a loud crash, rushes back into the salon, and finds her client dead in the shampoo chair.

Warrior Prince: Mythology student Nira Larsen receives a summer job offer she can’t refuse—to act as a tour guide for a team of warriors from another planet.

MOTIVATION: In a romance, this is the internal conflict that keeps the couple apart. In a mystery, this would be why the sleuth feels compelled to get involved.

Hanging by a Hair: Marla’s husband is implicated in the murder of their neighbor. A police detective, he’s removed from the case. She means to find the killer, clear her husband’s name, and make the neighborhood safe again.

Warrior Lord: Magnor is a Tsuran swordsman who has been shunned by his tribe. Evidence pointed his way when his brother-in-law was found murdered. He took the fall for his sister, who lied him to gain his property. He doesn’t trust women who might betray a man, nor does he consider himself worthy of love since he lost his honor.

RESOLUTION: How will your characters grow and change by the end of the story? In a romance, what compromises will each person make to bring about a HEA ending? In a mystery, what insight does the main character have about herself by the final chapter?

UNIQUENESS: How is your book different from others in the genre? What special knowledge or fresh angle do you have to offer? Does the theme deal with any issues in today’s news?

SERIES OR SINGLE TITLE: If this is meant to be a series, give the overall series title and brief blurbs for the next books. If you have an overall arc for your main character, here’s where you can mention your protagonist’s inner journey.

If the editor or agent shows interest, you can briefly mention the continuing characters that will populate your stories. In the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, these include Detective Dalton Vail, who becomes Marla’s love interest. There’s her mother and other relatives, her salon colleague Nicole, and her friends Tally and Arnie. These people are part of the world you are creating. They’ll become friends to your readers.

MARKETING: What is your series marketing hook? i.e. “It’s Murder, She Wrote in a beauty salon with a South Florida slant.”

Do you have a platform? A niche audience? How do you plan to promote the book? When I was starting out with my series, I might have said: “Besides appealing to mystery lovers who like humor and a touch of romance, I’ll target people in the beauty business such as hairstylists, manicurists, and salons owners. Plus, Florida is a popular site for mysteries. People who’ve visited here or who live here like to read about familiar places.”

Are you set up with a website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter? Are you prepared to do a virtual blog tour, book trailer, and more? Show that you’re willing to work hard as a partner in marketing your work.

SELL YOURSELF: Ultimately, it’s your energy and enthusiasm that count. You have to be someone the agent or editor wants to acquire as a client. Be professional and courteous at all times. It may even be that you speak about something else you have in common, i.e. trying new recipes or touring the city sights. Then when you send in your proposal, your cover letter can state: “I enjoyed our discussion at the XYZ conference about seafood. If you recall, I’d mentioned my book….”

Restrict your pitch to the above essentials. Avoid descriptions of plot details, physical character traits, and your own personal history unless it relates to the story.

CONCLUDING THE INTERVIEW
Thank the editor or agent for their time. If they request you send them something, ask if they want to see a query letter, proposal, or the full manuscript. Also, do they prefer an email or snail mail submission? Ask for their business card before you shake hands again and depart.

FOLLOW UP: At the editor or agent’s request, mail your work to them afterward. If it’s via snail mail, which is unusual these days, mark the package “Requested Material.” If it’s an email, be sure to put in the subject line a reference to where you met, i.e. SleuthFest Conference Author. Then cross your fingers and hope for the best!

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Did you miss my earlier posts on Getting an Agent? Go here for Part 1 and Part 2.

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Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Getting an Agent – Part 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 24, 2017

In Getting an Agent – Part 1, we discussed how to find a literary agent. Let’s say you’ve made the connection. Here’s what to do next.

Questions to ask a potential agent

How many agents and staff work in your agency?
How many clients does the agency represent? How many clients do you handle personally?
How long have you been an agent? Are you a member of AAR?
What is your particular area of interest?
How many new authors have you sold in the past year?
What is your average response time for a completed manuscript?
Do you prefer emails or phone calls?
How long does it take for you to return a phone call or email inquiry?
How do you feel about multiple submissions?
How long do you wait after sending an editor a manuscript before following up?
Do you give your client an update on the status of their projects, or do they have to contact you?
How many rejections would it take on a manuscript before you stop marketing it?
Do you handle subsidiary rights, such as translation, foreign sales, film/TV, audio?
Do you offer a written or verbal contract?
What percentage do you charge? (15% is standard for domestic sales)
What happens if you die or are disabled?
Do you deposit money received into an escrow account for clients?
How soon do you pay clients after receiving a royalty check?
How do you keep track of submissions?
Do you submit to digital first publishers?
Do you allow an author to do indie projects separate from the work you represent?
What do you expect from your clients?

Contracts

contract

Not all agents offer written contracts. If you do get one, be careful to read the terms before you sign. See if the agreement covers only this project or everything you write. You may request changes, such as to specify novel-length works of fiction only. If you want to do indie projects on the side, make sure the agent is agreeable and that you’re not obligated to pay him any part of this income. The agent should get paid only for rights he sells on your behalf.

Be careful of committing yourself for more than a year, and make sure you can disengage with a written notice. If you terminate, you should have no further obligation to the agent except for works which the agent has submitted or sold.

Beware of “interminable agency” or “perpetual agency” clauses in your publishing contracts. This clause grants the agent the exclusive right to represent your work for the length of the copyright. Terminology like “agency coupled with an interest” is also to be avoided. Do not commit for sequels or subsequent works or the length of your copyright. Also examine the clause an agent puts into a publishing contract when the time comes. Some of the professional writing organizations have sample contracts online, so get involved in the writing community and ask experienced authors your questions after you’ve done your own research.

How to tell if your agent isn’t working out

agent2

A. You never hear from him.
B. He doesn’t answer your calls or emails.
C. You don’t receive copies of rejection letters if you’ve requested them.
D. The agent turns down your new ideas.
E. He claims to be busy with more important clients.
F. You find out he never submitted your manuscript to an editor as promised.

How to switch agents

Send your current agent a letter or email and say your relationship isn’t working out as desired, and you wish to move in a new direction. Thus you are terminating your agreement. Keep a printed copy of his acknowledgment. Keep in mind that you remain under obligation to this agent for any work he has submitted or sold for you. To be clear on the termination terms, check your agency agreement. Once you are free from your previous relationship, you can seek a new agent.

Author/Agent Etiquette

interview2

  • Be prepared to suggest markets to an agent to show you are savvy about the business and have done your research. It’s hard to keep up with all the changes in the publishing industry. Consider your relationship as a business partnership where you each contribute.
  • Don’t accost an agent in the restroom at a conference or if they are in a deep discussion with another author.
  • Leave your manuscript at home. If an agent agrees to see your work, follow up with an email and ask for his submission requirements. Remind him where you met.
  • Don’t hound your agent. Responses from editors can take months. If you need someone to hold your hand, join a critique group. Remember that you are not the agent’s only client.
  • Always be courteous and professional. Keep producing new work at a steady pace. Listen to your agent’s suggestions even if you agree to disagree. Maintain a social media presence and keep up to date on industry news.

CLICK TO TWEET 

Coming Next: Tips for the Hot Pitch

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

Getting an Agent – Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 20, 2017

How do you get a literary agent? Here are some tips to start your journey from writer to published author. First, complete your manuscript in the proper format. Look online at literary agent sites for submission requirements.

Where do you find an agent? Sign up for writers’ conferences with editor/agent appointments. If your group runs a local event, volunteer for the editor/agent committee. Enter writing contests where agents are the final judges. Note the acknowledgments to agents in books by your favorite authors to find people who represent your genre. Search the Guide to Literary Agents or Writer’s Market at your local library.

agent 

Follow agents on Twitter. Look for the hashtag #MSWL (manuscript wish list). You can get more specific for a particular genre (i.e. #MSWL Mystery). Also check out #Pitchmas, #AdPit, #Pit2Pub, #PitMad, #AgentsDay, #Carinapitch, #PitMatch for online pitches. Include the category in your tweet. Also use #AskAgent if you want to find agents who might be interested your story. Here are some places that might hold online pitch sessions:

http://cupidslitconnection.blogspot.com/
http://www.savvyauthors.com
http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/
http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/

Also follow blogs by well-known agents and publishing industry professionals. You’ll learn who these people are by getting involved in the writing community.

Do Your Research

http://aaronline.org/
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/activity.php
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/
http://www.agentresearch.com
http://www.agentquery.com
http://www.literarymarketplace.com/
http://www.publishersmarketplace.com
http://www.querytracker.net
http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/alerts/
http://www.writersmarket.com/
http://www.1000literaryagents.com/

Follow the guidelines for submissions on the agent’s website. Write a snappy query letter introducing yourself, giving the word count and genre for your book, your writing credits, and a few sentences about your story. Make it read like back cover copy. Include a hot premise or marketing hook that makes your story stand out. This letter should be no longer than one page. DO NOT describe your life history or any personal details that do not relate to your writing career. DO include if you belong to a critique group, have won writing contests, or if you’ve attended writing workshops and conferences.

If you hear nothing for a couple of months, send a follow-up email to ask if the agent 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 mail.

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. Never pay an agent any fees. The agent will receive a commission on sales.

CLICK TO TWEET

Coming Next: Getting an Agent – Part 2

You’ve found an agent who interests you. Now what?

 

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

How Not to Request a Book Review

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 28, 2017

Occasionally, I’ll get requests from authors to review their books. Some of these I’ve accepted, but mostly I send a polite refusal. Here are some examples of what not to do when approaching an author, especially when you don’t know her personally. This also applies to guest blog posts.

 

Reader

Dear Nancy J. Cohen,
I
noticed your review on Amazon for “Murder at the Seaside.” My book is a suspense novel set in Phoenix. It’s a bit outside the cozy genre, but the language is clean and amusing. Would you be willing to read my book and give an honest review?
[When they start with my full name like this, I know they are unfamiliar to me. This book is outside my genre, and the author is an unknown who got my name off Amazon. No deal.]

Dear Ms. Cohen,
I would love to have you interview me on your blog for my upcoming romantic comedy due for release from XYZ Publishing. See back cover blurb below. Please let me know what other information you need to consider reviewing it.
[Is this person requesting a review or a guest blog spot? Either way, her book isn’t my genre, and the author is unknown to me. I’m not interested.]

Dear Nancy,
I’ve finished my first medical thriller and would be honored if I can get a blurb from you. I love your romantic suspense novels. They keep me at the edge of my seat. I’ve really enjoyed reading Hair Raiser and hope to read more of your work.
[This would be a polite, No Thanks. I write mysteries, not romantic suspense. And this person says “they” keep her on the edge of her seat, but she’s only read one. Thrillers are outside my genre, and while occasionally I do read them, I’d rather not be obligated here.]

Hello Nancy J. Cohen,
I saw that you reviewed“The Stolen Queen.” My book has similar elements but more romance and intrigue. [Story Blurb follows]. This romantic adventure is so thrilling and unlike anything you’ve ever read, you’ll be hooked until the last page. My novel is a spine-tingling adventure with exciting twists & turns.
[Bragging about how your book is a bestseller or how it’ll hook my interest is a turnoff.]

Dear Nancy,
I saw that you reviewed the Alex Rider story, “Stormbreaker.” I am author of a middle grade fantasy titled “The Secret of the Oracle.” In this time-travel adventure, Eddie must overcome his fears and battle evil forces in ancient Greece to discover the identity of a sorcerer. Would you like to receive a complimentary digital copy of my book?
[I accepted this one. YA Fantasy is a genre I like to read, and the story line intrigued me. The author didn’t make any braggart claims about how his story will blow me away. He was polite and concise in his request. I enjoyed this book and gave it an honest review.]

Hello,
I have a new release coming out titled “Murder in the Garden,” and I am organizing a book tour. I will provide excerpts and interviews. I’ll be running a Rafflecopter contest, and if you’d like to participate, I’ll include your social media links. (Story blurb follows)
[I accepted this one and was happy to help a fellow mystery author. Why? Not much to do on my part except schedule a blog post on the set day. It’s the appropriate cozy genre. And I’d get social media links in her Rafflecopter. She sounds savvy and will likely show up on the blog to answer comments. This person made things easy.]

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My Advice

· Request a review from an author who writes in the same genre or who clearly enjoys reading the type of book you’ve written.
· Mention a deadline if you have one for the review.
· Be gracious and accepting that the author might not have the time or interest.
· If you’re proposing a blog post, study the type of posts on the host’s blog and then suggest several relevant topics. Also note, while on her site, if she even hosts guests or has a submission policy.
· Be modest. Don’t make braggart claims about how your book is a bestseller, will keep readers riveted until the end, or is a laugh-out-loud funny story. Readers can judge these things for themselves.
· Mention your website or the Amazon page for your book so the author can find more information there.

· If the author declines your offer, thank her politely for her consideration.

Note that a book review request differs from an endorsement request. What else would you add to this list?

 

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Posted in Book Reviews, Business of Writing, Marketing, Reviews, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 15 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

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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 »

Facials Can Be Fatal – New Book Release

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 22, 2017

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

launch party


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

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

View the Book Trailer
Add to Goodreads

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

Amazon     BN     MOTB-icon-150x150

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

CLICK HERE TO TWEET about the new release.


Giveaways_thumb.jpg

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

Facials

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

On Sale Permed to Death

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 13, 2017

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

Cohen_PermedDeath

  Kindle   Apple   Nook  Kobo

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

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

galaxy tablet

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

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.

Jazz1Jazz3Jazz4Jazz2

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

Plant Preserve1 Plant Preserve3

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.

Pancakes3 Omelet

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 »

 
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