Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

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    Hair Raiser

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

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Archive for the ‘The Writing Life’ Category

Cover Reveal

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 23, 2015

I am pleased to reveal the cover for Peril by Ponytail due out in October from Five Star. This title will be #12 in my Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

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Marla and Dalton’s honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch veers from dangerous to downright deadly faster than a horse headed to the corral. With her husband’s uncle—the resort’s owner—on the suspect list for murder, Marla races to prove his innocence. She hopes her blind trust isn’t misplaced, especially when she learns their relative has secrets he’d rather keep buried.

Shipping date: September 16, 2015; On-sale date: October 7, 2015
ISBN: 9781432830984, $25.95, Five Star

Peril by Ponytail ropes in the reader in Nancy J. Cohen’s captivating new tale, which deftly braids together deadly secrets under the sand, long hidden resentments, and romance on the range.” —Ellen Byerrum, Author of the Crime of Fashion Mysteries

I’ll be making more announcements as time goes on, but if you’d like to be considered for a review copy, please notify me along with the sites where you post (your actual page, not just “I post on Goodreads).

If you want to keep up with my news, please enlist for my newsletter at http://nancyjcohen.com/contact-nancy/newsletter/

For more details, go to: http://nancyjcohen.com/books/mysteries/

 

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

How to Write Short Fiction

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 12, 2015

How to Write Short Fiction—and Why Your Readers Think You Should!
Joanna Campbell Slan

JSlanAuthorMore and more authors are discovering the power of short fiction to market and promote their work. I’m certainly one of them. Several years ago, I promised my readers that I would write a short story a month in the run-up of the release of my next Kiki Lowenstein mystery book. Folks loved the pieces, my sales benefited, and I learned a lot in the process.

Guidelines for Writing Short Fiction

1. Concentrate on “one.” In my short stories, I typically write about one main character, one big problem, one setting, and one span of time.

2. Set it up fast. When they’re reading a short story, readers want to settle in quickly. Therefore, I try to work the “who, what, when, where and why” into my first paragraph. That gets my readers engaged as we explore the remaining question, “Whodunit?”

3. Craft your opening images so that they both paint a picture and set a mood for the reader. Promise your reader action and conflict from the get-go. Here’s an example: “The snow was busy blanketing our spirea bushes with a gentle white coverlet, while my mother slammed around a pot on the stove. At thirteen, I’m too old for hot chocolate, but my younger sisters, Eve and Edith, love it. Mom’s usually even-tempered when she cooks, but on this particular day, Mitt Romney had decided he wouldn’t make his third run for President. That made Mom mad. Hopping mad.”

4. Grab the reader fast. Your opening sentence should be a real show-stopper. Think of it as a baited hook that you’ll toss out into the ocean. Here’s an example, “If Mitt Romney had done his patriotic duty to our country, my mother wouldn’t be in jail today.”

5. Tell your reader the story, AFTER you tell it to yourself. It’s easy to get locked into a chronological narrative when we’re telling ourselves a story as we write it. As a result, we don’t always tell the most entertaining tale we could. Before you start writing, make a list of the things that must happen in the story and put them in chronological order. Order your information so that it makes the most impact.

6. Use this formula to help you get started: “First (inciting incident) happened to (character) and then that’s how (action started), and so (fill in the blank/more action) until (a conclusion is reached).” Example: “First Mom heard on the news that Romney wasn’t running, and that’s how she discovered that Dad wasn’t really volunteering down at Romney headquarters like he said he was, and so she followed him, and discovered he was having an affair with…a registered Democrat!” Once you encapsulate your entire short story in a sentence, you can charge ahead with confidence.

7. End with a bang! Whenever possible, I like to end my short fiction with a pithy observation or an ironic comment. The reader should feel a sense of (twisted) satisfaction. For example, “If she hadn’t dropped her ‘Mitt Romney for President’ button at the scene of the crime, Mom would have gotten away with murder. As they slapped the handcuffs on her and walked her toward the waiting police car, she yelled back at us, “See? None of this would have happened if we’d elected a good Republican into the White House!”

Do I break these rules? All the time. But I’ve developed my list as a useful template for pointing me in the right direction, even if I do wander off the suggested path.

Is it worth the time and effort? My short stories have proven to be extremely useful for keeping readers engaged between my books. I like to use the short format to expand on my characters, or to write about a situation that doesn’t warrant being explored in a full length book. You can see how this works in my Kiki Lowenstein Short Story Anthology #2. It’s only 99 cents. In particular, you might want look at the reader reviews about that particular anthology. Their comments have encouraged me to keep offering fiction in this short format.

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about writing short fiction or any questions you might have.
Joanna

P.S. In case the link doesn’t work, here’s the link to the anthology: http://www.amazon.com/Lowenstein-Anthology-Volume-Scrap-N-Craft-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00BQ2ITVI/ref=pd_sim_kstore_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=1MT1PG8YM2VPBP7MHCEA

About the Author
Joanna Campbell Slan is a national-bestselling and award-winning author of twenty-eight books, including three mystery series. Her newest book—Shotgun, Wedding, Bells—is now available for pre-order on Amazon. When you buy Shotgun, Wedding, Bells (Release date Feb. 14, 2015), you automatically get Tear Down and Die (Book #1 in the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series/86 five-star reviews) absolutely FREE. Here’s that link: http://www.amazon.com/Shotgun-Wedding-Lowenstein-Scrap-N-Craft-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00SURBH7A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1423518318&sr=1-1&keywords=Kiki+Lowenstein

Book Blurb for Shotgun, Wedding, Bells   Shotgun Wedding Bells cover
A very pregnant Kiki Lowenstein and her fiancé Detective Chad Detweiler are trying to race the stork to the altar. But their vows are interrupted by a shoot-out. With the help of her nanny, Bronwyn Macavity, Kiki vows to track down the man who ruined her wedding and put her family at risk. Even a big belly bump won’t stop this intrepid amateur sleuth! http://www.amazon.com/Shotgun-Wedding-Lowenstein-Scrap-N-Craft-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00SURBH7A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1423518318&sr=1-1&keywords=Kiki+Lowenstein

Where to find Joanna
Joanna shares excerpts, tips and craft tutorials on her Blog: http://www.joannaslan.blogspot.com
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/joannaslan
Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/JoannaSlan
Website: http://www.joannaslan.com

Get a FREE e-book from Joanna
For a free sample of Joanna’s work, send an email to her assistant, Sally Lippert at SALFL27@att.net and request your copy of Ink, Red, Dead (Book #3 in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series).

 

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Pre-Need Funeral Plans

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 6, 2015

One of the topics I’d researched for Hair Raiser was pre-need funeral plans. I firmly believe people should address this issue before their demise. It saves your loved ones from having to make these choices during a difficult time. You get to choose what you want, and when the time comes, all your heirs have to do is make a phone call. You can pay off the cost in installments, instead of your surviving family members having to come up with a lump sum later on. So don’t avoid the issue and put off for tomorrow what you can do today.

Marla interviews a suspect in Hair Raiser who happens to be a funeral director. Her excuse for seeing him is ostensibly to get information on a pre-need plan for herself. I hope you find this interview to be useful for your own planning needs.

Excerpt from Hair Raiser by Nancy J. Cohen

“Let’s talk about funeral plans,” Marla said.

From the way Stefano glowered at her, she figured he was wishing she could make use of one right now.

“Is this going to be a package for two people?” he snarled, pen poised in his fingers. His glance dropped to her ringless left hand.

“No, this is just for me.”

“You should think ahead. At some point in your future, there may be a significant other. I assume we’re talking about a traditional ground burial rather than a mausoleum?”

“I guess so.” She had no wish to be preserved for eternity in a tomb like Romeo and Juliet. Besides, she believed her religion required a ground burial.

“Purchasing two plots now will save you money because land prices keep rising. In the event you don’t need the second plot, we’ll buy it back from you. Consider it a hedge against inflation.” Pushing a chart in front of her, he pointed to various sites marked out in squares. “Which cemetery section appeals to you?”

Marla moistened her lips. “It doesn’t matter, whichever costs less.”

“That would be the newest section.” He circled two spaces. “Do you prefer a chapel or graveside service?”

She gave it serious consideration, mortality being on her mind after viewing Riley’s body and being shot at herself. “A graveside service would be easier on my family, so let’s go with that one. Is there a price difference?” Squinting, she tried to read what was on the upside-down form.

“It’s $420 for use of the chapel as opposed to $275 for a graveside service.” At her nod, he continued. “Next there’s a basic charge for the professional services of the funeral director and staff. That’s $1870. This includes arranging conferences between family and clergy, filing necessary permits, planning the funeral, placement of obituary notices, and coordination with other responsible parties. It also includes administrative expenses for the use of our facilities.”

“I see.”

“You have a choice about embalming. May I ask your religious preference?”

“I’m Jewish.”

He nodded sagely. “Jewish people usually don’t embalm unless you’re going into a mausoleum. It’s my understanding, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the religious directive is to return to the earth as quickly as possible.”

“Okay, no embalming.” She felt uncomfortable discussing these choices, but it made sense to do so before you needed them. What a relief for your relatives to make one phone call in the event your prearrangements became necessary. Ma had paid for a plan, and Marla was grateful. She dreaded the day when she’d have to use it, but that was better than having to make hasty decisions later while coping with grief.

“You’re going to have other expenses.” Stefano reversed the general price list so she could see for herself. “Transfer of remains to the funeral home is $290. Use of a hearse will be $275. Dressing and casketing is $145. Since you’re not embalming, refrigeration is required, which costs $395.”

I’d always wanted to die broke, she told herself sardonically. “What’s this opening and closing that you’ve circled?”

“That’s for opening the gravesite and closing it after the service. Also, I recommend a concrete vault. It gives more protection than a concrete liner, which is more porous. Now let’s discuss choice of caskets.” He stood, gesturing for her to follow. “We have a casket room so you can see the selections.”

Oh, joy. She couldn’t wait.

Trailing behind, she entered a room where up to twenty coffins were on display. Detaching herself emotionally wasn’t hard. She didn’t want to think about herself lying in one of those boxes.

“The Jewish religion calls for your casket to be made of all wood, meaning pegged and glued with no metal parts so the body can get back to the earth quickly.” He showed her a few samples. “See, no nails or metal hinges. Or, if you go into a mausoleum, embalming is required along with a sealed metal casket. Choices include steel, copper, and bronze, like this one here.”

Her eyes bulged. The price tag of $37,995 made her throat constrict. Hopefully the ones made from wood were more reasonably priced. She surveyed the different styles ranging from solid mahogany with a polished finish and a champagne velvet interior at a cost of $19,995 to a plain pine box for $795.

“How about this one?” she asked, pointing to a solid poplar design with a polished maple finish and beige crepe interior. It ran mid-price range at $2,695.

Stefano ran his fingers lovingly over the smooth service, his dark eyes gleaming in appreciation. “Beautiful, isn’t it? Of course, if you prefer a velvet interior, we have a similar one for an extra $800.”

“No, I like this. What’s next?” Uncomfortable in the confined space with Stefano looming beside her, she headed through the door and back toward his office.

“Clergy fees, death certificates, prayer books, yarmulkes, acknowledgment cards, a guest sign-in book. Then there’s an archiving fee and sales tax on the merchandise.”

He’d been writing everything down on a proposal form, and now he pulled out a calculator to get the total. “Here’s the best package I can give you,” he said circling a number that made Marla cringe. “We have a payment plan available if you’d like to stretch this out over four years with no interest. It includes our personal protection program. If, God forbid, something happens to you after a year, the rest of the premiums are waived.”

“Terrific. Can I take this home to study?” She’d contact another funeral home to compare prices. Babs had told her Stefano charged exorbitant fees. Upon his approval, she folded the papers and stuffed them into her purse.

“Who handled the arrangements for Ben’s funeral?” she asked, knowing the answer but wondering how he’d react.

He grimaced. “One of the Levinson places took care of him.”

“They weren’t the ones involved in that voodoo case, were they?” She’d read a news article about a mortician convicted of performing voodoo rituals by stuffing dolls stuck with pins into a dead man’s chest cavity and chopping off his hand.

“No, that was somewhere in north Florida.” Thrusting stiff fingers through his gray hair, Stefano regarded her from beneath heavy brows. “Levinson’s is a nation-wide chain. Conglomerates now own more than fifty percent of the mortuaries in this county. Most people don’t realize it when they choose a place. Ownership may have changed hands, but the old names remain on the signs.”

“Doesn’t that hurt your business? Yours is one of the few family-owned firms left.”

“We still provide more personal services than the chains, and their prices tend to be higher. Did you know they charge up to sixty-two percent more than independents for the same items?”

Yeah, right, pal. Like your prices are cheap? “You’ve managed to stay viable.”

“So far.”

“I heard a rumor that Ben was suing you on behalf of some former customers,” she said, switching topics glibly to provoke a response. “Did that have anything to do with Pre-Need plans? What guarantee is there that I’ll get what I pay for?”

He shifted uneasily. “You have to trust me, Marla.”

No problem. I’d trust you like I would a snake.

HAIR RAISERebook (419x640)

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.

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/c/nancy-j.-cohen
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

Contest Alert
Enter 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/

 

Posted in Book Excerpt, Research, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Author Interview for Hair Raiser

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 2, 2015

Back in 2000, when I wrote Hair Raiser, I was interviewed about the story. I’m repeating it here so you can see some of the thoughts I had at the time.

First tell us anything you want us to know about Hair Raiser.

Here’s the story blurb: When hairstylist Marla Shore volunteers for a fund-raiser benefitting a coastal preservation society, she gets more than she’s bargained for when someone attempts to sabotage the gala event. Participating chefs are dropping off the roster like hot rollers, and Marla is the only one who can tease the truth from them. Too late to stop a murder, she must salvage the grand affair before she’s moussed into oblivion.

Research involved mangrove habitats, biomedical waste disposal, and funeral Pre-Need Plans. In particular, I enjoyed dining out at restaurants in Fort Lauderdale and in Nassau so I could describe the menus in detail. Touring Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale provided the inspiration for Cousin Cynthia’s estate in the story. An interview with a funeral director, an exhibition of Samoan fire knives, and a visit to a biomedical waste disposal facility rounded out my inquiries. I always like to learn something new when writing a book, and I hope my readers find these topics as interesting as I did.

How did you decide to choose a beautician as the protagonist?

I wish I had Marla’s skills to style my own hair! Seriously, I find the backdrop of a beauty salon is perfect for a mystery series. Being a skilled stylist is a profession I admire. You have to be a good listener since people talk to their hairdressers. Clients gossip while getting their hair done; suspects and informants exchange information while Marla cuts and colors their hair; and she encounters customers all around town. Her caring nature fosters confidences that aid her in numerous investigations. And think of those sharp instruments in a salon—scissors, metal hair picks, and razors.

What drew you to locating the story in South Florida?

I live in South Florida, and I want to share the appreciation I have for our tropical environment. I love the seagrapes, palms trees, and mangroves; the sunny beaches and diverse cultural mix. Instead of the usual gritty Florida stories, I want to showcase our attractions in a positive manner. Locals as well as visitors enjoy reading about sites familiar to them.

Tell us about protagonist Marla’s sense of curiosity. What was the inspiration for this?

Anyone investigating murders needs a nosy disposition. Marla is naturally curious, but her sense of responsibility for sniffing out murderers comes from her background. When she was nineteen, a toddler in her care drowned in a swimming pool. As a result, Marla feels responsible for her clients and strives to prove her self-worth. When Cousin Cynthia asks her to investigate a lawyer’s death in Hair Raiser, Marla feels obliged to accept. Earning Cynthia’s respect is important to her, and so is digging out the truth. Marla’s experience comes from my own background as a nurse. In a continuing education class on near-drowning, I saw a film where a child’s body was pulled from a backyard pool. Drowning is the number one cause of death for children ages 4 and under in South Florida, so it’s an important issue here. Marla has learned to overcome her past mistakes and turn them into a force for good.

Does your living in Florida have anything to do with protagonist Marla’s desire to preserve natural resources?

Yes, I love living in the semi-tropics and believe we should do everything we can to preserve our planet’s natural resources.

Where do you see the series going?

Murder by Manicure is the next book in the series. Marla’s relationship with Dalton Vail will continue to evolve. Hint: I like happy endings.

What are you working on next?

I’ve started Body Wave, #4 in the Bad Hair Day series.

How would you describe your writing style?

Quick reading with lots of dialogue and fast-paced action.

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.

HAIR RAISERebook (419x640)

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/c/nancy-j.-cohen
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

Contest Alert
Enter to win a signed hardcover copy of Shear Murder and a $10 Starbucks gift card. Two prizes to be awarded. http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

Posted in Author Interviews, Fiction Writing, 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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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“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:

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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 »

The Muddle in the Middle

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 7, 2015

Somewhere in the middle of my current WIP, I froze with hesitation. It seemed as though I could finish the book within the next fifty pages, and I had one hundred pages to go. Where would I find enough material?

I staved off a full-blown panic attack by realizing this same fear struck me with every book. And each time, I made my word count without a problem. So how do I slug through to the end? And what if you get stuck? How can you take the plot in a new direction?

Raise the body count.
This is especially easy in a murder mystery. Just throw in another dead body. Who is dead and why? Who could have done it? How does this deepen the primary mystery? Could two different killers be involved? What if this victim was your prime suspect? Who does that leave?

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Have an important character go missing.
If a character disappears mid-point in your story, that’s going to disrupt everyone’s plans and theories. Is this person in jeopardy, or are they guilty of perpetrating the crime? Did perhaps one bad guy betray another and do him in? Or is this act meant to manipulate a good person into obeying the kidnapper’s demands? How do people feel about this missing person? Was he loved or despised? How far will the hero go to get him back?

Create a new character who shows up unexpectedly.
What is this person’s role in the mystery? How does his appearance change the hero’s theories? Who was keeping this character’s pending arrival a secret? Is it someone who was presumed dead or who has been missing for years? What tipped this person off that it was time to appear? This would be the time for that secret baby to come to light or the past husband no one knew about or a former girlfriend with a grudge. Or it’s someone who’s heard about the case and wants to cash in somehow. Could they be a fraud? How does his arrival affect the other characters?

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Build on secrets and motives already present.
If you’ve laid the proper groundwork for your story, your characters have enough secrets, motives and hidden depths you can explore as you move the story along. Write down each loose end as you review the high points and make sure you go down each trail until that thread is tied.

You’ll usually find you have enough material if you just keep writing. Snippets of suspicions your characters mention can be plumped out until laid to rest. So give your people enough layers that peeling the onion takes the entire book. Except just when you thought you knew it all, throw in another twist like one of the points above.

What are your tips for getting through the muddled middle?

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It’s not too late! Vote for Hanging by a Hair under Mystery Novels in the Annual Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll: http://critters.org/predpoll/novelmys.shtml

Vote for Warrior Lord under Romance Novels: http://critters.org/predpoll/novelr.shtml

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free books from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a first edition signed copy of Moonlight Rhapsody, one of my sci-fi romances, in our January contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

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?

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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.

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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 »

 
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