Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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Cozy Mystery Giveaway

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 6, 2016

Enter to win up to 38 cozy mysteries, including an ebook copy of Permed to Death! Go here:

cozy contest


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Eleven at Reunion Resort

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 5, 2016

Eleven at Reunion Resort

Saturday night, we dined at Eleven rooftop restaurant at the Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, FL. We like trying new places during Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, where you can get a three-course meal for $33 per person. This golf resort sits off exit 58 from I-4 heading west from Orlando toward Tampa. It’s a large gated community that winds around until you reach the resort proper.


The views atop the eleventh floor warrant a visit. Note how you can see Epcot in the far distance. A swimming pool is adjacent to the restaurant named Eleven.



Inside, the dining area is pleasant with views all around. The first course we chose was coconut shrimp, crispy and succulent with a spicy sauce on the side.

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Next we ordered cedar planked salmon which came accompanied by mashed potatoes and asparagus. This was tasty and a generous enough portion that I had leftovers to take home. I didn’t care so much for the soft rolls in the bread basket as they had a sprinkling of salt on the crust, and I didn’t need the added sodium. An herb butter gave a mild flavor.


Dessert, a chocolate lava cake, was sinfully rich. I ate the whole thing. It’s diet city for me once we go home.


While I enjoyed trying this restaurant and seeing the view, I wouldn’t make a return trip here. It’s too far out of the way, and although the meal was good, I can get an equivalent salmon or steak dinner elsewhere.

Limited Time Offer Extended!
Two-for-One: Buy Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime and get Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime absolutely FREE! Two books for the price of one (only 99 cents) –and you get two bonus files full of recipes and craft project ideas for no extra cost. Offer ends Sept. 11.


Enter to win up to 38 cozy mysteries at

Enter to win a tote full of goodies for a fun fall afternoon: 

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Posted in Florida Musings, Food, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 29, 2016

Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime anthology– A bountiful harvest of 12+ cozy mysteries plus a special bonus file of recipes and craft tips. Regular price 99 cents. Look for my original Bad Hair Day cozy mystery novella, “Haunted Hair Nights.”

HH4-LowRes.jpgBonus File

Two-for-One Limited Time Offer: Buy Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime and get Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime absolutely FREE! Two books for the price of one (only 99 cents) –and you get two enormous bonus files full of recipes and craft project ideas for no extra cost. This offer is good from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11. Order Now!

InfographicHH BoxSet2

TONIGHT! August 29, 5:00 – 7:00pm EDT, Facebook Launch Party. Join us for fun and giveaways of gift cards and free books. I’ll be posting at 6:30 pm.


Blog Tour August 29 – September 11. Leave comments for more chances to win cool prizes!

Blog Tour
August 29 – Reading Is My SuperPower – SPOTLIGHT
August 30 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST
August 31 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
August 31 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
September 1 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
September 1 – fuonlyknew – SPOTLIGHT
September 2 – The Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT
September 2 – My Funny View of Life – REVIEW
September 3 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
September 3 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
September 4 – Book Babble – REVIEW
September 4 – Sleuth Cafe – GUEST POST
September 4 – Dru’s Book Musings – REVIEW
September 4 –Dru’s Book Musings – A Kiki Lowenstein Short Story

September 5 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
September 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
September 6 – Victoria’s Pages of Romance – SPOTLIGHT
September 7 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
September 8 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW 
September 8 – Queen of All She Reads – GUEST POST
September 9 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, Nancy’s GUEST POST  “A Story for Halloween”
September 10 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW
September 11 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, Nancy’s GUEST POST  “Haunted House”
September 11 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner – REVIEW

Giveaway Enter to win a tote full of goodies for a fun Fall afternoon


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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.


· 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.


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.





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

Mystery Author Christa Nardi

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 20, 2016

Let’s welcome Christa Nardi, author of the Cold Creek cozy mystery series.


Why did you choose to write in the mystery genre?

As a reader, I’ve always loved mysteries. I am a big fan of cozy mysteries in particular, although I do like romantic suspense as well.

Tell us about your story and the setting.

The Cold Creek series is set in a fictitious small town in Virginia, centered around a private four-year college. For Murder in the Theater, the murder takes place in a nearby small town, Altavista, at a community theater. The victim is the Director of the holiday production of “A Christmas Carol” and his personality is reminiscent of Scrooge. There are many possible characters with motive, but Sheridan (protagonist) has vested interests in proving the accused innocent.

What are the traits of your main character?

Sheridan Hendley (protagonist) is a smart, independent female character; she is educated, middle-aged, and divorced. She’s a professor and a psychologist – she looks at problems very analytically. In the first book of the series, she is told to help the detective assigned to the murder of her colleague. Her natural curiosity, and her ability to draw connections between people set the stage for her amateur sleuthing. 

Did you do any special research for this book?

Yes, I did. I investigated Virginia Hate Crime laws, the mechanics of a blow out, and distance/time information. I also researched the history of community theaters. Probably the most interesting was the information on hate crimes and finding out that the laws (what constitutes a hate crime) varies by state.

What do you like best about a writing career? The least?

I enjoy coming up with ideas and having the freedom to put those ideas together however I please, change them around, and see what comes out. I can write in my pajamas or all dressed up. In many ways I find writing relaxing and exciting. The downside? The times when the story’s not quite coming together.

Are you a plotter or pantser?

More pantser than plotter. I start off with a basic idea of the plot, write some scenes that go with my initial idea, and go from there. When I get stuck or something doesn’t seem to work, I backtrack and create a plot line from what I have – sometimes throwing out parts or rewriting – to figure out the next steps. The fun part is that when I start writing, I know who gets killed, I have an idea of the motive, but I haven’t decided who did the deed yet.

Do you set a daily schedule or wing it?

I work full-time so my writing schedule varies. I have established specific times when I can write for about 2-3 hours without interruption over the weekend, but otherwise I wing it. On the positive side, when I’ve put down the work for a while, it forces me to start reading from the beginning again. Sometimes that provides momentum and direction (or re-direction) for the story.

What do you plan to write next?

I plan to work on Book 5 of this series starting this fall. I only have a vague idea right now where that one will go. I am working on a new series right now, also mystery, but young adult. We’ll see how that works out.

Do you have any special interests outside of writing?

Reading? I read constantly – usually mystery or romance. I also enjoy dance and theater, though I am not talented in either. I love to travel, most recently to Barcelona.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Write, write, and write. There are many author groups locally or regionally with workshops and most are very supportive. Be prepared to throw out whole parts and start over. Get lots of feedback. Then write some more.


Murder in the Theater

Murder-in-the-Theater2 (5)The drama program has never been so dramatic.

It’d be the season to be jolly if only someone hadn’t set the stage for murder. When a student is arrested for the crime, Professor Sheridan Hendley is cast in the role of amateur sleuth. Tensions run high, friendships are strained, and the college administration is beginning to panic. As the plot thickens Sheridan is yet again drawn deeper into danger. Will she find the truth before the final curtain call?

Cold Creek Series Book 4, Murder in the Theater by Christa Nardi, is another great cozy mystery.






Books in the Cold Creek Series


For more information on the Cold Creek Series:



Meet Christa Nardi

ChristaHeadshot1Christa Nardi is and always has been an avid reader. Her favorite authors have shifted from Carolyn Keene and Earl Stanley Gardner to more contemporary mystery/crime authors over time, but mystery/crime along with romance are her preferred choices for leisure reading.

Christa also has been a long time writer from poetry and short stories to the Cold Creek series, Christa has joined many other reader/writers in writing one genre she enjoys reading – the cozy mystery. Christa Nardi is a pen name for a real life professor/psychologist from the Northeast.

Stay in touch with Christa:




Enter Christa’s giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of Murder in the Theater. Click Here to Enter



Posted in Author Interviews, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Procrastination is an Art

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 15, 2016

If procrastination is an art, than as a writer, I must be at the peak of my career. This summer has challenged my writing goals as I seem to be revising the same books endlessly. No matter how many rounds I do, I always find more words to change. When will it end? Probably when I can’t stand to look at those pages anymore.

And yet, this never-ending revision process serves a purpose. Because once I finish these projects, what’s next? Revise more backlist titles? Embark on the next audiobook journey? Polish up my unpublished mystery? Or actually write something new?

Scary thought, isn’t it? I’ve been revising for so many months now that I’ve almost forgotten the agony of sitting down to a blank page each morning. Or maybe that’s the reason why I keep plugging away at these same books. Never mind the distraction caused by two months of bathroom renovations. That’s over, and so is this excuse. So what is preventing me from buckling down, finishing these projects, and moving on? Sit around too long, and complacency sets in. It gets even harder to budge and turn those mental gears.


Wait, I have to go shopping for new bathroom accessories. We’re running out of wine, and we have to restock our supply. And wouldn’t it be nice to meet a friend for lunch? The home improvement store is calling our names. We need to go look at faucets for our other bathroom and softer lightbulbs for the vanity light.

It’s easy to think up excuses. I need to listen to my own advice and get back to work. What is it you’re saying? I should look at the glistening swimming pool in our backyard? Yes, you’re right. I really need to get more exercise, and doing a few laps would help with weight control. After all, I sit in the chair all day and, that’s bad for the health. What else am I doing at the computer? You know…Facebook, Twitter, looking up cruise excursions, checking my Amazon ratings, writing silly blogs like this one. You writers know how it goes. So will one of you please give me a kick in the pants?


Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners.

Enter to win a tote full of goodies for a fun Fall afternoon:



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Lobster Lovers Cooking Class

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 9, 2016

Lobster Lovers Cooking Class

We attended the Lobster Lovers class at Publix Aprons® Cooking School. My husband and I like shrimp better than lobster, but this menu looked too tempting to resist. We prefer the demo classes where students sit at white-clothed tables rather than the hands-on ones where you have to do the actual work. In the demo variety, after the chef makes each dish in front of us, we get to eat it with an accompanying wine. This makes for a gourmet meal complete with recipes and cooking tips.


Grilled Lobster, Shrimp and Andouille Chowder paired with an Erath Pinot Grigio.


This was delicious and filling, making it a good choice for a hearty winter soup. We liked the wine, a pleasant taste to our palates. Cooking tip 1: Maine cold water lobster is sweeter than warm water Caribbean varieties. Cooking tip 2: Rather than dunking shrimp into a pot of boiling water, put it into a pot when the water is room temperature and bring it to a boil along with the water.

Spiny Lobster and Mango Spring Rolls with Tarragon-Lime Aioli paired with a Benzinger Sauvignon Blanc.


This was a tasty appetizer. I especially liked the aioli even though I’m not a big tarragon fan. Cooking tip 1: An emulsifier binds substances together like vinegar and oil. Examples of emulsifiers are mustard, egg yolks, and garlic. Cooking tip 2: Pasteurized eggs reduce the chance of salmonella if you are using raw eggs in a recipe. As for the wine, it didn’t seem to have as much body as the first one and was too light for our tastes.

Pan-Bronzed Lobster Risotto with Roasted Corn Relish and Orange-Sherry Reduction paired with a Layer Cake Chardonnay.


I liked the lobster, sauce, and corn relish but there was too much risotto in comparison. Cooking tip, if I heard correctly: You can roast corn in its husk at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. I prefer my method, which is microwaving it in the husk for 4 minutes, chopping off both ends, and sliding the husk off. We really liked this wine choice, our favorite of the evening.

Peach Brown Betty with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream paired with a Chateau St. Michelle Riesling.


This dessert was lip-smacking good. So good and easy to make that I might even make it at home once I lose the weight I’d gained here tonight. However, I’ll use store-bought ice cream instead of making my own. The wine was too sweet for our tastes. Cooking tip 1: Use frozen and thawed sliced peaches instead of blanching and peeling fresh ones. Cooking tip 2: Cinnamon is an anesthetic so if you eat too much, it can numb your tongue.


Contests and Giveaways

Enter Aug 1 – 18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners. 

Enter Aug 8 – Sept 5 to win a tote full of goodies for a Fall afternoon.




Posted in Florida Musings, Food, Recipes, That's Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Cover Reveal: Happy Homicides 4

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 8, 2016

Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime — A bountiful harvest of cozy mysteries, plus a special bonus file of recipes and craft tips. Release date: August 29.


HH4 LowRes

TWO-for-One Alert: Buy Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime and get Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime absolutely free! Two books for the price of one (only 99 cents) –and you get two enormous bonus files full of recipes and craft project ideas absolutely free. This limited offer will be good from Aug. 29 to Sept. 4 only, so mark your calendars. Go to for more details.

Story Summaries

Joanna Campbell Slan / Vendetta: A Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery – The House of Refuge on Gilbert’s Bar is known for its 150-year history as a way station for shipwrecked sailors. But when Cara Mia visits, the museum becomes the scene of a crime.

Linda Gordon Hengerer / Dying for School Tea: A Beach Tea Shop Novella – Chelsea Powell and her sisters are providing treats for Citrus Beach High School’s freshman orientation. Can they solve the murder of the beloved softball coach before someone else dies?

Carole W. Price / The Glass Birdhouse – Glass artist Bella hopes to find clues about her student’s death in the woman’s unfinished glass birdhouse.

Lesley A. Diehl / Bobbing for Murder – A visit from Darcie’s family is always chaotic, and this time the relatives bamboozle Darcie into having a Halloween party. It’s a decision that definitely comes back to haunt her.

Nancy Jill Thames / Raven House – When a reporter is murdered after a fundraiser at the historic Raven House, the police call on Jillian and her Yorkie Teddy to help them investigate.

Teresa Trent / Falling for Murder – Helpful hints columnist Betsy Livingston is an expert at household organization but her skills are put to the test when she’s called upon to conduct an efficiency review for a haunted house.

Maggie Toussaint / Dead Men Tell Tales – In this third installment of the Lindsey & Ike romantic mystery novella series, things don’t add up after a suspicious hunting accident. The more Sheriff Ike Harper and newspaper editor Lindsey McKay dig, the more questions they find.

Anna Celeste Burke / All Hallow’s Eve Heist – Date night for Georgie Shaw and handsome detective Jack Wheeler goes terribly wrong. A botched heist at Marvelous Marley World has everyone scrambling as trigger-happy bad guys head for the Halloween celebration in Arcadia Park.

Randy Rawls / Accident, Suicide, or Murder – Retired policeman Jonathan Boykin’s primary interest is improving his golf, but a grieving father’s request to investigate his son’s suspicious death is an entirely different ballgame.

Nancy J. Cohen / Haunted Hair Nights – As a new stepmother, hairstylist Marla Vail hopes to win brownie points by helping her daughter with a school haunted house project. Marla has her work cut out for her when she stumbles over a corpse on the spooky estate grounds.

Terry Ambrose / Spirit in the Rock – An invitation to a museum’s grand opening turns into a showdown with the spirit world for amateur sleuth Wilson McKenna.

Deborah Sharp / Haunting in Himmarshee – When a ghost comes to call, Mace must sort out the haunted from the homicidal in Himmarshee, Florida.


Rafflecopter Contest Starts Today! Go here to see what you can win:  Or Enter Here:






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Coca-Cola at Disney Springs

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 5, 2016

We saw Star Trek: Beyond at Disney’s AMC Dine-In Theater at Disney Springs in Orlando. I liked the film and would rate it five stars. The galactic scope isn’t as broad as the Star Wars universe, but Star Trek focuses more on characters. I thought this movie did a good job with the character interactions among the crew and the personal journeys of Kirk and Spock. The villain’s motivation seemed plausible. His weapons were immensely powerful compared to Federation defenses, and action scenes were plentiful. I had a good time and will definitely buy the DVD when it comes out.

IMG_2423Star Trek Beyond showtimes and tickets

The Coca-Cola Store had opened since we’d been here last, so we had to visit. I was suitably impressed by the array of merchandise offered at the two-level shop inside. The variety exceeded my expectations. Up on the third level, we stopped by the outdoor bar to try their combo sampler of sodas and floats. Be prepared for a sugar high after you try all these drinks. Dinner was at The Melting Pot on West Sand Lake Road. Good for a fondue experience but no leftovers.

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The next day, we hung around Millennia Mall and went to lunch at La Madeleine. There’s a coffee place at one end and a restaurant at the other. You order your food, get a table, and wait for your order to be delivered. Crepes, soups, sandwiches, and salads are on the menu along with more substantial entrees. I felt a couple of pounds heavier as we left.

There’s always something new to explore in Orlando. Make it your destination.


Cozy Mystery 29 Days of Summer, July 11-Aug 8
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Booklover’s Bench, August 1 – 18
Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners.







Posted in Disney, Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Magic Kingdom Revisited

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 3, 2016

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida represents family outings and celebrations. My husband and I went there after we got engaged. We went there again to celebrate when I’d sold my first book. This sale culminated a long, hard struggle as I wrote six books before selling a three-book contract to Dorchester. My first published title, Circle of Light, sold about the same time The Lion King came out. Every time I heard “Circle of Life” playing, it reminded me of my book with a sense of joy and wonder that my career had finally taken off. And since Circle of Light, winner of the HOLT Medallion, was a scifi romance, Tomorrowland was a particular favorite of mine. Speaking of which, I enjoyed the movie by that name. We’ve returned to Disney World every year, often several times, from when our children were babies to now with them as adults. We have annual passes and still enjoy the beautiful landscaping, the happy ambiance, and the place where dreams can come true.




We went on It’s A Small World and People Mover rides this time. It was too hot for waiting in lines. Lunch was at the Colombia Harbour House opposite the Haunted Mansion. I had a hummus, tomato, and broccoli slaw sandwich.

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As we strolled back to Main Street, we came upon a delightful entertainment:

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The Magic Kingdom is still a magical experience. I’m hoping the family memories we create there will pass on to the next generation.


Cozy Mystery 29 Days of Summer, July 11-Aug 8
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Click Here to Enter

Cozy Mystery - July 2016 - Cohen-Nancy

Booklover’s Bench, August 1 – 18
Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners.




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