Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

  • Subscribe

  • Newsletter

    Sign up for my Newsletter

    Sign up for my Newsletter and get a FREE Book

  • Facials Can Be Fatal

    Facials Can Be Fatal

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Haunted Hair Nights

    Haunted Hair Nights

    Cozy Mystery Novella

  • Writing the Cozy Mystery

    Writing the Cozy Mystery

    Writing Guide

  • Peril by Ponytail

    Peril by Ponytail

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Hanging by a Hair

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

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Permed to Death

    Permed to Death

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Archives

  • Categories

Six Stage Plot Structure – Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 13, 2017

Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure, Part 1- The Outer Journey

Michael Hauge teaches a terrific class on Six Stage Plot Structure. Michael has coached screenwriters, producers, stars and directors on projects for every major studio and network, as well as top public speakers and corporate leaders. He’s the author of Writing Screenplays That Sell and Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read, as well as his best selling lecture with Christopher Vogler, The Hero’s Two Journeys. Michael is also a popular speaker around the world. We were fortunate to have him with us on board Independence of the Seas for the Florida Romance Writers Fun in the Sun cruise conference.

 

clip_image002

Disclaimer: Any errors in this summary are due to my misinterpretation.

 

Key Components of the Outer Journey

Set Up (Stage One)

Here’s where you introduce the protagonists and show them in their normal life. You’ll want to establish an emotional connection with readers. Create empathy with the main character and connect the reader to her before you introduce any flaws. How do you do this? For the sake of expediency, we’ll use the term “heroine” but these principles apply to the hero as well.

1. Create sympathy by making her the victim of undeserved injustice or misfortune.
2. Put your character in jeopardy, but it doesn’t have to be physical. It can be the threat of loss for something vitally important to the character.
3. Make your heroine likeable by showing her kindness or generosity. Show that she is well liked by others.
4. Make the character funny. She can be funny by saying things that are unfiltered and not politically correct.
5. Give her a skill set that we admire. For example, we admire people who can get things done. They have the power to accomplish things.

Next show the protagonist as being stuck or in a state of inertia. They’re tolerating a situation or lying to themselves, and something is missing from this person’s life. Another character in the story tells them what they need to learn in order to progress.

In a romance, do we meet the hero and heroine separately before they come together, or do they come together at the outset? Determine if you’re using one or two viewpoints for these characters. If we meet the heroine first and encounter the hero when she does, you can use the singular viewpoint.

Opportunity (Turning Point 1)

Something happens that has never occurred to the main character before. It jolts the heroine out of a normal life and she must react. This can be a good or bad event, but either way, it will result in the heroine’s preliminary goal, a desire to move to a …

New Situation (Stage Two). Now the protagonist must figure out what’s going on and how to react, and in response will formulate a specific, visible outer motivation.

Change of Plans (Turning Point 2)
The heroine will begin pursuing the outer motivation.

Most Hollywood movies involve a heroine pursuing one or more of five visible goals:

1. To win the love of another person or a competition
2. To stop something bad from happening
3. To escape a bad situation
4. To deliver or transport an item of value
5. To retrieve something of value and bring it to safety or possess it.

Emotion should grow out of conflict and not out of desire. In a romance, you have to delay pursuit of the love interest. Or, have them meet but then go back and show their normal lives beforehand. Or, force them together but give them different goals. The heroine should have another goal than pursuing the guy. For example, “You two have to work on this project together. The outcome will determine which one of you gets the promotion.” Hold back her admission that she’s falling for the guy by giving her a different goal to pursue.

In a mystery, the dead body presents the Opportunity. The sleuth makes a discovery at the one-quarter mark. A new event leads to a new goal, i.e. “It looks as though we’re going after a serial killer.”

Progress (Stage Three)

The heroine’s plan seems to be working. She’s moving closer to her goal but still has conflict. She must bypass or overcome obstacles until the midpoint or Point of No Return (Turning Point 3). Something happens that forces the protagonist to make a full commitment to her goal. In a romance, it might be the first kiss, or the first time your couple goes to bed together. Now they are not able to return to the life they once had.

Complications (Stage Four)

It becomes more difficult but more important to reach the goal. If the heroine loses the hero now, she risks losing her destiny. But the outside world is closing in and the conflict becomes greater and greater, until the main character suffers a Major Setback (Turning Point 4). All appears lost. In romance jargon, we call this the Big Black Moment. This is when the two lovers break apart.

Retreat and Final Push (Stage Five)

Each character will try to return to the way they were in the Set Up. They go back to the original situation, but it’s no longer satisfying. So the protagonist makes a final push to achieve her goal.

The Climax (Turning Point 5) is where the heroine faces her biggest obstacle. She either achieves her goal or she doesn’t.

In the Aftermath (Stage Six), we see the heroine in her new life. In a romance, we see how the hero/heroine will be living together. It’s the reward at the end of the goal. They’ve reached their destiny.

For more information, visit StoryMastery.com

CLICK TO TWEET

clip_image004

See all cruise conference photos HERE.

Coming Next: Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure, Part 2 – The Inner Journey

GIVEAWAY

Booklovers Bench, March 1 – 18
Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench

clip_image005

 

Save

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

Book Promotion Secrets

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 7, 2017

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

MaryGlenn

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

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

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

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

What works?

· Print Media.

· In-person launch parties.

· Steady media coverage.

· Book awards.

· Big endorsements.

· “Best-of” lists.

· Gift guides.

What doesn’t work?

· Radio tours.

· Lengthy book tours.

· Social media caveman tactics.

· Book trailers.

· Mass mailings.

· Asking buyers to review your book.

· Gimmicky promos.

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

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

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

Disclaimer: Any errors are due to my misinterpretation.

For more information, visit Maryglenn.com

CLICK TO TWEET

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

Behind the Scenes

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 6, 2017

If you’re interested in behind the scenes details on Facials Can Be Fatal, my new book release, check out these guest blog posts. Some of them offer giveaways for commenters. Get your bid in before the tour ends. Comments must be made on the site listed. Please support my tour hosts! Hint — One of these posts tells about a derivative of human hair that may end up in your baked goods.

March 3 – Brooke Blogs – “History, Mystery, and Buried Family Secrets” GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY

March 4 – Kings River Life Magazine – REVIEW and GIVEAWAY

March 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – “Hair is Gold” GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY

March 6 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY

March 6 – The Revolving Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 6 – The Pop Culture Divas – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – A Holland Reads – “Backstage at a Fashion Show” CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 8 – The Mysterious Ink Spot – “Theme Parks – Fun or Fearsome?” GUEST POST, EXCERPT, and GIVEAWAY

March 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 9 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

March 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

For the full list of tour stops, Go Here.

blog tour

Cozy Mystery Giveaway, Feb. 28 – March 6
LAST DAY! Enter Here to win up to 40+ cozy mysteries, including an ebook copy of Hair Raiser.

Tropical Treats Giveaway, Feb. 21 – March 14
Enter Here to win a Tropical Treats package with a blue scarf, a blue crystal pendant necklace from Effy, a West Indies cookbooks, and a signed hardcover copy of Killer Knots (Bad Hair Day Mystery #9).

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

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in Appearances, Author Interviews, Book Excerpt, Book Reviews, Contest, Excerpt, New Release, Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 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…

View original post 448 more words

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

Virtual Book Tour

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 1, 2017

My official book blog tour starts today. I hope you’ll follow along and leave comments to support my tour hosts. Some of these posts offer individual prizes. I keep adding new sites, so check my Appearances page often. I’ll do my conference posts from the FRW cruise and SleuthFest on days when I am not a guest elsewhere. See you on the tour!

Blog Tour

Feb. 28Christa Reads and Writes – BOOK REVIEW

Feb. 28 – Terry’s Place CHARACTER INTERVIEW 

March 1 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, EXCERPT

March 1 – Island Confidential – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 1 – The Big Thrill – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 2 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

March 2 – Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 3 – Brooke Blogs – “History, Mystery, and Buried Family Secrets” GUEST POST, EXCERPT

March 3 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

March 4 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

March 4 – Readeropolis – REVIEW

March 4 – Kings River Life Magazine – REVIEW and GIVEAWAY

March 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – “Hair is Gold” GUEST POST

March 6 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 6 – The Revolving Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 6 – The Pop Culture Divas – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – A Holland Reads – “Backstage at a Fashion Show” CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 8 – The Mysterious Ink Spot – “Theme Parks – Fun or Fearsome?” GUEST POST, EXCERPT, and GIVEAWAY

March 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 9 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

March 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

And in case you missed these:

Jan. 14Life of Writers, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Feb. 11 – Carla Loves to Read, BOOK REVIEW

Feb. 22 – Dru’s Book Musing“A Day In The Life” CHARACTER POST

Feb. 22: Socrates Book Reviews, BOOK REVIEW

Feb. 23 – I Wish I Lived in a Library, BOOK REVIEW

Feb. 24, Omnimystery News, SPOTLIGHT

Feb. 24, Open Book Society, BOOK REVIEW

 

IN-PERSON

Sunday, March. 5 at 1:00 pm, “Mystery and History”  Discussion and Booksigning with Nancy J. Cohen (Bad Hair Day Mysteries), Alyssa Maxwell (The Gilded Newport Mysteries), and V.S. Alexander (The Magdalen Girls) at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL  33444, Phone: 561-279-7790. http://murderonthebeach.com/

Saturday, March 11, 1:00 pm, “Writing is Revising” with Nancy J. Cohen in Room 108 of the L-building at Florida SouthWestern State College – adjacent to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Check the Lee Campus map here for more details http://www.fsw.edu/about/maps  Park in Lot 7 next to the L-building on Saturday.  http://mwaflorida.org/events/special-events/

March 16-19, Coral Springs Festival of the Arts, http://www.csfoa.com/
Thursday, March 16, 6:00 Meet & Greet Cocktails and Snacks at Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts, Rooms A&B, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065.
Friday, March 17, 6:00 – 6:45 pm, “Conflict and Character” with Nancy J. Cohen at Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts, Rooms A&B, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065.

Sunday, March 19, Signing in the Author’s Tent at “The Walk” between 26th and 29th Streets on the west side of University Drive in Coral Springs, FL

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in Appearances, Author Interviews, Book Excerpt, Book Reviews, New Release, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

Book Giveaways

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 28, 2017

Cozy Mystery Giveaway, Feb. 28 – March 6
Enter Here to win up to 40+ cozy mysteries, including an ebook copy of Hair Raiser.

(2) Grand Prize “Gift Baskets” of ALL eBooks!
(40) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

cozy mystery giveaway

 

Tropical Treats Giveaway, Feb. 21 – March 14
Enter Here to win a Tropical Treats package with a blue scarf, a blue crystal pendant necklace from Effy, a West Indies cookbooks, and a signed hardcover copy of Killer Knots (Bad Hair Day Mystery #9).

Tropical Treats

 

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

gift cards

 

Save

Save

Posted in Contest | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Writers Conference on Independence of the Seas

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 27, 2017

Fun in the Sun Writers Conference on Independence of the Seas
Sponsored by Florida Romance Writers
February 16, 2017

As soon as we boarded Independence of the Seas, we headed to lunch in the Windjammer Café. Entrees were tempting. They had the grill with burgers and hot dogs inside here instead of out on the pool deck like on other ships. Desserts were not overly appealing, especially after the artistic confections on Celebrity Equinox. The cookies were the crunchy type, whereas I prefer soft, chewy centers. However, there is a soft ice cream machine on the pool deck that’s free to guests.

IMG_2840 P1060284P1060317

We strolled around and unpacked a bit before the lifeboat drill. This one took place outside on the deck where we lined up like sardines and stood there for a half hour until dismissed. No life vests required for the drill, which was a bonus. However, I prefer the cruise lines where you sit in an air-conditioned lounge to hear the spiel.

IMG_2842 IMG_2846

The FRW Meet & Greet Welcome Party had the editor/agent panel where we heard what each industry guest has on their wish lists. This event gave us a good chance to mingle in the Olive or Twist lounge on Deck 14. Here I am with my agent, the wonderful Evan Marshall from The Evan Marshall Agency.

P1060275 P1060267

Shortly thereafter, we attended dinner in the King Lear Dining Room. I’m not a late diner, and eating at 8:30 led to a long evening on a full stomach. Some nights we didn’t finish until after ten. While the food was good, it wasn’t exceptional. Nor was the dining room service as efficient as on other vessels.

P1060298P1060279P1060280P1060281

Our cabin service was excellent, though. The balcony cabin was spacious with adequate storage. We had an extra-long couch across from a desk console. The shower is the round manhole cover shape but at least it has a glass door. Don’t drop your soap on the floor. You have to be a contortionist to pick it up. I used my slumber mask as light came in from outside the ship at the edges of the drapes. Bathroom amenities included bottles of lotion, shampoo, and conditioner. The bar soap was very thin. I missed the robes we get on other cruise lines.

P1060262 P1060263P1060319

 IMG_2847P1060312 P1060302

We awakened at our usual early hour. I prefer the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast in the Windjammer Café offered varied choices, but they didn’t change much from day-to-day. A chef would do made-to-order omelets. Pancakes and waffles were always available along with the usual fruits, pastries, yogurt, and more.

P1060282P1060283P1060285

Our conference workshops began promptly at 8am on Friday. Stay tuned for more in the next installment. See all photos HERE.


Tropical Treats Giveaway, Feb. 21 – March 14

ENTER HERE to win a blue scarf, a blue crystal pendant necklace, a West Indies cookbook, and a signed hardcover Killer Knots.

Facials

 

 

Save

Posted in Conferences, Cruising, The Writing Life, Travel | 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.

 

clip_image002

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

Sign up for Nancy’s newsletter to learn about her book news, appearances, contests, and recipes. FREE Book for new subscribers.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

A Fun Cozy Read

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 16, 2017

“A fun cozy read with mystery, family drama and some romance.” Check out this new review of Facials Can Be Fatal from Carla Loves to Read!

carlalovestoread

Facials Can Be Fatal (Bad Hair Day Mystery, #13)byNancy J. Cohen

Expected publication: February 22nd 2017 by Five Star Publishing

4 Stars

View original post 431 more words

Posted in Book Reviews | 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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

 
%d bloggers like this: