Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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Posts Tagged ‘Florida authors’

SleuthFest 2017 Recap

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 22, 2017

SleuthFest 2017 was another stellar event held at the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton. This premier mystery writers’ conference is sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Third Degree Thursday kicked off the weekend with a bunch of workshops and Dirk Wyle’s Readers’ Corner. That evening, co-chairs Victoria Landis and Joanne Sinchuk welcomed everyone to the conference. We heard publisher Neil Nyren discuss the state of the industry and agents in particular. Then those folks who had signed up attended the “Sleuthfest 101” dinner followed by a trivia contest.

Flamingo VickiJoanne

Friday morning, I attended a workshop by publicist Maryglenn McCombs titled Seven Secrets to Promoting a Book. Then I moderated a panel on How to Keep a Series from Getting Stale with authors Lynnette Hallberg, Cheryl Hollon, Carol J. Perry, and Nancy G. West. Using different settings, interesting research, new characters, evolving relationships, and character arcs were some of the techniques mentioned.

P1060343Series Panel

Lunch in the ballroom followed with a talk by our Forensic Guest of Honor, Dr. Vincent DiMaio. His graphic slides made swallowing our meal difficult but his talk was fascinating. He spoke about cases that appeared to be natural deaths or accidents, but upon closer examination, proved to be murder.

P1060346 P1060345

Another round of workshops followed. Next came my own presentation on Preparing for Your Book Launch. I spoke about the various ways writers can publicize a new book release.


The banquet on Friday evening included the Freddie Awards Ceremony. The winner in the Mystery category was Graham Reed from Vancouver for his entry, The Chairman’s Toys. The winner of the Thriller category was Millie Naylor Hast from Texas for her entry, Takeover.


Saturday morning found us back attending workshops. I moderated the one titled Crime Solving Couples with speakers Carol J. Perry and Nancy G. West. The three of us spoke about how the couples work together in our respective series.

Luncheon brought us Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author David Baldacci, who entertained and educated us while we ate. He’s a great speaker, and I couldn’t wait to read his book “The Finisher” that I’d bought in the on-site bookstore run by Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore.


Then former chapter president Randy Rawls presented the Flamingo Award to the very deserving Rick Wymer, who with his wife Mary Lou, have spent hours of selfless devotion as volunteers in the service of FMWA.

At this point, I’m sorry to say, I went upstairs to my hotel room to rest. I’d contracted a cold and sinus infection at the end of the FRW conference cruise, and I was getting worse instead of better. But I made it to the cocktail party that evening and had a nice chat with fellow authors. Still not feeling well, I cut out early on Sunday morning and had to miss our Sunday Guest of Honor, Jeff Lindsay. I’ve heard he was a great speaker and very entertaining.

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And so now we must begin to plan for next year. Go Here to see more photos.








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

Living with a Writer

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 1, 2016

My husband and I took a walk on Saturday, since we finally had a break from the rain and cold weather in South Florida.

Plantation Preserve

Our conversation went something like this:

“I finally figured out the murder weapon,” I said. “Now I just have to determine whodunit.”

“Oh, and I thought you were looking at knives on the computer to use on me.”

“No, I found the perfect blade with a special handle. It’ll help lead to the killer’s identity. But I’m not sure how I’ll get there. I have to eliminate each suspect one-by-one to reveal the bad guy.”

“I don’t know how you can do all that. It would give me a headache.”

“Me, too. I haven’t figured out what Marla will do next. Her stepdaughter just had an emergency. We have to get past that, and then….”

And so on. You get the idea. Our imaginations are always active. I tend to zone out at times and have to remind myself to live in the moment. But it’s hard when you’re in the middle of writing a novel to stop thinking about it. We need the momentum to keep going, until the final page where we can write The End. Then it’s like a great burden lifts off our brains…at least until we start revisions.




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

SleuthFest 2016

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 10, 2015

Register Now for SleuthFest 2016 to be held February 25-28 at the Doubletree Hilton,100 Fairway Drive, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441


Florida’s premiere mystery writers’ conference sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Keynote Speaker: CJ Box
Florida Guest of Honor: PJ Parrish
Forensic Guest of Honor: Valerie Plame
Publisher Guest of Honor: Neil Nyren

Sunday Brunch Speaker: Recovering Hollywood Writer, Stand-Up Comedian and Publishing Exec John Hartnett will speak on “Never Use Craigslist to Find Your Muse (& Other Lifesaving Advice for Authors)”

Four Tracks of Fantastic Workshops & Sessions for Writers at Every Level; Agent & Editor Appointments; Manuscript Critiques; Author Auction; Agent/Editor Cocktail party; 101 Dinner; Flamingo Pitch Tank; Raffle; and more!

* Agent Appointments to pitch your finished work
* Critiques of your 10 page manuscript submission
* Forensic track with current forensic techniques and hands-on forensic workshops
* Social events to mingle with agents, editors and your favorite authors
* Auction to purchase critiques of your work by bestselling authors
* Sessions on the craft of writing
* Sessions on marketing and promoting your work
* Practice your Pitch sessions with experienced authors
* Panels on crime investigations, forensics, poisons, & other research topics
* Friday Night Banquet to announce Freddie Writing Competition Award Winners

Hotel Rate is $159.00 per night

Register Now:

Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.  Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

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

Nancy J. Cohen Speech

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 6, 2015

Check out the video from my speech at the Manatee Performing Arts Center in Bradenton. It was part of the Manatee Arts and Lecture Series.


Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

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

Nancy J. Cohen Blog Tour

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 23, 2012

Please follow me on my blog tour. I have some interesting and unique topics lined up for you. All commenters on these guest posts will be entered into a grand prize drawing for a Warrior Prince T-shirt and magnet and a pdf copy of Warrior Prince.

Sept. 19, Wednesday, Paranormal Wednesday Blog, , Author Interview

Sept. 22, Saturday, Novel Natterings,, Myth as Inspiration

Sept. 23, Sunday, RomCon Blog, , Theme Parks as Setting

Sept. 24, Monday, Coffee Time Romance, ,  Trolls: Good or Bad?

Sept. 27, Thursday, FF&P Blog,,  Mixing Magic and Modern Times

Sept 29, Saturday, Killer Hobbies,, Food for Thought

Oct. 3, Wednesday, Smart Girls Love Sci Fi,, What are Vile Vortices?

Oct. 4, Thursday, My World of Dreams,

Oct. 5, Friday, Long and Short Reviews, Author Profile,

Oct. 8, Monday, Star Crossed Romance,,  Myth and Magic

Oct. 11, Thursday, The Galaxy Express,, Author Interview

Oct. 17, Wednesday, The Self-Rescue Princess,

Oct. 30, Tuesday, Romance Promo Central,, Halloween Spotlight: Monsters in Norse Myths

Please share and tweet these articles to your friends!

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Struggling with a Synopsis

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 19, 2012

Before I begin writing the story, I write my synopsis. This will act as my writing guideline. See my Feb. 6 blog on the plotting process. With each draft of the synopsis, I add more depth, consistency, and motivation. However, I’m now stuck on two points for my next mystery.

The Crime Scene: My working title is Hanging by a Hair. So I want my victim to be hanged. The problems are two-fold. He’s bigger and stronger than the killer. And where in a house can I hang him? I searched through my file of newspaper clippings and came up with one that tells of a woman hanged by a workman on a shower rod. A shower rod? Seems to me it would fall down if the victim is heavy. Where else in a house would this work? And wouldn’t the killer have to incapacitate the person first and then string him up? How would this be possible if the victim weighs a lot?

Once I figure out these details, I’ll have the killer write a confession scene. Then I will know, before I begin writing, what the outcome is of my story. When I get to the confrontation between killer and sleuth in the book, I’ll just slide in this dialogue. My next step is to research on the Internet to see if I can find any relevant news stories that may help spark ideas. If the killer incapacitates the victim first, how is this done? Hitting him on the head is easy, but it’s too obvious if you want the hanging to appear as a suicide. Say the killer poisons the vic. What type of poison? How do they get hold of it? Does it act immediately? Does vomiting/diarrhea occur before death, causing a messy scene?

See how you have to think things through. Then the writer has to figure out what clues are left at the scene.      detective

The Suspects: I’m pretty clear on most of my suspects, having worked through their motives a couple of times and with my critique partners’ input. But I am still having one problem. The victim discovers a secret. He tells Suspect A, who tells Suspect B. Meanwhile, the victim also tells Suspect C who pays him to keep quiet. But Suspect C is afraid Suspect A will talk to the authorities. So he threatens her to ensure her silence. Okay, he threatens her with what? What does she want to keep hidden?

She’s a professor at a local university. So I’ve come up with a list of possibilities: Plagiarism? Falsifying credentials? Seducing a younger student? Making up reference material to support a recent publication? Accepting bribes in return for good grades?

Whichever one I choose, how would Suspect C—a real estate developer—find out about it?

I decide Suspect A is a single mother with two college age kids. She needs to keep her job to put them through school. Suspect C threatens her with exposure in a manner that might get her fired. Which one of the above might she have done? Does Suspect C threaten her before or after she tells Suspect B? And why does she tell that person? Because she holds a grudge against the victim, and she knows Suspect C will act on her revelation without getting her involved. So basically, I have to determine what secret she’s hiding and how Suspect C finds out about it. Sound complicated? I’m confusing myself by even discussing it here.   thinker

Fortunately, I’m not on deadline, so I can take as long as necessary to work out these points. I’ll want my synopsis to read smoothly, follow in a logical manner, and include personal elements in the sleuth’s life. In a cozy mystery, the story is more about the sleuth than the victim, the aftermath of murder, and the criminal’s psyche, which may be the focus of a serious crime novel. In my stories, the personal relationships among the suspects and how they impact the sleuth are what matter, but still the details have to be accurate and plausible.

Posted in Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , | 21 Comments »

Versatile Blogger Award

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 12, 2012

Thanks to LEONIE LUCAS who granted me the Versatile Blogger Award! I put off posting this announcement because it was daunting to come up a list of with 15 bloggers that I follow. It took some work to trace my steps and see where I’ve been, but several hours later, I’m done. Whew!    versatilebloggeraward

So, here are the rules:

  1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post (done)
  2. Share 7 things about yourself (Oh heck, I have to be interesting now??)
  3. Pass this award along to 15 others (Um.. oh there’s her.. and them.. and well, see below for some cool blogs)
  4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award (Yay!)

Seven Things About Me You Didn’t Already Know…

  1. I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate.
  2. I always have to read before going to sleep.
  3. I don’t sing but I like to dance.
  4. Taking walks is my favorite form of exercise.
  5. The only crime show I watch on TV is Castle (unless you count Grimm).
  6. I love to read historical romance but I won’t write it.
  7. I hate filling out these types of questionnaires.

Here are some people that I follow, although I’m often in lurk mode. Please check them out:

Fifteen Blogs You Really Ought to Know!

  1. Allison Chase’s News and Views — Popular author of steamy Victorian romance.
  2. Cynthia Thomason — Award-winning author of historical & contemporary romance.
  3. It’s Not All Gravy — MaryAnn Miller writes books, screenplays, and stage plays.
  4. Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers — Lois Winston’s blog features crafting tips, cozy mystery authors, and recipes.
  5. Author Expressions — Multi-published authors chat about the writing life.
  6. Jungle Red Writers — Eight mystery writers talk about life and writing.
  7. The Kill Zone — Musings of eleven top mystery and thriller authors (including me!).
  8. Escape with Dollycas — Lori Caswell offers book reviews and entertaining posts by guest authors.
  9. Poe’s Deadly Daughters — Elizabeth Zelvin’s blog is for mystery lovers.
  10. The Stiletto Gang — A group of women writers discuss life and love.
  11. Cozy Chicks — Nine mystery authors discuss life, writing, and their latest releases.
  12. Terry’s Place — Terry Odell writes romance with a twist of mystery.
  13. Mona’s Blog — Romance author Mona Risk discusses her books and world travels.
  14. Believing is Seeing — Sandra Sookoo writes romance with a paranormal twist.
  15. Fabulous Florida Writers — Jackie Minniti’s site features Florida authors.

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Space Coast Writers Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 31, 2012

First, congratulations to MAUREEN HAYES who won my January blog contest!
Remember to check my dates in February (click on Appearances above) and comment on my blogs and guest posts to enter a drawing for more free prizes.

This past weekend, I had a great time meeting new friends at the Space Coast Writers Guild Conference.

As a published author, I served as a mentor to three newbie writers. My experience is more fully described on Wednesday over at The Kill Zone . Based on those sessions, I wish to offer these writing tips for your opening chapters:

  • Start with action or dialogue. If you absolutely must begin with a description, make sure it is emotionally evocative from the main character’s viewpoint.
  • Leave backstory for later or weave it in with dialogue. Or drop it in a line or two at a time in the character’s head if it relates to the action.
  • Make sure all conversations serve a purpose.
  • Remember to include emotional reactions during dialogue between characters.
  • Make sure your characters are not talking about something they already know just so the reader can learn about it.
  • Keep the story moving forward.

We all gained a greater understanding of our work from this interactive mentoring experience. I helped my group with critiques of their work, suggestions for author branding and promotion, getting an agent, etc. They helped me determine suspects’ motives for my next mystery.

I also presented a session on Getting an Agent, which included writing the selling synopsis and query letter. I didn’t get to attend many sessions myself, except for one on working with Amazon Createspace. But we attendees had a couple of meals together where I met new friends and heard interesting keynote speeches. The hotel on Cocoa Beach was on the ocean so we got to watch the sun rise over the water. A good restaurant in town is the Lobster Shanty if you ever go there. During the book signing, I sat next to mystery author Lois Winston. We chatted and traded info about the industry.

As an experienced author, you’ll see how much you know and how far you’ve come when you attend conferences with mostly beginning writers. I hope I was helpful to the people I mentored. Now I can face my next story with renewed enthusiasm.

Sunrise (800x600)


Lois Winston (800x600)


If you have any doubts about whether you should sign up for a writers’ conference, do it now. You’ll pick up new gems of writing advice or industry buzz, make new friends, gain name recognition, and come away reenergized. It’s worth the time and money to invest in your career.

After this intense conference, we relaxed at the Magic Kingdom. The expansion of Fantasyland continues with construction evident. Other attractions were closed for refurbishment as well. It was a perfect day, sunny in the seventies. We just enjoyed strolling through the grounds and admiring the flowers and landscaping. As always, we had one new experience. We got stuck on the Carousel of Progress in the 1920’s scene. This kept repeating itself and we didn’t revolve to the next diorama. Everyone got up after viewing the scene for the third time and left through one of the exits. I saw later that they had fixed the ride. Oh, well. It didn’t obstruct from our pleasure.


SPLASH MOUNTAINSplash Mountain (800x600)

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

Shear Murder Release Date!

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 18, 2012

Today is the official release date for Shear Murder, my tenth Bad Hair Day mystery, so you’re going to have to put up with my shameless self-promotion. That’s the trouble when we authors must toot our own horns. We get as tired of talking about Me as you do hearing about it. Lately I’ve been clogging the loops and ShearMurder (518x800)social networks with my blog tour announcements. I want to make it worthwhile for my hosts by getting a crowd on days when I guest post. But it means I am constantly tweeting and FB’ing and listing my tour dates and topics. I sent out one email newsletter to my fans already and will send another blast next month on my book’s official sale date.

What? You thought I said today was the release date? Indeed, I did. However, for this publisher, that means the books are shipped from the warehouses today. They’ll be ready in the bookstores on February 8, the actual “on sale” date. Confusing, isn’t it? It was a lot less so with my prior publisher, who just had one pub date. As it is now, I’m not sure which day to urge fans to buy the book. Does it really matter anymore?

Here are a couple of sample interview questions from my online blog tour. If you leave a comment on one of my guest posts or here during January, you’ll be entered into a chance to win a signed copy of Shear Murder and a set of Paua shell jewelry.

Tell us about your latest book.

Shear Murder is the tenth book in my Bad Hair Day mystery series. It’s the culmination of a personal journey for my hairstylist sleuth, Marla Shore. It’s about weddings and new beginnings. Just when Marla is planning her own nuptials, she gets caught up in another murder investigation. Marla is a bridesmaid at her friend Jill’s wedding when she discovers the matron of honor—the bride’s sister— dead under the cake table. She has a lot going on in her life, but when Jill pleads for her help in solving the case, Marla can’t refuse. It’s a fast-paced tale with humor, romance, and suspense as Marla races to find the killer before her wedding day arrives.

Considering the book is a mystery, how much can you tell us about the villain?

Since the story is a whodunit, I can’t tell you much! Many people had reason to want Torrie, the matron of honor, dead. Torrie was the bride’s sister, and Jill had a secret past that Torrie threatened to expose. How far would Jill go to maintain her sister’s silence? Then again, Torrie’s colleagues each had their own reasons to want her out of their way.

Meanwhile, Torrie’s husband inherits a piece of property that Torrie had jointly owned with her sister. How badly does he need the money from a property sale? And speaking of commercial property, Jill’s uncle and cousin were involved in a shady real estate deal with the owner of Orchid Isle, where Jill’s wedding took place. Did Torrie learn too much about his secrets? And so on. As you can see, there are a number of suspects. You’ll have to read the story to figure out which one of them is the culprit.

What motivated you to write this story?

My books all have happy endings, and so I wanted to give my series one, too. Seriously, my fans wanted to know when the next Marla Shore mystery would be coming out, but my former publisher had cancelled the series. As the markets changed, I decided to finish this book and give my readers the closure they deserved. So I really wrote it as a response to fans and in gratitude for their support. I hope they are pleased with Shear Murder. It was a delight to write, and I had fun bringing back all the secondary characters we’ve grown to know and love. I am grateful to Five Star for getting this book in front of readers. So if you’re looking for a humorous mystery centered around weddings with a whodunit puzzle to solve, check it out.

What’s next for you?

My next book will start a new paranormal romance series based on Norse mythology. Warrior Prince is book one in The Drift Lords series. I’ve written three books so far in this universe, and I’m eager to share these stories with readers. (Watch for new sale announcement!) After this project is off the ground, I’ll turn my attention back to another mystery. And you never know, it might even be another Marla Shore adventure.

Watch the Book Trailer


Posted in Author Interviews, Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Author Appearances

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 2, 2012

January begins the launch window for Shear Murder, my new Bad Hair Day mystery starring hairstylist sleuth Marla Shore. You’ll be hearing a lot from me regarding blog tours, interviews, personal appearances, and such. If you missed my notice yesterday, please check out the January/February issue of Southern Writers Magazine. I’m on the cover and inside in a feature article.

My only personal appearance this month, aside from speaking engagements to private groups, is at a conference:

Friday & Saturday, January 27-28, “Celebrating Florida Writers and Writing, Space Coast Writers Guild Conference, Palms International Resort, 1300 North Atlantic Avenue, Cocoa Beach, FL, 32931, 321-783-2271. Besides mentoring, I’ll be speaking on “Working with an Agent” on Friday at 4:50pm.

Please put these signing dates on your calendar for next month:

Friday, February 17, 7:00, Literary Tea with Author Nancy J. Cohen, Well Read Books, South Harbor Plaza, 1374 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. 954-467-8878. Refreshments served: Cookies and more!

Sunday, February 19, 4:00pm, Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444, 561-279-7790, Refreshment served: Wine and Cheese!

Here is my blog tour schedule for January. Leave a comment and be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Shear Murder and a set of Paua shell jewelry.

Sunday, January 1, 2012, The Big Thrill, Topic: Author Interview

Wednesday, January 11, 2012, It’s Not All Gravy, Topic: Guest Interview

Friday, January 13, 2012, Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, Topic: Character Quirks

Monday, January 16, 2012, Author Expressions, Topic: Guest Interview

Friday, January 20, 2012, Jungle Red Writers, Topic: Conferences, Cocktails, and Coffee

Sunday, January 22, 2012, Buried Under Books, Topic: Setting as Inspiration

Wednesday, January 25, 2012, Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book, Topic: Weddings and Murder

Monday, January 30, 2012, Savvy Authors, Topic: Concluding a Series

Posted in Author Interviews, Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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