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

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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Top 20 Gifts for Writers

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 3, 2018

What should you buy for the writer on your gift list? You can be imaginative or be simple. Whatever you give will be appreciated. I’ve come across some fun ideas below to share with you if you’re in a quandary about what to get the writer in your life. Put these in your holiday gift bags and make someone happy.


Gift cards are always an option, but which ones in particular may appeal to an author? Let’s take a look and start going down the list.

1. A gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble or your local independent bookstore.
2. A gift card to Starbucks if they like coffee or tea.
3. A gift card to a favorite restaurant so your writer can save time in meal preparation.
4. A gift certificate to a day spa to reward a long day spent at the keyboard.
5. Office Supplies are always useful, such as sticky notes, highlighters, paper clips, notepads, mailing envelopes. You name it, we can use it. Here are some ideas to jumpstart the imagination:


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6. Journals are handy for notes at conferences or for scribbling down our ideas for plot or characters. Go old-fashioned or modern with these choices:


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7. Desktop or wall clocks help tell us when we need to get out of the chair and take a break.



8. USB flash drive to store important files, or a portable charging device like this Mophie that’s handy in a power blackout. Or how about a pen/flash drive combo?


mophieFlash Pen

9. Coffee, tea, chocolate, and other food items are always welcome. Find out what your writer pal favors for snacks and beverages and make sure there’s a handy supply available.


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10. Body lotions, hand cream, and scented soaps are always helpful to induce relaxation.

11. Stylish pens are a well-appreciated gift as are pens for booksignings. We can never have enough.


Pen  crystal pens

12. A decorative case for a pen collection may come in handy.



13. Mugs come with cute remarks for writers.


mug  mug2

14. Decorative coasters are needed to protect our desk from mugs holding our favorite beverage.


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15. Jewelry can make a statement about who we are to the reading public.


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16. Inspirational Gifts such as this Storymatic activity box and Writer’s Toolbox.


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17. Tee shirts, pillows, or other clothing items for writers.


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18. Movies. Look for films about writers or favorite genre films/TV shows.

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Lastly, these intangible gifts might be appreciated more than any material goods.

19. Write a review of their latest book and post it online.

20. Give the gift of Time. Take over some chores so your writer can have more time to write.

What else would you add to this list?




Enter Here Dec. 1 – 15 to win a signed hardcover of Peril by Ponytail along with a DVD of “Author’s Anonymous” and a bag of microwave popcorn. Two Runners-up get either a signed paperback of Shear Murder or Hanging by a Hair.

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




Posted in That's Life, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Gifts for Writers

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 22, 2015

What should you buy for the writer on your gift list? Some of the more interesting gifts I’ve received have come from my writer pals or my kids, like the jar labeled Writer’s Remedy that holds little squares with different words for inspiration, or the figure holding a hammer to his computer with a plaque that says #1 Author & Mom, or the coffee mug with my book title. My husband gave me a glass blown Disney castle to represent my dreams coming true. Be imaginative or be simple. Whatever you give will be appreciated.


1. Books on their Wish List, or a gift card to Amazon or BN.
2. Gift Card to Starbucks or their favorite shopping site.
3. Office Supplies: Sticky notes, highlighters, novelty ballpoint pens, paper clips, pocket notebooks. You name it, we can use it.
4. Personalized notepads or sticky notes.
5. Cute desk accessories like Brighton desk clocks or magnetic paper clip holders.
6. Scented candles to make the office smell good.
7. Body lotions, hand cream, scented soaps. These are always welcome.
8. A gift certificate to a day spa. A manicure or massage can go a long way toward relaxation.
9. USB Flash Drive. We can use several of these as backups to keep in different locations.
10. Portable charging device for electronics.
11. Food baskets, chocolates, and wine. You can never go wrong here.
12. Decorative coasters for their desk or side table near where they work or read.
13. Collectible paperweights.
14. Restaurant gift cards so they don’t have to cook.
15. Cute novelty items for writers. Look in those catalogs you get in the mail. Tee shirts, mugs, nightshirts or other items with funny sayings relevant to writers.
16. Movies. Look for films about writers. For example, Her Alibi starring Tom Selleck is a very funny movie about a mystery writer. See the many take-offs on Jane Austen (Austenland, Lost in Austen, plus the works themselves), English period murder mysteries such as Gosford Park or seasons of Downton Abbey. Remember how we all loved Romancing the Stone? The classics never go out of date. See more suggestions here: Or give a Fandango gift card, so they can buy movie tickets of their choice.
17. Did I mention chocolate?

What else would you add to this list?

Posted in Business of Writing, That's Life | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to all my online friends. I am thankful for your follows and comments throughout the year. Your feedback and support are immensely important to me, and I just want to take this time to let you know how very much I appreciate each one of you.


Here is wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday,


Posted in Food, That's Life | Tagged: , | 44 Comments »

Buy Books for Gifts

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 9, 2014

As you do your holiday shopping, consider supporting authors and booksellers by buying books for gifts. You can find something for everyone’s taste. Even your friends who don’t own an e-reader device can download free apps to their cell phones or tablets. So you can still gift them an ebook. If you have an indie bookstore in your area, stop by and make a purchase. We need to show our support for these stores that still exist. And now for the commercial. Here are some of my titles for you to consider:

For Your Hairdresser, Nail Tech, Beautician and/or Readers Who Love Mysteries

Give them a Bad Hair Day Mystery. The adventures of hairstylist and salon owner Marla Shore will thrill them with murder, mayhem, humor and romance. If you want a brand new hardcover, start them off with the latest title, HANGING BY A HAIR.

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If you want a brand new paperback, order SHEAR MURDER from HQ Worldwide Mystery Library.

Shear Murder

Most of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries are available in digital copies. Look for them here:

Barnes and Noble

For the Armchair Traveler, History Buff, True-Life Memoirs or Adventure Travel Fan

Try my father’s 1929 cross-country hitchhiking adventure, THUMBS UP.

Thumbs Up

For the Writer

Whatever genre they write, they can use a copy of WRITING THE COZY MYSTERY. This instructional guidebook will take them step-by-step through the process of writing a winning whodunit.


For the Romance Fan

For friends who like a hot, sexy read, give them a book from my Drift Lords series. These romantic adventure tales will sweep them away to a modern world mixed with myth and magic. WARRIOR PRINCE, WARRIOR ROGUE and WARRIOR LORD are available in print and digital formats.

WarriorPrince300 WarriorRogue300 WarriorLord_w8513_300

Contest Alert!
Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or 1/6 free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest:



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

Tips for Entertaining

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 30, 2012

How do you entertain for a crowd? It’s best to be well organized and to do as much ahead of time as you can. Here are a few tips to get you started:

· Determine your guest list
· Decide upon a party theme
· Send invitations

On Memorial Day weekend, we had some writer friends over. Counting our family members, we had about 16 people total. I wrote the menu after we sent out email invitations.


Appetizers: Spinach Artichoke Dip, *Eggplant Appetizer, Lobster Spread, *Swedish Meatballs, *Stuffed Mushrooms, Cheese Cubes, Crackers, Chips

Buffet Dinner: Sliced turkey, corn beef, and turkey pastrami platter from TooJay’s, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, *Corn Barley Salad, Chicken Greek Pasta Salad, Tuna Salad, Sliced Rye and Challah Breads, Olives & Pickles, Veggie Platter

Desserts: Carrot Cake, Oatmeal Chocolate Cranberry Bars, *Wine Cake, Fruit Salad

Recipes for the starred items can be found on my Website.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

Barley Corn Salad

Barley Corn Salad

Wine Cake

Wine Cake

· Choose your menu
· Make a grocery list
· Shop for non-perishables

A few days before the event,
· Take out your serving platters and utensils
· Label each serving dish with the intended item
· Set the table(s), including centerpieces, the day before
· Put out candles and do last minute cleaning
· Decide upon background music, if any

Food Labels

Labeling the Dishes for Easy Filling

Labeling the serving dishes saves time so I can spoon out the food quickly into predetermined platters and bowls. You also won’t have to go hunting at the last minute for those extra serving plates.

· Prepare foods the day before the event when possible. Otherwise, get an early start the event day so you’ll have plenty of time to rest up, shower, and get dressed.
· When guests arrive, offer them a drink and point out where they can get food. Introduce guests to each other. Then relax and enjoy yourself!


Allison Chase, Cynthia Thomason, Zelda Benjamin, Sharon Hartley (seated), Karen Kendall, Nancy Cohen, Lynn Byer

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Post-Holiday Greetings

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 26, 2011

We’re finally past the gift giving and holiday meals for now. Nothing much happens in the business world between Christmas and New Year’s, so I am enjoying the quiet and our balmy Florida weather. Not one to waste time, I’ve started revisions on Warrior Lord, final book in my Drift Lords trilogy. This means I’m tightening sentences, correcting inconsistencies, filling in emotional reactions. It’s a slow process as I examine every line for possible improvements. Doing revisions is so much better after putting aside the project for a few weeks. I have a fresh perspective on the story, and reading it through in one chunk helps me catch a lot of fumbles.

It’s also a quiet time of year for reflection on what we’ve accomplished. Did you meet your goals for this past year? Here were mine. Let’s tally up the successes:


Warrior Lord—Write synopsis and finish book (DONE).
Murder at the Yacht Club—Submit proposal and finish book (DONE).
A Little Night Murder—Complete proposal and finish book (MOVE to 2012).


Revise Keeper of the Rings and convert into ebook format (DONE).
Compose Quarterly Email Newsletter (DONE).
Prepare video book trailer for Shear Murder (DONE).
Update mailing lists (DONE).
Create marketing plan for Shear Murder. (DONE).
Revise handouts for speaking engagements (DONE).
Hold an Author Chat (Move to 2012).
Publish a Podcast (Move to 2012).
Self-publish father’s true-life travel journal of his hitch-hiking adventure in 1929 across the U.S.. (Move to 2012).

Wow, I got a lot done but I still didn’t get to do everything. No matter; that’s to be expected. What is most important is that you try.

What’s next for me? After Warrior Lord is ready for submission, I plan to decide on which mystery novel to work on at the start of 2012. I should polish the blogs I’ve written for my upcoming blog tour. And I could prepare my winter newsletter.

Or…should I laze in front of the television and watch the Star Trek episodes I’ve recorded on VHS tapes? Which would you choose? And what would YOU like to see me work on next?

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

Happy Hanukkah

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah to all those who celebrate this joyous holiday! Tonight we light the first candle. If you wish to delve into my childhood holiday secrets, check out my Winter Holiday Fireside Moments Interview.

We celebrated the holidays with our adult kids this past weekend since we wanted to be with them for our 35th anniversary. On Friday, my husband and I visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a leisurely stroll around. We heard the rumbles from the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, saw Jedi fighting at Star Tours, and observed the Auditions call at the American Idol Experience. It was a pleasant sunny day in the seventies.

Main Street

Hollywood Studios

Sorcerers Cap

Hollywood Studios2

Hollywood Studios3

American Idol



Tower of Terror

Saturday we spent with family, driving into the hilly country north of Orlando to visit my brother and his offspring. Here I am bravely sitting on one of his vehicles.


On Sunday, we went to Downtown Disney’s AMC Dine-In Theater to see Sherlock Holmes. This was fun! You have table service while sitting in reclining seats and can eat and drink through the movie. Try it out if you’re in the area. You can buy tickets online or at walk-up windows. The food was very good with enough variety of choices. You can have salads, sandwiches, appetizers, desserts, or full hot entrees. Beer and wine are available. As for the movie, we liked it better than the first one in the series.

That evening, we went to Timpano’s for dinner. We enjoyed the elegant atmosphere, the delicious food, and the excellent service. They brought us a complimentary slice of ice cream cake for our anniversary. It was the perfect close to a memorable weekend.

Have you finished your holiday preparations? Here’s wishing you a wonderful winter season and a healthy New Year!

Posted in Florida Musings, Food | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Holiday Traditions

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 21, 2011


Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Maybe it’s because I was born on Thanksgiving Day, and my mother said she got me on a platter instead of a turkey. That notion tickled me. Regardless, the traditional meal appeals to me as does the sentiment. This special day of giving thanks for what we have applies to everyone. Sometimes we get so lost in our own worlds that we forget to pause and be grateful for the good things that come our way. It’s a day for families to get together and share some intimacy before the hectic rush of Christmas, Hanukah, and New Year’s.


Starting the day before, I’ll prepare a menu of comfort foods: roasted turkey with gravy, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cheesy broccoli or spinach casserole, and cranberry sauce. Our kids nix the stuffing, so I don’t bother to make it anymore. My husband and I don’t need the extra calories. Usually I’ll buy a pumpkin pie. These days, our gatherings are small as our extended family only meets for religious holidays. But this is fine. We can watch movies on TV during the afternoon or just hang out and relax.

turkey dinner

Here’s my menu. Please feel free to share your favorite recipes here, too!


1 whole bone-in turkey breast (6-7 pounds)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp rosemary
1 Tbsp sage
1 tsp thyme
¾ cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the turkey breast in a roasting pan, skin side up. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, rosemary, sage and thyme. Rub over turkey. Pour the wine into the bottom of the pan. Roast uncovered for 1-1/2 hours or longer until meat thermometer registers 165 degrees in thickest part of breast. Cover breast with foil if overbrowning during cooking time. When done, cover with foil and allow to cool for fifteen minutes or so then carve into slices. Reserve pan juices for gravy. Serves 6 to 8.


(2) 40-ounce cans sweet potatoes or yams
1 bag mini marshmallows
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain and mash potatoes. Stir in melted butter and corn syrup. Put into greased baking dish. Sprinkle marshmallows on top and bake until marshmallows are browned and bubbly. Option: Add a 20 ounce can of drained crushed pineapple to potato mixture. For a larger crowd, add extra cans of yams. Serves 8-10.


2 10-oz packages frozen chopped spinach
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 cups sour cream
2 4-1/2-oz jars sliced mushrooms
½ tsp curry powder
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spinach according to package instructions. Drain liquid. In a bowl, mix spinach and remaining ingredients. Put into a 2-1/2 quart greased casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Serves 6.

Posted in Florida Musings, Food | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Eating Tips for Christmas

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 25, 2010

These tips apply equally to any holiday and to your next cruise as well. Thanks to mystery author Michael Haskins for passing them along.

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can and quickly. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an "eggnog-aholic" or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it!!!! Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand-alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello???

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, pumpkin and mincemeat – have a slice of each. Or, if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Reread tips: Start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving
safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO what a ride!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Posted in Florida Musings, The Writing Life, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Happy Holidays

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 6, 2010

It’s hard to get any real writing work done during this busy season, especially when I don’t have any fixed deadlines. Nonetheless, I’ve been working on three different projects. I’m revising an earlier mystery series proposal, plotting my third paranormal romance, and polishing my last backlist title for digital conversion. I’ve also been cleaning my office, tossing out old papers and memorabilia, and sorting through my collection of books to see what I can donate to the library. Included in this frenzy of activity is shopping for holiday gifts, writing greeting cards, etc. Oh, and we’re also packing for our next cruise. So I’m going to take a blog hiatus for a while until we get past all these events.

Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season! Be safe and stay warm.

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

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