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 Get a FREE Book Sampler

  • Hair Brained

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

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • 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

  • Permed to Death

    Permed to Death

    Bad Hair Day Mystery #1

  • Murder by Manicure

    Murder by Manicure Audiobook

    Audiobook

  • Hair Raiser

    Hair Raiser Audiobook

    Audiobook

  • Archives

  • Categories

Posts Tagged ‘mystery conference’

Mystery Fest Key West

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 29, 2017

Here are notes from some of the workshops I’d attended at Mystery Fest Key West. Any errors are mine due to my misinterpretation.

Friday started off with a talk by a representative from the Bomb Squad. The bomb squad in Monroe County gets about thirty calls a year. Lots of them involve old military ordinance like torpedoes and grenades, and about eighty percent are still live. Once a mortar round was dug up in a fellow’s yard and it dated back to 1887. Other finds might include acid bombs, pipe bombs, vehicle bombs, flares, and other old explosives that turn up in people’s backyards.

IMG_0198  IMG_0197

The investigators want to know: What is it? Why is it here? How can we disrupt it? Compressed water will tear the devices apart but won’t set them off. They have to make sure it’s safe while preserving the evidence.

When the guys respond, they keep a distance of three hundred feet or more and stay behind a protective barrier. If they have to go in closer to determine if an object is safe they’ll don helmets and flak jackets. Or they’ll send in the Robot.

The Robot is used for recon and demolition. It costs approximately $265,000 and can run up to seven miles per hour. It has six cameras, some of them encased, and it can climb stairs as well as go in and out of planes and buses. The Robot can take X-rays and can drag up to 300 pounds. It is remote-controlled at a five mile range. The machine runs on dual motorcycle batteries.

Police Myths

IMG_0200

James O. Born spoke about police myths and how to make our law enforcement officers more realistic in our stories. He distinguished between the uniformed Highway Patrol officers and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that’s more of an investigative agency. He spoke about pay and pensions and how patrol is the main job for a cop. They are taught to shoot in order to stop a suspect, not necessarily to kill. Deadly force would be a last resort. Plainclothes is not the same as undercover which involves deception.

I missed some of Lisa Black’s excellent talk on Blood Spatter as I had to prepare for my “Writing the Cozy Mystery” workshop coming next. Then it was time to head over to Hemingway House for an outdoor reception with drinks and appetizers.

IMG_0201IMG_0202

On Saturday, Randy Rawls moderated a panel on “Where I Get My Ideas” including John H. Cunningham, David Beckwith, Charles Todd, and Paul Sinor. Next came Heather Graham moderating the interesting discussion on “How to Commit a Perfect Murder” with Lisa Black, Rick Ollerman, Robert Coburn, and Siera London. Here’s how: 1. Don’t Get Caught. 2. Is it really a murder if there’s no body? 3. Poisons have worked well throughout history, especially before modern forensics. 4. If there’s trace evidence, you will get caught. There really isn’t a right answer to this question.

IMG_0205IMG_0207

Honored Guest Clifford Irving gave the keynote luncheon speech. Here he is with conference chair, Shirrel Rhoades.

IMG_0209

I skipped the next panel, “It Takes a Crook,” to get ready for Cozy Mysteries and Female Sleuths. I moderated a panel about female sleuths where we touched upon many subjects. One of the main points that came across was that women sleuths are more intuitive and compassionate, and these stories often involve interpersonal relationships or family issues.

IMG_3186

The evening continued with a special dinner party held at the historical Custom House Museum, which houses displays on the island’s military history.

IMG_0210IMG_0211 

This is always a fun conference in a relaxed atmosphere with fellow authors and fans who are eager to learn about our books.

<><><>

See all my Florida Keys Photos Here. Click on Photos and then Albums.

Enter Here to win a six-book beach reads bundle from Booklover’s Bench authors.

Beach Reads Giveaway

Sign up for my Newsletter for my latest book news, giveaways, bonus content, and events. Free book sampler for new subscribers.

Newsletter

 

 

 

Save

Save

Advertisements

Posted in Appearances, Business of Writing, Conferences, Fiction Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Malice Domestic Mystery Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 8, 2017

Malice Domestic is a conference for cozy mystery writers and fans. This one began with a bang on Friday morning with the always fun but exhausting Malice-Go-Round. I was number four on the wait list in this author lottery, but I got in as no one else waited in the wings. Armed with my series postcards and a two-minute spiel promoting Facials Can Be Fatal, I sat at the first table with my partner, author Jeri Westerson. The two of us would hop from table-to-table twenty times in total. By the time we ended, my voice came out as a croak and my throat was dry despite the water provided. But I’d met my goal of encountering new readers and greeting author friends along the way. This remains a favorite event to introduce my books to potential fans.

IMG_0095IMG_0096

On Friday afternoon, I skipped out to meet family at Brookside Gardens. We had a lovely stroll and a snack together. I returned in time for the opening ceremonies at Malice. Dinner on your own followed. I’m afraid I bypassed the live auction and later reception in favor of retiring early.

Saturday morning, I attended the Sisters in Crime breakfast.

IMG_0119

At 10 am, I was on a panel titled Just Die Laughing: Humor in Mysteries with authors Donna Andrews, Jessie Chandler, and Nancy G. West. Our moderator was Karen Cantwell who did an excellent job. We laughed along with the audience hearing our stories about research and other experiences. Some humor can be slapstick. Some can be situational. Or some can come from secondary characters or the sleuth’s world view. I enjoyed listening to my fellow panelists.

IMG_3062

A booksigning followed upstairs in the atrium. Here I am sitting next to Marla Cooper, author of Terror in Taffeta, a Destination Wedding Mystery.

IMG_3067

After lunch, I sat in on a panel about U.S. Historicals. It was interesting to hear about each author’s sleuth and series setting.

IMG_3070

Saturday evening was the Agatha Awards Banquet. Congratulations to all the winners! The meal was delicious and my table companions were delightful. I sat with the elegant Carole Nelson Douglas along with Julie McKuras and Patti Ruocco.

IMG_3071 IMG_3079 IMG_3077

IMG_3078IMG_3080

Sunday morning, I attended the new author’s breakfast. It’s fun to hear the newbies speak and tell about their first published mystery novels. Then I sat in on another panel titled “Death for Dessert: Sweet Murder.” These authors write culinary mysteries. Listening to them speak about their works made me hungry again.

IMG_0126

I satisfied this urge at the final Agatha Tea and closing ceremonies. Then we were off to see family again before leaving the next day. Into my suitcase went this stack of books I’d acquired at the conference.

IMG_3123

The best part of any conference is the friends you make. Here are some of the wonderful people I met at Malice.

IMG_0122IMG_0123 IMG_0121 IMG_3048 IMG_3056

IMG_3054IMG_0120IMG_3045IMG_3060IMG_0124IMG_3073


SEE ALL PHOTOS HERE


Giveaway!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench

<><><>

Sign up for my Newsletter for my latest book news, giveaways, sales, and events. Free book sampler for new subscribers.

 

Save

Save

Save

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

Bouchercon: Day Two

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 26, 2015

Friday, October 9, at Bouchercon started out with the Sisters in Crime Breakfast. Here we heard about all the wonderful programs this organization offers.

IMG_1732 IMG_1735IMG_1737

Then I attended a panel on Paranormal Mysteries with Heather Graham, Alexandra Sokoloff, Lorena Peter, Toni Kelner, and Rochelle Staab as moderator.

IMG_1745

Disclaimer: These notes are based on my interpretation and any errors are mine.

The definition of paranormal includes any phenomena that is beyond normal experience and scientific explanation.

Is there evil in the world? Do we believe in witches? This question of belief is part of the mystery. Some elements used in the speakers’ stories include witches, energy vampires, skeletons, and ghosts. Ghosts are more possible than other creatures, Heather said. We want to believe in the afterlife. Alex agreed people like to be scared. Lorena admitted that family experiences and personal stories influence her books. Tony was inspired by TV shows, such as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. Heather liked The Twilight Zone.

Alex said the scariest things are what people do to other people. She has to scare herself as an author, note the experience, and then scare the reader. Heather suggested the scariest things are what we do in our own minds. Lorena delivers messages from spirits. “They are out there.”

Why do people read these stories? They want more control over their lives. They like to have the powers. The little bit of magic is appealing. Ghost stories relate to the history of sites. Heather mentioned residual versus active hauntings. Alex likes the sensual thrill of the unknown with a slow build to an exciting climax. As for ideas? They are all around. Keep a dream journal. And listen to people with interesting stories.

Besides these authors, check out Maggie Toussaint’s Gone and Done It series with a psychic sleuth.

Preventing a Mystery Series “Jumping the Shark”

NanPanel1

Panelists included Nancy J. Cohen, Candace Robb, Lisa Unger, Laurie R. King, and Francine Mathews as moderator.

We spoke about how we keep a series fresh and then fielded questions from the audience. Ideas that I spoke about included:

The relationships between recurring characters should evolve and change like in real life.
Switch locations every few books but not too often.
Learn something new that excites you for each story.
Bring in new characters or focus on a different secondary character for a change of pace.
Also consider having a continuing personal thread that isn’t resolved right away.
If you really need to step away for a break, think about doing a short story or novella, either with your main characters or from the viewpoint of a secondary character.

Coming Next: Mysteries for Young Adults

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

SleuthFest 2015

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 7, 2014

Early Registration is now open for SleuthFest, the premier mystery writers conference sponsored by Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Feb. 26 – March 1, 2015 at the Doubletree by Hilton in Deerfield Beach, FL

SleuthFest 2015

 

· Keynote Speaker is James Patterson.

· Florida Guest of Honor is James W. Hall.

· Sunday Brunch Guest of Honor is Dave Barry.

· Agent appointments to pitch your work.

· Forensic topics.

· Writing craft, marketing, and hands-on workshops.

· Manuscript critiques by agents and editors.

· Practice your pitch workshops.

· Sunday morning Flamingo Pitch Tank.

· Cocktail Party and More!

Early Bird Registration starts now and goes until September 30, 2014.  Sign up now and save $20 on a three-day registration (MWA members $265, non-members $305).  Included in the three-day registration price are two lunches (Friday and Saturday), two cocktail parties (Friday and Saturday evening), and Sunday Brunch; four tracks with panels, lectures, and workshops; and Agent/Editor appointments. The hotel rate is $159/night, and is available a few days before and after for those attendees who want to combine an exciting conference with a vacation.

Sign up now!  www.sleuthfest.com

For more info about the Florida Chapter: http://www.mwaflorida.org/

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Fiction Writing, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Sleuthfest: Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 6, 2011

Sleuthfest, the annual mystery writers conference sponsored by the Florida chapter of MWA, was in full swing when I arrived on Saturday.

I attended several sessions which I’ll describe in three pieces so come back tomorrow for more.

P1000832

This is from my panel on Keeping It Real.

The Editors Panel

A panel with five editors spearheaded the morning on Saturday. Following is a paraphrasing of what I heard.

  • The more platforms we have, and the more e-books, the more books we’ll sell.
  • Formats may shrink when the dust settles on the e-book revolution.
  • Bookstores are just one of the places today where you can buy books.
  • The real problem is the American economy. When workers are laid off, it creates an instability in the entire industry.
  • Small press haven’t had to reduce staff like the big companies. They offer a miniscule advance and have a small print run, but then they consider 3,000-4,000 books sold to be a good number and 5,000 or more even better. Most often the print runs are set on expected sales.
  • Library sales have been decreasing due to the economy.
  • It’s easier to get reviews for a debut author than for an author on their fourth or fifth book. It’s also easier to sell someone without a track record.
  • Small press may be okay with steady sales as opposed to soaring growth, although they do like to see some growth. They might try different sales incentives to raise an author’s profile.
  • If you want to sell outside the U.S., you have to write what the foreign market understands. Certain sports games, for example, will need to be explained. Dark thrillers do better in foreign markets than cozies.
  • Series are easier to sell than stand-alones because readers fall in love with the characters. When a series starts to falter, a stand-alone novel can reinvigorate a career.

Disclaimer: Any misinterpretations are mine alone. This is what I heard to the best of my ability.

P1000816

Mary Lou Wymer & Victoria Landis

Julie Compton & Suzanne Adair

P1000818

Oline Cogdill & Linda Hengerer

P1000817

Lynette Hallberg & Barbara Bent

More Photos may be accessed here: http://bit.ly/gj5Up3

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

 
%d bloggers like this: