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 ‘romance writers’

RWA 2017 Overview

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 4, 2017

I had a wonderful time at #RWA17, the Romance Writers of America national conference. The site rotates each year, and this time it relocated to Orlando, Florida at a hotel not far from our condo there. Thus I commuted to the Dolphin Resort on a daily basis. Sessions began at 8:30 every morning, although I got there by 8:00 to cruise the goody room and see who I could run into at the conference lobby. On the left, here I am with Jane Ederlyn and Tina Stitzer. On the right, I’m with Pam Stack.

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Before I get into summaries of what I learned, I want to mention that in addition to the educational aspects, networking is a prime goal of mine at these events. I was happy to see many of my fellow members from Florida Romance Writers as well as mystery author Joanna Campbell Slan from our Florida MWA chapter. Here are photos of all of us having fun. Below are Tina Stitzer, Elayne Cox, Kristin Wallace, Victoria Pinder, and Jane Ederlyn on the left. On the right is Joanna Campbell Slan, Melanie McCarthy, Zelda Benjamin and me.

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Publisher booksignings meant giveaways, and I took home a collection of books to last months if not years. I only selected the ones in my favorite genres so as not to be greedy. Indie authors had their own signing event too. Signing below are Zelda Benjamin, Lynnette Hallberg, and Heather Graham.

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Then there was the massive “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing that raised $44,163.59 on behalf of ProLiteracy Worldwide and the Florida Literacy Coalition. According to ProLiteracy, the amount donated from this Literacy Autographing over the years has helped 40,000 adults learn to read.

Reading is what it’s all about, and we authors learned how to reach readers through marketing skills until it felt like steam coming out of my ears with info overload. When I’ll have time to implement any of this information is your guess as well as mine.

I especially liked the luncheons, where we could meet new people at our tables, and the mixer with librarians, booksellers, and bloggers. Individual sessions with industry reps were also helpful. In my next few posts, I’ll try to summarize the workshops to the best of my ability.

For more photos, Click Here


Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench.




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

Fun in the Sun Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 13, 2015

Florida Romance Writers Fun in the Sun Conference

Featuring Keynote Speaker NYT Bestselling Author, Carla Neggers, with Special Guest Speaker, Dr. Debra Holland, Bestselling Indie Author

Conference 2016

DATE: Saturday, January 16, 2016
TIME: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
PLACE: Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., 6th Floor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

Editors & Agents:
Kristine Swartz, Berkley
Charles Griemsman, Harlequin Desire
Karen Thomas, Publisher of Cleis Press
Marlene Stringer, Stringer Agency

Great Workshops:
Marketing on a Shoestring
The Indie Road to Success
Maintaining a Long-Term Career
Beginning Writers’ Boot Camp
Conquering the Synopsis
Editor/Agent Panel Spotlight

Event will conclude with a public BOOK SIGNING that is open to all registered authors! Anyone interested in signing should email

PLUS…PLUS!!! A Sunset Cruise on the Intercostal Waterway – Friday @ 6:00 pm

FRW Members:
Saturday only – $90
Conference + Sunset Cruise – $115
Sunset Cruise only – $35

Saturday only – $100
Conference + Sunset Cruise – $125
Sunset Cruise only $40

Hotel accommodations are available. Visit our website for more information and to register:
For questions, please email

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

Golden Palm Writing Contest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 24, 2015

Golden Palm Writing Contest Sponsored by Florida Romance Writers is now accepting entries.

Contest1  Print

Summer is heating up, which means it’s time to enter the Golden Palm Contest. Get great feedback and a chance to place your work in front of leading industry pros. At least THREE final judges for each category! Open to non-published & published authors.

Categories & Final Judges:

Editor: Leah Hultenschmidt, Grand Central Publishing
Editor: Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks
Agent: Beth Campbell, Bookends

Editor: Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks
Agent: Jordy Alberts, Booker Alberts Literary Agency
Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency

Young Adult/ New Adult:
Editor: Lauren Smulski, Harlequin Teen (Young Adult)
Agent: Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Literary Agency
Agent: Laura Zats, Red Sofa Literary Agency
Editor: Mary Altman (New Adult)

Paranormal Category:
Editor: Peter Senftleben, Kensington Publishing
Agent: Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates
Editor: Angela James, Carina Press

For complete rules & information, visit Golden Palm Contest


Goodreads Giveaway: Enter to win one of two signed advance reading copies of Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Marla and Dalton’s honeymoon at a dude ranch turns deadly when they uncover family secrets best left buried. Humor, romance, & murder. Enter Here



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

Golden Palm Writing Contest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 5, 2014

Golden Palm Writing Contest

If you’re writing romance and need feedback on your work, enter the Golden Palm Contest sponsored by Florida Romance Writers. Not only do you get score sheets, but we have a hot lineup of editors and agents as final judges in every category.

Florida Romance Writers

Contemporary Category:
Editor:Leah Hultenschmidt, Grand Central Publishing
Agent: Beth Campbell, Bookends
Editor: Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks

Historical Category:
Editor: Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks
Agent: Jordy Albert, The Booker Albert Literary Agency
Agent: Dawn Dowdle, The Blue Ridge Literary Agency

Young Adult / New Adult Category:
Editor: Lauren Smulski, Harlequin Teen
Editor: Mary Altman, Sourcebooks
Agent: Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Literary Agency
Agent: Laura Zats, Red Sofa Literary

Paranormal Category:
Editor: Peter Senftleben, Kensington Publishing
Agent: Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates
Editor: Angela James, Carina Press

Entry is $20 for Florida Romance Writer members and $30 for nonmembers. All entries are read by at least one published judge and the lowest score is dropped. Contest ends August 15th. All information to enter is on


Posted in Contest, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

FRW Cruise Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 1, 2013

FRW Cruise Conference
Liberty of the Seas
Feb. 24-28, 2013

Click Here to See Photo Album

Day 1, Thursday

Ninety registered guests attended the Florida Romance Writers Cruise with your Muse conference aboard the RCCL ship Liberty of the Seas. We boarded easily, getting right onto the ship after parking and checking our luggage at Port Everglades. Upstairs at the Windjammer Buffet, we ate lunch and waved to fellow FRWers who’d already arrived. We checked into our cabin and then set out to explore the ship. This is a beautifully appointed ship of the fleet with its traditional interior Promenade, ice skating rink, and usual bars and lounges. Downstairs at the conference center, we picked up our registration materials. Then we hustled to the lifeboat drill before departure time. At 5:00pm, we met our conference shipmates at a Welcome Aboard party in the Sphinx lounge on deck five. The editors and agents shared industry news and writing tips.

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Editor/Agent Tips
Get rid of the prologue
Hit the ground running
Avoid clichéd writing
Shorter works, less than 100,000 words, are more desirable these days.
Don’t overuse dialogue tags.

Next, my husband and I dashed to the Diamond Club lounge where, as repeat cruisers at a certain level in the Crown & Anchor Society, we enjoy benefits like free drinks and appetizers. Of course, this was my favorite activity and we made it up here on deck 14 every evening. Our dinner seating was late at 8:30 so we had plenty of time to meet fellow cruise enthusiasts.

Day 2, Friday

This morning, workshops were held with authors Traci Hall, Kathleen Pickering, and Karen Kendall. I found some time for walking the decks with my husband. We sat the pool and watched the action or lounged on our balcony to stare at the ocean.

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Along the way, I got a glimpse of an interesting lady who would intrigue me for the entire trip. On previous cruises, I always spotted a character who would be great in my books. Thus the elegant white-haired woman from a prior voyage became the Countess in Killer Knots, my cruise ship mystery. I haven’t placed the witch lady from our previous cruise yet, but she’ll make her way into one of my stories. On this trip, I saw someone who definitely had an air for dramatics.

This woman had blond hair that she wore teased and curled atop her head like a poodle. I swear, she even had poodle bangs. But this wasn’t all. No matter the time of day or place, she wore a chiffon dress with spaghetti straps and sparkles and high heels. One day her shoes were black velvet with rhinestones. Her dresses glittered and the hemline swayed as she moved. I saw her in ivory, burgundy, and gold variations of the same dress, often with sequins. She wore a heavy application of makeup as well. I assumed she must be European. She just had that air about her. We always saw her clinging to the arm of a dapper gentleman who looked fairly ordinary in comparison. Neither one of them were youngsters. She’ll end up in one of my stories for sure.

Later that afternoon, I sat in on a workshop with bestselling authors Heather Graham and Charlaine Harris. Here’s what they said about writing humor:


Charlene: “When you’re writing sex, there is no dignity, and it can be funny.”
Heather: “It’s fun to have supporting characters where things don’t always go well. You can make jokes with these people.”

Floridian Idol followed, where the editors and agents tore apart submissions from attendees. You could learn a lot by listening to their comments, and this session was well attended.

Day 3

Saturday, we arrived at Cozumel. My husband and I took a taxi into town for $8.00 each way. Even though I had vowed not to buy anything, I ended up with a pair of earrings, rum cakes, and Mexican vanilla. That evening, we went to the show on the ship. The entertainer was a magician who kept the audience laughing.

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Day 4

Sunday morning was my workshop on Mystery Writing 101. I had a great group and the time went fast. We hustled out to attend Charlaine’s keynote speech where she talked about her long career history and provided inspiration for the rest of us.

keynote    NanCharlaine

That afternoon, ten of us authors held a booksigning in the dining room. Since the notice had gone into the ship’s daily newsletter, readers flowed into the room to buy our books. I couldn’t believe it when I’d sold my last copy! It was one of the best conference booksignings I’ve done.

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We hurried off to see Saturday Night Fever in the main theater while others went to the ice show.

At the end of the day, we had a farewell party led by our FRW president Rose Lawson and the hard-working conference planners before our final dinner together.

The four days went by too fast. We hung out; we talked; we learned and we shared. We got to know each other and the editors and agents who had nowhere else to go. We watched a dazzling parade of famous animated characters on the Promenade, sampled as much food as our stomachs would allow, and explored the hidden nooks of the sleek vessel. We each came away with something different—an invitation to submit pages to an editor/agent, a sense of peace, a few extra pounds.

I hope you can join us next time.

Nancy  TracHeath Kristin  SharKar


Posted in Conferences | Tagged: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Naples Zoo

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 26, 2012

Day 2 on Florida’s west coast found us gobbling breakfast at Mel’s Diner. Don’t mistake this one with another franchise of the same name further south. The buildings look nothing alike.


After filling our stomachs, we headed for the Naples Zoo where we got an early start before the temperatures soared. Graced by century-old trees that rose magnificently toward the sky, covered with leafy vines, many of them had enough roots and branches to nest a substantial tree house. I admired the foliage more than the animals as we strolled along the trail. Having been to Disney’s Animal Kingdom many times, I gave a cursory glance to the black bears, giraffes, tigers, coyotes, leopards, and alligators on display. There were snakes, poison dart frogs, parrots, lemurs, and other interesting creatures.





This little fellow is signifcant in Warrior Prince, book one in my Drift Lords paranormal series.

Hungry again, we ate hot dogs at the café. By now we were hot and sweaty after having walked all the way around, so we skipped the animal shows and the short jungle cruise and left to cool off in the nearby Coastland Center Mall. We spent some time here and then slowly made our way back to the hotel for a rest. We’d moved to the Holiday Inn Express for night number two.

Recommended shops in the Bonita Springs area: Trader Joe’s for interesting food items; Best of Everything and Charming Charlie for accessories—hats, jewelry, scarves, handbags, wallets, etc. Fun places to visit!

We dined at Pinchers Crab Shack which had a mob of people, testifying to its popularity with the natives. I had grilled shrimp with a tasty broccoli salad and garlic mashed potatoes. My husband had crab cakes. The food was good as was the service and ambiance.

Day 3, we headed north on I-75 again to Estero where we spend a couple of hours at Miromar Outlets before my next talk for the Southwest Florida Romance Writers. This workshop was on how to write a mystery. I’m a member of the chapter so it’s always good to see my writing pals on this coast of Florida. It’s a great chapter if you live in this area.


Then it was time to come home and get ready for next week’s event, the UCF Book Festival.

Posted in Florida Musings, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

A Writer’s Life

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 7, 2011

A Writer’s Life

What does a writer do all day? Do we sit at the computer, stare at the screen, and make up stories? How many hours a day do we actually spend writing? What do we do for the rest of the time?

If you’re a writer, you’ve already been asked these questions. For those of you who are still wondering, here is a typical day in my writing life.

5:00 – 7:00 am  Write 5 pages, my daily quota. Drink coffee, get dressed, eat breakfast.
7:00 – 7:30  Take walk
7:45 – 8:15   Pick out winning numbers for latest contest. Determine winner and announce on all sites.
8:15 – 8:35   Update contest pages and/or website
8:35 – 8:40  Tweet latest news
8:40 – 9:10  Work on blog
9:10 – 9:30  Exercise Bike
9:40 – 10:15   Scan through Email, follow people on Twitter who are following me, answer critique partner’s request, scan listserves, thank person on Twitter who retweeted me, forward promo ops to writer friends.
10:15 – 11:45   Leave for Salon Appt, Return and eat lunch
11:45 – 12:45   Check Email, Check for friend requests and messages on FB, Post blog, Answer friend invites on Goodreads.
12:45 – 1:45   Pay Household Bills, Prepare books and ARCs to mail out for donations or to reviewers
1:45 – 2:15   Trip to post office, come home, eat apple
2:15 – 3:15   Process contest entries onto Excel worksheet, Respond to FB friend requests, Tweet a friend’s blog post, Catch up in email.
3:15 – 4:45   Take break, file papers, organize office
4:45- 5:00   Check email and then quit for the day!

What about emails? How come I get so many? Aside from the twenty or more daily digests I receive from the reader and writer listserves I’ve joined, these are some sample emails from my current Inbox and the actions I need to take:

Answer request from mystery author to guest blog on my site
Respond to community resident to lead book club review session
Answer request for excerpts from site where I’ve posted book trailers
Respond to message from fan who read my latest newsletter
Send in news for RWA and MWA local chapter newsletters
Send in author tidbit for Ninc Blast online newsletter
Confirm speaking engagement date with local bookseller
Respond to mystery author requesting promo tips for Florida
Agree to write a piece for guest blog post by Thanksgiving

And so on. Is it any wonder that I get so behind after going away for a weekend? Writing isn’t only about the creativity. It’s also about the business, as I’ve mentioned below in an earlier post. And like any well-run business, you have to be responsive to maintain good relations with your colleagues. So there you have it in a nutshell.

Often friends will ask me what’s new, and I say, “Oh, not much. I’ve been concentrating on writing and promotion.” That sounds boring. Instead, don’t you think I should tell them exactly what we writers do all day?

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

Planning a Promo Campaign

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 19, 2011

You’ve had a book accepted by a publisher or have decided to publish it yourself as an indie author. Once you pass the editing stages and the book is in production, what next? You plan your marketing campaign, that’s what. Do you have a niche audience, as in a particular topic or setting addressed in your story? Did your research and writing process suggest any possible blog topics? Jot these down.

Next make a list of what you plan to do and how much money to reserve for your promotional budget. Consider cross-genre marketing when making your plans.



Do you want to do any print or online ads? If so, determine where you’ll place those ads and how much each one will cost.



Determine who you want to approach and send out queries. Or hire a blog tour coordinator. Make a list of proposed topics if you haven’t already done so. When you have spare time, write the blogs. Also solicit interview spots. Make a schedule with all your online guest appearances and post it on your website. Consider having a prize drawing from all blog commenters during your virtual tour.



It may be useful to write up a page of discussion questions for readers groups & book clubs. Tell your publisher these are available and post a note on the book’s page of your website. Mention that this discussion guide is available in your fan newsletter.



If you get author’s copies of your new release, you might consider giving some away at reader sites like Goodreads and Library Thing, besides offering them as your own contest prizes. Some writers groups like ITW and MWA offer book giveaways from members also.


If you wish to do a trailer, begin by reading my blog (scroll down until you find it) on how to create one yourself, or hire one of the many companies online who will do this for you. You may want to jot down the plot points you’ll want to get across in the video and hunt for images or decide what type of images will work with the text.


Which conferences will you attend to promote your new release? Sign up early to get on a panel and prepare the materials you’ll want to bring. Postcards or bookmarks? Giveaways? Business cards with book cover?


Will you run your own contests or hire someone to do it for you? How about joining one of the online group blog scavenger hunts? What would you like to give away as prizes? Make a plan for the next few months and post your latest contest on your website and blog.


Are you signed up at one of the newsletter mass mailing sites like Vertical Response? If not, you might want to do so now and upload your mailing lists. If you’re already onboard, this is a good time to weed out those bounces and unsubscribes. Pick a template that you can reuse so each time you’re ready to send out a mailing, you can just switch out the material.


Once you have your cover art, you can design bookmarks, postcards, flyers, and business cards. Decide what you’ll need and where to obtain it and get cost estimates.


Does your publisher provide advance reading copies of your upcoming release? Whether he does or not, you’ll want to solicit advance reviews. Make a list of genre reviewers and bloggers and see who’s amenable to reading your work. ARCs can also be giveaways and contest prizes.


Update your site with the new release info, add the book trailer link, put up an excerpt. Make sure your online press kit and sample interview are up to date. Every time you add a new speaking engagement or guest blog date to your schedule, update your appearances page. Check out other author’s websites for ideas on what to include in your own pages.


Do your professional writing organizations offer opportunities to announce your new releases, post a video, do an author interview? Check out paid sites too, like Authors Den  and Savvy Authors, where for a small annual fee, you can have your own page. Or join Speak Without Interruption or Cybervillage Authors and post blogs.

Where will you find the time to accomplish all these tasks when you have to write the next story? Make your writing a priority. Work on promo activities only after you’ve finished your page quota for the day.

By planning your campaign as soon as you sell a book, you’ll save time later on that becomes more valuable as the demands of your career increase. In fact, think about marketing as soon as you start writing the story.

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Hold Me! Thrill Me! Writing Contest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 15, 2011

“HOLD ME! THRILL ME!” Writing Contest 
Sponsored by Southwest Florida Romance Writers

DEADLINE: Entries must be submitted and payment received by midnight September 1st, 2011

ELIGIBILITY: Open to all unpublished authors: Romance Writers of America members and non-members. International entries are welcome in English.

ENTRIES: The first 20 pages of an unpublished manuscript featuring romantic elements. Contestants can enter an MS in each category, but no more than one MS per category.

FORMAT: Only files in Rich Text Format (*.rtf) will be accepted. RTF is an industry accepted format supported by all major word-processing software. Check
the Help Menu of your word processing software for how to use ‘Save As’ to create an RTF document. Manuscripts must be double spaced, have one inch
margins, and use Times New Roman or Courier. Entries that do not meet these formating requirements will be returned.

FEE: $25

Contemporary: Amanda Bergeron, Avon
Historical: Elizabeth Bistrow, New American Library
Paranormal: Meredith Giordan, Berkley
Romantic Suspense: Alex Logan, Grand Central
Young Adult: Kristin Rens, Balzer & Bray

AWARDS: (in addition to getting your MS in front of a top industry editor)
1st Place $50 and a Certificate of Achievement
2nd Place $20 and a Certificate of Achievement
3rd Place a Certificate of Achievement

Enter Now!

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


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 12, 2011

All blog commenters on my sites in March will be entered into a drawing for a collection of romance novels.


Find me on my blog at

March 16 & 30, I’m at

March 16, I’m also guest blogging over at

Winner will be announced the first week of April.

U.S. Residents only, please, due to postage constraints.

Also to remind you to please vote:

Silver Serenade has been nominated by The Romance Reviews for Best in Romantic Science Fiction/Futuristic/PNR for 2010. Please vote for my book at

Scroll down until you see the category for Best Romantic Science Fiction/Fantasy. Voting ends March 31. Thanks!

I’m also participating in the Fool For Romance contest. You can win a Kindle and other prizes!

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

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