Nancy's Notes From Florida

Holiday Events as Research

November 23, 2022

It’s easy to feel guilty about not writing over the holidays. We’re overwhelmed with festive meal preparations, gift shopping, out-of-town guests, and myriad social activities. Yet everything we do can be considered fodder for the imagination. Be observant, note the characters around you, and describe your surroundings in your head. One of these items might prick your story brain and inspire a scene later on.

Holiday Events as Research

As an example, I recently strolled through the Longwood Festival. Imagine my surprise when I happened upon Judy’s Dolls, a site I’d looked up online as research for Star Tangled Murder, #18 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Marla, my hairstylist sleuth, interviews a suspect at her boutique doll store. I modeled some of the descriptions on what I’d read online. It was delightful to step inside this Victorian house to see the actual shop and meet the proprietor. As Marla has a son, and I have a grandson, I’d wondered if they had gifts for boys. And yes, they did. I bought a couple of items and put them away for Hanukkah.

 

Next, we strolled the lanes of tents and admired the craft items for sale. I found a unique handmade trivet and bought one as I’m always needing them for dinner parties.

 

Then we came upon a hat vendor. Having seen one before at the Apopka festival, I was reminded of a scene just like this one in Star Tangled Murder. Marla attends a July Fourth town festival where she encounters a hat lady. The woman shares gossip about one of the murder suspects.

      

This is why as a writer, we should not discount our experiences even if it seems like we are not writing. Everything we do becomes potential research for our books.

 

Holiday Events as Research #holidays #amwriting Click To Tweet

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!



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Favorite Fall Recipes

November 18, 2022

With the holidays rapidly approaching, you’ll be thinking about menu items for your festive dinners. These items are some favorites of mine, aside from the traditional roast turkey meal. Personally, I look forward to the leftovers more than anything. These are dishes you can try on other nights or add them to your holiday menu.

Fall Recipes

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

This soup serves as a starter dish for a dinner party or can be a meal in itself with a salad on the side. It’s perfect for chilly fall evenings.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, diced
1 pound peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 carrot, sliced
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
2 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp. unsulphured molasses
1 cup half-and-half

Directions

Melt butter over medium heat in large soup pot. Add onion and cook until translucent. Then add squash and carrots. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Add spices and cook until vegetables start to caramelize. Add chicken broth and thyme. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and discard thyme sprigs. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. (It can be frozen at this stage.) Stir in molasses to blend. Add half-and-half and mix to combine. Ladle into individual bowls and serve hot.

If frozen, defrost gradually and then reheat in large pot. Stir in molasses and half-and-half and serve as above.

TURKEY TENDERLOINS

 I love roast turkey same as anyone, but this is an alternative if you don’t feel like roasting a whole bird or even making a boneless breast of turkey. You can slice the tenderloins into serving sizes and make a nice presentation with the sauce. If the liquids get absorbed during cooking and the tenderloins aren’t done, add more broth.

Turkey Tenderloins

Ingredients

2 lb. turkey tenderloins
2 Tbsp. butter
½ cup chicken broth
½ tsp. dried thyme
4 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. light rum

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown turkey on both sides in melted butter in large skillet. Remove tenderloins from pan and place into greased baking dish. Deglaze pan with chicken broth and pour drippings over turkey. Sprinkle with thyme. In a separate bowl, combine molasses and rum. Spoon over tenderloins. Bake turkey in oven uncovered for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Slice and serve warm. Makes 6-8 servings.

RITZ CRACKER DRESSING

I use the terms ‘stuffing’ and ‘dressing’ interchangeably. However, if you want to be technical, stuffing is a seasoned mixture of bread, vegetables, and oil or butter that is stuffed inside poultry. Dressing is cooked in a separate dish on the side. In the South, cornbread dressings are popular. This recipe is inherited from my mother.

 Ingredients

3 or more rolls of Ritz Crackers
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 eggs or ½ cup egg substitute
8 oz. container chopped onions
8 oz. container chopped celery
6 oz. matchstick carrots
Garlic powder
Salt
White wine (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Crumple crackers into a large bowl. Add eggs, mix, and set aside. In a frypan, sauté chopped onions and celery in olive oil until wilted. Add to crackers along with grated carrots. Sprinkle in salt and garlic powder to taste. If you want to moisten the mixture further, add some white wine. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.

SWEET POTATOES WITH MARSHMALLOWS

You all have your favorite sweet potato recipes for the holidays, and here’s mine. It’s quick and easy, which is how I like to cook. For a larger crowd, add extra cans of potatoes.

Ingredients

(2) 40-oz. can sweet potatoes or yams
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup light corn syrup
1 bag mini marshmallows

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain and mash potatoes and put into large bowl. Stir in melted butter and corn syrup. Pour into greased 9x13x2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle marshmallows on top and bake 20 minutes or so, until dish is heated through. Remove when marshmallows are lightly browned. Serves 8 to 10.

CRANBERRY SAUCE

Personally, I prefer jellied cranberry sauce and buy the cans for expediency. This recipe is easy if you want a healthier version.

Ingredients

12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 cup water

Directions

In a medium pot, mix all ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes or until cranberries are softened. Cool and store in refrigerator until served. Makes 2 cups.

PUMPKIN MOUSSE

This is a light dessert if you want an alternative to pumpkin pie.

Ingredients

 1 ½ cups fat free milk
1 oz. package sugar free instant butterscotch pudding mix
½ cup canned pumpkin
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground allspice
½ cup fat free whipped topping
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Directions

Whisk milk and pudding mix in large bowl for two minutes. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Add to the pudding mixture. Gently fold in whipped topping until blended. Spoon into individual dessert cups. Sprinkle nutmeg on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 4 to 6.

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Favorite Fall Recipes #holidays #recipes Click To Tweet

For more recipes, check out A Bad Hair Day Cookbook available at most online bookstores. With 160+ recipes, plus anecdotes and cooking tips offered by savvy sleuth Marla Vail, this award-winning title will become a handy reference guide for quick and easy meals.

Deals and Steals

Booklover’s Bench Giveaway – Last Day!
Enter Here to win a free book at Booklover’s Bench.

BB Nov 2022 Contest

Author Interviews with Nancy J. Cohen

Nov. 17 – George Cramer’s site – https://gdcramer.com/2022/11/17/nancy-j-cohen-look-out-for-bad-hair-days/

Nov. 8 – Feed my Reads at https://timetofeedmyreads.blogspot.com/2022/11/nancy-j-cohen-interview.html

On Sale

The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Sets are on sale at Kobo for 30% off in Canada, U.S., U.K., Australia, & New Zealand. Use promo code 30NOV at checkout. Get started on this humorous cozy mystery series now! Don’t own a Kobo device? Download their free app. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/series/the-bad-hair-day-mysteries-box-set

Box Sets

DEAD ROOTS, my Thanksgiving mystery with ghosts, is on sale at Amazon. A haunted hotel with secret passages & paranormal experts provides the scare factor over Thanksgiving weekend at Marla’s family reunion. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PZBYD1P/

Dead Roots

Happy Thanksgiving!



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Free Book Giveaway

November 11, 2022

Are you looking for a fun, escapist reading experience? Circle of Light, my first published book, is FREE for five days starting today! If you want to try something new with a touch of romance, myth, scifi, and mystery, read this story. Who knows, it might awaken you to a whole new genre of reading pleasure.

Circle of Light won the HOLT Medallion Award in the paranormal romance category. It holds a special place in my heart. The idea came to me in a dream that was so gripping I had to finish the story.

HOLT

Order Your Copy Here


Story Description

Attorney Sarina Bretton believes in facts, not fantasy, until Captain Teir Reylock of the Coalition Defense League kidnaps her from Earth. His mission is to deliver her to the High Council for her marriage to Lord Cam’brii. It is through this union that she will become the legendary Great Healer and save the galaxy from a devastating plague.

At the capital city of Bimordus Two, Sarina discovers the wonders of an advanced civilization. She also awakens to her desire for Captain Reylock, who has been assigned as her personal bodyguard. Meanwhile, danger follows the betrothed couple as enemies try to prevent their marriage from taking place.

Teir admires the feisty Earth woman, but he is sworn to duty. Not only must he protect Sarina from the Coalition’s enemies, but he must guard his heart against her. Drawn together by passion but torn apart by destiny, these star-crossed lovers are forbidden to be together until the final shocking revelations expose the legend’s truth.

Circle of Light

Reviews

“This action-packed novel will excite and satiate fans of science fiction and romance works alike. Nancy Cohen is a tremendous talent whose novel will remind readers of the Star Wars trilogy.” The Talisman

“Nancy J. Cohen is a shining light in the futuristic galaxy, a writer whose amazing talent propels readers into a universe filled with strange new worlds, amazing technologies, and unusual species that would have made George Lucas sit up and take notice. Circle of Light glows with a radiance that few writers can ever achieve.”  Affaire de Coeur

“This story of star-crossed lovers dazzled me. In fact, I blew through all three books of the trilogy in one short week—they were that good!” Muddy Rose Reviews

Circle of Light is a well-constructed futuristic romance that will appeal even to die-hard Star Trek and general Science Fiction readers. Great plot, believable aliens, and interesting locations all make Nancy J. Cohen an author to keep your eyes on.” The Paperback Trader

Click Here to get your Free Copy and/or Buy a Gift for a Friend!

Free Book Giveaway CIRCLE OF LIGHT award-winning #sciencefiction #romance Click To Tweet

More Deals and Steals

Box Sets 30% Off at Kobo – Nov. 10 – 21
The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Sets are on sale Nov. 10 – 21 at Kobo for 30% off in Canada, U.S., U.K., Australia, & New Zealand. Use promo code 30NOV at checkout. Meet Marla Shore, a Florida salon owner and amateur sleuth with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. Get started on this humorous cozy mystery series now!  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/series/the-bad-hair-day-mysteries-box-set

Don’t own a Kobo device? No problem! Click Here to download the free app.

Box Sets

If you prefer, you can also find my box sets at Amazon, Apple, and Nook.

DEAD ROOTS is on Sale at Amazon for $4.37 ebook (reg. price $4.99) and $4.37 print edition (reg. price $14.99) for a limited time!

Dead Roots

 

Booklover’s Bench Giveaway
Enter Nov. 1 – 18 to win a free book at Booklover’s Bench

BB Nov 2022 Contest



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Book Deals and Steals

November 10, 2022

November is my birthday month—I’m a Thanksgiving baby—and to celebrate, I have various special book deals to offer you for a limited time.

KOBO 30% DISCOUNT – Nov. 10 – 21

The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Sets Volumes 1 – 5 are on sale at Kobo for 30% off in Canada, U.S., U.K., Australia, & New Zealand. Use promo code 30NOV at checkout. Meet Marla Shore, a Florida salon owner and amateur sleuth with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. Get started on this humorous cozy mystery series now! https://www.kobo.com/us/en/series/the-bad-hair-day-mysteries-box-set or https://www.kobo.com/us/en/p/november-sale

Box Sets

Don’t own a Kobo device? No problem! Click Here to download the free app – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/p/apps

FREE BOOK – Nov. 11 – 15

Want something new and exciting to read? CIRCLE OF LIGHT, #1 in the Light-Years Trilogy, is FREE on Amazon for 5 days only! This title was my first published book and won the HOLT Medallion Award.

Attorney Sarina Bretton is kidnapped from Earth to become the legendary Great Healer and save the galaxy from a devastating plague. But on the way to meet the nobleman she must marry, she falls in love with the dashing starship captain instead. Get your copy here – https://amzn.to/3kY1BoP

Circle of Light

ON SALE 

DEAD ROOTS is on Sale at Amazon for $4.37 ebook (reg. price $4.99) and $4.37 print edition (reg. price $14.99) at https://amzn.to/2YoH1m9

Dead Roots

Hairstylist Marla Shore is eager to introduce her fiancé, Detective Dalton Vail, to her extended family over Thanksgiving weekend at Sugar Crest Plantation Resort. Their festive turkey dinner turns into a serious bad hair day when she finds her aunt suffocated in bed. Aunt Polly isn’t the only ghost at this haunted hotel. Marla uncovers secrets that should have stayed buried. It’ll take all her sleuthing skills to untangle the clues and root out the killer, even if it means exposing her family’s unsavory past.

Book Deals and Steals #bargainbooks #freebooks Click To Tweet

OTHER NOTICES

Booklover’s Bench Giveaway
Enter Nov. 1 – 18 to win a free book at Booklover’s Bench

BB Nov 2022 Contest

Author Interview
In case you missed it, I am interviewed over at Feed My Reads

 



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Space 220 Restaurant

November 9, 2022

The Space 220 Restaurant at Epcot in Disney World is an out-of-this-world restaurant. It’s so popular that it is nearly impossible to get an online reservation. We went in person on a Friday morning at 10:30 and lucked out. They had several slots available for lunch. This themed dining establishment is located next to the Mission: SPACE Pavilion. As you come into the park by Spaceship Earth, veer left toward the attractions on that side of the park.

 

At the designated time, we gained entry and were given boarding passes at a neon-rimmed reception desk.

From there, we lined up to ride on the space elevator. This would take us to the space station 220 miles up from Earth. A small group of us went inside. There’s a round rail in the center where we held on, with viewports at the bottom of this circle and overhead on the ceiling. With a rumbling vibration, we took off. Florida receded below as we shot toward the sky.

The station came into view above and grew larger until we docked. Here we entered a snaking utilitarian corridor. One section rotated with hydroponic vegetables reminiscent of the Land Pavilion.

A server escorted us to our table. Out the wide set of windows, we saw the curvature of Earth.

 

I ordered a Planetary Punch – Bacardi Silver, Malibu, Blue Curacao, Guava, and Coconut. The purple beverage bubbled and had an intriguing taste.

 

For $55 each, we had a two-course fixed price lunch with an appetizer and entree. Annual passholders get 10% off lunch only. Dinner is $79 and includes different choices of appetizers and entrees plus dessert. Here is the lunch menu. You can see the dinner menu here. Lunch starts at 11:30 am and Dinner at 4:00 pm. Remember that you need a reservation to Epcot for the day plus an admission ticket or pass.

I chose the Space Greens which was huge – Bibb and Red Leaf Lettuce, Honey Crisp Apples, Radish, Cornbread Croutons, Bacon Bites, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette. The lettuce was so fresh it might have been grown right there in the hydroponic garden.

My lunch was the Spaceghetti & Shrimp – Sautéed Shrimp, Spaghetti, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic Beurre Blanc. Richard had the Rocket Flame Seared Tuna – Fennel Spice-Rubbed Tuna Loin, Eggplant Caponata, Arugula, Aged Balsamic. Sue and Mark both had the Galactic Miso Salmon – Miso Glazed Salmon, Glazed Rainbow Carrots, Edamame, Celeriac Puree.

 

While the food was tasty, I wouldn’t return based on the meal alone, although the dinner menu is very appealing. However, the out-of-this-world space station experience would definitely be worth another visit. You can go to the lounge without a reservation if you don’t mind standing in line for a spot, but there’s limited seating and it faces away from the viewports.

As we dined, suited spacemen floated past and various spacecraft came and went. It was awesome to imagine yourself dining on a real space station. Space elevators have been elemental to science fiction novels since I’ve been reading them, and our imagination often fuels invention.

The ride down to Earth was even more exhilarating than the one up to the station. It seemed real as we jostled with movement and sped down toward the land far below. With a gentle thump, we reached the terminal and entered reality once more.

For a more immersive experience, there’s always the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Adventure. That’s a mind-blowing two-night stay in the Star Wars Universe. If not for the cost … well, maybe our kids will get there someday.

In the meantime, Space 220 Restaurant offers a stellar adventure. We were glad to enjoy it with Sue and Mark Bernstein. Next time, we’ll have to try this place for dinner.

Space 220 Restaurant Experience #Epcot #Space220 Click To Tweet

Author Interview
If you want to learn more about me, please check out my Author Interview at Feed My Reads!

GIVEAWAY

Booklover’s Bench – Nov. 1-18
Enter Now to win a free book at Booklover’s Bench!

BB Nov 2022 Contest

 



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