Backlist Book Updates

You may have noticed that I’ve been subtly rolling out cover changes for my earlier mystery titles. It’s important for author branding that series covers have the same overall look in terms of fonts, text placement, color palette, series logo and image style. My cover artist, the talented Patty G. Henderson, has been working diligently on these updates. So far we’ve completed the ebook covers. The paperbacks are more complicated because these also involve the book’s spine.

Some of the cover changes are subtle and some are drastic. Here’s the most dramatic one. Permed to Death really needed a makeover from the cartoony cover to a more modern image. Old covers are on the left, new covers are on the right. Don’t you just love this new one?

Permed to Death          Permed to Death

For Hair Raiser, we changed out the old logo for the new one and straightened the title. Murder by Manicure, however, has a partial new look with a spa pool on the image.

          Murder by Manicure

We removed the nurse on Body Wave. She served her purpose at the time but now she looked too cartoony to me, so we took her out along with swapping logos and straightening the title. We added my RONE Award badge to this one.

          Body Wave

Highlights to Heaven didn’t get much done except ditto to above. The only other change was on Hair Brained, where my author name had been in all caps. It’s not that way on the other books so we changed this one to make things more cohesive.

Hair Brained          Hair Brained

The paperbacks are taking longer because the series and publisher logos need to be made consistent on the back covers and the spines. And I need them to be compatible with Ingram as well as KDP. That’s so booksellers and librarians will have access to order them. Alongside with the cover updates, I’m revising the back matter in the interior files. This is a book-by-book project to see what needs to be done. It’s also forcing me to clean out my files, getting rid of old versions and material that’s no longer useful.

I’ll be adding my four Five Star books to this repertoire when all the updates are finished. Since I’ve just received rights reversions, I need to get them back for sale online so readers can access the complete series. They will all be needing new covers and reformatting.

This is what I’ve been working on, with the help of my cover designer and formatter. What’s next? I still have six romance titles to do but those will be ebook only. And then there’s the audiobooks… But some day, I will finish all these updates and the entire series will have a fresh look. Yay! Then we can celebrate before moving on to box sets…

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Easter Hair Hunt Cover Reveal

COVER REVEAL! Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is now available for pre-order.

 

Easter Hair Hunt

 

Cover Design by Patty G. Henderson from Boulevard Photografica

 

Hare today, dead tomorrow… Can a stylish sleuth pull a rabbit out of her hat to solve an Easter murder in this to-dye-for cozy mystery?

When hairstylist Marla Vail attends an Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor, she’s only there to fix hair for a client, Bonnie “Blinky” Morris. But when she’s asked to comb the grounds for leftover goodies, Marla discovers more than just a few dyed eggs. The dead body in the bunny costume is definitely not having a good hare day. And Blinky seems to have disappeared down a rabbit hole.

When trying to solve a murder, everyone needs a friend who’s all ears. For Marla, that’s her husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail. They make an eggcellent team. Dalton isn’t the kind to leap to conclusions, but with his wife seven months pregnant, and knowing Marla finds crime-solving to be irresistible, he worries about her running off on another hare-raising adventure.

Marla’s peeps are hoping for a happy ending, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can she crack the case before Blinky becomes the next victim?

Recipes Included!

“Marla is drawn into an investigation that involves a missing friend who is possibly a victim and a stolen Fabergé egg… As Marla and husband Dalton proceed, she finds her family life and pregnancy challenged in more ways than one, with everything overshadowed by Easter and a mystery steeped in South Florida history and culture. Nancy Cohen excels at capturing this atmosphere, injecting it into Marla’s life and choices with a series of seasonal egg-related revelations and surprises that keep readers immersed in both town affairs, personalities and politics and an Easter egg hunt like no other.” Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

Release Date: March 10, 2020

Ebook: ISBN 978-0-9997932-6-8, Orange Grove Press, $4.99
Print: ISBN 978-0-9997932-7-5, Orange Grove Press, $14.99
Publisher: Orange Grove Press
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Print Pages: 302

BUY LINKS

Amazon Kindle
Apple
BN Nook
Kobo 
Website
Goodreads
BookBub

Print editions coming soon including Ingram

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7 Tips for Goodreads Authors

Goodreads is where readers go to share their reviews and to discover new books. As an author, you want readers to add your book to their TBR (to-be-read) shelf. Shelvings can lead to Sales that can lead to Reads and hopefully Reviews. Your goal is to raise awareness of your book and entice readers to buy it. Goodreads should be a part of your book promotion campaign.

Goodreads Authors

 

1. Sign in as a Goodreads Author or Librarian, so you can click the Edit Details button on your books and make changes. You can combine editions, choose a default edition, add a book cover, link your series books, or manually enter a new title if it’s available on Amazon. With an author page, you can list your books, link to your blog post feed, create events, and more.

2. Search for Goodreads author promotions so you can take advantage of them. Or run a Goodreads Giveaway. These cost money but can be effective to raise awareness of your upcoming release.

3. Followers, and not friends, get notified when you have a new book launch. So ask people to follow you on Goodreads. If you’re doing a Rafflecopter contest, add Follow Me on Goodreads as an option. Add this link to all your social media posts and sites.

4. Since Goodreads is primarily for readers, contribute reviews for each book you read so that other readers accept you as one of their own. It’ll also help get your name out there when it shows on your update feed.

5. Join special interest groups and participate in discussions, but be careful to promote your book only in the sections allowed. Read the guidelines before you post about your own books.

6. Utilize the Ask-the-Author feature. It allows readers to ask you questions in a Q&A format.

7. On the Home page, click on General Update and add your contest news, book release info, or anything else you wish to promote.

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Goodreads is another site to have an author presence. Use your author dashboard and manage your book editions and author page. This site can be a valuable tool in your promotional arsenal.

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Knickknacks Reveal Character

You can learn a lot about your story characters from the knickknacks in their house. Consider this topic when enhancing characterization in fiction writing.

Knickknacks Reveal Character

As we are attempting to declutter our shelves, I’m wondering why I collected so many souvenir drinking glasses, paperweights, candles and rocks. Yes, rocks. There’s also my wonky pen collection, a box full of troll dolls that I am loathe to give away, and letter openers. What do these things say about my personality? You tell me.

  trolls2

What can they say about your main character? Perhaps your heroine presents a tough exterior but has a collection of hair ornaments. Or your bookish hero hides a fascination with antique hunting knives. Maybe a sidekick is a cat fan and has decorated her house with cat-themed throw pillows and handmade ceramics depicting cats. For inspiration, check out those unsolicited catalogs you get in the mail.

hair ornament   ceramic cats

Be specific about what type of reading material your character keeps around. Does the heroine read steamy romances but pretends to disdain romance? Does your hero stick to instructional manuals because fiction isn’t real? What if the woman he’s interested in collects unicorn figurines? Will there be a clash in their interests? How about the pages of the magazines or books? Are the corners folded in, the spines bent, or is there a bookmark inside?

What secret longing do these objects represent? How about art? What does your heroine hang on her walls? Does your hero prefer sports memorabilia or does he have an interest in wall clocks? Maybe he hasn’t an eye for design and mismatches colors, while your heroine reads interior design magazines and believes everything should be coordinated.

pens   

It’s fascinating to view the items inside another person’s house. You can see what they enjoy collecting and learn more about them. It also gives you an idea what to get them for a gift. So next time you visit a friend or relative, take a stroll around and see what’s inside their curio cabinet, adorning their walls, or standing poised on a bookshelf.

Even owning nothing of a personal nature makes a statement in itself. Have fun delving into the intricacies of your protagonists’ hobbies so you can describe the collection through their eyes. It will give an added dimension to your story.

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Setting Goals for 2020

For writers, it’s important to set concrete career goals. These should be as specific as possible and ideally attainable. It helps to divide these objectives into creative and business aspects. As a professional author, you need to pay attention to both. So let’s see where I stand at the beginning of this new year.

Setting Goals for 2020

 

CREATIVE GOALS

1. Publish Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

This book is written but needs a final proofread before going into production. My cover artist is polishing the cover. The next step will be formatting, another inspection for conversion errors, and then upload for pre-orders. Sending out the book to reviewers, doing a cover reveal, planning the launch party and preparing for a blog tour are all part of the marketing for a new book release. The date is slated for March 10, so I have to get these tasks done.

2. Reissue mystery backlist titles and update earlier covers.

For purposes of author branding, my cover artist is tweaking my earlier covers to make them all consistent in terms of font, text placement, imagery, etc. One early cover has a total makeover and another one has a partial. The other tweaks are relatively minor. Adding to this task might be my four Five Star titles but they’re not on the horizon yet.

3. Revise and reissue romance backlist titles.

I still have six romance titles that need to be made available online. These early books require editing since my writing has vastly improved over time. I need about two months per book for this process as it requires one round of line editing and two rounds of read-throughs for polishing.

4. Do another audiobook.

I’d eventually like to put Writing the Cozy Mystery into audio. Or I could do the next Bad Hair Day mystery instead. It might depend on number 3 below.

BUSINESS GOALS

1. Bundle books into box sets.

Once my backlist titles are all updated, I can begin packaging them into box sets.

2. Participate in sales and giveaways.

Again, once my entire backlist is online, I’ll have more leeway to offer pricing incentives.

3. Experiment with going wide for audiobooks.

My audiobooks are currently available only on Audible, iTunes and Amazon. I’d like to see how they would do if more readily available to libraries and other resources.

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After Easter Hair Hunt, my next priority is getting all my backlist titles available online. Then it will be time for something new. But these books have been preying on my mind for some time now, so I have to get them done. It will be immensely satisfying to have all 27 books (8 romances, 16 mysteries, 1 novella, and 2 nonfiction titles) the best they can be and available to readers everywhere. At that point, I will face what to do next. What do you think it should be?

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Winter Wonderland

When you watch a Hallmark Christmas movie, the setting is often a big cosmopolitan city or small town USA. I love living in the suburbs, because the city amenities are a short drive away while you live in an area with greenery and where people get to know you.

Our small city has its own library separate from the public library system. Our kids volunteered there during school to get their volunteer hours, and I belong to the Friends of the Library and attend meetings. I love this library that feels intimate like the one where I grew up. Adjacent is a historical museum. I appreciate it when a town values its history enough to have a museum or other dedicated site to honor its past.

The Plantation Historical Museum always has interesting exhibits. Today we visited their Winter Wonderland. And lest you wonder if I’m playing hooky from writing, consider this to be the creative phase, where we have new experiences to refill the creative well. You never know when inspiration will hit or what will spark the next story idea. This exhibit has over 50 themed Christmas trees that were painstakingly done by volunteers. The details are amazing. Besides the trees, there are some diorama scenes, miniature dollhouses, and a Hanukkah display.

Let’s see if you can guess these themes. Which one do you like best?

 

 

  

Plantation Historical Museum Winter Wonderland #ChristmasTrees #Floridahistory Click To Tweet

LAST DAY – GIVEAWAYS/SALES!

On Sale for $1.00! HAIR RAISER, #2 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. When savvy hairstylist Marla Shore takes charge of a fundraiser, she doesn’t count on sabotage being on the menu. Participating chefs are dropping off the roster like hot rollers, and she must comb through a knot of suspects to find the culprit. Use code SEY75 at checkout. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/579124

Are you a cozy mystery fan? Enter Here to win 25+ Cozy Mysteries, plus a brand new Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet from BookSweeps! Also enter to win a copy of my book, TRIMMED TO DEATH. https://www.booksweeps.com/giveaway/december-2019/cozy-mysteries

Happy New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR! May your year ahead be filled with love, laughter, and lots of joyful moments! Thank you so much for following my blog and being my online friend.

Writing Goals Revisited 2019

Each year, I set goals for my career as a published author. In December, I’ll examine these writing goals and take stock of what I’ve accomplished. January is the time to set new goals for the year. It’s important to perform these tasks so you have a path to follow. I divide my writing objectives into two sets – Creative and Business. We have to work on both of these in our careers as professional authors. So let’s see what I’ve gotten done. I hold myself accountable to you, my readers.

 

CREATIVE GOALS

Reissue remaining backlist titles – PARTIALLY DONE

The following Author’s Editions were released this year. Each one takes a couple of months to complete with manuscript preparation, proofreading, formatting and cover design.

Died Blonde – March 5, 2019
Dead Roots – March 26, 2019
Perish by Pedicure – April 23, 2019
Killer Knots – May 21, 2019

Write and publish A Bad Hair Day Cookbook – DONE; released on Nov. 19, 2019

Any new book release requires a lot of work, from launch parties to blog tours to social media to reviews. A couple of weeks at least should be reserved for the prep work. The blog tour carries on for a couple of weeks past the release date and involves guest posts, interviews, articles and excerpts. These have to be written as part of the launch sequence. Reviews have to be recorded, reviewers thanked, and quotes added to online sites. Once all this is done, social media posts need to continue even as you turn your attention to the next book.

Write and publish Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries – IN PROGRESS

I wrote the book, revised it, did the edits, and sent it to beta readers. My cover artist almost has the cover done. This release is slated for March 10, 2020. Meanwhile, I’ve written the posts for a virtual book tour. Final proofreading and formatting come next before the book will be ready for pre-orders.

Publicize Large Print edition of Trimmed to Death from Wheeler Publishing – DONE; released on August 7, 2019


BUSINESS GOALS

Enter latest releases in writing contests – DONE

Carry on with newsletter, blogs and social media – DONE

Update website – DONE

This year, we converted my site to Managed WordPress, updated the theme, switched over my blog to my website, and added Office 365 email. These are things that hopefully don’t have to be done too often!

Bundle books into box sets – NOT DONE

This has turned into a bigger project as I have my cover designer updating all of my earlier mystery covers to be compatible with the later ones. At a glance, the covers need to have the same overall appearance in terms of font, text placement, color palette and series logo. Plus, there was an unexpected development with Five Star announcing they’ll be returning rights at the end of this year. That means we’ll have four more books to do. So this project has to be carried over to next year.

As you see, some things got done and others are incomplete. These will be added to my goals for 2020. And that’s the subject for another post in the new year. How did you do with your goals in 2019?

 

Mysteries and Food Belong Together

Mysteries and food belong together. Why is food an essential element to the mystery novel? They belong together like peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese.

Mysteries Food


The joy of food balances the sadness of murder.

At the funeral feast, people gather to celebrate life and to share a meal as a community. Dr. Christine A. Jackson, author of Myth and Ritual in Women’s Detective Fiction, says: “After untimely death unleashes chaos in fiction, recipe rituals, meal routines, and dining etiquette offer a semblance of civility to restore balance.” Participating in a meal gives you a sense of normalcy and a feeling of control after an intense loss. Death represents darkness while food represents light.

Food elicits positive emotions.
We eat comfort foods when under stress. What kind of foods does your character choose? Her food choices can help to reveal character as well as shed light on ethnic backgrounds and regional settings. Food brings back memories that often have a positive connotation. This means food scenes can play an important role in revealing character and illuminating the setting.

Offering a meal can be an expression of love.
We want our children to thrive, and so it pleases us to feed them. This nurturing instinct can extend to the community. One way of showing that we care is to offer food.

People often socialize around food and drinks.
This is especially important in a mystery. Food scenes allow the sleuth to:
• Review suspects with a friend
• Question persons of interest
• Discuss personal issues that deepen characterization
• Vary the pacing by giving the reader a break from tension

Culinary mysteries are a highly popular subgenre.
Food is the antithesis to murder, so what better pairing is there for these stories? In A Bad Hair Day Cookbook, I’ve included excerpts from my books after each food category. These scenes all relate to food, showing how important they are to the mystery genre. Whether or not the central theme in your series centers on food, you’ll be including scenes at restaurants, coffee shops, bars, or inside your sleuth’s kitchen at home. These scenes are integral to the mystery genre, or really, to any work of fiction.

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Adventures in Dining Orlando

This year for my birthday dinner, I chose to eat at Boma, the African buffet restaurant inside the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World. The lobby is impressively massive with a huge Christmas tree at this season.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

We arrived early to stroll outside and view the animals roaming the plains within range of our cameras.

Then we headed to the check-in desk at Boma. After reaching our seats, we gave drink orders before heading to the buffet. What an amazing array of choices! I started with a salad, a corn muffin and a spoonful of hummus on pita bread. Since I’d had soup for lunch, I bypassed this selection.

Next I joined the line for a slice of carved prime ribs and a piece of barbecued chicken. I skipped the turkey since we’d be eating this soon for Thanksgiving. Although I’d eaten shrimp recently, I couldn’t help a few of the peel and eat shrimps on display.

The accompaniments were varied and with an African theme. I had mashed sweet potatoes, a corn pudding, corn and peas, macaroni and cheese, a pearl couscous dish, rice with coconut milk and peanut sauce, a mushroom egg soufflé, and more that I can’t remember. It was SO good that I would definitely return, although the $49 per person price is a bit steep. You do get a 10% discount as a Disney passholder.

Desserts are the to-die-for variety. Here’s a sampling of what we had. Bread pudding with vanilla sauce was one dish, plus all the brownies or cookies you could eat. I liked the novelty items, which tasted divine.

It’s not a meal you can have too often, though. I probably gained a few pounds this night. The pumpkin pancakes I ate for breakfast the next day at KeKe’s didn’t help, either. Now we are home and I am eating healthy until our next trip to Orlando.

Benefits of Writers Conferences

Now is the time to consider which writing conferences you’ll be attending next year. You want to pay the registration fee before the early bird discount evaporates. With so many conferences out there, how do you choose which ones to attend?

It depends upon your goals. Here are some opportunities offered at writers’ conferences. Which ones apply to you?

  • Further your skills by attending craft workshops
  • Get updates on industry news and business issues
  • Learn the latest marketing tips
  • Increase your knowledge of social media
  • Pitch your work to editors/agents
  • Learn about alternate paths to publishing
  • Discover innovative marketing techniques
  • Meet fans
  • Meet other authors
  • Meet librarians
  • Meet influencers in the writing community
  • Get feedback on your work if manuscript critiques are offered
  • Enter a writing contest sponsored by the conference organizers
  • Get a new headshot if a photographer will be on-site taking appointments
  • Participate in an audio or video segment if available
  • Present a workshop or participate on a panel

You don’t want to be stuck in classrooms all day. Most of the benefit at a conference comes from the people you meet. Editors and agents aside, meeting other authors should be one of your prime goals. You can learn so much from each other. Industry personnel, such as bloggers, booksellers and reviewers can be another target to approach. And if it’s a fan conference, by all means target your readers. Chat up everyone you meet in line waiting for meals, sitting next to you in a classroom or at the lunch table. This is not the time to be shy. Choose a table for breakfast or lunch with strangers so you can meet new people. Be gracious, professional, and interested in others. And don’t forget to exchange business cards. Always ask permission before adding anyone to your mailing list.

Some conferences have a hospitality room where you can hang out, drink coffee, and meet other attendees. Frequent this place and come prepared with bookmarks, postcards and swag. Present a friendly face and start a conversation, not so much about your books but perhaps about the conference city, your favorite subgenre, or what you’ve learned so far.

Don’t know what to say? How about, “Is this your first time at XYZ Conference?” Or, “What do you write?” Here’s another: “What sessions have you attended? Did you learn anything new?” And if you’re talking to fans, “What do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?” And remember, writers are readers, too.

So get out there and schmooze. You’ll make new friends, meet readers, and gain lifelong fans. You’ll get the scoop on the publishing biz and learn new techniques to promote your work. Be eager to learn. Be open to new relationships. Be yourself and relax, and you’ll have a great time.

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My favorite mystery writers conference is SleuthFest. Register now at http://sleuthfest.com/

GIVEAWAY 

Kitchen Gift Box Giveaway Nov. 18 – Dec. 4 

prize

Enter Now to win a Kitchen Gift Box including a signed copy of A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK, novelty kitchen utensils, pumpkin pie recipe dishtowel, Hawaiian apron, sparkly sponge, fall harvest pasta.