Using Myths & Legends to Enhance Your Story

Weaving mythology into your novel can add depth and resonance. How mythology influences story structure is explained fully in The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, a book that I highly recommend. But aside from structure, you can use myths and legends to drive your story or an entire series.

Myths and Legends

In Circle of Light, book one in the Light-Years Series, attorney Sarina Bretton is kidnapped from Earth to become the legendary Great Healer. For eons, tales had been told of a savior, but as nothing occurred, the myth faded. Then the predicted signs started coming true and talk of the legend revived. Signs of the Coming included a Comet, Conquerors, Internal Strife, and a Plague.

It was said the legend would come to pass when the Great Healer married a Raimorrdan who was highly placed and who was born under the sign of the circle. The healing aura could only be activated by the power of love. But can Sarina learn to love Lord Cam’brii, the man she will be obligated to wed? Or does her heart belong to the rakish starship captain who transports her to meet her betrothed? In reflecting our own times, the similarities seem uncanny. We have a pandemic, political strife, and conquerors throughout the world. All we are missing is the Comet. Where is the Great Healer when we need her?

Sarina

Moonlight Rhapsody, the next volume in the Light-Years series, is based on the mythical sirens who lure sailors to their doom. Ilyssa, the heroine, has the power to mindwash men with her singing voice.

The Drift Lords series also relies on myth and magic. These stories derive from Norse mythology complete with runes, descendants of Odin and Thor, magic devices and mystical realms. The legend in this story is that “The six daughters of Odin must join with the six sons of Thor to utter the ancient words.” By chanting this spell, they will repel Loki and shut the rifts between dimensions. First the Drift Lord warriors must find their destined mates, and the women have to be awakened to their powers. We start with their team leader in Warrior Prince, book one in this saga that also includes mythological creatures like this sea monster.

Sea Monster

Using myths and legends works in mysteries, too. In Facials Can Be Fatal, there’s the legend of an infamous pirate that plays into the story. This was loosely based on the pirate Gasparilla who sailed off the Florida coast. Here’s an excerpt:

pirate

“A pirate nicknamed Red Ted, because of his lust for bloodshed, plied the waters off the Florida coast. He died in battle with an American naval warship. But when the troops arrived at his camp near St. Augustine, it was empty. No captives, no loot.”

“Yes, I read about him.” Even to Marla’s own ears, her voice reflected her excitement. “Warren mentioned this guy in his journal. He thought they might have uncovered part of his hoard.”

“Before his last voyage, Red Ted was getting set to retire. He’d loaded his goods onto a mule train and told his second in command to take it to Key West, where he planned to hole up in his later years. Then a sighting came for one more merchant ship that appeared to be unarmed. He couldn’t resist this last kill and set sail. The vessel turned out to be a warship hiding under a merchant flag, and Red Ted shot himself rather than be captured.”

“What happened to his mule train?” Marla asked.

“They were attacked by Indians on the route south. The natives made off with horses and mules and left them with fewer pack animals. They had to lighten their load and so buried some of the chests. They didn’t have much better luck as they headed into swampland and were beset by storms as well as bandits. With dwindling resources, they buried more loads along the way.”

“Hopefully someone kept track of those locations,” Dalton said in a wry tone.

“Only one survivor staggered into Key West. He waited for Red Ted until word came that the pirate king was dead. Ravaged by disease, he tried to sell his map but nobody believed him. He headed north, afraid he’d be identified as a pirate and hanged. That was the last anyone heard about Red Ted’s treasure. But the man had a pouch of uncut emeralds on him that provided him with a cushy lifestyle in the end. In my mind, that indicates the tales of Red Ted were true.”

Weaving mythology into your novel can add depth and resonance. #amwriting #writingtip Click To Tweet

Adding myths and legends to your story makes them fun and interesting beyond the ordinary. You can delve into history or mythology and magic while adjusting the ancient legends for your own needs. It gives an added dimension to your work and resounds within our storytelling minds.

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 A COZY BOOKWORM PARTY

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT – Join myself along with Debra H. Goldstein, Cheryl Hollon, Diane A.S. Stuckart, and Maggie Toussaint as we talk about our books to celebrate Fall and give away some great prizes! Save the Date for A Cozy Bookworm Party and bring your friends! https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty

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Cover Reveal – The Drift Lords Series

I am excited to share these beautiful covers for The Drift Lords Series. I’m reissuing these books previously published by The Wild Rose Press. All three titles have been updated with added bonus materials. Cover Design by The Killion Group, Inc.

Meet the Drift Lords, galactic warriors sent to Earth to seal a dimensional rift opened by an ancient enemy. To defeat the evil beings, they must join forces with a special group of Earth women, whose legendary powers are just awakening. “Star Wars” meets “Lord of the Rings” in this adventurous fantasy paranormal romance series.

Warrior Prince  Warrior Rogue  Warrior Lord

The inspiration for the series came from the Maelstrom ride at Disney’s Epcot theme park. I loved the idea of evil trolls and so I created the Trolleks, invaders from another dimension. It was huge fun to make up the parameters for this multiverse. Each hero has a quest but he can’t complete it without the Earth woman destined to be his mate.

WARRIOR PRINCE
Book One in The Drift Lords Series
Copyright © 2012 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published by Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN: 978-1-952886-13-3
Release Date – November 6, 2020

When mythologist Nira Larsen accepts a job as tour guide for a mysterious stranger, she’s drawn into a nightmare reality where ancient myths come alive and legendary evils seek to destroy her. She must awaken her dormant powers to survive, but the only person who can help is the man whose touch ignites her passion. 

“I’m a huge fan of Nancy Cohen’s Bad Hair Day Mysteries and was thrilled to discover her latest book, a terrific mix of science fiction, mystery, and sizzling romance.” Mary Kennedy, author of the Talk Radio Mysteries 

BUY NOW Pre-Order Sale $.99 (Save $3 off regular price)

WARRIOR ROGUE
Book Two in The Drift Lords Series
Copyright © 2013 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published by Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN: 978-1-952886-14-0
Release Date – November 13, 2020

When fashion designer Jennifer Dyhr loses her lead actor for a video-game commercial, a replacement literally drops from the sky. Reluctant to let him leave, she hires him as a model for her studio. When alien invaders attack their flight home, Jen must awaken powers she didn’t know she had to protect them both. Will she be able to keep her heart safe from the man sent to save her planet?

“Cohen’s futuristic, paranormal romance series blends aspects of science fiction with magic and mythology then tops it off with steamy scenes that are so hot you will need a fan and a mint julep drink to cool off.” Manic Readers

BUY NOW Pre-Order Sale $1.99 (Save $2 off regular price)

WARRIOR LORD
Book Three in The Drift Lords Series
Copyright © 2014 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published by Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN: 978-1-952886-15-7
Release Date – November 20, 2020

Pottery sculptor Erika Sherwood marries a stranger at a Las Vegas casino after they win a game together and agree to split the reward. It isn’t until her life is threatened that Erika realizes the wedding was for real and her husband is an alien.

“Cohen’s third book in her Drift Lords series is an action-packed thrill ride from start to finish. She effortlessly blends fact with Norse mythology and fiction to create a fabulous tale, layered in detail and rich in texture.” Muddy Rose Reviews

BUY NOW Pre-Order Sale $2.99 (Save $1 off regular price)

The Drift Lords Series mixes Norse myths, magic and action-packed adventure in an exciting tapestry of romance. #fantasy #pnr #romance Click To Tweet

PRE-ORDER SALE! Order all three books now and save $6.00 off the regular prices. Available for a limited time only. CLICK HERE and pre-order all three books individually. They’ll be delivered to your email inbox on the release dates.

 

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The Spark of Inspiration

Some writers say they write when the muse strikes them. They might go days without filling a manuscript page and work feverishly when the mood hits. I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration this way. As a professional writer, you have a job, and you must show up for work each day.

The Spark of Inspiration

However, I do believe there’s a certain spark about a story that serves as a creative faucet. It’s what caught your passion in the first place. Or maybe you’re struggling to find this elusive element. That’s where I am with my next Bad Hair Day mystery. Never mind the dozen other distractions demanding attention, such as reissuing my remaining backlist titles. So what’s wrong?

I know what the next Marla Vail story will be about in terms of the murder mystery. But I like to learn something new with each book. That’s what makes the story fun and special for me. In EASTER HAIR HUNT, it was learning about beekeeping, stamp collecting, honey production and Fabergé eggs. In TRIMMED TO DEATH, I researched Florida olive groves and olive oil scams. The range of topics I’ve covered in each of my books varies greatly, but each subject was something that interested me. I haven’t found this spark yet for book #17 in the series.

As an author, you don’t want to repeat yourself. I’ve done the historical angle, especially in FACIALS CAN BE FATAL when I used excerpts from my father’s 1935 travel journal. I should avoid mixing history and mystery for this next one. Science? Maybe, but this might not be a good idea when we’re all so paranoid about viruses. Food? Always an interest of mine, but I’ve already done olives, coffee, honey, and vanilla.

I’ve scanned through the news, hoping some esoteric topic will catch my fancy. Maybe I’m too distracted to really think hard on it. Likely it’ll be 2021 before I can sit down to write this book, because I have too much else to get done before then. However, I could work on the plot once I get involved in the research. Would you call this waiting for the muse? Or is it merely waiting until my mind is clear to focus on this story?

I know the moment will come when the notion hits me. Or I’ll get interested in diverse topics that I will have to fit into the mystery plot. This is similar to putting a puzzle together. I’d write the ideas onto mental index cards and then shuffle them around to see how they can be combined. This is a bit harder than an overall concept but it can be done. Either way, I’ll be excited when inspiration hits. How about you? Do you need that special spark to start your story?

Do you wait for the spark of inspiration to start your story? #amwriting #writingcommunity Click To Tweet

Upcoming Events Fall 2020

Please join me at the following upcoming events:

TONIGHT – Tuesday, Sept. 22, 7:00 – 8:00 pm EDT, Blast from the Past Book Launch Party with Nancy J. Cohen and Maggie Toussaint – Fun & Prizes! Join us on Facebook later tonight.

Blast from the Past

Saturday, Sept. 26, at 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, “Plotting Made Perfect” with Nancy J. Cohen via Zoom for the All Write: Jump Start Your Novel virtual event sponsored by The Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (FMWA), in collaboration with Nova Southeastern University. Free to the public. Register Here – Space is Limited.

Have an idea for a story but don’t know where to go from there? Or are you stuck in the middle of your manuscript? Award-winning author Nancy J. Cohen will discuss the elements of plotting and how to develop your idea into a novel. This workshop will cover character development, plotting techniques, story structure, writing tools, and secrets of the synopsis.

Plotting Workshop

Saturday, Oct. 17 at 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm, “Why You Need an Audiobook and How to Make One” with Nancy J. Cohen, Florida Writers Virtual Conference. Register Here to attend virtual conference for only $57.

October 20, 7:00 pm, Booklover’s Bench Cozy Mystery Party – Details TBA https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty/

 

Starlight Child Reissue

I am excited to announce the reissue of Starlight Child. This science fiction romance is book three in The Light-Year Series. It was previously published by Dorchester. This Author’s Edition has been updated with added bonus materials.

Starlilght Child

STARLIGHT CHILD
Copyright ©1995 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published by Orange Grove Press on Sept. 22, 2020
Digital ISBN: 978-1-952886-08-9
Cover Design by The Killion Group, Inc.

Cultural specialist Mara Hendricks and Commander Deke Sage meet on a mission that takes them across the galaxy and into each other’s arms in this exciting science fiction romance. 

When terrorists from Yanura kidnap her best friend’s infant daughter, cultural specialist Mara Hendricks joins the rescue team. Her psychic ability can aid in tracking the baby’s location. But instead of being impressed by her power, the handsome mission leader is repelled by her unusual gift. Agonizing over his rejection, Mara realizes they’re meant to be together when she reads his aura and sees the ties binding them. Before their mission is complete, she vows to show the virile warrior that their union is written in the stars.

Commander Deke Sage knows the lovely xenobiologist is trouble when he meets her. Not only does she oppose his political views, but she possesses an ability that threatens to steal his sanity. Yet when they’re together, she lifts him to heights of passion he hadn’t known existed. Can he resist her allure long enough to complete his mission?

Praise

“Nancy captures you from the start, takes you on a fantastic ride, and doesn’t release you until she finishes the story. Captivating and wonderful!” Janelle Taylor, Bestselling Author

“The characters and the unusual settings stun the senses. The action is explosive and stimulating; the passion is torrid and sensual. Though the books in this trilogy can stand alone, I recommend you read them all.” Rendezvous

“A futuristic romance both sensual and adventurous, Starlight Child is a captivating story of life and love in the vastness of space.” The Paperback Forum

“The passion between these characters is ‘out of this world.’ If you enjoy a little science fiction, a little fantasy and a lot of romance, this book is a definite read.” The Literary Times

“A rip-roaring adventure through the stars.” RT Book Reviews

Excerpt 

Deke jumped back, abruptly releasing her. “What did you do?” he cried.

 Mara froze, at a loss for words. She had no excuse for her behavior. 

“You tried to read my mind.” 

“No, I can’t read thoughts. I can only sense emotions, even when I’m in someone else’s viewpoint. I… I’m not sure what happened, but you appear to have triggered a separation.” 

He stared at her, horrified. “What do you mean?” 

Agitated, she brushed her hair off her face. “When I was younger, this sort of thing happened all the time. I had difficulty controlling my ability. But never in my adulthood have I experienced anything similar, not even with Pietor.” Her heart sank at the incredulous look on his face. 

“Who in Zor is Pietor?”

 “My former fiancé. His parents didn’t approve of me. Instead of coming to my defense, he agreed with them and… and said hurtful things about my gift.” 

Deke glowered at her. “I can understand why. Gods, does that mean this could happen again?” 

She saw his fear mixed with resentment. He stared at her as if she were some sort of freak.“You’re the only person with whom I’ve ever had a spontaneous separation. This has to be significant. Maybe… maybe we’re meant for each other.” 

“I only meant to take you to bed,” Deke snapped, stepping back as though putting physical distance between them could prevent another occurrence. “Otherwise, there is nothing between us. You’d better leave now.” His gaze frosted. “And take that as an order.” 

Mara stormed out, offended and hurt by his words. Coming on this mission had been a mistake.

Cultural specialist Mara Hendricks and Commander Deke Sage meet on a mission to rescue a kidnapped child in a voyage that takes them across the galaxy and into each other’s arms. STARLIGHT CHILD #sfrom #romance Click To Tweet

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Moonlight Rhapsody Reissue

I am excited to announce the reissue of Moonlight Rhapsody. This science fiction romance is book two in The Light-Year Series. It was previously published by Dorchester. This Author’s Edition has been updated with added bonus materials.

Moonlight Rhapsody

MOONLIGHT RHAPSODY
Copyright ©1994 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published by Orange Grove Press on Sept. 15, 2020
Digital ISBN: 978-1-952886-07-2
Cover Design by The Killion Group, Inc.

Sparks ignite when a diplomat turned spy meets a beautiful slave overseer in this action-packed science fiction romance.

When an ion storm causes Rolf’s spacecraft to crash on the planet Souk, he is captured and thrown into a slave labor camp. A diplomat turned spy, he’s on a secret mission to contact the resistance. But his plans go awry when he catches the eye of the beautiful female overseer who fancies him for her personal attendant.

Ilyssa is excited to meet the new slave. With his piloting skills, he might be able to fly her off the planet. But first she must rescue her parents, who are being held hostage by Pasha Ruel. Ruel uses Ilyssa’s power of siren song to mindwash his enemies. Can she convince the new slave that she’s been forced into her role?

Rolf isn’t sure if he can believe her story, but he accepts Ilyssa’s offer of freedom. Together they flee Ruel’s camp and begin a cross-country trek. Their trip is fraught with perils, including their forbidden passion for each other. Ilyssa’s gift comes with a price, and to follow her heart means to lose her special talent. Can she love a man when it means sacrificing her dreams?

Praise

“Nancy Cohen creates a richly detailed futuristic world sure to stimulate the reader’s imagination.” Award-Winning Author Kathleen Morgan

“Ms. Cohen keeps our excitement at fever pitch as Rolf and Ilyssa fight their way to freedom and love in this thrilling novel of the far future.” RT Book Reviews

“The well-drawn characters put your imagination into overdrive. Add forbidden passion and you have a futuristic adventure that is scintillating and heart-stopping. Ms. Cohen has definitely proven herself a master of this genre.” Rendezvous

“A well-conceived plot, great characters, enough future technology and aliens to satisfy the dedicated science fiction fan, and a sensual romance all come together in a terrific story that will appeal to romance and science fiction readers alike.” The Paperback Forum

Moonlight Rhapsody is an action packed, fast-paced futuristic romance. The lead couple are magnetic together as they cope with planetary-wide problems and their growing love for each other. Nancy Cohen has a visionary gift of writing about the future in a manner that makes it seem like it’s happening today.” Affaire de Coeur

Excerpt 

“Look at me,” Ilyssa commanded. When he’d raised his face, she said in a purposefully loud voice, “I have brought you here to act as my personal server.” 

Surprise sprang into his crystal blue eyes, but he stayed silent as she continued. 

“I’ll expect you to assist me with my meals, keep my chamber clean, maintain my wardrobe, and satisfy any other needs of mine that may arise. Hopefully, in time, you will grow to anticipate my requirements. You’ll sleep in the adjacent parlor. That way, you’ll be close at hand if I want you during the night. Now, shut the door and I’ll show you where I keep everything.” 

The man complied, closing out the buzzing of the Hortha guards stationed outside the door. 

“Pardon, mistress, but I’m not exactly clear on my duties,” he said in a soft tone. “You wish me to maintain your suite and serve your meals, but what else am I to do?” 

“My name is Ilyssa. You may call me that in private.” 

As she rattled off a list of chores, Rolf listened carefully, but it was the unspoken duties that worried him. She’d said she might want him during the night. That meant only one thing as far as he was concerned. She expected him to service her personally. Rolf wondered if he would be able to perform under forced circumstances. 

Studying her physical attributes, he decided it wouldn’t be too difficult. Soft waves of auburn hair cascaded over her shoulders. Tiny wisps framed a face with features so perfect they might have been chiseled from porcelain. Her eyes were a remarkable shade of green flecked with gold. His gaze drew to her lips, perfectly contoured for a man’s kisses. She was lovely, but with the beauty of an ice queen. It didn’t extend to her heart. 

Sparks ignite when a diplomat turned spy meets a beautiful slave overseer in this action-packed science-fiction romance. MOONLIGHT RHAPSODY #fantasy #romance Click To Tweet

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Writer’s Block

Is there such a thing as Writer’s Block? Or is it merely an excuse for poor planning? Because if you’ve properly laid the groundwork for your novel, you should know exactly where the story is headed. Some writers are pantsers and not plotters, and their novel writing experience is a meandering road that will eventually lead to the end. Whichever way you tell a story, the middle might become a muddle where the road ahead is obscured. But this doesn’t have to happen if you retrace your steps and build on whatever is already present.

Writer's Block

In terms of writing the story, I don’t believe Writer’s Block exists. Even when faced with the complexity of writing a novel, we can break it down into baby steps. One hour of writing, one page, one chapter. We keep going until we are done. However, in terms of lost confidence or too many outside distractions, it can definitely be real.

Loss of confidence comes from a variety of sources, such as a bad review, a publisher who rejects your next option book or dumps you altogether, a line that is cancelled along with all its authors. You might feel lost, doubting your talent and questioning which way to go. But if you’re a career writer, you’ll either ignore that nasty review and celebrate the good ones instead, or you’ll pick yourself up and find a new publisher or will decide to try the indie route.

Outside distractions can be another major cause of Writer’s Block. Disastrous world events can become huge roadblocks. Our writing becomes insignificant in the face of these catastrophes. Storytelling seems meaningless, and yet we have to remember that books offer comfort to our readers. It’s our calling to provide escapism and entertainment during troubled times.

Personal events are much more difficult to ignore. Some writers find sitting at the computer to be comforting during personal crises. Others find it impossible to write. That’s okay. We need to allow time to process what has occurred, and hopefully, someday the muse will return.

Speaking of minds, in my fiction writing classes, I advise writers to examine their character’s life space to get to know them. This is what’s in the person’s head at any given moment in time. For example, three items are occupying my mind right now that are blocking my creativity.

Because of Covid 19, I hesitate to start a new project when each day brings the possibility of getting struck down by the virus. I have to avoid the news and shut out the dire prophesies in order to get anything done.

Another big energy drain is our desire to move to be near our kids. We’ve been packing, getting rid of stuff, looking at houses on Zillow every day. After living here for forty years, this isn’t easy for us.

The business of writing is also taking up a large portion of my brain. I am still working on reissuing the remainder of my backlist titles. After these are done, I’d like to bundle them into box sets and run price promotions. These require a learning curve as well as more time and effort to put them into action. In fact, I could focus totally on marketing and never write another book. And what about those standalones buried in my desk drawers? Are they worth publishing?

Physical problems can be inhibiting. People with pain may be unable to focus. Surgeries require time to heal. Along with health concerns come aging issues. How much longer will we be able to keep writing? Is it worth the effort to start a new series? How many more books will we be able to finish in our remaining years, and is that how we want to spend them?

Yet being a writer is who we are. We write stories because it fills our time, satisfies an inner need, expresses our creativity and gives our days purpose. We hang out with other writers and contribute to the writing community.

Does Writer's Block really exist? #amwriting #writetip Click To Tweet

We’ve all been distracted by these problems and somehow we’ve found our way back, often to even greater success.  I suspect the secret is what I’ve told aspiring authors. Focus on the writing first thing each day. Shove aside anything else on your mind and spend an hour on your writing project. Then let the world flood your mind.

What advice do you offer writers struggling with these issues?

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Reach for the Stars Giveaway, Sept. 1 – 14
Enter to win a signed first edition copy of Circle of Light and a polished hematite stone known for its calming influence.

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Circle of Light Reissue

I am excited to announce the reissue of Circle of Light. This science fiction romance is book one in The Light-Year Series. It was previously published by Dorchester. This Author’s Edition has been updated with added bonus materials.

Circle of Light

CIRCLE OF LIGHT
Copyright © 1994 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published by Orange Grove Press on Sept. 8, 2020
Digital ISBN: 978-1-952886-06-5
Cover Design by The Killion Group, Inc.

A Dream Come True 

Circle of Light started as a story dream. I was at work as a clinical nurse specialist in my hospital office when in strode the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen. He was tall with thick black hair and celestial blue eyes. His silvery jumpsuit fit his lean body like an animal skin. The man strode over to me and announced that I was the one he sought. I must accompany him immediately.

My boss had told me to expect a visitor, so I followed the guy to an elevator down the hall. The lift skyrocketed upward, and when we emerged, we were in a spaceship.

That’s when I woke up. I had to finish the story. And so I did. This book went on to become my first published novel and winner of the HOLT Medallion Award.

Circle of Light was great fun to write. Having been an avid Star Trek fan and romance reader, it was a treat to combine the genres of science fiction and romance. The futuristic setting became the backdrop to a passionate love story.

Short Blurb

Attorney Sarina Bretton is kidnapped from Earth by Captain Teir Reylock of the Coalition Defense League. As the legendary Great Healer, Sarina is destined to marry Lord Cam’brii, a stiff politician. But on the way to meet her betrothed, she falls in love with the dashing captain instead. Although Teir returns Sarina’s passion, he must fulfil his duty as her bodyguard to protect her from the Coalition’s enemies and from his own heart.

Praise

“Nancy Cohen sparks your imagination and melts your heart with her wonderful tale of galactic adventure and star-crossed lovers.” Marilyn Campbell, award-winning author of Lovers in Time and The Innerworld Affairs series

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

“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

Circle of Light is a luminescent futuristic romance filled with fabulous characters. The 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 

Excerpt

“By the Gods, Sarina, you’re so beautiful,” he murmured, kissing her again. She was everything he’d expected and more, but he wanted to make their first time together special. He pulled back, regarding her dazed expression. “Let’s find a more comfortable place to continue this.” 

“Wait, I’m not ready,” Sarina protested, uncertain she wanted to go that far. 

“Why not?” His heated gaze raked over her. “We’re both enjoying this, so why stop?”

Sarina might be attracted to Teir, but she was engaged to two other men. The absurdity of her situation made her want to laugh or cry, or both. Robert was waiting for her back home. How could she face him again if she slept with another man? And Rolf would be furious if he found out she’d been unfaithful. She couldn’t allow herself to give in. 

These thoughts took but a moment to flash through her mind. “I can’t. It’s not right. Lord Cam’brii—” 

“Is a chunk of ice. I’m not.” Teir reached out to grasp her, no doubt intending to dissolve her resistance with a kiss, but she stepped out of range. 

“I said it’s not right.” It annoyed her that he was going against the very principles of duty and honor he supported. “I’m sure Rolf wouldn’t take lightly to his bride having an affair with her bodyguard.” 

“To Zor with Cam’brii. All he cares about is politics. You’re just a means to an end as far as he’s concerned. I’ll make you feel more than he ever will.”

Attorney Sarina Bretton is kidnapped from Earth to become the legendary Great Healer & save the galaxy from a devastating plague in CIRCLE OF LIGHT #sciencefiction #romance Click To Tweet

The story continues in Moonlight Rhapsody and Starlight Child. I hope you’ll hop aboard for this “rip-roaring adventure to the stars.”

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Reach for the Stars Giveaway Sept. 1 – 14
Enter to Win a signed first edition copy of Circle of Light and a polished hematite stone known for its calming influence.

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Using Models for Settings

Using Models for Settings

In creating the setting within a setting for your story, it’s helpful if you can model your site after one in existence. Then you can transplant the real place into your larger story and alter the details to suit your novel. Writers may find this easier than making up a site from scratch. It doesn’t work all the time but can be helpful when you find just the right place. Or sometimes, it’s a real place that inspires you to write the story.

This happened to me with EASTER HAIR HUNT, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. The overall setting is Broward County, Florida. But the mystery itself takes place at Tremayne Manor, a historic mansion privately owned but open to the public for special events and guided tours.

I modeled this estate after Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington D.C. I’d been entranced by this former home to heiress Marjorie Post when we visited a number of years ago. We had delighted in having lunch at the café out by the formal gardens, strolling the manicured lanes and touring the historic house with its Russian treasures. I love this place, and so I transformed it into Tremayne Manor for purposes of my story. It helped that I had bought a booklet there describing the house and its contents.

Here’s an excerpt from my story:

Marla had only gotten a quick glimpse of the interior at her arrival. The entry hall at the front had faux stone walls, a crystal chandelier, and a grand staircase leading to the second level. Portraits of famous Russian royalty adorned the walls. Marla had gotten a kick out of it, since her own heritage went back to Russian aristocracy before the Revolution.

Voices rose in laughter from the dining room as Marla followed Lacey through a series of rooms. The guests appeared to be ignoring the turmoil outside. Then again, the action was happening back toward the tree line, so it might not be visible from their window view.

“I wish I’d taken the guided tour of your house,” Marla said as they passed into a room containing built-in, lighted display cases holding fancy porcelain dinnerware.

Lacey halted to regard her with a proud smile. “My husband’s grandmother became interested in Imperial art when she visited Moscow and St. Petersburg. Many of these pieces come from dessert services used by Catherine the Great. They bear the insignia of Russia’s most elite orders. The Queen would give dinners each year to honor the people who’d earned knighthoods.”

“These little cups are cute,” Marla said, examining a set emblazoned with silver stars.

“Those are my favorites. The ice cups were used for sorbets and custards, and I have a fondness for gelato. But come, I must see if this egg is truly from our collection.”

They passed through several rooms that would befit a palace with their ornate furnishings and valuable artifacts. Marla wondered why more security measures weren’t evident. She’d noticed the guard patrolling the interior, and each room had video monitors, but what about motion detectors and infrared lasers like she’d seen in movies?

Lacey headed directly to a tabletop display case in the center of one room. “Oh, my Lord,” she said, staring in disbelief.

“What is it?” Marla peered at a label that said the items in the case were made by Carl Fabergé, the famous jeweler commissioned by Russian royalty to make precious works of art. Three jeweled eggs rested on individual stands inside the glass case.

Uh-oh. One of them didn’t look right.

For SHEAR MURDER, I took one of our favorite places in Orlando named Harry P. Leu Gardens and transplanted it to fictional Orchid Isle as the site for a wedding. We’d strolled the lovely grounds at this fifty-acre botanical park and I used my memory, as well as a site map, to describe the intimate details in the story.

Reaching an intersection, Marla examined the signposts. Even though she had been here last night, she couldn’t remember which way to go. She aimed to find the Bride’s Cottage, where Jill was getting dressed.

Lugging her bag full of supplies, she swiped at her forehead, beaded with sweat. Her lavender gown swished about her ankles as she swatted an insect, cursing the humidity. She’d left behind the other bridal attendants, still primping in a private room across from the banquet hall. They had the benefit of air-conditioning, while she sweltered in the afternoon heat.

An evergreen scent pervaded the moist air, likely from the pine needles used as mulch. Colorful orchids mingled among the tropical foliage along with red crotons, pink pentas, and Chinese fringe flowers. Dense growth peppered the area, broken by a trickling stream. Alongside the path, green liriope acted as ground cover while moss-draped live oaks and laurel fig trees provided shade. Ferns, palms, and bromeliads competed for space.

The wedding would take place in the gazebo by the Rose Garden. Should she go left or right? She couldn’t remember if the wedding site was by the Floral Clock or the House Museum. Listening to birds twittering in the branches, she discerned voices coming closer.

“Chill out, babe. The ceremony hasn’t started yet. And anyway, I’m not the danged wedding photographer. My job is to cover the event in conjunction with the park’s debut, remember?”

“So why are you in such a hurry?” a sharp female voice replied. “It can’t be because you want to see the matron of honor, is it? Her husband is here somewhere. You wouldn’t want him to see you having an intimate tête-à-tête.”

“Get off my case, Hally. Focus on what you do best: observing other people and criticizing them.”

The couple rounded a corner and fell silent when they spotted Marla. Her quick glance detected the man’s scowl and the woman’s taut expression.

In my Drift Lords tale, WARRIOR ROGUE, I used Himeji Castle in Japan as a model for the enemy fortress in the story. I’d never visited, but I got the information I needed from the Internet. This castle fascinated me with its complexity. Short of visiting in person, I scoured online for layouts and details and then set my characters at the fictional Shirajo Manor.

At the top of the stairs, she spotted the manor, rising in the near distance. Multiple towers surrounded it. She assumed that site to be their destination.

Prodded in the back with a painful jolt, she stumbled forward toward another gate. Instead of opening to a path again, this door led inside a building.

“Leave the Drift Lord here.” Their commander indicated the wood plank floor in an empty room. The soldiers dumped him on the ground. “You four stay here and guard him until we get further orders. I’ll take the woman to General Morar.”

“What if she has the same power as the other one of her kind?” Gwarp said. He was the shortest among them with tufts of dark, spiked hair on his head. “We’ve heard rumors, Leytnant Bosk. If they’re true—”

“She would have already killed us. See for yourself.” Bosk squeezed her arm, making her wince in pain. “She’s nothing but a puny female.” The officer leered at her, his whiskers nearly poking her in the face. “Maybe the general will give her to me after he’s done questioning her.”

“Not if his wife has any say. Dr. Morar is likely to want this one for her experiments.”

“Too bad, then there won’t be anything left to enjoy.” Grasping Jen’s arm, Leytnant Bosk dragged her toward a spiral stone stairway. “Come, we have to get through this maug building before we can access the citadel.”

TRIMMED TO DEATH has a fall festival with a bake-off contest at a local farm. This was modeled after Bedner’s Farm in Boynton Beach. We’d explored this farmer’s market as well as the U-pick sites and this became Kinsdale Farms in the story.

The sun beat down on her head as she traipsed from one site to another without spotting her quarry. Francine didn’t seem to be anywhere around the main buildings or vendors’ alley. Marla had even sped through the petting zoo and kiddie area, peeking inside the bounce house.

Maybe Francine had taken refuge in the sparsely populated fields. The crowd tended to congregate near the festival tents. Soon the judges would gather on the makeshift stage to announce the winners from the day’s competitions. Country music from the band was still going strong, but the musicians should be winding down soon.

Wait, what about the open shacks behind the marketplace building? Marla had passed various sheds on her way in from the parking lot. They held empty crates, farm equipment, and a variety of tractors. Francine could be hiding in their vicinity. But when Marla tromped over, she didn’t see any sign of her target.

Had anyone else finished the game? Marla meandered over to the registration desk and asked the lady in charge. Nobody had turned in a finished card, the woman told her with a puzzled frown. Usually they had a winner by now.

A pit of worry gnawed at Marla’s stomach. Where could Francine have gone?

These are only a few examples. As you see, if you need to visualize a place where you will set a scene, it’s a lot easier when you have a real site in mind. Then you can alter the details to suit your story’s needs.

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What are some places you’ve used as models in your books?

GIVEAWAYS

Reach for the Stars Giveaway, Sept. 1 – 14

Enter to win a signed first edition copy of Circle of Light and a polished hematite stone known for its calming influence. https://nancyjcohen.com/contest/

Prize

 

Booklover’s Bench, Sept. 1 – 18

Enter to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench at https://bookloversbench.com/win-a-free-book-september-2020/

 Booklovers Bench

 

News and Announcements

Greetings! I have online events coming up in case you want to participate, awards, giveaways and a recent newsletter to share. Here is a summary:

NEWSLETTER 

Read my latest newsletter for giveaways, book sales, new releases and events. Series should read, The Light-Years Series – http://p0.vresp.com/HpAP5g#vr4smallbiz

GIVEAWAYS

Reach for the Stars Giveaway, Sept. 1 – 14
Enter to win a signed first edition copy of Circle of Light and a polished hematite stone known for its calming influence. https://nancyjcohen.com/contest/

Prize

Booklover’s Bench, Sept. 1 – 18
Enter to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench at https://bookloversbench.com/win-a-free-book-september-2020/

Booklovers Bench

AWARDS

EASTER HAIR HUNT has won the Gold Medal in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. This title is also a Finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards and in the American Fiction Awards. https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/easter-hair-hunt

EHH Awards

A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK won a Gold Medal in the FAPA President’s Book Awards and is a Finalist in the Chanticleer International Book Awards. Get your copy with 160+ quick & easy recipes, plus excerpts and anecdotes from the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. https://amzn.to/2N9fanK

REISSUES

Save $6 off regular prices until Sept. 8th for THE LIGHT-YEARS SERIES – tales of galactic adventure, new technologies and love among the stars. Note – These stories will be available on Kindle Unlimited. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08G8N73QW

If you want to get them individually:

99 CENTS Pre-Order SALE! Attorney Sarina Bretton is kidnapped from Earth to become the legendary Great Healer and save the galaxy from a devastating plague in this adventurous science fiction romance. CIRCLE OF LIGHT https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08G8N73QW

Pre-Order SALE $1.99 for a limited time only! Sparks ignite when a diplomat turned spy meets a beautiful slave overseer in this action-packed science-fiction romance. MOONLIGHT RHAPSODY https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08G8Q6RTY

Pre-Order SALE $2.99 Cultural specialist Mara Hendricks and Commander Deke Sage meet on a mission to rescue a kidnapped child in a voyage that takes them across the galaxy and into each other’s arms. STARLIGHT CHILD https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08G8NKKGL

Pre-Order Sale

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Saturday, Sept. 12, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, “Self-Publishing Made Simple” with Nancy J. Cohen via Zoom for Florida West Coast Writers. Visitors are welcome. No pre-registration required. https://www.fwcwriters.com/september-12-2020-nancy-j-cohen-zoom-meeting/

Saturday, Sept. 26, at 1 p.m., “Plotting Made Perfect” with Nancy J. Cohen via Zoom for the All Write: Jump Start Your Novel virtual event sponsored by The Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (FMWA), in collaboration with Nova Southeastern University. Details TBA.

Saturday, Oct. 17 at 1:00 pm, “Why You Need an Audiobook and How to Make One” with Nancy J. Cohen, Florida Writers Virtual Conference. Register now to attend virtual conference for only $57! https://floridawriters.net/conferences/2020conference/

For more, visit me at https://nancyjcohen.com/appearances/

Aside from managing all the above, I am working diligently to finish proofing through The Drift Lords Series, which will be coming next. These are reissues and were previously published by The Wild Rose Press. I am happy to make all of my prior titles available for you.

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