Daily Writing Goals

Questions often asked of writers include: What is your writing process? Do you set yourself daily writing goals? Do you plot the book in advance?

For me, I’m a plotter, not a pantser. I write a synopsis ahead of time. The storyline may change as I write the book, but it acts as a roadmap along the way. Once I get started writing and get past the first few pages or beginning chapters, I’ll set a deadline for completion. Then I put myself on a writing schedule of five pages a day. I don’t stop to polish my work or perfect my sentences. It’s important for me to get the story down on paper and then I can go back and revise.

If you want to finish a manuscript, it helps to set daily goals. When you sell to a traditional publisher, you’ll have definitive deadlines for the next book. Small press publishers may require a submission date as well if they offer multibook deals.

I’d started out working for Dorchester and did two books a year for them, meaning I had to complete a book within six months. Strict self-discipline is the only way to get this done. When I wrote for Kensington, they only wanted one book a year. That was easier because it gave me time to plan an extended launch campaign.

Now that I’m indie publishing my work, I set my own deadlines. My writing happens early in the morning before normal office hours. Then I have the rest of the day free for excursions or to work on marketing or other book projects.

When I’m in the revision stage, I also set goals. For a 300-page manuscript, this would be 10 pages a day to get done in a month. And that’s only for the first round of line editing.

Besides the creative goals, I also set business goals. This year, I am bundling my mysteries into box sets. Last year, the goal was to complete reissuing my backlist titles. Next, I’d like to do more audiobooks and perhaps revise some old manuscripts sitting in my drawers. This is in addition to writing book #18 in my series.

Keep in mind that my method might not work for you. Whichever way you can finish a book, go for it. But if you’re floundering and can’t seem to get past the first few chapters, set yourself some achievable goals.

Daily Writing Goals #amwriting #writingcommunity Click To Tweet

PODCAST

Interested in hearing what inspired me to write Easter Hair Hunt? Listen to the Tart Words Podcast.

 GIVEAWAY

Enter Now to win a free cozy mystery from Booklover’s Bench in our monthly book giveaway.

Southern Hill Farms

A visit to Southern Hill Farms requires good tires as you have to drive several miles over a bumpy dirt road to get there. It seems like you’re driving in the boonies and heaven forbid you get a flat tire. But other cars are also rumbling along toward this popular location.

If it’s your first visit, you’ll be surprised by the crowd. There’s lots to do beside picking strawberries, blueberries or sunflowers. We saw these peach trees near the entrance.

But the fields of crops are only one of the attractions. You can see this big covered space where they hold farmer’s markets or other festivities on different occasions.

  

There’s a gift shop, food trucks, homemade strawberry donuts for sale, and a kids’ playground. A live band was playing while we were there.

If you’re in the area, watch their website for special events. I know next time I come, I want to try the peach cobbler.

A Trio of Florida Parks

Recently we visited a trio of parks all within walking distance of each other in Maitland, Florida. Our excursion began at Minnehaha Park. This seven and a half acre facility overlooks a lake with a scenic boardwalk through a wetland forest. A playground, exercise stations and picnic tables dot the open landscape. Restrooms are available.

 

A side path takes you to a tunnel that dives under the road and crosses to Covered Bridge Park. Here is the tunnel view from the Minnehaha side.

   

Here is the view from the Covered Bridge side looking back at the other park. This park doesn’t have much except a walking path in a viewable loop and the bridge. But if you cross this bridge, you come to the Jim Houser Azalea Garden.

This oasis offers bushes in full bloom during season, which unfortunately we’d just missed. Still, the winding path made from recycled tires was pleasantly relaxing.

We’d also visited Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs on another excursion. This offers a nature walk through forested land, also with picnic pavilions, a playground and restrooms.

Book Box Sets – What’s Old is New Again

I am excited to announce the launch of the Bad Hair Day mystery series box sets. Volume One will be released on May 1, 2021. Meet Marla Shore, a Florida hairstylist and salon owner with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. In her debut case, the brazen beautician unravels a shocking murder that’s making waves all over Palm Haven, a small southern town where almost everyone has something to hide.

The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume One

The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume One: Books 1-3
Copyright © 2021 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published by Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN: 978-1-952886-16-4
Cover Design by The Killion Group, Inc.
Digital Layout by www.formatting4u.com

PERMED TO DEATH – Book 1

Sassy salon owner Marla Shore is giving grumpy Mrs. Kravitz a perm when her client dies in the shampoo chair. If that isn’t enough to give her a bad hair day, handsome Detective Vail suspects Marla of poisoning the woman’s coffee creamer. Figuring she’d better expose the real killer before the next victim frizzes out, Marla sets on the trail of a wave of wacky suspects. Her theory regarding whodunit gels only after she looks for the culprit closer to home.

HAIR RAISER – Book 2

When South Florida hairstylist Marla Shore takes charge of a fundraiser for a coastal preservation society, she has to comb through a knot of suspects to determine who’s sabotaging their gala event. Participating chefs are dropping off the roster like hot rollers, and it’s only through a series of hair-raising exploits that she can tease the truth from a tangle of suspects. Too late to stop a murder, Marla must salvage the grand affair before she’s moussed into oblivion.

MURDER BY MANICURE – Book 3

Hairstylist Marla Shore joins a fitness club to get in shape but discovers a dead body instead of an exercise routine. Jolene Myers—a client at Marla’s salon—has drowned beneath the frothing waters of the whirlpool. When Homicide Detective Dalton Vail determines Jolene’s death was no accident, Marla decides to give her deductive skills a workout and help solve the case.

If you enjoy murder and mayhem with a touch of humor and romance, you’ll love the Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. Pre-order your boxed set today!

Amazon
Apple
BN Nook
Kobo

Pre-Order the Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set One now! #amreading #mysteryseries Click To Tweet

Cranes Roost Park

Cranes Roost Park

This past weekend, we went for a stroll around the lake at Cranes Roost Park located in Altamonte Springs, FL. This one-mile paved walkway is shaded by large trees while the boardwalks are mostly in the sun. Numerous benches provide seating to people watch or gaze at the lake. This 45-acre park also has an amphitheater and a plaza with a water fountain.

Cranes Roost Park     

We spotted turtles, ducks and birds as we meandered along. The azaleas were in bloom, adding bright splashes of color against the green landscape.

   

At Café Murano, we picked up a fresh baked pizza to go for lunch. It had a thin crispy crust just as we like it with garlic and mushrooms for our custom toppings. Inside, a live band played for Sunday brunch. This restaurant is definitely worth a repeat visit.

        

Cranes Roost Park #AltamonteSprings #Florida Click To Tweet

Did you miss my guest posts? If so, check these out:

“Writing about Real Places”
Guest Post on Cozy Florida

Author Interview with Nancy J. Cohen
Guest post at Eat my News 

“How to Make an Audiobook”
Guest post at Hallard Press Gazette 

“True Life Experiences in Fiction”
Booklover’s Bench

GIVEAWAY

Enter Now to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench in our monthly giveaway 

Booklovers Bench monthly book giveaway

Harry P. Leu Gardens Revisited

Harry P. Leu Gardens is one of my favorite spots for a nature walk in the Orlando area. Located at 1920 North Forest Avenue in Orlando, FL, this botanical oasis offers a delightful stroll through its fifty acres as well as a historical home. It’s the site for many weddings and was the model for Orchid Isle in my mystery novel, Shear Murder.

   

My favorite section is the Tropical Stream Garden with shady paths and tropical plants like in a rainforest. The sounds of a trickling brook follow you as you continue along toward Lake Rowena for scenic water views. Across the way in the photo below and on the left is the Orlando Science Center, a trip for another day.

     

As we continued along, we admired the flowering azaleas, camellias and other colorful blooms. The temperature was comfortable in the low seventies with sunny skies. We peered at the rose garden with a fountain at its center and bypassed the vegetable, herb and butterfly gardens that we’d seen on previous visits.

 

The Dinosaur Invasion exhibit was in force as were many children squealing with joy over the life-sized displays. The creatures are scattered around the park and look natural in their habitats.

The only thing missing from this park is a café. They have a gift shop with interesting garden-themed items but nowhere to buy a cool drink and a snack or to sit outside and view the gardens while eating lunch.

For more photos, visit my earlier post on Harry P. Leu Gardens.

Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando #Florida #parks Click To Tweet

GIVEAWAY

Enter Now to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench in our monthly giveaway

Did you miss my article on “How to Make an Audiobook” over at Hallard Press Gazette? Check it out herehttps://hallardpress.com/how-to-make-an-audiobook/

 

Lake Lily Farmer’s Market

Visit the farmer’s market held on Sundays from 9am to 2pm in Maitland around Lake Lily. This delightful five-acre park, located at 701 Lake Lily Dr in Maitland, FL, has a trail around the lake, a short boardwalk, abundant wildlife, a playground and gazebo, plus a historical house that you can tour.

             

After our stroll around the lake, we examined the booths with wares on display. I bought an almond croissant at a bakery stand and these vegetables at a great price by the produce booth.

I wrote about the Waterhouse Museum on a previous blog. Built in 1884 for carpenter William H. Waterhouse, the Waterhouse Residence Museum at 820 Lake Lily Drive in Maitland, FL is available to the public for a peek into the late Victorian era. It’s a fascinating place to tour.

Visit Lake Lily Farmer's Market in Maitland FL #florida #parks Click To Tweet

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench in our monthly giveaway! 

Comfort Food

Home cooking can get tiresome under forced isolation, but not with easy-to-make comfort foods. I’ve been rummaging in the kitchen of our new house trying to find where I’ve put things while preparing meals. Maybe you can find inspiration in some of these dishes that have been on our dinner table in the past week.

We had the kids over for brunch last weekend. I made this Zucchini Biscuit Bake with the recipe from my cookbook, although I added fresh mushrooms this time. I’d also served a Costco quiche, plus thin bagels with cream cheese. Dessert was peach cobbler.

Zucchini Biscuit Bake  Peach Cobbler

Because we’d cut up too many zucchini and onions, I put some aside and made this stir-fry dish for dinner. Sliced hot dogs became the go-to protein addition.

Zucchini Stir Fry

Once those leftovers were gone, the next order was to use the multitude of strawberries we picked before they spoiled. So I made my first strawberry bread using a recipe I found on Pinterest.

Strawberry Bread

Next dinner I made these Swedish meatballs with white rice for dinner, accompanied by a premade salad. If there’s any gravy left, I freeze it to use in Shepherd’s Pie. I’ll share this recipe with you.

Swedish Meatballs

 

Swedish Meatballs

Ingredients

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 egg, beaten
tsp. garlic powder
1 cup finely chopped onions, divided
cup dry bread crumbs
12 oz. bottle chili sauce
18 oz. jar grape jelly
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine

Directions

Make meatballs: Mix ground beef with beaten egg, garlic powder, ½ cup chopped onions, and bread crumbs. Form into small balls. Set aside. (Or use frozen turkey meatballs instead of making them from scratch).

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, blend together chili sauce, grape jelly, and tomato sauce until jelly is melted. Toss in remaining onions and add wine. When mixture is bubbly, add meatballs to pot. Stir gently to coat with sauce.

Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Periodically lift lid, being careful of steam, and stir. Cook for 1 hour on low heat (or ½ hour if using frozen meatballs). Serve over cooked rice as an entrée or by itself as a party appetizer.

These recipes and more can be found in A Bad Hair Day Cookbook – Order Your Copy Now

What have you made in the kitchen lately? And no, “a mess” isn’t the right answer.

 

 

Bekemeyer Family Farm

Bekemeyer Family Farm is a hydroponic farm located in Winter Garden, FL off Colonial Drive near 429. In season, you can fill a white bucket with ripe strawberries as you trundle down aisles lined by plants reminiscent of The Land pavilion at EPCOT. You don’t have to bend as low as naturally grown strawberry patches, which is helpful. We could also pick oranges, but I’d given away our juicer so we passed on that opportunity. In a few more months, they’ll offer peaches.

Inside their small store, you can purchase honey and jams and a limited selected of homegrown vegetables. I bought bunches of dill that I needed for upcoming meals. They had small tomatoes, radishes and different kinds of greens including kale.

     

Our grandson had a good time enjoying the fresh air and picking the ripe berries. He had both sets of grandparents present to cheer him on and enjoy his company.

From there we went to the Winter Garden Farmers Market. It gets crowded on Saturday mornings. We strolled around in the sunshine, enjoying the sights like this cat in sunglasses and the multitude of booths.

We took a brief stroll down the main street of the historic district. Then it was back home to attend the Zoom meeting for Florida Chapter of MWA and make my vegetable bean soup.

For more details on Bekemeyer Family Farm, visit https://www.facebook.com/BFFWG

Explore Bekemeyer Family Farm in Winter Garden, FL with author Nancy J. Cohen Click To Tweet

GIVEAWAY

Last Day! Enter Now to win a signed paperback and a promo packet for each of 3 winners from Nancy J. Cohen. Open to U.S. Residents only. https://nancyjcohen.com/contest/