The Edgar® Awards

I had the privilege of attending the Edgar® Awards for my first time. Arriving in NY, I checked into the Hyatt Grand Central where the week’s events would take place. That night was the Agents and Editors Party sponsored by Mystery Writers of America. Here I greeted Neil S. Nyren from Putnam and told him how excited we were that he’s our Publisher Guest of Honor at SleuthFest 2016. Besides myself, other members of the Florida chapter were present, including
Grand Master Lois Duncan, plus members Dianna Collier and Oline Cogdill. Also familiar were fellow Board of Directors members from national MWA. I went around and introduced myself to total strangers, most impressed by the guy who claimed he wrote the Richard Castle books. The Mary Higgins Clark Award was presented this evening.

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The next night was formal dress. First there was a special reception for award nominees. It was exciting to congratulate each one and wish them luck. They were honored and excited to be there. We filtered into the ballroom, and I took a seat with other board members up front. We could see the Edgar® head statues, the closest I’ll ever get to one. And I stared in awe along with everyone else as Stephen King took the podium. He won for Best Novel and told us how his book Mr. Mercedes came about. Sara Paretsky, President of MWA, was elegant and dignified in a long gown. She addressed the crowd, and most of the award presenters had a piece to say as well. The meal was delicious: wild mushroom bisque en croute; seared filet mignon with mushrooms and scalloped potatoes; and a chocolate tart for dessert.

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As I exited the ballroom, I noticed hordes of people gathering around several tables in the foyer. These appeared to be stacked with books that folks were grabbing. Lo and behold, books by the nominees were available free for the taking! I came away with an armful. Fun for me is trying the YA books, but I selected a few others as well. As cozies are more my thing, I looked forward to Malice and finding some new authors there.

See all my photos here (and Like the page while there): https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Contest Alert!

Enter my May Madness contest May 7– 21 to win a signed copy of bestselling author Joanna Campbell Slan’s historical mystery, Death of a Dowager, and a $15 FANDANGO gift card to enjoy a movie this summer. Two runners-up will each win an ebook copy of Hair Raiser (Bad Hair Day Mystery #2). https://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

Enter May 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench http://bookloversbench.com/contest/ Check out our other features, including a weekly giveaway, while you’re there.

Coming Next: New York City, Malice Domestic, Washington D.C.

 

SleuthFest Day 3

Lunch on Friday followed the agents and editors panels. There I am seated between James W. Hall and Randy Rawls. As Chapter President, I went up to the podium and gave a warm welcome to the crowd. I thanked our conference chairs, Vicki Landis and Joanne Sinchuk, for their superb job in making the conference a success.

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Then we gave out two awards. The first one was presented by Diane Stuckart, aka Ali Brandon. She chaired our Freddie Awards for Writing Excellence Competition and was happy to announce the winners:

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In the Hardboiled Category, Dana J. Summers won for Drawn and Buried
In the Traditional Category, Penelope Thomas won for The Airfield.

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Next I was happy to present our esteemed chapter service award, the Flamingo Award, to Sharon Potts, who is well deserving of the honor.

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Guest of Honor James W. Hall addressed us next with his valuable writing advice.

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“Show, don’t tell. Be as concrete and specific as you can. Observe this pyramid,” he said.

Life
Nutrition
Food
Fruit
Banana

What do you imagine from these words? People who want to write something important start at the top of the ladder. But what creates beauty and helps us experience the story is the banana. Tangible items create emotions. The nutrition takes care of itself if you have a good banana.

Avoid bathtub scenes. Don’t open your story with somebody in the bathtub thinking. We all want to be alone to mull things over. But to get involved, you must climb out of the tub and go out into the world. “No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.” You must be passionate and moved about your own story if you want to engage the reader. Write from your heart and your emotional center.

While you are working, turn off the Internet.

Quit if you can. If you can’t, it solves a lot of issues.

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That afternoon, I gave my talk on “Blogging, Posting, and Tweeting Your Way to Success.” Then I was busy schmoozing until Ric Gillespie’s fascinating talk on “The Hunt for Amelia Earhart.” From his presentation, it sounds as though he’s found her site but further research is needed for confirmation. There’s Ric with Britin Haller.

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I bought my raffle tickets from the boa team. Below are Mary Lou Benvenuto and Rick Wymer on the left, and Stephanie Levine and Gregg Brickman on the right.

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Heather Graham’s party kicked off the evening. She sang and entertained the crowd along with an accompanying band. Don Bruns is playing the guitar and people are actually dancing!

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Photos in my Sleuthfest 2015 album can be viewed on my Facebook page. Please Like the page while you are there: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Contest! Enter March 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free books by Booklover’s Bench authors.
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Mystery Writers of America

Our festivities for the Mystery Writers of America national board meeting began at a signing event on Friday night at Mysterious Bookshop. Here we chatted with other authors, fellow board members, and fans while sipping wine. A good time was had by all.

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Dinner followed at Sammy’s Noodle Shop. It was great to meet each other in person this way.

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Following was an all-day session on Saturday where we got down to the serious business of the organization. I scribbled down many great ideas to try at the chapter level, as I was there in my capacity as president of the Florida chapter.

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Then we had a lovely dinner at Bobby Van’s before it was time to say fond farewells.

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As temperatures had dipped into the teens on Saturday morning and Sunday arrived with dreary rain, I was glad to board the plane for sunny Florida.

SaraNan

For more photos, visit my Facebook Page to view the album.

SleuthFest 2015 Crime Lab

News From SleuthFest 2015
February 26 – March 1, 2015, Deerfield Beach, FL
James Patterson, Dave Barry, James W. Hall, & Ric Gillespie
www.sleuthfest.com


Lab Lock Up

Lab & Lock Up Tour Special Pre-Conference Event
Wednesday February 25, 2015
Palm Beach County Detention Center & Crime Lab

Full tour and transportation $45
Sign up Now! Limit 25 People

***An insider’s look at a 2,156 bed high-security correctional facility housing high-risk, federal, & special medical/mental inmates.
***Then visit the Crime Lab, including the Forensic Toxicology, Chemistry, & Biology (DNA) Units, the Firearms & Forensic ID Units (Latent Prints), and the Evidence & Crime Scene support units.
***A chartered bus will take a group of 25 people from the DoubleTree by Hilton in Deerfield Beach
at 1 pm on Wednesday February 25, to the Palm Beach County Detention Center & Crime Lab in West Palm Beach, and return to the DoubleTree by 6 pm.

Available only to registered and paid SleuthFest attendees.
Sign up NOW!
At SleuthFestInfo@yahoo.com

Space is limited to 25 people only.
Email us at SleuthFestinfo@yahoo.com by November 15 to put your name in the hat.
Lucky participants will be notified by November 30.

Not registered for SleuthFest yet? Go to www.SleuthFest.com

And if you haven’t made your hotel reservations yet, you’d better get moving!
The DoubleTree is filling up fast, and we are already making arrangements for an overflow hotel.

 

Key West Mystery Conference

View the Photos Here: http://bit.ly/1lzhqPt

Last weekend was the inaugural Mystery Writers Key West Fest. The festivities began at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon off infamous Duval Street in downtown Key West. We sat outside while the mayor and a police official greeted us. People came from all over the country to attend this debut event that was organized by Michael Haskins and Shirrel Rhoades. Multiple representatives from Mystery Writers of America Florida Chapter attended. We listened to our musical members play on stage. Authors Heather Graham and Don Bruns took turns entertaining the crowd that included tourists and regulars, as well as our gang of writers.

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My husband and I ate dinner at the Smokin’ Tuna. As seven o’clock rolled around, we skipped the subsequent bar hop in favor of an early night. Others went along on a pub crawl to the Hog’s Breath Saloon, Fairvilla Megastore, Pat Croce’s Rum Barrel and the Schooner Wharf Bar. Regretfully missing this event, my husband and I caught the hotel shuttle back to the Doubletree Grand Key Resort. I took some souvenirs home, however: itchy no-see-um bites on my ankles. Remember to wear your bug spray in the evenings.

Early in the morning, I handed over my books to the conference bookseller and put out my bookmarks and pamphlets on the promo table. Then I joined my fellow panelists at 8:30 am for a talk on “Women in Mystery”. Our panel consisted of Sandra Balzo, Nancy J. Cohen, Miriam Auerbach, Carla Norton and Heather Graham. Moderator was Jeremiah Healy.

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The next panel was on the “Importance of Getting Locale Right” with Jonathan Woods, Hal Howland, Robert Coburn, Michael Haskins and moderated by Sandra Balzo.

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A buffet lunch featuring prime ribs followed with guest speaker William E. Butterworth IV (W.E.B. Griffin) on writing: “Each time you build a cabinet, it gets better. We’re cabinet builders. The first time, it’s a little crooked. Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing.”

Interruptions and the anticipation of interruptions can lead to writer’s block. Every day, you have to sit down and write until you get enough done.

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Does it get any easier? “No, it’s extremely difficult. You have to be focused, and you never stop working.”

After lunch, we listened to “Writing the Series” with Don Bruns, Mike Dennis, Heather Graham, Jeremiah Healy and moderated by Carla Norton.

This was followed by a panel on ePublishing with Neil S. Plakcy, Shirrel Rhoades, Wayne Gales, Sheri Lohr and moderated by Mark Howel.

Neil said about piracy: “If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.” In other words, it’s your info that is being collected when you illegally download pirated books.

Coming Next: Crime in the Keys

*Last Day to enter our Contest at Booklover’s Bench and win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or 1/6 free books by our authors. Enter here: http://bookloversbench.com/contest

 

Malice Domestic 2014

What is Malice Domestic? As it says on the Website, Malice is an annual fan conference that focuses on the traditional mystery or “books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie.”

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Although I’ve been attending Malice Domestic for a number of years off and on, this was the first time I participated in Malice-Go-Round. What a fabulous event! On Friday morning, 200 people filed into a room with 20 tables. At each table sat 2 authors and 8 readers. As an author, I had about two minutes to give a pitch about my book and then the other author at my table took a turn. I was lucky to pair with Linda Joffe Hull who writes the Mrs. Frugalicious mystery series. We hopped from table to table repeating the same spiel twenty times. I lost my voice by the end but was exhilarated by meeting so many mystery fans. This event was worth the price of registration alone. If you get in, bring enough promo items for all the tables.

Nancy J. Cohen and Linda Hull  Malice Go Round

Friday night was a dessert party. This gave me another way to connect with old friends and make new ones. I chatted with Marilyn Levinson, author of Murder A La Christie, waved hello to Toni Kelner, and caught up on news with Carol Nelson Douglas, who writes the popular Midnight Louie cat mystery series among others. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Barbara Graham, a quilting enthusiast who combines her talent with writing mysteries.

Carole Nelson Douglas and Nancy J. Cohen   Maggie Toussaint, Nancy J. Cohen, Barbara Graham and Polly Iyer

Saturday morning, I attended the Sisters in Crime Breakfast. About 160 members attended from 50 chapters nationwide. The Guppies (Great Unpublished) wore colorful boas. Besides this program, SinC offers a monitoring project, quarterly newsletter, grants for chapter events, subsidies for members to attend Writers Police Academy, writing courses, educational seminars and an annual Publisher’s Summit.

Sisters in Crime President   Sisters in Crime Breakfast

Hank Phillippi Ryan spoke about the Writes of Passage collection of essays, and each member received a copy.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Later that morning began the panels. I attended one on Book-Themed Mysteries, ate the box lunch available at the lobby bar, checked out the Dealer’s Room and laid out my promo materials in the Hospitality Room at the end of the corridor. That afternoon, I spoke on a panel about social issues in mysteries. Fellow panelists were John Clement, Judy Hogan, and Linda O. Johnston with Debra H. Goldstein as moderator.

Panel on Social Issues at Malice Domestic  Nancy J. Cohen

At five o’clock, the afternoon speakers gathered at the Mezzanine level for a mass book signing.

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Later that evening, Maggie Toussaint, Barbara Graham, and I headed to the famous Agatha Banquet where the awards were presented. Everyone looked their best.

Agatha Awards  Maggie Toussaint and Barbara Graham

Sunday morning had more panels. I enjoyed the talk on Paranormal Mysteries with authors Carolyn Hart (“Death at the Door”), Molly MacRae (“Spinning in her Grave), TJ O’Connor (“Dying to Know”), and Maggie Toussaint (“Gone and Done It”) and moderated by Aimee Hix.

Paranormal Mysteries   Maggie Toussaint

They discussed the rules and limitations of their paranormal element and why they write about it.

Why are these stories so popular? They offer an escape from reality to readers who want to experience something new. Readers can enter someone else’s imaginary world that’s fun, exotic, and touches upon the unknown. As mystery fans, we want to solve a puzzle, and what greater puzzle is there than “What’s on the other side?”

Do ghost stories and detective tales go together? “Death is a mystery,” Molly replied. Maggie Toussaint, a Five Star author and member of Booklovers Bench, agreed. “These stories engage your senses and your mind.”

See Photos here: http://bit.ly/1jX7QVy

Coming Next: Our Trip to Maryland and D.C. and the beautiful flowers of Brookside Gardens

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Are you following my Blog Tour and entering my Contests?  Please click on these links for my guest posts, interviews, and chances to win some free books plus a Hanging By A Hair tee-shirt!

 

SleuthFest 2014

February 27 – March 2, 2014 Wyndham Grand Orlando, Bonnet Creek Orlando, FL

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO SLEUTHFEST 2014?  

New York Times bestselling authors, Edgar Award winners, and many of the top mystery and suspense writers in the country! In addition to our amazing keynote speakers—Laura Lippman, Ace Atkins, and Hank Phillippi Ryan—here are just a few of the talented authors who will be joining us on panels on Friday and Saturday, February 28 and March 1:

Wendy Corsi Staub, Jennifer McMahon, Lisa Unger, Alison Gaylin, Michael Sears, Susan Elia MacNeal, Chris Grabenstein, and Heather Graham.

(For a complete list of attendees, please visit the SleuthFest Attendees page.) 

And you won’t want to miss our ‘Third Degree Thursday’ workshops on February 27!

Craft workshops will be taught by fabulous author/instructors Elaine Viets, Nancy J. Cohen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Greg Herren, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Wallace Stroby, Kristy Montee (PJ Parrish), and Joanna Campbell Slan. We will also have special workshops led by author/professors Neil Plakcy and Christine Kling on creating a successful eBook program and on Scrivener, a powerful writing software tool. Click to see the Thursday workshop schedule.

But SleuthFest isn’t only about the craft of writing!

This year we’ll be ‘Thinking Outside the Book’ with some of the most respected publishers, literary agents, and industry professionals in the business.  Meet with and pitch your book to editors and publishers from St. Martin’s, Putnam, Berkley Books, and Five Star Mysteries, and literary agents from The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, McIntosh & Otis, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, and Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. Click to read more information about the publishers, editors and agents attending. Also joining us will be representatives of Kobo, Autography, Bookigee, and WriterCube, to talk about changes and opportunities in the world of publishing.

Register today to reserve your place at one of the most exciting writers conferences in the country! 

Rates for the 3-day conference are only: 

  • $285 for MWA members, $305 for non-members—includes luncheons, cocktail party, Sunday breakfast
  • $85 for Third Degree Thursday, a full day of workshops
  • Rates go up after January 15, 2014 

See you at SleuthFest!

 www.sleuthfest.com

Character Names

clip_image002How does a writer devise a name for a character? First, we can’t choose a name similar to the other main characters or you’ll run into people named Maria, Marilyn, and Merle. It gets confusing for the reader. So that eliminates certain sounds and letters. The character’s ethnic heritage or her role in the story may influence your choice. For example, I can’t proceed with plotting my next romance without obtaining a name for my heroine, but so far, nothing has struck my fancy. The story is based on Norse mythology so that gives me a place to start. I looked in The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon, an excellent resource that lists names by nationality and gives their meanings. Then I drew up a list of Norwegian female names that caught my interest. I narrowed these down to selections with a certain sound I wanted.

To visualize my characters, I cut out pix from magazines like TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. So here is my heroine. She’s the perfect counterpart to my serious, brooding hero, Lord Magnor.

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My female name choices:

Dagny (joy of the Danes)

Kelci (from the ship’s island) Kelsey

Mildri (mild and lovely)

Randi (lovely, goddess) Ragnfrid, Ragni

Brief character sketch: Heroine sculpts mythical figures of trolls and fairies out of natural materials and sells them online. Owns a pottery studio, wants to open a gift shop, and maybe teach children arts and crafts.

Other Women in the series: Nira, Jennifer, Lianne, Algie

Men: Zohar, Paz, Magnor, Dal, Kaj, Yaron

If I name her Dagny, I can’t call her Dag for short because one of the established heroes is Dal. So I have to keep in mind these other people when I choose her name. Mildri is cute but maybe too mild for her. Kelsey is too ordinary, although Kelci is a different spelling that might work. Ragni? Call her Rage for short? Hey, that might do. She looks kinda angry at the world, doesn’t she? I can’t nickname her Rag with a soft “g” because it would sound too much like Kaj.

What do you think? Who does she look like to you? Any other suggestions? What means do you, the writer, use to determine your character names?

Author Interviews

I’m interviewed at several new sites this week  if you’d like to check them out:

Coffee Time Romance: http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/Interviews/NancyCohen.html

Kate Hill’s Blog:  http://kate-hill.com/blog/?p=528

Vampire Books:  http://www.vampirebooks.ca/authorinterviews/nancycohen.html

Roses of Prose: http://bit.ly/9AQNzl

And every other Wednesday, I post at Kill Zone Authors.  My blog topic this week is Technology and You:  http://bit.ly/budtaX

Also, I’d like to remind you to sign up for my quarterly  email newsletter to receive breaking news about book sales, contest bonus awards, and more.  Go to https://nancyjcohen.com and fill out the opt-in form in the sidebar.

Florida Library Association

I was happy to participate in a panel discussion at the Florida Library Association Convention in Orlando recently. The evening before, local MWA members met for dinner at Hot Olives in Winter Park. Located on New England Avenue, this trendy restaurant sat us outside on their shady patio amid bamboo, lit torches, and tropical trees. I tried their famous chopped olive appetizer and ordered pecan crusted salmon while chatting with fellow MWAers. We all had a great time in a relaxed atmosphere.  

Grace Kone & Nancy Cohen
Ann Meier & Sharon Potts
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Neil Plakcy, James Born, Julie Compton
Neil Plakcy & Bob Morris
Dean Murphy, Joan Bond, Gerry Wolfson-Grande, Frances Palmingiano
Linda Hengerer & Olive Pollak

Early the following morning, six of us appeared at an MWA sponsored breakfast at the FLA convention. Over 150 librarians ate the sit-down meal while we introduced ourselves and answered questions from the guests. James Born, Neil Plakcy, Julie Compton, Deborah Sharp, Sharon Potts, and Moi then spoke on a panel about Florida mysteries and why we like living and writing about this vast state. We all agreed Florida has such a diverse population, ecology, and climate, not to mention kooky characters, that it’s the perfect setting for our stories.               

Julie Compton, Neil Plakcy, Nancy Cohen, Sharon Potts, James Born, Deborah Sharp
                 
                                                                 
Sharon Potts & Nancy Cohen with Librarian Judy Buckland