Posts Tagged ‘Mysteries’

Marketing for authors…and readers

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Marketing means ensuring your own “discoverability.” Or how readers on the internet can find you, can learn about you and your books, and maybe receive some free books or books at sale prices. It provides connection.

There are a number of sites that provide this, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

But there are some others that do this and they could be worth your time to check out.

The first is (@Bublishme on Twitter). The site offers something for both readers and writers. There is an easily navigated author’s page, with the author’s picture, cover, synopsis, blurb(s), excerpt, link to the author’s website, and a buy link. This is great for both writers and readers, as readers can sign up and access the genres they love to read and enjoy new authors and books.

The second is Story Cartel ( This is a new site. Currently there are over 1,900 readers, who get notifications about free books and other cool stuff.  There is an author signup and dashboard. Readers sign up with name & email address. They notify readers when there are new book giveaways, and if  the book sounds interesting, then readers can sign up to review it. After reading and posting a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads or their blog, readers can submit the link to that review(s) and then get entered into raffles for more free stuff (such as gift cards from Amazon or B&N).

The third is BookBlast ( (note: it’s not .com, which is another website) ). It’s a Digital Media Revolutions site. Advertising for authors is free right now, in exchange for sharing their service with readers. When you plan to have a book on sale for less than $3, you can contact them for inclusion in their email blasts to readers. And readers can sign up to receive free and best-selling books at sale prices. Sign-up is easy.

The fourth is Criminal Element, a community website from Macmillan that features content for fans of crime fiction, mysteries, and thrillers, with excerpts, blurbs and blog highlights. Authors like John Connolly, Karen Robards and Joseph Finder have been featured in the past. Categories at Criminal Element are: Detective and police procedurals, traditional mysteries and cozy mysteries, thrillers and noir, historical mysteries and Westerns, and true crime and nonfiction. Readers can sign up to receive current info on their favorite genre and authors, enter book giveaways, and participate in book discussions on the site’s community forum.

The fifth one is Omnimystery Books ( They provide current information about everything about mysteries: books, authors, characters, movies, T.V series, and so on. Their emails contain links to free books on kindle, to books for less than $2.99, and so on. Authors can sign up for promotions, book reviews, guest blogging. and so on.  They also offer contests and author events.

Other sites to check out are First Glance Books,, and Heroes and Heartbreakers.

What’s on your reading list? Are there other sites that you enjoy that I haven’t mentioned here?






Halloween: spooky inspiration for writers

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

First, some background. Halloween comes to us from ancient New Year festivals. The church, in A.D. 800’s, established All Saints’ Day–continuing a festival that was pre-Christian–and the evening before was All Hallow e’en.

Storytelling Traditions have included tales of ghosts, fortunetelling, and jack-o’-lanterns, turning the paranoia of past times into the paranormal of current times.

According to Irish legend, jack-o’-lanterns were named for a miser called Jack who couldn’t enter heaven or hell, and had to roam the earth, carrying a lantern, until Judgment Day. In the past, people in England and Ireland have carved beets, potatoes and turnips as the lanterns, but when the custom reached the U.S., pumpkins became the norm. Inspired by this, Ray Bradbury wrote The Halloween Tree.

Fortunetelling was popular, using coins, cards, and yarrow stalks (I Ching). It also often took the form of hiding objects in a cake: a ring, coin and thimble. The person who “found” the coin would become rich. The one who found the ring would marry soon, but the one who found the thimble would not.

People once believed that ghosts roamed the earth on Halloween, as though a chink in the netherworld opened briefly to let them all come out to play or wreak havoc. They also thought that witches gathered on that night to worship the devil.

All this is great foddor for stories. Many stories have opened with someone telling a story that was related to ghosts. Excellent examples are Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier, or The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill.

Fortunetelling has been used in novels as well, such as A Wild Ride, by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, or  The Stockholm Octavo, by Karen Engelmann.

Other books with ghosts and witches, etc. would be Regarding Avalon, by Dom Ossiah, Stardust by Neil Gaiman, and Touched by Cyn Balog, and books by Gregory Maguire, Wicked, and Out of Oz. There is also, of course, the very famous Harry Potter series about witches and warlocks by J.K. Rowling.

And Halloween can’t pass by without mentioning Vampires, those mythological and folkloric beings that were popularized in the early 18th century, coming to Western Europe from the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Books about vampires, of course, have become very popular, but some unique tomes that come to mind are Dracula, by Bram Stoker, The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer, Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice, and the series beginning with Soulless by Gail Carriger.

And isn’t it interesting that the NANOWRIMO starts the day after Halloween.

So much to read. So much that could be written…


Mystery reference & resources

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

For the mystery and crime writers out there–or whoever writes crime into their books–here are some of the reference books I’ve had on hand:

Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide for Writers, by Lee Lofland, published by Writer’s Digest Books.

Private Eyes: A Writer’s Guide to Private Investigators, by Hal Blythe, Charlie Sweet, and John Landreth, published by Writer’s Digest Books.

Police Officer’s Guide, by Bill Clede, published by Stackpole Books.

Postmortem: Establishing the Cause of Death, by Dr. Steven A. Koehler and Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, published by Firefly Books.

The Mystery Writer’s Source Book: Where to Sell Your Manuscripts, published by Writer’s Digest Books.

And a website that’s excellent for forensic information, which I discovered through bestselling author, Vickie Hinze: Forensics4Fiction, with retired senior criminalist Tom Adair. (This past year, Tom Adair published a debut novel, The Scent of Fear.)

He has 15 years of forensic experience, a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Master’s degree in Entomology. He was triple board certified in forensic related fields & one of only 40 board-certified bloodstain pattern analysts & 80 board-certified footwear examiners worldwide. Plus a list of other great qualifications, listed on his website.

Any other great resources–books or websites? Please feel welcome to share them.

It’s a mystery…

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

In the movie Shakespeare in Love, the Geoffrey Rush character is confronted by his investors about the playhouses closing.  He tells them:  “Somehow it all works out,” and they ask him, “How does it?” He answers: “…It’s a mystery.”

It’s a mystery. And we, the readers/viewers, are intrigued by this. We want to learn more about this. “How does it?”–we desire to know exactly that. It’s about conflict and suspense. Our curiousity is piqued.

Basically a mystery is a puzzle. It’s “Who Done It,” and the murder(s) and the solution are the important factors in the novel. 

The mystery differs from the thriller usually because of this “Who Done it” factor, with the dead body at the beginning of the mystery, and with the focus on finding out who the murderer was. A thriller is usually focused on something more generally cataclysmic, with more at risk–the free world, the health of a nation, the presidency–and with a setting that may include several states and/or several countries.

Suspense is part of mystery. It’s the secret. And the readers want to know the secret, to solve the mystery and to see good win out over evil–the suspense (and conflict) keeps them reading to those ends. Over the course of the mystery (or other) novel, the suspense can be increased by a number of things, including danger, the ticking clock, and the unknown.  For the mystery reader in pursuit  of “Who Done It,” the writer must use red herrings to deflect suspicion–to make it harder for the reader to guess who the real murderer might be. But at the same time, the writer must present all the clues, or readers will feel cheated.  The Game is afoot. 

At the beginning of a mystery, the writer must establish who is killed, who is affected by the murder, and who is going to solve it and why.  The important characters should be introduced at this point, certainly the victim, the murderer and the sleuth. The best characters, as in any novel, are those that offer the unexpected.

The best mysteries are those that keep the readers guessing until the end, that allow the reader to piece the clues together, while not making the chase too easy.

What are some of your favorite mystery writers/ novels? Why do you think mysteries appeal to readers/ to you?