Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Promote Your Books as if They’re Fad Diets

My latest murder mystery Murder...A Way to Lose Weight is about dieting. So I‘ve thought a lot
about fad diets in the last year. Many fad diets were first promulgated in the 1950’s. Countless nutritionists have denounced them but they keep  reappearing. What gives them such tenacity? Why are they so popular? Do fad diets provide insights into publicizing books?

What are fad diets?
I’m defining fad diets as those that basically allow you to eat all you want of one special food but restrict your intake of other foods. Famous people have endorsed these diets, but I’m leaving their names off to avoid controversy. Examples of fad diets are: the Banana Diet, the Hollywood Diet (sometime called the Grapefruit Diet), and the Baby Food Diet.

Many users of these diets have reported weight loss. Why? The dieters developed an aversion (Perhaps that’s an overstatement, but I doubt it.) to bananas, grapefruit, and baby food and ate much less. Accordingly they lost weight.

So what did you learn?
Basic science holds true. If you consume less calories and exercise more, you lose weight. Fad diets add a little advertising pizazz to the bland basic advice. In some cases, this pizazz caused people stick to their intentions long enough to lose weight.

How does this relate to promoting books?
Strong writing is like your basic balanced 1200-calorie diet with plenty of exercise. It works and produces the desired results – a good, maybe even great novel. However, it usually takes a well-known name, a dynamic platform (which mean lots of hard work doing promotional activities), and/or catchy advertising gimmicks to turn it into a best seller. 

Have you found the fad diet (advertising gimmick) to sell your books? I’d like to hear about it. I’m sure other writers would too. Leave a comment.

In Murder...A Wayto Lose Weight, two ambitious diet doctors are testing a new way to lose weight. The two, eager to become rich and famous diet gurus, take “short cuts” and endanger their patients’ lives. One doctor is killed after she develops a conscious and admits their “short cuts.” As the police turn up clues, the readers learn a bit about weird poisons and the social mores of a medical school. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Marilyn on right with Bonnie Hearne
Today my guest is veteran author, F.M. (Marilyn) Meredith. She’s written forty novels. I think that makes her an expert on the topic - book series. Her newest novel is A Crushing Death.

The easy answer is the charactersFor a series to work, the reader has to love the main character(s). If the main character(s) isn’t realistic with some flaws and redeeming qualities, he/she/they aren’t going to compel readers to be anxious for the next offering in the series. The writer hopes the reader will want to find out what is going to happen to the heroine/hero or supporting cast next.

In the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series there is a large group of on-going characters:
Officer Doug Milligan is the main character in the first book of the series: Final Respects. He appears, and sometimes stars in the following books—and is now Detective Doug Milligan.
Officer Stacey Wilbur, the only female officer for a long while, is in many of the first books, but becomes an important character and the love interest of Detective Milligan in Smell of Death. She eventually becomes Officer/Mrs. Stacey Milligan.

A favorite among readers of the series is Officer Gordon Butler. He makes his first appearance in Fringe Benefits. Nothing goes easy for Gordon in the job or his love life.

Officer Abel Navarro appears in most books. He’s married to Maria, an emergency room nurse and they have a daughter. He becomes Sergeant Navarro later in the series.

Officer Felix Zachary, the only black officer for quite some time. He’s married to Wendy, a teacher, and eventually joins Milligan as a detective.

The character who shows the most growth is Officer Ryan Strickland and much of the change can be attributed to his wife, Barbara.

The latest character to make an appearance is the new chief, Chandra Taylor, also African American. She plays a big part in the two latest books—Violent Departures and the brand new A Crushing Death.

There are other characters who come and go, some important, others not so much. In my opinion, the men and women in the Rocky Bluff mystery series is what makes the series work.

I’d love to hear from readers and what they think makes a series work.  Once again, the person who comments on the most blogs during this tour, can have a character named after them in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. So be sure to leave a comment on this blog.

Tomorrow you can find Marilyn at: https://mmgornell.wordpress.com/

A pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for attacking women, and Detective Milligan’s teenage daughter has a big problem.
Here’s where to get it: http://www.amazon.com/Crushing-Death-Rocky-Bluff-P-D/dp/1610092260/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457618775&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Crushing+Death+by+F.M.+Meredith

F. M. Meredith who is also known as Marilyn Meredith is nearing the number of forty published books. Besides being an author she is a wife, mother, grandma and great-grandmother. Though the Rocky Bluff she writes about is fictional, she lived for over twenty-years in a similar small beach town. Besides having many law enforcement officers in her family she is counts many as friends. She teaches writing, loves to give presentations to writing and other groups, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, three chapters of Sisters in Crime and on the board of Public Safety Writers Association.
Facebook: Marilyn Meredith
Twitter: MarilynMeredith

Monday, April 18, 2016

Do You Want to Write a Medical Mystery?
Lead in the water of Flint, Michigan and the Ebola and Zika viruses have made science newsworthy. Maybe, you’re toying with the idea of writing a medical mystery. Where do you begin?

The first step in writing a medical mystery is research. This means perusing newspaper stories, items on the WEB, and articles in Science, Scientific American, and medical journals for hot topics.

I decided a topic that interested almost everyone was dieting. Hence the title of my new mystery, Murder…A Way to Lose Weight. I noticed many researchers were studying the effect of the gut microbiome on the human body.

You’re thinking, “Who cares? What’s a microbiome?”

Let me reword the sentence: Scientists think they can help you lose weight by altering the bacteria in your gut. It could be a relatively easy way to lose weight.

Now I have your attention. This also illustrates my second point. A novelist must transmit complex science accurately, simply, and in a lively manner. In essence, (s)he must make the science exciting and not slow the plot with too many details.

In Murder...A Way to Lose Weight, two ambitious diet doctors alter the bacteria in the guts of obese subjects in a clinical trail. The two are so eager to become rich and famous diet gurus that they take “short cuts” and endanger their patients’ lives. One doctor is killed after she develops a conscious and admits the “short cuts” to Linda Almquist, the acting associate dean in a medical school.

As the police, with Linda’s help, turn up clues, the readers learn a bit about weird poisons and the social mores of a medical school. 

Good medical mysteries (like Robin Cook’s Coma) are realistic. Readers are more apt to be scared if they believe the situation could happen.

That’s why I use poison, which was the cause of a rash of real accidental poisonings in New Mexico in the 1980s. I wove the information from two scientific articles into my tale of an intentional poisoning and set the novel in Albuquerque as an oblique clue.

To add further authenticity, I referenced key articles in the “The Science Behind the Story” at the end of the novel.

Are you ready to start writing a medical mystery? Maybe, you should read Murder…A Way to Lose Weight first.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Pet peeves, news headlines, travel, dreams, and memories are all sources of ideas for writers. The list of ways to rev up an author's imagination is endless.

Do the novels you read rev up your imagination? Do they encourage you to  travel to a cited location, learn more about a mentioned topic, read other novels by the author, or write a novel yourself? If so, great. Maybe, this blog will rev up your imagination to try something new. 

The initial ideas for I Saw You in Beirut, my latest international thriller, came from two main sources: my pet peeve that there are so few woman protagonists in thrillers and my love of exotic locations.

First, my pet peeve. Most thrillers feature men. The women who populate thrillers are generally young action heroines, like Lara Croft. Census data indicate the fastest growing population groups in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010 were those over forty-five years of age. Women outnumber men after forty. My conclusion is: women over forty are a big reading market, and they read more than romances.

Accordingly, the heroine in my thrillers is Sara Almquist, a globetrotting epidemiologist (a professional medical busybody) who has passed her fortieth birthday. I like to imagine her being played on film by Helen Mirren, Sigourney Weaver, Salma Hayek, or Marcia Gaye Hardin. And yes, there is a bit of romance in this thriller.

Next, my love of exotic locations. In the 1990s, I consulted on biological (medical and agricultural) issues at the United Arab Emirates University in El Ain and the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. I got chills as I watched ships lining up to pass through the Strait of Hormuz. I smiled as I toured the laboratory and swimming pools, which one sheik in the Emirates built to help keep his racing camels in optimum form.

I was also awed by the beauty and history of the region. Did you know Lebanon has Phoenician tombs that are contemporary with the Egyptian pyramids? Several major medical discoveries were made in Iran and Iraq in the 1960s. I knew several of the researchers involved in the Shiraz experiment, which identified zinc deficiency in villagers in Iran.

Thus, I included lots of tidbits on science, geography, and history of the Middle East in I Saw You in Beirut. Why not arm chair travel there with Sara Almquist? See if the story revs up your desire to travel and explore new options.

Blurb: In I Saw You in Beirut, a mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry, known only as F, sends an email from Tabriz: Help. Contact Almquist. Intelligence sources determine the message refers to Sara Almquist, a globetrotting epidemiologist, and seek her help to extract F from Iran. As Sara tries to identify F by dredging up long-forgotten memories about her student days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her work in Lebanon and the Emirates, groups ostensibly wanting to prevent F’s escape attack her repeatedly. 

I Saw You in Beirut (paperback and Kindle versions) is available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1610092201 and Barnes and Noble (Nook version): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-saw-you-in-beirut-jl-greger/1123184446?ean=2940158046957.