Friday, January 15, 2021

SELLING BOOKS DURING A PANDEMIC


Please enjoy this post from Marilyn Meredith - author of more than 50 books. 
Marilyn writes her Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series as F.M. Meredith. I think you'll learn a lot from her comments on marketing her books. She's a real pro.

Before the pandemic, my favorite way to promote my books was in-person, whether as a speaker for a writers’ group or conference, or at service or social club. If I could get people to laugh, I sold books. My second favorite was to participate in a book or craft fair. My calendar was full of both for 2020 and everything was cancelled.

So that meant I had to concentrate on other ways to let people know about my books. One thing I’ve always enjoyed doing is being a guest on someone’s blog like I am today. One of the big reasons is because I like to write, but does it sell books? Sometimes. When I’ve done best is when I’ve been on a blog tour and held a contest for someone to have his or her name used for a character in the next book.

Like other authors, I use Facebook to promote new books—and old ones too. I’ve gathered quite a few friends along the way, and some of them have become fans. Of course, I don’t just write about my books, I talk about everything I’m doing. The same for my own blog, I write about most anything that comes to mind and host other authors. I also belong to some Facebook groups, but not sure any are helpful when it comes to selling books.

Now, what has worked best for me. Because I write series, offering one of the early books  series for free has resulted in reader buying other books. There are many places to offer free books, all you have to do is a search on the Internet to find them.  Most of these places charge a small fee.

And there is BookBub, but they are picky about what books they promote, and the fee is way beyond my budget. 

Sometimes I feel like my promotion efforts are like throwing cooked spaghetti at the wall and seeing if it sticks. It’s hard to tell what is working, though much easier now that I’m self-pubbed and watch what and how many books are being sold.

How about any of you other authors, what are you doing and what works best for you?



Blurb for #16, 
Not As We Knew It. 

The challenges come one after another for the Rocky Bluff P.D. to handle―from a missing woman to a fatal house fire. Detective Doug Milligan is faced with new and unusual problems to solve, some on the job and others related to his family. With the department shorthanded because of the Covid virus, Chief Chandra Taylor must make some hard decisions in order to protect the town of Rocky Bluff. 

To buy: https://www.amazon.com/Not-As-Knew-F-M-Meredith/dp/B08NDT3FW5/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

RIDDLED WITH CLUES


 Meet the characters in the international #thriller RIDDLED WITH CLUES. It begins at the VA Hospital  in Albuquerque but takes you to #Laos and #Cuba as the protagonist Sara Almquist frantically trys to solve the mystery of Red from Udon Thani. 

Sara recognized Xave Zack as the lopsided man who stared out the window toward the Sandia Mountains. His body appeared twisted in the wheelchair, but his shoulders remained broad. Many white creases and sagging skin on his darkly tanned neck suggested he’d lost a lot of weight recently.

She hesitated recalling the macho guy who had saved her from drug traffickers in Bolivia, where she had served as a consultant on public health issues. Unfortunately, she had learned too much about the coca trade. At the time, he’d had ebony hair with gray at his temples. Now, his hair was silver.

Her mind moved to the polished sophisticate—a George Clooney look-alike, who had left her in Washington to take an assignment tracking the movement of coca from Bolivia through Cuba to the U.S. Finally, she thought of the beaten, dirty bum who gave her a message for his controller, Eric Sanders, in Colombo Cemetery in Havana. Her history with the man had been brief, colorful, and emotional. In Havana, he’d made it clear she’d never see him again....

 

She allowed no hint of sympathy in her voice because she knew pity would annoy the man in the wheelchair. “Xave.”

The man turned slowly. “Sanders must be worried if he sent you.” He flashed a wide grin. She knew he was about to tell less than the whole truth because he smiled with his teeth showing.

Maybe I can force some honesty. “Did they retrieve you from Cuba before you destroyed your liver with cheap booze as you tried to perfect your cover as a drunken sailor? Hopefully, broken bones are your only problems.” She motioned to the cast on his right leg.

He grimaced.

“Why are you in a Spinal Cord Injury Center?”

He looked around the room as if he feared someone would hear. “Better security here. What were you told?”

“Not much. Can you walk?”

“Always direct. It’s why we hit it off.” He rubbed his chin, but didn’t answer the question... (Then) he smiled. This time with no teeth showing, which usually meant sincerity. “How about twirling around, slowly. The pink top shows off your blonde hair and light skin.”

She was glad she had worn the khaki skirt, which she always wore in summer to do pet therapy. Most of the hospitals in Albuquerque preferred volunteers didn’t wear shorts. The skirt was acceptable and cooler than trousers. “You must be on the mend.” She twirled quickly. “Sorry, but I’m not going to talk with my back to you so you can study my ass.”

He chuckled. “Sit next to me. I want to talk business without curious ears overhearing. Lots of nosy people here.”

She pushed the table away and sat on the edge of the bed. He pulled a slip of paper from the cuff of his right sleeve. “A woman slipped this note into my pocket when I was in a large crowd about two hours before my accident. I need your help.”

Sara looked at the small piece of ragged paper. She read a phone number and “Red from Udon Thani.” She turned the slip over. “Seen a lot of wear.”

 

You'll have to read the rest of Riddled with Clues, to discover the identity of Red from Udon Thani. Here's several hints. 

  • Xave doesn’t know anyone called Red, and the last time he was in Udon Thani was during the Vietnam War. 
  • After Sara listens to Xave's rambling tales of all the possibilities, both she and Xave are attacked. He is left comatose. 
  • She is left to fight for her life with little help from the local police but with frequent coded clues for a homeless veteran who apparently frequented the VA Hospital in Albuquerque.

Available at:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1938436237

Sunday, December 27, 2020

BAD PRESENTS

 Did you get at least one holiday present this year which was a dud? You know what I mean—a sweater that is two sizes too small or is in a shade of orange that makes you cringe. 

Just wait till you read about the "present" Sara Almquist got. It was about a pound of animal guts and made an alarming ticking sound. Did I mention it was contaminated with the bacteria that cause the plague?

In the medical thriller A POUND OF FLESH, SORTA, Sara Almquist receives a mysterious box of animals guts. The police suspect  gang leaders are trying to threaten Sara and prevent her from testifying at their upcoming trials. As a scientist, Sara wonders whether the packet might be a plea from a rancher fearing another outbreak of the plague in the Southwest. 


Soon all suspect the package is a clue needed to solve a suspicious series of accidents. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0960028560


Why not gift yourself with this book and spend a day or two immersed in a real mystery/thriller? Then you can ignore all the boring presents you got.


P.S. Plague occurs almost every year in the American Southwest causing the death of many livestock and occasionally a few human deaths.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Does this sound like the memory of a spy?


Sara Almquist is in a lackluster love affair in I SAW YOU IN BEIRUT. Then an agent who has been undercover for thirty years in #Iran sends an email: "Help. Contact Almquist." As Sara is drawn into the plan to identify and rescue the agent, known only as F, she is forced to re-evaluate characters from her career as a globe-trotting #scientist and rethink what matters in #romance and her life in general. Available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0960028544

 

This excerpt from Chapter 3 of I SAW YOU IN BEIRUT, an international #thriller, is based on a real incident and a real Iranian student in the U.S. in 1978:


“I don’t remember how I met her.” She (Sara Almquist) noted the Major continued to tap the table. “I only remember… three incidents with Farideh.” She gulped. “I guess I’m ready. I’ll start with the most revealing. I hadn’t worked for Doc Steinhaus long. So, it must have been a Saturday in September or early October of seventy-eight.”

***

The day was hot. I heard a roar of the crowd at a football game in Camp Randall Stadium as I entered the almost empty, red brick Horticulture Building.

Four of Doc’s graduate students were in the workroom when I delivered printouts from the computer lab in a nearby building. Three hardly lifted their heads to acknowledge me. I knew why. Danny was yipping in his high tenor voice about inconsequential departmental gossip as he looked at his near empty desk. The other three politely refrained from telling him to shut up.

I sat down by Mike and waited for instructions. I had a bit of crush on Mike. As was the fashion then, he had a thick unruly beard. He muttered, “Think of a way to shut the fool up. Doc should be here shortly. He wants you to enter data for me at the computer center.”

I got up and sliced a thin sliver of chocolate cake for myself from a tired-looking birthday cake on the table in the center of the room. The grad students had celebrated Mike’s birthday the day before. Most of the cake was gone, but wax candles were strewn on the table. “Danny, do you want a piece of cake. It’s still moist.”

Danny drew a freckled hand through his carrot red hair and blinked his brown eyes at me in apparent surprise. “The baby talks.”

I ignored the insult and placed a big slice of cake on a napkin and was handing it to him when Farideh slammed into the office. As usual she wore hip-hugging, frayed blue jeans, the bell-bottom type. An off-white knit ribbed top, which showed her slim waist, clung to her torso. Despite her dark hair and black eyes, I doubt most would guess she was from Iran. She was about five-seven and moved with long, smooth strides.

Danny talked as he stuffed cake in his mouth. “Did you do your daily protest march against the Shah around the Bascom Hall?” Chocolate cake dribbled from his mouth. “From what I hear, he’s been good for Iran. That’s why you and your husband are in grad school here.”

Mike kept his head down. “Danny, leave her alone.”

Farideh plunked in her chair. “We were followed today by men in suits. I think from SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police.”

“You’re hallucinating,” said Danny.

“Don’t display your ignorance.” Farideh strode to the table and sliced the cake.

The three other grad students kept their heads down, as though they expected a blow-up.

“Hey, doll cut me another piece,” said Danny as he swallowed the last of the cake I’d given him.

Surprisingly, Farideh did. As she cut the cake, Danny rose to stand behind her. He rubbed his hands from her waist to her hips. “What a waste to cover this with a burqa, or I guess you’d say a chador in Iran.”

She dropped the slice of cake and rammed her elbow into his gut. Hesitated a second, before she picked up the knife. “Don’t touch me.”

Mike ran from the office. The mouths of the two other grad students hung agape.

Farideh turned the knife in her hand.

Danny, who about three inches taller than Farideh and quite muscular, laughed, “Doll, you know I can take the knife from you.”

Everyone gasped as the door opened and Doc rolled in, followed by Mike. Doc was obese, and he panted when he walked at a normal speed. Today he gasped from having hurried in the heat. “Farideh… come… to… my… office.” 

Danny squealed, “You’re in trouble now.”

She gripped the knife and lunged at Danny.

“Farideh!” Doc howled.

She stabbed the knife so hard into the cake that she broke its blade on the table. Then she stalked out of the office.

As he closed the door, Doc said, “Danny, try to keep your mouth shut until I return. And Sara, here’s what you need to do.” He handed me a stack of papers.


DON'T YOU WANT JTO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS TO FARIDEH AND SARA ALMQUIST?




Monday, November 9, 2020

WHAT'S ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

When I visited India a couple years ago, I met several people who said seeing the Taj Mahal and visiting #India were items on their bucket list. Those two items were never was on my bucket list, but I admit the #Taj Mahal is breathtaking as it appears among the mists rising from the #Yamuna River at sunrise. 

Here's one reason why seeing the Taj Mahal wasn't on my bucket list. As the sun rises you also see the Yamuna River, one of the holy rivers of India, is polluted. In fact, some Indians have described it as an "open sewer." The #pollution of the Yamuna Rivers made me think. Experts say the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers are among the ten most polluted rivers in the  world, but then so is the Mississippi. Considering the importance of water for life itself, maybe more of us should include "doing at least one activity that reduces pollution" on our bucket list.

 

My other problem with the Taj Mahal are the crowds. Think of the crowds leaving the stadium of a Big Ten school after a football game. I saw the Taj Mahal during the Diwali (a Hindu festival) holidays with probably twenty thousand people. However, the groups of fifty to two hundred school children each at tourist sites were amazing. Each clump of children were identifiable by their clothes, particularly the girl's uniforms. For example, one group of several hundred girls wore leggings with long jumpers almost to their knees in shades of green. Although all the groups were noisy when they left their buses. They were quiet and organized and with the smallest in front and the tallest at the back of the group by the time they reached the entrance to the sites. The children reminded me that all of us should include on our bucket list at least one activity that improves the welfare and education of #children.

 

I usually think that the "native" song and dance performances that tourists are treated to are hokey. However, I thought the snake dance performed by tribal women in #Rajasthan was one of the most sensuous performance I'd ever seen. It made those seen in movies look like bump and grind routines. That also made think. The best parts of travel occur when you least expect them. Perhaps, the most important item on any one's bucket list should be "to learn to appreciate the arts and skills of others."

 

I suppose this blog is too preachy but it's my long-winded way of admitting that visiting India should be on more people's bucket list. I suspect that is not an achievable goal for most, especially with the pandemic. So, the alternative is: read a novel with scenes depicting modern India. You might consider DIRTY HOLY WATER.

 

Blurb for DIRTY HOLY WATER: Sara Almquist is about to become engaged and leave for a vacation in India when she becomes a suspect in the murder of a friend. It's unnerving for Sara because she's used to being a trusted forensic investigator with answers, not a nervous suspect. Surprisingly, Sara finds insights into her feelings and into the murder as she becomes immersed in Indian culture.

 

Paperback and ebook at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0960028587

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Trick or Treat with Gifts of Books

 #Halloween is coming. Most of us have already gained weight during our distancing period for COVID. More candy and cookies is the last thing we need. Why not make your treats this year-BOOKS? They could be new or used.

Here are two books published in 2020 that might make great Halloween treats. Both are scary (at least a little bit) but in different ways.


The first is DIRTY HOLY WATER. Life is complicated for Sara Almquist in this #romantic #mystery and psychological thriller. She's about to become engaged and leave for a vacation in #India when she becomes the chief suspect in the murder of a friend. Only the friend and her family, well to put it politely, have a couple of dark secrets. 
Sara soon realizes the difference between a villain and a victim can be small - alarmingly small, especially in a dysfunctional family. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0960028587



The second is A POUND OF FLESH, SORTA. In this #thriller, Sara Almquist receives a mysterious box contaminated with the bacteria, which causes the plague. FBI agents consider it a threat from gang leaders because Sara is a key witness at an upcoming racketeering trial. As a #scientist, Sara thinks the packet might be an attempt to focus attention on a potential for plague in the Southwest. Soon all suspect the package is a clue needed to solve the suspicious death of one employee in a meat packing plant and the disappearance of another man maimed in an industrial accident. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0960028560

       P.S. Prairie dog die offs in the #Southwest really are caused by the plague and a few people in the Southwest die of the plague each year. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0960028560


OR MAYBE YOU SHOULD JUST TREAT YOURSELF AND BUY BOTH

Monday, June 1, 2020

A DIFFERENT TIME

I'm starting June with a guest blogger. Marilyn Meredith is a prolific #mystery author.  If you haven't read one of her books, read her new one, End of the Trail, after you read her blog below.  This is a #police procedural with heart. Let's hope this novel isn't the end of the trail for Marilyn's writing.
Right now, we are all experiencing something new. I’m not going to discuss the pandemic as such—I’ll leave the current event to Janet, my host, who is far more knowledgeable about such diseases. 
Any author knows that what is going on now has changed what we can do to promote our books. We can’t go to bookstores to do talks and signings, and book fairs and conferences have been cancelled. What is left? Mainly social media and visiting blogs like this one.
There wasn’t even a hint of what was to come while I was writing End of the Trail, the latest in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. My main ideas for this book came from family—one from a distant relative living in a most unusual lifestyle, and another from a much closer member who is preparing for any coming huge disaster whether it be a biblical Armageddon or a war of some sort. (I have a huge family, and believe me, they are all different. You should hear their varied and controversial views on the pandemic!)
When I began writing I was able to attend the weekly meetings of my critique group and hear their suggestions and feelings about each chapter. Because they also write their corrections on the copies of the chapter I brought, I can use or not use what I want when I get home. And, of course, these in-person meetings have been cancelled. 
Though I had plenty of time to write, it was hard to get motivated to do so. I really did want to finish, but as I was writing, I began to wonder if this might be the last book in the series. Was that really what I wanted to do?
Even now, with the book done and available on Amazon, I am not sure. In fact, I have a new idea bouncing around in my brain.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087SFTC6K/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1588514254&sr=1-1