Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What's A Sweet Old Lady Like you Doing Writing Mysteries?

Actually no one has ever quite worded the question in that manner, but I do get similar questions all the time.

Saturday, I had a table at a Book Festival in Bakersfield and numerous folks stopped to browse and visit (yes, a few bought) but nearly everyone wanted to know something about why I wrote mysteries, where I got my ideas, and studied me with wonder. Since I'm a great grandma--and look like one--I can understand their curiosity.

One of my Rocky Bluff PD crime novels, Fringe Benefits, has a wicked knife on the cover. My elevator pitch is--"This is about a very bad cop who kills his wife and nearly gets away with it." Amazingly, those who purchase it are often sweet grandmother types.

My psychological horror, Wishing Makes It So, has a photo of a little girl on the front. I always warn people, "That's a very scary book about a really bad little girl." Some people put it down quickly, yesterday a woman asked me a lot of questions and bought it to put in her library for people considering becoming foster parents. Another young woman purchased it who told me she was a school teacher. Interesting.

Frankly, I really was pushing my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. Kindred Spirits is the latest. For those of you who don't know, my heroine is Native American. I even brought an Indian doll along to decorate the table. Yes, I did sell some of those books--but more of the others.

Because I never know what books are going to appeal to people, I bring some of both series, and one of my older books.

This was an interesting venue. All of the lesser known authors (like me) were situated in the foyer of the ballroom. Inside the ballroom were two bookstores, an independent and Barnes and Nobel. The two authors who spoke were Earlene Fowler and Ray Bradbury. Mr. Bradbury didn't arrive until 1:30 p.m.--though the event lasted until 2, it was time to close-up shop as everyone who'd been perusing the books went inside to hear him.

As you can see, I'm not smiling in the photo, that's because my husband was using my Blackberry to take the pic and he doesn't know how to use it. He kept asking me questions about what to do, then snapped the pic without warning. Most of the time I smiled at everyone.

So, this sweet old lady is now back home and will be until next weekend when I'm headed down to Old Town in Temecula to participate in a writers conference. With fellow author Sunny Frazier, I'll be talking about preparing your marketing plan and alternative ways of getting published. Between now and then I hope to get some mystery writing done.


Anonymous said...

Well anyone who has lived long enough to be a Great-Grandma know enough about this whacky experience called "life" to know that it's all quite the mystery (lol) - so nooooo, I'm not surprised that you choose to write about the mysterious (smile)

Morgan Mandel said...

I don't have as many books out as you, Marilyn, but I always bring both with me when a do a book signing, just in case.

I thought when Girl of My Dreams, my romance novel, came out, I'd sell more of that one, since I've always heard the Romance market is so big.

So far my dark mystery, Two Wrongs, is in much more demand.
Someone said the Mystery market is picking up. It seems to be so.

Morgan Mandel

Mark said...

I would have closed up shop to hear Bradbury. I keep his advice to writers taped to my writing desk" "You have to know how to accept rejections and reject acceptance."

Jean Henry Mead said...


You're an amazing senior writer, and I wish I had half your energy. You always seem to be traveling to writers' events to promote your books while I sit home in my pajamas doing PR. When do you have time to write? :)

Marilyn said...

Finding time to write isn't easy, especially since I have two books (two series) I'm editing right now.

But I do write every day that I'm home. When I'm traveling, I brainstorm with my husband and jot down the ideas we come up with.

I also like to pay attention to people (eavesdrop a lot) to come up with new and interesting characters.


Libby McKinmer said...

You Tempe Crabtree series is great! I think I'd be a bit scared of the one book you described, but I love your mysteries.


Anne Carter said...

Bakersfield to Temecula? That's quite a swing. Do you live somewhere in between, at least?

Sounds like you had a good day. What was the name of the event?


Marilyn said...

The Bakersfield event was called the Bakersfield Californian Festival of Books.

No, I don't live in-between Bakersfield and Temecula. I live north and east of Bakersfield in the foothills of the Sierra--much like where Tempe enforces the law. I have grown grandchildren in Temecula area that I stay with when I go to the Erle Stanley Gardner Mystery Festival. It's a great gig and I've done it for about five years now.


Dana Fredsti said...

Sigh...so many books to read and now adding you to the list, Marilyn...

I grew up on Ray Bradbury. I once saw a stage production of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES at a little theater in Burbank. Developed a crush on a cute gay actor and got Ray Bradbury to sign my program. Sweet!

Earl Staggs said...

As always, Marilyn, I stand in awe of all you do. You're an excellent role model for writers who realize the need for promotion as well as writing.