Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Slowly Coming Back


My first book signing in two years happened!

Was  it a great success? I wouldn't say that, except for family only two people showed up. One was someone I don't know very well, but she's all about reading series from beginning to end. And though she reads on a Kindle, she bought two books for a friend.

The other non-relative was a good friend who I hadn't seen since the pandemic began. She'd purchased my latest two book from Amazon and brought them for me to sign. And she also bought a book for a friend.

My granddaughter purchased 5 books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series for something she's doing for her 5 grand-kids--who are really little and won't be reading them any time soon. 

How many books I sold really has nothing to do with the best part of the two hour signing. Both of the women came at different times and so I had a chance to really visit with each of them--truly worth the effort I put into putting on the event. (And I had plenty of help doing that.)

And guess what? I'm ready to do another book signing, where I have no idea, but I'm ready. It is so heartwarming to meet readers and talk about books. 

I've also signed up for the PSWA writing conference--first one in two years. /https://policewriter.com

This is my favorite writers' conference, great for mystery writers. Plus, it's small with only one track so you don't miss anything, and you'll meet a lot of interesting people.

Marilyn Meredith, who also writes as F. M. Meredith


Friday, May 21, 2021

Book Reviews

 by Linda Thorne

About five years ago I wrote a version of this post for a blogspot now inactive. Being late for my post today, I thought I’d bring this topic to Make Mine Mystery.

Ah, reviews. Authors yearn for the good ones, will take the reasonable ones, and hopefully learn from those negative, but none want those posted by meanies with nasty unnecessary attacks. 

For the most part an author will welcome almost any type of review: the ever steady one with an accurate ending and a trustworthy opinion, but even a shallow review of three words: “I enjoyed this book,” brings a smile to my face. And I love to see the total numbers of the review count go up.

It's my understanding that Amazon will do a little more promotion for an author with twenty reviews, then maybe more at fifty. I’m not sure if this is accurate, but I have heard it several times.

Some people who read my book, volunteer to put up a review without my asking, but then never do. Maybe if I showed my true emotions when they first mentioned it—chanted cheers and did somersaults—they may have followed through. This happens more often than not.

I asked my publisher to add a blurb at the back of my book asking for consideration of a review. I’ve seen it in other books. I’m not sure it helps, but I don’t think a reminder can hurt.

In the January 2017 issue of Writer's Digest. Barbara Solomon Josselsohn wrote in the “5-Minute Memoir” section a short article on book reviews. She titled it “The Review Rat Race" and said, "...many authors will attest, customer reviews have become the holy grail of novel publishing." She also confessed wishing she could simply appreciate a compliment about her books without the drama of the sought-after book review jumping to the forefront.  

What about you? Do you go after reviews or just hope that they come? Do you have other resources that help you bring them in or are you relying
solely on those folks who read your books?

Author Website: Linda Thorne Website

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Coincidence - Friend or Foe?

by Janis Patterson

While there are those who say coincidences don’t happen, we all know they do. In real life, that is. In fiction one has to be very suspicious of them, especially if they providentially happen just in time to resolve all the complications of a book and bring about a happy ending. That’s cheap writing. 

Yes, I will say that again - coincidence to wrap up a complicated story in a quick, neat and tidy bow is cheap writing. I don’t care if your Great-Aunt Edna on the way to her reasoned but passionless marriage to a man she didn’t love just happened to run into her high school flame who had moved to Australia years before or a real-life detective on vacation in a far-away country just happened to meet the one real witness to an unsolved crime which happened two years before. I know things like that do happen (albeit rarely) but that’s real life. You see, fiction has rules; real life doesn’t.

That said, a coincidence can be a great starting point for a story. There’s no backstory to consider, no chain of events necessary to make the coincidence happen, no complicated explanations, no convoluted chain of action. Coincidences do happen. Two people from the same small town in Texas can meet on the Spanish Steps in Rome after many years without seeing each other. (This happened to my mother.) When stranded in a tiny Mexican coastal town you can run into a local frog-leg farmer who just happens to have been a member of the Boy Scout troop you began in North Texas over 40 years previously. (No kidding - this actually happened to my father.) But just try putting either of them into a book!

While admittedly coincidences do happen, at least in real life, imagine all the work and machinations and plot-twisting it would take to make a plausible ‘coincidence’ wrap up all the plot threads at the end of a story. That would be the worst kind of plot-driven story and every crack and seam would show. The ancients used to do it, of course, with the Deus ex Machina. The story would become so convoluted and so knotted that it would never work out. Thus the Deus ex Machina, a god who conveniently comes down from wherever and, rather like a second grade teacher with an unruly class, ruthlessly give orders that would sort out all the problems and misunderstandings. Such a device does get the story to the desired, but how very unsatisfying to a modern reader.

So feel free to use your chosen coincidence - but just to start a book. Be very leery of using one to end a book. And stay away from meddling gods! 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Few Things That Drive Me Crazy

 When I'm reading a book, I want to know where things are taking place. Where in the world are the characters? 

Over the  years I've judged a lot of writing contests--and ever so often I've read a book with a good plot but had no idea where it was taking place. Or when the characters are who knows where, having a conversation.

Then there's the other problem where the author gives far too much description of everything, slowing down the plot. I think it depends upon the genre too. Readers of historical fiction love the details of the setting and characters. A fast-paced Western, detective novel, thriller needs to have the plot moving along at a quick pace. 

Though the reader doesn't need a weather report, weather can add a lot to the suspense of a story and problems for the main character. 

We do need to know what the main characters look like--but it isn't necessary to let the reader know everything all at once. When it comes to the taxi driver or some less important character, the reader needs to know very little unless that person is going to turn up again. 

Then some of the things in dialogue that are strange. One of the biggest is when one character tells another something that person already knows. The sentence often begins, "As you know...."  When the information could be given in the narrative.

How about having a person laugh a sentence? Or gasp a sentence? What I mean is something like this, "What kind of a get up is that," he laughed. Or, "I heard something," he gasped. Both would be fine as a sentence following the dialogue. The best kind of dialogue tag if you want to cut down on the he said, she said, is to use an action.

"Get out of my way." Jenny shoved her way through the crowd. 

Grandma put down the tea cup. "That was lovely, my dear."

And what about the heroine who knows there's a killer loose, hears a noise in the basement, and goes down there all alone?

So there are my pet peeves--what are yours?