01-24-2010 11:08 AM - edited 01-24-2010 11:15 AM
Book signings are so scary. When I was writing my gardening books, I did a lot of book signings. The local ones were always a madhouse and a lot of fun. I still cringe to think of one book signing I did the week before Christmas at a Barnes & Noble in another part of Cincinnati. It was me and a guy who'd written a book about home decorating, I think. I'm blanking on his name. We sat there like store mannequins as people rushed around looking for Christmas gifts. I don't think gardening and home decorating were high on anyone's list -- we signed about two books each, if that.
I learned from mistakes, too. I was invited to do a book signing at the Cincinnati Flower Show once -- they set me up in a booth that sold very upscale garden decor. By upscale, I mean many of the items cost a thousand dollars or more. A lot of people stopped to chat and ask garden questions, but I only sold a few books. I made a note - never set up a book signing near the entrance to a flower show. No one wants to lug a heavy book around for the whole show.
Oh, and I almost forgot! My favorite book signing was a group signing with several local authors from Cincinnati. We wrote all types of books -- there was a columnist from the Cincinnati Enquirer who'd put together a collection of her columns, a childrens' book writer/illustrator, an author of historical fiction, me and my garden books, and Jeff Marks, who had compiled a FABULOUS mystery anthology that is still a favorite of mine. Jeff is now with Mystery Scene magazine -- I ran into him and Kate Stine at Bouchercon. It was so much fun to reconnect after all these years! And, BTW, Jeff's biobibiliography of Anthony Boucher won the Anthony for Best Critical Non-Fiction Work.
01-24-2010 12:17 PM
LOL, Becke! Note to self: don't do signings at flower shows!
Funny you should mention Jeffrey Marks. This year I am chairing the judging for the Edgar Awards for Best Young Adult Mystery. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Edgars, it is the premier award for mystery writers. Sort of our form of the Oscars. Jeff has graciously agreed to be a judge on our committee! I'm very excited to be chairing this category this year, because there is some darn good YA fiction out there, and I don't always have time to read it. (And I can pass on the best to my teenage kids!) And with Jeff's knowledge of the crime genre, he is a great addition to the committee.
01-24-2010 12:44 PM
01-24-2010 07:07 PM
Jeff! You're here! There you go, Becke. What better way to spend an afternoon, than reflecting on your favorite signing with a fantastic author like Jeff!
01-24-2010 07:49 PM
01-24-2010 08:55 PM
I told Jeff to stop by if he had time. thought it might be a fun surprise for you. This place is like the Land from Oz. People come and go so quickly here!
01-24-2010 10:30 PM
01-24-2010 11:53 PM
I am thrilled to see the number of people who have viewed this! And just seeing that number sends me back to my computer to see what else I can draw out of my magic files to entertain!
Here's a fun tongue-in-cheek blog post from another great mystery blog called Meanderings and Muses (in which I will be guest blogging again in February.) This one, however is from November, just after my book video was released. It's called "Going Viral." I take some of the more common spam e-mails and spin it into promo for THE BONE CHAMBER.
01-25-2010 10:33 AM
01-25-2010 10:34 AM
Here's a teaser for Robin's great blog post:
GOING VIRAL by Robin Burcell
And no, I’m not talking about the latest flu vaccine. I’m talking about my new book trailer video for THE BONE CHAMBERthat appears on the face page of my website. I happen to think it’sa great book trailer and I am wondering if it is possible to make a video go viral on word of mouth alone.
I thought about trying the Microsoft-is-gonna-make-you-a-millionaire approach. You’ve probably seen it in an old e-mail, the one that tells you that every person you send this link to, and so on and so on, Microsoft will send you a buck. If people believe that and send an e-mail out a gazillion times, causing it to go viral, why not my video?
Hmmm… I’m thinking that the mystery-reading world is much more savvy than that.
01-25-2010 04:00 PM
Here's something fun. I wrote this for a blog several months ago. It's always appropriate for a mystery reading group! I'll bet some of B&N's savvy readers will recognize some of these from books or TV shows!
10. Getting the jargon/slang wrong for a particular department or part of the country. It's more than the age-old discussion on perps versus suspect.
9. Really dumb radio transmissions no cop would ever make. Short transmissions are a must. In real life, if you have a long transmission, you “break," for any emergencies that might arise while you’re hogging the mike. So if your characters are busy saying anything longer than one or two short sentences on the radio, have them pick up the phone instead. Radio transmissions vary by region. Some talk in "ten" code, some in "nine", and many are moving to "plain English," because who the heck remembers the codes when all hell breaks loose!
8. Not knowing the elements of the crime, or what constitutes a crime. A cop looks up, sees a young lady falling to the ground, sees a man running away, and thinks: Purse snatch, a felony. He and his partner jump out, chase after the suspect. One problem. No one saw the crime. They assumed. At least have your cops stop and ask the victim before they get in a foot chase, tackle the suspect and cuff him for a crime they think he committed--because when those officers get to court, the defense is going to rip them apart.
7. The clichéd loner, alcoholic cop with the rumpled raincoat, whose wife and kids were murdered by the serial killer while he was out eating donuts. Why doesn't this scenario work? Because the whole donut eating thing is so passé. Let's pause for history. Donut shops were the only thing open on graveyard shifts where the coffee could be found. That cliché would never work in California. There’s a Starbucks on every corner, and a bagel shop two doors down. And who buys their bagels from Starbucks, when you can get really good ones from Noah's?
6. Having cops hired/fired on a whim. Unless a cop resigns on his own, it’s almost an act of congress to hire or fire one. But an even bigger pet peeve is the shoddy hiring background investigations I've seen in some really Big Name novels. Backgrounds that allowed, say, the FBI to hire someone who had an arsonist serial killer for a father, but the father's guilt (and the suspect's identity) are questionable, and so we should be surprised when our agent turns out to be the real killer. And if they do pass the background, are you saying these arsonist/serial killers are going to pass the psych? It takes months to complete the background investigation for a reason. It almost takes that long just to fill out the background application, which is longer than the average book contract.
5. Evil or stupid police supervisors. Repeat after me: Only some of the bosses are evil or stupid (and no, they didn’t all work for my department). There are actually some pretty decent supervisors still out there. The standing joke is that to get promoted to Sergeant, you have to first have a lobotomy. To make it to Lieutenant and Captain, you have to have your spine removed. True in all cases? No. But some…
4. The hated, despised Internal Affairs cop, who is usually evil or stupid. See # 7 above (which is not to say that if you're the one being investigated, you don't tend to think of the IA cops that way, but that's a different story).
3. Dirty cops planting phony evidence in that overdone bad cop cliché manner. If you’re going to write this, do it better than anyone else. One of the best scenes was from a movie where a dirty cop was seen committing a crime on a surveillance video which was booked into evidence and was going to nail him. The dirty cop set up a “window smash” of a business—with a highly magnetic device used to smash the window. It in turn was booked into evidence right next to the surveillance tape, which it then demagnetized and was rendered useless. Such a scenario would be difficult to accomplish in this digital age, but back then it was way cool.
2. Stupid blunders at crime scenes. Being aware of what can contaminate a crime scene takes more than simply watching the latest episode of CSI. Just knowing the basics can help, everything from keeping a crime scene log to what constitutes trace evidence and cross-contamination. Keep this in mind next time your sleuth picks up a phone at the scene of the murder, tromping across a carpet, leaving fiber evidence.
And the top ten pet peeve in my opinion?
1. Bad officer safety. This is equal to the sleuth investigating a noise outside, when she knows the killer is lurking around somewhere. Cop wise, I'm talking things like cops showing up at a suspect's house without backup. These guys are assigned partners for a reason. Safety is one of them, but so, too, is having a second set of eyes and ears for investigative purposes, as well as for testifying later in court. I hate it when writers shove the TSTL syndrome (too stupid to live) on their characters to foster an exciting climax.
So what are your stupid cop pet peeves in books?
01-25-2010 11:37 PM
Hmmm... I suppose I should have mentioned the title to that blog was "My Top Ten Pet Peeves in Mystery Writing."
01-26-2010 11:23 AM
Last night I "appeared" on Blog Talk Radio's "The Casting Couch." (Gotta love that title!) The Casting Couch is a show that interviews independent artists, such as actors, film makers and writers.
This interviewer asked a variety of questions, such as how I got started writing, what I did to become published, and of course a little about THE BONE CHAMBER.
Here is the link to the blog: http://castingcouchradio.blogspot.com/
Here is the link to the interview: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/castingcouch/2010/01/
01-26-2010 12:43 PM
Hmmm... I suppose I should have mentioned the title to that blog was "My Top Ten Pet Peeves in Mystery Writing."Robin - My husband read your top ten pet peeves and said those would also work for mystery/police TV shows, too. I agree, many of your comments apply to both!
01-26-2010 12:44 PM
Thanks, Robin - wow, you are EVERYWHERE! I was doing a search for something totally unrelated yesterday, found the blog I was looking for and the first comment was from -- guess who? -- Robin Burcell! Now I'm trying to remember what I was searching for when I found it -- something about writer's craft, I think.
01-26-2010 02:10 PM
And tomorrow, I'll be even farther from home as I fly off to the arctic chill (in comparison to California!) of the Great Lakes region of the U.S. I'll be visiting at several Barnes & Nobles in the Chicago area, as well as in Milwaukee and Madison. And I will be getting up at (cop lingo, here) "oh-dark-thirty" on Friday morning 1/29, to appear on "WAKE UP, WISCONSIN" to discuss THE BONE CHAMBER. (Which translates to being at the studio at 0530 AM.) Looking forward to it! (The interview and booksignings, not the getting up EARLY part!)
01-26-2010 02:56 PM
01-26-2010 03:27 PM