Monday, October 09, 2006


Writing the darn novel and also doing pre-promotion or marketing is a challenge.

"Why bother? You ask.

Because the nature of fiction writing for authors in these days is not only finishing the blooming novel but also hawking it to the world at large.

For example, my work in progress, MURDER VISITS ANTIGUA will have just a teeny, tiny window before it's published and a big event happens where I might be able to make beaucoup bucks--or at least approach a captive-reading audience.

Antigua is one of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean and will be one of the major venues next summer for the ICC or Cricket World Cup Matches. Supposedly, some 50,000 visitors will squeeze into the tiny Bird International Airport in St. John's and then fan out in exhaustion to various resorts on the island.

I figure that besides the avid cricket fans, there should be slews of female companions and/or wives, who will only want to sun on the beach with a good whodunit--a Golden Age mystery, i.e., Murder Visits Antigua, featuring a new amateur sleuth by the name of Aunt Amelia.

Yes, Aunt Amelia is a cross between Agatha Christie and Miss Marple, and I am having a ball with her character. Sometimes she raps me smartly on the knuckles to catch my attention: "Young lady," she says. "I'm not that old that I can't have a roving eye cast in my direction."

Apparently, she doesn't want to be relegated to lace shawls and gray hair done in a bun!

"But then," I argue. "I'll have to make you younger than I intended."

"Well, I can be mature, a widow, but not feeble in body."

The look Amelia casts, shrivels. It's the kind given by old school marms who brooked no disobedience or backtalk. Amelia goes on to say, "I thought you were a 21st century kind of author. What are you doing, stereotyping me?"

"Well, I want to reach readers that like cozy mysteries, and puzzling out the 'whodunit' of the story along with a smart, intuitive sleuth."

At this point in our exchange, I let out a big sigh, one that scatters the papers by my computer. I have enough problem with my own flesh-and-blood relatives without my fictional aunt getting pushy.

Politely, I tell Aunt Amelia to take a break for now, I will attend to her. At the moment, though, I'd like to get back on track with this blog and tell about a PRE-PROMOTION stint that I did.

I went to a dinner dance conducted by the Antigua and Barbuda Association of British Columbia. The invitation came through an acquaintance made on an Antigua Tourist Forum on the Internet. Like penpals of old, we became comfortable writing back and forth, and Donna, a member of the association, said, "Come on up to Vancouver, B.C. and join us for the weekend celebration of Antigua and Barbuda's Independence Day." Antigua just celebrated 25 years of independence, moving from British colony to status as a nation state in the Commonwealth.

Well, I went and had a blast. The prime minister of Antigua was there with his wife, and I met them and other dignitaries associated with the island and the Caribbean. Talked about my book, made valuable connections about where I might do book signings, and generally had a good time dancing to reggae music and eating wonderful Antiguan food.

So, if there's a quick lesson to this long blog, it is this:

1)Make your characters behave--within reason. Be attentive to their idiosyncrasies that will make readers like or identify with them, but don't let them run away with your story; and

2) Use the Internet and contacts on forums, blogs and other websites to pre-promote your book and compile a list of marketing contacts. It's what a good publicist or PR person would do, and so should you and I as authors.

That's it for now,

Yours in mystery,