Author Archives: mmurfy68

About mmurfy68

My return to historical mystery, The Yankee Club, will be released by Random House Alibi, August 12, 2014.

Smartphones, eReaders and Tablets…oh my

2010 marked the first time Amazon sold more ebooks than traditional pulp and ink books. Authors need to realize this revolutionary development and focus marketing and promotion on selling electronic versions of their novels and less on traditional methods like book signings.

I have a Kindle Store app on my smartphone, but even I don’t want to read Scorpion Bay on my phone. eReaders…that’s more like it.

You’ve all heard of the most popular e-book readers, Kindle and Nook from Barnes and Noble, but what about the Libre, Kobo ereader, Literati Reader, Pandigital Novel and Sony Reader? If you’re not familiar with these and your publisher isn’t I guarantee you your customers, or potential customers are. Here’s an article that will allow you to compare the various e-book readers.

Literally thousands of books can be stored on a single eReader. Cutting edge stuff, right? Yes and no.

There’s another revolution within this e-book reader revolution that authors should be familiar with. The first table, Apple’s Ipad, touted its ability to download ebooks. It’s a popular feature with the Ipad 2. Like the explosion of e-book readers, there’s an ongoing explosion with tablets. With a tablet, one can download various e-book reader applications from the Apple Store or Android Market. Readers can select books from iBooks, Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble Nook, Borders, Kobo and more. Rather than have a Kindle, or a Nook, or a Kobo, consumers can have them all on their tablets and the applications are free.

Consumers can also download audio books applications on tablets and listen to audio books. They’re doing so at increasing rates.

You should become familiar with all these and more,  Ipad 2, Motorola Xoom, Blackberry Playbook, Archos…the list goes on and on. What list? Here’s one.

If you want to maximize your ability to promote electronic versions of your books, or if you just want to read a book on a great new device, try a tablet.  Me?  I have a Xoom!

Michael

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Writing humor in fiction

Although I’ve write mostly in the mystery/suspense genre, my literary voice has evolved to a blend of humor with mystery and suspense.  Nelson DeMille is an absolute master at it. Now, after seven published novels, readers expect humor from a Michael Murphy novel.  I find a lot of wonderful writers tend to avoid humor, as if it’s some mysterious method of writing.  Don’t shy away from it, life is full of humor (thankfully), and so should your writing.  How does one make humor work in a novel without making it appear forced or contrived?  What works for me is focusing on what drives plot, conflict.

Drama does not exist without conflict.  Same with humor.  There are essentially three types of conflict to generate humor; a character’s conflict with setting, conflict with themselves and conflict with the other characters.

A climactic scene in Scorpion Bay demonstrates humor resulting from conflict between characters.  Parker Knight, a kick boxing expert, sweeps the feet of one of the villains who falls face first. With a bloody mouth, she spits out one tooth then another. The scene is suspenseful and full of conflict between the good guys and the bad. The next line is a one word dialogue that injects humor into the scene when Parker’s friend Justin watches the woman spit out first one tooth then another.  He looks at her and says, “Chiclets.”

One of the funnier scenes in the novel happens at a Phoenix Suns game. Parker has implemented a carefully orchestrated attempt to listen in on a remote conversation so he can learn information about who is behind his wife’s murder. To Parker’s consternation, he’s seated next to Justin’s high maintenance girlfriend, Tina Banks. While the plot moves along and Parker learns valuable information, Tina’s series of demanding requests add conflict and humor to the scene.  Though Parker finds no humor in the girlfriend’s unending requests, the reader does.

Plot is driven by conflict and so is humor. Humor adds an additional dimension to a novel, so look for opportunities: to enhance your next manuscript by extracting humor from conflict, as well as drama.

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Scorpion Bay Book Launch

I didn’t realize it at the time I wrote the novel, but product placement, also known as embedded marketing, would become important in promoting Scorpion Bay.  A few tweaks to a manuscript could impact a writer’s novel in positive ways as well.

Next time you’re at a movie notice how many times you see a box of Dunkin Doughnuts or a Coke product.  Product placement is common in movies, but novels? Sure, specific products are often mentioned but how can they be turned into tangible product placements to benefit a writer’s book promotion?

I named my mystery/suspense novel Scorpion Bay two years before the Scorpion Bay Marina was built.  I had to create scenes based on the existing marina at the other side of Lake Pleasant in Arizona.  Once the new marina was built at Scorpion Bay, I realized the deli I described didn’t exist.  The only eating establishment was a wonderful restaurant called Dillons.  Writing about a real location, I wanted to be accurate, so I contacted the owner, Rich Dillon, who welcomed my inquiry like I was a long lost brother.  He not only gave me permission to use his restaurant in the story, he asked if he could sell the book, once the novel was published, at his store where boaters come up for supplies. Many of his customers spend half the year on the water.  They need something to read right?  He didn’t have to twist my arm.

When I asked whether I could have a launch party at his restaurant, Mr. Dillon said, “Absolutely. How can I help?”

Armed with a date and location, I approached the media.  The media rarely does stories about a new novel being released, except by literary superstars of which I am not yet a member.  However, the local weekly, Peoria Times and the state’s daily newspaper, The Arizona Republic , said yes to stories about the launch of Scorpion Bay the novel, at the real Scorpion Bay.  I also approached the state’s highest rated morning news program, Good Morning Arizona.  Two years earlier, one of their newscasters had been helpful in researching my story; the main character is a newscaster.  Good Morning Arizona jumped at the chance to interview me in studio because they were the story, their newscaster helping an author.

In studio interview

When you read the articles, notice the stories are not about me or Scorpion Bay.  They’re about Dillons Restaurant and the Scorpion Bay Marina.  Those were real places mentioned in the novel.  The locations give scenes authenticity and they became product placements like Coke or Dunkin Doughnuts. They resulted in tangible benefits to the book promotion efforts of my book release and more specifically the book launch.

The restaurant and the marina not only benefited from media publicity, but they profited from my promotional efforts through social media such as my Facebook page, twitter page, Goodreads and my website.

During the launch party I made a point of asking attendees what brought them there.  Several had boats at the marina.  Some had come for the food. Half said they came because they read about the event in the newspaper or saw it on television.  I sold twice as many books at the launch party than any event I had for my six prior novels, because the launch party for Scorpion Bay was at the real Scorpion Bay. The title itself is product placement.

Writers whose manuscript involves a real location should look for ways to not only add authenticity by using real locations, but they should look for locations that potentially offer produce placement. Partner with businesses, obtain their approval and the author should see how a relationship can work to their advantage.

My main character, Parker Knight, road a high tech Harley Davidson.  Maybe I should approach them and surprise my wife by riding home on a black gleaming Harley…naaah. 

Dillons RestaurantPlenty of signs along the pierIt got busy!

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