Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dust by Susan Berliner (R)

Karen McKay notices something strange as she returns home one afternoon.  A small dust funnel appears inside her house.  Instead of normal dust, this dust is multi-colored; blue, red and green.  The funnel picks up a small figurine as Karen watches, then drops it, breaking it into pieces.  Karen thinks it is strange and does a bit of computer research about dust funnels, but then decides it is a strange one-time occurance and goes on about her business.

But it isn't a one-time occurance.  In the following days, the dust seems to be targeting the condos where Karen lives.  Numerous people are targeted by the funnel, which picks up objects and hurls them at the victim's heads, catching them unawares.  The condo occupants start to realise that the number of incidents are no accident.  People are falling, having car wrecks, slipping in the shower or down flights of stairs.  Several are hospitalized and some don't make it that far, dead at the scene of their attacks.

Karen and her ex-husband, Jerry, band together to figure out what is going on and how to defeat this evil that is threatening life and limb.  Over the next few days, they learn more about the dust's methods, it's likes and dislikes.  Can they figure out how to defeat the dust before it defeats them? 

Susan Berliner has written a story that will be enjoyed by those fans of cozy mysteries.  Although there are deaths, the violence isn't graphic or stomach-turning.  The heroine, Karen, is a fresh character; a research librarian with a need for knowledge and the impetus to defeat evil where others might turn away.  This book is recommended for mystery and thriller readers.

Bookstore Signings: 10 Lessons I've Learned

by Susan Berliner, author of DUST

Although I'm still new to the bookstore-signing scene, having done just two (the most recent one earlier this month), I am quickly learning what works and what doesn't work for me. Here are my conclusions:

1. Most authors can't just sit behind signs with pictures of their book covers and expect to generate sales to strangers. Of course, that'll work if you're a world-famous author like Stephen King. But most of us have to stand in a main aisle and introduce ourselves (and our books) to customers.

2. Don't be shy and reserved. I once watched an author spend hours slumped in a chair, not promoting her novels at all. The only books she sold were to friends.

3. Don't be loud and obnoxious. I watched another author scream at people (from his seat) as they entered the bookstore: "Do you like [name of genre] books?" Nearly everyone said "no" and I didn't see him sell a book.

4. Be friendly and outgoing. I wear a badge that has both my name and a picture of the cover of DUST and stand at the front of the store as a kind of unofficial greeter, smiling at people as they enter. Most make eye contact and some even say "hello" to me. Then I go into my spiel: "Hi. My name is Susan Berliner and I've just published a book called DUST." (I hold up the book.) "Do you like supernatural thrillers like those written by Stephen King or Dean Koontz?" Most people say, "no" or "sorry," and I thank them for their time.

5. Let people who like your genre skim through the book. I hand fans of paranormal fiction—about 20% of the people I talk to—my book while I summarize the plot: "DUST is a supernatural thriller about an evil swirl of dust that terrorizes a condo development..."

6. Find something about your book that will intrigue the customer. Since DUST is based on a real weather phenomenon called a "dust devil," I ask people if they've heard of dust devils. If they haven't, I explain dust devils are miniature tornados that arise suddenly on hot and dry spring days. I then tell them my novel was inspired by a dust devil incident in which an auto body shop collapsed, killing the owner. "It happened in Maine," I say, "so I thought Stephen King would write a novel about dust." All this time, the customer is looking through my book. Often, when I've finished my explanation, the person will offer to buy a copy.

7. Try to close the sale immediately. If the person doesn't want to buy the book, I thank him or her for listening and give him/her a DUST bookmark. Some people say they might buy the book later, but few of them ever return to my table. I usually sell DUST immediately or not at all.

8. Take a photo with the buyer. I walk the customer back to my table to sign a copy of DUST and have a picture taken of both of us with the book. (I post some of the best photos on my Website and Facebook pages.)

9. When dedicating a book, always ask the person for the spelling of the name. At my last book signing, I had two unusually spelled names: "Krisy" and "Annabela." If I hadn't asked for the correct spelling, I would have written both names incorrectly.

10. Wear comfortable shoes. After standing for more than five hours at my November book signing, my feet were killing me!


Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I liked the review of this book,
sounds like a cozy mystery to read on a snowy day.

M.A.D. said...

Mary D

Sounds like an enjoyable read, good review :)

DCMetroreader said...

I love the idea of a research librarian heroine

Unknown said...

This sounds a very interesting book, I'm sure it's one to add to my "must read" list thank you for sharing


Jackie said...

Thanks for sharing, this looks like an interesting thriller


K. Engh said...

This sounds like a fun read! I definitely agree with the author's 10 Lessons, too. When I was an editor for a literary magazine in college and it came time to gather advertisers, I remember hearing a lot of grumbles from my staff about getting out there and selling ad space. I would tell them to consider it preparation for the real world, where writers and editors are constantly trying to sell new ideas, magazines, books, etc, but it wasn't until I actually started working as a writer that I learned how much it's really true. The most active writers I know are usually the ones finding their names in print (or online) more often than the shy, quiet, unenthusiastic ones. It's all about getting out there. Susan is right on!