Tools for Tuesday – Inside the Mortuary Affairs Unit

Today’s post is once again thanks to NPR.  On their outstanding Fresh Air program, host Terry Gross interviewed Jess Goodell, the author ofShade it Black: Death and After in Iraq. Her memoir about her time as part of the Marine Corps’ Mortuary Affairs unit in Iraq, Goodell tells of her responsibilities to “sort through the pockets and belongings of troops lost in combat. She found all sorts of things — crumpled up napkins, pictures, spoons, letters, even sonograms of their soon to be born children.”

Goodell also said that one of the most difficult parts of the job was, “diagramming the body outlines of the deceased. On the body diagram, she would document identifying marks such as scars, tattoos and birthmarks. If a body part was missing or not found, Goodell was instructed to shade that part of the diagram black.”

 “I don’t think I ever stopped smelling death when I was in Iraq,” Goodell said. “Part of the reason that the smell seemed to linger was … being a Marine in Iraq at that time, laundry services only occurred every couple of weeks, so even if we were careful and very clean in the bunker, the smell just seemed to cling to us. It seemed to cling to our uniforms. And at least for me, once I smelled that smell of death, I just couldn’t stop smelling it.”

There are many jobs that, because of the confidential or clandestine nature of it, we can’t wrap our arms around. This job is one of those. Having said that, listening to Goodell talk to Terry Gross about her experiences in Iraq, I could only imagine the horrors a person that volunteers for this duty must carry around everyday. How would it affect them? As a mother? A daughter? A friend? How would these experiences of such intense scenes of death and destruction jade her very existence?

Although I don’t have an easy or quick answer to that question, a character based upon Goodell would be an excellent choice to include in a novel. We saw a similar character in The Hurt Locker. I loved the scene when Jeremy Renner’s character was back home from Iraq and, after serving as a bomb tech in the most tense situations, couldn’t handle being in an aisle of cereal with the endless rows of choices. I, for one, would love to peek behind the curtains on these kinds of people’s lives to see what makes them tick.  

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Mystery Monday – The Mirage Man

 

Often, the best mysteries aren’t found in the pages of a thriller novel, but in real life. I was listening to the Diane Rehm Show this morning on NPR and her guest was David Willman, who wrote The Mirage Man: Bruce Ivins, the Anthrax Attacks, and America’s Rush to War. In the book, Willman, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, reveals the truth behind the hunt for the anthrax killer in the days that followed the September 11th attacks. If you remember, letters were sent to media and political figures in New York, Florida, and Washington D.C. that ultimately killed five people and infected seventeen others.

During a severely botched investigation where the lust for a scapegoat superseded the need for the truth, a scientist specializing in biowarfare preparedness, Steven Hatfill, had his life ripped apart by media stakeouts and op-ed-page witch hunts. The case also becomes one of the rallying points that helped launch the Iraq War. In the end, a trail of scientific and circumstantial evidence leads investigators to a scientist names Bruce Ivins, who, ironically, helped the FBI to learn the science behind the attacks. The Mirage Man shows how Ivins that was actually responsible for the attacks and how he was able to hide a sinister secret life from his friends and family for years.

If you pick it up, we’d all love to hear your review of what promises to be one heck of a gripping mystery!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 12, 2010

Day 59 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Getting inspired part III – in 3D! only if you have a computer screen that does 3D
  • Marketing Topic –  marketing genius or foul play?

Writing topic – Getting inspired part III – in 3D! only if you have a computer screen that does 3D

Like Jaws 3, some tales just don’t need 3D. Like Jaws 3 and Rocky 5, some tales shouldn’t be told at all. But here is one franchise that I hope goes on and on and on.

Case in point is the Vidocq Society, a group of detectives, forensic experts, and journalists that have been meeting once a month for 20 years. They meet at an old Victorian dining room in the middle of Philadelphia to eat lunch and solve crimes that have perplexed investigators for decades. There was a story about them on NPR today, which has a fantastic book review page on their site. Talk about inspiration. Again, this is for the mystery/suspense/thriller crowd, but killers are people too, right? You romance novelists could find some kind of quirky character in here somewhere.

Marketing Topic – Selling to everyone you meet – marketing genius or social faux pas?

Again, before we get into the marketing topic for tonight, I’ll do a little shameless self promotion and let you know I have two signings this weekend, one at the Dallas Uptown Borders on Friday, Aug 13 from 5-7pm and the other at the Mesquite Borders on Saturday, Aug 14 from 3-5pm. Hope you can make it.

Is there such a thing as too much promotion? Should you shove your business card, or in our case, your bookmark into every hand attached to every person you meet? Should you take said bookmarks to any and every public outing/event/party/meeting that you attend so when that inevitable question comes up when you meet someone new, “So what do you do?” You can whip out that trusty bookmark and SMACK! “There’s your answer, sir or madam. I am writer! Hear me type! Now read my damn book!” Or do you simply say, “I’m a writer,” and mention your website, only to have the site address get lost in the frontal lobe of your new acquaintance in record time.

John Grisham once said that writing is a business. In business you sell. If you’re new to selling, you read books on selling. I’m currently reading one titled How to Sell Anything to Anybody by Joe Girard. He’s in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Greatest Salesman.” Why not start with advice from the top, right?

I don’t think Girard, who sells cars, would look down at the passing out bookmarks to everyone you meet. After all, here’s a guy who at sporting events throws up handfuls of his business cards whenever people get up to cheer (p.63) Odd? Maybe, but if you’re looking through the ROI (return on investment) lens, he’s already at the game, and if one person buys a car from a card they pick up, that’s probably around a $35,000 car (with a commission to him in the high hundreds or even a couple thousand dollars) from a few bucks worth of business cards.

Remember, most of the people that you meet can read. Why shouldn’t they be reading your book? No reason. Giving them a bookmark is simply a tangible reminder of what you do, same as a business card. A bookmark is simply a business card for writers, and business cards are always being passed between people at initial meetings. So I say stock up on bookmarks and go for it!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller.

July 19, 2010

Day 35 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010 – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

 In this issue:

  • FB ad round-up – Did I pee in FB’s Pepsi?  
  • Wikileaks – the perfect site to prime the plot pump

 FB ad round-up – Did I pee in FB’s Pepsi?

As you may recall from the last posting, I went with the following ad on FB to take advantage of the Borders July 16-19 25% off sale.  It incorporated last week’s video interview with the Girls in the Stacks (GITS):

 Need a good book?

Check out Mark Fadden’s latest interview about his new award-winning thriller and get the promo code for 25% off his books.

 

So I check in with the results over the weekend, and I see something funny; FB ain’t showing it:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/17/2010 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
07/16/2010 40,397 4 0.01 0.46 0.05 1.83
             
07/19/2010 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
07/18/2010 27 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Lifetime 40,424 4 0.01 0.46 0.05 1.83

 

FB, doth mine words offend thee?  My bid was in their suggested bid range (it was even on the high end) but the love wasn’t there. What gives? I’ve got an email in to FB HQ to solve the problem, but I’ll keep chugging on, because it’s FB ad month here at Author Mark Fadden central.  Here’s the next ad going out this week:

 

Could a novel come true?

A fugitive lawman uncovers the link between a secret society’s plot for financial Armageddon & the FED, based on REAL economic numbers.

 

I thought I’d change the target audience up a bit, so the audience is people who like ‘economics.’ You might laugh that some people actual admit to liking the dismal science, but there’s 93,940 of them. We’ll see. I’m gonna let this ad roll for a week.

 As always, if you have any suggestions for tweaking ad copy, please email ideas to mark@markfadden.com.  

 Wikileaks – the perfect site to prime the plot pump

 If you haven’t visited wikileaks yet, go there ASAP. If you’re a mystery or thriller writer, drop everything and go there right now. It’s chock full of the stuff that will make your mind wander in luscious fields of conspiracy. A truly great source of inspiration. It was the recent topic of NPR’s show Fresh Air, and the founder of the site is supposedly wanting to build the headquarters in Iceland, where he can run the site free from persecution.

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…