Want some novel reading to go along with your Olympics watching? As the women's figure skating finals come into view, read up on the world behind the scenes in Alina Adams' hilarious and entertaining mystery, Murder on Ice.
Granted, Murder on Ice is set at the world championships, but close enough. For those of us who follow figure skating once every four years, this is all a fun new experience.
Full disclosure up front: I happened to tell Alina Adams on Twitter (I think? It was awhile ago — I am anything but prompt!) that I loved her book (the paperback version) and was going to review it on my blog, and she offered to send me the multimedia Kindle version as well. So this isn't a sponsored post, but I did get a free enhanced e-book out of it!
So, this all makes me want to review Murder on Ice first as a reader — and then as a writer. It's an inspiring book in both categories!
Reader's reviewBex Levy is a researcher for the TV series 24/7, and she's in charge of knowing everything — absolutely everything — about the figure skating competition that the famous commentators might need for their patter and that the show might need for choosing camera angles and interview opportunities.
I came across the term micro-niche, and I love it. As a reader, it means you can find something written specifically to your interests: In this case, you can enjoy a peek into the world of figure skating and the world of being a professional TV researcher, as well as enjoy a cozy mystery along the way. I suppose some readers choose interests that already align with what they know; I actually love opportunities like this, where I get to see into a life I've never led.
It's not enough just to have an intriguing setting, though — fortunately, the book comes through with a clever mystery and plenty of funny. An Italian judge is murdered — and Bex's boss decides that, as a researcher, Bex is the perfect person to find the killer in time to reveal on air at the finale! But no pressure.
Bex, underpaid and generally beleaguered, sees no choice but to agree. She does already know all the players and quickly becomes adept at nosily sussing out their secrets.
One of my favorite passages is when Bex considers the lengthy and detailed descriptive travel passages in mystery fiction. I've often wondered about the same thing.
"As a reader, Bex had assumed the technique was nothing more than filler. […] However, now that she was a sleuth herself, Bex decided to give all those poor, maligned writers the benefit of the doubt and guess that the interminable itinerary listing was actually a sensible way of organizing their thoughts in a linear fashion, the better to make sense of the knotty puzzle before them."
She decides to give it a go:
"She noted that they seemed to be driving down Nineteenth Avenue. The street was … street colored. Concrete colored. Gray.
And, anyway, now they had left Nineteenth Avenue and were driving through Golden Gate Park, which was pretty and green, as parks are wont to be. Finally, they pulled out of the park and alongside the Pacific Ocean. It was blue and big and, presumably wet."
Ha! As a writer who frequently adds in description after writing the story, I chuckled along with this.
But back to the reader's perspective: If you've ever wondered what it's like to be backstage at a figure skating competition — the intrigue, the judging scandals, the potential for cold-blooded murder — come along with Bex Levy and enjoy this charming and pragmatic amateur detective.
Writer's perspectiveThinking more about the micro-niche idea, isn't it perfect for writers today? With the growth of the e-book field, you can write what you know, down to the detail, and find readers who want to read just that. If you're not going the traditional publishing route, you don't even have to justify your micro-niche to anybody before putting your book out there. (Alina is traditionally published, so she found a good foot — skate? — in, having already written a nonfiction figure skating book.)
I was also impressed with Alina's enhanced multimedia e-book edition, which includes dramatic figure skating videos performed by The Ice Theatre of NY. Think of the possibilities to encourage or revive your own e-book sales.
If you write fiction, including related images and videos would be a plus. Maybe you could put all your own extensive research to good use by crafting some informational background videos, explaining the setting of your novel. You could also include an author video, where you record a message to your readers.
If you write nonfiction, the sky's really the limit in including anything that would bring to life what you're writing about. For instance, in my new book, The Natural Parent's Guide to Babywearing, I love the idea of including babywearing tutorial videos in an enhanced edition!
I can see these multimedia enhancements being a big draw for readers, including readers who might already have purchased a hard copy of your book but who would relish the extras if the price was right. Kindle, for instance, has a program called Kindle MatchBook that entices people who've bought a print book on Amazon to add the same in e-book form for a reduced price ($0.99-$2.99). If you publish your ebook on Kindle Direct Publishing, you can enroll in MatchBook and choose your price. If you sell hard copies on your own site, you could offer you own sort of deal on your e-book with a special coupon code emailed out to buyers.
Get your copyYou can find Alina Adams' Murder on Ice: Enhanced Multimedia Edition on Amazon. It's a deal at $2.99!
You can also read several others in the Figure Skating Mystery series, as I am going to do!
You can find Alina Adams at her site; read her blog for writing insights, news, and giveaways; and connect with her on Twitter.
Amazon links are affiliate links.
See my full disclosure policy here.