Author Tips, Things I’ve Learned About Successful Writing

Recently, I was asked to provide a few author tips, things that I’ve learned that help one succeed as a writer and published author. Flattered to be asked, I spent some time thinking about it and came up with six tips which I dutifully provided to the requester. I subsequently decided to post those same tips on my blog. In this blog post, I have added an extra tip that came to me later…this would be number seven below. It would be nice if I could take credit for this last one, but not so much. Author Tips

After a long career as a pharmacologist in the pharmaceutical and medical biotech industries developing new medicines, I am now an award-winning author of comedy murder mysteries (and a couple of dark murder mysteries). I have created a new sub-genre that I call the MEDICAL BIOTECH MURDER MYSTERY. Author Tips

These are comedy murder mysteries staged in…you guessed it…the pharmaceutical and medical biotech industry. The premise is to explore what could possibly go wrong when doctors and scientists play around with your DNA, immune system and cells to make new medicines? The answer…why murder, of course. My latest book is THE REALTOR’S CURSE, the one that I entered in the Firebird Book Awards contest and won first place in both the Mystery and Humor categories. Author Tips

This leads into my author’s tips for today:

First, choose your favorite genre to write. I have read murder mysteries all my life, from Agatha Christie to JA Jance to my favorite author, Robert B. Parker (Spenser and Jesse Stone novels). I love trying to solve the puzzle of whodunnit before the end of the book. So, I decided to try my hand at a murder mystery. My first two books were dark murder mysteries, my Guardian Angel series. I created the evilest of evil characters, a serial killer/terrorist and a cult leader who kidnaps young women and loves snakes, and his mother. While I enjoyed writing these first two books, I found myself getting depressed spending so much time with these evil characters. I decided to try something else. Author Tips

Second, have fun; write something that makes you smile and feel good. I enjoy reading Janet Evanovich and her bounty hunter character, Stephanie Plum, and I watched every episode of the TV series Monk and all the Inspector Clouseau movies. I like humor and love to laugh. So, I decided to try my hand at a comedy murder mystery. Humor is not the easiest thing to write, but I was determined to give it a try. I feel pure joy when writing these books. And the good news, my depression from living with those truly evil bad guys in my first two books has lifted. Author Tips

Third, write what you know. Well, this was a no brainer for me. I had a 40-year career in the pharmaceutical and medical biotech industry, so staging a series of murder mysteries in that setting worked well…not a lot of research required to set the stage. So, murder in the medical biotech and pharmaceutical industry it was. My imagination has created a surprising number of opportunities for murder in this setting. Author Tips

Fourth, be bold, try something new. I came up with the idea of the MEDICAL BIOTECH MURDER MYSTERY. I spent many years doing risk assessments of medicines like gene therapies, monoclonal antibodies, and recombinant vaccines, and a few of them had some nasty side effects. After all, this technology involves manipulating your DNA, immune system and cells. Author Tips

I thought it might be a bold move to approach this from a new angle, looking at the humorous side of what could go wrong with this technology. For example, just imagine the possibilities if a scientist screws up your DNA…it could cause you to grow a tail, mess with your brain, grow a second brain, turn you into a killer, or a comedian, increase your libido, increase or decrease your lifespan…any number of things. And the real challenge? How to work this into the plot of a murder mystery, and a comedy murder mystery at that. This challenge has really gotten my creative juices flowing. Author Tips

Fifth, character development is key. The reader needs to understand, like and relate to the main characters. It’s important for me, as the writer, to also like my characters and enjoy writing them. The main characters for my MEDICAL BIOTECH MURDER MYSTERIES are a married couple, Dr. Jason Longfellow, PI and his wife Chelsea, a nurse. As Jason stumbles his way through some very unusual murder cases, the ever-patient Chelsea is at this side, not so gently guiding him in the right direction. This might even include a slap on the back of the head when his current mid-life crisis gets in the way of his investigation (perhaps ever-patient is a bit of an exaggeration). Author Tips

My sixth author tip…spend a ridiculous amount of time on the first chapter. Including a truly effective hook in the first chapter will go a long way towards convincing the reader to buy the book. The reader needs to feel like they can’t sleep until they find out what the heck is going on with your story. Author Tips

My seventh, and last tip, is the one I wish I could take credit for…but, not so much. It doesn’t hurt to have a daughter who studied media arts and design in college with a minor in English. My youngest daughter, Jacqueline, has been extremely helpful by designing most of my book covers, and she has also provided early editing for many of my books. Wish I could say it was my idea for her to study media arts and design, but she is my daughter. If I’d told her to follow this course of study, she’d probably be an engineer, doctor, or anything else. I lost all delusions of controlling my adult children long ago. Thanks for all your help, Jackie! Author Tips

That’s all I’ve got. I hope that these tips prove helpful. Happy writing and best wishes on your book sales.

If you would like to read the 1st three chapters of THE REALTOR’S CURSE for free or find links to buy the book, go to It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and bookstores everywhere.

If you would like to buy the book from Amazon now go to