Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Favorite Week of the Writing Year

This week is the Mystery Writers Conference at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California. Three plus days of intense conversations about killing, mayhem, murder, crimes of the century, guns, knives, explosives, and all the other paraphernalia necessary to create complex stories that deal with, “Trying to get away with it!” If you were in line at San Francisco Airport talking like this they would throw you in the slammer, never to be seen again.  Cool huh?

This year’s conference has a stellar line up: Sheldon Siegel, Jacqueline Winspear, Cara Black, Anne Perry, D.P. Lyle, Kirk Russell, Tim Maleeny, George Fong, Valerie Plame, Isabel Allende, David Corbett, Otto Penzler, and John Lescroart. All I can say is “WOW.” This is a conference every mystery and thriller writer should do at least once.

The sessions deal with character development, dialogue, real crime case studies, dealing with agents (many in attendance), writing styles, plot constructions, developing the bad guys and the good guys, even marketing and promotion. This allows for some serious conversations with the moderators and authors who have probably more than a hundred best sellers amongst them.

This is the 21st  annual conference at Book Passage that puts writers, great authors, and teachers together to help hone their craft. There will be editors, agents, and even a publisher or two to help beginners and even experienced writers learn more about their profession.

This is a hands-on conference with Q&As and discussions with FBI agents and detectives, forensic experts, and even a judge. All it needs is a few criminals to make it real.

Here’s what Jacqueline Winspear has to say about the conference:

From Book Passage’s Promotion page:
In this short Q&A, bestselling novelist Jacqueline Winspear discusses why she enjoys participating in Book Passage's Mystery Writers Conference, which will be held from July 24-27, 2014 in Corte Madera, CA. Winspear is on the faculty this year as a conference chair. She is the author of New York Times bestsellers A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, An Incomplete Revenge, and Leaving Everything Most Loved, as well as four other nationally bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. Her next novel, The Care and Management of Lies, will be published on July 1st. Winspear has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was a New York Times Notable Book.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching at the conference?

JW: The most rewarding part of the conference is in seeing the participants bloom over the course of the four days that they are with us - their confidence in themselves as writers increases dramatically, and you can see the content really having an impact on the work, and how they approach issues such as revision, character development, dialogue and the important quality of knowing how to weave their background research into the narrative.

What do you hope aspiring writers will get out of this conference?

JW: One of the points I always make during the opening session, is for participants to have a clear idea of what they want to come away with. I encourage them to take some time alone and write down aspects of their work and life as writers that they would want to see impacted by the conference - this helps them to make choices when there are optional sessions, and it inspires them to ask questions of the faculty that will help them in their work. I hope that each participant leaves with a breadth and depth of knowledge that they did not have at their fingertips before.  But more than anything, I want them to leave fearless and enthused about their work - indeed, with a plan to take the next major step in becoming a published author.  Many come without a clear path - but we do all that we can to ensure they are on track towards publication and success in their writing careers.

All the information is here:

I’ll report next week on the activities and who the murderer really was.

More later . . . . . . . . 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

10 Reasons to Buy an Independently Published Book

How do you select the next book to put on our iPad or Kindle? Or more importantly why do you select a particular author? I’m sure the reason isn’t the publisher such as Penguin or Random House, or Simon & Schuster. We don’t ask, “ I wonder what Random Penguin has out this month?” No, it’s always the author, “Does Daniel Silva have a new book? I wonder when the next Child book is coming?” But there are times when you want to explore, and that’s when it’s fun to read through the book descriptions at various web sites, retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.), book reviewers, and even book bloggers. What you will often find in these literary back alleys are some jewels that don’t fit the mold of the traditional publishers and are often surprising and delighting. So here are ten reasons to look to indie and self published authors regardless of genre and subject.
  1. They are often more creative and interesting.
  2. The author has put their heart and soul into the story.
  3. The author has even put his own money into the production and editing of the book.
  4. The author sincerely wants to entertain you.
  5. It is a way to find a new and wonderful writer that speaks to you without all the marketing hype and in your face drama (Today Show, The View, etc.) of the typical traditional release.
  6. The price and affordability of the work (ebooks especially).
  7. The chance to communicate directly with the author through their web site or emails.
  8. You want to help this new industry (self-publishing) by buying their books and spreading the word.
  9. You have grown tired of the formulaic novels now being sold where the story is same no matter who the author is.
  10. You yourself are independent and quirky and seek out those that fit your own style and interests - the independent self-publisher.

I’m sure there are other reasons beyond cost and quirkiness but please understand there is a revolution going on in the writing and publishing industry (the obvious and very public bloody battle going on between Amazon and Hachette is a good example). The traditionals go out of their way to demean the indies by calling them poorly written and produced. But some of the recent books I’ve read published by the trads still have weak story lines, are formulaic (James Patterson’s last five books for example), poor editing, and often glaring typos. Just saying.

More Later . . . . . . . .

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Free O'Mara Books


Until the end of July all the Sharon O'mara books and Elk River are FREE at SMASHWORDS. Just type Gregory Randall - no middle initial. They should show up as free when you check out. If a problem let me know.