• Book Groups,  Bookstore appearances,  Conferences,  Library Talks

    Book Stores, Book Clubs, and Conferences

    October, for me, was a busy month of promoting the paperback version of A KILLER PAST. I didn’t really plan it that way, but starting last spring and through the summer I kept receiving invitations to speak or appear.  All wanted October dates. These invitations included two book clubs, one book store, and one conference. I participated in all four and ended the month with several conclusions. For me, being a guest at a book club is fantastic. The members don’t even have to have read any of my books. First of all, attendance is usually good. (One book group actually had 70 members in attendance.) Members are interested in…

  • Conferences,  Musings,  Writing Ideas

    Fear

    Recently I attended the inaugural, one-day Southwest Michigan Writers’ Conference chaired and coordinated by Brian R. Johnston, Head of Public Services at the Lincoln Township Public Library. The event was sponsored by a group of southwest Michigan libraries, and held at the beautiful Niles District Library. Most of the men and women attending were writers (traditionally published, self-published, hybrids, or wannabes), but a few attendees identified themselves as readers who were simply interested in what is going on in the book world today. I was on a panel at the end of the conference regarding the future of self-publishing. During that panel and in conversations throughout the day, I heard…

  • Conferences,  Research,  Writing Ideas

    Back from the Dead

    Writing a story where a character overdoses on drugs? I am, so while I was at the Writers’ Police Academy I attend a session that dealt with that subject. Eric Paulowski was the instructor and, of course, the topic was the opioid addiction that’s been in the news this year. What surprised me was he said the worse users are high profile people: doctors, lawyers, attorneys. People you would think would know better. In the U.S. there were 20,000 deaths last year from overdoses. (Over 115 every day) 18% of deaths are from people misusing prescription drugs. The drugs used are poppy seeds, heroin, Percocet, oxycodone, synthetic opioids such as…

  • Conferences,  Research,  Writing Ideas

    The Wonderful World of Crime Evidence

    We’ve heard that what you see on CSI isn’t reality, that one can’t get fingerprint matches or facial recognition as quickly as shown, but the truth is, science and computers are bringing us closer and closer to what is shown. Just a week or so ago the news reported how facial recognition identified a man trying to get through security using fake ID. On the first night of the Writers’ Police Academy, four presenters gave a presentation on what Sirchie  has available for the various law enforcement departments to help them identify and catch criminals. (Sirchie also offers training classes.) (I’m going to put a disclaimer in here: The information that…

  • Conferences,  Research

    Cowboy Hero Syndrome

    Back in the 1940s and 50s the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and others were the cowboy heroes. If a good guy was about to be hanged, the Lone Ranger would ride in and shoot the rope and the good guy was saved. Or Roy Rogers would shoot the gun out of the hand of a bad guy and the gun fight would end. So, why doesn’t law enforcement do that today? Why not shoot the gun out of the hand of a bad guy? Or shoot her in the arm? Or in the legs? That would stop him, wouldn’t it? The answer to those questions was clearly shown…

  • Conferences,  Research

    Writers’ Police Academy Overview

    Michigan author, Elizabeth (Betty) Meyette, and I decided to travel and room together at this year’s Writers’ Police Academy. We took the 10:15 a.m. Lake Express Ferry from Muskegon to Milwaukee and arrived at the Hyatt Regency in Green Bay, Wisconsin around 2:30 p.m. (CDT). Our room wasn’t ready, but the WPA planning committee had a room in the hotel’s conference center set up for the “Kooky Cop Carnival,” which consisted of several “stations” around the room. At one, we had our pictures taken in prison garb with our number. At another, the challenge was to get dressed in uniform—pants, a fully loaded duty belt, etc—and then see how fast…

  • Conferences,  Craft,  Events

    Heading for WPA

      Tomorrow I leave for Green Bay, Wisconsin to attend this year’s Writers’ Police Academy. This is my third WPA, but my first in Wisconsin. (It used to be held in North Carolina.)  writerspoliceacademy My experiences in the past have been fantastic, and, looking at this year’s schedule, I’m sure I’ll once again come home with loads of new information. The originator of WPA, Lee Lofland, as usual, has brought together well-known, accomplished writers (Jeffery Deaver is the guest of honor) as well as men and women in a variety of law enforcement positions (police, sheriff, FBI, ATF) and related jobs (martial arts, forensic psychology, forensic art). The Sisters’ in Crime…

  • Conferences,  Craft,  Writing Ideas

    What Could Go Wrong?

    During her session at Sleuthfest 2018, Sharon Plotkin, a Certified Crime Scene Investigator in Miami, Florida, talked about CSI failures and mistakes that can and have ruined cases. During her talk, she focused on two high-profile cases: OJ Simpson and JonBenét Ramsey. Her first point was readers are jurors, and a writer needs to keep it real; nevertheless, Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong) can occur and the police and CSI investigators do make mistakes. One of the biggest problems, she said, is law enforcement personnel who have been on the job a long time. They will sometimes jump to conclusions. They slip into a “Been…

  • Conferences,  Craft,  Research,  Writing Ideas

    Forensic Research and Fiction

    Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D, forensic psychologist, was one of the Guests of Honor at this year’s Sleuthfest. She gave the Friday luncheon talk followed by a session on “Integrating Forensic Research into Fiction.” Her luncheon talk was fascinating (About the BTK Killer, Dennis Rader) but a bit gory (But no one ran out of the room gagging. Then again, this is a conference for people who write about murder.); the session on forensic research was informative. This blog will address the latter. She began by saying that much of what in the past has been presented as solid evidence is now being proven false or unreliable. She gave the example of…

  • Conferences,  Craft

    Two Writers’ View of AWP’18

    I’d never heard of AWP, so when two writers I know said they would be attending this year’s conference, I asked them to write about their experiences. Please welcome Amy Brown and Patricia Averbach. Making the most of the year’s biggest literary event: AWP ‘18 By guest contributors Amy Brown and Patricia Averbach The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) is the biggest writer’s conference in North America. Since the 2018 event was being held in Tampa, FL in March, local authors Amy Brown and Patricia Averbach took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about craft, publishing, and hear famous novelists talk about their work. Find out more…

  • Conferences,  Writing Ideas

    Agents Panel at Sleuthfest2018

      The Agents’ Panel was moderated by Michael Joy, Co-chair of Sleuthfest 2018. The four agents on the panel were: Mitchell Waters, Literary Agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd.; Anne Bomke, The Annie Bomke Literary Agency; Evan Marshall, The Evan Marshall Agency; and Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency. Michael asked questions, which I’ll paraphrase here, and the agents answered. How many submissions do you get a day or week? Waters: 40 – 50 a week. Mostly email. Nowadays snail mail gets his attention because he receives so few that way. Bomke: 7 – 10 a day. She prefers email. She said sometimes snail mail has a cigarette smell. Marshall: 25-30 a…

  • Conferences,  Craft,  Editor Panels

    What an Editor Actually Does

    Neil Nyron, who recently retired from being the Executive Vice President, Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, gave the welcoming talk Thursday afternoon at the Florida Mystery Writers’ of America 24th annual Sleuthfest in Boca Raton. He’s given 3 other similar talks over the previous three years, each on an element of writing and getting published. This year’s talk was about “What an Editor Actually Does.” Neil said his first job, as an editor, was to look at a manuscript and ask, “What does this ms want to be?” If it needed a lot of work, he would work with the author to get the story…

  • Conferences

    Off to Sleuthfest2018

    If you are reading this blog on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, I am either preparing to leave for or on my way to Boca Raton, Florida for Sleuthfest 2018. (Sleuthfest2018) I’ve attended this conference, which is put on by the Florida Mystery Writers’ of America Chapter, several times now and have always come away with new ideas and information. This year, rather than being on a panel, I’ll be conducting a workshop Thursday afternoon, so I’m a little nervous. If you’ve followed my blog recently, you know this workshop is on outlining, which I always plan on doing when I start a story, but usually abandon sometime after chapter ten…

  • Conferences,  Contests,  Writing Ideas

    More Suggestions Re: Editors

    Last week, in my blog, I asked others to suggest ways writers might find freelance editors. Here are the suggestions I received: Susan Oleksiw said: I’d include the National Writers Union and its locals. Local chambers of commerce sometimes include editors among their members. In Boston, Grub Street is a good resource for published and unpublished writers. I looked it up, and the website for the National Writers Union is: https://nwu.org/  Jacqueline Seewald said: There are also some fine books on self-editing that are valuable. It’s a good idea to put a work aside for a few months after the initial rewrite. A few months later you see the work…

  • Conferences,  Writing Ideas

    4 NYT Authors Talk about Publishing

    This will be my last summary of the Sleuthfest 2017 panels I attended. This one was held Saturday evening. Oline H. Cogdill interviewed Reed Farrel Coleman, Jane Cleland, Jess Lourey, and S.J. Rozan.  I’m not going to give all of the questions and responses, just the highlights, and I apologize if I misquote anyone. Breaking into Publishing: How did you get started? Jess Lourey had 423 rejections. S.J. Rozan started with short stories published in magazines and Ellery Queen, acquired Steve Axelrod as an agent and went on to novels. Jane Cleland started by writing corporate books. That led her to fiction. She wrote what she liked to read. Reed Farrel…

  • Conferences,  Craft,  E-books,  Mysteries,  Writing Ideas

    Different Paths to Publication

    I’m continuing my summaries of sessions I attended during Sleuthfest 2017 with the Saturday afternoon session titled “Different Paths to Publication.” This panel included Lynnette Hallberg, Sharon Potts, John Keyse-Walker, and Dan Ames with Gregg Brickman moderating. Dan Ames started the conversation by comparing the three common ways of being published today: traditional (large publishing house), small press, and Independent (self-publishing). He said the positive aspect of the small press is it gives you a more intimate relationship. The negative is they provide little marketing. Indie publishing, he said, is good for a control freak…and for someone who knows marketing. (He knows marketing.) Sharon Potts talked about Oceanview Publishing. http://oceanviewpub.com/…

  • Conferences,  Mysteries,  Writing Ideas

    SF17 Keynote Speaker: David Baldacci

    David Baldacci was the Saturday keynote luncheon speaker at Sleuthfest 2017. He began his talk by relaying a humorous story about why he won’t go up to anyone reading his book. He said he saw a man reading one of his books and offered to sign it for the man. The man told him, “No way.” It was his book and he wasn’t letting him (Baldacci) put his name in it. Baldacci then tried to explain that he wrote the book. The man still didn’t believe him until Baldacci finally pulled the book out of the man’s hands and held the book up near his (Baldacci’s) face showing the author…

  • Conferences,  Craft,  Mysteries,  Writing Ideas

    Shooting Solutions Session plus The Gritty Cozy Session

    Saturday morning (February 25), I had a meeting so I didn’t get to “Shooting Solutions, Part 1,” presented by Sharon Plotkin, until it was more than halfway over; nevertheless, I still picked up some interesting information to add to my mysteries. For one thing, Sharon said, “Use gloves to pick up a gun at a crime scene, not a pencil,” as they show on TV. Besides drawing diagrams of the crime scene, take a picture of the gun, showing where it was in relationship to other items at the crime scene (body, etc.). Sharon stressed that a crime scene investigator will have her hair up, wear gloves, booties, and, if…

  • Conferences

    Autopsies and Cadaver Dogs

    You know you’re at a mystery writers’ conference when the luncheon speaker entertains with pictures of dead bodies. (Gruesome pictures.) Dr. Vincent Di Maio, a Forensic Pathologist who has performed over nine thousand autopsies, “entertained” us with a few cases where the murderer hoped the police would classify the death as accidental or suicide. (He pointed out the clues that proved it was murder.) I was surprised to learn that about 3% of suicides involve the person shooting himself/herself from behind. (I can’t imagine how one does that.) Dr. Di Maio said testing for GSR (gunshot residue) isn’t a good way to determine if it was a suicide or not,…

  • Conferences,  Editor Panels,  Writing Ideas

    Sleuthfest: The Editors’ Panel

    The guest editors attending Sleuthfest were Emily Giglierano (Mulholland Books), Juliet Grames (Associate Publisher: Soho Press), Annette Rogers (Poison Pen Press), and Neil Nyren (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Random House). Diane Stuckart moderated the panel. All four editors said they (generally) only accept submissions through an agent. Annette said Poison Pen is currently closed to submission—except, if you meet her at a conference and let her know that in your subject line she’ll look at what you send. Emily said Mulholland Books publishes 15-16 books a year and they are looking for female driven mysteries with a twist. Juliet said crime has no time zone and setting…