Welcome to the Thrillerfest V Blog!

We hope you'll bookmark us, just as you bookmark so many of the hundreds of the International Thriller Writers that participate in our annual conference, held in New York City in July.

ITW is a youthful organization, always ready for a new way of looking at things. You'll find that dynamism here, in blog posts from authors, agents, editors and Thrillerfest attendees, past and present.

And that same excitement you feel from your favorite reads is evident in everything ITW does, and no wonder--the organization, staffing and publicity for ThrillerFest--including this new blog--is undertaken by volunteers, most of whom are ITW authors themselves.

So pull up a chair and stay awhile ... discover the latest news on what Thrillerfest V--the fifth anniversary of the conference--has to offer. Visit old friends, make new ones, ask questions, and hear about the remarkable things in store for the conference.

Whether or not you can come see us in New York--and we hope that you can!--please join us here. It's gonna be ... a thriller!

Kelli Stanley, Thrillerfest Publicity Committee Chair

Thrillerfest Publicity Committee:
Jeannie Holmes
CJ Lyons
Carla Buckley
Grant McKenzie

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Advice I received and some I ignored—Unpublished era.

My manuscript has been sold, the book published and I’m gearing up for round two on a debut book launch and events. Over the past year and a half I’ve been given boatloads of advice. Here’s what ended up working, and not working, for me:

Write every day—Not for me.

This advice comes from those who write like crazy. Many who say this are well published. I write a lot, but not every day. Frankly, there are not many things I do every day except raise children. When I worked as a lawyer and the kids were smaller I wrote every other day on average. Vacations- and beach vacations in particular- ramp up my word count and as a result my children have seen a lot of sand.

Outline—Not for me.

I get an idea for a premise and begin writing. I research along the way, but while I’m still writing. I remember what James Rollins once said at a conference I attended: “when you’re researching you’re working but not writing.” In other words, doing prep work accomplishes something but you are still no closer to finishing the novel.

Take a creative writing class-50/50 on this one.

I began with an evening course at the University of Chicago Gleacher center. I got into the groove of writing there, but by no means do I think it is a necessary step to becoming a writer.

Get a Masters in Fine Arts-Not for me.

I have some degrees and diplomas. Enjoyed them all, but just don’t have it in me to get one more. Thankfully, this bit of advice is only necessary if you want to obtain a position as a professor.

Write what you know-50/50 on this one.

I’ve written about things I can only imagine. I mean, who murders someone just so they can write about murder? In fact, one of my first manuscripts is about a female attorney. I knew the material, but so many have written legal scenarios and lawyer protagonists that I wasn’t sure I had much to add to the genre. Not to mention that I felt as though I was at work 24/7. I ended up putting that manuscript on the shelf and turned to write Running. If you’re unsure about your ability to write a believable scenario in an area you don’t know, then maybe you should write what you know at first. Just be prepared to branch out if necessary.

Those are the big pieces of advice I heard along the way and my approach to the matter. I’ll blog about the advice to a newly published author next!

Jamie Freveletti
Running from the Devil

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 8 - CraftFest Opening Day

The days spent at ThrillerFest always feel like an extended family reunion. I almost feel as though I'm seeing favorite, distant cousins who live too far away instead of reconnecting with friends. Naturally, there are the "new" people but they are quickly accepted into the family and the cycle continues. If you haven't attended a previous ThrillerFest - and you aren't already here this year - I highly recommend you join us in 2010. We'd love to see you!

And...just to tempt you, I'll be blogging every day this week with a summary of the day's events. Lots to say so let's get started.

CraftFest opening day kicked into high gear early with sessions from powerhouses David Morrell, Lisa Gardner, Lee Child, Kathleen Antrim, Jon Land, Steve Berry, Heather Graham, and more. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend a few of the classes. Thankfully, all sessions are being recorded, as they were last year, and will be available for purchase post-conference. (More on that later in the week.)

"The Business of Writing" Bonus Power Session with David Morrell - this year's ThrillerMaster - covered topics such as advances, day jobs, taxes, and common mistakes made by authors. When "Rambo's Daddy" speaks, people listen and the audience for this session was attentive and more than a few people were taking notes. Summary: When the book is sold, don't go nuts. Save and spend wisely. Don't give up your day job.

"Living on the Ritz - How to Hit the Times List in Five Years or Less" with Lisa Gardner was entertaining as well as informative. Lisa used her own works as an example and discussed what it means to be on the NY Times list. Summary: Know your strengths and weaknesses as an author. Know what you want to write in terms of genre. Always remember the writing comes first.

"Creating a Series Character" presented by Lee Child was incredibly entertaining. Using his popular Jack Reacher novels as examples, Lee discussed what makes a good series character and some of the missteps to avoid in the creative process. Summary: Don't try to write a "likeable" series character. Characters are created by the readers as much as by the writers. If it's a good solid character, the series will follow.

"Successful Rewriting: Paring Down and Fleshing Out" was incredibly popular - standing room only popular. Lisa Gardner outlined her method of rewriting using notecards and how it helped her novel "The Perfect Husband" be "bigger." Summary: Notecards, flow charts, outlines - it doesn't matter the method used, if it works for you and allows you to see where your story is strongest and where it needs work, use it!

"Chill Me, Thrill Me, Fulfill Me" gaves participants a hands-on writing exercise under the direction of Heather Graham. Attendees were invited to read their creations aloud and "pitch" their work to Heather. Summary: Given the same opening line, a dozen writers will create a dozen different stories. Know your work and approach pitches with confidence.

Day 2 - Thursday, July 9 - will see more great events. Sessions with Andrew Gross, Donald Maass, Gayle Lynds, James Rollins, M. J. Rose, and of course, AgentFest - the annual pitch session to end all pitch sessions. I'll report on the events in the evening so be sure to check back!

Jeannie Holmes

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Put On Your ThrillerFest Best!

One more week! I can't wait! I've started emailing friends who I'll meet in NY at ThrillerFest. We're making plans as to where to meet, what to drink and how to make the best of our convention experience.

There are so many people I look forward to meeting! Some because they are friends, like Barbara Vey and Douglas Clegg, some because they are people I've worked with like Heather Graham and Nina Bruhns. There are people I feel like I know because I've talked with them online like Joe Moore and James Rollins and then of course there's the reader side of me that's star struck to see Sandra Brown, Clive Cussler and Steve Berry. This is going to be a fantastic week of fun, networking and learning!

I know some of you will be blogging and Tweeting, some will be doing interviews both audio and video. I would love to know if you plan on doing that during the event! I hope you'll share! If you are Tweeting our official Twitter handle is #thrillerfest. So please be sure to include that in your Tweets so we can find you and so we can help promote your Tweets!

I will be doing little videos during the convention as will Barbara Vey of Publisher's Weekly and a few others. Look for us! If you will be talking about ThrillerFest during the event and would like us to cross-promote or share your blogs, tweets or video please let me know! You can contact me at sheila.english@thrillerwriters.org.

It's time to start getting ready! I'm off to prepare for the event, buying new shoes and breaking out my best fake diamonds! I'll leave you with a wonderful video Barbara Vey took of Brad Thor last year during ThrillerFest. This was lost in the archives until recently and I'm so happy to be able to share it!