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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sample the Thrill: Death on the Aegean Queen by Maria Hudgins

One of many great articles that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

Can't get away for vacation this year? Sit down in your favorite chair with one of Maria Hudgins' novels from her Dotsy Lamb travel mysteries series, and you'll soon be transported to a new place with an exotic setting, intriguing characters, and a murder or two that needs solving. Her latest, Death on the Aegean Queen, finds protagonist Dotsy Lamb on a cruise ship in the Greek Islands searching for the killer of a tourist from Indiana and the ship's photographer. Dotsy's creator, Maria Hudgins, took some time to chat with The Big Thrill.

This is your third Dotsy Lamb mystery. The first two, Death of an Obnoxious Tourist and Death of a Lovable Geek, are set in Italy and Scotland, respectively. Your current novel, Death on the Aegean Queen, takes place on a cruise ship in the Greek Islands. How did you come to write what you call "travel" mysteries, and how did you develop the idea for this third book?

I love to go places. I'll hop on a plane and then ask, "Where are we going?" I don't visit a country with the purpose of writing a mystery about it. Sometimes, nothing strikes me, but when it does, I use the setting as part of the story. I did take a cruise around the Greek Islands a few years ago, but the idea for Death on the Aegean Queen came to me following TV coverage of a newlywed man who disappeared from a cruise ship on his honeymoon. The novel itself bears no further resemblance to that news story.

It was surprise to learn you were once a high school science teacher. How and why did you make the leap from science to literature?

I don't know why, but there's a strong connection between science and mystery, isn't there? In both, you're looking for answers to things you don't understand.

I love the quotes on the left side of each page of your website, www.mariahudgins.com! What's your all time favorite quote, and why?

I try to follow J. D. Salinger's advice to think of the book you'd most like to read, then "You just sit down and shamelessly write the thing yourself . . ."

You also mention on your website that you and Dotsy share a trait: Neither of you tolerates injustice very well. Does this drive your writing? How does it play a part?

It's the whole point, isn't it? I can't stand to think of someone getting away with murder. The only thing worse is someone being convicted of a murder they didn't do. That gives me the willies.

What has been most surprising to you about being a published author?

How much you have to hype yourself. It makes me uncomfortable, but as my mother used to say, "He that tooteth not his own horn the same shall not be tooted." I used to think that was really in the Bible.

Which writers do you believe have influenced your writing the most? Why?

Truman Capote, Agatha Christie, Graham Greene. These are the ones I'm most aware of influencing me. The thing they have in common is that they all write so smoothly you can forget you're reading and loose yourself in the story.

What's next for Maria Hudgins and Dotsy Lamb?

I'm working on a mystery set in the Swiss Alps. Dotsy's son is getting married there and he wants his whole family together. This puts Dotsy, her ex-husband, and his new wife in the same isolated Alpine chalet.

Julie Compton is the author of the critically acclaimed legal thriller, TELL NO LIES, and the recently released RESCUING OLIVIA, which Kirkus called "a pleasing hybrid of modern-day fairy tale and contemporary thriller." She lives and writes near Orlando. To learn more, go to www.julie-compton.com.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Celebrate Craft: Perspective in Fiction; A Gift, Not a Curse

Celebrate the Craft! - from the Write By You blog

One of the most challenging (maddening?) techniques for new writers to master is perspective, also known as Point of View. Although POV is a very basic tool in fiction, few new writers (and even some veterans) have a clear sense of how to create it, control it, or use it to the advantage of their stories. As a result many authors throw up their hands at even bothering to think of whose perspective will work best for any particular scene, which character deserves to be in control, and how POV shifts can be most smoothly carried out.

The result of ignoring these questions is often a story that is difficult to follow and feels out of control to the reader, the agent, an editor. When the author has no idea through whose eyes we are viewing a scene, the reader will sense an unnerving detachment in the writing. And this leads to a loss of interest in the characters as well as in the drama being played out before us.

So, how do we establish perspective then keep it consistent throughout a short story or novel?

First, we need a game plan. Will your story best be served by developing it through the experiences of just one character, or do you need more than one character to show the scenes you envision? If one character will do, then all you need to decide upon is will you use first person ("I"), or third person (he/she), as the voice of the storyteller. If you need several characters to adequately tell your story, then you will choose which characters are the best ones for viewing the drama as it unfolds.

An important point to remember is that the more POV's you select, and the more jumping around between heads, the weaker the reader's connection will be with any one character. Therefore, it's to your advantage as the author to keep the number of perspectives limited, which will allow your reader to bond with one central character, to really care about this paper person and want to follow him/her to the end of the story.

Finally, once you've chosen your POV character(s) decide on a plan for timing the shifts in perspective. Although some authors have mastered the omniscient (all knowing) perspective in which we as readers can see everything going on in the story and hear the thoughts and reactions of virtually any character, this can be very tricky for the author…and if omniscient is done badly, the plot will be nearly impossible for the reader to follow.

So for a strong and effective story plan, limit your POV characters, then decide where your POV shifts will fall. If you change perspectives at a scene break, or at a chapter break, your reader will have a much easier time understanding in whose head he's supposed to be.

Does this mean that you should think through your POV for a story before you start writing? Well…uh, yeah. It does. Planning your perspective, just as you outline the basic plot and choose your characters carefully, can mean the difference between a story that feels sharp, reads like the work of a pro, and is easy to follow—and one that unravels at the seams as the reader struggles through chapter after confusing chapter. But the good news is, even if you've already written your story without consciously analyzing your perspective, you can still dive back into revisions and find ways to focus the POV through one or another of your main characters in each scene.

You'll love what fine tuning that POV focus does for your fiction! Happy writing, Kathryn

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sample The Thrill: Dead in the Water by Meredith Cole

One of many great articles that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

Fans of well-written, cleverly plotted amateur detective novels are in for a treat; Meredith Cole, author of Posed For Murder, has written a second novel in her series featuring art photographer Lydia McKenzie. Dead In The Water will be released May 11.

Posed For Murder won the St. Martin's Minotaur/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, and was an Agatha Nominee for Best First Novel. In Cole's first book, her protagonist is holding an exhibition of film noir style pictures which depict a series of cold cases involved murdered women. When one of her models is found murdered and posed in the same style as Mckenzie's photograph, McKenzie - who works as a Girl Friday for a detective agency during the day - becomes embroiled in the murder investigation.

In Dead In The Water, Cole says, "Lydia is now taking portraits of prostitutes on the waterfront, and one of them ends up a floater in the East River."

In addition to writing her mystery series, Cole has written and directed several films, teaches writing and is a wife and mother. To find out more about Meredith Cole, visit http://www.culturecurrent.com/cole/author.html

I see that you went to Smith College where you majored in Women's Studies and minored in film. Did you take any writing courses, either in high school or college, or was that a self-taught skill?

Before I could actually write, I dictated songs and stories to my mother to write down for me. I can't really remember a time when I didn't write. Over the years, I've taken classes, participated in critique groups, and read many books on writing. They've all been helpful to varying degrees, and now I teach writing (at a writing center and at UVA in the fall). But one of the best ways to become a good writer is to spend hours, days and years doing it. Classes can't replace that time or give you a shortcut to finding your own voice.

Who were your favorite authors as a child?

I have so many favorite authors -- it's hard to pick. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Kate Seredy, Beverly Cleary, E.B. White, and Madeleine L'Engle. We had a library in the small town near where I grew up, and the librarian, Louise Holt, let us take out as many books as we wanted. I dedicated Dead in the Water to Louise and to all the librarians out there who are forced to do more with less funding these days. They are my heroes.

What are you working on now? What's coming up next?

I'm working on book number three right now, tentatively called An Artful Death. It's a Real Estate mystery. Lydia is working for a landlord who is trying to get rid of illegal tenants, and one of the tenants is murdered. She suspects that the landlord did it, so she starts investigating.

I'd love to know about your daily writing process - do you set a certain amount of time aside every day to write? Do you have a certain number of words that you assign yourself? How do you find uninterrupted time to write as the mother of a young child?

I'm much better at writing in the morning, and I used to never write at night. Since becoming published, I've had to adjust my routine to get everything done (revisions, drafts, marketing). I get up at 5:30 AM everyday to write before everyone in my house gets up, and I'll often write again at night when my son is in bed. I also work as a copywriter, so I can't devote my entire day to my fiction quite yet. When I'm rushing to finish a book, I give myself goals and deadlines, but I try to just be pleased that I'm making progress.

Do you write an outline of your book before you start, or just go with the flow? ("Plotter" or "Pantser"?)

I'm definitely a plotter. Before I start a book, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out the story. My outline very rough, and it's certainly not final (there's always room for changes and surprises), but I need to know where I'm going before I start. Also, my writing schedule requires that I pick up and put down my first draft quite a lot. If I already have a note about what's coming up in my next scene, then I'm able to pick up where I left off much more easily.

How long did it take you to write your first book? Your second book?

My first book took about two years to write. I think my second book took about a year and half, but it's hard to measure exactly. I keep hoping I'm going to get faster!

In your first book, Posed For Murder, you thank members of the New York Police Department for helping you out with information about police procedure. How did you go making that first contact with them? Did you sit down and interview the officers in person? Did you have a list of specific questions that you wrote up before meeting with them?

After 9/11, it became very difficult to get access to the police department in New York. I tried reaching out to some detectives in my Brooklyn precinct. They were willing to talk, but said I had to get permission from headquarters. When I called the NYPD, they told me I could only talk to a retired police detective but never gave me the name of one. Lucky for me, I met a retired police officer in my MWA chapter who was willing to answer a list of questions I had prepared and emailed to him. Eventually I met a couple of current detectives through friends (and who asked to remain anonymous) who were willing to answer questions as they came up.

What drew you to the mystery genre in particular?

When I was thirteen, I went on a trip to Europe with my mother. The only books I could find in English that I liked to read were by Agatha Christie. My father is English, and I was fascinated with English culture and society. I loved the sense of order in the books, and enjoyed trying to figure out the puzzle. I read everything she wrote, and then moved on to other mystery authors.

When I got pregnant with my son, I didn't think I was going to be returning to a film set anytime soon with a small baby. I decided to do something a little more flexible, and started my first novel. It seemed natural to write a mystery since that's a genre I've always enjoyed reading.

Who are some of your favorite authors in that genre?

I read everything by Ruth Rendell, Laura Lippman, Laurie King, Ed McBain, Katherine Hall Paige, Dick Francis, Robert Parker, and so many more. It's been amazing to meet so many authors since I started going to mystery conventions, and I know my list of favorites will continue to grow.

How did you go about seeking an agent? How did that process go? (Did you send a query letter and then the agent request to see your full manuscript, etc.?)

I sent out queries and partials for about a year, and got rejected by quite a few agents. A few told me that they didn't see a market for my kind of book, meaning they really didn't know who would buy it. The traditional mystery market has really shrunk a lot over the past few years. After I won the SMP/Malice Domestic Best Traditional Mystery Competition and had a publishing deal, a friend asked if I would be interested in talking to her agent. Her agent contacted me to ask for a copy of my manuscript. I sent it to her, and two days later she called me to say she'd like to work with me.

How did you decide on a career for your heroine, Lydia McKenzie?

I loved the idea of a photographer solving crimes. Photographers are so observant, and they often see things that others miss. I made her an art photographer because I wanted her involved in the Williamsburg art scene.

One problem with amateur sleuth novels is that you have to give your heroine a reason to be investigating. Every artist needs a day job, so I gave Lydia one as an administrative assistant to two private eyes. I figured that job would give her a few skills, and give her a reason to be investigating.

Dana Granger is an award-winning former newspaper reporter who lives in Florida with her family. She is currently working as a freelancer writer, writing a YA thriller, and pursuing a career in emergency medicine.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Celebrate the Craft: The Glories, and Perils, of Research

Celebrate the Craft! - from the Thriller Guy blog

What Is Thriller Guy Reading?

Out last month from Tor, Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice teaming up again with Red Dragon Rising: Shadows of War. This is military adventure at its finest. There's little time wasted on complex characterization or scene setting, instead the authors cut straight to the action. It's 2014, gas in the US costs $14.39 a gallon and the recession continues unabated. China decides to invade Vietnam then take over the rest of Asia; the US has to step in to save the world. In no time at all the missiles, bombs and bullets are flying. If you're interested in the genre, these guys are among the best.

AJ Update.

As a reminder or for first-time viewers, TG is shepherding a first-time novelist, AJ, as he begins a thriller. Here's a sliver of his comment on the blog below: “Part of what does slow me down is the tons of research I find myself diving into on every little aspect of the story. There are some procedural things that I needed to find out, which makes other questions come up, which leads to new ideas, etc.”

TG loves doing research for a novel. The subject is always a place, time or concept that he's interested in, so what can beat whiling away hours on the Internet, in bookstores and libraries? Nothing. Certainly not writing, the painful act of putting words on paper. TG's suggestion is to do a small amount of research while you're getting your concept together, making sure things will work, then doing your outline to get the story down, go back and do any specific research you need for your first several chapters and then START WRITING. Everyone's schedule is different, but if you've got all day to write, a solid four hours in the morning, followed by a couple of hours rewriting what you did the day before followed by another couple of hours of research is a good day's work. A ratio of 4:2:2. If you're squeezing the writing in around a day job, try to stick with the ratio, even though your time will be shorter; splitting the various aspects up over several days if need be.

Research will suggest new lines of attack, new plot twists, new characters and sometimes entirely new directions. It is (usually) wise to follow these leads; beware of thinking that because it means going back and rewriting what has already been written to make the new material fit, that it will be too much work and not be worth it. This is a mistake. Plots, characters and concepts grow because they are fed new material, either from your own brain where you make it up or from outside sources. Research, in other words. You will be amazed how your book will grow from what you will come to see as the paltry, spindly little thing it was when it was first conceived, to the big, strong bruiser it will become when it is finished.

Another Useful Book.

At the other end of the spectrum from Zuckerman's, How to Write the Blockbuster Novel is the newly published, Talking About Detective Fiction, By P.D. James. TG has not had the time to read this, but it's obviously going to have some good stuff in it. Everything that P.D. James writes has good stuff in it. Perhaps some kind soul out there might find a copy of this and review it for us on these pages? For a look at the first chapter, go here.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Celebrate Craft!: The Art of the Soft Sell

Celebrate the Craft! - from the A Newbie's Guide to Publishing blog

Writers suck at selling.

It's understandable. Most writers are better at expressing themselves on paper than in person. They tend to be shy, or introverted, or lacking confidence, or even lacking basic social skills.

Put a writer in a situation where he is forced to sell the books he spent so many hours creating, and many conflicting emotions boil to the surface.

I've seen writers at booksignings, and conventions, and fairs, sitting behind stacks of their novels, and I can read their thoughts:

  • I don't want to be here.
  • Why won't anyone buy anything?
  • This is humiliating.
  • This isn't why I became a writer.
  • Doesn't anyone know I'm here?
  • The organizers really screwed this event up.
  • Don't I have fans?
  • It's the publisher's job to sell books, not mine.
  • I'm bored.
  • I stink at this.
  • Why do people keep saying no?
  • I hate pimping myself.
  • It's the booksellers job to sell books, not mine.
  • I can't sell a book to save my life.
  • I'm petrified.
  • No one likes me.
  • I'm exhausted.
  • I'm not a salesman, I'm an artist.
  • I hate being pushy.
  • Why is everyone ignoring me?
  • If I get asked where the bathroom is one more time, I'm leaving.
So these writers avoid doing events where they're forced to sell books. They believe they aren't good at it, and it's much easier to give up than to learn a new skill set which will help them succeed.
The fact is, pretty much anyone can handsell books. Booksignings don't have to be traumatic failures. I've blogged extensively about this before HERE, so I'm not going to repeat myself. Instead, I'm going to offer some suggestions based on things that I've learned about human nature.
Selling is Flirting

Going up to a stranger in a bar and saying, "Wanna f***?" isn't the best strategy for success. It might work occasionally, but you'll annoy more people than you entice.
The secret to getting anyone interested in you, whether it is as a date or as a purchase, is pretty straightforward.

1. Make eye contact and smile.
The way you look and act will give people a silent signal that you're friendly and approachable. If you're well groomed and dressed, and your body language shows you're relaxed, non-threatening, and interested, then you're already halfway there.

2. Ask questions to develop a common ground.
If someone is in a bookstore, or at a writing conference, chances are they're there because they like books. There are a hundred questions you could ask, from "Enjoying the conference?" to "Do you like thrillers?" Keep asking questions until you get more than monosyllabic answers. The secret to drawing a person out is finding what they truly want to talk about. And everyone has something they want to talk about.

3. Sugarcoat your pitch.
The secret to selling is to make it seem like you aren't selling. No one likes being sold. Luckily, you aren't there to sell books. You're there to meet people who are actively looking for the types of books that you write. The key is to find out what they like, and make them aware your books fit the bill.

4. Make physical contact.
The easiest way to do this is to hand them a copy of the book, or hand them a flyer or bookmark. A handshake is usually welcome too. The impact of physical touch is powerful, and connects us as human beings more than anything else does.

5. Make it personal for them, but not for you.
During those seconds or minutes you're with a potential buyer, they should feel like they're the center of your universe. But because more people say no than yes, you can't actually let them be the center of your universe, because the constant rejection will tear you apart. If someone has no interest in you or your book, you can't take it personally. You also can't take it personally if someone really gets a huge thrill out of talking to you. This is a vicarious relationship, no emotional investment required or desired.

6. Learn to recognize interest.
Some (most) people don't want to be bothered with you, or your book. This doesn't mean they're horrible people, and it doesn't mean you suck. Almost every person has developed defenses to ward off annoying sales pitches. Avoiding eye contact, ignoring you, offering clipped or rude replies, sneering---these are all consumer equivalents to a rattlesnake shaking his tail. Let them pass and seek out someone more receptive. You're not there to waste time, yours or theirs. You're there to meet people who will love your writing. After you've shaken off the fear and tried this for a few hours, you can get pretty good at sizing up who is will give your books a shot.
How does this work in real life? Here are some pastiches drawn from the thousands of times I've done this. Each of these is 100% true.

Example #1 - The Browser
Our hero (me) is standing next to a huge pile of his books, by the front entrance of the bookstore. A man walks in, ignores me (most people do), and walks straight to the New Releases where he picks up James Patterson's latest. I walk up to him, arms at my sides, holding my newest novel.
ME: Patterson fan?
MAN: Hmm? Oh, yeah.
ME: I love the Alex Cross series. Do you have a favorite?
MAN: No, I pretty much read everything he writes.
ME: Do you like other thriller writers?
MAN: I like Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Lee Child.
ME: (smiling) I love Lee Child. He blurbed my second book.
MAN: You're a writer?
ME: (holding up my book) Yep. This is me. My books are a lot like Patterson's, with the action of Child. They're about a Chicago cop named Jack Daniels. Fast reads, a lot of dialog, a lot of suspense. (hands the book to the man)
MAN: Which one is the best?
ME: The latest one is the best. But it's a series, and a lot of people like to start at the beginning. It goes Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini. You're sensing the theme.
MAN: I used to drink Rusty Nails in college.
ME: Where'd you go to school?
MAN: U of I.
ME: I used to party down at that campus, in the 90's.
MAN: (walks over tot he table, picks up Whiskey Sour) This is your first?
ME: That's it. If you're interested, I'd love to sign a copy for you.
MAN: Let's do it. (hands me the book.)
ME: Can I make it out to you?
MAN: Me. My name is Ryan.
ME: Hi, Ryan. I'm JA. (shake his hand, then sign his book "Ryan, Don't Read and Drive, JA") Thanks, Ryan. You'll like it. I promise. And since I have a character named Jack Daniels (I sign a coaster and hand it to him) it's a law that I have to give out drink coasters.
MAN: Thanks. (goes to register to buy my book, the new James Patterson forgotten)

Example #2 - The Interested Party
Our hero (me again) is at a multi-author event where we're all lined up at a table, waiting for people to approach us. Some folks do, but the majority of the customers are at the bookseller tables, or wandering the room.
I get up and walk around, introducing myself and passing out signed coasters. Then I head for the bookseller table and see a woman staring at one of my novels.
ME: I've heard that guy sucks.

WOMAN: (looks at me, then my nametag, then smiles) You're the author.
ME: (holding out hand) JA Konrath, nice to meet you. (shakes) What's your name?
WOMAN: Mary.
ME: Do you like thrillers, Mary?

WOMAN: I read a little bit of everything.

ME: Then you'll love me. My books are funny, like Janet Evanovich or Carl Hiaasen, but they also have some scary parts, like James Patterson when he wrote his own books. Who do you read?
WOMAN: I love Evanovich. My whole family loves her.
ME: Me too. I haven't read Thirteen yet, but I read the other twelve. Is it worth picking up?
WOMAN: I liked it. I laughed a lot.

ME: Does she finally choose between Ranger and Morelli?
WOMAN: No. That drives me nuts.

ME: I agree. But would you recommend it?

WOMAN: It's not as funny as some of her earlier books, but it's worth reading.

ME: My books are funnier than Janet's.

WOMAN: Really?

ME: (handing her a book) It's about a female cop named Jack Daniels. Her personal life's a train wreck, but she's really good at her job. Lot's of humor. If this book doesn't make you laugh, you can mail it back to me and I'll send you a check for seventeen thousand dollars.

WOMAN: (laughing) You sold me.

ME: Great! Can I sign a copy to Mary, or is this for someone in your family?

Example #3 - The Reluctant Fan
Our hero (moi) has just finished speaking at some event, and it went well. People laughed in the right places, and several people approach me afterward.

FAN: I love your books.

ME: Thanks!

FAN: I get them at the library.
ME: I love libraries.

FAN: I do too. But sometimes there's a waiting list. I hate waiting. When is the new one coming out in paperback?

ME: In about eleven months.

FAN: I'm a huge fan. Can you just give me a copy?

ME: I wish I could. But these books don't belong to me. Does anyone in your family like to read?

FAN: Everyone does. My mom loves your books.

ME: You could always buy the copy for her, then you can read it beforehand. Does she have a birthday coming up?

FAN: Yes. Next month.
ME: (hands over a hardcover) A personalized book makes a great gift. And you can always tell her you spent six hours in line to see me, and got the last one.

FAN: (smiling) Okay, you sold me. Her name is Andrea.

ME: With an "A"?

Example #4 - The Gawker
Our hero is in the middle of pitch, and a few folks have stopped to watch what's going on. First, I step back, inviting them into the circle. I hand each person a coaster, making eye contact without pausing in the spiel. The spiel is something along the lines of:
"I'm an author, and I write thrillers about a cop named Jack Daniels."

If the gawkers are mostly women, I mention that Jack is short for Jacqueline. If they're mostly men, I leave that part out.
"The books are laugh outloud funny. If you're drinking something while reading, it will come out your nose. But they're also scary--they'll make you lock your doors and windows. Similar to James Patterson, but with more jokes than Janet Evanovich."
I pick up some of my titles and hold them up.

"They're all named after drinks. There are four in the series so far, and a fifth is coming out next year. I'd love to sign some copies for you. They make great gifts, and great investments. After you get a signature it will sell for triple on eBay."
I hand out some books so people can take a look. A few of them ask me to sign them immediately.

Now let's see if I can anticipate the backlash to this article by placing myself in the shoes of skeptics using a whiny Q & A format.

Q: I'd never do this. I'm a writer, not a huckster like you.
A: I believe that people will enjoy my books. In order for them to do so, they first have to read them. I'm the most qualified person to make people aware of this. I also have the most vested interest in this happening.

Q: I hate sales. Salesmen are pushy, slick liars who want to take your money by preying on your insecurities and weaknesses.
A: Don't think of it as sales. Think of it as finding new fans. Which you'll do. You'll also impress the booksellers, and maybe even your publisher. And, for the record, try not to let your publisher hear your views on selling. Personally, I think sales people are the coolest folks on the planet, and I fully appreciate my reps.

Q: I couldn't do what you do.
A: Yes you could. You simply don't want to, and have made up excuses for yourself instead of trying.
Q: I've tried, and I'm no good at it.
A: Try harder. Being lazy, afraid, or embarassed isn't a good reason to quit. Failure is a learning experience. Figure out what went wrong, then try to do better next time.

Q: Maybe you should write better books, and then they'd sell without you having to do this.
A: The best written book in the world will always sell more copies if the author promotes it.

Q: How often does this work?
A: It's possible to sell dozens of books to strangers during your visit, depending on foot-traffic and length of stay. I average one book sold for every eight people I approach.

Q: That doesn't seem worth my time.
A: Since 2004, I've handsold several thousand books. Every single time you sell a book to someone who wouldn't have otherwise discovered it, it's worth your time.

Q: Selling isn't my job. Writing is my job.
A: Being self-employed is like being the CEO of your own company. It's a really lousy CEO who focuses on production with total disgrard for who is buying the product. A better approach is to study every aspect of what your company does, and implement ways to improve things wherever possible.

Q: I know a lot of authors who sell a lot more books than you do, and they don't do any of this crap.
A: People win the lottery every day. That doesn't mean it's wise to invest your retirement savings in scratch-off tickets.

Q: How am I supposed to handsell books when I have a fulltime job/family/sick cat/hang nail/grandiose sense of entitlement/fear of public speaking/sweating disorder?
A: I don't know of any goal worth pursuing that doesn't involve hard work, sacrifice, and commitment. Becoming a writer isn't easy. Staying a writer is even harder. How hard you work at it tells a lot about how important it is to you.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thrillers: 100 Must Reads

Thrillers:  100 Must Reads
Edited by:  David Morrell & Hank Wagner

Who better to judge the best thrillers of all time,
then thriller writers?  This compilation explores the masters of word and language.  Ancient epics like Beowulf are examined in the microcosm of modern thrillers and how these early wordsmiths are stilling teaching writers. 

Littered with wonderful anecdotes from classics like Shelley’s Frankstein, Stoker’s Dracula, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth today’s best writers give insight into the genres sometimes dark, macabre past.  Many early writers, and a few modern ones had their own demon’s that tortured their souls and those demons manifested themselves in the tomes they created. 

A thoughtful voyage into the characters we’ve come to love and hate.   Thrillers have given us bigger-then-life heroes, that faced insurmountable odds with tough resilience, brains, and determination, and so many of these fictional heroes have become icons.  From spies, assassins, and cold war operatives to odd-ball screw-up’s with a penchant for always being in the wrong place at the wrong time thriller readers, and writers will find familiar favorites and new discoveries.

Today’s masters of the thriller genre give their insights, praise their mentors, and share their inspirations.

These are the books that scared us, convinced us humanity was saved or condemned, gave us insight into the dark places of the human mind, cast light on the human condition, and redeemed us, these are thrillers.

Learn More

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sample the Thrill : Fortuna by Michael Stevens

One of many great articles that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

In Michael Stevens's Fortuna, Stanford computer science major Jason Lind, longing for escape from his mundane existence, signs up to play Fortuna, an online role-playing game set in Renaissance Florence.

From the first, fateful mouse click, Jason tumbles into the vibrant, lush, and anonymous world of Fortuna. Swept up in this highly complex, highly addictive game of fame, fortune, and power, Jason quickly transitions from casual gamer to compulsive player.

What started as a great escape may be anything but, because in the world of Fortuna, it's not how you play the game; it's if you survive.

"Wild and addicting! I couldn't tear my eyes from Michael Stevens's masterpiece, a blend of high-tech computer games, gangsters, and medieval Florence that rivals a Steve Berry thriller for chill-inducing fun."
--Shane Gericke, national best-selling author of Cut to the Bone

"Welcome to the game. Is it a game? Or is it RL (real life)? Is there a clear distinction, or does one bleed into the other? Jason Lind must call on all of his incredible intellectual gifts to determine which intrigues and threats are 'in game' and which are RL. His life depends on it. Fortuna is a breakneck thriller unlike any you've ever read."
--D.P. Lyle, Edgar Award nominee and Macavity Award-winning author of Stress Fracture

 Michael Stevens began his writing career in high school as a music columnist for the Vallejo Times Herald, his hometown newspaper.

After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley as an English major, Michael served two years in the U.S. Army's Berlin Brigade, then began a career in high-tech marketing, first as a writer and later as a creative director and Silicon Valley ad agency executive. Concurrently, he managed the technical development and marketing of two successful software products. At present, Michael is a contributing editor for several high-profile web sites in the technology arena.

In addition to writing, Michael Stevens is a serious amateur musician who has produced four CDs. He lives in Berkeley, California, and at an undisclosed location in Second Life.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!