Author: Tracee de Hahn

Calling all writers to their conferences….

Tracee: We’ve all been there, planning our year, wondering which conferences to attend. Earlier this week I wrote about MWA, Malice Domestic, Bouchercon, and Thrillerfest among others. I feel like they capture the swath of big gatherings – from award focused, to craft, to fan based. However, there are many other worthwhile conferences going on throughout the country (and, of course, the world…. Alexia you need to head over to one in the UK where you might see ghosts in the neighboring castles.) I’ve attended several based on geographic proximity, including Killer Nashville, Murder in the Magic City, and the Virginia Festival of the Book. Do you have any conferences you’d like to recommend? And what makes you choose? Robin: I’m a big fan of the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference in Corte Madera, CA. I attended as an aspiring writer for a couple of years and it’s my honor to now be a member of the faculty, starting last year. The conference is special because the faculty members commit to being accessible. Not just during the panels and talks but also during the breaks, at lunches, the dinner buffet, and a wine and cheese reception. Did I mention they have good […]

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Book festivals, fairs and other…..

Yesterday I wrote about three of the largest conferences for fans and writers in the mystery genre. You’ve had twenty fours hours to either book your travel or recover from the shock of the potential cost. There are others! Don’t miss out on engaging with fellow readers and writers because of distance and dollars. Look near before you go far. Local events can be easy to miss but nearly every region has some form of writers gathering. If you are near a university or college perhaps start there, check local listings on line, or ask at the library. Decide Why before you commit to Where. Are you interested in meeting other writers to form a support group? Are you trying to hone craft or sell books? Think of these local – and hopefully easily accessible – events as links in a chain that will build connections between other writers and readers. I’ve been to several local/regional events, some chosen because of proximity to family or friends. These include Killer Nashville, Murder in the Magic City (Birmingham, Alabama), Southern Kentucky Book Festival (Bowling Green, Kentucky), Roanoke Regional Writers Conference (Roanoke, Virginia), Virginia Festival of the Book (Charlottesville, Virginia) and the Suffolk […]

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Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and Thrillerfest. Or how to fill your conference calendar.

Everyone is signed up, keeping an eye on travel schedules and hotel bookings, and checking their panel assignments. And triple checking that their books will be in stock with the conference books sellers for fans to purchase. That’s how many writer’s fill their idle time in spring. Bouchercon, Malice Domestic and Thrillerfest. Surely three of the largest, or at least well known, of the mystery conferences. I’ve attended all three both as a reader and later as a writer. Here’s a brief run down for anyone thinking about diving deeper into the mystery world – they are for readers and writers alike! Bouchercon, held annually in a rotating North American location, is Fan Conference writ large. I’ve met book clubs in attendance, families on vacation, and best friends who use it as an annual gathering. The panel topics are aimed at fans, so writers use the time in between their own talks to see friends or listen to their idols on the stage. There are hundreds of authors in attendance and it is a great chance to get an autograph! If you want to ‘run into’ someone, make a plan because this is a large gathering. At the conclusion of the […]

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Catching up with author Deanna Raybourn.

We are thrilled to have bestselling author Deanna Raybourn with us today at MissDemeanors. Deanna is the award winning author of fifteen novels and novellas including the wildly popular Lady Julia Grey and Veronica Speedwell series. Tracee de Hahn: Deanna, You are prolific! When you start a new project do you have in mind that it will be series or does that evolve? How does that impact the project and character creation? Deanna Raybourn: I always know before I even begin the actual writing if I’m creating a series or a stand-alone. It means that the character development is a bit different and how I relate the backstory changes. In a series, I can let out bits of the past over a much longer period of time because the arc is much broader. In a stand-alone, I have to be ruthless about deciding what matters and whether it makes the cut of what goes in because I only have so much space to work with.  TdeH: I’ve dipped back into your books recently and the trip down memory lane makes me wonder if we’ll ever see Ryder again?  DR: He was a fun character to write, but Ryder’s day is […]

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Who’s the best? Time for writing awards season.

Every year I feel that spring launches writer’s conference season. For writers and fans alike there are many choices to fill the schedule. Interested in networking, there’s a conference for that. In advancing craft? Connecting with an agent, meeting your writing idols? Still other choices. This week at MissDemeanors we’ll take a look at a range of choices and weigh in on a few of our favorites. Later this month, the Mystery Writer’s of America (MWA) host a symposium followed by the Edgar Awards (yes, named for THAT Edgar…. he of the tell-tale heart). The groups mission is to promote higher regard for crime writing and the writers in the genre. As part of this mission, the symposium features the Edgars’ nominated authors in categories ranging from Best Novel and Best First Novel, to Best Fact Crime, Best Juvenile, Best Short Story, and Best TV episode, among others. Held annually in New York City, this is a great chance to hear from the best of the year, and meet them in person. The size of the event makes it possible – almost inevitable – to speak to your favorite authors. Ask that burning question about how they started in their […]

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Extra-special near pathological attention… to first and last lines….

Tracee: I’m given a bit of time this week to the importance first lines and pages in a manuscript.  Do you work on these with special attention? Well, not special, but extra-special near pathological attention?  Robin: If by “extra-special near pathological level” you mean “agonize day and night then second-guess myself to this very day,” yes. The first page is the most rewritten part of any manuscript for me. Runner up is the rest of the first chapter. I may revise the entire book 4 – 5 times, but I typically revise the first chapter 5 – 10 times. I literally pace like a caged animal while mulling over, writing, and rewriting the first sentence. Once I hit on a “grabber,” I’ll stick with it til I can picture it on my tombstone then I make sure the rest of the chapter measures up. Susan: I’m definitely in the pathological-attention- to-first- paragraph camp. However, the flip side of that is that once I’m happy with my first paragraph, I’m generally happy with the book. Or as happy as anyone ever is with anything. I can then move forward and enjoy myself. Although occasionally I’ll be reading someone else’s book and want to […]

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Valentines/Galentines. What’s in a name?

February 14th already? What happened to January? From all of the Miss Demeanors….. we hope your year is going well, filled with lots of reading and/or writing. We’d love to hear what books have made you feel extra good so far this year. Or what books you keep on hand for that pick me up? Anyway you look at today…. have a happy one.

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First pages.

If the first line sets the tone, the first page(s) lay the groundwork for the entire tapestry of a book. What does the reader expect: genre, point of view, place (time and geography). How about mood?  If the compelling first line did its work the reader is interested. Now you have to round out the experience. Did the first sentence make them uncomfortable? Or pose a question. I’m again reminded of Celeste Ng’s “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” The opening to Everything I Never Told You. The first pages need to immerse the reader in the story, and most likely in a significant, if not main character. What kind of protagonist is at the heart of the tale?  What about the first pages of a “next in series?” The first pages must bring fans back to a familiar world while introducing it to new readers for the first time.  This brings the complication of repeating information in a new way. Reassuring fans that they will enjoy this installation as much as they did the last.  For ongoing discussion and examination of this topic look to the weekly First Two Pages blog hosted by Art Taylor athttp://www.arttaylorwriter.com/blog

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First lines.

I didn’t grow up in the tradition of memorizing great swaths of poetry or prose (this is an entire subject of great regret) so it means something when I can quote a first line without pulling out the book. Think about this. It is one line. The first line. The one read before all the others on hundreds of pages, and yet it sticks in the mind. For example – Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. (Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind) The small boys came early to the hanging. (Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth) The last camel collapsed at noon. (Ken Follett, The Key to Rebecca) The gale tore at him and he felt its bite deep within and he knew that if they did not make landfall in three days they would all be dead. (James Clavell, Shogun) Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina) More recently – Lydia is dead. They they don’t know this yet. (Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You) The snow in the mountains was melting […]

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Lots of counting in writing

Here’s how I see my current WIP by the numbers: Daily word counts to keep the manuscript on schedule, or give the illusion of progress. Overall word count, with plusses and minuses every day.  Number of times I’ve read the manuscript.  Number of weeks (months) set aside before the final edit. Number of working titles.  Number of revisions I’ll admit to.  Number of words (by specific example) to be checked and possibly purged. Number of time the specifics of the murder have been changed. My numbers look like this: 1,000+/-; 78,000; a gazillion; hmmm, 3; 22; 13, 3 and counting. What are your writing numbers?

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