Tag: conferences



I spent last weekend as a workshop leader at the NY Pitch conference, listening to various editors and agents talk about the importance of the logline. Loglines, also called elevator pitches, are one-or-two sentence descriptions of a novel that are meant to hook the reader. Here’s the logline for my story that was just in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine: Beleaguered middle-aged woman teams up with the ghost of Anne Boleyn to solve a murder. Her own. Almost every writer I’ve ever met has hated loglines, mainly because they force us to boil our 90,000 carefully written mystery novels into something you could spit out in an elevator. Where’s the nuance? However, they do sell books. So my question for my fellow Miss Demeanors was: Do you have a logline? Would you like to share it here? Or do you hate them and never want to hear about them again? Tracee de Hahn  That’s the perfect logline for your story (everyone rush out and read it now in Alfred Hitchcock Magazine)! I want to see more of Anne and her new friend, let’s hope there are more murders in their future. On to your question . . .  I had a […]

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Publishing roulette

I spent last weekend at the NY Pitch Conference, working with authors who were pitching their books to publishing agents and editors. Very exciting. Very nerve-wrecking, and very unpredictable! One editor will love a book, the next editor will hate the exact same book, and a third will look just bored. It’s like playing roulette. You just don’t know where you’re going to land. Some years ago I attended the same exact conference, but then I was one of the authors, not a workshop leader. I was hoping to sell my first novel, The Fiction Class. Bad news, better news, good news You can only imagine my trepidation when I approached the first editor. I’d never met a book editor before. This young woman was from one of the big publishing houses. I gave her my pitch. She peered at me and said, “No one will want to read that.” I had one of those moments when time seems to stop and the tips of your fingers go numb. However, I persevered. Met with two other editors who were more pleasant, though not interested, and then finally, on the last day of the conference, I met with the very last […]

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3 Lessons from the NY Pitch Conference

I’ve been a workshop leader at the NY Pitch Conference for more than a decade. That means that four times a year (except during pandemics) I lead a group of writers in polishing pitches and then presenting them to editors and agents. It’s a thrilling job. I meet people from all over the world and hear their stories. It’s also a hair-raising job because I have to take a group of people who don’t know each other and guide them through an intense process of joy (when they get requests) and despair (when they don’t). What I always find moving is how close the members of my group become. They support each other, hug each other when things go wrong, buy each other (and me) drinks. See picture below. Although writing is a solitary occupation, the community of writers is a very generous one. Over the course of the four days, I go over a number of obvious things that pitches should include. Conflict. Protagonists. Cliff hangers, and so on. But I was thinking that there are some things that can really affect a pitch that most people don’t think about. Make it interesting. A lot of times, people are […]

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We’re All In This Together

Last Sunday I returned from New England Crime Bake, my first in-person writers’ conference since the start of the pandemic. Gathering together with fellow authors was a joy. As wonderful as social media is, as wonderful as Zoom can be, we crave face-to-face with other human beings. That’s how we’re built.

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Locked Room Mysteries

Locked room mysteries are awesome because they usually present the environment as an oppositional adversary. It’s easy to imagine oneself trapped with a killer, and how delicious to burrow under a blanket and know you’re safe, while reading about people who most certainly aren’t.

So, here are three locked room mysteries I’ve read lately that are chilling, thrilling, and all around awesome.

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Can we talk about shoes?

A few years ago, I went to the Boucheron World Mystery Convention, when it was in Toronto. One thing led to another and I wound up at a John Fluevog shoe store with fellow Miss Demeanor, Alexia Gordon. (We were on our way to a haunted walking tour, but that’s another story.) Never had I seen such amazing shoes, in so many colors, with such fabulous heels. I am strictly an Easy Spirit person, but I couldn’t resist. I splurged on this pair of shoes, and even though I don’t wear them a lot, or not at all in the last year or so, I get pleasure out of looking at them. They are works of art. Plus they have this cute engraving on the bottom. Nothing like looking at the bottom of your shoes and feeling inspired. Iwas thinking about shoes because tomorrow, author Christina Chiu, is coming to my book club to discuss her novel, Beauty. In real life, Christina is a shoe designer, and when she writes about shoes, you see them in a whole new way. “Black boots. There in the window. Could they really be lace? Wow. Floral and paisley-drops. Open-toed, trimmed with leather, knee […]

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I Came, I Hosted, I Laughed

Thanks to ProWritingAid’s Crime Writers’ Week conference, I can check panel moderator off the list of things I’ve never done. I hosted a Thriller Panel Discussion with Karin Slaughter, Jennifer Hillier, Lisa Gardner, Ian Rankin, and Steve Berry. Was I nervous? Heck, yeah. Should I have been? Nope. All of the panelists were charming and witty and graceful, and a fabulous time was had by all.

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Agatha nominations

It’s Agatha Award nominating time, which means that people in the cozy mystery community are going through the books and stories we’ve read this year and cogitating over which ones we’d like to nominate. (Ballots are due in electronically by March 6.)

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