Tag: Mystery Writers of America

Mystery Writers of America

Short or long the stories are good

 At the Mystery Writer’s of America symposium the afternoon took a turn both dark and short. The authors nominated for Best Short Story shared the many ways they are inspired. SJ Rozan (“Chin Long-Yun Stays at Home”) pointed to the draw of an unusual situation or a phrase. The imagery of the pile of shoes in a Primo Levi story led Lisa Gray (“The Queen of Secrets”) to her obsession with shoes and eventually her nominated story.  Kenji Jasper (“A Moment of Clarity at the Waffle House”) started his story as a love letter and ended up killing his demons. Jeffery Deaver (“Hard to Get”) claims that he tries to ‘know his limitations’ and approaches the short story with plot in mind, knowing that he needs ‘the zinger’ before he then populates with characters.  There were commonalities among the panel. Most notably, a short story takes time. Time to germinate. Time to prune and hone.  Altogether a day of authors sharing stories that make us want to read….. and inspire us to write.     

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Writers talk.

 Today is the Mystery Writer’s of America symposium in Manhattan. The three day event kicked off with a party at the Mysterious Bookstore…… but those stories need to stay in the room. The actual symposium kicked off with a panel of Best First Novel Nominees. The panelists may be ‘firsts’ but they had a wealth of knowledge to share.  Jordan Harper (She Rides Shotgun), Deborah E. Kennedy (Tornado Weather), Winnie M. Li (Dark Chapter) and Melissa Scrivner Love (Lola) discussed how they got their start, what inspired the creation of their protagonist, how their own history played into their work, and their path to publication.  It was a fantastic panel but there were a few overarching takeaways. – Don’t be afraid of the dramatic changes to the manuscript (both Harper and Love rewrote their manuscript from an entirely different character’s point of view).– Writing is based in place, but the place doesn’t have to be exotic (Kennedy makes the point that digging deep into a place you know well can be as rewarding and rich as drawing from wide travels).– Experience, and therefore character, may come from explicit personal experience (as with Li’s fictional account of violence in her own life) or from taking one element of common […]

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What's on your bucket list?

 Do I have a bucket list? Not really. I’ve done many things in my life, lived in a number of wonderful places, traveled to amazing destinations. Of course, there are other thing I’d like to do, but the list is in flux and I don’t feel prevented from doing them, it’s more a decision about timing and life balance. That changed when a few weeks ago I realized that I have perhaps missed the underlying meaning of a bucket list. I do have things I’d like to do, but know I won’t. Is that what is on a bucket list? What’s holding me back? Me. (Technically I think I may like the IDEA of doing these things more than the actual experience. No…. as I type these words I think, that’s wrong. I would love them. Okay, one of them might turn out to be a REALLY bad idea. You decide. But the other would be amazing.) The first is to travel the Silk Road. There are probably several ways to do this, however, one is organized by a well-respected travel group as a 47 day journey from China through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey. I don’t need to explain why this would […]

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Bite-sized Bouchercon

 I started this post a few days ago. Now I’m sitting in Toronto Pearson International Airport waiting to board my flight back to the U.S. I’m manning the International Thriller Writers’ table at my first Bouchercon, feeling…overwhelmed. This conference is huge. I ran into Hank Phillipi Ryan in the elevator and joked there were more people in the hotel than there were on the streets. 1700 registrants. Wow. 1700 authors, editors, agents, bloggers, reviewers, readers, all gathered to celebrate mystery. Double wow. No danger of not finding enough to do. The opposite. Activities run non-stop from 7:30 am until 11 pm, or later. Hard decisions must be made to choose what to do without overdoing it and making yourself crazy. Try to do everything and, in addition to discovering you’d need to clone yourself to be in multiple places at the same time, you’ll collapse from exhaustion. Here are a few suggestions, based on what worked for me. If you’re on a panel, it’s easy. Start with that. Block out your time slot so you don’t inadvertently schedule yourself to be someplace else while you’re supposed to be on the dias. Dont forget, a 30 minute booksigning follows your panel. Next, find your […]

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Honoring Excellence in the Field

 Award season is upon us. The Golden Globes have been handed out, honoring Hollywood achievements, and the Oscar nominations have been announced. The nominees wait, breaths held and fingers crossed, hoping to hear their names called when the presenters open the envelope and read, “And the Oscar goes to…” The literary world awards its share of prizes, including the Pulitzer and Nobel. Some honor excellence in writing in general, some awards are genre specific. The Lefty, the Agatha, and the Edgar, three that honor excellence in crime writing, just released their nominee lists. The Lefty Awards are presented annually at the Left Coast Crime convention for the best humorous, historical, and debut mystery novels, as well as a prize for a mystery not in the above categories. Winners are selected by votes of registered convention attendees. This year’s nominees are:Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery NovelDonna Andrews, Die Like an Eagle (Minotaur Books)Ellen Byron, Body on the Bayou (Crooked Lane Books)Timothy Hallinan, Fields Where They Lay (Soho Crime)Heather Haven, The CEO Came DOA (Wives of Bath Press)Johnny Shaw, Floodgate (Thomas & Mercer)Diane Vallere, A Disguise To Die For (Berkley Prime Crime) Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (Bruce Alexander Memorial) for books covering events […]

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