Sunday, November 18, 2012

Re-energized by Crime Bake

My mind is still churning from all the information I received and the new friends I made at Crime Bake 2012 last weekend.

New England Crime Bake, an annual writer's conference, has been my destination on the second weekend of November for the past three years. I've been privileged to attend workshops and speak with authors like Charlaine Harris, Nancy Picard, Barry Eisler, Michael Palmer, Joseph Finder, and Hank Phillipi Ryan.

This year, all the sessions gave me useful information but one of my favorites was "The Bomb Under the Table" with Joseph Finder. I couldn't pass up something with an intriguing title hosted by the well-known author of thrillers like Buried Secrets . One major takeaway was the importance of maximizing suspense. Slow down the suspenseful scenes to heighten the awareness of your character. Use internal discourse to show and build momentum. Bring in small details so the reader can put himself inside the story. Finder also suggested altering the cadence of sentences to keep up the suspense.

"Plotting a Page Turner" with Halle Ephron, author of "Never Tell a Lie" and "Come and Find Me", hosted another excellent session. Halle began by urging us to throw our character off balance in the opening scene. From that time on, our goal should be to constantly build and release the suspense. Take the character through a dark, unknown and terrifying place. Work the tension and fear and then give them a light switch. Voila! An ordinary empty house. 

Finder and Ephron packed much more writing tips into their time slots as did every other one of the amazing authors who offered their knowledge and expertise. If you like to write, treat yourself to a conference. Hit your favorite browser and look them up by specific genres or states.

Embrace your Muse.

Monday, October 29, 2012




The ancient Druids would probably call Hurricane Sandy the first salvo in an onslaught of spirits of the dead. The Druids believed that these spirits roamed the earth on the night before the celebration of their new year, November 1st

Because harsh winters often led to death, Druids held a festival, Samhain, on the last evening of their summer, October 31st. That evening, when the dead were said to roam, the Druids lit bonfires, dressed up as animals, donning their heads and skins, and offered up sacrifices, usually crops and animals but sometimes, it’s said, humans. During this special evening, the people believed that fortunes could be predicted. 

The Romans conquered the Celts and, eventually, the festival of Samhain became part of the Christian religion. All Saints Day, sometimes called All Hallows or All Hallowmas, moved to November 1st. The evening of October 31st, previously Samhain, became All Hallows Eve. 

For centuries, the night we know as Halloween has been celebrated to honor the wandering spirits of the dead and pay homage to the dark spirit of the Winter. So, be particularly careful this Wednesday evening. Hurricane Sandy’s winds are sure to stir up a large pot of ghostly activity!