Monday, November 11, 2013

Crime Bake 2013

Another year schmoozing with writers, learning new tricks of the trade, and having fun! Crime Bake, New England's mystery-writing conference is over, but the memories linger on. Excellent classes, seminars and panels were coupled with a long list of prominent writers in crime-based genres. Our conference guest of honor this year was Meg Gardiner, whose thrillers, beginning with her Edgar-winning novel, China Lake, have delighted readers for years.

The classes I enjoyed over the weekend included: Creating & Sustaining the Series Character, Practice Your Manuscript Pitch, How to Create a Career That Lasts, and High School Murder: Writing the Young Adult Mystery. Generous with their experience and knowledge, and knowing how important it is to encourage writers to keep working, the authors made the time during the conference to speak to anyone who needed help.

Another important facet of any writing conference is the interaction with your peers. Published or unpublished, it is important to talk to someone who has your same aspirations and dreams, your same insecurities and fears. For me, this connection with other writers supersedes the rest. 

Yes, I love the education and who doesn't enjoy a good party? Limbo lower, now! (I'm guessing some knees were not too happy Sunday morning.) 

More important, however, is the knowledge that I'm not alone out there. Spending so much time by myself in front of my computer, I sometimes get discouraged. Belonging to a group like Sisters in Crime and attending writing conferences reminds me that I'm part of a huge group of writers who are either striving to make it or who have already made it. That realization gives me the positive reinforcement I need to keep on trying.

Yesterday morning, I received an award for my 150-word crime story. For the second time in as many years, I'm a FLASHWORDS winner! 

I'm getting there! Look for my picture in the coming week. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

To Pitch Or Not To Pitch

This weekend, I’ll be joining hundreds of mystery writers and readers at the annual New England Crime Bake conference held in MA. This will be my fourth Crime Bake.

Although Mystery isn't my main genre, it’s a large part of what I write. Both of my books, the Paranormal, A Trace of Evil, and the Fantasy, The Watcher Clan, keep the reader guessing until the end. I haven't found genre to be a problem because most Crime Bake workshops are specifically geared to the writing process.

This year, I’m looking forward, albeit with a little trepidation, to one of the most helpful aspects of the conference, the Pitch session. Here is where the writer has a chance to pitch his book to agents and editors. Although the idea is wonderful, the reality is terrifying. In five minutes, the writer has to pitch an evocative summary of his book and be ready to answer questions about the whole thing.

During my first pitch session, the agent listened to my summary and then asked about the plot points throughout the book, including the ending. I tried to tell the whole story in what was left of the five minutes but kept forgetting parts I thought she needed to know. I felt sick.

But, here’s the good news. Agents/editors are not looking for the writer to fail. They want us to succeed because they’re looking for new writers. When I finished my pitch, the agent gave me a great deal of positive reinforcement and excellent suggestions. She then asked me to send in a chapter of the book.

To be successful, all I have to do is prepare. I've been trying to list out the high points in the story that will give the best overview. The whole exercise has my nerves singing. This will be the fourth time I’m pitching and it feels as scary as the first. When I signed up for this a few months ago, it seemed like such a good idea. Now, a few days away from the reality, I’m having second thoughts.

Despite my previous brave words, I’m beginning to feel the angst. I guess the process of pitching my baby to someone will never be easy. I’ll just have to rely on the fact that I've done it before and lived to talk about it.

How about you? How do you feel about pitching?