How to turn terror into a story outline

In today’s episode of “Where do you get your ideas?” I wait for friends to describe terrifying (if minor) incidents, and escalate from there. Voila: a story outline.

Note that this conversation is more evidence that Twitter is not just for lighthearted conversation.

Also… Lauren: before you drove away from the gas station, I hope you checked the back seat of the car for webs.

Phantom Instinct: my son’s review

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My son has reviewed my new novel:

“I’m enjoying Phantom Instinct. So far, way better than Phantom Menace.”

This is from a young man who was born on Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth be with you”). So I have to take his remarks as the appraisal of an expert. Thank you, Mark.

Thriller pacing, Irish novels, British villainy: writing links

After spending a weekend at a writers’ conference — ThrillerFest in New York City — I have come home hyped up to work, and eager to keep talking about the craft of writing. But because I’m sitting alone at my desk and there are no other people within shouting distance, I’ll talk about writing here.

The panel I moderated this year was “Turning the Page: Tricks To Get Your Readers Invested.” We talked about action, character, beginnings, middles, and endings. But of course there was only enough time to scratch the surface. Here are a few articles about writing, for anybody who’s interested:

First, Chuck Wendig’s latest post on writing is especially timely:

25 Ways to Write a Real “Page-Turner” of a Book.

1. THRILLER PACING

Even if your book isn’t a thriller, you’re trying to achieve what would be considered thriller pacing. A thriller isn’t ponderous — it moves like a starving shark. It doesn’t dally. It careens forth with a sense of barely-controlled energy, like a car barreling down a ruined mountain road with its brake line cut. It doesn’t matter if the book isn’t a thriller — you can still lend some of that energy to the fiction just the same. A sense of breathlessness, of anticipation, of sheer gotta-know-more. Thriller pacing — to me, at least — means the story moves.

Second, in The American Scholar, Paul Elie offers Advice You’ll Never Outgrow: “Go deeper.”

Third, on a lighter note, The Toast brings us Every Irish Novel Ever.

1. Fleeing The Impoverished, Drunken Countryside For Dublin

2. The Estate Decays

3. A Man Laughs Unhappily

4. We Do Not Speak That Name In These Parts, Stranger

5. The Landlord Pays A Visit But Does Not Sit Down

6. The Boy Sickens

7. THE ENGLISH

There’s plenty more at the link.

Finally, as seen in the video above, Tom Hiddleston explains The Art Of Villainy. Watch it here, because if you’re in the UK, that ad has been banned “for encouraging irresponsible driving.”

Yes, really. As if a video that includes Shakespeare, Mr. Hiddleston, and a Jaguar doesn’t express the essence of Great Britain.

Bye, New York

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Another ThrillerFest has wrapped up. The festing and book talk and the midnight cage fighting are done for 2014. It was fun. Thanks, ITW. Thanks, New York City!

My ThrillerFest schedule today

Today at ThrillerFest I’m taking part in a couple of panels:

HOW DO YOU STAY YOUNG ENOUGH TO WRITE YA?
Saturday July 12 1-1:50PM
I’ll be talking about young adult fiction along with Janice Gable Bashman, Heather Graham, Allen Zadoff, Lissa Price, and R.L. Stine.

TURNING THE PAGE: Tricks To Get Your Readers Invested
Saturday July 12 4-4:50PM
I’m the panel master for this one. I’ll be grilling Diane Capri, Steph Cha, Mell Corcoran, Allison Leotta, Larry D. Thompson, and Walter Walker.

If you’re around, come join the festing.

Hello from New York City

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Live from New York: I’m in town for ThrillerFest, which starts later this week. I’m taking part in a couple of panels:

HOW DO YOU STAY YOUNG ENOUGH TO WRITE YA?
Saturday July 12 1-1:50PM

TURNING THE PAGE: Tricks To Get Your Readers Invested
Saturday July 12 4-4:50PM

I’ll be the participating moderator for the second panel. It should be fun.

(Obligatory view from my coffeeshop window: North 11th Street and Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn.)

KAZI FM Interview now online

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If you’re so inclined, you can now listen to the interview I did on the KAZI Book Review. Host Hopeton Hay talked with me, and with Gale Albright of Sisters in Crime’s Heart of Texas Chapter, and with KAZI Book Reviewer Tim Chamberlain — about Phantom Instinct, thriller writing, and whether this is a good time to be a female novelist. Also about barbecue.

PODCAST: Interview with Meg Gardiner, Author of Phantom Instinct