Hello from New York City, where I’m enjoying ThrillerFest. Getting to spend the weekend talking about books and writing, with readers and writers who love thrillers as passionately as I do? It doesn’t get much better.
Saturday afternoon I’m on a couple of panels. At 1 p.m. I’ll be a panelist for “Deceived, Tricked or Surprised? Writing a Killer Plot Twist.” And at 4:20 p.m. I’m the Panel Master for “Los Angeles, London or Tokyo? Writing in Urban Settings.” I’ll be asking questions of a fantastic group of writers. I’d love to see some of you there.
And yes, this year’s ThrillerFest Guest of Honor is George R.R. Martin. No, I won’t ask him when The Winds of Winter will be finished. I won’t need to. Somebody will. If he gives us an answer, I’ll let you know.
Photo: The New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. It’s part of any booklover’s New York pilgrimage.
Happy January, all. I hope you’re ready for the new year. In 2017 I’m going to be writing, and writing, and writing. My new novel, UNSUB, will be published in June, and I’m already digging in, writing the sequel.
I’m also going to be teaching some seminars and workshops — in both the real and virtual worlds. Here’s what I have coming up the first half of the year:
Granbury, Texas Writes
Texas Writes at the Hood County Library
Saturday, February 25, 2017 1 PM — 4 PM
222 N. Travis Street
Granbury, Texas 76048
Join us for an afternoon of writing instruction and discussion
Meg Gardiner | Suspense: Keep Characters in Peril and Readers Turning Pages
Susan Wittig Albert | Hook, line, and Sinker: Strategies to Keep Readers Reading
Free and open to the public. Pre-registration suggested (817) 573-3569
International Thriller Writers Online Thriller School
March 13 — April 28, 2017
July 11-15, 2017
Grand Hyatt New York City
Master CraftFest: Tuesday July 11, 2017. A hands-on workshop for writers of all levels. It’s an intense but extremely helpful day. Each class, which is limited to 10 students, will allow you to work with a best-selling author on your manuscript in progress.
CraftFest: Wednesday July 12, 2017. I’ll be teaching a 1-hour course on Suspense.
ThrillerFest: Friday-Saturday July 14-15, 2017.
If you’re interested in any of these events, check out the links.
Thrillerfest 2016 was exhausting in the best way. I taught a master class to a small group of newer fiction writers. I talked about how to make stories suspenseful. I managed not to cringe and hide under the table during the “Sex in Thrillers” panel. I heard David Morrell interview Walter Mosley. I visited Brooklyn, where the locals tried to make me feel at home by taking me to an Austin-themed bar (see above: Velvet Willie Nelson). I got in an argument with a New York City cabbie. In French. And I got to dress up and spend the evening at the Thrillerfest banquet with my son Mark.
What a life. I’m lucky to live it.
I’m in New York City for Thrillerfest. It’s the week when we authors descend on the city to practice the dark arts of suspense. And eat Reuben sandwiches.
Yesterday I taught an all-day workshop on writing, and this morning I taught a session on creating suspense on the page. My voice is already gone. So if you’re at the conference and strike up a conversation, I’m not giving you the silent treatment. I just can’t talk too much.
Or maybe I was struck speechless when I saw that Walter Mosley was also giving a talk to the conference: Plotting the Unconscious. WALTER MOSLEY. I sat in the front row, gasping in fangirl awe. I would have screamed like a teenager at a Beatles concert but, fortunately: my voice was already gone.
More reports to follow.
(Obligatory view from my hotel window: looking south across 42nd Street.)
Next month I’ll be taking part in Thrillerfest in New York City. This year I’m teaching at Craftfest and Master Craftfest. And I’m on a couple of panels. If you’re coming to the conference, I’d love to see you.
PROMOTION, SALES OR REVIEWS? Lessons Learned From The Front Lines
Friday, July 8
10:20 – 11:10 a.m.
HANDCUFFS, BLINDFOLDS OR TOYS? Sex In Thrillers
Saturday, July 9
2:00 pm – 2:50 p.m.
It should be fun.
Here’s a reminder: In July 2016 I’ll be teaching at Master CraftFest in New York City. It’s part of ThrillerFest. Details from International Thriller Writers:
“Tuesday July 5, 2016 at ITW’s Master CraftFest, a hands-on workshop for writers of all levels. It’s an intense but extremely helpful day. Each class, which is limited to 10 students, will allow you to work with a best-selling author on your manuscript in progress.
Our instructors this year are: Steve Berry, David Corbett, Grant Blackwood, Meg Gardiner, Heather Graham, Andrew Gross, Richard Krevolin (Screen Writing), and Gayle Lynds.”
For more information or to register, check out the ThrillerFest site.
Thrillerfest was a lot of fun, because New York City, hell, yeah. The conference was held in Midtown Manhattan, a block from the Chrysler Building, seen above. And I spent time walking the streets of Brooklyn, seen below. In thriller writer terms, this is called research.
The panel I took part in, “HOW MANY CAN I MURDER? Deciding On Your Body Count” was jolly and upbeat. Mostly. One author on the panel had written a novel in which nobody dies, and one had blown up a planet. I fell somewhere in between. We all agreed that a novel’s body count is too high when a fictional victim is murdered simply as a plot device, or when a character is killed off just to provide the protagonist with pain or motivation… especially when a female character is killed to inspire the hero to action. (See “Stuffed into the fridge.“) Then we cracked some jokes, so that nobody in the audience left despairing about the state of modern culture.
Practice PitchFest gave aspiring authors a chance to try out their pitch to agents and editors before doing it for real. I joined a bunch of authors and agents to listen to proposed pitches and help the new authors work on them. All I can say is: folks are brave. Also: if you have only five minutes to tell a professional about your novel, dive straight into the story. Explain the kernel of the plot in compelling terms. In a few sentences, tell who the main character is, what problem they have, and how they have to try to set it right. And good luck to you.