I had the most comfortable feet at the after-party!
I’m just back from Thrillerfest where my bunny slippers with teeth were again a hit–and one of my fav authors was honored in a Michael Palmer Tribute (scroll down for the video). As always, feeling revitalized, energized and writer-ized (is that a word?) for the future. Kathleen Antrim calls the event “Summer camp for thriller writers” and this year, the week-long event boasted Craftfest (for aspiring writers) including a Master Craftfest and insights from FBI experts; Pitchfest (where writers could “pitch” their book to agents); and culminated in Thrillerfest with still more panels for fans and authors to meet and greet, get books signed, and more.
After getting up at 4 a.m. Thursday to catch my plane, I was delighted to pick up my registration materials and discover no less than FOUR free books in the bag as a give-away. Wow. Then I attended a great add-on session and learned more about Apple and the iBookStore. You’ll notice I’m now an Affiliate and there’s even a nifty widget on my book page listing iBooks available. Or you can just click here and go directly to the iBookstore.
Thursday evening at the opening reception is a terrific time to reconnect with friends and meet new ones, and I had a lovely time. Much of networking takes place in the bar (ahem!) even if one doesn’t indulge in beverages.
Now, I planned for this trip for a year, plotted which sessions to attend, and prepared to “stalk” (in a good way!) all my favorite writers and readers. I got to meet Aubrey Hamilton from an online readers list when we decided to share room expenses (hey, she loves cats, too!). And then all my plans went sideways–and I was sick all day Friday, able to only attend one session, URK! Oh, how frustrating! I found out later that I wasn’t the only one afflicted with this–whatever it was. I even had to bail early during a meeting with my awesome editor Jen Talty–but we did have a great conversation then and later as well, and I’m eager to get plans ramped up.
Fortunately by the end of Friday, I’d finally recovered enough to go out to dinner with my thriller-gal-pal Paula Lanier, and new friend Stefanie Stolinsky at the Beach Cafe. Seriously, this is a fantastic restaurant and owner Dave Goodside makes everyone feel so welcome.
Thrillerfest Panel: “WHAT MAKES AN ENDING UNFORGETABLE?” L-R (back row) Tom Young, Joanna Penn, Sean Lynch, Amy Shojai (front row) Ward Larsen, Donald Bain.
Saturday morning I felt great! The 8 a.m. Debut Breakfast was inspiring, this year with 24 new authors (and that many more in the program present in spirit). Just last year it was me up there in the dais, wearing my bunny slippers, and scared to death I’d never get my second book done. Steve Berry’s “second-book-itis” talk got me over the hump–check out the new review on HIDE AND SEEK!–and now I’m working on my third thriller, whoda-thunk-it? This year, Brenda Novak was the Silver Bullet Award Winner and speaker at the breakfast.
I had to slip out early to prepare as Panel Master for my 9:30 talk, WHAT MAKES AN ENDING UNFORGETABLE? Check out the picture, above, with the best possible lineup of author speakers ever! Wow, they made the time go fast, with great discussions and comments. Incidentally, those unable to attend can purchase audios of the presentation and I have to say this is one panel you won’t want to miss. 🙂
The author signings have to be one of the highlight of the event. Literally hundreds of authors sit elbow to elbow and sign books together, with Barnes and Nobel host bookstore providing the support. The one downside is the crowds at this time but it’s worth it to actually get to speak with your fav author, meet new ones, and share the love of reading with fans. I ended up with so many purchased and donated books that I had to ship them home, to keep the plane from being too heavy.
Thriller buddies Kevin Singer, Paula Lanier and Jon Land.
The final Saturday evening reception leads to the Awards Banquet where the Thriller Awards are presented. I was honored this year to be on a preliminary panel to help choose the best Ebook original and urge you to make a point of reading ALL these winners! What a lineup! Read the list of winners here.
And the AFTER party goes on for hours and hours–and yep, that’s where I re-introduced the bunny slippers.
But the most moving event of the weekend for me was Daniel Palmer’s funny and poignant tribute to his father, Michael Palmer–authors and readers everywhere miss him, too, and we ALL want to be like him. I missed getting the first few seconds of the song, but here’s the rest of the tribute.
I’m just home from Thrillerfest. What an amazing experience! This wasn’t my first attendance but was special and a stand-out in so many ways. That’s me at the Debut Author table on Saturday morning with 26 others in our class who were able to attend the July 13 breakfast. There were 60 in the whole class this year–wow! Here’s a Library Journal article.
Each of us had 60-seconds to say anything we wanted. Many talked briefly about themselves, their book, and their journey to reach that wonderful goal, and I was so honored to be among these talented writers, and inspired by their dedication and effort. And yes, a little teary that I’d managed to climb that thrilling mountain, too. Six years ago, I sat in the audience and felt lost…and truly didn’t believe I’d ever have that opportunity. But I went home, put on my bunny slippers and wrote the thriller I’d always wanted to read. LOST AND FOUND was born at Thrillerfest and because of ITW, today my bunny slippers have TEETH and I write Thrillers With Bite!
And yes, I wore my bunny slippers with pointy teeth to the breakfast–you’ll notice the ears also have bling. Enjoy a few of the pictures from the weekend (below) and then you can click on the Thrillerfest 2013 Set for more pictures. Be sure to scroll down to catch the short video from the banquet–I will have some more fun video from the weekend soon, too!
My roomies–Carol Shenold and Paula Lanier. Thursday evening dinner outside at a terrific restaurant owned by Paula’s friend David.
The always classy Steve Berry graciously allows a photo op.
Lee Child at the Friday evening “Fan Fest” (one of my many fan-girl moments!)
Again at the FanFest event, that’s me with the gorgeous thriller gals–August McLaughlin, Carol Shenold, Paula Lanier
More famous authors! August, Doug Lyle, Carol, moi and the gorgeous Twist Phelan. (Can you tell Doug is in heaven?)
We were guests at FanFest courtesy of the WONDERFUL Diane Capri (far right). We even color coordinated…great minds. *s*
Me with the WANA-Mama Kristen Lamb!
Paula, John Land and me…our “annual photo shoot.”
Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo writer links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Check out the Simon’s Cats pet-astic videos at the bottom, too. For new followers to the blog, welcome! and you can expect more cat and dog specific schtuff later in the week on Wednesday and Friday.
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!
The long promised short clips from the 2012 Thrillerfest finally will be posted–and here’s the first, with the awesome Kathleen Antrim interviewing Lee Child about his Jack Reacher novels–and the movie. Honestly, I can’t imagine having written so many novels. It’s waaaaay different than writing nonfiction, and my first thriller has just about done me in.
I’m gasping, filled with Sisyphus-icity as the launch date draws near for my thriller. After screwing up my courage and sending out oh-so-polite requests for well known folks to read and maybe offer a kind word about the book, I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest dreams. But I can’t slow down. This hamster wheel is on a roll and speeding up.
So this past week, Dr. Marty Becker, D.P. Lyle and James Rollins kind words were included with polite invitations to savvy book reviewers to take an advance look. For a book to be successful it must be found, so authors can’t afford to be shy.
In the days and weeks ahead, I’ll post some of my efforts in the hopes it might also help others traveling similar publishing journeys. Fair warning–I may ask for your help because it takes a tribe to get folks to notice a new book. And I know y’all have the power to get schtuff noticed, especially thrillers with bite. 🙂
On to our regularly scheduled Monday Mentions, the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all. The second short video of SQUEE! cute cats is sure to relieve stress (it did mine, anyway!).
Wonderful fun video below the Lee Child interview, sort of a cat’s eye review of a new cat tree, from Janea Kelly. Enjoy!
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!
After an exhausting but exhilarating opening weekend of the show Fiddler On The Roof, I’m ready to return focus to the writer-icity schtuff. Oh, the show runs every weekend this month so I’ll have that to look forward to.
But meanwhile I only have a bit more to go on the thriller edits before sending back to my editor. AND I got my panel assignments for Thrillerfest where the awesome Allison Brennan will again be panel master. Our topic focuses on HOW DO YOU CREATE A SPELLBINDING SERIES CHARACTER? Other folks on the panel include:
Allison Brennan (Panel Master) is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 18 romantic thrillers and multiple short stories, and the author of the Lucy Kincaid series.
Jan Burke is a critically acclaimed and national bestselling author of fourteen books—twelve of crime fiction, a supernatural thriller, and a collection of short stories.
William Dietrich is the NY Times bestselling author of 15 books, including the Ethan Gage series of Napoleonic adventures that has sold into 28 languages.
Jack Hoban served as a US Marine Corps officer and is a subject matter expert on close combat who “trained” Nick Heller of the Joseph Finder thriller series.
Avalon Books published Victoria M. Johnson’s fiction debut. As a filmmaker, Victoria writes and directs short thriller films. Her upcoming thriller, The Sea of Cortez, introduces Connie and Jeff York.
Sharon Linnéa is the author of the bestselling Eden Thrillers, featuring Army Chaplain Jaime Richards. These Violent Delights is the first of her new Movie Mystery Series.
Amy Shojai is the award winning author of 24 pet care titles, and channels her “inner bitch” to write in dog-viewpoint in her debut thriller LOST AND FOUND which introduces series character animal behaviorist September Day and Shadow, the service dog she’s trained.
Debra Webb is a multi-published, best-selling author who writes spine-tingling romantic suspense and has just launched her first thriller series, the Faces of Evil, with the debut novel OBSESSION.
Yes, I’m feeling seriously outclassed and hope to learn a LOT from the other panelists. I’d encourage y’all to post any questions you might have for the panel and I’ll pass them on to Allison, and give a recap after the conference in July. Incidentally, the Craftfest classes and Agentfest (speed dating with agents!) will again be awesome this year.
Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all.
WANA INTERNATIONAL LAUNCHES! the brainchild of Kirsten Lamb, this is a community of and for artists with more than 40 online instructors, a great resource for stay-at-home writers who can’t attend conferences. I’ll be teaching “virtual” classes here in the future.
First off, I’ve added audio files to the KURVES, THE MUSICAL page (above) so folks can finally hear some of the songs.
Seren-kitty had her vet visit yesterday. She’s not a youngster any more and I’ve been worried about her health since she’s drinking/urinating more. I’ll have a full recap on Friday but wanted to thank everyone for the good wishes. It is NOT diabetes (whew!). It may be early kidney issues (her tests are ‘borderline’ and not yet in failure). We’re expecting Texas A & M results tomorrow or Thursday to let us know about thyroid function. Paws crossed that’s negative…
Some of y’all know that I’ve long aspired to write thrillers. Last Thursday, just before I headed out for the KWA Scene Conference, I heard from my editor at Who Dares Wins Publishing that they will publish my thriller LOST AND FOUND probably this fall (date tba). SNOOPY-DANCE-O-JOY!
Animal behaviorist September Day has 24 hours to find her autistic nephew and his service dog before he–and hundreds of other children–become victims of a deadly experimental autism treatment. And yes, there is “dog voice” as well as a highly-trained kitty, along with assorted quirky two-legged characters in the book.
To say I’m thrilled is an understatement. But today I also learned that I’ve been accepted as an ITW Debut Author class of 2012/2013. When I got that email I bawled. With happiness, of course. But that really upset the Magical-Dawg. Any tears upset him. And yes, the hero dog in the fiction came about by channeling my inner dog/cat. *s*
Anyway, I had to let y’all know my news. It’s been an “on top of the world” to “worry-icity” to “floating-again” sort of week. Sometimes you reach for, grab, and actually catch the brass ring.
Some of y’all who “like” me on Facebook know I’m deep into edits on a thriller WIP. Yes, I’m channeling my inner child to try my paw at some fiction writer-icity. Only time will tell whether readers will lap it up or howl and bare their teeth but it’s great fun for me all the same. Sort of like brain-candy as a break from some of the more serious nonfiction topics of daily work such as expressing puppy anal glands (EW!) or de-skunking your pet (double EW!). Actually some of that could make its way into my fiction since one of the viewpoint characters is a service dog. Hey man, it’s what I do!
DANGER! KNOWING TOO MUCH?
New writers are often told to write what you know. But there’s danger in that, too. When the author knows so much about a particular topic, info-dump-itis becomes a huge risk. (Guilty.) So in a way, writing about what you DON’T know might make more sense, and indulging in research only to the point needed to move the story forward. I really could care less how bullets are made, or why this gun sounds differently than that one. When I read a thriller I just want the gun to shoot when it’s supposed to.
BAD RESEARCH KILLS STORIES
But I also know readers who become distracted and jarred out of the story if the cop-hero carries the wrong firearm. I wouldn’t know or care. But I’m offended by authors who get dog/cat facts wrong in their novels–I’ve stopped reading at least one BSA for that reason when the hero/vet-tech gave her SAR dog Tylenol for muscle aches.
CHOOSING THE “WRITE” WORDS
How much is too much? What’s not enough? Just show the tip of the iceberg instead of dropping the whole lump-‘0-ice into the brew that takes the steam out of the story.
At least that’s what I believe Mr. Finder says in the latest video, below. I plan to take a page from his pacing playbook, too, and tape these three words above my computer: reverse, reveal, surprise.
Today I’ve got the next installment of that panel. You can check out a boatload of Thrillerfest pictures here. Where else but Thrillerfest could you get so much bang-for-your-buck with James Rollins interviewing a whole panel of best-selling-authors! Today the video offers tips on pacing and character from best-selling author Joseph Finder.
How do you manage characterization in your novel without resorting to the dreaded info-dump-icity? Do you season in details like salt and pepper–or do you throw everything in the pot to boil and worry about diluting the broth later? Is it important for the author to know all of that backstory to write valid, compelling characters? What’s YOUR biggest hurdle in the fictioning process? (Hey, I’m a writer–I can make up words if I want to!). Please share!
This video is only a small taste, of course. You can get the full deal recording (and those of the other panels) of CDs, MP3s and DVDs of Thrillerfest here.
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!
Okay, I gotta share another fan-girl moment–yes, that’s THE Michael Palmer at the reception just before the Thrillerfest Banquet. And I got to meet his son, debut author Daniel Palmer earlier in the day at the book signing event. Yep, got both of their books autographed. And because I had the books shipped (my bad back couldn’t take schlepping ’em on the plane), I just got the books this week and have just started Daniel’s debut thriller, Delirious. And for all you dog-lovers, a main character in Daniel’s book adopts an adult rescue Beagle named Monte…you’ll love this dog! Oh, and then Michael’s book is just A Heartbeat Away on my list to read next.
Why is this on today’s Tuesday Tips? Well–the video might explain. You see, both these talented writers also are musicians and offered some great fun tips during their presentation at the Thrillerfest banquet. The quality of the video sucks, I know, cuz the light wasn’t great and frankly, I was laughing too hard to hold the camera steady.
This video is only a small taste of the whole Thrillerfest experience, of course, and you can get the full deal recording (and those of the other panels) of CDs, MP3s and DVDs of Thrillerfest here.
What are YOUR favorite author tips? Do any of these sound familiar?
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!
Welcome to all the new followers! After last week’s Monday Mentions after the amazing Thrillerfest weekend, lots of folks “discovered” the blog. Turns out that folks who read (and write) thrillers often have a furry muse in the background–and also may be considering the pros and cons of continuing the traditional pub route vs “going rogue.” *ahem* I mean, ‘indy.’
More on specific writer-icity tomorrow as the weekly Tuesday Tips Kindle-lization Journey continues with tips on self promotion. This blog focuses on furry stuff usually on Woof Wednesday and Feline Friday. Monday Mentions–hey, that’s today!–offers a mash up of awesomeness, some of the great blogs, articles and other assorted WOW schtuff that makes me sit up and take notice. So I figure it’ll wag some other writerly tails, too.
To that end, those who have a new book, blog, article, fill-in-the-blank that might be a fit, please email me (amy AT shojai.com) with the particulars of your book/work and I’d love to feature you on a future blog. Hey, it’s all about helping each other out, right?
I suspect thriller writers (including those with a fantastical bent) appreciate some of the biting tidbits in today’s blog. Enjoy and share.
MINI BOOK REVIEW
Got a copy of “the Things That Keep Us Here” by Carla Buckley (Bantam) as a freebie at the Thrillerfest banquet. Started reading on the plane flight home. Couldn’t put it down, read straight through and finished it late that night. OUTSTANDING!
It’s what I’d call a “quiet” thriller, one with such internal tension and driving characterization that you nearly explode waiting to see what happens next. It’s “Hot Zone” meets “Ordinary People” and is awful and heartrending and scary-bad in just the way a thriller should be–with brilliant writing. Oh, and a dog appears in the story with a pivotal role.
WRITER CRAPPIOCCA NEWS
Rejections-R-Us: 30 Famous Authors’ Rejections–plus some more Well Known Self-Pub’d Authors and now they’re thumbing their collective noses, doncha think?
Spam Hits Kindle Okay, this is old news to self published folks, but others may not be aware of the latest get-rich-quick scheme to “aggregate” content (legally? illegally?), roll it into a ball and self-pub for big bucks. Uh…nope. IMO readers are smarter than that. But it does create lots of crappiocca.
AMAZING pictures and story that purports to be the dog SEAL that cornered Osama Ben Laden
Where Does Kitty Roam? A study of free-ranging ferals and housecats, covers some amazing ground. All you folks writing about were-cats and suchlike might want to take a look at how real cats do it.
SCARY SCH*T & LOL!
Bubonic Plague Affects Pets–And People! It affects cats most often because they hunt critters infested with disease-carrying fleas, but dogs also can catch the disease. That “cat fight abscess” might instead be a bubo! (Anyone else thinking “medical thriller plot?”)
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!
I had a wonderful time–again–in NYC at Thrillerfest. With four-track speaker panels, it was tough to choose between stellar topics and terrific speakers. And I have to say, the receptions and after-hours spent in the bar catching up with old friends and making new acquaintances was a highlight. This was my fourth Thrillerfest and (hard to believe) it was the best ever! The picture above is of me with my friend Paula Lanier and author Jason Pinter. Visit me over at my Facebook page for more images of Allison Brennan, John Gilstrap, Shane Gericke, Steve and Liz Berry, Sandra Brown and more.
I also managed to video snippets of some of the sessions. But frankly, I was too busy enjoying the event and taking copious notes to do too much picture snapping. One of the best times for me was participation on a “social media” panel, and then a book signing. Go figure–nonfiction pet books were a hit! Of course, lots of thriller/mystery/suspense writers include dogs or cats in the story, so a book on behavior or treating gunshots, arrow, animal bites and such comes in handy. Videos include:
2010 Debut Authors with Brad Melzer speaker, Thrillerfest Saturday July 10, 2010, Silver Bullet winner Brad Meltzer speaks to the audience, and Debut Authors: Avery Aames, Graham Brown, Ryan Brown, Carla Buckley, Teresa Burrell, Pamela Callow, JJ Cooper, Reece Hirsch, Jeannie Holmes, Brett King, Sophie Littlefield, Boyd Morrison, Alan Orloff, Brad Parks, Sharon Potts, James Rubert, Stephen Jan Schwartz, Norb Vonnegut
Make Your Career a Thriller with Panel Master Jeff Ayers interviews authors Joseph Finder, Laura Caldwell, Stephen Coonts, Chris Kuzneski and John Gilstrap
Is Nonfiction More Thrilling? Peter James interviews True Thriller Award Recipient Mark Bowden, and Panel Master Doug Preston hosts nonfiction panel with authors Sean Michael Bailey, Emily Benedek, Mark Bowden, W. Craig Reed and Kathleen Sharp
Lisa Scottoline interviewed by John Land, and Daniel Palmer and Michael Palmer singing “The Writer’s Prison Blues” at the Awards Banquet.
I’m going to be at ThrillerFest in July, and I’d love it if you joined me! Authors appear on panels, sign books, and talk about writing, and it’d be fun to see you in the audience. We’ll have sessions every day, cocktail parties every night (included in your registration price), and there’s a full bookshop on site, where authors can sign your purchases personally to you. You can meet this year’s superstar headliners: Ken Follett, David Morrell, Gayle Lynds, Harlan Coben, Lisa Scottoline, Brad Meltzer, Linda Fairstein, and our first-ever “True Thriller” recipient, Mark Bowden, famed for his nonfiction Black Hawk Down. ThrillerFest is Friday and Saturday, July 9 and 10, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Register and reserve a hotel room (at a terrific rate for New York in the summer) by clicking on www.ThrillerFest.org and following the quick-and-easy directions. (CraftFest with a “speed dating with agents” is on Weds and Thurs). I hope to see you there!