Archive for the conference Category

It’s Good to Be an Amazon Author

Last weekend I was in Seattle for a conference hosted by Thomas & Mercer that may be the first of its kind. Amazon paid for everything, including meals, leisure activities, and a schwag bag with a Paper White Kindle. (Nice suprise!)

But what was unique was the purpose: to simply say thank you to its authors. It wasn’t a reader convention to build sales, and it wasn’t a writing workshop to develop its authors. The event was simply a gathering of T&M authors so we could meet the Amazon team and socialize with each other. But more important, I heard over and over that the company appreciated me.

There were panels on Saturday, which were open to the public and attended by some local writers, but they were mostly about T&M authors sharing their publishing expertise and getting to know each other. The program started with a great panel about writing for television and movies with Lee Goldberg, Marcus Sakey, Greg Widen, and Johnny Shaw competing to tell the funniest stories. A hard act to follow!

But we did our best on the branding panel that came next with me, Barry Eisler, and Max Collins. That was another unique feature: more men than women. Most reader conventions I’ve attended are predominately female. But Saturday night, I had dinner with eight male authors (and Larry Kirshbaum, the president of Amazon Publishing). I’m sure other women writers had similar experiences of being outnumbered. Overall, Amazon made a great effort to ensure that we all met new people. I chatted with so many authors, it would be weird to name them all here.

Friday was the best day though. After a presentation at Amazon headquarters, we had lunch on the Argosy, then embarked on a cruise of Lake Washington. A beautiful day with perfect 75 degree weather. I got to hang out with J Carson Black, an online buddy I’d never met in person, as well as good friends Andrew Kaufman and Michelle Scott.

Then Friday night we had dinner at the Chihuly Garden and Glass, which had the most stunning display of blown glass I’ve ever seen. The meal itself was in a room made entirely of glass with a hanging glass sculpture running the length. A very special evening that I’m glad I dressed up for.

As an author, this weekend was the first time I ever felt like I was “somebody.” Yet that’s just ego, and it doesn’t really matter. What’s most important is what signing with T&M did for my career this year—introduce me to more readers than I ever dreamed of.

The Trigger: An Agent Dallas Thriller

I’ve had a title for my new thriller for months—The Trigger. But I started considering those powerful one-word thriller titles: Stolen, Missing, Inferno, Bombshell, Shiver, Dust (seriously, a new Patricia Cornwall), and I thought maybe I should title it just Trigger.

We developed a cover, and the single-word title looked great. I asked people in my house what they thought, and everyone said, “Yeah, I like Trigger better.” But it bothered me. Whenever I would talk about the story, I would stumble over the title. It started to sound funny.

Then my editor questioned the new title and said it made her think of a name, like the horse. So I knew it wasn’t right. Especially for people who might only see the title in text (sans cover) and be confused by it.

So I’m back to The Trigger, which works well with the story. If you’re interested, here’s the back cover copy:

Agent Jamie Dallas loves undercover assignments that get her out of the Phoenix Bureau. But when a woman and her baby disappear from an isolated community of preppers in Northern California, she knows the risk of infiltrating the armed group is dangerously high.

Inside the compound, she discovers that the brothers who founded Destiny are scheming something far more devious than kidnapping or murder. Meanwhile, her local FBI contact, Agent McCullen, is pulled from her team and assigned to investigate the murder of a woman with phony ID, found at the bottom of a motel pool.

Soon Dallas finds herself in deeper trouble than she’s ever encountered—with no way to reach her contacts. Can she break free of the brothers’ grip and stop their bizarre end-of-world plans? Will Agent McCullen identify the killer in time to help?

The Trigger is a gripping story that highlights our greatest fear—how a hacker and a fanatic with grandiose ideas can threaten civilization as we know it.

The book is scheduled for release January 1, and I have a great contest planned with a huge prize—a trip to Left Coast Crime. Get more details here.

If you’re interested in an early copy of The Trigger (ebook and some print) and are willing to be on my street team to help launch it, please email me. ARCs will be ready in about a month.

So what do you think of the title? The cover? Story concept?

B-Con 2012, Part Two

Bouchercon was terrific for me this year. I finally felt like a real author with a wide reader base and respect from other authors, even though the conference programmer didn’t offer me a panel until I politely pointed out that I met all the criteria. But in the long run, it didn’t matter.

My highlight this year was having dinner with the Thomas & Mercer team and getting to know Andrew Bartlett, the acquisitions editor. At that dinner, I also met Blake Crouch, Sean Chercover, and Dana Cameron, and walked back in the rain with with Tom Shreck, whom I’ve known since we were both with the same small press. (Blake and Tom are in next photo.)

But let me back up. I started Friday with a Sisters in Crime breakfast, complete with singing a chorus of “You show me your gun, I’ll show you mine.” Then I attended panel called Old Friends, New Friends, nicely moderated by Jen Forbus, followed by Eve of Destruction, with authors Sophie Littlefield, Deborah Coonts, Tracy Kiely, and Rochelle Staab. I spent a lot of time with Rochelle, who I’d Skyped with earlier in the year for a Big Thrill feature. She’s just as dynamic in person. (Bottom photo in gorgeous red leather.)

A little latter I met up with longtime online friend Debbi Mack for the first time—lovely woman—and had lunch with her and fellow panelist, Conda Douglas, and new author friend, Molly Cox Bryan.Blake Crouch and Tom Shreck

Friday afternoon, I attended Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, a terrific panel where they talked about writing from the opposite gender’s perspective. The room was pack to see Elizabeth George, Val McDemid, Alan Jacobson, Tom Shreck, and another friend, Alexandra Sokoloff. The moderator, Daniel Palmer did a great job of keeping it lively.

Saturday was a day of conversations. I chatted with readers and authors all day—including Zoe Sharp, Julie Hyzy, Claudia Whitsitt, and Annette Dashofy —and had lunch with my terrific roommate and author Terry Shames (next photo), along with Keith Raffel, Boyd Morison and his wife, Randi, Tracy Kiely, and another delightful author whose name escapes me. By that point, I’d met and chatted with so many people, it was hard to mentally keep everyone straight. We talked shop, but also veered off into other stimulating subjects.

Still, that evening at the awards ceremony, I met more authors for the first time. Edgar nominee Darrell James was charming, and so was Kathy Wiley and new author Anne Cleeland. I went to dinner with Darrell James and a female author named Darrell who writes under Avery Aames, as well as Rochelle, Dana Cameron, Roberta Isleb, and another woman I should remember. I also chatted with numerous authors in the bar that evening, staying up late to connect with as many people as possible.L.J. Sellers and Terry Shames

That’s the problem with blogs like this. I can’t possibly mention everyone I talked even if I could remember all their names. So if I left you out, please don’t be offended, and feel free to comment and remind me! And I have to mention that I chatted with Stan and Lucinda Surber who talked me into being a chair for Left Coast Crime 2015 in Portland. It’ll be fantastic, so put it on your calendar.

The best panel I attended was on Sunday morning and called Red Herrings. Moderator Keith Raffel (a great guy!) was sharp and funny, despite a late night in the lounge, and the panelists—Beth Groundwater, Pennie Ross, D.M. Pirrone, and Melodie Campbell—all kept up with him.

Afterward while waiting to leave, I chatted with agent Janet Reid, who did her best to convince me that personal one-to-one emails are worthwhile, even with a thousand-name email list, and I know in my heart she’s right, even though the task would be overwhelming. And I shared a cab to the airport with Gigi Pandian, an delightful author I shared a shuttle with at B-con 2010. We both seem to fly home to the west coast at the same time

L.J. Sellers and Rochelle StaabI also talked with people on all of my flights coming and going, two of whom have already emailed me, hoping to stay in touch. I wish I had total recall for all the wonderful people I’ve met.

If you attended B-con, please share one of your moments.

Bouchercon 2012

I’m happy to be in Cleveland at Bouchercon with so many people who love crime fiction as much as I do. I had a lovely dinner last night with Neil Plakcy, Tim Hallinan, Barbara Fister, Katherine Clark, and Les Blatt. We talked about the genre, of course, and what defines cozy and what “dark” really means in connection with crime fiction. Neither Tim or I see our work as dark, but many readers do. Tim told us all about his next book, and Neil talked about how he ended up writing stories with dogs. It was fun to get the inside track.

This afternoon I was on a panel called The Ebook Revolution, but I’m happy to report we didn’t talk about self-publishing. We talked about where readers can find quality crime fiction online is a sea of new authors and books. Neil Plakcy moderated, and book blogger Erin Mitchell talked about her process for finding what she wants to review. Author Conda Douglas was on the panel too, and talked a bit about Goodreads.

I gave a list of the sites I’ve been reviewed on: OverMyDeadBody: Fresh Fiction, RT Reviews, Readers Favorite Awards, Buried Under Books. and BookTrib.

I mentioned the print magazines that have run reviews of my books.: Mystery Scene, Crimespree, Suspense, and Spinetingler. As well as the newsletter I subscribe to: All Mystery.

I also talked about the collective sites where you can find great mysteries and thrillers by authors you know are bestsellers or award winners: KillerThrillers, Top Suspense, and Readers Rule.

We also talked about where we network with readers, and I mentioned Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, Dorothy L, and 4 Mystery Addicts. All great places to meet readers with like-minded preferences for crime fiction. After the panel I gave away 15 print copies of The Sex Club.

This evening, I attended the opening ceremonies at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an event sponsored by Thomas & Mercer, my new publisher. Great fun! (And bought a t-shirt for the husband of course.)

 

 

 

Highlights From Left Coast Crime

I’m just back from Left Coast Crime, which was in Sacramento this year. It was a terrific conference with guests of honor such as John Lescroart, whom I was lucky enough to meet when I moderated a panel about Writing the Criminal Mind. (William Kent Krueger, Rick Reed, and Denise Hamilton were also panelists.) Rick Reed told harrowing stories about encounters with criminals, including a serial killer, and John Lescroart expanded on his belief that the best way to reveal the criminal mind is through dialogue.

I also participated as a panelist for the subject: Writing Is a Real Job. Simon Wood, a top-ranked Amazon author, moderated. The panel included a ghost writer, an author who also runs a small publishing company, and a screenwriter/novelist—giving the audience a wide view of how various writers make a living.

One of the most interesting panels I attended discussed the new age of movie-making, and how inexpensive and easy it is now to create a high-production-value film, then expose it to potentially millions of viewers through You Tube.

Then there was the Men of Mystery panel, in which we heard from more than a dozen authors, many of them quite humorous. The moderators also entertained us with video clips—writers heads digitally imposed on dancers of all types, including Chippendales. Hysterical! Wish I had a good photo of it.

And I had a blast hanging out with other CFC bloggers, Gayle Carline and Marlyn Beebe (who read and reviewed many of the award-nominated books). As well as good friends Teresa Burrell, Terry Shames, Susan Shea, Terry Odell, Simon Wood—and I could go on and on. The best thing about these conferences is the opportunity to talk shop with others who love this business as much as I do.

Conferences Are in Flux Too

Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe was great this year. I got to meet in person people I’ve come to know and like online: Peg Brantley, Jodie Renner, Marlyn Beebe, and more. I participated in two panels, Research: Getting It Right, and Publishing: Today and in the Future.

Both were well attended, and I got terrific feedback from the audience. Read more

New Level, New Possibilities

workshopI taught my first workshop on Sunday at the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland. And actually got paid. My first paid gig as a speaker! It’s a small thing, yet I feel like I’ve hit a new level as a writer. How it will translate into future success remains to be seen. I got terrific feedback on the workshop, titled Your First Draft Doesn’t Have to Suck and based on blogs I’ve posted Read more

Left Coast Crime

I had a great time at LCC and reconnected with many people I’ve grown fond of. I also met new writers as well as some Facebook and Twitter friends (Holly West, Marlyn Beebe) for the first time too. I know I gained a few readers because they told me so in person. Love that! I got to know Teresa Burrell and Rachel Brady better, both terrific women. And I had dinner with a group that included Meg Gardiner, who is friendly and fun. Read more

Armchair Mystery Conference

For readers who can’t make it to mystery/crime gatherings to meet their favorite authors, Poisoned Pen Press is offering a virtual online conference. Scheduled for Oct. 24, the PPP webcon is a chance to take in great discussions among authors on many subjects. For example, I’m on a panel that discusses provocative social issues in novels. There will also be discussions about exotic locations in novels, historical settings, reader favorites such as sex and violence, and many other subjects. Read more

Exposure! Grab What You Can

I’m headed for Portland today for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association tradeshow. I’m still surprised they chose me for an author signing (50 authors were turned away). I almost passed on this event because the fee is $125, I have to give away 50 fifty books, and drive two hours in each direction for a 30-minute signing session.

Why am I going? Because it’s an opportunity to meet bookstore owners/managers from all over the Pacific Northwest. It’s an opportunity to hand them my novel and my promotional flyer with all the rave reviews. Even if they don’t order my book, they will hear my name, see my story and series character, and file it away somewhere in their brain. And someday soon, they will order and stock my books.

In real estate, it’s location, location, location. In book marketing, it’s exposure, exposure, exposure. You can’t buy better (or cheaper) advertising than this event.

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LATEST REVIEWS

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The characters were compelling, the procedural work was dead-on, and the story was enthralling. Definitely recommended.”
~Michelle Gagnon, author of Boneyard
The author expertly intertwines multiple story lines, presents readers with fully realized characters that readers will feel they know, and keeps the action and suspense levels high. That’s a lot to expect from an author but L. J. Sellers delivers.” ~OverMyDeadBody
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