Friday, August 27, 2010

Killer Nashville

This time last week I was on my way to the Killer Nashville conference at the Cool Springs Marriott in Franklin, TN. It was a weekend jammed packed with great speakers and seminars. While the conference is geared for mystery and thriller writers there really is something for writers of any genre. It was a real learning experience and I know I'll be back next year. This is one conference where you really do get a lot of bang for your buck.

The first session I attended was CSI Don't Think So - How Television Gets It Wrong presented by Lee Lofland, an author and nationally acclaimed expert on police procedure and crime-scene investigation. The basic thing I learned is don't use TV crime shows for your research. According to Lofland, Southland is the most authentic and well researched crime show on TV. Lofland is doing a Writer's Police Academy in September that would be really helpful for anyone who writes crime.

Session Two was the always fabulous Sherrilyn Kenyon speaking on how she became a best selling author. If you've ever visited her websites you know she is a one woman promotional machine for her work. She's very conscious of her public persona and her biggest advise is to write what you love. I'll be taking some of her marketing advise to heart when Headlocks & Hexes comes out next year. She recommended book giveaways and bookmarks as promotional tools, and of course a fabulous interactive website is a must.

Next was lunch at the hotel buffet with MCRW friends, Rae Ann and Annie, and a few of Rae Ann Parker's friends from her YA group .  Annie Solomon was a speaker on a few of the panels. She writers Romantic Suspense and has a new book coming out in October, Two Lethal Lies. After lunch we went up to the elevator room to view the crime scene.

The next session I attended was Polishing Silver and Panning for Gold: Finding Treasure Through Revision with David Schlosser, Barbara Christopher, PJ Parrish, Sharon Potts, and Lawrence Light.  Some of the things they suggested: have a computer program to read you your WIP. Always carry a notebook for each WIP to jot down notes as they come to you. An insert or story board comes in handy with developing your plot and adding stick up notes for stuff to add or change. Fix major plot points as the happen, but wait until later to go back any correct smaller things.

Next was Two Faces of Psychopathy, presented by Dr. Stephen Benning, Ph,D. a psychology professor at Vanderbilt University. This was a really interesting presentation since Rowan, my anti-heroine in Headlocks & Hexes is a psychopath. The two characteristics of this personality disorder are fearless dominance and impulsive anti-sociality. By the end of the presentation I was pleased to learn that Rowan exhibits all the symptoms of both characteristics except for the abuse of animals.

The last session I attending on Friday was Lightening in a Bottle: Marketing and Promotion by Rick Robinson with panelist Sunny Frazier, Matthew Funk, Susan Whitfield, and Steven Womack.  They discussed the importance of social networking through Facebook, Twitter, Linkin and getting your name out there by posting on other writers blogs. He also suggested taking photos with best selling authors when you have the chance and tagging the photos on Facebook. This led me to set up a Facebook under my pen name of Jezebel Jorge.

Saturday began with Serial Killers and Other Serial Offenders by Richard Helms and panelists Carolina Bertrand, Nelda Copas, and Rick Reed. This was a very interesting and informative seminar with too much info to go into on a blog.

Next it was Elements of Award-Winning Novels with Beth Terrell, Annie Solomon, PJ Parrish, David J. Walker, and Steven Womack. The things I took away from this session was to write th book you want to write and chemistry and attention to detail are two key elements to any best selling novel. There's no formula for writing a best seller, it's more about capturing the magic with something different within the boundaries of a genre.

The afternoon was all about bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver. He is a fascinating speaker and captivated the audience with his presentation on Writing Thrillers: How I Do It. Here's his winning formula for a Deaver Bestseller - Short time frame, important deadlines for his characters, interesting esoteric information, and lots of surprise endings. He's a major plotter and does 140-180 page outlines on every book he does before even starting to write. He also saves each revision of his WIPs from start to completion of any manuscript and usually has about 10 documents before a book is complete.

Jeffrey Deaver also stuck around for the panel discussion on An Insider's Look Into The Future of Publishing.

I ended the day with one of the Ticketed Breakout Sessions with an agent Q&A with Jeff Gerecke, Jill Marr, and Cari Foulk. This was a great session to attend since I had pitches with all three agents the next morning. Marr and Foulk both requested to see my work.

After doing my pitches on Sunday morning I attended a two part workshop - Walk Through A Crime Scene Investigation with Sheila Stephens, a former ATF Agent, private detective and law enforcement consultant. I took so many notes on this workshop that I wouldn't even know where to begin on detailing everything she covered.

Killer Nashville was an awesome experience for me and I would recommend this conference to any writer who wants to network and learn more about mystery and thriller writing. I'm already looking forward to going back next year for Killer Nashville 2011!

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