Showing posts with label Sleuthfest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sleuthfest. Show all posts

Mar 9, 2015

Not Exactly a Book Tour

In the minds of many, a book tour is a glamorous thing, but like most everything else, reality is more prosaic than poetic. There are authors who draw crowds of adoring fans, like Rick Castle always does on the TV show. (BTW, I wish I had a quarter for every time someone asked me if I think Nathan Fillion really writes those books. PulEEZE!)
Most of us don't draw crowds; in fact, we're happy for every person that shows up. A speaker at Sleuthfest, the conference I attended in Florida last week, described arriving at a bookstore to find every audience chair filled, only to have them empty when it was announced over the loudspeaker that his presentation was about to start. He learned the homeless of the area were allowed to come in out of the cold and sit in the chairs, but they knew they had to leave when his talk began. Not only did he have an audience of only one person, he was responsible for the rest being tossed out into the cold!
People also imagine that publishers arrange tours for authors. They think we're met by limo drivers and escorted by publicists. That's true for a few, but most of us arrange our own events, and it's getting harder and harder. Bookstores are struggling financially, and some now charge authors a fee for a signing. And with library funds slashed, don't expect much in the way of remuneration there.
Fun with the "sexiest men at SF"
What I did for the last few weeks was in no way a tour. We wanted to escape the cold, and we hadn't been to Florida for several years. I signed up for Sleuthfest in Deerfield Beach, knowing it was a nice conference in a great area. As part of the con I did some instruction and some introductions, and I met a lot of really nice people.
Afterwards we drove north to Lake Alfred, to a library that's been transformed since I last saw it. Due to a generous donation from an unassuming gentleman, the town now has a new building that's everything a small library could hope for. The people there were so nice I felt pampered, even spoiled, and we had a great day, a lovely lunch, and few laughs together.
How nice to have my books featured at Lake Alfred!
That was the tour part. I didn't schedule more events, because we were supposed to be vacationing.
Lake Alfred's Clever Mystery Spot
 John's very patient with my "job stuff," but it's no fun for him to wait around in a hotel room or drive around large cities by himself while I talk, talk, talk about books and writing. We turned to things we both like to do: Busch Gardens, a Tigers game, and the Plant City Strawberry Festival. We once had a house near there, and it was fun to go back, though we found that the house itself has been torn down. Now we're back in Michigan, with snow instead of 80+ temps. As they say, it's good to get away, and great to get back home.
Intriguing art shop in New Smyrna Beach
John checking out the fauna at Busch Gardens

Mar 2, 2015

What Writers Talk About

Looking way too serious before the panel
If you're not a writer, don't ever get caught in a group of them. The discussions are never-ending, and we love them, even if we've heard them a thousand times before.
I sat on a panel Saturday that discussed writers' dilemmas and how to solve them. After sharing a few of our own problem areas, we asked the audience to share theirs.
We could have stayed all day.
The funny thing is that in the final analysis, they're the same. How to overcome a stalled story (I recommend a break, even if it takes a week or two). How to cut to a reasonable word count (I listen to the MS read by my computer. Others read it aloud to themselves or to others). How to beef up a MS that's too short (I added a subplot; others add a secondary character). How to recognize your "personal errors," those things we all do that irritate readers (I use SmartEdit, which points out how many times I used the word just or how many sentences I started with I). And how to make your characters behave (You can't. You can only react to what they've done, sometimes with horror).
What's great about such discussions isn't the sage advice the other panel members and I gave. Yes, maybe we've been at this longer and have worked out some strategies, but we're all in this together. My editors still point out things they've been pointing out for years, things I should be able to see but don't because I'm working so hard to get the story
written down.
So authors talk about writing. We trade ideas. We give enthusiastic synopses of our projects. We ask questions.
And we go away fueled up to go at it again--writing the great American mystery novel.

Everybody Lies

    First, let me say I'm aware that I make things up for a living, so writing about lying is a little hypocritical. But I don't pre...