Friday, April 27, 2007

A Hand Up

It struck me last weekend at Sleuthfest, how generous many of my fellow mystery writers are. They're willing to share writing and marketing tips, inside info about the biz, gossip about which editors and agents are good--and which are bad. It's really a welcoming community.
Not that the journalists of my prior life aren't nice people, too (well, some of them, anyway). And it's not that there aren't egomaniacs and narcissists in the fiction community. I'm thinking of one moderator in particular, who walked all over her panelists, making THEIR panel all about HER! She must not have read The Moderator's Manifesto, the instructions all of us who agreed to run a panel received.
To wit: "The panel is about the panelists, not about the moderator. That's why it's called a panel.''
But, for the most part, these are genuinely nice and giving folks. Starting with Linda Fairstein, the hotshot NYC prosecutor-turned-mystery writer who was the keynote speaker, all the way down to the local members of Mystery Writers of America/Fla. Chapter, the conference host ... all seem ready to offer a hand to those still finding their way.
It's refreshing, especially in these times of the cut-throat contests on Survivor, and the slash-and-burn competitors on Donald Trump's Apprentice.
I hope I never feel I have to climb over somebody else to achieve success.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Just back from Miami Beach, where Sleuthfest is being held this year. The annual convention of mystery writers is quite a trip: cat lady cozy authors to dark thriller types. A real mix. I guess I'm closer to the cat ladies ... though I'm not wild about cats. I'm definitely not in the dark thriller camp: serial killers, abducted kids, plots to blow up whatever. I had enough of that stuff as a news reporter. Give me light and fluffy in my mystery fiction, any day.
I wish MAMA AND THE MURDERER was already out ... the convention is a good chance to promote your book, get the buzz going. A year-and-a-half away is a bit too disant to really promote (and, from what everyone says, promotion is what it's all about.)
Still, did a couple of panels, met a few nice folks, had a few cocktails. Can't ask for more than that.
Plus, I got a nifty little badge to wear: HELLO, my name is Deborah! I'm a conventioneer!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Tragedy Biz

Such sadness unfolding in the news today, a day after the shooting at Virginia Tech that took 30-plus lives ....
It's moments like this I'm truly grateful to be out of the news business. This is the type of story that news organizations throw staff at. All hands on deck. I'd probably be there for USA Today. Or, if not there, then somewhere else linked to the story: the living room of a family in Florida, grieving over their lost child; at Columbine or the Amish school or some other site made sacred by a mass slaying; at some other college campus where kids are scared and the media is asking the question ... could it happen here?
It's weird that I don't feel even a twinge of "missing out'' on covering such a big story. I'm just relieved I don't have to do it, absorbing one more time all that grief and loss and pain.
I can turn to my little mystery novels, where I get to decide the endings. Where no one truly suffers. Where good wins out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Scary Public Speaking

As a writer, I sit alone in a room and think, and then put words on paper. It's not exactly riveting, believe me.
But as a writer who eventually wants to SELL her books, I must overcome my solitary tendencies. I must stand in front of a crowd and talk about writing. I must somehow make the process seem scintillating instead of stultifying.
Isn't writing like comedy: the more you analyze it and pick it apart, the drearier it becomes?
Anyway, I hope I'm not completely dreary later this week when I speak at Sleuthfest, the annual convention of mystery writers held in southern Florida. (It's on South Beach this year. Aren't we chic and happening?)
I'm on one panel; moderating another. Now that I have a couple of these events under my belt, I'm not actually physically sick anymore at the prospect of public speaking. Although, God knows, I'd make an impression if I hurled at the podium. Bet they wouldn't forget me then. "Hey! There's the woman who wrote Mama and the Murderer!'' She splattered me earlier today.''
Hmmmm . . . one of the panels IS on marketing, and writers are always looking for a way to stand out from the crowd. Projectile vomiting just might be the path to publishing success!