Monday, 16 October 2017

BOUCHERCON 2017: A WORLD-CLASS MYSTERY CONVENTION




L-R: Crime Thriller Co-authors, Gloria Ferris &  Donna Warner at Bouchercon 2017 World Mystery Convention
 Day one, after attending Bouchercon 2017 held in Toronto, Ontario, Oct. 12-15. I’m told we had over 1,700 crime mystery authors, editors, publishers, literary agents, and fans attending. This is the second Bouchercon I’ve attended, and I can’t say enough good things about it.  Although, I’m feeling slightly sluggish today, the after effects from trying to digest a wealth of information valuable to me as a Canadian author with two novellas under her belt,  I’m excited to have new ideas to add to my tool box of writing and marketing skills. I must admit it was a bit of a challenge to decide on which events to attend since there were many running simultaneously. Thankfully, my writers’ group, the Guelph Genre 5 Authors, Gloria Ferris, Liz Lindsay, Pam Blance, and Donna Houghton, solved my dilemma by agreeing to attend sessions I couldn’t and taking notes to share.
The networking opportunities alone were staggering.  I’m emptying out pockets of my purse and book bag to ensure I don’t misplace bookmarks from new author friends. Kudos to the many volunteers who organized and ensured this event ran so smoothly.
The photo above is of my co-author, Gloria Ferris and I encouraging our shy crime thriller novellas, “Targeted”, and “Death’s Footprint” to socialize with the impressive number of books that were on display and available to purchase at Bouchercon 2017.
Tomorrow, I’m tasked to finalize preparations for the writers’ workshop I’m facilitating at the Elora Library, 144 Geddes St., Elora, Ontario on Oct. 19 (Registration is free and details and agenda are below). Since we’re 12 days from Halloween, and Elora is well known for getting into the spirit of this event, we’ve named this workshop, “Conjuring Up a Work of Fiction: Author Entrepreneur….the Business of Writing.  If these topics interest you, please consider joining us.
CONJURING UP A WORK OF FICTION
Author Entrepreneur: The Business of Writing
Thursday, October 19, 2017
    6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Wellington County Library, Elora Branch, 144 Geddes St., Elora   Phone: 519-846-0190

Author Team:  Cheryl Cowtan, Alison Bruce, Gloria Ferris, Liz Lindsay (aka Jamie Tremain), Donna Warner

Program:       
1.      Plot development (Cheryl Cowtan)                                       
2.      Character development (Alison Bruce)         
3.      Naming your characters (Donna Warner)      
4.      Humour in fiction (Gloria Ferris)                   
5.      Co-authoring (Liz Lindsay)                                       
6.      Self-editing your first draft (Donna Warner)                        
7.      Organizations to benefit writers (Alison Bruce)        
8.      Building your author brand (Liz Lindsay)                             
9.      The diverse paths to publication (Gloria Ferris)
10.  Participants to receive workshop notes followed by an open forum
11.  Authors book sales, signings, and socializing


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

NAMING YOUR FICTIONAL CHARACTERS

Donna J. Warner, Crime Thriller Author


I participated in the International Thriller Writers’ (ITW) Round Table Discussions (July 24-30, 2017) on the above topic. Excerpts from select discussions appear below in addition to some new ones I’ve added. To view comments from participating authors: D.P. Lyle, Peter James, Donna Warner, Patrick Oster, Jonathan F. Putnam, Richard Billingsley, Billy Lyons and Meredith Anthony, see ITW’s web page: http://www.thebigthrill.org/2017/07/july-24-30-do-names-reflect-the-character-of-the-character/#more-42832%27
A first name can date an individual. Do your character names reflect the character of the character?
Peter James
·         Characters names that are difficult to pronounce may frustrate readers;
·         Pick names that are distinct and different;
·         Take the name of your first pet as the first name and the street you first lived on as a child as the second and bingo, you’ll have a character’s name to consider;
·         I like to associate a name with a face, and that naturally works best by drawing from people I know.
Donna J. Warner
·           Select character names with varying lengths and avoid assigning names that start with the same letter;
·            Don’t name every character who has a minor role in your story. E.g., referring to “the butcher next door” eliminates readers having to remember too many character names;
·           Choose character names carefully, especially important if you write a series. The name of your protagonist will be stuck in your head for years;
·           For Death’s Footprint, I searched the FBI’s Most Wanted List for a face that matched the profile of the nasty character I was building and revised the felon’s name;
·           I recently read a novel with a character called a car part…”Axell”;
·           Some name generating URLs are: http://www.behindthename.com/names/translate;
·           Names should fit the geographic location and ethnic culture of certain characters.
D.P. Lyle
·           Live with your characters; get to know them; and the name that fits will come;
·           This name generator gives a ranking of baby names by decade—so you can better match a character’s name with their age:  https://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/decades/;
·           Have only one name per character. E.g., let’s say Admiral Adam Jones, Commander of the Pacific Fleet appears in your story. If you call him Adam, Jones, Admiral Jones, the Admiral, the Fleet Commander, etc., you risk confusing readers.  
Patrick Oster
·         Have strong names for your heroes. People react to names, so don’t just use some throwaway name like John Smith;
·         For your important characters, especially those who represent good, use first names, male or female, to establish an intimacy and rapport — or even fear — with readers;
·         I try not to use a first name that sounds too positive or likable;
·         Regarding name association, if you use the first names of friends or neighbors for minor characters, they may buy your book. 
_
Donna J. Warner's Crime Thriller Book Buy Links
Targeted (Book #1)
Death's Footprint (Book #2)




Thursday, 28 September 2017

THE DIVERSE PATHS TO PUBLICATION






By Gloria Ferris (Author of Mysteries & Crime Thrillers) 

There are four main paths for authors to follow to get published:     


                 1.    Traditional publication by one of “The Big Five” publishers
a)      Hachette (David Baldacci, J.K. Rowling, James Patterson)
b)      Harper Collins (Neil Gaiman, Lisa Jackson, Amy Tan)
c)      MacMillan (Kelley Armstrong, Louise Penny, Dan Brown, Donald Trump)
d)     Penguin Random House (Ken Follett, Danielle Steel, Diana Gabaldon)
e)      Simon & Schuster (Stephen King, Brad Thor, thriller, Mary Higgins Clark)
      Each of the Big Five have hundreds, if not thousands of authors in their stables. I’ve picked just a few names everybody will recognize. If it’s your dream to be among them, you’ll need an agent, no way around it. The Big Five will only accept agent queries. Period. Finding that agent is a whole other topic and we don’t have time to address it here, but know that it is difficult and time-consuming to land an agent. Give yourself a time limit to find one and a Plan B to move forward if the time limit passes without an agent nibble.
  
2.     Traditional publication by a smaller, independent publisher. There are thousands out there. All will have a website with information on the company, and outlining submission rules. Most do not require an agent – you submit directly to the publishing house. Before submitting, make sure the publisher is reputable. One way is to look at the publisher information on books in your genre on Amazon or other online retailers, and do some research. Make sure you only submit to publishers who handle your genre, i.e. if you’ve written a fantasy paranormal about vampires, don’t submit to a company that handles cozy mysteries. And, follow the submission guidelines to the letter. It’s difficult enough to attract the attention of an acquisition editor at a publishing house. If you don’t follow the format they request, your submission will be deleted or tossed without a word being read.

3.      “Self-publishing” or “Vanity publishing”. There are companies that offer publishing packages costing hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the services purchased. Royalties are slim to none. Some of these companies are honest, some are unscrupulous to the extreme. Be very careful which one you choose. Do your research online. This type of publishing works well for a writer who wants to publish a personal memoir, or a family history that has limited appeal to others.

             4      Indie publishing is becoming more popular for both authors who have gone the traditional route and now want complete control over their work, and for those writers who have never been traditionally published but don’t care to wait through the agent/query/submission/rejection/more rejection/acceptance/eventual path to traditional publication which can take up to two years after acceptance and contract signing. Some indie authors do everything – design their own covers, format their own files, upload to online retailers, create branding and marketing strategies. Others outsource one or more of these steps, notably cover design, or using an aggregator to upload to all online retailers. 

There are many other components to publishing we haven’t covered such as: query letters to agents or queries to accompany submissions; contracts; advances; marketing and promotion. Writing is a business. Publishing a book, whichever path you take, is just the beginning.

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Gloria's new release mystery (#3) in the Cornwall and Redfern series is now available from Amazon and other Worldwide Book Vendors: