Posts Tagged ‘Gayle Lynds’

As many of you read of my exploits in New York City, meeting some great authors in the Thriller genre, I’m sure you wish you could listen to these authors yourself. But they happened in the past.

What if you could go back in time? What if I told you it IS possible?

You want to hear Steve Berry himself, tell you how he stays in the point of view of the main character. How he keeps you in their skin as his masterful story unfolds. Or you want to hear Gayle Lynds secrets of creating a bestselling novel. Or Brenda Novak’s secrets to emotion and how to keep it tight in your book.

Oh, the list goes on.

So here’s how you do it.

Go to this site: ThrillerFest

Here you can order CD’s or MP3’s of most all of those tracks. I just order several tracks I did not get to attend but wanted to.

And yet…there’s more.

From here you can look at previous ThrillerFest conferences dating back to 2008. Perhaps your favorite author was in there somewhere. Wouldn’t you love to hear his words describe something important to him when he’s writing that latest Bestseller? And better yet, they’re typically $10 a session. You don’t have to pay airfare. You don’t have to pay NYC hotel rates. You just need to click, buy and listen.

What a great service provided by International Thriller Writers (ITW).

Thank you ITW.

Her 8, no 9 secrets to creating a bestselling thriller.


OK. I’ll get to her secrets in a minute. But first, a quick note about her.

She’s a New York Times Bestselling author. She co-wrote the Covert-One series with Robert Ludlum. She’s hailed as one of the best spy/espionage writers of today by her peers. And she happens to be a very nice person.

Listening to Gayle speak, you quickly realize what a strong passion she has for writing. She’s was very eager to teach and convey her knowledge – the main staples in writing that she’s learned over the years. Gayle was one of the Master CraftFest writing instructors where they basically lock you in a room with 10 students and a Master writer. I did not get to sit with her, but my friends that attended her session came out glowing with enthusiasm.

On to her secrets!

  1. Characters – These are usual people caught up in something bigger than themselves. It will take extraordinary effort to defeat the conflicts in front of them.
    – Jeopardy – Hero (you must thrust the hero into jeopardy)
    – Menace – Villain (your villain must convey believable menace)
    Your hero must have at least one weakness
    and your villain must have at least one good trait

    This keeps them from being cardboard characters

  2. Dramatic Question – You can test this by putting what the hero and villain wants in one sentence separated by the word ‘or’. (sorry, I didn’t write down any of the great examples she provided)
    But here’s my weak attempt: Will Scott Murphy save his family ‘or’ will the villain (name here) defeat Scott and take over the world?
    Practice this on your own story. You’d be surprised how this helps you define, at least in your own mind, the dramatic question your story should take.
  3. High Stakes – Needs to be larger than one person or the hero (but it’s personal).
  4. High Concept – The focusing concept must be larger than life
  5. Multiple View Point – Better for thrillers. It’s easier to involve the reader in your characters POV, including the villain. You really get to know/hate/empathize with him.
  6. Exotic Settings – These don’t have to be foreign exotic, but something new that we’re not typically aware of. It could be the sewer system of New York City. It could be the control tower of a major airport – something where you can drop intimate knowledge about a place most people never see.
  7. Mood & Tone – How do you want your novel to come across? Dark? Mysterious? Never-ending action? This must be matched by mood and tone.
  8. Suspense – The old promise and delay. But you have to be careful with this. Don’t over do it. Don’t stretch it out too long. But dangle just enough to keep someone in jeopardy, even if it’s internal to them, so that your reader wants to get them out.
  9. Big Novel – A finality needs to be big and/or satisfying. It should end the same ways it starts. If it starts with violence, it should end with a big, violent scene. Don’t go out on a wimper.

Yeah, so my notes could be better. Typically ThrillerFest will sell the audio copies of these great classes. I did not purchase them when I was there, but will certainly do so once they’re available on line. And I will most certainly share the link.

I bought and now have a signed copy of her latest work The Assassins. Can’t wait to get into it.

One more goodie.

This is really fun. Gayle has a page on her website that tests your knowledge of spy terms. It’s a list of 10 questions using nomenclature that you may or may not know. But try it. You’ll probably learn something new.
Test your Spy-Q.

ThrillerFest is the annual conference of the International Thriller Writers. A community with over 3,000 members in 28 countries and nearly 3 billion books in print!


This was my third year attending the conference and I couldn’t be any happier. For the second year in a row I attended the Master CraftFest class which is an 8 hour, intensive course examining your work with an ultra successful author in a class of only 10. And let me tell you, you learn a great deal from this one day event.

But that’s not all.

That was just Tuesday of last week. The next day and a half you have hours of tracks and classes by a variety of instructors. And let me tell you, there not just any authors giving instruction. They’re Best Selling authors giving you the goods on what they’ve learned over time.

Steve Berry, Peter James, Gayle Lynds, David Morrell, Andrew Gross, James Scott Bell….geez. The list goes on and on. To see a list of all authors, go to their website: ThrillerFest.

And that’s not all.

The second half of Thursday gets you the opportunity to pitch to many, many agents looking for authors. Even if an agent is not interested, most of the time you will learn something new about your book, your story and how to tell it/sell it to others. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned just trying to pitch my work to an agent.

But….there’s more.

Then ThrillerFest starts. It’s two days of panels and interviews, coupling some of the greatest Thriller authors we have on this planet.


It is like drinking from a fire hydrant of knowledge. Half the time I’m scratching down notes from the instructor/author and the other half I’m scratching notes to address all the new ideas they’ve helped me spawn in a session.

If I could only go to one conference, ever, I would chose ThrillerFest.

BTW, I volunteered this year to help the organization. If you attended ThrillerFest 2015 – and another BTW, it was their 10th year, I probably handed you your swag bag full of books, water bottles and a hat.

Come empty handed because you’ll be buying books galore to have your favorite authors sign them.

If you’re into Thrillers, this is the BEST place to go.

I’ll be posting more on the individual authors and experiences I had this year. Too much to cover in one short post.

See ya soon,