Posts Tagged ‘ThrillerFest’

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,


One last time. Had to do one more free promotion. Free giveaway today – The Carrington Event

ThrillerFest is less than a month away. I talk with authors. I meet famous authors. I listen to successful authors talk about their craft. I meet new Agents. I network. I have the time of my life. If you want to publish big, go to New York.

The first question my agent friends will ask is how many downloads I’ve had. So I want this number to be as big as I can make it.

And…A few months ago I was called by American Ninja Warrior. I submitted a great video and can do most of the obstacles. And the first question they asked? How many books have I sold or had downloaded? Well, apparently not enough because they didn’t select me to participate this year. So I’m building up for next year.

So do a guy a solid. Download this one for free. If you like fast-paced thrillers, you’ll like this book. It was incredibly fun to write and my reviewers say it’s incredibly fun to read. A real page turner.

AMAZON FREE eBOOK The Carrington Event


I’m always on the lookout for new scientific advances I can use in my thrillers. I found this interesting nugget about sending power (electricity) over wi-fi.

Okay. Sounds cool, but what can it do for my story? In the article, they talk about the research team sending power to a camera remotely. They were even able to pass the energy through a brick wall!
Imagine you have a need to bug a room where they sweep for such devices daily. But if the camera or recording device could lay inert, the sweep would miss it!

Your protagonist charges the device from an adjacent room. She’s nervous, not sure if it’ll work at this distance. She only has one chance to get a clue from this group of bad guys. A picture of a face that ties them to some other group, or recording that catches a word, a slip by one of the men giving her a clue to where they’re going to strike next. The device records until the power is diminished and waits to be picked up later.

I recently read a great thriller by Joseph Finder (met him at ThrillerFest last year, great guy BTW). His book was titled “Suspicion” and his characters could have advantageously used such a high tech device.

Check out the article: Wi-Fi power
Use it to help capture your bad guys when your readers think they’re unstoppable.

How do you keep up with your genre?
These days it’s impossible to read everyone’s website, blog or tweet.
For me, I have a couple of go-to’s that keep me in the loop. One of my favorites is The Big Thrill newsletter/magazine.
There are great interviews with some of the most successful authors in my genre – Thrillers. As well, there are many great interviews with authors about their latest releases.
In this month’s edition, my friend Joanna Penn (you probably know her as JF Penn or The Creative Penn) does a nice article and introspective with author Scott Mariani.
It’s tightly coupled with my favorite writers conference ThrillerFest, so you’ll see headline ads for it throughout, but I consider these two venues the main vein of thriller writing help and support.
Happy New Year!

In business we use the term “gap analysis” to determine the reality between what is required and what is available. This can apply to many different places in industry, music and science. And writing…
For me, gap analysis happens when I read a favorite author. One whose work is polished and complete. One with the rhythm of words that I dance along to merrily. And then I read my work. For many years when I balanced the two against each other, my words tripped over themselves. There was no rhythm I could dance to. The idea was present, but it just didn’t shine.
Michelangelo said that a sculpture already lived within the stone he worked on, he merely removed the unneeded pieces.
A blank sheet of paper should represent the same thing.
But I persevered. I wrote. I learned. I asked questions. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend amazing conferences like ThrillerFest and ask my favorite author’s what they’ve done to help them ascend to such heights. Then I wrote some more. And more.
Now when I do gap analysis, the gap isn’t nearly as large. In fact, there are places and times when it sings just right. When characters feel like they’re in your living room, or better yet, when you’re with them in the middle of some heart thumping moment.
It’s taken a long time to get there. But I have a standard. I want desperately to add to the collective known as thriller fiction. One that has given me great thoughts and adventure. But I only want to add quality work. So I endeavor to only release something that is at my standard. Something that says to me “this is as good as it gets”. I don’t want to publish crap. In fact, the absolute danger in indie and self-publishing is the tidal wave of crap that gets put out there. It threatens to turn away readers from such a great medium.
I will not add trash to the junkyard. But I will add color to the landscape. I will add something that adds to the power of the genre I love.
Don’t get sucked in to adding trash. Add something that is better than the last good book you’ve read. We will all be better off because of it.

I felt compelled to expand on my last post – So you want to write a novel – because I’m passionate about doing what I really want to do in life and I’ve also received a great deal of feedback from many of you that apparently liked what I had to say the first time.

I’m a self-motivated, highly-motivated individual. I’ve always had a strong desire to do something when I put my mind to it, but as I’ve found, it takes help to not only start something, but to finish. I wasn’t always good at finishing.

Fresh out of college with a finance degree, I got a job as a stockbroker. The handbook of the day was “Think and Grow Rich” by Carnegie Mellon. He talked about getting that burning, white-hot desire for money. Honestly, I was a little put off by that. I’m not an overly materialistic person. I’m more interested in doing, in memories, in adventure. An extra thousand dollars in my savings account is nice, but I’m not going to work through the night for it. I will work through the night to finish something that satisfies me. For something that I will be able to carry around for the rest of my life.

Part of my motivation comes from being shy. Many times in my life I didn’t step up for what I wanted. And I regretted it. As I’ve learned, I only regret things I didn’t try. Because I’ll never know what would have happened if I asked.

Part of the apprehension that comes with writing is that you feel like you’re putting your inner thoughts on paper and asking people if they like it. It’s hard. It’s soul bearing. You feel absolutely naked in front of strangers. Very few people are natural writers, so the rest of us need help. We need feedback so that we can learn. Start slow. I employed professional editing services to give me constructive feedback and help me build up momentum. I never felt like I was being judged.

Most importantly, learn to be yourself. Speak your mind. The great writer and writing coach David Morrell (creator of Rambo) pleaded with us at ThrillerFest to do this. What you feel will come across in your words. If you’re honest…

No matter how I slice it, with my age, I’m half way through the movie. So I want to make the second half count. When I wanted to be a musician I played and practiced and worked hard and had a great time and career with some very great friends. When I wanted my pilot’s license, I did the same. Now that I circle back to the one thing I’ve done all my life – writing – I want to write and publish books. I want to give back to the collective that’s given me so much fun in my life. Books, adventure, vision, introspection.

I will drag my broken body across the finish line to complete what I started.

Find your motivation and you’ll discover it’s not as hard as you think.

Thank you all!
p.s. Today’s my birthday so I’m allowed a little soap box time 🙂

Lee Child

Posted: October 30, 2014 in Writing
Tags: , ,

Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher is unbelievably successful. So much so that little Tom Cruise wanted to play the six foot five inch unstoppable juggernaut against evil.
It was great meeting Lee. His ultra candidness was refreshing. It’s like meeting the Simon Cowell of the book business. I found it completely invigorating.
Funny note: He was very obliging for an autograph in my FaceOff book – written by many of the authors that are members of ITW (International Thrill Writers) and present at the conference – I joked with him an apology that I wasn’t a beautiful woman putting my arm around him. He smiled and said “yes. that would have been much better.”
So blunt. Unapologetic, but yet it’s funny. It doesn’t feel crass when he says it. It is what it is. And I could appreciate his humor and wit.
Lee Child
Lee_ChildMe and Lee

So proud of Robert Dugoni. As I sat and listened to him teach us at ThrillerFest this last July, I knew he was already a bestseller, but to see him hit #1 on Amazon, I am extremely happy for him. What he was teaching us was so clear and easy even I could understand it. Like I’ve confessed in an earlier post, after one of his classes, I ran up to my room in the Conference hotel and started shaking my latest manuscript around with the new found knowledge. And it was fun!
I’ve already signed up for next year’s ThrillerFest, with the added bonus of volunteering to help the organization, and can hardly wait to sit in one of his classes again.
Some people teach and some people do, but he does both. I’ve already purchased my copy and have it queued up to read after my current book. But I can hardly wait. It has consistently gotten 4.5 stars out of almost a thousand reviews.
Found this nice interview with him talking about My Sister’s Grave.
Check it out.
Robert Dugoni – My Sister’s Grave

Just a little proof that’s he’s on #1. At least at the time of this post. I’m hoping it continues for such a great guy.
Check it out:
Amazon Best Seller List

So I’m mid-stream of editing my second novel and I realize all the ‘tricks’ I’ve learned over the years come from two places: ThrillerFest writing coaches and a book I purchased about 6 years ago – Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King.
If you can’t attend a high-profile conference in NY like ThrillerFest, a good second place would be to look through this book. It helped me immensely. Renni Brown also started a business called “The Editorial Department” or TED for short. They provide a wide-array of editing services and all other types of author support services like book design and marketing help. It’s been around since 1980, so it is not a run-of-the-mill editing service. It’s an establishment.
I’ve personally used their editing service in the past.
But if you’re stuck with a piece of writing that just doesn’t feel right, or your critique group is just faking a smile when they hand it back to you, check out this little book for help. It’s a great value for the money.
Heck, I’m still getting my money’s worth years later.
Check it out:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

This was unexpected. I attended all of Robert Dugoni’s lectures at ThrillerFest 2014. He’s such an amplified and charismatic speaker, that he typically wonders away from the mic and “does his thing”. I took a copious amount of notes during his classes. I’m still going through them. And amazingly, I was able to find the audio CD of one of his lectures. I’m about to order it because everything he said in that class charged lightbulbs in my head. In fact, after this class, I ran up to my room and worked on my own manuscript. There were new things to look for, new things to make it stronger. This is one not to miss.

Check it out:
Robert Dugoni – Creating Plots For Page Turners

And don’t forget – his newest novel, My Sister’s Grave comes out in a few weeks.
Page link: My Sister’s Grave.
It’s a good time to advance order your copy. I certainly will.

Just because we’re authors doesn’t mean we’re not fans too. I have a suitcase of authors I love to read 🙂