If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.













July Interview Schedule:
7/3 Jean Stone A Vineyard Summer
7/10 Mark Bergin
7/17 Christin Brecher Murder's No Votive Confidence
7/24 Dianne Freeman A Ladies' Guide to Gossip
7/31 J. C. Kenney A Genuine Fix

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 7/6 V. M. Burns, 7/13 Joe Amiel,

WWK Satuday Bloggers: 7/20 Gloria Alden, 7/27 Kait Carson

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Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:


Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.


KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology will be released on June 18th.

Congratulations to Margaret S. Hamilton for being a finalist in the Daphne Du Maurier contest. Margaret competes in the Unpublished/Mainstream mystery/suspense category.

Congratulations to Shari Randall for WINNING the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interview about the book here. Yay, Shari!

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.

James M. Jackson extends the Seamus McCree series with the May 25th publication of #6, False Bottom.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Seven Characteristics of a Great Panel Moderator

Last weekend Jan and I attended Magna cum Murder in Indianapolis. I found most of the panels well run and the panelists thoughtful and interesting. Two panels stuck out from the rest. One was extremely well moderated; the other, not so much.

Here are six things the exemplary moderator did well:

1.       Before the panel started, the moderator had clearly done his homework. He was familiar with each of the panelist’s writing. Before the conference he provided the panelists a list of areas he planned for them to discuss.
2.       He began the discussion with a description of the panel and a very brief introduction of himself.
3.       He provided a short introduction to each of the four panelists (the conference provided longer bios in the conference book).
4.       He varied which panelist discussed each question first. His introduction of the topic often included specific reference to the panelist’s work (the advantage of homework).
5.       He asked other panelists to comment on interesting observations one of them had made, often choosing a panelist with a different perspective (another advantage of doing his homework).
6.       He never interjected himself into the conversations, except to provide transitions between panelists or to introduce a new topic for discussion.
7.       He never provided his opinions, disagreed with the panelists, or offered elaboration on their answers.

The exemplary moderator acted as a lubricant for the discussion. He did his job so well, one of the panelists commented on it and audience gave the moderator an ovation. In contrast, the less-than-satisfactory moderator failed on a number of accounts.

1.       The moderator surprised the panelists by asking them to introduce themselves, when the previously announced game plan had been for the moderator to make all the introductions.
2.       The moderator’s introduction of himself lasted longer than the introduction of the panelists.
3.       For each topic discussed, the moderator provided his own answer after the four panelists had talked, and used each answer to self-promote.
4.       The moderator read each of ten items on a handout he had already provided the audience.
5.       When it came time for questions from the floor, the moderator answered questions directly.

A moderator’s objective should be to make the panel run smoothly and help make the panelists look good. Solely based on their performance as moderators, I’ll be buying the first person’s newest mystery, and never buy the other moderator’s books, no matter how good they might be, based on their hijack of the panel. I suspect most of the audience feels the same way.


~ Jim

6 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

I've never been on a panel, Jim. But as a member of the audience, I can relate. There's nothing worse than a self-promoting moderator. A moderator's job to me includes helping to promote the panelists and to do that, like interviewing, you must know the authors' work and direct questions to the author whose writing best exemplifies the answer. A moderator who doesn't do research, is like an uninformed interviewer asking canned questions that don't illuminate the author's work to the audience.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

EB,

You make an excellent parallel point about interviewers. I had not thought about that when I wrote this piece, but the research is something you do so well in your interviews.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Good topic, Jim. Like E.B., I've never been on a panel, but I'm going to save your comments for a time I just may be on one.

Shari Randall said...

Great information, Jim. This will be filed away - just in case.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jim. We all know that some panels go well & are very interesteing, & some seem to kind of fizzle instead of sparkle, and here you have helped us understand why and given us some guidelines for both benefiting from panels and perhaps being on them.

Kara Cerise said...

Good observations, Jim. I will also save this information.