Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mystery Writers One-Day Getaway by Gloria Alden

Nancy Pickard, Our guest speaker
On Saturday, Sept. 12, our northeast Ohio Sisters in Crime chapter – NEOSinC put on a one day writers event at the Twinsburg Library a little south of Cleveland. At least fifty writers attended coming from other chapters as far away as Pittsburgh, Pa. and Columbus, Ohio which involved driving anywhere from over two hours to as much as three to four hours to attend.

SinC recently started a speaker’s bureau of well- known mystery writers, who were SinC members and willing to travel to events. It wasn’t supposed to start for another month or so, but Nancy Pickard was willing to be the first speaker early and came as our National Guest Author, and we were all thrilled to have her there.
Owner of The Learned Owl winner of  a large check from SinC

Our event started at 10:00 with registration and a continental breakfast. We all got our name tags on a “Do not cross – Crime Scene” ribbon to hang around our necks made by our former president and now treasurer Kim Hammond. During brief breaks, there was a raffle with small bags of gift items our members had contributed. I got a cap with Cleveland on the front and FBI on the back donated I’m sure by our FBI member. There was also a break for lunch consisting of a make your own sandwich, various kinds of chips, fruit and some leftover donuts, etc. from breakfast, and in the middle of the afternoon a break for cookies, too, and always plenty of drinks all day – coffee, tea, pop and bottled water. At the breaks we could also purchase books of all the authors in attendance at The Learned Owl, a local independent bookseller who had a table set up there.
Victoria Selvaggio

Our president Irma Baker welcomed us all and then introduced our first speaker, Victoria Selvaggio, a literary agent with the Jennifer De Chiaira Literary Agency. Since I’m not sending query letters anymore, I didn’t take notes, but she was extremely informative for those who still are.

Amanda Flower/Isabella Alan
We also had three sessions called “Ask Me Anything” by three of our authors; Amanda Flower/Isabella Alan, Shelley Costa, and Casey Daniels/Kylie Logan who all answered questions about their publishing experience and with Amanda and Casey how they managed to write so many series and keep everything straight in their minds. They also answered questions as to whether they were plotters or pantsers or a little of both.

Nancy Pickard

Nancy Pickard also spoke in the morning about her background in writing and her road to publication. It was called “A Most Mysterious Occupation.” She also told us how her book The Scent of Rain and Lightning is being made into a movie. She is a very warm and interesting speaker – the kind of person you could invite into your home for a cup of coffee and not worry too much about a shaggy friendly dog or dust.  Later in the afternoon she taught a writing workshop on “First Sentence, First Paragraph, First Page.” I did take notes for that. She is a believer in the use of writers blogging to get over to the other side. She also wrote poetry, and recommended Annie Lamont’s book Bird by Bird for writers. She used the letters C for conflict, A for action, S for surprise, T for turn, and S for senses, all important elements in a good story. If a scene is flat, look for the main character in the scene. The character should show what he/she is feeling. People like surprises – both characters and the reader. She also said a writer should include the five senses and have as many as possible; smell, sight, taste, hearing and feeling or touch.  Pacing is also important – some scenes more relaxing.
Forensic Psychiatrist, Megan Testa

Our final presentation “Crime and the Mind” by Forensic Psychiatrist, Megan Testa was quite interesting. She works with those with mental problems, a lot of whom are women trying to get their children back. She discussed antisocial personality disorder, and I was writing so fast I might have some of the following mixed up. She talked of clusters.

A – Weird, tends to be a loner and maybe has a dog or some kind of pet, sometimes they’re schizophrenics, sometimes delusional.

B – Wild, won’t conform to societal norms, chaos in their life, and they can be highly narcissist with a sense of entitlement. They often have superficial charm, - think Ted Bundy. They lie and try to talk their way out of any problem. They are not faithful to any relationships. They’re impulsive and need lots of stimulation, and sometimes are violent. They are law breakers and don’t feel any remorse, and 80% of them have a mental illness and/or addiction. In brain scans when they’re shown violent pictures, their brain won’t fire up like the brain of normal people.

C – Wimpy, someone who has a dependent personality disorder and relies on others to meet their needs. They have trouble doing anything without having someone tell them what to do, and can’t make decisions on their own even in playing a game of cards.
Casey Daniels/Kylie Logan

We ended with this presentation and cleaned up and packed up. I packed my books that hadn’t sold, and left with Laura, my writer friend, who went with me. We headed for home stopping for supper on the way. It was an interesting and enjoyable day, but exhausting, too, as events like this always are. However, as Amanda Flower said in a recent posting to our list serve, it’s so good to be with fellow writers who understand us.

Shelley Costa
What writing events have you attended that you enjoyed?


Grace Topping said...

Thanks, Gloria, for an interesting post. It sounds as though you had a terrific group of writers there to talk about their experiences. We can learn so much from other writers. I'm fortunate to be able to attend programs sponsored by the Chesapeake chapter of Sisters in Crime. Their programs always draw a nice crowd of people interested in mysteries.

Gloria Alden said...

Grace, I've heard so much about the Chesapeake chapter of Sisters in Crime. I think it's one of the best out there. You're lucky to live close enough to belong to it.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I wish I could have attended. Best wishes to my wonderful critique partner Cari Dubiel.

Gloria Alden said...

So Cari is your critique partner! She's such a nice person, isn't she. I may have heard that before, but I've forgotten. Is she a Guppy critique partner? I have two of those and we've been together for almost six years and even though I've only met one in person twice, we have become very close. The other one lives in England, and I plan on going there someday to meet her.

Warren Bull said...

Nancy Pickard is an excellent speaker and a great help to the mystery writing community.

Shari Randall said...

What a great time you had, Gloria! Sounds like you have a vibrant chapter. The Chesapeake Chapter I belong to always has great events - I've gone to meetings with everything from agents to crime scene cleaners.

Gloria Alden said...

Warren, yes she is. I'm in the final editing stages of my latest book, and now I want to go back through it and look for some of the things she mentioned that make scenes better.

Shari, we're fairly new as a chapter only several years old, but before we became a SinC chapter, we were a group of writers who got together once a month at a restaurant to talk and share information. When Bouchercon chose Cleveland as its city we decided to become a SinC chapter. It was a good move. As I told Grace, I've heard many good things about your chapter, too.

KM Rockwood said...

Sounds like a great event! SINC chapters can be a wonderful source of information and support. I, too, belong to the Chesapeake Chapter and have been very pleased with many of their programs.

Gloria Alden said...

KM, you're lucky you belong to such a good chapter. I like that they do anthologies. I've brought that up to my group, too, but so far no one seems to be interested. However, our chapter is starting to grow so they might agree to it sometime in the future.

Kara Cerise said...

What a great group of speakers, Gloria. It sounds like they presented helpful and interesting information. Thank you for sharing Nancy Pickard's advice about what to do if a scene is flat--look for the main character to show what s/he is feeling.

Jim Jackson said...

Sounds like a fun day with a great group of writers.

~ Jim

Kait said...

Sounds like a great day, Wish I could have tagged on, but you made me feel as if I did. I am thrilled that Nancy Pickard's book is being made into a movie. I loved that book. You made my day!

Gloria Alden said...

Kara, even though I've been reading mysteries since I've been a kid and writing mysteries for quite a few years, too, she made me want to go back and reread my latest that I've recently finished to look for those spots where they could be improved.

Jim, it was a great group of writers. I've been with Amanda, Casey and Shelley for quite a few years even before we formed a SinC chapter.

Kait, it was good. I didn't know that her book that I loved was being made into a movie, either. I'm hoping it will reach major movie theaters.