Monthly Archives: August 2019

Killer Nashville’s Distinctive Brand

  At the Coming of Age Panel with Alison McMahan and Sheila Sobel Every professional author on the planet hears the consistent message that publishing has changed. Gone are the days when we can spend all our time doing that writing thing. Nope, we have to get out there and market our babies. Promote, promote, promote! A big part of that is creating and publicizing what makes our work special, unique, and worth paying for—what marketing specialists call “developing our brand.” I have to admit that I never really thought about writing conferences as having “brands” as well. But after attending my first Killer Nashville conference, I’ve come to appreciate that they really do. Founded by Clay Stafford, Killer Nashville, now in its 14th year, is devoted to supporting and nurturing writers of mystery, suspense, and thrillers at all stages of their careers. This year’s honored guests were Alexandra Ivy, David Morrell, and Joyce Carol Oates—not exactly shabby literary company. All three were thoughtful, down-to-earth, and much more interested in talking about writing than how to sell lots of books. And that in a nutshell is what I loved about this conference. The emphasis was on the work, not on sales, awards, number of reviews, or likes on Facebook. As Stafford pointed out, “Write because you love it… if you love what you are doing, then that sustains and nourishes you no matter your career highs or lows.” He advised all of us to support and encourage one [...]

By |2019-08-30T10:45:14-04:00August 30th, 2019|The Writing Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

What Would You Ask a YA Writer?

Next week, I’ll be travelling to the Killer Nashville conference for the first time. I’m excited not only to have been nominated for the Silver Falchion Award for my YA novel, It Should Have Been You, but to participate in several panels, including one I’ll moderate, called “Coming of Age: Writing YA Mysteries, Suspense & Thrillers.” To prepare, I’ve been brainstorming questions with my fellow panelists, Sheila Sobel and Alison McMahan. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far: What drew you to writing mystery/suspense/thrillers for young adults? How do you see this as different from writing for adult readers? Young adults are making the transition between childhood and adulthood. In addition to the young adult protagonist(s) solving a crime or dealing with a threat, in what ways do the challenges of growing up figure into the plots of your books? As YA writers, we’re a lot older than the characters we write about. How do you make the voices of your characters authentic-sounding? Can you share what sparked your interest in the premise of your latest book? And can you briefly describe your project? Since you began reading or writing young adult literature, what changes have you seen in books for this age group? Tweens and teens are not the only folks reading YA books. What is the appeal to adult readers? Can you speak to the trend of YA books getting turned into films? What haven’t I asked you that you wish I had? Speaking of this last [...]

By |2019-08-15T14:10:07-04:00August 15th, 2019|Young Adult Writers & Writing|0 Comments

Family History: Not What I Expected

Until my sister Lucretia began digging into genealogical research, it never occurred to me that my family had anything to do with the abomination of slavery. My mother’s California family was one of modest means, while our Texas-born dad grew up in abject poverty. So, imagine our surprise when we discovered that we were direct descendants of Major Richard Bibb, a wealthy Kentucky plantation owner who came to believe that slavery was wrong and freed his slaves upon his death in 1839. Thanks to the leadership of Russellville, Kentucky’s J Gran Clark and Michael Morrow, there are now two separate but related SEEK (Struggles for Emancipation and Equality in Kentucky) Museum sites in Russellville which tell the stories of three generations of enslavement at Bibb’s 1817 urban plantation, as well as the struggles and accomplishments of newly freed persons after the Civil War in a vibrant neighborhood called The Bottom. This past weekend, my sisters and I travelled to Russellville for a reunion of the descendants of those enslaved by Major Bibb and his family, as well as the descendants of Major Bibb. It was actually my second visit to SEEK, having visited this past October with my sister Lucretia. Both visits have been deeply emotional experiences. The contrast between the opulence of the Bibb mansion built by the enslaved folks and the cramped, stiflingly hot attic where up to a dozen slaves were forced to live while on call 24 hours a day seven days a week is incredibly [...]

By |2019-08-08T11:25:31-04:00August 8th, 2019|Uncategorized|1 Comment