Bouchercon 2016, My First Bouchercon

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A few authors and special guests were treated to a wonderful evening that began with several horse-drawn carriages taking us on a leisurely tour through the French Quarter. That’s David Morrell next to me, the father of RAMBO as well as many other books, including a wonderful one on writing.

Photo by Lee Child

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I’ve been to NOLA before, but this was the first time doing the carriage tour. I highly recommend it. The warm breeze, the smells of gumbo and fresh beignets and the clop-clop of the horse’s hooves make this so special.

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We had cocktails and dinner at Antoine’s in….

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The Rex Room. This is where the Mardi Gras begins. We had a long U-shaped configuration where we dined on crab, filet and baked Alaska.

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Then the authors who had been invited to attend a special party to benefit this beautiful library were brought over by a charming converted streetcar. This was the opening night after a long restoration.

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Me posing by this massive fireplace with my Penny Dreadful charm bracelet, a gift I treasure because I’m so sad the show is over.

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The turnout was fantastic; the librarians were very happy. I used to be a shy person, but here I just introduced myself to people and asked if they’d met any authors yet tonight. Almost all said no and were very happy to talk with me. Near me at the bottom of the stairs is Craig Robertson, the Scottish author of many books, including his newest, MURDERABILIA, which I bought and am dying to read once I can find time to read for pleasure. His better half, the award-winning author Alexandra Sokoloff, is just out of the edges of this photo.

The other YA author at the event besides me was none other than R.L. Stine.

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L to R: Chris Grabenstein, Harlan Coben, Kelley Armstrong, Lissa Price, Ridley Pearson. R.L. Stine was our moderator. This was a fantastic panel held on Saturday, a special event connected to Bouchercon but held offsite at the New Orleans Public Library. Harlan Coben has written one of my favorite adult thrillers ever: Tell No One. He also writes action-packed YA thrillers. All of these authors write wonderful books — go check them out.

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A packed house – and they kept coming. We knew the biggest draw was R.L. Stine. They’d all seen Goosebumps the Movie and also read the books. It really is fantastic what he’s done to get kids to love to read.

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Ridley’s brand new LOCKE AND KEY just came out. The printing is so gorgeous, I had to get it!

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And they took us back to the hotel in style. Guess whose behind that is?

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New Orleans, Here I Come!

If you live in New Orleans, I will see you next week! I’ll be there for my first Bouchercon, a mystery-thriller convention named after Anthony Boucher (pronounced BOW-sure). But I will be doing some public events.

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This is the gorgeous Latter Library on the famous St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District. It has been newly restored and I was asked to be one of the nine authors featured at this grand opening and fundraiser next week. This is open to the public, anyone who buys a ticket can attend (and people under 21 are welcome).

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If you are attending this event, which I’ve heard might go as late as midnight, you’re welcome to bring books from home and I’ll be happy to sign them. 

Check back for my announcement about another NOLA public event, Saturday, Sept 17th. 

 

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Thrillerfest 2016 – The Conference for Thriller Authors

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Last month I was at Thrillerfest again in NYC and here’s KJ Howe, soon-to-be debut author! Her book is called The Freedom Brokers, to be published by Hachette, and it’s so exciting.

AlanLissaMeganElleDinnerGot to have dinner with some of my YA author buds from other parts of the world — Alan Gratz, Megan Miranda, and Elle Cosimano.  Had to get back to the hotel to work on the YA panel I’m moderating on Saturday in the big ballroom. This is a process that started months ago, reading the books. But I want the discussion to be fresh and up-to-date, so that means more work all this week.

IMG_4643The days before Saturday are filled with other panels. This is a dynamite one on female empowerment in thrillers with some of the best in the biz. My good friend Jamie Freveletti is third in and sixth in is Gayle Lynds, who started ITW and was a trailblazer for any woman writing spy fiction after her.

This is the same ballroom where I’ll be moderating on Saturday. See how the moderator (Steve Berry) is not behind the lectern on stage but walking around below with a hand-held mic? That’s what I’ll do, I decide. It’ll be like Jimmy Fallon. Or Oprah. Except I won’t be giving away any cars.

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My stunning student Ariana from the La Jolla Writer’s Workshop, who followed me to Thrillerfest. We join up with guest of honor Walter Mosley for a photo. David Morrell’s interview with him had us all in stitches.

IMG_4717M.J. Rose really knows how to market a book. We all learned so much seeing her in action at this panel/workshop.

LissaBarry,UrsulaSome of us were invited to a secret party given by Apple. In one of the cabs with author Barry Lancet and Ursula, who is a social media maven. She taught me how to do live FB.

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The party was held at a private membership club “for creatives” called The Soho House. Here you see the special thriller cocktail menu they made for us. They also fed us fabulous food that never stopped. Chatted with F. Paul Wilson, Daniel Palmer, Boyd and Randi Morrison.

Later, a bunch of us retreated to the couches. Here’s the wonderful Tess Gerritsen and her husband. We met a couple of years ago when we were both faculty at the La Jolla Writer’s Conference. A week after Thrillerfest, I saw her episode of Rizzoli and Isles where she had a fun guest spot (with lines)!

Back at the hotel, I continue to prepare for my YA panel. I realize that since I won’t be at the lectern, I won’t have my usual notes! I use the small hotel notepad to transfer my notes and also use my iPhone.

TF2016preYApanelSaturday morning, prepping my YA panelists — Kara Thomas, Bob Stine, Kelley Armstrong in this photo. All the while, I’m hoping I’ll be able to see my tiny notes. Where’s my teleprompter like Oprah has?

IMG_4815The panel begins – Armstrong, Gratz, Ann Stampler, Margie Stohl, Bob Stine and Thomas.

YApanel2016cuIt was important to me to cover the material I wanted covered about YA. The audience was almost entirely writers, so I know what they need to learn and what they want to discover . And I know what’s special about each of my panelists, and what they’ve done lately, so I can pull that info out of them.  I hate panels where you’re asked a generic question and each person goes down the line answering it. IMG_4776I managed to memorize the bio introductions and remember my questions, even without a teleprompter. My panelists were not only brilliant (more than one #1 NYT bestseller here) but also lively and funny and the audience asked great questions at the end. A panel is a living organism so you have to balance the questions you plan to ask against the direction it’s taking – if it’s going the right away. More than any other panel I’ve moderated, I heard right after and all through the day – all the way through the banquet — how much the audience enjoyed the panel and how happy they were. Mission accomplished.

IMG_4853Immediately after us, Gillian Flynn (!) was scheduled in the ballroom to be interviewed by the always hilarious Karin Slaughter. Turns out they’ve known each other for twenty years.

GillianFlynnLissaPriceGillian was so down-to-earth. I loved loved loved Gone Girl. Such a talented writer.

IMG_4893A highlight of the awards banquet was authors Brad Parks and Daniel Palmer doing Thriller, changing the lyrics to suit the crazy lifestyle of a thriller author. Love these guys!

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The after party is a time to say goodbye to everyone (before heading up to the bar). Here’s the amazing, multi-published superstar author, Heather Graham, Silver Bullet Master this year and a truly beautiful soul.

IMG_4976 (1)Sunday morning, before flying home, I met my friend the editor for bunch at the place famous for the $1000 omelet. We did not have that.

Then it was off to MOMA to see some amazing exhibits on spiritualism in film and books before meeting the driver to head out to JFK. As I flew away, I realized this was my favorite Thrillerfest since the very first one.

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Ticketmaster Free Tickets – The Link You Need

logo-49de46dd4af2e848f3a2e601691d6212If you’ve been a Ticketmaster customer between 1999-2013, you should have some voucher/discount credits in your account in the Voucher section because of the class-action settlement. But there is some confusion, and I’ve not seen any news that included all the info you’ll get here. I skimmed the actual legal document for you, my friends. (note: update is at the bottom)

  1. You will be getting cash discount codes $2.25 each off a new purchase.
  2. For the very few who had tickets delivered by UPS, you also get a “UPS discount code” ($5).
  3. You’re also getting a voucher for a pair of free tickets. Note – the website link for the list of shows is not live yet (but see below). The maximum you can receive is 17 discounts and 17 vouchers.
  4. The free tickets are only for shows produced by Live Nation (which merged with Ticketmaster). And the estimate is about 60% of the events. So no, no freebie Hamilton tickets.
  5. The bad news is that these discount codes function to eat into the number of free tickets offered. The more the $2.25/$5 discounts are paid out, the fewer free tickets will have to be made available. It is even possible, if my interpretation is correct (and I am not a lawyer), that if enough people choose to use the discount codes, they may not have to issue the tickets. And if they wanted to, they could wait until they have 12 months of accounting on the discounts before releasing tickets. However, I can’t see that happening since they didn’t give any indication in the notification.
  6. 10.5 million dollars minimum is required to be released annually of the 45 million total settlement in their codes and vouchers. What this means to you – it’ll be worse than the world’s toughest rock concert to get your tickets, once it goes live.
  7. The codes are not transferable, however the tickets are!

Definitely sign up HERE for the email alerts at Ticketmaster that will email you when you are able to choose your Live Nation events. HOWEVER – UPDATE – you must just check this link yourself because the first batch of ticket vouchers were gone before the email alert came in. You can search by city. The vouchers are limited to “General Admission” which is usually the lawn or the back section. I’ve been successful buying tickets in other cities (as mine were gone) and selling them by putting them up on the livenation site for resale (easy process).

CURRENT UPDATE – JULY 20, 2016. LIVENATION/TICKETMASTER HAS REACHED THEIR LIMIT FOR THIS YEAR. IT’S UNLIKELY WE’LL SEE NEW CONCERTS ADDED UNTIL NEXT YEAR. BUT SIGN UP FOR THE EMAIL AND BE READY. IF YOU’RE ON MY MAILING LIST, I WILL PUT OUT AN ALERT NEXT YEAR AS SOON AS I HEAR.

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THE PROGENY is out today! Win it here.

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I am so excited to have this beautiful hardcover book in my hands! You can’t tell, but the title is embossed in gold. Below is the blurb I gave it.

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I loved this book.  Because the main character is 21, you’ll find it in the adult section. But I feel my upper level readers will love this book as I do, for the strong female lead, the thriller pacing and the twists and surprises. It also has international intrigue, romance, history… I love the show Blindspot and parts of this reminded me of that. It’s amazing how much is in this page-turner. Tosca Lee does it all so well.

If you want to win a copy, I’ll draw one name from my email list. So if you’re not already on it, you can reply with a comment and include your email. I won’t make them public, that way your email will not be displayed. Parental permission needed unless you’re 18 and over. I’ll end this on Monday, May 30, at midnight PT. US only.

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble

Indie Bookstores

 

 

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The Tomorrow Prize Winners

 

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Here is the winner of the Tomorrow Prize, Matilda Berke, a high school junior, for her amazing short story ROCKSTAR. I predict great things for this very gifted writer.

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These are the four talented finalists and the actors who read their wonderful stories at the presentation yesterday at the Acme Theater in Hollywood. If you watch American Idol or The Voice, you know that anyone who makes it to the finals is truly a winner. So much talent here, it was very challenging judging this competition. If you are a high school student in Los Angeles County, enter next year, it’s free.

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This contest is part of sci-festla.com where you can see one-act plays until May 29th. For more details on any of this, see this page.

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Judging the Tomorrow Prize

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Click on the photo above to see it larger. I’m one of the final judges for The Tomorrow Prize for short science fiction written by students. The winner not only wins prizes but their school also benefits. All winners will be announced at a presentation and performance in May. So excited for the young talent. Remember, if you’ve learned anything from watching The Voice and Idol, it’s that success can come to the runner’s up!

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BinderConLA 2016 at UCLA

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Gillian G., a very talented illustrator, did these while watching our panel. I can’t believe someone can do that — amazing. Her link is at the end.

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I purposely left off any reference to Callie’s hair color so readers could imagine themselves in her shoes. But I intentionally wanted to make the rental bodies diverse, so I created Raj, Briona and Lee.

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Our selfie after it was over. We all agreed this was a special panel – we all clicked so well.

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The last keynote with firecracker Jenny Lumet and warm and funny Effie Brown.

Bindercon is quite amazing. If you don’t have the funds to come, write them and apply for a scholarship, even if you’re working. I met some terrific scholarship attendees.

Signed copies of Starters and Enders are at Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park. Check them out, have a cappuccino and browse books. Treasure every bookstore we have. And see Gillian G.’s clever graphic notes for more Bindercon keynotes and panels here. 

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Last weird thing: I wore my name tag around my neck, which had my name correctly on it. When I got home, I found this extra name tag in my goody bag. My alter ego? I’ll take it!

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I’ll be at BinderconLA this weekend on the YA panel

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I am in the writing cave, working on a new, secret project that I’m excited about. It’s not a Starters book, but something new. However, I was asked to be on the “Tense and Sensibility” Panel, “Ways to Tackle Tragedy in Young Adult Literature” at BinderconLA. With a title like that, how could I refuse? It’s the only YA panel at this special convention where the focus is on women helping women so I crawled out of my writing cave for this good cause.

LA Weekly gave our panel a nice shout-out here. 

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Our moderator is Lilliam Rivera (the upcoming The Education of Margo Sanchez) and the panel was her brain-child. I’ll be with the amazing authors Brandy Colbert (Pointe) and Elizabeth Ross (Belle Epoque) and Isabel Quintero (Gabi, A Girl in Pieces) and we’ll talk about writing and publishing and diversity and all kinds of things.  If you’re signed up for this conference, don’t miss us. I look forward to meeting lots of smart, motivated writers this weekend, so please don’t hesitate to say hi to me either at the panel or at the events.

Click here for more info. 

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A Master Class with John Sayles: Writer, Director

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The WGA Foundation presented a Master Class today with John Sayles, shown here with moderator and writer Josh Olson (History of Violence). Sayles is known for his many indie films that he wrote and directed with funds from writing Hollywood screenplays. He impressed us all with his intelligence and openness. He discussed how he got his start by writing novels and then transitioned to screenwriting for Roger Corman. He tends to write quickly, doing a first draft of a screenplay in two weeks. He shared some tricks that I’m going to try and if they work for me, I’ll share in my next workshop.

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Actor Vincent Spano joins in at the end to tell a couple of on-set stories where Sayles took care of his actor. One involved Vincent crashing the camera car (he was a New Yorker who had never driven before). Sayles – instead of yelling at him – told him a story how he once crashed a rental car before he even got out of the parking lot.

I’ve been in the writing cave, but this was well worth a couple of hours away from the computer.

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