Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Monday, May 9, 2011
New publication invites submissions
Filtered through Time
an anthology of original fiction and poetry reflecting how Middle Tennessee traditions and reactions to the Civil War have come down through the generations for 150 years.
There are many excellent history books covering the war and the years before and after that conflict. In this new book, we are seeking examples of how the war plays out in the community’s memory and consciousness as expressed in imaginative writing.
Deadline for submissions is May 2012.
All work must have a Civil War theme but not necessarily a Civil War setting. A story or poem may well describe the long term effect of the war on a family or reflect the feelings of someone to whom the war seems irrelevant. We welcome a variety of points of view.
In so far as many war stories have come down thorough families, we suggest that following a story or poem, an author may add a historical note explaining the origin of its ideas. If you have a great family story, try telling it in verse or see how its theme might play out in fiction, either a full length story or as “flash-fiction.” However, if you want to write it simply as a good narrative in your family’s tradition, go ahead.
Maximum length for fiction is 5,000 words.
Maximum for poetry is 150 lines single spaced.
Submissions may be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org or hard copy mailed to S.R. Lee, 475 Beech Creek Rd, N Brentwood, TN 37027
This book is being promoted, edited, and financed by a small group of interested writers under the direction of S.R. Lee, author/editor, and Rick Warwick, Williamson County historian. with the assistance of an editorial committee. Authors may order and sell the books themselves. The editors also will find suitable venues for public sales.
Battle Field, 1937
One hot summer day a boy,
with little sister tagging at his heels,
climbs to a low crest where old trenches
sink in weedy waves of three long lines
bottomed in buck bush and prickly pears.
Enthralled the boy brings friends.
They play at war.
The little sister, sun suited, sandaled,
unprepared for cactus spines,
follows their violent charge through
real war’s land. The little sandaled feet
are filled with tiny spears.
Child weeps to home.
Mother with her shiny tweezers
seems a battle surgeon claiming pain
must follow wounds.
The child sobs
and in her baby way forever
knows real danger dwells in battlefields.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Dear Killer Nashville Authors, Presenters, and Friends,
Killer Nashville is pleased to announce the birth of a new publication—so new it doesn’t even have a name yet. As befits a newborn, its first appearance (on or near the first of May) will be in abbreviated form, but we expect it to grow quickly from a monthly newsletter to a full-fledged E-zine issued on the first of each month.
We’re excited about this project and would like to invite you to be a part of it. The e-magazine will be published by Killer Nashville with the following staff positions:
Editors-in-chief—Jaden (Beth) Terrell and Paige Crutcher
Editors and contributors—you!
The multifaceted purpose of the publication is:
• to educate others
• to create a sense of community
• to drive traffic to the conference site
• to find advertisers to help fund Killer Nashville
• to create exposure for Killer Nashville and for the E-zine contributors (there are almost 4,000 subscribers to the Killer Nashville mailing list)
Since our eventual hope is to compile selected articles into published books, contributors may even have an opportunity for a small income.
For each submission, we would need non-exclusive, non-ending print and electronic reprint rights, including the right to use the submission in newsletters, online, in print versions, or in other media. (This is not the same as one-time rights, since it’s hard to have one-time rights on, for example, a web post.) We would need to be able to use the article multiple times, either online or in print. We reserve the right to edit submissions for length, clarity, or content requirements.
However, we do not need first-time or exclusive rights to anything. The, article may have been previously published. The article may later be sold or published elsewhere by the writer (although any link to KN would be greatly appreciated). The writer retains ownership of the work. To optimize exposure, the writer’s email address and web link may be included with the article.
There is no advance payment, but for all Killer Nashville distributed materials that produce an income (e.g., if a compilation or anthology is created and sold in web, book or other format), Killer Nashville will pay a 10% collective royalty based upon gross receipts to be divided equally among all writers of that collection. In addition, authors will be collectively paid 1/2 the royalty given to Killer Nashville by any outside publisher. These numbers align well with the Authors Guild Model Contract and Guide and with the policies of the most generous of publishers or packagers.
There is no payment for free web or newsletter displays.
Submission indicates agreement to these terms.
Issues will be planned 3-12 months in advance and will eventually include the following monthly columns:
• Book Reviews of KN Authors
• Book Reviews of Nonfiction Books on Writing or Forensics
• “Fun Find” (fun or just-plain interesting mystery/suspense-related facts and activities)
• Forensic How-to
• Writing How-to
• Publishing How-to
• Computer How-to
• Getting Published How-To
• Research How-to
• Publicity/Promotion/Marketing How-to
• Genre How-to (Suspense)
• Genre How-to (Thriller)
• Genre How-to (Mystery)
• Featured Websites
• Killer Nashville Success Stories
• Monthly author, agent, and editor interviews conducted by Paige Crutcher
Each issue will have a loosely interpreted theme. The upcoming themes are as follows:
• June: Chaos (as it acts on plot or as a character – what elements besides the people act as characters in novels?)
• July: Writing Tools.
• August: Good vs. Evil
• September: Love & Loss
• October: The element of surprise – unraveling a story
• November: Coming of Age – evolution of a character in a novel
• December: Watching the Detective
• January: Secrets – skeletons in the closet
• February: The Art of the Perfect Murder – Killing Your Darlings & How to Commit the Perfect Murder.
• March: Romance in Any Genre
• April: Using Your Own Story in a Story
• May: Advising Aspiring Authors
If you’re interested in being a regular or occasional contributor, or if you would like to be interviewed for one of the issues, please contact me as soon as possible.
Jaden (Beth) Terrell
Executive Director, Killer Nashville
Monday, March 28, 2011
Of course, some of the demands on our time aren't really demands at all; we meet our friends for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant ("After all, I have to eat anyway."), and the meal and after-dinner conversation stretch for hours. We plan to work on our novels . . . just as soon as we finish watching season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix ("After all, I have to have a little time to decompress."). Sometimes it feels like we're trying to fit 27 hours into a 24-hour day.
Although we were at different stages in our writing careers--one is not yet published, one is moving from a micro-press to a larger press, and one is multiply published with a major house--all three had a common goal: to finish the current draft of our next books by the end of April. Two of us had gotten off to a good start during NaNoWriMo in November but had made halting progress in the interim. One was in the beginning stages of a new book. What we needed, we decided, was a NaNo-like system adapted to our individual needs. I share them here in case any of you are similarly stalled.
1. Have a specific goal and a specific timeline. "I will complete the first draft of my book by April 30."
2. Break the goal down into smaller, more manageable goals. If you don't make the goal today, you need to meet that goal plus the next day's goal tomorrow (extra motivation not to fall behind!). For me, that comes down to two days of research followed by two chapters a day for thirty days. Since I have the basic structure of the book laid down, and since it's approximately sixty chapters, the two-chapter-a-day goal makes the most sense for me. Another member of the group, a detail-oriented plotter, has based his goals on the remaining scenes, writing on a calendar which scenes he expects to fnish each day. Another, a dyed-in-the-wool pantser, will shoot for a specific word count. We each got a daily planner in which to record our goals and our actual output--goal in one color, actual results in another.
3. Have a support system and a system of accountability. We decided to use daily Facebook messages to share our progress and encouragement with each other.
4. Plan rewards along the way. Want to watch an episode of Criminal Minds? Only after you've reached your goal for the day. Love chocolate? Have a small piece after each scene.
5. Plan a larger reward for when you've reached your goal. "No money spent on books until we reach our goal," we said. Then we'd meet on May 1 at a local bookstore and go on a book-buying spree.
How about you? Fellow writers, how to motivate yourself to meet your writing goals? Fellow readers, I'm sure you have the same struggles to fit everything in. How do you do it?
Monday, March 21, 2011
Robert Dugoni was born in Pocatello, Idaho and raised in Burlingame, California. Growing up the middle child in a family of ten siblings, Dugoni jokes that he didn't get much of a chance to talk, so he wrote. By the seventh grade he knew he wanted to be a writer.
Dugoni wrote his way to Stanford University where he majored in communications/journalism and creative writing and worked as a reporter for the Stanford Daily. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and worked briefly as a reporter in the Metro and San Gabriel Valley Offices of the Los Angeles Times before deciding to attend the UCLA law school. Dugoni practiced law full-time in San Francisco as a partner at the law firm, Gordon and Rees and is currently of counsel for a law firm in Seattle.
While practicing law he satisfied his artistic thirst studying acting at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, appearing in equity and non-equity shows throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. His longing to return to writing never wavered, however, and in 1999 he made the decision to quit the full-time practice of law to write novels. On the 4-year anniversary of his wedding, he drove a u-haul trailer across the Oregon-Washington border and settled in Seattle to pursue his dream.
For the next three years, Dugoni worked in an 8 x 8 foot windowless office in Seattle s Pioneer Square to complete three novels, two of which won the 1999 and 2000 Pacific Northwest Writer's Association Literary Contests.
Dugoni's non-fiction expose, The Cyanide Canary, published in 2004, chronicled the investigation, prosecution, and aftermath surrounding an environmental crime in Soda Springs, Idaho. It became a Washington Post Best Book of the year, and the Idaho Book of the Year.
His debut novel, The Jury Master became a New York Times bestseller. Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine chose it as one of three "Best of the Best" debut novels of 2006. The Seattle Times and Library Journal have likened Dugoni to a young John Grisham, calling The Jury Master, "A riveting tale of murder, skullduggery and treachery at the highest level."
Dugoni's second novel, Damage Control, reached number 8 on several national independent bookseller's lists. Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal called Damage Control "a page turner" with "a fast moving plot and a few twists that will surprise even seasoned thriller readers."
Wrongful Death, Dugoni's recently released sequel to The Jury Master has also received critical acclaim. Mysterious Reviews touted Wrongful Death as "among the best books to be published this year." Kirkus called it, "An entertaining thriller about a hotshot lawyer with good guys to like, villains to hiss, and windmills to attack." And Booklist wrote, "Mixing the suspense of a Grisham legal thriller with the political angle of a Baldacci. Dugoni is knocking on the A-list thriller door."
Dugoni's fourth novel and third in the David Sloane series, Bodily Harm, will be released May 2010 and critics are calling it his best book yet.
Dugoni's books have been published in 18 foreign countries. In addition to writing novels Dugoni teaches the craft of writing and writing novels throughout the United States.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Chester Campbell is the author of two mystery series featuring private investigators. The Surest Poison, first book in the Sid Chance series dealing with a chemical pollution case, came out in 2009. He has written five Greg McKenzie novels featuring a retired Air Force investigator and his wife. Prior to turning to fiction writing, Campbell worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance writer, magazine editor, political speechwriter, advertising copywriter, public relations professional and association executive. An Air Force intelligence officer in the Korean War, he retired from the Air Force Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. He lives in Madison, TN.
KN: You worked in journalism for many years. What was your path to publication as a mystery writer? And why PI novels?
CC: My path had more curves than the Cumberland River, which is known for its many bends as it wanders through Nashville. I wrote my first novel in 1948 while studying journalism at the University of Tennessee and working as a reporter for The Knoxville Journal. During my career in newspapers, magazines, advertising and public relations, I wrote another in the mid-sixties. Neither of those made it into publication. I retired in 1989 and turned to writing mysteries in earnest. After four agents and eight manuscripts, I finally made it into print in 2002.
As for why PI novels, I started out writing post-Cold War spy thrillers and books featuring ordinary guys caught up in life-threatening situations. When I came up with the idea for Secret of the Scroll, my first published novel, I needed an experienced investigator as a protagonist. I decided to make a series with Greg McKenzie and his wife, and the logical move was to make them private investigators.
KN: How have your years as a journalist influenced your writing?
CC: As a reporter and a magazine journalist, I perfected my methods for interviewing subjects and conducting research in other ways. I particularly enjoyed feature writing. I found it easy to shift into fiction using some of the same techniques. My somewhat terse writing style probably stems from experience as a journalist.
KN: What was the inspiration for your first Greg McKenzie novel, Secret of the Scroll?
CC: I went on a group tour of the Holy Land in November of 1998. We flew via Royal Jordanian Airlines, and on the way home I read an in-flight magazine article about caves found around Bethany in Jordan. They had been occupied by Christian monks in the first century. I thought what if someone found a cave that contained an ancient scroll with a secret worth millions? So I created one, though it hasn’t been quite that lucrative for me.
KN: Greg and his wife, Jill, have had a number of adventures together. Can you give any hints about what’s in their future?
CC: Their sixth adventure is still bubbling in the cauldron of my head. I’m sure the witches’ brew will stir up something to test their mettle.
KN: After several well-received Greg McKenzie books, you’ve introduced a new PI series featuring former park ranger and small-town police chief Sid Chance. What led you to create a second series?
CC: I enjoy writing about Greg and Jill, particularly playing them off against each other, but I wanted to do something with a little harder edge. Sid is more likely to step into the middle of a melee.
KN: How are Greg and Sid similar to and different from each other?
CC: Sid is several years younger, not quite sixty. Greg has been happily married for more than thirty years, while Sid is single. And Sid is a definite presence, at six-foot-six. They’re both ex-military, Greg a retired Air Force officer, Sid a Special Forces non-com in Vietnam.
KN: Do the series attract different audiences, or is your fan base the same for both?
CC: I think it’s a split-decision. Some readers appear to enjoy both series, while others prefer to stick with Greg and Jill.
KN: Both your protagonists are seniors. What do you think accounts for the current popularity of senior sleuths?
CC: As the population ages, the ranks of seniors make up more of the reading public. I think older characters bring a broader perspective to the story, and older readers like that. However, my seniors aren’t caricaturish “old.” I think age is largely a state of mind. I’m eighty-five and I don’t consider myself “old.”
KN: Does the fact that your detectives are seniors create any special challenges to you as a writer?
CC: They say write what you know best, and the senior ranks sure fit that. But I think the main challenge is to keep the characters within the limits of their physical capabilities. I disagree with a couple of reviewers who thought Greg was not realistic in some of his actions. I suspect the reviewers were much younger.
KN: What’s an ideal writing day for you?
CC: An ideal writing day for me is a day when I can find time to sit down and write. That doesn’t always happen. Life seems to get in the way. I’m doing better lately, but not good enough.
KN: What’s been the most surprising thing about being a full-time novelist?
CC: That the writing is the least difficult part of the job. Marketing and promoting your work is much more difficult and takes an inordinate amount of time. I keep hoping to win the lottery so I can hire a fulltime publicist to take care of those chores.
KN: Your books have won several awards, including the Silver Falchion Award bestowed by Killer Nashville. How does it feel to be able to put “Award-winning Writer” by your name?
CC: Not being the pushy type, I have trouble billing myself that way. I probably should do it more, but I don’t know how impressed readers are with that sort of thing. I hope they read me because they like good books.
KN: You’ve been called “the King of Promotion” by your local Sisters in Crime chapter. How did you come by that title?
CC: I don’t know that it was all that well deserved, but when I got my first book in print I tried to accomplish everything I had read about promotion. I did lots of signings, got stories in newspapers, articles in magazines, did TV interviews, lots of radio interviews, attended numerous conferences. The inimitable Del Tinsley crowned me with that title.
KN: What do you do to promote your books?
CC: I don’t do as much of the things previously mentioned now. I do more on the internet with a fairly sizeable website (http://www.chesterdcampbell.com), a personal blog and regular contributions to two others, Facebook, Goodreads, and way too many email lists. For signings, I’ve turned more to area festivals and book fairs.
KN: Your books are all available as e-books. Any thoughts on how the explosion of e-readers and e-books will affect the future of publishing and small-press authors in particular?
CC: It’s a great opportunity for writers, and particularly us small press types who don’t get all the brick and mortar exposure. The proliferation of smart phones and a variety of e-readers can only increase the popularity of e-books. I’m sure there will always be a demand for printed books, but the digital revolution is bound to go only one way—up. For writers, it’s an opportunity to earn higher royalties.
KN: What writing advice would you give to aspiring authors?
CC: Never give up! If I had decided to heck with it after failing to place seven novels, I would not now have six in print, with more on the way. But prepare yourself well. Read the kind of books you want to write, learn all you can about fiction writing, and glue your bottom to the chair.
KN: And what marketing and promotion advice would you give to published authors looking to sell more books?
CC: Everybody goes about it a bit differently. Try as many of the ways you’ve read about (see above) and use what works for you. Good luck.
KN: You’re the president of your local Sisters in Crime chapter and have served on the SEMWA (Southeastern Mystery Writers of America) board. How has your involvement in professional organizations helped your career?
CC: I have met dozens of great writers and made numerous contacts that have been helpful in pursuing my career as a mystery writer. I spent the last eighteen years of my working life in the association management business, and I’ve tried to follow my own advice—if an organization is worth belong to, it’s worth getting involved in. Volunteer and you’ll get the most out of your membership.
KN: Is there anything else you’d like to say that we haven’t discussed?
CC: We haven’t talked about our sponsor. I missed the first Killer Nashville because of an out-of-town signing, but I don’t intend to miss another. It’s the perfect size, the perfect program mix, and the perfect place. Y’all come!
KN: Thanks for that, Chester. Once again you prove that you are truly a class act. Okay, last question: what’s our topic of the week?
CC: Are we really going to have a Spring this year?
Monday, February 28, 2011
Mike Orenduff grew up in El Paso Texas, in a house so close to the Rio Grande that he could frisbee a tortilla into Mexico. Before he turned to writing humorous murder mysteries, Mike taught at universities in seven states and three countries. He was also a college administrator, serving as President of The University of Maine at Farmington, The American University in Bulgaria, New Mexico State University, and Bermuda College. He served as Chancellor of the University of Maine System and a visiting faculty member at West Point. His first murder mystery, The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, won the New Mexico Book of the Year Award, and the Kindle version won the 2010 EPIC Award in the Mystery/Suspense Category. The second book in the series, The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, was chosen as Best Fiction Book by the Public Safety Writers Association and is a finalist for this year’s EPIC Award. The third in the series, The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein, is a finalist for the Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of the year. Mike and his wife, the noted art historian Lai Orenduff, have two grown children. Jay is a dean at Columbia University in New York, and Claire teaches art history at Georgia College and – more importantly – is the mother of their grandson, Bram
KN: What’s your publishing story? How did the Pot Thief books come to be?
MO: I entered the Dark Oak Mystery Contest sponsored by Oak Tree Press and won. The prize was a contract to publish the book. This was perfect for me as I hate writing query letters. As I often say, a query letter is a good thing to read if you want to hire someone to write query letters. But author aren’t chosen to write queries; they are chosen to write stories. The publishing business would be a little less insane if agents and editors read a chapter instead of a query.
KN: Hubert Schuze is one of the most original characters I’ve read in a mystery. Can you tell us a little bit about him? How did you come up with him?
MO: I wanted to set the books in New Mexico because I love it, I know it, and it has a certain mystique about it that I thought would help attract readers. Then I wanted my protagonist to have some moral ambiguity. What better flaw for a character in New Mexico than to be a pot thief. It also allows me to work in the Native American angle so important to the locale.
KN: How is he similar to you, and how is he different?
MO: He is physically my opposite. He is short and has a full head of hair. I am tall and bald. One personality trait he shares with me is a tendency to overanalyze everything. His musings are a feature of the books and readers tell me they like that.
KN: Hubert has a distinctive voice and an exceptional and charming gift for rationalization. How hard was it to find his unique voice?
MO: It wasn’t difficult in the sense of requiring great skill or insight on my part. But it was time consuming. I simply started writing and kept at it. After I finished the first draft of the first book, The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, I put it aside for a month or so. Then I read it and saw that Hubie was not a consistent and coherent character. So I marked all the passages that didn’t seem to fit. I changed them and let the book age for another few weeks. Then I repeated the process. If I found Hubie saying or thinking something that didn’t seem right for him, I either changed it or, if I couldn’t make it work, threw it out. After several iterations of this process, I found myself very comfortable saying, “Hubie would never say that.” And once I reached that point, I knew I was on the right track. But I’m still working on it. I think his voice has improved with each book.
KN: There have been three Pot Thief novels so far. Do you have a specific number planned for the series?
MO: No. The 4th one, The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier, will be out next month. I have a first draft of the 5th one and am working on the sixth. I’ll keep going as until I get tired of it or run out of ideas and/or readers.
KN: Do you have any plans to give Hubert a romantic entanglement? Any chance of love blooming between Hubert and his friend Susannah?
MO: Hubert will lurch in his unsystematic way from one romance to another. The relationship between Hubert and Susannah is deliberately ambiguous, and I have to keep it that way for the books to work.
KN: How are your novels born? Do you begin a novel with a full-blown plot or the seed of an idea?
MO: The seed of an idea. Then a very short and rough outline, more a list of key plot points. I don’t have the patience to do a complete plot before starting to write.
KN: You seem to know a lot about ancient Native American pottery. Do you have a background in archaeology?
MO: I majored in anthropology/archaeology for a while before switching to philosophy.
KN: Do you research your books before you begin writing? If so, how extensively? If not, how do you work around any gaps in your knowledge (if any)?
MO: I do extensive research and still get things wrong.
KN: Pantser or plotter?
MO: Pantser. I have been known to decide halfway into a book to make someone a victim when the original plan was to make him the murderer.
KN: What is your writing schedule/writing process like?
MO: I need large blocks of time because once I start, I don’t like to stop. I do almost no editing while I write because I’m immersed in the story. So a writing session is strictly writing, and an editing session is strictly editing and re-writing. I typically edit and re-write a book somewhere between twelve and twenty times. I have no idea if that is typical.
KN: Your writing is very crisp and tight. How much editing do you do to get it that way? Do you have a special editing process or system?
MO: My first drafts are about 100,000 words. They eventually get edited down to 60,000 or so. I think that help keep them tight.
KN: What are your goals and hopes as a writer?
MO: I didn’t become a writer to make money. Good thing, right? I’m retired on an adequate income. I didn’t become a writer just to have something to do. There are other hobbies I enjoy. I became a writer because I wanted an audience. I like the idea that people read what I write. Perhaps after all those years as a professor, I still have the need to have an audience.
KN: What’s been the most surprising thing about being a professional writer?
MO: Discovering how bizarre the world of publishing is. I had no idea how publishing worked, how bookstores worked, etc. It feels like I ran away and joined the circus.
KN: Your Pot Thief books have received critical acclaim and have even won several awards. Does the recognition affect your writing (e.g., inspire you, give you more confidence to try new things, make you less likely to stray too far afield from what’s been successful for you)?
MO: I’ve never been asked this before, so I had to think about it. I’m pleased by the recognition because it means I do have that audience and it may get larger, but I don’t think it has affected my writing in any way.
KN: Humor plays a large role in your books. In fact, in last week’s discussion, you said something to the effect that the mysteries in your book are the platform for the humor. Has humor always come naturally to you?
MO: It has. I don’t have many other talents. I can’t play a musical instrument, juggle, or tap dance, but I can make people laugh.
KN: How about marketing? What do you do to promote your books?
MO: I know this sounds unimaginative in the Internet age, but I rely primarily on book signings at brick and mortar bookstores, and on reviews in newspapers and magazines.
KN: What can we look forward to from you next?
MO: I am writing a serious novel. Whether it will be completed and whether it will be worth completing remain to be seen. It is much harder work for me than writing humor, but I decided it would be an interesting challenge.
KN: Last question: What’s our discussion question for the week?
MO: Would it be a good thing if celebrities stopped “writing” books? After all, authors don’t run for the Senate, star in movies, or throw touchdown passes, so why should politicians, movie stars, and quarterbacks pretend to be writers?