15 September 2009

Pre-Bouchercon Guest Blogger #11 -- Chris Roerden

Not to short change the editors who work their magic to make the craft of us writers into something really amazing, we're visited by Chris Roerden. Chris is a career editor whose Don’t Murder Your Mystery won the Agatha Award and was nominated for the 2007 Anthony, Macavity, and ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year. Authors she’s edited have been published by St. Martin’s, Berkley Prime Crime, Midnight Ink, Viking, Oceanview, and Walker & Co., to name a few. Today she shares some secrets for how to make the most of the Bouchercon experience.

Who Knew? A Handful of Secrets
by Chris Roerden

More than any other venue, Bouchercon offers the opportunity to see more mystery authors in one weekend acting in ways more raucous, shy, modest, nerdy, down-to-earth, and funny than you never pictured while reading their fiction.

I know not to visualize characters as stand-ins for their creators, but I often do anyway (don’t you?) — at least until each year’s Bouchercon turns the fantasy to reality. If you, like me, had not seen Harlan Coben before last year in Baltimore, who knew he was twice my height? So is Hank Phillippi Ryan, who’s also twice as glamorous as I am, but that’s another story.

Despite my having admired the quick-wittedness of Laura Lippman’s P.I. Tess Monaghan on paper, I had not expected to be completely charmed by the author in person as she exchanged quick comebacks with panelists and fans. Who (among the general reading public, that is) knew?

On at Bcon
Because of Bcon, as many refer to it in our abbrevd ecom, we’re also introd (stop that) to more NEW writers whom we’ll want to read if for no other reason than the interesting and unexpected remarks we hear them make on panels and maybe after hours. Each year that I attend I learn more, meet more, network more, and go home energized more, er . . . more energized.

Speaking of funny and quick-witted authors, don’t miss Cathy Pickens as moderator of the panel “Southern Voices.” I’m proud of having proposed the topic last year and this. Cathy’s revelations of the secret meanings hiding behind familiar southernisms had last year’s audiences howling with laughter. This hit will replay in Indianapolis with my picks of Cathy Pickens (Can’t Never Tell, Hush My Mouth, Done Gone Wrong, and more); Vicki Lane (In a Dark Season in the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian mysteries); T. Lynn Ocean (Southern Peril in the Jersey Barnes series); and Scott Pearson (whose first two medical mysteries, starting with Rupture, I had the privilege of editing). I look forward to meeting Deborah Sharp (Mama Rides Shotgun) who’s also on the panel, and I’d like to say “Bless Your Heart” except that I now know what the expression really means.

This year I was picked to moderate the panel “Guidance from Writing Guides,” where James Scott Bell, Kathy Lynn Emerson, Hallie Ephron, Nancy Pickard, and I discuss the elements of great fiction from the perspective of our having deconstructed mysteries, analyzed how they are put together, and revealed the secrets of writing fiction in our own nonfiction.

Who’s learning?
Another treat not to be missed is the first national Sisters in Crime writing workshop, SinC Into Great Writing. It’s being held the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, October 14, the day before Bouchercon officially begins, from 1:30 to 9 pm. Here’s where writers, published and not yet there, get to soak up 4 hours of instruction in “Writing the Breakout Novel” from Donald Maass, famed NY literary agent. After that you’ll be ready to chow down a great dinner, with Nancy Pickard telling “Tales of Survival in the Mystery Business," including what happened to her when her first editor got fired.

Next you’ll endure the agony of choosing between Hallie Ephron and me and our simultaneous 2-hour workshops on craft. Hallie deals expertly with plot and how to get secrets to fall into place along the way so readers keep turning the pages. The secrets I deal with are how the majority of manuscripts sabotage themselves, how they are actually handled when submitted, and how writers can develop the indefinable writer’s voice that agents and acquiring editors are genuinely looking for, even in a slow market.

My final secret, which I’m sharing absolutely free, is that nonmembers can save $60 by first joining this vibrant organization of sisters and brothers, thereby getting all its benefits for the extremely modest dues of $40, and not having to pay the nonmember fee for the workshop. But seating is limited and filling fast.

If a math-impaired editor like me could figure out what a good deal this 7.5-hour content-packed workshop is for only $50, including food, anyone could. So I can’t say who knew. The only mystery is why this bargain isn’t being shouted out in libraries and bookstores everywhere.
Say, when our paths cross in Indianapolis next month, as they will many times, please stop me to say hello and let me know if you met me here. If we miss each other, I answer questions about writing, revising, and getting published on my Amazon blog. Shortcut: http://snurl.com/editorsblog and my website is http://writersinfo.info/


Kaye Barley said...

Hey Chris! Terrific post and I look forward to seeing you next month!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey Chris...can't wait to see you. And thanks for the adorably kind words!

xoox Hank

Patty said...

Hey, Chris!

Great snapshot of some of the hilites of B'con! I love Don't Murder Your Mystery, which has clued me into so many of the writing issues that mark me as an average writer. No wonder I keep getting nice rejection notices that tell me exactly what you say they will: 'We're looking for a fresh new voice.' Your book really opened my eyes, and my critique groups says that my revised manuscript now shines. Thank you!


Vicki Lane said...

Looking forward to it, Chris!

Fun post!

Deborah Sharp said...

Hey, Chris ... Not sure I'm as funny as Cathy P, but I'm looking forward to our Southern Voices panel, and to meeting you, too! Yee-haw!