This blog has two questions. The first, is about writing in summertime and the second will cover ThrillerFest, the conference of a lifetime. This summer has been totally memorable. I’m marketing Gemini: The Sign Behind The Crime Book 1, will be getting edits on Aries which is Book 2 and I’m writing Scorpio, Book 3. So here we go.
How do the warm days and sunshine affect your writing habits?
I love this question and for me living in Florida, I’m writing almost daily, poolside. That’s where I’m at in the pic to the left. The FBI hat? I’ll get to that in the next question. Not only will I write in the sun, I’ve been known to write poolside, in the rain.
Being outdoors in the natural elements has a positive effect on me. I feel my aura being cleansed and believe it or not, I can get into deep POV, even at the pool. And yes, with people all around me. Everyone knows not to disturb me when my head is down on my notebook or when I’m typing on my ipad. Outdoors, my characters can take on a life of their own. Some develop more of a role than I had intended. And it works. In Gemini, the love interest, Vicki, expanded her role. If I had let her get her way, the last chapter would have gone on for at least ten more pages. I had to lasso her for the sake of the length of the novel. The psychopathic killer, Barbara Montgomery, goes into very deep POV during her internal monologues. I experienced the same feelings and bodily sensations she did. I was sweating at the pool. So what? Everyone was sweating in the 95 degree heat. No one was the wiser. I was in so deep, a bomb cold have gone off and I wouldn’t have stirred. Maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but I’m awesome at planned ignoring.
We live in the woods, and writing on my lanai makes my words flow fluidly. I meditate out there and the greenness and huge trees cleanse any kind of toxic debris from my aura. In Brooklyn, I’d meditate in the Atlantic Ocean. I’d recommend that writers should be around any natural resource. Try it and see what happens.
What was your favorite summer memory?
This was a loaded question and I didn’t create it, but the timing is perfect. The answer is ThrillerFest 2015. I hadn’t written a separate ThrillerFest blog because I knew this question was coming. Since this was my first, I decide to go all out and attend every event offered. Yes, it was costly, and it’s the only major conference I’ll be attending this year, but it was worth every penny. ThrillerFest turned out to be the conference of a lifetime for me.
I arrived on Sunday, July 5th and the first thing I did when I got out of the cab in front of the hotel, Grand Hyatt at Grand Central terminal, was to throw my hands up in the air and say to myself, “Yay, I’m home!” We’re living in Florida for seven years and I haven’t been in Manhattan all that time. After checking in, I had to get into Grand Central Station to walk around. I was a mesmerized, taking pics just like a tourist. Then I walked around the corner and wandered down the streets in a street fair. The foods, the smells, the energy of the people, oh boy, had I missed that.
Monday, a group of 75 of the attendees went to the FBI NYC building. Yes, the real one with real agents. We had to be vetted, full background checks and we were scanned. All electronic equipment was to be left at the hotel or with the guard. We spent a full day in workshops with both men and women agents who told us details about cases as much as they could without getting into anything classified. Lunch was catered by the famous Katz deli. OMG NYC deli!Nothing like it. OK. Back to the workshops. The agents were so gracious and answered all of our questions related to writing. One agent spent time with us after the day was complete to answer more. I’m not giving specific names for obvious reasons. We were given handouts and a book, The FBI Story, which I have yet to read.
I came back with tons of notes, which I know will make my novels more credible.
On Tuesday, I participated in MasterCraft with the awesome Gayle Lynds, author of The Assassins. I can’t wait for my copy to arrive, as I had a load of books shipped. In MasterCraft, there were ten students and we read and critiqued ten pages of each other’s manuscripts. Ms. Lynds is an awesome teacher and she gave such constructive criticism in a kind way. That was much appreciated by everyone. I was blessed to have her as my instructor.
CraftFest began on Wednesday. Please visit the ThrillerFest website. I was going to write the workshops here, but that would have defeated the purpose of a blog, brevity. Please do look at the website because if you write thrillers, you’ll come to your own conclusion that this is the conference to attend. All of your questions will be answered and everyone was approachable.
PitchFest, Thursday afternoon, began with a practice pitch session to do exactly that. I worked with the awesome Jon Land who gave me tips that worked. About twenty authors helped budding authors practice. This was invaluable. I’m not writing about my experience in this blog. I’m waiting for outcomes. Then you’ll read all about it.
Friday and Saturday were the panel presentations known as ThrillerFest, with prominent authors in every field presenting. You name it, the author was there. Again, for the overwhelming list, please check the website.
The parties at night were sponsored by ITW and publishers and afforded us newbies the chance to mingle with our favorite authors. Some of us hung out at the bar in the evenings having appetizers with authors you dream of meeting. Throughout the conference I had conversation with Mark Rubenstein, MD, Heather Graham, Kathleen and Michael Greer, Kelly Armstrong, Gigi Vernon, and Bev Irwin, just to name a few. Again, it’s the conference to attend.
Friday eve was the debut authors casual dinner party at a pizza restaurant a few blocks from the hotel. I’m honored and humbled to be amongst the 27 first time authors that attended. It was great making new friends. And I haven’t had NYC pizza in seven years, either! The salads were awesome, too. I must say that I was very impressed with the debut authors. They were a talented and highly educated bunch.
Saturday was the debut authors breakfast, where we sat on a dais looking out at 1200 authors, editors, agents and budding writers. We each had a minute to speak and were introduced by Steve Berry. It was both nerve racking and exhilarating at the same time. People came over to me after the breakfast and told me how well I spoke. I’m used to speaking but I have to admit, 1200 was my largest audience yet.
Saturday afternoon panels were special because by that time I was known, and having authors come over to congratulate me on Gemini was…priceless. I will proudly be wearing my ITW debut author badge to any conference I attend and to my monthly SSRA chapter meetings.
Saturday evening was the banquet and all of the awards were presented after a delicious steak dinner. It was a festive time and definitely something I’m aspiring to, to win an award for a novel. My time will come.
So, yes, I’m having a very memorable summer!
Here’s what reviewers had to say about Gemini:
Gemini is a well-crafted, chilling, and entirely too realistic story about both sides of the coin of humanity and darkness that lives within us all. The book is too long to read in one sitting, but give yourself plenty of time when you start reading because this isn’t a book that is easy to put down.- Taylor Jones
Allen has crafted a chilling tale of murder and revenge, of psychological obsessions, and man’s inhumanity to man. Her characters are complex, realistic, and extremely well-developed. Her plot is strong and well-crafted. The book is a page-turner and will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Regan Murphy
Here’s an excerpt:
She pulled off the wig, shook her head, revealing long, highlighted blonde hair. She popped out the emerald contact lenses and then pulled off the boots, emptying the contents onto the hand-woven, sky-blue shag carpet that mimicked the color of her eyes. Out flew bills in twenties, fifties, and a few hundreds.
Last to hit the carpet with a bounce was a Charter Arms Pink Lady .38 caliber.
My closest and dearest friend. My only friend.
She embraced the mother-of-pearl, pink-marbleized handle in the palm of her hands, bringing it up to her lips. She adorned it with a long sensual kiss, running her mouth from the short handle to the end of the metallic pink barrel. She then moaned an exaggerated, long, and relaxed sigh. Coming back to the present, she removed its five bullets and put them into a heart-shaped jeweled treasure box coated in its entirety with emeralds and rubies with a diamond tiara serving as the handle. She then placed it back on the far right corner of the table—its permanent place.
She had decorated the apartment in yellows, blues, and accents in hot pink, which were very calming to her anything-but-calm life. She loved her cartoon paintings, many of them of princesses from contemporary artists. She received peace in the sense of magic, charm, and whimsy, but no child had set foot in this home.
This was her private haven, where she escaped from all of the death around her. All of the death she’d caused. All of the deaths she planned to cause.
Where you can buy Gemini.
Please feel free to leave comments and questions and tell me your favorite summer writing memory.
The Sign Behind The Crime,