This past weekend I hit my third consecutive Crimebake – the mystery conference put on by the Mystery Writers of America’s New England Chapter, of which I am a proud member. The organizers did a terrific job, as usual. A few highlights:
- Was pleasantly surprised at how many attendees and panelists I knew. By nature I’m not a joiner, but I’ve made plenty of friends in the mystery community. Eventually they’ll get wise to me and that will be that, but between MWANE meetings and my writers’ group (which includes the delightful Sibylle Barrasso, who recently published Dark Waters), I found familiar faces all over. Couldn’t help but contrast that with my first Crimebake in 2006, at which I knew not a soul.
- Harlan Coben was the guest of honor. I’ve never read his stuff, but I will now. Impressive guy: funny, self-effacing, insightful. He was at ease discussing big-picture storytelling, technique, the industry – you name it.
- Got to meet with my agent, Janet Reid. She caught me up on the status of my first Conway Sax novel, which she’s submitting now. Even better, she had an edit on the second novel. Funny thing: Janet thought her edits were blunt, even harsh, and seemed to expect me to cry as we went through the manuscript. Truth is, hers struck me as an easy edit – thorough and thoughtful, mind you, but nothing that’ll require me to tear the thing apart (Janet frequently claims she’s not an editor, but she is – all agents are – and a damn good one). I think two factors came into play. First, I was a journalist for 20 years. You want harsh edits? Boy oh boy, I’ve been on both ends. Second, a rewrite is nothing, repeat nothing, compared to staring at your laptop and conjuring the original story from thin air.
Whew, those were some long bullets. Bottom line: back from the ‘Bake, ready to set the third novel aside for a few weeks and hit Rewritesville on the second.