What’s REALLY Thrilling About ThrillerFest: Fabulous Authors Weigh In!

“An artist cannot fail. It is a success to be one.” – Charles Horton Cooley

What do you get when you put a bunch of story lovers with dark imaginations together in one of the world’s most dazzling cities? Besides Sharknado. (Kidding. I have no idea what that is.) I’m sure some of you guessed right: ThrillerFest. “Thriller” may be intended to describe the book genre, but the biggest thrill of the annual conference is undoubtedly its people. I’ve honestly never encountered such a warm, supportive crew—and I’m not talking blood-curdling, criminal heat.

I first attended two years ago, namely for AgentFest. (Think speed-dating with agents.) I hadn’t read the “how to pitch” tips on the website or attended the pitching preparation panel. Sitting outside the agent-filled room, internal butterflies spasming, a fellow writer who’d done his due diligence voluntarily filled me in. I used a couple of his tips and ended up meeting my agent that day. Then last year, I met Lee Child for the first time. Thinking I would shake his hand and scurry off, letting him get onto whatever it is that super famous authors do, he shook my hand and said, “August McLaughlin. Now that’s an interesting name. What do you write?” (Huh?!?) We chatted for a bit, as though we were from the same planet! 😉 Whether a writing newbie, a volunteer or a librarian, bookseller or agent, ThrillerFest folks are truly that congenial.

I really should've offered him my smoothie.

I really should’ve offered him my smoothie.

Rather than share my own ThrillerFest experiences this year, I thought I’d give you a glimpse through the eyes of some of my favorite attendees. I’m so honored to share their thoughts, and hope you’ll not only read their words, but visit their websites. I suspect that you’ll be grateful you did.

*****

JOHN DIXON, Author of Phoenix Island (Simon & Schuster / Gallery, February 2014), inspiration for the upcoming CBS TV series Intelligence, starring Josh Holloway and Marg Helgenberger:

“This was my third and favorite ThrillerFest, partly because I came to it loaded with happy news—my first book deal and the stop-the-presses announcement that CBS TV ordered the show based on my debut novel—but mostly because of the people with whom I could share it: excellent friends, some old, some new, all of them smart and charming and practically glowing with good energy. That’s the magical thing about ThrillerFest; everyone, from bestsellers to aspiring authors, comes together in the spirit of celebration and support. I’m already looking forward to next July!”

Twitter: @johndixonbooks
Facebook: John Dixon

Left to Right: Todd Gerber, John Dixon, Kyle Steele and Peter Aragno

Todd Gerber, John Dixon, Kyle Steele and Peter Aragno

JON McGORAN, Author of Drift

“I didn’t get to many panels, but the ones I went to were excellent. The YA panel was particularly good. R. L. Stine did a great job moderating, hilarious as always, but he also managed to keep things moving and informative, with lots of great insights from Barry Lyga, Michelle Gagnon, Lissa Price, Kat Rosenfield, Linda Gerber, and Allen Zadoff. The best part, of course, was seeing old friends and making new ones. It’s not always easy being a writer, and you definitely make sacrifices, but once again I was reminded that one of the best perks of being a writer is being able to hang out with such amazing, smart, warm and hilarious people.”

Twitter: @JonMcGoran
Website: http://www.jonmcgoran.com

AUSTIN S. CAMACHO, author of the Hannibal Jones thriller series:

“ThrillerFest was one great moment after another. The highlight for me may have been seeing Ann Rice interviewed by her son (Christopher is the best interviewer EVER!) But my favorite memories are meeting with so many Facebook friends I’d never met in person before. Yeah, turning those electronic pals into 3-dimensional friends that was a series of favorite memories. And many will join me at the next great conference, Creatures, Crimes & Creativity.”

Twitter: @ascamacho
Facebook: Austin Camacho / Mystery Thriller Author

Austin S. Camacho

Austin S. Camacho and Maria Hudgins

D.P. LYLE, MD, ITW VP Education/Member Services; CraftFest Director; Author of the Edgar-nominated author of the Dub Walker Thriller Series:

“ThrillerFest was very special this year and I have many great memories including being ravaged, or is it savaged?, by a host off insane vampirettes, dinner with the wonderful R.L. and Jane Stine at their marvelous home and again at the Awards Banquet, and the opportunity to interview my friend and Spotlight Guest T. Jefferson Parker. And of course hanging in the bar with August as well as Heather Graham, Jennifer Hughes, Kathy Antrim, Twist Phelan and her husband Jack, Hans Watford, Phil Donlay, Bob and Pat Gussin, Tony and Tori Eldridge, and many others.”

Twitter: DPLyleMD
Website: www.dplylemd.com

D.P. Lyle and his throng! (Me, Amy Shojai, Carol Shenold, Twist Phelan)

D.P. Lyle and his throng! (Alexandra Sokoloff, Me, Amy Shojai, Carol Shenold and Twist Phelan)

 DANIEL PALMER, author of Delirious, Helpless and Stolen:

“Interviewing my father in front of a packed ballroom during his Author Spotlight appearance was a highlight, as well as an honor and a privilege.”

Twitter: @DanielPalmer
Website: http://www.danielpalmerbooks.com

Daniel and Michael Palmer

Daniel Palmer and Michael Palmer

BOYD MORRISON, Author of the Tyler Locke Thriller Series:

“Because the Yankees catcher Chris Stewart is a fan of my books, he arranged for me and my wife to get field passes and tickets to the game on Saturday. We had a fantastic time meeting him and watching the game from great seats. Not a bad perk for being a writer!”

Twitter: @BoydMorrison
Website: www.boydmorrison.com

IMG_0598

AMANDA KYLE WILLIAMS, Author of the Key Street Thriller Series:

“No one understands the panic of blowing a deadline or the fear of dry days like another writer. This is one of my favorite things about conferences like ThrillerFest. It’s one big therapy session. Usually in the bar.”

Twitter: @AKyleWilliams
Website: http://amandakylewilliams.com

Amanda Kyle Williams, Carla Buckley, Julia Heaberlin and Stefanie Pintoff

Amanda Kyle Williams, Carla Buckley, Julia Heaberlin and Stefanie Pintoff

ANNE RICE, Internationally Celebrated, Award-Winning Author of the The Vampire Chronicles (and so much more!)

“What I loved most about ThrillerFest was the generous high spirits of the top flight professional authors who’d come there to host and to mingle with all sorts of up and coming and aspiring writers. I mean the whole atmosphere was hospitable and fun, from start to finish, and it gave aspiring writers a chance to connect with professionals, to learn from them about craft and to connect with top flight agents. It was a terrific event. I felt so welcome. I want to support the International Thrillers Writers in any way I can.”

Twitter: @AnneRiceAuthor
Facebook: Anne Rice Fan Page

This year Anne was awarded the International Thriller Writers Lifetime Achievement Award! Congratulations, Anne!

Christopher Rice and Anne Rice, holding her brand spankin' new award!

Anne Rice with her son and fellow author, Christopher Rice, holding her brand spankin’ new award!

I have chills thinking of how inspiring these folks, and many others who attended ThrillerFest, are. I could go on and on and on… Instead, I’ll pass the mic to you. If you attended ThrillerFest, what was your favorite part? Are you thinking of going next year? Any questions for me and/or other attendees? I always love hearing your thoughts. ♥

IN HER SHADOW Thrill-fest and Release Party!

When I finished the first draft of my novel, I called my mom, sniffling. “You should rest,” she said. “You just birthed a novel.”

baby book names

Yes, as a parent and poet, Mom gets it. I hesitate to draw many parenting/writing comparisons, not having kids myself. Judging from what others who do have shared, however, numerous parallels fit. “Birthing” a book is intense, exciting, gratifying, sometimes painstaking and frustrating work, all made more enjoyable, manageable and profound by the support of others. So I suppose I should now welcome you all to my “baby” shower. May the diaper games begin! 😉 Kidding. As bizarre fun as that sounds, I think we’ll venture elsewhere, starting with what matters most at this party: you all.

I can’t thank you all enough for joining me in my journey this past year-plus, in whatever capacity you have. I wish I could list everyone I’m grateful to by name, but that would be about as breezy to read as one of those “old fashioned” phone books. Here are the highlights:

I’m particularly grateful to my parents for never saying “don’t” and always saying “dream;” my husband, for reading nearly every word of my every draft and tolerating my maniacal writer-dom in ways even I sometimes can’t; my friend and mentor Mike Sirota, for running my pages through the Simon Cowel-like ringer and being there through days dark and bright; my agent John Rudolph for believing in me, thinking outside of the box and helping me become a stronger writer; digital publishing manager Yassine Belkacemi for uploads, formatting and fielding my endless questions with considerable patience; Steena Holmes for her beautiful work on my cover and tireless support; and my furry and feathered office pals, Zoe and Wombley, whose animal-love I thrive on.

To my blogging friends, the WANA crowd and Jedi master Kristen Lamb, fabulous folks I’ve met through Bouchercon, ThrillerFest and the Southern California Writers Conference and friends I’ve fallen in writer-love with through words and pages, THANK YOU. I hope you know you’re like permanently implanted in my heart. 😉

Now for the FUN STUFF!

I’m stoked and honored to invite you all to the IN HER SHADOW Thrill-Fest Giveaway raffle. Some of my favorite thriller authors have joined in by offering up some spectacular prizes. Up for grabs include signed books by Amanda Kyle Williams, David Freed, DP Lyle, Donna Galanti, Stacy Green and Amy Shojai. I’ll be giving away three copies IN HER SHADOW, hot off the presses in a couple of weeks, each accompanied by an interview with me.

A lowdown of the prizes:

Each prize includes a signed book and, in most cases, an interview with the author. The interviews may be conducted by phone, Skype or email and, potentially, shared on your blog or website. You can also gift your prize to a thriller-loving or “writerly” friend. The interview details will be worked out via email, based on the author’s preference and what works for you, at the raffle’s end. Check out these tantalizing covers:


raffle books

How to enter:

Hop over to the GIVEAWAY tab on my Facebook page, using this link. The raffle widget will guide you through a variety of simple ways to support participating books and authors. While not necessary for the raffle, I hope that when you visit the authors’ Amazon pages, you’ll click that little “like” button if you indeed like what you see. You can also gain raffle points by commenting on this post. (See below.)

The raffle ends this Saturday, January 12th at midnight. You can utilize every raffle option once daily, today through Saturday, for a maximum of 50 raffle points per day. Not too shabby, right?

For even MORE fun, join me and my friend Karina, the Goddess of Terrifying Trivia, tonight for a virtual launch party on Facebook. We’ll be giving out more prizes and having a heck of a lot of goofy, thriller-related fun. The party goes from 5pm to 9pm PST, and you’re welcome to pop by for a virtual drink or linger all party long. You can also join us on Twitter: #InHerShadow. For further details, visit:

IN HER SHADOW Thrill-Fest Launch Party on Facebook

In Her Shadow - Finalx2

I hope to see you there! So much love and gratitude,

August

*Using the following prompt, post a comment below between today and Saturday for another chance to win. I’ll give 10 extra points for the most creative comment. Ready…set…GO!

How is writing like or unlike childbirth or parenthood?