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August 14, 2016 / thackersam

Sex & Knives

This weekend was the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Year three for me. Before I tell you my highlights, most of which came in the form of author Steven James, who is really funny, let me start by getting my gripes out of the way, both of which happened the morning of the first day. I started the conference by attending “Sexy, Savvy, Sensational Romance,” a panel of romance writers, all female, no surprise. I thought I might get some idea of the crafting process and what is now acceptable sex in a romance novel, even though there’s no romance in my current project. The session was mostly about the business side, but the five women were all great and entertaining. Sex was mentioned once, and that was it, just mentioned.

I sat in the second row of a smaller meeting room, three seats from the wall. Halfway through the hour long session, a woman steps over the others in my row, excusing herself to get to the seat against the wall. She was then followed by an older woman who sits next to me. Within mere moments , the older woman’s phone rings. I side-eye her, thinking she is going to turn it off, but no, she answers it! AND – She turns her head and phone toward MY right ear and says “Allo?” To which I, in a sharp whisper immediately snap, “Can you NOT do that.” She got up and left. Idiot! WTF? She did not return. (Lucky for her)

The next session was ladies’ mystery writer Jane Cleland in the auditorium. actually a large complex of rooms. A lot of seats. Loads and loads of seats. Jane’s seminar was the exact same one she gave last year, which was in a smaller breakout room, and the more intimate setting suits her better. She likes to give formulas. That works for her.

I didn’t sit anywhere near the front of the room, the large room, and was off to one side with an empty seat on either side of me. Of course, about 20 minutes in, some older guy decides he has to step over fellow audience members and PLOP down next to me, clipping my right thigh with his girth and without apology. Idiot! WTF?

Those are the gripes.

The afternoon sessions were swell. Author Steven James, who, because I was sitting in the first row of the auditorium for his first session, chatted with me before he began about my search for a McDonald’s to get a large coffee for a buck, on a 94 degree day in New York City. They took the coffee away long before sessions started in the morning, and before I got there. What could I do? Besides, he listened without judgment, I think, and seemed more impressed that I held in my hand the evidence that my quest had been successful.

His session on breaking the rules was great (a nice contrast to the previous session), as was the next session on crafting a thriller on which he was a panelist. So was the weapons guy, Ben Sobieck, and the next day, during the weapons guy’s talk on weapons, I was the quickest to raise my hand when he asked who wanted a free copy of his book. I have plenty of books, we all do, don’t we? But this one is on weapons and while the main focus is guns, it’s got a whole juicy section on knives, and as the intimacy of killing with a knife rather than a gun goes nicely with my main character’s sexual proclivity, I’m tickled pink to have this book.

Day two of the conference included another session by Steven James, and the reason I rave about him is that he is very funny and entertaining, but he writes in the same “oh neat, let’s see what the character does now” way that I do, and seems to write for his own enjoyment as well as that of others. He, like me, allows his characters to lead him to where they’re going with fascination. Honestly, sometimes my main character really surprises me. And Steven James has been successful with it, so there’s that. I should mention that last night’s keynote speaker, David Baldacci is a really good speaker. I love when writers can speak like they write, with the appropriate pauses and of course confidence.

The highlight of this morning’s half day was that I arrived in time for coffee. Regardless of a less than wowsome Sunday conference-wise, I am stoked and have been getting more plotting done as I reevaluate what I have created in the story so far, even though I’m a “pantser” (as in seat of my pants). I am just so damned damaged though. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish anything or do anything beyond that (remember, I have finished my play). But I do know this. I write first and foremost because I like it. I derive much glee from it. It entertains me. And once in a while, it entertains others. That is not good enough for me, however it’s a passion and it’s something that I’m good at. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick out a knife.

BTW – Did you know that it’s hard to stab someone in the chest because of a little thing called bones, and that if you want to slash someone’s throat, you should never sneak up on them from behind. If you need to kill someone – and I just mean a character in a book – I recommend The Writer’s Guide to Weapons. It could be prettier (the photo of the knives is not from the book), but it will let you know when to use clip and when to use magazine. And Glock’s don’t have safeties.

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5 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Ben / Aug 16 2016 8:48 am
  2. Ben / Aug 16 2016 8:49 am

    Thanks for coming! I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation and the book.

    • thackersam / Aug 16 2016 4:41 pm

      I had a swell time and learned a lot. Thank YOU! And thanks for the reblog.

  3. patriciaruthsusan / Aug 16 2016 10:14 am

    Thanks for this information, Ben. 🙂 — Suzanne

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