Navigating a SleuthFest

by Shelly Frome

totd_webHow do you assess what’s being offered at a sunny Florida SleuthFest, especially if you may be receiving some mixed messages?

For example, in SleuthFest 2014 there were three keynote speakers: Laura Lippman, Ace Atkins and Hank Phillippi Ryan. Let’s start with the renowned Laura Lippman who, in her inspiring talk, declared that crime writers don’t occupy a formulaic niche as Isabel Allende claimed but have created some of the most enduring works of literature.

Segue to a small panel discussion where three out of four “successful” authors tell how much fun they’re having. One lady, in fact, disclosed that her heroine is a much younger, beautiful, intrepid version of herself, able to embark on all the hair-raising adventures the author herself wished she could still have and survive without a scratch.

Best-selling writer Hank Phillippi Ryan exhorts everyone to take their time and concentrate solely on the quality of the work till it’s fully polished and receives a stamp of professional approval. At the same time, at another small panel focused on cross-promotion, the objective seems to be a continual flow of material while garnering enough followers so that a group will let you in on their joint commercial venture.

There’s no problem with Ace Atkins advice on the dais and around the pool. As long as you accept his theory that former crime reporters have an edge. That is, they know the value of a great hook up front, appreciate writers like Robert B. Parker (Atkins was selected by Parker’s estate to continue the adventures of P.I. Spencer) and are perfectly willing to toss out passages and chapters that don’t work and slow up the action.

Back to the panelists. On one devoted to editors’ demands, a publisher blatantly put down what he called M.F.A. writing because it smacks of a love of words and no clue what it takes to write a good story. At the same time, around a table at lunch, a pleasant lady from San Francisco was happy with her M.F.A. from Goddard. She also disclosed she was doing quite well as a crime novelist at Minotaur.

On the other hand, there was a panel devoted to plot springboards, especially geared to those writing a series about an amateur detective. Here you could find tips if you find yourself stuck for ideas and/or want to avoid the same old, same old motivation ploys.

Skipping now to the auctions. A duo of auctioneers claim if you win the bidding on, say, a thirty-page manuscript critique by Lee Child, you’re well on your way to climbing the proverbial ladder. But, then again, after plunking down some 600 to 1,000 dollars, this former British advertising executive may be the last person whose advice a writer should follow. He’s on record insisting his Jack Reacher character can’t evolve or even have a humanizing back story because that would ruin the brand.

Moreover, haven’t we heard over and over that any story, be it crime fiction or what-have-you, deals with at least one flawed character forced to change due to pressure and provocative unforeseen circumstances?

In short, maybe like everything else, it takes a critical eye to know exactly what you’re doing. So that you have a sense that whatever notes you’ve taken during your stay may help take you where you want to go.

TinseltownFINAL.inddShelly Frome

Crime fiction author at Sunbury Press

Mystery Writers America

Playwriting and screenwriting feature writer for Southern Writers Magazine

Shellyfrome.com

The Rise and Fall of eBooks – What’s Next For 21st Century Publishing?

by Emma Crosby

2012-12-11_ebookThere’s no denying the power of a good book, whether it’s in traditional print or digital format, and new tales are constantly being woven that continue to make the move to the big and little screens. However, the initial boom of eBooks looks to be coming to an end, with eBook sales taking a severe hit in recent years. This has caused some large print retailers, such as Waterstones in the UK, to claim that the print form is set to make a comeback. Whether the digital marketplace really is dead for books could be more complicated than it seems, and there are a number of reasons that could account for the lull in popularity over the last few years. The fact is that the written word is becoming increasingly digital, whether it appears in the form of creative literary works or marketing material, with ever increasing access to mobile internet and portable digital devices, we are all far more likely to be reading from digital sources. It could be the latest book in the Game of Thrones series, or some content produced by web copywriting agencies, and it perhaps this ongoing reliance and preference for the digital format that makes the drop in eBook sales so puzzling.

 

eBook Facts and Trends

nookbutton3In order to put things in perspective, it’s perhaps important to remember that eBooks have been through a bad patch before. Since their initial appearance in the late 1990s, eBooks were initially slow to be accepted. While a few big name authors, such as Stephen King, were quick to embrace the new format, technology limitations at the time made reading an eBook a generally unpleasant experience, with many of the early devices developed exclusively for eBooks causing eye strain and headaches as a result of bright screens and poor letter visibility. However, as the technology became better, the demand increased. The release of the first Amazon Kindles met with great success, and spurned on a huge growth in eBook sales. Understandably, a number of publishers were quick to get involved as well, leading to eBooks being distributed by a number of major publishing houses and book retailers. Furthermore, the Apple iPad, and accompanying tablets that hit the market, helped to increase the popularity and convenience of eBooks even more.

 

Two Sides of the Coin

kindle-img.1While there is concern over the recent plummet in sales figures, it’s not necessarily all bad news. To begin with, many thought that the previous triple figure growth was not sustainable, and bound to come to an end sooner or later. Additionally, many in the sector see the slow down as a good sign, or at the very least a mixed blessing to some extent. The slow down in eBooks sales has for example, also slowed down the decline of print sales, which is good news for both traditional book shops and publishers heavily invested in print. Additionally, a large proportion of the growth last year is thought to be down to big blockbuster books, such as Fifty Shades of Grey, and The Hunger Games. There were no titles that claimed this level of popularity in the intervening time period. Secondly, while tablet sales have been going through the roof, research has shown that tablet users are much less likely to buy eBooks than those that purchase dedicated eBook readers, such as the Kindle. Analysts also point to the fact that everyone in the industry is likely to be much happier with a more stable, cross format marketplace in the future, and that eBook sales are likely to remain much lower than before for a few more years. That said, it certainly looks like the eBook isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and will simply be another possible choice for the reader. Finally, the fact that just over 30% of all eBook revenue was generated by indie and self publishing authors is a sign that the eBook will certainly continue to be a favourite platform for writers to showcase and sell their work. Overall then, while the sudden drop in sales may be a shock, it doesn’t necessarily translate into bad news for the eBook, or the book world in general. In fact, we are likely to see not only a return to print in the future, but a much more stable marketplace in general, while eBooks continue to be a great platform for up and coming writers.

Sunbury Press acquires children's titles from North Carolina publisher

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — Sunbury Press, the trade publisher from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania has acquired all of the traditional publishing contracts from Auntie M Children’s Books Publishing of North Carolina.

Sunbury Press, Inc., publishes trade paperback and digital books featuring established and emerging authors in many fiction and nonfiction categories. Sunbury’s books are printed in the USA and sold through leading booksellers worldwide.

ImageAuntie M Children’s Books Publishing, of Monroe, North Carolina offers quality middle grade children’s books that are “Kid Tested & Parent Approved!” Auntie M’s books are sold nationwide, online, and through major booksellers.

Details of the all-cash deal were not made available. All of the titles involved will be reissued under the Sunbury Press or Speckled Egg Press imprints, depending on the targeted age groups. Timing of the transition for each title will vary, but should be completed within 60 days (by mid February).

For more infomation, please see: http://www.sunburypress.com

Paul Argentini's latest novel is "A Matter of Love in da Bronx: A 1950s Diary"

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A Matter of Love in da Bronx

Mechanicsburg, PA – Sunbury Press has released Paul Argentini’s new novel “A Matter of Love in da Bronx: A 1950s Diary.”

About the Book: 
“If James Joyce’s “Ulysses” is considered the greatest unread novel of the 20th Century, then it is just as likely as not Paul Argentini’s “A Matter of Love In da Bronx” will become the greatest unread novel of the 21st Century.”
— Zeilvieg P. Battiscu, The LDN Literary Review

“A Matter of Love In da Bronx” is a 1950’s love story that almost didn’t happen. Based on an actual love affair diary to which the author was privy, the story and its maddeningly frustrating theme was meticulously recorded as event by event were relayed. It was incredible that just a few short years after the end of World War II such an atavistic, feudal family system existed. The lovers’ wishes and wants were denied to them at every single turn, by family, friends, society, circumstances, and just rotten luck.

Couples at that time were just as hungry to satisfy the intense, volatile yearnings of love as they are today. Especially without an automobile—which well could have sufficed for private encounters—there was no such thing as running to a motel or hiking off to a hotel. There were no cell phones to arrange a rendezvous, and even if they could freedom was at a premium under the oppressive regime of venal, ignorant, self-centered, rigid controlling parents. The best Sam and Mary found they could do was use stolen moments for fleeting bliss in darkened doorways.

This is a paen to lovers past, present, future, wheresoever they be who combat the cruel frustration of combustible emotions using only tender hearts and the hope of a pain-free moment of bliss as in this unequaled literary truth.

A Matter of Love in da Bronx: A 1950’s Diary
Authored by Paul Argentini
List Price: $18.95
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm) 
Black & White on White paper
390 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620062159 
ISBN-10: 1620062151 
BISAC: Fiction / Literary

For more information, please see: 
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/A-Matter-of-Love-in-da-B…

Also available on Kindle and Nook