Friday, October 22, 2010

Bouchercon by the Bay


I love Bouchercon! As conferences go, it's fun and low key and very different from, say, RWA National. Part of that difference comes from the mix of people. Bouchercon is a lot of writers and booksellers, editors and a few agents, a few unpublished writers, and many, many fans. RWA is all published or unpublished writers, agents and editors, with the result that there is more of an air of desperation and less a spirit of fun. Of course, the fact that RWA is virtually all women and many Bouchercon attendees are male also makes a difference. Ahem.

My experience at this Bouchercon was very much in contrast to Baltimore's Bouchercon, where I was staying in the hotel and didn't know anyone, which forced me to get out and network (something I don't do well). This time I was staying with my sister (author Penelope Williamson, who lives in Mill Valley) and driving in every day with Tracy Grant. Both of them have been in this writing business even longer than I have, so along with the experience of the conference I was also able to spend hours and hours dissecting both the conference and publishing in general.

I'll talk more about the individual events in a later post, as I thought I'd just give an overview here. Thursday began with some great panels, followed by the opening ceremony that evening, after which Harper Collins hosted a reception where some fifteen or twenty authors were on hand to sign and give away copies of their books. Danielle, my publicist, had set up my table right next to the bar, so I got a lot of traffic and ran out of books fairly quickly. (I snapped these pics with my phone before the function actually began; I have more photos that I'll post once I get them off my camera.) The huge poster Harper Collins provided was gorgeous, so hopefully even people who didn't get a copy will remember the cover.

Friday came more panels, and then the NAL cocktail party followed by the famous Lee Child "Reacher Party." My panel was on Saturday, followed by a booksigning (where people actually bought my books), and then the Harper Collins party followed by the Touchstone party, which I also attended since Catherine Coulter was riding in from Mill Valley with us that day. The weather was glorious until the end, when the fog came rolling in and this little New Orleans hothouse flower froze to death.

I brought home all kinds of gossip and lots of ideas and thoughts to sort through, and what feels like an incipient case of pneumonia. More later!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Bouchercon 2010

Bouchercon is the annual world mystery convention. This year’s Bouchercon will be held next week in San Francisco --Thursday, Friday and Saturday—at the Hyatt Regency, 5 Embarcadero Center. Attending will be an impressive array of mystery writers, from John Connelly and Martin Cruz Smith to Rhys Bowen and Laurie King.

I’ll be on a panel on Saturday at 3.00 p.m. with Pat Canterbury, John Lutz, Katia Lief, and Matthew Schoonover. The title of our panel is “Alien Country,” and I think it’s about crossing genres.

Immediately after the panel at 4:00 p.m. I’ll be holding a book signing for both my Sebastian mysteries and the contemporary thrillers (The Archangel Project and The Solomon Effect), all of which should be available from booksellers at the event. I’ll also be participating in the Harper Collins book signing to be held Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt, at which time I will have fifty advance readers copies of The Babylonian Codex to give away free on a first come, first serve basis.

You can read more about the conference here (and if their site looks vaguely familiar, it’s because it was done by the same brilliant designer responsible for both of my websites). I attended Bouchercon two years ago at Baltimore and had a wonderful time. If you’re in the area, hope to see you there!

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Necessary Evil

Here it is: Candy's predictable, semi-annual rant about the copyediting process. If you're curious, you can click on the screenshots I've included and get a better look at the process in action. (You'll also get a sneak preview of a few snippets from later scenes in Where Shadows Dance, but I promise there are no spoilers.)

I've had some copyeditors from hell in the course of my career, but this seems to be my year to luck out with copyeditors. This one was both thorough and sane, which meant that the process wasn’t anywhere near as painful as it can be. But that doesn’t mean it was painless. First of all, this stage is now all done electronically, which means that instead of curling up on my porch swing with the manuscript and a pencil, I now spend days and days sitting at my desk and staring at a computer screen, something I really, really hate. Plus, gone are the days of Post-it notes, so that once I stick my changes/comments in the margin, too, things can get quite colorful--and crowded. (If you want to get a better view of the page, just click on the screenshot and you'll get a much bigger, clearer image.)

I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that when it comes to things like capitalization and punctuation, I may as well simply go with the flow (me and the dead fish). Yes, there are rules in grammar. But different houses have different rules and, I’ve learned, different copyeditors within the same house can have different rules, too. They want an accent in Napoleon? Fine, they can put it in there. They don’t want an accent in NapolĂ©on? Fine; take it out. Ditto with the comma in “Now, he wasn’t so sure.” Make that, Now he wasn’t so sure. Is it, The Colonel stood at the top of the stairs? Or, The colonel stood at the top of the stairs? It depends, evidently, on the phases of the moon.

And then we have the issue of historical accuracy. Scrambled eggs were called buttered eggs in the early nineteenth century. Okay, I’ll happily change that, even though no one will know what kind of eggs Sebastian is spooning onto his plate. But when I write “direction” for address, as was done in the Regency, I’m told readers may misunderstand and think it’s a typo that should be “directions.” A Regency Englishman walked out the house; he did not walk out of the house. But I’ve never found a copyeditor yet who didn’t insist on putting that of in there.

One of a copyeditor's tasks is to tell me when she doesn't quite follow the action in the story, as in:

That's fine; I seriously appreciate it. She can also save me from some really, really silly mistakes, as in:


If I were lazy, I could just skim through the manuscript, stopping only where I see the little blue bubbles. But this is my last chance to change anything in the manuscript before it goes to the typesetters, so I actually read over it three times. On the final pass, I reversed one significant change that I'd made at the editing stage at the request of my editor. It has bothered me ever since I did it, and so with my editor's blessing I put it back the way it was. And no, you can't see that page, because it would be a spoiler!