"There is only one way to get on in the business of writing and that is to WRITE."

–Steve Allen, TV/Radio Star/Author

Special Report

No Crime Unpublished Mystery Writers Conference Delivers Stars, Information

By Judy K. Moore, Authorlink! California Correspondent

The annual No Crime Unpublished Mystery Writers Conference, hosted by the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime drew more than 200 attendees September 7 in the Hotel, Los Angeles. The group gathered to hear authors, agents and professional crime solvers discuss their craft.

Conference chair Judith Klerman Smith and her committee assembled an impressive array of talent, featuring Robert Crais as keynote speaker, Steve Allen as luncheon speaker, FBI and Los Angeles County forensic experts as well as popular mystery writers agents and publicists.

Robert Crais, who began his writing career providing scripts for "Hill Street Blues" and "Cagney and Lacey," has turned to full-time mystery novel writing. His series character, Elvis Cole, has appeared in many books including The Monkey's Raincoat and most recently, Indigo Slam. His books succeed in main part because of the endearing characters Crais creates. He encouraged the audience to write about ordinary things and people: "You are a treasure trove of ideas. Write honestly about what ties us together. All you need is within you."

The ever-popular Steve Allen was the luncheon speaker and his presentation is covered in a related article. The conference offered two tracts for study: Tract I, craft sessions with popular mystery writers and Tract II, forensic sessions presented by government experts.

Following Tract I, attendees encountered authors Taylor Smith and Rochelle Majer Krich who presented Mystery Writers Essential Tool Kit-Means & Methods. "Develop Velcro butt," says Taylor smith. "Stay in that chair and write." Tract I also included advice from mystery writers Terris McMahan Grimes and Gillian Roberts on Building Fictional Worlds, and Richard Barre and Jan Burke on Creating Protagonists and Antagonists Who Will Sell. Writer and teacher Claire Carmichael McNab moderated the Tract I sessions.

Tract II included Detective Gilbert Carillo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office who was one of the investigators on the Night Stalker case. He spoke on modes of death and showed slides of the various ways in which Richard Ramerez killed his victims.

Special Agent Jack Trimarko of the FBI spoke about his experience as a polygraph expert in his session called License to Grill: Interrogation. He shared insights on how to get a confession from a guilty suspect, which he says he can do 80% of the time.

Elizabeth M. Define, Senior Criminalist for the Los Angeles county Sheriff's Department's Scientific Services Bureau, says she can invariably find evidence left b a killer if she can I investigate the crime scene soon after the crime has been committed. According to Devine, the more personal the murder, the more evidence is left. She starts by looking for what is out of place. " I always look at the ceiling first. The killer only cleans up where he can see."

Author R.A. Foster ended the day by moderating a panel of agents and publicists who gave advice on getting an agent and marketing your work.Both agents, Betsy Amster of Los Angeles-based Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises, and Sandra Watt of Sandra Watt & Associates in Hollywood, say the market is good for first time authors. However those authors must be exceptional and be willing to get out and market the book. Publicist Robin Blakely advises authors to use life experiences to market themselves. Steve Allen Charms

Mystery Writers

At Annual Conference

By Judy K. Moore

Authorlink! California Correspondent

The late Sir Noel Coward called him "the most talented man in America," and Steve Allen proved the point as he spoke to attendees at the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime Annual No Crime Unpublished Mystery Writers Conference. The event was held September 6 in San Francisco.

Steve Allen is a Renaissance man: best selling author, songwriter, musician, comedian and actor who has succeeded on stage, screen, television, radio and in night clubs.

With all of that to his credit, he is also charming and approachable. When asked to give advice to budding authors, Mr. Allen smiled and shook his head. " I wish I had some magic formula. There is only one way to get on in the business of writing and that is to WRITE." Having written 48 published books and more than 6,000 songs, Allen speaks from experience. "Whether you write well or not, you'll never learn if you don't do it," he says.

Mr. Allen shared a humorous rewrite of the Gettysburg Address reflecting the current state of language. "Four score and, you know, seven years ago, like, the forefathers, you know, like, brought forth…" He also fielded questions from the audience with wit and candor.

After childhood dreams of being a cowboy and baseball star, Mr. Allen settled on journalism as a worthy occupation and after study, fell into radio and television, later becoming a star. A little known fact about Allen is that he spoke out against the Mafia in New York city and elsewhere and as a result cannot appear in certain clubs to this day.

On at least three occasions, he has triumphed over such adversity by being tenacious, persistent and creative. Once when Mafia intimidation caused the cancellation of one of his shows, Mr. Allen called the Las Vegas Hotel owner, imitated a Mafia boss and got the show back on the air.

Among his recent ventures is a series of mystery novels in the Nick and Nora Charles Thin Man vein. Accepting a proposal from his publisher, Mr. Allen is writing about himself and his wife, Jayne Meadows, as sleuths solving crimes around Hollywood. The latest is called Die Laughing which should be in bookstores in September.

Copyright, Authorlink! 1997