Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Agents and Editors of This Year's Crime Bake

HALLIE EPHRON: My favorite conference is coming up this fall 11/8-11/10 near Boston, the 12th annual New England Crime Bake ("Crime Bake"/"Clam Bake" - Get it?) at the Hilton Dedham, MA, near Boston and a stone's throw from the Amtrak station.

And YES, you can still register for it.

This year the Guest of Honor is the fabulous Edgar winning author, Meg Gardiner.

(Here's some photos of Crime Bakes past... with some folks you may recognize.)

This year author panels include a passel of folks who came to their first Crime Bake unpublished and went on to find agents and publishers.

Here are just a few:
- New England Sisters in Crime President Barbara Ross. (She writes Maine Clam Bake mysteries for Kensington)

- New England Mystery Writers of America President Steve Ulfelder. His first Conway Sax novel "Purgatory Chasm" was an Edgar finalist. His series is published by Minotaur Books.
- Edith Maxwell who writes not one but TWO series. Her latest,
A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, is the first in the cozy Local Foods Mystery series  published by Kensington Publishing.
- Liz Mugavero just published her first Pawsitively Organic series mystery, Kneading to Die, also from Kensington.
- Michael Nethercott's debut novel Seance Society is being published this fall by Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books.

Oh, the agents and editors you'll meet!I've gone to the Crime Bake every year and been on the planning committee for 11 of them. This year I'm in charge of programming the agents and editors. So let me tell you some of what we have up our collective sleeves...

This year we're trying something new: a Page One Idol. Here's how it works:

Attendees bring the first 1/2 page of a work in progress and entrust it to an expert reader who reads it aloud (without revealing who wrote it) to a panel of agents and editors. They listen -- this is not the Gong Show -- and then share: would I keep reading? Why or why not?

It's a chance to hear what editors and agents perceive as serious writing problems, story issues, and what they can and can't sell in today's market. It will be like getting to be a fly on the wall watching an agent do what they're paid to do: separate the wheat the from the chaff.

We'll also have a Friday night panel discussion on how e-publishing is changing the book business. Eve Bridburg, agent and fou
nder of our fabulous local writing "school" Grub Street, with moderate the discussion. Weighing in will be Kensington editor Peter Senftbleben, and writing opinion leader Jane Friedman who is the former publisher at Writers Digest Books and currently the web editor for the Virginia Quarterly.

We'll still have our one on ones, expanded this year to six minute sessions during which attendees pitch an idea to an agent or editor. There's no extra fee for this, but you do need to sign up in advance.

And what a fabulous lineup of editors and agents this year!

  • Ann Collette - Ann is back! She had a fantastic year with the success of our own Barbara Shapiro's NY Times bestseller "The Art Forger." Ann is with Boston's Helen Rees Literary Agency. She's one of those agents who says what she thinks and fights like the devil for her authors. 
  • Liza Dawson - Liza Dawson heads her own NYC literary agency, Liza Dawson Associates. Before becoming an agent she was a vice president and executive editor with a big mystery list at Morrow and Putnam. She handles crime fiction of all sorts. Her agency sold Susan Hasler's debut novel "Intelligence" to Thomas Dunne Books and recently optioned it to Happy Madison and Sony Pictures for a television series. This is her first time at Crime Bake.
  • Denise (Deni) Deitz - Deni is an acquiring editor at Five Star, a publishing house with a unique focus on the library market. Some of our own authors who have had books published by Five Star include Susan Oleksiw, Toni L. P. Kelner, and Leslie Wheeler. This is Deni's first time at Crime Bake.
  • Jane Friedman - Jane Friedman is former editor and publisher for Writers Digest Books. She is a widely regarded expert on the digital transformation of the publishing industry, and has spoken at venues such as the NEA, NPR Morning Edition and Publishers Weekly. She writes a wildly popular award-winning blog about writing and publishing and is the web editor for The Virginia Quarterly. This is her first time at Crime Bake.
  • Ellen Larson - YA mysteries are wildly popular, and Ellen Larson edits a brand new line of them for the Poisoned Pencil, part of Poisoned Pen. Founded in 2012 and growing fast, Poisoned Pencil takes online submissions from authors and agents. This is her first time at Crime Bake.
  • Gina Maccoby - Gina Maccoby heads the Gina Maccoby Literary Agency. Just a few among the award-winning mystery authors she represents are Linda Barnes, Rick Riordan, and Lee Goldberg. She is on the Board of Directors of the AAR and a member of the AAR's Contracts and Royalties subcommittees. This is her first time at Crime Bake.
  • Gina Panettieri - Gina Panettieri, another agent we are welcoming back, heads Talcott Notch Literary Agents located in Connecticut. Another Crime Bake favorite who cannot be with us this year, Paula Munier, is now a literary agent working with Gina. Mysteries, thrillers, and suspense top the list of what they represent.
  • Peter Senftleben - Associate editor at Kensington Books, Peter Senftleben is actively acquiring mysteries (adult and YA and "new adult') including cozies and stories with a romantic flavor. Some of the New England/Crime Bake authors he works with are Barbara Ross and Liz Mugavero. (His bio ascerts: "He does not want to see anything with terrorists of any kind.") This is his first time at Crime Bake.
  • Marlene Stringer - Marlene Stringer heads the Stringer Literary Agency in Naples, Florida. She handles a wide range of commercial fiction including thrillers and mysteries, adult and YA.This is her first time at Crime Bake.
  • Roseanne Wells - Roseanne Wells is an agent with the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency based in New York City. Roseanne loves "smart mysteries that center around a strong detective: Sherlock Holmes, Veronica Mars, Flavia de Luce from Alan Bradley’s "Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie." I look for sharp minds and witty banter, complicated narratives that keep me guessing, and an emotional arc as well as the whodunit plot.
I'll be there, too, along with Reds Hank Phillippi Ryan ("The Wrong Girl") and Lucy Burdette ("Topped Chef") and Julia Spencer Fleming ("Through the Evil Days"), all with new books!

Hope to see some of  you there. Meet you in the bar for Cosmos!


  1. I used to dread the gloominess of November until I discovered CRIME BAKE, my favorite mystery conference. Over the past ten years, I've made wonderful friends, learned more than any book could offer and had a TON OF FUN! This year's line-up offers something for everyone.

  2. Michele Dorsey and her SO came to the banquet dressed in white and black striped scrubs - obviously Whitey Bulger and Catherine Greig. It was memorable, Michele! Michele has also published many short stories that have appeared in the annual Level Best anthologies - and if you're still there, Michele, do you have something in the new one??

  3. My three book deal with Midnight Ink for the Tucker books would NOT have happened without the New England Crime Bake.

    The first draft of TERMINATED got wonderful notes from two agents. Later, after I had fixed the book, I met my agent there, and I met my editor there.

    It is the best way for new authors to meet agents and editors in a relaxed atmosphere while garnering advice from the pros.

  4. Yay, Ray! Congratulations on the three-book deal with Midnight Ink! Wow!! Tell more! First title? When when when will it come out??

    This is how it's supposed to work.

  5. Thanks for the shout out, Hallie! I am SO thrilled to be on a Crime Bake panel for the first time. And like Ray, would not be where I am without what I've learned at Crime Bake. Now, to figure out my banquet costume...

  6. Like Hallie, I LOVE the New England Crime Bake. I attended for years before I was on the committee and so much great stuff has happened because I did, including two honorable mentions for the Al Blanchard Award and my co-editorship at Level Best Books.

    BTW-Level Best is thrilled to be publishing Ray's short story featuring Tucker in the anthology this year.

    Congrats. Ray!

  7. Yay Edith! Yay Barb! So much talent.

    I forgot to mention the Level Best short story Anthology that gets published each year and released at Crime Bake. And the Al Blanchard Award for best short story which has also propelled writers into good contracts with publishing houses.

  8. Thanks, Hallie!

    TERMINATED, the first book of the Tucker series of first-person, wise-cracking, Boston-based mysteries comes out in August 2014. It will be followed by CORRUPTED MEMORY and CHILD NOT FOUND.

    TERMINATED, especially, benefited from my visits to Crime Bake. I especially appreciated the clear feedback I got on my first draft from the agents.

    I find that Crime Bake is the easiest place to meet an agent or editor and just talk about the business and craft over a meal or cocktail.

  9. So Ray, we'll surely see you speaking on a panel at the 2014 Crime Bake!

    Forgot to say, too, that the conference is sponsored by our New England chapters of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and it's all about helping writers, published and unpublished, and introducing our great writers to readers.

  10. Thank you for the early info on the agents and editors attending Crime Bake. I haven't been pitching, but I've been gathering intel - whoa, that sounds creepy! - about which agents I'd like to approach when I'm ready.

    However, the Ask the Experts opportunity which runs concurrently with the pitch sessions has been a TREMENDOUS help over the years. It's an opportunity to sit down with a cop/doctor/lawyer/hacker and bounce plot ideas. Sometimes, they bring in equipment so you get to see it up close and even handle it. One year, I bounced evidence ideas with a medical examiner. And, last year, William Landay and Margaret MacLean helped me develop a bit of backstory that will be explored later in my series.

    I love Ask the Experts so much that, when I do get around to pitching, I'll feel all torn and conflicted because I'll wonder what great stuff is going on in the room next door. :)

  11. I love the ask the experts informal round tables, too, Rhonda. This year, so far we've got:
    Medical--David Page
    Law Enforcement-- Brian Thiem
    The Many Paths to Publication. Which is for you? Jane Friedman, Steve Liskow, Vinnie O'Neil

  12. You've got a stellar group of agents and editors this year. So exciting!

  13. Can't wait! I learn something new every year...
    and I am eager to hear Meg Gardiner--she's SO terrific!

  14. And I have a story in this year's anthology, too - "Breaking the Silence" - which debuts a new historical mystery protagonist and includes the real John Greenleaf Whittier. Very excited!

  15. I wonder how many authors have had their series character debut in a short story in a Level Best anthology. You. Ray. Not sure who else.

  16. Hallie, great line-up of agents and editors. I am especially interested to hear from Jane Friedman as I love her blog.

    Ray, big congrats--yay! Is the book we worked on at Seascape two years ago?

    Love, love love this conference--even newcomers feel welcome and comfortable (and that's not always the case with other conferences.) Can't wait! xo

  17. Hallie, you're right.

    I also have a story in the Level Best Anthology that previews my series character.

    Tucker is the narrator of GIVE ME A DOLLAR.

  18. Hi Lucy (aka Roberta),

    The book we worked at Seascape is book two in the Tucker series: CORRUPTED MEMORY.

  19. Hi Rhonda

    Since pitches are scheduled and ask the experts is open door, no appointment necessary, you will be able to do both!


  20. Sounds terrific. Wish I could be there. One of these days I will be.

  21. This will be my 12th Crime Bake. I can't imagine a November without it!
    I don't think there's another mystery writers/readers conference out there that compares.