Tag Archives: Thrillerfest

Canadian Taken – Bouchercon Wrap-up

2015: “You have to go to Bouchercon in Raleigh!”

I didn’t go to Bouchercon.

2016: “You have to go to Bouchercon in New Orleans!”

I didn’t go to Bouchercon.

2017: “You have to go to Bouchercon in Toronto!”

I WENT TO BOUCHERCON IN TORONTO!

 

For those of you not familiar with Bouchercon, it’s a mystery convention packed with amazing writers, agents, publishers, and readers. There are presentations, panel discussions, signing opportunities, and loads of other activities. Now, I’m not exactly a stranger to mystery / thriller conventions. I’ve been to Thrillerfest in New York City a few times and it’s a blast in its own right. Bouchercon is a little different in several ways. First, it is in a different city every year. While the location can be inconvenient, depending on the chosen venue, it affords attendees the opportunity to experience something different each year. Bouchercon also has more readers.

Not that conventions filled with authors aren’t great, but it’s the interaction with readers that can be especially rewarding. Not only might a writer hear from fans, but its a chance for authors to develop new readers and engage with people at a personal level. These interactions don’t have to be by chance. For instance, I participated in a writer/reader “speed dating” event, during which I paired up with another author and rotated around a room to nearly 20 tables. At each table, I had two minutes to take about my works. Repeating the same two-minute pitch over and over may sound tedious, but it’s worth it if you gain even one reader. The room was packed and I was paired up with a fantastic author named Melissa Yi. She came more prepared than I did, as I forgot my superhero costume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was also fortunate to be on a panel that discussed the portrayal of government agencies in fiction.  Joining me on the panel which was moderated by Gwen Florio, were Rachel Amphlett, Joseph Finder, Puja Guha, Mike Maden. It was a lively discussion and I managed to get a photo with Joe Finder (I’m going to call him “Joe” now), whose work I’ve admired for years.

Joe Finder (two movies made from his books) managed somehow not to be intimidated by me.

 

 

 

As I mentioned to the audience, I currently have the BEST SELLING BIATHLON-RELATED MYSTERY IN THE WORLD. (This is probably true)

For me, one of the major highlights was interacting with some writers I’ve been working with for the past couple of years. Most of whom, I’d never met in person. I contribute to a website called The Thrill Begins and it was a pleasure to meet nearly all the team members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A project that spun off of that site is the creation of an anthology titled The Night of the Flood.  It was exciting to meet nearly all the contributors to that book as well as my publishers. And you can see below, Ed Aymar and I were overjoyed to spend more time together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, this was my first time visiting Toronto. What a city! Other than the rush hour traffic, I’m a huge fan. I’m not saying I’d want to hang out there in the dead of winter, but October is a good time to visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noir at the Bar (Rob Brunet)

Noir at the Bar (Hilary Davidson)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m already excited for Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, FL in 2018. I’ll be living in Georgia by then, so the journey should be a relatively easy drive. And who knows… maybe my recent release, Bolt Action Remedy or the upcoming release, The Night of the Flood, will be up for an award. Regardless, it should be a blast.

Now I’m off to go house hunting in the Savannah, Georgia area. Savannah should be exactly like Toronto… but totally different. 🙂

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.

Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.

In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

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I’ve Got a Blank Space, Baby (but not many)

This week I’m providing an update on current and upcoming projects.  2015 has been extremely busy and things aren’t slowing down one bit.  As always, I’m grateful to my readers for their continued support.  I’m constantly humbled by the kind words and fantastic reviews that are posted about my works and attendance at live events has been incredible.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  So… here’s what’s going on.

I attended Thrillerfest in New York City this summer and it was phenomenal.  I participated on a panel called AGENCIES: Jurisdictional Divides.  The panel discussed law enforcement jurisdictions and various roles.  I spoke about the Secret Service and didn’t say anything too dumb.  Bingo!

In July, I announced that my third novel will be released in early 2016.  The title is Chalk’s Outline and it involves both Cyprus Keller (Resolve) and Jackson Channing (Measure Twice).  The novel is being released by Bad Day Books, an imprint of Assent Publishing.

Also, I’ve agreed to work as a contributing columnist for The Thrill Begins, a site run by the International Thriller Writers organization.  There really weren’t any constraints placed upon me as to the topics I can write about, so – given my sense of humor – there is a decent chance this will end badly.

In September, once again I’ll be part of a wonderful project called #30Authors.

September-2015-3

This enterprise is a collaboration between book bloggers and authors (shockingly.. 30 of them) where authors review some of their favorite books and book bloggers publish those reviews.  The project is run by The Book Wheel and is an absolute blast for all involved.  If you are on Twitter, follow @30Authors account and #30Authors.  If you want to see how this works, my contribution from last year can be read here: J.J. Hensley on Face Off

On September 26, I’ll be participating in a conference called Murder As You Like It in Mechanicsburg, PA.  It promises to be a fun event for both writers and readers.

I have several other speaking engagements this year and those can be viewed in the Events/Appearances section of my site www.hensleybooks/wordpress.com or at www.hensley-books.com.

Finally, I’m still doing what I love.  I’m still writing!  We’ll see where this road leads.

I hope everyone has had a great summer and I hope you are looking forward to the rest of the year as much as I am.

J.J.

 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

 

How Pitching a Novel Is Like Being in the Secret Service

For seven years, I had the pleasure of being a Special Agent with the United States Secret Service. During that time, I conducted a variety of criminal investigations involving counterfeiting, check fraud, wire fraud, and even cell phone cloning. However, much of what I did included the duties that most people associate with the agency – protection. For more than four of my seven years with the USSS, I was based in Washington D.C. which is not only our nation’s capital, but the protection capital of the world. I learned many lessons while working assignments protecting the President, Vice President, and visiting heads of state. One of those lessons was that most protection assignments involve common factors. Those factors are:

  • Standing
  • Waiting
  • Uncertainty
  • Risk
  • Being Ready to React
  • Periods of Discomfort
  • Relief When it’s Over

Currently, I’m a crime fiction writer and I was lucky enough to have found some success, particularly with my first novel, RESOLVE, which was a Thriller Awards finalist in 2014. The Thriller Awards are hosted by the International Thriller Writers (ITW) organization, a group to which I happen to belong. Each year, they host a wonderful conference called Thrillerfest and a component of that event is called Pitchfest. Pitchfest is an opportunity for writers to make a verbal pitch to literary agents in the hopes that the agent will request to see your latest manuscript and subsequently wish to represent you. As my previous agent closed up shop, I decided to take my latest work to Pitchfest in an effort to land an agent.

Approximately 50 literary agents and some publishers were set up among several rooms at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan. Writers flooded the rooms, lined up, and pitched to whatever agents were partial to their particular genre or writing style. As the event went on, I discovered several things were involved in working my way through Pitchfest.  Such as:

  • Standing
  • Waiting
  • Uncertainty
  • Risk
  • Being Ready to React
  • Periods of Discomfort
  • Relief When It’s Over

Sound familiar?

ITW does an outstanding job of organizing the event, but by its nature, one will be standing for long periods of time. The event is over two hours long, and it would be impossible to get the opportunity to speak to every agent (nor would you want to since some would not represent your type of manuscript). So, a great deal of time is spent standing and waiting.
I’m fairly certain none of the literary agents had plans to put a bullet in my chest, but I discovered there was a certain amount of risk involved.

Knowing you will only get to speak to eight or nine agents, you have to have a strategy and do a risk assessment to determine how to get to your high-priority representatives. While there is an inherent amount of uncertainty in the process, you can better your odds by having a solid plan and avoiding going down the wrong path.  For instance, if you write paranormal and you make a poor decision by standing in line for an agent who is not looking for paranormal manuscripts, then you have wasted a huge amount of time that could have been used to approach someone who loves paranormal novels.

You have to be able to react on a moment’s notice. Perhaps you are in a long line and you suddenly notice an agent on your priority list has a much shorter line. You may have to jump ship and bolt across the room. Additionally, some agents will ask you questions about your book. One would be wise to be able to answer questions about something he or she wrote. This is why, just as in law enforcement, preparation and training are the keys to success. Hopefully, you have spent weeks preparing for multiple contingencies and have trained yourself to answer questions about yourself and your writing.

Hey, dozens – if not hundreds – of people are stuffed into these rooms. Air conditioning can only do so much and there will be some discomfort. Nervous writers are sometimes shoulder to shoulder with each other and everyone is talking. It’s hot and nobody wants to take a break, out of fear of missing out on talking to a great agent. Many writers (like me) dress up a little for the occasion, which means a sport coat or suit jacket. If I would have added a ballistic vest under the dress shirt, it would have been déjà vu all over again.

Few things felt better than when I’d watch Air Force One take off. Someone on the radio would say the words, “Wheels Up” and I’d know I’d done all I could have and now I could let my guard down a little. I had the same feeling at the end of Pitchfest. I’d performed as well as I could and nobody died (I think). Assuming some of the agents asked for samples of your work, it could still be weeks or months before you find out if one wants to represent you and take your manuscript to various publishers. But, you have to allow yourself a moment of relief. You can’t put the gas pedal to the floor all of the time. Maybe that’s why ITW gives you tickets for two free drinks to use at a reception the evening after Pitchfest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Writers of all levels – from first-time novelists to madly famous authors – mingle about and enjoy the company. For a couple of hours, hundreds of people with incredibly creative minds come together to talk about anything and everything.

If you look carefully, you will notice that those who took part in Pitchfest all have cloud bubbles above their heads. In that comic strip thought bubble, you’ll likely see two words: “Wheels Up”.

Have you attended Pitchfest, or a similar event? What are your thoughts?  Comment below!

 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

 

That Time I Accidentally Helped David Baldacci with Book Research

Polygraphs and Paperwork

From 2002 – 2004, I was stationed at the Washington Field Office (WFO) as a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.  I had started my career in 2000, arresting mostly counterfeiters in Richmond, VA.  Three years later I was a team leader in WFO, helping to supervise a squad that – among other things – conducted polygraph examinations.

Admittedly, this was not the most exciting task I was ever assigned.  Part of the squad conducted background investigations and the other part ran polygraph exams.  I wasn’t a trained polygraph examiner, so I pretty much left the examiners alone, other than to make sure their paperwork was correct and their travel orders were processed.  I admit that having been subjected to extensive employment/security polygraph exams in the past, part of my mind simply wanted to create some distance between me and those imposing machines that have a way of making the most innocent of individuals feel like they spent their youth on a killing spree.

guilty

Although I did not personally conduct the exams, I did have a good understanding of the methodology and, due to my position, knew when and where examinations were taking place.  Some of the exams were for criminal investigations, while many were conducted on applicants hoping to get into the Secret Service.  Regardless of the reason, or the level of innocence with the subject of the exam, the process is long and stressful.  Additionally, the information disclosed by the subject is often personal, sensitive, and should be handled with great care.  So, you never discuss the details with anybody.  Not friends.  Not family.

And never, EVER a bestselling novelist.

stop

 

“Hey, aren’t you that guy?”

During my time in D.C., I’d seen the occasional celebrity come through the office.  One moment that stands out in my memory is when a few high-level supervisors were escorting a rough-looking individual through the building.  The man was unshaven, his hair was a mess, and he was wearing a beat-up denim jacket and ripped jeans.  Part of my brain told me that he was a suspect, but the fact he was not handcuffed and was being led around by high-ranking supervisors made me look twice.  It turned out the man was Sean Penn and he was touring the office because he was researching his role as a Secret Service agent in the movie The Interpreter.  He was getting a lot of cooperation from the agency and it seemed most of management knew he was on site.  However, it turned out some celebrities were a little more low-key.

At some point in 2003, a female agent I had worked with a couple of times approached me outside my office.  She was new to the office, so I didn’t think twice as she asked me a few innocuous questions about the number of polygraph exams we ran in a week, the purpose of the exams, and some other basic administrative questions.  Fortunately I wasn’t very specific, because I hadn’t seen the man who was taking notes while standing behind her.  After I had finished spouting off some information, my colleague stepped aside and said, “J.J., I’d like you to meet David Baldacci.”  How in the world had I not seen him?  I was a trained observer!  Seriously, the man was like a ninja with a notebook.

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Back then, I had absolutely no idea I’d become a crime novelist and I had never written a word of fiction.  However, I certainly knew of David Baldacci and had recently finished reading one of his novels.  I shook hands with Mr. Baldacci while asking myself several questions of my own.

What information had I revealed?

Had I revealed anything sensitive?

If I had disclosed anything sensitive, should I ask Baldacci to autograph my termination papers?

 

The Genesis of a Future Career?

As it turns out, I hadn’t said anything more than one could read in an official Secret Service brochure or find on the Internet.  After a few pleasantries, the female agent and Mr. Baldacci went on their way and I was left wondering if anything I had said would end up in a book someday.  Since then, I’ve read several of Baldacci’s novels and I can’t recall seeing anything about polygraphs… yet.

When my first novel Resolve was up for an award at this year’s Thrillerfest in New York City, I had hoped to see the famous writer (who I was sure would not remember our 30 second conversation) and ask him if he had ever used the information.  Unfortunately, he had left the day before and I never got a chance to ask him the questions or to tell him that a quick conversation in 2003 may have played an inspirational role in my becoming a crime novelist.

If nothing else, I learned that someday I wanted to have his ninja-like research skills so that one day someone may write a blog post about the way they accidentally helped me with my research.

Have you ever met a celebrity who left a lasting impression on you?  Comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, and Measure Twice. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

RESOLVE was a finalist for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers organization, was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine, and is one of Authors on the Air’s Best Books of the Year.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

Measure Twice 750 x 1200 jpeg