Making Crime Pay

On Saturday, I went to a special Crime Writer’s of Canada event called, Making Crime Pay, in a public library in Victoria.There were about 36 of us in the audience and we introduced ourselves: one reader, one editor and a hodgepodge of people who confessed to be writers at different stages of their careers (including seven of us from the local Vancouver Island  RWA chapter).

We formed a mysterious motley crew of individuals who love murder. <g>



In the morning panels of B.C. authors (listed below)  gave talks about crime writing. During lunch we had one-on-one blue pencil sessions and in the afternoon the authors talked about their books. I learned a lot from the sessions, and even more networking.

My Blue-Pencil Session

The highlight of my day was a blue pencil session with multi-published author Lou Allin. It was fantastic. She’d reviewed my five pages (i.e., the first five in my Vancouver Romantic Thriller– Black Cat Blues) and came prepared for our discussion. She went over the  piece with me, gave me a list of resources she recommended and talked about the different publishing venues. Then Lou said I could e-mail her any questions I might have.  Ever felt like you’ve been touched by lightening?  I am beyond-words-grateful for her help and encouragement. maidens_cover About Lou Allin:

“Born in Toronto, Canada, Lou Allin grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where her film-booker father relocated. She received a PhD in English Renaissance Literature for her study of the murdered spy, Christopher Marlowe. With jobs scarce in the US, she returned to Canada, finding herself 250 miles north of Toronto in Sudbury, the Nickel Capital. At Cambrian College as a professor of English, she taught boring but occasionally useful courses to students of business and criminal justice.”

“…Her new series stars RCMP Corporal Holly Martin. And on the Surface Die begins with a drowning near the village of Fossil Bay. She Felt No Pain explores the death of a homeless man. Twilight is not Good for Maidens finds the island beaches stalked by a serial rapist and killer.” (taken from her  website “bio”)


Top Ten Things I Learned – at the Crime Writer’s Event

When I leave a workshop I like to write down the key points I’ve learned and want to act on. Here’s my top ten:51wDebzXYDL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-47,22_AA300_SH20_OU15_

  1. think in scenes (not in a chronological narrative)
  2. let the setting speak to you
  3. don’t let your characters become so quirky they are caricatures
  4. Twitter = digital cocktail party (a fun way to meet strangers)
  5. Facebook =  behind the scenes look at the author (how many chickens are in your back yard?)
  6. make budgets for money and time
  7. start “buzz” six months before you release a book
  8. give things away (e.g. short stories with a first chapter of your next book attached)
  9. identify your interest groups (e.g., for me sailors because of the boating scenes in my story) and market directly to them
  10. become a publishing slut – always promote

517nCUoQkqL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-46,22_AA300_SH20_OU15_I’d like to thank all the authors for their presentations, critiquing and sharing.

Lou Allin, E.R. Brown, Chris Bullock, Benni Chrisholm, Joan Donaldson-Yarmey, Leanne Dyck, Debra Purdy KOng, Ken Merkley, Phyllis Smallman, Robin Spano and Kay Stewart

Book covers – if you click on them they link to their page on




…And then there were the anecdotes. Like the one about the adventurous writer who went to Nelson BC (where 80 percent of the income is BC Bud related) and tried to find a Grow Op specialist. Ah the life of a writer. You never know where it will take you.


I’m joining the group (Crime Writers of Canada)  for two simple reasons:

  • the members are interesting knowledgeable and passionate about writing
  • the discussions were exciting

What about you? Do you have a favorite mystery or mystery writer’s group? Love to hear from you.

Quotes to leave you with on Monday Morning:

“…Chuck Close (“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”), Tchaikovsky (“a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”) E. B. White (“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”), and Isabel Allende (“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”),…” (Maria Papova, Brain Pickings)

Have a great Monday


p.s. Leanne Dyck wrote about the same conference several days later. Her comprehensive post can be found here.

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

24 thoughts on “Making Crime Pay”

    1. Hi Eric
      Thanks for stopping by and linking.
      And, it was nice to meet you too. Loved your uh research stories and really appreciate your writing/publishing tips. Hope to run into you again at another writing event.


  1. Thanks so much,Jo-Ann. Appreciative readers and new authors like you are just the kind we adore. You’ve put plenty of time and thought into your blog, and it’s appreciated! Win-win for all of us!


  2. This is the second year that I’ve been able to attend this particular workshop and it has been helpful each time. Last year I took part in the Blue Pencil session, and it was very informative. Lou Allin mentioned that she wrote ‘high-interest’ ‘low-vocabulary’ books for Orca. They are extremely tricky to do. I tried one and found it very complicated. Stripped down writing, that’s for sure. I’m pleased I attended this year. Thanks for your blog Jo-Ann.


  3. I found the entire CWC event exceedingly helpful. Your blog recapping what we learned is even more helpful. I’m bookmarking your webpage for future reference, Jo-Ann. Visiting your blog is always a delight and has become a must-do!


    1. Jacqui
      Oh my gosh – nice compliment , especially coming from you. Thank you.
      It was a great day.


  4. Jo-Ann,

    Loved your post. I know when I first started out in this profession, I joined every group I could. Now, two years later, I only keep the ones I actually get something out of. I happy you found CWC!
    Diane Kratz


    1. Hi Diane
      I can tell you know the excitement of finding another pocket of writers. It’s like you’re no longer a stray cat or something. lol
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It means a lot to me.
      Best Wishes


  5. Hey, Jo-Ann. Sounds like you had a wonderful and productive time at the conference. I’ve always walked away with something from the conferences I’ve attended. Large or small, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I can’t use it in the moment, but later, I’ll think, “Oh, that’s what they were talking about.”
    Once an educator, always an educator. I believe in life-long learning so I see conferences as part of that process. Like your ten points and love the quotes! 🙂


    1. Hi Marsha
      Networking with writers is so much fun. I was able to get an idea of how the small Canadian presses fit into the big world. Another puzzle piece for me to consider.
      I agree the “learner” in us will always be there. lol
      Do you notice that you take more notes than anyone else? I do.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.
      Best Wishes


      1. I absolutely take more notes than others, Jo-Ann. It helps me with listening. LOL Now the trick is to transcribe them fairly quickly before I can’t remember what I wrote. I wish I could use my laptop for that. Lots of folks do, but I haven’t gotten the hang of that, yet. Not sure why. I type really fast. You do realize that my press, MuseItUp is a small Canadian press, right? Was it one of the ones mentioned? It’s only been around since 2010.


      2. Hi Marsha
        I didn’t realize that Museitup was Canadian.
        In the large group we didn’t talk about specific publishers, but we did in smaller groups. The writers mostly mentioned Dundurn and Touchwood (which are print and ebook) because that’s who published their work.
        All this talk about publishing makes me want to get back to editing. I’d like to have a polished copy of Black Cat ready for July. But there’s always something else that needs to be fixed in it. lol.
        Thanks for letting me know about your publisher. It’s definitely on my wish list.
        I use my laptop at RWA chapter meetings because I’m the secretary and I’m using it anyway, but I prefer hand notes at sessions. Something about the kinesthetic feel of it, I guess.
        Great chatting


      3. Jo-Ann, MIU is an e-pub, but for their longer books they go print after a time. I’m not sure exactly what the criteria is except I know the smaller books, under 40 and the short stories are just in e-format. You should definitely try them out.
        Here’s what I learned, Jo-Ann. At some point you have to let the baby go. It doesn’t have to be perfect (not sure it’s ever that. LOL), but the publisher’s editors will help make it the best it can be. I had some lovely scenes toward the end. I may have mentioned this in another comment. My very excellent content editor said condense or cut. It slowed the story down. And tons of other stuff they see. MIU doesn’t like “had” and a few other words. But seriously, Black Cat may be ready to go. Think about it a bit. 🙂 Be fun to have the same publisher. 🙂


      4. Thinking.
        I’m going to agentfest in New York in July. It’s a half day of speed dating with agents at Thrillerfest. I think it will give me a better idea of how my “concept” fits. Then I’ll make my next plan regarding submitting.
        Thanks for being so encouraging and supportive. You rock.


  6. This is a excellent review, Jo-Ann. Thank you for it. I’ve been a member of the Crime Writers of Canada for approximately three years–and I would highly recommend it, for reasons you’ve listed.


    1. Leanne
      Thanks for stopping by. Your praise means a lot to me coming from you.
      It was nice meeting you too.


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