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Karen Dionne
Detroit native Karen Dionne is the internationally published author of two environmental thrillers. She is cofounder of the online writers community Backspace, and organizer of the Salt Cay Writers Retreat taking place October 2013 on a private island in the Bahamas. Karen is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Mystery Writers of America, and the International Thriller Writers, where she serves on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology.

Entries by Karen Dionne

Inside Traditional Publishing: A Tale of Two Authors (A Cautionary Story)

(6) Comments | Posted May 8, 2015 | 2:06 PM

In a perfect world, every literary agent would be a fearless negotiator, working tirelessly to get the best possible book deals for his or her clients. Kristin Nelson, president of Nelson Literary Agency, has written extensively on how agents negotiate a publishing deal. According to her article "

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Literary Speed Dating: How Not to Find an Agent for Your Book

(3) Comments | Posted April 22, 2015 | 12:45 PM

Pitch sessions are a staple at most writers conferences, offering authors the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with literary agents to talk about their projects. Some conferences pair writers and agents for ten minutes of one-on-one time, often for an additional fee. At one popular event, authors can book up...

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Inside Traditional Publishing: An Agent's Take on Contracts

(0) Comments | Posted April 6, 2015 | 9:47 AM

Of all the skills a literary agent is required to have, the most important is the ability to negotiate well on behalf of the author client. Authors hire agents to protect their business interests in publishing. How do you know if your agent is a good negotiator?

In her...

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Inside Traditional Publishing: Good Agents Geek Out About Contracts

(0) Comments | Posted April 1, 2015 | 9:40 AM

I recently watched a video of a panel discussion from the Backspace Writers Conference video archives in which Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency, Scott Hoffman of Folio Literary Management, Suzie Townsend (then of Fineprint Literary Management, now with New Leaf Literary), and Diana Fox of Fox Literary...

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Inside Traditional Publishing: Agents and Editors, Working Together

(0) Comments | Posted March 2, 2015 | 12:48 PM

One of my favorite panel discussions at the Backspace Writers Conferences I organized and ran for 9 years in New York City was one in which I invited an agent I knew and respected to bring in an editor they'd worked with for a discussion about the process of selling...

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Novelists: Stop Using Real-Life Tragedies to Sell Your Books

(2) Comments | Posted January 8, 2015 | 10:22 AM

Recently I've noticed a disturbing trend. Possibly because most of the people I friend and follow on social media are thriller writers like myself, more and more frequently I'm seeing posts, Tweets, and LinkedIn discussions in which authors claim a recent tragedy or disaster has made their novel more interesting...

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Breaking In: Voice

(0) Comments | Posted September 11, 2014 | 1:11 PM

All agents and editors look for different things in a manuscript. For authors hoping to sell their novel to a major publisher, this variety of tastes and opinions works in their favor: one man's trash is another woman's treasure. But one item comes up over and over again: Voice. The...

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Breaking in: It's All in the Writing

(0) Comments | Posted September 3, 2014 | 4:11 PM

At its core, a book is not only the vision of its author; it is also a collection of words on a page. By necessity, the arrangement of those words should work. What "work" means specifically will depend on the genre, but all books share many commonalities.

In his book...

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Breaking In: Making Your Story Impossible to Put Down

(2) Comments | Posted August 27, 2014 | 12:31 PM

As they read submissions, agents and editors are desperately hoping that the next manuscript will be fabulous. At the same time, they're so swamped with submissions, they're also looking for reasons to stop reading.

What makes a story impossible to put down? Faculty members of the Salt Cay...

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15 Writing Quotes to Challenge and Inspire

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2014 | 7:52 AM

Many writers would drool at the idea of spending a week at a writers retreat on a private Bahamian island, but not every writer is in a position to invest the time and money to attend. Now, thanks to the generosity of Salt Cay Writers Retreat instructors Lorenzo...

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Writing a Television Tie-In Novel

(0) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 10:37 AM

When I was first asked if I'd be interested in writing an original novel based on the Fox/AMC detective series The Killing, I wasn't familiar with the show. I purchased the pilot episode from Amazon, and right away, I was hooked. I immediately downloaded and watched the rest of the...

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When Characters Talk, Writers Listen

(3) Comments | Posted March 19, 2014 | 3:36 PM

My first two novels began with a plot. A solar energy company melting Antarctic icebergs into drinking water. A Nobel-winning scientist who wants to cure global warming through geoengineering. In both instances, the situation came first, and then I crafted the characters as needed to fit the story.

The novel...

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Extreme Research

(0) Comments | Posted October 30, 2013 | 11:54 AM

I'm on a ferry, the Pincoya. It's midnight, and we're chugging along off the coast of Chile at the nautical equivalent of a blistering 8 miles per hour. The Pincoya is a working ferry. Passengers are an afterthought. I'm in a square-ish, wood-paneled room jammed with airplane seats set so...

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The Secret to Writing Faster

(13) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 2:50 PM

I recently found myself jammed up against a deadline most novelists would have thought impossible to meet. My normal writing pace produced roughly one polished chapter per week. Now, in order to meet my deadline, I had to write a polished chapter every day. I had to learn how...

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Advice for Writers

(5) Comments | Posted July 30, 2013 | 12:57 PM

Every writer I know has assembled a collection of quotes from famous authors that inspire their writerly souls. As an author, a conference attendee, and a conference organizer, I've culled plenty of advice over the years. Here are a few of my favorites.

"Writers write. It's that...
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From Good to Great: What Editors Do for Authors

(6) Comments | Posted July 1, 2013 | 2:28 PM

In all the talk about self-publishing, one thing you don't often hear discussed is the role of editors. I'm not talking about the editor an author might hire to vet their work prior to publishing it themselves; I'm talking about editors at major publishing houses. Talented, hardworking editors who have...

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A Conference Organizer's Advice to Writers: Write Better

(1) Comments | Posted May 21, 2013 | 11:14 AM

In a few days, I'll be in New York City for the 2013 Backspace Writers Conference--not as an attendee, but as the conference's organizer.

We're going to see some wonderful projects at the conference. Some authors will sign with agents they meet this week. One panelist on...

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Why Literary Agents Attend Writers Conferences (It's Not What You Think)

(4) Comments | Posted April 1, 2013 | 11:02 AM

Every week literary agents receive hundreds of query letters from aspiring writers who are hoping to interest the agent in their project. Why then, would agents take time from their busy schedules to go to a writers conference and meet yet more writers in person?

I've worked...

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Faith and a Box Full of Clock Parts

(2) Comments | Posted March 22, 2013 | 4:09 PM

I'm 10 years old. My Big Ben-style alarm clock has stopped working. Maybe I wound it too tightly, maybe it's just worn out. Whatever the reason, the alarm hasn't gone off in days.

I know I can fix it, if only I can get a look inside. When I tell...

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On Writing Action

(2) Comments | Posted January 3, 2013 | 1:10 PM

I love action. Not in real life. In real life, I'm a writer, which means I spend 90 percent of my day sitting in front of my computer. Oh, once in a while I get up, stretch a little, put on my shoes, and walk out to the mailbox to...

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