December 12 – 18: “Your New Year’s resolutions for 2017, writing, and thrillers?”

thriller-roundtable-logo52017 is right around the corner! This week we ask ITW Members Joan Hall Hovey, Ray Dyson, Christopher Mari, Jeremy K. Brown, Carter Wilson and J.H. Bográn, what are your New Year’s resolutions for 2017, writing, and thrillers?


naked-nymph-cover-1Ray Dyson first took up eating in Evansville, IN, just long enough ago that, not only is the house he was born in no longer there, neither is the street. He attended The Ohio State University School of Journalism and spent several years as a newspaperman, covering crime and sports. He is a former sports editor and sports columnist, and now lives in Mansfield, OH, with his wife, Pamela, where he works as a freelance journalist. He has a particular interest in American history (especially the Civil War), the American West, and the American cinema. Dyson is the author of three other books: a baseball story, Smokey Joe; a Western novel, Bannon: The Scavenger Breed, and his first Neil Brand crime story, set in Hollywood in 1931, The Ice Cream Blonde (Black Opal Books 2016).


andthenhewasgoneAs well as penning suspense novels, Joan Hall Hovey’s articles and short stories have appeared in such diverse publications as The Reader, Atlantic Advocate, The Toronto Star, Mystery Scene, True Confessions, Home Life magazine, Seek and various other magazines and newspapers. Her short story, ‘Dark Reunion’ was selected for the Anthology, Investigating Women, published by Simon & Pierre, edited by David Skene-Melvin. Joan Hall Hovey is also a writing instructor, and a Voice Over pro, narrating books and scripts. She lives in New Brunswick, Canada.


USA Today best-selling author Carter Wilson explores the personal depths of psychological tension and paranoia in his dark thrillers. His novels have received critical acclaim, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. Carter’s third novel, The Comfort of Black, is the winner of three literary awards, including the 2016 Colorado Book Award (Thriller). His fourth novel, Revelation, will be released in December 2016 by Oceanview. Carter lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with his two children.


Firefall_Proof2J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. His debut novel TREASURE HUNT, which The Celebrity Café hails as an intriguing novel that provides interesting insight of architecture and the life of a fictional thief, has also been selected as the Top Ten in Preditors & Editor’s Reader Poll. FIREFALL, his second novel, was released in 2013 by Rebel ePublishers. Coffee Time Romance calls it “a taut, compelling mystery with a complex, well-drawn main character.” He’s a member of the Short Fiction Writers Guild, Crime Writer’s Association, and the International Thriller Writers. He lives in Honduras with his family and one “Lucky” dog.


Jeremy K. Brown has authored several biographies for young readers, including books on Stevie Wonder and Ursula K. Le Guin. He has also contributed articles to numerous magazines and newspapers, including special issues for TV Guide and the Discovery Channel, and recently edited a collector’s issue on Pink Floyd for Newsweek. Jeremy published his first novel, Calling Off Christmas, in 2011 and is currently at work on another novel. He lives in New York with his wife and sons.

Christopher Mari was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and was educated at Fordham University. He has edited books on a wide variety of topics, including three on space exploration. His writing has appeared in such magazines as America, Current Biography, Issues and Controversies, and US Catholic. His next novel, The Beachhead, will be published by 47North in 2017. He lives with his family in Queens, New York.

  1. Number one New Year’s resolution: Complete this thriller I’ve been working on for a year. How? Make time. Write early in the day before any other projects arise that will distract me. Like eating, talking on the phone, cooking, exercising. Get that first draft completed by March. I start New Year’s Day. Sound good?

      1. Hemingway once said that writing is a part-time job. And his point is valid: the living behind the writing is what makes the writing any good. But making time for it, as you point out here, is the key. I’ve written, just about every day, since I was a teenager. But the trick now that comes with all the responsibilities of life, big and small, is to make it THE priority every day. So let’s hope in 2017 each one of us is able to do that! I’m aiming to have my new novel to my publisher by the summer. Wish me luck!

  2. Resolutions are tricky things, because they imply doing something you’re not doing now. And if you’re not doing it now, why wait until January 1 to start? As my health-coach girlfriend says, create an intention rather than a resolution—focus on what you want to be, rather than what you need to fix. So my 2017 intention is to be a writer, which means maintaining my current writing routine: two pages a day. I’m just starting a new manuscript, and my goal is to have it completed and off to my agent by the end of 2017, if not earlier. That seems achievable. But my main intention is to have a full life, with equal measures hard work and fun, quality family time, travel, vigorous and consistent exercise, and, perhaps most importantly, time to reflect and appreciate all the things that are good about life. A few moments each day to be totally present, completely aware, and humbly thankful.

  3. Every year, I make the same resolution, which is to keep doing what I’ve been doing, but just try and do it a bit better than the year before. Because every year is made up of a string of successes and failures, some small and some not so small. Did I lose all the weight I wanted to? Well, not quite, but I lost some. Maybe this year I can lose a bit more. Did I travel as much as wanted to? A little bit, but there are still some spots on the map I’ve yet to hit. No time like the present! Did I get enough sleep in 2016? Yeah…about that. And I don’t hold out much hope for 2017 either! But the goal is just to keep moving forward. Keep trying to tip the scales a bit more to the success side and try not to let those failures set you back too much. And, when all else fails, write. Write, write, write! Of course, resolving to write is like resolving to keep breathing in and out. There’s no choice involved. It’s all automatic. If only all resolutions worked that way!

  4. I have to admit, I’m having a tough time with my New Year’s resolution this year. My resolution, year after murderously endless year, was to work as hard as I could at my writing so that—someday, somehow—I’d eventually have a novel published. Now that 47North is publishing both Ocean of Storms and The Beachhead, I’ve got to come up with a new resolution!
    If I have any one resolution for 2017—apart from continuing to hone my craft so that I write the kind of novels that people might actually want to read—it is to resolve to be grateful for the opportunity that publication has given me. And to strive to find ways to pay it forward. And I don’t mean just being a better guy to the many people who’ve helped me get to this point. I also mean to anyone who might be impacted by what I write. In recent years I’ve very much come to appreciate just how interconnected the world is, how we’re all in this together. And that I have an obligation to do my part, to help where I can and should, and in whatever ways I’m able.

    1. I agree completely about the idea of “paying it forward.” My career would have flamed out early on if certain people hadn’t offered a hand when it was needed, and I enjoy being able to now try and do the same for other people just starting out.

  5. My resolution for each winter is always the same: complete my next crime thriller before the winter ends. This winter I am working on my third Neil Brand story and this time I want to dig much deeper into the Los Angeles of the mid-to-late 1930s. I want to explore how the deep sway Hollywood held over the city — very strong until the early ’30s — began to fade by the end of that decade. I want to look at the corruption that spread through the LAPD and how gangsters, movie people and crooked cops hooked up in a valiant effort to create a better society. The story will also include how the German American Bund infiltrated the Southern California scene. Along the way there will be lots of thrills and kicks and murders. Some of the characters from the first two books will reappear, but this time some of them might not survive.

  6. Thank you all for the thoughtful comments! The New Year is definitely a good time for some reflection about where one has been, and where one is headed, as a writer. Setting goals does sound very specific and even daunting … I liked Carter’s comment about having “intentions” and then working on those every day. Meanwhile, thanks for the great ideas and wishing everyone lots of accomplishments in 2017 🙂

    1. Yes, I think that, unless you’re working on a specific deadline, saying something like, “I will have my book complete by this exact date,” could be setting yourself up disappointment. Better to say, “This year I’m going to write TK words every day.” If you do that, the rest will take care of itself.

      1. Agree 100%. Word count is definitely the way to set goals while writing novels! Dates slip by so easily. But a daily word count gives you a sense of accomplishment every day.

  7. Good morning to all.
    I don’t usually make resolutions for a new year in December. The main reason is because instead of the calendar year I work on my own birthday. At July ends I sit and recount the blessings received that year, and make the plans for the next one, from one birthday to the other.
    Regardless of the above, there is one goal, or intention, that I have and that is for March 2017 and that’s the release of my next novel. A big event in my life as it would be the third…and almost 4 years after the last one, which makes me think I better start writing faster!

  8. I resolved to have this in a lot sooner, but my dog Scamp died last week, and I was unable. Last year my husband of 63 years passed away, and Scamp became my best friend and loyal companion. I sold the house and we moved to town a year later, and she was in this apartment with me for just 28 days. ‘The best-laid plans of mice and men’…

    But then I’ve never had much luck with New Year’s resolutions. They always seem like an ultimatum to me, and I’m rebellious by nature. I need positive reinforcement, the kind only I can give myself. So I’ve made a habit of working every day to reach my literary goals. That’s resolve to be sure, but it’s also reality. There simply is no other way to reach those goals ¬- writing the latest novel – other than taking it bit by bit. Or chapter by chapter. Chapters work better for me than a sentence or a paragraph, because to paraphrase James Patterson, it’s important to stop writing sentences and write the story.
    But every writer is different. Some writers decide on a number of words per session, setting a goal of a thousand words, perhaps. Or they set out a two hour period and make that the goal. I strive to write a chapter (or something that serves as a chapter – a loose outline of what happens next – part of my daily routine. Just like brushing my teeth or working out – in my case that’s going for my swim in the health club pool three times a week. More especially as we grow older, those muscles must be exercised, and it’s the same with writing. I’ve had many students tell me they wait for inspiration, but you don’t get much done that way. When you are actually sitting down and writing, one thing will suggest another and those pages soon add up. You surprise yourself.

    My New Year’s resolution is usually a renewal of my vow to do what I’m already doing most every day, except to try to do it better – be more original, write from a deeper place, write truer dialogue. Instead of writing what you want your characters to say, listen to what they are saying. To sum it up, work to improve in some way. To pursue excellence in your writing is the thing. And take care of yourself. We never know what tomorrow will bring. I just rescued a little Calico cat named Bella. She’ll be my muse. Happy holidays everyone, and a wonderful year in 2017!

    1. Joan, I’m awfully sorry to hear of your husband’s passing–and now your dog as well. I very much admire your resolve to keep working, to keep moving forward in your life. We can all learn a great deal from your resolve. I wish you all the best in both your writing and your life in the new year!

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