Greetings, all: We’re freshly returned from the 2009 Thrillerfest in New York. This is the yearly meeting of the International Thriller Writers, and our annual professional fix. You see we spend most of our year in small town Wyoming, or traveling for promotional events, researching archaeology, doing “life stuff” and writing. Sure, we see lots of book people: think editors, sales reps, retailers, distributors, and other folk in the business. The key word is business. What Thrillerfest allows us to do is rub elbows with colleagues–peers who, like us, make their living crafting bestselling novels. We can relax, attend the sessions, and actually learn new tricks, rediscover old ones, and rethink our technique. Listening to long-time masters discussing villains in a give and take conversation really puts the subject into focus. Later, over a beer, the two of us reviewed what we’ve been doing with our bad guys over the last five of six books. For instance, we instinctively understood what David Morrell, Sandra Brown, George Dawes Green, and David Baldacci were saying–it’s just that we hadn’t actually codified it. Thrillerfest is in New York. For years we traveled around to places like Spokane, El Paso, and Oklahoma City to attend the Western Writers of America. The World Science Fiction Conference is held in cities like L.A., Boston, Denver, and San Diego. Bouchercon, the big mystery conference is in Baltimore, Chicago, Seattle and other places. Perhaps because of the caliber of writers who administer Thrillerfest, it is held in New York, which after all, is the capital of publishing. The editors, agents, publishers, marketers, and publicists need only hop a cab–or in some instances, take a short walk–to attend or host panels with their authors. This is how books are sold, through connections, discussions, and getting to know people in the industry. Authors find it convenient. Our walk to the Simon & Schuster building on 48th and Avenue of the Americas only took fifteen minutes. We did a filiming for their website, had lunch with our editor, looked at cover art, and walked back to the Grand Hyatt in time for an afternoon panel. Can’t do that at any other conference. While the business opportunites are significant, what Thrillerfest really does is serve to recharge our creative batteries. We come home anxious, even desperate to revise what we’ve written, add new twists, artfully meddle with our characters, and hopefully knock the novel right out of the ballpark. So, to Steve Berry, James Rollins, Andrew Gross, Heather Graham, Lee Childs, Kathleen Antrim, and the rest, thanks. It was a super conference. But, most important of all, was Liz Berry who orchestrated another absolutely smashing production. Liz, you have our sincere gratitude. And what’s the news from New York? CHILDREN OF THE DAWNLAND, our first and only children’s book is available at bookstores around the country. Note: It’s shelved in children’s fiction, so don’t look for it with our other novels. Also the PEOPLE series is being repackaged–publisher speak for the old titles getting new covers. The first reworked covers arrive in November on PEOPLE OF THE WOLF, PEOPLE OF THE FIRE, and PEOPLE OF THE EARTH. We think it’s about time and they look gorgeous. With that said, we’re back to work. Mike is downstairs taping keys on the second de Soto book. Turns out that he didn’t need any help making Hernando de Soto into a worse villain. Nothing in fiction could be scarier than the man himself. Kathleen is upstairs putting new twists to the evil witch, Gannajero, and adding to the difficulties of Odion, Koracoo, and Gonda. You’ll meet them in person next July when PEOPLE OF THE FOREST is published. So, there, guys, that’s what we’ve been doing. If we could have one wish, it would be that everyone who reads this is healthy, employed and happy with their job, and seeing their investments increasing. Finally, we ask that you send thanks and good wishes to Zack Lehman, Marine helicopter pilot, currently taking the fight to the Taliban in Afghanistan. To quote George Dawes Green, “True evil is perpetrated by those who exploit others until they are entirely destroyed.” Which, when you think about is, is what the Taliban do. Any thoughts? All the Best, Michael and Kathleen Gear