Chris Roerden
  • Female
  • United States
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Profile Information

Hometown is NYC (yup, Manhattan), though I now live in Greensboro, NC, after spending most of my life in wintry Maine, Wisconsin, and both upstate and downstate NY.
About Me:
I'm a book editor who went independent in 1983 after many years of working in publishing in New York. I'm thrilled that DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY won the Agatha Award for best nonfiction of 2006. If you were at Malice in 2007, you know that I was speechless, literally. To my continued amazement, the book went on to become a finalist for the Macavity Award and the Anthony Award, also finaled for ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year award, and was picked up by the Writer's Digest Book Club as an alternate selection. These late-in-life honors are very exciting for me, and prompted my publisher to ask me to revise the book for all genres, which I did in 2008 under the title DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION. It's my 11th and final book.
Back when I started my family, a family transfer took me to Albany, NY, and then to southern Maine, where I wrote my first book, a history of Cape Elizabeth, ME. The research for it convinced me of how much I didn't know, so I enrolled at the U of Maine, Portland. To my surprise the English Dept. invited me to become an instructor of writing. I did that for three years until the next transfer, to Syracuse, NY, where I supervised the writings of independent study students for SUNY-Rochester. Another transfer and I taught writing at the U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where I also introduced classes in publishing. Meanwhile I'd become active in the women's rights movement, became president of a state organization of 3000 members, was in charge of communications, and learned to feel comfortable speaking in public. When I returned to full-time work as an editor, I became president of a Midwest trade association of 250 commercial publishers and university presses. I also ghosted books for clients, produced a game, and taught one summer in South Korea (teaching communication skills to Korean teachers of English as a second language).
Now I enjoy the climate of North Carolina, edit mysteries at home, and conduct workshops throughout the country on writing to get published.
I Am A:
Books And Authors I Like:
I like the 215 authors whose passages I've spotlighted in DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION, which is the latest version of DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY - now for all genres. Same advice, 130 NEW examples. The differences, plus the index and complete bibliography of the 215 authors excerpted, can be found on (Maybe you are there - I'm still in the process of informing all 215!)
Movies And TV Shows I Like:
The Sixth Sense is my favorite movie for the same reason that the only fiction I edit is mystery, thriller, and a little fantasy: the story appears simple but turns out to be multi-level and complex; the clues are well-done; and the solution works. As for my fave tv series: The Closer, without a doubt.

Chris Roerden's Blog

Why do 90 percent of submission land in the "no" pile?

Why do 90 percent of submissions land in the "no" pile almost immediately, without being read beyond the first few pages? Not counting the wrong genre for the agent or editor receiving the submission, or dumb mechanical mistakes, the #1 culprit is average voice. "Average" means the writer's voice sounds like everyone else's, smothered under layers of writing habits that the gatekeepers and first readers have learned to instantly recognize, habits that have spread to millions of writers as well… Continue

Posted on December 24, 2008 at 6:00am — 2 Comments

Northeast Writing Workshop Tour

It’s a darn shame that some 4 million fiction manuscripts a year are rejected before the first few pages are even read. All that work on plot and characters and you can't get anyone in publishing to read past page 3, 2, or 1.

I’ve been a book editor working in publishing 44 years. Now that I’m retiring and have the time and means to travel the country, I'm sharing insider information about the manuscript submission process--including how to improve your own odds of surviving the 90… Continue

Posted on April 21, 2008 at 8:00am — 1 Comment

Comment Wall (21 comments)

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At 1:33am on May 30, 2009, Laura L. Cooper said…
Congrats on winning a Benjamin Franklin award from the IBPA for DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION!
At 11:27am on September 12, 2008, Cynthia Rice said…
Chris - I'm about 2/3rds of the way through DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY and I'm definitely getting my money's worth. I'm a Wisconsinite - do you have any workshops scheduled in the midwest in the next six months?
At 2:25pm on September 10, 2008, Dawn M. Kravagna said…
Thanks, Chris, for taking the time to respond! You can see that I am not any quicker myself. Hope that the traveling is reaping rewards. Have a great month.
At 1:32pm on September 9, 2008, pam said…
Hello Chris,

I am going to plan to be there. I have been recuperating from surgery so I am hoping to feel up to attending. Thank you for letting me know of your event.

At 2:42am on September 9, 2008, carole gill said…
Positively my pleasure!
It's the best of the bunch. I pour over it! It's been helping me so much with revision. My scenes have become better--the writing better, I can't rave enough!!!!!!!!!
At 2:51pm on September 8, 2008, L.J. Sellers said…
I've heard such great things about your work. I'd love to meet you in person. Will you be at Bouchercon this year?
At 3:53am on August 28, 2008, carole gill said…
Thank you so much for the invite.
I can't rave enough about your book!
I've been reading two advice books a week since I started to revise and I have a shelf full now and yours, Miss Roerden, is the absolute best.
At 8:00am on August 25, 2008, Chris Roerden said…
I've no idea how long I've neglected to check my "add friends" button. Traveling lots this summer; 9500+ miles since late April, doing my workshops on voice. Please send URL; I had trouble locating your site.
Warm wishes,
At 7:56am on August 25, 2008, Chris Roerden said…
Hi Lee:
I thought I'd already done the adding-friend thing but these social networking mechanisms perplex me. I value you as a friend, of course, and apologize if I've let the mechanics go foor a while. We've both been busy touring--and I'm still living with the vivid images of the San Gabriel foothills ever-present wherever I went in the L.A. area. Did 4 packed workshops and had fun. All best wishes,
At 7:49am on August 25, 2008, Chris Roerden said…
Hi there, just saw your 'invite' and thought we'd done the formalities a while ago. I do tend to lose track of things electronic, though. Sorry. Just back from Killer Nashville, and though that took me once again through the impressive Smoky Mountains, I'm still missing California's San Gabriel foothills, ever-present throughout my travels in the greater Los Angeles area.

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