In No Time at all, I’ll be In NOLA…

New Orleans Marriott

Heading out for Bouchercon 2016 in a bit over a month from now and I’m already making my lists. Lists, you say? Yes, lists.

Lists of what to take, what NOT to forget, people to see , places to go, relatives to visit, rental car to pick up, suitcases to pack; all that stuff. Since I decided to take this writing business seriously, I’ve also decided to attend conferences around the country where I can network (read: hang out in the bars), learn, and pick up new ideas.

If you are a mystery writer or fan or reader, you need to be there. So far it looks like we’ll be having over 2000 attendees and writers. Yep you read that right. This looks to be the biggest Bouchercon since 1997. And I plan to be there

There are going to be panels, workshops, interviews, parties, and even a Bouchercon Kids Event on Saturday. You will have the chance to meet your favorite authors, get some books signed, and hang out with those same folks all weekend.

I have been reading mysteries ever since The Mystery of the Old Post Box from Weekly Reader Books as a kid. (Remember those?) And I’ve been writing since I could pick up a pencil or crayon and put my imagination on paper.

New Orleans is a world unto itself and a breeding ground for marvelous imaginations.

Come and join us. Here are a few of the things we’ll be doing:!bouchercon-events/r05nu



Authors at the Bar Crawl Mystery Writers Key West Fest 2014

The time has almost arrived when I will pack up my little rental car and head south. WAY south for the Mystery Writers Key West Fest in beautiful Key West Florida. I am excited beyond words to be taking part in the third annual celebration of the mystery and the writers who are keeping it alive as a genre. Not only that, but I’ll be learning from actual law enforcement people, mingling with forensic experts, and absorbing the mechanics of writing.

I already have my new notebook and my shiny new writing implements for the conference. If you’re going to be there, see you then. If you’re not signed up yet, what’s the hold-up?

And check out what we’ll be doing

The 3rd annual Mystery Writers Key West Fest launches this Friday, June 10, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Key Resort, 3990 S. Roosevelt Blvd.

The “Murder & Mayhem in Paradise” themed weekend of total mystery immersion – open to published authors, aspiring authors and non-writing book lovers alike – includes panels, presentations, workshops and social events with a “killer” hit-list of some of America’s top award-winning and bestselling mystery writers and true crime experts and features New York Times bestselling author and renowned trial lawyer Robert K. Tanenbaum as keynote speaker.

Events kick off on Friday afternoon with four back-to-back workshops: a birds-eye view of true-crime and law enforcement presented by Monroe County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team and Key West Police Department team members; “How to Write a Novel,” Parts 1 and 2 with award-winning author and former undercover agent James O. Born; and “Real Forensics and the Mystery Writer,” with forensic scientist and New York Times bestselling author Lisa Black.

With the evening comes a welcome celebration and sit-down dinner at Smokin’ Tuna Saloon presided over by Fest producers Shirrel Rhoades and Michael Haskins along with Key West City officials, followed by a roast of Mystery Writers of America – Florida Chapter President Randy Rawls, MC’d by James O. Born.

Saturday’s series of panels and presentations is populated with leading mystery fiction authors representing a variety of genres including (but not limited to), action/adventure, comic, “cozy” mysteries, forensic, hardboiled, supernatural, noir and police procedural. They include, “How I Write – Blank Screen to The End,” with Robert Coburn, Rick Ollerman, Sandra Balzo and Bill Craig, moderated by Siera London; “Creating Suspense,” with Heather Graham, Lisa Black, Anna Castle and Don Bruns, moderated by Mike Dennis; “Believable Dialogue,” with Timothy Hallinan, Siera London, Mel Taylor and Deborah Sharp, moderated by Anna Castle; and “Noir,” with Mike Dennis, Jake Hinkson, Paul McGoran and Lewis M. Weinstein, moderated by Shirrel Rhoades.

For Saturday’s final panel, moderated by James O. Born, notable area true-crime experts Carol F. Frederick, FDLE; Jim Linder, JIATF; Chief Donie Lee, KWPD; and Sheriff Rick Ramsay, MCSO will share insights on the Keys criminal element and details of the strange crimes that surround them.

Saturday highlights include luncheon with keynote speaker Tanenbaum, presentation of the Whodunit Award, a sunset waterfront dinner with acclaimed author Timothy Hallinan at Turtle Kraals Restaurant & Tower Bar and a Sloan’s Haunted Key West tour co-hosted by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham and USA Today bestselling author Don Bruns.

Sunday is for chilling along the waterfront with the Fest’s finale Bloody Mary Sunday Morning Buffet Breakfast at the island’s iconic Schooner Wharf Bar.

Mystery Writers Key West Fest is produced by Shirrel Rhoades, a publisher who has held executive positions with Reader’s Digest, Scholastic, Harper’s, Marvel Entertainment and other well-known publishing companies, and Florida Keys-based author Michael Haskins, creator of the popular Mad Mick Murphy mystery series.

“It’s not just writers and fans of mystery fiction and true-crime that come to our Fest,” said Rhoades. “In our first two years we quickly discovered that, because of the caliber and accessibility of our guest authors, the fascinating panels and unique social events, our ranks were being infiltrated by enthusiasts of many genres. After all, how many writers festivals are there in which leading, world-class authors are hanging out, having fun and rubbing elbows with the audience members every day?”

“There’s no other conference like the Mystery Writers Key West Fest because there is no other place like Key West,” commented Haskins. “I’m not saying it’s something in the water, or the watering holes, but then again I’m not saying it’s not.”

Sponsored by the Key West Citizen daily newspaper, Mystery Writers of America – Florida Chapter, the Florida Keys Council of the Arts and numerous public and private sponsors, at just $175 the Mystery Writers Key West Fest includes full access to three days of panels, presentations and social events, plus four meals. “It’s practically criminal,” says Rhoades.

For more information and a complete schedule visit

Mystery Writers Key West Fest–Almost Here!

Authors at the Bar Crawl Mystery Writers Key West Fest 2014

It’s almost time for the conference! There’s still time to join us. Here’s what will happen after you get here:

Schedule of Events: June 10-12, 2016


1:00 Workshop -True Crime – MCSC SWAT Team and KWPD Team Members
2:00 Workshop – James O. Born – “How to Write a Novel, Part 1″
3:00 Workshop – James O. Born – “How to Write a Novel, Part 2″
4:00 Workshop – Lisa Black -“Real Forensics and the Mystery Writer”
5:30-8:30 Reception at Smokin’ Tuna Saloon
6:00 – 6:30 Welcome Celebration with County and City Officials
6:30 – Sit-down dinner at Smokin’ Tuna Saloon
7:00 We roast Mystery Writers of America – Florida Chapter President Randy Rawls – James O. Born, MC


8:15 a.m. Welcome comments from Shirrel Rhoades, Michael Haskins
8:30 a.m. Panel Discussion: “How I Write – Blank Screen to ‘The End’”
Moderator: Siera London
Robert Coburn
Sandra Balzo
Rick Ollerman
Bill Craig

9:45 a.m. Panel Discussion: “Creating Suspense”
Moderator: Mike Dennis
Heather Graham
Lisa Black
Anna Castle
Don Bruns

11 a.m. The Whodunit Award Presented by Shirrel Rhoades and Sandra Balzo. Introduction of 2015 winner, J.E. Irvin. Presentation of the 2016 Award

11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Luncheon with Special Guest Author Robert K Tanenbaum

1:30 p.m. Panel Discussion: Believable Dialogue
Moderator: Anna Castle
Timothy Hallinan
Siera London
Mel Taylor
Deborah Sharp
Randy Rawls

2:45 p.m. Panel Discussion: Noir
Moderator: Shirrel Rhoades
Mike Dennis
Jake Hinkson
Paul McGoran
Lewis M. Weinstein

4 p.m. Panel Discussion: Local Law Enforcement
Moderator: James O. Born
Carol Frederick – Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Jim Linder – Joint Interagency Task Force
Sheriff Rick Ramsay – Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Chief Donie Lee –  Key West Police Department

Evening Events:
5:15 p.m. Depart hotel for sunset and dinner at the waterfront Turtle Kraals Restaurant and Tower Bar
6 – 7 p.m. Sunset cocktails (cash bar)
7 p.m. Dinner (included in registration + $35 each for additional guests)
7:30 – 8:30 p.m. Guest speaker Timothy Hallinan
9 p.m. Explore Sloan’s Haunted Key West with Heather Graham (included in registration – + $15 for each additional guest)


8 – 11 a.m. Bloody Mary Buffet Breakfast at the Schooner Wharf Bar in the historic Key West waterfront (included in registration + $15 for each additional guest.

Character Naming Chance!

Who Will Land Walk-On Role in New York Times Bestselling
Author Lisa Black’s Next Mystery?

Key West, Florida Keys, April 5, 2016.

For high res photo click here

In an unexpected plot twist, organizers of the upcoming Mystery Writers Key West Fest have announced that one Fest guest will walk into the pages of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Black’s next novel.

Black, a professional forensic scientist and author of a series of acclaimed forensic thrillers, is slated to be a featured panelist at the upcoming “Murder & Mayhem in Paradise” themed Fest, a gathering of true-crime, mystery, and suspense writers and fans to be held in Key West, Florida, June 10-12. All those who have registered for the Fest by midnight May 1 are eligible to win a cameo “character placement” role in her next work.

“I can’t say whether the namesake will be heroic or villainous, but I’m pretty sure the winner will have fun with it,” commented the author, who also said that the happiest five years of her life were spent in a morgue.

Black’s titles include Close to the Bone, The Price of Innocence, Blunt Impact, Defensive Wounds, Trail of Blood, Evidence of Murder, and Takeover. Her newest title, That Darkness, is set to hit the stands on April 26th.

Appearing with Black at the Mystery Writers Key West Fest are some two dozen high-profile and award winning mystery and crime fiction authors and true-crime experts, including special guest and keynote speaker, New York Times bestselling author Robert K. Tanenbaum; Los Angeles-based thriller and mystery novelist Timothy Hallinan; New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham; award-winning crime and science fiction writer James O. Born; and Michael Haskins, author of the acclaimed Mick Murphy Key West Mystery series.

Mystery Writers Key West Fest 2016 is sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America – Florida Chapter, the Key West Citizen daily newspaper and the Florida Keys Council of the Arts. Registration includes all panels, presentations and four meals and is $175 with an early bird special price of $150 for those who register by midnight on May 1.

All panels and presentations will take place at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand Key. For a full Fest schedule, online registration and links to accommodations visit


To Contact Mystery Writers Key West Fest

Please write to: Mystery Writers Key West Fest,
926 Truman Avenue,
Key West, Florida 33040
or Email Us

Mystery Writers Key West Fest 2016

Mystery Writers Key West Fest: Murder and Mayhem in Paradise!

Author Lisa Black

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Black spent the happiest five years of her life in a morgue. Strange, perhaps, but true. After ten years as a secretary, she went back to school to get a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Cleveland State University. In her job as a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes.

She had her life sorted out just the way she liked it until her husband got fed up with Cleveland snow and moved them to Florida, 1400 miles away from her family and her career. Not that she’s bitter or anything. Now she works as a latent print examiner for the city of Cape Coral, Florida, police department, working mostly with fingerprints and crime scenes.

Lisa has lectured at writer’s conventions and appeared on panels. In her life as a writer she’s a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. In her life as a forensic specialist she’s a member of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists, the International Association for Identification, the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts and is a Certified Latent Print Examiner. She has had over 930 hours of instruction in forensic topics and has testified in over 65 trials.
Author of: Close to the Bone, The Price of Innocence, Blunt Impact, Defensive Wounds, Trail of Blood, Evidence of Murder, Takeover and others under the pen names Elizabeth Becka and Beth Cheylan.

To Contact Mystery Writers Key West Fest

Please write to: Mystery Writers Key West Fest,
926 Truman Avenue,
Key West, Florida 33040
or Email Us

Mystery Writers Key West Fest 2016

Every year for the past 3 years, I have spent a weekend at Key West. Not playing, not fishing, but working, kinda sorta. I’ve been attending and working at the Mystery Writers Key West Fest. This year, we are back in the beautifully re-imagined Double Tree by Hilton Grand Key Resort. How beautiful? Check it out: (from the conference website)

We’ll be holed up at the luxurious
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand Key
Call 305-293-1818 to make your booking.
Registrant rooms are specially priced at $199.00 per room, per night with Code Word MY3. Room coordinator Becky Swope is available to assist attendees in finding roommates to share the cost of a room:


So register and come join us for a full weekend of fun and learning from the best writers in the business.

Mystery Writers Key West Fest Presenters Part VI

Author Robert Coburn

A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Robert Coburn graduated from Maury High School and then spent three years in the U.S. Army.  Upon his discharge he enrolled in the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary VPI as an engineering student.  A year later he transferred to Richmond Professional Institute (now VCU) in Richmond, Virginia, as an advertising major, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Advertising.

Coburn spent his advertising career at major ad agencies in New York and Los Angeles.  He worked ten years with Doyle Dane Bernbach in New York, starting as a copywriter and becoming a Vice President Copy Supervisor.

He joined Rubin Postaer and Associates in Los Angeles where he became a Senior Vice President and Creative Director.

His television and print ads have won major awards in advertising shows nationally and internationally.  They include first place wins in The Clios, The Andys, New York Art Directors Club, The Beldings, and Gold and Silver Lions at Cannes.

After leaving the advertising business, Coburn turned his attention to writing novels.  His first, A Loose Knot–a mystery novel set in Los Angeles and Key West–was followed by A Deadly Deception, The Pink Gun and Little Boxes. Coburn’s latest, Bad Tidings, is due out in the summer of 2015.

Outside of writing, Coburn enjoys playing the saxophone and traveling.  He is also an instrument-rated commercial pilot.  He lives with his wife in Carmel, California.

To Contact Mystery Writers Key West Fest

Please write to: Mystery Writers Key West Fest,
926 Truman Avenue,
Key West, Florida 33040
or Email Us