Mystery Writer’s Key West Fest


A writer’s life is usually quite solitary, but there are times when you get together with others of your kind. You mingle, greet, and network, hang out in the bar(s), make new friends, and go back to your typewriter rejuvenated and re-energized for your work.

So when a friend of mine helped set up the Mystery Writer’s Key West Fest for June 13-15 this summer, I thought it would be a great time to get some new ideas, meet new friends, and network with my peers.

I registered and reserved my hotel room just last week. However…

Other writers have not quite caught on to the absolute coolness of going to Key West, walking in Papa Hemingway’s footsteps, and learning about the craft of mystery writing. Here’s what you’ll miss if you don’t get with the program:

Mystery Writers Key West Fest
Friday Schedule*

3 – 5 p.m., DoubleTree Grand Key Resort, check into hotel and register for conference

5 – 8 p.m., Smokin’ Tuna Saloon
, Opening ceremonies, Murder & Mayhem Band – Don Bruns, Mike Dennis Hal Howland – on stage from 5 – 7ish. Mayor Craig Cates will read his proclamation declaring it Mystery Writers Weekend in Key West. Short, welcoming address by the Chief Donie Lee, KWPD, and Sheriff Rick Ramsey, Monroe County Sheriff. Meet and greet the authors and conference attendees.

8 – 10 p.m., Bar stroll led by guest author William Butterworth IV & Jim Linder, military contractor, retired Navy officer with the Joint InterAgency Task Force, South – JIATF –
Hog’s Breath Saloon, Fairvilla Mega Store (free rum punch in Key West’s home for Fantasy Fest costumes), Pat Croce’s Rum Barrel and the waterfront Schooner Wharf Bar

Saturday, June 14, 2014
Author book signings will follow each panel

8:30 – 10 a.m. Women of Mystery
1 Sandra Balzo – MWA
2 Nancy Cohen – MWA
3 Miriam Auerbach – MWA
4. Carla Norton – MWA
5. Heather Graham – MWA
Moderator Jeremiah Healy – MWA

10 – 11:30 a.m. Importance of getting locale right
1. Jonathan Woods
2. Hal Howland
3. Bob Coburn
4. Michael Haskins
Moderator: Sandra Balzo – MWA

11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Buffet luncheon with guest author William E. Butterworth IV talking about writing and his career

1:30 – 3 pm Writing the Series
1. Don Bruns – MWA
2. Mike Dennis
3. Heather Graham
4. Jeremiah Healy – MWA
Moderator: Carla Norton

3 – 4:30 pm ePublishing – Today’s Reality
1. Neil Plaky – MWA
2. Shirrel Rhoades
3. Wayne Gales
4. Shari Lahr
Moderator: Mark Howell

4:30 – 6 pm Crime in the Florida Keys
1. Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsey
2. Chief Donie Lee KWPD
3. U.S. Coast Guard – Capt. Jim Fitton (Ret.)
4. True Crime Writer Terry Schimda
5. Jim Linder, Joint Interagency Task Force – JIATF/DEA (Ret.)
Moderator: Bill Becker – US1 Radio News Director

6 – 7 p.m., Group Book Signing. Panelists and authors attending the conference will hold a group book signing by the hotel’s outdoor bar.

9 p.m., Tropic Cinema, noir & Hollywood, RAW DEAL (1948)
Dennis O’Keefe, Claire Trevor, John Ireland, Raymond Burr.
Director: Anthony Mann.

One of the toughest noirs of all time. O’Keefe escapes from prison with Trevor’s help, looking to settle a score with Burr, who is hundreds of miles away. The journey won’t be easy, though, because the cops are never far behind him, and neither is Ireland, whom Burr has dispatched to intercept him. Not only that, but he’s torn between the two women traveling with him.

Mann’s sharp direction shows how thoroughly he understands film noir, while cinematographer John Alton skillfully mixes shadows, light, and angles to provide breathtaking visuals. O’Keefe is perfect as the conflicted loner in this great film, and Burr is at his absolute vilest. The tension rises to incredible heights, pulling the viewer to the uncompromising, violent climax.

Discussion of the movie led by Key West noir writer Mike Dennis. Two tickets are included with price of conference. Extra tickets available for attendee’s guests for $5.


The conference is going to be one of the best we can make it.

We just need you to come and learn, and network and hang out in the bar, and maybe, just maybe, go back home ready to attack that novel or screenplay or short story or teleplay with all your verve and energy.

So, sign up and join us. Come on down to Key West, hang out with the best mystery writers in the business, and who knows? Maybe you’ll be the keynote in a couple of years.

Here’s the address:



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