Key West, Here I Come!

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By the morning of June 13, I will be on the road, headed for Mystery Writers Key West Fest. This is the First Annual Fest, and it’s looking to be a fantastic conference.

Friday evening’s events include the opening ceremony at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon. Chief Donie Lee, KWPD, and Sheriff Rick Ramsey, Monroe County Sheriff, will give the Welcoming Address. Then Mayor Craig Cates will officially proclaim Mystery Writers Weekend in Key West, followed by a rocking concert with Murder & Mayhem Band. The band members include best-selling authors Don Bruns, Mike Dennis and Hal Howland. There will be a chance to meet and greet the authors and conference attendees.

Following the concert, join renowned author W.E.B. Griffin (William Butterworth IV) and Jim Linder, military contractor and retired Navy officer with the JIATF (Joint InterAgency Task Force, South) for a stroll to some of the preferred Key West lairs of authors, actors, detectives and shady ne’er-do-well’s: Hog’s Breath Saloon, Fairvilla Megastore (free rum punch in Key West’s home for Fantasy Fest costumes), Pat Croce’s Rum Barrel and the waterfront Schooner Wharf Bar.

A plethora of Florida mystery writers, the Mayor of Key West, and people from the Law Enforcement community will be taking part in the panels on Saturday. The panel members include: Sandra Balzo – MWA – Award winning author of crime fiction;Nancy J. Cohen – MWA – Award winning mystery and romance author; Miriam Auerbach – MWA – Author of the Dirty Harriet mysteries; award-winner Carla Norton – MWA – True-crime and mystery thriller author;  Heather Graham – MWA – New York Times bestselling author; Jeremiah Healy, best-selling author of the  John Francis Cuddy private-investigator series and author (aka “Terry Devane”) of the Mairead O’Clare legal thrillers; Jonathan Woods – Award winning crime story writer; Hal Howland – Author of the acclaimed detective thriller Landini Cadence; Robert Coburn –whose books include A Loose Knot, A Deadly Deception and The Pink Gun; Michael Haskins – Author of Mad Mick Murphy Key West mystery series & co-founder of MWKWF; along with  Neil S. Plakcy – MWA – Writer of mystery, adventure/romance, and gay erotica; Shirrel Rhoades – Publisher, author, film critic and co-founder of MWKWF; Wayne Gales – Author of Treasure Key and Key West Camouflage; and Sherri Lohr – Publisher, editor, author and proprietor of SeaStory Press.

The final panel of the day is Crime in the Florida Keys with panelists Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsey, Key West PD Chief Donie Lee, U.S. Coast Guard Captain Jim Fitton (Ret.), True Crime writer and journalist Terry Schmida, and Jim Linder, Joint Interagency Task Force – JIATF/DEA (Ret.). Moderating this panel will be Bill Becker – US1 Radio News Director.

The penultimate event of the evening is a showing at Tropic Center of RAW DEAL (1948) starring Dennis O’Keefe, Claire Trevor, John Ireland, and Raymond Burr, directed by Anthony Mann. Discussion of the movie will be led by Key West noir writer Mike Dennis. (A plus is that non-festival tickets will be available to the general public for $10.00 each at the door.)

Looking forward to a weekend of learning and fun. Hope to see you there!

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