Key West And Mystery Writers: A Great Combination

Authors at the Bar Crawl Mystery Writers Key West Fest 2014 I spent two days hanging out with the writers in this picture, and let me tell you, my writing will never be the same. We all had fun at the bar crawl Friday night, starting out at Smokin’ Tuna, with drinks and dinner, and music. Then most of us moved on to other bars, hanging out at Hogs Breath for a bit, Fairvilla Megastore (which has to be seen to be believed. Trust me. Do not take children there),  Pat Croce’s Rum Barrel and the waterfront Schooner Wharf Bar. Michael Haskins, a great writer and good friend, took pity on my sore feet and gave me a ride back to the Doubletree Resort, the base for the conference. Saturday morning dawned bright and early, as the panels began at 8:30 am. I’d give details, but that’s not what this blog is about. This blog is about how the conference worked, and how it affected me.  The conference opened up my eyes to a whole other country of ideas, characters, and locales. Rest assured, my protagonists will at one time or another go to Key West, chasing clues, or just resting up between cases. (I do have to say the one thing I didn’t expect was the prime rib at our buffet lunch. Delicious!) Other people can talk about what happened at the panels, the various writers who attended and taught us about their writing. I simply am in awe of everything accomplished in two days. We all came away better people and better writers. I know I came home, ready to think about what works and doesn’t work in my WIP, and how I can attack the different problems that have cropped up as I write. Not to mention, the adventures some of us took part in. Ask Heather Graham. She’ll tell you. Adventure is where you find it. And not always in the obvious places.

Advertisements

Key West, Here I Come!

dbldtreekeywest

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!

Two Weeks From Tonight…

Mystery Writers Key West Fest Schedule
Friday, June 13, 2014
Registration/Opening Ceremonies/Bar Stroll

3 – 5 p.m., DoubleTree Grand Key Resort, Hotel and conference check-in.

5 – 8 p.m – Smokin’ Tuna Saloon, Opening Ceremonies: 
Short welcoming address by Chief Donie Lee, KWPD, and Sheriff Rick Ramsey, Monroe County Sheriff. Mayor Craig Cates will officially proclaim Mystery Writers Weekend in Key West. Murder & Mayhem Band with Don Bruns, Mike Dennis and Hal Howland. Meet and greet the authors and conference attendees.

8 – 10 p.m. – Bar stroll: 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.

*Subject to change

Saturday, June 14, 2014
Author/Publisher/Crime Expert Panels
Group Book Signing Event
Viewing of Film Noir Classic RAW DEAL at the Tropic Cinema

<p8:30 – 10 a.m. Women of Mystery 
1. Sandra Balzo – MWA – Award winning author of crime fiction
2. Nancy J. Cohen – MWA – Award winning mystery and romance author
3. Miriam Auerbach – MWA – Author of the Dirty Harriet mysteries
4. Carla Norton – MWA – True-crime and mystery thriller author
5. Heather Graham – MWA – New York Times bestselling author
Moderator Jeremiah Healy – MWA – Creator of the John Francis Cuddy private-investigator series and author (aka “Terry Devane”) of the Mairead O’Clare legal thrillers

10 – 11:30 a.m. Importance of Getting Locale Right
1. Jonathan Woods – Award winning crime story writer
2. Hal Howland – Author of the acclaimed detective thriller Landini Cadence 
3. Robert Coburn – Titles include A Loose Knot, A Deadly Deception and The Pink Gun
4. Michael Haskins – Author of Mad Mick Murphy Key West mystery series; co-founder of MWKWF
Moderator Sandra Balzo – MWA – Award-winning author of the Maggy Thorsen Coffeehouse Mystery series and the Main Street Murders series

11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Buffet luncheon (included in ticket price) with guest author William E. Butterworth IV (W.E.B. Griffin) who will discuss writing and his career as an editor, novelist and co-author with his father, William E. Butterworth III.

1:30 – 3 pm Writing the Series
1. Don Bruns – MWA – Award winning mystery writer
2. Mike Dennis – Crime and Noir fiction novelist
3. Heather Graham – New York Times bestselling author
4. Jeremiah Healy – MWA – Award winning author of novels and short story collections.
Moderator: Carla Norton – True-crime and mystery thriller writer; author of The Edge of Normal and Disturbed Ground; co-author of Perfect Victim

3 – 4:30 pm ePublishing – Today’s Reality
1. Neil S. Plakcy – MWA – Writer of mystery, adventure/romance, and gay erotica
2. Shirrel Rhoades – Publisher, author, film critic and co-founder of MWKWF
3. Wayne Gales – Author of Treasure Key and Key West Camouflage
4. Sheri Lohr – Publisher, editor, author and proprietor of SeaStory Press
Moderator: Mark Howell – Award winning journalist, editor and investigative reporter

4:30 – 6 pm Crime in the Florida Keys
1. Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsey
2. Key West PD Chief Donie Lee
3. U.S. Coast Guard Captain Jim Fitton (Ret.)
4. True Crime writer and journalist Terry Schmida
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. 

*Subject to change

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 admission tickets included in Registration fee. Additional tickets for attendee’s guests may be purchased for $5.00 each at the door. Non-festival tickets available to the general public for $10.00 each at the door.

Come on and join us! It’s going to be a great weekend of learning, schmoozing, and fun.

I actually won something! Looking forward to being a devious person…in the book, guys, in the book!

Mystery Writers Key West Fest Announces Walk-On Role Winner

Key West, Florida Keys – Rebecca Swope of Boca Raton, Florida, has won a walk-on cameo appearance in award-winning author Sandra Balzo’s next Maggy Thorsen coffeehouse novel, ninth in the mystery series that has just been optioned for possible development as a television series.

The walk-on prize contest was an early registration promotion for the Mystery Writers Key West Fest, which is launching its inaugural event June 13-15. A writer herself, who specializes in romantic suspense, sci-fi/fantasy and Southern memoir stories, Swope commented that she is “looking forward to causing mayhem in Sandra Balzo’s fictional world,” and would prefer the role of a criminal. 

“I love creating memorable characters,” commented Balzo, “but coming up with equally memorable names for them—ones that won’t be confused with other characters--is really tough for me. I have a penchant for the letter “M” and, if I’m not careful, I’d end up with all Meghans, Michaels and Marys. That means I’m doubly happy to welcome Rebecca Swopes (neither, you notice, an “M” name) to Maggy (yes, I know) Thorsen’s fictional world. I just can’t promise what’ll happen to her when she gets there.”

Mystery Writers Key West Fest Announces Walk-On Role Winner

Key West, Florida Keys – Rebecca Swope of Boca Raton, Florida, has won a walk-on cameo appearance in award-winning author Sandra Balzo’s next Maggy Thorsen coffeehouse novel, ninth in the mystery series that has just been optioned for possible development as a television series.

The walk-on prize contest was an early registration promotion for the Mystery Writers Key West Fest, which is launching its inaugural event June 13-15. A writer herself, who specializes in romantic suspense, sci-fi/fantasy and Southern memoir stories, Swope commented that she is “looking forward to causing mayhem in Sandra Balzo’s fictional world,” and would prefer the role of a criminal.

“I love creating memorable characters,” commented Balzo, “but coming up with equally memorable names for them—ones that won’t be confused with other characters–is really tough for me. I have a penchant for the letter “M” and, if I’m not careful, I’d end up with all Meghans, Michaels and Marys. That means I’m doubly happy to welcome Rebecca Swopes (neither, you notice, an “M” name) to Maggy (yes, I know) Thorsen’s fictional world. I just can’t promise what’ll happen to her when she gets there.”