Mystery Fest 2017 Square Art w TDC out of county logo (1)

Schedule of Events: June 16-18, 2017



1:00 – 1:45 p.m. Workshop 1: To Be Announced (Special Guest Appearance)
2:00 – 2:45 p.m. Workshop 2: James O. Born – Police Myths
3:00 – 3:45 p.m. Workshop 3: Lisa Black – Blood Spatter Forensics
4:00 – 4:45 p.m. Workshop 4 – Nancy J. Cohen – How to Write a Cozy
6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Reception and Buffet Dinner at Hemingway Home and Museum
Welcome – Mystery Fest Co-Founder Shirrel Rhoades
Special Guest Speaker – John Hemingway
8:30 p.m. Sloan’s Ghost Tour Key West – hosted by Heather Graham

8:30 a.m. Coffee & Danish

8:45 a.m. Introduction

9:00 – 9:45 a.m. Panel Discussion: Where I Get My Ideas
Moderator: Randy Rawls
John H. Cunningham
David Beckwith
Dan Ames
Paul Sinor

10:00 – 10:45 a.m. Panel Discussion: How to Commit a Perfect Murder
Moderator: Heather Graham
Lisa Black
Rick Ollerman
Robert Coburn

11:00 – 11:45 a.m. the Whodunit Mystery Writing Award, presented by Shirrel Rhoades.
Introduction of 2016 winner, Lewis C. Haskell
Presentation of the 2017 Whodunit Award

11:45 – 12:00 p.m. Presentation of the Florida Keys Community College Scholarship Winners

12:00 p.m. Luncheon

12:30 – 1:45 p.m. Clifford Irving, Keynote Speaker

2:00 – 2:45 p.m. Panel Discussion:  It Takes a Crook
Moderator – Rick Ollerman
Mike Dennis

Ken Rijock
Reef Perkins

3:00 – 3:45 p.m. Panel Discussion: Cozy Mysteries and Female Sleuths
Moderator – Nancy J. Cohen
Susan Haskell / Nora-Jean Perkin
Marjory Sorrell Rockwell
Renee Kumor
Meg Muldoon


4:00 – 4:45 p.m. Panel Discussion: Law Enforcement 
Moderator: James O. Born
Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, Key West Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Federal Bureau of Investigation


5:00 – 5:45 p.m. Book Signing

7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Event To Be announced

8:30 – 11:00 a.m. Brunch at Schooner Wharf Bar at the historic Key West waterfront (included in registration + $15 for each additional guest.

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



Mystery Fest Key West Reminder

Mystery Fest 2017 Square Art w TDC out of county logo (1)

Just a friendly reminder that if you are attending Mystery Fest Key West this year, and you need to share the hotel room expense, email me at with the subject line: Need A Roommate for the Conference, and I will attempt to pair you with another attendee.

You other guys: get on the stick, as my dad used to say, and register for the conference at the southernmost point in the US. Website is .

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.

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.

Exploring New Orleans

Audubon Zoo New Orleans LA

Thinking about families, and memories and fun, today we spent about 3 hours hanging out with my cousins and my aunt for dinner. Of course, no matter how much we asked her not to, she cooked. And it was delicious! We had pulled pork BBQ, stuffed eggs, green beans, mashed potatoes, and tossed salad. The best part was the two desserts: my aunt’s homemade Pecan Pie Muffins and sliced Happy Mother’s Day chocolate cake. To complement the meal (See, Guy, I was listening), fresh brewed coffee and conversation.

My aim for tomorrow is to drive over to Audubon Zoo so my hubby can have some fun watching the animals, and maybe even ride the train. I don’t know if the train is still there, but that ride became the highlight of every trip down here when we were children.

After that, who knows? Lots to do: going to Baton Rouge to see other family; meeting a local writer friend downtown and walking the French Quarter; taking my hubby for some beignets and cafe au lait; visiting the World War II Museum downtown; and many other choices.

The end of the week promises to be even better because I plan to attempt something I’ve never done before: sneak into a hotel restaurant where a national conference is taking place, and see old friends who have no idea I’m coming. That is, unless they happen to read this blog.

New Orleans has a myriad of things to recommend it, not the least of which is the very spirit of the place that enabled the people to drag the city out of the muck and mire of Hurricane Katrina, shining once more as the Birthplace of Jazz.

I hope to hear some jazz this week. Maybe I’ll even get to sing some. Maybe I’ll get lucky and run into Scott Bakula filming NCIS-New Orleans. You just never know.

Until tomorrow, write well and write often.

Louisiana Bound!


I’m on the road again, so glad to be on the road ag….oops. Hi there! Sitting here in my hotel room, watching TV with my hubby, about halfway to New Orleans to visit relatives. ( I found out yesterday that the Romantic Times convention is in town part of this next week. Guess who’s gonna try to sneak in and say hello!)

As I drove our rental car through Central and North Florida, I noticed the trees and the plants changing as we got further away from our home in South Florida. Palm trees giving way to pines; pines giving way to oaks, maples, and the occasional magnolia tree by the side of the road. Rain beginning as we turned West, feathering the front window and cleaning off the dreaded Love Bug infestation.

What are Love Bugs, you ask? They are the scourge of driving and even walking during two times of the year. Now and the end of the summer, when all the babies they made by hanging in midair having some fun are out making their own babies. They join up, the female in front, the male in back ( no more details; there might be impressionable minds reading this blog), the female flying with all her might, trying to GET AWAY from the male who is, ahem, attached to her never to go away.

Especially when the loving idiotic bugs are flying IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD and impact on the front, side, back, middle, windshields of all the cars driving on the roads.

Writing, putting things down on cyberpaper, keeping up with my life, all these go together. Even when I’m not “writing” I am. Ideas flow through your brain. Ping ponging around in your brain, ideas flowing free form through the keyboard can inform your life. And life comes through your eyes and heart and experience, and out on the page through your madly typing fingers.  Communicating ideas and hopes and dreams through my stories and blog is how I keep in touch with the world. Even when I’m madly out of touch with “reality”, I am weaving truth into the whole cloth of fiction, hoping that the reader will get the point.

I try not to slam the book over their heads with my ideas and dreams, but sneak these things into the edges and sidelong glances of my characters. Giving their lives reality.

So, here I sit, listening to music and thinking of all the friends and readers who will peruse this blog. And hoping that this method of communication called fiction writing can change a heart, open a mind, and guide someone onto a new way of thinking.

Till next time. Write well and read.