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

Schedule of Events: June 16-18, 2017

2017 MYSTERY FEST KEY WEST

FRIDAY, JUNE 16

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

SATURDAY, JUNE 17
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

SUNDAY, JUNE 18
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 info@mysteryfestkeywest.com

 

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 BDors52@yahoo.com 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 http://mysteryfestkeywest.com/ .

In Continuing….

typewriter

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, due to Sleuthfest 2015, my own writing, and life itself. But I’m back. With a …well, not a scream…more of a swish and flick.

My novel about my baseball playing PI has hit a snag called The Muddy Middle, in which the writer discovers she picked the wrong bad guy and has to delete about four pages of stuff….and in which said writer figures out it makes the book better. So, I decided to go from the ending and work my way backwards, to “meet in the middle”, so to speak.

Here’s my question: Does anybody else out there have the same problem? Do you hit a certain spot, following your outline, in which the protagonist basically grabs the story and runs away with it?

Answer will be welcome. Suggestions for avoiding this in the future would be VERY welcome.

Today I will be taking a break from the keyboard, letting things simmer in the back of my mind. In the meantime, here’s a little taste of Diamond In The Dark:

EXTRA INNING TWO – TOP OF THE ELEVENTH: 5-4-3
Three days later, dust billowed up behind the car. Jake steered hard through the fast turns, glancing now and then into the rear-view mirror. Yep. Still following.
Jake saw his chance. Two buildings with an alley between. Yanking the wheel to the left, Jake fled up the alley. Dust followed.
Almost not breathing, Jake lay flat across the high metal landing of the fire escape, sharp grids digging into his ribs. He could hear the screech of the other guy’s brakes. The sound of a car door slamming. Feet running closer.
No Jake. No car. Just dust billowing up into the blackening sky. Empty alley. The tailer jumped out of the car, pulling his gun. Stood flat-footed, looking up at the buildings around him. Nothing. Not a wisp.
Even though he knew the other guy couldn’t see the car, Jake sucked in a quiet breath. Take no chances. Wait as long as you can. That’s what he’d learned at the feet of the best.
The sound of pursuit stopped. Right outside the building where Jake hid. Slow and easy, Jake slid backwards into the window behind him, carefully avoiding the edges of the empty window panes. He stood to his feet, stepping slowly across the littered floor of the abandoned office. He dropped to his knees as he reached the plate glass of the internal window looking out over the factory floor. Peering out just at the edge of the window sill, Jake heard metal screech. Security lights clunked. Bright beams of light criss-crossed the floor far below. Footsteps scratched through the dust. Metal screeched again.
A loud voice. “Hey! Come on out! Police!”
Sure you are, Jake thought. Just not the one I’m hoping comes through that door in about a minute.
“I know what you think, Diamond. And you’d be wrong. Very wrong.”
“But not dead wrong,” Jake whispered. Easing his way through the open doorway of the office, he made his way up the ladder onto the high catwalk. Peering through the slats below his feet, Jake watched and waited to make his next move.
The ersatz cop kept his gun pointed at the ground. Looked around the large open space. Saw the metal staircase to his left. Turned quick, running toward Jake’s hiding place.
“Halt! Freeze! Police!” came a commanding voice from the opposite side of the room. “Hit the dirt, you son of a bitch!”
The masked cop wheeled around, gun up toward the voice. Then froze.
A SWAT team stood in the doorway. Jake stood up on the catwalk. He heard the sound of loads being chambered in very large guns. The kind of guns you didn’t ignore.
Unless you had a death wish.
“Okay! Okay!” the fake cop yelled, dropping to the ground and setting his gun down. “I’m down! I’m down!”
Jake made his way down the stairway, gun at the ready. Still taking no chances.
“Took you long enough, Lt.”
“Had a little discussion with the Commish. Said I planned to go after you whether he said so or not. So that took a little bit.”
Jake grinned. “Woulda loved to be a fly on the wall…”
“Yea, I know. Now, what should we do about this piece of dirt?”
Jake walked over to the cop. Yanked up his head. Pulled off the hat. Then removed the mask from the face. “Take him in.”
From the ground, handcuffed tightly, Officer Sam McIlveen groaned.
“Who are you working for?”
“I’m not saying. If I tell you, they’ll find me no matter where you hide me. They’ll kill me!”
“Who is ‘They’?” Goldberg grabbed McIlveen by the collar, lifting him from the ground.
A sudden pop sang across the parking lot. McIlveen jerked. A bright red flower blossomed on his throat. He curled up in a ball, grabbed his throat, blood spurting. He gurgled a word and flopped loosely to the ground.
Goldberg pulled his weapon. “Damn it! Didn’t I tell you guys to secure the area?”
“Yes sir, you did. And we did. As far as half a mile away, there isn’t anybody or anything. The area is cordoned off by the SWAT team.”
Goldberg came to his feet. “Well, there’s a sniper out there somewhere. Hey, Max? Check in with the city. See if there are any useful security cameras anywhere that caught something, anything! And for God’s sake, watch out. The shooter could still be out there.”

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.

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!

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.”

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.