I continued to meet new people on Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA) conference. Here I had a separate table to sell books in between workshops. Everyone was in the same room, and there was one track per hour, so nobody had to worry about choosing which panel to attend or running to another location.
First speaker of the day was Ava Doppelt, an intellectual property attorney, who spoke about copyright and trademark issues. She was followed by Tiffany Padgett from Ingram Content Group who told us about the different programs Ingram offers publishers and authors.
I particularly enjoyed Robert Macomber’s talk on Keeping Fans Engaged. He suggested authors bring readers inside the story by sharing your writing experiences, mistakes, and research adventures. Let them meet you in person via your author newsletter, Facebook page, and local reader events. Make your newsletter about your readers, too, such as showing a photo of a fan reading your book or getting your autograph at a signing. The goal, from what I gathered, is to engage your readers as much as possible.
Lunch was a buffet with Italian food and a delicious tiramisu for dessert.
Next it was my turn to speak on “First Class Marketing on a Coach Budget.” This consisted of a Power Point presentation and a 10-page handout.
The last session was by Tara Alemany on Road Map for Success. Then we divided into tables for an “Ask the Experts” Roundtable.
The awards banquet followed, beginning with a cocktail hour. After another buffet meal, we watched the mounted screens displaying the book covers for each award finalist. As our names were called, we went on stage to receive our medal. I received a gold medal for Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition.
Below I am with my husband in photo one, and with Angelina Assanti, former FAPA president, in photo two.
Last weekend, I attended the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA) annual conference. It was held at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace across from Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Outdoors is a beautiful pool area with a covered poolside restaurant and a lazy winding waterway for tube rafts. If you follow the paths, you can find the pedestrian overpass crossing to Disney Springs.
The hotel has a pleasant lobby on the third floor with a large bar/lounge area where you can get drinks and appetizers starting in late afternoon. Our first evening, we enjoyed glasses of wine and a crab cake appetizer. I skipped the Friday workshops so we could settle into our room and explore the environs.
Downstairs on the first floor is a sundry shop, a quick-service café offering coffee, sandwiches, ice cream and other snacks, and another small gift boutique. On this level is also a full service restaurant. Friday night, we ate here with the gang from the conference. I had a tasty pasta dish with shredded beef short ribs and mushrooms.
That evening was a welcome cocktail party for conference attendees with a cash bar. We met new friends and greeted authors we already knew, such as Melody and Barry Dimick, Robert N. Macomber, Jane R. Wood, Raquel Reyes and Michael Joy. Angelina Assanti, outgoing FAPA president, did a great job along with the conference committee of organizing the entire weekend event.
Third Degree Thursday at Sleuthfest found me at the registration desk from 1pm to 3pm. I like this volunteer duty because it allows me to greet everyone coming to claim their badges. This is my home conference where I know lots of people (although it helps that I served as chapter president for two years), plus it’s wonderful to spend time with other writers who’ve become friends. It’s like homecoming week for many of us.
Workshop sessions ran all day, but I used my free time to check into the hotel and unpack in my suite. At 5pm, we attended the welcome talk by conference co-chairs Raquel Reyes and Michael L. Joy followed by a speech by publisher and long-time Sleuthfest friend, Neil Nyren.
I ate dinner in the lobby and hung out with friends, making some new ones in the process. Here I am with my Booklovers Bench pals, Debra H. Goldstein, Cheryl Hollon and Diane A.S. Stuckart.
I didn’t stay up late, wishing to sleep well since my workshop presentation was in the morning. Up in my room, I dropped my heavy digital camera right on my foot that is scheduled for foot surgery in two months. Ouch! So now I lay awake wondering how I’d fit into my dress shoes in the morning.
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Saturday morning at the Florida Writers Association annual conference found me starting off the workshops with a talk on “Book Promotion on a Budget.” Next I attended Penny Sansevieri’s presentation, “Help! My Book Isn’t Selling.”
A buffet lunch followed with barbecue chicken and accompaniments. Awards were given to youth writers. After lunch, I had a booksigning and later a video interview. Then it was time to get ready for the Royal Palm Literary Awards banquet. My family came to support me as a finalist. It was interesting to see the blurbs about each author’s book on big screens as we ate. I didn’t win, so I’ll have to try again next year. I’m still thrilled to have made the finals. On Sunday, I attended a workshop “Bring that Action Scene to Life” by author L.E. Perez. I learned a few tips during her entertaining presentation. Then I checked out and packed up the car to meet our family for lunch. If you want to see all my photos, visit my Facebook Author Page. Please Like the page while you are there. Save Save
This was my first time attending the Florida Writers Association annual conference. The theme was “What A Character.” I didn’t attend the Thursday all-day workshop with bestselling author David Morrell, but I did hear him speak later on. Instead, I checked into the hotel and went to faculty orientation followed by a general welcome for conference attendees. Friday morning, things began in earnest with a breakfast buffet at 7am. Scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, bagels and pastries were on the menu. We sat at genre tables to speak to other writers in our specific categories. Here I am with true crime author Carla Norton. First on the agenda was my talk on “Writing the Cozy Mystery.” I put away my laptop and attended Carla’s workshop on “True Crime – Stranger than Fiction.” Then I wandered through the bookstore organized by Murder on the Beach and the silent auction rooms. Lunch was a bountiful buffet of Italian food. At 2pm, I was on a panel titled “Dredging Up Your Dark Side” moderated by Ken Pelham. Also on this panel were Carla Norton, Doug Dandridge, Micki Browning, and Dan Alatorre. Later that afternoon, I attended a panel on “Effective Book Marketing with POEM” by speaker Keith Ogorek. That evening was a welcome reception with superhero-costumed characters. The picture with a foursome has Carla Norton, Ken Pelham, Vic DiGenti, and literary agent Mark Gottlieb. A sit-down dinner was followed by a keynote address from bestselling author Steve Berry. To view all my photos, visit my Facebook Author Page. Please Like the page while you are there.
Here are notes from some of the workshops I’d attended at Mystery Fest Key West. Any errors are mine due to my misinterpretation. Friday started off with a talk by a representative from the Bomb Squad. The bomb squad in Monroe County gets about thirty calls a year. Lots of them involve old military ordinance like torpedoes and grenades, and about eighty percent are still live. Once a mortar round was dug up in a fellow’s yard and it dated back to 1887. Other finds might include acid bombs, pipe bombs, vehicle bombs, flares, and other old explosives that turn up in people’s backyards. The investigators want to know: What is it? Why is it here? How can we disrupt it? Compressed water will tear the devices apart but won’t set them off. They have to make sure it’s safe while preserving the evidence. When the guys respond, they keep a distance of three hundred feet or more and stay behind a protective barrier. If they have to go in closer to determine if an object is safe they’ll don helmets and flak jackets. Or they’ll send in the Robot. The Robot is used for recon and demolition. It costs approximately $265,000 and can run up to seven miles per hour. It has six cameras, some of them encased, and it can climb stairs as well as go in and out of planes and buses. The Robot can take X-rays and can drag up to 300 pounds. It is remote-controlled at a five mile range. The machine runs on dual motorcycle batteries. Police Myths James O. Born spoke about police myths and how to make our law enforcement officers more realistic in our stories. He distinguished between the uniformed Highway Patrol officers and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that’s more of an investigative agency. He spoke about pay and pensions and how patrol is the main job for a cop. They are taught to shoot in order to stop a suspect, not necessarily to kill. Deadly force would be a last resort. Plainclothes is not the same as undercover which involves deception. I missed some of Lisa Black’s excellent talk on Blood Spatter as I had to prepare for my “Writing the Cozy Mystery” workshop coming next. Then it was time to head over to Hemingway House for an outdoor reception with drinks and appetizers. On Saturday, Randy Rawls moderated a panel on “Where I Get My Ideas” including John H. Cunningham, David Beckwith, Charles Todd, and Paul Sinor. Next came Heather Graham moderating the interesting discussion on “How to Commit a Perfect Murder” with Lisa Black, Rick Ollerman, Robert Coburn, and Siera London. Here’s how: 1. Don’t Get Caught. 2. Is it really a murder if there’s no body? 3. Poisons have worked well throughout history, especially before modern forensics. 4. If there’s trace evidence, you will get caught. There really isn’t a right answer to this question.
Honored Guest Clifford Irving gave the keynote luncheon speech. Here he is with conference chair, Shirrel Rhoades. I skipped the next panel, “It Takes a Crook,” to get ready for Cozy Mysteries and Female Sleuths. I moderated a panel about female sleuths where we touched upon many subjects. One of the main points that came across was that women sleuths are more intuitive and compassionate, and these stories often involve interpersonal relationships or family issues. The evening continued with a special dinner party held at the historical Custom House Museum, which houses displays on the island’s military history. This is always a fun conference in a relaxed atmosphere with fellow authors and fans who are eager to learn about our books. <><><> See all my Florida Keys Photos Here. Click on Photos and then Albums. Enter Here to win a six-book beach reads bundle from Booklover’s Bench authors. Sign up for my Newsletterfor my latest book news, giveaways, bonus content, and events. Free book sampler for new subscribers.
Reinventing Yourselfwith bestselling authorJAYNE ANN KRENTZ .
Jayne had to reinvent herself numerous times, from writing futuristics to contemporaries to historicals. She takes her “core story” and puts it into a marketable setting. Names she’s written under are Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick, and Jayne Castle.
Jayne Ann Krentz
“Sooner or later, you will have to reinvent yourself.” Jayne offered three rules for writers to heed:
1. Identify your core story: conflicts, relationships, archetypes, and themes that appeal to you as a writer. Keep it fresh over time. Writers who want to survive must be able to adapt.
2. Know the market. Be familiar with subgenres and where your core story fits in.
3. Understand the importance of fictional landscape to readers. Each genre requires a particular landscape with conventions and reader expectations. Adjust your core story to fit that landscape.
I went to a couple of workshops on Digital Publishing. With so many Epubs popping up, writers are cautioned to evaluate them before submitting their work. Look at such things as cover art, frequency of releases, cover copy, and genre. Read a few of their books to see how well they’re edited and if you like them. Be wary of too many releases at once because titles can get lost in the crowd and there won’t be any standout successes. The same goes for your own schedule. Readers can get overwhelmed if you release too many titles in succession. Space them out by at least 8 weeks.
Digital pubs may pick up a series started elsewhere and may be interested in putting your backlist into digital format. The benefits of going with a digital pub instead of doing it on your own?
Established Reader Base
ANGELA JAMES gave a spotlight on Carina Press. She spoke on how to submit to this digital first imprint and what they do in terms of online marketing.
Career Planning in a Changing Environment
Issues important to authors were discussed in this seminar with agents KRISTIN NELSON, STEVE AXELROD, and KAREN SOLEM.
Do we want to release simultaneously in print and in ebook? Do ebooks cannabilize other sales?
Make sure you’re covered if your contract is cancelled arbitrarily (i.e. so you don’t have to pay back your advance)
25% of net versus 25% of retail price—the former is harder to track. Ebook royalty rates are still in a flux. Consider renegotiating your current contracts re ebook royalties.
Classic publishing model strengths are turning into weaknesses
Independent bookstores are in trouble and that will jeopardize hardcover sales
Publishers are trying to control all rights that may come down the road someday
New opportunities for authors are out there. In between print books, you could publish novellas or short stories in digital format. You can bring your own out of print books back to life on the digital platform.
The biggest question is still how to get your work noticed.
Authors are forging direct connections with fans through social networking. The challenge here is balancing the time requirements with writing the next book.
If your career isn’t moving forward, it’s time to diversify. Consider writing a bigger book. Do what you always do but in a different way. If you decide to write in more than one genre, ask yourself if you have time, if you are prolific enough, and if publishing in more than one genre will cannibalize your own sales.
Fight Scenes with popular author Angela Knight was a very useful workshop. I’m not going to repeat what she said here except to say I scribbled notes the entire time. She could have used another hour to complete her presentation and have a Q&A session but what she said was helpful. Some of it was common sense like save your biggest fight scene and worst villain for last. She offered some great ideas which hopefully I can deploy.
I also attended Publisher Booksignings and collected lots of free books signed by the authors. These are great for keeping up with what’s current in a genre. The Carina Press open house with cocktails and snacks was also fun.
Paranormal Romance Author Alyssa Day
Science Fiction Author Ann Aguirre
The RITA and Golden Heart Awards Dinner and Ceremony was Saturday night. Everyone dressed up and excitement was in the air as we prepared to hear who’d won these prestigious awards.
RITA Awards Dinner
Sharon Hartley, Nancy Cohen, Allison Chase
What are those weird purple vegetables on the plate?
The Gathering was Friday night. This was the FF&P (Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal chapter of RWA) Steampunk Ball and Prism Awards with music provided by bestselling science fiction author CATHERINE ASARO. This took place at the Swan Resort, a short walk from the adjacent Dolphin. At the buffet, we had a choice of Roast Beef and Chicken, various salads, poached potatoes, roasted vegetables, and delectable desserts. The room was decorated with style and many of the folks dressed up in period attire. It was fun watching the costume contest and meeting so many new people. This is definitely an event I’d attend again. Kiss of Death chapter also has a chocolate party that’s fun if you belong to that chapter.
Author Lizzie Newell
PRISM Award Winners:
Dark Paranormal: Immortal Danger by Cynthia Eden
Erotica: Secrets in Stone by Radclyff
Fantasy: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber
Futuristic: Close Encounters by Katherine Allred
Light Paranormal: Secret Life of a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks and Wild Blue Under by Judi Fennell
Novella: Belong the Night by Cynthia Eden
Time Travel: Viking Heat by Sandra Hill
Congratulations to all! It was a great conference. I met many new friends whom I hope to see again at future events.