Saturday at Sleuthfest – Part 2

After lunch on Saturday at Sleuthfest mystery writers conference, I attended a workshop given by Jane R. Wood on Marketing Your Books to Schools. This was a lot more complicated than I would have guessed. Your books must be appropriate for schools, have educational value, and be compatible with the core curriculum. They should reinforce what the teachers are teaching in their classrooms. Also, you should be able to enhance its value with additional educational resources. These might include vocabulary words, discussion questions, student activities such as puzzles and games. Suggest books the students might read that will reinforce their curriculum.

As an author, you should be prepared to discuss revising, editing, sentence structure, the writing process. You should be comfortable speaking to kids and willing to work with the school on payment options. Offer a discount on book sales and make up a purchase order form. Ask if you are allowed to sell books directly to students. If so, print copies of a promotional flyer that they can take home.

To approach a school, contact the media specialist if you don’t know anyone there. Check out the school website for contact info. Send a short email providing information about your school visits and direct them to your website. Offer a complimentary review book. If you are accepted, ask about school expectations for your visit, the length of each presentation, and all the logistics involved.

As I left the room In awe of the preparatory work needed to propose a school visit, I meandered toward the editor/agent appointments. Since I wasn’t needed as an usher, I went upstairs to rest until the evening cocktail party. At Sleuthfest, we always include enough food for dinner, and tonight’s pasta station and passed hot appetizers were no exception. The raffle basket drawing was held at the conclusion.

Sunday Morning, March 17, 2019

I participated on a panel on Independent Publishing this morning along with David Wind and Tara L. Ames. We discussed the importance of a professional product before seguing into book marketing. As David said, about forty percent of a writer’s time is spent on writing, while the remainder is spent on marketing. This critical element applies whether you are traditionally published or indie published. We had lots of material but ran out of time.

Brunch included a talk by esteemed author Les Standiford in the ballroom before the conference ended.

See my Photos Here

GIVEAWAYS

Download 40+ free cozy mysteries in a limited time giveaway, including a copy of my book, HAIR RAISER. https://books.bookfunnel.com/cozymysterybonanza/b1nj1qfi4p

Follow me on BookBub and Enter to Win a $20 Amazon gift card http://authorsxp.com/gc

 

 

Saturday at Sleuthfest – Part 1

Saturday morning at SleuthFest mystery writers conference, I spoke on a panel about Ending Your Book with Susan Sussman, Cheryl Hollon and myself, moderated by Lynnette Austin. We discussed if we are plotters or pantsers, how we approach the end of our books, how to make it satisfying for the reader, tying up loose ends, what turns us off as readers, and how to ramp up the action in the middle. Also, how do you avoid predictability while remaining true to reader’s expectations? We got some great questions from the audience.

Next, I attended a workshop on Writing Mystery Short Stories with author faculty Elaine Viets. “Think small and think twisted,” was her advice. Avoid having too many characters, lengthy descriptions, background information, and subplots. More than four characters are too many. Your story needs a twist or a surprise at the beginning or at the end. Story length should be 3000 – 7000 words.

What editors are not looking for are spouses who killed each other, a main character who wakes up from a dream, cruise ship murders, and oleander poisoning.

The story should have a singularity of purpose and a type of movement or trajectory. This is likely to be how the characters respond and grow. Put in roadblocks that could derail the story. Lay the groundwork for the plot twist. Its purpose is to reveal character.

Lunch followed with keynote speaker T. Jefferson Parker. FMWA President, Diane A.S. Stuckart, received the coveted Flamingo Award for her service to the chapter.

GIVEAWAYS

Download 40+ free cozy mysteries in a limited time giveaway, including a copy of my book, HAIR RAISER. https://books.bookfunnel.com/cozymysterybonanza/b1nj1qfi4p

Follow me on BookBub and Enter to Win a $20 Amazon gift card http://authorsxp.com/gc

 

Sleuthfest 2019 – Day 2

On Friday morning at SleuthFest mystery writers conference, the editors’ roundtable was held. Guest editors included Anna Michels (Sourcebooks), Chantelle Aimee Osman (Polis Books), Stacey Donovan (Hallmark Publishing), and special guest Neil Nyren. Conference co-chair, Michael L. Joy, moderated. Here is the gist of what I learned. Any errors are due to my misinterpretation.

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Sourcebooks has acquired Poisoned Pen Press and its entire backlist. Anna is acquiring for this line. She’s looking for mysteries, thrillers, and suspense. Their books run 75k to 110k words.

Hallmark’s core audience likes print books. These would be sweet and wholesome stories, same as their movies. Mysteries should be a regular series and not a Christmas setting. Character arcs and motivation are important elements in their stories. Their books run 75k to 90k words.

Polis Books is looking for new and unique voices for their Agora imprint.

All of these editors (except Neil) take unagented manuscripts, but they recommend you have one to negotiate a good contract in the author’s favor. Check their websites for submission requirements. Hallmark has open calls for submissions on certain dates.

“You’re buying the writer. You’re not buying the book.” As soon as they buy your book, they’ll want you to be working on the next one.

I cut out of this workshop to see what my friends were saying about being orphaned by their publisher. Diane A.S. Stuckart moderated this panel with Marty Ambrose, Debra H. Goldstein, Alyssa Maxwell, and Dr. Lenore E. Walker. After you pick yourself off the floor from hearing the publisher dropped your series, you recover and reinvent yourself. This could end up being the best thing for your career.

Getting Orphaned panel

Next I gave my workshop on “How-To Become a Hybrid Author.” I discussed the reasons for going indie, the pros and cons, and the exact steps to take from manuscript preparation to production to marketing. Look for further blogs on this topic here.

Nancy J. Cohen   Nancy workshop

Lunch was a sobering talk by E.J. Wagner on the Evolution of Forensic Sciences. It was fascinating to hear how bodies used to be sold to medical schools in merry old England. Table decorations were lovely, and I was happy again to sit with good friends.

I missed the afternoon sessions since I had an hour and a half of volunteer duty as usher for an editor during the pitch appointments. Since I was barely able to walk after my mishap yesterday, I went to rest my foot afterward until the Volunteer Appreciation Party. Free snacks and drinks flowed as we all complimented each other on another great conference.

volunteer party   volunteers

Dinner followed in the ballroom with the author auction, where famous authors auctioned off an hour phone conversation, or a chapter critique, or a character name.

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Sleuthfest 2019 – Day 1

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.

sleuthfest

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.

GIVEAWAY

Go Here to Download 40+ cozy mysteries including my book, HAIR RAISER.

Bouchercon World Mystery Convention – Saturday

On Saturday, I attended “It Takes a Village to Publish a Book” with various panelists at Bouchercon World Mystery Convention talking about what happens behind the scenes before a book gets published in terms of cover design, getting reviews, etc. It’s not something that can happen overnight with a traditional publisher. This is why it may take a year for your book to go from sale to publication.
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The next panel I attended was on Podcasts. This seemed to be more about producing your own podcast than how to get on one as a guest. It was interesting to hear why each podcast producer got started in the field and what their goals are for their audiences.
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The rest of the time I spent schmoozing with my fellow authors, hanging out in the bookroom, or pacing the corridors of the historic hotel. It was pleasing to meet fans and librarians as well as new writer friends, such as Marilyn Levinson, Neil Plakcy, and Diane A.S. Stuckart. Here’s Deborah Shlian with Joan Cochran and Diane Capri. Then we have Joanne Sinchuk and Sue Wilder from Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore. This last person in the photo wins the award for most unusual hairstyle.
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Murder on the Beach  hairdo
On our way home on Sunday, we stopped by Parkesdale Market in Plant City to buy loaves of their infamous strawberry bread plus other goodies. This is a fun stop along I-4 between Orlando and Tampa.
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See all my photos HERE.
GIVEAWAYS
Sept. 1 – 18 Booklovers Bench Monthly Giveaway
Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card at Booklover’s Bench.
GiftCards
Sept. 17 – 26 Women Sleuths on Booksweeps
Enter Sept. 17 – 26 to win 30+ Women Sleuth Mysteries, including books from authors like Lisa Gardner and Laura Durham, along with FREE reads just for entering. You could also win a copy of MY book, Hair Brained. CLICK HERE TO ENTER
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Bouchercon World Mystery Convention – Friday

Friday morning was the Sisters in Crime breakfast at Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. This is always a fun event where we learn what SinC is doing and how we can participate. Here I am with friends R.V. Reyes, Rick Wymer, Mary Lou Benvenutto, Harriet Ottenheimer, and Deborah Shlian, among others.
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Later, I attended a panel on Audiobooks, and it was interesting to hear the viewpoints of the panelists who were authors, narrators, and producers. I wished they’d discussed marketing for indie authors, but it wasn’t a topic brought up.
Then there was lunch with Lisa Scottoline who gave an inspiring and witty talk. Seated at my table were Olive Pollak and Suzanne Baginskie.
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Friday night was the most fun of all. Florida Chapter of MWA held a party for all its members in the area, and we had a great time reconnecting with friends and meeting some new people. The chapter Board did a great job organizing this event. Too many members to mention here, but you can check out our chapter at https://mwaflorida.org/
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See all my photos HERE. Coming next: Bouchercon Day 3
Sept. 1 – 18 Booklovers Bench Monthly Giveaway
GiftCards
Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card at Booklover’s Bench.

Bouchercon World Mystery Convention – Thursday

I started off at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention speaking on “The Business is Cozy” panel on Thursday morning. Fellow panelists were Cheryl Hollon, R.V. Reyes, and Jane Cleland with Emily Giglierano moderating. We had good attendance and numerous questions during the Q&A session.
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Earlier I had attended a panel on writing suspense. Don Bruns moderated. Here is a rundown of points learned:
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· The best suspense comes from character rather than action
· The “What’s Next?” question creates suspense. As writers, how do we delay this answer while drawing readers in?
· You have to include suspense in the first paragraph of your story. Raise questions for the reader right away.
· You draw readers in with your first question. You bring readers back with your last question.
· Don’t follow other people’s rules. What works best for them might not apply to you.
After lunch, I sat in on “Make ‘Em Laugh – Writing Humor.” The panelists discussed how murder isn’t funny, but characters can be. It’s their quirks and the situations they find themselves in that provide mirth.
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Of course, schmoozing is the real work at a conference. You go to see and be seen and to make new friends. In these photos, excluding me, from left to right: Cheryl Hollon, Victoria Landis, Rick Wymer, Mary Lou Benvenutto, Marlene Stringer, and Marty Ambrose. See all my photos HERE. Coming Next: Day 2 at Bouchercon
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Sept. 1 – 18 Booklovers Bench Monthly Giveaway

GiftCards
Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card at Booklover’s Bench.
 

Mystery Fest Key West

Mystery Fans, don’t miss this fabulous event in Key West!

 

Key West

Register Now for Mystery Fest Key West
June 22-24, 2018 in Key West, Florida
Panels, Workshops, Speakers, Meals, Fun!

Two Dozen of Your Favorite Mystery Writers
Featuring Ace Atkins, Otto Penzler, Heather Graham
Friday – Sunday Only $195

Celebrated mystery writers, acclaimed storytellers and the fans who love them are set to infiltrate the tropical island where so many have found their inspiration during the 5th Annual Key West Mystery Fest, set for June 22-24, 2018 at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand Key in Key West, Florida. You’re invited to join them!

Why is Key West such a popular incubator and setting for generations of authors – from Hemingway to Heather Graham, Tennessee Williams to John H. Cunningham to Roberta Isleib? Maybe it’s the archipelago’s history as a haven for pirates and drug-runners, its salty off-the-grid renegade energy – or simply the hypnotic effect of swaying palm trees reflected against water on a tiny island surrounded by endless miles of ocean. Whatever it is, the locale has spawned a multitude of tales and a small army of authors.

Mystery Fest Key West was founded in 2014 and while it has grown in fame since then, “It still has the intimacy of a boutique-sized convention with lots of direct interaction between authors and audience,” commented author, publisher and Fest co-founder Shirrel Rhoades.

During the weekend’s series of panels, presentations and social events, Mystery Fest attendees will have the opportunity to learn first-hand how to craft their own tales of crime, murder and mystery from a stellar line-up of high-profile mystery and suspense luminaries and true-crime experts.

2018 headliners are Keynote Luncheon Speaker Ace Atkins, the multi-award winning, New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one novels, including the recent Robert B. Parker “Spenser” mysteries…

Special Guest of Honor, the multi-award winning editor and publisher Otto Penzler – proprietor of the famed The Mysterious Book Shop in New York City…

And Special Guest Presenter, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham.

Other featured presenters include New York Times bestselling author Lisa Black, bestselling and award-winning author Nancy J. Cohen; New York Times bestselling author Diane A.S. Stuckart; New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, award-winning authors Patrick Kendrick, Lewis C. Haskell and many others.

Event highlights include presentation of the 2018 Whodunit Mystery Writing Competition Award, workshops on the business of being an author, how to write and sell a first novel, crisis negotiation, the forensic use of fingerprints, as well as panel discussions on subjects ranging from the state of the publishing industry to book marketing and promotion, along with author book signings, a Conch Train mini-tour of Key West, an ice-cream social event with Ace Atkins and Otto Penzler at the historic Key West Lighthouse, and a Bloody Mary Morning breakfast at Key West’s historic Schooner Wharf Bar.

Sponsored by the Key West Citizen daily newspaper, Mystery Writers of America – Florida Chapter, the Helmerich Foundation, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, and the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, all panels and presentations will take place at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand Key in Key West. Event registration is $195 and includes all panels and presentations, a luncheon and a brunch at Key West’s historic seaport. For a full Fest schedule, online registration, and links to accommodations visit MysteryFestKeyWest.com.

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Votes Needed!

LAST DAY for the RONE Awards – Vote Now!

Murder by Manicure Audiobook has been nominated for a RONE Award sponsored by InD’tale Magazine. Register at http://www.indtale.com so you are eligible to vote. Be sure to click the verification link you receive via email. Please vote now: http://indtale.com/2018-rone-awards-week-three

ABR Listener Awards

Murder by Manicure Audiobook is a 2018 ABR Audiobook Listener Award Finalist! Click Here for the Mystery category and scroll down to cast your daily vote for Murder by Manicure.

Giveaway

Enter Here for Booklover’s Bench monthly contest to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card.

GiftCards

 

SleuthFest – Day 4

Sunday, March 4, 2018

On Sunday morning at SleuthFest mystery writers’ conference, some brave souls pitched their books to all the editors and agents at Flamingo Pitch Tank. Dirk Wyle held his Reader’s Corner where people could read aloud from their works in progress. I went to a panel on “From Crime to Conviction” with Judge Frederic Block, Retired Police Major Doug Giacobbe, former FBI Special Agent Steven K. Brown, and retired Police Captain Lou Ann Williams. Don Bruns moderated.

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Brunch included a buffet breakfast while we watched certified hypnotist Glenn Miller demonstrate his skills with a group of audience volunteers. Thereafter, he and forensic guest of honor Dr. Katherine Ramsland discussed “Hypnosis as a Tool for Your Sleuth.”

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With all this information overloading our brains, we said goodbye until next year. Save the Date for SleuthFest 2019: March 14 -17 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Boca Raton. In the meantime, sign up HERE for monthly meetings of Florida Chapter, Mystery Writers of America.