Michael Haskins

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

SleuthFest '07

Are you a mystery fan or a writer? Not that it matters, but there was a good mixture of both at the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America’s SleuthFest in Miami Beach.
As you probably know, I live in Key West and leaving the island by anything but boat is a traumatic experience. Really, it is. There’s a little less than 10-miles of four-lane road as you exit Key West on US1, that maybe you can drive 60 mph safely. After that most of the speed limit is 45-55 mph on a two-lane road.
My anxiety doesn’t set in until the Florida Turnpike entrance in Florida City. The speed limit is 60-65 mph on the Turnpike, but anyone that has driven it knows 80 mph is the norm, with a little slowing down in the construction areas; the area around the Miami International Airport is always under construction – I think there is a city or county ordinance requiring it.
From the Turnpike to I-95 I can not have the radio on and I must smoke a cigar to quiet my nerves. I am expecting some whacked-out Miamian to ram their speeding vehicle into my Jeep. When I-95 turned into I-195, I was on the causeway to Miami Beach, a whole other world of high-rises and expensive boutiques and restaurants.
My hotel was a 15-minute walk from the hotel hosting SleuthFest and the room was about half the cost. Hell, it cost $20 to park at either hotel, so I figured paying $40 a day was stupid, so I walked. The exercise was probably good for me (probably?).
I showed up Thursday because I wanted to attend the talk by author J.A. Konrath. Joe is an expert on self promotion and since “Chasin’ the Wind” is my first book, and I need to self promote it, I thought it would be a good idea. It was. Joe is knowledgeable and funny. I have figured out that if you want to be a writer, you need a good sense of humor or the job could break you!
Joe was packed full with advice, gimmicks and laughs. Google him, his site is full of advice and booklets that I copied and have enjoyed. After I told him some of the things I had planned for promoting my book, he said I was going in the right direction and tossed in a few ideas of his own.
I also wanted to take the Thursday short-story workshop by writer Elaine Viets, but, sadly, Elaine had a stroke a few days prior to the festival. The good news is, she is recouping and should be home soon.
Since the cover design for “Chasin’ the Wind” hadn't been delivered, my friend Bill Lane, from Fastlane Advertising in Key West, put together a business card with my photo from the book jacket, my name (dah!), the name of the book, publisher, and my website address. I left a lot of these on the various self promotion tables around the festival and people actually took some.
Joe is a big believer of giving things away on his website, so I checked with my publisher (more about him later on another post) and he said I could post my short story, “Murder in Key West,” on the site and suggested I also post a few chapters from “Chasin’ the Wind.”
“Murder in Key West” is currently on my site and will give you a brief look at some of the characters in my novel. My plan is that “Chasin’ the Wind” is the first in a series, “A Mad Mick Murphy Mystery.” The next book is half written and I hope to know if it will be accepted by Five Star by the end of summer.
The first of May, chapter one from “Chasin’ the Wind” will appear on my site and then for the next few months I will add another chapter per month. Obviously, the idea is to get you to read it and buy the book to see how it comes out.
I would like your feedback on the short story, so let me hear from you.
More on SleuthFest to come.

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