Thursday, April 19, 2007

Writing conferences and book festivals

Tomorrow I’m off to the Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery, Alabama. I’m really looking forward to it even though my only personal memory of Montgomery was someone backing into a car I was riding in and then fleeing the scene. That was in 1984 while I was in graduate school at the University of Southern Mississippi and a group of us were on our way to a conference in North Carolina. I hope the guy who hit us has forgiven himself. I forgive him.

I’m happy for the invitation to Alabama but at the same time I’m very sorry I’ll miss the Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America’s annual Sleuthfest being held in Miami Beach this year. Sleuthfest is a great conference on writing and all things crime fiction. Paul Levine attended last year and seemed to enjoy himself while winning over a legion of new fans. On a side note I might add that my daughter, Emily, is currently reading Solomon Vs Lord and likes it very much. She’s a tough audience too. She’s on a new kick of reading books from my library. She’s actually not allowed to read several of mine because of the violence and some language issues.

One of the perennial instructors at Sleuthfest is Elaine Viets. As many of you have heard, Elaine suffered a stroke last week and is currently recovering. We all wish her the speediest of recoveries. Her teaching ability will be missed this year at the event.

Sleuthfest was the first event I ever attended, back in the spring of 2004, just before the release of Walking Money. I learned a lot, but more importantly I met many new friends, as I have every year since. As I write this one of those friends, Joe Konrath, called me from the airport in Miami. He had just arrived and wanted to get together for dinner. Like many people from the north he just assumed everyone lives within eleven miles of Miami. Regardless, he made me even more sad that I won’t be down there this year.

The event has attracted some great speakers over the years. Last year, my editor at Putnam, Neil Nyren, was a guest and bowled them over with his insights into the publishing industry and charm. Yes that’s right, he’s still my boss.

Linda Fairstein is the guest of honor this year. She is a very nice person and always takes time to chat and encourage. Jonathon King, the biggest of the Florida writers, and I mean that literally, will be in attendance. I like the panels on writing and plotting that he’s on more than the marketing. I know that promotion is important but you have to respect a guy like Jon who eschews promotion and relies almost solely on the quality of his writing.

Sleuthfest is also where I developed my speaking program on weapons and tactics that writers should include or avoid when writing crime novels. After reprising it at Thrillerfest last year I was invited to make a commercial DVD of the program. I filmed it in Los Angeles earlier in the year and hope to see the final product by Christmas.

Sleuthfest is a great event and I hope many people will attend, not only this year, but in the future.

Another Florida mystery event is titled simply Mystery Florida. It’s held on Lido Key near Sarasota the first weekend in June and is a smaller, more intimate event. It is also one of my favorites. This will be my third year in attendance and I hope they keep asking. In a hotel right on the beach, the event features outstanding writers such as Randy White, Jonathon King, Claire Matturo, P.J. Parrish (Chris Montee) and a host of others who are all first rate.

I’ll miss Sleuthfest this year but feel certain I’ll make new friends in Alabama.

And maybe see some old ones in Sarasota.


  1. I've been to Sleuthfest and it is a great conference. Plus I was recently at Murder in the Magic City in Birmingham. As you know, it's a wonderful conference with great people and avid mystery fans. Wherever you go, I know you'll wow them. Have fun!

  2. Dear Mr. Born:

    Although I am no longer the Governor of the great state of Florida (and thanks to my idiot brother I will never be President), I still keep tabs on scandalous events, even when I am not participating in them.

    It has come to my attention that you are permitting your daughter Emily, she of tender years, to read the blasphemous, prurient, and overly long book, "Solomon vs. Lord," written by an ex-Floridian who has been on the lam for several years.

    In the event you have not read the book, there is a scene of graphic sex that takes place in an avocado grove. I personally have read the scene seven times, and each time, it becomes more disgusting. I have not been able to eat guacamole in weeks.

    Please be advised that I have notified the Department of Family Services (waking up several agents there) as to your parental misconduct.

    You may expect a home visit from the Department sometime between now and the date your daughter becomes a grandmother.

    Jeb Bush

  3. Like it would be the first time they were ever at the house.