Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sleuthfest -A New Experience

I'd heard about Sleuthfest, the Florida chapter of MWA's annual conference, for years - how wonderful it was, how generous and kind to other writers. So this year I decided to go, and you know what? It was wonderful. Everything everyone said about it was right. But the best part was connecting with dear friends and meeting new ones.

Yes, the panels were informative, funny, entertaining and educational. My own panel on publicizing ebooks drew a good crowd, which emphasized how popular ebooks were these days in an ever evolving world of publishing. My own books, Less Dead and Lost Witness, were published by a small press who simultaneously put them both in print and in ebook format. How do I publicize ebooks? Social network and word of mouth, much the same as the print edition.

Sleuthfest wouldn't have been the same if my friend Anita wasn't there. She always makes me feel included and her vibrant laugh is infectious. We're Reed's Rowdy Redheads - that would be Reed Farrel Coleman, who is unfailingly engaging, warm, encouraging, and funny, even when he is under deadline and in pain from a shoulder injury.

We met new friends, too. Micki and Dave Browning, retired cops from California now living the good life, traveling and enjoying each other. Micky is a very talented writer who will soon be discovered. Of that I have no doubt. Deborah was another new friend. We met her at the Saturday luncheon and her bubbly personality won us over.

The panels I attended were great, and I've ordered ten others that I missed.

Elaine Viets, moderator (one of the best for being funny and keeping everyone on track), Charlaine Harris, Brendan Dubois, Toni LP Kelner, Chris Grabenstein and Dana Cameron.

Fun for all Saturday night at Agents and Editors Cocktail Party. That's Jeffrey Deaver on the end Chris
Grabenstein at the microphone.

Don Bruns, Reed Farrel Coleman and Michael Haskins.  And the winner is...

These are only a few of the highlights.The live auction with Chris Grabenstein, Donna Andrews and Hank Phillippi Ryan was a tremendous success. Two winners pledged $1000 for a chance to meet Nicole Resciniti, agent with The Seymour Agency in New York. The auctioneers did a terrific job - kept us laughing and never let up until they squeezed every bit of money out of the audience.

To top off the conference, Heather Graham's The Slushpile entertained us at The House of Blues with her wacky band of misfits.

I didn't sell any books at the conference, but I met a lovely lady on the plane on the way, Jan Yates, who loves cat mysteries. I emailed her the name of Leann Sweeney and Dean James (writing under Miranda James) for their wonderful cat books.

At the airport coming home, I sold two books. One each to two gentlemen who sat with Anita and me for lunch. When they found out we were writers, they wanted to see our books. I happened to have ten copies of Lost Witness with me. They each bought one. One man worked for Chevron in Louisiana and the other was an ex-cop from Oakland, CA. That made the conference complete.


Vonna said...

Wow, Laura that sounds like a great experience! I'm glad you were able to go this year.

Laura Elvebak said...

Vonna, I would heartily recommend it to anyone who writes mysteries. Good to see you here.