I had a great time at Sleuthfest in Orlando. I got to visit with mystery author friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time, like Donna Andrews, Charlaine Harris, F. Paul Wilson, Toni Kelner, Reed Coleman, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Julie Kramer, Marcia Talley, Mary Anna Evans, and so many more. Then there were people I’ve met online, to whom I could finally assign a face: Jeffrey Marks, Alan Orloff, John Gilstrap, Steve Forman, Joanna Campbell Slan, and so on.
John Gilstrap is on the far right
And of course, our own Florida MWA members were present. They number too many to list here. We heard great keynote speeches by Jeffery Deaver and Charlaine Harris.
Nancy Cohen & Charlaine Harris
I got to chat with my Five Star editor, Denise Dietz, and reacquaint myself with an old writing pal, Pat Van Wie, now an editor for Bell Bridge.
Deni Dietz & Pat Van Wie
I saw reviewers Oline Cogdill and Nancy Pate. And the booksellers from Murder on the Beach manned the sales desk while also in the bookstore room were wonderful raffle baskets designed by talented author Vicki Landis (and I won two!).
Linda, Joanne, and Sue from Murder on the Beach
Vicki Landi, Gregg Brickman, Ann Meier
Bestselling author Heather Graham very generously sponsored a dinner party at House of Blues on Saturday night. It was great to loosen up and relax over drinks and fabulous food.
Heather Graham, vocalist and sponsor
Michael Meeske, Kathleen Pickering, Nancy Cohen, Traci Hall
Of course I attended panels and participated on three of them. Maybe I learned a few new things.
But the best part was hanging out with like-minded friends, chatting at the bar, having one-on-one discussions, and finding out what was new with everyone. Sometimes we only see these people at conferences and it may be years between visits.
Johnny Ray and Joan Cochran
Joanna Campbell Slan and Elaine Viets
I met new people, too, whom I’ll hope to recognize at the next mystery conference I attend. Several members of RWA made an appearance: Heather Graham, Kathleen Pickering, Michael Meeske, Traci Hall, Rhonda Pollero, Lynnette Hallberg, Marty Ambrose, and more. Forgive me if I leave out your name!
It gives you such a warm, fuzzy feeling to be in a welcoming environment where everyone shares the same hopes and dreams. It’s easy to walk up to a perfect stranger, introduce yourself and say, “What do you write?” Conference goers are interested in meeting new people and making friends. At least, it’s that way with writers.
Donna Andrews and Deborah Sharp
Julie Compton, Becky Swets
Our prime goal is to schmooze. Oh, it may be to have an editor/agent appointment and pitch our work, or to speak on a panel and promote our books, but the real gratification comes from the camaraderie. Kudos to the Sleuthfest organizers and committee for a terrific conference!
Nancy, Miette, Linda Hengerer