PHOTO: Buck Buchanan, Michael, and Leighton Gage, notice sign in back? The bar is in front of us, enough said)

I just returned from the four-day SleuthFest gathering of writers and fans in Deerfield Beach, Fla. It is sponsored by the Florida chapter of the Mystery Writers of America (I am on the chapter’s board) and its two guests of honor were writers John Hart and Brad Meltzer. John spoke at the Friday luncheon and Brad on Saturday.

Taking the weekend (Thursday – Sunday) out of order let me say the guest speakers gave interesting talks. Both are recovering attorneys (as were many in the crowd), but what else they had in common interested me a lot more. John and Brad agreed that perseverance was important to writing, but then they each added that luck was the big secret ingredient in their success. They talked about their many rejections, but the luck of finding one person (an agent or editor or publisher) that saw something in their manuscript that twenty-four or more others didn’t see.

I have perseverance, just by the fact that after many years of writing I finally was published and I am still writing and waiting to hear about my sequel. Now, if I could just find out where luck is hiding, I would go and try to seduce it.

I was on two panels. Friday, 2:15 p.m., I was a panelist on “Wright Great Dialogue” with Terry Odell, Deborah Shlian and Joan Johnston, with moderator Gregg (my father wanted a boy) Brickman. You can read about that panel in my last posting.

The panel was well received and four of us had different suggestions and opinions on what good dialogue was.

I attended the “Agents’ Roundtable” at 10 a.m. and met Jill Marsal, an agent, who is now looking at my second novel, “Free Range Institution.” At 11 a.m., I attended the “Creating Memorable Characters,” with panelists Barbara Graham, Leighton Gage, Jeremiah Healy and moderated by our favorite bookseller Joanne Sinchuk.

After the luncheon, I attended the Supernatural Sleuths & Vampire Villains, with Deborah LeBlanc and Joe More. Let me tell you, they are two great panelists. Joe writes a thriller and if you liked the Da Vinci Code, you’ll love Joe and Lynn Sholes series. Deborah, from New Orleans, writes about the supernatural and has stories of her experiences into the supernatural that can curl your hair!

We were off to the hotel bar, after that!

Saturday, I was a panelist at the 10 a.m. “Working with the Police and other Experts” panel with Randy Rawls and P.I. Steve Brown. Randy is retired military intelligence (I know, it’s an oxymoron immortalize by Capt. Flagg on the old M*A*S*H* TV show), I have friends and people who have helped me that are local cops, FDLE, DEA and JIATF, so I guess that qualified me to be on the panel.

Afterward, at 11 a.m., I went to the “Anatomy of a Thriller” panel, with Joe Moore, Nicole Kenealy, and Benjamin Leroy (Bleak House Books).

I spent the rest of the afternoon with writer Leighton Gage, an American who lives in Brazil and writes about a Brazilian federal police officer. A well-written series gives the reader a look into the Brazilian police system. Leighton and his wife, Eide, are great people and we hung around the pool talking shop, like book signings, getting published, getting paid, and the cost of traveling and book signings! He was on his way to the Northeast (good luck with the current weather) for more book signings before heading to visit family in Europe.

Also got to hang with retired FDLE agent Buck Buchanan. Buck is a writer who is battling the good fight to get published. He is a friend of chapter prez and FDLE agent Jim Born. He had an agent appointment to pitch his book and was asked to send the manuscript in, so he was in a good mood.

Also hung out with P.I. Steve Brown. Now there’s a guy whose mind you wanna pick if you are writing a P.I. novel. His book, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigation,” now sits on my bookshelf. The title tells you all about the book.

I enjoyed SleuthFest, feel it is well worth the financial investment, and would be for wanna-be writers because mystery writers are a friendly bunch and always seem willing to talk to you and offer advice. Sometimes it is just good to hear someone else has gone through the rejections before finding success. Writing is a lonely business and full of strange people, so it’s good to mingle with other writers and find out you are not all that strange.

I am getting ready to make a road trip to my daughters in the NY/NJ area (weather permitting) in a week and will be gone for a month. If something interesting happens, I will blog it.
Please, Google the writers I’ve mentioned, they are great people and I am sure most of you will find their books a good investment of your time and money.
Posted by Michael Haskins at 8:50 AM 0 comments

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