The SOS stands for Sleuthfest on Saturday which I attended last Saturday. First of all, it was close by, just a little more than 20 miles away. Second, some of my writer friends were speaking. Two good reasons to go.
I arrived at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota, Florida a little after 8:00 a.m., picked up my name badge and packet, and grabbed some coffee. At 8:50 Sharon Potts (Florida Mystery Writers of America Chapter president) welcomed everyone and set the workshop in motion. The first session was presented by Elaine Viets who told how she researched her novel, FINAL SAIL. (The information she gave about life on a yacht was fascinating, especially since she was covering the tasks the crew must perform.) She also went over the revision letter she received after sending in her completed ms. Her editor, it seems, didn’t consider the story “completed.” (Ah, I’ve been there before. The letter that starts with, “I love the book…” then goes on to tell everything that doesn’t work and needs to be changed.)
The next session was a Q & A for the editor (Terri Bischoff of Midnight Ink) and agent (Nicole Resciniti who’s with The Seymour Agency). After that session, Terri and Nicole took prearranged pitches from attendees.
The session from 11:15 – 12:30 covered characterizatiosn. Patrick Kendrick, Diane Stuckart, Joanna Campbell Slan, Deborah Sharp, and Julie Compton covered the goals, motivations, and conflicts that protagonists and villains must have as well as how to write good dialogue and create vivid settings.
We then grabbed box lunches and something to drink and by 12:45 we were back in the lecture room learning about Indie Publishing, presented by Christine Kling. That session naturally segued into the workshop presented by the Florida half of P.J. Parrish (Kristy Montee) which covered how she and her sister took one of their earlier books (Dark of the Moon) and revised it before putting it up as an e-book. (I was glad to see I wasn’t the only one to take a book written early in my career and see glaring errors.)
By 3:30 p.m. I was reaching brain dead level, but the day wasn’t over. Chris Jackson, Sandy Balzo, Miriam Auerbach, Terry Griffin and Sharon Potts all contributed to the session on THE PLOT, including openings, sagging middles, unsatisfying resolutions, pacing, twists, and red herrings.
The book…I mean the workshop ended at 5:00 p.m. and we all moved to the “Boat House” for a free drink, a chance to buy the presenters’ books, and general conversation. Since I wasn’t staying at the hotel, I limited myself to one glass of wine and headed home around 6:00 p.m.
One of the best things about this one-day workshop was the handouts. There was one from each of the presenters. Although most of the material presented was information I’ve heard before, I always find it’s good to hear these things again, and I usually leave with one or two new ideas. More than that, it’s always great to have a chance to connect with others who share my interests and understand some of the frustrations of being a writer.
Next year Sleuthfest will be back to its usual three-day platform and will once again be held in Orlando, Florida. (Orlando’s only two hours away. Hmm.)
For more information about the Florida MWA Chapter or Sleuthfest, go to: http://www.mwaflorida.org/index.htm