For those of you who don’t know, Sleuthfest is the annual conference of the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. But that’s a bit misleading. The attendees range from romance to YA. Why? Because in addition to mystery topics, SF offers many other panels of interest. This year they had many craft panels – plotting, characterization, etc. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what genre you’ve chosen, getting the fundamentals is really important. And just so you know this wasn’t just about writing, they also offered several panels on marketing and various looks at the electronic aspects of publishing.
Oh, and they had really cool guest speakers. Does it get any better than Dr. Garavaglia (Dr. G to her television fans) sharing her insights on all sorts of forensic pathologies. Her talk was full of useful information and yes, she did touch on the Casey Anthony trial. Specifically the tap with the heart-shaped indentation. I bought her book and look forward to reading more about the work she does for the three counties surrounding Orlando.
And then we had Jeff Ashton, the lead prosecutor (now retired) on the Casey Anthony trial. I found his insights interesting but I couldn’t see past the genuine disappointment and frustration he still feels about the outcome of the trial. I can’t wait to read his book to get even more of the inside scoop on what went on behind the scenes.
I had sex at ten AM. Not real sex, but I participated on a panel on how to incorporate sex into a mystery or thriller without totally screwing up your pacing. My panel mates and I were led by the stunning, poised and professional Hank Phillippi Ryan. Does it get any better than that? We touched on the fact that went men write sex they tend to focus on the physicality of the interaction whereas women tend to lean toward the emotional ramifications of doing the deed. But we did all agree that sex has to have a purpose. I can be used to show how a character’s life is going down the tubes as well as how the character is finding passion at the same time he or she is solving a crime/mystery/battling the clock.
But that’s not what you really want to know about Sleuthfest. You want to know what the agents and editors had to say. Well, I’m saving that for tomorrow.
Oh, and just as an aside, on Thursday night a small group of us gathered in Heather Graham’s room for an impromptu game of charades. Seeing me try to act out Animal House was worth the price of admission.