SLEUTHFEST 2018 – By Victoria Landis


SLEUTHFEST 2018 – By Victoria Landis

When I heard about Sleuthfest via an email, I invited Victoria Landis to tell us a bit more about it!

Writers’ conferences are so much fun, right?  Please say you’ve been to at least one.  They are where we writers meet our ‘tribe’.  Our people.  It’s not at all unusual when some of those people develop into our best and dearest friends, either.  That’s true for me.

There are lots of conferences to choose from, and each of them vary, but the gold standard for anyone who wants to gain or hone their writing chops is SleuthFest.  If you’ve never of SleuthFest, perhaps it’s time you did. It’s an annual writers’ conference sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.  For 2018, its 24th year, it will be held March 1-4, in Boca Raton, Florida.  (Full disclosure here—I’ve been the Co-Chair since 2015 and have attended it since 2003.)

It is not just for mystery and thriller authors.  SleuthFest attracts writers—from all over the country and from other countries, too—of many genres at every level because its mission is to help writers hone their craft, including lots of romance writers.  Along with Keynote Andrew Gross, SleuthFest 2018 is bringing in Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D. as the Forensic Guest of Honor and Hallie Ephron, Kristy Montee (PJ Parrish), Hank Phillippi Ryan, and James R. Benn as Guest Authors.  All the Guests of Honor will conduct intensive and interactive workshops and presentations.  We get great reviews from the attendees about the quality of the teaching.  In fact, a couple of years ago, an attendee stopped me in the hall and told me he’d learned more at SleuthFest about writing than he had while at Cambridge (yes, that Cambridge.)

The atmosphere at SleuthFest is unique among conferences as well.  We know our niche.  We are not a ‘fan’ conference.  We keep it small—2018’s attendance will be capped at 250, so it’s a very different experience than you’ll find at Malice, Thrillerfest, or Bouchercon.  We are a serious writers’ conference, but possibly the most friendly and fun of all of them.  It is run by volunteers, and we are dedicated to helping writers make progress and get ahead.  Many of our attendees are already successful in their careers, and they come to SleuthFest and participate in sessions and panels and give workshops as part of ‘paying it forward’.  A woman told me last year she came because her agent told her if she wanted to take her writing to the next level, she needed to attend SleuthFest.

We also bring in agents and editors to hear pitches and conduct strategy sessions with attendees.  Strategy sessions can be invaluable, as the attendee has one-on-one time to discuss any issues they may have with their WIP, such as beginnings or endings, plotting, pacing, character issues, etc.  If you’re brave enough, you can even get an honest, professional opinion of why your manuscript hasn’t been able to attract an agent or a publisher.  We are all there to help you succeed.  We love reading great new authors, too, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if one of them was you?  At any given time, you might find Neil Nyren, our Editor in Chief, the Executive VP of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, when he isn’t in a session, sitting in the hotel atrium dispensing advice and sharing his over thirty years of experience in the world of big publishing.  All the Guest Authors, Agents, and Editors host tables at the luncheons, so there are plenty of opportunities to connect with them.

We have two tracks of dedicated writing sessions, one track for the business of writing, publishing—whether traditionally or self-pubbed—and marketing, and one track for forensic information and demonstrations, as well as experts in all sorts of related subjects.  There are many working parts to SleuthFest.  Author Auction.  Freddie Awards.  Raffle.  Cocktail Party.  The definitely not PC FlaMANgo Award, where we wrap pink feathers (our mascot is a flamingo) around the male contestants.  And so much more.

If you’ll check out our FAQ page on the website, you’ll find lots more information.  I hope we’ll see you in March!


Join us on Wednesday for Donna Cummings!


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