Friday, December 10, 2010


Sunny here.

The writers conference at sea is back on board. The ill-fated Carnival Splendor (weren't we happy to miss THAT fiasco!) will set sail from Los Angeles for the Mexican Riviera on Oct. 30-Nov. 6. Yes, it's a Halloween party now! We'll be cruising down to Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and Mazetlan. The conference is free, the berths start at $549 (cheaper than any conference out there!). For those of us that got cancelled, there's a 25% discount.

Cruise director Beverly Poitrast has put together a great package. There's champagne to toast the cruise, $50 onboard credit and an open-bar reception. Plus, we have bookbags filled with goodies (authors and publishers were VERY generous!)and we can sell books to all 3,000 people aboard.

I'll be putting together new panels and speakers. Hope some of you can come!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Hi Sailors!

Here's what cruise panels you will be enjoying:
Cruise Panels
9:30 – 10:30 Coffee and Danish Social
11:00 – 12:00 # 1 Panel discussion
Cruising South of the Border
Jinx Scwartz
Doug Danielson
12:45 – 1:45 # 1 Crime segment/pitch sessions
2:00 – 3:00 # 2 Panel discussion
Ken Sherman
3:15 – 4:15 # 3 Panel discussion
From Sea to Shining Sea (location)
C. Riggs
Madeline Gornell
Lou Allin
Marilyn Meredith
Peggy Erhart
Adjourn to get ready for Formal Dinner
9:30 – 11:00 # 2 Crime segment/pitch sessions
11:15 – 12:15 # 4 Panel discussion
The Business of Publishing
Lee Emory
Billie Johnson
Sarah Cortez
1:00 – 2:00 # 5 Panel discussion
Sunny Frazier
Jinx Schwartz
Madeline Gornell
Lee Emory
2:15 – 3:45 # 3 Crime segment/pitch sessions
4:00 – 5:00 # 6 Panel discussion
Putting Culture on the Page
Sarah Cortez
Austin Camacho
Virginia Pilegard
Lou Allin
WEDNESDAY – in port
THURSDAY – in port
FRIDAY – in port
9:00 – 10:30 # 4 Crime segment/pitch sessions
10:45 – 11:45 # 7 Panel discussion
Short Stories
Doug Danielson
Peggy Erhart
Dennis Collins
12:30 – 1:30 # 8 Panel discussion
Short Story Workshop
Kate Thornton
1:45 – 2:45 # 9 Panel discussion
Hardboiled to Cozy
Austin Camacho
Cindy Sample
Marion Hill
Cynthia Riggs
Dennis Collins
3:00 – 4:00 # 10 Panel discussion
Novice to Novelists
Morgan St. James—power point
4:30 – 5:30 Cocktail Reception

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Hi, Sailors!

Here's the latest on the Mystery Cruise to the Mexican Riviera:

Cindy Sample has generously volunteered to make conference book bags. The tee-shirt, buttons, pens and surprises will be inside. I'd like to ask you all to contribute whatever you can: bookmarks, marketing items, brochures, flyers, sample booklets, books. You can send them to me, just contact me for my snail mail address. We have 40book bags to fill.

Authors, please contact me and suggest panels. Yes, I've been dragging my feet, but now that Killer Nashville is out of the way, I'm ready to plan. One event at a time is all I can wrap my mind around!

Can't wait to see all of you in November!

Sunny Frazier

Monday, May 24, 2010


The deadline for the conference rate for the Mystery Cruise is coming up fast! We're hoping now that tax season is over people who are interested, curious or just want a memorable sea experience will put down the $250 deposit for a berth--totally refundable if plans don't pan out. Beverly is the contact at

My publisher, Billie Johnson of Oak Tree Press, has now signed up. She will be offering pitch sessions and I will be at her side--I'm the new acquisitions editor of the house. Meeting a publisher in person goes a long way to getting a contract. We get to see your enthusiasm first hand.

One of the panels I'm hoping to present is the Hispanic Voice In Mystery. Sarah Cortez put out the first Hispanic mystery anthology, HIT LIST. I write Hispanic characters in my San Joaquin Valley-based novels. Cruising South of the Border seems like a perfect time to talk about this subject.

Although pitched as a "Mystery Cruise," this is a conference for all writers. We used "Mystery" because those of us planning the cruise were authors who write mystery and true crime. There will be panels on editing, marketing and promotion, setting, developing characters, dialog and pitch sessions. The cost is less than most conferences--think about what a hotel and all your meals would cost at a regular conference. Add 3,000 potential book buyers, music and shows every night, and sunny MEXICO!

Do you really want to sit at home this November? Brrr!

Monday, April 26, 2010


Ken Sherman, a literary agent based in Beverly Hills. An agent for more than twenty years, Sherman represents screen, television and book writers, and also sells film and television rights to books, plus life rights. Clients include Anne Perry, the estate of John Updike, Tawni O'Dell whose "Back Roads, her first published book, became an Oprah Book Club Book, David Guterson ("Snow Falling On Cedars"). Sherman has returned to the classroom numerous times to teach "The Business of Writing for Screen, Television and Publishing" at both USC and UCLA for more than six years.

Lee Emory is the publisher of Treble Heart Books, a publishing empire for extremely talented authors who want to be given a fair shot at having their work in print. WhoooDoo Mysteries are one of the publishing house's divisions.

Jinx Schwartz is the author of the Sea of Cortez Mysteries. She knows the waters off the Mexican coastline very well as she's sailed them many times. She'll give us insider information before we hit the ports.

Check back for a complete list of authors and programs.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Greetings from 2 Reel Productions


We’re a Henderson, Nevada-based production company, and are pleased to say we’ll be sailing with you on the Splendour for Mystery on the High Seas; A Cruise to Die For. We will film the sessions and prepare DVDs upon our return that can be ordered at reasonable prices. In addition, some of the footage may be used for our upcoming TV series, Crime Wire.

We’ll also be giving away door prizes and have gifts for raffle. We’re looking forward to meeting you and having a great time aboard the Splendour.

Jay Cleveland & J.C. Willette
2 Reel Productions

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


More authors and publishers are signing up to sail away with us to the Mexican Riviera.

Author Cynthia Riggs will launch her 9th Martha Vineyard Mystery, TOUCH-ME-NOT from St. Martin's Minotaur. Her 92-year-old detective demonstrates that you can be up for anything at any age.

Lee Emory, owner of Treble Heart Books, will be with us representing her mystery line, WhoooDoo Mysteries.

One of Emory's authors, Jinx Schwartz, is already familiar with the Mexican Riviera--she's set her mysteries in some the the ports-of-call we'll be visiting. Her presentation on the area will get us ready for some shore time.

Artist and author Mary Montague Sikes (Monti to her friends) is ready to discuss romantic suspense. What better place than on a romantic cruise on the Pacific?

Good friend Austin Camacho, the author of the Hannibal Jones series, has published a book on marketing. While sailing on the currents, we will also have discussions on the "current" trends in publishing.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Ken Sherman, a literary agent based in Beverly Hills, is signing on for our week at sea. An agent for more than twenty years, Sherman represents screen, television and book writers, and also sells film and television rights to books, plus life rights.

Sherman has returned to the classroom numerous times to teach "The Business of Writing for Screen, Television and Publishing" at both USC and UCLA for more than six years. This is an exciting opportunity for authors to explore a unique aspect of screenwriting and mystery fans to get a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


People are starting to reserve cabins for the cruise. As authors sign on, I'm asking what panels they would love to present.

Peggy Ehrhart, author of SWEET MAN IS GONE would like to host a panel titled “Murder With a Beat: Mysteries with Musical Sleuths and Musical Themes.” That's one I've never seen at a conference before! We'll be looking for some authors with musical inclinations to join her. Other suggestions are “The Art of Mystery: Mysteries Featuring Sleuths Involved in the Arts.”

Marilyn Meredith, author of the Tempe Crabtree series and Rocky Bluff PD series suggests “Location, Location, Location: Choosing Your Setting.”

Madeline Gornell is interested in conducting a panel on "The Importance of Rewriting and Editing.”

Marion Moore Hill, author of the Deadly Past Mysteries, would like to see her Thomas Jefferson Sleuth joined by other Historical Mystery authors.

Attorney Dorinda Ohnstad, winner of the SEAK contest, is a bonus on a short story panel. Learn how she beat the odds to win the prize.

Canadian Lou Allin is willing to go South of the Border to give us a bit of Northern Exposure. Let's talk aboot Canada for a change!

I would LOVE to see a panel of Hispanic authors, especially since we're cruising to the Mexican Riviera. I've waiting for such a panel in many years of going to conferences. We're overdue! Any takers?

And I'm willing to put on my camouflage gear to teach “Write to Win: Guerrilla Tactics For Fearless Writers.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Partial Agenda

The lust for true crime is fired by the notion that bad people are good fun, so long as one doesn’t have to share a dark alley with them. Andrew Hagan

If you are a mystery or true crime reader or writer, you won’t want to miss this cruise. True crime enthusiasts will be treated to a feast of presentations and panels presented by experts in the field of organized crime, with a focus on Las Vegas and the Mob. The movie Casino dramatized the Las Vegas reign of Chicago Outfit enforcer Tony Spilotro. Aboard the Splendour you’ll learn the real story of Mob-run Sin City. Scheduled true crime sessions are:

How the Mob Skimmed the Las Vegas Casinos;
Las Vegas and the Mob;
Investigating Organized Crime; and
Life inside the Mob.

Presenters will include author and Las Vegas organized crime historian Dennis Griffin, retired Nevada Gaming Control Board agent John Miller, Vito Colucci and other retired lawmen.

A former Gambino crime family street soldier will tell what it’s really like to be in “the life.” This special guest will provide insights into organized crime you won’t see on TV or read in the newspapers. For security purposes his identity will not be released until the ship sails.

Fans of fiction crime and mystery will also have plenty to do when not in port. Published authors and publisher representatives will be aboard to put on a variety of presentations that will be entertaining and informative.

All sessions will include time for Q&A. And there will be plenty of opportunity for schmoozing and networking.

Aboard the Valor

This photo was taken aboard the Carnival Valor last November during a writers' panel.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The primary method to skim Las Vegas

The mob skimmed money several ways from false fills to the tables to converting 21 million dollars in coin into paper currency. This was done under the noses of the Nevada State Gaming Control Board. I know, my nose was one of them.
If you love crime, and MO's, and if you need a vacation, think about taking this cruise. Seven days of the mexican Riviera plus meet cops and crooks. Find out first hand and get to ask questions.

The Scharff and Freeman Murders

In June of 1981 Ronald Scharff and Patricia Freeman were found shot to death in a tavern owned by Ron Scharff in Lakemoor, Illinois. In 1982 former Chicago and Las Vegas Mobster Frank Cullotta became a government witness. During his debriefing by law enforcement authorities Frank named the person he believed was responsible for those murders. Amazingly, that individual was never questioned by the police, and for the next 27 years the killings remained unsolved. But that changed in 2008 when Cullotta's biography was released and his account of the Scharff/Freeman murders was read by a friend of the Scharff family. The investigation was renewed and the killer was named in 2009. In this video Frank Cullotta and retired FBI agent Dennis Arnoldy discuss the case.

Las Vegas and the Mob

The 1995 movie Casino dramatized the Las Vegas reign of Chicago Outfit enforcer Tony Spilotro. Author Dennis Griffin relates the story behind the film.