Let Me Introduce You To…The Key West Mystery Fest Short Story Contest

In the early 90s, my best friend and I were completely addicted to logics puzzles and games. Anything that challenged his logical and my lateral brains were a surefire way for us to wile away our time. It was during this phase of my life (I was in college at the time), I discovered a writer who…in my humble opinion…could have been the greatest criminal mastermind to have ever lived. Or…even better, the most amazingly brilliant detective. His name was Hy Conrad and he had written a series of some of the most spectacular books of mini-mysteries I’ve ever had the good fortune to read. I mean…these books were devious. The crimes were smart. The solutions would make you pull the hair out of your head. But they were so much fun!
A few years later, I became a huge fan of the hit TV series known as Monk…about a consulting detective with OCD who solved some of the most diabolical crimes ever concocted. Imagine my surprise when, while reading through the credits in one episode, the name Hy Conrad jumped out at me. That’s right…the brilliant author who had captivated me with some of the coolest mini-mystery logic puzzle books was the writer and producer of my favorite mystery TV show! I couldn’t imagine anyone better suited for such a great show.
Long story short…eventually, I became friends with this criminal genius. And I’ve fulfilled a dream by having him agree to let me publish his very first full blown mystery novel…RALLY ‘ROUND THE CORPSE, which will be available in bookstores everywhere starting in May! But I’ll tell you guys more about this awesomely fun mystery novel and its author in some posts in the future. For now…it’s time to tell you about an awesome opportunity for established writers and those who’ve never put a single word on paper, but have always wanted to give it a try. I want to tell you about Hy’s KEYWEST MYSTERY FEST and the awesome mystery short story contest they’re having.
You see, Hy has recently written a wonderful mystery play (HOME EXCHANGE) which will be premiering the first week of May in Key West. To celebrate this, the entire beautiful town of Key West is putting on the first annual Key West Mystery Fest (which will include some of the finest names in Mystery fiction, I might add).
As it happens, Seven Realms Publishing just so happens to be a sponsor of this super fun event and so I wanted to make sure you knew about this opportunity to possibly make a name for yourself within the mystery writing community! I’ll tell you guys more about this fantastic 10-day event in one of the most beautiful parts of the United States in the upcoming weeks, but for now, let me give you guys the official rules of the contest. Anyone…and I do mean ANYONE (you really don’t have to be a professional writer…you just have to have the courage and creativity to come up with a fun mystery)…is encouraged to participate in this contest. (Well, heck…except me, I guess. I can’t participate because I’m a sponsor…but I bet my story would have been good! Haha!)
As part of the inaugural Key West Mystery Fest, the Waterfront Playhouse is excited to announce a Mystery Short Story Contest.  Entries must be submitted by May 4 and winners will be announced at a brunch on Sunday, May 13 at the Westin Key West Resort & Marina.
Hy Conrad (writer/producer of the hit TV series Monk and White Collar) has written a brief cliff-hanging introduction called “Check-Out Time.”  Contestants must complete the story in 500 words or less.
Prizes will awarded for Best Story, Most Creative and Best Student Entry.  Some of Key West’s most prominent mystery writers will act as judges for the contest.
No writing experience is necessary – just an active imagination and a devious mind.  Tickets for the awards brunch are available at WaterfrontPlayhouse.org or by calling the Waterfront Playhouse box office (305-294-5015).
  • Best Story:  $200 + trophy + 2 tickets to awards brunch on May 13 + 2 tickets to Home Exchange at the Waterfront Playhouse
  • Most Creative:  $100 + 2 tickets to awards brunch on May 13 + 2 tickets to Home Exchange at the Waterfront Playhouse
  • Best Student Entry: Most Creative:  $100 + 2 tickets to awards brunch on May 13 + 2 tickets to Home Exchange at the Waterfront Playhouse
  • Entries due via email by May 4, 2012
  • Winner announced in Solares Hill and at awards brunch (Westin Key West Resort & Marina) on Sunday, May 13, 2012.
  • Please email your entry (500 words or less, not including the introduction) to jeffjohnson73@me.com along with:
    • Name
    • Email address
    • Phone number
  • Indicate whether or not you are a student
Key West Mystery Fest is a 10-day festival of mysteries and mystery-related events sponsored by The Waterfront Playhouse and will be held in Key West, FL from May 4 to 13, 2012.  For more information, go to KeyWestMysteryFest.com or contact Jeff Johnson at jeffjohnson73@me.com.
So, ready for Hy Conrad’s INTRODUCTION to the story? Here it is. Good luck!

Alan sat on the bed, biting his nails.  He had checked in using a fake I.D. and hoped the clerk wouldn’t remember his face.  A minute later, Jordan arrived in sunglasses, hair tucked under a baseball cap.  They closed the motel room door and exchanged quick, nervous smiles.  “Did you bring…  you know?”  Alan pointed to the bag in Jordan’s hand.
“It’s in there.  What did you tell your boss?”
“I said I had a doctor’s appointment.  Your family?”  It seems that Jordan, too, had used the excuse of a doctor’s appointment.  They chuckled at the coincidence.  “You still want to do this?”
“Of course.  We’ve been planning it for weeks.  But if anyone finds out…”
“They won’t find out.” Alan said.  He eyed Jordan’s bag, thinking about what was inside.  “I need to use the bathroom.”
Jordan stood by the bed and was startled a moment later by Alan’s cry of shock.  “What the…”  Alan was at the bathroom door, staring inside, his mouth hanging open.
Jordan joined him and looked inside the bathroom.  “Oh, no.”
It took them a second to fully realize the horror of their situation.  “What do we do now?”
EMAIL ENTRY TO jeffjohnson73@me.com
More information is available at
And remember…if you want more information about The Key West Mystery Fest, check out their website at www.keywestmyseryfest.com.
For more information about Hy Conrad, check out his website here: www.hyconrad.com.

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