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Speaker Bios and Workshop Information


This page includes full bios as well as suggested topics for workshops and presentations for each of our speakers available for 2021 events.


Speakers Available for 2021 Events


Kevin J. Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson is the author of over 150 books, 56 of which have appeared on national or international bestseller lists. Kevin has written three X-FILES novels, numerous STAR WARS projects, fifteen bestselling Dune novels with Brian Herbert, and he also collaborated with Dean Koontz on Frankenstein: Prodigal Son, which sold a million copies in the first year of its release.

He has also written a humorous horror series featuring Dan Shamble, Zombie PI, as well as an epic SF series "The Saga of Seven Suns," and a steampunk fantasy adventure novel with legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart, based on the concept CD, “Clockwork Angels.” As the publishers of WordFire Press, Kevin and his wife Rebecca Moesta have released more than 300 titles from Alan Dean Foster, Frank Herbert, Jody Lynn Nye, Allen Drury, Mike Resnick, Tracy Hickman, Jay Lake, Brian Herbert, Ken Scholes, and their own backlist.

He is also a noted Futurist who has lectured before many world-class venues, and he is the Director of the Publishing MA for Western Colorado University. Kevin climbs mountains. He and his wife have been married for twenty-five years; they live in a castle in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Possible presentations:

  • The Popcorn Theory of Success: Kevin J. Anderson describes his journey from small-town fanboy to international bestselling author.
  • Kevin's Eleven: Tips to Increase Your Writing Productivity. Anderson is one of the most prolific authors working in the business, with over 150 novels published. He describes various techniques that all writers can use to increase their word count.
  • World Building: From Small Towns to Entire Universes: Anderson presents broad strokes of the many different factors involved in creating a fully fleshed-out world in your fiction, whether it's a sweeping space epic or a local thriller.

Click here for more information.

Terri Bischoff (New Speaker for 2021)

Terri Bischoff began her life in books as a bookseller at Kramerbooks in Washington, DC. After moving home to the Midwest, she worked at a feminist bookstore before purchasing and operating Booked for Murder in Madison, WI. She spent 10 years at Midnight Ink as their acquiring editor and published 36-40 books a year. When MI announced their closing, Terri moved to Crooked Lane Books as Senior Acquisitions Editor in January 2019. Terri offers several possible presentations and is also willing to tailor an event to a chapter’s specific needs.

Possible Presentations:

  • Pitches and Query Letters
  • Traditional Publishing—From Submission to Publication
  • First Five Pages—What You Need to Grab an Editor’s Attention
  • Editing: (these topics could be combined depending on the group): mistakes authors make before submission; self-editing; developmental editing; tips and tricks to building a series)

Click here for more information.

Allison Brennan

Allison Brennan believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five children and writes three books a year. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison is now a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than three dozen thrillers and numerous short stories. Reviewers have called her “a master of suspense” and RT Book Reviews said her books are “mesmerizing” and “complex.” She’s been nominated for multiple awards, including the Thriller, RWA’s Best Romantic Suspense (five times), and twice won the Daphne du Maurier award. She currently writes two series—the Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan thrillers and the Maxine Revere cold case mysteries.

Click here for more information.

Leslie Budewitz

Leslie Budewitz writes cozy mysteries and suspense novels set in the Northwest, and short stories that explore human conflict in both contemporary and historical settings. Leslie is the winner of three Agatha Awards: Best Nonfiction (2011) for her guide for writers, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure (Linden/Quill Driver); Best First Novel (2013) for Death al Dente (Berkley); and Best Short Story (2018) for “All God’s Sparrows” (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine).

A practicing lawyer, Leslie served as 2015-16 president of Sisters in Crime, and joined the national board of Mystery Writers of America in January 2019. Her next Spice Shop mystery, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, The Solace of Bay Leaves, will be published in July 2020, and her first suspense novel will appear in May 2021. She lives, writes, cooks, and hikes in Northwest Montana.

Possible workshops:

  • 10 Common Mistakes Writers Make About the Law: A lawyer-novelist identifies common mistakes and how to avoid them.
  • Building Character: Characters drive story---or at least they should. We’ll talk about what brings a character to life on the page, with examples. We’ll discuss rants, discovery pages, character traits, personality classification systems, drawing on your own experiences, and other tools and exercises for building characters who drive your story, speak in their own voice, and keep your readers turning the page. Writing exercises included.
  • Home and Away – Creating compelling settings: We’ll analyze what makes a place come alive on the page, whether it’s the main location for your story or a side trip—the telling detail, the vivid description, sensory detail. Writing exercises included.

Click here for more information.

Jan Burke

Jan Burke is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She has won the Edgar, the Agatha, the Macavity, the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Award, and other awards.

Her fourteen books include Flight, Bloodlines, and a supernatural thriller, The Messenger. Her novel Bones won the Edgar for Best Novel. Her books have been published internationally and have been optioned for film and television. She is the author of over thirty short stories.

She is a nationally recognized advocate for the improvement of forensic science. She is a member of the advisory board of the California Forensic Science Institute. She co-hosted the podcast Crime and Science Radio with Doug Lyle.

Click here for more information.

Ellen Byron

Ellen Byron writes the Cajun Country Mysteries and The Catering Hall Mysteries (as Maria DiRico). Mardi Gras Murder won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. The series has also won multiple Best Humorous Mystery Lefty awards from Left Coast Crime. The Catering Hall Mysteries recently debuted with Here Comes the Body. Ellen’s TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly OddParents. She’s written over 200 national magazine articles, and her published plays include the award-winning Graceland. She also worked as a cater-waiter for the legendary Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing.

Possible workshops:

  • It's a Funny Thing: Easy Ways to Add Humor to Your Writing: Learn fifteen easy-to-implement tips plus bonus tips and workshop exercises from a TV pro on how to find and mine the funny in any manuscript. Ellen also shares an insider’s view of what it’s like to work as a television comedy writer.
  • The Magic of Setting: Evocative settings add atmosphere and dimension to your writing. Through improvisational writing exercises, participants will first explore the many aspects of setting, and then use what they’ve discovered to bring color and richness to their projects.
  • The Organics of Outlining - An organic approach to outlining that inspires creative storytelling. Participants will be guided through the process of turning a logline into a synopsis that will eventually grow into both a fluid and a cutting outline.
  • Are You Interested or Committed? This question is a game changer in life as well as career. Let's take an honest look at your manuscripts, your ideas, your work habits, your life choices, and figure out where your passion truly lies so you can move from "interested" to "committed."
  • Ellen can also tailor a workshop to meet a chapter’s specific needs.

Click here for more information.

L.A. Chandlar

L. A. Chandlar is a national bestselling, Agatha-nominated author who has written non-fiction on the psychology of creativity in Brass, her Fight to Keep Creativity Alive project; a historical fiction novel on the holiday traditions, The Christmas Journalist; and her latest series, The Art Deco Mysteries with Kensington Publishing. Laurie is a motivational speaker and her encouraging, lively lectures stem from her diverse background, which ranges from working in PR with General Motors, fund-raising for a global non-profit, raising two boys in New York City, to touring and managing a rock band. She has lectured and led workshops nationally for a wide variety of audiences including executives, students, social entrepreneurs, historical societies, and U.N. Diplomats.

She can tailor talks to the preferences of her audience, but some possibilities are:

  • The Psychology of Creativity: 1) An overview of understanding the nature of creativity and how we are wired to create. 2) How to become a student of yourself and how you uniquely write, there is room for all of us, only you can tell your story, overcoming obstacles, differentiating between self-awareness and self-doubt. 3) Creativity Boot Camp: a hands-on workshop to learn how you uniquely create, what inspires you, what bores you, and how to reignite a stalled engine.
  • Marketing you and your books – creatively – and how to not die doing it
  • Finding an agent, writing a good query, keeping an eye on the future and having a positive outlook
  • For the November/December season, a talk on the history of holiday traditions. It’s an inspiring departure on writer’s self-help talks that reminds the audience of why we write. We are part of a bigger story of creativity. Laurie’s Creativity Talks and Holiday Traditions talk have optional colorful PowerPoint photographs and videos.

Click here for more information.

Suzanne Chazin (New Speaker for 2021)

Suzanne Chazin is an award-winning author of two suspense series. Her first, featuring Georgia Skeehan, a scrappy female fire investigator for the New York City Fire Department, was called, “Dazzling” by People magazine. Her second, featuring Jimmy Vega, a cop navigating the veiled world of the undocumented in upstate NY, was chosen as a top-five mystery pick by the American Library Association in 2016.

A journalist and mother of two, Suzanne has taught both fiction and non-fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, NYU, and the New School for Social Research. She's been a State University of New York writing fellow and a frequent guest lecturer at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. In her mystery career, Suzanne has gone through four publishing houses, three literary agents, five agencies, and a decade-long break when she questioned whether she'd ever publish again. Although Suzanne will tailor her workshops to meet the group’s specific needs, she has some suggestions of her own.

Possible presentations:

  • Writing with Oven Mitts: Protecting the Muse through Parenthood: Being a mother and a writer means balancing daily guilt with the sense that you've lost your creative self. (Or, at the very least, buried it under four days of laundry). We’ll explore ways to find your muse again in this fun, empathetic and inspiring guide.
  • Writing Outside Your Point of View: Even if your main character shares your world view, others in your book might not. This talk is designed to help writers develop characters outside their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, occupation, residency, or life experience.
  • Sex, Greed, and Fear—Fueling Your Story: A fun and practical blueprint for turning pages into page-turners with just three ingredients.

Click here for more information.

Jane K. Cleland

Jane K. Cleland writes the multiple award-winning, IMBA-bestselling, and long-running Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series [St. Martin’s Minotaur and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine] as well as thriller and espionage short stories. Library Journal named the first in the series, Consigned to Death, a “core title” for librarians looking to build a cozy collection, one of only 22 titles listed, along with books by Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. In addition, Jane writes about the craft of writing, including articles for Writer’s Digest Magazine, where she is a Contributing Editor, and books for Writer’s Digest Books, the bestselling and Agatha Award-winning Mastering Plot Twists and Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot. Her work has won or been a finalist for the Anthony, Agatha, David, and Macavity awards, and has received starred reviews from Shelf Review and Library Journal. In addition, Jane chairs the Black Orchid Novella Award committee, awarded annually by the Wolfe Pack in partnership with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. She is also a past president of the Mystery Writers of America/New York Chapter, and has served on the MWA national board. Jane has both an MFA and an MBA. She is a tenured member of the full-time faculty at Lehman College and she mentors MFA students at Western Connecticut State University.

Jane’s presents highly-rated, inspirational workshops and keynotes at writing conferences, association meetings, and universities. All Jane’s presentations are custom-tailored.

Possible workshops:

  • Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot
  • The Art of Distraction: Using Red Herrings to Create Suspense
  • The Perception Gap: How to Use Your Characters' Views of the World to Create Compelling and Twisty Plots
  • Mastering Plot Twists
  • Subplots Aren’t Secondary
  • Find Your Inner Muse: Overcoming Writer’s Block

Click here for more information.

Vicki Delany

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the United States. She is the author of more than thirty-five published books (so far): everything from clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is the author of the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes bookshop series for Crooked Lane Books, and the forthcoming Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington. Under the pen name Eva Gates, she writes the Lighthouse Library mystery series set in a historic lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Vicki lives in bucolic Prince Edward County, Ontario. She is a retired computer programmer and systems analyst and is a past- board chair of Crime Writers of Canada. She is the co-organizer of Women Killing It, a crime writers literary festival held annually in Prince Edward County.

Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, The Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards. She was the guest of honour at the Bloody Words convention in 2014, at Deadly Ink in 2017, and When Words Collide in 2020. Vicki is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing.

Possible workshops include:

  • Plotting the Mystery Novel (half day or full day)
  • Page One, Chapter One: Starting your Novel with Impact
  • Writing Effective Dialogue
  • Creating Compelling Characters
  • Writing the Villain in a Crime Novel

In addition, she can speak on:

  • The joys and perils of the writing life
  • Why she writes so many different sub-genres of crime novels
  • The fun of creating a Sherlock Holmes bookshop and a Sherlock-like character

Click here for more information.

Laura DiSilverio

A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Laura DiSilverio is the national bestselling and award-winning author of 21 mystery, suspense and young adult sci-fi novels. She has written four cozy series for various Penguin imprints, and the Swift Investigations books, a humorous private investigator series, for St. Martin's Minotaur. Library Journal named her most recent book, Close Call, one of the Top Five mysteries of 2016, and The Reckoning Stones (2015) won the Colorado Book Award for Mystery in 2016. Incubation, the first book of her self-pubbed young adult dystopian trilogy, is an Amazon bestseller and will be published in France (and other French speaking countries) by City Editions later this year. Her upcoming release is the suspense novel That Last Weekend (Sep 2017). A Past President of Sisters in Crime, she taught for Mystery Writers of America's Mystery University, and teaches writing at Writer's Digest conferences and in other venues.

Some of her popular workshops include:

  • No Pain, No Gain: Increasing Conflict in Your Novels
  • Revealing Character through Setting
  • Getting Serious about Series Writing
  • Plot and Conflict: A Match Made for Murder; Antagonists
  • Six Ways to Make the Bad Better, and more.

Please email her if you are interested in more details about any of these workshops, or to talk about other options.

Click here for more information.

Amanda Flower

Amanda Flower is a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author. She is the author of over twenty-five novels, including the bestselling Crime and Poetry and Assaulted Caramel. Her books have been in print continuously since 2010 when her first novel, Maid of Murder, debuted. She has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times, and has been featured in USA Today. She is a frequent speaker on author publicity and social media, researching for fiction, plotting the bestselling novel, and mystery/suspense fiction. She has vast experience critiquing writers' works of all genres and providing sound publishing advice for those pursuing traditional, as well as self-publishing. Writers Amanda has tutored have gone on to publish both traditionally and independently. She has experience organizing writer conferences and programs both for her local library and Sisters in Crime.

Amanda’s latest works are Toxic Toffee, Verse and Vengeance, and Matchmaking Can Be Murder. She’s a former librarian, who now writes full time from home with her two photogenic cats.

Possible workshops:

  • Crafting Memorable Characters: Do you want to know what it takes to make your characters standout?
  • Crafting A Killer Plot: What makes a novel a bestseller? Find out the essential ingredients to turn your novel into a bestseller
  • Social Media for Authors: How do you make a dynamic author platform? How do you engage with readers without overwhelming them?

Click here for more information.

Jamie Freveletti (New Speaker for 2021)

Jamie Freveletti is the internationally bestselling and award winning author of seven novels, four short stories and is published in three languages. In addition to her Emma Caldridge series, she also writes for Robert Ludlum’s Covert One series. Her short stories are included in For The Sake Of The Game, a Sherlock Holmes anthology, and the true crime anthology Anatomy of Innocence; Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted. She lives in Chicago.

Possible presentations:

  • Action and Conflict: The two keys to a good thriller. Action and conflict propel every thriller forward, but how to write action and sustain conflict is trickier than you’d think. This class will help you write both and sustain the tension throughout your manuscript.
  • Character and dialogue: Create interesting characters that stand out and get noticed while avoiding those tired tropes that don’t.
  • How to Query Agents and Publishers and Sell your Manuscript: As
    someone picked up from the infamous “slush pile,” I’ve learned a lot about how to
    successfully navigate this aspect of your writing journey. I’ll give tips and tricks to get it done.

Click here for more information.

L. C. Hayden (New Speaker for 2021)

Award winning and bestselling author L. C. Hayden has penned over 25 books in various genres, but most in the mystery field. Her Harry Bronson thriller series has hit several best-selling lists and has been finalist for the Agatha, Left Coast Crime, and Killer Nashville’s awards, as well as for the Reader’s Choice Award.

She juggles her time between three mystery series, the Harry Bronson Thriller Series, the Aimee Brent Mystery Series, and the Connie Weaver Thriller Series. She also writes inspirational and children books.

Hayden is a popular speaker who is often in demand. Her highly-rated workshops have been presented at schools, clubs, and writing organizations. She was hired by several major cruise lines to speak while cruising all over the world. From October 2006 to October 2007, Hayden hosted Mystery Writers of America’s only talk show, Murder Must Air. She is willing to tailor an event to a chapter’s specific needs.

Possible Presentations:

  • How to Keep the Readers Turning Pages: Reviewers claim Hayden keeps her readers at the edge of their seats. How does she do it? In this tell-all presentation, Hayden will reveal her secrets that you too can incorporate into your writing.
  • Self-publishing or Traditional Publishing? Which is the best for you? Hybrid author Hayden, speaking from experience, will reveal the pros and cons of each so that you can make the right decision.
  • Those Horrible Writing Mistakes: Hayden will discuss the errors new and established writers make. Deleting these errors in your writing will take your work to the next level.

Click here for more information.

Libby Fischer Hellmann

Libby Fischer Hellmann left a career in broadcast news in Washington, DC and moved to Chicago over 35 years ago, where she, naturally, began to write gritty crime fiction. Fifteen novels and twenty-five short stories later, she claims they’ll take her out of the Windy City feet first. She has been nominated for many awards in the mystery and crime writing community and has even won a few.

Libby has been conducting presentations and workshops for nearly forty years. She created her “Building Suspense” workshop after publishing three novels, mostly to teach herself why readers stay up way too late to finish her stories. She also created the full-day “Anatomy of a Crime Novel” workshop, designed to teach the effective use of plot, narrative, voice, setting, character, dialogue. Those elements can be streamlined or combined into two-hour workshops as well; for example: “Dialogue, plot, and setting.” Finally, as a hybrid author, she conducts workshops on how to self-publish the way traditional publishers do it.

Click here for more information.

K.J. (Kimberley) Howe

K.J. Howe is the international bestselling author of The Freedom Broker (Thriller Award Winner/Best First Book, Barry Award Finalist/Best Thriller, Starred Reviews from Kirkus and BookList) and Skyjack (Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal). She holds a Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and she is the executive director of ThrillerFest, the premier thriller conference held in NYC every July. Home is Toronto, Canada, but she is often missing in action.

Possible workshops:

  • Give Readers a Whiplash Smile: Pacing is a key element in any compelling novel, whether you’re penning an epic family saga, a romantic comedy or a tense thriller. Join author K.J. Howe to learn how to use structural choices and word selections to control the pacing in your novel. Writing is like music, stretching from adagio to staccato, and you need to find the right beat to keep readers up all night long.
  • How Conferences Can Launch Your Career: Conferences offer many hidden opportunities for advancement in your career. Come hear an insider’s view of what you can accomplish by tackling these critical industry events with preparation and polish. If you approach conferences the right way, they can change your life.
  • Kidnap and Ransom 101: After spending seven years immersed in the world of kidnap and ransom to write The Freedom Broker series, K.J. has become a subject matter expert in the field, speaking to the world’s top negotiators, former hostages, K&R insurance executives, and other industry experts. Learn how you can integrate kidnapping scenarios in your fiction in an authentic way.
  • Develop a Unique Voice: A captivating voice is often what makes certain novels shine in a crowded field. Learn how to hone your unique voice so that editors and fans both will want more, more, more.
  • Worldbuilding Isn’t Just for Sci-Fi and Fantasy: When you start a new suspense novel, it’s well worth investing the time to create an entire backdrop for the story. Enhance your writing by learning how to immerse readers in a fully fleshed out new world where your characters live—the ultimate escapism.

Click here for more information.

Georgia Jeffries (New Speaker for 2021)

Georgia Jeffries writes stories of literary suspense about women on the edge. Malinche, a legal thriller about a female medic railroaded by military injustice, will be published in 2020. Her short fiction, “What Would Nora Do?”, appears in the 2019 Mystery Writers of America Odd Partners anthology edited by Edgar Award-winning author Anne Perry. Georgia has contributed essays to Huffington Post, Written By and The First Time I Got Paid For It: Writers’ Tales from the Hollywood Trenches. She serves on the Board of Directors for Red Hen Press.

Georgia is also a writer/producer of Emmy-winning drama and a tenured professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. The first individual woman to earn the Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama, she cracked the glass ceiling as a showrunner on Cagney & Lacey and Peabody Award winner, China Beach. Her work has been honored with a Humanitas Prize, Women’s International Film & Television Screenwriter of the Year Award, and multiple Golden Globe nominations.

Born in the Illinois heartland, Georgia graduated from UCLA and began her career as a journalist for American Film. She started writing fiction after being awarded a Leighton Artists residency at the Banff Centre of the Arts. She lives in southern California with her family and super-feline, Cagney.

Possible Presentations:

  • Dialogue: The Key to Characterization
    Based on the structure of my USC Cinema MFA thesis class, I workshop attendees’ prose pages through “cast” scene readings and feedback.
  • Less Is More: Screenwriting Techniques to Enhance Prose and Hook Readers
    This workshop focuses on chapter pacing, internal scene dynamics and character arcs.
  • Adapting Suspense Fiction to Film and TV
    Through the prism of my own career as both author/screenwriter, I present guidelines to re-conceive stories in multiple marketplaces.

Click here for more information.

Mary Beth Magee

Mary Beth Magee was infected with the murder and mystery bug at an early age. Beginning with The Happy Hollisters and progressing through Nancy Drew, Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie, she’s incurable.

She first saw her name in print as a juvenile book reviewer in her hometown paper and hasn’t stopped writing since. Her checkered past includes stints as a telephone operator, substitute school teacher, cosmetic salesperson, home health aide, government contractor, kitchen helper in a deli, real estate agent, office manager and corporate trainer, any of which can show up in a novel. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, focusing on adult learning. Death in the Daylilies, her debut novel, was nominated for a Mississippi Library Award. The sequel, Ambush at the Arboretum, went to print in 2017.

Her public speaking has taken her across the country as a member of Speakers’ Bureaus for Toastmasters International and Habitat for Humanity. She’s added workshops and writing conferences to the list with topics such as Marketing Your Book on a Budget, Bringing Nature to Life in Your Writing, and Harnessing the Power of “What If...?” Magee belongs to the Sisters in Crime-NOLA chapter and Louisiana Ladies of Mystery.

Click here for more information.

Sujata Massey

Agatha-award winning author Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany; she grew up mostly in St. Paul, MN, but has resided in Baltimore ever since her college days. Sujata began her working life as a features reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun; this journalistic focus played a big role in creating an authentic feeling for her mystery series set in Japan that began with The Salaryman’s Wife and continued for ten more books which have been published in 15 countries.

Her interest in cultural conflict and the roles women played in Asian historical events have brought into a new mystery series. The Perveen Mistry books are set in 1920s Bombay and star a young woman inspired by India’s first woman
lawyer. The internationally-bestselling series is currently published in five countries and is in the process of being optioned for television. The first in that series, The Widows of Malabar Hill, was designated one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Mystery/Thrillers of 2018.

Possible presentations:

  • The Journalist’s Road to Mystery. A writer can use the tricks of journalistic observation, deadline writing, and punchy style to craft stand-out mysteries. And what is the risk and reward of using real people and places in fiction? And can someone who’s never worked in journalism use these skills anyway?
  • Turn Your Holiday into a Mystery Novel. Yes, you can write a mystery set somewhere you don’t live. What are some ways to make a foreign voice authentic, and the plot sound like it’s coming from an insider rather than a tourist?
  • Feminism and the Historical Mystery. Strong gutsy female protagonists are a stereotype of modern mystery fiction set in the 1970s onward. But before then, women were rarely able to have careers that would put them into a crime-solving context. How do we write strong historical women sleuths who are still believable for their times?

Click here for more information.

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and Mountainside Retreats: Marketing, Nonfiction, Novelists, and Speakers with social media specialist Edie Melson. DiAnn continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, BookBub, YouTube, LinkedIn or her website:

Possible presentations:

  • Characterization—The Key to Great Novel Writing: Every story has a launching point that triggers an explosion onto the page and spins the novel into breathless action.
  • Mastering Plot: “Plotting is not a science, but it’s the surprises that make writing both frustrating and rewarding.” James Hynes
  • Creating a Powerful Book Launch: A writer’s goal is to place well-written books into the hands and hearts of readers.
  • Developing Powerful Emotions: Novels are stories about characters with emotions in conflict.
  • The Antagonistic Setting: Too often writers ignore setting or give it a minor role—instead of exploring the power of where a scene takes place.
  • The Lies our Characters Believe: Sometimes the problem with our characters is not what we believe about them, but what they believe about themselves.
  • Betrayal—An Antagonist’s Sharpest Tool: Betrayal is a powerful technique that has its roots in backstory, allowing the writer to lay the foundation for credible behavior in the present.

Click here for more information.

Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning artist, writer, speaker, and law enforcement instructor. A best-selling author of over 20 books in both fiction and non-fiction, her novels have garnered numerous awards including three Carol awards, two Inspys, a Christy, and a Wright, as well as finaled in a number of other competitions. A Certified Forensic Artist, she met her husband, Rick, in the romantic hallways of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Together they formed a dynamic and successful team in their fine and forensic art, working on major national and international cases and creating exquisite watercolors and stone carvings. They travel internationally, teaching forensic art to a variety of participants: from the Secret Service to the FBI, from large law enforcement agencies to the smallest two-man departments in their one-week classes. They are the largest instructors of forensic art in the world. Carrie has won numerous awards for her innovative teaching methods and general career excellence and is a signature member of the Idaho Watercolor Society.

Possible presentations:

  • Don't LIE to Me!: Recognizing lies and deception through physical clues and language-and how to write it.
  • Using Art to Solve Crime: Welcome to the fascinating world of forensic art.
  • Secrets to Writing Heart-Pounding Suspense: You want your readers to say they couldn’t put your book down, can’t wait for the next book, LOVE your writing. And you want someone besides your mom or best friend to say this. Learn simple, effective tools to writing award-winning books.

Click here for more information.

Peggy O’Neal Peden

Peggy O’Neal Peden grew up in Middle Tennessee and has lived in and around Nashville most of her life, except for a couple of years in graduate school and a few more in another southern music city, Memphis. Peden has family members and friends in the music industry, not uncommon in Nashville. As John Sebastian wrote, “Mothers from Nashville:/ All their friends play music, and they ain't uptight/ If one of the kids will/ Because it's custom made for any mother's son/To be a guitar picker in Nashville.”

That’s true. Peden has found herself in line at the Apple Store with John Hiatt, sitting across the aisle from Hank Williams, Jr. at a high school graduation and near country stars at ball games.

Peden has taught English and writing at the high school level, has owned a travel agency and written award-winning advertising copy. She is published in regional magazines and was commissioned to write a book on Nashville’s annual outdoor Shakespeare-in-the-Park festival production of the Scottish play. She paints and is a member of the Nashville Artist Guild. One of her paintings hangs in Maureen McCormick’s home overlooking the Pacific. Her mystery Your Killin' Heart, winner of the 2016 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery award, is Peden’s first published (Minotaur, 2017) novel and was an education in the publishing industry. Your Killin' Heart is a traditional mystery dealing with murder and Nashville’s traditional and modern music industry. Other completed manuscripts have won national recognition, including from the annual William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Competition.

Possible presentation:

  • Setting as a Character How to make you setting come alive as a character in your novel.

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Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan is on-air investigative reporter for Boston's WHDH-TV, winning 34 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. The nationally bestselling author of 11 mysteries, Ryan is also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, three Anthonys, two Macavitys, the Daphne, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her novels are Library Journal's Best of 2014, 2015 and 2016. Hank’s current book is psychological thriller Trust Me, an Agatha Nominee, and also named a Best Thriller by New York Post, Bookbub, Real Simple Magazine and CrimeReads. She is a sought-after speaker for seminars on the craft of writing and inspirational advice on the writing life. Her 2019 book is The Murder List, coming in August.

Possible presentations (these seminars are appropriate for all levels of writing experience):

  • What I Wish Someone Had Told Me: Secrets of Writing, Revising Publishing and the Writing Life
  • Who's Telling This Story?: The Secrets to Point of View
  • Great Beginnings: Creating a Perfect First line, First page, and First Chapter
  • Solving the Mystery of the Middle--Pacing, Plot Twists, and Secrets
  • Jumpstart Your Writing: 20 Practical Solutions for When You Hit The Wall
  • Editing Secrets--A Practical Roadmap to Polishing your Novel
  • Everything You Need to Know to Write Crime Fiction!  (In a one hour class,  a two-hour session, or even a day-long seminar.)

Click here for more information.

Cathy Pickens (New Speaker for 2021)

In addition to the award-winning Southern Fried mystery series (St. Martin’s), Cathy writes about fact crime for Mystery Readers Journal and true crime books for History Press, most recently Charlotte True Crime Stories and True Crime Stories of Eastern North Carolina.

As a business school professor, she won numerous teaching awards and was a founding board member of Charlotte’s Forensic Medicine Program. She consults on creativity development and wrote CREATE! Your Own Creative Path (ICSC, 2020). She mentors prison inmates and women in recovery on creativity and coaches writers and teaches at Charlotte Lit. Cathy is past president of Sisters in Crime and served on MWA’s national board.

Possible presentations:

  • Using Real Crime & Forensics in Fiction (1 to 3 hours): “Telling details” and fascinating story sparks for your crime fiction can come from real cases, if you know where to look.
  • CREATE: Developing Your Own Creative Process (3 hours): Of course you are creative. But do you know how to develop a productive creative process? CREATE provides a roadmap to identify where and why you bog down, how to discipline your muse, and how to use (and give) meaningful critique. The book CREATE! provides support beyond the workshop.
  • Structure and Character (3 hours to full day): Good fiction writers must focus on both plot and character. Explore systems for structuring your crime fiction and for creating believable characters, using what storytellers need to know about neuroscience to engage readers.
  • The Bullet in the Head or Where Do You Get Your Ideas?: A humorous look at the genesis of story, including the perfect case I can’t bring myself to write about.
  • Reach Out With Your Writing: What can you do with your writing to help others—and to stretch your own experience?

Click here for more information.

Marcia Talley

Marcia Talley is the Agatha and Anthony award-winning author of Mile High Murder and fifteen previous mysteries featuring survivor and sleuth Hannah Ives. She is editor/author of two star-studded collaborative serial novels, Naked Came the Phoenix and I'd Kill For That, set in a fashionable health spa and an upscale gated community, respectively. Her short stories appear in more than a dozen collections including “With Love, Marjorie Ann” and “Safety First,” both Agatha award nominees, and the multi-award-winning “Too Many Cooks” from Much Ado About Murder, edited by Anne Perry. Her story “Driven to Distraction” won the Agatha Award, nominated for an Anthony, and selected for reprint in two major “Year’s Best” compilations. Another story, “Can You Hear Me Now,” appeared in Two of the Deadliest: New Tales of Lust, Greed and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery, edited by Elizabeth George.

Marcia is a past national President of Sisters in Crime, serves on the board of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a member of the Crime Writers Association (U.K.). Marcia and her husband, Barry, divide their time between Annapolis, Maryland and a quaint Loyalist-style cottage in the Bahamas.

Possible presentations:

  • Craft: Demystifying the Mystery: Tips on Writing Crime Fiction and Look Ma! I’ve Been Kindled)
  • The Writer’s Life: (The Mind of a Mystery Writer and Maryland Can Be Murder)
  • Entertaining Talks (Comic Relief: Or, What’s So Funny About Murder; Dante, Dorothy and Disney: the 7 Deadly Sins in Crime Fiction; and Murder Least Foul: Teapots and Craft Shops and Cats)
  • The Genre’s History (Early Female Sleuths: From L____ to Nancy Drew; Tommy and Tuppence: Partners for Life; Confessions of a Serial Novelist; and After the Golden Age in America: Women Mystery Writers of the 50s and 60s.)

Most talks are richly illustrated with PowerPoint slides.

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Beth (Jaden) Terrell

As Jaden Terrell, Beth Terrell is the internationally published author of the Nashville-based Jared McKean mysteries. She’s a contributor to the Killer Nashville Noir: Coldblooded anthology, the collaborative anthology Eight Mystery Writers You Should be Reading Now, and to Now Write! Mysteries, a collection of writing exercises published by Tarcher/Penguin for writers of crime fiction. Her first book, Racing the Devil, was shortlisted for a Shamus award.

She has been teaching in one capacity or another for more than thirty years, first as a special education teacher, then as a teacher/trainer at an educational assessment company, and currently as a workshop instructor and writing coach. Her workbook for beginning crime writers, Question Me a Novel, was published in December.

She is active in the mystery community, serving as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter and regional Mystery Writers of America chapter. She is active in Private Eye Writers of America and interviews other authors for The Big Thrill, the online magazine of International Thriller Writers.

She has a series of full-day workshops on the craft and business of writing, and has recently offered two-hour versions of her writing-your-first-draft workshop for the Knoxville Writers Guild and the Middle Tennessee Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Possible presentations:

  • Revision and Editing
  • Point of View
  • Character Development
  • Dialogue
  • Marketing for Writers Who Hate Marketing
  • Structure of a Scene
  • Beginnings
  • Endings
  • Subplots
  • Unleashing Your Creativity

She also has a motivational talk on perseverance. She’s always open to new topics—in fact, that's how most of her workshops are created--when clients ask for them.

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Diane Vallere (New Speaker for 2021)

Diane Vallere is a mystery writer with over twenty-five titles to her name. Both her Material Witness Mysteries and Costume Shop Mysteries (published by Penguin Random House) were national bestsellers and Lefty-Award nominees for best humorous mystery. She also writes the Madison Night Mad for Mod Mystery Series for Henery Press, and under her independent label, Polyester Press, publishes the Samantha Kidd Style & Error, Sylvia Stryker Space Case, and Mermaid Cozy Mystery series. She has contributed short stories to several anthologies, most recently Murder-a-Go-Go's: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Gos (Down & Out Books). Diane served as president of both local (Los Angeles) and national boards of Sisters in Crime and remains an active member. As her legacy project for the organization, she is currently editing Promophobia, a collection of essays on promotion for writers to be published by Wildside Press in 2020.

Possible presentations:

  • Choose Your Own (Publishing) Adventure: Decoding the difference between indie, small, and big publishers and mapping a plan to reach your desired destination
  • Nurturing Your Fanbase Between Books
  • Hooking: A Writer's Guide to Selling Yourself
  • Tailored Pants(ing): Minor alterations to your pantsing process to make your first draft a better fit for your final project.

Click here for more information.

Abby L. Vandiver (New Speaker for 2021)

Abby is a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and internationally bestselling author of humorous cozy mysteries. She is a hybrid author, having penned more than twenty-five self-published and several traditionally published books (Henery Press and Penguin, USA) as well as nearly a half-dozen short stories. Her Mars Origin series (a sci-fi-ish mystery) and Logan Dickerson Cozy Mystery series were Amazon #1 bestsellers. She is included in the sequel to the award-winning Obama Inheritance anthology, The Faking of the President (Three Rooms Press). And, writing as Abby Collette, she has written an #ownvoice cozy series, An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery (Penguin Berkley). The first book, A Deadly Inside Scoop is set in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

A former lawyer and visiting Economics professor, Abby now writes full-time, mentors indie authors, and is the instructor of Ask Abby, an eight-part self-publishing how-to workshop at her local library. She also speaks at libraries across the state on various book and publishing topics, has been a panelist at Bouchercon and a speaker for Writer's Digest Annual Conference. Abby is a member of Sisters in Crime national and Guppy chapters. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her grandchildren.

Abby is happy to custom-tailor workshops and can speak on a variety of writing and publishing topics.

Possible Presentations:

  • The New Wave of Hybrid Authors: Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
  • Indie Authors—The Economics of Self-Publishing: Self-Publishing on a Budget; You’re on Your Own; Marketing Your Book Today
  • #OwnVoices—Creating Credible Diverse Characters: Tackling Diversity and Inclusion in Publishing
  • How Not to Get the Law Wrong: Writing the Law into your Book; Finding Clues; Presenting Forensic Evidence

Click here for more information.

Elaine Viets

Elaine Viets has written 33 mysteries in four series: the bestselling Dead-End Job series with South Florida PI Helen Hawthorne, the cozy Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mysteries, and the dark Francesca Vierling mysteries. With the Angela Richman Death Investigator series, Elaine returns to her hardboiled roots and uses her experience as a stroke survivor and her studies at the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course. Elaine was a director at large for the Mystery Writers of America.

She is a popular speaker, and has been invited as a special guest of Lit in the Lou, a program to celebrate St. Louis’ literary achievements for its 250th birthday celebration in October, 2014. She was also a guest at the Vegas Valley Book Festival, Las Vegas, NV. She’s given two commencement addresses at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and is on the faculty of the Florida Writers Academy. She has taught writing seminars at Sleuthfest on Saturday in Sarasota, Florida; to Sisters in Crime chapters in Jacksonville, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee. She's appeared on numerous panels at Malice Domestic, Bouchercon, the American Library Association, and Sleuthfest. She was Toastmaster at Malice Domestic, Left Coast Crime and the Missouri Writers’ Guild. Elaine was named one of the top One Hundred Women in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Click here for more information.

Kate White (New Speaker for 2021)

Kate White is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels of suspense: six standalone psychological thrillers, including the upcoming Have You Seen Me? (April ’20), and eight Bailey Weggins mysteries, including Such a Perfect Wife (2019).

For fourteen years she served as the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, and though she loved the job (and the Cosmo beauty closet!), she decided to leave seven years ago to concentrate full time on being an author. Her first mystery, Even If It Kills Her, was a Kelly Ripa Book Club pick and #1 bestseller on Amazon. She has been published in 15 other countries.

Like many female mystery writers, Kate fell in love with the genre after reading her first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of Redgate Farm. She is also the editor of the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, a collection of recipes from the field’s top-selling authors. In addition to writing mysteries and thrillers, Kate is the author of several best-selling career books, including The Gutsy Girl Handbook: Your Manifesto for Success, as well as I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: How to Ask for the Money, Snag the Promotion, and Create the Career You Deserve. She lives in New York City.

Possible presentations:

  • How to Conquer Procrastination, Crush Writer’s Block, and Generate Fabulous Plot Twists Even When the Well Feels Dry
  • The 7 Best Tricks I Learned from Famous Suspense Authors Who Came to Dinner
  • How to Write Stunning Plot Twists, Deliciously Deceptive Red Herrings, and Chapter Endings That Won’t Let Readers Go
  • Everything I’ve Learned about How to Chuck Your Day Job and Write Mysteries Full Time

Click here to learn more.

Lynn C. Willis

Lynn C. Willis is the author of best-selling true crime, Unholy Covenant (Addicus Books 2000), inspirational mystery/suspense novel The Rising, (Pelican Book Group 2013) and private eye novel Wink of an Eye, releasing Nov. 18, 2014 from Minotaur Books. Wink was chosen as the winner of the 2013 Minotaur Books/Private Eye Writers of America Best First PI Novel Competition. She is the first woman in 10 years to win the contest. Wink of an Eye was also nominated for the prestigious Shamus Award and was named a finalist. Her newest series, The Ava Logan Mystery Series, debuted February 2017 with Henery Press. The first title is Tell Me No Lies. The second is Tell Me No Secrets and will be out 2018. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Southeast Chapter of MWA, and Sisters in Crime (SinC).

Click here for more information.

Simon Wood (New Speaker for 2021)

USA Today bestselling author Simon Wood is a California transplant from England. He's a former competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot, an endurance cyclist, an animal rescuer, and an occasional PI. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and six cats. He's the Anthony Award winning author of Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper, Terminated, Deceptive Practices and the Aidy Westlake series. His book The One That Got Away is currently optioned for a movie adaptation. He’s a regular contributor to Writer’s Digest and other writing magazines. He also writes horror under the pen name of Simon Janus.

Possible presentations:

  • Plot Thickeners: Plotting is a very creative process. With this workshop, students will develop the skills for producing well thought out plotlines and produce their own “at a glance” outlines based on Simon’s style sheet. A Guppies favorite!
  • The 21st Century Author: This workshop is aimed at the published (traditional and independent) and the pre-published author. The published author needs to evaluate their how they engage with readership and potential readership, while the new author needs to have their image thought out in advance when they engage editors and agents.
  • Author Professionalism: Being an author isn’t a solo profession. You'll encounter publishers, editors, agents, readers, librarians and other writers. What you say and do can lead to fruitful relationships or kill them stone dead. By knowing and understanding your industry, you'll be a sharper and savvier writer.
  • Killer Suspense: Learn the tricks of the trade for creating top notch suspense in your writing, whether it be a cozy or a spy thriller. The intensity might be different, but the techniques are the same. A Guppies favorite!

Click here to learn more.


Lisa Wysocky

Lisa Wysocky is an award-winning author, editor, equine clinician, and motivational speaker who also trains horses for and consults with therapeutic riding programs.

Lisa's passion for writing and speaking led to a second run at college where she studied journalism. She later ventured into music. Six years as a correspondent for Nashville's afternoon paper, the Nashville Banner, and her reputation in the music industry as a writer of quality bios, piloted Lisa to a career as an entertainment publicist.

Today, Lisa Wysocky is a registered level PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) instructor. In addition, she has been chosen as one of the country's Top 50 riding instructors by ARIA (American Riding Instructor's Association).

As an editor and ghostwriter, Lisa helps authors find their voice, and her multi-award-winning Cat Enright equestrian mystery series has been optioned for film/TV. She also serves as editor at Cool Titles, a small, boutique California-based publishing house, where she is involved in decisions on distribution, cover and interior design, and marketing. In her spare time Lisa enjoys hiking, gardening, water sports, Scrabble, Minnesota Twins baseball . . . and reading.

Possible presentations:

  • Pitfalls: 21 Common Mistakes Authors Make: Lisa helps new and experienced authors understand the most common mistakes they make when writing manuscripts and preparing them for submission, and gives tools to avoid these pitfalls.
  • Alternative Book Marketing Ideas that Work!: Lisa's background in music PR translates well to the book industry, and through this guided group session, she helps each author develop an alternative marketing and PR plan that will help attract both readers and sales.
  • Developing Fabulous Characters: Protagonists, antagonists, sidekicks and animal characters, all serve a purpose and move the story along. This workshop helps authors better define their characters and take them from flat to fabulous.

Click here for more information.

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