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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 2020 events.

 

Speakers Available for 2020 Events

 

Kevin J. Anderson (New speaker for 2020) 

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.


Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of two historical mystery series as well as the #1 Kindle bestselling stand-alone In Farleigh Field. The Molly Murphy mysteries are set in early 1900s New York and the lighter Royal Spyness novels take place in 1930s London. Both series have won multiple awards including both Agatha and Anthony and Rhys has been nominated for the Edgar best novel. Rhys's books are translated into many languages and have received praise from around the world. Rhys is a native Brit who now divides her time between California and Arizona.

Rhys has conducted workshops on research, setting, the historical novel, as well as an intensive writing workshop in Tuscany (which she will repeat next year). She has been on the faculty at the Book Passage Mystery Conference for many years and will teach at this year's Surrey Writers Conference in Canada.

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 (New speaker for 2020)


Leslie Budewitz writes cozy mysteries set in the Northwest and short stories that explore human conflict in both contemporary and historical settings. A practicing lawyer, her guide for writers, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction. Death al Dente won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, making her the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Whitefish Review, Thug Lit, and other journals and anthologies. Leslie served as 2015-16 president of Sisters in Crime and as the Montana representative to the board of the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America; she joined the national board of MWA as a director at large in January 2019. The latest in her Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in fictional Jewel Bay, Montana, is As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles. Her the next Spice Shop Mystery, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, is Chai Another Day. 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 (New speaker for 2020)

Ellen Byron writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series. Body on the Bayou and A Cajun Christmas Killing have won Best Humorous Mystery Lefty awards and been nominated for Best Contemporary Novel Agatha’s. Plantation Shudders was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Mardi Gras Murder, the newest addition to the series, was lauded as “a winner” by Publishers Weekly. Writing as Maria DiRico, she’ll debut a second series, The Catering Hall Mysteries, in 2020. An award-winning playwright and veteran writer-producer of television comedy hits like Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly OddParents, Ellen served on the Editorial Board for the UCLA Writers Program's books, Cut to the Chase and Inside the Room.

Possible workshops:

  • It's a Funny Thing: Adding Humor to Your Writing – 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 writer.
  • 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.
  • The Magic of Setting – Evocative settings can add atmosphere and dimension to your writing. Ellen uses improvisational writing exercises to help participants discover the beauty and value of setting in both their lives and work.

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.


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, most recently Mastering Plot Twists, and the bestselling and Agatha Award-winning 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 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, and 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 and at Deadly Ink in 2017.

She has taught an eight-week course titled Writing Popular Fiction in conjunction with her local library. She can speak on the joys and perils of the writing life, on why she writes so many different sub-genres of crime novels, even the fun of creating a Sherlock Holmes bookshop. For beginning writers, Vicki’s most popular workshop is Page One, Chapter One: Starting your Novel with Impact. Other workshops include Writing Effective Dialogue, Creating Compelling Characters, Writing the Villain in a Crime Novel.

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.


Mary Anna Evans

Mary Anna Evans is an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, where she teaches fiction and nonfiction writing, including a graduate class in writing mystery and suspense. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers-Camden, as well as an MS in chemical engineering that comes in handy more often than you'd think.

She has received the Benjamin Franklin Award, the Mississippi Author Award, three Florida Book Awards bronze medals, a Will Rogers Award bronze medal, the Patrick D. Smith Florida Literature Award, and was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award and the Willa Award. She is a current nominee for the Pushcart Prize.

Evans is an active speaker, with recent events including a televised talk on the intersection of fiction and science at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and an invited talk at the annual conference of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. Her twelfth crime novel, Catacombs, will be published by Poisoned Pen Press in 2019.

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

  • The One-Thing-At-A-Time Approach to Editing
  • They're Not Chess Pieces: Creating Characters Who Don't Let You Push Them Around
  • Creating Realistic Settings: Sometimes You Have To Go Outside and Take A Look
  • You Don't Have to Use All the Words: Strip Your Prose of Unnecessary Weight
  • Be Gentle with Your Muse: What to Do When You Feel Blocked

Click here for more information.


Christine M. Fairchild

Christine Fairchild (aka The Editor Devil) has 35+ years of experience as a writer, editor and speaker. She currently works as a book doctor to help writers take their stories from good to great. Originally trained as a journalist, she went on to work in entertainment (XFiles, SciFiMall.com, Paramount), write for Fortune 500 companies (Microsoft, AT&T, Hitachi), and provide consulting for consumer product companies (Airborne Express, DHL, Cingular). She combines psychology, brain science, readability, film and bestseller storytelling techniques to teach workshops for writing organizations and conferences. She is regularly called a "powerful" and "dynamic speaker" and her classes typically have standing room only. She delivers fresh tips, tricks and exercises to her audiences, but her main goal is to encourage writers have more fun while honing their craft.

Click here for her free tips and tricks.

Amanda Flower (New Speaker for 2020)

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. As the library author-in-residence and writing coach in her busy Ohio community, 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, Death and Daisies, and Murders and Metaphors. 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.


Michael Havelin

Michael Havelin has written fourteen books (novels and several how-to books) and is hard at work on another in his Ben Bones genealogical sleuth series. He is most proud of Mystery Mastery – Creating a Believable Mystery Novel, a book detailing what writers need to know to write mysteries.

Over the course of his creative life, he has had a varied career. Michael's been a solo blues performer all his life and, most recently, a rhythm guitarist in a revival big band. He's been a photographer of motorcycle road-racing, has authored how-to photography books and articles, and has been the publisher/editor of two national magazines Dialed In! – For Roadracers Only, and Shooter’s Rag, a nature photography magazine. Michael has taught computers to the U.S. Army, and taught nature photography and writing at the college level. He's even practiced law for several years.

Unable to find a critique group that suited his writing interests, Michael established WNCMysterians.org in 2009. A successful critique group for mystery/thriller/suspense writers, it’s been going strong ever since. Our writing has improved and many of our authors have been published. A northerner by birth, he lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, where he also does woodworking and works as a sign language interpreter.

Possible workshop and presentation topics:

  • finding ideas/research
  • mystery-specific writing craft
  • editing/self-editing (macro & micro)
  • writing habits/organization
  • writing & critique groups (including how to start a group)

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 (New speaker for 2020)

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. Travel and adventure are her passions. 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 authors 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 six 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.

Click here for more information.


Jessica Lourey

Jessica Lourey (rhymes with "dowry") is a Lefty- and Anthony-nominated author best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing "a splendid mix of humor and suspense." Jess also writes sword and sorcery fantasy, edge-of-your-seat YA adventure, and magical realism, literary fiction, and feminist thrillers. She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft's Excellence in Teaching fellowship, a regular Psychology Today blogger, and a TEDx presenter. She’s also written Rewrite Your Life, the only book which shows writers how to transform their personal experiences into bestselling fiction.

She has a wide range of teaching expertise and is able to tailor a writing workshop based on your chapter’s needs.

Possible workshops:

  • Writing a Book: From Idea to ISBN (Full-day Workshop)
  • Rewrite Your Life: Transform Your Experiences into Bestselling Fiction (Full-day Workshop)
  • Indie Publishing: Control Your Writing Career and Set Yourself Free (Half or Full-day)
  • Marketing for the Overworked Author Who Doesn't Enjoy Marketing (Half-day Workshop)
  • How to Write a Novel in 7 Steps (50-minute Workshop)
  • Editing Your Novel: Quick and Dirty Tips to Superboost Your Writing (50-minute Workshop)
  • Make 'Em Laugh (50-minute Workshop)
  • Overcoming Writer’s Block (50-minute Workshop)
  • Voices Carry: Mastering Dialogue (50-minute Workshop)

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.


Jenny Milchman

Jenny Milchman is the Mary Higgins Clark and Silver Falchion award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of four psychological thrillers. All of her books have been selected as Indie Next Picks, while the latest, Wicked River, was also a Barnes & Noble Featured Selection and an Amazon Best Mystery of May. Along with numerous picks, mentions, and award nominations, Jenny's work has earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, as well as praise from the New York Times, the AP, San Francisco Journal of Books, and other national publications.

She has been invited to book festivals across the country and is a member of the Sisters in Crime Speakers Bureau and a recent vice president of the board of International Thriller Writers. She is also the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, which is celebrated in all fifty states and on five continents. In her work and life Jenny stresses the importance of personal connections, and she has taken her family on the road three times for what Shelf Awareness called the world's longest book tour. She offers presentations and talks, which have been described as part inspiration, part stand-up comedy, and part writing advice.

Possible presentations:

  • The Anatomy of a Bad Guy
  • The Four S's of Suspense
  • Getting Published is as Easy as 1,2,3: Ways to Get Published Today
  • Happily Ever After & What Happens After That
  • Face to Face in a Virtual World

Click here for more information.


DiAnn Mills (New speaker for 2020)

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels: 77 of them. She’s received two Christy Awards, Carol Awards, ECPA awards, and continuous best-seller awards. Her 2018 releases include: High Treason and Burden of Proof published by Tyndale House Publishers.

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 co-director of
the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and Mountainside Novelist Retreat where she continues her passion of helping writers be successful. She speaks and teaches to writing groups around the country.

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 (New speaker for 2020)

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 (New speaker for 2020)

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.

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Wendy Corsi Staub

New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than ninety novels, best known for the single title psychological suspense novels she writes under her own name. Those books and the women's fiction she writes under the pseudonym Wendy Markham have also appeared on the USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookscan bestseller lists.

Wendy’s fifth suspense trilogy for William Morrow launches in 2018. This year, she concluded her Mundy’s Landing trilogy with Bone White (April, William Morrow), and will release Dead of Winter (November, Crooked Lane), the third title in her Lily Dale traditional mystery series.

Her novel Hello, It's Me was a recent Hallmark television movie starring Kellie Martin. Her short story "Cat Got Your Tongue" will appear in R.L. Stine’s upcoming MWA middle grade anthology Scream and Scream Again (HarperCollins, 2018).

A three-time finalist for the Simon and Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award, she’s won an RWA Rita Award, an RT Award for Career Achievement in Suspense, the 2007 RWA-NYC Golden Apple Award for Lifetime Achievement, and five WLA Washington Irving Prizes for Fiction.

She previously published a dozen adult suspense novels with Kensington Books and the critically-acclaimed young adult paranormal series "Lily Dale" (Walker/Bloomsbury). Earlier in her career, she published a broad range of genres under her own name and pseudonyms, and was co-author/ghostwriter for celebrities.

Raised in Dunkirk, NY, Wendy graduated from SUNY Fredonia. She was Associate Editor at Silhouette Books in Manhattan before selling her first novel in 1992. Married with two sons, she lives in the NYC suburbs and has fostered for various animal rescue organizations. An active supporter of the American Cancer Society, she was a featured speaker at Northern Westchester’s 2015 Relay for Life and 2012 National Spokesperson for the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation.

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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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Elaine Viets

Elaine Viets has written 32 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.

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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).

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Lisa Wysocky (New speaker for 2020)

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.

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