We are thrilled to announce our panels and fabulous panelists. Looking for the actual schedule? That’s here.

Keynote Workshops

Tess Gerritsen will teach a workshop on “How to Find Your What-If.”

The good plot idea vs. the meh plot idea. Because better plots make for better books.


Catriona McPherson will teach her workshop called “Deep in a Bowl of Porridge.” This will be an in-depth look at one specific, crucial skill in mystery-writing: the hiding of clues. She’ll explain how, where and when to plant Goldilocks clues – not too obvious, not too obscure, but just right. Catriona will also discuss how to make sure readers enjoy the story even if they do spot a clue.  

Craft Track: The Foundation

Bringing the Past to Life

Historical Mysteries may cover a wide variety time periods, but there are some things they have in common: forensic challenges, the importance of setting, unexpected benefits, and gobs of research. 

Moderator: A.E. Wasserman (The Langsford Series)

Panelists: Anne Louise Bannon, Jennifer Berg, Rosemary Lord, Bonnie MacBird, Paul D. Marks

Built to Last: Creating Your Series 

How do you design a series that can last 5, 7, 10, or more books?

Moderator: Rachel Howzell Hall (The Detective Elouise Norton Series)

Panelists: Sybil Johnson, Sheila Lowe, Keenan Powell, Faye Snowden

Winning Isn’t Everything (But it Helps)

Winning a competition can provide an ego boost, financial support, a boost to your sales, and sometimes all three. Our panelists know the competitive scene from both behind the scenes and the winner’s circle.

Moderator: Vera Chan (Winner, Eleanor Taylor Bland Award)

Panelists: Hal Bodner, Matt Coyle, Robert Kidera, Ellen Frank Mathews

Chapter One: Your Debut Novel

Is there a more thrilling moment than your first book launch? Our panelists will share their excitement, mistakes, successes, and what-I-wish-I’d-known.

Moderator: Michael Robertson (The Baker Street Letters Mystery Series)

Panelists: Tori Eldridge, Eva Montealegre, Catharine Riggs, Sheila Sobel

The Art and Business of Short Stories

Short stories are an art form all their own. They can also launch your career. 

Moderator: Holly West (editor, Murder-A-Go-Go’s)

Panelists: Sarah M. Chen, P Moss, Alan Orloff, Nancy Cole Silverman

Cozies on the Edge: Meeting and Subverting Reader Expectations

While some cozies nail the form, others are constantly pushing the envelope with unconventional protagonists, darker subject matter, complex relationships, and even a little bit of snark.

Moderator: Leslie Karst (The Sally Solari Culinary Mystery Series)

Panelists: Mike Befeler, Frankie Bow, Jennifer J. Chow, Mary Marks

Craft Track: Next Level

Laughing at Death: Adding Humor to Mysteries

From quirky cozies to gallows humor, to misdirecting the reader, humor has a place next to the most dastardly of crimes. Our panel will talk strategies and the uses  and misuses of humor in a mystery.

Moderator: Kathy Krevat (The Gourmet Cat Mystery Series)

Panelists: R.P. Dahlke, Harley Jane Kozak, Barrie Summy

Killer Dialogue

Take a cue from screenwriters, playwrights, and dialogue experts in this panel on how to make your characters sound authentic.

Moderator: Anne Cleeland (The Doyle & Acton Scotland Yard Series)

Panelists: Jennifer Graeser Dornbush, Christina Hoag, Catherine Pelonero, Wendall Thomas

Workshop: Thriller Writing with Laurie Stevens

Laurie Stevens, author of the Gabriel McRay Thrillers, will teach you how to balance plot, character, pacing, and sheer fear factor to create pulse-pounding thrillers.

The Dark Side: Thriller, Suspense, Noir

Moderator: Jennifer Younger (Co-chair of CCWC)

Panelists: Timothy Burgess, Rachel Howzell Hall, Glen Erik Hamilton, Naomi Hirahara

Visual Storytelling

Steal tips and tricks from the most visual of storytellers: writers of TV, film and video games.

Moderator: Alison McMahan (Award-winning Screenwriter, Filmmaker, and Author)

Panelists: Edward Arno, Haris Orkin, Dennis Palumbo, Tom Sawyer, Phoef Sutton

Having (and Maximizing) a Long Career

Moderator: Naomi Hirahara (Edgar Award-winning Author)

Panelists: Mary Burgess, Lee Goldberg, Linda O. Johnston, A.J. Llewellyn

Business and Marketing

The State of Publishing: Editors and Agents Panel

Moderator: Jennifer Younger (Co-Chair, CCWC 2019)

Panelists: Terri Bischoff (Crooked Lane), Erin Niumata (Folio Literary), Chantelle Aimée Osman (Agora Books/Polis), Cyndi Parent (Tule Publishing), Carlisle Webber (Fuse Literary)

Finish the Damn Book: Get Organized, Get Started, Get Words on the Page

Moderator: Mary Feliz (The Maggie McDonald Mysteries)

Panelists: Wrona Gall, Nadine Nettmann, Dennis Palumbo

Marketing Without a Budget

Moderator: Terry Shames (Macavity Award-winning author of the Samuel Craddock Series)

Panelists: Laura Brennan, Kris Calvin, Connie di Marco, Joan Renner

A Winning Team: Writer, Agent and Editor

We are delighted to be able to have the extraordinary opportunity to present a conversation with all three key players of a traditionally-published author team: the writer (Leslie Karst), her agent (Erin Niumata), and her editor (Terri Bischoff) to demystify the relationships, creative support, and mutual responsibilities of this winning team.

Indie Publishing: New Frontiers

Moderator: Sue Hinkin (Vega & Middleton Mystery Series)

Panelists: Paula Bernstein, Mark Coker (Smashwords), Christopher John Lynch, Laurie Stevens, Representatives from Wattpad

Forensics Track

As always, we will give you a chance to get up close and personal with weapons, investigative techniques, and real-live law enforcement. Our workshops this year include:

  • Ellen Byron interviewing Private Detective Nancy Swaim
  • Interrogation Techniques with former LAPD Detective Ninette Toosbuy
  • A workshop on Suicide Bomber Indicators
  • The Serial Killer Next Door with James L’Etoile
  • True Crime, Redemption, and Compassion Fatigue with the Inmate Whisperer, Bethany Jones
  • And a look at fabulous (and deadly) weaponry with Swordmaster Roberta Brown.

Hooray for Hollywood! We’ll be taking advantage of our proximity to LaLaLand by including panels with screenwriters and producers to discuss book options and adaptations. What do you do when Hollywood calls? The four panels (Drama Queens… and Kings, moderated by Ellen Byron; Adapting Your Novel to the Screen; Your Book Has Been Optioned – Now What?; and Unraveling the Hallmark Mystery, moderated by Carlene O’Neil) will be followed by an Ask Me Anything with our Hollywood and Editorial Guests.

New tech! Presenters include Smashwords, Wattpad, and Pub Site. 

Check back here or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for the latest info!

Disclaimer: While we wish we controlled the universe, alas, we do not (yet!). All guests are subject to availability on the day.