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, Travis Richardson




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, Tess Gerritsen, 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: Elaine Ash, Wrona Gall, Nadine Nettmann, Dennis Palumbo





PR 101 with Julia Callahan

Julia Callahan of Rare Bird Books gives us a primer on marketing for authors. 






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. The conversation will be moderated by Sarah M. Chen.



Indie Publishing: New Frontiers

Moderator: Sue Hinkin (Vega & Middleton Mystery Series)

Panelists: Paula Bernstein, Mark Coker (Smashwords), Christopher John Lynch, Laurie Stevens, Dani Zacarias (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? Find out with:

Drama Queens… and Kings moderated by Ellen Byron with Adam Belanoff, Antoinette Stella, Scott Williams, and Valerie C. Woods.






Demystifying the Hallmark Mystery moderated by Carlene O’Neil with producer Joe Broido and screenwriters Gillian Horvath and Phoef Sutton.






Adapting Your Novel to the Screen with Valerie Mayhew moderating. Panelists include Matt Greenberg, Georgia Jeffries, Jennifer Maisel and Martin Jay Weiss.







Your Book Has Been Optioned – Now What? with Laura Brennan moderating and panelists Christopher Farnsworth, Karen Green, Doug Richardson, and D.J. Williams


This session will be followed by an Ask Me Anything with our Hollywood and Editorial Guests.



An added session of workshops with information critical for today’s writers.

New Avenues for Authors

Four Amazing Workshops, Sunday morning, 9am!

We are super excited to have a special session on new ways for authors to get their stories out in the world. Workshops are from 9 to 9:45; do not miss this chance to learn about these amazing platforms and opportunities. The future is now!


Dani Zacarias has over ten years of experience working with content and creators, most recently at Wattpad where she leads the team that shapes Wattpad’s content strategy, seeks out upcoming talent and works with writers to earn money on Wattpad. She has worked with publishers and writers from all around the world including India, Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, and Europe. She is passionate about using data to help unearth great stories and talented creators at scale but is evangelical about the importance of marrying data-driven insights with a keen understanding of the industry, deep knowledge around what makes a great story and human behavior. 

An Introduction to Ebook Self-Publishing

Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing is not an either/or question.  The most successful authors do both.  Mark Coker (Smashwords) covers the basics of ebook publishing for authors preparing to make the leap to indie ebook publishing.  Mark will provide a step-by-step ebook publishing checklist covering everything new indie authors need to know to get started.

Mark’s session will begin by providing an overview of the latest ebook market trends, and then will provide detailed guidance on ebook creation, pricing, ISBNs, copyright, distribution, and marketing.  For authors who also publish traditionally, you’ll learn how your indie publishing can complement your traditional publishing efforts, and vice versa.

Mark Coker founded Smashwords in 2008 to make it fast, free and easy for any writer, anywhere in the world, to self-publish an ebook. Today, Smashwords has grown to become the world’s largest distributor of self-published ebooks representing over 130,000 authors and small independent presses around the world. Mark is a contributing columnist for Publishers Weekly and the host of the popular SMART AUTHOR podcast. 


Andrew Tell is a Los Angeles-based actor and writer. He has performed on stage for many years and now narrates audiobooks full-time. Andrew works almost exclusively with independent authors, has produced over 90 audiobooks, and is the voice of several bestselling series. In his presentation, Andrew will cover the booming audiobook marketplace, audio rights, and the nuts and bolts of independent audiobook production. He’ll also touch on how audiobooks are changing not just how we read, but how we write.


Pub Site

John Burke will be presenting on Pub Site, a website building service designed just for authors.

John Burke spent about fifteen years working in publishing and bookstores. He is the Co-Founder of Pub Site, the easy-to-use website builder created specifically for books and authors, and COO of FSB Associates, the premier online book marketing firm. John has been developing author websites for over twenty years and incorporated all of that experience into Pub Site, which was launched in early 2018.

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.