WriteNow! 2021 Conference

Craft + Publish + Market

The WriteNow! 2021 Conference

100% virtual conference

Consultations on Friday, September 10, 2021
Conference on Saturday, September 11, 2021

Named the Best Writers Conference in Arizona by The Writer Magazine
Full Program and registration link coming soon

Guest of Honor: Ann Cleeves

photo of Ann Cleeves
Photo by David Hirst

Ann’s books have been translated into twenty languages. She’s a bestseller in Scandinavia and Germany. Her novels sell widely and to critical acclaim in the United States. Raven Black was shortlisted for the Martin Beck award for best-translated crime novel in Sweden in 2007. It has been adapted for radio in Germany – and in the UK where it was a Radio Times pick of the day when it was first broadcast Radio adaptations of Raven Black and White Nights have both been repeated. Ten series of Vera, the ITV adaptation starring Brenda Blethyn, have been shown in the UK and worldwide, and filming on series eleven (delayed because of the coronavirus) resumed in the autumn of 2020; there have also been five series of Shetland, based on the characters and settings of her Shetland novels, and filming resumed in 2021. A television adaptation of The Long Call, the first in Ann’s new series set in North Devon, has been commissioned by ITV from Silverprint Pictures, the company that has already produced Shetland (BBC) and Vera (ITV), and this too is filming during the summer of 2021.

Ann Cleeves will be interviewed by Desert Sleuth Treasurer Shannon Baker. You’ll be able to purchase her latest book at a discount once you’ve registered.

Deep Dive with Connie B. Dowell

Get Out of Your Own Way

Image of Connie B. Dowell

Connie B. Dowell is an author of historical and cozy mysteries and nonfiction for writers. She is the host of the Book Echoes podcast for authors. After having two kids in less than two years, Connie developed a passion for time management and loves to chat about author productivity and work-life balance. A former university writing center coordinator, she loves teaching other writers and guiding them toward

Blurring the Lines

Join Gary Phillips, Kelli Stanley, and Eric Beetner as they talk about blurring genre lines.

Gary Phillips has published various novels, graphic novels including the Be-Bop Barbarians with Dale Berry, over seventy short stories, and edited several anthologies including the Anthony-winning The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy NoirViolent Spring, his first mystery published in 1994 was recently named one of the essential crime novels of Los Angeles. Culprits: The Heist was Only the Beginning a linked anthology he co-edited is the basis for a miniseries coming to Disney+UK. His current novel is the retro-pulp Matthew Henson and the Ice Temple of Harlem and he was also a story editor on “Snowfall,” an FX show about crack and the CIA in 1980s South Central where he grew up.

Eric Beetner is that writer you’ve heard about but never read. When you finally do you wonder why you waited so long. There are more than 20 books like Rumrunners, All The Way Down and The Devil Doesn’t Want Me so you’d better get started. He also hosts the podcast Writer Types and the Noir at the Bar reading series in L.A. He’s been described as “The 21st Century’s answer to Jim Thompson” (LitReactor), been nominated for three Anthonys, an ITW award, a Shamus, a Derringer, and five Emmys. Seriously, what are you waiting for? 



Photo of Kelli StanleyKelli Stanley is the creator of the Miranda Corbie series (City of Dragons, City of Secrets, City of Ghosts, City of Sharks), set in 1940 San Francisco and featuring “one of crime’s most arresting heroines” (Library Journal). Kelli was named a literary heir of Dashiell Hammett by his granddaughter in a Publisher’s Weekly article. Her awards include the Macavity and Bruce Alexander and she is a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist. She was awarded a Certificate of Merit from the City and County of San Francisco for her contributions to literature. Kelli has also published numerous short stories and essays, and is the founder and current president of Nasty Woman Press, a non-profit publisher (Anthony Award-nominated anthology Shattering Glass).

The Road to Success

Join Isabella Maldonado and Peng Shepherd as they share the road to their success.

Moderated by Sara Divello

Photo of Isabella MaldonadoAward-winning author Isabella Maldonado wore a gun and badge in real life before turning to crime writing. The first Latina to attain the rank of captain in her police department, she retired as the Commander of Special Investigations and Forensics. During more than two decades on the force, her assignments included hostage negotiator, department spokesperson, and precinct commander. Selected to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, she uses her law enforcement background to bring a realistic edge to her writing. She is the author of the bestselling FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera series (soon to be a Netflix feature film starring Jennifer Lopez) and the Detective Veranda Cruz series.

Photo of Peng SheperdPeng Shepherd’s fiction has been published in the Weird Lies anthology, Litro Magazine, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University and was awarded an emerging writers grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation based on an early draft of her novel.

Her first novel, The Book of M, won the 2019 Neukom Institute for Literary Arts Award for Debut Speculative Fiction and was chosen as a best book of the year by AmazonElleRefinery29, and The Verge, as well as a best book of the summer by the Today Show and NPR On Point. Peng is the recipient of a 2020 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Elizabeth George Foundation’s emerging writers 2016 grant.

Photo of Sara DivelloSara DiVello is a yoga teacher by day, mystery writer by night. She’s a life-long passionate reader and mystery-lover. Sara loves chatting about all things books, the joy of reading, the craft of writing, and connecting readers to their favorite authors…or introducing them to their new favorites! She is the creator of the “Mystery and Thriller Mavens Author Interview Series,” now streaming in collaboration with Murder by the Book, and has interviewed over 100 mystery and thriller authors since the pandemic descended. She also created the Mystery and Thriller Mavens Facebook Group, a free, online book group where readers can watch and participate in interviews, enter giveaways, and dish about their latest books. All are welcome.

Publishing Industry Panel: What You Need to Know Now

Join Bronwen Hruska, Jenna Jankowski, and Brett Battles as they talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly in publishing today. Whether it’s large, traditional publishers consolidating into fewer and fewer corporate entities, independent publishing, or the rise of hybrid publishing, our panel will catch you up.

Photo of Bronwen Hruska

Bronwen Hruska is the President and Publisher of Soho Press. Founded in 1986, the award-winning independent press remains committed to publishing the highest quality fiction from bold new literary voices under its three imprints. Before coming to Soho, Hruska worked for twenty years as a journalist and screenwriter.

Her novel, Accelerated, was published by Pegasus Books in 2012.



Photo of Jenna JankowskiJenna Jankowski is an assistant editor at Sourcebooks, an independent publisher located outside of Chicago. She acquires both adult fiction and nonfiction, with an emphasis on diverse voices.  Jenna is looking for a broad variety of books within the mystery/suspense/thriller categories, including psychological suspense, cozy mysteries, and contemporary crime fiction; mainstream contemporary fiction with a literary edge; speculative and horror; and engaging narrative nonfiction with revealing explorations of history, science, and social science.


Photo of Brett BattlesBrett Battles is the USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the Jonathan Quinn series, the Project Eden series, and the time-bending Rewinder trilogy. His debut novel, The Cleaner2 (The Jonathan Quinn Thrillers #1), was nominated for the 2008 Barry Award for Best Thriller, and the 2008 Shamus Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Deceived, won the 2009 Barry Award for Best Thriller. He received an additional Barry Award nomination for the fourth in his Quinn series, The Silenced. He’s also the co-author, with Robert Gregory Browne, of the Alexandra Poe series. He lives and writes in Ventura County, California.


When you register for the conference, you can sign up for consultations for a modest additional fee. The consultations take place on Friday, September 10, 2021, so you don’t have to miss a minute of Saturday’s conference!

Our consultation experts:

More information coming soon!


Cancellations received by email at desertsleuths@gmail.com no later than September 3, 2021 will receive a partial refund; Desert Sleuths will retain $10 for processing fees.

No refunds after September 3, 2021.

Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths and The WriteNow! Annual Conference are dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all attendees, regardless of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, body type, or veteran status. We will not tolerate any kind of discrimination or harassment and encourage anyone who believes they have experienced or witnessed discriminatory or harassing behavior to report it to a member of the WriteNow! Conference committee or a Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuth Board Member. All complaints can be emailed to desertsleuths@gmail.com and will be handled in a discreet and confidential manner. Individuals found to have violated our policy will be asked to leave the conference.