2022 Events

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January 2022

Jan 12th: Muddle in the Middle with Hank Phillippi Ryan

You have a rocking first act to your novel, and you even have an idea of how to end your story with a twist and a bang and a shot at certain bestsellerdom. But now what? How will you get from that great beginning to the kickass ending? You’ve hit the muddle in the middle. Hank Phillippi Ryan will show you how these central pages can be made to intrigue and delight your readers–and have them turning pages as fast as they can. With practical advice and specific tips, Hank will show you how to make the magic in the middle.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the USA Today bestselling author of 13 thrillers, winning five Agathas, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and 37 EMMYs for investigative reporting. THE FIRST TO LIE (2020) garnered a Publishers Weekly starred review and is an Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee. Her newest is HER PERFECT LIFE, a chilling psychological standalone about fame, family, and revenge with starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, which called it “A superlative thriller.” HankPhillippiRyan.com

See you on Zoom January 12th! Meeting details will be in the monthly newsletter and sent in an email prior to the meeting to all chapter members. Please reach out if you would like to be a guest and check out the Desert Sleuths Chapter.

6:30p-7:00 pm AZ Time –  Business meeting and chapter check-in
7:00-8:00 pm AZ Time –  Speaker
Meetings are currently being held via Zoom. All members receive an email with the details in the monthly newsletter and a day or two before the meeting.

(Non-members please email desertsleuths at Gmail dot com to request a one-time guest pass.)


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February 2022

February 16th: Marketing for Writers (Who Would Rather be Writing) with Lizbeth Meredith

Lizbeth Meredith is an author, speaker, and online teacher who recently relocated to Chattanooga from her home in Anchorage, Alaska. Her memoir, Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters published by She Writes Press is now adapted for television as Stolen Hearts: The Lizbeth Meredith Story on Lifetime Television (spring 2022 release). Connect with her at lameredith.com or on her Facebook author page for live video on Fridays.

Author Photo of Lizbeth Meredith
Lizbeth Meredith

Marketing for Writers (Who Would Rather Be Writing)

You’ve heard the statistics. More than 1 million books are published annually. The vast majority sell less than 1000 copies over their lifetime.

So in the current climate of publishing, how can we develop the right mindset to stay motivated and find our books their forever homes without spending a fortune or feeling slimy in the process? What if you’re an introvert and bad at tech? And if you’re on your way to publishing your first book, what can you do to prepare the market for your book and your brand?

Indie author Lizbeth Meredith will give you pitfalls to avoid and tips that she teaches authors who now enjoy the practice of book marketing while budgeting their time and money.


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March 2022

March 16th: Turning Medieval with Sarah Woodbury

Sarah Woodbury is a successful self-published author who will be sharing how she has drawn on her love of history to go from being a full-time mom to having sold over a million books and created a sustainable career as a historical fiction novelist. She will talk about both the creative and the business sides of writing, including research and her writing process, what has worked and what hasn’t, and strategies for sales and marketing.

Social media: 

Website: www.sarahwoodbury.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahwoodburybooks/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/SarahWoodburyBooks

Ebooks for all retailers: https://books2read.com/ap/xqN2WR/Sarah-Woodbury

Sarah’s new book was released January 8, 2022.

The Welsh Guard Mysteries: Paladin novel by Sarah Woodbury
The Welsh Guard Mysteries: Paladin


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April 2022

April 20th: Wrangling Your Plot

SJ RosanJoin SJ Rozan for a craft topic that could level-up your next writing project. Novels, short stories, plays, scripts, and epic poems—all require an element other art forms don’t: PLOT.

We chooseto work in these forms, yet many of us find plot a difficult element to wrangle. S.J. Rozan, through a seminar given recently to the graduate students in the creative writing program at Lesley University, will explore why plot is difficult for some to wrangle and what to do about it. She’ll discuss:

  • story vs. plot;
  • the iterative process;
  • outlining vs. not;
  • plot and character;
  • 3-part structure and 5-part structure;
  • rising and falling action; and
  • plot devices.

Registration details coming soon…


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May 2022

May 18th: Writing for an Anthology

You’ve been asked to participate in an anthology. Great! But now what? If you’re used to writing long form, how do you now create a piece that adheres to short story form, blends in with the tone and theme of the book and makes a big splash?! Mystery authors Heather Graham, Rick Bleiweiss and Jennifer Dornbush (Desert Sleuth member)  share their tips, advice, and personal anecdotes on what it’s like to create a piece for an anthology. Their anthology, Hotel California, based on The Eagles album releases June 12, 2022 with Blackstone.


Rick Bleiweiss

Rick BleiweissRick spent much of his career in the music industry as a recording artist, Grammy-nominated producer, recorded songwriter, and record label senior executive. He has been an educator, newspaper and magazine columnist and speaker, and is Head of New Business Development at Blackstone Publishing. His debut novel, Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives, was published this February and is garnering rave reviews. He contributed the short story “The Last Resort” to Hotel California (Blackstone, 2022). He is a member of The Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and other literary organizations. Sign up for his newsletter at: www.rickbleiweiss.com  and connect with Rick on IG @rickbleiweissauthor.

Heather Graham

Heather GrahamNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Heather Graham, majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written over two hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, sci-fi, young adult, and Christmas family fare.

She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty-five languages. She has written over 200 novels and has 60 million books in print. Heather has been honored with awards from booksellers and writers’ organizations for excellence in her work, and she is the proud to be a recipient of the Silver Bullet from Thriller Writers and was awarded the prestigious Thriller Master Award in 2016. She is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from RWA.  Heather has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, Mystery Book Club, People and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including Today, Entertainment Tonight and local television.

Heather loves travel and anything that has to do with the water, and is a certified scuba diver. She also loves ballroom dancing. Each year she hosts a Vampire Ball and Dinner theater raising money for the Pediatric Aids Society and in 2006 she hosted the first Writers for New Orleans Workshop to benefit the stricken Gulf Region.  She is also the founder of “The Slush Pile Players,” presenting something that’s “almost like entertainment” for various conferences and benefits. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.

Jennifer Graeser Dornbush
Jennifer DornbushRaised as the daughter of a medical examiner whose office was in their home, forensics is infused into Jennifer’s DNA.  She scribed Forensic Speak; Hole in the Woods, and mystery series The Coroner’s Daughter, also optioned by Lifetime TV and the true crime thriller, Hole in the Woods. Jennifer contributed to Hotel California (Blackstone, 2022). She is also a speaker and forensic specialist. Sign up for her newsletter at: www.jenniferdornbush.com Connect with Jennifer on IG @JGDornbush.

Don’t miss out on Hotel California this June 12, 2022!Hotel California


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June 2022

June 15th: Tips and Trade Talk from a Literary Agent

Josh Getzler
Literary Agent Josh Getzler
Josh Getzler, a partner at HG Literary in New York, represents more than 60 authors, many of them mystery writers, published by a wide variety of houses, including Flatiron Books, Penguin Random House, Pegasus, Amazon, Berkley Prime Crime, and Crooked Lane. His writers include S.A. Cosby (the multiple award-winning BLACKTOP WASTELAND and RAZORBLADE TEARS); Alex Segura (SECRET IDENTITY); Rob Hart (THE WAREHOUSE); SJ Rozan (FAMILY BUSINESS, and many of you will remember her as our April speaker on “Wrangling the Plot”); EJ Copperman/Jeff Cohen (the best-selling HAUNTED GUEST HOUSE series); EM Powell (The FIFTH KNIGHT series); and our own member, Karen Odden. Essentially, he handles everything from Dark Horror to Cat Mysteries, with police procedurals, rural noir, and historical adventures thrown in. 
In addition to his work as an agent, Josh currently teaches a Masters course in the Role of the Literary Agent at New York University. He will be speaking to Desert Sleuths about how an agent represents authors responsibly and successfully, and he will give some useful tips on querying, managing expectations, and the state of the crime fiction market in these uncertain times.
HG Literary Titles represented by agent Josh Getzler
HG Literary Titles represented by agent Josh Getzler


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July 2022

July 20th: Make your Book Marketing Fun and Easy with Brook Brush featuring Kathleen Sweeney

Kathleen Sweeney
Kathleen Sweeney Marketing Manager of BookBrush

Stop dreading book marketing! Join Kathleen Sweeney for a fun live-walk through showing how to use Book Brush to create your own eye-catching marketing images, design book covers and create all things social media. We’ll explore animation tools, box set images and book trailers, too. Kathleen will share handy tips & tricks along the way and have time for Q & A, too. Learn why authors say Book Brush saves them both time and money.

Kathleen is the Manager of Marketing and Customer Service at Book Brush. She has over 20 years of marketing experience and has presented Book Brush How-To sessions to over 200 author groups. Kathleen thoroughly enjoys working with authors and helping them create eye-catching images and more with the Book Brush tools. She lives in central Illinois with her husband, three busy boys and two handsome cats. Her hobbies include eating tacos and turning socks right side out.


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August 2022

August 17th: Set the Stage: Using Setting to Add Intrigue and Suspense

In this workshop, we’ll discuss how convert time and place into atmosphere. Time is more than an era and place is more than a physical location. Time and place reflect the culture, language, habits, standards, values, shared beliefs, customs, food, mores, pace of life, and so on—and most importantly, what your sleuth thinks of the setting. From cozies (typically a small town with a sweet and decent feel) to noir (dark and gritty, with a veneer of danger), each sub-genre of crime fiction comes with a set of reader expectations when it comes to setting. Think of your work here as world-building. We’ll also consider how to let decisions about your settings be driven by your characters’ behavior and personalities and how to use place to add intrigue and suspense.

Jane Cleland
Jane Cleland

Jane K. Cleland writes both fiction and nonfiction, including the multiple award-winning Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries [St. Martin’s & Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine] and the Agatha-award winning bestsellers, Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot and Mastering Plot Twists [Writer’s Digest Books]. Jane Austen’s Lost Letters, the 14th in her series, was published last December. She is a member of the fulltime faculty at Lehman College, part of the City University of New York, a contributing editor for Writer’s Digest Magazine, and the chair of the Wolfe Pack’s Black Orchid Novella Award (BONA) in partnership with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. She is a frequent workshop leader and guest author at writing conferences, association meetings, and MFA Residencies. Also, Jane offers free monthly virtual workshops on the craft and business of writing, and Mystery Masterminds, a series of small group virtual workshops. More details are available at www.janecleland.com.

Jane’s Social Media/Minotaur Books’ Social Media:
Website:  www.janecleland.com / https://us.macmillan.com/minotaurbooks/
Facebook: @JaneClelandBooks/@MinotaurBooks
Twitter: @janekcleland /@MinotaurBooks
Instagram:  @Minotaur_Books


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September 2022

9/22-23: WriteNow! 2022: A Deep Dive in the Desert

WriteNow! Logo with 2022 Theme Banner

If you missed WriteNOW! 2022, register here to pay and view the replays. If you already paid and want to rewatch, you can sign back in to rewatch any portion. View the WriteNow! 2022 Conference Page for more information.


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October 2022

October 19th: Forensics and Creative Writing with Forensic Artist and Crime Author Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart Parks is an internationally known forensic artist and law enforcement instructor, working on major criminal cases throughout the nation. She was nominated for Law Enforcement Trainer of the Year offered by the Federal Law Enforcement Academy at Glynco, Georgia. Her career highlights also include winning Woman of the Year for the Spirit of the American Woman and the first Educator of the Year by the Lewis Clark Alumni. As an award-winning fine artist, her art may be found in numerous corporate and private collections. Her bestselling mystery/suspense novels, featuring Great Pyrenees among other giant breeds, have won multiple Christy, Carol, Inspy, and Golden Scroll awards along with winning or becoming a finalist in numerous other writing competitions.

One of the most interesting and unusual uses of art occurs in the forensic field.  Americans are fascinated with the real life drama and mysteries around them. The forensic artist is trained to draw composites from the memory of witnesses, sketch crime scenes for the courtroom, and reconstruct skulls of unknown homicide victims.  How do they do it? Find out from the woman who trains the artists.

You will learn:

  • What’s a nice artist like you doing in a place like this?

Understanding identification based on perception
How art fits into law enforcement.

  • Faster than a speeding pencil?

The power of the human mind and a pencil Vs the microchip and computers.          

  • How many ways can you sketch?

Do it yourself mysteries-unlocking crime scenes.
The forensic artist’s toolbox  

  • “…Things that go bump in the night…”

Facial reconstruction for identification 

  • Speaking of age…

Aging suspects and other depressing facts 

Carrie’s Contact Info:
Facebook: @CarrieStuartParksAuthor


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November 2022

November 16th: DEIJB (JEDI-B): This time is personal.

  • We’ve heard the term.
  • We’ve read it in the newsletters
  • We’ve wondered what it means, and above all, what it means in our lives and for the fiction we write.
José Bogran
José Bogran

José H. Bográn is an international author, and member of the DEIJ-B Committee (also referred to within Sisters in Crime as JEDI-B), and he’s going to tell us all about it, answer questions, and offer tips for implementation. It’s time we see what the buzz is about.

José H. Bográn is an international author of novels, short stories and scripts for television and film. José was born in Honduras, the son of a journalist who ironically prefers to write fiction rather than facts. His genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. As a freelance writer, he has several articles published in a wide range of topics in both English and Spanish.

Bográn is the Assistant Editor for their official e-zine, The Big Thrill, and writes book reviews of The Washington Independent Review of Books. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers of Color, Sisters in Crime, the International Thriller Writers, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society where he currently serves as Vice President.

Bográn signs his emails with the motto: “I never tell lies, I only write them.”

 Book: DARKSOUL, book #2 in the Dark Days novel
DarkSoul Book
Sophie Keane is an assassin devoted to the criminal organization called The Hidden, but her loyalty is tested with an impossible mission: supply children to be used as test subjects for a new bio weapon.

José’s contact info:
Website: http://www.jhbogran.com/
Facebook: @JHBogran0
Instagram: @jhbogran
Twitter: @JHBogran


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December 2022

December 10th: End of Year Member Holiday Party! 

The annual Desert Sleuths member Holiday Party will take place December 10th from 10:30am-1pm. Upon submitting an RSVP, emailed to members via the newsletter, you will receive an email confirmation with details and contact. If you do not receive your confirmation, please email us at DesertSleuths@gmail.com.