For Desert Sleuths
An Organization for Writers, Readers, and Fans of Crime Fiction and Mystery
See our 2023 events below.
November 15th: Co-Authoring: Are Two Heads Better than One?
Writing collaborations have become more common across all genres, but we’ve had some especially noteworthy partners in crime recently in the genre of mystery and suspense: State of Terror by Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny; The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke; many, many books by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro and others; books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; Charles Todd and Caroline Todd’s Inspector Rutledge Mysteries—the list goes on.
Award-winning authors Bruce Robert Coffin and LynDee Walker have both published independently of each other but recently they teamed up to write THE GENERAL’S GOLD and THE CARDINAL’S CURSE, the first two books in the Turner and Mosley Files, coming in 2024. In this presentation, they’ll give you the inside scoop on how they found each other, how they work together, and the advice they’d give if you want to try a collaboration.
Bruce Robert Coffin is an award-winning novelist and short story writer. A retired detective sergeant, Bruce is the author of the Detective Byron Mysteries, co-author with LynDee Walker of the Turner and Mosley Files, and author of the forthcoming Detective Justice Mysteries.
Winner of Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion awards for Best Procedural and Best Investigator, and the Maine Literary Award for Best Crime Fiction Novel, Bruce was also a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. His Anthony Award-nominated short fiction has been published in a dozen anthologies including Best American Mystery Stories, 2016.
LynDee Walker writes about strong women who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Her books have been finalists for the Agatha and Thriller awards, as well as on a major national bestsellers list smack in between two of her writing heroes. An award-winning journalist, she has covered everything from ribbon cuttings and high school football to capital murder trials and high-level police corruption. She is the author of 18 novel series and several novellas and short stories, so she is usually writing when not juggling laundry and children’s sports schedules.
Preregistration required. Presenters are virtual unless they are already in the area. Select in-person or virtual. In-person attendance is at the Tempe Public Library. The Virtual Presentation is on Zoom. You will receive an email message with the information for attending or to complete your Zoom registration.
Chapter Meeting at 6:00 p.m.; Presentation from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Members, please come to the chapter member meeting at 6:00 p.m.
End of Year Member Holiday Party
Each year, Desert Sleuths gather to celebrate the year’s end, our successes (and attempts), and single out one or two individuals who have given “above and beyond.” We invite all chapter members to join us for this in-person (Mesa, AZ) pot luck brunch and white elephant book exchange.
You’ll find the details on our registration page: https://desertsleuths.com/desert-sleuths-holiday-party/
Jan 18th: How to Make Your Dialogue Sing
Dialogue can be one of the trickiest elements of writing fiction – but done right, it can grab your reader’s attention from page one. Discover how in Maggie King’s craft workshop, How to Make Your Dialogue Sing.
Dialogue should always do one or more of the following: provide information; reveal aspects of characters and their relationships with each other; create mood, conflict, and tension; and move things along, advancing the plot.
Maggie explores these essentials of dialogue for writers of every fiction genre. Topics include:
- How to make dialogue realistic
- Dialogue tags
- Action beats
- Formatting internal thoughts
- Proper use of punctuation
- Balancing between dialogue and narration
- How to use slang, dialect, and profanity
- And more
Beginning and seasoned authors will benefit from Maggie’s practical advice and specific examples. In no time, they can improve their technique and increase their chances of success in the marketplace. And their dialogue will sing!
Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, Death by Cupcake, and Murder by the Glass.
King is a member of James River Writers, International Thriller Writers, and Short Mystery Fiction Society, and is a founding member of Sisters in Crime Central Virginia, where she manages the chapter’s Instagram account. In addition, she serves Sisters in Crime National as a member of the Social Media team. Maggie graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a B.S. degree in Business Administration, and has worked as a software developer, customer service supervisor, and retail sales manager. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive.
Buy link for Laughing Can Kill You: https://bookshop.org/p/books/laughing-can-kill-you-maggie-king/17789945
February 15, 6:30 p.m. : Working with Book Bloggers with Dru Ann Love and Kristopher Zgorski
Are you interested in starting a blog of your own? Or trying to get your books on the radar of the book blogging community? We hope so — because across every social media platform, book blogs reach avid readers and publishing professionals, providing incredible marketing opportunities to book reviewers and authors alike.
Dru Ann (of dru’s book musings) and Kristopher (of BOLO Books) are two MWA Raven-Award-Winning bloggers with thousands of followers. Reprising their highly praised and popular presentation from the 2022 New England Crime Bake conference, they will share some sure-fire ways to develop your own blog and get your published book noticed by these increasingly valuable–but also increasingly busy–marketing outlets.
You will leave this session knowing you have gained beneficial insights that will increase your chances of positive and effective interactions with these unpaid resources, regardless of whether you are a newbie or a veteran of the crime fiction community. And if you’re starting a blog, you’ll hear proven tips from the experts on how to succeed in this fun but challenging arena.
Dru Ann Love reportedly spends her working hours at the mysterious daytime situation. Her non-working hours are spent less reclusively on dru’s book musings, her award-winning blog where the “day in the life,” “get to know you,” and “word with the author” segments are prominently featured beside her short “my musing” reviews. She is an avid reader who loves traveling, sci-fi movies, and is happy to be in her element within the mystery community.
In 2017, Love was awarded the Mystery Writers of America Raven Award for “outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.” Dru’s book musings was also nominated for the Anthony Award in 2015 for Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work and in 2018 for Best Online Content. Love was previously Fan Guest of Honor at Domestic Malice (2022) and will be Fan Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime (2023) and Bouchercon (2023). She has been a member of both Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America since 2011. Website: https://drusbookmusing.com/
Kristopher Zgorski is the founder and sole reviewer at the crime fiction book blog, BOLO Books. In 2018, he was awarded the Mystery Writers of America Raven Award for “outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.” Kristopher writes a column on digital crime fiction resources for every issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and his blog reviews are syndicated to his column in Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine. He has previously served on the board of directors for Malice Domestic, a crime fiction convention celebrating the traditional mystery. Kristopher has been a member of Sisters in Crime since 2017 and was most recently the Fan Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime in Albuquerque, New Mexico in early 2022.
March 15: Every Contact Leaves a Trace with Garry Rodgers
Whether you’re a hardcore crime thriller writer, or the author of cozy mysteries, you’ll definitely want to catch this suspension-of-disbelief seminar by Garry Rodgers. His takeaway? Every contact leaves a trace.
This is known as Locard’s Exchange Principle, a foundational tenet of forensic science. Locard’s Principle holds that through contact, the perpetrator of a crime will bring something into a crime scene and will leave with something from it. Every contact leaves a trace.
In this fascinating presentation, Rodgers will cover the range of possible forensic clues, from DNA and bloodstain pattern analysis, to firearm signatures and other types of physical evidence. He will delve into the process of trace evidence processing and review the evidentiary conclusion scale used to tell the facts in court. This is a rare opportunity to not only learn but also ask specific questions you may have about forensic science.
Garry Rodgers is a retired homicide detective who served twenty years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, nearly all on the Serious Crimes Section where he was a pioneer in DNA evidence processing. He went on to do a second stint as a coroner, investigating sudden and unexplained deaths for the Province of British Columbia Coroners Service. In his younger years, Rodgers served as a marksman (sniper) on British Special Air Services (SAS) trained RCMP Emergency Response Teams. He’s also a recognized expert witness in Canadian courts on the identification and operation of firearms.
Today Rodgers has reincarnated as an international bestselling crime writer with over twenty indie-published books. He also hosts a popular blog site (www.Dyingwords.net) that gets over a quarter-million visits each year.
April Chapter Meeting and Presentation
Podcasting with Purpose and Panache
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. MST
- how to be a good podcast guest
- how to start a podcast people will actually want to listen to
- good and bad podcasting experiences
- tips about how to choose a podcasting focus and build an audience
- how to engage a podcast host and podcast guests
This presentation is a “must attend” for anyone interested in getting involved in the podcast industry – with its millions of listeners and a list of shows that grows daily.
Andy Nelson (he/him) studied film and business at CU Boulder and has directed and produced short films, feature films, documentaries, and television shows. He has been a podcaster for over 11 years and is now a partner at the TruStory FM podcast network.
Nelson fell in love with the podcasting format about 11 years ago when he started the first of his many movie podcasts, The Next Reel Film Podcast. He has been teaching for a decade, as well, instructing students in several film production- and podcast-related courses. Now, as a partner at TruStory FM, he continues to explore his passion for storytelling across media genres and is excited about the growing audio world of podcast storytelling. Nelson is a family man and loves a good martini, a good beer, or a nice cup o’ joe. And always, of course, a good movie.
Galit (pronounced guh-LEET) Gottlieb has hosted podcasts about new books in literature for the New Books Network since 2018. After a career of performing (music), teaching, and administrating, Gottlieb was sidelined by cancer and healed by reading mysteries. That’s when she connected with the editor of the New Books Network and became the host for new books in literature, interviewing over 170 authors since 2018.
Gottlieb has written three culinary mysteries (The Whipped and Sipped Mysteries, DX Publishing) and invented enough vegan and gluten-free recipes to fill a cookbook. She is the mother of three adult children and the grandmother of one 8-month-old. Gottlieb and her husband go back and forth between Chicago and Colorado, where they all live. Wherever she is, she rarely lets a piece of fresh peach pie go untasted.
May Chapter Meeting and Presentation
Plottr for Pantsers and Plotters Alike
Wednesday, May 17, 2023, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. MST
Plotters and pantsers of the world, unite! If you haven’t seen the popular visual book planning and story bible software Plottr, you’re missing out.
In this interactive session with author, book coach, and Plottr Education Lead, Troy Lambert, you’ll learn how to use the program’s suite of tools to accelerate your writing process, including how to visualize your book and series arcs, track your character and place details, avoid plot holes, and much more. The best part? It works for pantsers, too!
If you’re ready to (finally) organize the story ideas rampaging through your head, then join the session, ask questions, and see why Plottr is rated the #1 outlining software by Kindlepreneur.
Bio: Troy Lambert is a mystery author, book editor, and the Education Lead for Plottr, the #1 visual book outlining and story bible software. The author of over 25 novels and several works of nonfiction, he lives in the mountains of Idaho with his wife and two very talented dogs.
June 21st: Let’s Make a Mystery
Chapter Meeting at 6:00 p.m.; Presentation from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Debra H. Goldstein is described by many words: judge, author, litigator, wife, step-mom, mother of twins, and civic volunteer. Add successful author of short stories and novels to that list. Her fifth Sarah Blair mystery, Five Belles Too Many (2022) was followed by the just-released short story “Red Hats and Cummerbunds” in Tales From The Golden State of Mind (May 2023).
Sharon Lynn writes short stories and novels about “kick-butt ladies solving thrilling mysteries.” Already published in almost a half dozen anthologies (and the forthcoming SOWEST: WRONG TURN), Sharon’s debut novel, Death Takes a Bath, published in 2022.
Shakespearean scholar Sarah Smith (Chasing Shakespeares: Shakespearean Authorship Novel) dives into Edwardian culture, alternate histories, and a bit of steampunk in her short stories and novels. Her most recent novel, Crimes and Survivors, takes us on the Titanic! She is also an editor for the forthcoming anthology, SOWEST: WRONG TURN.
July 19th: Thinking Like a Detective: History, Forensics, & Plotting Your Mystery
Chapter Meeting at 6:00 p.m.; Presentation from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
You’re thinking of writing a nineteenth-century murder mystery, but you’re discouraged by the apparent lack of forensic evidence. Much of our impression of detective work during the 1800s has been shaped by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, where deduction, not evidence, catches the criminal. Truth is, there was an excess of evidence available in that period, including trace evidence and fingerprints. Let Kerry Cathers of A Curiosity of Crime take you into the world of nineteenth-century sleuthing, including what evidence was available, when and how crime scenes and evidence were (or weren’t) processed, and how to create a detective who is true to the era. This seminar provides advice about how to maximize, and shorten, your research.
Along with knowing what parts of modern sleuthing you can take into the nineteenth century, in this seminar you will learn how to:
- think like a nineteenth-century detective
- tweak fact to fit your fiction
- process a crime scene and evidence before the science existed
You’ll learn what elements you’ll have to put in place, beyond physical evidence, to craft an intriguing crime story. Most importantly, you will know how to plot your mystery around the evidence you want to include.
Bio: Kerry Cathers runs A Curiosity of Crime and a monthly newsletter, Bandit’s Roost, which are research resources for authors of nineteenth-century detective fiction. She published her first book in a research series, A Writer’s Guide to Nineteenth-Century Murder by Arsenic, last year. A follow-up book on nineteenth-century poisons will be published later this year. She has given seminars for various Sisters in Crime chapters, Mystery Writers of America (Southeast Chapter), and Kiss of Death’s COFFIN series. In June, she will be presenting at the History Novel Society North America’s conference.
Registration details will be available in late June.
Wednesday, August 16, 2023, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
The Whole Path: A Holistic Approach to Your Writing Career with Kitty Bucholtz
Writing • Heart and Soul • Organization • Laughter • Economics
People • Accountability • Time • Health
Bio: Kitty Bucholtz is an author, podcaster, and book coach with a heart for encouraging writers to create books that change the world. She writes sweet romantic comedy and superhero urban fantasy, often with an inspirational element woven in. Her work has appeared in print magazines, websites, and traditionally published devotional books since 1997. After earning her M.A. in Creative Writing, she formed Daydreamer Entertainment and began self-publishing in 2011. Founder of *Write Now! Workshop and Write Now! Workshop Podcast, Kitty has been helping writers finish their books for over 20 years and loves every minute of it! https://kittybucholtz.com/
*Editor’s Note: This is not associated with Desert Sleuths WriteNOW! annual conference.
presentation begins at 6:30 but please complete the full registrations (including
Zoom) BEFORE 6 PM.
WriteNow! 2023, September 22-23
Desert Sleuths is proud to again present Arizona’s premiere mystery/crime writers conference for authors, readers, and enthusiasts (named Best Writers Conference in Arizona, 2020, The Writer magazine). We welcome writers from all genres.
Friday includes separately priced, one-on-one sessions with agents and marketing specialists, an assessment of your first 50 pages by an editor, and a workshop. Saturday is a full day of interviews, presentations, and a workshop, all at one price. There’s something for writers at all stages in their Craft ♦ Publishing ♦ Marketing journey.
See our main conference page.
October 18th: TWO-TRACK MIND: How a Second Career Shapes Your Writing Career (and vice versa), A conversation with screenwriter/teacher Wendall Thomas and author/licensed psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo
Chapter Meeting at 6:00 p.m.; Presentation from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Most writers, even highly successful ones, balance two careers. In this workshop, authors Dennis Palumbo and Wendall Thomas will discuss the benefits and challenges of being a novelist with a full-time job.
Thomas will focus on how teaching screenwriting strengthens her novel writing, and vice versa, but also how her screenwriting career helps with pitching to agents and editors, hitting deadlines, participating on panels, and writing short selling documents. She’ll also discuss how she manages her own writing while keeping boundaries with her clients and creates vital time off in both arenas.
Palumbo will discuss how his career as a psychotherapist contributes to the accuracy and relevance of his psychological thrillers, and how being a fiction writer informs his understanding of his patients’ personal narratives. He’ll suggest ways to glean expertise from your “day job” and weave it into a unique and realistic backdrop for your fiction, illuminating a world readers may not be familiar with. He’ll also provide some tips on how to address “burnout” in both careers.
Wendall Thomas teaches in the Graduate Film School at UCLA, lectures internationally on screenwriting, and has worked as an entertainment reporter, development executive, script consultant, and film and television writer for companies including Showtime, NBC, Warner Brothers, A&E, Disney, and PBS. Her first Cyd Redondo novel, Lost Luggage, was nominated for the Lefty and Macavity Awards for Best Debut Mystery of 2017. Her second, Drowned Under, was nominated for an Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original and a Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery of 2019. Fogged Off was a finalist for Best Humorous Mystery of 2021. Her short fiction appears in the crime anthologies Ladies Night (2015), Last Resort (2017), the Anthony-nominated Murder-A-G-Go’s (2019), and Crime Under the Sun (2023). Her fourth Cyd Redondo mystery, CHEAP TRILLS, will be published on October 30th. Learn more at https://wendallthomas.com/
Dennis Palumbo, formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (My Favorite Year; Welcome Back, Kotter; etc.), is a licensed psychotherapist whose work with creative people has been featured on CNN, NPR, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. He’s also the author of the popular nonfiction book, Writing from the Inside Out. His mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Strand and elsewhere, and is collected in From Crime to Crime. His series of award-winning mystery thrillers (the latest of which is Panic Attack) feature Daniel Rinaldi, a psychologist and trauma expert who consults with the Pittsburgh Police. Recently, Dennis served as Consulting Producer on the Hulu TV series The Patient. Learn more at http://dennispalumbo.com/