WriteNOW! 2024 Saturday Faculty

We have a terrific lineup of authors, editors, and publishers from around the country  and across the pond! Click on any name below to jump to their listing or read through the page.

Michael BrackenEllen Byron John ConnorJennifer DornbushChristina EstesBarb GoffmanJay HartmanShane HawkNaomi HiraharaStephen Mack Jones — Deborah J LedfordWanda MorrisJaden Terrell

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Michael Bracken

Michael Bracken, Panelist — Truths, Lies, and Myths Debunked: Editors Tell All

Michael Bracken is an award-winning writer of fiction, non-fiction, and advertising copy. An Edgar Award nominee and Shamus Award nominee, he has received multiple awards for copywriting, three Derringer Awards for short fiction, and the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for lifetime achievement in short mystery fiction. The author of several books and almost 1,300 short stories, he has edited or co-edited thirty-two published or forthcoming crime fiction anthologies, including the Anthony Award-nominated The Eyes of Texas, and provides editorial services to book and periodical publishers.

Michael regularly speaks about writing, editing, and publishing at conferences, conventions, and corporate seminars, and has taught non-credit courses for writers at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. He’s been a guest speaker in classrooms at various universities, including Baylor University and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

He received a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing from Baylor University and in June 2021 was named a Prominent Alumnus for his accomplishments as an award-winning mystery writer. In 2024 he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters for his contributions to Texas literature. He currently serves clients and publishers from his office in Hewitt, Texas.

Website: https://www.crimefictionwriter.com/


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Ellen Byron

Ellen Byron, Presentation — Humor Hacks from a Sitcom Veteran

USA Today bestselling mystery author Ellen Byron shares useful, easy-to-apply tips on how to mine the funny in any manuscript, culled from her years of experience writing popular sitcoms.

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won multiple Agatha and Lefty awards. Bayou Book Thief, the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries, was nominated for Agatha and Anthony awards and won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery. She writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico and will debut a new series, the Golden Motel Mysteries, in 2024.

Ellen is an award-winning playwright and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies such as Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. She blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, and was the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster.

A native New Yorker, Ellen is a graduate of Tulane University, hence her love of both cities. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and a rotating crew of rescue pups.

​Web: https://linktr.ee/ellenbyronmariadirico


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John Connor

John Connor, Panelist — Truths, Lies, and Myths Debunked: Editors Tell All

Due to his mother’s love and his father’s inability with contraception during a 1956 pre-Christmas radio broadcast of The African Queen, Mr Connor was born in London on September 11, 1957. “If you hadn’t come along, we’d’ve gotten a dog.” Bless you, mother.

Nothing much happened until sometime in 1962, when he managed to discover the joys of pneumonia and hospitals – thankfully in the right order.

Then, after a period of convalescence, in 1964, his father moved the family into a derelict farm house in the wilds of North Suffolk, and as a child that period allowed him to get in touch with his feral side. Due to his mother’s passion for house clearance auctions, it also gave him an unfettered access to tea chests full of old books, 78s, LPs, radios and record players, while also generating various associations with other like-minded young adults also isolated from the mainstream – some of whom are still alive today.

Now, some 60 years on, after creating several magazines (one described as the UK’s answer to Factsheet Five), writing, editing, selling and publishing later, Mr Connor is at it again. This time reviving the ‘retired’ writers group — Murderous Ink — into the Press it is today:

(From You Make Me Wanna ShoopCriminal Intent December 2020):
So it’s lunchtime on a Saturday. We’re 4 months into the Covid-19 self-isolation. And the landline rings.

I pick it up. On the other end Jack Bateman says something. I say something like, “Yeah, I still have the archive on a hard drive. Somewhere….” From that point on Mr Adrenaline proceeded to slowly beat Captain Common Sense to a bloody pulp with a Louisville slugger.

We’re much older, a lot wiser than when we came together decades ago, yet we seem still full of piss and vinegar. Technology has also moved on, which helps remove some barriers, but also creates others.

And if you’re reading this, oh best beloveds, that is how Murderous Ink Press was reborn.

Three and a half years and 19 ‘editions’ later … Crimeucopia – the magazine that likes to think it’s an anthology.



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Jennifer Greaser Dornbush

Jennifer Greaser Dornbush, Interview —  Forensics Faux Pas and How to Get Away with Murder!

Through her work as a Screenwriter, Author, Speaker, and Forensic Specialist, Jennifer Dornbush aims to shed light and hope into the dark places of the human experience.

“The television or movie screen is the closest most people will ever come to witnessing the forensic world. But I actually lived it. As a daughter of a medical examiner whose office was in our home, I investigated my first fatality, an airplane crash, when I was 8 years old. Picking up pieces of skull and brain matter, my father simply saw this as a hands-on anatomy lesson. This would be the first of many coroner lessons I experienced over two decades.”

After careers in journalism and teaching, Jennifer turned seriously to screenwriting where she began to connect her coroner world to her writing world. She sought a degree at the Forensic Science Academy in Los Angeles to gain more forensic training and earned the friendship of LA’s top CSIs, fingerprint specialists, DNA scientists, and detectives. Based on this experience, she authored Forensic Speak: How To Write Realistic Crime Dramas, which is used by showrunners, writers, and law enforcement.

As a screenwriter, she has developed film and TV projects with Lifetime TV, Enspire, Echo Lake, Wolper Productions, Red Kimono, David Janolari Entertainment, Hoplite, and a host of others. She wrote the theatrically released film and novel, God Bless the Broken Road, a Netflix top 10 Faith-based Movie.

As an author … Jennifer developed the mystery book series, The Coroner’s Daughter, first released in 2018, with The Coroner. She followed that with Secret Remains, then Last One Alive in 2023. Books 4 and 5 are slated for publication in 2024 (FROZEN LIVES, 10/29/24) and 2025. Her true crime thriller, Hole in the Woods, released in 2020 and was optioned for TV.

Jennifer is a contributing author in a three book Murder, Music and Mystery anthology series from Blackstone Publishing: Hotel California, 2022; Thriller, 2023; and the pre-published, BACK IN BLACK, 2024. In pre-publication are a true crime memoir, RAISED BY THE ICE MAN, that chronicles the lives of Merrick and Christin Kuklinksi, daughters of mafia killer, Richard Kuklinski, and an historical crime fiction novel, THE LOCARD PRINCIPLE, inspired by Dr. Edmund Locard, who instituted the world’s first crime lab. She is currently working on a YA mystery dramedy for publication and TV series.

As a speaker … Jennifer frequently speaks internationally on crime fiction and forensics. She hosts regular webinars through Writer’s Digest, The Writers Store, Script Magazine, and dozens of others. She also teaches for several universities and mentors aspiring writers from around the world.

As a forensic specialist … Jennifer has consulted with TV writers on shows such as: Bull, Conviction, Hawaii Five-O, Leverage, Suits, and Rectify.



Christina Estes — Host/Facilitator

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Christina Estes

Emmy award-winning reporter Christina Estes’s first novel, Off the Air, received the Tony Hillerman Prize for Best First Mystery Set in the Southwest and was a Good Morning America Buzz Pick. Inspired by Christina’s career, Off the Air features a TV reporter investigating the murder of a controversial talk show host. Off the Air is set in Phoenix where Christina has reported for TV and radio for more than twenty years. Currently a journalist for the local National Public Radio (NPR) member station, Christina’s reporting has also appeared on NPR and CBS and in the Arizona Republic, Phoenix Business Journal and Arizona Business Gazette.

Website: https://www.christinaestes.com/ 


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Barb Goffman

Barb Goffman, Panelist —  Truths, Lies, and Myths Debunked: Editors Tell All

Barb Goffman is a short story author who has won the Agatha Award three times, the Macavity Award twice, and the Anthony and Silver Falchion awards once. Additionally, in 2020 she won the Readers Award given out by Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Her award-winning stories are “The Lord is My Shamus” (Macavity Award), “A Year Without Santa Claus” (Agatha Award), “Dear Emily Etiquette” (Agatha Award and EQMM Readers Award), and “Beauty and the Beyotch” (Agatha Award, Anthony Award, and Macavity Award). Her sole published collection, Don’t Get Mad, Get Even, won the Silver Falchion Award for Best Collection of 2013. Two of her stories, “A Tale of Two Sisters” and “The Gift,” have been included on the Other Distinguished Mystery and Suspense list in volumes of The Best American Mystery and Suspense.

Barb has been nominated for major crime-writing short story awards 43 times, including 18 Agatha Award nominations (a category record). She’s also been nominated for the Macavity Award 10 times, the Anthony Award 9 times, the Derringer Award 4 times, the Thriller Award once, and the Silver Falchion Award once, all for her short stories. EQMM Editor Janet Hutchings called one of those stories, “Bug Appétit,” “one of the best holiday stories I ever read.” In addition to EQMM, Barb’s stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery MagazineBlack Cat Mystery MagazineBlack Cat WeeklySherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, and many anthologies. In 2023, she was the toastmaster at the Malice Domestic mystery convention.

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Golden Derringer Award

In May 2024, Barb was honored with the Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS) Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award. This is the SMFS lifetime achievement award for “having produced an impressive body of short crime fiction, and having made a major impact on the genre.”

When not writing, Barb makes her living as an independent (freelance) editor. She edits across the crime genre, but especially enjoys working on traditional and cozy mysteries. She offers developmental, line, and copy editing services. One of the books she edited took home the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Short stories she edited have won the Ellery Queen Readers Award and the Derringer Award. Two stories she edited have been reprinted in The Best American Mystery and Suspense (with two more forthcoming) and one was reprinted in The Best Mystery Stories of the Year. She gave editorial assistance to a book that won the Agatha Award for Best Non-Fiction. Another novel Barb edited was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel.

Barb also is an associate editor of Black Cat Weekly magazine, collecting and editing a line of stories (mostly reprints) called Barb Goffman Presents. She has edited or co-edited thirteen published anthologies with two additional anthologies in the works. Starting in 2009 until its conclusion in 2022, she co-edited the Chesapeake Crimes anthology series, every book of which has had at least one story that won or was nominated for a major award or was republished in the annual Best American Mystery and Suspense anthology. She edited the 2016 Malice Domestic anthology, Murder Most Conventional, which had one Agatha Award-nominated story. In 2020 the anthology Crime Travel, which she organized and edited, was nominated for the Anthony Award, and stories in the book were nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, Macavity, and Shamus Awards. Most recently, she edited the 2024 anthology Three Strikes—You’re Dead! with Donna Andrews and Marsha Talley. The book was published by Wildside Press.

Barb blogs every third Tuesday at https://www.sleuthsayers.org/, often about writing. She lives in Winchester, Virginia.

Website: http://www.barbgoffman.com/


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Jay Hartman

Jay A. Hartman, Moderator — Truths, Lies, and Myths Debunked: Editors Tell All

Jay A. Hartman is a 30+ year veteran of the publishing industry with experience in both selling and producing. He started as a Waldenbooks store manager in Brunswick, Georgia, and was previously the Content Editor for KnowBetter.com, one of the Internet’s oldest sites reporting on ebooks and epublishing. In addition to his years of writing material for KnowBetter, Jay graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Literature and has worked in the retail management sector for over 30 years. Early in his career he was an on-air journalist for WVFS radio in Florida, and writer for the Florida Flambeau newspaper.

Jay founded publishing house Untreed Reads and served as its Editor-in-Chief for 13 years before the company was acquired by another entity. His newest venture, publishing house Misti Media, is now running and open for submissions.

Jay is known as a respected innovator in the ebook industry—constantly ahead of the curve. Because of his expertise and instincts, he is a regular speaker and interviewed expert—at conferences, in person, and online—on ebooks and all things in the ebook industry.

Website: https://www.mistimedia.com/


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Shane Hawk

Shane Hawk, Panelist —  A Sense of Place: Sensory Locations and the Characters We Create

Shane Hawk, a member of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, is a history teacher by day and a horror writer by night. Hawk’s literary contributions include his debut story collection, Anoka, as well as short fiction featured in numerous anthologies. He co-edited the Bram Stoker and Locus Award-nominated anthology Never Whistle at Night, which reached its tenth printing just one month after publication.

Shane is currently co-writing an Indigenous Horror stage play with Andrea L. Rogers, titled THE LAND STILL BLEEDS, set to premiere in October 2024. He resides in San Diego, California, with his beautiful wife.

Website: https://shanehawk.com/


Naomi Hirahara
Author Naomi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara — Mysteries with Staying Power: How to Create Books that Maximize Reader Engagement

Naomi Hirahara is an Edgar Award-winning author of multiple traditional mystery series and noir short stories. Her seven-book Mas Arai mysteries have been published in Japanese, Korean, and French and feature a Los Angeles gardener and Hiroshima survivor who solves crimes.

Her first historical mystery, Clark and Division, which won a Mary Higgins Clark Award, follows a Japanese American family’s move to Chicago in 1944 after being released from a California wartime detention center. Evergreen, her follow-up to Clark and Division, was released in August 2023 and was on the USA Today bestseller list for two weeks.

Naomi was a reporter for and editor of The Rafu Shimpo during the culmination of the redress and reparations movement for Japanese Americans who were forcibly removed from their homes during World War II. During her tenure as editor, the newspaper published a highly acclaimed inter-ethnic relations series after the L.A. riots.

She produced three books for younger readers. Her middle-grade fiction novel, 1001 Cranes (Delacorte), received an honorable mention in Youth Literature from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. Her two nonfiction history books for youth are We Are Here (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center/Running Dog Kids) and A Child’s Introduction to Asian American and Pacific Islander History (Black Dog & Leventhal).

Other nonfiction books include the multiple award-winning Terminal Island: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor (Angel City Press), co-written by Geraldine Knatz, and Life after Manzanar (Heyday), co-written by Heather C. Lindquist. Naomi has also curated exhibitions at Descanso Gardens and the Los Angeles Maritime Museum.

Naomi and her husband Wes make their home in Southern California. Naomi served as president of the Southern California chapter of the Mystery Writers of America in 2010.



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Stephen Mack Jones

Stephen Mack Jones, Panelist — A Sense of Place: Sensory Locations and the Characters We Create

Stephen Mack Jones is a published poet, award-winning playwright and winner of the Kresge Arts in Detroit Literary Fellowship. Stephen has received many accolades for his August Snow crime/thriller series. August Snow won the Nero Award, and he has been shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and a finalist for the Shamus Award as well as the Strand Critics Award. August Snow was named a Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. He received that honor again for Dead of Winter.

In 2018, the International Association of Crime Writers presented Stephen with the prestigious Hammett Prize for literary excellence in the field of crime writing. He currently lives in the suburbs of Detroit.

Website: https://www.stephenmackjones.com/


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Deborah J Ledford

Deborah J Ledford, Moderator — A Sense of Place: Sensory Locations and the Characters We Create

Agatha Award winner Deborah J Ledford is the author of the Eva “Lightning Dance” Duran Native American crime fiction series, including Redemption and HAVOC (7/30/24), set in Northern New Mexico and available from Thomas & Mercer Amazon Publishing. Three times a nominee for the Pushcart Prize, Deborah’s award-winning stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies.

Her first series, the Smoky Mountain Inquest Native American police procedurals, includes Staccato, Crescendo, Causing Chaos, and Snare, the Hillerman Sky Award Finalist and New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Finalist. Two books in the series, Crescendo (2014) and Causing Chaos (2016), were Anthony Award Nominees for Best Audiobook. Produced by IOF Productions Ltd, the audiobooks are available from Audible and iTunes.

Deborah is President/Producer for the independent media company, IOF Productions Ltd. She produced the Crescendo and Causing Chaos audiobooks as well as The Blind Eye. Before her career as a writer she worked for a decade as a professional scenic artist for motion pictures, industrial films, national commercials, and live theatre. Due to her work on industrial films for clients such as Intel and Motorola, Deborah earned security clearance through the US Government. Highest acclaim was given for her scenic artistry on the Coen Brothers’ film Raising Arizona.

Part Eastern Band Cherokee, she spent her summers growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina where her Smoky Mountain Inquest book series is set. She lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her extremely patient husband and their awesome Ausky.

Deborah is a member of International Thriller Writers Association (ITW), Sisters in Crime National (SinC), Crime Writers of Color (CWoC), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and is Past-President of Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter (Arizona). She is also a former Arizona State University adjunct professor for The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.



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Wanda Morris

Wanda Morris, Panelist — A Sense of Place: Sensory Locations and the Characters We Create

Wanda M. Morris is the acclaimed author of All Her Little Secrets, which has been praised by Karin Slaughter as “brilliantly nuanced” and reviewed by The Boston Globe, LA Times, New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seattle Times, and South Florida Sun Sentinel among others. It was named as one of the “Best Books of 2021” by Hudson Booksellers and selected as the #1 Top Pick for “Library Reads” by librarians across the country. It was selected as a Book Buzz Pick by Good Morning America, serialized in Entertainment Weekly and a Marie Claire book club pick. All Her Little Secrets won the 2022 Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel and a finalist for 2022 Georgia Author of the Year for Best First Novel. It was also nominated for the Anthony Award, the Strand Critics Award, the Macavity Award and has been shortlisted for the Crook’s Corner Book Prize.

All Her Little Secrets has been optioned for a one-hour limited series on Showtime executive produced by and starring Emmy-award winning actress Uzo Aduba. Wanda will serve as an executive producer.

Her new book, Anywhere You Run, was named one of the Top Ten Crime Fiction Books for 2022 by The New York Times. It was also selected as one of the Best Books of 2022 by NPR, Publishers Weekly, Amazon, and Library Journal. It has been named as one of “Fifteen Standout Historical Fiction Books to Read This Year” by Oprah Daily. In its review, Publishers Weekly stated, “Finely sculpted characters and crisp dialogue help make this a standout.” Booklist’s starred review stated, “This riveting and moving novel, with echoes of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, is highly recommended for fans of suspense and women’s fiction.”

Anywhere You Run won the 2023 Anthony Award for Best Historical Novel, the 2023 Georgia Author of the Year for Best Mystery, and the 2023 Lefty Award for Best Historical Novel. In addition, it was nominated for the Strand Critics Award, the Macavity Award, and the ITW Thriller Award. Anywhere You Run was also longlisted for the prestigious Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Prize.

Wanda’s latest book, What You Leave Behind, hit the shelves in June and has also received acclaim, including a starred review from Booklist, stating, “Morris displays an astonishing mastery of multiple literary forms … this tale is ominous at first, full blown at the finish.” It has also received stellar reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. It was named “One of the Best Books of the Year So Far for 2024” by Amazon editors and has been featured in Us Weekly and People Magazine.

Wanda is a former corporate lawyer. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Color and serves on the Board of International Thriller Writers. She is married, the mother of three and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.



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Jaden Terrell

Jaden Terrell, MarketNOW! Workshop — Sell Your Books, Not Your Soul

Put two or more writers together, and sooner or later, one will say, “I love writing. I just wish someone else would handle all that selling stuff.” The good news? Book marketing doesn’t have to be a chore. You can connect with readers using your individual strengths and interests. Sell Your Books, Not Your Soul will address author branding, your personal marketing style, the three key elements of book marketing and promotion, and an overview of the four-pillar concept for creating your individual marketing plan. Soon, you’ll be on your way to building an author platform and creating a marketing plan you can live with. Maybe even enjoy.

Jaden Terrell is a Shamus Award finalist and the internationally published author of the Nashville-based Jared McKean private detective series. She is the author of Trouble Most Faire, a cozy black cat detective romantic mystery set at a Renaissance Faire, and a contributor to numerous mystery anthologies and ITW’s Big Thrill magazine. Jaden is a well-known writing mentor, offering live and online workshops, coaching, and courses for writers.

Website: https://www.jadenterrell.com

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