WriteNow! 2021 Conference

Craft + Publish + Market

The WriteNow! 2021 Conference

Named the Best Writers Conference in Arizona by The Writer Magazine

100% virtual conference

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

(Saturday sessions will be recorded and available immediately
after sessions end if you cannot attend live.)

$25 General Admission
$15 Desert Sleuth Member

(Desert Sleuths – Please Use Coupon Code Provided to Members)


Full Program 

      • Welcome8am PT / 11am ET
      • Guest of Honor: Ann Cleeves, Interviewed by Shannon Baker – 8:15am-9:15am PT / 11:15am-12:15pm ET
      • The Road to Success with Isabella Maldonado, Peng Shepherd, moderated by Sara DiVello – 9:30am-10:30am PT / 12:30pm-1:30pm ET
      • Blurring the Genre Lines with Gary Phillips, Kelli Stanley, and Eric Beetner – 10:45am-11:45am PT / 1:45pm-2:45pm ET
      • Morning Wrap Up with Hailey Dezort – 11:45am-12pm PT / 2:45pm-3pm ET
      • Lunch – 12pm-12:30pm PT / 3pm-3:30pm ET
      • Deep Dive: Get Out of Your Own Way with Connie B. Dowell – 12:30pm-2:30pm PT / 3:30pm-5:30pm ET
      • Publishing Industry Panel: What You Need to Know Now with Bronwen Hruska, Jenna Jankowski, and Brett Battles, moderated by Julie Trelstad – 2:45pm-3:45pm PT / 5:45pm-6:45pm ET
      • Final Wrap Up – 3:45pm-4pm PT / 6:45pm-7pm ET


Guest of Honor: Ann Cleeves

Ann Cleeves will be interviewed by Thriller Author Shannon Baker. You’ll be able to purchase Ann’s latest book at a discount once you’ve registered.

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.

Shannon Baker is the award-winning author of The Desert Behind Me and the Kate Fox series, along with the Nora Abbott mysteries and the Michaela Sanchez Southwest Crime Thrillers. She is the proud recipient of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers 2014 and 2017-18 Writer of the Year Award.

Baker spent 20 years in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. She now lives on the edge of the desert in Tucson with her crazy Weimaraner and her favorite human. A lover of the great outdoors, she can be found backpacking, traipsing to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, skiing mountains and plains, kayaking lakes, river running, hiking, cycling, and scuba diving whenever she gets a chance. Arizona sunsets notwithstanding, Baker is, and always will be a Nebraska Husker. Go Big Red.

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 success.

Blurring the Genre 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 MaldonadoWall Street Journal Best-selling and award-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. Her latest Nina Guerrera novel, A Different Dawn, debuted at #8 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list.

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.

Sara 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.

Moderated by Julie Trelstad.

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.


Julie Trelstad is a book marketing specialist and publishing generalist. She is currently the principal of Julie Ink, an author marketing consultancy, and 82 Stories, a publishing services company. Julie’s been in publishing since before Amazon and was a non-fiction acquisitions editor for John Wiley & Sons, the Taunton Press, Reader’s Digest, and Sterling, where her undergraduate architecture degree came in handy for working on books about architecture and home design. Julie founded her own press in 2005 and later sold it. At Writers House, a literary agency, Julie was Director of Digital Rights, where she managed the agency’s self-publishing program and worked with their client/authors, who included Nora Roberts, Stephenie Meyer, Neil Gaiman, and many others on platform building and marketing.



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:

EditNow! with Connie Dowell (Book Echoes Media)
$30 for first 5 pages edit

5 Page Edits (Via Track Changes/Comments) provided by Freelance Editor Connie Dowell of Book Echoes Media
There will be no Zoom or face to face meetings. All feedback will be provided via email by Sept 25.

PitchNow! with Agent Madelyn Burt (Stonesong Literary Agency)
$30 for 10 minute pitch/consultation
SOLD OUT – Please email desertsleuths@gmail.com to be placed on the waiting list.

Dedicated time to pitch and discuss your completed manuscript with Agent Madelyn Burt of Stonesong Literary.

She is focused on adult mysteries, crime, & thrillers, although she is interested in both adult & children’s fiction. She is drawn to character-driven stories that feature tight-knit groups & strong friendships, quests & heists, & unique voices. She is also particularly interested in fiction & select nonfiction that is able to make a historical person or period accessible.

PitchNow! with Agent Christina Hogrebe (Jane Rotrosen Agency)
$30 for 10 minute pitch/consultation
SOLD OUT – Please email desertsleuths@gmail.com to be placed on the waiting list.

Dedicated time to pitch and discuss your completed manuscript with Agent Christina Hogrebe of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Her focus is on commercial adult fiction, especially domestic suspense, mystery, romantic comedy, women’s fiction, historical fiction, and anything British.

PitchNow! with Asst Editor Jenna Jankowski (Sourcebooks)
$30 for 10 minute pitch/consultation
SOLD OUT – Please email desertsleuths@gmail.com to be placed on the waiting list.

Dedicated time to pitch & discuss your completed manuscript with Asst Editor Jenna Jankowski of Sourcebooks.

Jenna acquires both adult fiction & nonfiction, with an emphasis on diverse voices. Mystery/suspense/thriller categories, including psychological suspense, cozy mysteries, & contemporary crime fiction; mainstream contemporary fiction with a literary edge; speculative and horror; and engaging narrative nonfiction with revealing history, science, and social science.

MarketNow! with  Hailey Dezort (Kaye Publicity)
$50 for 30 minutes, $100 for 60 minutes

For a 30 minute session, you will have your website evaluated by publicity and marketing professional, Hailey Dezort of Kaye Publicity. You will need to provide your website information when prompted.

Book two back-to-back 30 minute sessions to total 60 minutes and add the evaluation of 2 social media sites and author pages (ie. Bookbub, Amazon, and Goodreads). If booking 60 minutes, please also provide the links to your social media sites/author pages when prompted.


Conference Bookstore

The Poisoned Pen is a favorite local, independent bookstore and the official WriteNow! 2021 Conference bookstore. You can pick up books by all of our guest authors, including Ann Cleeves’ lastest novel in the Two Rivers series, The Heron’s Cry, with a sweet discount. Support a great independent bookstore and get a fabulous book in the process.


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.


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