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MWA Northwest Spring Conference

April 10, 2021 @ 9:00 am - 3:30 pm PDT

MWA Northwest presents: Mystery Writing One-Day Conference

Join your fellow writers for a full day of writing workshops and “Dead Talks.”

8:30am Zoom room open for networking/chat

9:00am Welcome/Announcements by MWA NW President

9:15am Workshop #1 (1 hour) Elaine Viets, Dialogue: The Voices in Your Head

10:15am Break (10 min)

10:25am Dead Talk #1 (15 min) – Eric Beetner / Podcast Power Guest

10:40am Quick Stretch (5 min)

10:45am Workshop #2 (1 hour – Dana Kaye / Your Author Brand

11:45am Quick Stretch (5 min)

11:50am Dead Talk #2 (15 min) –-Leslie Budewitz / Connecting With Our Reader

By Connecting With Our Characters

12:05pm Lunch Break (45 minutes)

12:15pm Optional Q&A with Greg Herren during lunch

12:45pm 15 Minutes of Fun!

1:00pm Workshop #3 (1 hour) – Tina Connolly & J.S. Arquin / Audio books 101

2:00pm Break (10 minutes)

2:10pm Workshop #4 (1.5 hrs) – Jessica Morrell / The Secret of the Dark Arts (Revision)

3:40pm Wrap up

NOTE: This is a live event only and will not be recorded.

Elaine Viets – Dialogue: The Voices in Your Head

Elaine returned to her hard-boiled roots with Brain Storm, the debut novel in her Angela Richman, Death Investigator series. Charlaine Harris calls Brain Storm “a complex novel of crime, punishment, and medical malfeasance.” Brain Storm was followed by Fire and Ashes, Ice Blonde, and A Star Is Dead. Death Grip is her latest Angela Richman mystery. Kirkus says,, “Viets produces chills with a murder hunt turned on its head.”

Elaine has written 35 bestselling mysteries in four series: hard-boiled Francesca Vierling, traditional Dead-End Job, cozy Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper, and Angela Richman, Death Investigator. Elaine’s Deal with the Devil and 13 Short Stories, was published by Crippen & Landru. She’s been toastmaster and guest of honor at the Malice Domestic Mystery Conference. Elaine passed the Medicolegal Death Investigator Training Course for forensic professionals. She’s won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards. www.elaineviets.com

Eric Beetner – Podcast Power Guest

Eric Beetner, host of the popular podcast Writer Types, draws on his experiences to provide some advice to authors on how to land a spot on a mystery podcast, and even more importantly, how to be a memorable guest. He’ll touch on what listeners want to know, common mistakes authors make, and how to make things easier on the host.

Dana Kaye – Your Author Brand (Any level)

Each year, millions of books hit the market, both online and in-stores. While some readers are willing to take a chance on a new author or a book they’ve never heard of, most want a guarantee that the next book they pick up is worth their time and money. So, they go for established names, books that are getting tons of media attention, or the current award winners. So what does that mean for new or midlist authors? How can you get readers’ attention and build an audience in such a crowded marketplace? By establishing a brand. Veteran publicist and brand manager, Dana Kaye, teaches participants how to identify, create, and establish their unique author brand.

Dana Kaye is a life-long entrepreneur who believes in the power of storytelling and authentic personal branding. In 2009, she founded Kaye Publicity, Inc., a boutique PR company specializing in publishing and entertainment. Known for her innovative ideas and knowledge of current trends, she coaches her clients on how to identify and establish their unique personal brands. In 2016, Dana launched Murder and Mayhem in Chicago, a one-day conference dedicated to crime fiction, with mystery author Lori Rader-Day. In 2020, she co-founded Bouquet Stock Photography, a curated library of diverse and inclusive stock photos, with Felton Kizer. She is also the author of two books – Your Book, Your Brand: The Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your Book and Boosting Your Sales and The Personal Brand Workbook – and serves on the advisory board of Propel PR. Dana is a proud Chicagoan, where she resides with her wife, son, and adorable dog. Connect with her at danakaye.com.

Leslie Budewitz – Connecting With Our Readers by Connecting With Our Characters

No matter what the genre, readers come to our books in part for an emotional connection with our characters and the story. In this 15-minute talk, we’ll look at ways to create emotion on the page by drawing on our own experiences, purposeful free-writing, and emotional research.

Bio: Leslie Budewitz is a three-time Agatha Award winner and the bestselling author of the Spice Shop mysteries, set in Seattle, and the Food Lovers’ Village mysteries, inspired by Bigfork, Montana, where she lives. She’ll make her suspense debut in April 2021 with Bitterroot Lake, written as Alicia Beckman. Leslie is a national board member of Mystery Writers of America and past president of Sisters in Crime.


Greg Herren is currently serving as Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America, one of the oldest writers’ organizations in the world. (76 years and counting!) But what precisely does MWA do, and why should anyone join? Greg talks about the need for community in writing, the benefits of belonging, and what the future may hold for MWA.

GREG HERREN is the award-winning author of over thirty novels, fifty short stories, and has also edited over twenty anthologies. While he has won numerous awards, he has been short-listed for many more, and has learned to be very gracious in defeat. He is currently serving as Executive Vice-President of Mystery Writers of America. His next book, Bury Me in Shadows, will be released this fall.

Tina Connolly & J.S. Arquin – Audiobooks 101!

Audiobooks are a fabulous way to make your novel or collection accessible to a broader range of people. But how do you take all the steps to make this happen? In this talk, Tina Connolly and J. S. Arquin will take you through the entire process. We will cover everything from hiring narrators, getting your work into venues such as Audible/ACX, to the equipment and steps required if you decide you want to narrate your work yourself. Class will go away with greater confidence that you could produce an audio recording of your work and get it out there—and which of the paths to doing so is right for you!

Tina Connolly’s stories and novels have been finalists for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. Her narrations have appeared in audiobooks and podcasts including Podcastle, Pseudopod, John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey’s The End is Nigh series, and more. She is one of the co-hosts of the Hugo-nominated podcast Escape Pod, and runs the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. Find her at tinaconnolly.com.

J.S. Arquin juggles many hats as a speculative fiction author, editor, and podcaster, as well as an audiobook narrator and producer with over fifty audiobook credits. A couple of times a year, he even manages to take a day off. Find out more about his writing: http://www.arquinworlds.com, podcast: https://theovercast.libsyn.com/, and audiobook work: https://www.arquinaudiobooks.com/.

Jessica Morrell – Secrets of the Dark Arts: Revising, Rethinking, Rewriting

Revision is a learned skill and like many others requires a strategy. This workshop is designed for fiction writers and memoirists to help you refine your first draft in thoughtful, organized steps.

Step 1 begins with the macro picture that focuses on structure and determines if the central dramatic question carries through all the three acts. It’s where you first address pacing and plug any plot holes. You’ll make certain you’ve included all the necessary scenes and start weeding out the chaff. You’ll question if you need all the characters and subplots. The first pass also focuses on balance and determines if there is too much or not enough exposition.

Step 2 focuses on making it more immersive while tracking your key characters, homing in on motivation and goals. Step 3 examines individual subplots, scenes, and dialogue. Are the subplots needed and can they be tightened? Do the scenes contain tension and forward momentum and have you included cliffhangers?

Step 4 (finally!) means you’ve reached the copy editing stage where you refine until you cannot stand it anymore are satisfied. You might still be tightening, fixing typos and punctuation, while placing “perfect words in perfect places”, amping up verbs and adding music to your prose through alliteration and figurative language. This workshop includes a cornucopia of cheat sheets and handouts as you learn tricks of the trade from a developmental editor with more than 25 years of experience.

Jessica juggles gigs as an author, developmental editor, and instructor. Her clients include best-selling authors and she teaches deeply practical techniques on a range of topics. Jessica is the author of six books, lives not far from Portland, Oregon, where she gardens, battles garden pests, and watches the sky.


April 10, 2021
9:00 am - 3:30 pm PDT


Mystery Writers of America NorthWest Chapter