2019 Schedule

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Friday, November 8

2:00p– 7:00p Check-in

3:00 – 4:15 Master Class 1    

Teacher: Ann Cleeves


In this one-of-a-kind master class by the queen of setting, Ann Cleeves explores the human geography of crime, looking at the way place influences character development and plot. She’ll help you understand why choosing a setting for your story is the most important decision you must make as a writer, and how that choice will inform your entire work.

(Limited to 100 Registrants)

3:00 – 4:15 Master Class 2

Teacher: Carol Goodman

“WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS?”   Secrets to Psychological Suspense

Psychological Suspense is one of the fastest-growing genres in crime fiction.  The most compelling ones are told with a narrative voice that grips you, takes you through the labyrinth and into the abyss, and leaves you wondering whom you can trust.  Through a series of short examples and guided exercises we will work on creating a narrative voice that will hook your reader and keep them guessing. We will discuss the unreliable narrator, misdirection, dual points of view, and when manipulation goes too far.

(Limited to 50 Registrants)

3:00 – 4:15 Master Class 3

Teacher: Amy Collins


Do you see other books in stores and on library shelves and wonder how you can get your book into more stores? Do you see thousands of ebooks and audiobooks available at your local library and wonder how your book can get there too? Have you been told that it is impossible to get your book into national chains and asked yourself “Why?”

This class addresses the big desire of every author who finishes a book and wants to get it into bookstores, chains, and libraries.  We will go over the ins and outs of how stores and libraries GET books on their shelves and what authors and publishers need to know to get their book in the hands of bookstore and library staffers.

We will provide the materials and training needed to get your book onto the shelves you want and get the sales you deserve.

(Limited to 50 Registrants)

4:30 – 5:45 Master Class 4

Teachers: Paula Munier and Joanna Schaffhausen

COMMERCIAL COUNTS: Writing the High-Concept Crime Novel

In today’s uber-competitive marketplace, the more commercial your story, the greater your odds of selling it. Acclaimed crime novelist Joanna Schaffhausen and literary agent and author Paula Munier team up to reveal the secrets behind today’s bestselling mysteries and thrillers. You’ll learn how to generate your own big ideas, identify the most commercial aspects of your WIP, and use special storytelling tools, tips, and tricks to maximize the commercial appeal of your work.

(Limited to 50 Registrants)

4:30 – 5:45 Master Class 5

Teacher: Hallie Ephron


Is there a perfect cast of characters for a crime novel? Of course not, but starting with your crime and the protagonist who’s going to solve it, this workshop takes you through the process of assembling the cast your story needs to create the conflict and forward momentum the genre demands. The workshop will be interactive, and participants will analyze their own cast.

(Limited to 50 Registrants)

4:30 – 5:45 Master Class 6

Teacher: Bruce Coffin

MURDER FOR REAL: Adding Realism to Your Mystery Investigation

Bestselling author Bruce Robert Coffin draws upon nearly thirty years in law enforcement to reveal the secrets of crime-fighting verisimilitude. You’ll learn how to write cops, crime, a criminal investigation, and law and order that ring true—every time.

(Limited to 50 Registrants)

6:00 – 6:30 Crime Bake 101: Tips on making the most of the weekend conference

6:30 – 7:30 Welcome Light Buffet Supper: (no additional fee, but registration needed)

7:45 – 8:50 PRACTICE YOUR PITCH (Agents & Editors Track)

Paula Munier

Coordinator: Ray Daniel

(Exclusive benefit for A&E Program registrants)

7:45 – 8:50 SECRETS OF SELF-PUBLISHING: All You Need to Produce and Publish Your Story Your Way

Learn the ins and outs of the self-publishing business from writers who’ve been there and done that successfully. From mastering the editorial process to designing covers and interiors, planning a marketing campaign to scheduling book events, this lively panel debates the pleasures and perils of self-publishing.

Moderator: Ang Pompano

Panelists: Judy Copek, Sharon Daynard, Dale Phillips, Barbara Struna

9:00 – 9:20 Welcome Reception: Desserts to Die For

9:00 – 11:00 Movie Night: The Crow Trap

Ann Cleeves’ very own Vera on the big screen for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, November 9

8:00 – 8:45 Breakfast

8:30 – 9:00 Welcoming Remarks and Al Blanchard Finalists

9:00 – 9:50 A MUSTER OF MASTER STORYTELLERS: Getting—and Staying—on Top

Guest of Honor Ann Cleeves and her sister bestselling authors Hallie Ephron, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Julia Spencer-Fleming debate the ups and downs of a career in crime writing—and the essential qualities every writer must have to survive and thrive over the long haul.

Moderator: Paula Munier

Panelists: Ann Cleeves, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Hallie Ephron, Hank Philippi Ryan

9:50 – 10:10 Break/Book Signing

10:10 – 11:00 THE ART OF THE PAGE-TURNER: What Makes a Thriller Thrilling

The only real writing rule is: Keep the reader reading. This stellar group of thriller authors discusses the tips, tricks, and techniques that help them pull off a “one-sit read”—and how you can do it, too.

Moderator: Ray Daniel

Panelists: Joanna Schaffhausen, Edwin Hill, Chris Knopf

10:10 – 11:00 MIX AND MATCH GENRES: Mystery Mash-Ups That Work

Near future thrillers. Paranormal mysteries. Speculative thrillers. Mash-ups are trending—but writing a genre-bending story that finds an audience can be a challenge. These accomplished storytellers reveal which genres mix and match better than others, and why.

Moderator: Mo Walsh

Panelists: Leigh Perry, J. R. Walcutt, Lorraine Sharma Nelson, Donna Andrews

11:00 – 11:20 Break/Book Signing

11:20 – 12:10 BOOK BUSINESS INSIDER: Trends and Tactics for Today’s Marketplace

An independent publisher, an experienced book marketer, and two popular book bloggers engage in a wide-ranging discussion of what’s hot, what’s not, what’s working, what’s not—and what that means for you and your work.

Moderator: Connie Hambley

Panelists: Amy Collins, Ed Vincent, Dru Ann Love, Kristopher Zgorski

11:20 – 12:10 THE ARC OF TRIUMPH: Planning a Series That Lasts

Writing a series that readers come back to again and again and again means designing a compelling dramatic arc for the entire series. These series veterans reveal how they pull off this magic trick—book after book after book.

Moderator: Edith Maxwell

Panelists: Lucy Burdette, Sally Goldenbaum, Wendy Tyson, James W. Ziskin

11:20 – 12:10 SHARPEN YOUR QUERY LETTER (Agents & Editors)

Bring your one-page query and have it critiqued by agents/editors and authors

Coordinator: Ray Daniel

(Exclusive benefit for A&E Program registrants)

12:10 – 12:30 Break/Book Signing

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch and Guest of Honor Talk – Ann Cleeves

Interview by Lori Rader-Day

1:30 – 1:45 Break/Book Signing

1:45 – 3:00 FIRST PAGE WORKSHOP (Agents & Editors Track)

Bring your first page for critique by agents/editors and authors

Coordinator: Ray Daniel

(Exclusive benefit for A&E Program registrants)

1:45 – 3:00 ANATOMY OF A SHORT STORY: From Idea to Publication

A distinguished panel of writers and publishers dissects the current state of the short story market—subgenres, formats, limitations, requirements for specific markets, and more.

Moderator: Susan Oleksiw

Panelists: Shawn Reilly Simmons, Ruth M. McCarty, Janet Raye Stevens, Gabriel Valjan

1:45 – 3:00 READING LIKE A WRITER: William Martin

New York Times bestselling author William Martin leads a discussion on the noir classic “Farwell, My Lovely” by Raymond Chandler.

3:00 – 3:10 Break/Book Signing

3:10 – 4:00 A SNOOP OF DETECTIVES: Creating a Winning Law Enforcement Officer

Inspector Gamache. Detective Antoinette Conway. Sheriff Longmire. Creating an engaging and endearing and enduring detective hero is critical to establishing a successful procedural. An up-close and personal look at what makes a fictional detective tick—and come alive on the page.

Moderator: Richard Cass

Panelists: Bruce Coffin, Kate Flora, Charles Fergus

3:10 – 4:00 A DIG OF RESEARCHERS: Facts, Figures, and Fiction

What do historical mysteries based on old movies, missing artwork worth over $500 million, a social activist in Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th century, and crime in the near future, including UFOs have in common? Lots of research! You’ll learn the tricks and techniques these authors use to write stories set anywhere, any time, about any and all things.

Moderator: Marian Stanley

Panelists: Frankie Bailey, B. A. Shapiro, Lisa Lieberman, Frances McNamara

4:00 – 4:20 Break/Book Signing

4:20 – 6:00 ONE-ON-ONE PITCH SESSIONS (Agents & Editors Track)

Three-minute pitch sessions with agents and editors

Coordinator: Ray Daniel

(Exclusive benefit for A&E Program registrants)


Bruce Coffin – Police Procedure/Criminal Investigation

Janet Raye Stevens – Navigating the Writing Contest Scene

Jane Willan – All Things Clerical

Brenda Buchanan – Covering the Courts and Crime Beat

J.R. Walcutt – Tarot – How to integrate its themes, plot structure, narrative arc and symbolism into writing and story-telling.

4:20 – 6:00 MEET THE NEWBIES

Want to hear about this year’s must-read books? Our debut authors will happily tell you about their just-published novels and proudly show off their baby!

6:00 – 6:30 Cocktail Party

6:30 – 9:30 Banquet & Awards

Sunday, November 10

7:30a – 9:00 Breakfast and Flashwords Presentation

9:00 – 10:10 MURDER OVERSEAS: Foreigners, Ex-Pats, and Americans on the Run

From research and revision to vernacular and verisimilitude, the art of writing crime fiction abroad—as told by bestselling authors writing about places as far-flung as Shetland and Siberia, India and Spain.

Moderator: Michele Dorsey

Panelists: Ann Cleeves, Susan Oleksiw, Elisabeth Elo, Joseph Finder

10:10 – 10:20 Break/Book Signing

10:20 – 11:10 COPS DON’T DO ALL THE WORK: Investigations and Security in the Private Sector

International security consultant and former private investigator Ben Keller takes us behind the scenes in his work with the FBI, Homeland Security, other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as Fortune 500 companies—from clashes between police and the private sector working at cross purposes to the downfall of Eliot Spitzer.

Presenter: Ben Keller

11:10 – 11:30 Break/Book Signing

11:30 – 12:40 FORENSICS SCIENCE ROADSHOW: Venture into the World of CSI

Venture into the world of CSI with this presentation that introduces you to the fascinating subjects of forensic science, including demonstrations. Subjects include Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory, Functions of Forensic Scientist, Blood, Fingerprints, Gunshot Residue, Footwear Impressions, and Crime Light.

Presenter: Paul Zambella

12:40 Closing Remarks and Book Signing