Book Passage

Mystery Writers Conference

August 22-25, 2019
Corte Madera, CA (Just north of San Francisco)

Discover All the Clues for a Successful Career as a Mystery or Suspense Writer!

New Attendee Price: $575

Alumni Price: $500

 

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Read co-chair Cara Black's feature with Writer's Digest

Read co-chair David Corbett's feature with Writer's Digest

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The four-day Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference has a strong tradition of great authors and teachers. It covers everything mystery writers need—from developing ideas and writing skills to finding a publisher. Participants work closely with mystery writers, agents, editors, and publishers as well as investigators and crime-fighting professionals.

In this conference, mystery writers learn the clues to a successful writing career. Editors, agents, and publishers tell participants what they need to know to get published. Authors offer classes on setting, dialogue, suspense, point of view, and openings. They tell how to write about private eyes, amateur sleuths, and police protagonists, and how to create thrillers and historical mysteries. Panels of detectives, forensic experts, police, and other crime-fighting professionals provide information that allows crime fiction writers to put realism in their work.

The collegial atmosphere of this four-day conference attracts participants and faculty from all over the country, many for repeat visits. Opportunities abound for faculty and participants to talk, laugh, and exchange ideas in classes, workshops, panels, and informal lunches.

For a full overview of the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference, check out Learning All the Clues!

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Bill Petrocelli & Cara Black Discuss Mystery Writers Conference on ABC7

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Meet the 2018 Faculty

The 2018 Mystery Writers Conference faculty is an outstanding group of mystery writers, editors, agents, forensic experts, detectives, and teachers. Together, they will show you how to bring realism to your work and help guide you through the publishing process.

Browse Our 2018 Schedule

There are many conferences where you can meet great writers, and you can certainly do a lot of that at the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference, but here you'll also do something more. The emphasis of this four-day conference is to show you what you need to do to become a successful mystery writer yourself.

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Success Stories

"I attended two Mystery Writer's Conferences a few years back.  I hooked up with agent Liz Trupin Pulli and my mystery/thriller, Tropical Ice, was introduced at the Waterstreet Press booth at the 2016 Chicago Book Expo. The conference provided invaluable information and stimulated me to see the project through."
Ken Smith, San Rafael

"Before I learned about Book Passage’s classes and the Mystery Conference, the only creative writing I’d ever done were a couple of particularly imaginative IRS submissions at tax time. Sure, I was an avid mystery reader, but that didn’t translate to being a mystery writer anymore than being a gourmet means you know how to cook. So I decided to learn from the pros. Within a year I’d written my first novel, partnered with a well-known agent, and sold the book to Time Warner’s Mysterious Press...It’s been a great year of book tours, signings and getting to meet some terrific readers, librarians and booksellers. It also feels good to fulfill a fantasy I’ve been dreaming about for close to fifty years. I can stick to nonfiction for the IRS submissions now."
Louise Ure, Author of Forcing Amaryllis

"The conference bolstered my skills and helped me get published. You can’t beat the caliber or the inspiration."
– Cara Black, Author of Murder in the Latin Quarter

"I am a graduate of the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference who has since published three mysteries through St. Martin’s Press... My first mystery, Murder Off Mike, was published as the result of winning the St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Contest."
– Joyce Krieg, Author of Murder Off Mike

"I attended the conference twice, when I was learning how to write my first novel, and the faculty were so encouraging that I stuck with it. And now I've recently had my second novel published, signed a new book deal, and hit the USA Today bestseller list to boot. It's been a long and winding road, but a very fun one. Thank you for being part of the journey!"
- Gigi Pandian, Author of the Jaya Jones Series 

Read more conference success stories

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2018 Conference Sponsors

2019 Faculty (More to Come!)

 Click here to see the list!

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2019 Schedule

View now! (May be subject to change)

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2019 Pre-Conference Classes

These optional writing workshops are taught by David Corbett and Hallie Ephron on Thursday afternoon just prior to the conference. Non-conference attendees are welcome to register. Conference attendees will receive a discounted registration price.

David Corbett
The Task of Justice

Thurs., August 22, 2019, 1:00 - 3:30 pm

In this pre-conference lecture and workshop, award-winning crime novelist David Corbett will explore the challenge known as the "Task of Justice" that lies at the heart of all great mystery-crime-thriller stories--that is, how does a lawful hero stand a chance when faced by an enemy who doesn't play by the rules? Appearing in various incarnations such as the Tainted Hero, the Noble Villain, and the Moral No-Man's-Land, this workshop will pay particular attention to how this dilemma presents itself in each of the mystery-crime-thriller sub-genres.

Hallie Ephron
Creating Memorable Characters

Thurs., August 22, 2019, 1:00 - 3:30 pm

Lead by bestselling author Hallie Ephron, this workshop will walk through the process of planning and developing memorable characters--from coming up with names to finding those details that ignite their first appearance. You will also explore related elements such as: how to use character to drive a narrative voice and how to develop compelling character relationships and conflicts.

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2019 Scholarships 

The Mystery Writers Conference Scholarships that will be awarded this year include full tuition to the 2019 conference (travel and accommodations not included). To be considered, applicants must submit the first 10-20 pages of a mystery novel in progress, plus one paragraph about what this conference would mean to them in their writing life.

  • The Kimberley Cameron Scholarship, sponsored by Kimberley Cameron, founder of Kimberley Cameron & Associates Agency
  • The Own Voices Scholarship: This scholarship is open to applicants who are writing a mystery, thriller, or crime fiction from an authentic place using the point of view of a protagonist who is a person of color, LGBTQ, and/or a person with disabilities.

To apply, send the required materials to Kathryn Petrocelli at bpconferences@bookpassage.com.

Applications must be received by Friday, July 26th, at 5:00 pm PST.

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Learn More About Private Consultations

Want to meet with a member of our faculty one-on-one? Optional 30-minute private consultations are available for $95. You may use that time to discuss a concept or proposal, or to have a faculty member review and provide feedback on a portion of a manuscript you have submitted. A list of faculty members available for consultations will also be made available prior to the conference.

Accommodations 

Thinking of traveling from afar to learn the craft of mystery writing? No problem! We have some great recommendations for places nearby where you can rest and relax.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions? We have answers!

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Former Los Angeles prosecutor and current mystery writer Marcia Clark signs books at the 2011 Mystery Writers Conference.

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An expert displays a hazmat suit at the 2004 Mystery Writers Conference.

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"The Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference offers the best program of panels and workshops in the mystery community."

– Joe Blades, Vice-President & Executive Editor, Ballantine Books

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"Book Passage's annual Mystery Conference is the creme de la creme of gatherings for both aspiring and accomplished authors, offering a star faculty, real life connections to agents and editors, and the joy of time spent with those who understand why writers write."

Carolyn Hart, Author of Death Comes Silently