Biographies and mission statements

Bryan Patrick Avery’s love of mysteries started at age 7 when he received his first Bobbsey Twins mystery novel. Since then, he’s become a published poet and author of stories and books for kids and adults. His most recent story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, was published in June 2020 in Super Puzzletastic Mysteries, a middle grade anthology from HarperCollins and Mystery Writers of America.

Mission Statement: I have always found MWA to be an inviting and inclusive organization. As a member of the NorCal Board, I will work to bring the joys of the mystery genre to the next generation of mystery readers and writers.


Dale Berry is a San Francisco-based writer, artist and publisher who has produced stories, articles, comics and graphic novels for both major publishers and independently since 1986 (including contributing to this year’s MWA Handbook, How To Write A Mystery).  Additionally, he has a background as a professional theatrical stagehand, scenic designer and almost thirty years’ experience as a disc jockey and on-air radio personality.  In 2016, Dale became the first comics creator to be published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and his second graphic short story for them was submitted for Edgar Award consideration in 2017.  Communication and story–telling is his life.

Mission Statement: As a Board Member for MWA NorCal, I hope to bring my diverse skills and talents to the job of assisting, expanding and promoting our impact in the mystery community and beyond, in whatever ways I can.  Just as MWA NorCal made a home for me, I wish to return that opportunity to all our current and potentially future members.


Claire Booth is a former journalist who has reported on high-profile stories all over the country, including that of a California cult leader who became the subject of her nonfiction book The False Prophet. After spending so much time covering crimes so strange and convoluted, they seemed more fiction than reality, she had enough of the real world and decided to write novels instead. Her Sheriff Hank Worth mysteries take place in Branson, Missouri, where small-town Ozark politics and big-city country music tourism clash in – yes – strange and convoluted ways. 

Mission Statement: MWA NorCal has been the source of so many things for me—educational opportunities, camaraderie, social events, and writerly support. I’d love to contribute more actively to this great organization as it continues to help writers throughout Northern California. 


Glenda Carroll was a long-time sports columnist for the Marin Independent Journal. Her articles have been featured in local, national and international publications. She is the author of Dead Code,  Drop Dead Red and Dead in the Water, the Trisha Carson mysteries set in the San Francisco Bay area. Her thrillers have a swimming undercurrent based on her own experience. She has raced in more than 150 open water swim events in Northern California, as well as Hawaii and Perth, Australia. Currently,  she tutors first-generation, low income high school students in English and History. She lives in San Rafael, CA with her dog, McCovey.

Mission Statement: I feel that social media is the quickest way to connect with MWA members and readers. My overall strategy is to show our audiences that MWA is a group of exciting, interesting, welcoming and talented people…one that they want to be involved with.


Vera Chan is a debut author and veteran journalist who has served on several Bay Area boards, including the Asian American Journalists Association (SF), Exceptional Women in Publishing, and Sisters in Crime (NorCal).

Mission Statement: I’d like to bring to the MWA chapter my experience in technology (editorial product teams at Microsoft and Yahoo) and its potential opportunities for authors as well as with my dedication to diversity, inclusion and equity. 


M.M. Chouinard is the USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon Charts bestselling author behind The Vacation, a standalone psychological thriller, and the Detective Jo Fournier series, featuring The Dancing Girls, Taken to the Grave, Her Daughter’s Cry, and The Other Mothers. She loves animals, coffee, amateur genealogy, and anything to do with Halloween, Serial Killers, or the zombie apocalypse.

Mission Statement: What I hope to contribute: My books are published through a primarily digital traditional publisher, so I have some experience with that fast-growing area of publishing. And when we meet in person again, I also make one heckuva cranberry salsa.  


Margaret Dumas is the author of the bestselling Movie Palace Mysteries, set in a classic movie theater in San Francisco which is populated by the kind of people she’d love to hang out with. She also authored the popular Married to Mystery series, the first of which, Speak Now, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger award.

Mission statement: As a longtime member of MWA NorCal, I’d like to give back to the community that has been so supportive and welcoming. I think we have some particular challenges presented by our meetings and events remaining virtual during this time, and I’d like to offer my skills to help meet those challenges.


Claire M. Johnson’s first novel, Beat Until Stiff, won the 1999 Malice Domestic Writer’s Grant, was a BookSense pick for Winter 2002, and was nominated for the 2003 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her second novel in this series, Roux Morgue, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. She has written a Jane Austen pastiche entitled Pen and Prejudice, which she self-published, and has just finished her second Austen pastiche. Crime fiction is calling once again, and she’s currently plotting out a standalone set in a fictitious well-to-do suburb that is nothing like the well-to-do suburb she currently lives in. 

Mission statement: The mystery community has a reputation for being inclusive and welcoming to new writers with new voices. I would like to support that sense of camaraderie by joining the MWA NorCal Board. 


Lexa M. Mack is an avid mystery reader and writer.  She lives with her husband, a very fat cat, 4 chickens, and 40,000 honeybees in the Sierras between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe.  Her next goal in life is to upgrade her MWA membership to Active Status.  She’s publishing her first mystery in the next couple of months and has been having a blast working on the Lineup (and hanging with the big kids).

Mission statement: To work with other members of the board to energize, coordinate, and facilitate communication, camaraderie, and sharing in the diverse and far flung reaches of the NorCal Chapter.  The 21st century version of “Hey, gang, let’s put on a show,” (Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, circa 1930s).


Michael Nava is the author of an acclaimed series of eight novels featuring gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios who The New Yorker, called “a detective unlike any previous protagonist in American noir.” The New York Times Book Review has called Nava “one of our best” writers. In 2020, his latest Rios novel, Carved in Bone was awarded his seventh Lambda Literary Award in the gay mystery category. He has also been honored with the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement in LGBT Literature. A graduate of Stanford Law School, he also practiced law for 30 years before retiring in 2016 as a judicial research attorney at the California Supreme Court.

Mission Statement: Of course, as a gay, Mexican-American, I am committed to working toward diversity in every organization of which I am a member, but I am also deeply committed to the values of community, collaboration and civility and I would bring those values to the board.


Eileen Rendahl is a national-bestselling and award-winning author of mystery, paranormal, and romance novels. Her alter ego, Eileen Carr, writes romantic suspense. Her other alter egos, Kristi Abbott and Lillian Bell, write cozy mysteries. All the Eileens were born in Dayton, Ohio. She moved when she was four and only remembers that she was born across the street from Baskin-Robbins. Eileen remembers anything that has to do with ice cream. Or chocolate. Or champagne. She has had many jobs and lived in many cities and feels unbelievably lucky to be where she is now and to be doing what she’s doing.

Mission Statement: Writing is a solitary profession and it can get very lonely. Social media can provide opportunities for even the most introverted among us to connect, get and offer support, and share triumphs and tribulations. I hope to help MWA NorCal build its social media presence across several platforms to create those opportunities.


Laurie Sheehan is a Program Analyst for the Department of Defense, working at the Naval Postgraduate School. She does get to handle some cool unmanned systems, but there’s not much cloak and dagger to her job. She has a degree in Cultural Anthropology (heavy on archaeology with a lot of physical anthropology and forensic anthropology tossed in). She’s currently working on The Modern Speakeasy Mysteries and plans to return to an earlier series based on an archeologist, Delaney Cross.

Mission Statement: Laurie is a long time member of MWA and is eager to help others the way so many MWA members have encouraged and supported her.