Click here for a list of past events.

Ongoing Event: MWA NorCal Saturday Write-In

Every Saturday from 10:45 AM-Noon
Join us on Saturday mornings for 10 minutes of chatty camaraderie followed by some dedicated writing time. 
Members, email and request the Google Meet link to join.

Individual Events

October is Mystery Month!

Wednesday, October 20
HISTORICALS: Stepping into the Past – Crafting the Historical Mystery
Via Zoom; advance registration required
5 PM Pacific Time

Historical: of, relating to, or having the character of history; History: a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events.

How are readers transported into the past through novels? Join us, on Zoom, for this discussion to hear how historical mysteries are imbued with vibrant descriptions of the culture and consciousness of the past. How life was lived in a different time and place, and how crimes were solved using only wit, wisdom, intelligence, and the technology at hand – which did not include cell phones or GPS!

Moderator: Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of 28 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories. She has been a member of MWA since dinosaurs walked the earth, was president of the NorCal chapter for years, and is probably the only writer to have both an Edgar and an honorary doctorate in theology.


  • Catriona McPherson is a crime-fiction writer over many genres: modern psychological thrillers, 1930s detective stories with a gently-born lady sleuth (After the Armistice Ball is the first); and comedies set in California.
  • Ann Parker earned degrees in Physics and English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Her award-winning Silver Rush historical mystery series is set in the 1880s silver boomtown of Leadville, Colorado, and features Silver Queen Saloon owner Inez Stannert. The first in the series, Silver Lies, won the Willa Literary Award for Historical Fiction and the Colorado Gold Award and was a finalist for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award as well as for the Western Writers Association Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. It was chosen a best mystery of the year by Publishers Weekly and the Chicago Tribune.
  • Michael J. Cooper immigrated to Israel in 1966 and lived in Jerusalem during the last year the city was divided between Israel and Jordan. He studied and traveled in the region for eleven years and graduated from medical school in Tel Aviv. Cooper now lives in Northern California.
  • Priscilla Royal is the author of several books in the Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas medieval mystery series, grew up in British Columbia and earned a BA in World Literature at San Francisco State University where she discovered the beauty of medieval literature.

Register Here

Saturday, October 23
Noir at the Bar
Live Event – Part of Lit Crawl
Silver Sprocket
1018 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA
8 PM

Emcee: Dale Berry is a commercial artist and designer in San Francisco, California, who is best known for his work on the graphic novel series Tales of the Moonlight Cutter, which is published by his company, Myriad Publications. Berry also created Ninja Funnies for Eternity Comics, and the character Dragonhead with co-creator Eric Dinehart. In addition to his work in commercial art and graphic novels, Berry is a professional fencing instructor and hosted a weekly radio program on KRZR.


  • Michael Nava is the author of an acclaimed series of eight novels featuring gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios, who Garth Greenwell, writing in 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.
  • Lisa Towles is an award-winning crime novelist and the author of Choke and The Unseen. Her 7th title, Ninety-Five, will be released in November 2021. Lisa has an MBA in IT Management and works in the tech industry. 
  • Alan Jacobson: While researching his debut novel, False Accusations, at the Department of Justice’s crime lab, he met FBI agent Mark Safarik, who was awaiting promotion to the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit—the one popularized by TV’s Criminal Minds. They stayed in touch, and Agent Safarik invited him out to Quantico to tour the FBI Academy, profiling unit, and Behavioral Sciences Unit. Thus began his immersion in the world of serial killers, rapists, bombers, and arsonists.
  • Michelle Chouinard, writing as M.M. Chouinard, writes crime fiction (including suspense, procedurals, and cozies), and women’s fiction.

This program is indoors. Mask and proof of vaccination are required at the door. Please read the requirements at

Register Here

Wednesday, October 27
NOIR: Dames and Smooth Operators – Step into the Shadows of Noir
Via Zoom; advance registration required
5 PM Pacific Time

Noir: crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings

How do we craft Noir? What makes the atmosphere and setting leap from the pages and grab a reader? How do writers manifest the stark landscapes, raw emotion, concise dialogue, and characters pushed to the edge of their personal abyss? Join us, on Zoom, for what will certainly be a fascinating discussion!

Moderator: David Corbett is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, which have been nominated for the Lefty Award for Best Historical Mystery, the Anthony and Barry Awards for Best First Novel, and an Edgar. His book on the craft of characterization was published by Penguin and his follow-up, The Compass of Character, was published by Writer’s Digest Books.


  • Alex Segura is an acclaimed, award-winning writer of novels, comic books, short stories, and podcasts. His short story “Red Zone” won the 2020 Anthony Award for Best Short Story, and his border noir short story, “90 Miles” will be included in The Best American Mystery and Suspense Stories of 2020. He has also written a number of comic books, most notably the superhero noir The Black Ghost, the YA music series The Archies, and the “Archie Meets” collection of crossovers, featuring real-life cameos from the Ramones, B-52s, and more.
  • Cara Black is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author, a San Francisco Library Laureate, Macavity and three-time Anthony award-nominee for her series, Aimée Leduc Investigations, set in Paris. Cara has received numerous accolades for her novels, including multiple nominations for the prestigious Anthony and Macavity Awards, a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris—the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture—and invitations to be the Guest of Honor at such noteworthy conferences as the Paris Polar Crime Festival and Left Coast Crime.
  • Rachel Howzell Hall is the critically acclaimed author and Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist for And Now She’s Gone. A New York Times bestselling author, she is a past member of the board of directors for Mystery Writers of America and has been a featured writer on NPR’s acclaimed Crime in the City series and the National Endowment for the Arts weekly podcast; she has also served as a mentor in Pitch Wars and the Association of Writers Programs.

Register Here

Saturday, October 30
PARANORMAL: Things that go Bump on the Page – writing the Paranormal Mystery
Via Zoom; advance registration required
2 PM Pacific Time

Paranormal: not scientifically explainable

There seems to be a never-ending fascination with the paranormal. What is the enduring appeal of that which defies explanation? Join us, on Zoom, to enter the world of the supernatural—our own metaphysical romp into the otherworldly. This is sure to be a fun panel!

Moderator:  Margaret Dumas writes books about smart, funny women who are trying to figure things out in the San Francisco Bay Area. Occasionally they fall in love. Occasionally they solve a murder.


  • Melissa Bourbon Ramirez is the national bestselling author of more than twenty-five mystery books, including the Book Magic mysteries, the Lola Cruz Mysteries, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series, and the Bread Shop Mysteries, written as Winnie Archer.
  • Nancy Cole Silverman: After twenty-five years in news and talk radio, Silverman retired to write fiction. In addition to her short stories, Silverman has two series with Henery Press, The Carol Childs Mysteries, featuring a single mom whose day job as a radio reporter often leads to long nights as a crime-solver, and the Misty Dawn Mysteries, centered on an aging Hollywood Psychic to the Stars, who supplements her readings working as a consultant to LAPD and the FBI.
  • Steven Hockensmith has a background in entertainment journalism. His first novel, the Sherlockian mystery/Western Holmes on the Range, was a finalist for Edgar, Anthony, Shamus and Dilys Awards in 2007. A slew of sequels followed. In 2010, Hockensmith tried his hand at romzomcoms (romantic comedies with zombies) and went on to launch three other series with the help of collaborators, which earned him his second Edgar nomination. His Secret Smithsonian graphic novels (created with co-writer Chris Kientz and illustrator Lee Nielsen) follow the adventures of time-traveling middle schoolers who learn about history even as they protect it from meddling villains.
  • Margaret Lucke flings words around in the San Francisco Bay Area, as a writer, editor, teacher of writing classes, and writing coach. She is fascinated by the power of stories and the magic of creativity.
  • Maggie Toussaint is published in mystery and romance genres as Maggie Toussaint and in science fiction as Rigel Carson. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Register Here

Donald M. RattnerSaturday, November 13
How to Design Your Writing Space for Maximum Creativity, According to Science
Did you know that the color of your walls, the height of your ceilings, and the shape of your furniture can all affect the quality of your writing?
For over twenty years, scientists have been exploring how our physical surroundings influence our mental state, including our ability to do creative work. This presentation will introduce you to the field of environmental psychology and how you can harness it to shape your writing space for maximum performance.

Techniques covered include:

  • Which two colors have been found to boost creativity 
  • Optimal lighting and sound levels for achieving insights 
  • How memorabilia can break creative logjams
  • The ideal posture for writing
  • How to use artwork to kickstart idea flow
  • Why you shouldn’t place your desk against a wall—and what to do if you have no choice 
  • And more 

The talk is extensively illustrated, and includes photographs of workspaces belonging to celebrated authors. No prior design expertise required to attend!

Architect Donald M. Rattner helps individuals and organizations maximize creative performance by drawing on scientific research in design psychology. His most recent book is My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation, 48 Science-based Techniques, which has won six awards to date. Educator and practitioner as well as author, Rattner has taught at the University of Illinois, New York Academy of Art, NYU, Parsons, and online. Speaking venues include the Creative Problem Solving Institute, Creative Mornings, libraries, bookstores, conferences, and corporate events. His work and writings have been featured on CNN, in such publications as The New York Times, Work Design Magazine, and Better Humans, and on numerous podcasts. Rattner holds a Bachelor’s from Columbia and a Masters of Architecture from Princeton.

Saturday, November 20
MWA NorCal Facebook Live
1 PM
Laurie R. King – “Giving Your Best Author Talk (in life or on screen)”