Previous Member Spotlights

Debra S. Sanders, March 2023 Member Spotlight

Meet Debra S. Sanders. Bestselling author, Debra Sanders, thanks her parents for her love of adventure and travel, along with the creative spirit her family’s road trips instilled in her. Her passion for exploration and crafting stories began in her early school years and increases each day.

“I enjoy the process of storytelling,” she said. “As a child, I was an avid fan of the television series, Bonanza. Instead of counting sheep at bedtime, I mentally developed new screenplays. Each night I would add scenes until they became a complete show. After a few weeks, I’d have a complete story and start another.”

Virginia Kelly, February 2023 Member Spotlight

Meet Virginia Kelly. Imagine growing up where the Andes Mountains and the lush Amazonian jungle were about a day’s ride away. That’s where Virginia Kelly’s love of the outdoors began. “As a young girl, my family often traveled by car from Lima, where I was born, to an area between the Andes and the Amazon (in Peru),” she said. “Living along the Huallaga River for my first five years, was an adventure.”

Michele Peters, January 2023 Member Spotlight

Meet Michele Peters. Mesmerized by books from the time she learned to read, Michele enjoyed writing as well. “I’ve always been an avid book lover, devouring fiction and non-fiction alike. From reading Mary, Queen of Scots in the 4th grade to Gone with the Wind in 8th grade—most Roald Dahl, Hilary Mantel and Agatha Christie stories in existence. I particularly love anything historical and mysteries.”

A major turning point occurred for Michele as a preteen. “My 7th-grade class was studying Greek mythology. We were given the assignment to write our own myth. My story centered on how ‘evergreens’ got that name. The teacher was so impressed with my story she gave me an A++ and asked me to read it in class.

Harini Nagendr, December 2022 Member Spotlight

Meet Harini Nagendra. Internationally-acclaimed, award-winning author, Harini Nagendra, loves feedback from her family on her writing projects and began sharing her tales at an amazingly young age. “I started making up stories when I was about five years old and writing them when I was about seven. I kept finding captive audiences wherever I could, amongst friends and family, to tell them stories,” she explained.

Harini balances her career as a professor of ecology at Azim Premji University, with writing non-fiction books, and more recently, mysteries. Globally recognized for her scholarship on sustainability, she is a renowned speaker on nature and sustainability and has written extensively on those subjects.

Connie Berry, October 2022 Member Spotlight

Meet Connie Berry. Multi-award-winning author Connie Berry developed a passion for books and writing at a very young age, and one person influenced her from the start. “My love of reading and stories was encouraged by my mother, who’d been a fifth-grade teacher and who, when I was born, put all her considerable skills and efforts into one student—me.” Some of Connie’s fondest memories are those of her mother reading to her. “My mother gave each character her or his own voice. Books came alive to me,” she said. “Then, when I began writing my own stories, she saved them all.”division in Phoenix. Enthusiastic and ready to spread her wings in the travel business, she volunteered for a variety of projects.

Patty and Ed Wright September 2022 Member Spotlight

Meet Ed and Patty Wright. After George E. “Ed” Wright graduated from James Madison University, he decided a career that allowed him to use his education and skills, and offered some adventure, sounded perfect for him. Fortunately, he met an equally talented and venturous young woman.
Today, Ed and Patricia—or Patty, as she’s known to her friends and fellow writers—have been married for over 40 years. Their adventuresome spirits led them to explore multiple countries.

Barbara Desman, August 2022 Member Spotlight

Meet Barbara J. Desman.  A love of travel, multi-layered creativity, and an inquisitive nature that could rival Ellery Queen’s, guided Barbara Desman across the United States and into exciting careers.

“Growing up in Iowa was wonderful,” she said. “However, early on I was plagued with wanderlust.” After finishing school, Barbara headed for the Valley of the Sun and went to work for Western Airlines, as part of the corporate marketing division in Phoenix. Enthusiastic and ready to spread her wings in the travel business, she volunteered for a variety of projects.

Charlotte Morganti July 2022 Member Spotlight

Meet Charlotte Morganti. When Charlotte Morganti began writing in high school, she never knew it would lead to being published in national mystery magazines and anthologies, or winning honors for her work. The former corporate finance and mining lawyer, who also holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, now combines her well-honed analytical skills with an entertaining imagination, writing everything from gritty P.I. stories to “…humorous capers and wacky cozies”.

Jeff Mariotte June 2022 Member Spotlight

Meet Jeff Mriotte.  Award-winning novelist, Jeff Mariotte’s work is as varied as his background. With more than 70 books published to date, he has penned acclaimed thrillers, police procedurals, historical western epics, science fiction, action-adventure, horror stories, a Young Adult series, numerous comic books, graphic novels, fantasy, and nonfiction, among other genres.

His newest tome, THE SQUAD, debuts his exciting Major Crimes Squad: Phoenix police-procedural series.    

Denise Johnson May 2022 Member Spotlight

Meet Denise Johnson.  Award-winning
author Denise Johnson’s interests range
from non-fiction to mysteries, from
science fiction to comedy, to horror tales
and other genres—and so does her
acclaimed work. She pens short stories,
magazine articles, who’s-who interviews,
and screenplays—and she just finished her
first novel, DEADLIFT.

Laurie Fagen March 2022 Member Spotlight

Meet Laurie Fagen. Laurie Fagen’s career as a writer spans a variety of genres and formats. The former newspaper publisher has written magazine articles, short films, musical stage productions, corporate videos, murder mystery scripts for live theater, and documentaries, as well as publicity and promotional material.  She is the host of the popular YouTube show, AZ Creates! and for more than a decade has penned highly praised crime fiction novels and short stories.  

Karen Odden January 2022 Member Spotlight

Meet Karen Odden. What happens when a fictional teen, then a (real) high school English teacher, and the talent of world-renowned authors Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitley, and Daphne DuMaurier influence your career path early in life? For USA Today bestselling author, Karen Odden, it led to international acclaim and legions of readers across Australia, Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America who are devoted to her multi-award-winning novels.

Paula Brierley December 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Paula Brierley. Paula Brierley began writing mysteries at the age of ten, entertaining herself “with the imagined adventures I would surely have if I ever got out of school”.  In addition to her passion for writing, Paula wanted a career in medicine. In nursing school, she met her future husband. In an amusing twist of fate, he was the last male patient she ever treated. “I transferred directly to OB/GYN after that, working there before starting a family and my writing career.”  

Sherry Morris November 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Sherry Morris. Sherry Morris has always loved writing, and she credits a suggestion from her husband for her first foray as an author. “He tore a notice from the newspaper about a local writers conference and encouraged me to attend. I took home third prize in the creative nonfiction contest. That really hooked me,” she said.

Since then, the former substitute teacher and hospital emergency department EMT wrote the popular 20th Century American History Mystery collection, featuring numerous romantic mysteries, and launched another series of whodunits with the debut of Inappropriate, a murder mystery that takes place on a cross country train trip.

Veronica Hassenger October 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Veronica Hassenger.  Veronica Hassenger fell in love for the first time at the age of ten.The object of her affection? Mysteries. Specifically, the first mystery she ever read, Agatha Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia

Her interest in creative storytelling increased with every novel she read—and was matched by a passion for music and zeal for the study of health and science. What’s a person to do? Well, why not do it all? And, Veronica did!

Sally J. Smith September 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Sally J. Smith.  Professional editor and USA Today bestselling author of the Mystic Isles Mysteries and a host of other internationally-lauded novels, Sally J. Smith, has earned fans and rave reviews across the United Kingdom, Australia, Europe, Canada, and the United States—all because of an epiphany she had in elementary school. That awakening and the Arizona native’s natural sense of adventure led to her dream career, with a few side trips along the way.       

Dianne Freeman August 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Dianne Freeman. After leaving a thirty-year career in corporate finance, life-long book lover Dianne Freeman embarked on her dream career—writing fiction. Excited and a little unsure of the road ahead, she embraced the “write what you love” approach, combining a passion for mysteries and her fascination with the late Victorian period. The result? Her first book, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, debuted in 2018, winning the Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel, the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and hundreds of five-star reviews from readers across the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Dianne’s journey from aspiring author to internationally lauded novelist included some unique avenues.

Barbara Hinske July 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Barbara Hinske. Bestselling author Barbara Hinske didn’t leave her career as a successful corporate attorney to pursue her life-long dream to be a full-time author until 2019.  She began the journey to authorship by balancing her demanding legal profession with a daily writing commitment.  It worked.

In 2013, Barbara published her first novel, Coming to Rosemont. Since then, she launched six successive, internationally acclaimed “Rosemont” books and the “Who’s There?” series. The Hallmark Channel debuted a holiday movie based on her novella, The Christmas Club, in 2019.  She published another novella and two novels in 2020, including the heartwarming, Guiding Emily. Her upcoming projects are equally as exciting.   

Christina Estes June 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Christina Estes. During her 20-plus years in broadcast journalism, Emmy-winning reporter Christina Estes has written news stories and special features for a variety of Arizona radio and television stations—covering crime and special investigations, along with presidential campaigns, state and local politics, education, and business.

In addition to being on the scene with breaking news or focusing on topics that impact the economy or public policy, Christina has reported her share of unusual events. One of the most remarkable involved a fish that had to go to a dentist.

Her diverse assignments also provided Christina a plethora of ideas for her newest venture…writing mysteries. 

Nicolette Lemmon May 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Nicolette Lemmon. Marketing guru, Nicolette Lemmon, has helped numerous multi-million-dollar corporations build name awareness and bottom lines, assisted national and local charities in promoting their organizations and increasing donations, and guided dozens of individuals to create their own personal and professional success. Along the way, Nicolette won coveted awards and wrote five non-fiction books, including Almost Famous: How to Market Yourself for Success. Now she’s directed her talents in two new directions. She finished the first novel in her “Reluctant Psychic Mystery” series and is well into writing the sequel. This year, Nicolette also crafted a step-by-step plan for authors, to boost their individual name recognition and increase book sales, regardless of their experience or genre.

Dennis Palumbo April 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Dennis Palumbo. Bestselling author, Dennis Palumbo, credits a childhood gift with the inspiration behind his award-winning, Daniel Rinaldi thriller series. “When I was ten and home from school with the mumps, my father gave me a beautiful, hardcover, illustrated edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” he explained. “I’ve been faithful to that delightful marriage of storytelling and the mystery genre ever since.”

The ten-year-old soon forgot the mumps, but not the fascination ignited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s crafty sleuth. After his college graduation, Dennis became a scriptwriter for the groundbreaking, Emmy-nominated, ratings-giant, Welcome Back, Kotter. He was also tapped to write scripts for numerous other television productions.

Robin Burcell March 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Robin Burcell. New York Times bestselling author, Robin Burcell, takes challenges in stride. Before earning two Anthony Awards and the Barry Award for her highly acclaimed Kate Gillespie, San Francisco PD series, Robin carved out a career in law enforcement that spanned almost three decades. She was the first female police officer hired in Lodi, California, breaking through barriers and the biases involved as she moved from uniformed patrol to hostage negotiator, then detective. Today, with a readership that spans from North America to the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and beyond, Robin has penned more than one inimitable series.

Margaret A. Spence February 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Margaret Ann Spence. Award-winning author, Margaret Ann Spence, dreamed of writing books at a young age. Her journey from hopeful to published author included a move from her native Australia to the United States. A love of baking, Boston and all things British led to the 2017 debut of her first novel, Lipstick on the Strawberry, which garnered international acclaim and multiple awards. Her second novel, Joyous Lies—a tale of mystery, suspense, love and one woman’s search for the truth—will launch February 15th.

Timothy W. Moore January 2021 Member Spotlight

Meet Tim Moore. A long-time member of Sisters in Crime, Tim has been elected to multiple chapter Boards of Directors. He is a founding member of the Sisters in Crime Grand Canyon Writers chapter, where he is the 2021 Treasurer and the Chairman of the Membership Committee.

Tim is the co-author of Mirandized Nation: The Inside Story of Ernesto Miranda and the Phoenix Police Department. The gripping account provides a deep dive into the criminal career of Ernesto Miranda and how his 1960s era arrest and conviction led to a Supreme Court decision that forever changed the law enforcement process in the United States.

Merle McCann December 2020 Member Spotlight

Meet Merle McCann. Merle is an award-winning author who first gained recognition for her National award-winning Longjohners Mystery Series for middle readers. She has also written an adult thriller, The Permanent Solution, an adult historical mystery, Fist Full of Grit, and a five-star adult historical saga, Vagabonds and Kings, that won best in all categories and genres in the Dixie Kane Memorial competition.

Merle is one of the founding members of the Sisters in Crime Grand Canyon Writers Chapter. She serves as a Director on the Chapter’s Board and is Chair of the Program Committee.

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