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Conference Insider: The Chanticleer Authors Conference

This five-day conference is taking Zoom by storm this spring, with live presentations, an awards ceremony, and plenty of opportunities to connect virtually with industry professionals.

The Chanticleer Authors Conference
The 2021 Chanticleer Authors Conference will be held entirely online.
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In pre-pandemic times, The Chanticleer Authors Conference took place at Hotel Bellwether on the waterfront in Bellingham, Washington, close to the Canadian border. The 2021 event takes place virtually via Zoom from April 21 to 25. It’s all live and interactive, with nothing pre-recorded, and writers from all over the world can attend, says conference director Kathryn Brown.

The conference offers attendees one session at a time, and each is recorded, so they can revisit any workshop or panel as needed. Participants can take workshops and sit in on panels about the business of writing. “Since we’re on the West Coast, there’s quite a bit of focus on writing for the entertainment industry,” Brown says.

There are plenty of opportunities for networking with bestselling authors, agents, editors, filmmakers, and other industry professionals. Participants can also attend the Chanticleer International Book Awards Ceremony and a virtual book fair hosted by Village Books.

What you’ll learn

Attendees will benefit from panel discussions on how to create a sustainable and compelling series, the book-to film-process, how to create audiobooks on a budget, and how to make speculative fiction feel believable to readers. A workshop titled “Plotting the Opening – One Chance to Make a First Impression” focuses on the all-important first scene and first page of one’s novel.

Other workshops include “Hi ALEXA! Voice-Driven Technology and the Future of Publishing,” “Historical Fiction: How to Both Fictionalize Real Characters and Realize Fictional Ones,” and “Getting Your Work Noticed in the Entertainment Biz/Hollywood.” Anita Michalski and Jonathan Hurley, specialists in audio editing software, will teach workshops on audiobook creation and podcasting. There’s even a workshop titled “Improve Your Productivity and Your Health by Correcting Posture.”


Learn strategies for creative book promotion and multichannel marketing for authors from marketer and cos-player Elana Mudgdan. Author J.D. Barker, who published his debut suspense thriller independently and then earned a seven-figure advance from a traditional publisher will talk about how to create a sustainable and compelling series.

Featured presenters

Crime and mystery writer Cathy Ace will headline the event; her Cait Morgan Mysteries have recently been optioned for TV by Free@LastTV. Award-winning author and newspaper columnist Janice S. Ellis will present as well – she writes about educational, social, economic, and political issues as they pertain to race and ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status.

Bestselling thriller author Robert Dugoni will also teach: His recent novel, The Eighth Sister, is in development with Lionsgate for an 11-part television production. Psychological thriller author Kaylin McFarren is another presenter – she and her daughter, author Kristina McMorris, co-wrote Flaherty’s Crossing, which was made into a Hallmark film.


Robert Scott Steindorff, CEO of the independent media finance and production company Stone Village Productions, will lead a session, as will CC Humphreys – a British swordsman, actor, and author of historical fiction and young adult fantasy novels. Romance/romantic suspense author Kelly Abell will present, as will author and journalist Jessica Morrell. Paul Cutsinger, head of Developer Strategy at Amazon Alexa Labs, will be on hand to discuss voice-enabled technology and storytelling.

Advice for first-time attendees

Brown urges people to participate in the workshops, panels, and informal events as much as possible. “One reason we attend conferences is to meet other people and make connections. That’s so valuable for authors,” she says. “A remote conference offers opportunities from around the world, so get in there and participate. Don’t be shy about asking questions and using the chat room feature.”

She reminds attendees to consider their background when they attend conference sessions. “If you’ve written a book or you’ve won an award, have that book or award prominently displayed behind you,” she says. “And don’t forget, we have a happy hour each night, so come in and meet people.”


Brown invites attendees to continue talking with one another on the “Roost,” a virtual community with several hundred members. “People chat and share recipes and ask for, or give, advice,” she says. “One of our members is writing something that takes place in modern Tokyo, and another member is a private investigator there, so he’s been helpful. The networking continues on long after the conference is over.”


The Chanticleer Authors Conference at a glance

Conference Dates: April 21-25, 2021


Cost: $350

Location: Remote and Bellingham, Washington

Contact: Conference director Kathryn Brown, [email protected],


Contributing editor Melissa Hart is the author of Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens (Sasquatch, 2019). Twitter/Instagram: @WildMelissaHart