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This week we discuss muses, and the lack thereof. “When the muse abandons the writer: How do you avoid falling into that dreadful pit?” Join ITW Members Toby Tate, Catriona McPherson, Mary Louise Kelly, Paul Kemprecos, Andrew Kaplan, Jeanne Mathews, Walter Walker, Lisa Brackman, Diane Kelly, Lisa von Biela, Robert Rotstein, Rick Anderson and Yvonne Walus. It’s a full-house Roundtable this week that you won’t want to miss!


Robert Rotstein is an entertainment attorney with over thirty years experience in the industry. He’s represented all of the major motion picture studios and many well-known writers, producers, directors, and musicians. Corrupt Practices is his first novel (June 2013, Seventh Street Books). He lives with his family in Los Angeles, California, where he is at work on the next Parker Stern novel.

Lisa von Biela worked in Information Technology for 25 years, then left the field to attend the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 2009. She now practices law in Seattle, Washington. Lisa’s first short storyappeared in The Edge in 2002. Her short works have appeared in various small press venues, including, Twilight Times, Dark Animus, AfterburnSF, and more. THE GENESIS CODE is her first novel.

Jeanne Matthews is the author of the Dinah Pelerin mysteries published by Poisoned Pen Press, including Bones of Contention, Bet Your Bones, Bonereapers, andHer Boyfriend’s Bones.  Like her anthropologist sleuth, Jeanne was born with a serious wanderlust and she sets each of her books in a different part of the world. Originally from Georgia, she currently lives in Renton, Washington.

Lisa Brackmann‘s debut novel, ROCK PAPER TIGER, set on the fringes of the Chinese art world, made several “Best of 2010” lists, including Amazon’s Top 100 books and Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers. Her second novel, GETAWAY, a thriller in Mexico, was chosen as an ALA Summer Reading Pick and an Amazon Best Novel of the Month and was a finalist for SCIBA’s T. Jefferson Parker Award. Lisa’s upcoming book, HOUR OF THE RAT, features the return of ROCK PAPER TIGER heroine Ellie McEnroe, on another ill-advised quest that will take her to some of China’s most beautiful and surreal places. Lisa is a California native and a former film industry professional who has lived and traveled extensively in China.

A former CPA and tax attorney, Diane Kelly spent several years at an international accounting firm where she had the pleasure of working with a partner later charged with tax fraud. She also served a stint as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas under an AG who pled guilty to criminal charges related to the tobacco company lawsuits. Given this work history, Diane decided self-employment might be a good idea. She also realized her experiences with white-collar crime made excellent fodder for a novel. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her humorous “Death and Taxes” romantic mystery series.

Catriona McPherson is the Agatha, Macavity and Left Coast Crime Award winning author of a series of (preposterous) 1920s detective stories, including DANDY GILVER AND AN UNSUITABLE DAY FOR A MURDER (Minotaur), set in Scotland where she was born and where she lived until 2010.  AS SHE LEFT (Midnight Ink) is the first in a second strand of contemporary stand-alones. Catriona now lives in northern California with two black cats and a scientist.

Mary Louise Kelly spent two decades as a reporter for NPR and the BBC. Her assignments have taken her from grimy Belfast bars to the glittering ports of the Persian Gulf, and from mosques in Hamburg to the ruined deserts of Iraq. As an NPR correspondent covering the spy beat and the Pentagon, she reported on wars, terrorism, and rising nuclear powers. Kelly was educated at Harvard University and at Cambridge University in England. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Toby Tate is the author of two adult supernatural thrillers and a young adult sci-fi thriller, THE GOD PARTICLE, released June 4, 2013 by Crossroad Press. He was a newspaper reporter for five years and is also a songwriter, musician and studio engineer. Toby lives with his family near the Dismal Swamp in northeastern North Carolina.

Paul Kemprecos collaborated with Clive Cussler in writing eight books in the best-selling NUMA Files series. He is the author of a six books in his own detective series. His first novel, COOL BLUE TOMB, won a Shamus award for best original paperback from the Private Eye Writers of America. He and his wife Christi live on Cape Cod, Mass.

Andrew Kaplan is the internationally known author of the NY TIMES bestselling Scorpion spy thriller series, including his latest, SCORPION DECEPTION. A former journalist and war correspondent, he covered events around the world and served in both the U.S. Army and the Israeli Army. His books have sold millions of copies and have been translated into twenty languages. His film writing career includes the James Bond classic, GOLDENEYE. He is the author of the highly-anticipated,  HOMELAND: CARRIE’S RUN FROM WILLIAM MORROW; an original prequel novel based on the award-winning hit television series, HOMELAND.

Walter Walker is a trial lawyer in San Francisco and the author of five previous novels, including the award-winning A DIME TO DANCE BY. He has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California and lives in Marin County, California, and on Cape Cod.

Richard Craig Anderson started out as a fire fighter in 1971, became a highly decorated Maryland State Police trooper, and went on to accept a position as a counter-terrorist operative. An accomplished aviator and world-class scuba diver, Rick has enjoyed a life well-lived, thanks to the relationships and friendships he’s made along the way–and that includes Kobi, his Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Yvonne Walus is a member of generation X. Born in the communist Poland, she grew up in the apartheid South Africa and now lives in New Zealand. Although writing is a big part of her identity, Yvonne has a PhD in Mathematics and currently works for an education company as a project manager, business analyst and general trouble-shooter. She’s also a mother, a wife, a slave to two cats and a master to one dog.