Countdown to Muse 2022: Finding Your People by Diana Renn

The Muse and the Marketplace 2022 is almost here! This year's conference is our first ever hybrid conference, taking place Wednesday, April 27th - Sunday, May 1st, with the Manuscript Mart taking place Wednesday, May 4th - Sunday, May 8th.

This year’s conference theme is “Finding Your People.” As writers, we may draft our work alone, but it takes many people to bring a creative project into the world — from family and friends, to fellow writers, instructors, publishing professionals, literary champions, and ultimately eager readers. Muse 2022 is celebrating all of the connections that enable and enrich our writing and literary lives. 

As we count down to the conference, we are asking presenters, agents, and editors to tell us about who has enabled or enriched their own writing or literary life, and how that relationship began. Our next presenter in the series is Diana Renn, author of three YA mysteries: Tokyo Heist, Latitude Zero, and Blue Voyage and a collaboratively written adult mystery, False Idols.



The other night, I opened an email and broke into a happy dance while my bewildered family watched.

“Good news!” I explained. “The acids and enzymes in the proventriculus do take some of the color out of the prey’s fur, but not all. And the ID tag, being indigestible, would most likely remain in the gizzard and be incorporated into the pellet.”

Blank stares followed.

“This wildlife biologist says both of my theories hold water,” I clarified. “So I have two ways out of my plot problem!”

That email was worth a happy dance. It potentially saved me weeks of further research and frustration.

I’ve always turned to others for help when I’m stuck in a writing project. It’s usually my trusty critique partners. But the more I write my way into unfamiliar territory with my eco-mysteries, the more my community of helpers has expanded. It now includes an array of “ists”—herpetologists, ornithologists, biologists, zoologists—as well as wildlife rehabbers and photographers. 

When I wrote my latest middle grade novel, Trouble at Turtle Pond, a biologist provided such valuable feedback at a later-stage draft that it prompted a major revision. Certain nuggets of information he offered turned into fresh plot points and clues.

As I work on my new novel, I’ve been inviting “ists” into my writing process earlier than I used to. I reach out to ask questions that the Internet can’t easily answer. I double-check facts or hypotheses before I write too far. I run some plot points by experts to gauge plausibility. 

I’ve overcome the intimidation I used to feel at approaching “ists.” Scientists are happy to talk about their work and to ensure I’m depicting processes and professionals accurately. My work is enriched through their perspectives, and our communications are as enjoyable for me as the writing itself.


Diana Renn is the author of three YA mysteries: Tokyo Heist, Latitude Zero, and Blue Voyage (all published by Viking / Penguin) and a collaboratively written adult mystery, False Idols (published by Realm / Adaptive Books). Her newest novel, Trouble at Turtle Pond, a middle grade mystery about a self-appointed team of young wildlife rangers who try to save local turtles from poachers, will be published by Fitzroy Books / Regal House on April 5, 2022. Diana has taught writing workshops at GrubStreet and elsewhere and works as a book coach and freelance editor specializing in mystery novels. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts. Visit her online at



You can catch Diana's virtual craft discussion, "The Writer as Sleuth: Mystery Novel Problems and How to Solve Them,” via Hopin at Muse 2022 from 2:00pm - 3:15pm on May 1st. Don't wait! Register for the Muse and the Marketplace 2022 today.

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