Note: If you have signed up for a meeting and need to cancel, please e-mail

Meetings are held at the Pyramid Pyramid Brewery & Alehouse, 901 Gilman Street, Berkeley, California. Registration starts at 8:30 am, the meeting starts at 9:30, and the program starts at 10:00. Pre-pay is now available using PayPal! Click the button next to the meeting and follow directions. Payment at meeting by cash or check is also still accepted. Members, please register by 5:00 PM the Friday before the meeting to receive the reduced rate. Drop-ins welcome on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Meeting Payment

Meeting Registration

March 14, 2015 - Max Noel, Joseph Toomey and Al Giannini
What fiction writers are getting wrong when depicting crimes scenes and the criminal justice system in their books and how to get it right.
- Register

Max Noel served as an FBI special Agent for 31 years, 30 of them assigned to the San Francisco Division as a criminal investigator. During the 1970s Noel was the fulltime principle firearms instructor for the San Francisco Division. He worked on numerous high profile cases, including the investigation of the Weathermen Underground, the Kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, the hijacking of a PSA flight by Bulgarian terrorists, the disappearance of International Brotherhood of Teamster's President Jimmy Hoffa and the investigation and successful prosecution of sitting Federal District Court Judge Robert P. Aguilar. Noel was also one of he lead investigators on the Unabomber case and led a small team of agents to Theodore Kaczynski’s Montana cabin, where they arrested the fugitive. Later, Noel and four other members of the team were given the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service. Noel retired from the F.B.I. in February 1999 and is the co-author of The UNABOMBER: How the FBI Broke Its Own Rules to Capture the Terrorist Ted Kaczynski.

Joseph Toomey spent 41 years in the San Francisco Police Department, including 33 years as an inspector (detective) and 17 years in the department’s homicide detail. He started SFPD’s cold case homicide unit, where he worked more than 300 homicide investigations, including the infamous Night Stalker and the David Carpenter Trailside Serial Killer cases. He retired from the department a few years ago and is now the technical director for the TNT TV series Murder in the First.

Al Giannini graduated from Reed College in Portland in 1971. He joined the Peace Corps and served in West Africa, returning in 1975. He graduated from Hastings College of Law in 1978 and joined the San Francisco district attorney’s office in 1979. He served in the general felony, career criminal, homicide, and intake units, and was, between 1988 and 1994, supervisor of first the vice crimes unit, and then the gang violence unit, while carrying a case load of complex homicides. In 2002 he joined the San Mateo county district attorney’s office, where he was assigned to homicide cases. He has tried over 100 jury trials of which more than 50 were homicide cases. He taught legal writing and research, and moot court, at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco from 1995 until 2008, and again since his retirement in 2013. He has lectured at the CDAA and in several district attorneys’ offices in California on a variety of subjects related to criminal trials. He is also a consultant to New York Times best selling authors John Lescroart and Richard North Patterson. Since his retirement, Al works part time as a consultant to the office of the chief trial counsel for the California state bar, the body charged with the investigation and discipline of California lawyers charged with misconduct.

April 11, 2015 - Joel Friedlander, Book Designer
How to Create Book Covers that Work

Your cover is the most important tool for marketing your book, and it has several important jobs to do. In this lively presentation we'll look at covers that succeed--and ones that fail. You'll learn to recognize the 4 common problems that doom many self-published book covers, and 3 simple conceptual tools that will help you get a book cover that works. Real-world samples and critiques anchor this presentation, so you can get real results.

Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) is an award-winning book designer and blogger. He is also the author of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish and the recently published The Self-Publisher's Ultimate Resource Guide. He’s been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994 and writes, a popular blog on book design, book marketing and the future of the book. Joel is also the founder of the online training course, The Self-Publishing Roadmap.

May 9, 2015 - Judy Melinek, M.D.
How to Think and Write Like a Coroner

Dr. Judy Melinek is President and CEO of PathologyExpert Inc., a consulting firm and educational resource center for forensic pathology. Dr. Melinek has subspecialty training in neuropathology and a special interest in wound interpretation, gunshot wound trajectory, medical malpractice, and wrongful death legal cases. Dr. Melinek is an American Board of Pathology board-certified forensic pathologist. She has also published extensively in the peer-reviewed literature on subjects of surgical complications, death following gastric bypass, forensic toxicology, opioid overdose deaths, immunology, neuropathology and transplant surgery. Past clients include the Santa Clara County District Attorney, Office of the County Counsel County of Contra Costa, Marin County Public Defender, the Court Appointed Attorney Program of the Alameda County Bar Association, the Attorney General of the State of California and the United States Military. She and her husband co-authored New York Times best seller Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and The Making of a Medical Examiner.

June 13, 2015 - Jonah Stein
Search engine optimization and driving traffic to your website to sell books!!!!!!

Jonah Stein has 19 years of online marketing experience and is the founder of ItsTheROI, a San Francisco Search Engine Marketing Company that specializes in ROI driven SEO and PPC initiatives. Jonah has spoken at numerous industry conferences including Search Engine Strategies, Search Marketing Expo (SMX), SMX Advanced, SIIA On Demand, the Kelsey Groups Ultimate Search Workshop and LT Pact. He also developed panels on Virtual Blight for the Web 2.0 Summit and the Web 2.0 Expo. He has written for Context Web, Search Engine Land and SEOBook. In addition to his agency practice, Jonah is the cofounder of two SaaS companies, including, a cloud based backup service that provides a time machine for websites and, a WordPress support and service company that helps customers move WordPress sites. Clients run the gamut from B2B enterprise software companies and ecommerce sites to well known consumer brands such as

For a list of our Past Meetings, click here.