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On Writing True Crime – Upcoming Sessions

This year, I will be holding live sessions on Zoom about the process of writing and publishing true crime to small rooms of people. You can pop in for one class or take all five. Each class is $25 paid online. If you’re interested, email Marsha at for more details or simply click this link to register. ** If you have already sent an email and did not receive a response, please check your spam folder.

Here are the classes I’m offering, along with dates and times:

5PM PST/ 8PM EST January 18 – “Picking the Perfect Case”


So you want to write true crime. Great. What sort of cases do you want to write about? Solved? Unsolved? Current? Historical? Renner walks through the pros and cons of each.


Participants will better understand the differences between covering solved and unsolved crimes.

5PM PST/ 8PM EST January 25 – “Conducting Research and Interviews”


An in-depth discussion about best practices when it comes to interviewing families and law enforcement officials connected to crimes. 


Participants will learn how to submit FOIA requests and what is covered under Sunshine Laws.

5PM PST/ 8PM EST February 1 – “Writing and Editing True Crime”


Every crime story has a common structure. It’s up to you to know when to subvert the rules. A look at how the sausage is made – what goes into good crime writing?


Participants will learn how to manage their writing time and how to organize their story into a compelling narrative structure.

5PM PST/ 8PM EST February 8 – “Submitting Your Story”


Writing the story is half the journey. Now you need an agent and publisher. But where do you begin?


Participants will discover how to submit to professional agents and editors. This separates the real writers from the amateurs.

5PM PST/ 8PM EST February 15 – “Marketing and Publicity”


You’ve written a great crime story. Now, you have to tell the world. Where does one begin when you have no experience in marketing or publicity?


Participants will better understand the ugly business of book marketing; how it works, how to influence the results, and when to go out on your own.

You Can Now Pre-Order Little, Crazy Children

My next true crime book Little, Crazy Children comes out June 27 but you can reserve your copy today, by pre-ordering from your favorite local bookstore or online at the links below.

In this riveting work of investigative journalism, the author of True Crime Addict and host of “True Crime This Week,” James Renner, explores the tragic unsolved 1990 murder of Lisa Pruett in the privileged enclave of Shaker Heights, Ohio, its troubling aftershocks, and the dark secrets teens tell—and keep.

TWIN PEAKS meets THE CRUCIBLE in 1990s Shaker Heights, the setting of LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE.

In September of 1990, in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, sixteen-year-old Lisa Pruett, a poetry lover and member of a church youth group, was on her way to a midnight tryst with her boyfriend, when she was viciously stabbed to death only thirty feet from the boy’s home.

The murder cast a palpable gloom over the upscale community and sparked accusations, theories, and rumors among Lisa’s friends and peers. Together they wove a damning narrative that circled back to a likely suspect: “weird” high school outcast Kevin Young. Without a shred of evidence the teen was arrested, charged, and tried for the crime. His eventual acquittal didn’t squelch the anger and outrage among those who believed that Kevin got away with murder.

With a fresh perspective and painstaking research culled from police files, court records, transcripts, uncollected evidence, and new interviews, James Renner reconstructs the events leading up to and following that heartbreaking night. What emerges is a portrait of a community seething with dark undercurrents—its single-minded authorities, protective status-conscious parents, and the deeply peer-pressured teens within Lisa’s circle.

Who had the capacity for such unchecked violence? What monsters still lurk in the dark? After more than thirty years, questions like these continue to fester among the community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, still deeply scarred by wounds that remain hidden, unspoken, and unhealed.



Hudson Booksellers


Barnes & Noble


Upcoming Appearances, Fall 2022

It’s a busy fall! Come see me if you can. Click on links for more info.

September 10: Savannah Crime Expo

September 18: Fundraiser for the Nancy Eagleson Cold Case, Paulding, Ohio.

September 24: Mentor Barnes & Noble 20th Anniversary: 1 p.m.

October 8: Rocky River Readers & Writers Event 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

October 9: PNW True Crime festival

October 27: Kent State lecture, “True Crime from May 4, 1970 to Present Day)

November 5: Buckeye Book Fair

The Porchlight Project is featured in Kent State Magazine

James Renner, The Porchlight Project

How cool is this!?! The Porchlight Project is featured in the new edition of Kent State Magazine.

Renner put out a message on Facebook asking for help; it was answered by Alexa Doutt, a director of advancement at Kent State. The two met at a coffee shop in West Akron—and the idea of the Porchlight Project was born.

Read the full article here.

Season 5 of The Philosophy of Crime is Here!

Philosophy of Crime

The new season of The Philosophy of Crime premieres today! Check it out everywhere you get your podcasts.

Here’s the full release schedule:

April 20: “How Can Lawyers Defend Guilty People?

April 27: “Does Reward Money Ever Help Solve Cases?”

May 4: “The Alford Plea – Pleading Guilty When You’re Innocent”

May 11: “School Shootings and Toxic Masculinity”

May 18: “Help! I Still Don’t Understand Money Laundering.”

May 25: “The Most Difficult Case — No Body, No Crime”

Little Liars Everywhere

Today I published a new piece of long-form journalism, a story about false confessions and serial murder. Hopefully, Shaker Heights police will reopen these old murders so we can finally know who killed Plain Dealer executive editor Philip Porter and his wife, Dorothy. It’s possible the killer was also involved in the murder of Lisa Pruett, five years later.

JAMES ARNOS WAS ONLY NINETEEN when he found his grandfather’s dead body. It was Sunday, May 19, 1985 and James’s mother, Joly, had become concerned that she had not heard from her mother in several days. So she sent her son, James, to check in. Her mother was Dorothy Porter, a renowned artist, who lived with her husband Philip Porter in a large house in Shaker Heights, on Lee Road near Shaker Boulevard. Philip was executive editor of the Plain Dealer in the 60s. The couple were practically Cleveland royalty.

Click here to read the full story

First two Larkey mysteries now available on Kindle Vella!

The first two Larkey mysteries are now available on Kindle Vella, Amazon’s new short-story service that works sort of like a subscription podcast, except it’s a story you read on your phone or favorite device. Here’s the teaser for the first book, Winter’s End:

Retired FBI Special Agent Phil Larkey used to investigate the Bureau’s toughest “locked room mysteries.” These days, he just wants to investigate a good book beside a warm fire. But when a young woman is crucified on the side of a barn on a remote Lake Erie island, Larkey knows he’s the only one who can track down her killer before the ice thaws.

FOLLOW THE LINK to check it out!