Friday, May 6, 2016

Sisters in Crime President Thanks MWA for Raven Award

Thank you.

This award is a tribute to the vision that a roomful of women crime writers had nearly 30 years ago, and it’s a most fabulous prelude to our birthday celebration, which we’re beginning this fall. That it comes from our partners in crime makes it especially fitting, and especially wonderful.

This award also acknowledges all the officers, chapter leaders, and members who have made Sisters in Crime a true sisterhood, and who have done the hard work of bringing about change – bettering the lives and careers of all crime writers, because when women prosper we all prosper.

And in that spirit, I would like to ask everyone in the room who is a member of Sisters in Crime, including our brothers in crime, to please stand, and let me thank you.

And to the rest of you, we can take care of that.

I’d like to thank the past presidents and current board members here tonight:

  • Sara Paretsky, past president and a founding mother,
  • Margaret Maron, past president,
  • Catriona McPherson, immediate past president,
  • and Lori Roy, our treasurer.
I also want to acknowledge our Executive Director, Beth Wasson, who is not here tonight. She will be at Malice Domestic this weekend, so if you’re headed down there, please congratulate her when you see her. Sisters would not be what it is without her.

Of course, there is still work to be done.

When a man says he won’t read a book by a woman, there is work to be done.

When a bestselling male author says from the stage at a major writers convention that women cannot write thrillers, there is work to be done.

And when there are white readers, some of them writers, who can’t tell you when they last read a book by an author of color, there is work to be done.

And so, we will continue doing the work for the next 30 years, and more.

Thank you for giving us the wings. 

Leslie Budewitz

Sisters in Crime 

Photo Credit: Frank Price. Pictured: Leslie Budewitz, Catriona McPherson (immediate past president), Sara Paretsky (past president).

Watch the video of the speech here:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

End the Cuba Trade Embargo on Books

by Leslie Budewitz, President

Some of you may have read or heard about the publishing industry petition to the White House and Congress to end the Cuba trade embargo as it pertains to books and educational materials. You can read the petition on the Publishers’ Weekly website,

Following a unanimous vote by the board, Sisters in Crime signed the petition. This is not about politics, but about free expression and the exchange of ideas. In the words of the petition, the book embargo is "counter to American ideals of free expression," and "books are catalysts for greater cross-cultural understanding, economic development, free expression, and positive social change."

Individuals may also sign the petition, and I hope you’ll consider doing so.

Monday, January 25, 2016

SinC Supports the Fair Contract Initiative

By Leslie Budewitz, President of Sisters in Crime

In the new year, Sisters in Crime is taking a stand, along with more than two dozen other organizations that also belong to the Authors' Coalition, in support of the Fair Contract Initiative sponsored by the Authors' Guild. On January 5, 2016, publishers were sent an open letter asking them to reconsider certain provisions in standard book contracts, and to make changes that are more fair to authors.

Those terms include royalty rates for e-books, non-compete and option clauses, clauses that drastically cut royalty rates on heavily discounted sales, and other terms. In the next phase of the initiative, Authors' Guild representatives will be meeting with various publishers, small and large, to discuss contract reform.

Read the letter, sent to members of the Association of American Publishers, and articles analyzing the standard book clauses of concern on the Authors' Guild FCI page,

Authors and agents have been advocating some of these changes for years; others have arisen more recently.

Sisters in Crime is pleased to be part of this important effort. The board will keep you informed of future developments.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bloody Murder: Voices from the Margins

Bloody Murder: voices from the margins took place on Saturday morning at Bouchercon 2014. During the hour, the forty-eight (mostly) mystery writers present--listed on the left hand side below--talked about (mostly) mystery authors they love, but you might not have heard of yet. The list includes everything from debut authors to authors who should have become household names during their lives, but who are under-read, under-valued or forgotten.

Here are the recommendations from what we hope was the first Bloody Murder panel. Some of them have websites or publisher’s websites, but some you will have to track down with the help of your favorite bookstore. We guarantee it’s worth your while.

Kristi Belcamino recommends Sara Gran.

Mark Billingham recommends Steve Mosby.

Terri Bischoff recommends Barbara Neely.

Allison Brennan recommends Deborah Coonts.

Carla Buckley recommends Dennis Tafoya.

Dana Cameron recommends Margaret Lawrence.

Joelle Charbonneau recommends Tracy Kiely.

Jessie Chandler recommends Amanda Kyle Williams.

Reed Farrel Coleman recommends Wallace Stroby and Peter Spiegelman.

Hilary Davidson recommends Todd Robinson.

Jamie Freveletti recommends Charlotte Carter.

Jim Fusilli recommends Penelope Fitzgerald.

Alison Gaylin recommends Lauren Sanders.

Joel Goldman recommends Barbara Neely.

Heather Graham recommends Harley Jane Kozak.

Andrew Grant recommends Charles McCarry.

Daniel Hale recommends Harry Hunsicker.

Rachel Howzell Hall recommends Paula L. Woods.

Charlaine Harris recommends Toni L. P. Kelner, Don Harstad, and Shirley Jackson.

Sara J. Henry recommends Charlotte Armstrong and Carol O'Connell.

Greg Herren recommends Sandra Scoppettone.

Ted Hertel recommends Terence Faherty.

Naomi Hirahara recommends Hisaye Yamamoto.

Linda Joffe Hull recommends John Galligan, Shannon Baker.

Toni L. P. Kelner recommends Barbara Paul and Troy Soos.

Harley Jane Kozak recommends Georgette Heyer.

Katia Lief recommends Sarah Weinman.

Elizabeth Little recommends Steph Cha.

Jess Lourey recommends Margaret Millar and Daniel Woodrell.

Alex Marwood recommends Sarah Hilary.

Catriona McPherson recommends Carolyn Wall and Eleanor Taylor Bland

Erin Mitchell recommends Carolyn Keene, Martyn Waites, and Reba White Williams

Clare O'Donohue recommends Wendy Lyn Watson aka Annie Knox

Karen E Olson recommends Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

Sara Paretsky recommends Dorothy Salisbury Davis, Eleanor Taylor Bland, Valerie Wilson Wesley, and Alison Gordon.

Ralph Pezzullo recommends Eduardo Manchado and Joe Trigoboff.

Lori Rader-Day recommends Inger Ash Wolfe aka Michael Redhill.

Lynne Raimondo recommends Joseph Hansen.

Hank Phillippi Ryan recommends Shannon Kirk.

Alex Segura recommends Steve Weddle and Kelly Braffett.

Johnny Shaw recommends Anonymous 9, Matthew McBride, and Chester Himes.

Daniel Stashower recommends Jan Marete Weiss.

Wendy Corsi Staub recommends Tom Savage.

Elaine Viets recommends Craig Rice, Jeffery Marks.

Martyn Waites recommends Bill Loehfelm.

Sarah Weinman recommends Jen Sacks.

Jeri Westerson recommends Dorothy B Hughes.

James Ziskin recommends Lynne Raimondo.

Bloody Murder: voices from the margin was an event put together for Bouchercon 2014 in response to the Men of Mystery controversy.

What overlooked and/or underappreciated authors would you suggest for others to read? Please feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments below.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Officers and Board Members for Sisters in Crime

Sisters in Crime—an international organization create to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers—elected a new slate of officers and directors at its annual meeting in Long Beach, California this past weekend.

President: Catriona McPherson
Catriona McPherson was born in Scotland, but moved to California in 2010. Catriona is the multi-award-winning author of the Dandy Gilver detective stories and acclaimed stand-alones. She served as SinC vice-president.

Vice President: Leslie Budewitz
Leslie Budewitz is a practicing trial attorney, the first Agatha winner for both fiction and non-fiction, and a regular inSinC columnist. She lives and writes in Montana.

Secretary: Susan Shea
Susan Shea spent more than two decades as a non-profit executive before beginning her best-selling mystery series featuring a professional fundraiser. Susan is currently the president of SinC-Northern California.

Treasurer/AC Representative (NonVoting): Lori Roy
Lori Roy won the Edgar Award for her first novel, Bent Road, and was nominated for Until She Comes Home. The former tax accountant is a native of Kansas who now lives in west central Florida with her family.

Chapter Liaison: Martha Reed
Martha Reed won a 2006 IPPY for Best Regional Fiction and The Choking Game is just out. She coordinates SinC's 50 chapters. She loves coffee, big jewelry, and the never-ending antics of her extended family.

Publicity: Simon Wood
Simon Wood is a California transplant from England. His former professions are often highlighted in his Anthony Award-winning thrillers. The One That Got Away is due out in April. He also writes horror as Simon Janus.

Library Liaison: Cari Dubiel
Cari Dubiel is the computer services manager at Twinsburg Public Library in Ohio. She coordinates the SinC presence at both the American Library Association's and the Public Library Association's national meetings. She is also writing a mystery.

Monitoring Coordinator, AC Survey Representative: Barbara Fister
Barbara Fister is an academic librarian, a regular columnist for Library Journal and Inside Higher Ed, and is the author of the Anni Koskinen PI series set in Chicago.

Bookstore Liaison: Clare O'Donohue
Clare O’Donohue is the author of seven novels in two series—The Someday Quilts Mysteries, the Kate Conway Mysteries—and two e-novellas. She is also a TV producer on the A&E show, “After The First 48.”

Member-at-Large: Frankie Bailey
Frankie Bailey is the author of the Hannah McCabe police procedurals and the Lizzie Stuart amateur sleuth series. She is a criminal justice professor at SUNY-Albany and a past president of SinC.

Member-at-Large: Julie Hennrikus
Julie Hennrikus is president of SinC-NE and serves on its Crime Bake committee. the executive director of StageSource, a service organization for theater artists and companies in the greater Boston area, has published several short mysteries.

Member-at-Large: G.M. Malliet
G. M. Malliet is the Agatha Award-winning author of the DCI St. Just and Father Max Tudor mysteries. She has been nominated for numerous other awards. A Fatal Summer arrives in October. She lives with her husband in the Washington DC area.

Member-at-Large: Hank Phillippi Ryan
Hank Phillippi Ryan is a Boston NBC affliate on-air investigative reporter. The former SinC president has won three Agatha, the Anthony, the Macavity, and the Mary Higgins Clark awards. Truth Be Told was out in October.

Immediate Past President: Laura DiSilverio
Laura DiSilverio turned from being an Air Force intelligence officer to writing mysteries with a good sprinkling of humor—under her own name and as Ella Barrick. After living around the world, she settled with her family to write in Colorado.

We also have five non-voting advisors and goal champions. The goal champions work with other members of the board towards specific core goals that were laid out in our strategic plan.

Non-Voting Library Advisor: Mary Boone
Mary Boone served as library liaison for many years. An Ohio librarian, she is happy to be paid to turn readers on to books—especially those by SinC members.

Non-Voting Membership Goal Champion: Kate Flora
Kate Flora has written numerous crime novels, is a founding member of New England Crime Bake, and is a former SinC president. She teaches writing and does manuscript critiques for Grub Street in Boston.

Non-Voting Education Goal Champion: Cathy Pickens
Cathy Pickens teaches: SinC-sponsored writing workshops and business at UNC-Charlotte. Another former SinC president, she won the St. Martin’s Press Malice Domestic Award for Best Traditional Mystery.

Non-Voting Education Goal Champion: Marcia Talley
Marcia Talley used her experiences with breast cancer as background for her award-winning Hannah Ives mystery series. The daughter of a career Marine, the former SinC president travelled the world with her military family and continues to do so as a SinC ambassador at mystery conferences and events.

Non-Voting Membership Goal Champion: Molly Weston
Molly Weston is our inSinC Quarterly editor. She reads about 200 mysteries a year and has been reviewing and lecturing about mysteries for nearly 25 years. She also is a media escort in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area and enjoys moderating crime fiction panels at panels across the country.

Photos of all our new board members and officers can be seen on the Sisters in Crime Board of Directors page. Please join us in welcoming our new officers!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Official SinC Response regarding Men of Mystery Inclusion in Bouchercon

Monday, November 3rd, the Sisters in Crime board of directors spent many hours discussing the inclusion of a two-hour, 65-men, breakfast event at Bouchercon called Men of Mystery. We feel that the event represents a huge step backward in the fight for gender equity in the crime fiction community. Below you will find the response we have sent to the Bouchercon organizers.

I recognize that some of you will think stronger measures were called for, and others will think we were too harsh. Some of the factors that went into our response include the closeness of the event and the contractual obligations Bouchercon has incurred with the hotel, the hardship forced on the men participating in the event if it were to be cancelled suddenly, and the frustration to fans (and their possible backlash against the entire mystery community) if Bouchercon pulled a "bait and switch" by convincing some of them to register for Bouchercon with the promise that the Men of Mystery function would be part of it, and then withdrew it. 

If nothing else, this situation shows us the ongoing need for Sisters in Crime. I thank you all for being part of this organization, and for your continuing support of the crime fiction community, readers and writers, men and women. I hope to chat with many of you at Bouchercon, about this issue or anything else that's on your mind.


Laura DiSilverio
President of Sisters in Crime

Dear Ingrid and Bouchercon steering committee members:

Sisters in Crime's board of directors and many of our members are gravely concerned about Bouchercon sponsoring the Men of Mystery event during the convention. While we understand your reasons for folding the event into Bouchercon (thank you for sharing them), the message that many writers are getting from its inclusion is that women are still marginalized in the crime fiction community. You may have enticed a few new fans to Bouchercon, and avoided the possibility of dueling events, but at what cost? We know that Joan Hansen has been a stalwart, Raven award winning, supporter of the mystery community for many years, and she is certainly entitled to organize any event she wants to, but when the largest mystery fan convention gives that event its sponsorship and imprimatur - without a corresponding and comparable platform for women - the situation changes.

Our last monitoring project report noted that "taking the [crime fiction] genre as a whole, things are improving for women, but inequality remains and is particularly noticeable when prestige within the genre is factored into the analysis." We would have hoped that Bouchercon would present a level playing field for men and women writers, but that is not the case this year. If this correspondence were taking place a few months ago, we would strongly call for the event's cancellation. Given the lateness, however, and the harm caused to individual writers by cancelling now, we ask instead that an explanation of the process which led to Bouchercon's association with Men of Mystery, an acknowledgement of the unfortunate result, and a statement of future intent be delivered at the beginning of the session. In upcoming years, we urge you to dissociate the convention from Men of Mystery, and support in word and deed the value of diversity and gender equity.

Laura DiSilverio
President, Sisters in Crime

Sunday, October 12, 2014

by Hank Phillippi Ryan

You have to picture us at Malice—you might have seen us! Not this year, but last. Beth Wasson, and Elaine Will Sparber and I, sitting at one of those little tables under the escalator, talking about what kind of a book I might want to edit for Sisters in Crime. 

Roberta Isleib did such a wonderful job with Shameless Promotion for Brazen Hussies, and LC Hayden with Breaking and Entering. So what could I give Sisters in Crime that would be new and helpful and valuable and—well, even inspiring?

At some point, I said—let’s make it about—the journey. The writer’s journey. And we can divide it into sections, like beginning, hoping, working, thinking...and I saw Beth nodding and Elaine taking notes. (She’s very organized.)

Fast-forwarding, we asked some Sisters authors to con-tribute—from the newest of newbies to the very most experienced and successful. As editor, I said—here are the categories. What strikes you? What can you share?

Tell me a personal story, I said. Not a speech or a class, but something that happened to you. Something you learned from. A path you took, or didn’t, or a decision that’s haunted you. Tell me something wonderful or tragic, a success or a failure, a landmark in your journey. 

And the essays came in. Look at the lineup of authors! Amazing. Gorgeous, generous and revealing. I can tell you—I was in tears much of the time.

What to call it? What to put on the cover? I remember driving somewhere, saying words out loud to myself. Journey, passage, adventure. Pathway, highway, travel. Travel together. In it together. What we share, what we have in common. The things we all go through the rites of—ah. Writes of Passage.

And when I chose the quotes for the chapter divisions, little did I imagine that a brilliant cover artist—who had NOT read the book!—would come up by chance with such a brilliant articulation of “hope is the thing with feathers,” the poem that headlines the “hoping” section.

Sometimes the universe just works.

I am so proud of this, grateful to all the authors and to Elaine Will Sparber for doing all the complicated administrative stuff, and to Beth Wasson for allowing it to flourish. Please let me know if you like it!

Hank Phillippi Ryan is the multi-award-winning author of seven mystery novels. Her newest thriller, TRUTH BE TOLD, received starred reviews form Booklist and LIbrary Journal. Hank is a past president of Sisters in Crime.

Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey
is newly published by Sisters in Crime, edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan (with Elaine Will Sparber). The book is a collection of essays by Sisters in Crime members, written to inspire other writers.

To read more about the book, visit

Follow us at @SinCnational on twitter. We are tweeting with the hashtag -- #60secrets.

Friday, August 29, 2014

September Sisters in Crime SinC-Up for Bloggers!

We are having a September Sisters in Crime SinC-Up for bloggers. To participate, write a blog post responding to one or more of these questions and, at the end of your post, link to another author who blogs and who you think your readers will want to get to know. (Letting that blogger know would be a good idea, too! They do not need to be members of Sisters in Crime to participate.)

Here are suggested questions to get you started:
  • Which authors have inspired you?
  • Which male authors write great women characters? Which female authors write great male characters?
  • If someone said "Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men," how would you respond?
  • What's the best part of the writing process for you? What's the most challenging?
  • Do you listen to music while writing? What's on your playlist?
  • What books are on your nightstand right now?
  • If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

For more details, instructions and contact information, visit

We all hope to learn something new about writers who are our current favorites and get leads for our next new favorite! As the blog hop grows, we will add links to the blogs of participating bloggers here, and you can follow it on twitter at #SinCBlogHop.

  • Kicking it off, our own VP Catriona McPherson, on
  • And now, we hear from our own Monitoring Coordinator, Barbara Fister, on
  • Cari Dubiel, our library liaison, addresses the most challenging part of the writing process for her as well as gives us a pretty long "nightstand" list,
  • Lisa Brackmann also discusses her writing process, and then challenges her companion bloggers at Murder Is Everywhere,
  • Linda Townsdin weighs in here and we love her advice to new writers,
  • Keep on Writing! words from author Robin Murphy, 
  • Susan Oleksiw tells #writers in our #SinCBlogHop to continue to seek advice and support when stuck,
  • Insights and #writing truths in @rhebrewster #SinCBlogHop: "Losing yourself in your writing is exhilarating!" 
  • What's on her playlist when writing? @LaurieStevens1 answers the #SinCBlogHop,
  • Penny Clover Peterson (@DandRMysteries) reveals who got her #writing career started in the #SinCBlogHop,
  • Laurie Bain Wilson (@laurieheather) writes of the challenges of the writing process in the #SinCBlogHop,
  • Rona Gindin (@RonaRecommends) joins #SinCBlogHop on writing process, "It hurts. Except when it’s a total trip."
  • Connie Johnson Hambley joins #SinCBlogHop: "Network. Listen. Write. Tweet. Speak. Like. Pin..." @ConnieHambley
  • Nancy J. Cohen takes on 3 questions of the #SinCBlogHop,
  • #SinCBlogHop from @MeredithCole: What's my favorite part of #writing? Whatever part I'm not doing!
  • Heather Weidner (@CrazyForWords13) joins #SincBlogHop with My Two Cents about Writing for #new #writers,
  • Maggie King (@MaggieKingAuthr) tells us what books are on her nightstand,
  • MaryAnn Miller (@maryannwrites) joins our #SincBlogHop, answers 4 of the questions noting "the creative highway is such a blast",
  • Sharon Linnea (@SharonLinnea) joins #SincBlogHop: DON'T KILL THE DOG and 14 Other Unwritten Rules of Fiction Writing, 
  • Dale Phillips (@DalePhillips2) in the #SinCBlogHop, thoughtful answers about authors that write great male and female characters,  
  • Karen Rigley captures the best part of writing for her,
  • Connie Archer overcomes her hesitation to spill "the underwear drawer out on the web" and tells us what on her nightstand,
  • Edith Maxwell at the other bloggers at the Wicked Cozy Authors blog chime in on the topic of men writing women and women writing men,
  • Tina Whittle writes of books and backbeats at her blog, The Fiction Files,
  • Type M for Murder blogger @FrankieYBailey joins the #SinCBlogHop with what's on her nightstand?
  • #SinCBlogHop from Sandra de Helen @dehelen answers what's on your nightstand?
  • Judy Hogan tackled 7 of the questions! Really like her great response to misguided readers who claim to only read male authors. "You don't know what you're missing."
  • Carolyn Mulford's #SinCBlogHop: The Fun Starts Before the Writing Begins,
  • Maya Corrigan @mayacorrigan joins #SinCBlogHop with Writing While I Sleep,
  • Librarian Thea Green takes over for Molly MacRae in the #SinCBlogHop Who Knows What Books Lurk on an Author's Nightstand,
  • Susan Spann @SusanSpann: Here's my entry in the #SinCBlogHop: seahorses, series, and Sisters in Crime!
  • B.V. Lawson @BVLawson: Today on IRTM, I join the #SinCBlogHop and wonder: can authors write opposite-gender POV well?
  • Art Taylor @ArtTaylorWriter: Taking part in the #SinCBlogHop with the music question--plus my best research story!
  • S.K. Nicholls @sknicholls1 answers three of the #SinCBlogHop questions and highlights some Florida authors,
  • Sue Coletta @SueColetta1 joins #SinCBlogHop, and EXTRA points, she answered ALL the questions!
  • Mary Sutton @mary_sutton73: For #SinCBlogHop, I share my favorite part of the writing process,
  • Terry Odell (@authorterryo) for the #SinCBlogHop tackles what music she listens to when #writing,
  • Kalisha Buckhanon @KalishaOnline is in the #SinCBlogHop! Tackles the question -- What books are on my nightstand?
  • E.M. Powell (@empowellauthor) for the #SinCBlogHop on why women's #crime #fiction is the best!
  • K.A. Laity (@katelaity) for the #SinCBlogHop on Writing to Music and a call to join the hop!
  • MT for the #SinCBlogHop @HASomerled says: Find out my musical inspiration and meet new authors
  • Edith Maxwell at Wicked Cozies (@WickedCozys) bring us thoughts from Julie, Barb, Sherry, Jessie (and Edith herself!) for a new #SincBlogHop: Our writing loves & challenges.
  • Carol Preflatish (@CarolPreflatish) for the #SinCBlogHop has joined the fun! See how she writes and who her favorite author is.
  • Bob Byrd has hippity-hopped over to our #SinCBlogHop to answer ALL the questions,
  • Susanna Caulkins for the #SinCBlogHop, "I don't read books about women", well, you're missing out on THESE authors!,
  • Shari Randall for the #SinCBlogHop on what's on her nightstand,
  • John Howell (@HowellWave) hits all the questions in the #SinCBlopHop,
  • Marianne Bailey (@marieannbailey) replies "You haven't been reading enough,"
  • "Don’t ever give up." advises author @BarbCaffrey part of her #SinCBlogHop,
  • For the #SinCBlogHop. @kathymcwrite: What to say when someone tells you their favorite crime writers are men?
  • Can women write crime? Jessie Powell (@jesterqueen) gives a robust YES as part of the  #SinCBlogHop!
  • Kimberly G. Giarratano (@KGGiarratano) offers her advice for a new writer #SinCBlogHop
  • Elizabeth Buhmann (@ElizabetBuhmann) for the #SinCBlogHop: What authors influenced you? Getting close to murder.
  • Kathy Waller blogs about her inspiration - Lynna Williams - for the #SinCBlogHop,
  • Author Maris Soule (@marisSouthHaven) gives good advice to new writers,
  • Lora Lee @Author_Lora_Lee has a fab list of inspiring authors for the #SinCBlogHop, 
  • Paul D. Marks (@PaulDMarks) reveals what he's reading for the #SinCBlogHop,, thx again to @7CriminalMinds! 
  • Judith Starkston (@JudithStarkston) on the authors who inspired her and advice for writers,
  • Donna Gough says the best part of the writing process, "I am still learning," #SinCBlogHop,
  • Dora Machado (@DoraMachado) in the #SinCBlogHop writes about inspiration, the writing process and advice for new writers,  
  • D.R. Ransdell (@dr_ransdell) tackles the readers preference for male over female writers question for the #SinCBlogHop,
  • Nancy Adams (@Nancy_Adams_) gives us and the Guppies chapter a big shout-out for the #SinCBlogHop,

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Interview with Sarah Weinman on Domestic Suspense

Sarah Weinman
Sarah Weinman, crime fiction critic, blogger, author of short fiction, and news editor for Publishers Marketplace, is the editor of Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense, an anthology of works by notable (though in some cases, nearly forgotten) women crime writers of the post-war era. We caught up with her to ask her about the new book and the contributions these authors made to crime fiction. And be sure to visit the anthology website at where you can view photos and read more about the included authors.

BF: Tell us about your new book. What motivated you to put this anthology together? 

SW: Troubled Daughters emerged from an essay I wrote for the literary magazine Tin House titled “The Dark Side of Dinner
Dishes, Laundry, and Child Care” (and yes, that was the working title of the anthology). I’d been approached by an editor there to write something for their themed “The Mysterious” issue, and I’d long contemplated why it seemed that a fair number of female crime writers working around or after World War II through the mid-1970s weren’t really part of the larger critical conversation. They weren’t hard boiled per se, but they weren’t out-and-out cozy, either. Hammett and Chandler and Cain, yes; but why not Marie Belloc Lowndes and Elisabeth Sanxay Holding and Vera Caspary? Why Ross Macdonald but not his wife, Margaret Millar, who published books before he did and garnered critical and commercial acclaim first? I knew after writing the essay that I wasn't done with the subject, and when I had lunch with an editor at Penguin on an unrelated matter and started going on, rather enthusiastically, about this widespread neglect, he said, “sounds like there’s an anthology in this. Why don’t you send me a proposal?” It took a while to organize, but eventually I did, and Penguin bought the anthology. Publishing being what it is, it’s taken a little less than two years from acquisition to release date.

BF: What is “domestic suspense”? What relationship does it have to other kinds of crime fiction?

SW: Domestic suspense is a catch-all term for work largely published by women and describing the plight of women—wives, daughters, the elderly, spinsters, the underserved, the overlooked, and many other phrases used then but thankfully, not so much now—as World War II was coming to a close and the feminist movement dawned. Without domestic suspense you couldn’t have contemporary psychological suspense. Conversely, the work of people like Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, Megan Abbott, Sophie Hannah, Tana French, and many more would not be possible without the likes of Hughes, Jackson, Millar, Highsmith, and—though not included in Troubled Daughters for reasons outside the scope of this interview—Ruth Rendell, Mary Higgins Clark, Mignon Eberhart, and more. 

BF: Sisters in Crime was founded in 1987 to promote equality for women in the crime fiction genre. Since then, women mystery writers have gained ground in terms of publication opportunities, review space, and recognition (particularly compared to the literary landscape charted by the annual Vida count), but are still less likely than men to have their books reviewed in the most prestigious publications or be recognized with major awards. How would you compare the obstacles the authors in your anthology faced with the climate for women writing today?

SW: In some ways it might be more difficult now than it was then, because for women writers publishing 40–70 years ago, there was more choice in terms of who published mysteries, and domestic suspense novels were fairly likely to get hardcover publication (and presence in libraries) along with more lucrative paperback release. Most of the women in my anthology were reviewed by Anthony Boucher in his New York Times “Criminals at Large” column, or by Hughes in her columns for the LA Times or Albuquerque Tribune, or by other mystery columnists for other papers. Now there are blogs, and online outlets, and Marilyn Stasio, who’s been at the NYT seven years longer than Boucher ever was. Consolidation and a great need to subcategorize makes it hard to break out these days, unless books are packaged as straddling genre lines. “Mystery” doesn’t sell, but “fiction” or “psychological suspense” does. Mass market paperback originals were always a longshot to get review coverage; now it’s even more difficult with ebook originals (as mass market declines further and further).

Barbara Fister
Barbara Fister is the author of the Anni Koskinen series and coordinates the Monitoring Project. She lives in Minnesota, where she works in a college library and blogs for Inside Higher Ed and Library Journal. She recently published an essay, “The Millennium Trilogy and the American Serial Killer Narrative,” in an anthology of criticism published by Palgrave.

The full interview will be featured in September's inSinC Quarterly, which is available through a members only link on our website and also is mailed directly to our members.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Four Reasons Gotham Works

by Marilyn Patterson

Marilyn Patterson
Motivation, guidance, critique: these were the things I was seeking when I signed up for the Gotham Writers’ Workshop Mystery Writing I course. It still took me several months after reading about Sisters in Crime’s special enrollment offer to actually sign up for it. As a long-time writer, I wondered if an entry-level course would serve me.

What finally made me leap was my desire to get back to work on my stalled novel. Believing that some action was better than doing nothing, I joined Sisters in Crime and the Guppies, and then signed up for the Gotham course.

Now that the course is over, here are the four things I valued most.

The assignments: A writing exercise linked to that week’s lesson topic was assigned most weeks of the ten-week course. Topics covered included plot, dialogue, point of view, and character. Assignment submissions were limited to no more than 750 words, a doable goal for an assignment due by the end of the week.

The booth: Each student had two opportunities to enter the booth and share a writing excerpt for critique by our teacher and fellow students. Each week, two to three submissions were scheduled, and critiques were due by the end of that week, giving us the benefit of a writers group while reading and critiquing submissions within our own schedules.

The teacher: Our teacher was a published author with a wicked sense of humor. She responded promptly to discussion posts and gave thorough and insightful feedback on homework assignments and booth submissions.

The students: Twelve people signed up for my course session. Of those twelve, several dropped out along the way. Those of us remaining were active in class, submitting critiques and participating in the weekly lesson discussions.

And here are four things that didn’t work as well for me.

The lessons: While the weekly lessons may have been useful to someone new to writing mysteries, they didn’t provide me much new information.

The lounge: Each week students could enter the lounge and chat with each other about anything on their minds. This wasn’t a successful aspect of our class, and students only used the lounge three times. Our lounge was open Monday nights at 10 p.m. EST, which may not have been a convenient time to chat. Finding a set time that works for everyone would likely be impossible.

Some of the assignments: A few of the assignments, especially those toward the end of the course, weren’t as stimulating or beneficial as those nearer the beginning. The last week’s assignment was to research markets for our work. While this is important, I would have appreciated another opportunity to share my writing with the teacher for feedback.

Some of the critiques: Gotham provided clear critique instructions, but not everyone in my course followed them. In a few instances, I felt the critiques given to other students were harsh. As far as I could tell, this wasn’t addressed, although student contact may have been made outside the course. A writer with experience in a writers group might be able to weather a harsh critique. In an entry-level course, a harsh critique could shut down a new writer.

I am grateful to Sisters in Crime for making this opportunity possible for me. This course got my novel back on track, and the teacher and students gave me the encouragement to keep going. If this sounds like the jumpstart you need, I hope you, too, will take the leap.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Back To School...Without Ever Leaving Home

by Micki Browning 

Scholarship Opportunity
When I discovered that Sisters In Crime offered a scholarship to Gotham Writing Workshops, it only took a matter of minutes and a couple keystrokes, and I was enrolled.

Gotham Writing Workshops
Classes originated in New York City. For those who reside outside the boroughs, GWW offers online classes.  The Mystery Writing (I) course I enrolled in unfolded over ten weeks. Each week, the instructor posted a lecture dealing with the components that make up a mystery novel. At the conclusion of the lecture she posed a provocative question that launched a student discussion. In addition, students submitted a writing exercise that was read and evaluated solely by the instructor.  Twice in the ten weeks, students posted a longer project that was critiqued by the class.  As any writer can vouchsafe, targeted feedback is beyond value--especially when the readers have an interest in the genre and share the same writing goals.  An optional live-chat heated up on Monday nights. Although I had a conflict for active participation, the transcripts were available for my perusal, so I never felt left out.

I enjoyed the humor the instructor infused into her lectures, but in reality, the information could be found in any of a dozen craft books, so why invest the time, money and effort into a Gotham Workshop? Two answers: accountability and community.  No, no one gets graded and there are no homework police standing behind you to make sure you submit your assignment. Writers know that they are the sole person responsible for sitting down in front of a computer and creating prose. There are, however, other students who are looking for the same validation and assistance to overcome their own writing obstacles and erase their own insecurities. For me, I knew if I didn’t turn in my assignments each week, I missed an opportunity to receive valuable insight regarding my work in progress from a published author. If I neglected my two chapter submissions, I would throw away a chance to experiment with words in a safe environment. So for ten weeks, I belonged to the Gotham Writer’s Workshop community, and reaped the benefits of an audience--an opportunity I only had due to the largess of Sisters In Crime.

Beyond the Class
I’ve been a member of Sisters In Crime since 2008.  At first--and sadly--I joined because I thought it would be an impressive credential. Since then, I have attended conferences with other sisters (and a couple of brothers), had wine with a VP, exchanged quips with the current president in an elevator, and scoured the website for resources, calendars, and industry news.

Sisters In Crime is so much more than a credential. The organization lives up to its mission to raise the professionalism and achieve equity among crime writers. It does this by supporting its members. I am still a newbie in the writing world, but it is less daunting because of the connections I’ve made and the opportunity Sisters In Crime has afforded me. While I appreciated the community of a class and the opportunity to improve my craft, the greatest member benefit is the reminder that no writer is truly alone. Not in this community.

Micki Browning

Friday, March 1, 2013

Look Who’s Turning 25…

Spring is around the corner and that means fans and authors from around the world will once again be gathering for Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland to celebrate and honor the traditional mystery.
This year is special because it is the 25th year of Malice. Back in 1989, 93 people planned a weekend together and with the love of Barbara Mertz, Robert Barnard and Agatha Christie as their bond, began the Malice Domestic tradition. Their numbers grew year after year and continue to grow today with new fans joining longtime attendees and the faithful few, those who have attended every Malice since the beginning.
View of the banquet hall
Malice has often been compared to a warm and friendly family reunion, where mystery fans come to see old friends and make new ones while rubbing elbows with their favorite authors in an intimate setting.
To commemorate Malice Domestic 25, a book entitled Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea: An Interesting and Entertaining History of Malice Domestic’s First 25 Years will be published by Wildside Press in April of this year. Edited by Verena Rose and Rita Owen, the book will include essays and remembrances from various contributors, mystery authors and fans alike. The books will be available for purchase at Malice or if you cannot attend, you may reserve a copy on our website and we will mail it to you. We are very excited about this project and the opportunity it gave us to look back on the history of Malice and what reading and writing mysteries means to so many of us.
To order a copy of the Malice Book or to register for Malice 25, please visit: 
Agatha Awards
The 2013 program schedule will be posted online shortly, and the registered attendee list grows every day. Be sure to like our Facebook Page or follow us on Twitter @Malice_Domestic for periodic updates.
Thanks and we hope to see you in May!
Maliciously Yours,
Shawn Simmons & the Malice Domestic Board

Friday, January 18, 2013

Conventional Wisdom

Guest Post by Marcia Talley

Looks like 2013 will be a banner year for Sisters in Crime members who have the time and inclination to attend a mystery-related conference or convention. Whether you’re a published author or an aspiring one, a mystery fan or a publishing industry professional, you should find a conference to suit you among the popular events listed below.

Love Is Murder
Chicago, IL • February 1–3
This forum allows writers and readers to further their knowledge of writing, publishing, and the business of book production. David J. Walker will be local guest of honor; Lee Goldberg, Bob Mayer, and Michael Harvey are featured authors.

Sleuthfest on Saturday
Sarasota, FL • February 16
Rescue your manuscript, your book, your career. Hands-on workshop led by bestselling authors Elaine Viets and Kristy Montee (P.J. Parrish).
Craft-oriented panels, e-book presentation, agent/editor presentation and pitch sessions.

Book ‘Em North Carolina
Lumberton NC • February 23
The second writers conference and book fair at Robeson Community College will host more than 75 authors and publishers for book signings, panel discussions, and more.

Left Coast Crime
Colorado Springs CO • March 21–24
“Where murder is the last resort” is for readers, writers, librarians, and other mystery and thriller enthusiasts. Craig Johnson and Laura Lippman will be guests of honor; David Corbett, toastmaster; Parnell Hall, “Last Resort Troubadour”; Tom and Enid Schantz, fan guests of honor; Stephen J. Cannell, ghost of honor.

2013 Edgar Symposium
New York, NY • May 1
Craft-oriented panels presented by leading crime writers and Edgar-award nominees. Grand master interview. Details TBA.

Malice Domestic 25
Bethesda MD • May 3–5
The conference honoring the traditional mystery will feature Laurie R. King, guest of honor; Laura Lippman, toastmaster; Aaron Elkins, lifetime achievement; Carolyn Hart, Amelia Award; Peter Robinson, international guest of honor; Cindy Silberblatt, fan guest of honor; Dick Francis, Malice remembers.

Festival of Mystery at Oakmont
Oakmont, PA • May 6
Mystery Lovers Bookshop sponsors this popular annual multi-author event. Book signings and author interviews.

Nancy Drew Conference
Boston/Somerville, MA • May 28 – June 2

Calling all fans of our favorite girl sleuth, Nancy Drew. This year’s theme books are #27, The Secret of the Wooden Lady and #83, The Case of the Vanishing Veil. Field trips, ghost tours, parties, book exchanges and merchandise.

Bristol UK • May 30–June 2
The annual convention draws top crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and reviewers from around the world and gives delegates the opportunity to celebrate the genre in an informal atmosphere. Robert Goddard is the featured guest author/toastmaster. Also featured are Lindsey Davis, Jeffery Deaver, Sophie Hannah, David Hewson, Peter James, Simon Kernick, Denise Mina, Dana Stabenow and many more.

California Crime Writers
Pasadena CA • June 22–23
LA-SinC and Southern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America co-sponsor this biennial event geared to emerging and established mystery writers. Sue Grafton and Elizabeth George will be keynote speakers.

Thrillerfest VIII
New York NY • July 10–13
ThrillerMasters Anne Rice and R. L. Stine; Spotlight Guests Michael Connelly, T. Jefferson Parker, and Michael Palmer; and Silver Bullet Award Recipient Steve Berry will highlight the event.

Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference
Corte Madera, CA • July 25-28
Editors, agents, and publishers share with participants what they need to know to get published. Authors offer classes on setting, dialogue, suspense and point of view. Panels of detectives, forensic experts, and other crime-fighting professionals provide invaluable information that allows writers to put realism into their work.
Details TBA.

Theaksons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, (AKA Harrogate)
Harrogate UK • July 18–21
Chair Val McDermid will be joined by Special Guests Kate Atkinson, Charlaine Harris, Susan Hill, and Ruth Rendell interviewed by Jeanette Winterson.

Deadly Ink
New Brunswick, NJ • August 2 -4
Hank Phillippi Ryan is Guest of Honor; Rosemary Harris is Toastmaster; Fan Guest of Honor is Bob Daniher.

St Hilda’s Crime and Mystery Weekend
Oxford, UK • August 16-18
P.D. James Birthday Celebration
“From Here to Eternity: The Present and Future of Crime Fiction.” Now in its twentieth year, this classic conference at St Hilda’s College in Oxford, England features Jill Paton Walsh as Guest of Honor/Conference Lecturer. Other speakers include P.D. James, Val McDermid, Peter Robinson, Andrew Taylor, Frances Fyfield, Martin Edwards, Penny Evans, and Tom Harper/Edwin Thomas. After dinner speakers are Bernard Knight and Priscilla Masters. Natasha Cooper will chair. There is no website, as generally this conference has flourished through simple word of mouth. To get added to the mailing list or to request a booking form, contact

Scene of the Crime
Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada • August 17
Wolfe Island — the largest of the Thousand Islands – hosts this mystery conference featuring author panels, readings, discussions, a writing workshop by Barbara Franklin, a coffee and muffin breakfast, full lunch (including church lady pie!) and their famous church supper. The 2013 Grant Allen award for contributions to Canadian crime and mystery writing will be awarded to Andrew Pyper, author of LOST GIRLS, THE GUARDIANS, and the forthcoming DEMONOLGIST. Other authors attending include Ian Hamilton, Janet Bolin, Linda Wiken/Erika Chase, and Gloria Ferris.

Killer Nashville
Nashville, TN • August 22-25
This conference offers over 60 sessions and 7 session tracks (general writing, genre specific writing, publishing, publicity & promotion, forensics, screenwriting, sessions for fans); manuscript critiques (fiction, nonfiction, short story, screenplay, marketing, query); a mock crime scene for you to solve; networking with bestselling authors, agents, editors, publishers, attorneys, publicists, and representatives from law and emergency services.

The Writers Police Academy
Jamestown, NC • September 5-8
Hands-on, interactive and educational experience writers can use to enhance their understanding of all aspects of law enforcement and forensics. This conference features real police, fire, and EMS training at an actual police academy. Top instructors and experts! In 2013, the registration fee will be partially underwritten for Sisters in Crime members.

Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival
Stirling, Scotland • September 13-15
The best of Scottish crime fiction featuring fifty

Creatures, Crimes & Creativity
Baltimore, MD • September 13-15
A literary conference designed to gather readers and writers of mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy and steam punk. It will present three days of panels and workshops of interest to both writers and fans. The main objective is to provide opportunities for authors and fans to meet and mingle, chat and network, and strengthen the bond between the creators of genre fiction and those who enjoy reading it. There will be presentations from two impressive key note speakers (Jeffrey Deaver and Christopher Golden) and interviews with two inspiring local special guest authors (John Gilstrap and Trice Hickman).

Agatha Christie Festival
Torquay, UK • September 15-22
The English Riviera transforms itself into the murder mystery capital of the country, with ladies and gents in their period finery immersing themselves in tea parties, theatre, dinners on steam trains and vintage bus tours in honor of the Queen of Crime, who was born in Torquay on 15th September 1890. Garden parties to die for, lunches at Burgh Island, exclusive Twilight Tours of Christie’s home, Greenway, and plenty of Devon Cream Teas.

SinC Into Great Writing! Workshop
Albany NY • September 18
"CREATE" Your Writing Career is the title of this year's pre-Bouchercon SinC into Great Writing Workshop. Cathy Pickens will lead the session on the creative process, including developing, learning to tap into creativity more deeply, and producing creative work more readily. Robert Dugoni will lead the session on selling your novel. More information and registration form coming in Spring.

Bouchercon 2013
Albany NY • September 19–22
Honorees at the world mystery conference include Sue Grafton for lifetime achievement, P. C. Doherty as international guest of honor, Tess Gerritsen as American guest of honor, Steve Hamilton as toastmaster, and Chris Aldrich and Lynn Kaczmarek as fan guests of honor.

Magna cum Murder Crime Writing Festival
Indianapolis, IN • October 25-27
This year, the conference will be held in Indianapolis (rather than Muncie) at the historic Columbia Club on Monument Circle. Guest of Honor, Steve Hamilton. Dinner speaker, Hank Phillipi Ryan.

New England Crime Bake
Dedham, MA • November 8-10
Details TBA.

Crime and Justice Festival
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia • November 15-17
The public, writers, social commentators, judicial luminaries and the legal profession come together to both celebrate and promote contemporary writings in the fields of justice and human rights, and to overlay these discussions with guest writers in the genre of crime fiction.

Know of a crime or mystery conference I haven’t mentioned? Leave us a comment!

Marcia Talley is the Agatha and Anthony award-winning author of the Hannah Ives mysteries including All Things Undying and The Last Refuge. Book twelve in the series, Deadly Passage, will be published in the summer of 2013. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime.