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?
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.

For more details, instructions and contact information, visit www.sistersincrime.org/bloghop

We all hope to learn something new about writers who are our current favorites and get leads for our next new favorite!

Kicking it off, our own VP Catriona McPherson, on http://7criminalminds.blogspot.com/2014/08/september-blog-hop.html

And now, we hear from our own Monitoring Coordinator, Barbara Fister, on http://barbarafister.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/sisters-in-crime-september-sinc-up/

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, http://www.caridubiel.com/?p=631.

Lisa Brackmann also discusses her writing process, and then challenges her companion bloggers at Murder Is Everywhere, http://bit.ly/1tEFCoS.

Linda Townsdin weighs in here and we love her advice to new writers, http://lindatownsdin.com/.

Keep on Writing! words from author Robin Murphy, http://robinmurphyauthor.com/robinmurphyauthor/?p=483 

Susan Oleksiw tells #writers in our #SinCBlogHop to continue to seek advice and support when stuck, http://www.susansblogbits.blogspot.com/

Insights and #writing truths in @rhebrewster #SinCBlogHop: "Losing yourself in your writing is exhilarating!" http://saylingaway.wordpress.com/ 

What's on her playlist when writing? @LaurieStevens1 answers the #SinCBlogHop, http://bit.ly/1snJcy5.

Penny Clover Peterson (@DandRMysteries) reveals who got her #writing career started in the #SinCBlogHop, http://bit.ly/1wDppS0.

Laurie Bain Wilson (@laurieheather) writes of the challenges of the writing process in the #SinCBlogHop, http://bit.ly/1qfR2Io.

Rona Gindin (@RonaRecommends) joins #SinCBlogHop on writing process, "It hurts. Except when it’s a total trip." http://bit.ly/1wpPX6l.

Connie Johnson Hambley joins #SinCBlogHop: "Network. Listen. Write. Tweet. Speak. Like. Pin..." @ConnieHambley http://bit.ly/1maRXPq.

Nancy J. Cohen takes on 3 questions of the #SinCBlogHop, http://bit.ly/1pjuu9e.

#SinCBlogHop from @MeredithCole: What's my favorite part of #writing? Whatever part I'm not doing! http://t.co/ieKPeaDOLp.

Heather Weidner (@CrazyForWords13) joins #SincBlogHop with My Two Cents about Writing for #new #writers, http://bit.ly/YSI1Q3.

Maggie King (@MaggieKingAuthr) tells us what books are on her nightstand, http://bit.ly/1uH2m6F.

MaryAnn Miller (@maryannwrites) joins our #SincBlogHop, answers 4 of the questions noting "the creative highway is such a blast", http://t.co/sGtZ3mb3mJ.

Sharon Linnea (@SharonLinnea) joins #SincBlogHop: DON'T KILL THE DOG and 14 Other Unwritten Rules of Fiction Writing, http://t.co/8rtKFYaOrH 

.@DalePhillips2 in the #SinCBlogHop, thoughtful answers about authors that write great male and female characters, http://t.co/uNrB59YvTj













 know I’m good at what I do, and it’s time to start showing myself off before I die. - See more at: http://www.caridubiel.com/?p=631#sthash.UBQfIfny.dpufLisa Brackmann shared with us about process, and challenged her Murder Is Everywhere blog companions as well: http://murderiseverywhere.blogspot.com/2014/09/sisters-in-crime-september-sinc-up.html

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 http://domesticsuspense.com/ 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
http://domesticsuspense.com/
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: http://yhst-38248542791295.stores.yahoo.net/index.html 
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. www.LoveIsMurder.net

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. www.mwaflorida.org/sleuthfest.htm

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. www.BookEmNC.org

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. www.LeftCoastCrime.org/2013

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. www.mysterywriters.org

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. www.MaliceDomestic.org

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

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. www.ndsleuths.com/ndsconventions.html

Crimefest
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. www.CrimeFest.com

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. www.CCWConference.org

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. www.thrillerfest.com

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. http://bookpassage.com/mystery-writers-conference

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. http://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/crime/

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. www.deadlyink.com

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 Eileen.Roberts@st-hildas.oxford.ac.uk.

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. www.sceneofthecrime.ca

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. www.killernashville.com

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. www.writerspoliceacademy.com

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

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).http://creaturescrimesandcreativity.com


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. http://www.englishriviera.co.uk/agathachristie/agatha-christie-festival

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. www.sistersincrime.org/sincintogreatwriting


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. www.Bcon2013.com

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. http://cms.bsu.edu/academics/centersandinstitutes/ebball/magnacummurder

New England Crime Bake
Dedham, MA • November 8-10
Details TBA. www.crimebake.org/index.htm

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. www.crimeandjusticefestival.com/crimeandjusticefestival/Home.html

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. www.marciatalley.com

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Song of Sisters in Crime

Did you know that Sisters in Crime has its own song?

In September of 2006 (Sisters in Crime's 20th anniversary year), newly-installed president Rochelle Krich celebrated with goddesses (that is, our past-presidents) Nancy Pickard, Margaret Maron, Carolyn Hart, Eve Sandstrom, Sue Henry, Kate Flora, and Libby Hellmann and their guests. The evening closed with a performance by Parnell Hall with a song he'd written for the occasion.

To hear him perform the song, go to his website and click on "Sisters in Crime Song" which you will see listed on the left. We've updated the song to reflect 26 years of our organization.


SISTERS IN CRIME by Parnell Hall


Twenty-six years ago
On a dark and stormy night
Some feisty woman authors
Were itching for a fight
They said, "How come it's just the guys
Having a good time?"
They went out and founded
Sisters in Crime

Sisters in Crime, boys,
Sisters in Crime
You show me your gun
I'll show you mine
They have car chases
Stop on a dime
Just like the guys do
Sisters in Crime

It started small
Nothing much to see
All that they wanted
Was parity
Parity schmarity
In next to no time
Who's in the forefront
Sisters in Crime

Women succeeded
In nothing flat
How did the fellas
Feel about that?
I've got the answer
Here in this rhyme
Brothers are joining
Sisters in Crime

So gather round
And lets give three cheers
Now that we've lasted
For twenty-six years
Twenty-six years is nothing
It's next to no time
We're just getting started
Sisters in Crime

Now and forever
Sisters in Crime

©2006 Parnell Hall

Friday, December 14, 2012

Interview with Publisher Kate Stine of Mystery Scene Magazine

Interview by Hank Phillippi Ryan

First Mystery Scene Cover
HPR:  Welcome Kate! And happy 27th anniversary to Mystery Scene! It was founded in 1985, right? That was the same year New Coke was introduced! And the cost of a postage stamp skyrocketed to a shocking 22 cents. How has the magazine survived so brilliantly? What’s the philosophy that keeps you going so successfully?

KS:  I think Mystery Scene has survived for so long simply because it's always been run by fans—whether they were writers like the magazine's founders Ed Gorman and Robert Randisi, publishing types like me, or serious readers like Brian.

In 1985, a lot of the content was focused on markets, trends, and the publishing scene. But Ed and Bob and their vast array of friends always ended up talking about mystery novels, films, and TV shows that they loved. I think this clear love and appreciation of the mystery was very appealing to early subscribers, many of whom weren't writers at all.

Brian Skupin and Kate Stine
When Brian and I took over in 2002, we shifted the editorial focus even further to align with our interests as mystery readers. Our audience is like us: interested in a wide range of story types, TV shows, films, etc. They like to get a "behind the curtain" look at the creative life, but ultimately they're most interested in the writers and their work than in the media industry. 

HPR:  Let me just say—Mystery Scene is gorgeous. It’s smart, it’s current, and it’s ahead of the curve. Obviously you guys know your stuff. How do you and Brian share—or divvy up—the responsibilities?

KS:  Well, thanks! I work full-time on the magazine and edit the features and columns, handle print ad sales, and handle various publisher type tasks.

Brian handles the "What's Happening With…" series, oversees the MS website, and also acts as a sounding board on editorial decisions. But he is also the director of consulting at a very busy IT firm in Manhattan, so his contributions, while essential, are made on a part-time basis.

We've been extremely fortunate to have Senior Editor Teri Duerr working with us for the past six years. She assigns and edits the Mystery Scene Reviews section, creates the monthly e-newsletter, oversees the website content, and handles digital advertising sales.

Stine and Skupin's first issue, 2002
Our art director, Annika Larsson, has been with us since 2002 and is responsible for Mystery Scene's spiffy appearance. She recently relocated to Sweden, so now we're working together over the internet; that and the time difference, makes us surprisingly efficient.


HPR:  You have to recognize trends, understand your readers—and also introduce readers to emerging authors and changes in the industry. Is that—intimidating? Fun? Exciting? And how do you do that?

KS:  Having a group of knowledgeable contributors is key because no one person is going to be able to stay on top of such a wide-ranging genre.

Mystery Scene's review columnists are each quite expert in their field, so they help keep us up to date on trends and emerging authors. Betty Webb covers current small press titles, Jon L. Breen covers nonfiction and reference works, Bill Crider covers short stories, Dick Lochte covers audiobooks, and Lynne Maxwell and Hank Wagner cover mass-market paperback originals. Teri Duerr and I both go through the hardcover novels from large publishers that arrive for review.

Our happy band of feature contributors—Kevin Burton Smith, Oline Cogdill, Michael Mallory, Martin Edwards, Cheryl Solimini, and Ed Gorman, among others—often suggest profiles and articles.

And our readers write us all the time with suggestions and comments. A lot of our readers are librarians, teachers, or booksellers—they're knowledgeable and enthusiastic which is great for us. 

HPR: What would surprise us about how you work?

KS:  What might be surprising is how hands-on it is—this isn't corporate publishing. In a small company, you end up doing a bit of everything—negotiating deals, writing ad copy, doing photo research, designing brochures, lugging books back and forth, etc.

The workload can be overwhelming but for interest and variety, it can't be beat. I really enjoy it. 

HPR:  Were you (and Brian) always mystery fans? Do you remember the first mystery you fell in love with?  Do you have the same taste in books?  Do you still have time to read?

KS: I don't have as much time to read as I'd like, but who does?

Both Brian and I were mystery readers from an early age. My first "grown up" book was Agatha Christie's Murder in the Vicarage given to me by my grandmother. Brian's first magazine subscription was to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. We actually met at a mystery convention, Magna cum Murder, in 1996.

I've always said that most of my incidental knowledge of the world has come from reading mysteries. An author that had a profound effect on my life was Elizabeth Peters / Barbara Michaels. I started reading her novels in my early teens and they very much influenced the woman I grew up to be.

Brian loves intricate, tricky plotting, particularly of the locked room or impossible crime variety. He's quite well-read in the Golden Age area but he also likes contemporary thrillers. We recommend books to each other a lot.

HPR:  I love hearing about conference romances. What happened?

KS: I was on a panel about book reviewing at Magna Cum Murder and Brian was in the audience. Afterward, I walked up and asked if he had seen the conference organizer, Kathryn Kennison. There was no reason to think that he had, but as a single woman my policy was to direct all questions to the tall, good-looking stranger in the crowd first.

HPR: Very wise. And then?

After the convention, he sent me a lovely note and we started an old-fashioned correspondence. (Which was necessary since he had been sent to London for work and I was in New York.) We had our first date at Malice Domestic that spring.

One of my all-time favorite Mystery Scene articles was Twist Phelan’s “Romancing the Con,” an interview with four couples (including me and Brian) who found true love at mystery conventions. Here’s a link: http://bit.ly/mysterylove. 

Co-Publishers Stine and Skupin celebrate Mystery Scene's 2004 Anthony for best magazine.

HPR: So—what’s up for next year? I hear you have big news!

KS:  We just signed a deal with Barnes & Noble to create an e-reader edition of Mystery Scene which will be available at bn.com’s NOOK Digital Newsstand. We hope that will start in February with our Winter Issue #128.

We’re also redesigning our website with more bells and whistles, games, etc. This will launch probably in February or March.

In 2013, I want to concentrate on increasing Mystery Scene’s readership. The more the merrier!

HPR: Thanks, Kate!

Mystery Scene has a special offer for members of Sisters in Crime.  Read about it at http://tinyurl.com/sincspecialoffer


Hank also asked Kate how it felt to take over the reins, er, presses, at Mystery Scene.  Kate replied, "I will always be grateful to Ed for the opportunity he gave us. He's one of the most beloved people in the mystery community for good reason." And then she sent us this wonderfully nostalgic piece she wrote about the very moment it happened.

Kate Stine is the editor-in-chief and co-publisher of Mystery Scene. After years as a book editor, Kate consulted for clients such as The Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine, The Mystery Writers of America, MysteryNet, and Agatha Christie, Ltd. Kate was also editor-in-chief of The Armchair Detective Magazine from 1992-1997.

Mystery Scene Magazine

331 W. 57th Street, Suite 148
New York, NY 10019-3101
katestine@mysteryscenemag.com
t: 212-765-7124 f: 212-202-3540

Website | Twitter Facebook | E-newsletter




Hank Phillippi Ryan is the on-the-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate, winning 28 Emmys for her work. Her first mystery, the best-selling PRIME TIME, won the Agatha for Best First Novel. FACE TIME was a BookSense Notable Book, and AIR TIME and DRIVE TIME were nominated for the AGATHA and ANTHONY Awards. Hank’s short story “On the House” won the AGATHA, ANTHONY and MACAVITY.

Her newest thriller is the best-selling THE OTHER WOMAN. Hank is president of Sisters in Crime and on the national board of Mystery Writers of America. Her website is http://www.hankphillippiryan.com/

Friday, November 16, 2012

So, What's a Gotham Writers Workshop?


Cathy Pickens
by Cathy Pickens

You have heard, haven’t you, that Sisters in Crime offers a tremendous discount to those who want to enroll in the Gotham Writers Workshop Level 1 Mystery Writing class? 

New classes will begin January 8th and February 12th.  With the Sisters in Crime discount, it costs $109.10 for the entire 10-week session. The workshop includes active work on a novel or short stories and two critique sessions on your work.

Why is Sisters in Crime doing this? Let me count the reasons:
  1. Sisters in Crime is committed to promoting professional development among mystery writers.  
  2. Not all our members can attend conferences or writing classes in person.
  3. All writers can use the support and guidance of mentors on the journey, especially when starting out.  Even published and experienced writers need to refresh, be exposed to new ideas, and stretch their abilities.
  4. Gotham has years of experience in delivering first-rate online education for writers.
  5. It’s challenging, fun, and worth the investment of time and money. 

I must admit, when I first signed up for a Gotham Writers Workshop (GWW) class to see how it all worked, I was a little nervous, with all those first-time student jitters. But I found a seamless, easy-to-use online interface, a great instructor, motivated fellow students, and a lot to learn.

To really get the most from the experience, set aside time to work on the assignments. I appreciated the email reminders when new course materials were available. That makes it harder to sit back and do nothing. And that’s why you signed up, right? To participate?

GWW is only one of several professional development opportunities Sisters in Crime subsidizes for its members. Others have included:
  • Writers Police Academy
  • Pre-Bouchercon Mystery Convention workshops with presenters such as award-winning novelist Nancy Pickard, agent Donald Maass, and Marcia Talley’s “Look, Ma, I’ve Been Kindled"
  • Annual Publishers Summit Reports updating different aspects of the publishing business
  • Our publications Breaking and Entering and Shameless Promotion for Brazen Hussies.
For the coming year, past-president Frankie Bailey is already working on the pre-Bouchercon workshop. So save Wednesday, September 18, on your calendar to meet in Albany! And we have other ideas in the works for writers across all levels of experience.

Click links on the website to investigate these offerings. And check out Gotham Writers Workshop.  You’ll be glad you did.  If you do apply for the Sisters in Crime “scholarships,” we look forward to reading about your experience here on the blog!

Cathy Pickens is a former president of Sisters in Crime and author of the award-winning Southern Fried mystery series (St. Martin’s).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Welcome from Our President

Hank Phillippi Ryan
Dear Sisters,

You can see my expression, holding the seal of office. It’s a smile of delight, of honor, of gratitude and sisterhood. It’s a smile of excitement for the future, and working together over the next year.

What a treat to see so many of you at Bouchercon! Walking up to that podium to take the reins of office from our dear Frankie Bailey was such a milestone, and as I said to those in attendance, it truly brought tears my eyes. I thought about walking in the shoes of Sara Paretsky and Margaret Maron and Marcia Talley and Roberta Isleib, and Cathy Pickens, people who are now my dear friends. It filled my heart, and inspired me to get to work.

I remember my first moment of Sisters in Crime. It was at Janet Halpin’s house, in a Massachusetts suburb. I was so nervous, I walked in alone, with no finished manuscript, no idea of how to write a book, not a clue about the publishing industry, and knowing not a soul.

I walked out arm in arm with Hallie Ephron and Kate Flora and with a bag of chocolate, if I remember correctly, I took my first steps in to the joys of Sisters in Crime.

How many of you are taking your first steps? Think of the other people reading this letter right now, they are not strangers, they are sisters. (Except they won’t borrow your clothes or rat you out to Mom).

They are your sisters. Like you and like me, they know what if feels like to have a book in your heart, they know what it feels like to be thrilled at a good idea, or dejected at having a bad one. The terror of writing yourself into a corner, the joy of discovering the answer to your plot problems. Like you and like me, they know what it feels like to have a good idea. And to want to get that down on paper and share it.

How many of you have been around the block a few times? Not writers block, but the crazy whirlwind of publishing? Sisters in Crime is into its 26th year now, and I bet there’s not one of you published authors who think, “Oh, I got this: I’ve never worked, I’m never surprised.” There’s always something new, right?

The pros and the new kids, like me, we’re all taking first steps into the next phases of our careers.
So in the next year, I’m determined to help everyone with their next first steps. Whether it’s the first step into crime fiction, typing “chapter one” or the first step into a second novel, or the first step into a life as a bestselling author. Every day, we’re taking the first steps into the next part of their lives, and I am so excited we’ll be doing that together. Call on me.

I’m here to help. Your sisters are here to help. Education. Instruction. Support. Guidance. Friendship. Sisters in Crime is your resource. I’m happy to (I’m determined to!) make sure my legacy is that each sister and brother progresses and succeeds.

I told those at Bouchercon about hearing Judy Collins a few months ago. She told us her parents planned for her to be a concert pianist, but at age 16, she ran off from Denver, and went to New York to be a folk singer.

“I went to New York,” she told us, “And took all my songs with me.” She paused, then smiled. And said, “Of course, I hadn’t written them yet.”

We all have songs we haven’t written yet. And I can’t wait to hear yours.

With much affection.

Hank

Hank Phillippi Ryan is the on-the-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate, winning 28 Emmys for her work. Her first mystery, the best-selling PRIME TIME, won the Agatha for Best First Novel. FACE TIME was a BookSense Notable Book, and AIR TIME and DRIVE TIME were nominated for the AGATHA and ANTHONY Awards. Hank’s short story “On the House” won the AGATHA, ANTHONY and MACAVITY.

Her newest thriller is the best-selling THE OTHER WOMAN. Hank is president of Sisters in Crime and on the national board of Mystery Writers of America. Her website is http://www.hankphillippiryan.com/



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

50 Shades of . . .You

By Nancy Martin

Discoverability is the most pressing issue faced by the book business right now. How can we help readers find our work? In the last two years, social media has grown into our most useful promotion tool.

But how you portray yourself on Facebook (or Pinterest, or Twitter, or whatever social media option you favor) is more than posting cute pet photos and announcing what you ate for lunch. Some suggestions for success:

First, determine what your brand is.
Do you want to be known as the author of serious novels about Asian art? Or are you the writer of witty cozies set in the world of private chefs? Or maybe you want to be known as an expert in a subject like elder abuse or animal rescue. Do you want to be seen as amusing? Or serious? Snarky? Thought-provoking? Make lists of the qualities you’d like to become known for. Be specific. That’s your brand.

Next, decide what your promotional goals are.
Are you in the early stages of building a fan base? Then you’re looking for ways to collect “likes.” Are you trying to sell your upcoming book to your readers? Or are you encouraging readers to try your backlist? The more specific your goal, the easier it will be to choose the right actions to reach that goal.

Third, decide who your demographic is.
What kind of people do you hope to reach? (Don’t say, “Everybody!” That’s unrealistic.) Men? Women? What age? With what interests? The better you can narrow down your demographic (your audience) the more effectively you will be able to find ways to reach them.

Once you’re determined this groundwork, frame everything you do on Facebook in the context of your brand, your goal and your desired audience.
All your posts, comments, and “likes” should reflect to this specific group the sort of person you want to be known as—and the kind of books you write.

For starters, go back and read the last month of your posts. Author Carla Neggers posted pix of Ireland and the White Mountains—locations where her books are set—to continue to build her fan base. Ellery Adams posted delectable photos of homemade pie and desserts so that I no longer have to see her name on her posts to think of Pies and Prejudice, the title of her new mystery. Both are very effective strategies.

Try not to dilute your brand by posting random things that make a mishmash of your private life. Post only what helps your reader understand your brand.

Get yourself a fan page on Facebook.
Fan pages come equipped with many options for reaching your audience. (Even though readers are more likely to see your posts in their newsfeeds, rather than by clicking over to visit your actual page, you should make an attractive header and use the polling and tab features as creatively as you can.

Here’s the Julia Child page created by Random House. Looks pretty, right? And see the tabs?

More important, a fan page provides “insight” information that you can track to learn which efforts reach the most people. Check your “reach” and your “virality” to determine what kind of content best achieves your promotion goals. Edit yourself accordingly.

Don’t know how to set up a fan page? Google is your friend.

Keep a friend page, too, so you have your own newsfeed to interact with and see what the rest of the world is thinking and saying.
You can be edgier, more personal or more political on your friend page, but don’t become an entirely different persona.

Accompany your posts with photos or graphics.
In an era when people swiftly scroll through their newsfeeds, they’re more likely to notice a photo than take time to read a couple of sentences. Your fans are also more likely to share a photo that strikes their fancy (which increases your virality) and their friends are more likely to look at a photo than read what you have to say.

But choose wisely to reflect your brand. For the last several weeks, I’ve been running a kind of campaign I call the 50 Shades of Pink Countdown. (I started on Pinterest first, then found a way to make it work on Facebook, too.) For the 50 days counting down to the release of my new book, No Way to Kill a Lady, I’ve posted pictures of pink dresses in the hope of building some name recognition and interest in the new book.

Dresses fit my brand because my book’s protagonist wears vintage couture. I include amusing and semi-educational photo captions (which people may or may not read) to show my books are witty, yet have some depth, too. I started out with 900 fans at the beginning of the 50 days, but now more than 400,000 people are within my reach (that is, fans and friends of fans)—all because a certain demographic of people enjoy looking at pretty dresses on their newsfeeds and they share with their friends. Every “like” and “share” exposes me to more potential readers.

Frankly, I was surprised by how viral the pink dresses have gone. That virality contributed to my publisher's decision to send my book back to press before its pub date.

Give your readers more you.
That is, write some short stories or novellas to use as promotional tools. Self-pub them or give them away on your website as a special promotion or reward for “liking” or “sharing” you. Short stories can be valuable incentives to reward your fans.

Don’t re-post the same stuff everybody else is sharing.
If you’ve seen one cute cat photo, you’ve seen them all. (Unless you’re writing books about cats, in which case, go to town!) One photo posted over and over becomes invisible—people scroll past it without noticing who posted it. Be uniquely you.

Don’t sell too hard.
If you’re only announcing book releases, reviews, price changes, and public appearances, your audience will get bored and stop looking. Don’t be the obnoxious self-promoter with a bullhorn who only talks about herself. Pink dresses work better than bald-faced announcements.

Respond to your readers.
Engage them in conversation. Make them feel appreciated. Build a community.

Post every day, but not too many times...unless you’re really, really entertaining.
(Eileen Dreyer, if you’re reading this, honey, lemme tell you, you’re my most entertaining friend on Facebook. The other lady who posts the creepy toenail photos? Not so much.)

Re-post items on your publisher’s page for more reach and to encourage their already captured fans to “like” you.

Post good stuff about other writers.
They’ll reciprocate. And fans appreciate hearing about other books they might enjoy.

Buy Facebook ads (they’re not outrageously expensive) that require an action.
Ask readers to “like” you to build your fan base. Or link to bookstores that sell autographed copies or offer the lowest price or provide free shipping. An ad that requires no action is a lost opportunity—and robs you of the resulting info provided by clicks.

You can run sweepstakes and drawings for prizes on Pinterest and your website, but not on Facebook.
You must use an app to run a giveaway promotion on Facebook, and Wildfire is the company to use. I haven’t figured out if readers trust apps enough to download them, though, so that issue is up in the air for me.

Get extra oomph from your posts by buying into Facebook’s “promote” option.
For $5 or $10, Facebook will send your post to more readers. (Hey, did you think Facebook was going to be a charitable endeavor forever?) You don’t need to promote every post, but if you believe one is going to be more appealing than most, spend a few extra bucks to send it on its way.

Stop complaining.
Anger isn’t a good selling tool, and fussing about life’s inconveniences isn't helpful to sales, either. (Remember: Somebody out there has it worse than you do.) Develop your persona with as much care as you developed your writerly voice. Think about the tone and the sensibility you’re conveying before you click on “post.”

Above all, be entertaining.
When using a promotion strategy that focuses on content, you must delight with every post. Demonstrate to your readers how entertaining you can be, and they’ll soon be eager to read your books.


Social media can be a useful tool, but only if you’re smart about the way you present yourself.

What social media efforts have worked for you or someone you know? A high tide floats all boats, so let’s work together to improve the way information about all books can better reach readers.



Nancy Martin is the author of nearly 50 popular fiction novels including the Blackbird Sisters Mysteries, published by Penguin. The 8th book in the series, No Way To Kill a Lady, is due in stores August 7, 2012.

Find Nancy on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authornancymartin
and on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/nanmart1/

Friday, May 18, 2012

Maintaining a Good Relationship With Your Editor

    
By Lourdes Venard

In two previous blog posts, I wrote about the differences between editors, and how to find a good editor.
The next step, after determining what type of editor you want and hiring someone, is to maintain that relationship–and make the most of it. If the two of you are a good fit, this is a relationship that may potentially continue for many years–throughout more books, short stories, magazine articles, websites or blog posts.

The secret of maintaining a long-lasting relationship is like many other working relationships. Communicating clearly and with respect goes a long way. Here are some other tips:

·         Be honest and upfront. Before you hand over the manuscript, make sure the editor knows what you want her to do. Do you want in-depth, substantive editing or just light copy-editing? Will you need her to fact-check information?

·         Get your manuscript in on time. The editor probably has other work, and has scheduled her time accordingly. If you tell her you’ll have your manuscript (or a number of chapters) to her on a set date, try to meet your deadline.

·         Pay on time. For many editors, this is their full-time job and timely payment is critical.

·         Don’t argue over an edit–or, at least, do it politely. If you don’t understand why an editor changed something, ask her. If she misunderstood something in the text, it’s likely that readers also will misunderstand. There may be other reasons for the change. And if you still disagree, well, you have the last word anyway.

·         Don’t expect more beyond the editing services. An editor cannot guarantee you publication, and don’t expect her to have an “in” with agents or publishers, although she may point you to websites and professional directories that are helpful. If you have a good working relationship, though, you may find editors who will go beyond what’s required and send you updates about writing contests, conferences in your area, or other useful advice they come across.

·         Finally, say thank-you. A simple, but often overlooked, step. Editors, working behind the scenes, will always appreciate this. If you’ve really enjoyed the process, you can even volunteer a testimonial or offer to be a reference for the next client.


Lourdes Venard, a Long Island, N.Y., newspaper editor, also freelances and teaches an online copyediting course. She’s edited mystery, science fiction, memoirs and nonfiction. You can find more information on editing and self-publishing at her website at www.commasense.net.