Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dorothy Gilman. The best. Ever.

The unexpected Mrs P There is a shelf in my office dedicated to Dorothy Gilman. I have a copy of every one of her books. This collection began with “The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax” and continues through the entire Mrs. Pollifax series, adding other stand-alone books along the way, such as “A Nun in the Closet,” “The Clairvoyant Countess,” and “Girl in Buckskin.”

The Mrs. Pollifax copies are especially well-used, having endured multiple readings. Each time I begin with anticipation, having forgotten some of the details, and the read is always comforting and satisfying – as if I’m being reacquainted with old friends. Mrs. Pollifax meets the most interesting people, she finds deep courage within herself in every situation, and her friends are long-lasting and true. Her adventures are both entertaining and educational; how is it that a retired woman can go from contemplating the edge of her rooftop while watering her geraniums to running around the Albanian countryside? Or disguising herself as a Chinese grandmother? Or surviving torture in Hong Kong? Mrs. Pollifax can do it all, with love in her heart and steel in her backbone.

Dorothy Gilman Dorothy Gilman has served as an unknowing mentor and friend for me all these years. When I need a break from writing, I read her books. When I need inspiration, or a reminder of what it feels like to get lost in great writing, I read her books. When I want to see again how she creates characters which are both lovable and complex, I delve into her books. It seems whatever trait I need to study, I find them in her writings.

Mystery Writers of America has granted Dorothy Gilman Grandmaster status, which I heartily applaud. Gilman has done so much for our genre, and has shown that a female mystery author can and did achieve success with books that appeal to both genders (my father was also a Mrs. Pollifax fan!). She began her career back in the sixties, long before Sisters in Crime existed -- long before most of our now-lauded female crime writers took the stage. She wrote what she wanted to write, not following a trend of any kind, and was wildly successful. Her books are still in print, after over forty years of being on the shelves. Would that we all could be so fortunate!

Thumbs up Congratulations to Ms. Gilman for writing such wonderful books, for continuing to entertain and challenge us, and for this award. She deserves every accolade heaped upon her.


Judy Clemens
Fan Girl

Monday, December 14, 2009

Have you paid your dues?

Sisters in Crime Renewal Notice – Deadline: January 31, 2010

This notice is only being sent to members who are due for renewal in the SinC data base. Please Remove this line as you don't know if the member has renewed or not. Replace it with...we disregard this message if you have renewed.

Sisters in Crime is looking forward to an exciting new year and we want to make sure all of our members have renewed their membership for 2010. Renewals can be handled on the web site at

As a member you have a username and password. You must be logged in to renew your membership. Dues remain $40 for all US and Canadian members. Add $5 for all other countries.

1. Click here to go directly to the SinC home page -

2. Click on grey box which says, Join Now, under the pictures. There will be a pull down menu which says, Renew – click on Renew and enter your username and password. This will take you to your membership profile where you renew your SinC membership

3. You may also Renew by clicking on Renew on the right side under Quick Links.

4. Pick regular member and view your membership profile – make updates and hit the Submit button at the bottom of the page

5. Next a payment screen will come up and you can choose to pay by MC/Visa or by check. If you pick the check option you will need to print a copy of your invoice to send with your check. Once we receive the check you will receive a receipt by e-mail

Want to renew by mail? Please send Beth Wasson an e-mail and she will send you a membership form to fill out and send back in the mail with your $40 check. Add $5 for all countries except Canada. E-mail Beth at

Need your username and password? Contact Beth at, who would be happy to take your phone call on weekdays, between 10 AM – 3 PM CST at 785-842-1325. I can help you Login to the Sisters in Crime web site. Don’t hesitate to call; it will only take a few minutes.

Sisters in Crime, PO Box 442124, Lawrence, KS 66044,, 785-842-1325

SinC into a Good Mystery!

The mission of Sisters in Crime is to promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

SinC's Position on Harlequin Horizons

by Marcia Talley
President, Sisters in Crime

The mission of Sisters in Crime, Inc. is to support the professional advancement of our members, and not to comment on business decisions made by publishers. Nevertheless, the Sisters in Crime board feels obliged to let our membership know how we stand on the recent decision by Harlequin to partner with Author Solutions, a subsidy/vanity press, and to promote these services to aspiring authors via links on its website.

It is our job to educate our members, to make sure that they enter into publishing agreements of whatever kind with their eyes wide open. Harlequin Horizons, by whatever name, is a vanity press, and like all vanity presses, provides editorial, marketing and publishing services to authors for a fee. As such, it relies upon payments and income from aspiring writers to earn profits, rather than sales of books to actual readers.

After researching the market and taking her goals into consideration, a Sisters in Crime member may make an informed decision to self publish, but should also be aware of the consequences.

Presently, self-published writers do not enjoy the same benefits as traditionally published authors in Romance Writers of America (RWA), Mystery Writers of America (MWA) or Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), nor will they qualify for literary awards sponsored by those organizations. More than likely, self-published writers will not be assigned to author panels by conference coordinators. Self-published books are generally not carried in brick and mortar stores.

If those benefits are not a concern, then self-publishing may be the right choice for a writer seeking a creative outlet. If so, there are dozens of subsidy/vanity presses which can provide the same services as Harlequin Horizons, some at considerably less cost.

We urge members to research those companies carefully, comparing services, quality and price before making a decision. Do not assume that because Harlequin Horizons is affiliated with Harlequin that choosing Harlequin Horizons to print your self-published novel will improve your chances of being published by Harlequin's more traditional advance and royalty paying divisions.

Read the official RWA, MWA and SFWA statements here:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


By Marcia Talley
President, Sisters in Crime

There’s been a lot said in the news and in the blogosphere lately about Publisher’s Weekly annual Top 10 and Top 100 books of the year.

Here's the article:

Shockingly, there are no, I repeat, no women in the top ten. In the "fiction section," the only female mystery writers who made the list were Gillian Flynn and Sarah Waters, and of the seven titles selected in the "mystery" category, only two are by women. Sisters in Crime finds this deeply discouraging. For the past twenty-three years, our organization has been working to raise awareness and “promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.” When a lop-sided list like this comes out from a respected and influential industry publication, it seems that in spite of our best efforts, it’s "one step forward, two steps back."

The heart of what Sisters in Crime is all about is our Review Monitoring Project: giving women authors equity in the business of writing. Our monitors check newspapers, magazines, and on-line review sites to take note of how the numbers are adding up. Julianne Balmain heads up this effort, and has just complied the third quarter results for 2009. The news is bad.

Three quarters of the numbers are in for our Sisters In Crime Monitoring Project, she says, and the results are not particularly encouraging. Of fifty publications, only two have reviewed more mystery novels written by women than those written by men. One is the Bay Area’s Contra Costa Times at approximately 63% books by women, the other is Romantic Times at just under 78%.

Graph Of the other 48 publications, many of the percentages as of the end of September were worrisome. Several large publications reviewing many mystery novels were heavily weighted in favor of books written by men. Among them are Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine at nearly 81% male, the Los Angeles Times at more than 85% male, the Detroit Free Press at 100% male, the Dallas Morning News at nearly 79% male, NPR Radio at more than 80% male, and the Washington Post at more than 79% male. We still have a full quarter of numbers to report, so these statistics will change. However, what appears to be a downward trend of review coverage for books written by women is certainly a cause for concern.

But the problem goes well beyond being ignored by reviewers. It's also clear that publishers don't take traditional mysteries seriously. Why? Because traditional mysteries are usually women's stories. How do we know that publishers don't take them seriously? In presenting the advanced reading copy of a new novel by one of our members, a bookseller received this notice: "This is not cozy time -- this is bestseller time." Can there be a more clear statement of a publisher's expectations?

NewYorkTimesBestSellers And yet, there's a great track record of traditional mystery writers selling well -- the classic British women, of course, the ubiquitous Andrew McCall Smith, and even Lillian Jackson Braun, author of the popular “Cat Who …” books, hits the New York Times bestseller list every time. On the Oct. 7 Bookscan mystery chart, Joanne Fluke is #3 (right behind Michael Connelly at #2), Louise Penny is at #7, #20, #24, #43 and #45. M.C. Beaton is at #12 and #48. And there are more.

Think of how much better mysteries written by women would sell if they didn't have to fight the low expectations of the very people who publish them!

How does this inequality develop? Editorial policies vary, but reviewers generally review
books they like. Are their choices unconsciously affected by preconception?

Equality between men and women Several years ago I served as a judge for a popular mystery anthology series, one that had, in previous years, featured primarily male authors. That year, the first to require blind submissions, the judges were gratified to discover that the stories we chose were roughly equal, male/female, and unpublished author/previously published author.

That certainly was an eyeopener for me.

Clearly, women writers are fighting against perception as well as reality. Women writers must continue to advocate for equality of advances, promotional money, reviews, interviews, and awards. And the fact that Sisters in Crime keeps track of these issues and tries to draw wider attention to them is critical.

Other voices weighing in on this issue include:

Monday, June 15, 2009


Our summit team is back from a trip visiting book distributors. We've made a "teaser podcast" to send out to let people know. Come on--give it a try!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Dear Sisters in Crime:

*As you may know, in 2004 Google undertook the task of scanning (digitizing) the contents of several cooperating libraries and, in some cases, displaying snippets of the books, including books still in print or protected by copyright law, on the Google website. Google did not ask permission from rightsholders to do this. In response, several authors and publishers sued Google, claiming copyright infringement. After several years of negotiations, the parties agreed to settle the lawsuit out of court. As part of the settlement, Google agreed to pay a minimum of $45 million to compensate rightsholders whose works were scanned without their permission as of May 5, 2009. The settlement created a new non-profit organization called the Book Rights Registry, which will maintain a database of rightsholders and collect and distribute Google revenue to the appropriate rightsholders.

What does this mean for you? If you own a copyright interest in a book or short story or illustration published on or before January 5, 2009 that was reproduced or displayed by Google, then you are entitled to a claim under the settlement, and you can do any or all of the following: You may claim (that is, identify yourself as the rightsholder to) your materials. You may claim a payment for any materials that Google digitized on or before May 5th, 2009. This payment is estimated to be in the range of $60 per book. You may request that your materials be removed from the Google database or that your materials not be scanned/digitized. You may include or exclude your materials from various display uses as defined by the settlement. By claiming your materials and participating in the settlement, you are making yourself eligible to receive benefits from the settlement. However, you relinquish your right to sue Google or any participating library for digitizing and displaying your materials without your permission. Please note that if you do nothing, you will be bound by the terms of the settlement.

I don’t want to be part of the settlement. What do I do? If you opt out of the settlement, you will not receive any of the settlement’s benefits, but you retain the right to pursue action yourself against Google if you choose. To do so, visit, and follow the instructions to opt out. The deadline to opt out of the settlement is May 5, 2009.

What are the benefits of the settlement? If you remain in the settlement, you may be entitled to additional revenues from Google’s use of your material. You can determine how and to what extent Google can store/reproduce your work. And, you may be due a cash payment (the aforementioned $60) for the use of your work without your permission.

Is there any easy way to tell if I’m due a cash payment? Yes. See What do I do next? below. When you claim your materials, the settlement website will tell you whether or not a book has been scanned or is scheduled to be scanned.

Additional revenues! Tell me more. When you become part of the settlement, you are authorizing Google to continue to digitize or scan material, sell subscriptions to their electronic books database to institutions (libraries), sell online access to individual books, sell ad space on web pages featuring books, and display parts of a book (up to 20%) in a preview format (similar to Amazons search-inside-the-Book feature). Google will pay 63% of the money generated by these uses to the Book Rights Registry, who, after retaining an administrative fee (thought to be between 10-20%), will disburse the money to the appropriate rightsholders.

How much money are we looking at here? Small sums will be accrued from printing fees and from advertisements. Full online access to a book will generate between $1.99 and $20.99 (median $5.99), a price that the author/publisher can change later. Institutional licensing has the most significant economic potential. Google plans to provide unlimited access to their database to colleges and universities for a flat fee based on the number of students and faculty. This flat fee will be distributed to rightsholders in two ways: first, a straight $200 inclusion fee for any book included in the database, and potentially an additional prorated fee depending on how much the material is accessed as a whole of the entire database. This money will be further broken down as follows depending on whether or not the book is in print:

If the book is out of print and the rights have reverted to the author, the author receives 100% of the income, minus the Registry’s fee.

If the book is out of print but the rights have NOT reverted to the author, the income is split 50-50 between the author and the publisher.

If the book is out of print but is an older title (published before 1987), the income is split 65-35 between the author and publisher (author’s favor).

If the book is in print, the split depends on the terms for electronic and display rights in the contract between author and publisher.

What do I do next? Visit to begin the process of claiming your materials or to opt out of the settlement. You will create an account by registering a username and password. After that, the claim procedure is straightforward and generally only requires that you provide a title and author for the work in question. Once you have created an account, you will use it to manage the ways Google can use your materials.

What if I can’t go online? You may opt out of the settlement by sending written notice by First-Class Mail, postage prepaid, postmarked on or before May 5, 2009 to the Settlement Administrator, at: Google Book Search Settlement Administrator c/o Rust Consulting PO Box 9364 Minneapolis, MN 55440-9364
Alternatively, you may request that a paper claim form be sent to you by calling 1.888.356.0248.

Are there any deadlines I should know about?
The deadline to opt out of the settlement is May 5, 2009. The deadline to claim a cash payment for the digitization of your material is January 5, 2010. The deadline to have your material removed from the Google database is April 5, 2011.

How can I learn more? Visit any of the following resources for more information, or if your question isn’t covered here.

Google Books Settlement FAQ
Author’s Guild Vs. Google Settlement Resources Page
Google,AAP, Authors Guild: Joint Public FAQ

Marcia Talley
Vice president, Sisters in Crime

*This information comes from the Association of Artists' Representatives.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Sisters in Crime will be sponsoring a writing workshop on October 14, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis, IN, the day before the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention begins. The SinC into Great Writing program features seminars by Donald Maass, Hallie Ephron, and Chris Roerden, and dinner with keynote speaker Nancy Pickard. The program will run from 1:30 to 9 pm.

Cost is $50 for SinC members, $150 for nonmembers.

SinC into Great Writing!: The Program

1:30 to 5:30 pm: Writing the Breakout Novel with Donald Maass

This intensive, hands-on writing workshop introduces powerful techniques for taking your fiction to the next level. (For advanced fiction writers.) Participants must bring the manuscript of a completed novel, or novel-in-progress. Based on the book "Writing the Breakout Novel" by New York literary agent Donald Maass.

5:45 to 7:00 pm: Dinner with Nancy Pickard

Dinner with featured keynote speaker Nancy Pickard: "My First Editor Got Fired and Other Tales of Survival in the Mystery Business"

7:15 to 9:00 pm (choose one workshop)

Twisting a Mystery Plot: The Secret's in the Secrets with Hallie Ephron

Plot is probably *the* critical element in a mystery novel. It has to be surprising, believable, and compelling. In this workshop we will talk about how to shape your novel so it delivers--grabbing the reader at the start and ending with satisfying wallop as puzzle pieces fall into place, revealing secrets along the way to keep the reader turning those pages.

Don't Sabotage Your Submission with Chris Roerden

Find out how manuscripts are really evaluated, why 95% are rejected almost immediately, and ways you can beat the odds and make it through the approval process toward becoming published.

Presenter bios:

New York literary agent Donald Maass is the author of "Writing the Breakout Novel," "Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook," and "The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great."

Nancy Pickard, 4-time Edgar Nominee and winner of Agatha, Anthony, Shamus, and Macavity awards, is the author of 17 novels and dozens of short stories. She is a founding member and former national president of Sisters In Crime.

Hallie Ephron is an author, writing teacher, and award-winning "Boston Globe" book reviewer. Her latest psychological suspense novel, "Never Tell a Lie," received a starred review in PW and was an Indie NEXT pick for 1/09. She is also the author of Edgar-nominated "Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel: How to Knock 'Em Dead with Style."

Chris Roerden is the Agatha-winning, Macavity- and Anthony-nominated author of "Don't Murder Your Mystery" and its all-genre version, "Don't Sabotage Your Submission." She edits authors published by St. Martin's, Berkley Prime Crime, Midnight Ink, and more.

For questions: contact Beth Wasson.

Deadline: September 22, 2009. NO REFUNDS. Registration will be capped at 200.

Cost: $50 for SinC members, $150 for nonmembers. Dinner and coffee break included. Discounted conference hotel rates are offered through the Bouchercon website.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


By SinC President Judy Clemens

"The mission of Sisters in Crime is to promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry."

What an important mission we have. We join together as sisters and brothers in crime to advance this mission and see our beloved mystery genre blossom. We’re all here because we love reading mysteries, we love to celebrate them, and we want to do our part to make sure the crime writing community continues to grow and welcome women authors as equal partners in the field.

We are fortunate to have a dedicated and passionate board of directors, a fantastic executive secretary, enthusiastic members, and active and hard-working chapters all across the country. Our base is strong and continues to get stronger.

My first official act as president of SinC was to thank Roberta Isleib for her leadership during the past year. I meant every word wholeheartedly – Roberta was a source of strength and vision, and led the organization well during a year of many decisions and activities. We also said a warm good-bye and thank you to Donna Andrews, who served on the board for five years as chapter liaison, and to Margaret Coel, who served as a member-at-large during the past year.

We welcome new board members Julianne Balmain (aka Nadia Gordon) as our Monitoring Project Coordinator, Cathy Pickens as the head of public relations, Robin Burcell as the chapter liaison, and Charlaine Harris as a member-at-large. All four dove right into our meetings this fall with enthusiasm and a willingness to go above and beyond their roles.

I go into this year as president with much energy and excitement. As you read in our cover article, the board had a successful strategic planning session to guide us through the next three years. As we looked at our organization, we were able to refocus our energies and look ahead to many interesting projects – some a continuation and restructuring of projects we’ve been doing for years, and some brand new. We have much to work on, much to continue, and much to look forward to!

During the next year we have many exciting things in store – a revamping of our web site, a day of workshops before the Indianapolis Bouchercon, a revitalized newsletter, an enlarged mission for our Monitoring Project, and many other things that will become clear as the year goes on.

If you would like to become more involved with SinC’s mission, we welcome volunteers in so many areas of our organization! If you have a passion for something, please let us know. We’d love to have any time you could offer to help us further this business we love.

So let’s do what our tagline suggests – SinC into a good mystery! And while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and SinC into a fantastic mystery organization, as well!