Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sisters in Crime Book Bloggers Challenge

By Barbara Fister

Avid readers are always on the lookout for ideas about what to read next. They also like to share what they’ve been reading. So, to satisfy both urges – and to celebrate SinC’s 25th anniversary – I threw down a reading challenge.

I hope some of you will want to take it up and will post your own thoughts – on your own blogs or here at the SinC blog – about favorite mysteries by women authors. (To submit posts to the SinC blog, contact KathieFelix[at]

Here’s what I posted at my blog:

I am somewhat loath to issue a reading challenge, given that one of the greatest pleasures of reading is choosing books you just feel like reading without being told what to read. But this challenge includes a lot of latitude for crime fiction fans, so I hope it will let you indulge in an activity enjoyed by avid readers: that of grabbing people by the virtual elbow and saying “have you read this book? It’s sooooo good!”

Given that Sisters in Crime is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year at Bouchercon, it seems a good time to blog about women’s contributions to crime fiction.

Easy challenge: Write a blog post about a work of crime fiction by a woman author; list five more women authors who you recommend.

Moderate challenge: Write five blog posts about works of crime fiction by women authors. For each, mention another woman author who writes in a similar vein.

Expert challenge: Write 10 blog posts about works of crime fiction by women authors. For each, mention three similar women authors whose works you would recommend.

Deadline: Whenever. Another one of the joys of reading for pleasure is not having deadlines. Also, feel free to recycle previous reviews. I’m all about recycling.

If you tag your posts with “SinC25” I will compile them. And if you tweet, use the hashtag #SinC25.

You can do it!

If you aren’t familiar with Sisters in Crime, it’s a nonprofit organization with the mission to “promote the professional development and the advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.” SinC was founded on the heels of a talk Sara Paretsky gave at the first conference on women in detective fiction held at Hunter College in March 1986. The organization now has 3,000 or so members worldwide and is welcoming to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

For writers in particular, both published and not yet published, it offers some terrific opportunities for friendship and professional development. (Full disclosure: I’ve been a member for many years and am currently serving on the board.)

By the way, this image is based on the famous “We Can Do It/Rosie the Riveter” poster in the National Archives. Feel free to reuse my Rosie the Reader variation.

Guess I’ll dive into the deep end and sign up for the Expert Challenge. Stay tuned …

Barbara Fister is the author of the Anni Koskinen mysteries. The most recent title in the series is Through the Cracks. She is an academic librarian and serves on the SinC board as Secretary.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Reader Goes to ALA

By Molly Weston

Asking me to be part of Sisters in Crime's Summit Team and attend the American Library Association's Summer Conference in New Orleans was a lot like throwing Br'er Rabbit in the Briar Patch! Of course, I'd been to mystery conferences and booksellers' conferences, but never to a library conference. I had everything laid out for the trip a month before I was due to pack.

The excitement began to swell on the plane leaving Charlotte. I watched more and more travelers board carrying tote bags from libraries—and paperbacks in their hands. As I looked around en route, nearly everyone was reading! My seat mate was a librarian from Canada and the kind lady who entertained the child beside her until takeoff explained she was a grandmother. I later found she, too, was a librarian.

When I got into line for the van ride to the hotel, it was jammed with more librarians and their accompanying identifying tote bags. And these weren't the "Ssssh!" types from the 50s. They were all swaying to the sounds of the jazz band playing beside baggage pickup!

Unsurprisingly, our hotel was packed with librarians, too, and every day more tote bags replaced purses and suitcases. By the time the trade show floor opened, the bags were stuffed with books and posters. It was heartening to see the distinctive red Sisters in Crime bags amongst those from publishers and distributors.

[Photo: It wouldn't be New Orleans without beignets for breakfast!]

The SinC bags were an enticement for visiting our library-themed booth, as was the drawing for an iPod Touch. Mary Boone and Doris Ann Norris did a bang-up job making the booth both attractive and accessible. In addition to the SinC banners, they hung poster-sized photos of many of the "We Love Libraries!" winners to ensure that folks asked about entering the contest.

[Photo: Dorris Ann Norris and Mary Boone take a break after setting up the SinC booth.]

The Summit Team members were charged with talking with librarians, distributors, and publishers about how readers find books. We met in focus groups, one-on-one interviews, catch-as-catch-can talks on the trade show floor, and at meals. Everyone we talked with was happy to share ideas with us—frequently they seemed thrilled that someone would ask!

The Summit Report will provide full details about these ideas. Don't miss reading it! All SinC members will receive the report as part of their membership package. If you're reading this as a non-member, consider joining today at This report will be well worth it.

The Saturday "Mystery Day" coordinated by Rosemary Harris brought in so many mystery writers it would be difficult to list them all. It was great fun catching up with old friends and meeting (and making) new ones. I was delighted to meet Julie Smith, whom I've loved reading for more than 20 years (she must have won her Edgar when she was 12!).

Nearly every member of the Summit Team was on a panel on the Pop Top stage. I was delighted to get to moderate "Attention to Detail: How Research Adds to the Mystery," with Frankie Y. Bailey, Rhys Bowen, Jane Cleland, and Carolyn Hart. My trip was made!

Every night I returned to my hotel room totally exhausted, but with my mind overflowing with great ideas and wonderful memories. After all, what could be better than five days with librarians and Sisters in Crime?

[Photo: (front row, from left) Rhys Bowen, Holli Castillo and Libby Fischer Hellmann ready to lend a hand in the SinC booth at ALA.]

New Orleans photos by Molly Weston.

Molly Weston is the editor of inSinC, the Sisters in Crime quarterly news bulletin. She is a book reviewer, media escort, blogger and book club maven — when not pondering the intricacies of keeping the local deer from eating the entire colorful crop at her day lily farm.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Off to See the Lizard?

By Kathie Felix

This summer, Vintage Books launched “Weekly Lizard,” a new mobile-enabled website for fans of mystery, crime, suspense and thriller fiction.

The site, online at, offers news and feature articles written by authors, booksellers, journalists, bloggers and other experts in the mystery and thriller genre.

The content includes author profiles in a section titled “In the Lineup,” essays and profiles of great mystery characters (filed under “Tough Guys and Dangerous Dames”), quotations from classic and contemporary mystery and thriller novels (“Wiseguy Quotes”) and early excerpts from upcoming novels.

The site draws on Vintage Crime/Black Lizard’s backlist and lineup of contemporary authors for access to original essays and historical documents. Feature articles are developed from books and news across the publishing industry.

Expect to see information on the imprint’s classic crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, as well as current bestsellers Steig Larsson, Henning Mankell, James Ellroy and Ruth Rendell.

The site also covers book-to-film news and features, classic film noir and current popular crime television series.

Currently, Weekly Lizard offers an in-depth look at the life of hard-boiled hero James M. Cain, author of the crime fiction classics The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce; author Lisa Unger’s take on Scott Smith’s novel, A Simple Plan, and an inside look at the debut of the Aurelio Zen series now airing on Masterpiece Mystery. In addition, author Karen Essex writes about sex and storylines with a discussion of her thriller, Dracula in Love.

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, founded in June 1990, combines the publishing muscle of Vintage Books, the publisher of Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler, with Black Lizard, a classic crime fiction publishing house focused on the post-World War II era.