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 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