Sunday, October 12, 2014

by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes the universe just works.

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

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

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

To read more about the book, visit

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