Happy New Year Readers!

The Mesdames of Mayhem had an absolutely stellar year in 2019. We were the subject of a CBC documentary: Meet the women who love murder | The Mesdames of Mayhem.

We launched our fourth anthology, In the Key of 13, a collection of 19 nefarious tales of music, mayhem and murder, to a terrific review by Jack Batten in The Toronto Star.

To round off a truly amazing year, several of us had  new books and short stories published as well as nominations for the Arthur Ellis and Derringer awards.

We’re looking forward to a terrific new decade starting in 2020. It’s all thanks to you, dear readers: we wouldn’t be here without you. We look forward to meeting many more of you at upcoming conferences, events and workshops in 2020.

We’re in the Movies!

Mesdames of Mayhem CBC Short Doc


Cat Mills

After one of our panels at the Beaches branch of the Toronto Public Library, a young filmmaker approached us. She asked if we would be willing to be the subject of a documentary. Cat Mills is an award-winning documentarian and together with her producer, Felicity Justrabo, she obtained funding from the CBC no less!

Cat shot miles of footage, interviewing several of us separately and together. And from this material, she created a 15-minute film that will make you laugh — and make you cry, because she deftly unveiled the humanity behind why we Mesdames write about crime.

The Mesdames of Mayhem launched on October 25th and we unanimously voted to make Cat an Honorary Mme of Mayhem. We look forward to her many wonderful new films in the Roaring 2020s!

To learn more about how the film was created, view Cat’s interview in CBC Books.

Our 4th Anthology!

In the Key of 13 Cover

On Saturday, October 26th,  we launched our fourth anthology, In the Key of 13. at our favourite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street. We filled the space with friends, family and readers.

Our theme for this collection of 18 stories and one satirical poem is music, mayhem and of course, murder! Jack Batten, crime fiction reviewer for The Toronto Star, gave us a warm review saying that “overall, the stories reach more diabolical peaks than the previous collections.” He made special mention of the stories by Melodie Campbell, Catherine Dunphy, Jane Petersen Burfield and Sylvia Warsh.

We were honoured to be part of the same review that featured Peter Robinson’s latest Inspector Banks novel, Many Rivers to Cross. Read Jack’s full review of In the Key of 13.

Our stellar book cover is thanks to the amazing talent and skill of artist Sara Carrick who not only designed our logo and gave us our signature purple colour, but has created the covers for ALL our anthologies.

Donna and Alex Carric

As always, much gratitude to Carrick Publishing,  publisher of all four of the Mesdames of Mayhem anthologies: Thirteen, 13 O’clock, 13 Claws and now In the Key of 13

All four books are available on Amazon, at our favourite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street and on the shelves of the Toronto Public Library.


Awards and Recognitions!

Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell, our Queen of Comedy, was MC for the 2019 Arthur Ellis Awards on May 23rd, proving that a stand-up comic is the best host ever.

Melodie’s writing was recognized by TWO Arthur Ellis nominations: her short story, “A Ship Called Pandora” (Mystery Weekly) and her novella, The Goddaughter Does Vegas (Orca Book Publishers).

Sylvia Warsh

Sylvia Warsh

Sylvia Warsh’s story, “A Cabin in the Woods”, was a finalist for the prestigious Derringer Award for Best Short Short Story. Her chilling tale appeared in Malice Domestic’s 2018 anthology, Murder Most Geographical. 


 Fabulous Publications!

2019 was another amazing publishing year for novels and short stories by the Mesdames.

Melodie Campbell

Cover of Crime Club





Melodie Campbell branched out into young adult fiction with the first of her new teen detective series, Crime Club (Orca Book Publishers.) It received rave reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Booklist. 


Lisa De Nikolits

The Occult Persuasion






Lisa De Nikolits continues to go from strength to strength. Her seventh thriller, No Fury Like That, was republished in Italian. In April, she attended the launch in Italy and followed that up with a book tour.  Her ninth novel, The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Nightmare, was released in September to great reviews. (Both books by Inanna Publications.) Her story, “Fire Drill”, was part of the anthology, The Best Laid Plans, the first such collection by Superior Shores Press, Judy Penz Sheluk, editor.


Rosemary McCracken

Mystery Most Edible Anthology






Rosemary McCracken’s dark tale, “Dining Out”, where a restaurant critic gets his just deserts appeared in the 2019 Malice Domestic anthology, Murder Most Edible. And her Derringer-nominated story, “The Sweetheart Scamster”, was reprinted in The Best Laid Plans (Superior Shores Press).

Madona Skaff

Madona Skaff

Nothing Without Us





Madona Skaff’s story, “Backbone”, appears in the anthology, Nothing Without Us, where the protagonists are disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or manage mental illness (Renaissance). Look for Madona’s second book in her Naya Assad series, Death by Association, later in 2020.

Caro Soles

Caro Soles






Caro Soles is a master of several genres: thrillers, historicals, speculative and dark fiction and erotica. Readers can sample the spectrum of Caro’s work in her collection of short stories, Do You Know Me? (Baskerville Press). Her new novel (title to be announced) will be published by Inanna Publications in 2020.

Kevin Thornton

A Matter of Time by Kevin Pl Norton





Kevin Thornton’s story, “A Matter of Time”, is one of six truly terrifying tales in the anthology, It Came from the North (Blurb). The stories are inspired by the fantastic, the speculative and things that lurk in the dark.

Sylvia Warsh

Sylvia Warsh

Down and Out Magazine Nov 2019






Sylvia Warsh‘s story, “The Comeback” is one of the works featured in a new literary journal called Vautrin, inspired by Balzac’s criminal mastermind character with the same name (Watermark Books). And her noir tale, “The Veiled Heart”, was published in  Volume 2, Issue 1 of Down and Out Magazine.


Sylvia Warsh and Rosemary McCracken

Madona Skaf, Lynne Murphy. Madeleine Harris-Callway

Madona Skaf, Lynne Murphy and Madeleine Harris-Callway

Word on the Street (WOTS) is one of Toronto’s biggest literary festivals and on Sunday, Sept. 22nd, the Mesdames of Mayhem were back in Writers Block for their fifth consecutive year.

We had pre-launch copies of our new anthology, In the Key of 13  on display- and sold out! Also for sale were copies of our three first anthologies: Thirteen, 13 o’clock, and 13 Claws as well as novels by Mesdames authors.

Our new – and somewhat controversial – indoor location facilitated our customary support at the booths of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

Word on the Street

Marilyn Kay and Friend

A big thank you to the thirteen Mesdames  (our lucky number!) who made this event possible by staffing the booth and/or giving donations: Rosemary Aubert, Jane Burfield, M. H. Callway, Donna Carrick, Lisa De Nikolits, Marilyn Kay, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy, Mary Patterson, Ed Piwowarczyk, Roz Place, Madona Skaff, Sylvia Warsh.

And big thanks and hugs to Marilyn Kay for the fab photos and to Jane for our ghostly companion!

Mega Conferences!

2019 was the year of conferences both at home in Canada and in the USA.

Bloody Words Minicon 

Cheryl Freedman

Cheryl Freedman reports that the 2019 Bloody Words Minicom on May 24, 2019, was great fun for guests and attendees. Several Mmes attended and took part in the panels:  Cathy Astolfo, Jane Burfield, Melodie Campbell, Lisa De Nikolits, Marilyn Kay, Rosemary McCracken, Ed Piwowarczyk, Caro Soles and Sylvia Warsh.

Caro Soles announced her retirement from the Board and was honored by the attendees. This year’s winner of the Bony Blithe Award was Mike Martin for his novel, Darkest Before the Dawn.

Left Coast Crime


In March, Mmes M. H. Callway, Lynne Murphy and Madona Skaff attended Left Coast Crime, held for the first time in Canada in Vancouver. We reconnected with old crime writer friends, like Vicki Delany and made new ones, like A.J. Devlin and Debra Goldstein, through Noir at the Bar, the Short Mystery Fiction Society meet-up and the Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) dinner.

Madeleine was on the panel, Short Fiction and Novellas and Madona on Medicine and Science. 

This year, we Mesdames signed up for an Author-Reader Connection, a private event where readers and authors meet face to face. It proved to be a terrific success! We took four fun readers to tea at the Vancouver Art Gallery and spent a delightful afternoon chatting about crime fiction.

Limestone Genre Expo


Limestone Genre ExpoOn June 1st,  M. H. Callway, Madona Skaff and Caro Soles attended Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston, Ontario. They served on author panels, gave workshops and met readers.

This year CWC hosted a new event on Saturday night – a pub quiz. Good beer, food and book prizes! Many thanks again to Liz Strange and her team for organizing.


International Thriller Writers – Thriller Fest

Lisa de Nikolits

Lisa De Nikolits attended Thriller Fest XIV in New York City, July 9 to 13th.  In addition to her panel on Highsmith, Hammett OR Agatha Christie? The Thrills Of Mystery, she met celebrity authors, pitched her next novel at an agent pitch session and took in the sights of The Big Apple.


When Words Collide

Madeleine Harris Callway

M. H. Callway

M. H. Callway attended When Words Collide in Calgary, August 9 to 11th.  This multi-genre conference attracts 800+ participants every year and welcomes both established and emerging writers.

Madeleine was delighted to be on the panel, Does It Have to be Murder? She was honoured to read from her story, “The Seeker”, at the Noir at the Bar event, hosted by noir fiction publisher, Coffin Hop Press.

Also, a wonderful opportunity to connect with fab western crime writers and friends, Jayne Barnard and Therese Greenwood.

More Readings and Events!

In 2019, the Mesdames continued to give numerous readings, participate in panel discussions and to hold workshops at libraries and colleges. Several events were together with Toronto Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers of Canada.

An author’s best friend is a librarian. A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to the wonderful support of the Beaches, Mt. Pleasant, Runnymede and Queen and Salter Branches of the Toronto Public Library.


Cathy Dunphy

Cathy Dunphy

Our fearless leader, Cathy Dunphy, arranged an overnight event in Bracebridge at  the local University Women’s Club with Lisa De Nikolits, Marilyn Kay and Rosemary McCracken. Very successful in terms of recognition and book sales – and spurring us on to more Ontario events in 2020. Stay tuned!

Cathy also appeared on Episode 6 of the crime fiction interview series, Crime Beat Confidential, hosted by CWC member, Sharon Crawford on internet TV station, That Channel. Lisa was interviewed in Episode 7.

Social Media

Lisa de Nikolits

Lisa wound up her podcast, Writer for a Year, in which she documented her writer’s journey for 2019.

She also resumed her The Minerva Reader blog where she promotes undiscovered Canadian authors readers should know more about.


Noir at the Bar

Noir at the Bar continues to be a Toronto tradition every quarter at the Wallace Gastropub.

Lisa De Nikolits was a featured author in June and Caro Soles in November. Thanks to Rob Brunet and Hope Thompson for their support of Canadian crime writers!



We are now 21 members strong! Cat Mills is an honorary Mme and we have a new Monsieur, Blair Keetch, the winner of our emerging writer contest for In the Key of 13. Blair’s mentor is leading Canadian author, Giles Blunt. 

Blair Keetch

Blair Keetch

A huge THANK YOU, to our newsletter editors, Marilyn Kay and Roz Place, for all their hard work keeping us up to date.

Marilyn Kay

Marilyn Kay

Roz Place

Roz Place


This entry was posted in Anthologies, Awards/Achievements, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 2019: WOW WHAT A YEAR!

  1. Wow! What an amazing year! Here’s to us, our fabulous tribe! Love and HUGS to one and all and here’s to an even better 2020!

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