Sylvia Warsh is the Edgar award-winning author of the Rebecca Temple series of crime novels. She was born in Germany to Holocaust survivors. Listening to her mother’s stories, sparked a life-long interest in history, especially WW2.
Sylvia writes both crime and literary fiction. In addtion to winning the Edgar for Best Paperback for Find Me Again, Sylvia’s work has been short-listed for numerous awards including the CWC Awards of Excellence, the Derringer, Anthony and Relit Awards.
Her literary novel, The Queen of Unforgetting, was chosen by Project Bookmark Canada for a plaque in Little Lake Park, Midland, Ontario, where the book takes place.
The Mesdames: Outwardly you’re respectable, but you have a secret…
Yes! When I meet people I look them over to see if they’d make a good character. I feel like a spider with compound eyes, taking in every detail. I wish I could say that I write it all down and keep it on file, but I’m not that organized.
The Mesdames: LOL! What other secrets can you share with us?
Some decades ago, I was frustrated with my writing. I gave it up for two years while I drew and painted and took art classes. I didn’t realize I could draw until I tried it. I even had an exhibit in a library for a month.
The Mesdames: That’s amazing. But how you did return to writing?
I used what I learned from dabbling in art in my mystery series featuring Dr. Rebecca Temple. She’s a young widow whose late husband was an artist, so she has learned a lot about art by osmosis.
The Mesdames: How have you used art in your writing?
Art is one of the themes in my first book, To Die in Spring. Rebecca recognizes paintings when she sees them in a suspicious character’s house. There’s also the question of a famous painting by Raphael, Portrait of a Young Man, stolen by the Nazis during World War II and still missing.
“The Veiled Heart” and “The Cabin in the Woods” are two of my recently published short stories with art themes.
Have we got a boxload of goodies for you this February! Books, podcasts, a play, a super webinar to get you reading and writing short stories, a hilarious but wise take on writing and more writing resources.
CONGRATULATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS
Melissa Yi’s play, The Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World (and Other True Tales from the Emergency Room) was accepted to the 2022 Stage One Festival of New Canadian Work in Calgary.
Catherine Astolfo’s book of two mystery novellas,Twice the Chit, featuring The Flower Pots from Chittendom Creek, is now available as a paperback.
Two murderous romps in one! Chittendom Creek is the site of the ReVisions Retirement Residence, the home of Kira Callahan and owned by Kira’s beloved sister. Along with her gang of retired hippies (the Flower Pots), Kira is forced to solve a mystery when oldies start dropping like flies. In the second adventure, Kira and the Pots venture out of RRR into dangerous territory to solve yet another mystery. Kira and the Pots are engaging, hilarious, but very successful amateur sleuths. Both the Pots and the plots will keep you guessing right up to the last page.
POSTS AND PODCASTS
Are you struggling to read during this time of Covid? Are you struggling to finish reading a book you’ve picked up? And, if you’re a writer, are you struggling to write? These posts will help lift you out of the doldrums!
I used to tell my writing classes that you need three things to become a writer: You need talent. You need to learn the craft. And you need passion. I’ve now decided that the most important thing you need to continue to be a writer is a healthy sense of humour! (and a big supply of scotch).
On January 13th, Melissa Yi was on the Writers Block podcast to talk about her new book, White Lightning. The podcast can reach up to 600K people. She enjoyed a Corpse Reviver cocktail for courage! Here’s the link: www.latalkradio.com/content/writers-block
On January 18th, Donna Carrick presented a Webinar: Short Story Writing for the Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) webinar series. Her webinar is now available on YouTube.
“De Nikolits has created a futuristic novel filled with more twists and turns than a country road married to a maze. She uses suspense, humour, imagination, science, and some very quirky characters with distinctive characteristics. … Setting is also important in futuristic novels and de Nikolits does not disappoint. The reader cannot only see, but hear, and smell the sweat running down Sharp’s neck and clothes; the dead bodies lying on the stairs and sidewalks of St. Polycarp as it begins reverting to a natural existence.
Then there are the two ultimate settings: the actual jumps and the rage room. The reader becomes a part of the novel. The plot, setting, and characters combine to provide an interesting dilemma – should Sharks (sic) fix his past so he can erase his fatal mistakes, or must he still suffer the consequences of his actions? The reader needs to remember the three elements of the novel as they all play a part in The Rage Room. No spoilers here. To find the answer, you must read The Rage Room. Make time to read it.”
WRITING COURSES AND RESOURCES
Kerri Cathers, who was interviewed by Rosemary McCracken a few weeks ago, has published her first newsletter, A Curiosity of Crime. It’s a free resource for historical writers. You may subscribe on the A Curiosity of Crime website.
Sam Wiebe, one of Canada’s leading crime writers, is teaching an online creative writing course at University of Toronto: Plotting and Writing a Mystery. It is for both established and emerging authors. For more information: 2698 – Plotting and Writing a Mystery, School of Continuing Studies – University of Toronto.
Fun Facts About…
The next Fun Facts About… will be on Sylvia Warsh. Watch for it in mid-February.
As promised, here is Part Two of our annual round-up for 2021.
The Mesdames were incredibly busy in cyberspace taking part in conferences, book launches, readings and interviews.
We launched new regular features this year: Fun Facts About...to share some secrets about the Mesdames and Messieurs. and Best Bookstore Friends. We’ll be continuing these in 2022!
And we’ve expanded our reach in social media, thanks to our Twitter Goddess, JayneBarnard.
But nothing can replace the Real World. Fingers crossed that COVID fades out FOR GOOD and we can meet you later in 2022.
Ontario Library Technicians AssociationConference, May 8-15, 2021
Several of Mesdames took part in the Crime Writers of Canada panels at the week-long conference. M. H. Callway and Melissa Yi discussed The Long and Short of It, Writing Short Stories and Novellas; Melodie Campbell and Caro Soles, talked comedy writing on Make ‘Em Laugh, Comic Relief to Comic Caper; and Rosemary McCracken lent her expertise on creating settings on Clearly Canadian, All Canadian Settings, eh?
And Melodie joined the CWC Author Spotlight Special Discussion Panel to talk about her body of crime fiction!
When Words Collide – Multi-genre Conference, August 13 to 15, 2021
Jayne Barnard and M. H. Callway participated in and /or moderated several panels: Writing Groups and How to Run Them; The Heroine’s Journey Continues on the changing role of women protagonists; Twisted on plot twists; Short Stories as Stepping Stones on developing a career in short fiction as a step toward novel publication; Love of the Land – The Importance of Place in Fiction; Crime Fiction in 2021: Trends and Evolution; and Big Crimes, Small Towns as a unique setting for mystery novels.
Caro Soles drew on her expertise in crime and speculative fiction to tell emerging writers about Cross-Genre Writing. Melissa Yi provided one-on-one author-writer consultations at the Blue Pencil Café.
Book Launches in Cyberspace!
MadonaSkaff launched her SF thriller, Shifting Trust, with a cover reveal and book trailer on May 29th and the official FaceBook event on September 15th.
The cover BTW is by her talented daughter, Louise Koren!
On December 11th, Renaissance Press hosted Deck the Halls with Books, a virtual holiday party, to celebrate their new book releases, including Shifting Trust!
On December 1st, Melissa Yi launched her latest book, White Lightning, a Prohibition-inspired thriller with a virtual speakeasy launch party.
Artisan distiller, Nathalie Gamache of Gin*Eco*Logic taught us how to mix a vintage cocktail called, appropriately enough, the Corpse Reviver #2. Spoiler alert: it’s delicious!
Caro Soles read and talked about her latest book in the speculative fiction Merculian series, The Colony Dancers.
Throughout the year, several Mesdames appeared on interviews and podcasts: M. H. Callway, Rosemary McCracken, Madona Skaff and Caro Soles.
But the most interviewed Madame was Lisa De Nikolits, who even appeared on an Italian blog to discuss the Italian translation of her novel, No Fury Like That.
On March 16th, RosemaryMcCracken gave a Zoom presentation about Writing a Crime Fiction Novel to Ottawa Independent Writers (OIW). OIW has been supporting both fiction and non-fiction writers in the National Capital Region since 1986. It has more than 180 members.
And on May 13th, Rosemary spoke about crime fiction to Na’amat Canada, a non-profit volunteer Jewish women’s organization dedicated to improving the lives of families in Israel.
M. H. Callway joined a stellar line-up of guest authors at Toronto’s Noir at the Bar on June 24th, including Edgar nominee, C. S. O’Cinneide and best-selling author, Robert Rotenberg.
A big thank you to Hope Thompson and Robert Brunet for their ongoing support of Canadian crime fiction.
Sisters in Crime Toronto
MadonaSkaff spoke to SinC Toronto on March 18th about When Art Imitates Life and how to draw from real life without turning your fiction into autobiography.
On July 15th, Melissa taught the audience how to make sure medical details in your manuscripts are true to life. She also fielded a Q&A on common medical mistakes in crime fiction.
In September, Lisa De Nikolits launched her newest venture, I Read Somewhere That, a podcast AND a website. ireadsomewherethat
Lisa’s episodes and blogs contain fab debate, reviews of hot new books, advice and lots of buzzy book gossip about the publishing industry. Books to be featured are published by Inanna Publications, Breakwater Books Ltd., Dundurn Press and Wolsak and Wynn Publishers.
Best-selling author, Linwood Barkley appeared on Episode 10 of her Apple Podcast in 2021 – and the Mesdames were featured in Episode 9. You can subscribe here.
Fun Facts About..
The Mesdames launched two new features in our newsletter/blog communications in 2021, both of which we’ll be continuing in 2022.
If you were curious about what lies beneath our respectable facades, check out Fun Facts About and you learn that some of us have survived three terrorist bomb attacks, been strong-armed by security on a Royal Tour and even done a hula dance for the Mayor of Atlantic City.
Big thanks to Rosemary Aubert,Jane Burfield, Lisa De Nikolits, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy and Kevin Thornton for sharing their adventures.
Best Bookstore Friends
Bookstore owners and librarians are an author’s best friends! Cathy Dunphy and Melissa Yi kicked this new venture off the ground and interviewed the owners of R and L Book Nook in Alexandria, Ontario.
And a big thank you to Madona Skaff for the in-depth interview of her favourite book store, Perfect Books in Ottawa, Ontario.
A Fond Farewellto Bony Blithe
Bony Blithe is retiring. She’s had a great run over the past 10 years, but now it’s time for our bony lass to rest her weary bones. Cheryl Freedman and her team thank all the publishers and authors who’ve made the Bony Blithe Light mystery award a huge success and gave us so many delightful books to make us smile.
And a Big Thank you to editors Marilyn and Roz for their hard work!
The Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem had a fabulous year in 2021 in print and cyberspace.
We accomplished so much the past year that once again our annual review is in two parts. Part One tells you about the recognitions we received and lists our book and story publications. Part Two outlines our appearances in cyberspace plus our new social media ventures.
Hope the joke 2020, 2020-WON and 2020-TOO stays a joke!And that we’ll be seeing you in the Real World soon in the New Year.
Great News for 2022!
We’re delighted to confirm that the Mesdames of Mayhem’s fifth anthology, The Spirit of 13, will be published in 2022 by Carrick Publishing, Donna Carrick is our editor.
Spirit means ghosts or debunking of same, demons, joie de vivre, alcohol- whatever our wild imaginations brew up.
Stayed tuned for our cover reveal and publication date later this year!
Awards and Recognitions!
Jayne Barnard edited Sisters in Crime West’s first anthology, Crime Wave with author Karen L. Abrahamson.
It was a great debut: “Cold Wave”, by Marcelle Dube won the Crime Writers of Canada Best Short Story Award for 2021. And the novella, Salty Dog Blues, by Winona Kent, was a finalist for the CWC Best Novella Award.
Congratulations are due to Kevin Thornton for his NINE short story acceptances in 2021. That’s more than 70,000 words, the length of a novel!
Sylvia Warsh‘s story, “Days Without Name”, was a finalist for the CWC 2021 Awards of Excellence for Best Short Story. “Days Without Name” was published in the anthology, A Grave Diagnosis, Donna Carrick, editor (Carrick Publishing)
Big congratulations are due to Melissa for her SIX story acceptances in 2021. Plus she was a winner in the International Thriller Writers Best First Sentence contest.
Melissa accomplished all this while working as an emergency physician during COVID. She is our hero!!
Published Books and Stories!
COVID did not keep the Mesdames and Messieurs down. Indeed 2021 proved to be an amazingly successful year for us with the publication of FIVE new novels and 17 short stories and essays. In addition, we re-released SEVEN of our earlier novels and had SEVEN of our short stories reprinted.
Lisa De Nikolits‘s critically acclaimed, The Rage Room, is now available on Audible.
Blair Keetch‘s story, “Killings 4 Sale”, is part of the black humor anthology, Asinine Assassins (Smart Rhino Publishing). And his story, “200 Miles to Murder” was published by Dark and Stormy Book Club.
Rosemary McCracken‘s suspense story, “The Passenger”, was published in Mystery Weekly Magazine, one of North America’s leading zines for short crime fiction.
Madona Skaff’s speculative fiction crossover mystery, ShiftingTrust, was published by Renaissance Press. The striking cover was designed by her daughter.
Caro Soles’s latestspeculative fiction crossover mystery, The Colony Dancers, was published by Mystique Press. It is the fifth book in the Merculian Mystery Series featuring Inspector Marlo.
Kevin Thornton’s story, “One Good Thing”, is one of the hilarious tales in the anthology, Asinine Assassins. And he sold eight Sherlock Holmes stories. Six were published in 2021 (MX Publishing), two are scheduled for 2022. For a full listing of Kevin’s Sherlock Holmes stories, please see our Year End Book Review.
Our Mesdames and Messieurs are already hard at work to bring you a new anthology later this year. And we look forward to a year of new publications, webinars and other events each month, beginning with Donna Carrick’s webinar on short story writing.
CONGRATULATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS
Congratulations to Blair Keetch. His Flash Fiction story “Glimmers” appeared in the online magazine Shotgun Honey on December 23rd.
Check out Lisa de Nikolits‘s latest blog post, “Goodbye to 2021! What I’m looking forward to in 2022!” on Goodreads. In the post, she gives you a sneak preview of her upcoming book Everything You Dream is Real, which is a sequel to her latest book, Rage Room. She also shares an interview she had with Chapters4Change about Rage Room.
A friendly reminder about our December books now available on Amazon:
September by Rosemary Aubert, available on kindle.
Shifting Trust by Madona Skaff-Koren, available on Amazon in paperback or kindle.
Donna Carrick is giving a webinar in the Crime Writers of Canada 40th Anniversary Webinar Series. Donna will speak about Short Story Writing on January 18th, 7 pm EST. The webinar is FREE to professional and associate members of CWC. One of the many benefits the CWC provides to its Professional and Associate members is access to the Webinar Series Archive. Emerging and established writers can access an amazing array of topics from Medical Mystery Mistakes (Mme Melissa Yi) to poisonous plants to talking with a real-world detective.
Also, check out Rosemary‘s latest post on Shelley Workinger’s blog, But What Are They Eating? It will make your mouth water. Not only that, but it also provides a glimpse into Rosemary‘s time as a food critic for the Calgary Herald.
Friendly reminder that submissions to the Derringer Short Story Awards are now open, deadline January 31st. You must be a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society to submit a story. If you are not a member, a friend who is a member may submit your story for you. For the complete submission rules, check out: The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: Derringer Awards Policy (2018)
Stay tuned for Wow What a Year, the Mesdames’ round-up of their highlights in 2021!
Betty White passed away on Friday, less than three weeks away from celebrating her 100th birthday. Actress, comedienne, author, and animal rights activist, she is one of Hollywood’s most beloved icons. Best known for her roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls, Ms. White had a television career that spanned more than eight decades. In the 2014 edition of “Guinness World Records” she was certified as the longest ever female entertainer.
My favorite quotations from Betty White:
Butterflies are like women — we may look pretty and delicate, but baby, we can fly through a hurricane.
In my head, I’m the ultimate cougar. Animal lover that I am.
I just make it my business to get along with people so I can have fun. It’s that simple.
The older you get, the better you get. Unless you’re a banana.
Wow! This past year has been a rollercoaster of book launches, short story publications and online events for our Mesdames and Messieurs And December is no exception. But in between the flurry of activities, we are taking time for our loved ones during this season of merriment and goodwill. We wish you too will find peace, love and hope among you and yours. And, of course, time to put up your feet and read some books.
Mega congrats to Melodie Campbell for her contract with Cormorant Books for her new series, The Merry Widow Murders, set in the roaring 1920s. An unconventional heiress with a mysterious past is traveling from New York to London in 1928 via steamship when she discovers a murdered man in her stateroom. Can’t wait to read it!
Congrats to Kevin Thornton for his terrific success in publishing NINE Sherlock Holmes stories in 2021 plus his tale, “One Good Thing”, in Asinine Assassins. That’s a word count of more than 70,000! Here’s the complete list for all readers who are secret – or not so secret – Bootmakers: list follows:
Asinine Assassins, “One Good Thing”. Note: Blair Keetch’s story ‘Killings 4 Sale’ is also in this anthology.
Sherlock Holmes: A Year of Mystery 1882 – “The Spofforth Effect” COMING SOON! – Belanger Books
The Nefarious Villains of Sherlock Holmes, Volume II – “The Adventure of the Lustreless Client” COMING SOON! – Belanger Books
SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTSAND INTERVIEWS
December 7tth, 7 p.m. CWC Ottawa / Eastern Ontario Region, is hosting a Facebook Event with Perfect Books on Elgin Street. Madona Skaff joins Mary Jane Maffini and other great local crime writers to read from her latest book, Shifting Trust.
Join Madona Skaff on Saturday, December 11th from 4 to 6 p.m. for a celebration of the holidays and new releases from Renaissance Press. As part of the festivities, readings and prizes, Madona will read from her latest book, Shifting Trust. To join the fun, register at Eventbrite.
Lisa de Nikolits has an interview with Chapters4Change on December 8th. You can catch the interview on the Chapters4Change Interview page.
Mega Congratulations to Mme Melodie Campbell, our Queen of Comedy, who just signed with Cormorant Books to publish her new book, The Merry Widow Murders. Mel thanks Marc Cote at Cormorant and Brenna English-Loeb at Transatlantic Agency.
In the Merry Widow Murders, An unconventional heiress with a mysterious past traveling from New York to London in 1928 via steamship, discovers a murdered man in her stateroom on their first night at sea.
Big congrats to Mme Melissa Yi for her new book, White Lightning, a Prohibition-inspired thriller.
On December 1st at 7:30 ET, you’re invited to join Melissa’s virtual speakeasy launch party. Artisan distiller, Nathalie Gamache of Gin*Eco*Logic will teach you how to mix a cocktail called the Corpse Reviver #2. Vintage 1920’s clothes optional but encouraged and cheered.