LEARN WITH THE MESDAMES PT.2: Scary Stuff, Kids! Tips on Talking to Schoolchildren



The deadline for submissions by authors previously unpublished in crime fiction  to 13 Claws is barely a month away on March 15, 2017.  Check the tab on this website for submission rules!


M. H. Callway

M. H. Callway

This week, Mme M. H. Callway reports on her latest adventure: presenting her thriller, Windigo Fire to a classroom of Grade 8 students. You have to stay scared to stay sharp. Here she shares some tips on staying ahead of the class!

How did this adventure come about?

Our good friend, Steve, approached me about doing a talk at his son’s school.  I said yes then thought: what did I just do? What’s scarier than facing sixty 13-year-olds trapped in library class. Well, erm, nothing!

 Steve’s son, Francis, had picked my novel, Windigo Fireas his Canadian novel for his school book report. His English teacher, Ken, read it and loved it – and so did some of Francis’s classmates. When Ken  invited me to meet his students to talk about my book and the life of a writer, I couldn’t say anything but YES!

12000831_10154197942864018_1649104801334232488_oI was a little worried that I might be playing Officer Stodenko to Ken’s Sister Mary Elephant (see Cheech and Chong in Wikipedia, younger readers), but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had as an author. Good thing though that I could draw on my experience as a retired management consultant doing focus groups, seminars, sales pitches, etc. and winning over skeptical clients.




Here are some observations and tips for the unwary author embarking on their first school talk:

  • Kids are smart, Marv!

Remember how Harry and Marv, the two bungling burglars were outwitted by 8 year old Kevin in the movie comedy, Home Alone? Because the burglars thought kids were stupid. Do not underestimate the tough, intelligent and insightful questions kids will throw at you. They have no qualms about asking you how much money you made on your book, why you write for so little money, why you let publishers tell you what to do, why you don’t just self-publish and so forth. 

Tip: Be prepared for hard-nosed questions and have your answers ready!

  • Break the ice early!

There’s nothing worse than a disinterested audience. Silence is deadly. Kids are shy at first. After all, you’re a grown-up and a figure of authority. I broke the ice right away by asking the class who wanted to be a writer. Who was working on a book right now? It didn’t take long to unleash a flood of questions.

Tip: Break the ice by asking about their writing. And ask about their favorite books.

  • It’s all about respect!

From the kids’ point of view anyone over 25 is O-L-D. At the same time, kids respect anyone who really knows their stuff, is confident and doesn’t talk down to them. Assure the kids that you value their opinions and that you consider every question they throw at you to be a valid one.

I found that making the session an interactive one worked really well. Lectures don’t work in our digital world where attention spans are short. I bled the info out to them by answering “long” to certain questions like: “Who decides what your book cover will look like?” And occasionally, I tossed a question back to them.  For example, they asked “How did J. K. Rawlings get rich?” So I asked them what they thought. It surprised them that they already knew the answer. (Hint: It’s movie rights.)

Tip: Try to answer every single question. A challenging question often leads to a good discussion.

Tip: Make the session interactive and keep the lecture part short.

  • Learning is a 2-way street!

You will learn as much from the kids as they do from you. I learned that they read almost exclusively on I-pads. E-readers are passe, but printed books are still cool.

I never dreamed that Windigo Fire could work as a YA read, but the kids loved it. But then I realized that my protagonist, Danny is young and my second protagonist, Rachel is a 10-year-old kid. To my surprise, their favorite character was Santa, one of the villains. I really enjoyed giving Santa a hard time when I wrote the book – he fails at driving a Prius and he’s outfoxed by Rachel – and the kids did, too.  It was a no-brainer which section I chose to read to them.

Tip: Keep an open mind and you will be happily surprised by what you will learn.

Tip: Give students a choice about which pages you read.

  • The teacher is your best friend!

One reason my visit worked so well was because of Ken, the teacher. We planned the session together and he kept things moving by throwing in a comment or a question. Teachers can also rein in some of the more extroverted students.  Ken is working on a children’s book so it was great to meet and exchange information with another writer.

Tip: Plan your visit with the teacher beforehand.

At the end of my talk, the students presented me with a wonderful card they had all signed and a keepsake globe. A new world really awaits.


Students card











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Mesdames on the Move February 2017

Friday, Feb.3  Speed Dating for Writers and Librarians !   

The Ontario Library Association will be holding its Super Conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. West. A bevy of Mesdames will be appearing during the Crime Writers of Canada event beginning at 1:00 p.m. Mesdames M. H.  Callway, Lisa de Nikolits, Melodie Campbell and Rosemary McCracken will each have two minutes to tell the librarians about their  most recently published books or  novels in the works. Let’s hope many successful relationships ensue.


M. H. Callway

Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell






Lisa De Nikolits

Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken







13 Claws is Coming!


A friendly reminder about our contest for previously unpublished crime writers. The deadline for entries is only six weeks away on March 15, 2017.   See this website for submission details.

The winner or winners will have their stories published in our upcoming third anthology, 13 Claws.


Readings and Events!

Sunday, Feb. 19th, Lisa de Nikolits will be taking part in the prose reading series, Junction Reads, at 392 Pacific Ave., Toronto. The event begins at 5:00 p.m. Lisa will be reading from her latest book, The Nearly Girl.

Thursday, Feb 16th  Two great events are happening on this date and several of the Mesdames will be in attendance at both.

Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter welcome award-winning author, Kelley Armstrong creator of five supernatural series and a new crime fiction series, featuring Casey Butler. Meeting at Northern District Branch, TPL, Room 200, 40 Orchard View Blvd., 7 pm. There is a $5.00 charge for non-members.

The first 2017 Noir at the Bar Toronto takes place at 7 pm at the Wallace Gastropub, 1954 Yonge St at Davisville. Features readings by six leading crime writers, including Peter Rozovsky, the founder of Noir at the Bar who is visiting from Philadelphia.


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Learn With the Mesdames No. 1

Over the next few months we will be publishing a series of blogs from Mesdames who write and also teach writing. This month we feature our Queen of Comedy, Mme. Melodie Campbell, author of the Goddaughter mysteries.


Vegetables for Authors – or Why I Teach Writing

Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell

It all started in 1992. I’d won a couple of crime fiction awards, and the local college came calling. Did I want to come on faculty, and teach in the writing program? Hell, yes! (Pass the scotch.)

Over the years, I continued to teach fiction writing, but also picked up English Lit, Marketing (my degree) and a few odd ones, like Animation and Theatre. Such is the life of an itinerant college prof. (Pass the scotch.)

Twenty-four years later, I’m a full-time author. Except for Wednesday nights, when I put on my mask, don a cape, and turn into SUPER TEACH! (Okay, ‘Crazy Author Prof.’ Too much time alone at a keyboard can be scary. Pass the scotch.)

Why do I do it?   As another term lurks ever nearer, I decided to ask myself that question. And give a completely honest answer. Here goes:

  1. It’s not the Money

Hey buddy, can you spare a dime? Part time profs in Canada are poorly paid. I’m top rate, at $45 an hour. I’m only paid for my time in the classroom (3 hours a week). For every hour in the classroom, I spend at least two hours prepping and marking. We don’t get paid for that. At end of term, I spend several days evaluating manuscripts. We don’t get paid for that either. This means I am getting paid less than minimum wage. So I’m not doing it for the money.

2.   It’s not all those Book Sales

I found this alarming, but other authors since then have said the same. They teach a workshop and students beg for feedback on their manuscripts. But they don’t buy the teacher’s books. Not even one. I find this bizarre, because I would want to see how the instructor practices what she preaches. Bemusement aside, I’m careful in my classes not to pressure students in any way to buy my books. They’ve paid money for the course and that’s enough. My point is: if you think by teaching a course, you are going to get an avalanche of book sales, think again.

Years ago, an author gal more published than I was at the time said a peculiar thing to me:  “Aspiring writers don’t buy books.”

So why the heck do you do it, Mel? That’s time you could invest in writing your own books…


3.   It takes me Back to First Principles

I teach all three terms. Every four months, I am reminded about goal/motivation/conflict. Three act structure. Viewpoint rules. Creating compelling characters. Teaching “Crafting a Novel” forces me to constantly evaluate my own work, as I do my students’. It’s like vegetables for authors. In other words, good for me.

4.   It’s the People

As well, you meet people from different professions…doctors, lawyers, salesmen and women, bank officers, government workers, labourers, grad students, Starbucks baristas, roofers, police, firefighters, chefs, paramedics. I have my own list of people to call on when I need to do research.

Getting to know people other than your own crowd (in my case, other writers) is extremely valuable for an author. You’re not merely guessing how others different from you may think…you actually know people who are different. This helps you create diverse characters in your fiction who come alive.

By far, the most valuable thing about teaching a night course year after year is it allows me to mix with people who would not normally be part of my crowd. Adult students of all ages and backgrounds meet up in my classrooms, and many are delightful. I’ve treasured the varied people I’ve met through the years, and keep in touch with many of them.

5.    It’s good for my Soul

No question, my life is richer through teaching fiction writing, even if my bank account is not.

Students take my writing course for all sorts of reasons. Some take it for a college course credit. Some take it for interest, as they might take photography or cooking classes. Some need an escape from dreary jobs, and a writing class can provide that escape, if only temporarily. But many actually do hope to become authors like I am. And when I connect with one of them, and can help them on their way, it is magic. There is no greater high.

Melodie teaches Crafting a Novel at Sheridan College in Oakville. Courses start in September, January and April. Here’s the link. 

And you can help Melodie’s bank account by buying her humorous books, like The Goddaughter Caper. This will keep her from writing dreary novels that will depress us all. Pass the scotch.

More good news from Melodie!

Join me and the Hamilton Literacy Council on March 30th for the launch of Book 5 in the award-winning Goddaughter Caper series, THE BOOTLEGGER’S GODDAUGHTER! Celebrate more antics of Gina and Nico, in this multi-award-winning series set in Hamilton. Details of the launch to come.

And here’s the teaser:

Do old mobsters ever really retire? Not in HAMILTON!

When a transport truck full of unidentified booze is hijacked, Gina and Nico work feverishly to keep the latest bungled family caper under wraps. But the police are closing in. And once again, everything points to the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home in THE BOOTLEGGER’S GODDAUGHTER.



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Mesdames on the Move-Jan. 2017

It’s 2017! How did that happen?

Lynne Murphy

Lynne Murphy

The Mesdames of Mayhem are getting back to work after a holiday break,  teaching classes, appearing on panels and encouraging the public to read more books.  We hope everyone gave and received lots of books this year. If not, we have suggestions for you–just go to our blog of November 30th, 2016 HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE MESDAMES.

Several of the Mesdames have new books coming out this year. In February, Mme Melodie Campbell will launch the latest book in her fabulous comedy series,  The Bootlegger’s Goddaughter (Orca Books) followed by Worst Date Ever in September. (Also by Orca Books) Mme Lisa De Nikolits is finalizing the edits on her thrilling new book with Inanna Publications, No Fury Like That.  And Mme Caro Soles will be bringing out a new novel later this year. More details in our upcoming blogs.

130926-scary-catWe’re very excited that the Mesdames third anthology, 13 Claws, will be published by Carrick Publishing in September.  To encourage new authors, we have a contest for writers previously unpublished in crime fiction. The winner(s) will have their story published in our anthology. For contest rules, click on the above tab on this website.

This year promises to be a busy one with Bouchercon 2017 hosted here at home in Toronto and many upcoming appearances by the Mesdames. Meanwhile here’s where you can see and hear the Mesdames this month.

Tuesday, January 10th

Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken

Mme Rosemary McCracken,  is once again teaching her class,  Novel Writing II: How to Develop Your Novel at George Brown College, beginning Tuesday, January 10th. Mme. Rosemary writes the popular Pat Tierney seriesRaven Lake is her newest. To register follow the link here.


Lisa at Albert Campbell Local Authors Night

Also on January 10th, at 10 am, Mme Lisa de Nikolits, whose most recent book, The Nearly Girl, has received great reviews,  will be interviewed by Fran Lewis at 10 a.m. on her program  “Books”. To hear the podcast follow the link here.


Thursday, January 19th

Another busy day for the Mesdames!!

Mme Lisa will be appearing in Peterborough, Thursday, January 19th as part of a program called Women Write the City, at Theatre on King, 159 King St.  at 7 p.m. There is a charge of $10 or pwyc.



D. J. McIntosh

D. J. McIntosh

In Toronto, on the same day,  January 19th, at 7 p.m. Mme D.J. McIntosh will be part of a panel called “The Suspense is Killing Me” at the regular meeting of the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Meetings are held at the Northern District branch, TPL, 40 Orchard View Blvd. Dorothy is the author of the highly successful Mesopotamian trilogy. Mme. Lynne Murphy will be moderator for the panel and the other participants are writers Steve Shrott and Jennifer Soosar. There is a five dollar charge for non-members of SinC.


Monday, January 23rd

dsc_7588Monday, January 23d, Mme. M.H. Callway will present her workshop on “How to get Published” at 6 p.m. at the Pape/Danforth Branch, TPL, 701 Pape Ave., Toronto.

Madeleine is also embarking on a new adventure on January 19th when she will be meeting fans of her debut thriller, Windigo Fire, at James Robinson Public School in Markham, Ontario.  Students have studied her book in English class as an example of Canadian literature.



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WOW! 2016 What a Year!


The Mesdames sponsored and attended numerous book launches, readings and public events in 2016.  Our highlight of the year was Sept 25th at Word on the Street, Toronto’s classic book fair in support of writers, readers and literacy. We had our booth for the first time, WB 12 in Writer’s Block. These photos show what a great time we had meeting readers and selling our books!


M. H. Callway and Catherine Astolfo


Rosemary McCracken and Catherine Dunphy


Lynne Murphy, Sylvia Warsh, Catherine Astolfo

Altogether the Mesdames had ELEVEN new books published and nearly half a dozen short stories in the anthologies, Black Coffee, Pac ‘N Heat and the latest Sisters in Crime, The Whole Shebang 3. (For details on our latest books and stories, read our Christmas blog, Happy Holidays from the Mesdames.)

New books meant lots of book launches.

A big highlight was the April 28th launch of our Queen of Comedy, Melodie Campbell’s latest mob crime comedy, The Goddaughter Caper.  We had great fun dressing appropriately for the occasion as you can see in these photos below. Over 50 people attended and $400 was raised for the Hamilton Literacy Council.


Especially touching was the thank you speech given by the winner of the costume contest, top photo, centre, next to Melodie.  She singled out the Gina Gallo series for giving her the gift of reading.

catA big hug and our even bigger thanks go to Sleuth of Baker Street, our favorite bookstore, for their longstanding support of Canadian crime writers and books by the Mesdames of Mayhem.  On June 25th, when many might have spent the Saturday afternoon at the cottage or the beach, a crowd of well-wishers packed the store to celebrate Rosemary McCracken’s latest Pat Tierney mystery, Raven Lake.

On November 6th, Rosemary Aubert, M. H. Callway and Donna Carrick filled the store to capacity for their fabulous Trifecta launch  of their short story collections, The Midnight Boat to Palermo, Glow Grass and Other Tales and North on the Yellowhead.1-triple-release-nov_6-16-web

The three authors are delighted to report that they each sold out their supply of books that same day – and had to order more for their readers!

On November 27th, Lisa De Nikolits, Lynne Murphy and Ed Piwowarczyk were among the authors who attracted another sold-out crowd to Sleuth for the launch of the  Toronto Sisters in Crime’s latest anthology, The Whole Shebang 3.




The Mesdames gave dozens upon dozens of readings as part of our group, through the Crime Writers of Canada and as individuals.  We’re especially proud of Rosemary Aubert, who was the featured speaker at the January 30th annual Blue Carbuncle Awards dinner of the Bootmakers, the Toronto Sherlock Holmes Club.

We’re equally proud of Melodie Campbell, who on June 17th was the Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker at the Ontario Literacy Conference, Mohawk College, Hamilton. Promoting literacy is Melodie’s passion: be sure to read her Christmas blog about the hardships faced by people who have difficulty reading and writing.

Lisa De Nikolits toured the Maritimes and Newfoundland to promote her new book, The Nearly Girl, where she was a guest at the Saint John FogLit Festival and had a wonderful stay at the author’s retreat at the National Water Centre. Read more about her adventures in touring here.

We owe a huge debt of thanks to our hard-working librarians in Toronto and the GTA for their support of Canadian crime writers and the Mesdames of Mayhem.

Ghodsi Danesh, of the Mt. Pleasant Branch, hosted the Mesdames twice this year on March 8th and on October 18th. And we look forward to our follow-up event next April!

Another big highlight was the reading organized by librarian Maria Samurin of the Albert Campbell Branch as part of the series, Authors Nights.


M. H. Callway


Jane Burfield, Lisa De Nikolits, Rosemary Aubert








Rosemary McCracken


Ed Piwowarczyk and Sylvia Warsh





Seven of us read to a packed auditorium of enthusiastic readers and writers, many of whom belong to the Scarborough Scribblers. It was a privilege to be able to share our collective knowledge and experience with such a supportive audience.

The Mesdames were also invited to be part of the Burlington Heritage Fair on February 6th, celebrating the Suffragettes in Canadian History.  M. H. Callway, Melodie Campbell, Rosemary McCracken and Joan O’Callaghan were honoured to represent the Mesdames.


Several of us received positive, formal recognition of our work in 2016. Lisa De Nikolits’ 2015 book, Between the Cracks She Fell, won the  IPPY Bronze Medal for Contemporary Fiction.


M. H. Callway’s suspense novella, Glow Grass, was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novella.

D. J. McIntosh’s fabulous conclusion to her Mesopotamian trilogy, The Angel of Eden, was nominated for the prestigious International Thriller Writers award for Best  Paperback Original Novel.

Caro Soles and her co-editor, Nancy Kilpatrick, received a nomination for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology for their Poe-tribute story collection, nEvermore.

Cheryl Freedman continues her wonderful work to promote and sustain light mysteries through the annual  Bony Blithe Awards – the mysteries that make us smile. Submissions closed on Dec 15th and we look forward to learning the shortlist early next year!

And finally a BIG THANK YOU to all our readers who made 2016 another wonderful year.


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thgxg59qkpThis year, 2016, was another terrific year for the Mesdames with several new books and short stories published! We love our readers – we wouldn’t be here without you. There’s no greater reward than hearing: “I loved your characters – I couldn’t put your book down.”

9tjnbotbsbSo, dear readers, this holiday season, do give books! The gift of reading is a gift like no other: it’s a dream, a passion, an escape and a gateway to new and wonderful worlds.

catWe’d like to give a special thanks to our favorite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street! A big hug to Marian, J. D. and of course, Sir Percy, for their support of the Mesdames and Canadian crime fiction. You will find most of our books there and Marian will be happy to order for you if the title is out of stock.  Other places to find our books: Chapters / Indigo, Amazon and of course, the Toronto Public Library!



Cathy Astolfo

Cathy Astolfo

Operation Babylift 51-mLHZtRDL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_is Arthur Ellis winner, Cathy Astolfo’s latest book in the Kira Callaghan series. (Imajin Quickies).

When Florence gives up her spot at ReVisions Retirement Residence and is found dead, retired journalist Kira Callaghan and the Flower Pots have no choice but to investigate! And the solution goes back to a forgotten incident during the Vietnam War.



Rosemary Aubert





The Midnight Boat to Palermo (Carrick Publishing) features short crime fiction by Arthur Ellis winner, Rosemary Aubert. These beautifully crafted stories range from comedy to noir. The gripping title story is a must-read and an AE winner.




51idvcyka8l__aa160_Glow Grass and Other Tales (Carrick Publishing) includes two novellas as well as 7 short crime stories by Arthur Ellis finalist, M. H. Callway. They  range from comedy to noir suspense; many are winners or finalists of awards, like the Derringer and the Bony Pete.  Includes this year’s AE novella runner-up, Glow Grass.


Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell

caperThe Goddaughter Caper (Orca Rapid Reads) is the latest Gina Gallo mystery by our Queen of Comedy and Arthur Ellis winner, Melodie Campbell.

A body shows up at Gina’s uncle’s restaurant and then in the trunk of Gina’s car. Wouldn’t you know it, her elderly relatives at the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home are involved – up to their scrawny necks! Gina and her cousin, Nico, The Lone Re-arranger, have to put things right.


Donna Carrick

Donna Carrick

14424815_10155212645404018_9205120793088655572_oNorth on the Yellowhead (Carrick Publishing) features short crime fiction by author, publisher and Arthur Ellis finalist, Donna Carrick. Her dark and thought-provoking stories in this new collection include the Arthur Ellis nominee, “Watermelon Weekend”.



Lisa de Nikolits

Lisa de Nikolits


The Nearly Girl (Inanna Press) is the latest book by Ippy winner and tour de force, Lisa De Nikolits, who also designed the cover!

This dark comedy pokes fun at modern-day psychotherapists, group therapy, dysfunctional families, quirky friends and relatives –  and how our set-upon heroine emerges  from it all.

Earlier this year, Lisa together with friends Marilyn Riesz and Gilean Watts, published the cookbook, Bake Your Way to Happiness which pairs delicious recipes with life strategies to nourish your body and spirit.


Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken



Raven Lake (Imajin) is the latest book by Arthur Ellis finalist, Rosemary McCracken and the third book in her popular Pat Tierney series. Pat, an ethical financial advisor, uncovers more than one nasty scam while trying to take the summer off in cottage country.

Earlier this year, Rosemary showed her dark side, when her story “Crazy” was reprinted in the noir anthology, Black Coffee.


D. J. McIntosh

D. J. McIntosh

Dorothy McIntosh - The Angel of Eden COVER

Dorothy McIntosh’s third book in her Mesopotamian trilogy, The Angel of Eden, was nominated for the 2016 ITW award for Best Paperback Original novel.

Be sure to read this thrilling adventure and the other books in the John Madison series: The Witch of Babylon and The Book of Stolen Tales.



Lynne Murphy

Lynne Murphy

Ed Piwowarczyk

Ed Piwowarczyk


Lynne Murphy, Lisa De Nikolits and Ed Piwowarczyk all have stories in the latest anthology by Toronto Sisters in Crime, The Whole She-bang 3, launched just in time for the holidays! The book features outstanding stories by 16 Sisters (and two Brothers) in Crime.


Joan O'Callaghan

Joan O’Callaghan

maverick publisher61bgeFAE0XL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA346_SH20_OU15_

Early this year, Joan O’Callaghan published her late husband, J. Patrick O’Callaghan’s memoirs: Maverick Publisher, J. Patrick O’Callaghan, A Life in Newspapers (Carrick Publishing). Editing was done by our Monsieur, Ed Piwowarczyk. An award-winning teacher, Joan has also updated her teaching guide, Amazing Days (Carrick Publishing) now available as an e-book.

Jane Petersen Burfield

Jane Petersen Burfield

Caro Soles

Caro Soles


Caro Soles and Nancy Kilpatrick are the editors of nEvermore, a critically acclaimed Poe tribute anthology, featuring the works of established authors such as Margaret Atwood, Michael Jecks and Barbara Fradkin. nEvermore was a finalist for this year’s Bram Stoker award and Robert Lopresti’s story, based on the “Murders in the Rue Morgue” will appear in Otto Penzler’s Best American Mystery Stories. Jane Burfield’s  gothic tale has been singled out for very positive reviews.

And last but not least, sample our writings in our two anthologies, Thirteen and 13 O’clock!





Annual Holiday Party!

The Mesdames will be celebrating with fellow crime writers at the Crime Writers of Canada and Toronto Sisters in Crime Holiday Party to be held at Pauper’s Pub, Toronto on Monday, December 5th at 6 pm. For information on tickets, visit the SinC website: http://www.torontosistersincrime.ca/holiday.html

13 Claws Contest!

130926-scary-catCalling all writers new to the crime fiction genre! You are invited to submit up to two stories for inclusion in our upcoming anthology, 13 Claws. For submission rules, follow this link: https://mesdamesofmayhem.com/13-claws-contest-submission-rules/




Bony Blithe Award – A Reminder from Cheryl Freedman!

Cheryl Freedman

Cheryl Freedman

Forget the ubiquitous countdown to Xmas! The deadline for submissions to the 2017 Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (aka the Bony Blithe Award) is much earlier and is fast approaching. We must have your submission(s) in hand by December 15, 2016.

 If you’re (a) an author with a light mystery published in 2016, and (b) a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can submit your book. The award consists of a lovely colourful plaque…and a cheque for $1000!

Your novel must be at least 60,000 words long and published between January 1 and December 31, 2016. No YA or noir please. Your book can be traditionally published, indie-published, or self-published. We welcome submissions from both authors and publishers.

Light mysteries include cozies, capers, satires, and humorous books; in short, anything from laugh-out-loud books to gentle humour to good old-fashioned stories with minimal overt violence or gore. We’re not looking for books with gravitas that make us think; we’re looking for fun-read books that make us smile.

For more detailed info on how to submit your book, visit http://www.bonyblithe.com/submissions.html or contact us at bw-award@bloodywords.com.



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The Mesdames of Mayhem are delighted to announce a crime fiction short story contest for Canadian writers previously unpublished in the genre. The winning story will be included in our third anthology, 13 Claws, to be published in 2017.

Many of the Mesdames teach creative writing. We also give many talks about the how-to’s of writing crime fiction. We love meeting readers – and often our readers are writers, too. Our contest is our way of encouraging new writers.

Judging of the submitted stories will be done blind by a committee. All personal identifiers must be removed from the header, footer and body of the story submission.

The detailed rules of submission are below. They will also be on a page on this website. Do check back regularly for updates.

Please contact mcallway1@gmail.com for all questions related to this contest.

Rules of Submission:

  1. The story must be about a crime, either solving it or trying to prevent it from happening.
  2. An animal must be central to the story. Any animal is allowed: for example, a cat, dog, rabbit, bear, snake, even a dragon or other mythical beast. The writer’s imagination is the only limit. The animal must be a main character or pivotal to the plot. In other words, if the animal was taken out, there would be no story.
  3. Writers must not have had a work of prose crime fiction published (i.e. short story, novella or novel) in either print or electronic form. Writers whose stories appear on their own personal blog(s) and writers who have had poetry or non-fiction newspaper or magazine articles or non-fiction books about crime are allowed to submit a story for this contest.
  4. Writers must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident in Canada.
  5. The story length should be between 2000 and 5000 words.
  6. A maximum of two submissions per writer
  7. Formatting requirements:
    1. No personal identifiers anywhere in the header, footer or body of the story
    2. Include the story title and page number in the document header
    3. Story file in .rtf format, double-spaced, Times New Roman (12 point) or similar, 1” margins and please, no unusual formatting.
  8. Each submission must include a title page with the story title, name of the author and the word count of the story.
  9. Deadline for submission: March 15, 2017. All submissions must be electronic and sent to mcallway1@gmail.com.
  10. The contest judges reserve the right to name more than one winner. They also have the right to not declare a winner if none of the entries meet a standard suitable for publication in the anthology.
  11. The winning author(s) must be prepared to sign a contract with Carrick Publishing.
  12. Royalties will be shared equally between all contributors to the anthology after the publisher’s expenses are recovered and a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Toronto Humane Society.
  13. GOOD LUCK! After all, thirteen is the Mesdames’ lucky number.
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Mesdames Salute Sisters in Crime


By Editor: Lynne Murphy


In October of 1992 Bouchercon was held in Toronto for the first time. On the opening evening there was a dinner, hosted by Sisters in Crime International, and Sara Paretsky was the main speaker. Sara had helped found SinC a few years before, after women crime writers realized they were not getting the same amount of recognition as men.

The mandate of Sisters in Crime is to promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.

Sara was so inspiring that a group of women met later during the conference and decided to form a branch of SinC in Toronto.

Sylvia Maultash Warsh

Sylvia Maultash Warsh

I had met  Mme.Sylvia Warsh at a Humber College writing workshop in the summer (Howard Engel was our prof). We met up again at Bouchercon and she and I were at  that first meeting as was Mme. Catherine Dunphy.





Sylvia and I and several other women decided to form a writing group at that meeting.  It is still going strong, 24 years later, with  the members drawn from SinC including  Mme. M. H. Callway,  who is  the  founder of the Mesdames.  M. H. CallwayAll the other members of our  writing group have stories in Thirteen and 13 O’clock.  You could say that the Mesdames of Mayhem have their roots in SinC.

We have contributed to the organization over the  years. Mme.Dunphy and I have both been presidents. Mesdames Joan O’Callaghan, Rosemary McCracken, Cheryl Freedman, and M. Ed Piwowarczyk have all served on the executive.

In turn, Sisters in Crime has contributed to the crime writing community. When Mme. Caro Soles was organizing the first Bloody Words conference, her committee was largely composed of SinC members. Many Toronto writers, both women and men,  benefit from the support they receive from their Sisters,  who buy books, attend launches and provide much appreciated word of mouth publicity.


Lisa de Nikolits

Lisa de Nikolits

This year the Toronto Chapter  is publishing its third Whole She-Bang anthology. Mme. Lisa de Nikolits, M. Ed P. and I all  have stories included. Two book launches will be held, the first on Thursday, November 17th at the SinC regular monthly meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the Northern District Branch TPL, 40 Orchard View Blvd. The second will be at our favourite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Rd., Toronto, on Sunday, November 27th, at 2:00 p.m. Please join us for one of these events, or, better still, both.




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A stellar threesome!  Mesdames Donna Carrick, M. H. Callway and Rosemary Aubert have each collected their most successful short stories and novellas into anthologies, published by Carrick Publishing.  The books will be launched on Sunday, November 6th at our favourite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Road, East York from 2 to 3:30 pm. Light refreshments will be served!

Friends and fans will be delighted to be able to read Mme. Aubert’s Arthur Ellis award winning story, The Midnight Boat to Palermo, once again, in her eponymous anthology. Mme. Carrick’s  story, Watermelon Weekend, and Mme. Callway’s novella, Glow Grass, were Arthur Ellis nominees in 2014 and 2015.

Sisters in Crime Launch New Anthology! 

One book, two launches! On November 17th The Whole She Bang 3 will be launched at the monthly meeting of Sisters in Crime, Orchard Park Library, 40 Orchard View Blvd., Toronto, at 7:00 p.m. Three members of the Mesdames, Mme Lisa de Nikolits,  Mme Lynne Murphy and M. Ed Piwowarczyk have stories included in the anthology.


Lynne Murphy

Lisa de Nikolits

Lisa de Nikolits


Ed Piwowarczyk

Then on Sunday, November 27th, a second launch will be held at Sleuth of Baker Street, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. There will be refreshments. Our thanks to Sleuth’s owner, Marian Misters, for hosting the launch.

Book Readings and Events!

November is a very busy month for the Mesdames!

mesdames-jane-burfield2-icon Square

Jane Burfield

Cathy Astolfo

Cathy Astolfo

On Saturday, November 5th, 2 pm, Mmes Catherine Astolfo, Jane Burfield, M. H. Callway, Lisa De Nikolits and Rosemary McCracken will be discussing crime fiction and meeting readers at Leaside Branch, TPL, 165 McCrae Drive, Toronto.


51nexm-TziL__SX332_BO1,204,203,200_The busiest of us all in November is  Mme. Lisa  Her newest book, The Nearly Girl, published by Inanna Books,  was launched last month to excellent reviews.

On Tuesday, November 15th,  Lisa and Mme. Rosemary McCracken will be part of an author’s panel at the Annette St. Library, 145 Annette St. Toronto, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Other authors taking part are John Oughton, Heather Babcock and Terri Favro.

M. H. Callway

M. H. Callway

On the same day, Tuesday, November 15th, 2:00 pm, Mme M. H. Callway will be joining other members of Crime Writers of Canada for an author’s panel at Bendale Branch, TPL, 1515 Danforth Road, Scarborough.


Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken

Thursday, November 17th, Mme. Rosemary McCracken will conduct a Writing Mysteries Workshop, hosted by Scarborough Arts, at the Kennedy/Eglinton Library, 2830 Eglinton E., Toronto, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Rosemary is the author of three books in the Pat Tierney series, including the latest, Raven Lake, so she knows what she is talking about.



Thursday, November 24th, Lisa will be at the Urban Folk Art Salon, 599 Mount Pleasant Rd., Toronto, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for an evening featuring poets, singers and songwriters.

On Tuesday, November 29th, 2:00 pm, M. H. Callway again joins members of Crime Writers of Canada for an authors visit to Eatonville Branch, TPL, 430 Burnhamthorpe Rd., Etobicoke.


SHAKE DEM BONES, FOLKS! The deadline for submissions to the 2017 Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (aka the Bony Blithe Award) is creeping up on us. We must have your submission in hand by December 15, 2016.

If you’re (a) an author with a light mystery published in 2016, and (b) a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can submit your book. The award consists of a lovely colourful plaque…and a cheque for $1000!

Your novel must be at least 60,000 words long and published between January 1 and December 31, 2016. No YA or noir please. We welcome submissions from both authors and publishers.

Light mysteries include cozies, capers, satires, and humorous books; in short, anything from laugh-out-loud books to gentle humour to good old-fashioned stories with minimal overt violence or gore. We’re not looking for books with gravitas that make us think; we’re looking for fun-read books that make us smile.

For more detailed info on how to submit your book, visit http://www.bonyblithe.com/submissions.html

or contact us at bw-award@bloodywords.com.







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Bouchercon 2016 took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. For those who don’t know, it’s the biggest, brassiest crime fiction conference in North America. And what better place to party than in New Orleans with neon-lit bars, music, great food, voodoo shops and haunted mansions! 



I’ve only attended two Bouchercons so far, both in Toronto. Once I was in charge of a  priceless collection of eccentric tea pots used for our highly successful British tea – featuring a full-dress Mountie and a drag queen Queen Elizabeth. (I’ll leave that story for Surreal Trapdoor.) Both events tiny compared to New Orleans with an estimated 800+ authors and 2000+ attendees.

Bouchercon isn’t set up like other crime fiction conferences. Rather it’s a series of events: opening ceremony, publisher receptions, showcase talks by Big Names, etc. Author panels are more chatty than informative. In other words, it’s a fan fest for readers and an opportunity for authors to network, network, network!  As a Canadian it was easy to feel lost in an ocean of American authors and fans, so it was great to see and party with fellow Canucks: Rob Brunet, Cathy Ace, Laurie Reed, John McFetridge, Ian Hamilton, Grace Koshida and  Linwood Barclay. Most of us arrived on the same flight and five of us shared a stretch limo to get to the Marriott conference hotel. Talk about arriving in style!


Not bad, huh?

Bouchercon was well-organized, the volunteers more than helpful. My registration was misfiled and all was sorted out cheerfully in seconds. One innovation to be recommended: the Book Bazaar.  Bagging books for attendees is time-consuming and no one is happy with the random selection they end up with. So New Orleans had a great solution: hand each registrant a bag and send them into the Book Bazaar where they can self-serve 6 books from the vast array piled on tables.  Of course, that way I ended up bringing home more books when I swore I wouldn’t add to our shelves!

Fellow Canadians, Janet Costello and Helen Nelson were promoting Bouchercon 2017 which takes place in Toronto. Several of my American author friends have promised to attend. Can’t promise them a drag queen Queen Elizabeth, but we will be sure to have lots of Canadian surprises Oct0ber 12 to 15, 2017 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel.

Highlights of the spectacular 2016 conference:

Noir at the Bar – Two reading events for noir authors, one at Bouchercon in the afternoon and the other in the evening at the appropriately named Voodoo Lounge. Strong work by many authors including Craig Faustus Buck, Meg Gardiner, Johnny Shaw and the incomparable Krista Faust that set the bar very high indeed. Rob Brunet read his chilling flash story soon to be published in Ellery Queen Magazine.


The incomparable Krista Faust


Ayo Onatade & Noir at the Bar founder, Peter Rozovsky







We had the privilege of sitting with two amazing people: Ayo Otonabe on holiday from London, England where she works at the British Supreme Court and Peter Rozovsky, founder of Noir at the Bar. Ayo writes regularly for Crimespree and Shotsmag.  And Peter is the original founder of Noir at the Bar. He lives in Philadelphia with a dark secret: like David Morell, he’s actually Canadian!


Lunch with the Short Mystery Fiction Society –


O’Neil de Noux


Napoleon’s restaurant






I’ve been a member of SMFS for many years and though I know SMFS-er’s in cyberspace, we have yet to meet in person.  The SMFS lunch at Napoleon’s restaurant in the French Quarter was the perfect way to connect.  My law and order experience continued: our lunch was organized by working police detective and award-winning author, O’Neil de Noux.  And I shared a table and fantastic conversation with railway police officer, Jim Doherty and his wife and retired poker-playing judge, Debra H. Goldstein.

Interview with Hank Phillippi Ryan – Sisters in Crime mothership runs a speakers bureau. Every year a few lucky chapters are visited by a leading member. Next year in 2017 our Toronto Chapter will host best-selling author and investigative journalist, Hank Phillippi Ryan.


Hank Phillippi Ryan

It was a true privilege to interview this amazing woman on behalf of Toronto Sisters in Crime!

Hank was one of the first women to break the gender barrier in TV broadcasting. She has won 33 EMMYs and dozens of other awards for her investigative journalism.  In her spare time, she has written 9 best-selling mystery novels and won  5 Agathas, two Macavitys, two Anthonys among many other awards. A past president of national Sisters in Crime, she’s also a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of American University.

Watch for the full text of our interview in the 2017 SinC newsletter and on this website.


SoHo Crime Reception, Crime Goes Global –  Food is a highlight of New Orleans and Bouchercon did not fail to deliver.  A generously stocked hospitality suite as well as creole cuisine served in the hotel lobby ensured that no writer went hungry.  We stuffed ourselves on jambalaya, shrimp and grits, po’boy sandwiches, beignets…well, you get the idea.

Soho Crime hosted a fun event featuring a “Yankee Swap” lottery. If you had a winning ticket, you could steal a better prize from an earlier winner. Ed had his eye on a collection of New Orleans music while I gazed fondly at the stuffed green alligator, but no dice that evening. We did, however, connect with Soho author, Lisa Brackmann, a friend of a friend of Ed’s.  A former motion picture executive, Lisa is the author of a series set in China, featuring Iraq war vet, Ellie McEnroe. Can’t wait to read Rock Paper Tiger!

Mardi Gras Parade –

A major highlight was the Second Line parade leading up to the interview between Lee Child and David Morrell at the Orpheum Theatre.  These parades, featuring floats, stilt walkers and brass bands, are traditional for funerals and Mardi Gras.  We were all handed colourful paper parasols that proved handy in the light rain. Rain is different in NOLA: it doesn’t cool things off – it steams! Despite the rain, we had great fun marching down Canal Street with blogger and reviewer, Seana Graham.

Dinner at Arnaud’s – Bouchercon is all about reconnecting with author friends. It was wonderful to visit with authors Sarah Chen, Dale and Mysti Berry, Ray Daniel, Hilary Davidson and Jeff Markowitz.


Ellen Kirschmann


Mar Preston & Nancy Cole Silverman






Fellow authors Ellen Kirschmann, Mar Preston and Nancy Cole Silverman invited us to a culinary adventure: dinner at Arnaud’s restaurant where the waiters are better dressed than we could hope to be – even at our daughter’s wedding!  The food was wonderful: duck, crab cakes, local fish and of course, signature champagne cocktails.

Ellen is a psychologist who works with the families of police officers. Her non-fiction books have sold over 100,000 copies. She has recently turned to crime fiction with her book, The Right Wrong Thing, winning critical praise from Publishers Weekly. Nancy is the author of the Carol Childs’ mystery series. Mar has penned 5 police procedurals between working to help animals in her California mountain town. 


Ed in style!

It’s interesting to observe that the French style in New Orleans is fin de siècle / Art Nouveau. The waiters wear black tie and long white aprons that were fading out in Paris 40 years ago.  Ed and I felt tres declasse. In fact, we were only allowed to eat there because Ellen generously loaned Ed her jacket!

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