Happy New Year Readers!

2017 was another busy year for the Mesdames filled with new book launches, authors conferences, events and readings.

Our Third Anthology!

THE EVENT of 2017 was the publication and smash launch of our third anthology, 13 Claws, 17 crime stories starring (mostly) evil animals: cats, dogs, snakes, a fish, a dragon – even animal crackers.

For the first time, we held a contest for stories by authors previously unpublished in the crime fiction genre. The entries were of such high quality that a contest for new writers will be part of every Mesdames of Mayhem anthology from now on.

13 Claws received a great review from Jack Batten, the crime fiction critic for the Toronto Star, who said:

There’s enough suspense and intellectual fascination built into the plots of the majority of stories to satisfy even the most ferociously cynophobic reader.

Mmes Catherine Dunphy and M. H. Callway were delighted to receive Jack’s shout-outs for their stories.

Marian Misters, our beloved bookseller!


Rosemary Aubert and author Joe Lewis







Our launch took place on Saturday, October 28th at our favorite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street. Fans, friends and family crowded the store for readings and food. We especially appreciated the support of our fellow Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime and the Scarborough Scribblers.

Donna and Alex Carrick

A HUGE thank-you to Carrick Publishing,  publisher of all three Mesdames anthologies: Thirteen, 13 O’clock and 13 Claws! All books are available on Amazon and at Sleuth of Baker Street.

Readers will also find all three books in the Toronto Public Library. An author’s best friend is a librarian!








Melodie Campbell

Mme Melodie Campbell, our Queen of Comedy, released two hilarious books in 2017, both with Orca Book Publishers.

In Worst Date Ever, newly widowed Jennie kisses an awful lot of frogs when she tries dating again.


And in The Bootlegger’s Goddaugher, the residents of the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home are at it again. This time, they threaten to ruin Gina’s Christmas wedding via a stolen transport truck full of booze.

A big congrats to Melodie for the nomination of The Bootlegger’s Goddaughter for the 2018 Golden Oak Award. The prize has been created by librarians and literacy specialists to recognize books for new adult readers.


Lisa De Nikolits

Mme Lisa De Nikolits’ seventh literary thriller, No Fury Like That (Inanna Publications) re-invents purgatory as a therapy clinic. Can Lisa’s hero, Julia Redner, rethink and grow her way out of a coma and win a second chance at life?  The book has received excellent reviews and was described as “the characters from The Devil Wears Prada trapped in Sartre’s play, No Exit.”


Rosemary McCracken

Mme Rosemary McCracken and new Mme Marilyn Kay, joined the company of several prestigious, best-selling crime writers in the 2017 Bouchercon anthology, Passport to Murder (Down and Out Books). It features crime stories with a travel theme and is now available on Amazon.



Caro SolesMme Caro Soles spent 10 years researching 1916’s American social history for her latest crime novel, A Friend of Mr. Nijinsky (Crossroad Press). In the story, a restless, rich young man gets drawn into the famous dancer’s paranoid world…and of course, murder! Veteran crime fiction author, Barbara Fradkin, called it  “an enchanting story of betrayal and murder set in a swirl of debutante soirees.”


Mme Lynne Murphy, M. Ed Piwowarczyk and Mme Lisa De Nikolits all had their stories chosen to be part of Sisters in Crime Toronto’s latest anthology, The Whole She-Bang 3, now also available on Amazon and in the Toronto Public Library.


Bouchercon 2017

The grand event of the year was Bouchercon 2017, October 12 to 15th, when the world mystery conference took place in Toronto. This was a chance for Canadian crime writers to shine – and shine we did!

Mmes Jane Burfield,  M. H. Callway, Mel Campbell, Lisa De Nikolits, Marilyn Kay, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy, Madona Skaff, Caro Soles and Sylvia Warsh  moderated and/or participated on panels, helped out at the CWC and SinC booths and/or participated in several events like Author Speed Dating and the CWC Pub Quiz.  Mmes  Jane Burfield, Melodie Campbell and Catherine Dunphy worked on the organizing committee.

Sylvia Maultash Warsh

Jane Petersen Burfield

Catherine Dunphy






This Bouchercon Mmes M. H. Callway and Rosemary McCracken organized the luncheon for the Short Mystery Fiction Society. It was a great chance for Canadian short crime fiction authors to meet their American cyber friends in “reality space”. A big thanks to Shopsy’s and Quinn’s Steak House for a fabulous meal and for getting everyone back in good time for the panels.

M. H. Callway

A Noir at the Bar event in the run-up to the conference is now a tradition. Tanis Mallow and Rob Brunet organized a fabulous Noir at the Bar at the Rivoli Café. Mme M. H. Callway was honoured to be reading with literary greats, Hilary Davidson and Zoe Sharp. NoB Founder Peter Rozovsky also attended – and though he lives in Philadelphia, he’s originally Canadian!


Word on the Street

Lynne and Mad


Rosemary at CWC

Sylvia, Mad and the Vikings!

















The Mesdames were back at Word on the Street for the second time this September. We beat the 40 degree temperatures because our booth was located in the little shade available. We sold lots of books, including pre-launch copies of 13 Claws, volunteered at Sisters in Crime and CWC and had fun with the Vikings from the Royal Ontario Museum!

Bony Blithe Minicon

Cheryl Freedman

Mme Cheryl Freedman is a founder of the Bony Blithe award for light mystery fiction.  This year, in addition to the award banquet, the celebration of “mysteries that make you smile” had a full day of panel discussions, contests, mingling with the Bony Blithe finalists and general good fun. Several Mesdames attended and participated on panels.

Happy to report that the Minicon will be held again in 2018!


More Conferences!

In March, Mmes Jane Burfield and M. H. Callway attended Left Coast Crime in Honolulu. A terrific conference, especially for authors.  Jane’s panel discussed the art of short crime fiction while Mad was privileged to be on the panel about outdoor thrillers with Guest of Honour, Dana Stabenow.  Friend  and fab author, Cathy Ace hosted a Meet the Canucks event: a great hit with Canadian authors and American fans alike!


In June, Mmes M. H. Callway, Rosemary McCracken and Caro Soles together with new Mme Madona Skaff attended Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston, Ontario. They all participated on  interesting panels over the weekend and look forward to re-attending next year.


In September, Mme Melodie Campbell was a guest author at the inaugural Picton conference, Women Killing It. Judging by the local press accounts, it was a hit with readers and fans, especially “tea and murder at the  vicarage”.  Here’s hoping it returns in 2018.


Readings and Events!

This year the Mesdames gave numerous readings at libraries and book stores. We are especially grateful to the ongoing support of the Mt. Pleasant Branch of the Toronto Public Library and for the opportunity to appear at the Annette, Beaches, Coxwell and Whitby Branches amongst many others.

Hank Phillippi Ryan









Two events stand out.  Sisters in Crime Toronto celebrated their 25th anniversary and SinC USA arranged for Emmy-winner and best-selling author, Hank Ryan to visit Toronto in June.  Hank gave a rousing speech that inspired everyone to keep writing and made several friends at the wine and dessert party afterwards. Mme M. H. Callway was honoured to take care of Hank during her stay and to introduce her at the meeting!

In November, Mmes Catherine Dunphy and Lisa De Nikolits joined veteran crime writer, Peter Robinson and filmmaker, Mike Downie, the brother of the late Gord Downie, in a benefit for St. Aidan’s Church in the Beaches.


The Mesdames of Mayhem continue to grow and evolve. We are now 16 members strong! This year, we welcomed four new Mesdames: Marilyn Kay, Mary Patterson, Rosalind Place and Madona Skaff. 

Marilyn Kay

Rosalind Place

Madona Skaff

Mary Patterson




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The year is winding down but the Mesdames are still making news.  Our very successful launch for our new anthology, 13 Claws,  was  the highlight of 2017 for us but exciting events are still happening.


Maureen Jennings, creator of the Murdoch series, writes: A great mix of shuddery dark and tongue-in-cheek funny. What devious minds all these nice women have.  Murdog liked the stories as well.

Jack Batten, Toronto Star’s crime fiction reviewer, gave  13 Claws a terrific review with shout-outs to the stories by Catherine Dunphy and M. H. Callway. Jack wrote:

But just because the contributors to the collection write out of an affection for animals doesn’t mean readers need similar feelings to appreciate the stories. There’s enough suspense and intellectual fascination built into the plots of the majority of stories to satisfy even the most ferociously  cynophobic reader.

Read Jack’s full review here.


Vanessa Westermann, reviewer for Sleuth of Baker Street’s newsletter, writes:

I had the honour of receiving an early copy of 13 Claws, the third crime anthology by the MESDAMES OF MAYHEM and can only recommend it. This time, the stories are based upon the writers’ love of animals. There’s something here for everyone. The stories, ranging from cozy mysteries to thrillers, feature cats, dogs, dragons and snakes – some of which are quite mischievous.


Books make terrific holiday gifts, especially the latest books by the Mesdames of Mayhem!

Top of the list, 13 Claws (Carrick Publishing), our third anthology, which features 17 twisted tails, er, tales by 15 authors. The stories range from comedy to noir. Our book includes the stories by the winner and runners up of the contest held for writers new to crime fiction.


Lisa De Nikolits’ latest literary thriller, No Fury Like That (Inanna Publications) has received outstanding reviews. Is the hero, Julia Redner, really dead? Or can she rethink her way to a second chance? Purgatory is an endless therapy clinic, but the food is great! John Oughton, author of Death by Triangulation calls it  “the characters from The Devil Wears Prada trapped in Sartre’s play, No Exit.”


Christmas cheer from Our Queen of Comedy, Melodie Campbell: Two hilarious new books, both from Orca Book Publishers. In Worst Date Ever, newly widowed Jennie gathers her courage to date again, but boy does she get to kiss some frogs! And in The Bootlegger’s Goddaugher, Gina’s wonderfully planned Christmas wedding gets hijacked by a stolen transport truck full of booze, thanks to the residents of the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home.

Beat the winter weather by taking a Passport to Murder (Down and Out Books) the 2017  Bouchercon anthology, featuring crime stories with a travel theme.  Joining the company of best-selling authors are Rosemary McCracken, author of the popular Pat Tierney series and newcomer and 13 Claws finalist, Marilyn Kay.


Caro Soles has a terrific new historical novel, A Friend of Mr. Nijinsky (Crossroad Press). A rich young American gets drawn into the famous dancer’s paranoid world…and murder!  Author Barbara Fradkin describes it as “an enchanting story of betrayal and murder set in a swirl of debutante soirees.”


A Trifecta of Terrific Reads!  For fans of short crime fiction, the collected works of three award-winning Mesdames: Rosemary Aubert’s Midnight Boat to Palermo, Donna Carrick’s, North of the Yellowhead and M. H. Callway’s, Glow Grass and Other Tales. All three books published by Carrick Publishing.

And last but not least, the latest Toronto Sisters in Crime anthology, The Whole She-Bang 3, contains 22 stories, including wonderfully entertaining tales by Mmes Lisa De Nikolits and Lynne Murphy and our Monsieur, Ed Piwowarczyk.




On Saturday, Dec 2nd, Mme Madona Skaff joins 12 crime fiction authors in Ottawa to celebrate CWC’s 35th anniversary. (Making  13 authors, the Mesdames lucky number!) Three  themed events are being held at leading local bookstores. Meet Madona at “Plenty of Crime at Christmas”, Chapters South Keys, 1 pm.

On Thursday, Dec 7th, 6:30 pm the Mesdames will be out in force to celebrate with  friends and fellow authors at the annual CWC / Sisters in Crime Holiday Party. This year the party will be held at 60 Collier St, Toronto.  Tickets are available online here.



Mme Roz Place’s short story, “The Garden Door”, has been accepted for an anthology of Prince Edward County authors to be published spring 2018 by Cressy Lakeside Books.

Roz was inspired to write the story after seeing a photograph looking down a hall of an inner door opening onto a half-opened door that gave onto a garden. Which became the first line: “A door opens on a door opens on a garden.”

Lisa de Nikolits

Mme Lisa De Nikolits’ new novel, No Fury Like That, received a shout-out from the publishers of the Literary Press Group who have named it one of this year’s Books Worth Celebrating! See the complete list in the Fall issue of Geist magazine.

And be sure to follow Lisa’s exploration of Canadian Noir on Open Book Toronto, that featured contributions from Mmes M. H. Callway and Rosemary McCracken.


Melodie Campbell

Mme Melodie Campbell’s latest book in the hilarious Goddaughter series, The Bootlegger’s Goddaughter, has been nominated for the 2018 Golden Oak Award. The award was created by librarians and literacy specialists to recognize books for new adult readers.



We’re delighted to welcome our newest member, Mme Mary Patterson, whose story, “Night Vision”, was the winner of the 13 Claws contest for new crime fiction writers.

Mary is a retired potter and garden columnist for community newspapers. She is completing her first mystery novel featuring poisonous mushrooms in Toronto’s High Park. Her secret? Despite creating loveable cat PI, Malachi, she’s actually a dog fan!


Mme Cheryl Freedman reminds us that the deadline for submissions to Bony Blithe is December 15th. For submission rules, please check the website.



And the deadline for submissions to the Arthur Ellis Awards is also on December 15th. For submission guidelines, please check the CWC website.



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The launch of 13 Claws on Saturday, October 28th was a huge success. And here are the promised pics and write-up of our event!

Sleuth of Baker Street was the place to be on Saturday, Oct. 28th when the Mesdames of Mayhem, their families, friends and fans gathered to celebrate the launch of our third anthology, 13 Claws.  And the birthday of our webmistress, Lynne Murphy!

Friends and Fans!


Our thanks to store owners, Marian Misters and J. D. Singh, for hosting the party. We didn’t take a head count but the bookstore was full to overflowing at times. Traditionally our book launches are held close to Hallowe’en and the décor and costumes were in tune with the season and the animal theme of the book.

Marian Misters, our beloved bookseller!

Décor was courtesy of Sylvia Warsh. The costumes ranged from the bewitching Jane Burfield and Melodie Campbell, assorted cats, and Lisa de Nikolits, channeling her inner wild child in a spectacular hat. M.H. Callway aimed for snake charmer!

Lynne Murphy

Jane Burfield and Marilyn Kay









Melodie Campbell, Our Queen of Comedy

Lisa De Nikolits









Sylvia Warsh and Alex Carrick

The Mesdames took the opportunity to thank our founder, Madeleine Harris Callway, our editor and publisher, Donna Carrick, and our copy editor, Ed Piwowarczyk, for their hard work in making the book a success.

M.H. Callway and Cathy Astolfo

Ed Piwowarczyk and Cathy Dunphy







Mega thanks to our publishers, Donna and Alex Carrick!

Rosemary Aubert and our friend and fan, author Joe Lewis

Rosemary McCracken and Lynne Murphy signing loads of books!

All the Mesdames were able to attend and we were happy to welcome three new authors, Mary Patterson, Rosalind Place and Marilyn Kay. Mary was the winner of our contest for unpublished mystery writers and Rosalind and Marilyn were the runners up.

LtoR: Mary Patterson, Roz Place and Marilyn Kay

With Catherine Dunphy as M.C., each of the Mesdames read a short excerpt that best represented their story. It’s surprising how tantalizing a few paragraphs can be. Cats, nice and nasty, were the favoured animals, from Rosemary Aubert, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy and our three new authors, but Catherine Astolfo was the only writer to feature a pig. M. H. Callway, Lisa De Nikolits and Ed P favored snakes and a fish while Jane Burfield and Cathy Dunphy wrote about dragons and animal crackers, respectively. Our faithful companions, dogs, were the heroes in the stories by Mel Campbell, Donna Carrick and Sylvia Warsh.

Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken’s latest blog highlights the paragraphs each of us read. Do check out her report for more pictures and details of our launch, too! Follow this link.

The Mesdames had good news just before the launch when the Toronto Star mystery critic, Jack Batten, gave 13 Claws a warm review with shout-outs to the stories by Cathy Dunphy, Cathy Astolfo and M. H. Callway. Read Jack’s full review here.


The best news comes from Marian Misters, who reports that Sleuth has sold out its original order and needs more copies. A terrific start for 13 Claws!

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13 Claws launched with great success at Sleuth of Baker Street on Sat, Oct 28th.  A big thank you to our friends and fans who came out to celebrate with us. A full report and lots of pics next week. Our launch coincides traditionally with Halloween and also with the birthday of our newsletter editor and webmistress, Lynne Murphy!


Happy Birthday, Lynne!


Welcome to  our new Mesdames, Madona Skaff, Marilyn Kay and Roz Place.

Madona Skaff

With a degree in cell biology, Madona Skaff somehow ended up working in mining research. Her scientific background has always inspired her science fiction stories and frequently sneaks into her mysteries.

Her story, “Night Out” was published in the Ladies Killing Circle anthology, Menopause is Murder and four of her crime stories are featured in the Toronto Sisters in Crime anthologies, The Whole She-Bang and The Whole She-Bang 2. Her story, “First Impressions” was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Short Story award in 2015.

Her debut novel, Journey of a Thousand Steps (Renaissance Press), was published in 2015. She is working on the sequel.

Marilyn Kay

Marilyn Kay’s story, “That Damn Cat”, was a finalist in the Mesdames’ contest for new crime fiction authors and is one of our stories the 13 Claws anthology. Her second debut story, “Journey into the Dark”, was part of the 2017 Bouchercon anthology,  Passport to Murder.

Marilyn started writing as a contributor to the Dictionary of the Middle Ages, before turning to business journalism, social media coaching and government communications! She is an executive member of Sisters in Crime – Toronto.

Rosalind Place

Rosalind Place was born in England and emigrated to Canada when she was five years old. An interpreter by profession, she is a published writer of short stories and has just completed her first novel. “Dana’s Cat”, which is written entirely in dialogue, was her first foray into the mystery genre and was one of the finalists in the contest for 13 Claws.




Big congratulations to Mme Sylvia Maultash Warsh whose story, “The Cabin in the Woods”, will appear in the 2018 Malice Domestic Anthology, Murder Most Geographical. Sylvia’s work has won and been nominated for several prestigious awards, including MWA’s Edgar Award and the Arthur Ellis.




Lisa De Nikolits

Fans of Noir take note: Mme Lisa De Nikolits is Writer in Residence for Open Book for November.  Lisa’s post begin November 2nd  with Domestic Noir featuring a lovely quote from Rosemary McCracken. Here is the link.

The series will be running for 16 posts and will be featuring Crime writers of Canada,  The Mesdames and Sisters in Crime. There is a nice piece on Short Story Noir featuring M. H. Callway coming up.


M. H. Callway

Rosemary McCrackenOn Saturday, November 4th, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm, M. H. Callway and Rosemary McCracken will be representing the Mesdames at the Flamborough Heritage Society’s 27th Annual Bookfair. You can visit them at the Fellowship Hall, St. James United Church, 306 Parkside Drive, Waterdown.


Melodie Campbell

On the same day, Saturday, Nov 4th, Melodie Campbell will be giving a workshop on crime fiction writing at the Oakville Public Library, Central Branch from 1 to 4 pm, 120 Navy Street, Oakville.




Lisa de Nikolits

On November 11th, as part of the Crime Writers of Canada 35th Anniversary celebrations, Lisa De Nikolits heads up a team of eight authors, including M. H. Callway for an afternoon of readings, snacks, wine and music at our favorite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Rd.  With special guest, singer / satirist, Kari Maaren.



Rosemary Aubert

Caro Soles

Caro Soles

On Thursday, November 16th, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, Mmes Rosemary Aubert, M. H. Callway, Lisa De Nikolits, Rosemary McCracken and Caro Soles, will be at Mt. Pleasant Library, 599 Mt. Pleasant Rd, to share their new work, including stories from 13 Claws.


Rosemary McCracken

Mme Rosemary McCracken is giving a workshop on novel writing on Saturday, November 18, 1-4 p.m at Annette Street Library, 145 Annette Street, Toronto. Workshop is suitable for all levels. Participants need to register by submitting the first page of their novel-in-progress at the library. The second half of the workshop will be devoted to critiquing first pages, as they can be crucial in getting a novel published.



And on Thursday, November 23rd, as part of CWC’s ongoing celebrations, Whitby Library will be hosting An Evening of Crime, with historical crime fiction writer, Mel Bradshaw and three Mesdames: Jane Burfield, M. H. Callway and Rosemary McCracken. Readings and discussions at 7 pm, Central Branch, 405 Dundas St. West, Whitby.



Deadline for submission to Bony Blithe is December 15th. For submission rules, please check the website. More details later this month.

And the deadline for submissions to the Arthur Ellis Awards is also on December 15th. For submission guidelines, please check the CWC website.






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13 Claws: A Sample Bite of Stories, Part 4


Do join us for our launch on Saturday, October 28th, 2 pm at our favorite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street. Treats and readings and more!


The Lion King by Lynne Murphy

Lynne Murphy is one of the founding members of the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Her crime fiction short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including Thirteen, 13 O’clock and The Whole Shebang. Lynne’s stories often centre on the comic antics of a group of ladies at a seniors’ condo. But in “The Lion King”, she shows her dark side and poses the question, are pets really our friends?

The Woman should not have called me Mopsy.

My first human, Daniel, called me Simba, a lion’s name, a proper title for a member of the Royal House of Abyssinia. Mopsy is a name for a tabby,  something meek and helpless. I have never been helpless.

Daniel understood that I was his equal. I came to live with him as a kitten. His female offspring thought he was lonely after his mate died and brought me to him.

Daniel looked at me and said, “An Abyssinian cat. I hear they are as intelligent as Siamese and not nearly as noisy. Thank you, Sarah.”

Daniel and I were very comfortable together for five years. We would go for walks most evenings and he would tell me about Abyssinia, now called Ethiopia, and about the importance of lions there. Their emperor was called The Lion of Judah. Then one day Daniel collapsed on the floor, and I couldn’t wake him up, no matter how hard I licked his closed eyes. At last I remembered the collar he wore around his neck. Sarah and he had talked about it. I pressed the button with my paw. Then people phoned and banged on the door, but it was too late.


Ed Piwowarczyk

Snakebit by Ed Piwowarczyk

Ed Piwowarczyk is a veteran journalist and professional copy editor. His dark crime fiction stories have been published in many anthologies including 13 O’clock and The Whole Shebang.  Snakebit goes even darker into noir relating what happens when  an army vet with a sinister secret meets a femme fatale bent on revenge.


Rodriguez grabbed the snake with his left hand and fit the snake’s fangs over the side of the funnel. The rattler bit the membrane, releasing a yellowish venom. With his thumb and middle finger, he depressed two glands near the reptile’s jaw to extract all the venom. Then he maneuvered  the snake back into its bin.

He repeated the procedure with more snakes that hissed and rattled to signal their displeasure, until the vial was about three-quarters full.

“All that trouble for that?” Turner remarked.

Oro, señor,” Rodriguez replied as he capped the vial.

“Liquid gold,” Sadie said. “It’s worth thousands. He freeze–dries it and ships it to clinics, labs and universities. They use it for research and to make antivenom .”

Rodriguez beckoned them to follow him into the snake house. “Come! Let me show you my beauties.” He ushered them in and stopped to place the vial in a compact fridge. Then he pointed to racks that the length of the building along two walls, and beamed. “There are Mojaves, western diamondbacks, sidewinders, corals—”

“That’s it for me.” The snake house was creeping Turner out. “I’ll wait outside.”

Rodriguez shook his head in feigned disappointment and pointed at Turner’s tattoo. “Señor, I thought you might enjoy being among your own kind.”



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The biggest event of the Mesdames’ year will take place Saturday, Oct. 28th from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. when we launch the print copy of our new anthology, 13 Claws, published by Carrick Publishing, at our favourite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Rd.

There will be readings, signings, not to mention drinks and good things to eat. There is a rumor that the authors will be costumed as the animals in their stories—come and check it out.  Admission is free!

In the run-up to our print launch, Carrick Publishing is holding the 13 Claws Pre-launch Party  with prizes.  Simply send us an email: MesdamesMayhem @ gmail . com (Remove spaces.) Subject Line: 13 CLAWS PRE-LAUNCH PARTY

Each week, we’ll give away:
two e-copies (Kindle or e-pub) of Thirteen, our 1st anthology; two e-copies of 13 O’Clock, our 2nd Crime Anthology; and one Print Edition of 13 O’Clock


As we steam forward to the October 28 launch of 13 Claws, the Mesdames of Mayhem have teamed up with Carrick Publishing to present a series of special promotions!

Be sure to visit our Facebook Event 13 Claws Pre-Launch Party
often to enter for your chance to win books and e-books by the Mesdames of Mayhem.



Last Sunday, Sept. 24th, Mmes Jane Burfield, M. H. Callway, Lisa De Nikolits, Cathy Dunphy,  Sylvia Maultash Warsh, Lynne Murphy and Rosemary McCracken  ran the Mesdames of Mayhem booth at  Toronto’s biggest literary event at Harbourfront. Mme Caro Soles, a veteran WOTS participant, was back to promote the Bony Blyth and her latest novel, A Friend of Mr. Nijinsky.

Mad and Cathy did set up! Lisa designed the fab poster!

Lynne captained the booth!

Lisa beating the sun looking fab and mysterious!

We survived record breaking 40 degree temperatures to introduce 13 Claws to the public.  Sales were great and the Mesdames reported good sales of their novels. Several of us helped out at the Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime booths as well.

The photos show what a fun day it was for us and our fans: we beat the heat but stayed hot!

Rosemary at CWC

Caro and Mr. Nijinsky


At the end of the long, hot day, Mmes Sylvia and Mad got a little crazy with the neighbouring Vikings!


This year Bouchercon is in Toronto! North America’s biggest conference of crime writers and fans takes place at the downtown Sheraton Centre Hotel, 123 Queen St. W. Wed. Oct.11 to Sun. Oct.15. The Mesdames will be taking part in panels and other events so if you see us there, please say hello.


The fun starts Wednesday, October 11th, when Mme. M. H. Callway will be reading with renowned author Hilary Davidson at Noir at the Bar, 9 pm, The Rivoli Bar, 334 Queen St. W.  The Rivoli, a Toronto icon, is a short walk from the Sheraton. In addition to writing two novellas and publishing her collected short stories, Glow Grass and Other Tales, Madeleine is completing the sequel to her first novel, Windigo Fire.

Thursday, October 12th

8:00 to 10:00  Mme M. H. Callway is part of Author Speed Dating (by invitation). This event proved so popular remaining spots were assigned by lottery.

1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Mme. Caro Soles  takes part in the panel, “Recent History”. Caro’s new novel is A Friend of Mr. Nijinsky.

4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Mme. Jane Burfield moderates the panel, “The Best Medicine”.

Friday, October 13th

8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Mme. Catherine Astolfo moderates the panel, “Mixed Media.”

10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Mme. Lisa de Nikolits moderates “Urban Noir.” Lisa’s newest novel, No Fury Like That, launches on Oct. 5. See details below.

Also at 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., Mme. Melodie Campbell takes part in the panel, “A Symbiosis”. Melodie’s newest book, Worst Date Ever! launched in September.

12 noon to 2 p.m. Mmes M. H. Callway and Rosemary McCracken head up the lunch for members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society at Shopsy’s Deli in the Sheraton.

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mme. Rosemary McCracken takes part in the “Location, Location” panel. Rosemary’s short story, “The Queen Sized Bed”, was chosen for this year’s Bouchercon anthology, Passport to Murder.

6:00 to 7:30 pm  The International Authors Reception. Several Mesdames attending.

7:00 pm The Nero Wolfe Banquet. Mme Rosemary McCracken and M. Ed Piwowarczyk are attending.

9:30 pm Mmes. M. H. Callway and Lynne Murphy will be among the competing team leaders for the CWC Pub Quiz. Expect a pitched battle!

Saturday, October 14th

7:30 to 9:00 am   Several Mesdames are attending the Sisters in Crime breakfast.

8:30 to 9:30 am Mme. Sylvia Warsh  moderates the panel “Creative History”.

10:30 am to 4 pm CWC hosts a day-long Meet The Author event in the lounge area with several Mesdames taking part.

7:00 to 8:00 pm  Mme Rosemary McCracken signs copies of Passport to Murder with the contributing authors.

Sunday, October 15th

11:00 am to 12 pm  Bouchercon Brunch followed by the Anthony awards. Several Mesdames are attending.


Thursday, Oct. 5th: Mme. Lisa de Nikolits will launch her newest novel, No Fury Like That, Inanna Publications, at the Women’s Art Association, 21-23 Prince Arthur Ave., Toronto at 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 17th Mme. Melodie Campbell  joins two fellow authors on a panel discussing “Ten Secret Ways Writers Use Libraries” at the Burlington Library, 6:30 pm.

And the Bony Blithe Award is now accepting entries. More details in Mesdames on the Move for November!



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13 Claws: A Sample Bite of Stories, Part 3


Mesdames Lisa de Nikolits and Cathy Dunphy are thrilled to be appearing at Life in the Beach, the Authors’ Dinner, next Thursday, Sept 28th, 6 pm at the Balmy Beach Club, along with Peter Robinson, author of the Inspector Banks mystery series, and Mike Downie, documentary film maker and co-founder of the Chanie Wenjack Fund.

Mike worked with his brother Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip to bring Chanie’s story to life in the film, Secret Path. Both are committed to improving the lives of native Canadians.

The dinner will benefit St. Aidan’s Anglican Church, Queen and Silverbirch. Tickets are $75 and must be purchased in advance from the church office at 416-691-2222 or email staidan@eol.ca.



Our upcoming anthology, 13 Claws, is now available on Amazon! Join us for the official launch on Saturday, October 28th, 2 to 4 pm at our favorite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street.

And enjoy these extracts from authors in 13 Claws.

Animal Crackers by Catherine Dunphy

Catherine Dunphy is a veteran journalist, biographer, YA author and more recently a writer of short crime fiction centred on spirited research librarian, Winona. In “Animal Crackers”, Winona tries to help a homeless man and stumbles onto a crime…

Winona marched over to the corner table where she knew the men from the hostel would be, dozing behind their book wall. She was in luck. The man with the blue gaze from last week was back. He looked up from the Carl Sagan book he was reading as she thrust the package at him. “For Johnny.” Of course she remembered the old man’s name.

He closed his book, but not before inserting once of the library’s bookmarks to hold his spot – Winona couldn’t help but be impressed. He opened the package; his features hardened when he saw the cookies.

“You have no idea what you are doing, do you?”

Winona rocked back on her heels.

“These are the ones he wanted.” She jabbed at the package. Damn it! First Jason, now him.

He stood up and leaned towards Winona. “Forget he ever told you about this, you hear me?” He stared right into her eyes, frightening her. “Forget you ever saw him. And get rid of those.”



The Ranchero’s Daughter by Sylvia Maultash Warsh

Sylvia Warsh is a critically acclaimed literary and crime fiction writer, winner of the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best Paperback Novel. Her characters are often outsiders fighting trauma by seeking resolution in the present. In “The Ranchero’s Daughter”, a small dog holds the key to a family mystery rooted in madness.

This was not my father talking! He had never demeaned himself with gossip.

“The girl was a beauty, but completely mad. One never knew what to expect from her. She whirled around when there was no music. She talked to the horses and cows, and claimed they talked back. She would scream for no reason, as if someone were killing her. They could not keep maids because the girl would curse them and prick them with a fork, threatening to eat them.”

My brilliant father was disappearing. In his debilitated state, his low raspy voice arrived slowly, between halts.

“Such a beautiful girl, with long black hair and dark green eyes like a forest. The only creature she truly loved was her Chihuahua , Conchita, a demanding little dog who ate the shredded beef out of the girl’s tortillas. She had the seamstress sew a special pocket in all her skirts so she could carry the dog around, its ugly little head poking out.”

With effort, my father sat up and glanced at the Chihuahua lying at my feet. Luz lifted her fawn-colored  head, alert. “Your dog could be her sister, they’re so much alike.”


Rosemary McCracken

Homebodies by Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken’s novels and short fiction have been short-listed for several awards including the Derringer and the Debut Dagger. She is the creator of the popular Pat Tierney series. In “Homebodies”, Rosemary shows her humorous side: a retired teacher’s quiet life goes off track when a stray cat enters his life.

“This cat is not a good idea.”

“Nonsense, Henry. You think you don’t like cats, but you’ll come to love this one. I promise.”

Ellie always got her way. She’d got her way ever since we’d married 35 years before, and I had no idea how to change tack at this point.

She’d spent three decades teaching high school English, so when the cat discovered the Juliet balcony off our main-floor family room, she named him Romeo. But she soon admitted that was a misnomer. Not only had this cat been fixed, but he was a house cat. Other than demanding to be let out on the balcony now and then, he showed no inclination to go outdoors. “Should’ve called him Henry after you,” she said, patting my paunch. “Henry I and Henry II, my two homebodies.”

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Mesdames Abroad Part 4

On Location…in the west of England, long ago…

Melodie Campbell

In Part 4 of our travel series, Melodie Campbell, our Queen of Comedy, tells us how travel lead to a haunting and inspiring setting for her comic time travel novel, Rowena Through the Wall.

Rowena Through the Wall (Imajin Books) was featured on USA Today and was a top 100 Bestseller on Amazon.com, sandwiched between Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts.

And don’t forget pick up a copy of Mel’s new book, Worst Date Ever.

 “Setting as character.” You hear it a lot in first year writing classes.  But what do we mean by that?

Setting is important in helping to establish the mood of your story. We mean it should be treated with as much attention as you would give any other character.

The trouble with many beginning writers is they set their novels in ‘Anytown USA.’ Thus, no character, no unique feel to the place…the ‘why is it different from everywhere else?’ is missing.

As a writing instructor, each term I tell students to go to the places they want to write about. Know your setting.  Don’t set your book in Seattle if you’ve never been to the West Coast.  It simply won’t come off as believable.  You’ve got to experience the unmistakably salty odor of the sea air as it rushes in from the Pacific.

But what if your book is set in the past? Obviously, you can’t travel to 17th century France if you’re planning to set your story there.  But you can visit the country today.  You can visit museums there and find out details of the time and place in the same way you need to find out details of a current setting.

So that’s what I did. I traveled back to the west of England, to a place I knew from my childhood.  A land with verdant rolling hills, where sheep are more common than people.

This piece of Shropshire claims a part of my heart. The original stone castle, erected after Harold fell to William in 1066, went to ruin in the early 1500s.  The ‘new’ abode, Hawkstone Park, was built in 1556; it was forfeited in 1906 to pay off the gambling debts of my rakish relative.  You can still see it; it’s open to the public every August.


Tony Clegg-Hill (original name Huel) was the previous Viscount Clegg-Hill, and my late cousin. I adored him.  He had that particular dry British wit that reminded me seriously of David Niven.  It was his great-grandfather who lost the castle.

Tony would regale me with anecdotes about the family villains: the original Viscount Huel, who was basically a henchman for William the Conqueror. More recent rogues like Sir Rowland Hill gambled away anything that could be taken as a stake.  It’s a damning history, yet a vibrant one.

But not all the family were black sheep; one Lord Hill distinguished himself as the second in command to the Duke of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo.  When Wellington was made Prime Minister in 1824, Hill succeeding him as commander in chief of the army.  The coat of arms (which illustrates the family tree with all the crests of family intermarriage) is twelve feet long.

So when it came to writing Rowena Through the Wall, I had to feature my favorite place.  The original Norman castle, with its rounded turrets, crenellations and merlons has been in my imagination for decades.  It’s not there anymore.  But the land survives.  It vibrates with history.  Stand still, if you go there.  If you are really quiet, you might hear a ghost or two.

Do you know the scent of dusty stone? The smell of the rain on the moors?

Rowena walks through the wall to her ancestor’s land, and she falls in love with it too.

Follow Melodie at http://www.melodiecampbell.com/


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WE’RE BACK!! And Fall 2017 is going to be hot and super busy for The Mesdames.


Our first Big News item:

13 Clawsour latest anthology is going to press! We have received a wonderful endorsement from renowned Canadian crime author, Maureen Jennings, who writes:

A great mix of shuddery dark and tongue-in-cheek funny. What devious minds all these nice women haveMurdog liked the stories as well.”

Murdog, of course, is named after Maureen’s wonderful Victorian detective, Murdoch.

13 Claws is now available for pre-order from Apple I-books, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and NobleKobo and Smashwords


Advance print copies will be available  at Word on the Street and at Bouchercon.

More Big News:

The Mesdames will be back at Toronto’s Word on the Street on Sunday, September 24th from 11 am to 5 pm. The festival takes place every fall at Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queen’s Quay West.

This year we will be at Booth 5 in Writers Block (Zone 1).  Here is the  map.

And here are a couple of pics from last year:








Word on the Street celebrates books and literacy. There are a host of events, readings and vendor booths to explore. This year Mmes Cathy Astolfo, Jane Burfield, M. H. Callway, Lisa De Nikolits, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy and Sylvia Warsh will be back to promote Canadian crime fiction.

Books, Books, Books!

Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell, our Queen of Comedy, has a great new book out: Worst Date Ever is now available at Chapters / Indigo and on Amazon.

Here’s the teaser: Jenni has been widowed for two years and everyone is pressuring her to get back into life. She signs up on a dating site. It’s only a date for one night. How bad could it be?  We have a fair idea!

Rosemary McCracken

And Rosemary McCracken’s  story, “The Queen-sized Bed”, is part of the Bouchercon anthology, Passport to Murder, now available for pre-order on Amazon. The book has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.  If you are attending Bouchercon 2017, you can get your copy signed at the group author signing on Saturday, October 14th. More details in next month’s Mesdames on the Move.







Events and Readings!

TOMORROW:  September 1st to 2nd Melodie Campbell, will join crime fiction authors from Ottawa and Eastern Ontario at the first-ever crime writers festival in Prince Edward County, Women Killing It .  The afternoon tea on Saturday, Murder at the Vicarage is sold out but other events are still open. Best to check that tickets are available before heading down to beautiful Picton, Ontario.

On Saturday, September 9th, 1:00 pm, Rosemary Aubert, M. H. Callway and Rosemary McCracken will be guest panelists at the Bootmakers  of Toronto to show how Sherlock Holmes led them into a life of crime…writing.

M. H. Callway

Rosemary Aubert

This promises to be a terrific meeting with Monica  Schmidt, a Sherlock Home Adventuress, presenting  Deduction is a Hell of a Drug: Holmes, cocaine, and the ICD-10,  a craft table (food!), quiz, song and an appearance by Mrs. Hudson.


The featured Sherlock Holmes story is “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”.  The Bootmakers meet at the Beeton Auditorium, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St at 1:00 pm. Tickets for non-members are $12 at the door.

Lisa De Nikolits

Lisa De Nikolits has two great events coming up. On Wednesday, Sept 20th, 8 pm, she will be reading at the Chi Series, Noir Night, together with Terri Favro and other masters of noir whose stories appear in the anthology, Pac ‘N Heat.

The event takes place at Round Venue, 152A Augusta Street, Kensington Market, Toronto.

Lisa’s latest book, No Fury Like That,  launches on October 5th! This fascinating metaphysical mystery is already getting warm reviews.





And on Thursday Sept 28th, Lisa and Cathy Dunphy, will be discussing crime fiction with Canada’s legendary author, Peter Robinson.  The event is being organized by the Kew Balmy Beach Club to showcase local authors living in the Toronto Beaches.  Details on time and venue later this month!

More News!

D. J. MacIntosh

Lisa De Nikolits has devoted her new blog, The Minerva Reader, to showcasing accomplished literary authors and their books. Rosemary Aubert and her noir thriller, Terminal Grill, are featured. Most recently, Lisa interviewed D. J. MacIntosh and showcased Dorothy’s acclaimed Mesopotamian trilogy.

Melodie Campbell’s course, Crafting a Novel 1, starts Wednesday, Sept 13th at Sheridan College.  Emerging writers take note!



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A Hot Wind in August plus 13 Claws: A Sample Bite of Stories – Part 2!

Melodie Campbell

The fall promises to be hot for the Mesdames! Mme Melodie Campbell, our Queen of Comedy, has just announced her new book, Worst Date Ever! Just looking at the rogues gallery on the cover will make you dial 911 for help but failing that you can pre-order it from Amazon. Worst Date Ever launches soon so check Mesdames on the Move for September for details.


And mark your calendars: on Labour Day weekend you can meet Melodie in person at the Women Killing It event in Picton ON. Check the FB page here for details.  Again more details in our September newsletter.


And congratulations to Mme Rosemary McCracken who was Imajin’s best-selling author in July for her Pat Tierney mystery, Safe Harbour. Full details here.






Here is Part 2 of the preview of the stories in our upcoming anthology, 13 Claws.

M. H. Callway

Snake Oil by M. H. Callway

Madeleine H. Callway writes crime fiction novels, novellas and short stories. Her work has won or been short-listed for numerous awards, including the Derringer and the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel award.

In her noir novella, “Snake Oil”, a real estate intern with a fear of snakes learns how vulnerable a lone woman can be in a stranger’s house.

“I—I was bitten by a snake.” Bella could barely get the words out. The memory charged at her in irregular flashes, like crumpled black-and-white photographs. “I walking on the beach by our cottage. I felt something sharp. Like I’d stepped on a piece of glass.”

She felt Amelia’s slanted eyes on her like a pressure. She must stop talking, she was being horribly unprofessional, but she couldn’t stop the eruption of her words any more than she could stop the winter wind pummeling her car. “Robert, my stepson, wanted to take me to the hospital. Barry, my ex, thought it was nothing. That I was overreacting . He said I’d stepped on a garter snake, but when it…when it rustled away in the leaves, it looked much bigger. And it had black spots, not stripes.”

“But you’re still here, Bella, alive and healthy.”

Bella’s words stormed out with the rush of remembering. “My leg swelled up. The pain was excruciating. Robert took me to the hospital. Barry wouldn’t…he didn’t believe me.” She took a deep, shuddering breath. “I’d stepped on a Massasauga rattler. The doctors had to inject me with antivenom. They had a hard time finding enough of the antidote, because poisonous snake bites are so rare in Ontario. Antivenom  goes off if it’s stored too long. I—I nearly lost my leg.”

“Sounds like your divorce was a good idea,” Amelia said after a time. “Feel better for sharing?”


Melodie Campbell

Dog Trap and The Coffee Tin, both by Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell is a master of flash fiction with many awards to her credit, including the Arthur Ellis and Derringer. She is the author of the hilarious Goddaughter series of crime novels. Though she’s our reigning Queen of Comedy, her two stories in 13 Claws, “Dog Trap” and “The Coffee Tin”, have a darker edge.

In “Dog Trap”, a lonely man worries about the friend he met on an internet dating site and in “The Coffee Tin”, a homeless teenager finds a companion and maybe a friend…

From “Dog Trap”:

It wasn’t her.

Rick knew it now, scrolling through email messages, stopping on the last one. The words were there, purportedly from her, but written by someone else. Now he was certain. The trap had been set, and he had proof.

He slumped back in the worn gray swivel chair to think. And mourn. On the floor beside him, the small golden retriever puppy whimpered in sympathy.

More than a week ago, suspicion had set in. How could he  explain it? A different use of words…not something you could explain to anyone else. But somehow, it seemed forced. It wasn’t right.

From “The Coffee Tin”:

Jess walked over to the dog and lowered the cup to his level. “Drink this,” she said.

The little dog moved forward with caution, and began to lap frantically. Jess had to keep tipping the cup as the water level went down.

She tried to recall his name. Something cutesy, she remembered. Muffy? No, that was the Maltese in the corner house.

She thought back to the old woman. What name had she yelled from the top of the stairs? Lucky! That was it.

Well little guy, you haven’t been lucky for either of us.


Lisa DeNikolits

Blood and Apricots and Mad Dog and the Sea Lion, both by Lisa De Nikolits

Lisa De Nikolits is the award-winning author of seven novels that explore crime, religion, psychotherapy and relationship challenges. She is a master of noir crime fiction.

In “Blood and Apricots”, a family adopts a dog with a dark provenance and in “Mad Dog and the Sea Lion”, two sisters plot to take down a ruthless crime boss.


From “Blood and Apricots”:

“What do you think happened?” my mother asked in a low voice.

She pressed the lighter into the dashboard, waited for a few seconds, lit a cigarette and passed it to my father. Then she lit one for herself and inhaled deeply.

“His breath stinks,” I said, shifting away from the dog who was sharing the backseat  of the Volkswagen Beetle with me and my sister.

My sister put her arm around the dog. “I love him.” She drew him closer, and I moved as far away from both of them as I could.

My father looked grim. The skin across his beautiful hands was stretched tight, and he gripped the steering wheel as if it might get away from him. He didn’t say anything, just smoked now and then.

And from “Mad Dog and the Sea Lion”:

He paused to take a breath. “The whole Esposito family was  hoods. The  father had done time, the third brother was in prison, the two sisters were thieves. But the mother was behind the whole thing. Mothers. The root of all evil, if you ask me.”

He fell silent and turned to look at Mad Dog Esposito again.  I thought I had lost him, and I struggled to think of something to say. I panicked. Things had seemed to be going really well, but now they  had come to a grinding halt. My sister had given me a bunch of lines to use but I couldn’t remember any of them. My mind was a complete blank, and I felt close to tears. I was going to ruin this before it even started.


See you in September, Readers!



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