Members Face-to-Face

Join your siblings at the Troller Pub, Horseshoe Bay, BC on Thursday, June 20 (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm) for a casual evening get together: no host beverages and food. On the agenda:  great conversations about all things writing.

Amber Cowie, our Member at Large for Howe Sound, is heading up this event, and would like to have a good idea of numbers, so please RSVP to Amber by Tuesday, June 18th if you plan to attend.

Winners of Early Renewal Prize Draw!

We are pleased to announce the winners of our draws for early renewal prizes (eligible members are those who renewed their membership for 2019 before December 31, 2018).

We had two prizes to offer this year: first, a refund of our chapter membership dues for 2019, and second (thanks to the generous folks at Sisters in Crime National) reimbursement of the registration fee for Whale of a Crime, the 2019 edition of Left Coast Crime, taking place in Vancouver in March, 2019.

And the winners are…..

Chapter membership dues — Winona Kent

Left Coast Crime registration fee — Loreth Beswestherick

Congratulations to the two winners and thanks to all who renewed their membership early. Your support is deeply appreciated.

Member New Book Alert: Murder Knows No Season by Cathy Ace

When we hear that one of our members has a new book coming out, we know we’re in store for a treat. Sometimes we don’t hear about it until after the fact, which always makes us feel like we should have known sooner. (Moral of the story: if you have a book coming, please let us know well in advance. It’s our pleasure to add an item right here on our web site to help spread the word.)

Of course, a new book by Cathy Ace is such a treat, it almost doesn’t need introduction. Yet we’re glad to know about Murder Knows No Season, which is available now.

Murder Knows No Season is a terrific introduction to the world of mystery by Cathy Ace.

The book is comprised of four very different novellas, one for each season.

WINTER: The Corpse with Eight Faces: A Cait Morgan Mystery
Trapped in a snowbound lodge in the Canadian countryside, Cait is faced with a corpse, and a group of eight suspects. A classic closed-circle mystery featuring Cait Morgan, before she and Bud Anderson knew each other well enough for her to be able to call upon him for help.

SPRING: The Case of the Desperate Duchess: A WISE Enquiries Agency Mystery
Christine Wilson-Smythe’s cousin, Lady Jacintha Wraysbury, calls in the WISE Enquiries Agency to hunt for a missing girl: her assistant at her flower shop. In this early case for the agency, readers join the private investigators as they scour West London for a girl who’s in more danger than any of them imagine.

SUMMER: A standalone thriller Out and About in a Boat  
Meet the Golightlys, an average Canadian family. When dad Dave wants to take his fifteen year-old son Zack and thirteen year-old daughter Becky for a weekend at a local lake, mum Debbie is hesitant. After all, she and Dave are separated for good reason. But what could go wrong in just thirty hours? When there’s a dead body involved, quite a lot.

AUTUMN: The Fall: A DI Evan Glover Case
Not all Welshmen are rugby fans, only the ones who breathe. DI Evan Glover has played and loved the game since he was a boy, so when the body of one of Wales’ most celebrated rugby players — GGR Davies — is found at the bottom of a cliff, the question “Did he jump, or was he pushed?” is one of national significance. As he digs into what might have led to the tragedy, Glover discovers his hero might not have been the man he — and all of Wales — thought he was.

You can read more about Cathy on her web site here.

Summer Writers Retreat

The first ever Sisters in Crime – Canada West retreat took place on August 18th. As things evolved, though, it ended up being two days of fun activities intended to allow the attendees to network and soak up information about all things writing.

Chapter Vice-President Charlotte Morganti at the Summer Writers Retreat in Victoria, B.C., August 2018.
Laurie R. King, Janice MacDonald and S.G. Wong share an enjoyable conversation at Swan’s Pub.

We began with a social event on the Friday evening, August 17th. Well attended, the casual event brought together more than 40 sisters (and one brother!) in crime at one of Victoria, British

Columbia’s landmark social spots: Swan’s Pub on Pandora Street in the historic part of old Victoria. Guest of honor Laurie R. King happily schmoozed with BC and Pacific Northwestern siblings and other attendees in a casual and convivial environment.

The Retreat itself took place on Saturday. Tickets were sold out nearly two months in advance for a day of lectures by several of our esteemed membership. Chapter Vice-President Charlotte Morganti acted as emcee. The seminars opened with a very timely talk by Janice MacDonald called “Inclusion Rider: Populating the 21st Century Novel” that introduced the concepts of inclusion to her very interested audience. After a break, Kristina Stanley spoke on the always interesting topic of “Self-Editing for Writers” after which organizing committee member and past-president S.G. Wong spoke on the ever-popular topic of author marketing.

From left authors and siblings Linda L. Richards, Merrilee Robson, Marcelle Dubé enjoying the pre-Retreat social at Swan’s Pub.
Sisters in Crime member James W. Ziskin and featured speaker Laurie R. King toast the retreat at the historic Swan’s Pub in downtown Victoria, B.C.

After lunch, Chapter president Linda L. Richards gave a talk on some of the open secrets of the publishing world. The day’s main event, of course, was international bestselling author Laurie R. King’s talk on sustaining a series. King spoke to a rapt audience, many of whom had shown up especially to see her. The Canada West Chapter was gratified that the Sisters in Crime Speakers Bureau made it possible to invite someone of King’s calibre to speak at our inaugural event. Superstar King was warm, approachable and very welcoming of all of the fans who turned up.

On Saturday evening, a multi-author panel spoke in front of a well attended community audience on the topic of “Author Alchemy: Spinning Facts into Fiction Gold.” Here again, anchoring star Laurie R. King showed her grace in giving warm and equal time to moderator and fellow panelists S.G. Wong, Janice MacDonald, Marcelle Dubé and Liz Freeland in an enthusiastic discussion right on topic.

The first ever mini-conference hosted by Sisters in Crime – Canada West was an unqualified success. Kudos go out to Retreat Committee Chair, S.G. Wong, and Committee members Charlotte Morganti, Marcelle Dubé, and Anne Hopkinson for all their hard work​.

Guest post by Laurie R. King

When I sat down in 1987 and wrote the opening line of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, what did I—an at-home, 35 year-old mother of young children—imagine would happen?

I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him.

Did I have the faintest glimmer of an imagination that, three decades later, I would be thinking about my sixteenth novel in the series? Would my wildest dreams have known that most of those would be New York Times bestsellers? Or that people—readers, other writers—might regard me as any kind of an expert on…well, anything, really?

Nope. At the time I sat down and wrote those words, I knew nothing about the early 20th century, or about southern England. I knew less than nothing about Sherlock Holmes. At the time, I wanted to tell a coming-of-age story about a young woman with a mind like that of The Great Detective.

But once your character has come of age—which happens for Mary Russell in the second book, when she turns 21 and has to decide which path her life will follow—then what?

A series is faced with that same decision. Do I write characters who are fixed, in personality if not in time, and give them adventures that can be read in any order? Or do I let each episode shape those characters, giving the series an overall narrative arc?

When I began the Russell “memoirs” (they’re written in first person) I was not terribly interested in Sherlock Holmes. As a supporting actor, as the pattern on which Russell’s mind was formed, Holmes was both fun and useful—if nothing else, contrasting a middle-aged Victorian male to a young 20th century feminist offered me a near endless source of conflict and snappy dialogue.

But one of the intriguing things about the Conan Doyle detective is how somehow, despite his façade of being a cold and unresponsive thinking machine, we feel that Holmes is driven by very human impulses—a passion for justice, a deep need to set things right. As John D. MacDonald put it (in the 1984 edition of Mystery Writing Handbook):

We remember Holmes as a man who, primarily, was troubled in spirit, was obsessed with the sense of evil, whose arrogance was defensive.

In other words: anything but coldly inhuman.

The awareness of that side of the man gradually permeated my own version of him, and made possible a series of 16 books that still interest their writer (and, one gathers, their readers). Around the fourth or fifth book, I started to become interested in Holmes as a character, rather than as a foil for Mary Russell. How would the devastation of the Great War have affected him, I wondered? What about the man in 1915, as opposed to 1880, opened him up to taking an apprentice—and a female one at that? And how would that apprentice-turned-partner have challenged him, as clearly Dr. Watson had not?

How would both of these extraordinary characters have changed, over time?

And with that, the Russell & Holmes series developed a narrative arc, about something larger than the adventures of two phenomenal minds.


Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of 27 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories (from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, named one of the 20th century’s best crime novels by the IMBA, to 2018’s Island of the Mad).  She has won an alphabet of prizes from Agatha to Wolfe, been chosen as guest of honor at several crime conventions, and is probably the only writer to have both an Edgar and an honorary doctorate in theology. She was inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars in 2010, as “The Red Circle.”