Friday, September 23, 2011

This Blog is No Longer Active

This blog remains as an archive only. The society is dissolved and the email address in the header is no longer being monitored.

For current information on activities of interest to Calgary and area crime writers at all levels of interest and experience, see Calgary Crime Writers

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The End of an Era

At its general meeting on Thursday, September 8, the members of Mystery Writers Ink Society voted to dissolve the Society, as we do not have enough volunteers for a new board.

The bylaws call for the distribution of net assets, after obligations are met, to other groups in Alberta with similar objectives.

Members decided to divide the net assets between the Alexandra Writers Centre Society and the When Words Collide Writers Conference.

The Alexandra Writers Centre offers courses and other resources on writing, including courses on writing mystery fiction. Several writers who are, or have been, members of Mystery Writers Ink have taught courses at AWCS.

We will offer the Ink library to the Alexandra Writers Centre Society.

The first annual When Words Collide conference was held in Calgary in August, 2011. Mystery Writers Ink sponsored the panel “Dead Men Do Talk” with Ink board member Ann Cooney and Det. Dave Sweet of the Homicide Unit, Calgary Police Service. This event was an outstanding success, with an SRO crowd. WWC has already invited Det. Sweet back for the 2012 conference. In addition, mystery writer Anthony Bidulka will be a featured speaker at WWC 2012.

As your outgoing board, we encourage all members of Mystery Writers Ink to consider taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the Alexandra Writers Centre and When Words Collide.

We want to thank all of our members over the years who have contributed to Mystery Writers Ink in every volunteer capacity.

Thanks to everyone who has come to speak to our group, sharing professional expertise and insights that have supported us as crime writers in creating our best work.

Thanks to the authors on the Mystery Writers Ink panel at Bloody Words in Victoria in June 2011: Susan Calder, Joan Donaldson-Yarmey, Garry Ryan,  Sharon Wildwind, and moderator Anthony Bidulka,

Thanks to Owl’s Nest Books for providing the venue for our meetings for the last few years. Owl’s Nest offered a warm, friendly, and bookish environment for our meetings.

It has been an honour to serve on the Board and to work and meet so many interesting writers and resource people. We look forward to seeing you at writing workshops and conferences.

Anne Jayne, Jayne Barnard, Ann Cooney
Board of Directors

Friday, September 2, 2011

September Meeting - Change of Location

Mystery Writers Ink Sept. 8th, 2011 - 7 p.m.
Change of Venue!

the program room of the Louise Riley Library, 
1904 14th Ave NW, Calgary. 
(Located in the annex behind the library.)

There is no speaker.

The purpose of this meeting is to elect a new Board of Directors or dissolve the Society in accordance with the bylaws. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

When Words Collide: Dead Men Do Tell Tales

By Anne Jayne

Detective Dave Sweet from the Homicide Unit of the Calgary Police Service spoke about homicide investigation to a standing-room-only crowd at the When Words Collide convention.

The Homicide Unit has a strategy that allows them to assign a maximum number of detectives to a case in the early hours and days. The process is called Major Case Management, which is used elsewhere in Canada, as well.

The detectives in the Homicide Unit take turns being the primary investigator, the file coordinator, and members of the team. While both the primary investigator and the file coordinator report to the team commander, a staff sergeant, these officers normally exercise their professional judgment in handling the investigation.

The primary investigator controls the speed, flow, and direction of the investigation. The primary investigator will have a dozen or so detectives available to assign to all the tasks that must be done as rapidly as possible. When a detective reports back with new information, then the primary sets a new task for that officer.

What the primary investigator does not do—at least in the first days of the investigation—is to go out into the field, not even to visit the crime scene or to interview witnesses. The investigation has to move too fast, and it simply isn’t possible for the primary to lose time going out to the field. There is too much to do to ensure that the entire team is working efficiently and at full speed to gather information. Time is of the essence because, they believe, if they don’t have a good idea of who is responsible within two days, it will be a long investigation.

The file coordinator tracks everything that is written, such as witness statements and officer statements, forensic information, and so on. The file coordinator isn’t just filing all of this material: he or she is monitoring the incoming information and keeping the primary in the loop.

All of these officers are seeking the pieces of the puzzle they’ve been assigned to get. As the pieces come in, they can start putting the puzzle together.  Those pieces will deal with the three major elements that must be investigated: the body; the history; and the scene. The detectives let evidence form their theory, rather than trying to fit evidence into a theory.

Det. Sweet talked about the pattern of homicides in Calgary. The most homicides in a year was 34; the average is 28. The solve rate is 69% (based on a five year average). The preferred weapon: knives.  The highest number of homicides are in the months of January and August, and June has the fewest. Saturday night has the highest number of homicides during the week; Monday has the fewest. The most common times: between 3 and 4 in the morning, which corresponds to when the bars close. The fewest: between 5 and 6 a.m.

There is a protocol for calling in the Homicide Unit. When a uniformed officer who is first on the scene believes that it is a sudden death situation, he or she will call it in with a 1032 code, and will describe it as “good” (natural death) or “bad” for a possible homicide. If the assessment of either the uniformed officer who is first on the scene, or the investigator from the Medical Examiner, is that the Homicide Unit should be called in, that’s when the process begins. The next step is that every detective will be called in, whether it is 1 a.m. or the middle of a child’s birthday party.

The Medical Examiner determines the cause and manner of death. The manner of death may be natural, accidental, suicide, homicide, or undetermined.

When will the Homicide Unit be called in? The Unit handles not only homicides, but all suspicious deaths and all cases which involve a handgun and a person in custody or a police officer. In the latter situation, the Calgary Police Service handles the investigation concerning the subject, while an independent team—the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team—investigates the officer.
The Homicide Unit has access to other resources: profilers, including geographical profilers; dentists with expertise in forensic odontology; experts on blood pattern analysis, fibre and trace evidence, knot craft; and the like; forensic anthropologists; forensic computer animators, and many, many, more experts. They can get access to satellite imagery, which has proven to be particularly helpful when bodies are found in rural areas. The images can be so precise that a vehicle can be identified. (This is costly, however.)

Calgary’s Homicide Unit sends extremely detailed information about homicides to the Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System (VCLAS), which is intended to link similar murders across the country. Every police service is required to participate.

Detective Sweet closed by saying that the Homicide Unit investigates cases with equal thoroughness. There are no second class citizens when they are investigating a homicide. They will work as tirelessly on the case of a gang member caught up in gang violence as they do for any other homicide.

Detective Sweet’s presentation was informative and well-presented. Not only was the audience appreciative—but a good many people at this workshop stayed behind to ask him even more questions. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bloody Words 2012 Registration Now Open

Register before August 31, 2011,
& SAVE almost 10% 

Panels & presentations, the Mystery Café, dealers room, loot bags, agent appointments, ms evaluations, the Bony Pete short story contest, opening reception, banquet, Friday night special event, and more...
And don’t forget to submit your book, if eligible, to our new
Canadian literary award...

Register online with Paypal or register by mail with a cheque.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June meeting is this Thursday, June 15th at Owl’s Nest Bookstore

Reminder that the June meeting is this Thursday, June 15th at Owl’s Nest Bookstore in Brittannia Plaza SW (49th St and Elbow Drive SW).

The discussion this month is all about writers conferences: who goes, why they go, where they went, what they got out of the experience. While the focus is on Bloody Words, where there were at least 6 Inksters prowling the halls and appearing on panels, anyone who has been anywhere is welcome to chime in with their experiences.

Following the fun part, we’ll spend a few minutes on business, mainly presenting the audited financial statement held over from May and voting on a membership fee for next year.

Meanwhile, to get the flavour of just some of the activity at Bloody Words, check out recent entries here and at

See you Thursday!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Grizzly Lies by Eileen Coughlan

As we were giving away several copies of 'Grizzly Lies' at Bloody Words (some donated by the author and some purchased with funds from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts - at a good discount from the owners of Owl's Nest Books), I thought it a good time to re-post my review of this title from its release in 2005:

Until her landlord's body is found beneath the gazebo, freelance journalist Hellie MacConnell's biggest worry is the tourists baiting an irate elk on the lawn. The former happens frequently in the beautiful mountain resort town of Banff, Alberta; the latter is unusual enough that the RCMP sends for a special crimes unit from Calgary. Is it murder or did 'Doc's' old heart simply give out? Why was Doc in Banff at all when he should have been in deepest Africa? Inheriting the house along with oddball environmentalist Arthur, who lives on the property, Hellie must unearth dead loves and buried lies if she is to clear both their names. But Arthur, a noted save-the-grizzlies crusader, has disappeared, leaving butchered bear paws in his cabin.

Meanwhile, anti-hunting protesters rally against a much-publicized auction for a mountain-sheep license. Developers try to drive a wedge between the town and the National Parks bureaucracy that limits its growth. The eternal winter ski-bum party gears up with the usual hard drinking and soft drugs. Between following Arthur's sketchy trail and dodging those gate-crashing bores from the fudge shop, Hellie must interview the publicity-shy winner of the sheep auction, a Texas millionaire whose killing history leads back to the same region of Africa where Doc first met Arthur. To top it all off, a family crisis is flaring up back East. Hunting guides clash with protesters, Arthur's alibi is unstable at best, and somebody seems able to enter Hellie's house unseen, day or night. It's inevitable that she'll find herself staring at the small end of a gun; the only question is, whose?

The pace builds steadily, the heroine's troubles become our own, and the varied mountain landscapes are aptly and beautifully integrated into the changing moods of the story. The writing lifts to occasional flights of enchanting whimsy, as when 'two black crows sailed past like a nasty joke,' or 'dreamy light settled in like dust.' 'Grizzly Lies' is a solid sophomore outing for Eileen Coughlan, whose first novel, 'Dying by Degrees', was short-listed for the 2001 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blogs reporting on Bloody Words

The usual suspects over at 'Type M for Murder' talk about their Bloody experiences and what makes a good panel.

Author Brenda Chapman talks about the weather, the Canucks fans, and signing her books at Bloody Words.

One woman's summary of the panels she attended at her first crime writers conference

Monday, June 6, 2011

Inkster brings home the Bony Pete short story award

As previously reported by president Anne Jayne, Inkster Jayne Barnard won the short mystery story contest at Bloody Words 2011 in Victoria BC.

Runners-up were Melodie Campbell and Gloria Ferris, both of Ontario.

The prize is $100 and publication in Victoria's Monday Magazine this week, followed by publication on the Monday Mag website.

Here's a photo of Jayne receiving the traditional award statue, in its hand-crafted carrying case, from Grant McKenzie of Monday Magazine:

A delightful woman and a goddess of Canadian crime, Mary Jane Maffini blogs about why writers' conferences are good for us:

Ten Reasons to attend crime writing conferences

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The big moment arrives!

Prepping for the prize draw: Sharon Wildwind stuffing the ballot box

The panelists getting ready to face the lions... er, audience: Sharon Wildwind, Joan Donaldson-Yarmey, Garry Ryan and Susan Calder listening while moderator Anthony Bidulka lays out the ground rules.

Somebody's getting excited !!!!

Audience members filing in to their first panel of the weekend. We had a full house thanks in part to our prime placement on the schedule and also to the stellar work of our panelists in pushing a draw-ticket/advertisement to every single person at the conference's opening reception.

And they're OFF!

It all winds down in a surprisingly short time, with a happy woman named Benny as the proud winner of the prize basket stuffed to the gills with books and other goodies provided by the panelists (plus a bottle of wine and and an Ink mug to drink it from).

This panel brought many positive comments and a lot of interest from mystery readers from across Canada. Many thanks to the Bloody Words Committee for hosting, the panelists for participating, our wonderful moderator Tony B for keeping all the conversational balls in the air, and Mystery Writers Ink and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for funding support.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Ink-sponsored panel at Bloody Words, June 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Moderator Anthony Bidulka. 

Would you cross this man?

The Russell Quant series is a multi award nominee including for the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award and Saskatchewan Book Award. The second book in the series, Flight of Aquavit, was awarded the Lambda Literary Award for Best Men’s Mystery.

Tony rides herd Friday, June 3 over the

'Writing the Open Range' panel at Bloody Words:

Panelist Sharon Wildwind

Sharon, a nurse, lives in Calgary and writes the Elizabeth Pepperhawk - Avivah Rosen series,  a Vietnam-War era set of mysteries about a nurse, a military policewoman and their combat-hardened pal Benny. A fascinating look at attitudes and anguish of a time almost forgotten only 40 years later. Sharon is a long-time member of Mystery Writers Ink in Calgary.

Panelist Garry Ryan 

Garry lives in Calgary and writes the Detective Lane series set in that city. A veteran of 30 years teaching teenagers to properly punctuate, he is more laid-back than his previous career would indicate. The fifth book in his series, Malabarista, is coming out this September.

Panelist Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

Joan, a travel writer with seven titles to her credit, used to live in Edmonton. She takes readers off the main roads into rural regions of Alberta with her mystery series starring travel writer Elizabeth Oliver.

Panelist Susan Calder

Susan's debut mystery, Deadly Fall, features insurance adjuster Paula Savard, and has recently been released from TouchWood Editions. Susan is a long-time member of Mystery Writers Ink.

Follow the full Bloody experience at 

Writing the Open Range

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A New Canadian Mystery Award: the Bony Blithe

The Bloody Words Mystery Conference, Canada's largest and longest-running conference bringing together mystery authors and readers, is pleased to announce a NEW Canadian literary award: The Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (aka the Bony Blithe) "for books that make us smile."

This award, which includes a $1000 cash prize as well as a stunning trophy, will be awarded annually at the Bloody Words Mystery Conference. The inaugural award will be presented next year at Bloody Words XII (June 1-3, 2012) in Toronto.


The award is open to any Canadian citizen or permanent resident and is for full-length (at least 60,000 words) mysteries (print or e-book) published in the previous year. The 2012 award is for books published between January 1 and December 31, 2011. Books may be submitted by the publisher or the author. No YA or noir, please.

You do not have to be registered for Bloody Words to enter this contest.

What is a "light mystery"?

"Light mysteries" cover anything from laugh-out-loud books to gentle humour to good old-fashioned stories with little violence or gore.

Submission procedure:

Send four (4) hard copies of the book(s) by December 15, 2011, to:

Caro Soles
12 Roundwood Court
Toronto ON M1W 1Z2

You may start submitting books now. For the deadline of December 15, we go by the postmark or equivalent. If the book has not come back from the printer by December 15, 2011, you may send us copies of the ARC.

Note: If you are sending the book(s) from outside Canada, make sure the customs declaration has NCV (no commercial value) or $0 for the dollar value.

If your book is an e-book, contact us about submitting it electronically. Please be aware, however, that we may require hard copy for e-books.

Shortlist and award announcements:

The shortlist for the 2012 award will be announced on March 28, 2012. The award will be presented at the Bloody Words XII banquet at the Downtown Toronto Hilton on Saturday, June 2, 2012.

For more information:

Write to

or visit

Good luck...
Cheryl Freedman

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jayne Barnard Shortlisted for the Unhanged Arthur

Jayne Barnard Shortlisted for the Unhanged Arthur - by Anne Jayne

Crime Writers of Canada celebrated mystery writers on Thursday, April 28, with events in cities across Canada. Local groups held very different events, but they all ended the same way, with the announcement of the shortlists for the 2011 CWC Awards.

In Calgary, CWC members Jayne Barnard, Susan Calder, Linda Kupecek and Garry Ryan took to the podium at the Calgary Public Library to read their work to an appreciative audience that included a number of Ink members.

For Inksters, the news was excellent: Jayne Barnard, a long-time member and current Secretary-Treasurer of Mystery Writers Ink, was chosen by Crime Writers of Canada for the shortlist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel (popularly known as the Unhanged Arthur). The judges selected only three manuscripts this year from more than sixty that were submitted to the contest.

Jayne's novel, When the Bow Breaks, is set in France and the Lower Mainland, and features RCMP officer Lacey McCrae. While off duty, Lacey intervenes in a child abduction. She rescues the victim but soon realizes the little boy is still in danger. Her determination to uncover the source of the threat causes conflicts at home and at work. How much will she sacrifice to save a child she only met once?

The other two nominees are John Jeneroux for Better Off Dead and Kevin Thornton for Uncoiled.

The Unhanged Arthur was a brainchild of world-renowned mystery author Louise Penney, who launched her career as a novelist by winning the Debut Dagger Award in the U.K. She thought that Canadian writers deserved a similar contest, and the Crime Writers of Canada agreed.

The Unhanged Arthur contest is open to Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have never had a novel of any kind published commercially. Participants first submit the 5,000 words and a synopsis. The judges then invite up to ten authors to submit the full manuscript. Of those, up to five will be selected for the shortlist.

McArthur & Co. presents the Award and a cash prize to the winner at the annual Crime Writers of Canada banquet, which takes place in Victoria on June 2, 2011. McArthur & Co. has the right of first refusal, and may offer a book contract to the author who wins the Unhanged Arthur. The author may choose to accept that offer or to pursue other publication options.

Winners of the Award include Gloria Ferris for The Corpse Flower; Douglas Moles for Louder; D.J. McIntosh for The Witch of Babylon (Penguin Canada); and Phyllis Smallman for Margarita Nights (McArthur & Co.).

Congratulations to Jayne Barnard on the selection of her manuscript for the shortlist, which is a testament to her dedication to the craft of writing. Good luck at the Crime Writers of Canada banquet in Victoria: we'll be rooting for Jayne to receive the Award!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Arthur Ellis Awards Short List is announced!

Best Crime Novel:

A Criminal to Remember, Michael Van Rooy, Turnstone Press

Bury Your Dead, Louise Penny, Little, Brown UK

In Plain Sight, Mike Knowles, ECW Press

Slow Recoil, C.B Forrest, RendezVous Crime

The Extinction Club, Jeffrey Moore, Penguin Group

Best First Crime Novel:

The Damage Done, Hilary Davidson, Tom Doherty Associates

The Debba, Avner Mandleman, Random House of Canada

The Penalty Killing, Michael McKinley, McClelland & Stewart

The Parabolist, Nicholas Ruddock, Doubleday Canada

Still Missing, Chevy Stevens, St. Martin's Press

Best French Crime Book:

Cinq secondes, Jacques Savoie, Libre Expression

Dans le quartier des agités, Jacques Côté, Éditions Alire

La société des pères meurtriers, Michel Châteauneuf, Vent d’Ouest

Quand la mort s'invite à la première, Bernard Gilbert, Québec Amerique

Vanités, Johanne Seymour, Libre Expression

Best Crime Nonfiction:

Northern Light, Roy MacGregor, Random House

On the Farm, Stevie Cameron, Alfred A. Knopf Canada

Our Man in Tehran, Robert Wright, HarperCollins Canada

Best Juvenile/YA Crime Book:

Borderline, Allan Stratton, HarperCollins

Pluto's Ghost, Sharee Fitch, Doubleday Canada

The Vinyl Princess, Yvonne Prinz, HarperCollins

Lost For Words (The Worst Thing She Ever Did), Alice Kuipers, HarperCollins

Victim Rights, Norah McClintock, Red Deer Press

Best Crime Short Story:

In it Up to My Neck, Jas R. Petrin, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

So Much in Common, Mary Jane Maffini, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

The Big Touch, Jordan McPeek,

The Piper's Door, James Powell, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

The Bust, William Deverall, Whodunnit: Sun Media’s Canadian Crime Fiction


Best First Unpublished Novel:

(Unhanged Arthur)

Better Off Dead, John Jeneroux

Uncoiled, Kevin Thorton

When the Bow Breaks, Jayne Barnard

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: Those Who Fight Monsters

Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives

Edited by Justin Gustainis

An anthology can be a tricky assemblage. A strong theme can result in stories of a similarity that wears on the reader, while a weak theme leaves disconnects from one story to the next, gaps that allow the reader's attention to leave the book entirely. Editor Justin Gustainis found a good balance with 'Those Who Fight Monsters.' All stories have a monster (or more than one) and a detective, yet each stands alone in respect to characters and plot.

The detectives cover the gamut from hard-boiled PI's giving - and getting - low blows on the mean streets to intellectuals expounding on crime in refined quiet rooms. Sleuths include the demon-fighting soccer mom trying to shepherd her daughter safely past demon-snares as well as the normal risks of adolescence, the disgruntled Security sorcerer who battles bureaucracy as well as beasts, and other detectives both amateur and professional.

The paranormal elements are equally varied. In addition to the usual vampires and werewolves, there are demons of compelling variety and more than one style of shape-shifter. Snakes, ugh. Fairy-tale creatures such as gnomes and fairies also appear. The detective isn't necessarily chasing a monster, nor is the monster always the villain. The settings are mostly urban, mostly modern, with an overlay (or underbelly) of fantasy elements.

One reservation about this collection was that some authors presumed a familiarity with their series work and left me faintly lost at first, while others seemed to be trying to fit several novels' worth of back story into the opening paragraphs and slowed the pace accordingly. Apart from that disparity, the collection was a joy to read and introduced me to several paranormal/mystery crossover authors I'd not heard of previously but will certainly follow up now.

All in all, these fourteen stories provide plenty of meat for both the detective-story aficionado and those fascinated by paranormal fiction. And, if you've ever pondered the fictional detective as a reflection of archetypes, Gustainis' introductory essay is a treat.

Jayne Barnard

Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives Edited by Justin Gustainis Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing March 2011 Available in both trade paperback and electronic formats.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Advance Review: The Witch of Babylon

You know you’re in good hands with an author when, half a page into the prologue, you are bewitched to the point you forget what century you’re in. The return to the book’s current reality (2003) half a page later was a brutal but effective wrench; it assured my intense interest throughout the remaining 370 pages.

But enough about the writing.

‘The Witch of Babylon’ is at once a complex art-history mystery centered on biblical scholarship, a breath-stealing thriller set in the early months of the Iraq invasion, and an intellectual exploration of links between Mesopotamian myths and European alchemical processes. Not to mention the archaeological journeys into subterranean realms. Oh, and a personal journey of growth by a spoiled young art broker after the death of the older brother who has always shielded him from consequences.

This is a square-on hard stare at the murky world of antiquities looting and trading. Add a soupcon of travelogue flavour over the streets of New York City and various parts of the Middle East, and there is much to enjoy about this book.

‘The Witch of Babylon’ was short-listed for a Debut Dagger in 2007, and won an Arthur Ellis award for Best Unpublished Crime Novel in 2008. It is being released by Penguin Canada in Spring 2011 and (at last count) has sold rights in 15 languages around the world.

My ARC was sent by the author, D.J. McIintosh, after my bugging her for three years to be allowed to read the full manuscript. When it finally arrived I read the whole book in a sprint, with only meal breaks, and will now read it again more slowly, to savour the unfolding story.

‘Witch’ is the first book of The Babylon Trilogy.

Jayne Barnard

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Speaker and Announcements

Hi, Inksters and Friends

Apologies if you're getting multiple copies of this announcement over the past week. Some mail servers are currently rejecting mail from our mail host due to spammers (not us) abusing the system.

April Speaker: Susan Calder on the post-sale editing process. Susan's first mystery novel Deadly Fall was accepted for publication last spring. She was immediately assigned an editor and plunged into the process of whipping the novel into publishable shape. Susan will share the joys and challenges of working with your editor after the novel's acceptance. 7 p.m. on April 14 at Owl's Nest books.

This month's guest blogger is Alberta playwright, personality and YA mystery author Marty Chan, encapsulating for those of us who missed his AWCS workshop the rationale behind his low-key promotional style.

Meeting Marty Chan

Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlist Event 2011

Join us for the announcement of the shortlist for Canada’s national award for crime writing. Hear author readings by local mystery writers Jayne Barnard, Susan Calder, Linda Kupecek and Garry Ryan. Come and join the conversation.

Presented by Calgary Public Library and the Crime Writers of Canada.
Thursday April 28
Calgary Public Library
Central Library
Main Floor
New and Notable Area
No registration required

In other news:

The Alexandra Writers' Centre Society Spring Session begins April 20th with a wide array of courses, workshops and weekend intensives. Included this session are 8 week courses in Creative Writing, Novel, Short Story, Humour, and Writing for Young Markets with Shirlee-Smith Matheson. Last year's INK speaker Caroline Russell-King offers a weekend intensive in playwriting; INK member Susan Calder will teach a Dynamic Dialogue workshop on Saturday, April 23.

For a full course list and more information visit: or phone 403-264-4730.

The Shuswap Writers' Festival takes place May 27-29 in Salmon Arm, BC. This year's presenters and workshop leaders include mystery authors William Deverell and Michael Slade.

And TWO short story contests upcoming:

The Wolfe Island "Scene of the Crime"

• Contest open to Canadian citizens or those resident in
Canada and not previously published in the mystery or crime
fiction genre.

First Prize: $100 Second Prize: $50 Third Prize: $35
Contest Guidelines

• Adult category: 5000 word limit, prizes: $125, $100 and $75, plus two honourable mentions $25 each
• Student category (author is under 18 years old): 3000 word limit, prizes: $75, $50 and $35 plus two honourable mentions $20 each

Prize winners announced at When Words Collide a festival for readers, writers, artists, and publishers of imaginative fiction — Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, Romance and other genres.

August 12-14, 2011 in Calgary, AB.

REMINDER: If you have news or upcoming events of general interest to Inksters and other Calgary-area mystery writers and readers, send them to for inclusion in the next e-nnoucements.

Jayne Barnard
Mystery Writers Ink

Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 Derringer Awards for short mystery fiction

The Short Mystery Fiction Society is pleased to announce the winners of
the 2011 Derringer Awards for short mystery fiction:

Best Flash Fiction Story (under 1,000 words) - (TIE)

"The Book Signing," by Kathy Chencharik, _/*Thin Ice: Crime Stories by
New England Writers*/_, Leslie Wheeler, Mark Ammons, Barbara Ross, Kat
Fast, Eds., Level Best Books, November, 2010


"The Unknown Substance" by Jane Hammons, *A Twist of Noir*, December 27,

Best Short Story (1,001-4,000 words)

"Pewter Badge," by Michael J. Solender, *Yellow Mama*, August, 2010

Best Long Story (4,001-8,000 words) - (TIE)

"Care of the Circumcised Penis" by Sean Doolittle, _/*Thuglit Presents: Blood, Guts & Whiskey*/_, Todd Robinson, Ed., Kensington Publishing Corp., May, 2010


"Interpretation of Murder" by B. K. Stevens, *Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine*, December, 2010

Best Novelette (8,001-17,500 words)

"Rearview Mirror" by Art Taylor, *Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine*, March, 2010

We offer hearty congratulations to these authors for their demonstrated
excellence in short fiction, and our sincere thanks to all who submitted

Presentation of the Awards will take place in conjunction with the short
story panel at Bouchercon 2011, held in St. Louis, MO in September.

Larry W. Chavis
Derringer Coordinator, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


June 3-5, 2011 Victoria, BC

We’re excited about the way the Bloody Words program is taking shape. From a Canadian Mystery Trivia game to a session on The Future of Publishing, a three-hour CSI Victoria workshop, and Michael Slade’s Heart-Stopping Shock Theatre and Ghost Walk around the olde city, there’s something for everyone. Take a look at the tentative schedule at the end of this report and tell your friends. You’ll want to stay an extra day or two or five to greet our returning whales, visit a winery, or stroll world-famous Butchart Gardens. Did we mention the special Emily Carr exhibit?


Registration is fast approaching our limit of 200 attendees. If you know people who intend to come but haven’t registered yet, encourage them to sign up at! Banquet includes your choice of delectable BC wild salmon, meat, or vegetarian entree.


You still have time to have a short story or chapters of a novel critiqued by a published author. Print the form from the website. Submissions must be postmarked by April 15.
Agent interview slots are filled, and so is the waiting list. If you missed out, you can still sign up for a manuscript evaluation.


Luxuriate in the facilities offered by the 5-Star Hotel Grand Pacific. Guests have full access to the Athletic Club with its weight room, yoga/dance studio, and several pools. Or pamper yourself at the Spa. Rooms are still available at the conference rate of $179 plus tax per night. If you need a roommate, contact our Roommate Coordinator through the website.


It isn’t too late to order T-shirts! Get our surfing skeleton logo on a black shirt for $20. Email your request with size and quantity to and pay by cheque or PayPal.


Local volunteers are working hard to get ready for the conference. If you are coming early and would like to help with last-minute preparations or conference tasks, Volunteer Coordinator Judy Hudson would love to hear from you. See the sign-up sheet on the website.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meeting Marty Chan

Alberta author Marty Chan has mysteries, plays, radio and television tales to his credit. Since 2004, when Thistledown Press launched his first YA novel, The Mystery of the Frozen Brains, he has learned a lot about the promotional side of the publishing industry. In this interview, he shares his perspective on Selling your Novel, not your Soul (taken from his recent AWCS workshop of the same title):

Welcome, Marty!

The title of your AWCS presentation was 'Sell your book, not your soul'. What of your own experiences and observations inspired it, and what were you hoping attendees would take away from the day?

My experiences as a playwright producing my own work at the Edmonton Fringe Festival inspired the workshop title, Sell Your Book, Not Your Soul. I'm an introvert who despises having to go on the street to hawk flyers. At my first festival, I quickly realized that if I didn't promote my own show I wouldn't be able to cover my expenses, so out of sheer desperation I hit the streets. On site, I noticed other producers getting in people's faces and acting like desperate used cars salesmen. I didn't want to sell myself out to sell my show, so I approached people the way I wanted to be approached. I was low-key, respectful and positive. My style worked!

From then on I approached promotion with the same diplomatic and generous style that I used the first time out.
You can promote without being pushy and you can sell your book without selling your soul. The key is to find a style that is true to who you are. I hoped that's the lesson the participants came away with.

There are a great many options for publicizing one's book nowadays. How can authors figure out where best to focus their time and dollars?

The best way to figure out how to focus your efforts is to take a step back and do some goal setting. If you set realistic goals for yourself, then you can better plan what resources you need. If you want a national bestseller, but you don't have any money or time to make this happen, you're bound to be frustrated with the results. Often times writers have more time than money to put into promotion, so I always advise writers to make the best use of their time by finding people who are willing to help spread the word. The key is figuring out what's in it for those people who help. If they're your friends and family, you know you owe them a favour. If they are strangers, find an offer that gives them an incentive to see you succeed.

For True Story, my picture book about my two cats, I set the launch at the Edmonton Humane Society and promised them 30 percent of my book sales for the day. This gave them incentive to include me in their publicity and marketing plans.

Do you have a personal favourite publicity tactic and why - or why not - should other writers use it?

My favourite publicity tactic is to research the media outlet and figure out what they need, then brainstorm a segment that fills that need. You can't go wrong if you provide a TV producer, a visual segment (ie. actors performing an excerpt from your novel) with a funny and/or engaging talk. Think about what the media outlet needs and how you can plug into their needs, and your chances of getting some air time or ink greatly increase.

Mystery Writers Ink thanks Marty for sharing his expertise with us.

Marty's newest YA novel is

The Mystery of the Cyber Bully
(Thistledown Press Sept 2010).

How do you find a bully who lurks on the internet and lashes out at helpless victims? Intrepid kid detectives Marty, Remi and Trina must answer that question if they're to stop a cyber bully targeting their classmates.

We'll be drawing for this book at Ink's April meeting.

Jayne Barnard

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March Meeting 10th

At the meeting on Thursday, March 10, we'll be discussing book contracts, led by Anne Jayne. This will be a more informal discussion than many of our meetings--more like a workshop than a presentation.

Even if you haven't finished a manuscript that's ready to send to publishers, it isn't too early to become acquainted with what you'll see in a book contract when the time comes.

We'll look at topics such as:

- What are the terms that you'll usually see in a book contract, and why are there?
- What are some terms that you'll want to have in the contract for your own protection?
- What about negotiating better terms?
- What are the clues hidden in the contract that can warn you that this might be a sleazy "publisher" who's trying to exploit you, or an inexperienced publisher who may fail you?

We hope that this workshop will help to prevent a tragic case of eyes-glazing-over when you receive your first book contract from a publisher who is offering to publish your book.

Remember the example of Agatha Christie, who was so delighted to have her first novel accepted that she signed the book contract on the spot. It was a five-book deal, and even after the remarkable success of her mysteries the publisher refused to budge from terms that were very unfavourable to the author.

She served out her time on that contract. She submitted the manuscripts required of her, but held back her better work until she was set free from that publisher. She stayed with her second publisher for the rest of her life.

There's a moral in this for greedy publishers, and a moral for writers.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Blog Workshop Followup Questions

This is the place to add questions for Kevin when you've gone away and are trying to figure out things afterward.

Just add a comment to this post and Kevin will answer it. Ask freely; others may be wondering the same thing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Investigating the Investigators

Questions about how complaints against police officers are investigated? Please join Mystery Writers Ink for a discussion of the Calgary Police Commission how it operates and complaints against officers.

The Mystery Writers Ink speaker for February is Brian Edy, a member of the Calgary Police Commission. The task of the Police Commission is to provide independent civilian oversight and governance of the Calgary Police Service to ensure a safe community." Brian, a Calgary lawyer, is the chairperson of the sub-committee on citizen's complaints.


Thursday, January 10th

From 7 - 9 p.m.
Owl's Nest Books in Britannia Plaza

Elbow Drive and 49th Avenue SW, Calgary
(Note: the doors open at 6:45p.m.)

About Mystery Writers Ink

MWI supports aspiring and emerging mystery writers in Calgary. Annual membership is $25.00.

Drop-in fee of $5.00 for non-members.

For more information, please contact:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tax Tips for Writers

On January 13th, Sandra Fitzpatrick gave a presentation on Canadian income tax law for writers to Mystery Writers Ink. Sandra Fitzpatrick has been doing taxes professionally since 2006; she shared with us some important tips about organizing your tax information and tracking your income and expenses.


Sandra recommends that writers keep track of their income on a monthly basis. An Excel spreadsheet is one of the best methods to track income. Keep a record of the date that you received income, the source of the income, the total amount and the amount of GST collected. Writers should issue a receipt for income and record the receipt number in the spreadsheet.


Keep track of your expenses on a monthly basis as well. Set up another Excel spreadsheet to track expenses.

You need to be able to prove to the Canada Revenue Agency that you have a real business and that you are trying to show a profit, so for each expense that you claim; you should have a receipt to support it. On the receipt, write the reason for the expense, if it is not obvious.

A credit card statement is not a sufficient receipt. For example, if you pay for gas at a service station, then you need to be able to show that what you paid for was gas for your car, not a newspaper, coffee or snacks that tempt you as you pay for the gas.

Some expenses that writers can claim are:

  • Two writer's conventions per year (keep track of editor and agent appointments)
  • Research expenses, including travel
  • Meals – 50% of the bill including the tip and GST
  • Courses taken to further your business
  • Office supplies
  • Magazine subscriptions for research purposes
  • Guidebooks and maps for research purposes
  • Books on writing
  • Office equipment where you may have to claim Capital Cost Allowance (ask your accountant)

Car Expenses

The easiest way to claim your car expenses is to keep track of your mileage. CRA sets a rate per kilometre that you can claim as an expense. (About $.50 per kilometre) Check the CRA website as the rate changes from time to time.

Home Office Expenses

Home office expenses, unlike other expenses, can be deducted only against your writing income. If you have a home office, then keep track of your mortgage interest or rent, taxes and utilities. If your home office is 10% of the area of your home, then you can claim home office expenses of 10% of house expenses. If your home office expenses are more than your writing income, you can carry the unclaimed amount over to future years to be claimed in the year when you get that big advance.

If your business is successful, in April, you will have to pay your taxes. One method to make certain you have the cash on hand is to save 25% – 33% of every check you receive. At the end of the year, after you pay your income tax, you can either save or spend the rest.

Record Keeping

Find a filing system that works for you. If CRA ever knocks at your door, you will have to be able to produce your records to confirm your income and your expenses. You will have to be able to show that the there was a good business reason to pay the expenses that you claim in your income tax return.


If you make more than $30,000 per year, you need to collect and pay GST to CRA. You will need to apply for a GST number. It is easiest to pay GST annually. Every time you collect GST, transfer it to your savings account, so at year-end, you have the money to pay the tax. Otherwise, you may be paying penalties and interest.


Saturday, January 22, 2011



By Kate Thornton

Back when I first started writing, many years ago, I assumed because I thought I was a writer, I was a novelist. I just started writing, throwing in everything I could think of to tell my heartbreaking tales of timeless wonder, deathless prose and obvious genius. Heck, I didn't even really know what a short story was when I started writing.

I ended up with lots and lots of words, but still they were inadequate in conveying the grand ideas I thought I had.

Something was wrong. Well, plenty was wrong, but mostly I was trying to tell stories in too many words - way too many words. Fortunately, I discovered that I wasn't really trying to write novels, I was trying to write short stories. Once I realized that my ideas were better suited to a short form, I got better with practice. Maybe the things I learned about short stories can help you.

What is a short story?

All short stories share some similar basic characteristics. They all have a beginning, a middle and an ending. If your piece does not have all three, you may have a delightful slice-of-life or vignette, but without the basic form, you don't have a short story.

Your beginning is very important. You have only a few words in which to capture your reader and make him want to continue reading. You need a "grabber," an opening sentence that gets your reader's attention immediately.

There are lots of opening lines so memorable that we know them by heart. Go for an opening that won't let your reader stop, a specific event or idea that makes them want to find out what is going to happen.

The middle is where you expand on your idea, describe your setting or characters and get the reader to want to know more. It's where you tell the story. It's where the mystery or crime happens, where we get to know the good guys and bad guys. Ideally, a short story will have one central idea or plot line and no more than three main characters.

The end - especially in a mystery story - is where you hit your reader hard with what happened. It's the place where they either say, "Wow! I didn't see that coming!" or "Yes, that's exactly it!" Twist stories are designed to surprise the reader with an ending that is unexpected but satisfying.

Where do you get your ideas?

I get them from everywhere. I read, eavesdrop on conversations, skim the newspaper, mis-hear what people say on television and play the what-if game. What if that guy in line at the supermarket buried his wife in the basement. What if that person the cops are looking for is your husband. What if you heard someone planning a crime. You get the idea!

One thing that really helps me is my Idea File. Every time I think of an idea that might be of use, I stash it in my idea file. Then, when I'm staring at The Blank Screen of Death, I can rummage through my file until something starts to grow.

Getting the story written

I think there is nothing like the BIC method: Behind In Chair. Sit down and do it - get out that idea file and start writing. Don't worry about perfection, just tell the story to yourself and write it as you go. There will be plenty of time to edit once you have the basics down. And you can always write that killer opening line after you write the rest of the story.

What to do with a finished story

1. Revise. It's never really done, is it?

2. Get a sound critique.

3. Submit.

Revise. Write the story, then go back and rewrite it until it makes sense. Then rewrite it until it sounds good. Then go back and rewrite it until it sounds great. You might have to rewrite a dozen times to get it the way you know it can be.

Get a sound critique. Kiss your mom, but listen to your Sisters. As much as your mom loves your work, remember, it's probably you she loves and your work only by extension.

Sisters in Crime, however, is an example of a good writing group - there are many chapters worldwide and an internet-based chapter for those who do not have a local live chapter. The Short Mystery Fiction Society is an online group devoted to mystery short stories, and offers a wonderful list of markets, as does Absolute Write, a forum for writers of all genres.

These groups have writers who will let you have the benefit of their expertise. Take advantage of sound feedback and good advice.

Submit. Your story needs to find readers, so you must find venues for it and begin the submission process. You will discover paying and non-paying markets, anthologies, ezines, print magazines, even your church bulletin and garden club newsletter. And don't forget non-fiction venues - you may find one that will publish fiction.

Here are a couple of excellent market listings for mystery short fiction:

Remember to become familiar with places in which you wish to publish and read each venue's submission guidelines carefully - the guidelines will tell you exactly what that market will publish (subject matter, length, etc.) and the exact format they want, too. Also listed in the guidelines will be pay and rights information.

Rejection - we all get it. So send your story somewhere else. Then work on your next story while you're waiting to hear. Keep writing, revising and submitting. And let us know when you get published!

KATE THORNTON lives near Los Angeles and has over 100 short stories in print. She writes mostly mysteries and science fiction, teaches a short story workshop and has a new book of short fiction out, INHUMAN CONDITION Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

Bloody Words Progress Report #2

BLOODY WORDS 2011 June 3-5, 2011 Victoria, BC

Bloody Words, Canada's foremost mystery conference for readers and writers, comes to the West Coast for the first time! Join us in Victoria, BC, June 3-5, 2011.

Guests of Honour:

International Guest of Honour: Tess Gerritsen, medical doctor-turned-author of 3 series (romantic suspense, medical thrillers, and the police procedurals made into the TV series Rizzoli and Iles)

Canadian Guest of Honour: Michael Slade, acclaimed author of the Specialx series and other crime/horror novels. Enjoy a blood-chilling 1940s radio play at Michael Slade's Shock Theatre (open to all conference attendees) and his Ghost Walk to some of Victoria's haunted sites (pre-registration required; details to be announced).

Special Guest of Honour: William Deverell, author of award-winning legal thrillers and creator of Street Legal. Deverell will be presented with a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his contributions to Canadian crime writing.

Registration Deadline

Registrations for Bloody Words 2011 already exceed half of our available banquet space, if you haven't signed up yet, REGISTER NOW.

Agent Interviews: Available slots are filling up fast. Act now.

Bony Pete Short Story Contest: Monday Magazine, Victoria's alternative newspaper, will publish the winning entry online, with a lead-in from the print edition. Entries must be postmarked no later than March 1, 2011. complete guidelines.

Manuscript Evaluations: Submissions must be postmarked by April 15, 2011. See the website for details.

Notes to Published Authors:

1. Programming Deadline: Programming is already underway. To be guaranteed consideration, you must register byMarch 1.

2. Bios and pix: If you wish to be on the program, please send a bio of 50-100 words and a black and white head shot (300 dpi, jpg or tiff ) to NOW. Deadline is March 15.

3. Bumpf: Send 250 books, bookmarks, postcards, pens, other promotional items that will fit easily into goodie bags (no flat sheets) to Kay Stewart, #206-71 Gorge Road West, Victoria, BC V9A 1L9, postmarked no later than May 1. Material sent later may not make it into the bags.

4. Ads: Encourage your publisher to take out an ad in the program book or do it yourself byMarch 31. For information, email John Thornburn, Advertising Director, at

5. Books: Dead Write Books, our conference dealer, will bring in books of published authors who are on the program. Self-published authors can arrange for Dead Write to handle your books. For queries, email

Hotel Reservations: The conference block at Hotel Grand Pacific is already fully booked. However, the hotel will continue to accept BloodyWords bookings at the conference rate ($179 per night, single or double, plus tax) as long as non-harbourside rooms are available. Don't forget to mention BloodyWords when you make your reservation.

Arthur Ellis Awards Banquet June 2: the Hotel Grand Pacific. Come early and see the show. For information, consult the Crime Writers of Canada website: For banquet tickets, email beginning April 1.

Kay Stewart and Lou Allin, Co-Chairs