September 2010

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter

and the

Georgetown Police Department

Crime Scene / Murder Workshop

September 12, 2010

2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Georgetown Old Library, 808 Martin Luther King Jr. Street, Georgetown

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter, in cooperation with the Georgetown, Texas Police Department, is hosting a Crime Scene /Murder Workshop on Sunday September 12, 2010, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., at the Georgetown Old Library, 808 Martin Luther King Jr. Street in Georgetown, Texas.

The Georgetown Police will present a short tutorial on crime scene investigation, interview of witnesses and suspects, and crime solving.

The participants will then be divided into groups whose members will assume various jobs: detectives, crime scene investigators, etc.   Each group will independently look at the crime scene, the murder victim, and the evidence, and will interview witnesses and suspects.   Each group will figure out “who did it” and will make the“arrest”.

After all groups have had a chance to figure out who did it, the Georgetown Police will announce who “really” did it, critique the solutions, and answer questions from members and participants.

The Crime Scene/Murder Workshop is open to all.

Admission is free to Sisters in Crime members and $10 for non-members.

Sister in Crime will provide refreshment.

The Sisters in Crime contact is Dr. David Ciambrone, Mysterywriter5 (at) Phone 512.864.9379.



The Gettysburg Approach to Writing and Speaking Like a Professional by Philip A. Yaffe

Reviewed by Helen Ginger

Philip A. Yaffe bases his book on his belief that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a short speech of 272 words, incorporates all the fundamental principles needed to write and speak like a professional. He begins by breaking down The Gettysburg Address to show those principles, and then reinforces his point throughout the book by offering examples from his own experience as a marketing communication consultant.

Keep in mind that The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking Like a Professional is geared toward non-fiction or expository writing. A lot of it, though, would be of value to the fiction or creative writer.

The first part of the book focuses on writing. If you write news articles, do your own promotional / marketing pieces, or contribute to newsletters, you’ll find this section instructive on how to make sure you get your point across. How many times have you written a promo piece and sent it to your local paper, only to see it in print and they cut off the last half of what you sent, leaving out the best part of your article? After reading Yaffe’s book, you’ll understand why that happened and how you can make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The second part of the book concerns oral presentations. He primarily talks about presentations at business conferences or seminars. While you may think that doesn’t affect fiction writers, keep in mind that writers, both fiction and nonfiction, are often called upon to talk in front of groups. Four things he stresses are being clear, concise, enthusiastic and informative.

One area he covers that would be valuable to both fiction and non-fiction writers is how to design and use slides or Power Point. Visual aids can be beneficial or harmful. If they reinforce the points the speaker is trying to get across, they add to the talk. All too many times, though, they detract from the speaker’s subject and can even cause listeners to lose interest. Yaffe uses examples of slides that are harmful, then shows how to change and how to use those slides to make them beneficial to both the speaker and the audience.

Yaffe teaches his approach in the first half of the book. The second half is the Appendices, which, to a great extent, is repetitive. It does make a quick reference area for the first half of the book, though.

While The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking Like a Professional is aimed primarily at nonfiction writers and speakers, the fiction writer could glean much that can be applied to teaching workshops at conferences, speaking at events, and writing promotional material. It’s a quick read, but keep a highlighter handy to mark those tips and points you’ll want to come back to when the need arises.

Philip A. Yaffe is an author, former feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing communication consultant. He teaches writing and public speaking in Brussels, Belgium.


FTC Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by INDI Publishing but that did not influence my opinion of the book. I agreed to review The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking Like a Professional for Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime since I am a writer, editor and teacher of public speaking for authors.



Image via Wikipedia


The UnComfort Zone with Robert Wilson

Compelled by an Idea

I was leaving my last class for the day when I saw my friend, Ken Frankel, working out in the hallway with one of those pistol-grip label makers. I stopped and asked what he was doing.

“The Dean asked me to put the room numbers up in Braille so the blind students can find their classrooms.”

As I watched Ken work, I thought of some of the blind students I knew there at Georgia State University. Suddenly the devil got into me and I asked, “Does that thing do the alphabet as well?”

“Yes.” Ken replied.

“Excellent! Let’s take it over to the men’s restroom in the Student Center and put up some graffiti in Braille!”

So we did. The next day we made a point of running into our blind friends, and asking them if they had been keeping up with the graffiti that people were putting up in the stalls.

The typical answer was, “Come on man, why are you asking me that when you know I can’t see it?”

So we replied, “Next time you’re in there, feel above the toilet paper dispenser.”

They did, and within 48 hours every blind student on campus had heard about it. Then they were after us to put up some more! They told us, “This stuff is great!”

Feeling obligated to get some new material, we hit the bars for inspiration. One night we found the mother lode: the men’s room at Moe’s & Joe’s, a 50-year-old pub where they never painted over the witticisms scrawled on the walls.

Several mugs of beer and several trips to the restroom later, we filled several sheets of paper with funny bathroom graffiti to take back with us. As we looked at our collection, we came to two conclusions: first that we’d had way too much beer, and second that we should keep collecting graffiti until we had enough for a book.

Little did we know how long that would take! After a few days of active searching we had little to show for our efforts. Somewhat frustrated, we made a decision to just collect new material whenever we happened upon it.

A decade passed, but it was an idea I couldn’t forget. It still made me laugh every time I thought of it. I kept the idea alive, and we kept collecting. Finally, 15 years later, our collection was big enough and we found a publisher who agreed with us that it was a very funny idea.

Sometimes an idea is so exciting that we can’t leave it alone. We have to see it to fruition. I’ve been compelled by ideas to start new businesses, erect buildings, write novels, and even create new recipes.

My friend Jordan Graye, a radio personality in Atlanta, became energized by an idea when she learned that the actual inventor of radio, Nikola Tesla, never got credit for it in his lifetime. Like many people in radio, she believed that Guglielmo Marconi was the man who discovered it.

As she read more about Tesla, she learned that he was also the inventor of alternating current electricity – the type of electricity that powers our homes and offices. She became incensed that history had forgotten this real-life Prometheus, and made it her mission to remind the world of his gifts.

She thought the best way to restore Tesla’s fame would be in a film. That she had never made a movie before (and knew next to nothing about making one), did not deter her one bit.

Jordan did her research and composed a story. She then hired writers, actors, camera operators, and lighting people. She committed her time, energy and a sizable portion of her life savings to realizing her dream. Three years later, MegaHertz was complete and Nikola Tesla’s life revived.

What idea is motivating you? Are you working on it?


Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist. He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to be more creative. For more information on Robert’s programs please visit


Publications, Contracts, & Awards

Kaye George

Kaye George‘s horror story, Shipwreck, will appear September in the fall issue of

She has also accepted a publishing contract from Mainly Murder Press for her comic mystery, CHOKE. It will be published May, 2011.

Read an interview with Kaye at Dialog for Murder.


Out and About with Our Members

Sylvia Dickey Smith

Book Launch for A War of Her Own

Blog Tour
September 7: Jane Finnis
September 13: Eric Reed
September 20: Pat Stoltey
September 29: Mason Canyon Review

September 11, 2010
Hill Country Book Store
The Square at Georgetown
12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
September 18
Barnes & Noble at the Arboretum
Austin, Texas
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

September 23, 2010
Girls’ Day Out: Salute to the American Woman
Kay’s Kloset
3010 Williams Drive

September 25, 2010
East Texas Book Festival
Ornelas Center
Tyler, Texas

More about A War of Her Own

Milwaukee, Wis. – In A War of Her Own, a new novel from a Midwestern indie press, Austin–area author Sylvia Dickey Smith spins a captivating tale of Bea Meade, lady riveter, and the challenges she faces on the homefront working on the Texas/Louisiana border in a booming shipyard.

The historical novel is set in the summer of 1943 in Orange, Texas, a sleepy little town overrun with tens of thousands of new workers. With jobs galore at the wartime shipyards, the workers are rich with cash, eager for excitement, and looking for a good time.

In the midst of this, Bea Meade, mother of an infant son, finds her life shattered when her philandering husband announces he is leaving her for another woman. To make ends meet, Bea takes a job at one of the shipyards as a riveter.

Life is good for ’most everyone in Orange – except Bea, who has to fight her battles against a no-good husband, the prejudice facing women in the workplace, and the mysteries of her past that keep her awake at night.

A War of Her Own offers a story of wartime passions on the World War II homefront as Bea seeks to discover who she really is.

SYLVIA DICKEY SMITH was born in Orange, Texas, and lived there through her high school years. She now lives near Austin, Texas. She is also the author of a popular mystery series featuring Sidra Smart, private eye, set in the borderlands where Texas and Louisiana meet.

Crickhollow Books is an independent press publishing quality fiction and nonfiction.
For author events, book club discussion guide, and more, visit the book’s website:


Cindy’s Top 10


Cindy Phillips, a recent mentee of Sylvia Dickey Smith provided her top ten list learned from the experience. The list holds many good ideas for each writer.

My Top Ten List….

1)  Butt in chair – writing – it’s the only thing that counts.
2)  Keep your story close to your heart, protect it from the outside world until it’s finished.
3)  Get feedback after you are finished with the first serious draft.
4)  Chose your critique group carefully – look for specific, actionable, respectful comments
5)  Don’t be afraid to call yourself a writer.
6)  Ask for help – most people say yes.
7)  It’s ok if the characters talk to you (in your head).
8)  There is a reader for every story, and you will find them.
9)  Write as fast as you can.
10)  Writing fast is very possible.

But my number one biggest thing I learned from you was :  You can be trained to write – you can’t be trained to tell a story.  It’s gotta come from the heart.


Cindy Phillips blogs at


Note: In Cindy’s manuscript, # 8 appears as a numeral. It appears that way in the Hotshots! draft as well. However, the preview screen displays a smiley face in place of the 8–a glitch of some kind–and we assume it will show up in the published version as well.  But we won’t try to correct it. We consider the idea that there’s a reader for every story something to smile about.


Practice, Practice, Practice

Each month we’ll provide an idea or sentence that may be used as a lead for writing. Pieces of your writing may be shared through the newsletter at a later date. We hope you enjoy this exercise, and we would appreciate your feedback.

Here’s the lead for September:

“What do you guys know about knives,” asked Sandra, glancing around the table as she smoothly shuffled the cards and started to deal.

two old knives

Image via Wikipedia

Beginning with the sentence above, write for 10 to 30 minutes. Then send what you wrote to Hotshots! Our e-mail address is kathy.davis.waller (at) (We will ask permission before publishing any piece of writing.)


Pen 2 Paper Winners to Be Announced

Winners of Pen 2 Paper: A Disability-Focused State-wide Creative Writing Contest will be announced on Monday, September 13. Names of winners will be posted on the contest homepage ( as well as on Facebook.

Pen 2 Paper is sponsored by the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities. For details about next year’s contest, send a Facebook friend request.


Short Story Master Class at the O. Henry Museum

Mary Helen Specht — Dobie Paisano Fellow, Pushcart Prize Nominee, & Fulbright Scholar–will teach the Short Story Master Class at the O. Henry Museum, in Austin, Saturday, September 11 & 25.
Students will leave the two-part class with a finished story that will be judged by author Philip Meyer for the chance to be acknowledged at the Texas Book Festival.
To register, call 512.472.1903 or e-mail michael.hoinski (at)
Sponsored by Austin Parks and Recreation


Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Contest – 19th Annual Contest for Unpublished Writers

Entries accepted from September 15, 2010 through 11:59 p.m. (MST), November 15, 2010.
Send entries electronically.
For information, call 719. 531.5723


Malice Grants

The William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grants Program for Unpublished Writers will award grants to two unpublished writers in the malice domestic genre at Malice Domestic 23 in April 2011. Grants may be used to offset expenses related to attendance at a writers’ workshop or convention. Entries will be accepted between September 15, 2010 and November 15, 2010. For more information, visit the Malice Domestic website,


The “SCARE THE DICKENS OUT OF US” Short Story Contest 2010

“We want ghost stories. Any genre, any tone, any subject, whatever type of ghost story you can come up with.”
Entries must be postmarked no later than October 1, 2010.
Sponsored by the Friends of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library, in conjunction with the annual “A Dickens Christmas In Lockhart,” held the first weekend in December in Lockhart, Texas.


Blogs and Websites of Interest

Sisters in Crime’s blog, SinC into a Good Mystery, is online at “The Saturday Your-Turn Forum” asks what you’d like to see on the blog and what you think of recent changes. The bloggers are also looking for volunteers to help provide content.


Story Circle Book Reviews posts online reviews of books by,for, and women. Click here to see a list of reviews of mysteries. Story Circle Network, an organization dedicated to helping women share their life stories, also provides opportunities for personal writing in a variety of forms.


The Texas Book Festival is scheduled for October 15-17 at the State Capitol Building in Austin. For information, visit


Hotshots!‘s blogroll appears in the sidebar. Members are encouraged to submit their blog and website addresses for inclusion in the list. In addition, please tell us about other links you think should be included.


The Editor’s Atelier

Our To-Read List: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery, by Alan Bradley; This Body of Death: An Inspector Lynley Novel, by Elizabeth George; Bad Intentions, by Karin Fossum; Willful Behavior, by Donna Leon.

If any items submitted for publication were omitted from this issue, please let us know. If you will resubmit, we will amend the blog to include it and will notify members of the change. Let us know about any errors you find and we’ll make immediate corrections.

Friday, September 25 is the deadline for submissions to the October 2010 edition of Hotshots! Send info to kathy.davis.waller (at)


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