18 September 2011

Criminal Debriefing

by Leigh Lundin

For me, it started with a short story called 'Swamped'. To my shock, Ellery Queen not only published it, but 'Swamped' went on to win the Readers Choice award, a first for a first-time writer.

That resulted in my first MWA conference where I met *real* authors who, as a friend put it, climbed off the bookshelves and strolled around like they were people, not just authors.


At that conference, James Lincoln Warren invited me to join Criminal Brief. I'm not sure my colleagues understood they'd invited an occasionally irrelevant, often irreverent rookie, but they were kind, helpful, and tolerant.

Since then, I've written 228 articles. Tomorrow, CB completes an amazing 4½ year run. Five of us, including Deborah Elliott-Upton, Janice Law, John Floyd, and Rob Lopresti, decided we still had something to say, and that brings us to SleuthSayers.

Shades of Dorothy L

To be sure, I've mispronounced SleuthSayers' name more than once and Melodie Johnson Howe complained we chose a name that made her sound like Daffy Duck. But all five of us liked the title with its multiple plays-on-words.

Next came several decisions. At least three people asked that the look of the site not be too dark ("not as dark as the inkiness of thy forlorn disconsolate soul," they said). However, I wanted something classy and distinctive, subtle– no guns, guts, or guck. The look should be unique where unique isn't exactly blogging software's forte. A primary goal was a design that could represent multiple subgenres.

Criminal Conspiracy

Even with the fabulous pay, weekly articles can be emotionally draining and sometimes hard-earned, when other priorities compete. It didn't take us long to decide we wanted to share the burden, er, honor. We began a talent search.

Think of each day of the week as a mini-blog where two great writers choose their theme and manage their day, month in and month out, likely alternating articles. For example, Fran Rizer and Jan Grape really hit it off and tomorrow, they'll be off and running about cats, cosies, and chick-lit mysteries– clever commentary from two feminine powerhouses.
red rose
The Crime Fighters

The present line-up looks like this:

Fran Rizer / Jan Grape
Dale Andrews / Susan Slater
Rob Lopresti / Neil Schofield
Janice Law / Deborah Elliott-Upton
RT Lawton / Dixon Hill
John Floyd / Liz Zelvin
Leigh Lundin / Louis Willis

So there you have it.

Writing Wrongs

What can you expect from me? I'm notoriously shy writing about my own work.

My home state of Florida, the only state with its own Fark tag, is a constant source of bizarre material. Hey, we made Casey Anthony an industry.

Before I began writing fiction, I wasn't much interested in true crime, but in a quest for verisimilitude, I found I couldn't write crime stories in a vacuum.

Sometimes I share tips from great writers. If you're learning to write, why not draw from Elmore Leonard or George Orwell?

Finally, as James Lincoln Warren pointed out, I often write about injustice. And it will be an injustice if you miss a single article from SleuthSayers. We're glad you're with us.


  1. It sounds like a very interesting site.

  2. Thanks Warren. How nice to hear from another night owl!

  3. Leigh, was that MWA conference only four years ago? I seem to have known you longer than that. I'm happy to be part of the distinguished SleuthSayers and hope today's readers will be back tomorrow for my first blog.

  4. I'm glad to still see you around! -- S

  5. Thank you, S!

    Fran, the calendar says it was four years ago even if it feels half that time. I look forward to your article tomorrow!

  6. The site is off to a great start with two excellent writers.

  7. Thank you, Louis!

    For those who don't know, Louis will be blogging once a month on Sundays.

  8. Cats? Cozies? I'll be here tomorrow!

    (Actually, I'll be here every day.)

  9. (looking around, muttering)
    Okay, so where's the music? Food? Dancing girls? I know it's the right place...

    Velma! You put the correct date on these fancy-shmancy invitations?

  10. Me too, Fiona!

    ABA, with all the wine, we forgot the food but I'm sure the men found the dancing girls. Or did I mean dancing around the subject?

  11. Nice to see your voice again, Leigh!


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>