26 January 2015

Calling All Literary Sluts (and Others)

Several SleuthSayers and I have been discussing the possibility of one or more panels at Bouchercon 2015 consisting solely or primarily of SleuthSayer authors.  Jan Grape suggested previously that many organizers and planners appreciate receiving suggestions of a specific topic and writers for the panel and/or moderator. I have inquired about where suggestions should be sent.

Melodie Campbell and I exchanged emails about making a few proposals.
We need your help.

A visit to the Bouchercon 2014 website schedule reveals many interesting panels last year (including three workshops with our own R. T. Lawton on Surveillance).  Format for the titles is primarily in the form of a catchy title, followed by a colon which introduces a more explicit explanation of what the panel is about.

Examples from 2014:  No More Badges:  Crime Solvers Who Left the Badge Behind

                                    Short but Mighty:  The Power and Freedom of the Short Story

                                    Crime Goes Visual:  Graphic Novels and Comic Books

Check out the website for more examples.

My question for everyone today, both writers and readers:

 What do you suggest as an interesting topic for a panel at Bouchercon 2015? 

Melodie and I are seriously considering a proposal (or maybe I should say proposition in this case) of a panel entitled:

Writers as Literary Sluts: Publishing in More Than One Genre

Of course, both Melodie and I are eager to be members of this panel.  Be sure to let us know if you want to be with us or if you want to be suggested as the moderator of this sure-to-be-fun session.

We are also looking for a super cool title and topic about short stories and will suggest SleuthSayer writers for that panel and moderator.

Another thought that's been roaming around in my mind is related to Bouchercon 2015's location in Raleigh, NC, as well as Ron Rash being one of the featured writers.

Would any of you want to be a participant in this one?

Murder Down South, Y'all: Southern Writers, Southern Mysteries

Please share your thoughts on topics for panels. If you're a writer, let us know if you are planning to register for Bouchercon 2015 by May 1, 2015 (deadline to be considered for presentations) and if you'd like to be recommended for a panel or rather handle it yourself.  If you don't want to announce your plans publicly, just email Melodie or me.

Until we meet again, please take care of . . . you.


  1. A panel titled Literary Sluts would certainly be catchy, Fran and Melodie.

    Pencil me in as a maybe… I need to get something in the publishing queue!

  2. Grin - great, Fran! Being a marketing director, I would shorten the copy of the title to: Literary Sluts: Writing in more than One Genre
    And I would LOVE to get a man on that panel too!
    Fran, just imagine what we could wear...

  3. This really shows me how different writing is as a profession from the sciences. (Not that you asked.) I am a woman scientist and we are constantly fighting NOT to be thought of as sluts of any kind, especially not in a supposedly joking manner (which is what our male colleagues say, is that they are just joking around). If you read the way Watson and Crick talk about Rosalind Franklin in "The Double Helix" you will see what I mean -- and things have NOT changed since then. Some of our younger woman scientists have tried to adopt this playful language, which embeds a sort of alternative approach to being a woman in science the way that they do it, and it's destroyed their careers. So the idea that women are so well-established in the writing profession that you all can afford to use this kind of language is just mind-blowing to me.

  4. Fran, I think the idea of a SleuthSayers panel at Bouchercon is great--I plan to be there this year, and would love to participate.

    We did a Criminal Brief panel at the Baltimore B'con a few years ago, and had a great time. Remember that one, Leigh?

  5. Leigh, I certainly hope you are there!

  6. Melodie, I agree to shortening the title and also that we have men on the panel. Actually, I didn't know you're a marketing director, but I'm glad you are and that we'll be working on this proposal together.

  7. Anonymous,
    First, if I offended you, I apologize.

    Many female writers throughout history wrote under male pseudonyms, and even as recently as Harry Potter, the manuscript was submitted with a non-gender-specific initials for first name. I've published feature articles in sports magazines using the first name "Frank." While I'm certain it's a rougher road for female scientists, there have been a few pebbles on the path for writers as well.

    The word "slut" has had many meanings through past centuries. Chaucer referred to the appearance of an untidy man as "sluttish." In Samuel Pepys's diary, on February 21, 1664, he states, "our little girl Susan is a most admirable slut . . . and deserves wages better." He wasn't speaking of her as a wayward woman but as a laundress.

    When Melodie posted her article about being a "literary slut," we understood she was using the word to refer to someone who spread her talents to more than one genre, and "talents" referred to creative writing. Several male writers classified themselves as one of us.

    Finally, many of us, especially Melodie and I, use humor, not as a weapon, but as an instrument in our workshop. Humor can be used to incite or simply to cast another light on a topic. We happen to like genre fiction--mystery, thriller, romance, fantasy, historical and sci fi--so much that we can't help delving into more than one genre.

  8. John, please email me if you have a topic idea or if you'd like to be recommended for Literary Sluts or for the Murder Down South, Y'all if we recommend that as well.

  9. John, please email me if you have a topic idea or if you'd like to be recommended for Literary Sluts or for the Murder Down South, Y'all if we recommend that as well.

  10. David, I'm delighted to count you in. I also finished reading THE PURPLE ROBE and posted a review on Amazon. Please check it out!

  11. Anonymous, I want to add that competition in the world of writing doesn't seem connected to gender. We mystery writers, especially, tend to support one another, male and female. Since words are our tools, we sometimes, whether intentionally or not, create new meanings
    through usage. Melodie and I are taking ownership of "literary slut," and I'm happy she thought of it.

  12. Anon, I’m not wholly comfortable with the word because it’s been used to hurt and harm. But I recognize that Fran and Melodie have taken ownership of ‘slut’ and are playing with it, using it for their own end. That’s how words change meaning over time… and lose their power to hurt.

    And I agree with Fran– We mystery writers are very supportive of one another. As I’ve mentioned before, the majority of my favorite mystery writers are women, although if pressed, I couldn’t say why. It’s the writing that counts and nothing else.

  13. John, I do recall that panel and it was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed the relaxed break-time conversations.

  14. I hope to be at Bouchercon as well, though I haven't reserved yet. I think a SleuthSayers panel is a natural, but I would go for a wider topic. The Criminal Briefs panel (which I watched from the audience) focused on the art of the short story, which is a common bailiwick here. That worked then and likely would work every bit as well now.

  15. Dale, I think since so many SleuthSayer writers specialize in short stories, a panel of SSers on that topic would be great. Any ideas for a title?

  16. "The Long and the Short of it" ??

  17. I haven't registered for the next Bouchercon, but I'd love to get in on a panel on short stories, etc. Keep me posted!

  18. Dale and Eve, we're leaning toward suggesting at least two, hoping to get as many of us involved as possible. I'm penciling you two in for The Long and Short of It. Of course, we'll be back in touch and confirm everything before May.

  19. Fran, this is a great idea. And, though I don't expect to make it to the con, I'd like to suggest a few names, which perhaps you'll like -- or just get a kick out of:

    1) Those Nuts in Your Shorts: The nuts and bolts of writing successful short stories.

    2) There's Money in Your Shorts: Writing short stories that sell.

    3) Gathering Your Shorts: How to get your anthology published.

    4) Get Out of Your Shorts: How to make the move from short story writer to published novelist, by those who've made the transition.

    Hope one of these helps.

  20. Perhaps the final clause after that last comma in number 4 should read: "by those who've taken the plunge."

  21. A lot of panels focus either on promotion or information. I don't care about promotion but I like knowledge. I also like talks that arouse my emotion specially humor but even sadness or anger.

  22. Dixon, thanks for your suggestions. I'll pass those ideas for titles for the short story suggestion on to Melodie. I wish you were going to be there!

  23. Anonymous, I'm hoping there will be varied topics dealing with both promotion and information. What you want in a talk is almost what I want when I write. If I can't make my readers laugh, I want to make them cry. I hardly ever try to evoke anger in others in person or in writing.

  24. So do I, Fran. But I just don't think I'll be able to swing it this year.


  25. Sorry i am late here. I will be at Bcon. I feel my first duty is to try to get on a panel about ecology-reated fiction, because i will have a new novel out on that subject. If i can get in more than one, i would love to be on a SleuthSayers pile-up. Short and long fiction aso works for me, as does funny vs serious (lots of us write both).

    Oh good grief, i just remembered that the editor of a book i have a story coming out in is also hoping to arrange a panel. Ay yi yi...

    Alas i dont qualify fr the sluts panel, wth ony two published stores outside our field.


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