Month: October 2019

Let’s All NaNo!

Let’s All NaNo!

by Laura Brennan


What the deuce is NaNoWriMo?


National Novel Writing Month is an annual challenge to write the first draft (50K words) of a book in one month. In November every year, writers get together to support each other on this tremendous quest.

This year, Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles is getting into the act. And you don’t even have to be participating in NaNoWriMo to join in the fun.


Different members will be hosting “write-ins,” where fellow SinC members and other writers can get together and write together for an hour or two. Diners, wine bars, coffee shops — all are the perfect venue for sustenance, fellowship, and Words, Words, Words!


Here’s what it will look like:


* At the time and place of the write-in, people will show up. No RSVP needed.

* Everyone introduces themselves with their name and what genre they write in.

* Start writing!


One great way to keep focus is to set a phone timer for 20 minutes. Turns out that 20 minutes is a good chunk of time for the human brain to focus intently, and then you get a little break to stretch, chat, and maybe refill your coffee (or wine). Rinse, repeat.


Bring pens, paper, laptops, whatever you need to get your muse on. Invite friends and fellow writers. When we all write together, we all make it to The End!


We’ll keep an updated list of dates and venues here on the website and also on our Facebook Page. If you want to host a write in, it could not be easier: just pick a public location near you that has snacks and a bathroom, pick a date and time that works for you, and e-mail Laura at [email protected] to get out the word.


So join your fellow writers! Invite your friends! There is no wrong way to write!





November 2nd:

Where: Copper Still Grill (SinC-LA has the restaurant’s loft space reserved)

610 S. Myrtle Avenue

Monrovia, CA 91016

Free public parking is available on Myrtle Avenue and on the side streets and its adjoining lots.

When: Saturday, November 2 (DAY 2 of NaNoWriMo), 11am to 2pm

Who’s leading: Kathryn Z Hutson


November 7th:

Where: Black Bear Diner

18355 Ventura Blvd

Tarzana, CA 91356 (Reseda and Ventura Blvd)

When: Thursday, November 7, 6pm – 8pm

Who’s leading: Laura Brennan


November 16th:

Where: The Toasted Bun (Van Nuys location)

14445 Sherman Way
Van Nuys, CA 91405

When: Saturday, November 16, 2pm – 4pm

Who’s leading: Shannon Muir Broden


November 17th:

Where: Harvest Moon Kitchen and Marketplace

12456 Magnolia Blvd.
Valley Village, CA 91607

When: Sunday, November 17, 2pm – 4pm

Who’s leading: Shea Butler

SISTERS IN CRIME/LA October 2019 Meeting Recap

Authors Julia Bricklin and Jennifer Younger read from their short stories from the Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles chapter anthology, FATALLY HAUNTED.

Mike Befeler: Becoming An Author Has No Expiration Date

by Laura Brennan

At the age of 57, Mike Befeler, author of Paradise Court, Unstuff Your Stuff, and more than a dozen other novels, decided he would “retire into writing.” He began by taking fiction writing courses at the University of Colorado while he was still working, and he started writing. Persistence paid off: he made 112 submissions before his first fiction sale.


“If I’d stopped after 111 rejections,” Mike said, “I wouldn’t be here today.” He believes in the Stockdale Paradox, which can be distilled to having complete faith in a positive outcome while also being brutally realistic about how difficult your situation is. He focused on doing everything he could, from getting better as a writer to getting out and meeting people at conferences, and at the same time, he never expected the road to be easy.


His plan was to focus first on craft. He did this by taking university courses which not only helped him become a better writer, but forced him into a critique group experience, giving him a chance to learn from others. He also started going to conferences, and once again, decided which conferences to attend based on where he was in the process. First, he went to conferences focusing on craft. After his writing improved, he started going to conferences which taught how to sell your novel. Finally, he goes to conferences with tracks on PR and marketing, as he works to build his audience.


It worked! Mike sold his first book to Five Star at a pitch session at one of the writers conferences. He met another publisher through LinkedIn. His current publisher, Encircle Publications, was started by someone he’d met at Five Star, who branched out into publishing when Five Star cut back on its mystery imprints (it now focuses primarily on Westerns, with some historical mysteries). Encircle is now publishing all of Mike’s backlist in Trade Paperback.


Finally, Mike talked about marketing. He promotes his books by giving talks, meeting people, having an author website, building an e-mail list, and sending postcards to his snail mail list of friends and fans.


Mike demystified the process and proved his point: you can start writing at any age and become a published author. Keep the right attitude, expect obstacles, but plan for success.

Learn more about Mike and his work at


MEMBER ARTICLE – Interrogation Techniques with Ninette Toosbuy

Interrogation Techniques with Ninette Toosbuy

by Jennifer Younger

On Saturday, October 26th members of Mystery Writers of America SoCal and Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles were treated to a master class in interrogation techniques.

Ninette Toosbuy, formerly of LAPD detective in Sex Crimes and now an investigator for USC, spoke about the best ways to get to the truth, what happens on television rarely if every happens in real life and how connecting with the suspect one on one is the best way to get to a confession.

Ninette spoke about the fact that anybody can admit to anything but getting a confession is about encouraging the suspect/interviewee to give specific details. To get as close to the truth as they will allow.

One of the most eye-opening parts of the seminar, were the videos Ninette showed of her interrogations with some of the worst in society. And while as she noted you may want to “take a shower” after speaking with them, there is a psychology to getting a suspect to believe you understand them.

Listening and acknowledging their point of view is key.  Resist the urge to cut off the suspect and constantly check your watch as if you had somewhere else to be or bully them into getting to the point.  You want the confession, right?  Well it turns out the best way to do that is to listen and be patient. Allow the suspect to talk and talk and talk and sometimes talk some more.

While slamming your hands on a table and getting in a suspect’s face may be sexy on television, in real life it is all about the psychology of the dance. Successful interrogations are about getting close to the truth.

One of the final yet equally important topics of the seminar was about interviewing someone who ultimately is innocent of the crime of which they are being accused.  In the last video shown, Ninette interviewed a young man accused of sexual assault who turned out to be innocent.  Throughout the early stages, she had convinced herself that he was guilty.  Admittedly, she said she made many mistakes on this one. But it was early in her career.

One thing she learned from that interrogation is that part of being a good interviewer is knowing when you may have missed the mark, or something is not right.  You leave the room, regroup and return with a fresh perspective.  It turned out in the last case, the man was innocent and had proof of the woman’s deception on his phone! (she was cheating on her boyfriend and cried rape when she was caught with the suspect!)

There was so much more to learn and Ninette was gracious with her time, staying and talking with attendees outside for almost a full half hour!  Hopefully we can have her back again in 2020!

See Members of Sisters in Crime/LA As Part of LADIES OF INTRIGUE!

Some members from our chapter will be part of the annual LADIES OF INTRIGUE hosted by Orange County Sisters in Crime on November 10, 2019, in Costa Mesa. Sisters in Crime/LA members Jill Amadio, Ellen Byron, and Laurie Stevens will be among the people you can see at this 6th annual event. Full details are below.


For registration information, get more details at

Congratulations to Sisters in Crime/LA Members Chosen for MURDER MOST THEATRICAL

Congratulations to the members of Sisters in Crime/LA selected to be in the Malice Domestic Anthology 15: MURDER MOST THEATRICAL! Two of these members (Beverly Graf and Alexandra Jamison) also have stories in our most recent chapter Anthology, FATALLY HAUNTED.

Anne Louise Bannon – “Perfectly Awry”
Daryl Wood Gerber –  “No Final Act”
Beverly Graf –  “Deus Ex Machina”
Alexandra Jamison – “The Nine Deaths in Hamlet?”

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