On August 2nd, 2020, Sisters in Crime/LA met virtually via Zoom.
Featured Speaker Toby Neal
Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories.
Neal’s Paradise Crime Mysteries, starring multicultural detective Lei Texeira, explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Spinoff Paradise Crime Thrillers, with Lei’s friend Sophie, features a tech sleuth with a mean left hook and an ongoing vigilante justice manhunt.
Neal’s also written the romance thriller Scorch Series (with Emily Kimelman) and her own Somewhere Series romances under Toby Jane.
Toby’s memoir, Freckled: a Memoir of Growing Up Wild in Hawaii, has been widely praised. Kirkus calls Freckled, “an affecting and riveting chronicle…in a Hawaii long lost.” She writes memoir under TW Neal. See her work at: Home – Toby Neal
Featured Reader Henry Forman aka Jordan Hanks
Henry Jay Forman is an emeritus professor at the University of Southern California and University of California at Merced. Dr. Forman is an award-winning scientist with over two hundred scientific publications, and editor of a scientific journal. He uses the pen name Jordan Hanks to write mystery novels that are based in the world of biomedical science, the first being “The Death of Death.” This will be part of a series in which the lead characters are Cindy Firestone, a police detective turned private investigator and her husband, FBI agent, former forensic pathologist, Steve Jude.
On July 12th, 2020, from 2 to 4 pm, Sisters in Crime/LA met on Zoom.
Featured Reader Ellen Byron
Ellen read from the opening of her new book, MURDER IN THE BAYOU BONEYARD.
Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Her new Catering Hall Mystery series, written as Maria DiRico, launched with Here Comes the Body and was inspired by her real life. She’s an award-winning playwright and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like WINGS, JUST SHOOT ME, and FAIRLY ODD PARENTS. But she considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart.
Featured Speaker Kathy Reichs
Photo by Marie-Reine Mattera
In an interview with Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles Chapter Speakers Bureau Director August Norman, Kathy discussed her career as a forensic anthropologist, common mistakes crime writers make when dealing with forensics, her journey from aspiring writer to best-selling author, and her 19th installment in the Temperance Brennan series, A Conspiracy of Bones. Questions were then taken from the audience as time permitted.
Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her other Temperance Brennan books include Death du Jour, Deadly Décisions, Fatal Voyage, Grave Secrets, Bare Bones, Monday Mourning, Cross Bones, Break No Bones, Bones to Ashes, Devil Bones, 206 Bones, Spider Bones, Flash and Bones, Bones Are Forever, Bones of the Lost, Bones Never Lie, Speaking in Bones and the Temperance Brennan short story collection, The Bone Collection. In addition, Kathy co-authored the Virals young adult series with her son, Brendan Reichs. The best-selling titles are: Virals, Seizure, Code, Exposure, Terminal, and the novella collection Trace Evidence. The series follows the adventures of Temperance Brennan’s great niece, Tory Brennan. Dr. Reichs’ latest novel, Two Nights, was released July 11 and features Sunday Night, a tough-talking, scarred heroine. Dr. Reichs was also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.
From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerizing forensic thrillers. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina and to the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. Dr. Reichs has travelled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. As part of her work at JPAC (Formerly CILHI) she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Reichs also assisted in the recovery of remains at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Dr. Reichs is one of only 100 forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and is currently a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte, NC and Montreal, Québec.
On June 7th, 2020, from 2 to 4 pm, Sisters in Crime/LA met on Zoom.
Paula Bernstein began her career with a PhD in Chemistry from Caltech. After several years of research, she escaped from her lab and went to medical school. Like the heroine of her medical mystery series, Hannah Kline, Paula has spent most of her professional life practicing Obstetrics and Gynecology in Los Angeles. After retiring from her full time practice, Paula unearthed all the first drafts she’d written over many years, found a great editor, and published the Hannah Kline Mysteries; Murder in the Family, Murder by Lethal Injection, Murder at a Private School, Murder in the Goldilocks Zone, Murder In Vitro and Murder on her Honeymoon. Her newest Hannah Kline novel, Murder is a Nightmare, will be published this year. Her short story, On Call for Murder, a Hannah Kline prequel, was published in the Sisters in Crime 2017 Anthology, LAst Resort.
She talked about writing suspense and her newest novel, The Lucky One.
Lori Rader-Day is the Edgar Award-nominated and Anthony Award- and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of Under a Dark Sky, The Day I Died, Little Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. She co-chairs the mystery conference Murder and Mayhem in Chicago and serves as the national president of Sisters in Crime. Her new book is The Lucky One, set in a true-crime amateur online sleuth community.
On May 3rd, 2020, from 2 to 4 pm, Sisters in Crime/LA held their first official meeting on Zoom. Members and the public were provided a direct e-mail with an RSVP link, as well as access to the link on the website.
Susan Angard read from the book, ON THE WINGS OF A LION.
Rachel Howzell Hall, Sheila Lowe, and Laurie Stevens – the editors from the previous Sisters in Crime/LA anthology, FATALLY HAUNTED – provided their insights about the anthology process.
Tori Eldridge talked about the art of “ninja marketing,” sharing her experiences branding herself as a new author. She also focused on taking advantage of your existing networks of people who share similar interests to yourself, and finding ways to tie that into promoting your works, as part of locating people who can become part of a grassroots marketing team.
For MARCH 2020, Sisters in Crime/LA met on MARCH 1ST at the THOUSAND OAKS LIBRARY.
The featured reader for the month was Wendall Thomas.
Wendall Thomas teaches in the Graduate Film School at UCLA, lectures internationally on screenwriting, and has worked as an entertainment reporter, development executive, script consultant, and film and television writer. Her first Cyd Redondo novel, Lost Luggage, was nominated for the Lefty and Macavity Awards for Best Debut Mystery of 2017 and her second, Drowned Under, has been nominated for a Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery of 2019. Her short fiction appears in the crime anthologies Ladies Night (2015), Last Resort (2017), and Murder-A-Go-Go’s (2019).
When Brooklyn travel agent Cyd Redondo’s former in-laws go missing on an Australian cruise, she helicopters Down Under, only to stumble over a dead body and a desperate plot to save the world’s last Tasmanian tiger.
Audiobook: Publishing’s Biggest Bright Spot!
Jessica talked about all facets of production, distribution, and contracting that goes into audiobook product, and trends with this format. Kaye also took questions from audience members about where to seek help in structuring deals; how to ask publishers for clarification on audio rights; and how to find voice and editing talent, should you decide to produce your own audio material.
Jessica Kaye is the current president of the SoCal Chapter of MWA, and both a lawyer and a producer/director of audiobooks. Kaye will speak about current trends in audio publishing; how contracts are structured for audio; what you should ask yourself when considering audio for your already-written book or one you plan to write in the future; and what the future of audiobooks holds for mystery, crime, true crime, and thriller genres.
In addition to her duties as president of the local chapter of MWA, Kaye oversees a law practice that runs a gamut of intellectual property issues, from copyright and trademark to negotiating or consulting about publishing contracts and audiobooks. Apropos of that, in 2019, Writer’s Digest Books published her business book, The Guide to Publishing Audiobooks. In 2006, she founded a digital distribution company for audiobooks, the first such company. It is still going and it is called Big Happy Family, LLC (www.bighappyfamilyaudiobooks.com).
Kaye is also on the board of the Audio Publishers Association.
Here’s where you can see our members in person this coming month (and subsequent months), or where you can find them – or their content – in media outlets! It is updated throughout the month with last minute additions and changes, so keep checking back!
Anne Louise Bannon will join Ellen Byron and Naomi Hirahara for a Valentine’s Tea, put on by the Friends of the Huntington Beach Public Library. The event is at 2 p.m., and reservations are required and can be made here:
ForFEBRUARY2020, Sisters in Crime/LA met on FEBRUARY 9TH at the PASADENA CENTRAL LIBRARY at 285 E. Walnut Street in the Studio on 4th on the 4th Floor.
Our reader for the day was Ellen Byron.
The Misdemeanor Prosecution System in the City of Los Angeles
with Gita O’Neill, Assistant City Attorney
Gita spoke about the misdemeanor prosecution system in the City Of Los Angeles: the court system, crimes that the office sees, nuisance crimes, vice crimes, homeless issues, etc. She also spent a little time covering the various roles in the judicial system, and the role of city agencies as well, with particular emphasis on the homeless as many attendees’ questions focused on this crucial area.
ABOUT OUR GUEST SPEAKER
Assistant City Attorney Gita O’Neill has been with the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney since 1999. She started doing criminal trials and then was appointed to be one of the first Neighborhood Prosecutors in the innovative Neighborhood Prosecutor Program which placed a prosecutor in every police division in Los Angeles. She then transitioned the Civil Nuisance Abatement Program where she filed cases against problem property owners whose properties had gang, narcotics, nuisance and vice issues. Gita then was appointed to be the Supervising Attorney for the Neighborhood Prosecutor Program. She supervised the program as it tripled in size under the current City Attorney, Mike Feuer. Two year ago she was promoted again to be the first ever Director of Homeless Policies and Strategies for the City Attorney’s Office. Prior to working at the City Attorney’s office, she worked as an associate in the civil plaintiff’s firm, Girardi and Keese. Gita attended the University of Santa Clara Law School and completed her undergraduate studies at UC Irvine.
As we’ve previously mentioned, we will NO LONGER MEET AT THE SOUTH PASADENA LIBRARY COMMUNITY ROOM regularly. Also, the Pasadena Library is NOT a new permaent location; a different location will be announced for our March event.
Want to know what’s coming up next for Sisters in Crime/LA in 2020? Keep checking the Meeting Dates page of our website regularly, as meeting locations will vary throughout the year.
In November of 2019, Sisters in Crime/LA organized several meet-ups for authors to get together and work on their individual manuscripts in a supportive atmosphere. These write-ins took place in a variety of locations. Here are a few examples:
I organized one of these at the Toasted Bun in Van Nuys, CA, on November 16, 2019, from 2 to 4 p.m.
The owners and staff of the location were friendly and supportive to the eight of us who showed up, purchased food from them, and actually took the time to learn more about us and what we were doing. Personally, I loved the experience and would be happy to try it again in any venue or format. Not only did I feel support from the people I worked with, I learned more about the other authors I spent time with.
Special Agent Thomas J. Leighton gave those in attendance an overview of the structure of the FBI. In addition, he provided a forum for guests to ask questions tailored to their area of interest.
He explained that while Headquarters for the FBI is in Washington, D.C., there are 56 field offices (of which Los Angeles is one of them). Today, the scope of what the Los Angeles field office covers includes Orange and Ventura counties. On a lower level, they have what are called Resident Agencies; this goes back historically to where individual agents worked out of their homes.
The formation of the FBI goes back to 1908, focused on dealing with crimes of a federal nature. One Herbert J. (later to be President) Hoover was named its first Director in 1924. The types of crimes that it has dealt with has grown and changed over the years. One thing Special Agent Leighton emphasized was that books, film, and television don’t always get it right to where the FBI comes in as having jurisdiction, but terrorism is clearly an area where the FBI would have jurisdiction.
The audience asked about DNA analysis, witness protection, white collar crime, and if the FBI ever hired psychics… just to give a glimpse into a few of the specialized requests for information. This was one of those events you really needed to be there for!