By Gale Albright
There was much happiness on display at the tenth annual Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event (BBSAWE) on May 18 at Recycled Reads in Austin. People were talking, laughing, eating, exchanging e-mail addresses and phone numbers, eating, reading out loud, giving gifts, taking pictures–did I say eating?
The BBSAWE was created in the spring of 2005, after the tragic death of Ms. Smith, who was a published cozy mystery author. She was past president (International 1999-2000) of Sisters in Crime and was known for her helpfulness to other writers. Dynamic, energetic, and talented, her loss was greatly mourned by her family and the Austin writing community. To honor her memory, the Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation was dedicated in her honor to support and provide a mentoring community for aspiring mystery writers.
Every year Sisters in Crime: Heart of Texas chapter calls for submissions of the first 500 words of a mystery story or novel from unpublished authors. The aspiring writers are then matched up with published mystery authors for mentoring.
This tenth BBSAWE was a joyous occasion. Six mentors and seven aspiring writers were introduced to the audience. The writers read aloud the synopses and first 500 words of their submissions. We were treated to a diverse and imaginative display of literary talent.
W.D. Smith, son of Barbara Burnett Smith and head of her foundation, presented certificates to mentors and aspiring writers, as well as copies of his mother’s mystery novels. Russ Hall, prolific mystery writer and all-around Sisters in Crime volunteer, spoke about mentoring, calling on his long-term experience at the job.
“In life, you will realize there is a role for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you, some will love you, and some will teach you. But the ones who are truly important are the ones who bring out the best in you. They are the rare and amazing people who remind you why it’s worth it. I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
After readings were completed and gifts awarded, we adjourned to enjoy a bountiful feast of fresh fruit, raw vegetables with dip, lovely finger sandwiches and wraps, crackers, cheese, and hand-crafted desserts.
It was inspiring to see people socializing after the program, doing the aforementioned laughing, talking, conferring, and eating. Writers were networking and making plans to start critique groups.
The event took several months of work and planning to put together, but to echo Russ Hall, it was worth it. I’m looking forward to the eleventh annual BBSAWE.
Following is a list of mentors, aspiring writers and their biographies:
Elizabeth Buhmann mentored Sue Cleveland and Dixie Evatt for Shrouded.
Elizabeth Buhmann is originally from Virginia and lived several years abroad while growing up. She graduated magna cum laude from SmithCollege, Northampton, Massachusetts, and has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. For twenty years she worked for the Texas Attorney General as a researcher and writer on criminal justice and crime victim issues. Her first novel, Lay Death at Her Door, (Red Adept Publishing) reached the Amazon Top 100 bestseller list (paid Kindle) in 2013. She is currently working on her new mystery, A Monster in the Garden. Elizabeth now lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, dog and two chickens. She is an avid gardener, loves murder mysteries, and has a black sash in Tai Chi.
Sue Cleveland was born in a hunting lodge in England. She is a widely traveled writer and award-winning artist. A member of SCBWI, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and Writers’ League of Texas, Sue is eagerly awaiting the publication of her short story, “Decoy,” in Minerva Rising Literary Journal. She hopes to find a home for several manuscripts: Shrouded, which she wrote with Dixie Evatt, and two middle-grade mysteries.
Dixie Evatt has more than 35 years professional experience in news reporting and public relations, including experience in political and government affairs. Dr. Evatt also taught at Syracuse University, Baylor University and The University of Texas at Austin. Her academic publications include a book about communication practices of small enterprises called Thinking Big. Staying Small. Although they’ve yet to be published, she and her writing partner, Sue Cleveland, have completed two mysteries and are working on a third. One takes place in Egypt, one in Italy and another in the Southwest. They make it a point to travel to each location for research.
Susan Rogers Cooper mentored Lindsay Carlson for The Origami Murders.
Susan Rogers Cooper has been a published mystery writer since 1988 and has had a total of 26 books published. She’s garnered rave reviews and was nominated for an Edgar. Her newest E.J. Pugh mystery, Gone in a Flash, is available now, and a new Milt Kovak will be out in the fall, entitled Countdown. Her back list is now being uploaded to e-books.
Lindsay Carlson currently splits her time between being a legal drug dealer (aka pharmacist) and a writer. In her “free time,” she feeds her fortune cookie addiction and collects books to add to her to-read pile, which currently is taller than she is.
Helen Ginger mentored Shelby O’Neill for Truth or Dare.
Helen Ginger is an author, freelance editor, and book consultant. Her first fiction book, Angel Sometimes, won a USA Best Book Award and her new mystery, Dismembering the Past, is coming out soon. Actively involved in the writing community, Helen was the Executive Director of the Writers’ League of Texas from 2003-2005. Currently, she serves as a Committee Chair for the Texas Book Festival. In February of 2012, Helen took over as the Coordinator of Story Circle Network’s Editorial Services.
Shelby O’Neill is a writer and editor who lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and their two pets. Her first novel is currently a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and she is hard at work on her second book, a teen cyber-stalking mystery.
Jan Grape mentored Jane Shaughness for The Invisible Detective.
Former owner of Mysteries & More bookstore in Austin, Texas, Anthony and Macavity Award-winner Jan Grape’s first mystery novel Austin City Blue was nominated for best first novel at Bouchercon 2002. Dark Blue Death is the second in her Zoe Barrow mystery series set in Austin about a female police officer. Found Dead in Texas is Jan’s first short story collection. She wrote a stand-alone called What Doesn’t Kill You and co-edited two anthologies with R. Barry Flowers, American Crime Writers League, Murder Here Murder There and Murder Past Murder Present and has a short story in each. She is currently finalizing her books for Kindle and Nook.
Jane Shaughness retired from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013 where she had worked for almost thirty years in the areas of student affairs, architecture, and most recently, compliance and ethics. Last fall, after giving herself six months of “free” time in which she entirely overscheduled herself with volunteer work, Jane began to work seriously on her mystery novel. In addition to writing fiction, Jane enjoys writing for her blog “55 AND COUNTING . . .” where she highlights free events in Austin of interest to the literary autodidact. Jane lives in Hyde Park with her husband, her two dogs, Jake and Champion, and her cat Pumpkin.
Russ Hall mentored Alex Ferraro for Ramona.
Russ Hall is author of more than a dozen books and co-author of numerous other books, as well as short stories and articles. He has been an editor for major publishing companies, ranging from Harper & Row (now HarperCollins), Simon & Schuster, to Pearson. He lives in Lago Vista, where he hikes, fishes, and tends a herd of deer that visit daily to peep in the office window and help with the writing.
Alex Ferraro was born in Denver, Colorado. At the age of five, he stole a horse and rode to Texas, where he has lived ever since. In 2011, he graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a dual degree in business and drinking. When he isn’t writing or watching entirely too much TV, he performs standup comedy in and around Austin. He also co-hosts a podcast about writing called Do the Write Thing, which can be found on iTunes and at WriteThingPodcast.com
Caroline Shearer mentored Eileen Dew for Invisible in Austin.
Caroline A. Shearer is the creator of Absolute Love Publishing. A bestselling author, Caroline’s popular books include, Dead End Date, the first book in the Adventures of a Lightworker metaphysical mystery series. In addition to her own projects, she founded Spirited Press, an assisted self-publishing imprint that operates under the umbrella of Absolute Love Publishing. Spirited Press supports authors in sharing their own messages with the world.
Eileen Dew is a former English teacher who writes about mother-daughter relationships which are unique and yet the same, regardless of the time or the location.