Friday, December 9, 2016

SMFS Member Guest Post: An Explanation of the Sisters in Crime “We Love Short Stories” Initiative by Debra H. Goldstein

Earlier this week, I referenced the latest issue of the Sisters In Crime Magazine and how there were pieces in it from Jan Christensen and Debra H. Goldstein. Debra contacted me and asked to write about the SIC short story initiative for our SMFS blog and I eagerly accepted. The result of that conversation led to her guest post below.

An Explanation of the Sisters in Crime “We Love Short Stories” Initiative by Debra H. Goldstein

After Bouchercon 2015, then Sisters in Crime President Leslie Budewitz commissioned an ad hoc committee to address concerns being expressed about the health of short story markets. As she noted, many SinC members “got their first publishing credits with short mysteries.  They remain a tremendous avenue for new writers to break in; for published authors, they provide an opportunity to tell stories that would not support a novel or to hold reader interest between books. Other authors simply prefer the form. They’re fun to write, and fun to read.”

The committee, comprised of Debra H. Goldstein (chair), Art Taylor, and Deb Lacey, explored the different markets and found that:

1)         The paying market for short stories has been shrinking,
2)         The print publications traditionally publishing short stories have experienced a major decrease in circulation numbers, and
3)         Online markets, many of short duration, have increased, but few provide paying opportunities for writers.

The committee proposed and the national board adopted the creation of the SinC “We Love Short Stories” initiative. “We Love Short Stories” was launched at Malice Domestic 2016 via an announcement from President Budewitz, followed by an e-mail blast and an article in the inSinC discussing the importance of short stories. To further effectuate this initiative, partnerships were established with several publishers and corporations to provide discounts and other subscription incentives to SinC members. 

It was also decided that articles should appear in each issue of inSinC on writing short stories, finding markets, promotion, understanding what editors want, differences between single and multiple author anthologies, and how to publish stories traditionally and independently. Articles published during the past year include “Why I Write Short Stories” (Ruth Moose), “Ellery Queen Magazine Turns 75” (Art Taylor), “Why Write Short Stories” (Debra H. Goldstein and Mary Jane Maffini), “Success With Short Stories” (Dale T. Phillips), “Short Story Mystery Anthologies” (Debra H. Goldstein), and “Short Mystery Fiction Society” (Jan Christensen). 

Materials were shared with local SinC chapters suggesting programs or activities that could be done to demonstrate “We Love Short Stories.” For example, the Atlanta Sisters in Crime Chapter recently sponsored a community-wide one day day short story workshop taught by four recognized short story writers. In addition to general topics related to craft, skill, and markets, attendees were introduced to the existence of groups, including the Short Mystery Fiction Society. 

Sisters in Crime hopes that promoting short stories through varied opportunities, including workshops, articles, and discounts, will engage readers and writers to take an active role in supporting the short story. Why? – because “We Love Short Stories.”

Debra H. Goldstein ©2016

Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery (Five Star Publishing – April 2016) and the 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus. Her short stories and essays have been published in anthologies including Mardi Gras Murder and The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fourth Meal of Mayhem as well as in The Birmingham Arts Journal, More Magazine Online, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable,, Kings River Life Magazine, Over My Dead Body! and Mysterical-E. . Debra serves on the national Sisters in Crime and Guppy Chapter boards and is an MWA member. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, Joel, whose blood runs crimson.


Art Taylor said...

Great post, great initiative--I'm pleased to have been a part of it all!

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Kudos can't be given enough for the time and effort Art and Deb L. have put into this initiative. We all hope it makes a difference because "We Love Short Stories"

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I agree with your findings: the traditional markets for mystery short stories have shrunk considerably. The small publications that pop up, mostly now digital, come and go. We must love short stories to continue as we do.

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Jacqueline....I must agree. Otherwise, like Poe, we'd all be considered to have some traits of madness

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Excellent post! I love reading short stories and novellas...great pick-me-uppers on time-strapped days. :)

Kaye George said...

Debra, you're the perfect person to head this up! I admire the energy and efforts toward promoting short stories that I've seen from you. I hope to see tangible results and good things for short stories--my favorite form of writing.