Guppy Tales: A Short History of Small Fish
GUPPY HISTORY: AN UPDATE
The Guppies continue to swim and thrive in fictional waters of all kinds and sizes.
The Guppies became a formal Sisters in Crime chapter in 2005, following years as a Support and Information Group. We share the mission of our mother school, restated a few years ago:To promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.
The chapter continues to be blessed with wise and caring leadership. In June 2005, Terry Hoover became president, followed in 2007 by Michelle Martin, and in 2009 by Kim Striker. And in 2008, former Guppy Judy Clemens became president of Sisters in Crime. And in 2009, Sandy Parshall joined the SinC Board.
In January 2006, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of First Draft with a new editor, Susan Evans, still at the helm turning out one of the best writers’ newsletters six times a year.
In a list poll in late 2005, we discovered members ranged in age from 24 to 76! In May 2006, we celebrated the 300th Guppy. Membership ebbs and flows each year, and hit 433 at the end of 2009! In mid March 2010, we count 358 little fishies, with 72 new members so far this year, and will no doubt reach 400 soon.
THE AQUARIUM OF FAME:
In 2005, seven Guppies were finalists for Daphne Du Maurier awards offered by the Romance Writers of America Kiss of Death chapter, a noted award for unpublished genre fiction. Our members also include RWA Golden Heart finalists and winners and finalists in numerous other contests. Judy Clemens received the first Guppy Anthony nomination, for best first novel published in 2004.
In 2007, Guppies rule Malice! Sandy Parshall won the Agatha for Best First Novel. Chris Roerden won Best Nonfiction. And finally, after literally more than a dozen Guppy nominations in our history, the St. Martin’s Malice Domestic Contest winner was a Guppy, Meredith Cole.
In May 2008, two dozen Guppies attended Malice, cheering our nominees: Beth Groundwater and Hank Phillipi Ryan for Best First, and Liz Zelvin and Nan Higginson were nominated for Best Short Story. Hank took the teapot for Best First, and Liz won the prize for Most Creative Hat. Two dozen Guppies attended.
Again in 2009, two of the five nominees--Sheila Connolly and Krista Davis--for the Agatha for Best First Novel were Guppies, with a third, Joanna Campbell Slan, a former Guppy. And Guppies did well in other contests, with Su Kopil and Sharon Halasz nominated for RWA’s Daphne du Maurier award for unfinished manuscripts, and Suzanne Williams, writing as Suzanne Adair, named a finalist in the contest for published Mystery/Suspense novels, for her third historical novel, Camp Follower. Jeri Westerson received a Macavity nomination for the Sue Federer Memorial Historical Mystery, and a Shamus nomination for Best First PI novel, both for Veil of Lies. In November 2009: Guppy Lorraine Bartlett, writing as Lorna Barrett, mades the NY Times Bestseller list with her Booked for Murder series.
In 2010, at Left Coast Crime, Jeri Westerson’s Serpent in the Thorns was nominated for Best Historical. And Guppies will again be a huge presence at Malice, with several Agatha nominations: for Best Novel, Lorraine Bartlett writing as Lorna Barrett and Hank Phllipi Ryan; for Best First Novel: Lisa Bork and Meredith Cole; for Best Short Story, Hank Ryan, Kaye George, and Liz Zelvin.
Guppies continue to form small groups. In summer of 2005, we added two subgroups: Brainstorming and First Page. In 2006, our first face to face critique group formed, in NYC. In 2007, Leslie Budewitz started Goals for Guppies, a subgroup for members who help each other meet weekly writing goals; in September 2009, Elise Stone became head goalie.
LURING EACH OTHER FORWARD:
The Guppies have a knack for developing contests that help spur us to our goals. In April 2006, the Winter of Rejection Contest hit new highs, as Sheila Connolly and Kadi Easley garnered 24 rejections each in three months – that’s nearly two a week! No surprise, then, that both are now published! In April 2007, Dawn Hawkings Johnson won, and was crowned the Queen of Persistence. Our 2008 winner was Daryl Wood Gerber, followed in 2009 by our first King of Rejection, Jim Jackson. Special thanks to the agents and editors who made it all possible ...
Originally begun to help Guppies who participated in NaNoWriMo–National Writing Month–keep up their gills, the annual Chocolate Challenge in February urges writers to track words written and hours of editing, and congratulate the winner with a mailbox full of chocolate! In 2010, the winner is our current president, Kim Striker–using chocolate to brighten the short days of northern Maine! The Challenge has also sparked other month-long and week-long contests, light-hearted fun to help us push toward our goals: the Spring Fling, the June Jumpstart.
Through Guppy-typical volunteerism and cooperation, we chose 22 stories for our own anthology, tentatively titled Fish Tales. Edited by Ramona Long with an introduction by Agatha-winning editor and writer, and beloved Guppy, Chris Roerden, the proposal began going to publishers in March 2010. Stay tuned!
are now one of the strongest and most exciting chapters in SinC. The
continued presence of published Guppies inspires new and not-so-new fiction
writers who believe that by swimming together, we all become winners.
My apologies for the inevitable omissions; this update is based on a running list I’ve kept over the years, and no doubt I’ve missed things that should have been mentioned.
In June 1995, members of the SinC Internet chapter, then on the Genie computer network, started a land-mail group for unpublished members and posted a notice in the SinC newsletter. Deciding to find out whether the unpublished really could help and "teach" each other, with no formal organization and no road map, members began sharing "round robins" packed with articles on writing craft and the publishing business, and letters about their own experiences. Early members included Diane Cooper Gottfryd of Chicago, Darlene Ryan of New Brunswick, Canada, and Leslie Budewitz in western Montana.
WE FORM A SCHOOL, OF SORTS
In 1996, The Guppies sought official recognition from SinC National. At that time, formal chapter status required a specific geographic area (with the exception of the Internet Chapter, whose territory was cyberspace). So The Guppies became a "support and information" group, along with SIGs for writers of young adult and children's mysteries and authors of color. In 1997, we adopted formal membership policies requiring current SinC membership and a willingness to participate and exchange knowledge and experiences. In early 2005, SinC National asked the remaining SIGs to convert to chapter status. The Guppies adopted formal bylaws in March 2005, which must be approved by SinC National. Formal recognition of The Guppies as a SinC Chapter is expected sometime in 2005.
EVERY SCHOOL HAS ITS LEADERS
In 1997, Cristina Ryplansky became the first Guppy president. In early 1998, the first Guppy Steering Committee was established with Cristina as president, Leslie Budewitz as Treasurer, Denise Tiller as Membership Coordinator, Deborah Benoit as Newsletter Editor, and Virginia Cole, member at large. In 1999, Denise Tiller became president, followed in 2002 by Daryl Wood Gerber. In 2003, the position passed to Margaret (Peg) Loudon Cochran. In June 2007, we will elect a new president.
WE TAKE THE BAIT
The Guppies celebrate creative initiatives to expand our activities and spur ourselves to better things. In that spirit, the Winter of Rejection Contest (begun in 2004 by Leslie Budewitz), urges members to submit their work to agents and editors, risking both rejection and acceptance. The winner receives organic dark chocolate – the traditional Guppy method of both consolation and celebration (along with cyber boas, kicklines, and champagne).
SWIMMING WITH THE BIG FISH
Members too numerous to name have published their first fiction as Guppies, while others have published non-mystery work. Several Guppies have been nominated for St. Martin's Malice Domestic Best First Contest for unpublished mysteries or received Malice Grants. In 2005, an amazing FIVE Guppies received Malice nominations.
© SinC-Guppies 13751 Monday January 02 2012