Another big year for Sisters in Crime: Report on the Annual General Meeting

Sisters in Crime held its Annual General Meeting in Melbourne on 7 October 2016, following its well-attended Antarctic Noir event.

 The meeting elected the following national convenors: Caz Brown, Ann Byrne, Robyn Byrne, Lindy Cameron, Vivienne Colmer, Moraig Kisler, Michaela Lobb, Pauline Meaney, Sandra Nicholson, Carmel Shute, Janice Simpson and Robyn Walton.

Vivienne Colmer, a life member of Sisters in Crime, was elected President. Re-elected were Vice-President Lindy Cameron, Secretary Carmel Shute and Treasurer Robyn Byrne.

Carmel Shute began her report by paying tribute to out-going President, Maggie Baron:

 Maggie has been Sisters in Crime’s inaugural President and it’s sad she’s not standing as a convenor again because she has done an outstanding job in shepherding the organisation and us ornery convenors through a lot of change, change that had to happen.

The pace of change in Sisters in Crime has previously been glacial and we’re not even in the Antarctic! The past year has seen big changes in governance – we’re now abiding by the new model rules for associations which we hadn’t realised we had to adopt.

At last year’s AGM, for the first time we elected an Executive which also included Lindy Cameron as Vice-President, Robyn Byrne as Treasurer and me as Secretary. We also co-opted Michaela Lobb as our event coordinator. Michaela unfortunately can’t be here tonight as she is organising a farewell event for her boss.

After many years of promises, we now have a new website, a new logo, and a new banner. A new membership form and membership card are in the pipeline, thanks to convenor Caz Brown who does much of Sisters in Crime’s design work.

We trust you like the new website – it’s got a lot of fabulous content. Regular, insightful Q&As with authors by convenor Robyn Walton, lots of reviews solicited by our hard-working review editor, Ann Byrne, and lot of crime news and events.

 Lindy Cameron has been working hard with Benn’s Design to create our special page for SheKilda3: One Day Crime Spree. The program, speakers and sponsorship package are up there – only the ticketing to come. Michaela Lobb is just sorting out a couple of glitches with Eventbrite but it should be up there in the next couple of days. Lindy will then be sending out details via the 3rd edition of our new e-newsletter, A Stab in the Dark.

New posts go up on our Facebook page pretty much every day or sometimes more often!

Thanks to Michaela Lobb’s efforts over the past 18 months, we can now join online, book for events online and enter the Scarlet Stiletto Awards short story competition online.

This has made the job of treasurer less onerous. Our treasurer no longer has to process 200 cheques for the Scarlet Stiletto Awards, for instance. Over the past 18 months we have also engaged the part-time services of a bookkeeper – another Robyn, Robyn Young – and together they given us a better handle on our finances.

A budget committee of Maggie Baron, Ann Byrne, Robyn Byrne and Janice Simpson has aided and abetted the process.

Meanwhile, we have had the usual range of fabulous events. Quite a few have been sell-outs –  the Davitts with Liane Moriarty, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards with Danielle Cormack and Law Week with Sandra Nicholson and an outstanding panel of forensic specialists Another sell-out was our last event here in July on Death in the Faculty compered by Sue Turnbull.

Sue got a professorship at the University of Wollongong a while back and won’t be standing again after at least 22 or 23 years as a convenor and compering nearly all our events whilst she lived in Melbourne. The tyranny of distance has triumphed!!

However, the good news is that she’s giving the keynote address at SheKilda3, hosting a session about justice on the screen and then doing the in conversation with Nicole da Silva from Wentworth who is presenting this year’s Scarlet Stiletto Awards, the climax of SheKilda3.

Text Publishing kindly stepped in this year to offer the first prize of $1500 in this year’s Scarlet Stiletto Awards competition which has a record $10,000 in prize money up for grabs. Booktopia sponsored the Davitt Awards this year to the tune of $5000 which was incredibly welcome.

The WA Chapter, led by convenor Val Marsden, continues to meet as a book discussion group. Under the leadership of Janelle Colquhoun,the Queensland chapter holds regular gatherings but I regret to report that, despite a meeting back in May last year, the NSW Chapter has still not gotten off the ground. This weekend, we’re partnering with Four Winds and Well-Thumbed Books, a bookshop in Cobargo near Bermagui, to present the Cobargo Crime Convention. It would be good if this inspired some action.

Convenor Janice Simpson, who also had her debut crime book out this year, Murder in Mt Martha, is the keynote speaker, which is why she’s not here tonight.

Finally, SheKilda3, which could be the end of me. Last night I mentioned to Janice that if I ever proposed organising another Sisters in Crime convention, then to shoot me. She said Tania Chandler would be the woman for the job as she’s just learned how to shoot to get it right for her new book, Deep in the Water. If not, we could also ask Tara Moss.

We were urged to have this event by the City of Port Phillip since the Cultural Development Fund rarely get applications for literary events. However, the Fund didn’t give us a cracker since the panel wasn’t convinced we would attract a local audience!! This is despite having well-attended events here in the City of Port Phillip for 24 out of our 25 years of existence.

Meanwhile, Port Phillip Library Services did an analysis of their events for the past 3 years and our events with them at St Kilda Library were the best attended by a streak.

We’ve had some sponsorship come in over the last 24 hours but we’re basically self- funding the convention. So we’re appealing to you to become Criminal Consorts – donate some money in return for your name on the website and the published program plus a free e-book of winning Scarlet Stiletto stories.

We’re also appealing for volunteers. You can sign a form on your way out.

I’d like to pay tribute to the SheKilda3 Committee as it has involved a huge amount of work – Sandra Nicholson (who’s chairing the committee), Lindy Cameron, Michaela Lobb, Caz Brown, Robyn Byrne, me and, over the past couple of months, Vivienne Colmer. Vivienne was a long-term convenor, the lead organiser for SheKidal1 and also a life member and we very fortunately co-opted her.







New convenors Pauline Meaney & Moraig Kisler

Finally, many thanks are also due to:

  • Australian publishers who have really embraced Sisters in Crime in recent times. They generously support both the Davitt and Scarlet Stiletto Awards, donate books for our raffles and approach us re authors to speak at our events and help get them here.
  • Deb Force and the team at the Sun Bookshop, our official bookseller at events and Killer Bookseller at SheKildaa3. Deb has an encyclopaedic knowledge of crime writing and is a great source of sage advice about what’s worth reading. We were delighted to welcome her back as a Davitt judge this year.
  • Former convenor Michele Cooper who administers the Scarlet Stiletto Awards, a huge job.
  • Former convenor Jacqui Horwood who was the judges’ wrangler for the Davitt Awards.
  • Mal and the wonderful team here at the Rising Sun.
  • Mark Barry from BS Sound who does a terrific job setting up the PA system for dummies here at our events.

Let’s also thank all the convenors for their hard work. We all work getting these events together but we all have different special jobs as I’ve mentioned in this report.

Special thanks to our two retiring convenors Maggie Baron and Sue Turnbull. We hope you can get to spend more time on your crime novel Maggie and look forward to seeing it published soon.

And most especially thanks to all of you, our members, for sticking with us. Thank you for coming. I trust you’re still having fun which is our main reason for existence. Please come to SheKilda3 – ticketing will be up very soon. Thank you.

Click here to read more about the convenors.

Attached are the financial reports presented by treasurer, Robyn Byrne.