Please welcome my very good friends, The Ladies Killing Circle, to Mystery Lovers Kitchen today. We are Joan Boswell, Vicki Cameron, Barbara Fradkin, Sue Pike, Linda Wiken (aka Erika Chase) and me, Mary Jane Maffini (aka Victoria Abbott)
The ladies go way back, oh yes. In about 1990, they were a very effective critique group: five women and Fred. Fred wanted to take a hiatus, and I (MJ) was offered a temporary place in the group. I’d never experienced anything quite like this group. Every two weeks we exchanged three chapters (printed out) and then, in rotation in someone’s home, we went around a nicely set table, clockwise, and made our comments. Some were strong on story structure and plot, others logic and character. There was one comma queen and one who queried the internal geography of every story. Where was that desk? Who was standing where? Someone else was strong on shapely chapters and appropriate cliff-hangers.
Meanwhile we enjoyed coffee, tea and goodies. Oh yes. Food always figured almost as much as murder in our critique sessions. Shown here are Sue's oatmeal cookies.
It all worked to make us better writers. However, as time went on, I began to think that if Fred wanted to come back, I would have to kill him. Lucky for both of us, he went on to other things.
Back in the day it was very difficult for Canadian women mystery writers to get a foot through the door. Some of us were beginning to get attention for our short stories and we decided to change that situation. In 1994 the critique group launched its first anthology , The Ladies Killing Circle, which also launched its name and was the first publication for a number of Canadian writers who went on to do very well. The anthology was a success and before long another anthology came along and then another and …
In the years since, the Ladies Killing Circle produced seven anthologies. Each one had at least one nomination for a short story award, several had two nominations, and there were three wins. Our founding member and wonderful friend, Audrey Jessup, died in 2003 and the Audrey Jessup award is named for her. Barbara Fradkin who was already a friend joined us later that year.
As it stands now, four of us are mystery novelists, one a short story writer and one a young adult and short story writer. That’s when we’re not doing other stuff. There are always it seems at least seven dogs as well as the spirits of dogs who came before and Linda’s cats. Dogs and cats are important to our group!
The Ladies have garnered many awards and nominations: Back to back Crime Writers of Canada awards for best novel (Barbara Fradkin) and four Ellis awards for short stories between (Sue Pike and MJ), After Joan Boswell won the Toronto Star award ($10,000), she took us all to a wonderful resort for dinner.When Vicki Cameron was nominated for an Edgar we all went to New York for the event. We were very proud when Erika Chase (Linda Wiken) was nominated of an Agatha for best first and also an Ellis for short story. Later MJ won an Agatha for short story and an RT for best amateur sleuth. In 2012, the group received the Grant Allan Award for Canadian mystery writing, a fabulous excuse to wear fascinators on mysterious Wolfe Island.
I’m sure I’m leaving something out and may be reminded. But enough about all that: don’t you think it’s time to eat?
This is a testament to the power of women working together and supporting each other’s creative efforts. Naturally, that calls for cake.
And this nifty little cake served six ladies after our lunch. Some of us have to watch our sugar and other carbs, but this tiny cake delivered a big flavor punch and left everyone thinking it was just the right size. You could serve it to men too, but maybe make two. Nudge nudge wink wink.
Friendship cake for six
¾ stick butter
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
3 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
a pinch of salt
Whipping cream (1 tbsp sugar or 1 tablespoon liqueur for flavoring) or French vanilla ice cream or … whatever else you’d like to garnish it with
Fresh raspberries or strawberries in season.
Toasted almonds if you like!
Toasted almonds if you like!
Preheat oven 350
Grease a 6-inch round pan
Line with parchment paper
Melt butter over medium heat in pan – until it bubbles and hisses – don’t let it brown – about three minutes
Remove from heat and stir in chocolate, stir until melted and smooth - cool to lukewarm
Beat in choco/butter mixture
Fold in remaining 2/3
Meanwhile, whip cream with two tsp of sugar and one tsp of vanilla or 1 tablespoon of brandy or some other liqueur.
Toast almonds at 350 for about 8 minutes if using
Do not panic if it deflates as it will – that’s what the whipping cream or ice cream is for. The raspberries are just for yumminess, although they look pretty. Ditto the almonds.
There you go: perfect for 6 friends
THE LADIES KILLING CIRCLE, COTTAGE COUNTRY KILLERS, MENOPAUSE IS MURDER, FIT TO DIE, BONE DANCE, WHEN BOOMERS GO BAD, and GOING OUT WITH A BANG
The four most recent are in print and available in various formats. Click the title below the image to check 'em out and we hope to meet some of you on Facebook!
Find out more about the novelists at their websites: Just click on the name.
Happy Holidays and Riotous Reading from the LKC!!