Sisters in Crime, a literary organization that promotes the advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers, is seeking applicants for its eighth annual Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award.
Noting a study which found only 11 percent of published books were authored by writers of color, Sisters in Crime President, Sandra Wong, added, “This grant serves a greater purpose in highlighting and uplifting work which shares valuable perspectives from writers in, and of, communities sorely under-represented in publishing.”
Sisters in Crime was founded in 1986 by 26 women crime writers who faced roadblocks in getting their novels published. The organization has grown to more than 4,000 members worldwide.
Sisters in Crime created the grant to celebrate excellence and diversity in crime writing. It honors the trailblazing African-American crime fiction writer Eleanor Taylor Bland, who used the genre as a platform to introduce characters that were largely marginalized or excluded from crime fiction novels.
Taylor Bland, whose works include “Dead Time,” primarily wrote stories about African-American people. She believed such representation was paramount in giving characters like Marti MacAlister, a Midwestern female police detective, a voice and center stage, as well as dispelling perpetual stereotypes attributed to black women.
“I knew Eleanor and can honestly say I would not be a published author today were it not for her unrelenting encouragement, mentorship and selfless advocacy,” said Tracy Clark, author of award-winning Cass Raines Mystery series and a judge for this year’s award.
The $2,000 grant is intended to help an emerging BIPOC writer with a novel-in-progress or early-career work of crime fiction. It also supports developmental opportunities, including workshops, online courses and research.
“Authors like Ms. Bland have shown me that women of color—writers of color—can be authors in any genre they want and really bridge gaps,” said Sisters in Crime’s 2020 winner Yasmin A. McClinton.
McClinton considered quitting writing until she heard about the Bland award. She submitted her opening pages of her manuscript, a revenge and redemption story about a female Ghanaian assassin, expecting rejection.
However, the judging panel of bestselling authors Rachel Howzell Hall, Alex Segura and 2019’s winner Jessica Martinez, restored her dream in becoming a published author when they selected her manuscript.
Since winning the award, McClinton landed a two-book publishing deal with Thomas and Mercer as well as a book option for a television series. She was also selected as a 2021 judge along with Clark and Edgar-nominated “Winter Counts” author David Heska Wanbli Weiden.
Mia P. Manansala found an agent and landed a publishing deal since she won the same award in 2018. Her debut, “Arsenic and Adobo,” is scheduled for May 2021 releasedby Berkley. “Without Sisters in Crime and the Bland Award, my soon-to-be debut novel might never have existed,” said Manansala.
The no-fee submission is open from March 15 to May 15, 2021. Applicants should not have more than 2 published novels and 10 published works of short fiction. Submission form available at www.sistersincrime.org. The winner will be announced in Summer 2021 and honored duringBouchercon, the world mystery convention. The winner will also be featured in Sisters in Crime’s quarterly newsletter, inSinC.