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Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award
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The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award is an annual grant of $1,500 for an emerging writer of color. An unpublished writer is preferred, although publication of one work of short fiction or academic work will not disqualify an applicant. This grant is intended to support the recipient in activities related to crime fiction writing and career development. She or he may choose from activities that include workshops, seminars, conferences, and retreats; online courses; and research activities required for completion of the work.

The grant is administered by Sisters in Crime, a 3,600-member organization of mystery authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians. Sisters in Crime was founded by Sara Paretsky and a group of women at the 1986 Bouchercon in Baltimore. In 2014 the group invites members to: “SinC Up With Great Crime Writing! Our mission is to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers.”

After contacting the grant recipient, Sisters in Crime will make an official announcement of the award, including an article for inSinC, our quarterly newsletter. The name of the recipient of the award also will be announced during the annual Sisters in Crime breakfast at Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. The recipient need not be present at the SinC breakfast. If the recipient does wish to join us and be acknowledged in person, Sisters in Crime will pay the recipient’s conference registration for Bouchercon 2016. However, please note that all Bouchercon travel-related expenses (including air fare, hotel, and meals other than the SinC breakfast) are solely the responsibility of the recipient if she or he does decide to attend.

A report about how the award was spent must be submitted to the Sisters in Crime president one year after receipt of the award. The 2016 recipient of the award also will be expected to serve the following year as a member of the 2017 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award selection committee.  

Eleanor Taylor Bland was a pioneer in crime fiction. In 1992 the first in a series of crime fiction novels that feature Marti MacAlister, an African American female police detective who works and resides in a Midwestern American town that closely resembles Bland’s own adopted home town, Waukegan, Illinois, was published. Bland also published several works of short crime fiction and edited a collection titled Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors (2004). When she passed away in 2010, she was one of the most prolific African American authors in the genre. With Marti MacAlister, Bland created an enduring and much beloved heroine who went against the grain of perpetuated stereotypes related to African American women in much of U.S. popular culture.


Although Bland focused primarily in her work on stories about African American characters and their lives, bringing both complexities and comforts of familiarity to her readership, she also included in-depth interactions with other kinds of characters that reflect the broad spectrum of identities that is U.S. society. Bland saw crime fiction as an especially accessible literary vehicle for bringing into the genre characters that before her work had been peripheral to or simply missing from the genre. She understood that crime fiction could continue over time broadening its appeal to new reading audiences by opening its doors to the kinds of characters, societal situations and perspectives, and potential for creativity that authors of color would bring.

Applications will be accepted after March 1, 2016. Deadline for applications is July 1, 2016. The winner will be selected and announced by August 15, 2016.  DOWNLOAD THE 2016 FLYER.

Requirements for application:
  • An unpublished work of crime fiction, written with an adult (rather than YA or children) audience in mind, which may be a short story or first chapter(s) of a manuscript in-progress, 2,500 to 10,000 words.
  • A resume or biographical statement.
  • A cover letter that gives some sense of the applicant as an emerging writer in the genre and briefly states how the grant money would be used. No prior writing or publishing experience is required, but the applicant should include any relevant studies or experience.

An electronic copy of the full application in Word should be sent, with email attachments, to Beth Wasson at

For updates, inquiries, and additional information about the award, please also contact Beth Wasson. Receipt of your email application will be acknowledged by email, and forwarded to SinC’s team of reviewers. For updates, inquiries, and additional information about the award please contact Beth Wasson at

Read about our 2016 grant recipient - Stephane Dunn.

Read about our 2015 grant recipient - Vera H-C Chan.

Read about our 2014 grant recipient - Maria Kelson.




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