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Eleanor Taylor Bland Award Winners
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Jessica Martinez—2019 Winner

In a joint statement, judges Cheryl Head, Mia P. Manansala, and Tonya Spratt-Williams said, “Ms. Martinez has great potential as a fresh new voice within the crime fiction community and capably displays a proficiency with humor. Her submission introduced the committee to a fun and witty protagonist and left the committee looking forward to her completed novel.”

“I was so excited to learn that I had received the 2019 Eleanor Taylor Bland Award from Sisters in Crime,” said Martinez. “It feels great for someone to recognize my work as having potential. This award is affirmation for me to continue writing and to finish fleshing out this specific story of mine.”

Jessica is a government worker by day and blogger/aspiring novelist by night, or by naptime for her boys. Jessica has worked in Customer Service for over 15 years and has been writing on the side for years but recently started to hone her craft through classes at Santa Barbara City College, Arizona State University, attending SDSU’s Writer’s Conference, and writing blog posts. Jessica has a non-fiction blog where she writes about her real life encounters with difficult situations. Website.


Mia Manansala—2018 Winner 

In a joint statement, judges Cynthia Kuhn, Tonya Spratt-Williams, and committee chair Maria Kelson said, “This was our unanimous choice. Manansala exhibits sophisticated genre awareness and playfulness with genre conventions and we believe the manuscript—which features a very funny, millennial, Filipina-American protagonist—makes a new, worthy, and worthwhile contribution to crime fiction.”

“I am so incredibly thrilled and honored to receive the 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Award from Sisters in Crime,” said Manansala, who is represented by Janet Reid of New Leaf Literary. “I want to thank the award committee for recognizing the marginalized writers in our field. I am excited to see what the future holds, both for me and for the crime fiction genre. My deepest gratitude to you all. Salamat po!”

Manansala is a writer of geeky stories filled with sarcasm, murder, and the occasional Simpsons reference. In addition to the Eleanor Taylor Bland Award, she is the winner of the 2018 Hugh Holton Award, the 2017 William F. Deeck - Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, and the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/Helen McCloy Scholarship. She's also a 2017 Pitch Wars alum and 2018 mentor. You can find more about Mia Manansala on her website.


Jessica Ellis Laine—2017 Winner 

"We received numerous exceptional submissions from a diverse group of emerging mystery writers,” said Naomi Hirahara, a member of the judging panel. “We had a difficult time deliberating, but in the end, it was Jessica Ellis Laine’s humor and authentic characterization of her Latina protagonist that won us over. We are excited to see mysteries written by Laine and other applicants fulfill our genre’s potential to reflect the wide range of human experiences.”

"I am so incredibly honored to receive the 2017 Eleanor Taylor Bland award from Sisters in Crime,” said Laine. “I give thanks to the crime writers who have come before me including the amazingly talented Eleanor Taylor Bland. I have been fortunate to have many mentors in my life including Erin Hart, Ellen Hart, Kristi Belcamino, Pat Dennis, Michael Allan Mallory, and Rhonda Gilliland among others. I will try and repay this debt by writing to the best of my ability and by supporting future generations of crime writers. Mil gracias. Many thanks."

Jessica Ellis Laine‘s work has been published in Literary Mama, Women’s Memoir and The Norwegian American. Her short story, “Safe Harbor,” is featured in the mystery anthology, Cooked to Death. Jessica is also the winner of the he 2016 Mystery Writers of America-Midwest Hugh Holton award.
You can find more about her on her website.


Stephane Dunn—2016 Winner 

Winner Stephane Dunn is a writer and professor at Morehouse College where she directs the Cinema, Television, & Emerging Media Studies program (CTEMS). She teaches courses in film, creative writing, popular culture, and literature. She received her MA, MFA, and PhD from the University of Notre Dame. She authored the 2008 book, Baad Bitches & Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films (U of Illinois Press), which explores the representation of black women in the Black Power and feminist era influenced cycle of black action films such as Sweetback’s Baaad Assss Song, Coffy, and Foxy Brown. Her comments and articles about issues of race and gender in American culture and in film and Hollywood in particular, have appeared in national media, including The Atlantic, NPR, LA,,, AJC,, and a number of edited books and magazines, including Ms. magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Best African American Essays (2009), among others.

Her film reviews and social commentary appear extensively on the Dr. Mark Anthony Neal cultural blog New Black Man (inExile). She is currently continuing revision on a first novel manuscript and a script.


Vera H-C Chan—2015 Winner 

Winner Vera H-C Chan has worked in the world of newspapers, magazines and the Web, including nearly nine years as a senior editor and Web trends analyst at Yahoo! and currently as chief journalist/content strategist for Bing News. While her byline has appeared in hundreds of news, features and entertainment stories in print and online, Vera has labored on side literary projects. A lifelong lover of mysteries, she's a fan of old-school authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, G.K. Chesterton and Dashiell Hammett, Her entry for the Eleanor Taylor Bland Award features an unlikely and somewhat surly, female, Chinese-American “private investigator” who is tasked — thanks to her restaurateur father — to look into cases of seemingly wayward Asian-American children.

In addition to the Brenna Hom series, Vera — a black belt in a Korean martial art — is currently shopping a full-length humor novel based on a quiet and hapless tech writer who enters the world of martial arts, full of mischief, mayhem and machismo. She lives in the SF Bay Area with her husband and his long-lived parrot Hemingway, who tolerates her presence. You can find on twitter @fasttalkingd and on her website.


Maria Kelson—2014 Winner 

Maria Kelson comes to crime fiction from the worlds of poetry and freelance writing. Her two collections of poetry published by University of Arizona Press (as Maria Melendez) were honorable mentions in the 2007 and 2010 Latino Book Awards, and her first collection was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award. Her feature essays have appeared in Ms. magazine, Sojourns, and elsewhere. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and is a National Novel Writing Month participant. The mystery manuscript she submitted for the Eleanor Taylor Bland award combines elements of feminist fiction and noir, and is set in contemporary Humboldt County in Northern California. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she teaches literature and writing at Pueblo Community College in Pueblo, Colorado. She can be found on twitter at @MKelsonAuthor.

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