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Sisters in Crime, including Monroeville author, release anthology of crime stories

Twelve members of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime were recently published in an anthology titled“Lucky Charms.” Authors (from left) Kristine Coblitz, Paula Smith and Susan Thibadeau signed books and celebrated with a launch party at Mystery Lovers bookshop in Oakmont.

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By Patrick Varine and Kyle Lawson
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 4:15 p.m.

Monroeville resident Paula Smith and her fellow Sisters in Crime are preparing to unleash torrents of illegal activity on the Pittsburgh area.

Luckily, the Sisters represent the Pittsburgh chapter of an international organization of writers, readers, booksellers and authors who help promote the work of female mystery writers.

The local group — known as the Mary Roberts Rinehart Chapter — released “Lucky Charms” on Dec. 2. The anthology features stories from local Sisters in Crime writers, including Smith. Her story, “Sweet Murder,” is a contemporary mystery that twists through the betrayal of marriage, family and friendship.

Smith said her writing often is inspired by real experiences.

“Inspiration for a story sometimes happens when you contemplate a situation that has happened to you or someone else and look below the layers to find the meaning of it all,” Smith said. “Sometimes, the really great writers become very profound in their interpretation of that meaning. One of my favorites is Hemingway.”

She said her involvement with the Sisters in Crime has further developed her writing interests and skills.

“They are an enormously supportive and generous group of writers,” she said.

A book signing and author meet-and-greet for “Lucky Charms” took place last month at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont. Smith wasn't the only author representing the eastern suburbs.

Penn Hills resident Mary Sutton wrote a short story called “Batter Down,” which tells of a small-town sports team that gets mixed up in murder. The story is a police procedural, which, Sutton said, is right in her wheelhouse.

“When I started writing mysteries, I was writing more traditional stories with amateur detectives, known as ‘cozies,'” she said. “But I struggled with it.”

Sutton said friends liked her writing but that it lacked a certain “zing.” Then someone told her to simply write the story she wanted to read.

“When I looked at my shelves, they were stuffed with procedurals, thrillers and suspense.”

The story was authored under Sutton's pen name, Liz Milliron.

Hard-copy versions of “Lucky Charms” can be purchased online through Amazon, CreateSpace and the Mystery Lover's Book Store website at

Electronic versions are available for the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo e-readers and for Apple devices.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or

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