The day I began writing my first mystery followed the typical routine. I’d dropped the kids at school and was headed to work. But during the drive, I mused about the novel I had wanted to write forever. I had come up with the premise fifteen years earlier, but teaching and parenting seemed to take up all my time. Was I ever going to write it? Why couldn’t I seem to get started?
Later while teaching a class, I was at the blackboard explaining the benefits of outlining before drafting an essay, and it hit me: why didn’t I outline the novel today? Why was I waiting? I wasn’t getting any younger, after all. It was now or never.
So I drove home, went out on my back porch with a legal pad and a pen, outlined the book, and before long, had written the first chapter. It was thrilling. I was actually doing it!
Then I started wondering how the novel submission process worked. (Yes, I already thought about submitting before I wrote chapter two. What can I say? I’m a planner.) Insert record scratch.
So I did an internet search, stumbled across the Sisters in Crime website, and joined immediately. I pause here to acknowledge that the mystery writing community in general is fantastic—and there are other groups I later found and also love, like Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers! But Sisters in Crime was how I found my way in. Here’s what happened when I joined.
- Was added to a listserv with the very writers whose books were on my nightstand.
- Learned from what these published mystery authors were saying to each other.
- Explored subgroups focused on specific topics of interest.
- Joined the Guppies internet chapter and learned even more.
- Took wonderful classes they offered.
- Participated in a critique group and manuscript swap.
- Heard about amazing mystery conferences.
- Became aware of other opportunities, too many to list.
- Met amazing Sisters and Misters who have become cherished friends.
All of those things led in one way or another to the Lila Maclean series. And I also wouldn’t have met the Chicks if I hadn’t gone to Malice Domestic, which I wouldn’t have attended if a SinC member hadn’t shared the grant opportunity, which I wouldn’t have applied for if I hadn’t gone to the Sisters in Crime breakfast at Bouchercon and learned that there were such things as grants for emerging mystery writers, which I wouldn’t have attended if I hadn’t heard about the world mystery conference via discussion on the listserv in the first place…you see what I mean?
The kindness and generosity of the membership is incredible. I recommend Sisters in Crime to everyone, all the time—with exclamation points—because of the mission (promoting women writers!), the vision (for excellence and diversity and equality!), the camaraderie (so very much!), and the support (on multiple levels!). And now that we have a chapter in Colorado, it’s been an even richer experience. I could go on and on about that too, like our fabulous meetings, events, and monthly book clubs where we read and discuss SinC-CO authors, but suffice it to say: ❤️.
So thank you, Sisters in Crime! (I wish I could say it bigger, somehow. It’s hard to articulate fully how much this organization has meant to me.)
I will now confess that I have tried to express my gratitude to some of the founders.
Once at Malice Domestic, in the general direction of Sara Paretsky. I was too nervous in the presence of her greatness to stop walking and go speak to her like a normal person, so it ended up being a kind of drive-by thanking in which I blurted out something weird like Hi thank you um Sisters in Crime changed my life so thank you very much.
And when the fabulous Nancy Pickard was visiting us in Colorado (courtesy of the Sisters in Crime Speakers Bureau), I was intending to say thank you and started off by asking everyone from our chapter to raise their hands if Sisters in Crime has made a difference in their lives. Then when hands shot up all over the room super fast, I was suddenly too choked up to say anything else, so I just sort of awkwardly gestured, like See?
I’ll keep working on it.
Readers, are you a member of Sisters in Crime? How has it affected your life? Or what are other organizations you love?
And if you like mysteries, and you haven’t joined SinC yet… check it out! > sistersincrime.org