Time for Sisters in Crime


source: pixabay

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


32 thoughts on “Time for Sisters in Crime

  1. If I hadn’t joined and become active with Sisters in Crime, I probably would not be having a book come out next June. Really. It was the encouragement and support I received from the members of the Guppy members that kept me going.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. SO many benefits! The SinC online critique groups and manuscript swaps have been especially helpful, and Guppy discussions led me to my amazing editor, Lourdes Venard. I also have two local praiseworthy writing groups. Lilac City Rochester Writers is where I started when I was penning my first novel back in 2012. Their three-a-year critiques had a huge impact on my style, and one of the founding members became my first fiction publisher. The Canandaigua Writers Group uses a totally different format but the emphasis is on writing, sharing one’s WIP, and encouraging one another to keep writing; we now have a dozen published authors who band together for promotional opportunities and support. Thanks for the topic! –kate, writing as c. t. collier

    Liked by 4 people

  3. All I can do is second all of this, Cynthia! And I did the same kind of drive by, goddess worship, thank you with Sara Paretsky who took pity on me and shook my hand. I know I wouldn’t have my publishing contract without everything I learned and everyone I met through SINC.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. There’s no way I’d be published if it weren’t for Sisters in Crime and the Guppies. I, too, joined SinC as I started drafting my first mystery novel, learned about craft, conferences, and the art of querying agents from the list-serve, participated in a manuscript swap, and first contacted fellow Chick, Ellen Byron, because of something she posted on the SinC list-serve.

    So I heartily agree: if you are at all interested in the craft of mystery writing, join SinC today! And I thank all the past, present, and future Sisters for all they’ve done for people like me.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’m not a member of Sisters in Crime. I’m not sure what benefits there might be for a reader like me. However, I know I have reaped the benefits of the organization thanks to all the authors I read who credit the organization with helping them start their writing careers.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I love this so much, especially “Hi thank you um Sisters in Crime changed my life so thank you very much.” So true!!

    I discovered Sisters in Crime at the latter part of my writing journey, but felt the warmth of the group’s embrace immediately. Such kindness! Such generosity of spirit! Such knowledge! Every time I see/meet/re-meet a Sister (or Mister) at a conference, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be part of this group and to know such wonderful people.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Aw, ditto to all of this. I too am certain I wouldn’t have made it through my first draft, let alone gotten anything published, without SinC and Guppies. I have so much gratitude for our founders and the supportive community and for our local groups, like the fabulous SinC-Colorado that Cynthia and our other awesome board members created! I better stop or I’ll get all chocked up too…

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Great post, Cynthia! It would be hard to overstate the impact Sisters in Crime has had on me, personally. Especially thankful for all the writer friends and colleagues — like you! — I’ve met directly or indirectly through SinC!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Yes, I’m a member of SinC and also MWA! I discovered them both AFTER I won a Malice grant and the Guppies subgroup is what helped guide my journey, through classes, friendships, and more. I wouldn’t be a Chick without it – because it’s where I met our very own Lisa Q. Mathews, who invited me to join a new MAB she and friends were founding.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. So funny, I can’t seem to remember how I first discovered Sisters in Crime. I feel as if I’ve always been a member now! I think maybe I found MWA first (because I wrote mysteries for kids first and also worked in publishing). I went to a Crime Bake conference where I met some cool, very welcoming authors who clued me in. As soon as I read what my fellow future Chicks were posting on the bulletin boards, I knew we were kindred spirits. And now that circle has just gotten wider, with more authors, readers, and bloggers. I can’t imagine life without my mystery besties now! (And that includes all of you here ln the comment section, by the way!)

    Liked by 2 people

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