It’s no doubt obvious to anyone who reads this blog just how much fun the Chicks have together. But that begs the question: How exactly did the Chicks meet? What brought us together into one fun, fearless flock?
This is going to sound very sappy, but at this moment I’m having a hard time remembering exactly how we all met. It honestly feels as if we’ve known each other forever (in a GOOD way!) — but at the same time we are always learning new things about our fellow Chick-ettes. I do recall that I saw a fantastic article El had written as an ode to dive bars, and I think Marla had mentioned something funny about them, too, on the Gups (Sister in Crime’s Great Unpublished group) board. I thought, these are MY kind of friends–and we all have to meet! And Kellye lived in the NY area, but had worked in TV in CA like El, and she was hilarious (not to mention super-talented)! All four of us were getting started in the mystery world at the same time, and I got to witness Kellye’s meet-cute with her agent (El’s editor and I were wing-persons at CrimeBake). And then, of course, we all met Cynthia and Vickie, and immediately knew they were kindred spirits, and Leslie was simply irresistible when we all hung out at Left Coast Crime in Reno. Then, wouldn’t you know it, we met Kathy Valenti and Becky Clark and twisted their wings (just a little) so they’d agree to be Free-Range Chicks. (Phew! I’m breathless.) Love you all, mean it!
I met Lisa through a Guppy sub-group — I can’t remember which one, maybe she can — and we just hit it off. We started getting in touch outside the group and became e-pals. Not long after that, Lisa and her husband Rich came to L.A. for a convention and we all got to meet in person. Because it was Sunday, all the restaurants were packed, so we wound up at a raw food place that served one of the worst meals any of us had ever eaten. Boy, did that bond us!
When Lisa, Marla, and Kellye joined forces to create Chicks, they very kindly invited me along for the ride. I finally met them at Malice. (That’s right, M? Or did we first meet at a Left Coast?) Subsequently, I met Cynthia and Vickie at Malice, too. Malice Domestic — the gift that keeps on giving! Except that the California Crime Writers Conference also gave — that’s where I met Leslie, our newest chickadee. As to our free rangers, Becky and Kathy, Becky and I connected at Left Coast Phoenix. I still felt rather new to the scene and was honored when she pulled me aside for an interview. (Only when I saw it did I realize my shirt was too tight and displayed some horrifying rolls of fat.) I got to meet the lovely Kathy at — you guessed it — Malice.
Our whole flock has managed to connect at one Malice and one Left Coast… and you’d think we’d known each other forever and seen each other just yesterday. Mystery BFFs who are there for each other during the highs and lows and gossip and laughs. That’s the best gift of all.
At my first Malice Domestic (2016), two of the first people I met were Lisa and Ellen. I had interacted with all the Chicks online and was a fan, but tried to play it cool (as if that’s even possible for me)! It very well could be that I eventually became a Chick because Ellen was hungry when we met! You may not know this about Ellen, and I didn’t at the time, but when Ellen’s blood sugar level drops she needs to eat right away. We were introduced and maybe two minutes later Ellen said, “We’re going to dinner, would you like to join us?” I started saying, “If you’re sure I’m not imposing…” and we headed straight to the hotel restaurant. We had a lovely dinner and chatted as if we’d known each other for ages. I had a wonderful and slightly strange first meeting with Marla. She stopped by the table during dessert and, recognizing each other from photos, we exclaimed simultaneously, “Marla Cooper/Vickie Fee!” The three of them (Kellye, unfortunately, couldn’t make it that year) let me hang out with them during Malice, or at least they didn’t call hotel security when I kept stalking them. I got to know Cynthia when we were hatched together as new Chicks. (We now have a special/scary twins connection!) I FINALLY got to meet Kellye in person at Malice the next year. And I practiced my cool act on our darling Free-Range Chicks, Kathy and Becky, in Reno at Left Coast Crime. Feel so lucky to count this fab group of authors as friends!
I vividly remember sitting next to Ellen at a Left Coast Crime panel in Monterey, because she asked a really memorable question about forensics relating to a real-life family mystery. I met Lisa through the Guppy boards and we started emailing, then we finally got to meet in person in Portland the night before Left Coast Crime started. By the time I met Kellye, Cynthia, and Vickie at Malice Domestic, I recognized each of them the second I saw them from their Facebook pictures — and I vividly remember the first time I laid eyes on each one of them. (Kellye on the escalator; Vickie in the hotel restaurant; and Cynthia in the bar). I met Leslie because we agreed to serenade readers together at an author event — once again at Left Coast Crime. So we met up for breakfast (macadamia nut pancakes) then practiced La Vie en Rose in her backyard… in Hawaii! I played ukulele and she sang in French. (Now that’s a memorable first meeting!) It’s amazing how you can be friends with someone before you even meet in person, and I feel so lucky that I know this flock of amazing ladies!
Really had to think about this because it seems like we’ve known each other for centuries, like Lisa said!
- Ellen — as table-mates at my first Malice Domestic conference
- Marla, Kellye, and Lisa — as members of Sisters in Crime Guppies who bonded during NaNoWriMo
- Vickie — as newbie Chicks, class of 2017
- Leslie — as fellow authors at Malice Domestic
- Becky — as officers of the Colorado chapter of Sisters in Crime
- Kathy — as table-mates at Malice and authors in the Hen House
Making this list, I am feeling so keenly how very lucky and honored I am to know you (also how much attending conferences and belonging to professional writing organizations have made a difference). And I knew instantly that you were my people because we were laughing together…which we’ve never stopped doing, thankfully. Cherish you all. xoxo
This post will be much too long if I talk about how I met ALL the Chicks, so I’m going to limit myself to telling you how I met my first Chick, which ended up hatching me as a fledgling Chick several years later.
I’d just signed a publishing contract for the first of my Sally Solari mysteries when I saw on the Sisters in Crime listserv that a gal named Ellen Byron had a book about to be released by the very same publisher — Crooked Lane Books. Feeling nervous and ill-informed about the road ahead as a newbie author, I wrote her an email: Would she be willing to chat sometime and give me advice about what to expect over the coming year?
“I’d be happy to talk,” came the reply. “But I’m pretty busy for the next few days, as I’m attending The California Crime Writers Conference in LA.”
“No way. I’m in LA right now to attend that same conference!” I responded.
We met for drinks the next day at the hotel, and it felt like reconnecting with an old friend. And not only did Ellen give me invaluable advice, but three years later she invited me to become a fellow Chick. That may very well be the best email I ever sent.
Readers: Do you have any fun or interesting “how we met” stories you’d like to share in the comments?
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