When I was first mucking around with writing a mystery, I took a class at Harvard Extension School taught by Abigail Padgett about the very topic. She was not a cozy writer, but three of us were. She spent a class talking about the business, and suggested strongly that we go to a conference. “You three,” she said, “need to go to Malice.” And so my friend Regina and I signed up, and went the next spring.
And aside–these were pre-Crime Bake days. Abby would have made us field trip to Crime Bake.
Abby also talked about Sisters in Crime, but we felt like that was a next step. The list of founders, and of members, that she reeled off were models and apsirations for our craft and careers, but we weren’t even close to being ready.
Malice Domestic is a huge conference in Bethesda, Maryland that celebrates the traditional mystery. Though it is packed with writers, it is a fan conference with tons of panels. When Regina and I checked in they give us a bag full of books. And after the panels, we bought more. In order to help solve flight problems, they also had a mail station set up so folks could ship some books home. I was visiting my mystery loving mother and sister after the conference, so I didn’t need to ship, I just needed to lend. But Regina had to ship. The first thing she said when found me later was “we need to join Sisters in Crime.”
She went on to say that she had met the New England Vice President, Dana Cameron, while waiting in line. Then she saw Dana, called her over, and told her to tell me about Sisters in Crime. And Dana did. She told me about the mentoring, about the support, and that I was welcome in the organization. Welcome now. I didn’t need to wait.
When I went to my first meeting, Dana was there. I reminded her where we had met, and she pretended to remember. Then she asked me how my writing was going. And she seemed interested in the answer.
That is Sisters in Crime. A published author talking to an aspiring fan at a conference. Encouragement. Support. Community. It makes all the difference, at least it has for me.
Last weekend Dana Cameron was the Toastmaster at Malice Domestic. And she won an Agatha for her short story “Disarming”. So this post is in part to congratulate our Sister in Crime. But it is also to thank her for introducing me to Sisters in Crime, and our chapter.