My development as a writer owes much to many people. But when I joined Sisters in Crime and its “Guppy” chapter (for “the Great UnPublished”) in 2007 or thereabouts, I found myself inundated with a wonderful flood of sympathetic fellow writers and a wealth of online resources ranging from moral support to classes, critique groups, and many other opportunities, all to be found on the Guppy and SinC listervs. My editor and critique partners as well as many of my first editing clients all came from the ranks of fellow Sisters in Crime.
Taking stock of the last year made me especially aware of this blessing, and I had already decided to write a blog post on the subject when lo and behold, the latest issue of SinC’s member newsletter announced a Sisters in Crime blog hop for the month of September. Talk about synchronicity!
Among the topics suggested for SinC’s September blog hop was mentoring advice for a new writer. This fits seamlessly into my desire to give SinC a big shout-out as one of the best things a new writer can do for herself. While most members write mysteries or other crime-related genres, there is room even for those whose fiction touches only tangentially on the subject. After all, isn’t most popular fiction about some kind of mystery? It doesn’t necessarily have to involve a dead body. Learning the basics of mystery plotting and planning from SinC’s many pros can go a long way in helping any new writer to construct a good plot.
And then there’s the moral support. When you’re starting out as a writer, frankly your first efforts just aren’t going to be very good. Friends and family who read these early efforts may be kind enough or undiscriminating enough to give you encouragement—or they may not. Even if they do, they still may not understand the impulse that drives you to shut yourself up for hours writing about imaginary people and situations. But once you join SinC, and even more so if you join the online Guppy chapter, you can subscribe to a listserv that includes both newbies and seasoned pros. Tons of fellow writers who have been through the same kinds of experiences that you may be struggling with right now, whether you’re tentatively trying to just get those first ideas down on paper, struggling to finish your very first draft, or agonizing over how to see your finished novel make its way in the world. Ask any kind of question at all, and you’re sure to find someone on the list (usually many someones) who can help.
SinC also has local chapters that offer this kind of encouragement face to face. It sponsors workshops, scholarships, and many other opportunities. If you are new to writing, I can offer you no better advice than to become a Sister in Crime!
But what if you’re not a female? That’s all right, too, as long as you support SinC’s core goal of encouraging women crime writers. SinC has plenty of “Misters” as well as “Sisters” who are active in the organization and on its listservs. We are happy to have them, and richer for the combined knowledge and experience.
And another shout-out to fellow Sister in Crime Amber Foxx, who is also participating in SinC’s blog hop this month: http://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/. I think regular followers of Saints and Trees will enjoy her Mae Martin series of “murderless mysteries.” Read Amber’s blog-hop post here.