Today, July 6th, we celebrate ten years of blogging as Maine Crime Writers. The cast of characters is ever changing but the mission remains the same: to make readers aware of the talents and diversity of crime writers in Maine, and to share our experiences of living and writing in Maine, the many different corners of the mystery genre that we occupy, and our thoughts on the craft of writing.
Welcome to Maine Crime Writers inaugural blog. I get the honor of writing it not because I’m the most stellar writer. Rather, it comes down to this: I’m the person so daunted by the task of mastering social media that I recruited a whole group of great writers to join me, hoping that, in the motto of my small home town of Union, Maine—In Union, there is strength. Individually, some of us would fly and others might flounder. Together, we’ll have the pleasure of each other’s company, the treat each day of reading thoughtful and entertaining posts by writers we already admire, and the opportunity to learn from each other.
Way back in 1993, when I sold my first Thea Kozak mystery, my wise husband said, “Congratulations. Now you have two jobs. You still have the job of writing the next good book. You now also have the job of publicizing and promoting your books.” Not long after that, I went to my first mystery conference out in Omaha, Nebraska. It was my first introduction to a lot of things. Among them was the excitement of being with a whole group of people who did what I was doing. I was thrilled when I heard another writer talking about the voices in her head demanding to be let out. It was comforting to know that in our profession having imaginary friends was okay. Other writers shared their frustration about those times when the story “wouldn’t write” or the editor wanted something near and dear changed. I also came back from Omaha clutching a little slip of paper on which someone had written: Join Sisters in Crime.
I followed that advice and learned how valuable it could be to belong to a community of writers. Over the years, I’ve belonged to several communities—some official and some unofficial. And one community which has given me great pleasure and support has been the community of Maine mystery writers. I’ve met some of the writers in this group through Sisters in Crime. Some through the New England Crime Bake, a mystery conference featuring New England authors held each November. And I’ve met many, or gotten to know them better, through doing library events.
Nearly two years ago, at an event at the Camden Public Library, Jim Hayman suggested that some of us get together and blog. It seemed like a great idea. Jim and Gerry Boyle and I were all writing books about Portland and cops. But I waited for Jim to organize it and it never seemed to happen. Then, earlier this year, with the constant admonitions of publicists that writers must master “social media” ringing in my ears, I was sitting in a bar in Brunswick with my friend Lea Wait. We were commiserating about all the ways that the necessity to publicize oneself nips away at the time we have for writing. And I floated the idea of doing it as a group. We’d have the advantage of many voices to draw readers to our site. Instead of struggling to think of clever things to blog about, we’d be able to write thoughtful blogs, to respond to each other’s ideas, and once a week, we could blog together on a topic of interest to the group.
I guess I wasn’t alone in thinking it might be fun to try, because now we are ten. (I try not to think about ten little Indians.) I’m excited to be part of this group. Looking forward to what Gerry will write tomorrow, what Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett will write the following day, and then what Vicki Doudera will write. Then, on Sundays, we’ll be writing as group. This week’s topic is Research Stories, and there will be some good ones.
So, dear readers, I hope you’ll find our site congenial and want to come and visit with us often. And we don’t intend for this to be a one-way street. If you’ve got ideas about topics we should discuss, know characters we should interview, have questions about crime writing you’ve always wanted to ask, we’d love to hear from you. We also want to hear about special Maine places that our readers might not know about. Your favorite recipes for blueberries, or chowder, or New England baked beans. We’ll be talking about what we’re reading, and we hope you’ll talk back about what you’re reading.