Kate Flora: In 1993, after nine painful years in the unpublished writer’s corner, I was on the cusp of publishing my first mystery. Chosen for Death, book one in my Thea Kozak series, was scheduled for publication the following year, and my publisher urged me to attend a national crime writer’s conference to meet other writers and hopefully find some who would be willing to give me cover blurbs for my book.
Despite being a country mouse, I followed the publisher’s advice and flew to Omaha, Nebraska to attend my first Bouchercon. Feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland, I wandered around rooms full of authors I’d read and admired, and was given a very important piece of advice: If you’re going to be a woman in the crime writing world, you need to join Sisters in Crime.
At that point, Sisters was seven years old but I had never heard of it. I came back to New England, found our local chapter, and found a home in the wonderful, supportive, and inclusive world that is Sisters in Crime. We formed a speaker’s bureau to get our authors greater recognition. We offered seminars on craft and the world of crime and crime investigation. We built a chapter from a handful of members to over two hundred. We co-founded a regional writing conference, The New England Crime Bake, to bring the crime writing community together.
Among the special values Sisters has given me have been mentors who showed me how to do author talks, contact experts who could give advice on particular issues in books I was writing, such as details for a scuba diving scene, and perhaps most valuable, since the publishing world can be so harsh, support in the face of rejection.
A bit about Sisters in Crime:
No, we are not cops. No, we are not criminals. And no, we are not a gang of criminal nuns. What we are is an international group of writers who came together, initially, to combat the sexism and stereotyping that was common in the crime writing field back then. We’ve stayed together because we know that networking and support are things women do well. At a conference in Chicago about a decade ago, as we revisited our mission and looked to the future, we came up with a motto that beautifully summarized the value of Sisters in individual writer’s lives:
You write alone but you’re not alone
Through advocacy, education, our continuing monitoring project, and expansion of our support beyond novels to short stories, Sisters in Crime provides a wonderful home for writers who are looking for education, answers, and community.
Sisters in Crime was founded in 1986 to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers.
Back in 1986, twenty-six women crime writers, frustrated with the obstacles they faced in publishing, met at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in Baltimore to plot a path toward being treated as the equals of male writers. They gathered again in May 1987 during the Edgar Awards Week in New York to formally establish the organization, Sisters in Crime (SinC). The group formed a steering committee and held the first membership meeting at Bouchercon in 1987, establishing a tradition that continues.
At the time, although perhaps (Kate’s stats, not SinC’s) thirty percent of crime novels were written by women, the statistics on reviews and attention to those books were appalling. The attitude seemed to be that only women read women’s books, and women bought those books with their “pin money” so giving the books review attention, even though it was through reviews that books were brought to readers and book seller’s attention, was a waste of time. The SinC monitoring project began to collect those statistics, bring them to the attention of publishers, reviewers and publications, and attention to women’s books began to improve.
A lot of great educational videos about craft here:
A History of Sisters in Crime: http://homepages.gac.edu/~fister/SinCPCA.pdf
Information about the New England chapter here: https://sincne.clubexpress.com
Community in all aspects of life is a huge thing.
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Thank you for this information! Much appreciated. 🙂