We continue celebrating the 30th Anniversary Of Sisters In Crime by posting a guest blog from The Heart Of Texas Members (a.k.a. HotSinc) with it’s current vice president Noreen Cedeno, who gives a candid look at the group events open to the public that occur on our BookPeople third floor every second Sunday of the month.
Sisters in Crime, NOT a Group of Female Ex-convicts
Sisters in Crime is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. Who are Sisters in Crime and what do we do?
Once a visitor inquired at our meeting: Is this a meeting for female ex-convicts?
Uhhmm, no. We are writers and readers of crime fiction. All writers and readers of crime fiction are welcome to join. Our meetings are open to the public. And yes, male members are welcome to join and be our siblings in crime.
Another visitor wrote to me after a meeting: “I was a bit surprised to find not a women’s political meeting but a mixed gathering for a talk on hypnotism!!”
Well, yes, our meetings are not women-only political rallies. We are here to support female crime writers in a variety of practical ways, but we don’t discriminate, so everyone is welcome at our meetings.
One way we help our writers improve their craft is by widening their knowledge base. Writers can’t research a topic that they don’t know exists, have never heard of, or can’t imagine. Conversely, some topics are so involved, attempting research leads to outdated or overwhelming amounts of information. Therefore, at some of our meetings, we strive to help crime writers improve their craft by succinctly presenting topics that may be useful in a story.
So yes, you might walk into a meeting on hypnosis presented by a psychologist. We’ve had presentations on poisons, drones, and what different caliber bullets do to the human body. We’ve had a JAG lawyer introduce us to the military justice system. We’ve had guest speakers from just about every law enforcement group we can find.
Accuracy and authenticity are vital in writing! Nothing annoys a reader faster than an author getting details wrong. The Austin Police Department Bomb Squad was particularly nice, bringing not only their dog, Dax, but also “det cord” and C-4 for us to pass around during their presentation. It’s easier to write accurately about something you’ve touched with your own hands or seen with your own eyes. Hearing about law enforcement directly from the officers and agents who work in the field exposes us to the language and look, and the concerns and personalities of the men and women who serve as first responders. Those details are invaluable to any crime writer trying to create authentic characters and accurate depictions of how law enforcement agents handle crime.
As I mentioned before, we welcome crime fiction readers too! Sisters in Crime is open to both male and female readers of crime fiction. Therefore, we try to present subjects our non-writing members will enjoy hearing about. Luckily, most crime fiction readers also enjoy hearing presentations by law enforcement officers.
We occasionally have authors as guest speakers too. These authors may be locally known, nationally known, or internationally known. Last year, through an arrangement with the national Sisters in Crime organization, we had Rhys Bowen come and speak about her writing. We will have local authors who are members read selections of their work at our October 8th celebration of Sisters in Crime’s Anniversary.
Other things we offer writers:
Sometimes we have presentations specifically geared toward our writers. Those topics have included everything from marketing strategies to producing audiobooks.
We provide a place for authors to meet each other and discuss problems or share news. Authors have found critique partners and fellowship at our meetings. Our local newsletter includes industry news, writing tips, and information about opportunities to submit work for publication.
Sisters in Crime helps writers succeed by providing them opportunities to present their work. We showcase our local members work at festivals and conferences. Here in Austin, that means we will have a table at the Texas Book Festival in November. I’m only discussing the local chapter benefits. Opportunities abound at the national level as well. I’ve sent books to large conferences that I otherwise would not have had any access to or ability to attend because Sisters in Crime solicited members’ work for the conferences. Sisters in Crime works to ensure their members have opportunities that they might not otherwise have. In fact, the benefits available at the national level would be a whole other blog post.
So, if you like to write or read crime fiction, mysteries, police procedurals, cozies, thrillers, suspense, hardboiled, noir, amateur sleuths, or private detectives, you are welcome to come to a Sisters in Crime meeting, usually held on the second Sunday of the month at Book People at 2:15 in the afternoon on the third floor. You don’t even need to be a female ex-convict to come!