It’s #CrimeBake Time!

L-R, Liz Mugavero, Kate Flora, me, Edith Maxwell, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Barbara Ross, Sherry Harris, Maureen Walsh. Some of my Sisters in Crime at Malice Domestic this year.

L-R, Liz Mugavero, Kate Flora, me, Edith Maxwell, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Barbara Ross, Sherry Harris, Maureen Walsh. Some of my Sisters in Crime at Malice Domestic this year.

In the fall of 2002 I took a mystery writing seminar, taught by Abigail Padgett. It was my first step toward finding my own tribe, people who wrote in the same genre. Now, at that point I had an idea for a novel, nothing more. But I wanted to try. The class was a great mixture of wonderful participants and a good teacher. Abbie had three great pieces of advice for all of us.

First, keep working on your craft. Never stop trying to be a better writer.

Second, write what resonates with you. Sure romance sells, but if you have disdain for the genre, don’t try and write it. You can stretch, and you can grow, but you need to like what you are writing.

And finally, start networking now. She mentioned conferences, and specifically mentioned Malice Domestic to three of us. “You both will fit right in there. They like what you want to write.” So two of us decided to go to Malice. It was overwhelming, but being there together made it doable. While my friend was in the postage line (to send back a box of books), she started chatting with the woman in front of her. The woman was Dana Cameron, then Vice-President of Sisters in Crime New England.

When my friend and I met again, she announced that we had to join Sisters in Crime. So we both did. In 2003 we both went to the New England Crime Bake, which was the second time it was being held. I will always remember committee member Kate Flora handing out toilet paper to the lines of women, since the bathrooms had run out. Kate Flora. I’d read her Thea Kozak series, and was a fan. And she was handing me toilet paper. I had, in fact, found my people. But little did I know that path that would set me on.

Writers are typically introverts. But going to a conference, and learning how to network, is good for you. Not just because you can move ahead professionally. You also meet people who understand what you are trying to do. They offer support. And some of them become your friend.

I am honored to be the co-chair of this year’s New England Crime Bake. I look forward to seeing Lisa and Diane there (we will take a picture), and to seeing all of my Wicked Cozy Authors.

I also look forward to meeting the next me, someone moving out of her comfort zone, and going to a writer’s conference. And to welcome her to the fold.


J.A. Hennrikus writes short stories, Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series, which debuts in 2015.

13 thoughts on “It’s #CrimeBake Time!

  1. Thank you for posting this. I’m so happy you have met ‘your peeps’. Venturing out to an event like this – no matter what genre or writing style – has been impossible for me because of the discomfort for introverts you describe. I feel like I have nothing to offer; who would want to talk to me? I am well aware that most of us have those self-defeating thoughts and I am determined to overcome it.

    Reading about experiences like yours and receiving your ‘how to’ encouragement does make a difference.

    • Believe it or not, I am an introvert. But I have learned some ways to get around it. Certainly in the early days, it was going to events with a friend who was more extroverted.

      And of course you have a ton to offer. But always remember, people love to talk about themselves. So ask questions, and then respond.

      Trust me when I say, it is so worth it in the long run. I have yet to go to a writers’ conference where I didn’t leave inspired.

  2. I’m such an introvert that I haven’t even started my blog yet, but I have forced myself to comment on some of those I follow. I have those thoughts of ‘nobody will want to read what I have to offer’ and am getting over them through my new job, in which I am required to submit monthly board reports and articles to our local newspaper. I submitted my second board report today and my third article will be coming out tomorrow. In addition to the required writing, I also attended a health and wellness conference where I was a co-presenter of our school district success stories, and I participated in several break-out sessions where active participation was required. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone, and I believe it contributes to a healthier state of mind.

  3. Julie…I love Abbie Padgett…the woman and her writing. So glad she inspired you. Many of us have had those moments when someone said, “Join Sisters in Crime,” and it has made a huge difference in our writing lives. I fully embrace our motto: You write alone but you aren’t alone. It is so true.

    Funny, too, how we are all introverts, which we need to be to write, but then the business drags us out of the comfort of our rooms. It’s easier when the rooms are full of sisters.

  4. Julie, this is such a sweet piece and it is so true. I look forward to seeing you at the ‘Bake this weekend, along with Kate and Barb and so many of the others who make it such a terrific, inspiring weekend. Conferences build community and help us all feel part of something bigger. Because we are.

    Thank you for all your hard work.

    Brenda B.

  5. Pingback: #CrimeBake Report | Live to Write - Write to Live

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