Sisters in Crime turned 25 this year, and its 48 chapters around the world held celebrations to mark the occasion. This coming Thursday, my own chapter, SinC Toronto, will host an open house at our new meeting place – Northern District Branch of the Toronto Library at 40 Orchard View Blvd. (just north of Yonge and Eglinton).
I’ve been a SinC member for the past 13 years, and the monthly meetings have helped keep me writing. I spend most of my time working in splendid isolation in my home office or at my country home in the Haliburton Highlands. I need to get out with people once in a while – preferably with people who talk about mysteries, about crime, about book publishing.
Not all SinC members are writers. Some of the most dedicated and influential that I’ve known are avid readers who take it upon themselves to encourage, support and promote writers in the mystery genre.
And that’s exactly what SinC is all about. Founded by Sara Paretsky at the 1986 Bouchercon in Baltimore, the organization is dedicated to promoting women writers in the mystery field. A quarter-century later, our chapter at least gives equal play to promoting male and female writers. But I’m not sure how other chapters approach this.
And we have male members, no pun intended. Male sisters may be a better handle for them. My husband, Ed Piwowarczyk, is one.
For me, SinC meetings are gratifying on several levels. They’re pleasant social occasions. Most of us meet for dinner beforehand, which is a chance to keep in touch with friendly and interesting people. Over the years, many have become friends. And 12 years ago, a few of them asked me to join their writers’ group, which I did. The group is still going strong, and all six of us are SinC members.
Some of the speakers who addressed us over the past 13 years were nothing short of inspirational. Writers such as Linwood Barclay, Howard Engel, Gail Bowen, Rosemary Aubert, Maureen Jennings, Jon Redfern. Robert Rotenberg and the late Lyn Hamilton shared some of the secrets of their success, and made me think it might be possible to follow in their footsteps.
Others – forensics experts, publishers, agents – provided ideas, insights into new trends and the opportunity to ask questions.
The encouragement and promotion that I just mentioned was extended to me several times this year. I was invited to be on a panel at our January meeting with two other SinC members who, like myself, were shortlisted for the Debut Dagger award. A few months later, Janet Costello, our newsletter editor, featured me in a Q&A interview in Crime Scene. And, at the June meeting, I was one of about 10 members who read from our published or soon-to-be published works.
SinC Toronto has been around for nearly 20 years, but we always welcome newcomers. If you’re a reader or a writer of mysteries, and you’re in Toronto this week, join us for dinner on Thursday Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the Pickle Barrel at the Yonge-Eglington Centre (2300 Yonge). Ask for the Sisters in Crime table. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the library across the street.
And for those who can’t make it this week, we’ll be at the Pickle Barrel and then at the library on the third Thursday of months to come. Check our website for any changes.