by Dietrich Kalteis
Many of us who blog here belong to writerly organizations (like Crime Writers of Canada, Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers Association (UK), Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers etc.) and some don’t. What benefits do those who belong to such groups feel they derive from their membership, and – for those who don’t belong to any – why have you chosen that route?
I have to admit I’ve let some memberships lapse lately as I’ve become caught up in my own writing and all that goes with it. And I know there are a couple of writers on this blogsite who have spent countless hours working to make these organizations happen, and I can just hear them going tsk tsk if they read that. But, let me say, organizations like Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers of Canada, and so on, are all worth checking out, especially for any aspiring and new mystery and crime writers. It’s a great way to connect to the local writing community, as well as a good way to network and get yourself and your work known. There are newsletters, opportunities to attend chapter meetings and take part in local writer events, promote books on their websites, and post events on online calendars.
Writing is pretty much a solo effort, so it’s important to step away from imaginary friends and get away from the desk once in a while. And another way to connect with other writers is through the various conferences and festivals that take place each year, like Thrillerfest, Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime. Most of which are also connected with writer organizations. Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime are held in a different city each year, and although traveling and attending can be costly, it’s a fantastic opportunity to network with the mystery and crime-writing community. The first Bouchercon I attended was in Albany NY in 2013, a great experience of meeting authors and readers and taking in author panels. It was also an opportunity to meet with authors in their natural habitat, the convention bar, standing around with a bunch of talented writers having a great time. These conventions are the perfect opportunity to take part in various panel discussions, pitch your stories to agents and publishers, and it’s also a chance to meet and chat with avid readers. One convention I’m looking forward to is Left Coast Crime which will be here in Vancouver in 2019. Although I haven’t been, the Harrogate Festival and Bloody Scotland would be awesome to attend.
Writing associations are also worth checking out. Aside from meeting others who write, you can listen to guest speakers, attend regular meetings, workshops and seminars. Then there are events like Noir at the Bar which are popping up all over. I organize a couple of these events in Vancouver each year, and I’ve attended and taken part in N@B events in L.A., Seattle, Toronto and Raleigh, NC. These events are another great chance to meet, mingle and hear other authors read from their latest works. If you’re an aspiring or debut writer, it’s a shot at joining the line-up and reading your work to a roomful of eager listeners. The events are always well attended, and many talented authors have graced our events with their presence, coming from as far as Toronto, Edmonton, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver and Seattle. So, if you’re in the neighborhood, you’re welcome to check out the next one here on Wednesday, November 1st. And as part of a book tour for Zero Avenue, I’m also taking part in a Noir at the Bar in Seaside, California on Friday, October 20th. A guaranteed good time.
Social media is another good way to network, and I’ve made many connections with writers online who I eventually ended up meeting later on at some writing event. When I started writing, I joined Zoetrope, Frances Ford Coppola’s online workshop, where writers submit their screenplays and short stories and trade peer reviews. And I met some interesting writers there, got valuable help and even ended up having a couple of screenplays optioned through people I met.
So, whether it’s for inspiration, information, promotion or socialization, it’s important to get away from the desk now and then and hang out with others who do what you do. And it’s amazing how helpful, friendly and supportive people who write about crime and some pretty gruesome stuff can be.