The decision to let go is always hard, but sometimes inevitable. Such is the case for the Southern Nevada chapter of Sisters in Crime, which was one of the newest local chapters of a group of mystery writers, readers and fans. The international organization numbers over 3,600 members.
In October, 2008 guest speakers from the Los Angeles chapter and new Southern Nevada chapter presented their debut program to local mystery writers and lovers. Their “big sister” was the Orange County Chapter in California. With an air of anticipation, authors and fans gathered at a wonderful independent bookstore tucked away in a corner of a Henderson shopping center Like the fledgling chapter, Cheesecake and Crime, owned by Pamela Mains and her husband Lendell was one of the new kids on the block—a gathering place for mystery book lovers to browse for the latest mystery while enjoying a piece of Lendell’s superb cheesecake and a cup of java. Pam had always wanted to help establish a Sisters in Crime chapter in the Las Vegas area, and now it was actually happening.
Officers included Lauren Duncan who was a department chair at the Art Institute, Pat Morgan of the View’s “Book Nook,” Carolee Cameron who isn’t an author but enjoyed mystery books and me, an author/speaker/panelist. We joined Pam as members of the first Board of Directors thus fulfilling her vision. Our meetings were held at Cheesecake and Crime and we worked very hard to bring valuable programs, speakers and a newsletter to the Las Vegas/Henderson mystery writers’ community. The word “Sisters” in the organization’s name is misleading. Although it was originally formed by Sue Grafton, Marcia Mueller and Sara Paretsky back in the ‘80s to further the role of the female mystery writer as well as female protagonists, today there is a large male membership worldwide.The range of topics presented in the two and a half years of existence were not exclusive to mystery writing, but often extended to multiple genres.
In addition to the monthly SinC meeting, Pam and Lendell hosted many other guest author programs and events. Their cozy bookstore was extremely friendly to local authors. They hand-sold books in the old way, actually having read them. Then the economy kicked in and claimed Cheesecake and Crime as an early victim of the city’s sliding economy.
What came next?
With Cheesecake and Crime no longer in existence, Sisters in Crime moved first to the Flamingo Library, then Enterprise Library and finally to Barnes & Noble on Maryland Parkway. All three venues welcomed the organization with a great deal of support. Every month saw interesting programs like actors in costume acting out scenes from books, an original Mystery Jeopardy game complete with sound effects, speakers presenting programs ranging everywhere from Las Vegas author Keith Bettinger’s talk about how to depict post traumatic stress disorder in novels to a mock trial for the murdered English language with “You Don’t Say.” Attendees loved the meetings, but it wasn’t enough.
High gas prices caused some people who came from long distances to stay home. Sunday afternoons weren’t convenient for some who would have liked to participate. The MeetUp had over 70 members, but few came to meetings. Life intervened. The board was now operating at a bare minimum with personal pressures having caused Pat and Carolee to resign with regrets.
Then there were three—Lauren, Pam and me, and our terms of service were reaching the three year term limit imposed under the bylaws of the National chapter. When Lauren announced that she was anticipating a move out of state, “the handwriting was on the wall,” as the old cliché goes. New member Ellen Deutsch stepped up and volunteered to act as secretary, but it wasn’t enough. She would be a solo act as there were no more members offering to serve. So, although we did everything we could to nurture our baby, in the end it didn’t survive. There will be a last celebration of the chapter to be announced in mid-August in a newsletter sent to everyone who was on the mailing list. Farewell to Sisters in Crime Southern Nevada.
As for me, in addition to serving as vice president of the Southern Nevada chapter, I’ve remained an active member of the Los Angeles chapter. Sisters in Crime chapters welcome contact from members in other cities, states or countries. September 11 will find me giving a reading of my new book, Vanishing Act in Vegas and a writing tip presentation to , Partners in Crime, the Sisters in Crime chapter in Sydney, Australia. On October 9, I will be moderating a “You Don’t Say” panel for the Los Angeles chapter. In addition to local chapters, Sisters in Crime also has an online chapter—the Guppies, or the Great Unpublished—that mentors emerging writers around the world. It is very worth checking out.
One more note. I was so hooked on producing the monthly On The Prowl newsletter, I wasn’t ready to give up producing one. Visit my new blog http://writerstricksofthetrade.blogspot.com. It is all about writing and will have guest bloggers from many facets of the industry. The Writers’ Tricks of the Trade newsletter, modeled on the format used in the SinC/SNV On The Prowl, with an expanded range of topics, debuts August 15, and will be published monthly.
Jackie Houchin continues as the resident reviewer with an informative review each month. She will be joined by contributors ranging from authors, to editors, publishers, marketing professionals, cover artists, formatters and more. With a click of the Posts button under Subscribe To, the blog and newsletter will automatically be delivered to your choice of Google, My Yahoo, Newsgator or Netvibes. A link to the current issue will always be on the blog.
More information about Sisters in Crime at http://www.sistersincrime.org.
SPOTLIGHT interviews and overviews concentrating on local authors, events and organizations, and books appear on Tuesday in the Las Vegas edition of joltleft.com and Wednesday in the Los Angeles edition. The Writers Tricks of the Trade column, appears every Thursday in Las Vegas edition and Friday in Los Angeles edition. Watch for Writers Tricks of the Trade: 39 Things You Need to Know About the ABCs of Writing Fiction, coming soon.
For more information about Morgan, visit http://morgan-stjames.blogspot.com and www.morganstjames-author.com. Morgan’s books may be purchased at online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Fictionwise, Powell’s Books and more, or order at your favorite brick and mortar store. Follow Morgan St. James on http://twitter.com/LVWritingExamin