December is almost here. That means I will be talking about my latest book and signing books on the first Saturday in the Mystery Author Extravaganza at the Reston Public Library in Reston, VA. Taking part in this annual event is just one of the many benefits I receive as a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

wreathe-copyDecember also means it’s dues renewal time. Dues for the national organization is $40 and for the local chapter, $20. Paltry sums for an organization that seeks to even the playing field for female mystery writers. SinC was organized when women authors started noticing that male authors got the better contracts, were reviewed more often, and received more awards than female authors. In other words, the system was not fair. Men are welcome to join the group too as long as they support the goals of SinC.

The Mystery Author Extravaganza is also held in Maryland, this year on October 29 at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda. On hand to sell books at both events was Tom Harig of Mystery Loves Company

Bookstore, officially located in Oxford, MD.

But marketing and promotional opportunities are only one reason to join an association. The monthly meetings bring in speakers on a wide variety of subjects of interest to mystery writers. One meeting with two nationally known bloggers as speakers, netted me a guest blog on the popular site.

Attending meetings also offers networking and information exchange among other mystery writers and fans, who often attend the meetings. That’s how I found out about the citizens police academies that many police departments provide for local citizens. Tonight I “graduate” from the Howard County, MD, Citizens Police Academy, having attended 12 sessions where I learned about the SWAT team, ID fraud, counterfeiting, the K-9 and Aviation units, etc. I also fired a Glock semiautomatic on the police range, drove a patrol car, and rode along with an officer on patrol. Fascinating.

Last year, the SinC Chesapeake Chapter arranged for us to tour the Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore, where we watched (very briefly) an autopsy, visited the Patricia Cornwell training room, called Scarpetta House, and learned the difference between a coroner and a medical examiner.

I’m also a member and currently the president of the Maryland Writers’ Association. MWA is another organization offering education, information exchange, marketing opportunities and other benefits for writers of any genre.

While writing is often a solitary profession, writers can not afford to “go it alone” and ignore the many, many benefits and connections that come from professional writing associations.