Missing My Mystery Community


Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou

I’ve said it here before. I’d never written a single word of fiction when I challenged myself to write a novel.  Now I’m nearing the end of my tenth published book (at least I hope it’s ending) and I’m proud of how I’ve grown as a writer. 

Since I typed that first word of fiction, I’ve followed Ms. Angelou’s advice and worked hard to know better, so I could do better. In the years before Covid, I attended writing retreats, workshops at conferences around the country and monthly meetings of the New York chapters of Sisters and Crime and Mystery Writers of America. I always came away from those events energized and with something to improve my craft. I felt I was growing as a writer. I was doing better.

Then Came

But since Covid I haven’t attended a single in-person writer’s conference or meeting or workshop and the Zoom sessions and conferences I’ve attended have mostly been panels, not workshops. While I’m doing the best I can right now, I’m ready to do better.

I’ve been thinking I need a creative writing program, a master teacher to work with, or a writing retreat led by someone who inspires me. Any of them would be helpful. Yet I know they won’t solve the problem. 

What I really need is to reconnect with the writing community stolen by Covid. Rather than writing in isolation I need to be with other writers, to exchange ideas, to learn from them, to absorb the extraordinary creative energy generated. 

Last week I received the Covid bivalent booster. It may be time to take my chances with Covid, to start attending meetings and conferences again. I need it to do better.

What about you writers? Have you reentered your community? What do you do to do better? 


Catherine Maiorisi

Catherine Maiorisi is the author of the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery series featuring Corelli and her partner Detective P.J. Parker–two tough women, fighting each other while solving high profile crimes. A Matter of BloodThe Blood Runs ColdA Message in Blood, and Legacy in the Blood are all available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks narrated by Abby Craden.  

In addition to publishing multiple mystery and romance short stories in various anthologies, Catherine has authored four romances novels. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, was awarded a GOLDIE for Best General Fiction.


  1. Seriously considering going to Left Coast Crime in March. I miss is the sound of spontaneous conversation.

    As for writing better, I’ve abandoned formal study for the time being and am now focused on growing a story organically.

  2. Keenan, I really am missing contact with the writing world and I’m seriously thinking of attending some conferences next year–Left Coast Crime in March, Malice in April, The Golden Crown Literary Society in July and maybe Bouchercon and Crime Bake.

  3. I’m finally beginning to re-enter it consistently. For a while, anything I planned got cancelled, or something in my family prevented me from going. But I’m hoping it will all begin to be normal again. I’ll be at Crime Bake this coming weekend and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with other writers again.

  4. Emilya, Crime Bake is the first conference I ever attended and it’s still one of my favorites. I met Michele Dorsey at that first conference and we’ve continued to be friends. I see some Susan Breen, Michele Dorsey and Sharon Ward are presenting workshops so I’m really sorry to miss this one. Have a great time.

  5. Last year at Crime Bake was the first time I emerged and it was such a wonderful feeling. Though even at a conference, I do tend to avoid the more crowded moments and stick to the quieter ones. Having a drink and chatting as opposed to big banquets.

    1. Good idea about avoiding the crowded moments and the times when lots of people will be yelling to be heard.

      I’ve though about the Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America holiday parties but the small venues with lots of people drinking and shouting to be heard over the music makes me uncomfortable. So I guess it’ll be next year for me.

  6. Catherine, I’ve missed Malice Domestic the most. It brings me into contact with so many writers whose work I read and admire and who are now friends. A few years ago I volunteered to take panel photos and in that way came to know even more authors. My first foray into in-person things other than a few local events will be the Suffolk (VA) Mystery Authors Festival in March. They treat the authors well and buy a nice tick of your books beforehand so no dragging things along other than bookmarks. Great panels and interviews and lots of time to talk to readers, too.

    I agree that being with other writers is stimulating. My personal writing group met in WI this year at a lake house we rented and we workshop our entire novel drafts. The others are not crime writers, so it’s always good to get a perspective from someone who understands writing and story sense.

    1. Marni, your writing group sounds great. I like the idea of workshopping entire novels rather than a chapter here and there as you complete them.

  7. I’m going to Crime Bake tomorrow and I’m like a nervous bride. I haven’t been to an in person conference since Crime Bake 2029, which I cochaired. I’ll let you know how it goes! I wish you were going, Catherine!

    1. Michele, I think the 2019 conference was the last I attended. I’m not ready yet but getting there. I hope your workshop goes well and you have a great conference.

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