Almost two decades ago, best-selling crime writer and one of New England Crime Bake founding mothers, Hallie Ephron urged me to come to the newly established annual conference for mystery lovers. I was a new writer trying to figure out how to write a mystery (which was how I met Hallie, one of the most talented teachers of crime fiction ever). I had no idea what networking was or how to do it.
I took Hallie’s advice and signed up for the next conference. Quickly, I was drawn into the memberships of both Sisters in Crime New England (SINCNE) and Mystery Writers of New England (MWANE) and a community of writers that has changed my writing life and my writing career. I was also recruited for the Crime Bake Committee. I remain on the committee and served as its co-chair for three consecutive years, an honor that enriched my life as a writer, including the opportunity to interview Walter Mosley. That may have been the peak of my career.
I treasure the friendships I have made at Crime Bake. At my first Crime Bake, I met the talented Catherine Maiorisi, among other new friends. We meet each year at subsequent conferences, encouraging each other to keep writing and celebrating our respective moments of success. I met my agent and friend, Paula Munier, who shares a love for yoga with me. I had the pleasure of serving as co-chair with Sharon Daynard and with Edith Maxwell. I had breakfast with Sue Grafton who sat between Ang Pompeo and me and was more interested in us than talking about herself. I could go on forever.
Every year I meet new friends at Crime Bake and renew my friendships with others. To me, Crime Bake feels like an annual hug from people who understand the joys and challenges of writing and who support one another. To me, Crime Bake feels like an annual hug from people who understand the joys and challenges of writing and who support one another. I’m struck by the lack of competition found in other professions where cutthroat tactics are commonplace. The mystery writing community feels like a family where the accomplishment of one of us is measured as the success of us all and is celebrated. Crime Bake is where we do our celebrating and have fun doing it.
This year will be the first Crime Bake conference I will miss since Hallie invited me to attend. I will miss joining my old friends and meeting new ones, but a family situation calls for me to sit this one out and family comes first. I was looking forward to seeing my Crime Bake buddies even more this year after the isolation of Covid. I was excited about returning to the Dedham Hilton, which always felt like a big dorm housing a reunion, to me. I am sorry I won’t be present to salute Guest of Honor, New England’s own Hank Phillippi Ryan, the most generous author I have ever known.
Even though I’m toasting New England Crime at home this year, my heart will be in Dedham with my community. Community is how writers survive the isolation of writing and New England Crime Bake is mine.