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Memories of Member Reads
By Kathryn Gandek-Tighe
Posted on 5/3/2021 10:47 PM
SinCNE hosts Member Reads every May at which our members share a few pages of their work. They've taken place in libraries, bookstores, homes, pubs, and even moved online last year. Here's some great memories of past member reads from Connie Johnson Hambley, Ruth McCarty, Dale Phillips, Edith Maxwell, and Leslie Wheeler. Please share any you have in the comments!

Connie Johnson Hambley:
I remember sitting in the Quaker meetinghouse in Amesbury for one of my first Member Reads. A Quaker meetinghouse? With Edith Maxwell hosting, could there be any other venue? I was the new kid and listened as WIPs or favorite passages from published works were introduced and read. I belonged to other writing groups, but this was the first I would read aloud to sage and experienced published authors. I didn’t know what to expect and had slaved over my 500 word/four-minute/very brief (or whatever the agreed parameter was) piece the entire day before. I needed to bring my best effort. Would they shift uncomfortably in their seats at my drivel, or would they sit up, rapt with my great talent?

Neither, but that was beside the point. The variety of work and voices nourished me in an unexpected way. Each author had a way of looking at the world or a problem that was unique, beautiful, and simply theirs. I was struck by the support and connection among the group. As the newcomer, I was also struck at how warmly I was welcomed into their fold. To them, I wasn’t just the youngun’ comin’ up the ranks. I was a fellow author, both struggling and proud of my craft.

I’ve since gone on to host my own Member Reads events for our chapter and have always tried to infuse those same feelings of camaraderie and support.

Ruth McCarty:
I loved hosting the reading events! It was a great way to welcome the new members. It also gave all of us a chance to read our work in front of a supportive group! I know it gave me courage to speak at libraries and book stores. I’m so looking forward to in-person meetings again!

Dale Phillips:

My first SinC member read event was certainly memorable. It was years ago, soon after I joined SinC, after a long time of asking members if they really welcomed men into the group (and being assured that they did).

The reading event was held at the home of Edith Maxwell, who I'd met at a Crime Bake or two. I drove there with a sample of my work, and was the only male present, along with a dozen or so women writers.

Sensing my ever-present shyness at being the odd person out, and despite my newness to the organization, they all made me feel quite welcome into the group. I read my work, and listened to the high quality of the works of others. After that, I no longer questioned whether they welcomed men among the members, and it certainly helped break the ice and allow me to learn more about SinC and what it stood for.

Edith Maxwell:

I certainly remember that meeting, Dale. I also hosted one at the Quaker meetinghouse, and Judy and Hans Copek drove all the way up from Foxboro. I think the most recent one I hosted was at a pub in Amesbury. Joanna Schaffhausen made the trip all the way up from the south of Boston, and I met a new writer who lives in the next town, Brooks Wright. It's a great informal way to get together with our sisters and misters

Leslie Wheeler:
Members reads has long been one of my favorite chapter events. Here’s a fond memory of a fairly recent one. The event was held at the Amherst Public Library, and as someone who divides her time between the Boston area and the Berkshires, I picked it in the hopes of meeting some Western MA members, which I did. One of those members was our current president, Lisa Lieberman. She and I discovered that we shared a love of film noir, and after exchanging contact information, we agreed to continue our conversation the next time I was in the area. We had lunch at a restaurant in Amherst, and found so much to talk about that it was a LONG lunch. At the end, I recall Lisa turning to me with the famous lines from “Casablanca”: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” And so it has been, thanks to a member reads several years ago.

This year Member Reads will be happening online again in small groups like last year. Hope to see you there!

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