Dale T. Phillips is an active Mister in Crime, one of the male members of Sisters in Crime. We asked him to tell us what it's like to be one of the Misters in Sisters in Crime New England.
Years ago, before my first mystery had been published, I attended panels at libraries with women authors talking about mysteries. They would also talk about an organization they belonged to, the Sisters in Crime. It sounded like a great group to be part of (and fun), but I, being of the male gender, did not think I qualified. Sure, I’d heard about Al Blanchard, but wasn’t convinced my presence would truly be welcomed. After a Crime Bake or two, where I queried a good sample of SinC members, I was encouraged to join, and assured by all that I was not infringing or crashing. So I joined up, and have been glad of it ever since. It is an amazing community of cooperative, helpful writers.
Since the goal of the organization is to promote women mystery writers, I’ve done my part to help out. I’ve read many of the local SinC authors, and tell others about the work. My blog interviews have featured a number of SinC members, and I add links to the author pics for my event write-ups and promotions, which include many of the local SinC offerings. For social media, I add reposting for numerous activities and releases.
The more you give, the more you get, and being a SinC member has afforded me many opportunities to advance my own writing career. As a featured member of the Speaker’s Bureau, I get to participate in panels and presentations at libraries and other venues, just like the ones I saw years ago. I’m passionate about my writing, and love to share that with others. This year, I’ve been able to be part of SinC Building a Mystery panels, where we take audience suggestions to put together a mystery on the spot. These are a great deal of fun- if you haven’t yet been to one, make it a point to attend. It truly shows the nuts and bolts of what we do in the discussions of whether a character name or locale or plot device works, and how we weave storylines together.
At some SinC functions, I’m the only male member, or one of a few. However, I’ve never been made to feel unwelcome or of a lesser status. Even when I transitioned from being published by a small press to being completely Independent, I haven’t encountered any snootiness or condescension for my writing/publishing path, unlike some groups, which may be heavily slanted toward the “traditionally published” authors. In fact, I’ve been able to offer advice to many on different ways of producing your work. Because almost everyone I’ve met in SinC is extremely generous and willing to help each other, a great deal of information is shared, which helps everyone do better. It’s amazing that the spirit is so cooperative, not competitive. The group is refreshingly egalitarian, with pre-published (GUPPIES) and minor leaguers rubbing elbows and talking shop with the All-stars and best-sellers.
Not only are the relationships professionally beneficial, I’ve been able to make many new friends, because the group is so fun and active. We’re blessed here in New England to have such a forward-thinking cadre of writers of amazing talent, and we’re always looking for new opportunities. Everyone has always been positive. Despite my gender, I’m included as one of the gang, and I appreciate the people who make this journey so enjoyable.
Dale T. Phillips has published novels, story collections, non-fiction, and over 70 short stories. Stephen King was Dale's college writing teacher, and since then, Dale has appeared on stage, television, radio, in an independent feature film, and competed on Jeopardy (losing in a spectacular fashion). A Darkened Room is the sixth Zack Taylor book.