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There’s something comforting about belonging to a group of like-minded folks. It explains why you’ll see a group of runners braving subzero temperatures on a blustery January day, seemingly oblivious to the elements.

I use the running analogy only because, like the Glass Dolphin Mysteries’ co-protagonist Emily Garland, I’m also a runner. And since I live in Ontario, Canada, I know all about running in the depths of winter (and the hot, humid days of summer). But the same sense of belonging can apply to anything, from book clubs to sewing circles. So, when I started to write The Hanged Man’s Noose, I thought, “There must be a place where Canadian mystery writers hang out; a place to learn about the business, and discover other writers.”

Turns out, there is, and it’s called Crime Writers of Canada (CWC), a national non-profit organization for Canadian mystery and crime writers, associated professionals, and others with a serious interest in Canadian crime writing.

With two main goals—author promotion and professional development—membership in CWC is open to Professional author members (Canadian authors with a crime-related publication to their credit); Associate writer members (writers and aspiring authors of crime books and stories, and professional authors who are not Canadian); and Supporting/Honorary members (publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, fans, librarians, and others interested in Crime Writers of Canada).

In addition to an online Book Catalogue, Cool Canadian Crime (a quarterly release on what books are being released by CWC members) and Crime Time, a mostly monthly newsletter for members, CWC sponsors the annual Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing. Several of my favorite Canadian writers are past winners, including Louise Penny, Howard Shrier, Linwood Barclay, Alan Bradley and Giles Blunt. Since 2007, CWC has also sponsored The Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished Crime Novel. The Short List for both of these prestigious awards will be announced on April 18, 2013, with winners announced at a special Awards banquet in Toronto on May 30th.

Perhaps the most valuable resource for aspiring writers is CWC’s Mentorship Program. To participate, you must be an Associate Member with at least two years of paid membership in CWC and have completed a book-length crime manuscript. I was fortunate to have been selected for this program in the fall of 2012, when Lou Allin took time out of her busy schedule to critique the first 50 pages of The Hanged Man’s Noose.

It’s a bit terrifying, sending those hard fought words to someone as accomplished as Lou, but it was clear from the beginning that she had a generous spirit and a tremendous amount of industry knowledge as a writer and former teacher. With Lou’s suggestions, I was able to view my book with fresh eyes, and tackle yet another revision with renewed resolve.

After all, there’s something comforting about belonging to a group of like-minded folks. Especially when it comes to revision.

In Memory of Lou Allin (1953-2014) http://www.crimewriterscanada.com/allin-louise

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