My Tribe

I have a friend who is a poet. For a long time she was working on her poems, taking workshops and working closely with a mentor. But it wasn’t until she started an MFA program and met other poets in varying stage of development and all about support that she finally said to me “I get it now. I’ve found my tribe.”

As a writer, you do lonely work writing, editing, thinking. No one can help you with most of this. Sure, you get feedback. But incorporating it is another solitary activity. So you have to find your tribe. Fellow writers who “get” your work, your genre, your passion.

Years ago I was at a Malice Domestic conference with a friend. She was in a long line, shipping back a box of books (one of the challenges of conferences is how to get the haul back home). She met Dana Cameron, who suggested (invited) Regina and I to join the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime. As very new, unpublished writers we were nervous, but we went to a meeting. And found our tribe.

Sisters in Crime‘s mission is “to promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.” Which they do. And they do so much more.

There is nothing like sitting in a room full of mystery writers learning about craft, or poison, or forensics, or investigation. There is nothing like sharing a passion with other people, and not having to explain it. There is nothing like belonging to an online group (like the magnificent Guppies) who cheer success, congratulate failure (it means you got out there and tried) and offer advice.

If you are a writer, find your tribe. If you are a mystery writer, join Sisters in Crime. (And Mystery Writers of America, though I haven’t made that leap yet). The tribe is waiting to meet you.

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming

I learned how to swim when I was a kid. You couldn’t keep me out of the water. My grandfather used to make me “dry out for a bit” on the dock at Lake Winnipesaukee until he got so sick of me pestering him that he let me back in the water. He sat for hours on the deck, playing solitaire and watching me in the water.

Thanks to proximity to the ocean (I grew up on the south shore of Massachusetts) my swimming wasn’t limited to lakes. I could body surf with the best of them.

But here’s the deal. I am trying for a triathlon. And my swimming wasn’t, shall we say, efficient. In fact, I could barely get yardage in. I tried to improve my own form, to no avail. And then I read that it was a good idea to have someone check your swimming for efficiency. So I joined the Master’s Class at the Y, and signed up for a couple of lessons. And I swallowed my pride (which is pro forma these days) and relearned how to float. And kick. And how to be streamlined. And how to breathe.

Learning (or relearning) as an adult is challenging because I think to much. And worry. I worry about hurting myself while running. Or traffic while on my bike. Or drowning while swimming. All legitimate concerns, but they overshadow the joy. And there is joy.

I have a long way to go before I am a strong triathlon swimmer. But I am better than I was last week. And for now, I’ll just keep swimming.


I wrote my thesis on Agatha Christie, and her use of POV. One of the books I used was Murder on the Orient Express. Because of that, I have read it (over and over and over) fairly recently. I am a fan of the 1974 film.

I am also a fan of Agatha Christie. She is sometimes dismissed, but shouldn’t be. She was a master of her craft, and contributed a great deal to the genre. And 30 plus years after her death, she is still widely read. (Another blog post to come, I see.)

I will leave my rants about the recent Miss Marples to another post. This one is for the 2010 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, starring the quintessential Poirot, David Suchet. The cast was wonderful. The production values were fabulous. But the adaptation. Mais non.

There were changes to the story (spoiler alert) like a stoning at the beginning (which Poirot seems to condone) and the seeming lack of a relationship between M. Bouc and Poirot that made me nervous about other changes, but I went with the flow. I know that a 2010 version, made in the shadow of the great 1974 film, would have changes. But where 1974 was a faithful adaptation, 2010 was more of an inspired by. And herein lies the problem. By tweaking the plot (to make it darker?), they ruined the story.

Some of my biggest problems? Colonel Arbuthnot considers murder to cover up his crime? No. Poirot doesn’t solve the case, but has it explained to him by the Princess Dragomiroff (not Caroline Hubbard? Was that because Eileen Atkins was playing the Princess?) No. The doctor is part of the conspiracy? No. And Poirot fights for the Law over Justice? No.

I will discuss what they’ve done to Miss Marple in another post, but I’ve come to expect those. But to have David Suchet play Poirot in a version of Murder on the Orient Express that I hated? Such a waste.

Tri Tri Again

OK, so the plan is not going to work. I am just going to write what I want, when I want and try to make it regular.

So here’s the story. Last fall I ran the BAA Half Marathon. There are posts about that journey. And while it was life altering, I didn’t do it right. I didn’t take heed about the cross training (and strength training). I think I ultimately lost muscle mass. So rather than becoming fitter, I did a huge thing, then nothing.

So this year I thought it would be good to train for a triathlon. Cross training, blah blah blah. I figured I could ride a bike. And swim. And I’d learned how to run. So I joined BostonFit (a great support system), bought a bike and set forth. And I have been humbled. Supported, but humbled. I got my bike fit, and realized that I had to relearn how to ride a bike. I swam, but can’t swim far without reverting to a backstroke. And I realized I have bad form.

Ironically, I am slow at the running, but that is going well.

So the last few days (beginning of July, the tri I’ve signed up for is Aug 28) has been a regroup. I could bow out, keep on with the fitness quest. Or I could crank it up a notch. I decided to crank it up. Which meant:

  • Download THE SLOW FAT TRIATHLETE on my Kindle, and reread it. It is by Jayne Williams (who also blogs) and makes the whole process seem doable.
  • Sign up for a Master’s Class at the Y for swimming. This is a class for people who want to get better at swimming. Hopefully it will help me break through this hurdle. I start tomorrow.
  • Ride my bike to work. I got a space there, and bought a pannier for my bike. I psyched myself up this AM, and then the pannier didn’t fit right. So I transferred everything to my knapsack, then rode around the parking lot a couple of times to make sure I wouldn’t fall over. I got there, sweaty and disgusting, but I got there. Problem was, I had to ride home. Close to rush hour. I ended up walking the bike to the esplanade, cursing the whole thing. But then, the esplanade. I rode for a few miles, then over the Mass Ave bridge to home.

What did I learn? That I am stubborn. The whole bike bag thing would have derailed others. That I should wear bike shorts every time. And, in a related topic, that I have to learn to anticipate bumps and stand up. (ow)