Here’s an ugly thought: as per the beginning of every new year, IBM recently came up with a list of (5) technological advancements that will be worth watching in 2017. Along with disease tracking technology and personal x-ray vision (yo quiero mucho) was this: determining mental illness through language.
As Austin Powers would say, “Yeah baby!” Roughly one in (15) people worldwide is estimated to have some sort of mental illness, much of which is undiagnosed. Researchers think that artificial intelligence may soon be able to parse our speech and writing patterns to figure out which of us could use an occasional Xanax bar.
Which is a fascinating concept; not just as an analytical tool with real-world goodliness, but also to find out if writers truly are, to put it bluntly, ‘nutty in the filbert.’ You know what I mean . . . as authors (especially in the crime genres) how do we come up with all the nasty we write about without wondering if we were dropped on our heads a few times? All of the eviscerations, amputations, decapitations, blood-splattering, eye-gouging, gunshots, explosions, etcetera? I remember an interview on Terry Gross’s show Fresh Air where author Ayelet Waldman (wife of Michael Chabon) laughingly mentioned the horrible deaths she imagined upon the various parents at her kids’ soccer matches. You know you’ve done the same (I certainly have). Standing in line at the grocery. At the gas pump. In the shower. At office meetings.
And just think about your favorite authors. You want to analyze Stephen King’s latest? How ‘bout Kathy Reichs? Dean Koontz? Sue Grafton? I’m willing to bet that one in fifteen ratio starts approaching even odds, right quick. Flip a quarter; heads, Hilary Mantel is a sweet, elfin personality who makes strawberry scones in her spare time. Tails, she has a kitten’s head in her purse.
Point being, who cares? If you think like this, you’re one of us. You’re not alone. So put those thoughts to good use and write something. Make a story out of it. Or a script. A novella, or even the big kahuna; a full-fledged novel. But don’t think for one nanosecond that something’s wrong. On the contrary: you’re muy bien. Keep writing.
Hi! Patrick Stuart here, a.k.a., not that ‘other’ Patrick Stewart (of Star Trek fame). As the outgoing president of SICCO for 2016 (and anxiously awaiting the 2017 presidency of our new commander-in-chief, Kristin Crump), I just wanted to welcome you to the site and make an official ‘howdy’ before shifting gears as records keeper-slash-web custodian. I also wanted to give any newbies an update on who we are, why you should join (if you haven’t already) and let people know what we’ve got planned for the new year. So to begin:
- Our name: SICCO. How cool is that??! Saying you’re a member of SICCO (pronounced Sick’-Oh) is like saying you’re a member of Hell’s Angels. It’s an acronym for Sisters In Crime of Central Ohio, but that’s wordy and pedestrian. SICCO, however, raises eyebrows.
- We’re the local affiliate of a national group, i.e., Sisters In Crime. There’s (56) chapters scattered across North America, so we have a network. Just like Smith & Wollensky; we’re in several locations and are consistently mouthwatering.
- Twenty buh. Yeah, you heard me. Twenty buh for an annual membership to local, and forty buh for national. That comes to five buh a meeting (once a month). Can’t beat that with a stick.
- I’m a dude. Although the primary intent of the organization (when it was formed in the mid-eighties) was to support underrepresented female authors, even if you have a Y-chromosome you’re absotively welcome. Gals still outnumber guys, but despite the name SICCO is non-gender specific.
- Write in a different genre? Horror? Literary? YA? Just like to read? Don’t matter us none . . . if you’re a proponent of the written word, we like you. As the song says: “come on in, take off your skin and rattle around in your bones.”
- Cool features: from our revamped Facebook page and website (now a little over one year old) to our special events with national experts and speakers, we have become absolutely awesome. For 2017, we have a special event in September with speaker commitments from (check this out) the federal U.S. Marshals Office, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) forensic dive team, and an agent with the FBI’s Cincinnati field office. We also have an upcoming visit to the Ohio Fire Marshal’s forensic lab in August (think arson, explosions, etc.), our popular writing critique/workshop in May, and loads of other fantastic events (check out the Monthly Meetings section). In addition, this year we’re also implementing beta readers for blind critiques of completed manuscripts (for a small additional fee, ask for details). Because ultimately we want to see you published. And to do that, we need to offer as many tools as possible.
- Finally, the ultimate reason to join: we’re simply enjoyable to hang with. Just ask us. Not too big and not too small, i.e., just right. Whether you’re an MFA grad or enjoy Mickey Spillane novels, are published or struggling to get published, have several completed manuscripts or are just thinking about writing, I have one word: welcome. We are an inclusive group of all kinds and backgrounds, ranging from NYT bestselling authors to self-published folks and beginners, all supportive and excited about the craft of writing. So if you’re looking for a writing group, go ahead and kick the tires. Take us out for a test drive and attend one or two of our monthly meetings for free, just to get the feel of the road. And fulfill that New Year’s resolution to put something on paper with other like-minded individuals. So see you in 2017 . . . keep writing.