In honor of the Society's establishment and our twenty years increasing publication and regard for the form, President Jan Christensen has invited members' reflections on joining the Society and why they've remained members and fans of the form.
From J.R. Lindermuth:
Writing can be a lonely business. Unless you're fortunate enough to live in an area where there are writers groups or have the means to attend conferences, you seldom have opportunity to discuss the process with others who will understand what you're talking about.
Joining the Short Mystery Fiction Society shortly after stumbling upon it online was one of the best decisions I made to help my writing career. One of the key advantages of belonging to an organization like SMFS is you have access to the advice and experience of peers from around the world.
And, if your preference is writing short stories, this is one of the few organizations devoted primarily to that type of writing. Beginners as well as polished professionals share advice, support and (an increasingly valuable feature these days as the number of them dwindle) marketing news.
And then there's the opportunity to submit your work in hope of winning one of the prestigious Derringer awards. Unlike with many other competitions, there's no entry fee.
Being somewhat of an introvert as many of us are, for a long period I lurked rather than participated in the discussions. Gradually, noting the friendliness and sincere desire to be helpful of the participants, that inhibition wore off.
Sometimes our discussions go off on tangents and members don't always agree, but that can be a beneficial learning experience, too.
Active participation led to my nomination and election as vice president and I felt it a real honor to be able to assist Jan Christensen, president, and other officials in making decisions vital to the future of the organization. Unfortunately, illness impeded my desire to do as much as I would have liked during my term. I would recommend any writer--especially those who love short stories--to join. You won't regret it.
J. R. Lindermuth, outgoing vice president of SMFS, has published 14 novels, including six in his Sticks Hetrick mystery series. His articles and short stories appear regularly in a variety of magazines. See his website: http://www.jrlindermuth.net