A Tale of Two Chapters: Sisters in Crime Across the Country, Part One

by Paula Gail Benson

During 2020, the year of the pandemic, when so many meetings
went from being in-person to virtual, I had the good fortune to meet Sonja
Hazzard-Webster online. Sonja was the President of the Capitol Crimes Chapter
of Sisters in Crime (based in Sacramento, California) and I was the President
of the Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime (based in Columbia, South Carolina).
When Palmetto Chapter had to convert its annual Mystery in the Midlands program
to an online format, we sent the information out on the Sisters in Crime
Presidents’ List Serv. We were lucky. With Charlaine Harris as our keynote and
people anxious to attend writing conferences, we had over 900 people to

What meant a great deal to me in 2020 was that Sonja reached
out to me with encouragement. She had links to South Carolina and registered to
support us. Our friendship was online only, but very genuine. I remember “meeting”
her in person at a virtual cocktail hour hosted by then SinC President Lori
Rader-Day. I witnessed Sonja’s vivacious charm, which captured everyone’s

Sonja Hazzard-Webster

Sonja passed away suddenly on June 15, 2020, but her happy
spirit continues to guide the Capitol Crimes Chapter. Because Sonja’s kindness
meant so much to me, I decided to join the Capitol Crimes Chapter. Penny Manson,
who succeeded Sonja as President, became another friend. As Presidents of two
chapters, Penny and I began talking about a joint program, sponsored by both Capitol
Crimes and Palmetto, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Sisters in

This year, with Sarah Bresniker as President of the Capitol
Crimes Chapter and Carla Damron as President of the Palmetto Chapter, the two
chapters are working together on a Killer Workshop to be presented on Saturday,
May 14, 2022. This unique program combines two events in one: (1) if you are in
or near Sacramento, you can attend a day-long in-person workshop featuring
authors, forensic and publishing professionals, and an exciting keynote, and
(2) if you can’t get to Sacramento, you can join us virtually for three panels
of authors and an exciting keynote.

Both the in-person and virtual events will share the
exciting keynote, who is Gregg Hurwitz, the New York Times #1 internationally
bestselling author of 23 thrillers, including the ORPHAN X series. His novels
have won numerous awards and been published in 33 languages.

Gregg Hurwitz

The ORPHAN X novels are part of what got me through the pandemic.
Hurwitz’ protagonist, Evan Smoak, is the rumored “Nowhere Man,” a person who
can rescue anyone from the most dire of circumstances. Evan was trained as a
government assassin, but left the program to use his skills for individuals
whose troubles seem unresolvable. DARK HORSE, the seventh novel in the series,
has just been released. In addition to the ORPHAN X novels, Hurwitz has written
screenplays, comics, poetry, and articles.

Early bird registration rates are available for the Killer
Workshop through March 31, 2022. For the in-person event, members pay $65 and
nonmembers $80. After March 31, members pay $75 and nonmembers $90.

For the virtual event, the early bird rate is $25. After
March 31, the virtual event rate is $35.

Here’s a link to register for the Killer Workshop (in-person
or virtual): https://capitolcrimes.wildapricot.org/Workshop

By checking out the information about the Killer Workshop, you
can sign up for a dream editing giveaway at: https://capitolcrimes.wildapricot.org/Dream-Editing-Giveaway (Those who register for the Killer Workshop are automatically eligible for the giveaway!)

During our planning for this in-person/virtual joint chapter
event, I’ve felt Sonja Hazzard-Webster’s continuing enthusiastic influence. She
would have loved the opportunity to bring writers together.

Please consider joining us. Mark your calendars for
Saturday, May 14, 2022. If you can’t attend during the event, the virtual program
will remain available to registrants until July 31, 2022.

please check out tomorrow’s post on Writers Who Kill for more information about
how our two chapters planned the Killer Workshop and selected its participants!

22 replies
  1. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    Paula, I am so sorry to learn of Sonja Hazzard-Webster's passing. As you may Stiletto Gang lost our dear friend Cathy Perkins during this time. I also think the collaboration of Sisters in Crime chapters is terrific and the price is reasonable. There are so many excellent books out. I admit to never reading Gregg Hurwitz. Marking my calendar. Thank you, and my condolences on the loss of a colleague and friend.

    • Paula Gail Benson
      Paula Gail Benson says:

      Thank you, Donnell. I am grateful to have known both Sonja and Cathy. Two great writers and friends who we have lost too soon. I hope you'll enjoy Gregg Hurwitz' novels. I could not put them down!

  2. Karen Phillips
    Karen Phillips says:

    What a wonderful article, Paula. Thank you for sharing how you met Sonja and how she touched your heart. It's so nice Palmetto and Capitol Crimes are working together to make this workshop happen. It's a beautiful thing! 🙂

    • Paula Gail Benson
      Paula Gail Benson says:

      Thank you, Karen! I appreciate all you do for the Capitol Crimes Chapter and am glad to be working with you on this project.

  3. Saralyn
    Saralyn says:

    I was one of the over 900 participants in that virtual conference during early Covid. Totally impressed with SinC. Thanks for the post.

    • Paula Gail Benson
      Paula Gail Benson says:

      Thank you, Saralyn. I hope you might join us again this year, for both the Killer Workshop (May 14) and Mystery in the Midlands (scheduled for July 16).

  4. Lynn McPherson
    Lynn McPherson says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Sonja Hazzard-Webster's passing. It sounds like a wonderful collaboration.

  5. Sarah Bresniker
    Sarah Bresniker says:

    Paula, thank you so much for sharing your story of getting to know Sonja. Her passion for the Sisters in Crime community is held in the hearts of many, and I know that she would be thrilled with how Capitol Crimes and Palmetto are coming together for this workshop. I can't wait for it, both the in person and virtual portions are going to be amazing, thanks to the hard work of so many and Sonja's inspiration.

  6. Debra H. Goldstein
    Debra H. Goldstein says:

    Glad Sonja and you connected because of your friendship that grew from that connection as well as the programming for authors throughout the country. Looking forward to being part of the conference.

    • Paula Gail Benson
      Paula Gail Benson says:

      Debra, I'm looking forward to your panel and the others for our virtual component. Thanks for participating!

  7. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    A lovely tribute to Sonja, Paula. Kudos to you for keeping the connection going. The Killer Workshop looks inviting. It's on my calendar. Best of luck with it.

  8. Shari Randall
    Shari Randall says:

    Paula, I was so moved to hear about your connection with Sonja. What a lovely tribute and how wonderful that this conference was born of your friendship.

    • Paula Gail Benson
      Paula Gail Benson says:

      Thank you so much, Shari. It's wonderful that Sonja continues to be such an inspiration.

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