Yesterday I pulled a T-shirt out of my “play clothes” pile, i.e., the stuff that’s too faded/holey to wear in polite company but just fine for slopping around like a freelancer. It was my old Alaska Sisters in Crime T-shirt, from way back in the 1990s.
In case you are unfamiliar with that organization: SinC is made up of readers who enjoy mysteries and wish to support and encourage those written by women.
The shirt our chapter made up bore the slogan: “Sisters in Crime Alaska: Where the trail is always cold.” Which is a lot funnier if you’re a fan of mysteries, thrillers, whodunits or police procedurals.
(I’m proud to say that I came up with the slogan myself.)
What does this have to do with the late writer Sue Grafton? I’m getting to that.
Way back when, AkSinC decided to host a mystery conference called Left Coast Crime. To that end, some of us attended LCC in a couple of other cities so we’d know what we were getting ourselves into. At one of the conferences I met the fabulously talented Grafton, and asked if I could give her one of our T-shirts.
She accepted with a bawdy comment about it needing to be big enough to become a nightshirt. I’ll leave you to imagine the details. (Hint: Carnal relations were mentioned.) Everyone laughed, I thanked her for writing such entertaining books and that was that.
Until I checked my e-mail after getting dressed.
How Sue Grafton changed a writer’s life
I found a note from the similarly fabulous author Dana Stabenow, about whom I’ve written before. “Taking a (careful) leap of faith” recounts how, among other things, Dana left a super-lucrative North Slope job to get a master’s degree and become an author.
She went broke in the process, but has since published more than 30 books, won an Edgar Award and hit the New York Times best-seller list. Dana has written science fiction, thrillers and historical fiction but is best known for her mysteries (in particular the Kate Shugak series).
At a crucial point in her writing life she met Sue Grafton – who gave her some advice that Dana says “changed the trajectory” of her career.
“You could say I was able to pay off my mortgage because of that advice, and you wouldn’t be far wrong,” Dana says.
Which, in turn, made it possible for Dana to realize a dream project: the Storyknife Writers Retreat in beautiful Homer, Alaska. The notion sprang from the life-changing experience Dana had at the Hedgebrook women’s writing retreat on Whidbey Island near Seattle.
Storyknife will have six writer cabins and one main building. Women who attend will get two to four weeks of solitude and space to write. Which, once again, brings us back to Sue Grafton.
Can you spare $5?
The sixth cabin at the retreat will be dedicated to the author. Dana has done all the preliminary stuff: passed the perk test for a septic system, created a path to the nearest power drop, put in a driveway, created a budget and signed up a contractor.
Construction on Sue Grafton’s cabin will begin next April. It will cost $50,000 to build; more than $4,000 has already been raised.
Which is where loyal readers come in: “If I could get every Sue Grafton fan to kick in $5, the cabin would be funded tomorrow,” Dana says.
I made a donation when the project was first announced, after the author’s death in late December 2017. And I’m hoping that fellow Kinsey Millhone fans and/orwriters who some day hope to attend a writing retreat like Storyknife will find it in their hearts (and in their budgets) to add a five-spot to the cause.
If you decide to contribute, please leave something along the lines of “I read about this at DonnaFreedman.com” in the comments section at the GoFundMe donation page. It would be wonderful to know about any contributions that came from readers of this site.
The next time the application process opens up I will let everyone know. After all, how many of you are current or future writers? The residency would be an incredible way to encourage your voices – and, maybe, to change your lives.
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