2. Write regularly. Write every day, or every weekend. Start by keeping a journal or tackling the exercises in Writing Down the Bones. Make writing a habit. Don't wait for inspiration. Once you are published, you'll need to make deadlines.
3. Join DorothyL. About 3,000 mystery fans and about 150 authors are members of this list serv, a daily digest of various people's posts (usually 30-50) that is e-mailed out to subscribers each day. Eavesdrop as readers talk about what they like and why. Share the good news (also known as BSP, or blatant self-promotion) when you sign your first contract. To join, go to DorothyL.com.
4. Consider joining the national Sisters in Crime, which has about 3,000 members. (Guys can join, too.) It has a quarterly newsletter with good information. I generally find at least one piece of useful information per issue. http://www.sistersincrime.org,
5. Join Murder Must Advertise by going to http://www.MurderMustAdverise.com. Here published and unpublished authors exchange tips for promoting their books. You don't need to be published yet to join.
6. Consider joining Mystery Writers of America. http://www.mysterywriters.org. There are four categories of membership, and everyone interested in writing mystery fiction will fit into one.
7. In Portland, Oregon: Join Friends of Mystery, a Portland group with a good newsletter and monthly meetings.
8. Think about going to a mystery fan convention, such as Bouchercon, Malice Domestic or Left Coast Crime. A great way to meet authors, fans, editors and agents. If you volunteer, you get free admission.
9. Go to readings at bookstores. You'll learn something from every writer you hear. What makes each one succeed - or fail? What makes the audience laugh or ask lots of questions? What makes people look at their watches and get up? Which bookstores do the best jobs in promoting their readings?
10. Buy a book of baby names. Great for naming your next character.
11. Subscribe to free weekday e-mails from Publishers Lunch (publisherslunch.com). Has weekly information on which literary agents have recently closed deals for which books, with a ballpark reference to the advance.
12. Read Miss Snark's blog. This literary agent tells it like it is – and she obviously knows a lot about the mystery field. She even takes questions. I only wish she had been around when I was first trying to get published. http://misssnark.blogspot.com/