Wicked Wednesday — Grateful For Our Mentors

thankful-for-our-readers-giveaway-3Julie here! Today is my day to do a giveaway! Reader’s choice–either Just Killing Time or Clock and Dagger! Or, I can give you a Level Best anthology with one of my short stories. Comment to enter, I’ll announce the winner this weekend.

Continuing the our November theme of being grateful, Wickeds tell us about a mentor that helped you along your path to publication. Since I know we all have had a lot of help from a lot of different sources, think waaaaaayyyyy back to someone who helped you early on. What did they do? How did they help?

Edith: My mother said, about my early short stories, “Edie, you’re a good writer,” and I believed her for the rest of my life.

But as an adult, when I started writing fiction again, I’d have to say Kate Flora. She was one of the original Level Best Books editors and has more published crime novels, fiction and non fiction, than I can even dream of. The first story I’d submitted to a Level Best anthology was accepted, but I had a number of rejections after that. More than once Kate wrote a handwritten note on the form letter. “Don’t let this discourage you. You’re a good writer. Keep writing.” And I believed her. Thank you, dear Kate. Hallie Ephron and Hank Phillippi Ryan have also been huge boosters of mine – and continue to be. A big thank you to these talented, gracious, generous authors.

Liz: I was blessed to be able to attend two Seascape writers retreats with Hallie Ephron, Roberta Isleib, and Susan Hubbard. Those ladies were the best teachers ever. They pushed me to put more of myself on the page, hone my craft and become better. I remember Hallie saying to me once, “You’ll do it [get published]. You have the talent, but you also have the drive.” It was the best feeling in the world to tell her about my first contract. Thank you Hallie, Roberta and Susan – you definitely changed my life.

Barb: It’s amazing how certain people have such a strong through-line in so many New Englander’s writing careers. I, too, can never repay Roberta Isleib (Lucy Burdette), Hallie Ephron, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Kate Flora, so I try to pay it forward. I’ve been so lucky in both my work and writing lives to have so many strong women provide such powerful support and advice. Let me recognize another–B. A. Shapiro, author of The Art Forger and The Muralist, and my first mystery writing teacher.

Sherry: Eons ago I attended my very first writers conference — the Cambria Writers Workshop conference held at Asilomar in Monterey, California. As part of the conference we were able to read part of our manuscript. As I was reading I realized my manuscript was all backstory — terribly written backstory. I managed to get through it and thank heavens they were a kind and supportive group. They pointed out the good things and gently critiqued what was wrong. I remember going up to the keynote speaker later and asking if she thought I should continue writing. She said, “You’re talented.” It might have been a lie but it kept me going. I’ve always thought under different circumstances, with different people, it would have been easy to throw in the towel. The writing community is a generous one and I’ve been helped along the way by many, many people.

Julie: I am going to give Hallie Ephron another shout out. At one of my first Crime Bakes, when I was barely admitting aloud I dreamed of getting published, she took the news that my manuscript was being requested with a “that’s really wonderful–they don’t say that to everyone. Be proud of yourself.” Even this last weekend, she went out of her way to tell my how funny one of my Facebook posts was. Also, shouting out to Hank Phillippi Ryan, one of the most gracious women I know. She’s been a huge booster, and continues with that.

Dear fellow writers, who are your mentors? Readers, who has encouraged you along the way in one particular area of your life?Save


55 Thoughts

  1. The warmth and supportiveness of this writing community is so very inspirational! Thanks!

  2. SinC, Guppies, First Draft by Lourdes Venard, and Marcia Talley are my inspirations. Thanks for sharing your mentors, Wickeds! I love your books and look forward to seeing you at Malice Domestic in the Spring! (I know seasons shouldn’t be capitalized, but Spring is special because of our fun Malice conference!)

  3. I am just starting to dip my feet into the writing pool, but my mom was a great inspiration to keep me trying because she liked my writing. I have also had friends tell me I was good at it, but never been brave enough to let anyone else look at any yet. 🙂

    1. It’s always scary the first time you let someone you don’t know well read your work! Best of luck, Stormi! If you are writing mysteries Sisters in Crime, their local chapters, and the Guppies are wonderfully supportive!

  4. I have a co-worker (who just retired!), that was always my champion and cheerleader with all things work oriented. Really has made me a better employee.

  5. Thanks, guys! This was so much fun to read. I’d have to credit my sister Delia as the first person to tell me, “Hey, you can write.” And I believed her because she never candycoats.

    1. You have helped us all so much and in so many ways. And really the Wicked friendships started at Seascape — another way you (along with Roberta and Susan) helped us.

  6. Back in the Dark Ages (2003, actually) when I completed my first manuscript, I realized I had no idea what to do next. The only published writer I knew was a college classmate, who was a librarian but had published a series of romance books under a pen name. Since she lived nearby, I put out a call for help and we met for coffee. She was the first person who told me about writers’ groups and pushed me to join the local chapter of RWA. I was astonished by the generosity of the people there–everyone shared information and provided lots of support and encouragement. I did find that I can’t write romance, but I learned enough to seek out Sisters in Crime and MWA. And the rest is history. Thank you, Cynthia Johnson aka Evelyn Richardson!

  7. I’m not a writer, but I always read the acknowledgements because I think it is so important to recognize everyone who makes a book become a reality. Thanks for honoring those who have helped you become great writers.

  8. Many of the women named have generously offered all of us help– as have many of those who write for this blog (Barb, i think characterized it as paying it forward ). For me, TK Thorne dragged me to a writing conference and then as I began to write, everywhere I went I met someone who gave me a hand, idea, critique, break that took me forward — some more than others but it is the combination (the village ) that is raising this child off writing and teaching me to pay it forward in whatever limited way is possible (teaching, making someone look good on a panel, being a cheerleader, etc)

  9. I enjoy this blog. My biggest supporter has been my mother. She is wonderful but down to earth.
    I have a good support network of friends that have encouraged me in my many endeavors throughout the years.

  10. My husband is my number 1 mentor. When I’m down, he always says the right thing.

  11. Aw. Blushing. If I say–my complete pleasure–that is not enough. I don’t want to sound sappy or goofy, but I am so proud of you Wickeds that it makes my heart full. Each of you is a complete inspiration in every way.

  12. I liked hearing about heros and mentors but I am not a writer so I don’t have any to speak of. I did start a travel journal- and I use that term loosly- inspired by watching my uncle write in his while coming to visit us from out of the country.

  13. What a wonderful blog posting. It is always interesting to find out who authors find a boost to their writing. I am not a writer but I do find inspiration from the books I read to use in my day to day living. Once again thanks for sharing with us.

  14. The warmth and encouragement from the writing community, especially the mystery writing community, is something I absolutely love to hear about. I’m thrilled you all got the encouragement to keep going because I love your books.

    (And if you were to pull my name, I’d gladly take a Level Best anthology.)

  15. It is so wonderful to know how warm & caring authors are and it always reflects in their books.

  16. What a lovely post and tribute to those who reach back, lift up and support one another. Thank you for sharing. Today got off to a rocky start…. My heart is now full.

  17. Very early on in my writing, I had to good fortune to know Jerry Healy, author of the John Cuddy series. Jerry had been my Contracts professor in law school and I worked for him one year for my work-study job. When his first novel was published (Blunt Darts), and I told him I wanted to write a mystery novel, Jerry took me to a few writer events in Boston. We were friends til the end. The last communication I had from him before he took his life was a marked up copy of a manuscript I sent him. He raved about how my writing had improved. So his last words to me I still have in the margins of that manuscript, all glowing and encouraging.

    More recently, Sherry Harris and Barb Ross encouraged me at my first Crimebake in 2014. I attended a writer’s retreat with Edith Maxwell last June, and her work ethic astounded and inspired me. I so appreciate all of the writers who reach out on Facebook when I threaten to quit with “Keep at it!”

  18. I had an awesome high school teacher. She pushed me to go to those uncomfortable places with my art. I grew so much, thanks to her.

  19. I had a wonderful High School English teacher who taught me how to write a coherent paper — I was especially lucky to be in her class for 2 years. Without her, I would have struggled horribly getting my liberal arts major in college, since most every class involved writing papers and essay exams (hated those blue books). I think its wonderful that all of you are all so encouraging to each other and are able to mentor each other as well.

  20. I’m really enjoying this blog. Have found many new mysteries. Would love to win a new book.

  21. I will second Roberta Isleib/Lucy Burdette, who kept me sane when I’d gotten a contract and then had NO IDEA what to do next. Also, from among my romance-writing friends, Kristan Higgins, Jessica Andersen, and Thea Devine. And I don’t want to forget Sheila Connolly, who corresponded with me during those prepublication days, even though we’d never met. Now she and I blasphemously reimagine classic childhood television shows and discuss alpacas. What a wonderful place the writing community has turned out to be! Now I try to pay it forward too.

  22. This was a very inspiring post. I enjoyed reading all of your experiences with writers and editors who’ve encouraged you along the way.

    I’d have to say my husband is my biggest cheerleader. He’s so encouraging in every aspect of my life. He truly keeps me going. He reads all of my book reviews that I post on my blog and “likes” them. I always thank him for supporting me. Several weeks ago I called myself starting to write a book. After completing part of it I read it to him and asked “do you think I could really write a book?” He said “wife (that’s his pet name for me), I think you can do anything you set your mind to.” And he meant it. I gave him a big hug and kiss. I’m so fortunate to have him.

  23. My college History Professor/Faculty advisor. On my first paper for one of his classes, he wrote “You can WRITE! Keep at it”. I’m not a professional writer (yet), but I keep slogging away. I’ve also been privileged to be a Beta reader for an author friend, Maria Schneider, and I’ve learned so much from her. I’ve learned a lot from reading this blog, too. I’ve kept copies of many of them and use them as references.

  24. My high school librarian encouraged me to study library science in college. She warned me that some of the classes might be boring. Well, I never thought any of my classes were boring and I enjoyed my years as a school librarian.

  25. As always a wonderful blog today! It’s such a pleasure to read about those people who have inspired, been helpful and supportive. Thank you ladies!

  26. How very cool to have been a mentor to some of you. I think people outside the crime writing community have no idea how generous, supportive, and connected we really are. We all know that no one has to fail for us to succeed, and take such joy in watching the careers of those we’ve watched make their way toward publication take off. Sisters in Crime was a huge factor for me, from the day, at a conference in Omaha, Nebraska, that a woman took me aside (this was just after I’d sold my first book and a year before it came out) and said, “You have to join Sisters in Crime.” She was so right. Sisters has always been the place where someone will show a newcomer the ropes. How to do a book talk? A panel? A signing?

    I also love the way, at the New England Crime Bake, we now pin blue ribbons on our authors celebrating first publication. We all know about the hard journey to get there.

    And yes, Edith, mama was right. You ARE a good writer.

    Kate Flora

  27. My English Teacher in High School (Mrs. Miller) and later a Creative Writing Class Professor in College (Dr.Timberlake) They both praised my work and read it aloud. I haven’t pursued it until the last couple of years though …Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

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