Monday, July 20, 2020

It Takes a Community

Terry Shames talking about this week’s theme:
Writing is a lonely pursuit but the community is strong and supportive. Tell us who has mentored you in your writing career or gone above and beyond to help you get a leg up in the business.
This has been one of the hardest blog subjects for me to address, because in my short career, with eight published books, I have been overwhelmed with generosity from people in every aspect of the business.
I started making a list of names and had to stop because a real list would take up the entire blog. So here’s a general list of people I “owe”:
Writers I met at conferences, long before I was published, who referred me to agents they thought might be interested in my work.
Agents who didn’t offer representation, but gave me critical advice, sometimes writing a whole critique while saying, “not for me.” That’s you, David Hale Smith
Writers who gave their best advice at workshops and conferences. The majority take it seriously. One writer followed me out the door to nab me so he could elaborate on the advice he’d given when I asked a question.  You, David Morell.
Writers who have given presentations that obviously took a lot of serious effort (Hey, Kelli Stanley, Jess Lowrey, Peggy Lucke, Jeffrey Deaver, Deborah Crombie. They didn’t give their presentation just to hear themselves talk. They wanted to help writers improve their craft.

Writers who agreed to blurb my books. I how much time it takes to read and come up with choice words to say, but very few writers have ever said no. Here’s to Carolyn Hart, Catriona McPherson, William Kent Krueger, Bill Crider, Deborah Crombie, Sheldon Siegal.

My agent, Janet Reid, who I can count on to go above and beyond. Always.
Writers who work to produce panels for authors at conferences, libraries, and bookstores. In particular I remember Robin Burcell, She had finished up the panels for Left Coast Crime 2014. I was surprised not to see myself on a panel. When I asked why, they told me I had applied to the conference before I was published. Did Robin say, “Oh that’s too bad, but tough luck.” No, found a place for me! That’s above and beyond. And Andrew McCrae, who coined the phrase “Hill Country Noir” for my books and put together one of the best panels I ever had the pleasure of participating in.
Book clubs that invite authors to speak and who buy their books.
The lover of mystery books who founded Mystery Readers International and who hosts book salons in her home—including ly some of the greatest writers of crime fiction, but also many lesser lights hoping to find an audience. She also tirelessly works mystery conferences and publishes Mystery Readers Journal. Janet Rudolph embodies the idea of above-and-beyond.
People who put together Noir at the Bar events—thank you Dietrich Kalteis, Eric Beetner and Scott Montgomery.
People who host writers on podcasts. It’s a lot of work, and I appreciate it: thanks Pam Stack, Matt Coyle, and Frank Zafiro
 Writers who give their time and efforts to exchange manuscripts and who take enormous time and effort to give the best advice they can. Too many to name, stretching back years and going forward.
Writers who make it a point to shout out the names of authors whose books they appreciate, to help create the buzz that makes the books successful. Thank you Tim Hallinan, James Anderson, Jim Ziskin, Lori Rader-day, and so many others. With special thanks to Carolyn Hart, was interviewed as guest of honor at Malice Domestic. When asked if she had read anything she particularly liked, she mentioned my book. Priceless!

Reviewers! I don’t know how they do it. They read so many books, and seem able to zero in on the things that you worked hard to achieve. Kristopher Zgorski, Kevin Tipple, Dru Ann Love, Kathy Boone Reel. Not to mention long-time blogger Lee Lofland who said he never reviewed books, but when he read A Killing at Cotton Hill was moved to review it. He gave me my favorite line ever in a review, “…not one wasted word.”
Publication Reviewers—BookList, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Kings River Life, Buried Under Books (Leila Taylor), Library Journal (Lesa Holstine), Toronto Star, Dallas Morning News, Sacramento Bee.
Book sellers--staying late to host an event. Lugging books to private events to sell. Putting my books on “You Must Read” shelves. Hey, Scott Montgomery of BookPeople, Marion Abbott of Mrs. Dalloway’s, Book Passage, Poisoned Pen.

Libraries—hosting book events, recommending my books to readers. They could just sit there and let people choose books. Instead, they work to pair readers with books they might like. One of my readers wrote to say he was grateful to a librarian in North Carolina for recommending my books.
Distributors—reps creating events for me. Looking at you, dear Ron Shoop
No list of these would be complete without an acknowledgement of two people who changed my life. Sophie Littlefield. At a workshop she gave a passionate speech about looking deep inside and finding a book that only “YOU” can write. A month later I started working on my first Samuel Craddock book.
And finally, highest on my list of above-and beyond is writer Susan Shea, whourged her publisher to take a look at the book. My agent sent it to them and they made an offer. I ended up going with Seventh Street Books, but without Susan’s above-and-beyond support, I’m not sure I would ever have found a publisher.
I also have to acknowledge the original gang at Seventh Street Books. They were dedicated booklovers and amazing editors and publicists: In particular Dan Mayer took my books and shaped them. And I’ll be forever grateful.
Cheers to the world of mystery.


Susan C Shea said...

I "urged" because from the day I read the first full draft of the first Samuel Craddock, I knew you had a real winner, and it would not be long before your book would be scooped up and published!

Terry said...

Yes, I remember your faith in the book. It supported me through the long time it took to find a publisher.

Kathy Reel said...

Terry, thank you so much for mentioning me. I truly do love Samuel Craddock to the moon and back. You are an awesomely talented writer and one of my favorite people in the world! xoxo

Dru Ann said...

Terry, thank you very much!

James W. Ziskin said...

What a great post, Terry!