Sunday, February 14, 2021

Giving Thanks

Who is someone in your life who has been supportive of your writing? What was their impact?

Good Monday morning! Brenda Chapman kicking off this week's question.

There have been many, many people who have supported my writing journey so it is difficult to pick just one. How much thanks do I owe my family ... my husband Ted Weagle and daughters Lisa and Julia ... and these are just my immediate family. If you'd like the full list, just look in the acknowledgements in any of my books!

And then there are my friends and readers. The ones who buy my books, come out to my launches, purchase my books for Christmas gifts, retweet and repost my social media news, send kind words in emails, post reviews ... everyone keeps me writing.

Friends filled the pub at my Turning Secrets launch

But the question asks me to choose one person. In the spirit of this week's question, I am going to acknowledge the wonderful, warm, and lovely Sylvia McConnell, the first publisher who saw something in my writing that warranted making it into print, and a friend to this day.

Sylvia started up Napoleon & Company with the RendezVous Crime imprint. I was lucky enough to have Sylvia and her editor Allister Thompson accept my middle school mystery Running Scared. Sylvia guided me through the publishing process and got me started on publicizing my book. She went on to accept three more books in the series, my first adult mystery In Winter's Grip, and a teen mystery Second Chances.

Allister Thompson & Sylvia McConnell
The early days - with Sylvia at her office in Toronto

Sylvia was always encouraging, kind and supportive, balancing this with a business mindset, an approach I greatly appreciated. We once met for lunch in Toronto and I remember her passion for books and publishing, her respect for her authors, her warmth. She honestly wanted us to succeed. Sylvia and Allister are responsible for many crime writer careers and made a big impact on the publishing scene in Canada. Her many contributions were recognized by Crime Writers of Canada when they presented her with the prestigious Derrick Murdoch Award in 2015.

Sylvia with author Mary Jane Maffini

After twenty-two years in the book publishing business, Sylvia decided to retire. Instead of simply folding up shop, she sold her publishing house to the much larger Dundurn in 2011, making sure that her authors had a new home. Sylvia continued to do freelance book editing and worked as an acquisitions editor so our paths continued to cross.

As writers, we all appreciate those people in the business who stand by us through thick and thin. Sylvia understood that authors need time to grow their craft and to build an audience of readers. She was willing to take the time to develop her authors and to give us latitude to succeed. I will forever be grateful for her friendship and wise counsel not to mention that first email telling me that Napoleon Publishing wanted to publish my book.


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