READER FRIDAY: The Authors in your Life (Share Your Experiences)

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Before my first books had been bought by a traditional publisher and I was an aspiring author, I had not known another writer as a friend or relative. To help me achieve my goal of becoming published, I joined writer organizations and participated in a local writers’ group and attended conferences. Ultimately another author helped me get published and find my first agent. She changed my life forever. Now my life is filled with author friends who bring me so many gifts with that connection.

Please share your experiences with other authors and what they have done to make you a better writer.

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About Jordan Dane

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She is the author of young-adult novels written for Harlequin Teen, the Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins., and the Ryker Townsend FBI psychic profiler series, Mercer's War vigilante novellas, and the upcoming Trinity LeDoux bounty hunter novels set in New Orleans. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs. To keep up with new releases & exclusive giveaways, click HERE

15 thoughts on “READER FRIDAY: The Authors in your Life (Share Your Experiences)

  1. The late great James Crumley helped me tremendously when I was starting out in the 1980s. I took a week-long workshop from him at the Yellow Bay Writers Conference. He was a gnarly character straight out of his gritty noir mysteries, showing up hung over (or worse) for class or not showing up at all. But when he taught, pearls fell out of his mouth. On the first read-through of a manuscript, he could instantly laser in on the problems.

    He later kindly beta-read my awful first novel and restructured it, improving character motivations, and transforming pure crap into decent prose. He didn’t sugar-coat his criticism and had a way of explaining his reasons that didn’t make newbie writers feel defensive or insulted but rather inspired us to improve.

    Another major influence is TKZ–better than an MFA program and much cheaper! I’ve learned (and continue to learn) from everyone here as well as former contributors like Larry Brooks, Jodie Renner, and Joe Moore. It’s an honor and a privilege to be part of TKZ’s community.

    • James Crumley sounds like a character, a very generous one. As a new author, I had to thicken my skin with some critiques. It takes focus to dig through criticism to get at the heart of changes that should be made. Kudos to you that you sifted through points & kept an open mind. After all, only an author decides what (if any) revisions are made. Have a good weekend, Debbie.

    • One of the most memorable weekends of my life involved Jim Crumley. He was Guest of Honor at Magna Cum Murder, then in Muncie, Indiana (now in Indianapolis), and I was a Magna Luminary–a lesser honor, but an honor nonetheless. I got to spend three days with him, and oh, the stories he could tell. Very funny man and very gracious, too.

  2. The KenTen Writers Group changed my writing life! There, I met my publisher and two multi-published authors who took me by the hand and led me into being an author. The late Sandra Robbins, especially, made my writing so much better. With my first novel, in a critique session, she literally had me cut out the entire first scene . . . which was PERFECT! Another in my writers group became my favorite editor. It’s definitely not a solitary occupation!

    • Great insight, Regina. Thanks for sharing your warm & fuzzies. Like you, I’ve found the writing community to be very generous. Thanks for your inspiration.

  3. In the mid-’90s, when the “Internet” was for most of us synonymous with AOL, there was such a thing as the AOL Writers Club. It was a very active chat room at a time before chat room trolls were a real thing. I spent far too much time there. It was my rookie year, and it was great to “hang out” with other writers. Among those writers, I met and ultimately became friends it real life with Harlan Coben, Robert Crais, Tess Gerritsen, Linda Fairstein and many others. Tom Clancy would pop in from time to time, but his career was so far beyond any of us that he didn’t visit often.

    When I went to my first Bouchercon–St. Paul, MN, 1996–Harlan Coben served as my guide through the morass of people. He knew everyone, and introduced me to most. So many have gone on to be superstars.

    In real life, Stephen Hunter stepped up before I had even queried agents for NATHAN’S RUN and gave me some pointers on the business. He even shared his agent’s name, though said agent rejected the book. When the novel did eventually sell, Steve Hunter was one of the first people I called. He was both shocked and congratulatory.

    I also owe an unpayable debt of gratitude to the then-relatively unknown writer named Jeffery Deaver. His blurb for NATHAN’S RUN was beyond stunning. I had never read his books–really hadn’t ever heard his name–but that kind of praise for my first book took my breath away. Shortly after, before my book had even hit the stands, Joy noticed in the local paper that Jeffery Deaver was going to be signing books at the local Crown Books in Woodbridge, Virginia. We went to meet him and thank him. There he was, sitting in the back of the store all alone, surrounded by a stack of A MAIDEN’S GRAVE. We started chatting, decided to go to dinner together, and now Jeff is one of my very best friends. He’s also my coach and sounding board.

    • WOW, John. What an amazingly influential group you have in your circle (because you ventured onto a group chat room & networked at Bouchercon).

      You’ve also taken advantage of your contacts by asking for advice.& potentially praise blurbs. You are an inspiration. Thanks for commenting. Very helpful.

  4. I’ve said this before–it’s always humbling to think about it.

    Foster-Harris, Dwight Swain, Bob Duncan (AKA James Hall Roberts), and Jack Bickham (all on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma), have touched my life in good, positive ways, whether it was two or three hours or semesters worth of their time.

    And later, such men as N. Scott Momaday, Vine Deloria, Jr., James Scott Bell, and Joe Hartlaub, have also given me moments of encouragement, wisdom, and advice. Among the women who have contributed to my knowledge through The Kill Zone or by private e-mail messages, are Jordan Dane, Sue Coletta, and others.

    It has been thrilling for each of these, and so many others, to have given of themselves to touch my life. In a very special way, each is a very special muse, a messenger and harbinger of things to come.

    God bless them all.

    • Thank you for making TKZ better, Jim. I’m glad you’re part of our community.

      By all of us participating here, we may touch the lives of other authors in a positive way by paying it forward. It’s good to pass on our blessings. Have a good weekend.

  5. We’re blessed to be part of the writing community. Numerous writers helped me over the years, including you and my fellow TKZers! Larry Brooks needs a special shout-out. Without his brutal honesty, passion for the written word, and dedication to craft and coaching, I would not be the writer I am today. He really went the extra mile for me, and I’ll always be grateful.

  6. Writers, writers, writers…

    My husband, Pinckney Benedict. He was the novel section teacher at the Appalachian Writer’s Workshop in 1989–the first workshop I ever attended. He was so enthusiastic and encouraging about my work, and I later understood that his praise and advice truly wasn’t only about getting into…my good graces. After we married, I would get so nervous when he looked at my work that I would have sedated myself if I’d had the means. When he said that either he could continue critiquing my work or we could be married, I wisely chose to remain married to him. Our kids don’t know how close it was. He’s a brilliant teacher!

    Lee K. Abbott–Lee is the consummate short story writer and directed the MFA program at Ohio State for many years. He nicely stepped in to look at my work so Pinckney and I could stay married. Among the very best advice he gave me was by way of writing I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THIS in red across a perfectly terrible story I once sent him.

    Sue Grafton–Not long after my 2nd book was published in 2009, I was on the program with Sue at the International Mystery Writers Festival in Owensboro, Ky. Before the main events began, I ran a writing workshop for (a huge number of!) attendees. There I was, trying to engage thirty people in exercises planned for ten people, when a tall, self-possessed, shyly smiling woman walked in. I nearly fainted when Sue Grafton crossed the circle and sat in the chair next to me! She was so gracious and funny and such a good sport about participating. Her charm and professionalism put me at ease immediately and the workshop went just fine. Such a lovely person. I hate that she’s gone.

    I feel like if I go on it will sound like shameless name-dropping. The truth is that the mystery and crime writers I’ve met since 2006 are some of the best, most generous folks on the planet. They always motivate me to be my best and to pay it forward if I can. (TKZ contributors like you, Jordan, definitely included!) I learn from great writers every day through their work–which is pretty much how every writer starts, yes?

    • Aww,,thank you, Laura. You’ve inspired me as well. We were debut authors together in 2008 at the International Thriller Writers conference & have stayed in touch ever since. We developed a circle of friends from that opportunity. Great memories. You always brighten my day. I loved your Pinckney story.

      I saw Sue Grafton at a filled to capacity library in Oklahoma City many years ago. She captivated everyone in that auditorium, especially me. Your description of her is perfect, Such a generous woman. She’s missed.

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