Reader Friday: Writer Friends

Writer friends are the absolute best. They lend advice, encourage when things seem bleak, and help celebrate successes.

Give a shout-out to one special writer friend in your life.

How’d you meet?

Why did you choose this writer?

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About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and named her Murder Blog as “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone, Story Empire, and Writers Helping Writers. Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Her backlist includes psychological thrillers, the Mayhem Series (books 1-3) and Grafton County Series, and true crime/narrative nonfiction. Now, she exclusively writes eco-thrillers, Mayhem Series (books 4-9 and continuing). Sue's appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion, and three episodes of A Time to Kill on Investigation Discovery. Learn more about Sue and her books at

38 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Writer Friends

  1. I will always be grateful to Dean Wesley Smith. I first met him at a conference in probably ’95 (Tulsa or Tuscon) where we were both presenters, he on fiction, I on poetry.

    Years later in February 2014, he clued me in on Heinlein’s Rules and taught me a technique called writing into the dark. Well, the only way to know for sure whether something works is to give it an honest try. I was skeptical, but those two tiny bits of knowledge, coupled with my dogged determination to prove or disprove them for myself, turned my entire life around.

    At the time, I had two nonfiction books (ironically, on writing fiction) and two book-length collections of poetry published via traditional publishing.

    Before that advent, I’d literally spent several years outlining a novel I wanted to write someday. After writing dozens of short stories between February and October, 2014, in October I started my first novel. Today I’ll start my 67th novel.

  2. Good morning, Sue. That one is easy. William D. Plant III. He hasn’t been published (yet) but he has been encouraging me to write since I was thirteen years old. We met in a record store — Bell Records on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls, OH — while commiserating over a band named The Rolling Stones that hardly anyone in the United States had heard of.

  3. You, Sue. You.

    I remember opening an email… how many years ago now… and here was this meek note asking how the writer could get a copy of a little booklet I wrote titled How To Write Deadly Crime Thrillers – A No BS Guide with 101 Killer Tips. The note also said you followed my blog but were too shy to comment so you lurked in the shadows.

    I immediately wrote back with an attached pdf and that started a dialogue that’s gone on pretty much daily ever since. When this all began, you were still in draft with a debut work called Marred and you asked if I would review it. I said, “Sure. Ship it too me.” You did and I began reading. I read the opening. Stopped. And read it again. “My God! Can this lady ever write!” was my reaction, and my opinion has grown stronger ever since. I’ll stand before the Kill Zone audience and confidently say I believe you, Sue Coletta, are one of the top crime writers in today’s commercial market.

    You’re probably wondering what I’m doing up and around so early. (It’s 3:45 am here on the west coast.) Well, I fell asleep before 8:00 pm at the kitchen table and we both know what a dangerous, dangerous place that can be. 😉

    • Awwwww…you’re making me blush, Garry. I remember it well. I’d written four (trunked) novels by then, so that had to be either late 2012 or early 2013. We’ve been best buds ever since. ?

  4. Joe Hartlaub. Joe reviewed my first book contract from a small publisher, gave me advice, and was willing to answer many questions. When that publisher went under before publishing my book, Joe lit a fire under me to get back my copyright before the failing company sold the company and my copyright. I was successful. Joe has given me advice (whenever I asked) many times since then, and he was instrumental in TKZ offering me the opportunity to blog here. Thanks, Joe!

  5. Two: Sandra McDonald. I ‘met’ her through fanfiction, and she walked me through my first attempt at a story, showing me all the things I had no clue about when it came to writing (starting with POV) and insisted I post it to a fanfiction website where feedback encouraged me to keep at this new creative outlet.
    Linda Castillo, before her Amish series, back when she was writing romance. I discovered the genre of romantic suspense in one of her books, and learned I could combine my love of mystery with my love of seeing what the characters were doing when they weren’t ‘on the case.’ I met her at a conference and told her how she’d inspired me to find my writing niche. She was kind enough to give me a cover quote for my first traditionally published book.

  6. I have many dear friends who are writers. People who inspire me, people who make me laugh. Our own Reavis Wortham is my brother from another mother, but he’s a fairly recent add.

    Jeffery Deaver has been like a brother for over 25 years. He was my sensei in the early years of my career, and he helped me through many crises, both personal and professional. I hadn’t yet met him when he gave NATHAN’S RUN a stunning blurb, but when I saw that he would be signing books in Woodbridge, Virginia, my wife and I went out to meet him and thank him for his kind words.

    When we entered the store, he was sitting alone among a pile of books, looking bored. (This was before he was Jeffery Friggin’ Deaver, worldwide bestseller.) I introduced myself, and we chatted for a long time. Then we agreed to meet for dinner. For the better part of 10 years, we had a standing happy hour and dinner appointment at the Hyatt Hotel in Reston, Virginia.

    To this day, Reavis, Jeff and I meet via Zoom for happy hour every Wednesday evening.

    • Awesome, John! Writer friends make all the difference. How nice of Jeffrey Deaver to blurb your book before you became friends. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for those Happy Hour Zooms!

  7. Too many to count. A complete acknowledgement page would fill an entire book. The generosity of my writing community is boundless.

    Special appreciation for Kathryn Lilley and Jordan Dane who took a chance on an unknown writer and invited me to contribute to TKZ. What a wonderful gift this gig has been.

  8. Great question, Sue! I’m very fortunate to have many dear friends who are writers–each one could be my answer to today’s question. In several cases, becoming fast friends with one led to making more writer friends. Two examples:

    The first–Back in 2011, in the bar at Orycon, our local fall science fiction convention here in Portland, Oregon, my writer friend Garth Upshaw introduced me to another local author, Wendy Wagner, who is also a short fiction magazine editor. We had a wide-ranging conversation and became fast friends. We started meeting up for write-ins at local coffee shops and chatted via email. We agreed that we gave each other a creative boost. Plus, Wendy is filled with so much light and laughter.

    In 2013, after I returned from a two week novel outlining workshop at KU in Lawrence, I wanted to create my own fiction brainstorming and support group, and immediately thought of Wendy, and then two other friends, Rebecca and Jen. None of them knew each other at the time, and now we are all dear friends. We brainstorm plot problems, give feedback on book covers, book descriptions, and cheer each other on, like yesterday when Wendy emailed to tell us her novella “A Secret Skin” was mentioned in a Washington Post article about notable science fiction, fantasy and horror books.

    The second: I met my dear friend Susan Kaye Quinn on Facebook after reading her book on indie publishing (which she’s since unpublished since it was outdated). We friended each other, and I joined her indie publishing author group in early 2016, and that experience greatly helped me prepare for my first series launch the following year. Susan, a former NASA engineer, writes in multiple genres, and has helped a great many writers. She’s kind-hearted, courageous and brilliant.

    She created “Writers on the Moon,” a lunar literary time capsule of fiction that will be aboard the Peregrine lander when it touches down at Lacus Mortis next year, and I’ll have my complete set of published novels, photos, bio etc aboard along with hundreds of other writers, all thanks to Susan.

    Susan is how I met my writer friend Lauren, who lives just a few miles from me. We knew each other from Susan’s author group, but hadn’t met in person until the three of us attended Donald Maas’s Emotional Craft of Fiction workshop in Seattle in September 2017, and now Lauren and I are dear friends as well. As so it goes.

    I’m also fortunate for the wonderful writer friends and acquaintances here at KZB as well. You have all enriched me as a writer and as a person, and brighten each day 🙂

    • I feel the same way about TKZ writers and audience. You all enrich my writing life. And I know exactly what you mean, Dale. One writer leads to another and another, each just as special and endearing. I met some new writer friends on my panel over the weekend and we have plans to take our “show” on the road. ?

  9. I’ve never met Lisa Simonds (LK Simonds) in person, but I sent her an email several years ago after she had commented on a blog. I can’t remember what her comment was, but we discovered we have a lot in common in addition to our love of writing. (we’re both pilots. Lisa is also an air traffic controller. I wrote part of the air traffic control computer system many years ago.) At the time we began communicating, each of us had a first novel that was soon to be released, and we’ve been on similar writing paths ever since.

    Lisa is tremendously supportive of every writing venture I try, and I hope I provide the same support for her.

    Of course, TKZ is a special community and I count everyone here a friend. Debbie Burke is a special friend who has provided encouragement and advice. And I have to acknowledge James Scott Bell who agreed to an interview by this novice writer that started my Craft of Writing blog several years ago and has graciously responded to every question I’ve bugged him with.

  10. Great question, Sue. It’d be a long list of gratitude, starting with everyone at TKZ. Sometimes I think I’d visit even if I wasn’t a writer, just to soak up the encouragement. 🙂

    JSB has been a source of encouragement, both from his posts and his craft books. I own about 45 of his books, a mix of craft and novels. I include his novels because I consider them craft books also. Thank you, sir.

    Another friendship I’m grateful for is James L. Rubart. He is a cheerleader in my life, and has helped me crystallize some goals.

    Writers are truly the best community.

  11. I have SO many amazing writer friends it’s difficult to name just few. Special shout-out to Garry, Jordan Dane, Ruth Harris, Debbie, Joe H., and Larry Brooks, who always go the extra mile to support me, along with so many others. Love you all. ?

  12. Oh geez. You’re gonna get me choked up. My first writer friend mentor was Jerry Healy. When we were just starting out, we bought him as a critiquer at our first SleuthFest. He read our pages and said you don’t need me much. How about if I blurb your book when you’re ready. A year later, he did.

    He went to bat for us a couple times within the writing community and was always there to lend an ear or support. He never missed one of our signings if he was anywhere near. Plus he was a great dancer.

    I miss him terribly.

  13. My mentor for 36 years was Edith Battles, an off the wall writer of children’s books and miscellany, a wonderful coach, and a long-time friend of Ray Bradbury. She passed on in 2008, but I still find occasional manuscript notes from her among my papers. About the last thing she wrote was a note to me.

    My closest writer friend is David A. Kenney, a former OSS radioman who served in England and China during WWII. His writing style is quirky, humorous, droll. I still ask his advice on writing matters and am in touch with him daily, though our weekly BLATs have, sadly, been curtailed by the epidemic.

  14. Susan May Warren was the first to see promise in my writing, and she mentored me for four years–by the third year, I had a contract.

    I agree that the writing community is the most giving of any group I’ve been a part of.

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