In this month of Thanksgiving, I have reflected on some of the things for which I am thankful. Today, I recognize the seven people who changed my writing life.
These people were generous with their time, their knowledge, and their encouragement. I hope this chronological list expresses at least a small portion of my gratitude for their gifts to me.
1. Madeline L’Engle.
Shortly after it won the 1963 Newberry award, I read A Wrinkle in Time. I fell in love with Meg, the witches, and their world. Fast forward to the early 80’s. I was an aspiring writer and the mom of a three-year-old. I had the opportunity to go to a writer’s conference out-of-state. Ms. L’Engle was a presenter at that conference. I submitted one of my manuscripts for her critique.
The appointed hour came and I was sick with nervousness. Ms. L’Engle was gracious, and kind, and talked about my manuscript for thirty minutes. She told me I should expand my story into a novel. What a shining moment! I thought my heart would explode! I hope Ms. L’Engle knew how grateful I was for her encouragement.
Warren Norwood is the second of the seven people who changed my writing life. I met Warren at ConQuest, our local science fiction convention. He had published at least a dozen novels and I was in awe of him. He attended a post-convention party at my home. Amidst the chaos of the party, Warren discovered my author’s copy of my first published short story.
Warren sat on my sofa, in the middle of party noises and shenanigans, and he read my seven-hundred-word children’s story. He closed the little magazine and said, “This woman can write.” He didn’t know I was sitting behind him. I don’t think he knew me at all, but his words thrilled me.
Warren became a dear friend. I would learn that he had earned a Purple Heart, among other medals, in Viet Nam, that he loved music, and that he was a generous teacher. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2005 after a long illness. I miss him.
3. Rob Chilson.
You’ve seen his name on this blog before. Rob is another author I met at the local science fiction convention. He invited me to be part of a writers’ group that met in his home. Later, he and I collaborated on a story idea. He taught me how to develop an idea into a story. He and I often joke that since I worked with him I’ve never been able to write a 700-word short story again. (It’s true!) Our novellas, The White Box and The White Hope, appeared in Analog Science Fiction Science Fact Magazine. Rob continues to be generous with his time and knowledge and hosts a writers’ group in his home. While I am not able to attend as I once did, I’m grateful that he continues to encourage and guide me.
4. My husband.
Five years after a contentious divorce, I thought I’d never get married again. Then I met my forever husband (he changed more than my writing life *grin*). My husband’s belief in my writing has far exceeded my own. Shortly after we married he insisted that I take a year off my paying job to write full-time. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the skills to be successful at that time. Fortunately, his faith in me didn’t waiver. His encouragement and belief have brought me back to myself each time life has derailed my writing career. I’d love him for many other reasons, even if he didn’t believe in the writer me, but he does. His belief and support mean the world to me.
I’ve never met Holly Lisle. I don’t even remember how I first heard of her. Her Writer Crash Test videos on youtube hooked me. Soon after that, I enrolled in her How to Rewrite Your Novel course. That course teaches story deconstruction. It made me a better, stronger writer.
I first heard of Margie Lawson on Facebook. Friends praised her awesome editing techniques. The more I read about her techniques, the more I needed to know. I bought Margie’s lecture packets (available on her website). The information in those packets strengthened my stories sentence-by-sentence.
Her Immersion Master Class was life-changing. Her encouragement, her ability to help you see your own words in a different way, is pure platinum and gold and filled with gems. It pays dividends long after the class is over.
Bill is an author, a friend, and a mentor whom I also met at my local convention. A former roommate of Rob Chilson, Bill, was a co-founder of the writers’ group held in their home. It wasn’t until after Bill moved to California that he and I entered into a true mentor-student relationship. With Bill’s guidance, I’ve finally melded all that I’ve learned into a set of skills and a new level of understanding. His comments and critiques are kind, and thoughtful, and enlightening. My debut novel, My Soul To Keep, would not be what it is without his help.
These seven people represent pivotal moments in my life for which I am eternally grateful. Thank you.
There have been many more people who have, and are, helping and encouraging me. You know who you are. I thank you with all my heart.
And so ends my gratitude posts for this month of Thanksgiving. For the seven people who changed my writing life, there is no end to my gratitude. And I need to say that these aren’t the only people who have changed my writing life. There are many, many more. You know who you are. Thank you.
I hope you found this interesting and, perhaps, inspiring. See you next time!