New Year Shout-outs
This post is inspired by a recent Facebook shout-out from my virtual friend, Susanne O’Leary, a Swedish-born citizen of Ireland and author of five novels.
Susanne encouraged her many Facebook friends to speak up if we have “enjoyed the blessing of meeting people online that you never would have met any other way. This is my end of the year shout-out to the many “friends” I have never been in the same room with but who have inspired, amused, comforted, encouraged, and touched me in so many ways. Here’s to another year …”
Well, Susanne’s sentiment is one that I have almost daily, and being of more than slight Irish ancestry, I am entitled to be sentimental when approaching New Year’s Eve. (I do not go out on New Year’s Eve and get all sloppy sentimental drunk. I regard that particular evening as Amateur Night. Heh.)
I became acquainted with Susanne on the Authonomy website, along with perhaps another hundred or so of my FB friends. There are so many that I think of routinely, it’s hard to begin. I’ve already blathered about the folks at The Book Shed who pulled me from Youwriteon.org and set me on a path to literary competence. John Hudspith, in particular. Gillian Hamer, Lorraine Mace, Sheila Bugler, Jane DIxon-Smith, Liz Miller, Jo Reed, Nick Poole, Danny Gillan. Those folks not only gave me the kind of frank, tough and true criticism than any aspiring writer needs, they gave me the confidence to believe that I wasn’t wasting my time – that I could actually achieve my objective.
When I arrived at Authonomy, the place was still operating in beta mode, and the Book Shed folks were all over the editor’s desk. In short order, I detected the fine combination of talent, humor, humility and honor in many, many people who remain in my thoughts routinely. Alexander McNabb, Amethyst Adams, Bren MacDibble, Heikki Heitala, Robb Grindstaff, Dan Holloway, Irene van der Rol, Jared Conway, Janet Colley, Jason Riley, John Sexton, Jude Polotan, Kate Kasserman, Leah Petersen, Lexi Revellian, M. Cid D’Angelo, M.M. Bennetts, Maria Bustillos, Marion Stein, Philippa Fioretti, Rachel Lewis, Sandi Dent, Sian O’Leary, Tony Barker, and many dozens of others. (I know there are folks I love who I’ve failed to mention. Give me a poke, will ya?) These folks gave my work their time, their attention, their expertise – but they also gave their trust, their friendship. I hope I have served them well for it, and I will continue to do so.
Because of them, Diary of a Small Fish actually became something that I thought might have a chance at mainstream publication, so I hobbled over to Agent Query Connect to get some help hammering out a passable query. There, I met another thriving community of aspiring novelists – all in the same boat, all one inch closer to the Brass Ring. Calista Taylor, Jean Oram, Jemi Fraser, John Betcher, Matt Sinclair, Nicole Franco, Richard Lewis, R.S. Mellette, and a dozen more operating under pseudonyms. We’ve helped each other, shared information and frank opinions, and helped out a lot of folks coming along on our heels.
With their help and encouragement, my search for agency representation succeeded, and in May of 2010, when Agent-of-the-Year nominee Christine Witthohn signed me up, I was introduced to yet another fabulous roster of writers from her list. Liz Lipperman, Rochelle Staab, Cassy Picard, and a dozen others. Rochelle and Cassy took me under their wings and have been indispensable in helping me bring along manuscript #2, Law & Disorder. Christine and her husband, literary lawyer Jeff Mehalic, are folks a guy like me just couldn’t be luckier to have pitching for me.
Then there are the many friends who’ve been true beta readers for Small Fish, and haven’t given me any bullshit in their responses. Some of them I’ve known for over 40 years. One, Mark Russell, was a classmate in high school. We reconnected on Facebook not long ago, when I discovered that Mark was an aspiring writer too – he’s written this brilliant children’s serial story titled Buster the Black Lab. Mark read the finished manuscript of Fish and promptly passed it on to one of his NY publishing contacts and several others. He’s a True Believer, and has since landed one of the publishing industry’s major league heavyweights as an agent for Buster. Readers of the young frye, like Jason Riley and Kate Kasserman, Maria Bustillos and her husband, Oliver Corlett. Others were John Betcher and his wife, Lynn, Brian Sullivan and his brother, Paul.
I save a special place in my heart for two people:
The incomparable Kate Kasserman, whose voracious appetite for fiction cannot be satiated. Kate read at least two complete versions of Fish, early and late, and her observations were astonishing to me – because the highest objective for someone in my shoes is to know that someone feels, truly feels, what is in the heart of his narrator.
And the equally incomparable Maria Bustillos, who proudly calls herself a “big dork,” and has the brain wattage to prove it.
Maria and Kate’s feedback finally made me understand what it is about Small Fish that makes it work. Truly, before they explained it, I had no idea.
So to all of those folks, and the dozens I failed to mention, I salute you, I thank you, I love you.
Happy New Year. I shall raise my glass to you all at the appropriate hour.
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