Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Jungle Red Thank You Day!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Susan Elia MacNeal inspired me to this, she doesn’t know it, but she did. We were talking about the breathtakingly terrible events of last week—yes, other of the seemingly unending list of terrible events—but because it was journalists, it was…well, home.

Susan quoted Winston Churchill.  “These are stern times,” he said. And yes, they are.

And it made me wonder about legacy, and the tiny spit of time we each get, and  making sure we let people know things. I know Jungle Red is supposed to be fun and upbeat, and we are, so let’ this. 

Thomas Thornburg/Pike HIgh School 1967 
Tell us someone you want to make sure you thank.  Mom, of course, and Dad, goes without saying. But Mr. Thornburg, for instance, my high school English teacher who taught me about Shakespeare. And Alice Blitch, a college professor who took me aside and told me I was talented. She didn’t have to, you know? She just did.

Fred Heckman, the brusque-but-patient news director who hired 20 year old me, with zero experience, as a newbie radio reporter.

This is me on my very first day of work as a radio reporter at WIBC, circa 1971. You  can imagine how Fred felt about me, the very first female reporter at this station! But he taught me how to ask questions. 

My sister Nancy, who is always there. Red Hallie, who swooped me up in mystery world ten years ago, treated me like a real writer. And editor/author Paula Munier, do you know her? Nothing that’s happened to me would have happened without her. 

AnnLeslie Tuttle, editor at MIRA, who in 2005, said—can you rewrite your submission, same story but different sensibility? If you can, I’d love to publish PRIME TIME. And I did, and they did.

Oh, gosh, I could go on. My now-editor at Forge, Kristin Sevick, and agent Lisa Gallagher, and…Jonathan. SO patient! I wouldn’t put up with me, is all I can say.
Thank you thank you.

And here’s your bully pulpit. In these times of trouble, who deserves your thanks?

Julia's mom with Youngest and The Smithie
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: It sounds like an Academy Award speech, but first I need to thank my mother, Lois Fleming, who always made books more-than-plentiful for me, even when the money wasn't, and who taught me much of what I know about composition, and who thought I should be a writer before anyone else did, including myself.

All the SF fans at the long-defunct B5 Unrest who first got me interested in playing around with fiction, Lucy Zahray, aka "The Poison Lady, who recommended my manuscript to the legendary Ruth Cavin when I entered it into the Malice Domestic contest.

Meg Ruley! Love her. 
I'm incredibly grateful to my agent, Meg Ruley, who took me on when I was still in the middle of a three-book deal my first agent had negotiated! For those of you not in the publishing business, that meant she was supporting and advocating for me for several YEARS before she saw any income from my writing. Lots of want-to-be-writers ask, "Why should I give away 15% of my booksales?" The answer is: because an agent like Meg is worth a lot more than that.

And thanks also to Hank! We had a great time hanging around at the San Francisco Bouchercon, and after I got home to Maine, she sent me an email asking if I'd like to consider joining this blog group she was a part of... I said yes and have never regretted it!

HANK: Aw, I remember that! oxoo

HALLIE EPHRON: Hank, you are so generous giving credit. Thanks. And now turnabout is fair play and I thank the generous writers, especially Hank and Lucy and Paula Munier, who are there for me when I’ve written myself into another cul de sac or just feel mopey.

And thanks to… family.
For giving me my first break, my sister Nora who connected me with an editor at the Boston Globe when I’d written an op ed piece about leaving teaching. And my sister Delia who read my first attempts at storytelling and told me the bad news (it needed soooo much work) and the good (I had talent.) And my younger sister Amy who started writing long before I did and so I had to race to keep up. And my mother who blazed the trail for us all as women slash writers and in the process, exposed its pitfalls.

And my husband who rarely uttered the word *but* when I told him what I wanted to do next. And my fantastic daughters who are proof positive that I can do some things really really right, or at least be trusted not to gum up the works.

Hallie is second from right
Teachers: Mr. Gelms who taught journalism at Beverly High. And Barbara Ann Schenkel my 6th grade teacher. Both of them died before I got the chance to thank them properly. If there's a someone you want to thank, DO IT NOW!

HANK: Hallie, who's the guy on the right?? He was..framed.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Wow, I had no idea an email would turn into a post! Churchill actually edited "dark times" into "stern times." I do believe his word choice is important.

People to thank in my life? Mrs. Elizabeth Lewin, at the North Tonawanda Public Library, Iris Skoog of Nardin Academy, Father P.S. Naumann, SJ at Canisius High School, Susan Meyer of Wellesley College, Caitlin Sims, formerly of Dance Magazine. Idria Barone Knecht. 

Noel and Bear, circa 1998

My husband, Noel MacNeal, who didn't laugh when I said I wanted to write a novel and in fact supported me through all kinds of craziness and gifted me all of his Bear in the Big Blue House and Sesame International airline points to travel....

RHYS BOWEN: I'd like to thank all the little people......wait! I don't know any little people.  The ones to whom  I owe a lot are no longer with us. My grandmother and great aunt Min who raised me in my early years, surrounded me with love and taught me the art of story telling. My aunt Gwladys who whisked me away to strange and exotic places and gave me my love of travel.

Best photo EVER! Where is this, Rhys?
Then there are my college friends who have remained close until today. The many wonderful friends I have made in the mystery writing world. Dorothy Cannell who introduced me to my agent (also Meg Ruley) and the fantastic Meg herself. Having an agent and editor who wholeheartedly believe in me-i couldn't ask for more. 

John is seated, right, with adorable child on lap
And of course John who is my first, and most critical reader, who drove me coast to coast three times before any publisher sent me on a book tour, and my kids who keep my life sane and grounded , as in "can you watch the dog and do you have a sleeping bag we can borrow?" and my grandkids. There is no better feeling than having a small child running toward you, arms outstretched and face alight with joy.  I feel truly blessed.

LUCY BURDETTE: My family of course. My poor old dad supported everything I did, even though he could not fathom why in the world I was throwing away all those years of training as a psychologist for...writing mysteries. (I wasn't throwing them away, it turns out. The two careers dovetail brilliantly!) My sister Susan, who was the first writer in the family but consistently supports me nudging in alongside her. John, the best husband ever. How much harder it must be to be married to someone who pushes you away from your dreams instead of toward them!

Roberta and Mr. Dorhout
Mrs. Covey, my fifth grade teacher. Albert Dorhout, high school music teacher and Mr. Schneider, drama teacher, who both encouraged my enthusiasm for the subjects, in spite of a lack of native talent:). And Gabriel Asfar, my adviser in college, who was probably the first person to tell me I was a good writer.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, Hank, this was hard. My first thought was, "How can I choose?" But here's a stab at it: First, always, my maternal grandmother, Lillian Dozier, who taught me to read and to love reading, who shared my dreams and nurtured tiny sparks of ambition, and who told me many times that I could do whatever I set my sights on. My 3rd and 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Schwann, who was the truly inspirational teacher that every child should have (and who read us A Wrinkle in Time, chapter by chapter, when we were in 6th grade. If I hadn't already been hooked on books that would have done the trick.) My writer uncle, A.C. Greene, who
A.C. Greene
told an awkward fifteen-year-old that her poetry was not too bad, and who supported my writing wholeheartedly from then on. Howard McCarley, my biology professor and my mentor in college, who encouraged me despite my obvious mathematical defiencencies. Warren Norwood, writing teacher, friend, mentor, who gave me the confidence to finish that first novel and send it out into the world. Nancy Yost, my incomparable agent of more than twenty years!

And so many more! My parents, of course. Writing friends, family, husband who puts up with me--and my daughter, who shares with me every day the great gift of loving books.

HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: I love seeing all these names. They’re people most of us will never meet, or know, and yet, kind of like the Bridge of San Luis Rey, you know, at some place and time they crossed our lives and made a difference, and it’s good that we simply state their names. Our own “Honored” Roll! And it seems to be about giving confidence, right? And encouragement?

So, reds and readers, who are you thankful for? And has anyone—anyone special and life-changing—ever surprised you with their thanks? (Lucy, music? Susan, and Hallie specifics! Julia, what’s B5 Unrest?)


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  2. I imagine “thank you” is something we should say far more often than we do . . . thanks for such a meaningful post. The thanks I've treasured the most over the years have been the ones from the children. They touch your heart and soul in such a special way . . . .

    There are so many people to thank for so many things . . . .

    Thank you to Julia, Hank, Lucy, Hallie, Rhys, Debs, and Susan for sharing your books and yourselves with all of us who regularly visit Jungle Red Writers --- it means so much . . . .

    There are never enough words to thank our families: Mom, husband, children, grandbabies, sisters, brother . . . so many who are always there for support, who love without exception . . . .

    Thank you to those who teach, those who run the libraries, those who sell the books --- you’ve filled our lives with the stories that become our treasure-troves . . . .

  3. The thanks I've treasured the most over the years have been the ones from the children.
    Friv 2015
    Kizi 1

  4. I want to thank my tolerant and loving friends who are my friends still and despite.

  5. What a fabulous post of gratitude. Here's who I want to thank: Every one of the Jungle Reds for so many hours of great reading and for this blog community. My mom, who told me when I was about 9, "Edie, you're a good writer." And I believed her. My dad, who wrote all the time, including typing long single-space letters, but never had anything published. Mr. Wilson, high-school journalism teacher. All my fellow Sisters in Crime, especially the Wicked Cozy authors. My blood sisters who read every one of my books and help spread the word. My tolerant boyfriend who has no idea what I'm doing and doesn't read a word of my work, but goes about his life as I toil away upstairs. He even cooks dinner sometimes, something he doesn't enjoy. My fabulous sons - like Hallie, I did something right. My fellow Quakers, who are my second family. Even my unpleasant unhappy ex-husband who said to me, twenty-one years ago, "You like to read mysteries so much. Why don't you write one?"

  6. The "framed" guy in the picture is my h s journalism teacher Mr. Gelms ... Love these so much "paying it forward" too

  7. "When are you going to settle down and do something with your writing?"

    thanks Mom, I did.

  8. My mom, who instilled a love of writing in me and all my siblings (and now I see it blossoming in the next generation), and who made us take Latin (and that has made all the difference).

    Miss Gardner, who taught journalism at Washington High, and told us "You can't print an alibi" (actually, you can, but it never undoes the damage), so I know to get it right before it sees print. Barry Ulanov, a demanding and therefore great teacher of the mandatory paper-a-week course that English majors had to take junior year of college (how else could I have known how to research and write a 65,000 word book on the Constitution in three months?)

    My grandmother, who was always asking me, "Why aren't you writing?"

    And my former agent and now close friend (she has retired from the craziness of agenting), Sharon Jarvis, who-- when I was offered a contract for too many novels in too short a time and doubted whether I could complete them-- told me, "You can and you will," and I did.

    And David Hartwell, who-- complaining about the amateur submissions he had to read as then editor of the Star Trek novels-- told me "None of them has ever heard of a dramatic hook." I hadn't either, but a word to the wise was sufficient.

    Tracy Bernstein, my editor at Holt, who laughed at my jokes. My friend Dee, whose sense of humor I had in mind when I wrote them. And the juried panel that named my hardcover on writing the best nonfiction book in Wisconsin for 1990 (vindication!)

    And anyone who ever loaned or gave me money, as well as those clients who paid, and on time! (No thanks to the ones who didn't!)

  9. Yup, it makes SUCH a difference! Just that one word of encouragement at the right time, you know?
    LOVE reading these!
    And eager to hear who you all name… I'm sure teachers will be especially thrilled that we remember.

    Interesting, , too tat there can be so much more constant picture taking today than there used to some of these photos are all the more precious.

  10. Too many, far too many. But one, Dr. Wayne Dyer, who just passed on, I actually got to thank, via a letter, for his book Your Erroneous Zone, which made such a difference in my life. He, bless him, sent back not only a gracious thank you to ME, but also a sheaf of articles and a signed fiction paperback. I was blown away by his generosity.

    Some of my many sewing friends encouraged me to write a book out of the interviews I did of them about their sewing businesses, and the grande dame of sewing, Claire Shaeffer (she's written nearly 30 books on the topic), sent me to publisher after publisher when I wrote my first book (compendium of 100 interviews). Thirty-five rejection letters later, I called her to tell her I'd decided to go ahead and self-publish, and Claire said, "Great. I'd like to buy your very first book." She insisted on paying me for it, too, bless her.

    And my maternal grandmother, who stood in as mother to me when my own mom had her hands full, and who created an island of peace in the chaos of my early life. She was also one of the biggest readers I've ever known, reading into the night, usually novels about nurses, one to three of them a day.

    Another person who changed my life when I was in my 20's was a boss who took me under his wing and gave me incredible responsibility. The job took me on my first plane trips--to NYC and Chicago--and exposed me to a vastly different world. I did have a chance to thank him, via a letter, not very long before he died. His son said it made his whole week to get it, which made my heart glad. One of his famous lines to employees, "You can't say 'thank you' too many times." So true.

  11. A couple of years ago, my older brother and I visited the new local heritage museum in our home town. One of the founders was my 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Barker. I remembered Mrs. Barker as this quiet, tiny powerhouse, married to our flamboyant, red-haired band teacher. She was working in the museum office that day, but the docent warned me Mrs. Barker was a little "frail." I took this to be a warning that she might not remember me, but when I introduced myself, Mrs. Barker said, "Of course I remember you. You were best friends with Janie and you won the literary prize at the high school."

    I told her I was a writer now, and it was because of her, that she'd changed my life when she pulled a romance novel out of my hand and gave me Les Miserables and told me I needed to be reading books like that instead. I got very emotional, and she patted my hand and told me I was sweet. So I had my chance to thank her, and I'm glad I took it. But outside, my brother said, "Geez, if I knew you were going to slobber all over, I'd have stayed in the car." Boys.

  12. Boys, Ramona. To met that sounds wonderful, and I'd still be crying.

    Karen, novels about nurses? Three a day? People are SO fascinating.

  13. Kizi200--you are SO right! I can't tell you how many times something happens, still, and I think--oh, Mom was right! I wish I could have told her--but then, she already knew it. :-)

    Reine, there's no "despite."

    Edith! The benefits from ex-husbands blog. Let's do it someday!

  14. Ellen K--what does that mean, you can't print an alibi?

    Funny story: a young reporter came up to me at an event, and started thanking me madly, for all the help I'd given her. She said--you changed my life, so profoundly, andI am so grateful. SO of course I was preening and feeling proud of myself, even though, sheesh, i didn't remember at all.

    And then she says; I'll never forget you told me the wisest thing ever: "Never ask a question you don't know the answer to."

    And I gasped. What? I NEVER said that! Never would have said that! So..who knows what she was remembering. But she THOUGHT I helped her!

  15. Let's give this a shot.

    My husband: When I lost my job in 2011, he said, "Take the summer off. Finish that book." I did and while I don't think that book will ever see the light of day, it started something. And he still supports me.

    My kids, for not being completely embarrassed when Mom looks at a patrol cop and says, "I wonder if..."

    My grandmother, Betty, who always told me I could do anything and who inspired the name under which I write my mysteries.

    My h.s. chemistry teacher, Mr. Eggleston, for having faith in someone who was completely unqualified to take AP chemistry and showing me "yes, you can" and my senior year English teacher Mr. Taylor for not letting me give up.

    My college mentor, Dr. Tedesco (now deceased) for not only teaching literature, but teaching me to slow down and enjoy myself.

    My friend Amy, the triathlete, for teaching me "amazing things happen when you keep showing up."

    My friends in Sisters in Crime for making me feel immediately welcome - I was not the only one!

    My critique group for reading, supporting, encouraging and telling me when I've missed the mark - and when I've hit it.

    Ramona DeFelice Long and Hank: I keep two emails, one from each of you, with words of encouragement. I look at them every time I think, "There is just no way I can do this."

  16. Awwwww…Mary, thank you. That signs tears to my eyes. Thank you.

    Yeah, Sisters in Crime. Pretty amazing. I remember my first eating at Janet Halpin's house. I knew NO ONE! SO scary. And I can't even believe I went. And now, well, sisters.

  17. thanks everyone for sharing your stories! I have a feeling, Hank, that it was you she remembered, but she got the advice wrong:)

    Yes, Sisters in Crime definitely on the list! and all the Jungle Reds of course, and every single reader....hearing from a reader means sooooo much!

  18. SO right, Lucy! Those emails from readers--every one of them is such a joy!

    And yes, my mother once told me people who had kids learned to take care of them best by just "doing what comes naturally." SO I thought, okay, yeah. YEARS later, I mentioned that to her. She insisted, INSISTED! that shed never said that.

  19. So I guess good advice is just as much about how we take it--as what's really said!

  20. I am most thankful for my family and my husband. They have supported me through everything and I wouldn't be the person I am without them.

    But I also have to sing the praises of Hank. She is the most generous and truly kind person. She owes me nothing and yet has been so very supportive of BOLO Books from the first moment I announced it. Every time I see her, she makes a point to ask me how things are going with the blog - honestly, some of my family members don't even do that. Hank is a class act!

    At the tea event with Louise Penny last night (more on that will be up at BOLO Books later this week), Louise talked a good bit about her husband Michael and how his saying "I will support you" almost meant more than "I love you." She joked about it being financial support - and of course that was a part of it. But true support is just wanting the best for someone and doing whatever it is that you can do - however small - to help them achieve that. It's a selfless act.

    Often that is just a smile and a kind word. But it means the world.

  21. Ph, thank you Hank for this! I feel so much better reading everyone's stories. It is amazing what an interest or a kind word can do in life.....

  22. One of the common threads are the teachers in our lives - I didn't include the special one in mine, Mr. Al Marshall of Argyle Central School. Mr. Marshall made copies of a poem I wrote in his English class, tacked it up in the teacher's lounge, and added "Don't tell me the kids in this school aren't talented!"

    If any of our backbloggers are teachers, or if you have a teacher in the family, rest assured: you really do affect your students lives, in ways you may never even know. Thanks you!

  23. Kristopher, thank you! SO nice of you, and my pleasure, of course! TELL ALL about the Louise event..who sponsored it, anyway?

    Yes, Julia, let's hear from teachers! ANyone have a student tell you something special?

  24. Aw, thanks, Susan. It does make you realize how much different it can make..

  25. Hank, Miss Gardner meant that if you misspelled (something TV reporters don't worry about if my brother-the-newswriter is any example) a word or a name, or if you got your facts wrong, you couldn't exactly print a story saying, "Sorry, I never checked the spelling." Actually, newspapers (and network news) can and do print corrections and retractions, but they seldom have the impact of the original story. Look at what happened at the Times about Hillary's e-mails a couple of weeks back. The conservative outlets ran with the supposed criminal investigation (which never happened) and now it's a story that won't die. So either one feels guilty about doing that kind of thing, or is one of those guys who majored in blow-dried hair and doesn't give a c***. Or doesn't know enough to give a c***. Either way, the alibi doesn't undo the damage. You need to get it right the first time.

  26. The Louise Penny tea was sponsored by Politics and Prose and held at The Willard Hotel in DC. As swanky as it sounds.

  27. Running late for work as always, but I have to give a shout out to a fellow B5 fan! Never was on B5 Unrest, but I have made so many of my best friends while watching that show. Plus it's a wonderful show doing something no one else was in the 90's.

  28. There are so many to thank. Fern Howard, who had sung with the NYC Metropolitan Opera before marrying a rancher/oil man in Oklahoma, not only taught me music but watched over me during a miserable time in my childhood and literally saved my leg, if not my life, by noticing I had blood poisoning and sneaking me off to the doctor against my mother's wishes. She wanted to adopt me and send me to Juilliard, and she told me I would either be a great opera singer or great writer.

    Like Julia, I have to thank Luci Zahray, the Poison Lady, who chose my first mystery as a finalist for the St. Martin's/Malice Domestic prize.

    Red Julia herself. We'd never met, but when my first mystery was about to come out, she emailed me AND MY EDITOR to say she would write a blurb and wanted to do whatever she could to help me promote the book. Just the ultimate class act--and shocking to me since I came from the lit world where jealousy and backstabbing were more the norm.

    Red Hallie, who came up to me as I was about to do my first panel at Malice and introduced herself, saying all the Reds were rooting for me and supporting me. What a boost during a nervous time!

    All the members of JRW and all the backbloggers, who made me feel welcome in the mystery world from the very beginning--and who routinely offer such support to so many new mystery novelists. And who have been so generous about blurbing my books and those of others.

    Red Hank, when I became president of our local SinC chapter, Border Crimes, in our fifth year in existence and I wanted to put on a BIG celebration with a big-name writer who also represented national SinC. I emailed and asked if she'd come to KC, even though I didn't think I could give her any honorarium--during one of her busiest times--and she said sure and made our celebration something people in KC still talk about.

    The best, most unexpected thank-you I ever had was from a boy who'd sort of grown up playing with my kids as the step-grandson of our neighbors. In his early teens, he'd been kicked out by both of his divorced parents and their spouses. My son found him living on the streets and brought him home, and he lived with me and my kids when I was a struggling single mother for over a year until I had to ask him to leave because he brought an underage girl to the house for sex while I was working (he was underage himself). I arranged for one set of his parents to take him back again. After years without hearing from him, he knocked on my door one day to tell me he'd just graduated from high school when everyone else but me had said he never could/would and that belief I had in him had kept him going. That thank-you left me in tears.

  29. Ellen K, that is SO interesting! And perfect. Yeah, being wrong is the most terrifying thing..and oh, where did I just read about a wonderful correction? It was something like: "The newspaper regrets the error in the recent article about the Boy Scouts.The original article read A Boy Scout is a fiend to all and a brother to every other scout. It should have read: A Boy Scout is a friend to all and a bother to every other scout."

  30. Kristopher--whoo. SWANKY is right. ANd attendee wore hats, I see! Some, at least. :-)

    MArk you and Juila are killing me no. What isB5Unrest??? Am I hopelessly out of it?

  31. AH! LInda. Great stories. As always. And hey, my pleasure. I still think about that trip! Amazing in every way. And thank you!

    And yes, so interesting about the support from fellow authors. It's not like that in TV, either… -)

  32. My husband for never asking me to stop writing, even while we're watching a movie after the kids go to bed. My kids who wait, however, impatiently for me to get to the end this scene.

    Mrs. Barnoski, my high school creative writing teacher and Gail Tremblay. Both really encouraged my poetry, which I never considered pursuing, but that background taught me to value every word.

    My writer friends online. Heather who never tries to cheer me up but always listens. Karin who always tries to cheer me up, but also proves it can happen. Em who hates querying more than me. Tara and Monti who give me editors insight. And Lana who catches most of my bad commas.

    Lucy/Roberta for following me on Twitter and making me feel real.

    And more recently Paula Munier for suggesting her book to me after chatting about yoga on Twitter because it actually makes sense to me and most writing books don't. (I think in scenes and write sideways. It presents a translation issue. ;)

    Tracy Weber for encouraging me to write book2 and go to my first conference at her book signing. And Leslie Budewitz and Ingrid Thoft for listening to me ramble at that same bookstore.

    Hank for a bunch of things, but providing comps in Jane and Charlotte's books given me confidence more times than I can count.

  33. I am just overwhelmed by lithe lists of names.Truly, (and thank you, dear KAte) it is heartwarming and incredible fuel. It shows you so much about the world we inhabit, and how it works, and how much this all matters in our little way.

  34. I always have to give credit first to my dear mother, gone now twenty years, who gave me the greatest gift of attaching value to the time spent reading. I can't ever remember her admonishing me for sitting around reading instead of doing something "more productive." The reading was productive to her, then to me, then to my children, and now to my grandchildren. She gifted me with a legacy of loving to read, and it has been a joy and a comfort throughout my life. It's hard for me to imagine how people who don't know the thrill of a good book get through it all.

    Teachers. First, my mother, Mildred Pollock Boone, who taught my kindergarten class where I first learned to love learning. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Wright. who took a story I wrote about a dog and had me read it to the principal because Mrs. Wright thought it showed something special. My elementary school librarian, Miss Donna Root, who talked books with me and suggested titles I might like and was my source of inspiration for finally getting my Masters in my late 40s. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Collins, who was a great storyteller and showed me how much fun that was. My creative writing teacher, Mr. Rice, who during my senior year in high school surprised all his students by revealing to us just how little we really knew about writing and how much we had to learn, and learn we did. One of my English professors, Mr. Cheesewright, who captured all the girls' hearts as well as their minds, and who wrote on one of my papers that I had chosen well when I chose to major in English. Then, in graduate school for library media, I gained a lot of confidence in writing from a group of teachers I had who were complimentary and highly professional.

    I should give credit to my immediate family of my husband, daughter, and son, who all have accepted as normal piles of books in the house, crammed full bookcases, and books as a major part of gift giving. My grown children appreciate and enjoy the necessity of books as part of life's infrastructure, and they give back to me in their acknowledgement.

    Then, there are all of you wonderful authors, readers, and bloggers who deserve thanks for validating that the world of books is the best world of all. I owe great debts of gratitude to the people at my first Bouchercon, such as the friends of Laurie R. King, of which I am a member, and who took me under their wing in Albany to show me the ropes. Kristopher, you have been a great friend and source of author connections for me, and you never waver from supporting my blog, which I will need to pick your brain about in Raleligh. And, Erin Mitchell, introduced to me through Kristopher, who is a constant source of author and book love. The Jungle Red Writers have given me a place to come to every day to talk and learn about books and authors and so many interesting topics, and each of you has a generous streak that doesn't stop. To the participants in this blog, I look forward to your comments and thank you for imparting your knowledge and experiences to me. I am grateful to other authors, such as Anne Cleeland, Elly Griffiths, Jen J. Danna, and Anna Loan-Wilsey with whom I've developed wonderful relationships with through their writing and my reading.

    Gee, as much as I've written, I'm sure that I've left people out to thank for my wonderful relationship with books, reading, and writing.

  35. The two friends who took me seriously as a writer, at two different moments when I could not do it for myself: Cheryl Finkel, who doesn't remember what she said but I do! And much-missed Marilyn Wallace, who made a difference in my life for too short a time. My grandmother, Mary Dobbis, who took me to the library and my aunt, Barbara Dobbis Block, who shared her children's librarian knowledge with her bookworm niece. (I've blogged about her) Sisters in Crime. And the team at Poisoned Pen Press who saw something.

  36. Agreed, KAthy! The list, once we start thing about it, grows and grows. Which is pretty wonderful, right?i That's the joy of gratitude..

    ANd Triss, always amazing to have the moment, as with Cheryl, that makes your world change. SO interesting, how connected we all are.

  37. I continue to sift through the photos and letters and utility bills my aunt left behind -- I was so lucky to be the #1 grandchild with a devoted group of single aunts and uncles who loved me and guided me. Thinking of gifts and thank yous -- not only did my aunt give me gifts (most often books), but she saved my thank you notes so that I got to read one today!

    Undated, but you can guess the age if you read the words: "The jacket was an apsolute [sic] banana split! I'm sorry I've caused so much trouble, growing and all! But that's the way the ice cream floats!"

    These days I rely so much on my sister Nancy, although we live on opposite coasts. And my precious daughters.

  38. OH, she saved your thank you notes, Denise Ann! That is WONDERFUL. ANd you were already hilarious. xoxo

  39. I grew up wanting to help others, because others helped me. We all need help sometimes even when it looks like we don't. I find it difficult to forgive some, so I try to let them pass on through my consciousness while noticing the understanding and kindness of others. Thanking publicly is difficult for me, because I don't want to leave anyone out. All are special and critical in my experience.

    Jungle Reds has been a place full of people who have nurtured my very existence. It has been—you all have been—and continue to make a warm home. xoxoxoxox

  40. OH, Reine, back at you. It has to go both ways, right?? xoHank

  41. The list of the the people to whom I'm grateful stretches back as far as my memory goes, but the points of light include Jean Penn, a family friend who, when she was a senior editor at Los Angeles Magazine, said "why don't you come by and talk to us. I think you might be good at this." I don't know if I lived up to her opinion, but I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and never looked back. Then there are those moments when someone you crossed paths with in the past singles you out as someone who influenced them.
    My last year at Los Angeles Magazine I hired an intern who went on to become a photo editor at the LA Times. When I was at the Times, she sought me out to tell me that I had given her the confidence to pursue a career in publishing. Hearing that was such an unexpected gift.

  42. That is amazing, and quite quite wonderful, Nancie. See? And you never knew. This is so instructive!

  43. Always great to meet up with the B5 folks although, like Mark, I was never regularly on B5Unrest . . . .

    So many wonderful "thank you" postings that make me teary-eyed; of course, there's always one more to thank after you think you've gotten it right . . . a heartfelt thank you for all those who regularly put their own lives on the line for us.

  44. Joan, Joan, you are fabulous. Agreed. xoxoo

    But WHAT is B5Unrest???

  45. Beautiful, Reine <3
    I have thought lately about the gifts and directions along the way. My first teacher, kindergarten, was so wonderful that I made up my mind right then that I wanted to be a teacher also. My parents encouraged me to work for scholarships, and my then-husband helped me finish my degree. Without those influences, I'd have missed the 26 very interesting years of teaching.
    Author friends and fellow backbloggers have helped me settle into retirement, reading favorite authors, finding new favorites, enjoying again the luxury of plenty of reading time . . . and the secure knowledge that we'll never run out of good things to read.
    Kathryn Windham said of life, "It's a short journey, let's be pleasant company." Y'all are, in fact, and supportive as well. <3

  46. So pleased to be on the journey with you, dear Mary!