Friday, February 28, 2014

Ice, Snow, and Being Part of a Caring Community (Part II) by Debra H. Goldstein

In my last blog, I wrote about the caring community created by the twenty-five of us stranded at the YWCA. What could have been a horrible experience became a warm and wonderful time as we all helped each other make it through our unexpected stay.  As I struggle to find my voice and place as an author, I have found that writers also create caring communities.

Whether offering manuscript advice, methods of researching and expressing ideas, or simply how to find one’s way around at a conference, I have observed best-selling authors and peons joining together as a community.  Those who are successful give shout-outs and support to those climbing the ladder – and make sure the platform is wide enough for all to share.

For example, at Malice Domestic 2013, I had the privilege of riding an elevator with Carolyn Hart. I’m a pretty confident person, but as the elevator went up, I stumbled over my words telling “Ms. Hart” how much I enjoyed her books. During the conference, where she was honored with the Amelia Award, she told the audience how her writing career failed take off immediately. In fact, her first few books either were not published or didn't sell well, but she kept writing. When she became an overnight success, it had been a long night. 

Our paths crossed a number of times during the conference and at the Sisters in Crime breakfast. Ironically, we were in the elevator together again leaving the conference. This time, I congratulated “Carolyn” on her award and we actually laughed about spending the conference in the elevator.

Thinking back on the difference in my behavior during our elevator rides, I realize that the change in my attitude came from being impressed with her writing abilities and with her persistence and willingness to help other writers. Even during the hour interview tied to her award at Malice, she took the time to give a newer writer, Terry Shames, a shout-out. It takes a big person to share one’s limelight with others. Carolyn's work ethic and her generosity during that conference demonstrated how a little bit of caring behavior enhances the community of writers.

Because of Carolyn Hart’s shout-out, I made it a point to read Terry Shame’s book, A Killing at Cotton Hill.  I loved it.  I’m looking forward to reading her new book, The Last Death of Jack Harbin.

My personal writing journey also reflects an ever-expanding community of generous writers.  2012 IPPY award winning Maze in Blue, a murder mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus in the 1970’s originally was published and now will be reissued by Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries as a May 2014 book of the month because other writers opened or suggested doors to go through.  Similarly, Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! which appears in the new short story anthology, Mardi Gras Murder, would never have been written nor submitted if another writer hadn’t generously posted the open call for submissions on two listserves.

I am thankful for the community of writers who care enough to help me.  Have you been given or extended a helping hand along the way?

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Debra H. Goldstein's debut novel, Maze in Blue, received a 2012 IPPY Award.
She writes fiction and non-fiction pieces.  Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! was included in the Mardi Gras Murder short story anthology in February 2014.  A Political Cornucopia was featured in the November 2013 Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.  An upcoming issue of Mysterical-E will include her short story The Rabbi's Wife Stayed Home.


  1. From someone hoping to be in a place where she can maybe start to think about considering herself as coming up—I love this. Thank you. It makes it easier to face the challenges. xo

    1. Thanks for leaving a is only through helping each other that any of us feel we are able to improve and attain our best. Good luck beating the challenges.

  2. Many authors took the time to read and my blurb my early books, which helped give me credibility. Readers took a chance on me too. Terry was one of those readers/writers and conference attendees who supported me and became my friend along the way. I'm so excited to see her success. Thanks for a lovely post.

    1. Appreciate your kind words. As you indicated, readers take chances on us because others give us credibility. I just came back from Sleuthfest and 7 of us who bonded there jokingly referred to ourselves as the Sleuthfest 7 because we feel a kinship that I know will help us support each other in the future. Terry is a perfect example of a person who has been helped and paid it forward -- plus she writes beautifully (how could I not mention that combination in a column?)