Bad Pottery and Good Friends

When I lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I took pottery classes from an amazing instructor who taught out of an equally amazing museum.

I made amazingly bad pottery there. Seriously. I crafted a “hand-built” teapot that was crooked and couldn’t pour. And some other ugly dishes. My buddy Vicki took the finished pieces home so her husband could shoot them at the gun range.

On one occasion, our pottery class made “hand-built” bowls that when glazed all prettily would be auctioned at a charity event called Bowls and Books (or something like that). I didn’t want to know what my bowls went for.

Anyway, the “books” part of the event intrigued me, and I discovered that I could lease a dealer’s table and hawk my novels. Fate waltzed in. Chris Verstraete, a local author, leased the table next to mine. We chatted. I invited her to the Kenosha writer’s group, and we became good friends.

Chris sent out a newsletter today…she has a GREAT newsletter. You can subscribe HERE in the middle of her webpage. She mentioned my new book in it, The Dead of Night, a Piper Blackwell mystery. She’s mentioned my books before and has hosted me for guest blogs. Chris is incredibly supportive to other writers.

So I wanted to thank her publicly for all her support. Writing is a tough business…SO MANY BOOKS, more than a million, are published each year. We writers try to claw our way up the stack to catch a reader’s attention. Chris is one of those fine folks who helps others with the clawing.

I know authors who get acidic when their fellows experience success, and who do nothing to promote another writer…perhaps out of fear it will lessen their own chances or take away a potential sale.

Then there’s Chris. Everyone should have a Chris Verstraete in their writing life. Chris pens zombie tales, sometimes mixing them with historical mysteries. She has a vivid and blessedly twisted imagination. HERE is a link to a lovely mystery-history-romance novella, her latest release, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen.

When I moved from Kenosha to the middle of a cornfield in Illinois, Chris came over and helped me pack. How wonderful that bad pottery led to a lasting friendship.

Many other authors have also helped me through the years. I can’t name them all in one blog post, but I will list a few here, as I am in a thankful mood today. I’ll get around to more fine folks later.

Steven Paul Leiva, smooth wordsmith from beautiful, enviable California, wrote an insightful article on Ray Bradbury for a magazine I edited. He’s reviewed some of my novels, including in The Huffington Post. I’ve read many of his books, not sure which one is my favorite, as they are all very different. I was charmed by IMP. HERE is the book that introduced me to him. And HERE is his Amazon author page so you can look at his offerings.

Beth Vaughan writes smoochy books filled with sword fights and magic. HERE is her Amazon page. Beth chats with me every weekend, about dogs, cats, fireballs, mimics, and writing. Always about writing. Her advice has helped more than one of my characters get out of trouble.

Donald J. Bingle co-authored The Love-Haight Case Files with me (which won three Silver Falchion Awards). Don, a retired attorney, provided invaluable insights into wills (for a novel I wrote), and airbags (for a different novel). HERE Is his Amazon author page.

Raymond Benson (yeah, NYT Bestselling author of James Bond books) was kind enough to read a manuscript for me, offer suggestions, and blurb it. Cool beans, eh? He has a new novel releasing on the 10th, The Secrets on Chickory Lane. I had the great fortune to read it in advance. WOW.

Jonathan Maberry thankfully blurbed my latest book. I pre-ordered this upcoming JOE LEDGER novel. I love Joe Ledger.

Faith Hunter blurbed the book and hosted a blog. And Faith graciously allowed me to be in her Rogue Mage anthology: Tribulations.

R.L. King provided an excellent blurb for my most recent mystery book, and so did Beth Terrell (Jaden Terrell)…I have two of her private detective books sitting on the shelf in my office. Her next will be set in Alaska…brrrrrrrr.

Writing is a lonely calling. But fellow authors can make the journey better, especially those souls who support each other…who celebrate and lift you up instead of put you down. Those authors who revel in the success of others…they are the ones I am fast to read. The works of those authors find their way to the top of my to-be-read stack. I should be getting that Joe Ledger at the end of the month…looking forward to the read.

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