When I began hanging out with mystery writers, the one thing that absolutely floored me was how nice they are. Not kidding. A real bunch of sweeties.
There I was, the complete naive newbie, yet writers like Gillian Roberts, Charles Todd, Polly Whitney, Lisa Scottoline, Elizabeth Peters, and too many others to name here--who didn't know much more about me than that I wanted to write--took the time to point me in the right direction.
They all taught me the most valuable lesson: that writers help each other. I remember Polly Whitney saying, when I'd thank her for advice, "Just make sure you pass it on someday."
This is why I began this blog last year, to pass it on.
I'm a member of Sisters in Crime, an organization of mystery writers, readers, booksellers and others in the business. They've elevated the idea of writers helping writers to a national scale. In my local Delaware Valley chapter, our authors lead workshops for novice writers. We organize book signings and tours and library panels to show off our published authors. Once in a while, we'll put together an anthology of short stories to teach our new writers about the editing process, publishing and promotion.
And frankly, it also helps to hang out with other writers simply to get out of the house, away from your writing and rejections once in a while. A writer's life can be lonely and sometimes discouraging.
If you're a writer, whether published or not, get out and network. Go to conferences, join a local writers' group, or a Sisters in Crime chapter. If you're in the Philadelphia area, check out Delaware Valley Sisters in Crime (or just email me from my website and I'll send you info about them).
Talk shop once in a while. It's good for you. And if you learn anything, pass it on.