Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thank Your Mentor Day

Is there someone in your life—a teacher, neighbor, relative, coach, friend, or boss—who has encouraged you, shown you the ropes or helped you develop your skill or craft? What lessons—or words—of lasting value did they impart to you?

January is National Mentoring Month, and today is the annual Thank Your Mentor Day.

Ways to honor your mentor:
     Send a card, email or ecard
     Write a tribute. Post it on your blog, facebook or even here.
     Pass it On. Share the knowledge or skill you've learned with someone just entering your field or with a child who needs tutoring or attention.

When I first started writing, my older brother encouraged me to join Romance Writers of America and my local Heartland Chapter. Thank you, Bruce King, for prodding and pushing. Who knows if I'd ever have done it without you?

Thank you to the late Diane Wicker-Davis, an Avon author who read my very first attempt at a real book and Xed out all those pages with nothing happening. I was devastated for a couple of weeks, but then I pulled myself up with my bootstraps, set to work learning to write to sell, and became a better writer for her critique and encouragement. Diane was a gracious southern lady who is missed by many.

Thank you to Pam Hart, who shared her writing knowledge, tirelessly edited my pages, and even helped me cut 100 pages from Heaven Can Wait in order to sell it. Pam, you are a great teacher and I appreciate you and your friendship.

Thank you, Barbara Andrews, who introduced me to the critique process and encouraged me to write and improve, but also introduced my first glimpses of the business side of the industry. I look back on those days fondly. You set the example of opening your home and creating an environment for writers to establish relationships.

Thank you, Margaret Brownley, one of the first business savvy authors I met and had the good fortune of rooming with at an RT conference when my first book came out. You taught by example how important it was to establish a name and a brand--and this before anyone knew what a brand was--and you shared knowledge, contacts and more than you probably knew at the time, just by being warm and down-to-earth.

There are many others who were important in my journey to publication and a career: Elizabeth Parker, Jani Sena, Rose Seamen, Pam Crooks to name a few.

I also learned invaluable lessons from the editor who bought my first book, and with whom I worked with for the following eleven years. Margaret O'Neill Marbury, now executive editor at HQN, was first to say I had a Hemmingway-ish style--who knew? Through her patient editing and our collaboration, I polished my writing, style and voice. She also completely spoiled me for all my future editors. Thank you, Margaret, for those wonderful years.

Are there particular events or moments in your life that you recall in connection with your mentor? Today is the day to let them know you appreciate them!

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