… About Writing
By Jeff Salter
This week’s topic certainly narrows down the traditional list of things I’m truly thankful for (and that IS a long list, indeed). You might think that focusing solely on the aspects of WRITING would make my gratitude list relatively short. But, not so.
Creating with words has been in my blood since my earliest memories. Growing up, our entire household was creative! My Dad was a writer and actor/director in community theater; my Mom was a musician. My siblings and I were involved in the creation and production of little ‘plays’ which we performed for our kin. We even rented an 8mm movie camera and created several little ‘movies’.
My parents always encouraged our creative efforts – whatever the medium – whether our product was a joint venture or completely solo.
As an elementary kid, I had been composing little rhymes and verses … as well as very short, short stories. But I didn’t show any of my creative writing to anyone outside the family until I shared some of my verse with my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Fleming. She took a real interest and gave me a lot of (general) encouragement.
During my junior high years, I continued to write stories and verses … and even some creative essays.
When I transferred from Louisiana to an Iowa school for 10th grade, my short stories were much more mature and complete … and my verse practically exploded. I shared some of those efforts with my English teacher, Miss Rosalie Sherman, who provided specific feedback and very supportive encouragement. She even selected one of my stories to be included in the school’s literary anthology. It was Miss Sherman who nudged me into experimenting with free verse and blank verse … forms which had totally baffled me theretofore.
I later became a photo-journalist and editor — in both civilian and military newspapers. Of course, most of those news, features, sports, photos, and columns were published.
Though they are way too numerous to summarize here, I continued (as a librarian) to write stories, professional articles, book reviews, and poems. Published many of those and won a small stack of writing awards. Also co-authored two monographs with a royalty publisher … plus a signed chapter in a book and a signed article in a specialty encyclopedia.
Romance Writers of America
When I retired from library work and began composing novel manuscripts, I was not only working in a new medium, but pretty much writing in a vacuum (except for a few family members and some indulgent friends). What I needed was contact with other writers.
I found that contact when I joined Romance Writers of America, and later qualified for its PRO Section. Within PRO, I was rubbing shoulders with published authors, aspiring writers, contest judges, RWA office holders, and many others. It was a great experience to network with all those folks.
Before I knew it, I was even being offered guest spots on blogs. Eventually, this led to my invitation, by Jillian Chantal (pseudonym) to join a brand NEW group blog called Four Foxes One Hound, which you’re reading right now.
I think joining RWA’s Chick Lit Writers of the World Chapter was my single most significant step. Through numerous contacts there, I’ve met many more colleagues and several have become good friends.
In ChickLit Chapter, for example, I met Tonya Kappes. Through Tonya, I met Renee Vincent. Through Renee, I met Sarah Ballance. Through Sarah, I learned about Astraea Press and was put into contact with publisher Stephanie Taylor and editor Kay Springsteen. Through Astraea, I was able to realize a long-time dream — publication of my novels!
Also through Astraea, I’ve met most of the 100+ authors under its imprint. Many of these folks have become good friends and some of them already feel like bosom buddies! One of these, Vivian Roycroft, invited me to share her new website, Take Two … on Romance, and now I have a brand new blog which I call Write By Salter.
Yeah … it’s a pretty small world — writers with completed manuscripts who are either publishing or looking for publishers. And lots of these folks know each other. I’m continually amazed to discover that an author I met through THIS association also is a friend of an author I know through some OTHER connection.
Once you’ve gotten a book or two published, the next huge hurdle is promoting it to readers and potential buyers. I’m greatly indebted to friends (old and new) who’ve made that investment in my stories … and especially to those who have “talked it up” to others. Of course, I’m extremely grateful to relatives who’ve supported and promoted my book sales … especially my brother Charles, who is surely my best salesman.
So this has been a long-winded way of explaining how and why I’m thankful for the people who’ve been supportive, encouraging, helpful, generous, and kind … and have thereby made positive impacts on my writing.
If you’re also a writer / author and also possess that drive to manipulate words into creative products … what are YOU thankful for (as it pertains to writing)?
I can’t leave a long reply because I’m replying from my phone. I do want to say I’m honored to be on your list, but even more thrilled your dreams of publication for your AP titles came true. Happy Thanksgiving!
I was hoping you’d see this, Sarah. I’ll never forget you kindly holding my hand as I was fretting about whether to sub. to A.P.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
I can see you have always had a lot of support ,Jeff, and made use of it.It usually seems that many have no encouragement or other fail to respond to opportunity.I am glad that you have had the sense to appreciate what has come your way.
(You’re a day early, aren’t you?)
Have a great T-day.I am up late after most of the Cousins have turned in!
Thanks, Tonette. Yeah. Danica didn’t have anything today, so I moved mine up two hours.
Yes, I’ve been blessed to have most of my efforts (especially the creative ones) embraced & encouraged. And winning a division in that large regional poetry contest as a H.S. senior was a huge affirmation. Had many great teachers along the way, of course.
I’m thankful for meeting you Jeff even if you’re former Air Force, you’re still a great person and author.
May your Thanksgiving be full of wonderful foods surrounded by those who love you, and you them.
Thanks, Lindsay. My dad was in the Army in WW2, as was my F-I-L. My grand-dad fought in France in the Army in WW1. My brother retired from the Army as a Lt. Col. after some 28 yrs. I don’t have anything against the army at all.
I chose Air Force because they had a better selection of career fields in 1970. I figure we were all on the same team, even though we wore diff. uniforms.
Happy Thanksgiving to you also.
Let me just say that I’m very thankful that you DID submit to Astraea Press! It’s been a wonderful honor to work with you as you polish your work for publication. Scare quotes and all.
LOL, Kay. I think I’ll probably have “scare quotes” on my tombstone. I’ve learned a lot from you and I appreciate your patience, since most of your clients probably had already heard of track changes. Unlike me.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving Jeff!!!
Thanks, Lisa. Do you have any concerts over the holidays?
Or do you get to rest?
I’m actually singing a duet with my son at a service tomorrow! 🙂 Then I can rest for 2 days… Whee! 🙂
I should say, “break a leg” but that has always sound so mean-spirited. So I’ll just say, “go git ’em”.
I’m thankful for you, Jeff! You’re welcoming spirit and fun sense of humor have been much appreciated! I’m honored to join the writers at Astraea Press. Have a wonderful holiday!
Thank you, Brenda, what a gracious thing to say. I’m just glad the AP boss hasn’t made me sit in the corner with a pointed hat.
Thanks so much for sharing, Jeff. I’m also thankful for Astraea Press opening its doors to just the type of romance I like to write. And I’m thankful for a husband who loves to cook and do laundry so that I don’t have to, and granddaughters who take up the housekeeping slack when I’m on a writing deadline. And I too had parents who encouraged the creativity!
Glad you could visit again, Patty. Yes, the ‘support system’ can surely make or break a writer’s productivity. [Although I know some writers who get little if any support in their effots / goals.]
And it is SO important for parents to express encouragement of creataive efforts!
Aww…thank you, Jeff! I’m very thankful for you too. We all have a lot to be thankful for!
Indeed we do, Tonya. Glad to have you back over here … you’ve been so busy lately.
For any who are reading this, Tonya is one of only a handful of colleague authors whom I’ve actually MET. And got a hug!
I’m not a writer, but I’m very thankful to my high school best friend, Kay Springsteen Tate for sharing her stories with me through the years. She was already writing when I first met her, which encouraged me to write, but while she kept at it, I didn’t. It was through her, though, that I was introduced to Astraea Press, and got a job as an editor and proof reader. I’m thankful for the many friends I’ve made there since then, several of whom feel like family.
I’m also thankful for another very close friend, who I met when I moved to Houston when I was in my twenties, and that’s Cheryl (Gunnar) Grey aka Vivian Roycroft. She, too, had been writing since before I met her, and I’m glad to see that her works are now being published.
Most of all, I’m thankful for all of the authors out there who have fed my voracious appetite for reading.
Happy Thanksgiving, Jeanne. Glad you could visit today. I think it’s cool that people who knew each other ‘back when’ have ended up within the AP umbrella years later.
It still amazes me, at times, to learn how many of the people I know in one context also know folks whom I know in totally different contexts. Small world.
That sounds like another blog post, Jeff. I’ve got a couple of “small world” stories I could tell…
LOL … I guess so.
Of course, many of those connections would not be evident to me … except that the current edition of Facebook often includes a parenthetical tag (e.g., Jane Doe, friend of Jack Sprat, commented on your post).
So I know I can’t say anything bad about Jack Sprat … when I’m talking to Jane Doe.
Uhhh… If you say so… I do have a couple of really cool coincidences that I could share, though.
I moved back to Houston after I got out of the Air Force, and my then-husband and I were planning to move to East Texas and we were thinking about raising emus. So I took a class on emu farming at a small community college just north of Houston. There were only about 20 or 30 people in the class, and I got to talking to one of the other girls in the class, and found out she was from Michigan, as I was. As we talked more, it turned out we had both gone to the same high school, and she graduated just one year before I did. And this was like twenty years later!
A few years later, after we had moved to East Texas, and were living in a tiny little town called Timpson, which had a population of about 1100. (Tex Ritter did a song in the 50s, I think, called Tenaha, Timpson, Bobo and Blair… same Timpson) Anyway, my brother, who still lives in Michigan, works for Ford, testing fuel pumps. He was working on the weekend once, so was the only one available on that particular day to sign for a shipment of fuel, which he doesn’t usually do. He got to talking to the truck driver, since the shipment was from Houston, and mentioned that he was planning a trip to see his sister in Texas. Turned out the guy had grown up in Timpson, and had gone to school with my in-laws!
Couple of pretty freaky coincidences, if you ask me…
I like the one about the emu class. So you didn’t recognize that girl from your H.S.?
You must’ve had a pretty large school. There was a time that I could still remember most of the name and nearly all the faces of the people not only in my class (68) but the class ahead of me and behind me.
Smallish school. About 230 in our grad. class.
My graduating class was about 750, and the high school I went to was only one of four in our town.
Jeanne the BHS class for that year was over 1000. They announced that at commencement. Were you not there?
No wonder you didn’t recognize her right away.
Kay, strangely enough, I remember almost nothing at all about the commencement ceremony except for the fact that it rained… not much, but we did get a few sprinkles. Keith gave me a ring that day, and I think that wiped out everything else from my brain… I was basing my estimate on the number of names listed on the program I received for the one reunion I did make it to. Should have checked the yearbook (which I still have) I guess.
We’re grateful for you, as well, lady. Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are!
Happy Thanksgiving, Jeff! 🙂
Thanks, Jenn. Do you have a houseful of company? Or are you traveling today?
I’m thankful for the writers ahead of me in the struggle for publication–it’s encouraging to see you make it across that line!
Right you are, Chris. It’s amazing how much we all have in common, whatever specific stage of the process that we’re on at the moment.
Some authors I know have gotten multiple-book contracts with big houses.
Some are on national best-seller lists.
Some have won big awards.
I’m proud of them at the same time I feel jealous of their successes. LOL
I am certainly thankful for our father, who provided a lifetime example of a creative writer and encouraged us in everything; also our mother and sister who always encouraged us; also the many teachers, colleagues and friends (are you seeing this, Carol?) who supported me over the years; and yes, even for the occasional doubters and mockers who goaded me into extra effort to prove them wrong (that I wouldn’t succeed); but right now, I want to express my thankfulness primarily for my brother Jeff–my oft-time collaborator and co-author, my number one writing fan and supporter, and my most insightful critic. I would be scared to show a draft to anyone else before I give a chance to his eagle eyes to catch all the key problems and errors. And I am proud that heretofore in non-fiction, and now increasingly in fiction as well, we are helping each other up the ladder of success! Thanks, Bro!
It’s certainly mutual, Charles. Whatever ways I’ve helped with your manuscripts, you’ve done that and more with mine.
As a writer, I’m thankful I didn’t let all those doubts take over and win this one And for all the great people I have met along this journey! 🙂
Wishing you a Very Happy Thanksgiving, Jeff!
Yes, Melissa, I’m betting that most of us have had scoffers along the way who tried to discourage us. Thank goodness you rise above that negative ‘noise’ and prevailed.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, also.
Hey, Jeff, I too am thankful for the AP community. Always there, so helpful and funny and supportive, and you not the least. Thanks for your friendship.
And let’s not forget my mother’s banana pudding…
I used to love banana pudding … but can’t eat those vanilla wafers anymore (gluten).
Well, the chocolate pecan pie did just fine without a crust. In case you were wondering, of course.
yum. I can almost taste it!
Sorry I’m late for the party, Jeff. I’ve been offline with the holiday weekend, but what a wonderful surprise when I returned!!! I am very glad you and I met and it’s such a joy to know you. You are such a positive influence and your energy is contagious. I am blessed to have met you in person through Tonya.
And I am still so thrilled that you are published now! How cool is that!!!! (You know you are welcome to come to my blog for promo – ANYTIME.)
Thank you for mentioning me in your long list of things you are thankful for…I am truly honored. Hope you have a very blessed and memorable holiday this year – AND Many MORE BOOKS to be published in your future. Best wishes in your blossoming career!
You are very kind, Renee. I really enjoyed speaking with you at the author event in that fantastic bookstore in Nicholasville. Gosh, when was that? A full two years ago, I guess.
In case there are any here who do not yet recognize Renee Vincent’s name, she’s the author of the Emerald Isle Trilogy with Turquoise Morning Press, as well as other releases there … plus has launched other titles under a pseudonym. Look for her FB author page or website [www.reneevincent.com] and you’ll want to read her stories.
Wow, Jeff….I guess it has been about two years. That is insane! We really need to meet up again. Maybe one day we’ll be signing together! How cool would that be?
And thanks for the promo about my trilogy. I cannot thank you enough, dear! You’re the greatest!
It would be a delightful honor to have a table next to yours at an autographing, Renee.
Be sure and bring something to snack on!