It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

by J.T. Ellison

My last post of 2007. What a year it’s been. For me, a year of firsts, of friendship and learning, of discovery and joy. I may go so far as to venture that it’s been the most exhilarating, scary and humbling year of my life. It was certainly the busiest. All the work, all the stress, all the books written, read and recommended, the conferences, the highs and lows, all were influenced by my community. You.

Have you ever seen the movie "We Are Marshall?" If you haven’t, you should. It’s wonderful. There’s a scene in the movie where Red and Jack go to West Virginia University to ask Bobby Bowden if he’d be willing to show them how to run the Veer Option offense. They go to a rival coach at a rival school to ask help for an offensive package that WVU was famous for. And class act Bowden laughs at their audacity, then opens up the film room, offers them anything and everything they might need. When I saw that last night, I was reminded of our world.

I’m in constant awe at the intellectual generosity of the writing community. The comments in blogs that give snippets of praise, the vocal enthusiasm, the notes behind the scenes, the marketing advice, the virtual cheering section that exists among people who have met telepathically through the written word… if you stop to think about it, a true celebration of our cerebral largesse is overdue.

As a community, I think we should take a moment today to thank each other for another wonderful year of  words.

For short stories submitted to the ezines who can’t pay, and for the editors of these magazines for their tireless efforts. For the paying markets, still publishing the cream of the crop. For blogs examining marketing, or writing, or just plain silliness. For the most part, we advise and instruct, share and celebrate, and don’t take ourselves too seriously. There have only been a few attempts to launch the idiomatic World War III, and they always fail. This is a good thing.

Let’s celebrate cooperative efforts between debut authors, and the amazing kindness of established authors who take the time to read and blurb their cohorts. All hail the masters of the genre, who lead by example, who sit on the boards of our writing organizations, who prove that hard work, perseverance and humility equal success. Let us go forth into this new year with their example in mind. 

Three giant cheers for the editors, who labor silently behind the scenes, shaping our books into the novels that can change the world, or at least give a reader hours of pleasure. Who tweak and push, attend conferences, lecture and teach.

Let’s say thank you as well to the overworked agents, who are constantly on the lookout for the freshest voice, the newest story, the dream client who spends their time writing and doesn’t complain about deadlines.

While we’re at it, let’s all focus on becoming that dream client, that dream writer, the one who meets their deadlines with a smile and remembers to say thank you to the people who make it all happen.

Kudos to the art departments, and the marketing departments, the foreign rights departments and the publishing houses, for getting our beautiful books into the stores. Thanks to the film agents, for tirelessly seeking options for our titles.

Let’s send our best wishes and heartfelt good lucks to the not-yet-published authors, the ones laboring where we all were at one point. Trying to land an agent and a deal is stressful, so let’s give them some karmic intervention and advice — keep on writing. We always need new blood.

The list wouldn’t be complete without the booksellers, large and small, indie and corporate, who hand sell our books to the readers, set up our signings, reorder our titles, and make such a difference to our sales.

And of course, we can’t forget the readers. Because without the readers, we don’t have a true intellectual transaction. On behalf of all the writers, thank you for buying the books, posting reviews to Amazon and B&N, or your blog, sending writers notes to tell them their book made a difference to you in some way. 

Why does this bountiful community exist? In addition to the well-oiled machine that is the production side of writing, we have this unbelievable open-source community. There so many writers who are generous with their time, their advice, their words of praise. Have you ever stopped to think about just how much information is out there, ripe for the picking? How many sentences have been written to help another author maximize their sales? Not only is it important to the readers, trust you me, a well-placed word from a writer you respect can do wonders for your writing mind.

So why do we blurb? Why do we teach? Why do we blog? If you think about it, here at Murderati we’ve given you 629 original posts on far-ranging topics, from navel gazing to interviews, with more than a few gems. 89 weeks of free advice, inspiration, heartache, confession, career advice and humor. That number is staggering to see, considering.

Understandably, close friendships have formed. Respect for the medium, for subgenres, for the daily grind all pale in comparison to the fierce camaraderie that we have here, between the authors, the commenters, and the vast invisible readers who silently absorb our words. I know that there’s nothing as rewarding as seeing another writer, on a different blog, quote something we’ve discussed at Murderati.

I know the reason I’m involved here, and it isn’t for the accolades. I think our purpose is to help counteract the solitariness that is inherent to writing.

So, in these last few days before the new year, I urge you to sit back for five minutes and contemplate what an amazing, incredible, compassionate and downright generous industry we work in. Take a moment to send a note of thanks to someone who made a difference for you this year. It might just make their day.

I’m not one for resolutions, but this year, I’m making one or two. There have been people who influenced me, who cheered me, who edited and advised and comforted. I resolve to pay it forward. How about you?

Happy New Year!

Wine of the Week: One of my favorite Christmas presents was a huge coffee table book called The History of Wine. Which means I’ll be able to sample and recommend an infinite amount of vino in the new year. So to get started, a 1998 Domaine la Crau des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Opened two years too early (such sacrilege) but c’est la vie.


11 thoughts on “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

  1. D.A. Davenport

    You are so right, JT. Since I first began writing and simultaneously joining forums and blog sites, I have been over-awed by the kindness and helping hands extended my way by every person I have approached. From author’s forums like McDermid’s, Billingham’s, Bruen’s and Grafton’s to amazing daily blogs like Murderati and The Outfit, (and these are just a few that I have explored), I have had nothing but encouragement and support. It’s a fabulous community and I am so grateful for everyone involved.

  2. billie

    JT, I had to laugh at your title. My 13-year old son will still skip with me in public, but he gets highly annoyed when I walk around singing “it’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood.” He could be annoyed at the fact that this is the only line I sing, over and over, or at my singing voice, I’m not sure.

    What a wonderful last post from you in 2007. I join you in celebrating the camaraderie and spirit and generosity of writers and readers and publishing folk.

    And thank you all here at Murderati. It’s consistently one of my favorite little (not so little, but it feels that way) online communities.

    And JT – thank you for the wine recs. I am not a fine wine connoisseur, but I love getting to the end of your post to see what you’ve recommended. More than a few times, I’ve gone on a quest to find and try the wine of the week, with great results.

    Happy 2008 to all.

  3. Tammy Cravit

    Hear, hear! Though my publishing experience has yet to include a novel, I’ve been overwhelmed — and inspired — by the community that exists among readers and writers and all the rest of the people who make books and magazines happen. (My mom is an editor by training, so I know of what I speak in that regard).

    I think your lesson, JT, about “fierce camaraderie” and paying it forward is right on the money. How much better our world would be if every person gave back. How much brighter a place if we all sent thank-you notes to the people who have touched us.

    What great lessons to carry forward into 2008.

  4. Pari Noskin Taichert

    What an uplifting post, J.T.

    When CLOVIS first came out, I remember being astounded at the warmth and support of this mystery community. If anything, my awe has increased over the years.

    To all the readers, writers, vendors (bookstores), agents, editors, pr pros and marketers, designers, copyeditors, printers and on and on . . .


    As far as paying it forward . . . I plan to pay it forward, backward and sideways as much as I can in ’08.

  5. JT Ellison

    Hi all,The siren call of the ocean precludes me from spending too much time today, but thanks for all of your comments and enthusiasm for our industry. I have never felt so blessed as I do this year, and am thrilled to be able to share so much of it with you, the readers and my fellow ‘Rati. xoxo

  6. toni mcgee causey

    Fantastic post, JT. I echo the thanks and sentiments of awe at the support writers give to one another, as well as the gratitude for the readers. We’d be nothing without the latter, except crazy people who talked about these voice of our imaginary worlds, and without the former, we’d probably go a lot crazier a lot sooner.


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