Brushes With Authorly “Greatness”

Me, Lyssa and Julia Q framed

New York City, 2003: Me, NYT Bestselling authors Julia Quinn and Elizabeth Boyle, Adele Ashworth, Susan Kay Law, and Sari Robins with our fabulous editors Lyssa Keusch: Executive Editor at HarperCollins/Avon/Morrow, and May Chen: Senior Editor at Avon/Morrow

So, I’ve been fortunate to have had a few of these “brushes with authorly greatness” in the 21 years since I began pursuing a writing career (the last 14 of them as a published author with HarperCollins and later Cool Gus Publishing). Although I don’t have photos to commemorate all of the occasions,I’m sharing a few here and/or on my “Photos” page, accessed through the link in my sidebar.

The one above is special to me, as, not only does it feature extremely talented and gracious NYT Bestselling author Julia Quinn, who has been so kind as to provide several cover endorsements for my books over the years, but it also shows us after a fun evening out in New York City in 2003 with several other author pals and our fabulous editors Lyssa Keusch and May Chen.

Fortunately for me, my experiences with other talented authors began much earlier; back in 1993, in fact. I had recently earned my Master’s Degree in English literature, but I knew as well as anyone that degrees do not a writing career make. It would take six more years before I would be offered my first publishing contract from HarperCollins, and so in the interim I was in deep learning mode, attending conferences, joining writing organizations like my local chapter CNYRW, and writing. Always writing. Of course I’m still learning all the time – what fun would it be if we didn’t continue to learn and grow throughout our lives and careers? – but back then the gaining knowledge facet of a writing career was my primary focus.

Mary and Teresa Medeiros 2006 edited

Me with the fabulous NYT Bestselling Author Teresa Medeiros at a conference in Atlanta, GA in 2006

As is true with most writers, I’ve been an avid reader since childhood, and the kinds of books I enjoy vary greatly, from non-fiction, to literary, to commercial fiction. One of my favorite authors was then and is still now Teresa Medeiros. As a reader, she has taken me on many wonderful journeys of emotion, action, and adventure, and one of my dearest dreams in the early 1990’s was to meet her in person. In 1994 I attended my first National Writing Conference in New York City. At that Conference I was not so fortunate as to meet her, despite my best efforts. I made it to the Bantam authors autographing (her publisher at the time), only to be told she’d had to leave already in order to catch her flight home.

Ultimately, I did meet her at a conference a year later, and she was even more gracious, warm, funny, and welcoming than I had thought she’d be. Years later and much to my delight, I signed with the same literary agency that represents her, and then a few years after that, she and I both ended up being published by HarperCollins/Avon, and so I had more opportunities to rub elbows, chat, and have lovely conversations with her online and at every conference we both attended. This pic is of the two of us in 2006, after the RITA Award ceremony in Atlanta. I had a crushing headache that night, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a photo together. 🙂

RWA 94 Diana Gabaldon

Me with Diana Gabaldon in NYC at the Marriot Marquis, 1994

But back for a moment to that NYC conference in 1994: Disappointed but undeterred that I didn’t get to meet Teresa, I continued to visit other authors’ autographing tables and was able to get this lovely snap with the immensely-talented Diana Gabaldon, whose debut OUTLANDER had only been published three years earlier. Of course now it and all of the connected books to it have become an international phenomena, with the television series being broadcast now as well.

In a wonderful turn of the page, 13 years later I had the pleasure of attending an Historical Novelists conference in Albany, NY with Ms. Gabaldon  – only this time as a published author myself. We participated in the autographing session together (albeit at separate tables), and I remember thinking back to that first time I’d met her, and how I’d promised myself I would be autographing books as well someday. It’s funny how things come around, often reflecting the fruition of our goals, if we work at those goals long and hard enough.

There are many others I’ve been fortunate to meet at conferences or cocktail parties and chat with, including Meg Cabot (who like Teresa and I is also represented by the same literary agency), Nora Roberts, Dr. Michael Baden, Marion Roach, Lemony Snicket, Julianne MacLean, Eloisa James, Maggie Shayne, Jacquie D’Alessandro, Emma Cane, Christine Wenger, Molly Compton Herwood, Kris Fletcher, etc. etc. At one cocktail event at OTTO in New York City, I even had the pleasure of meeting and shaking the hand of chef Mario Batali! 🙂

The world of publishing is vastly different from the mostly solitary world of actual writing…the digging in and doing the job of producing words and paragraphs and pages that spill out an author’s innermost thoughts, emotions, and messages that are important and drive the work. Because it’s been a few years since I have actively published any new novels, this interactive, more “public” aspect of my writing career has slowed. I imagine it will pick up a little again with the release of my newest book, whenever and under whatever imprint it ends up being released by. Time will tell. Until then, it’s fun to look back and reflect on the fun times I’ve had, and the brushes I’ve enjoyed with many very talented people.

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