Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Samaritans Good to #Suspense #Mystery Authors: Patron Strangers

I am heartened by the support I get as a writer. My friends and family are my cheerleaders. They know me and understand how important writing is to me, so their encouragement makes sense.

But what about the strangers who step in to do some heavy lifting for me, often providing more time, effort and input than anyone who knows me?  I call them Author Samaritans, without whom my books would suffer from subjectivity, authenticity, and flat out fakery.  Mistakes. Illogical plot. Superficial characters.  Samaritans save me from laughing-stock-status with every page.

And some of these Samaritans request to remain anonymous.  All that hard work and valuable input, never acknowledged.  Amazing!

One such expert was an FBI agent who clarified chain-of-command issues for me. A loop writer heard my plea and offered up her FBI husband to give me advice.  He did, then backed away behind a curtain of anonymity.

For my new book, FIRE IS NICE, one of my golf friends heard me talking about its Sequoia setting and my need to consult with rangers. She connected me up with a golfing friend who was a high level Fish and Game Warden. I gave him my manuscript without having the chance to meet him. To this day, I haven’t met the guy, even if I’ve e-mail chatted with him many times.  The feedback he gave me was detailed and nuanced, complete with pages of information (some redacted) from primary sources. From all he said, he enjoyed the chance to help refine my story.

Gems.  Treasures.  Grist for this author.  Expertise I couldn't possibly glean from Google.

So let's celebrate our heroes.  Who was your most recent Author Samaritan?

Note: Relatives and friends can offer extraordinary expertise, as well.  My geologist brother’s knowledge brings rock solid detail in BAD LIES http://a.co/1N5RAAL Take a look!

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Leah St. James said...

Author Samaritans--I love that phrase! And you're so right that as great as Google is, nothing beats talking/emailing with an expert. One writer friend had her husband (a martial arts expert) attend a monthly group meeting to provide some hands-on training for writing fight scenes. I remember every time I had to "take him down," I instinctively tried to hold him up (as much as I could) to soften the fall. When he told me to stop "being so nice," I pointed to his wife sitting ten feet away and said, "Not when she's watching!" I never did get it right, but it was great experience.

Margo Hoornstra said...

There are so many heroes in this world, aren't there? IMHO too many to count. No matter where I go, people always seem to be interested in and excited about what I do as a writer. Congratulations, Rolynn, on finding yours.

Leah, you crack me up. And, I think you did get it right. For you anyway.

Jannine Gallant said...

Whenever I have police procedure issues, I send out a plea to Margo to ask her husband or son for advice. I truly appreciate their feedback. Yes, advice from savvy individuals on topics they know well makes us look a lot less stupid!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Leah, you are ahead of me. I keep thinking I should learn how to shoot a gun, but it might look like I support the NRA :-) The martial arts training makes great sense for fight scenes!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Margo, you are right. I mention my writing and I'm handing a card to the stranger by the next sentence...because they ask for it. Love the support!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Jannine, how smart you are...but Margo is even smarter having married a guy with that kind of knowledge. For a suspense writer, Margo's hub is golden!

Brenda Whiteside said...

What a perfect way to state it, Rolynn, and so nice to pay tribute. My latest help was from a man who did some cowboy work once upon a time. He's still a boot-wearing, Stetson kind of guy. I needed some details about barns and horses and he was my go-to.

Andrea Downing said...

Lucky you, Rolynn. I also had a former game warden's help and when I wanted to acknowledge him, I couldn't mention his current position. We're always lucky when these people offer their advice.

RE Mullins said...

Having a sounding board is so important. I don't know what I'd do
without my mom and middle sister. Sis will settle back and say, "Talk it out," as she listens. By the time I'm finished, I've often figured out my problem.

Alicia Dean said...

Love it, Author Samaritan! :) I've had several over the years. I met the only OKC female homicide detective, and she's been a great source of information. Your latest sounds like a great read!