Please welcome SMFS list member Debra H. Goldstein
to the blog today…
The Mentoring Impact of Simple Acts of
Kindness by Debra H. Goldstein
A few months ago, I wrote a Writers Who Kill blog,
“Mentors for a Reason, Season or a Lifetime,” talking about the impact people
who come into our lives for an ongoing or short period of time may have. The
recent death of SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and his presence at a book signing made
me think more about what I, as an author and a person, learned from Mike, B.K.
Stevens, and Bill Crider that will stay with me for a lifetime.
sports, but my blood doesn’t run crimson like my husband’s nor do I share his
excitement at the signed picture of Nick Saban on our den wall. Consequently, I
had little to no idea what being the commissioner of the SEC entailed. All I
knew was that because I enjoyed meeting and spending time with Mike Slive’s
wife, it seemed natural to make plans for the four of us to go out for dinner.
During that first dinner, I was impressed by Mike’s intelligence, kindness and
sense of humor. As time went on, I understood the skills necessary to juggle
the pressures and constant demands required to take a league mired in NCAA
violation allegations and turn it into a well-watched sports powerhouse whose
revenue went from $96 million to $455.8 million. I also saw how Mike interacted
with his family and volunteered his time and name for charity, including the
creation of the Mike Slive Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research. Mike was a
was why, at my first book signing, I was blown away when I looked up and saw
Mike waiting in line for me to autograph three copies of my book. It meant
something to me that he’d taken the time to pencil my personal event onto his
calendar of activities. For Mike to say no to other activities to share in the
excitement of a mere acquaintance spoke volumes about the man and how he viewed
his priorities. This was a man who valued people. That it was reciprocal was
obvious by the standing room only crowd at Mike’s funeral, as well as the many
television and print tributes to him. Mike’s willingness to support others,
even when it probably wasn’t convenient, is a lesson I won’t forget.
reading “Thea’s First Wife,” I wrote my first fan e-mail to author B.K.
Stevens. In the e-mail, I expressed my awe at the story and asked if she taught
internet writing classes. She didn’t, but she wrote me a detailed note of
things I should read and could do. We became friends. She was one of a group of
people who encouraged me to have the guts to submit my work to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
and Ellery Queen
. The last time we were
together, before her untimely death, was at 2017’s Malice conference when the
new Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
issue provided to every
attendee featured my story, “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place.” A few
weeks after the conference, I received a package from Bonnie which contained
several copies of the issue and a note telling me she knew I’d want extra copies
because it was my first AHHM story and because, in her mind, “The Night They
Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place” was an award-winning story. Her words alone were
award enough, but I wish she could know other writers and readers agree with
her – “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place” has been named both a 2018 Agatha
and Anthony nominee.
Bonnie, or B.K., was only in my life for a few years, but
reading her works taught me technique. Personally, she instilled confidence in
me. Both things, and the hope of emulating her willingness to help other
writers, will keep her with me for a lifetime.
When I was assigned to a panel with Bill Crider, my
impression was of what an unassuming guy he was. His bio said he’d been a
teacher and the calm way he came across belied that fact. Thinking he was a
nice Joe, I invited him to write a guest post for my personal blog, “It’s Not
Always a Mystery.” He agreed. A few months before his post was scheduled,
another friend called to say my blog was cited in his Ellery Queen column as one that lived up to its name – it offered
thoughts on writing and general life from Debra H. Goldstein and her friends.
The week I wrote to remind him his promised piece was
coming due, he responded he was appreciative of the reminder and would dash something
off that day because he was going into the hospital for some testing the next
day. I offered to forget his piece, but he wanted to fulfill his obligation. He
sent me an excellent piece on writing, which I received while he was undergoing
the tests that diagnosed his cancer. I printed the piece that week and
reprinted it the week he announced that the doctors advised him the treatments
were no longer working and he should enter hospice. (http://www.debrahgoldstein.com/guest-blogger-bill-crider-write-novel/ ) I can reread Bill’s lesson on writing and look at the
mention in his column where, unsolicited from me, he gave my writing career a
vote of confidence, but it was reading his posts about the VBKs and seeing how
he handled himself during his final months that left an impact. Bill was
humble, a gentle man and a gentleman. Again, an individual who came into my
life for a reason, season, and a lifetime.
The writing world is filled with mentors. Some are
readers, some writers. They don’t necessarily take inexperienced authors under
their wings and teach particular skills, but the way they act, treat others,
and live their lives leaves an impact in small and large ways that last a
lifetime. I bet you, too, have had mentors make a lasting difference for you.
2018 Anthony and Agatha Short Story Nominee Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Should
Have Played Poker and IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. One
Taste Too Many, the first book of her new Kensington Sarah Blair series
will be in stores on December 18, but is available for pre-order now. For more
information about Debra, check out www.DebraHGoldstein.com .