Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Generosity of Other Writers from Terry Shames

I'm so pleased to have Terry Shames on my Travels today! Here's a bit about her and her books:

Terry Shames writes the best-selling Samuel Craddock mystery series, set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, Texas. Her first novel, A Killing at Cotton Hill (July 2013) was a finalist for the Left Coast Crime award for best mystery of 2013, the Strand Magazine Critics Award, and a Macavity Award for Best First Novel of 2013. MysteryPeople named it one of the five top debut mysteries of 2013.

The Last Death of Jack Harbin (January 2013) was named one of the top five mysteries of 2013 by Library Journal. Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek came out October, 2014. A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge comes out in April, 2015.

And now, her essay on The Generosity of Other Writers, something I should blog about more often myself.

Tomorrow night I’ll be appearing at a local bookstore in the Bay Area. It’s advertised as “In Conversation” with another author, Keith Raffel. Ever since I was first published a year ago last July, Keith has kept up a constant drumbeat for my books. There’s no quid pro quo here—he does the same for other writers as well, and as far as I can tell expects nothing in return. Now as it happens, I like Keith’s books and am only two happy to reciprocate. We’re both working hard to make our books stand out in a sea of good books. And there are other authors who do the same thing—Susan Shea, Cara Black, Sheldon Siegel, and Sophie Littlefield to name a few.

I’ve had other writers offer to push my books—in return for doing the same for theirs. I’m not put off by that request. I know that all but the most successful writers struggle to find innovative ways to make their voices heard. Many of us feel embarrassed to beat our own drums. But I read a wonderful thought that made me feel better about it. The writer said not to be embarrassed, that after all we wanted people to read our books. Promotion is just a way to make sure people know about the books. We can’t make people read them or like them—but we can at least introduce readers to them.

That’s why it’s even more precious when a successful writer puts the word out without expectation of return. The first person who did that for me was Carolyn Hart. Speaking to the audience at Malice Domestic 2013, she mentioned my first book as one she had recently read and liked. Since then, I’ve been astonished by the way other writers with thriving careers take time out of their busy lives to promote their fellow-authors. I’ve been gratified when I asked for blurbs from writers I admire and they said, “of course.” For me to try to reciprocate for most of them, who are at the top of the heap, would be like adding a cup of sand to a beach.

The only way I know to pay those authors back is to pay it forward for new ones. I love it when someone at a reading asks me what authors I enjoy. I mention a few of the standards—Deborah Crombie, Michael Connelly, Rhys Bowen, and Hank Phillipi Ryan—but I also make sure to slip in a few authors I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed—Frank Hayes, Lynne Raimondo, JCarson Black, and Lori Rader-Day. People are starting to ask me to blurb their books, and I’ve been really lucky to find some gems: Andrew MacRae and Anonymous-9 to name a couple. I’m delighted to do for them what generous writers have done for me.

Writers are in a hard business—with an emphasis on the word “business.” I think we’re lucky that it’s a business full of generous people, willing to help each other out.

Who are some of the new writers you’ve discovered recently?

Kaye again. I want to tell you a bit about Terry's latest, Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek:  With Jarrett Creek bankrupt and the police department in disarray, Samuel Craddock becomes temporary chief of police by default. Faced with a murder investigation, Craddock discovers that the town’s financial woes had nothing to do with incompetence and that murder is only one of the crimes he has to solve.

Please visit Terry at to learn more about her and the series.


  1. You said it perfectly, Terry. Other authors can be so generous, and when I an I try to reciprocate. I'm glad to hear you've had such wonderful authors in your life.

  2. She did, didn't she? I don't know a single writer who has come into contact with Carolyn Hart who hasn't come away adoring her--me included. She's the best! Thank goodness for all the help I've gotten over the years.

  3. This is something I discovered when I first joined Sisters in Crime. I remember one Holiday party literally sitting at the feet of Caroline Todd (half of Charles Todd) as she told us how they write the murderer. What a wonderful lesson, freely given.
    I try to do my part in return.

  4. I should have mentioned Caroline Todd. Another generous person. But if started naming them all, we wouldn't have room!