Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Lessons of A Debut Author from 2007…

By Anderson Harp

The path is never easy.

I recently read a story of a writer who spent some time with Harper Lee. In a moment of frustration, Lee said that she had wished she never had written that book. So even those on top of Everest have doubt about the process.

The journey is writing and the task is getting it out there. As a member of the 2007 ITW Debut Author class, I can add a few comments that might give a different perspective.

I am guilty of having enjoyed reading since I read “In Cold Blood” shortly after it came out in 1966. I had to sneak the book out as I was much younger than appropriate for the brutality but I couldn’t put it down. Nor could I put down “The Stranger”. A good book sucks you into the vortex.

So I risked all by writing that first sentence. And then for months and years I traveled under the concept that “the only way to know if this really does work is if I finish that last sentence”.

Perhaps you have an agent. Like the guard of the palace of the Wizard of Oz, he is the gatekeeper. But the Wizard, I have learned is your editor. It is your editor that must defend you at all costs. He or she is the one that goes to the meetings at the publisher where he motivates publicity and social media. He is the one that stays on top of the cover artwork. And when things move slowly, he is the one that keeps you believing. Lesson number one. Learn as much as you can from your editor.
And what about an alternative goal?

It is interesting how the general public asks one question: New York Times bestseller?

Perhaps it should also be what one can do with this adventure? I wanted to talk about the art of story telling. I have taught classes on the subject and spoken often. Instead of asking the ITW to help me, I asked what could I do for the ITW. I created Operation Thriller as I thought there existed a splendid idea – take the authors to the military. The USO tours covered thousands of troops for several years. We got to talk about writing and may have ignited the interest of writing in a few as well. Perhaps you have an idea that can broaden the scope of the ITW?

Also, invest in fellow author relationships. I read the books of those I have asked for a quote. I had a friend whose father wrote one of the most successful books in America over the last several decades. My friend said that his father would have several fellow authors to his house and they would sit out on the front porch and talk about writing. It remains fruitful to go to writing seminars if you don’t have a big enough porch. Likewise, stay in touch with your friends and fellow authors from the ITW or other writing institutions. I email fellow debut authors on a fairly regular basis with ideas and thoughts.

Recently, I learned another lesson. A friend asked for a quote, I read his book and put something up. Naturally, while on the site I checked out my books and saw one review that was two stars. I was curious about the reviewer and noticed her track of other reviews. Next to my name was another author with “H” in the name that she had also given a two star review to. Yes, it was Harper Lee. So, like politics, not everyone will be happy and take reviews as another lesson.

So, what do you want out of this? Live for the enjoyment of writing and perhaps use your success to help others.

Sorry if this sounds like the teachings of a Zen master.

Anderson Harp is the author of the thrillers Retribution, Born of War (Kensington) and A Northern Thunder (Bancroft). He served in the Marines, taught artic survival, mountaineering, and was stationed around the globe. He was the Officer in Charge of the Marine’s Crisis Action Team during the invasion of Afghanistan. He created the USO’s Operation Thriller and did two USO tours in the Persian Gulf visiting the troops. His writing has also appeared in The Huffington Post, CNN Larry King Live, NewsMax and The Big Thrill. He received a MFA in Literary Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte. Like Clancy and Ludlum, Harp loves the challenge of creating a fast paced espionage page-turner! He can be followed at .

The free world is just one American grown jihadist away from unequaled madness. Special operative William Parker must stop Al Shabaab from acquiring the anti-ship missile of all missiles - the Carrier Killer – a weapon able to sink the heart of the U.S. fleet. Time is running out. He must destroy the enemy or deal with the horrific consequences. Terrifyingly plausible, unrelenting, Anderson Harp’sBORN OF WAR takes off at warp speed and catapults into a heart-pounding thrill ride--then weaves a perilous intelligence operation, hi-tech military technology, and apocalyptic consequence in the finest Ludlum tradition.

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