There are several people who have helped me, encouraged me, and corrected me. There were encouraging teachers in high school and college who took me under their personal guidance, and there was some very real but not individual help from William Kennedy while I was studying in New York. But most of my best mentors have been writers who have set down their advice into books for writers. That is not to say writing advice books are great. I have read many that were quite unsuccessful and sometimes counter productive. There are some, however, that crossed the barrier of teaching through the distance of author to reader and the distance of time.

One of the first was John Gardner. His book, The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers has kept me motivated for many years. I reread it often. Another mentor is Sol Stein and his books Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies and How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them are practical guides to getting the work done and done well. Finally, I have mentioned Jeff VanderMeer several times lately but his bookBooklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer is as good a guide as any on what you need to do today to get the writing done and into the hands of readers.

So I offer a big thank you to these mentors. Who has been a big influence to your work even though you never met them?

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