“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” – Father James Keller
Let me tell you about an author whose actions speak louder than her beautiful words ever will. Sophie Littlefield has published nineteen novels in four genres. Her critically acclaimed work has been translated into several languages, and she’s garnered numerous honors along the way, including the Anthony Award, and also, having one of her novels named Target Book Club Pick of the Month.
Yet, for all the accolades, I’ll always see her as the woman who set the bar for how to behave as an author. Sophie, thy name is grace.
I first met Sophie at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona, at one of her book signings a few years ago. We share the same literary agent, Barbara Poelle, and at the time, I was the new kid on the block, still 18 months away from publication. I’m introverted and shy and had always been a solitary writer. So for me, it was a big step to go to this signing with the express purpose of introducing myself.
Needless to say, I shouldn’t have worried. After meeting her, she made it a point to introduce me to other “good-to-know authors” that night, and when she told me she was leaving because she had dinner plans with said authors, she invited me along. The theme for the evening turned into “How Can I Help You?” The advice poured forth—who I needed to meet, tips for networking, advice on publicity, and more. I didn’t realize until much later that she’d also been posting about my book on her Facebook page without ever tagging me, so I never even knew.
She was giving, selfless, gracious—and this was on top of her witty and utterly charming personality. Sophie is probably the best example I could ever give for “what comes around, goes around.” She surrounds herself with positive people, much like the two authors I met that evening, Deborah Ledford and Roni Olson. After Sophie returned home to California, these two picked up where she left off, providing guidance and warmly welcoming me into the Arizona literary fold.
While I’m on the topic of gracious authors, the newly minted New York Times bestselling author, Michelle Gable, drops neatly into this category. Her blurb, like Sophie’s, appears on the book jacket of my debut novel, Hover. Not only has she promoted my work, but she even took time out of her busy schedule to attend one of my book signings in her hometown of San Diego.
And I have to mention one more author, Shona Patel. Over the last year, Shona has introduced me to several book clubs and writing groups who she felt might be a good fit for my novel. In the publishing business, it’s one of the surest ways to start building a devoted and loyal fan base. Basically, she was sharing hers with me. When I thanked her, it was she who referenced the quote by Father James Keller.
And that’s really the point of this article. It cost these authors nothing to support me, to light my candle. If anything, their flames burn brighter, because you can bet, if they have a new release or need to get the word out about something, I promote the heck out of it.
I’ve been in this business long enough now, where I’ve been exposed to bits of catty behavior and a this-is-my-sandbox mentality. But really, where does that get you? If you grow your audience along with your fellow authors, and if there’s crossover appeal, it helps all of you.
So guys, pay it forward. Be kind to other authors, be like Sophie, and it will come back to you tenfold, all of our candles burning that much brighter.
About The Book
Helicopter pilot Sara Denning joins an all-male navy battle group with little fanfare—and that’s just the way she likes it. Her philosophy is simple—blend in, be competent, and above all, never do anything to stand out as a woman. But somewhere along the way, she lost herself—her feminine, easy-going soul now buried under so many defensive layers, she can’t reach it anymore.
When she meets the strong, self-assured Lieutenant Eric Marxen, those defenses start to falter. He coordinates flight operations for SEAL Team One and they begin to request Sara exclusively as the pilot for their training exercises. The end mission is so secret, even she doesn’t know the reason behind her mandated participation. With her career on the line she is able to compartmentalize her feelings, but when her life is on the line, can she follow the orders of her heart?