In the Spirit of the Thanksgiving Season

by Roger Johns

New Year’s Day is the traditional time to make resolutions but the Thanksgiving holiday has made me reflective about so many things that have happened during the first few years of my journey as a writer, and it’s prompted me to jump the gun and make my resolution now:

Going forward, instead of waiting for the season of thanksgiving, I resolve to be thankful in the moment––to adopt a thankful attitude as a default setting.

A lot has happened that I should be thankful for and, in the endless hustle of trying to ‘make it’, I sometimes wonder if I have been as grateful and as demonstrative of my gratitude as I ought to be. A lot of important and memorable events have occurred for which I am truly thankful, but mostly, it’s the people––the people I’ve known and the new people I’ve met along the way––that inspire this strengthening of a sense of gratitude.

The list of these people is long: fellow writers, bookstore owners and managers and staff, conference and festival organizers, readers I meet at bookstores and mystery conferences and book festivals, everyone who has bought my books, reviewers, everyone at my publishing house, my outside publicist, my agent and her colleagues, the members of my critique groups, interviewers and folks who have invited me onto their blogs, librarians, all of the people who run the professional writing organizations, friends and family who have been unflinchingly supportive, my fellow bloggers at MurderBooks (twenty-five months and we’re still going strong––well done, guys), and all of you who read our blog and take the time to comment or pass us along to others, and a special thanks to Kristopher Zgorski at BOLO Books for his recent and very huge shout-out about Murder Books in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

I had no idea what to expect when I took my first tentative steps into the writer’s world, but any misgivings I might have had were quickly dispelled. It would be difficult to imagine a kinder, more generous, more genuinely supportive group. Writing is a tough and sometimes lonely endeavor, but so many of the people who have crossed my path along the way have made the striving worthwhile.

For those of you taking your first steps into this business, it pays to be a bit cautious, but it also pays to be thankful. Your journey will bring many joys and anxieties, large and small, but I encourage you to look forward, most of all, to the people you will meet. And take the time to let them know how thankful you are for their consideration and their fellowship. It takes a lot of people to make a writing career happen, and the longer you work at it, the more you discover that these people are more than just co-conspirators in your career––they become your friends, they become the inhabitants of your immediate world, they become the people you talk about when you’re telling stories to ‘others’.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

ROGER JOHNS is a former corporate lawyer and retired college professor, and the author of the Wallace Hartman Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books: Dark River Rising (2017) and River of Secrets (2018). He is the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year (Detective-Mystery Category), a 2018 Killer Nashville Readers’ Choice Award nominee, and a finalist for the 2018 Silver Falchion Award for best police procedural. His articles and interviews on writing and the writing life have appeared in Career Author, Criminal Element, Killer Nashville Articles, and the Southern Literary Review. Roger belongs to the Atlanta Writers Club, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers, where he is one of The Fearless Bloggers, and a mentor in the Big Writer program. Please visit him at

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