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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Cindy Spencer Pape

A Truly Global Community

Teachers go to work everyday and in the brief moments between crises, talk to other teachers. Engineers go to work and maybe have lunch with other engineers. Likewise for doctors, accountants, lawyers, and mechanics. But writing is by nature such a solitary profession that it is very easy to withdraw into ourselves and forget that we have, for lack of a better word, co-workers. We need to have them. We need to know that someone understands why we cry over a bad review, even if the reviewer was clearly insane. We need to know someone who can share our elation when a new project is contracted. A spouse who mutters, “Well, of course it was!” is encouraging, but they never quite get it. To stay sane, or remotely able to pass for sane, at any rate, we need to have our water-cooler network. Whether that’s a monthly meeting, or an on-line chat loop. Face it, a lot of the great writers in history did go off the deep end. Maybe if they’d had a solid critique group, someone would have told them to seek help in time. I’ve been very fortunate to get to know my colleagues, some in person and some only on-line, but I can honestly say, the other writers I know are some of the best people in the world.

A while ago, something truly terrible happened to a member of the Ellora’s Cave staff. Her daughter, a bright young girl, full of love, laughter and promise, was killed when her college apartment building caught fire. When Raelene Gorlinsky, our publisher came online that evening with the news that Lara’s survival was still uncertain, authors and editors from all over the world (literally—I know of some on at least four continents, and I’d bet there were some in Asia and South America as well) stopped what they were doing to pray and hope and listen. One of the first questions was, “What can we do to help?” I was never, ever so proud to be part of that group as at that moment.

Over the next few days while Lara fought to survive, these same authors and editors had already started raising money, to pay for any uncovered medical expenses, for the hotel stay of Lara’s parents, their meals, whatever was needed. Later, sadly, it was to help with funeral expenses.

Now contrary to popular belief, not all writers are independently wealthy. And a few of us thought, what can we do to raise more money than we can afford to send? The answer, of course was write stories. Twelve authors ultimately contributed to this project, and the bulk of the proceeds from these stories are going to Lara’s parents, to help with their expenses, and if there’s anything left, to be contributed to a memorial fund. As Lara was studying to be a veterinary technician, she loved animals, so many of the stories (mine included) will feature a four-legged character or two. I am so absurdly proud to be part of such a loving, caring community of writers.

You can find out a little more about Lara and about the stories written in her honor by following this link: If any of these stories tickle your fancy, I encourage you to purchase one, or two or twelve. It’s for a very good cause.

~~~Cindy Spencer Pape has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, though she swears she got better. She still does volunteer work in environmental education, when she can fit it in around writing. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two teenage sons, a dog, and a lizard. Her website is


Amber Skyze said...

All twelve of you are truly amazing.

Anonymous said...


I don't even know where to begin in thanking all of you for your contribution to such a worthy cause, yet such an untimely tragedy. Though not many of us knew Laura, we have learned so much about her from her mother, and I'm sure she's looking down and smiling at the very world she tried to make a better place--and succeeded in doing so!

Desiree Holt said...

The tribute to Lara Punches is a wonderful, wonderful lasting memory, and a reminder to all of us to hold those we love close to us and treasure every day. You writing brings pleasure to so many people I am fortunate to be a friend with a skilled storyteller like you .

Regina Carlysle said...

This is such a wonderful and worthy project and Kudos to all of you! I know the money will help!

Ari Thatcher said...

Thanks for sharing Lara's story!

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks everyone. I have really enjoyed being part of the EC family for this.

Naima Simone said...

I wasn't an author with Ellora's Cave when this happened, but reading this blog and how the EC authors reacted makes me so honored to be counted among such an amazing group of women and writers. You are all truly awesome!