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There have been a handful of people who have influenced me in my writing career--teachers, other authors, friends. But the one person who has probably had the greatest influence is my friend Tamara (I know you recognize the name, I mention her a lot on this blog).

We have known each other for approximately 10 years. We met at school and had both undergraduate and graduate classes together. About 5 years ago, I got a job at the environmental consulting firm she worked at for an eternity. By this point in my life, I had given up on writing. I had some professors in college who had completely shaken my confidence, and I decided I wasn't good enough (they pretty much told me I wasn't good enough). My focus was going to be editing. If I couldn't write, I could still be involved in the writing process and help others. Tamara was working on short stories at the time, and she knew I had taken some writing classes (I think we may have been in one together), and she asked what I was working on. I told her nothing, and she asked why. I told her about the professors. She told me stories about other students that they had cut down and broken who also have never written again. At that point, I just got angry. Who are they to tell others that they aren't good? Isn't the role of the teacher to teach? Tamara told me that for whatever reason, these professors viewed students as competition, so they had to get rid of them. (Just so you know, this type of behavior is pretty rare in the writing world. While there are some authors out there who are threatened by other's success, most of them are very helpful and enjoy being in a community.) I decided I wasn't going to let those two spiteful individuals dictate my future of writing, so, with help and guidance from Tamara, I started writing short stories. Eventually, I went back and revised my novel, which was picked up last year by eTreasures Publishing.

Without her, I probably would have never created anything again. She is my rock, my inspiration, and my critic. She is always there for me when the going gets really rough and I feel like giving up. She reads through my work and gives me feedback. She is also a wonderful publicist. Just yesterday, she dedicated her post to me. She also updates her friends on Facebook and Twitter when I have something coming out. She is just a fabulous person.

Aside from being my champion, Tamara is also a fabulous writer. She writes mainly literary stuff and has had several short stories published. The lucky devil even recently landed an agent (yes, I am very jealous, but she deserves it. She's worked very hard to get to this point, and is finally seeing the fruits of her labor!). Her website is here, and her blog is here.

Tamara and I talk almost every day. We still bounce ideas off each other and read each other's work. I am very lucky to have her in my regular life and my writing life. She is the type of person who likes you for who you are (even if you are a little grumpy and mean), doesn't judge, and is a great inspiration. Do you have anyone in your writing life like Tamara?