Time Marches On

Hi, SE readers. You’re with Mae today. As an American, it’s hard to write a post on September 11th without addressing the tragedy that befell this nation in 2001. It’s something that’s going to stay with us forever, imprinted on our minds and hearts. To this day, I remember where I was and exactly what I was doing when I “heard the news.” They say those who learned of Pearl Harbor never forgot either.

Today, my great-nephew is joining the ranks of the Navy. I am so proud of him! We had a party in August to wish him well and to let him know how much we love and support him. Today, he is being inducted. It’s bizarre to think he was only a year old when the towers fell, also bizarre to think he should join the ranks of brave service men and women on this day.

Two young men in naval uniforms, viewed from side, standing at attention and saluting

Time marches on

With that in mind, I’m going to spin back the clock on books. Eighteen years ago in 2001, these were the titles  on the New York Time’s bestseller list:

The Bear and the Dragon ° Tom Clancy
From the Corner of His Eye ° Dean Koontz
A Day Late and a Dollar Short ° Terry McMillan
A Painted House ° John Grisham
1st to Die ° James Patterson
Dreamcatcher ° Stephen King
A Common Life ° Jan Karon
On the Street Where You Live ° Mary Higgins Clark
Chosen Prey ° John Sanford
“P” is for Peril ° Sue Grafton
Seven Up ° Janet Evanovich
Leap of Faith ° Danielle Steel
The Fourth Hand ° John Irving
Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas ° James Patterson
Valhalla Rising ° Clive Cussler
Black House ° Stephen King and Peter Straub
The Corrections ° Jonathan Franzen
Isle of Dog ° Patricia Cornwell
Midnight Bayou ° Nora Roberts
The Kiss ° Danielle Steel
The Desecration ° Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
Skipping Christmas ° John Grisham

Open book, woman's arm in comfy sweater, she is holding a cup of coffee with a swirl of cream on top

Have you read any of these? What about the authors? Pretty familiar names, aren’t they? These guys and gals have staying power.

I’ve only read three of the books on the list, but I’ve read works by ten of the authors.

Time marches on

Let’s take a look at the NYT Bestsellers (to date) for this year:

The Reckoning ° John Grisham
The Long Road to Mercy ° David Baldacci
Verses for the Dead ° Preston and Child
Turning Point ° Danielle Steel
Where the Crawdads Sing ° Delia Owens
Connections in Death ° J. Robb
Redemption ° David Baldacci
Neon Prey ° John Sanford
The 18th Abduction ° James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Summer of ‘69 ° Elin Hilderbrand
Under Currents ° Nora Roberts
The New Girl ° Daniel Silva
One Good Deed ° David Baldacci

It should be noted that Where the Crawdads Sing appeared on this list several times, as it is organized by month, and that book kept resurfacing. Notice many of the authors repeat from 2001. They have staying power. Eighteen years later and some things stay the same.

I’ve read two of the books on this list, and four of the authors.

So, what do we gain from this? Although these are NYT bestselling authors, it shows they found their niche and continue to deliver stories that resonate with readers. As writers, we might not be at the same level of sales, but we can certainly strive to produce work of quality in the hopes of maintaining and building our audience. That takes hard work, dedication, and plenty of sacrifice (late-night writing marathons, missing out on fun times, and juggling multiple hats to name a few).

Were you writing eighteen years ago? How have you grown in your journey?

In 2001, I was crafting regular stories with the thought that maybe “someday” I’d submit them. “Someday” has come and gone and I’m still plugging away, now publishing instead of lurking behind the scenes. Has it really been that long? Sometimes I’m amazed.

Time marches on

Wherever your path takes you today, please remember those who sacrificed so much on September 11th, 2001—fire personnel, first responders, law enforcement, clergy, and most especially, the victims and their families. Let us never forget!

What have you been doing with the passing years? How has your writing journey evolved and changed? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

Ready, set, go!

bio box for author Mae Clair

40 thoughts on “Time Marches On

  1. I remember 9/11 very clearly, Mae. We had just returned from a tour of Italy. There were a number of Americans from Washington and New York on that tour. Fortunately, none of them were impacted directly by this tragedy. It really shook the whole world. I recognise the names of all of the authors on both lists, many overlap as you have said. Indeed, they are enduring writers. I have only been writing since 2015 and I published my first children’s book in August 2016. I have developed hugely during that time period.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The impact of 9/11 was felt around the world. I’m glad those Americans on your tour weren’t impacted, but I know they–an everyone else, American or not–felt the horror of that dreadful day.

      I’m glad your writing journey continues to evolve and develop. Hopefully, we can have the same enduring staying power as those authors who traversed those years from 2001 to 2019!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. September 11, 2001… I was teaching middle school students in Lompoc, CA. I was an ESL teacher and three of my students came from the Middle East. Dan and I watched the early morning news and watched as the Twin Towers were attacked. Our entire school held hands and sang patriotic songs outdoors that sad day. As for books, my first children’s book was published by a regional Maine press in 1997. Meanwhile, I continued writing at home and with my students until I retired from teaching in 2005 and during that time, I researched the self-publishing industry (Amazon was just getting underway in this field). Amazing Matilda was published in 2012, followed by Pure Trash, Dog Bone Soup, and My Maine. Then, for THE NYT Best Sellers–have read four of the authors and two of the listed books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read about school children managing to get through that day because of their teachers, I know it had to be so hard managing your own heartbreak while helping your students through the tragedy. I love that you all held hands and sang patriotic songs.

      2012 was the year my first book was published, too, Bette. I remember thinking I would never “get” blogging, tours, promotion, marketing, even social media. It was all so overwhelming then. I wonder if those NYTBSAs were overwhelmed by the publication of their first book, especially before their “big break” came!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I bet they were… I’m still overwhelmed by some aspects of publishing, but I’m learning! 🙂 Have a great week, Mae. Your Maine vacation should be coming up soon and I hope it’s fantastic! Maples are just beginning to turn… xo

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t believe it’s been 18 years since 9-11. It’s such a vivid memory, it doesn’t seem it was that long ago. I’m not sure what I was doing in 2001, but I think I was trying to write urban fantasy for an editor who liked my writing and had just been put over Tor’s fantasy line. She took The Fortune-Telling Tarot to a sales meeting to acquire it, but Tor had just published a book with Tarot cards, so she had to pass on it. I was working on a new novel for her when she left Tor. The new editor wasn’t into urban fantasy, only epic fantasy, so that was the end of that:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I think back that it’s been 18 years, it’s mind boggling. So much of that time feels like yesterday.

      That had to be hard to accept regarding Tor. I have a trunk novel that I got in the door with them. My agent at the time got me a full read after a partial submission. I had the same problem—they had recently published something too similar, so I got a nice rejection, Although, looking back, that book had a lot of problems. It was epic fantasy but now I see that the issues were many. I often consider reworking it, but it was book #1of three, and I’m not certain I want to invest that much time in a genre that I don’t normally write in.

      It’s odd how my writing (and reading) preferences have changed. I still enjoy the genres I read in 2001, but I’ve expanded to others, many of which have passed the genres that encompassed my top reads in 2001. One thing that never changed is my love of reading! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. In 2001 I had finished my first book which I printed off to edit. It was 120,000 words and is still in the original printed form and sits in the garage ready to hold open a door in the wind. Yes, it was that bad. Good post, Mae. I enjoyed seeing the same authors on the list 18 years later.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a touching post. Congratulations to your nephew on his Navy journey. My daughter is a Navy veteran and my son-in-law is currently in the army. My husband is a first responder and was working in Pennsylvania when the calls came in. He went to the Pentagon and to Shanksville to help with the recovery. The memories are still vivid for both of us.

    Although I wrote in 2001, it was for a local paper and I did some pieces for a local community news letter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michele, your family has quite a background. Your daughter and son-in-law have my deep gratitude, as well as your husband. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for him on that fateful day in 2001. I am sure the memories are extremely vivid for both of you. The anniversaries of the date must be hard.

      I’m glad you branched out with your writing from local papers and newsletters, but those were great places to start. I wrote several community newsletters in my day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful post, Mae! To look back at the books on the bestseller list on 9-11-01, then to come forward to today. In 2001, I couldn’t have conceived that I would ever write one book, much less 9. I was writing songs and learning to play guitar, but never in a million years would I have dreamed that I would be an author. I was working for the State of Texas when the towers fell and we halted all work and turned on a small TV in our lobby to watch it unfold. I was numb. When I went home for lunch that day, Rick and I held each other. Neither of us felt like eating. I’ll never forget. Thank you for this, Mae!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t it amazing how much has changed?

      Nine books. Wow, Jan, you really have accomplished a lot! I still work for the same real estate company I did in 2001. I remember coming into the office after a home inspection. I hadn’t put the radio on, and by that time everyone was gathered in our main conference room around the TV. I remember for not wanting to leave the house for days afterward just because my heart was so heavy. My husband and I held each other, too. On that day, that’s all you could do.

      This was such a hard post to write. I’m glad to know it touched hearts.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I do remember exactly what i was doing on 9-11. It feels like it just happened on these Anniversaries. Thanks for including that.

    I read 5 off the 2001 list and 1 off the 2019. My reading habits have changed and I think the list shows a change, too with less books and authors. Nice to see some familiar names on both lists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Denise. The 9/11 anniversaries are definitely hard. I imagine the Greatest Generation felt/feels the same about the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

      My reading tastes have changed a lot since 2001, too which really amazes me. I’m now reading genres I would never have never looked twice at in 2001 and loving them. It makes me wonder–God willing–what I might be reading 18 years from now! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I was in that place where people told me I ought to publish a book. I also was in the midst of reading some stories that left me wanting. These were fringe genres, as you can imagine, knowing me and all. It dawned on me that I couldn’t do any worse… That’s probably the wrong way to approach this whole gig, but it’s my story. My goal is that everything I release is just a bit better than the last one. Could be characters, structure, even grammar, but improvement. I feel like I accomplish that, and hope my readers are entertained. It’s amazing the staying power of those top authors, and the productivity amazes me, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. First, thank your nephew for his desire to serve his country! May he be watched over and kept safe every step of his journey.

    I read 5 of the books on List One, and I’ve read work by 14 of the authors. I’ve only read 1 of the books on List 2, and I’m sure you can guess which one it was, being a fellow Pendergast fan. These days, I lean more heavily towards fantasy, preferring to escape from a lot of what goes on the real world. I have, however, read work by 7 of the authors on this second list. Very interesting to see how many are on both lists, proving that successful writing careers can span decades. Makes me want to try harder. It’s nice to know we are creating art that could possibly outlive us by many, many years.

    Like all of us, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on that horrific day 18 years ago, . However, what I was doing did not include writing. I painted back then, and only started writing six years ago. I’d still like to believe I’ve learned a lot and improved with each of my books. (Of course, liking to believe it and it being true could be two different things.

    A great and thoughtful post, Mae. Thanks! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your thoughts about Tyler, Marcia. His family is proud and sending up lots of prayers.

      Hmm, let me take a shot in the dark about list two. Hmmm, could it be Verses of the Dead that you read? LOL!!!

      I’m so glad you decided to start writing and gift the world with your wonderful stories. Like you, I was surprised to see so many top authors repeat–and after 18 years. Here’s hoping 18 years from now (or long before) we’ll be on a few of these lists 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ll never forget that day and what I was doing when I heard the news. I’ve read four of the books on the 2001 list. Funny I haven’t read any on this year’s list. As far as writing in 2001, I was still in that “I want to be a writer” stage. A coworker said something to me one day that I’ll never forget. “You should write I book.” Years later, I finally did.

    Congratulations to your great-nephew.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s amazing and tragic how vivid those memories of 9/11 are eighteen years later.

      I’m glad you listened to your co-worker. I was churning out stories in 2001 but only sharing them with my critique partner. We were both in that “wannabe” stage.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What a nice remembrance. I read about 1/3 of that list and still read those authors today. My babies were in preschool, and I had justed started writing op-ed pieces for The Charlotte Observer. Now my babies are in college, I’ve written the rough draft of a novel that I am currently revising, and I am writing weekly book reviews. How time marches on and things change!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly does, Tessa. In one respect I wonder, where did all those years ago. And then in another, I’m astonished to think how much has changed–and remained the same. I still read a few of the authors on the 2001 list but not with the same addiction I did in the past. I used tor devour every John Sanford book I could get my hands on, now I pick them up occasionally, although he will always remain a favorite author.

      I’m glad you started your blog. I always enjoy your reviews. And I can’t wait to hear more about your novel the it’s ready!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post, Mae. Let your nephew know that I thank him for his dedication to our country and for his courage to defend it. 9/11 always drains me. As an empath, it’s hard for me to block out the bombardment of memories and emotions that surround this day. As for your question, I wasn’t writing anything 18 years ago. Lol! I recognize many of those authors, but I’ve never read any of their books. I guess I prefer the not-so-popular writers. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the thoughts about Tyler. We are all so proud of him.

      I understand what you mean about empathic feelings. I have to close them out or I can drown in them. There will be much happening to resurrect those memories today.

      Even if you weren’t writing eighteen years ago, you’ve certainly embraced that love now! When it comes to reading, I go back and forth. I read a ton of indie titles, but I still love my bestsellers, too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s fully understandable, Charles. We have a rotation of dates between the SE crew. When I realized I drew 9/11, I was worried how to approach the post. It’s a difficult topic to write about, and yet it’s on everyone’s mind. Then I thought of Tyler joining the Navy and knew I had to find a way to recognize the past. I think a lot of people are going to be juggling emotions today.


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