Killer Year–The Class of 2007

“Beautiful Day”
September 27, 2006, 7:30 am
Filed under: JT Ellison, Killer Year Founders


There are moments in life to remember.

I tend to gather these moments like presents under a Christmas tree, opening them, rejoicing in their glory, then mentally rewrapping them and hiding them away in some recess of my brain to bring out and enjoy over and over again.

I had one of these moments Monday night.

Monday was a big day for us, to say the least. Let me extend a warm thank you to everyone who has supported Killer Year – believe me, we couldn’t do any of this without you.

So after a long, happy day, I made a big pot of chili, cut up some jalapeno cornbread and sat down with Hubby to watch Monday Night Football. I wanted to bear witness — the Saints triumphant return to New Orleans. (By the way, someone buy the Saints’ special teams a drink!)

The pre-show caught me off guard.

Music Rising, the organization started by US’s The Edge to help bring music back to New Orleans, sponsored the show. With a jubilant horn serenade, Green Day took the stage. Now, here’s where we start with the memory moments. Green Day is a personal talisman for me. Every time I hear their song Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life), something good happens. Corny, but true.

They took the stage and opened strong, with The Edge playing guitar. Then Bono joined them. And I started thinking about that phone call.

“Hey, Billie Joe. U2 wants you to fly to London, record some tunes, then go live on Monday Night Football in New Orleans for the pre-game show.”

Uh, yeah. Think they thought about that for more than a millisecond? I mean, let’s face it. The Baby Boomers have the Rolling Stones, and The Beatles, and well, Cat Stevens. My generation has U2. We win, hands down.

As the melded bands played an original composition combining “House of New Orleans” and “Beautiful Day”, I teared up, enjoyed the show and the message. When my goose bumps finally packed suitcases and went on vacation, I marked my mental moment. Then I started thinking about mentors.

Now, I’m assuming here, but roll with me.

I’d be willing to bet that Green Day views U2 as an iconic band. Perhaps now they even view them as mentors in their musical careers. To have the greatest of the great want to work with you is a humbling experience. I’m sure they jumped at the chance.

That’s how we feel about our Killer Year mentors. We were overwhelmed at the prospect – the best minds in our industry would mentor us? As Marcus Sakey said, “I grew up on books these people wrote. I never dreamed they’d one day be helping with my own.”

He summed it up perfectly. These are our heroes, these giants of the mystery and thriller genres. And they’ve agreed to help us, show us the ropes, share their considerable insight into the publishing game? Would someone mind pinching me, please???

Thanking ITW for this amazing opportunity isn’t enough. I’d like to take it one step further. At the risk of sounding too much like a Girl Scout, a promise.

A promise to pay attention. A promise to listen before we speak. A promise to take the considerable time and attention being paid the Class of 2007 and give back to the Class of 2008 and beyond, if they’d like it. A promise that we’ll be the best mentees we can be, and always, always promise to do our best.

And on a more personal note, I promise to stop waxing poetic in my blog posts.

Safe travels to all of you heading to Madison today and tomorrow. I know you’re going to have a wonderful time, and I’m bummed I won’t be there. And if you see your mentor, tell them thank you.

Do you have a mentor story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it!

Humbly Submitted,

JT Ellison


November 2007, Mira Books


10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Well said, JT. Well said!

Comment by Bill Cameron

Beautiful, JT!

We’ll be missing you in Madison!

Comment by Tasha Alexander

Wow. This is amazing. What an incredible idea, to have writers mentor others. Talk about pioneering. Hats off to you all.

Comment by Tracy

Wonderful post, JT.

But I have to take you to task over the “we have U2, we win, hands down” comment. I’m a boomer. There is no greater band in the world than The Beatles. Not before. Not since. I think even U2 would agree with me on this…

Okay. I’m done.

Again, wonderful post.

Comment by Robert Gregory Browne

Hmmm, the Beatles. I’ll give you their greatness, I just haven’t ever been a fan. Strange what appeals to each person, isn’t it?

Comment by JT Ellison

I wish there was a mentor program LAST year. I could have sure used it! Fortunately, I was sort of adopted by another Ballantine author who really helped me in the trenches and answered all my questions. So sometimes it works on its own, but it was still a stressful time. If there’s anything I can do for my mentee is try to alleviate the stress!

Comment by Allison Brennan

Oh, JT. I’m going to have to take you out behind the woodshed.

I’m a tweener, and a HUGE U2 fan. In fact I’m probably a bigger U2 fan than a Beatles fan. They are awesome, but…I’m going to have to totally agree with Rob on this. The Beatles were the band that set the tone for all that followed. If Green Day looks up to U2, then U2 definitely looks up to The Beatles and then some…No hands down about it.

Comment by Brett Battles

And we come back to mentors!

Comment by JT Ellison

I love it when you wax poetic. And truly, you spoke for all of us. I can’t believe how generous and suppportive our mentors have been.

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