The Puget Sound Writers Guild was established by Frank Lambirth, a retired professor of creative writing, a talented grammarian and a highly successful Edgar award-winning novelist of thirty-four books in the suspense, mystery and horror genres. Frank was the foundation and cornerstone of the guild until his death on February 10, 2007. He was a dedicated mentor, a gifted teacher who maintained high standards for his students while being a gracious friend.
Frank published under four pseudonyms as well as under his given name. Several highly successful mainstream published authors trusted their manuscripts to Frank’s keen editing skills before submitting them to their publisher. He was “ghostwriter” on other projects.
Already a successful novelist in the 1980’s, Frank founded his first critique group in the Sacramento area, which has produced a number of successfully published authors. He also maintained a long-running relationship with the Library of Congress, supplying the library with synopses of published work.
A consummate writing professional, Frank knew the publishing business inside and out. He also knew how to teach. Many of us who knew him after he moved to Olympia, WA, found him to be the most effective teacher we had ever encountered.
All of us fortunate enough to know Frank learned how to write—to the extent that our own stubborn souls allowed. He taught us the virtues of planning, of discipline in writing every day, and of perseverance in the face of this pitiless business. He taught us numerous effective approaches to plotting, about conflict and character, of rising tension he called “dramatic sense,” of building a story toward a climax. He taught us to avoid what he called “dragons,” those things which would immediately relegate a manuscript to the slush pile.
Frank provided over six hundred handouts on assorted aspects of the craft of writing. His knowledge was inexhaustible. If he did not know an answer to one of our questions, he knew who in the industry to consult. Frank’s teachings have been and continue to be the foundation of our work in the guild. Thanks to Frank, many of us have produced salable manuscripts – no student of a writing instructor could ask for more.
On one of his last days, Frank reflected with characteristic brevity and candor on his life. He told us that it had been a good life and he had no regrets. And then he offered reflections on the strengths and opportunities to improve the work of the committed members of our Guild. We then realized that his teaching was as integral to his life as writing itself, and he was utterly selfless in doing it. Faced with an example like that, how can we do less than carry on and honor his memory?