Tag Archives: crappy first drafts

Another rough draft done….

…and now the real work starts.

I started writing for publication the fall of 1997. Back then I wrote religiously.

And after five years of rejections, I started fiddling around. I pretended to write. I wrote in spurts. I played at being a writer. But those rejections slayed my writing spirit. Another five years of rejections killed that spirit.

Honestly, even though I’d write a book a year–usually–, that book wasn’t heartfelt. It was almost fearful. I tried to write to the rules and to what I thought Harlequin would want because Harlequin was my dream.

Two and a half years ago (or maybe three) I put my thesis online. Honor and Lies was my heart. My professors loved it…which isn’t always a good thing. I mean, you don’t want an audience of professors to be your only fans.

But what did I have to lose? The book was sitting on my computer and in the MSU library. It was a tribute to my grandma, and I wanted to give it a chance to be shared by others.

A couple months later I published a couple romances and that was that. I figured I had a backlist of written works, I’d go through them and post them and whatever happened, happened.

Only I started The Artist’s Way with colleague Scotty Coppage and I started working again. It was bits and spurts at first.

The first book I wrote to self-publish was Dead Girl Walking, the first of the Sharlene Gallagher guardian angel mysteries. And since then I’ve written everything to self-publish.

Last summer I came up with a business plan and a publishing schedule. And my arm quit working.

If you know me in real life or kept up with the blog, you know I mean it quit working completely.

For a month I cried because all my plans were flowing away with every day the arm got worse. Not only that, but with each non-writing day I saw myself growing closer to the “writer” Mary Beth. The girl who wrote some, when the muse hit, when she wanted to, instead of the committed writer, working on her craft.

Right before NANO one of my former students Emma found out about my arm and suggested the Dragon software.

In two weeks I wrote an novella using spiral notebooks and dictating to Dragon. The arm wasn’t an excuse. Since then I’ve worked on novels and novellas. I haven’t worried about the business side. I embraced the creative side and the excitement of creating characters and worlds and conflicts.

I’m not writing for anyone but me.

And I’m loving every minute of it.

Suddenly I’m not okay publishing the books I’ve got lined up on my computer as possibilities just because they’re done. I’ll go over them later. I want them to be the very best they can be. Sexy, scary, heartfelt…whatever it is they’re supposed to be, I want them to be that times a ten million.

Self-publishing gave me this even though I haven’t published a word since August 25.

I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words since then. I re-discovered my voice, my art.

And I’ve learned to trust in my creative soul. To pray first then write and let the words work.

I’m not ready to publish the books I’ve written since August 25. They’re all in different stages of the revision or editing process, but I will be soon.

For now, I’m happy that I’m writing and creating and loving it and hating it and working the craft.

It’s so funny to think that because of self-publishing I’m writing more–and better, I think–even though I’m not publishing a word.




Getting started, word counts and contests oh my!

After church tonight I’m going to start working on my new Intrigue. Really start. I’ll pray for divine intervention. I don’t know why I hate beginnings so much. I can clearly see the opening scene in my mind. I’m ready to write it. But I have to revise and revise and revise until I get deep enough into my characters to make the story feel real and not like the characters are watching the scene take place.
This time I’m working for a lower word count now that H/S has announced they’re cutting their longer series word counts. Not sure what I think about that. Lately the books have been difficult to read. Tiny type. words nearly in the gutter. A tighter story can be a good thing. I guess I’ll see what I think after I’m done. 🙂 I’ve seen several places that say the word counts are actually shifting to computer word count. If that’s the case, I’m fine. My word counts are already shorter by computer word count.
I’ll just write the story and worry about the other later.
I’m getting ready to enter the North Texas Great Expectations Contest. It’s one of the best I’ve entered. (I haven’t entered many but this and Melody of Love are my favorites).
Not sure I should enter because I’m not sure contests really make a difference. But I’m going to. I’ll enter my Women’s Fiction in the inspirational category and see how it does. Our local contest is going through some big changes for next year. Big changes I like but I don’t know how the people who enter will like them. There’s a good chance the 1-pg. critique will be gone. I hate the critique. BUT I’ve been writing a long time, I just don’t think you can write a 1-pg critique that helps authors. A lot of people who enter our contest say they love it. I don’t know. Personally I enter to see how the beginning works and to final if possible. Maybe that’s a bad plan. I guess we’ll see.
Off to church. Hopefully tonight’s writing goes well.

The ever-changing characters

I’m working on my new story, determined to write through the suckage to find the excellence. To give the girls in the basement their chance to work. It’s been interesting. One thing I’ve noticed with Identity Crisis is how much my characters want to change. That fact was rammed home when I read Mary F’s blog and saw how concrete, how real, her heroine’s are. My new heroine Callah is somewhat real, but not absolute. And she keeps doing things that make me wonder who are you?!
This weekend our speaker Evelyn Vaughn talked about the importance of making the characters real. I’ve decided to write through this. To see where the story goes. To get it down on paper then go back and revise the heck out of it. I think I’ve figured out a major issue already. Callah’s not exactly strong when the story starts. She’s let people walk all over her. Co-dependence is her middle name. And she’s working on that. The fact that her life is suddenly in danger just forces her to work on it a little more than she planned.
I’m planning on a major writing day today. I’m going to let Callah call the shots, move the story where she wants it to go. I know the end. I know why things happen the way they do. But Callah needs some growing room and I’m going to give it to her.


I started my new Intrigue proposal tonight. I just decided to go with what I felt like working on, and since I have no contracts, I have that luxury. I can’t wait for that to change. 🙂
I’m over the half way point on my WF and I have the next one plotted. This Intrigue kept popping around in my brain, so I figured get it on paper while it’s there.
And now it’s 1 a.m. and I feel guilty for not working on the 1/2 done women’s fiction—which is crazy!
The Intrigue was fun. It’s suspenseful and sexy and the hero is yummy. It was nice to take a break from all that angst in Prodigal and focus on Missing. My conspiracy theory brain needed an outlet.
I’m just glad I have the time to write.
I’ll be teaching Thursday and Friday, so I’ll only get to work at night, which I seem to do anyway. I just needed a schedule. Hopefully I can keep this up once school starts. Writing the synopsis first helps a ton! Hard to believe I wrote those words. A few months ago, I thought writing a synopsis first completely shut me down. Now I use it as a road map, but that’s all. And sometimes maps are wrong, but that’s okay because if the map is there, you can just take another route to get where you’re going.