Tag Archives: 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.




When it’s just not that great

Spent last night going over WIP so I can hit the ground running today. The story has nuggets of greatness in it. Small, bite sized, miniscule, rollypolly-sized bits of greatness. Enough that I’m not going to throw it away and start from scratch. But man does it stink!

I know, I know. I broke the cardinal rule. I read the work I was writing with an editor’s eye instead of letting the right brain do its thing and create, breathe life onto the page, sing the song of “novelizing.” But it’s been two weeks since I looked at the pages and I needed to refresh my memory before I let the creative brain get down to business. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s like I have this outline for a story with some interesting moments and some decent dialogue. But I don’t have a fully developed story, not by a long shot.

So I’m going to take this baby apart scene by scene, flesh it out, hopefully make it something great, something ready to see the world. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take patience. I’m going to have to SLOW DOWN. I need to remember this isn’t a cross stitch pattern. I used to do cross stitch. I’d get starte ,and I’d love the idea so much. Perfect little X’s that ended up turning into this beautiful photo made from different colored yarns. I’d spend hours and hours and hours working toward the end and then the end would be in sight and I’d rush those last X’s through just to finish, and sometimes, often, that meant sating up all night because I couldn’t stand to go to bed when I was so close to “the end.” I’d get this tingly feeling in my hands, this taste of “being done!” in my throat, this fluttery feeling in my chest. And the next day the picture would be complete. Messy but done. And I’d smile and congratulate myself on a job well done and start on the next one, promising myself that this time, I’d slow down so the last stitches were as pretty and perfect as the first. THe same thing happens when I write. I get started and I see the end of the scene a few words in and I write, write, write to get there, and somehow, I leave out the emotion and depth of the middle. Then I spend hours trying to make them something different, something better and people tell me that’s the way it’s supposed to work because the revision process that comes after the book is done is all about making the magic.

I’m going to try to do the magic now instead of writing the whole book and then mixing in the revisions. I know I’ll still have revisions to do when it’s all done, but hopefully I have something stronger to start with.

Wish me luck!


A long time ago I could sit down at the computer and write and write and write.
Even a year ago I found myself writing all the time.
The last two months have stunk for me as far as writing goes. And then tonight I sat down to write and…nothing.
I know the problem. It’s easy. When you don’t write, you can’t write or you won’t write or you’re tempted to write something else only the time never comes around to get started on that something else. It’s easy to write if you do it. It’s hard to write if you let long periods go by without doing it. The creative brain just can’t shake the funk it’s in. At least that’s my take on it.
Or maybe it’s just the manicotti I made for supper. 🙂 It was an Everyday Italian recipe. I think it had a bajillion calories. But it was good. 🙂 Good thing I worked out an extra hour this week.
Okay. I’m going to go write. And I’m going to do the same thing tomorrow and the next day and the next. Before too long, hopefully writing will be as normal as exercise is to me these days. It used to be more natural.
How did I end up in this strange place?

Hero Journey

I’ve been immersed in research for the last week, so when I picked up a new romance this morning I was more excited than usual about reading. I took the book with me to work out and dug in. The opening scene was awesome. I loved the heroine, loved the writing. Couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Couldn’t wait to meet the hero worthy of this dynamic woman.
The elliptical hit 15 and I turned the page and met the man.
Three pages later I put the book down.
I know character arcs are essential in genre fiction. I’m all about reformed bad boys. I love the alpha male.
BUT when the hero’s story opens with us learning he’s a player times a thousand, loves sex, thinks he’s good at it, uses women like they’re nothing and then sends the one he spent last night with home with a best friend so he can bed her too, uh, that’s crossing the character arc line. I guess lots of people don’t mind a beginning like that. I did. I really liked the heroine. I wanted her to find happily ever after. But this hero wasn’t going to be worthy. If he hadn’t sent the woman he’s spent the night with home with his friend, I would’ve been fine.
It made me realize that I need to work hard at making sure my heroes are heroic in some way even when they’re being total jerks. Hope I can do it.
I plan on finding out tonight. I’ve been struggling with my writing the last two months. Thank God I found my journals and discovered that I’ve written two and a half books a year the last two years and in both of those years, I didn’t write in January and February because of my schedule at work. It’s deadline hell, so that made sense. Pretty relieving.
But I knew the deadline stress at work wasn’t what was stopping me with my new WIP.
My new work was stopped because the current situation is directly related to the past. A past I didn’t have figured out. I knew how the book was going to end, but I didn’t know why because that past event that sets the whole story in motion was still too vague. Last night I worked on that past event with my CPs. I’m ready to write today. I’m thinking about doing two possible things I’ve never done before. Writing the ending to see if my vision works and writing a prologue that might never see the light of day but will paint that beginning event vividly in my mind.
Writing the end is kind of scary because I sually write like crazy in the middle just to get to the last third of the book. I love writing the end usually.
The prologue is no problem. When I’m done with it I might even decide to make it a part of the book. I’ll have to decide if the reader needs to know that stuff to understand the book.
I know one thing. I’m excited, and it’s about time!

Woo Hoo

10 page, 10 pages, 10 pages. Woo Hoo! It’s been so long since I wrote ten fast, fun pages! I’m so glad I switched to BIAW method to break through this creative issue I was having. It’s amazing what happens when you free the creative side of your brain.
My poor characters. I’m torturing the heck out of them. It’s so much fun.
Woo Hoo!