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A Writer by Any Other Name

November 17, 2009

Welcome! Pour a pinot noir and pull up a chair. If you prefer, pour a vino blanc. It won’t help your cholesterol level, but we all have different tastes. If the Memphis weather gets any crazier, I may switch to hot chocolate with a dollop of Lynchburg Gold (aka: JD—Black Lable).

Don’t you love the word ravished! Unfortunately, if our heroines are truly ravished, we can’t get published in the romance genre. And if they aren’t ravished, then in many cases we’re not historically accurate. No matter what century we are living in, in the tenth century, women were pawns and bargaining chips. Most first sexual experiences were not consensual in the sense we speak of today. The women just didn’t have the right to a say and what today’s world sees as rape, was simply a way of life. So if we want to publish, we can’t be historically accurate in every sense of the word. Just isn’t going to happen. I guess that’s my bit of romantic insight for the day.

After six years off-line, I am a victim of cybershock! Once comfortable zipping around the internet, I now find myself a technophobe of the highest order. Everywhere I visit, blogs are mentioned. Then there is Facebook, My Space, Twitter, and any number of ways to put info on the net. Some of the blogs are amazing. There are blogs for writers, readers, lawyers, nurses, plumbers, every game on the internet, animal, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! (As Yuel Brenner would say. Did I just age myself?) Why every teenager in the US needs a blog on which to post their daily life stories is a mystery to me. Of course why anyone would want to waste time reading some of the nonsense sites is a greater phenomenon. Why a Pomeranian stud dog needs his own blog, I’ll can’t fathom, but when I finish here, I’m go talk to my Maltese and see if she wants her own blog too.  I’m sure she’ll have a lot of puppies hooking up online rather than tail to face.

So here we are at my blog. I find it amazing to have one at this point in my life and even more amazing that I’m actually posting here. Why am I? Well, it was the idea of one of my mentors.

Mentor: Mary, if you want to be a romance writer, you have to have a blog.

Me: Why would I want to do that?

Mentor: So your fans can find you.

Me: A bit premature don’t you think? I’m unpublished, so I have no fans.

Mentor: It shows editors you are serious and willing to put yourself out there and promote your work once you do publish.

Me: Seems backassward to me. I don’t know why anyone would want to come to my blog until I do sell.

Mentor: You will also be promoting your name.

Me: Why would I want to do that? There’s another author published with Avon named Mary Reid McCall. Won’t I just be promoting her? My middle name is Elizabeth. Maybe I should change my name to Mary MacBeth. I like the irony.

Mentor: Mary, shut up and go start your damn blog.

So here I am, starting my “damn blog.” I’m sure hundreds upon thousands of people (and puppies) will find their way here to soak up the wisdom only I can provide. (My ego’s not in the rafters).

What bit of wisdom can I pass along today to make your visit worthwhile? Hummmmmmmm… How about love God and love your life, taking time everyday to play. You never know when a drunk driver will slam into your car and take you offline for six years.

A few excerpts from my manuscripts are posted. Next week, I’ll start my online creativity class for writers, The Joys of Mental Sex, on this site as a one-time freebie.  I’m also planning in the future to add a Reader’s page to discuss different romances – picked by me every month (Plan on a few old book. I want to discuss some that came out before the net), a Q & A page for people with research question related to Church history, creativity, time management, psychological profiling, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I’ll probably put up a link page when I figure out how to do it.

For the gal’s at Julie’s Holding, I just want to say: BRODICKISMINEDAMNIT! Okay, so I can’t claim him until next week. Fantasies are fun when kilts are involved. BTW, thanks to those of you who read my manuscripts and gave me such wonderful feedback. Your suggestions were wonderful and I had fun writing them into the stories. Sorry it’s taking so long to get you a new story, but you know me. My first draft is always written longhand and typed in later. Christina is giving Michael a tough time, but they’re well matched. The big surprise to me was Luthias finding a woman. Her name is Medea and she is a descendant of the Medea spurned by Jason in the old epic tale. So we have two hardheaded Highlanders with warrior women. Makes for some fun and adventurous times.

I’ve got manuscripts out to editors and entered in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Contest. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!

Happy reading and writing!

PS: I excel at typos, so don’t tell me if you see any.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2009 8:57 pm

    Hi Mary! Just came over from the CHRW loop AND realized you were the one with that wonderful character sketch chart in Eliza’s class. I tend to lurk and catch up when I can.

    Though I have a MySpace and Facebook, both of which I need to update periodically, I have not started a blog, frankly because I’m not even close to being as far along as you are on your writer’s journey. I read your excerpts and loved them. I want to know more!!

    I used to only write in long-hand because that’s just the way I always had written. One day, a member of a local writing group here found that out and was appalled. “You poor thing’ was all she could say. I felt rather embarrassed and since then have been trying to write on the computer. It’s taking a while for the coordination of brain to keyboard. I like your method of doing the first draft in longhand and then the rest on the computer. May have to give it a try.

    Yes, I love the word ravished! With some of today’s Beta heroes, you don’t get that. Not that I want my heroes to be all brute force, but you know what I mean . . .

    Please sign me up for your free class. I’m fixing to subscribe to your emails. Is that what I have to do? Thanks so much for offering. With that chart you have, you could teach a class on organizing notes before the writing, or something to that effect.
    not from Julie’s Holdings!

  2. Kamy Harmon permalink
    November 18, 2009 9:37 pm

    Mary, I love reading your books. Have you thought about an indepent publisher, for your books. There is one called Two Trails Publishing in Independence, Missouri. I am not sure how it would work. Most of the books are sold on the internet and by the author. If your books were requested enought they might get into book stores.

    • November 19, 2009 2:43 am

      Hi Kamy:
      So good to see you here! I’m not familiar with Two Trails Publishing. I have a few editors looking at complete manuscripts right now, but I’ve learned not to hold my breath…lol. If things don’t work out with them, I may try some e-pubs that do PODs. The main thing is to have a publisher that pays me, not vice versus. There are so many vanity presses out there, one can never be too careful.

  3. November 18, 2009 9:37 pm

    Hi Julie:
    I actually worked psych for a long time, and now I do forensic profiling from home. The character sketch I do is actually based on a biopsychosocial evaluation I helped a hospital create. It was named as best form pick for psych evals in 2005 by the old JCAHO – certifying body for hospitals. If I know everything on that form before I write, it essentially gives me a forensic profile for the character, so I know how they’ll react and be able to explain things that might otherwise seem out of character. Which in a way is what forensics and romance are both all about. Before my wreck, I used that character sketch as part of a Let Your Characters Write Their Own Damn Good Romance Novel. It may be one I should dust off and do again.

    There are some real advantages to writing the first draft longhand… at least for me. But then I still own a manual typewriter and refuse to toss it out in case this whole cyber thing fades away as a passing fad….

    When I get ready to post the Creativity Class, I’ll post over on CHRW so you’ll know.

  4. November 18, 2009 10:02 pm

    I am so impressed, Mary. What wonderful work you do! Is this character sketch form the same that was nominated—just tweaked a bit for writing? And is the Let Your Characters . . . a how to book you were working on? If it is, what are you waiting for???? I’m a sucker for How-to Writing books, and I have not seen one with that perspective yet.

    One of my closest friends thinks that computers may not last. And she has a point. It would be so easy to close off the web. Computers are my DH’s life—at home and at work. It’s what he does, as he says, while at the same time calling me ‘quaint’ because I like paper files and print books, etc.

    Looking forward to your class,

  5. November 19, 2009 2:49 am

    Hi Julie:
    It’s the same form, but very tweaked. The first time I used a biopsychosocial approach for a character sketch, I used the actual hospital form. Nearly freaked out a program director and three therapist when I sat it down to take a phone call. I was using it to get to know a serial killer, who was obsessed by Satan. They were so afraid the person was not only real, but admitted to the unit…
    I’ve done it as a class, but never as a book. I incorporated some things from Deb Dixon and Martha Shields, who are both great at characterization. If I can find all the course info on my old hard drive disk, I’ll send it to you. One thing about that form, if you complete it, you’ll know everything about your character up to the moment the story begins. I don’t do much actual plotting. Once I know my characters well enough, the story becomes theirs to tell. They almost run like a movie in my mind and I simply write what I see and hear. May sound stange, but we all have our quirks.

  6. Donna Goode permalink
    November 19, 2009 7:09 am

    Hi, Mary!
    I love your blog site! It is really VERY beautiful. I did the same thing Julie did and toddled over from CHRW to visit you. I’m a nurse, too and I’ve given up the hospital side of pediatrics to work for a nurse call center in Kingsport, TN. I’m one of 2 resident Peds nurses although my blood runs cold with psych issues! Don’t even think of talking to me about Ortho!!! Seriously, I’ll talk to anyone about anything–one of my failings. Love the H1N1 outbreaks! Talk about opportunities… Like Julie, I haven’t started a blog of my own although I’m involved with one with Lisa Campbell. I’m not even sure, yet, how to post to one…a pathetic admission, I know. Like Julie, I have Facebook and MySpace sites but I hardly ever visit them–even worse admission. I need to get with the program since I just sent my manuscript off to a publisher and entered the Golden Heart contest. Anyway, I’m glad I visited you here and have signed up to follow the blog. Best wishes! –Donna

    • November 20, 2009 2:50 pm

      Hi Donna:
      How far is Kingsport from Memphis? Are you planning to go to the Nashville conference next July? I’m planning to go. I’ve never done rural nursing. I did homeheath for a while. It about wore me out, but I had a large section of Memphis to cover. It was around the time AIDs made the scene and the other nurses were afraid and refusing the patients, so in addition to my territory I was running around doing a lot of home AIDS therapy. I finally went back to UT and work oncology in the College of Medicine for the CALGB Group. That’s when I learned if you collaborate on a medical article with physician, put your name last. Indexes with list the first name, et al, and the last name of the list. first name is always the primary investigor on a study so I figured last name should be me since I did most of the work… Of course, then I went back to school. There is such a thing as too much education.
      I haven’t done much with myspace. Facembook is another matter. I’m bad, I admit. I get sucked into Mafia Wars and decided to take some down time from Facebook to eliminate my addiction…lol. About all I do there is send out an occassional Karen Walker quote and check in on friends.
      Good luck in the Golden Heart! So glad you came over.

      • November 21, 2009 9:02 am

        Mary – I am thrilled that you’re writing again. You are so talented. It would be a waste for you not to. I am also absolutely thrilled that you’ll be in Nashville!!!!!! It seems like ages since we sat over that cocktail napkin in Denver and came up with the ideas for expanding PRO into something viable for the RWA members. We have to make a date for lunch!

      • November 23, 2009 8:35 am

        Hi Marge! So glad to see you here! I look forward to seeing you in Nashville. Denver has been a long time ago and so much has happened. We need to hunker down for a comfortable catch-up session soon.

  7. November 19, 2009 8:55 am

    Not strange at all, Mary. It sounds like automatic writing. Of course, that would probably freak most people, like your program director!! LOL

    I like to know the characters and what I’m doing before writing. In fact, even though I signed up for NaNo this year, I haven’t progressed as far as they are concerned because I didn’t have a plan. I know the whole point is to just start writing, but I felt like I was wasting my time because the writing wasn’t productive, or usable. So, I stopped and started over making notes, etc for a plan. True, it doesn’t produce a whole lot of words that way, BUT NaNo was forcing me to be productive in my own way.

    Years ago, a writer friend loaned me Debra Dixon’s GMC book. That is a keeper book, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for it since. Unfortunately, no stray copies are about in used bookstores, and it costs way too much on Amazon. So yes, I would love a copy if you are able to find your old disk.

    I haven’t read Martha Shields but will check her out. Thanks!

    • November 20, 2009 2:55 pm

      Hi Julie:
      One thing you’ll figure out is that, in its own way, no writing is unuseful – even if it does nothing more than clear your mind of conflicting or extraneous information that blocks the flow of a book. My biggest plotting problem is that if I know exactly how it will end, I’m done with the story, so I try to be careful about how much I plot and let the characters have their lead. A lot of writers love the NaNo month. For me, it depends on where I am with a book. If I’m not in writer mode, it screws with my creative process. I’m in muse mode right now… Of course I have to be careful in muse mode…. my muse loves to to learn new things and often wants to research things I don’t need to know. Can’t be to hard on her; she come up with great story ideas.
      Take care.

  8. Crystal G permalink
    November 20, 2009 8:35 am

    Mary, I love your blog! You did a great job with it. Congrats.
    I will definitely be keeping up with it.
    I’ve read the excerpts, and all I can say is “I want to read more!!” They’re great, they pull you in and leave you wanting the rest.
    Six years is a long time, especially on the net. So glad you’re back.

    Brodick is waiting for you 😉 So hurry up and claim him. =)

    • November 20, 2009 3:02 pm

      Hi Crystal! So glad to see you here! Love what you did with The Holding! I need to go visit the Jude D and Linda H boards. I saw where their fans left S&S too. I can’t believe they screwed up the reader forums so much! I’m really having fun with this latest book. Michael and Christina are both Warriors for God on a mission. Darn if Luthias didn’t hop up, grab Medea and decide they were going to help. I love characters who surprise me. I ran out yesterday and got another copy of CASTLES. I can’t believe I missed that one when I was replacing wreck books! Now I have to put everything on hold. It’s been so long since I reread that one it’s like a new book again.
      Take care. Ticking off the day until I can claim Brodick!

  9. November 20, 2009 11:20 am

    Funny Donna. Looks like we’re on the same part of our writer’s journey!

  10. November 25, 2009 6:19 pm

    Hi Mary! I found your blog. I didn’t know you finaled in GH! That’s great. You have some nice work going on here. Thanks for sharing it. Good luck with the submissions.

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