Reflecting back on the journey.

See Jane Publish is about the journey, so as I consider my goals for 2014, I wanted to share some very private writing highs and lows from my past years.  It is my hope these snippets will allow you to get to know me better.  And if you can relate to any of the steps of my journey, all the better!

2008.  I think I want to write romance novels.  I tell my parents and they think I’m crazy because I have a good job as a multimedia consultant.  I tell them not to worry; it is merely a “hobby”.  I attend my first RWA in San Francisco and I enter my first contest, the Maggies in Atlanta.  I get the call in August telling me I’m a finalist.  I’ve never been more excited in my life.  Mom goes with me to Atlanta and I take 4th Place.  Mom is now a believer.

2009.  I find it hard to write full length manuscripts with the day job, but I manage two 50,000 word stories about a hotel baron and his family.  My mother and my sister-in-law are now my beta readers.  RWA is in Washington DC and everyone I talk to gets a book deal at the conference.   I have my first, 1st Place finish in a contest.  I frame the certificate and hang it on my home office wall.

2010.  When I’m called and told I’m a Golden Heart finalist for LAURA TAKES A LOVER, I refuse to tell anyone until it is posted on the RWA website.  Then, of course, I’m sure it is a mistake.  I get to wear the pink ribbon on my badge at RWA held at Walt Disney World.  Expectations are high for an agent.  Each one rejects me, telling me I write too many genres and am unfocused, but I think they are starting to know my name!

2011.  I final in seven more contests, but my heart isn’t in it.  My mother has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.  She receives her diagnosis one week after reading my manuscript, CHEMICAL ATTRACTION.  The story is about a heroine seeking revenge on the owner of a chemical company responsible for her brother’s death from lung cancer.  I think life is imitating art and I hate the manuscript.  I’m in New York for RWA when my mother gets test results that show her cancer has spread to her lungs.  The only bit of happiness I have this year is when an agent keeps requesting and eventually reads four of my manuscripts, which she tells me she “loves”.  Four months later, she rejects me.  It appears to her that I’m unfocused.  I hate this year and I can’t write anything.

2012.  In early March, my mother says, “Don’t you ever stop writing!  You’re going to make it.  I just know it.”  My mother dies on March 24.  On March 26th, my father and I are staring at the backyard watching squirrels eat nuts he’s left out for them.  In an hour, my brother will arrive and we will go pick out a crypt for my mother.  My cell phone vibrates; CHEMICAL ATTRACTION is a 2012 Golden Heart finalist.  It is one of the worst days of my life.  I sit next to Cherry Adair at the RWA awards ceremony in Anaheim that July and tell her I can’t write.  She tells me to get off my ass and write a damn book.  I write a book that takes me sixteen months to complete.  It is terrible and I fear I’ve lost my passion and my ability.  I’m #2 in digital sales for my company at the day job.  Maybe I’m not meant to write.

2013.  I miss writing.  A co-worker refers to my writing as a “hobby” and it bothers me so much that I’m tempted to ask her if child rearing is a “hobby”. I have too much time on my hands.  I have nine completed manuscripts.  Maybe it is time to self-publish.  Before I do, I need to make one last effort to get an agent.  I stop entering contests and start studying agents.  At RWA in Atlanta, I meet with an agent I’d met in Seattle in 2011.  She remembers my manuscript and offers to have another look.  By August, I have been offered agency representation or as I like to call it:  THE day I got THE CALL.  The manuscript is rejected in October, but she tells me she didn’t sign me for what I’ve written, she signed me for what I’m going to write.  By December, I’ve written a new manuscript in four weeks.  I can write again.  I’m back.

2014:  Feels good.  🙂


Posted on January 13, 2014, in General and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. Wow, Mary! This is truly inspiring! You’re a writer. No doubt about it. I’m learning that when life hands us turds, sometimes all we can do is throw some seeds on it and see what happens. 🙂

    Happy writing,


  2. You’ve earned your good feels, Mary. May many more come your way.


  3. Inspiring! Your testimony proves that we should always listen to that little voice inside of us when it tells us to write.


  4. And She’s Back! Woo Hoo! I love that – for what you will write.


  5. Oh, God bless you, Mary! This is a beautiful, heartbreaking and then again beautiful journey. (Think roller coaster!) We’ve all been there. The highs of finals, the lows of rejections. Losing those we love in the midst of it all. Your mother’s encouraging words and even now, you know she believes in you. As we all do. I am SO happy for you that you’re writing again. God bless you in 2014 and beyond. Write ON! Hugs, Heather


    • Heather,
      You sweetheart! Thank you!!!
      Hugs, Hugs, Hugs to you my GH Sister!!!
      So happy for your success in 2013!
      May 2014 bring even more wonderful things to you!!!!
      🙂 M


  6. Yes, you can write. And I believe as your mother did … You will be published!! Stay with it Mary. Stay strong.


  7. Oh, I so needed to read this today. Just got another rejection on a manuscript that has been a finalist in many contests and loved by many agents and editors, but ultimately never accepted. My 2013 mirrored your 2012 with parents’ health problems and losing faith in both myself and my writing. I’m so sorry to hear your mother passed away.

    I’m starting 2014 on a slightly positive note, but things are still hard. Your post made me hopeful of good things to come this year.

    Also, I loved this: “it bothers me so much that I’m tempted to ask her if child rearing is a ‘hobby’.”

    Thanks for an amazing post.


  8. HELLS YEAH IT FEELS GOOD! Looks good on you, too!


  9. You are an Unsinkable [2010] and a Firebird [2012]!! You can’t lose. Hang in there.


  10. What a wonderful tale of perseverance and “knowing” you were meant to write.


  11. You are a model of sticking with it, Mary. I hope your agent does you proud. It is good to be writing again.

    Once you get your next book done, also consider the books that are not being represented by your agent as good indie candidates. Even if they only make a couple thousand it is more than they are making sitting on your computer. And you never know what may hit. No one knows–no agents, no editors, no publishers.


    • Maggie, thank you for the great encouragement!! I’d love to publish the traditional way first, then self pub what doesn’t hit. But in the meantime, I can keep smoothing them out!!! 🙂


  12. Catherine Clyborne-Guenther

    Damn it … you have me sitting here at my desk getting all teary-eyed… Love ya Girlfriend and don’t ever, ever, give up~! I want my name in one of your acknowledgements!!! Hugs~


  13. WOW, Mary! I knew you had been through ‘the ringer’, but I really didn’t know how wild a ride it has been for you! Kudos for jumping back in! Love & HUGS!


  14. Thank you for sharing the downs and ups with us. I know everyone goes through downs and ups in life, but keeping your dream alive in the face of all that is so inspiring.

    And a book in a month is especially inspiring! Write on!


  15. (((HUGS))), Mary! Just (((HUGS)))


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