Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Contest Road ~ Part #2

Well, I won The Noble Theme contest and also placed third. I got a lot of requests at the conference to send in my book.

I also got a really simple request from Cathy Marie Hake an author I didn’t know. She asked me to send her my first three chapters. She just wanted to see how I wrote.

I also had an agent looking at my work before this conference. He hadn’t offered to represent me, but he had expressed interest. When I emailed him to tell him I’d won the contest and tell him I received about fifteen requests from agents and editors for maybe five different books, he offered me a contract, so I got an agent, which is almost as hard as getting a book sold.

Cathy Marie Hake also kept in touch. She said she thought I was ‘ready’. No editor had yet seen that light, but Cathy’s encouragement kept me hoping. Plus, by this time, I had about twelve books written and I’d had so many rejections I had a hide like a rhino, so submitting work didn’t even faze me. (In the interest of full disclosure I believe I stole the 'hide like a rhino' line from Janet Dean, although it could be another Seeker. We're all tough...most of the time)

Okay, well maybe I crawled under my computer desk and sucked my thumb for a day or two every time I got another rejection but other than that I was fine.

Just before the next year’s conference, Cathy Marie Hake told me she wanted to pitch my name to write a book as part of a three book series set in historical Alaska. I worked on a proposal and talked on the phone with Cathy a lot before the 2005 conference.

Every year at the conference the acquiring editor for Heartsong Presents gives a contract to an unpublished author. I was so hopeful! I knew there was a chance it could be me. The Heartsong editor said someone else’s name and there’s only one, so okay, I’ve been rejected before. I kind of expect it.

And then she said, “And this year we’re giving two contracts to first time authors. We’re offering a contract to Mary Connealy.” I get chills saying that! It was a wonderful, thrilling shocking moment. I had to go up and get the contract, in front of 350 other writers, all clapping. A great, great moment in my life.

And it happened as a direct result of contests…well, contests and ten years of hard work of course.


  1. I remember that announcement!!! How kewl!!

  2. Mary, that was a wonderful moment. What a great feeling, to be recognized by professionals, to be 'brought up' in that fashion.

    Heck, way better than the Junior Girl Scout stepping up ceremony. That's, um, my claim to fame but I WAS a really good Junior Scout. I'm just sayin'.... We all have our moments.


  3. You remember it, Shannon? Wow, I barely do. I remember getting hugged by a bunch of people, lots of them seekers.
    I have a vague memory of...I think it was Audra and maybe Debby Giusti grabbed me. Then on the way up (or down!) Ruthy stepped in my dazed path and managed to keep me from stumbling over her and gave me a hug.
    I was also sitting at Rebecca Germany's table, who is now my editor. I've asked her if I sat there...oh, drooling maybe...through the rest of the evening. She says no but she's got a kind heart so who can say.
    I kind of staggered up on the stage and on my way back?

  4. I was there and it was wonderful. I remember Mary sitting in the lobby later looking like a deer caught in the headlights! Of course we were all so tired by then, it might have been sheer exhaustion and not the fact that she'd just received her first contract.

  5. Deer in the headlights is right, Pam. I've got pictures. I wasn't just 'caught in the headlights' I looked like I'd been run over and dragged by a semi.
    Yes, we Seekers met in the lobby much, much later and talked forever.
    That wasn't as good as getting the contract but very, very good.

  6. Actually even I remember it. I didn't even know you then. (I call those the days of unenlightenment).


  7. Days of enlightment, Tina???
    Like, since you met me then it's what???
    The Dark Ages maybe?

    I'd be hurt except I get that alllllll the time.

  8. No. I meant before you was the Dark Ages. Silly.

  9. Mary, we met at the conference that year. I remember thinking you had the prettiest smile. Even if you wore a slightly dazed look in your eyes after the announcement. You were the first Seeker to sell.

  10. It's really interesting to hear some of your journey, Mary. How cool!


  11. No, no, no. Debby was the first Seeker to sell. Remember? It was a few weeks after we formed and we all thought, wow! We'll all be published in 15 weeks if one of us sells a week! lol