Monday, March 3, 2008

OCD School of Writing


I have, in recent weeks, received covers for two more books. Calico Canyon will be out in August. It is a sequel to Petticoat Ranch and this is the description of it on

Let yourself be swept away by this fast-paced romance, featuring Grace Calhoun, an instructor of reading, writing, and arithmetic, who, in an attempt to escape the clutchs of a relentless pursuer, runs smack dab into even more trouble with the 6R's - widower Daniel Reeves, along with his five rowdy sons. When a marriage is forced upon this hapless pair - two people who couldn't dislike each other more - an avalanche isn't the only potential danger lurking amid the shadows of Calico Canyon. Will they make it out alive? Or end up killing each other in the process?


Amy Simons's small size belies her remarkable strength-strength that makes her thrive in the wild Alaskan frontier. But is she strong enough to accept her father's fate and move on with her own life and love? Braden Rafferty just wants to get away-away from the pain of failing his wife and losing her. Maybe hard work in the cold Alaskan mountains will numb his aching heart. But he didn't expect to find another needy woman along the way, another woman who will depend on him for strength. Will Braden realize that Amy wants his heart more than his help? Will they both see that the bonds of love are strongest?

They're not up yet on Amazon but I found them both on so I've got FIVE books listed there. Now, that's not exactly right nor fair, because Alaska Brides in an anthology. Three books in one. And my contribution is Golden Days which is already out as part of the Heartsong Presents book club. So don't buy Alaska Brides expecting to see something new from me. Plus, Golden Days is there on it's own.


The other new entry on is a oh-so-thrilling offer to buy Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon together. :) so that's not a fair entry either, there are really only three books. But still, there are five choices under my name and I love it. :)

And it all started with getting connected through ACFW and polishing my skills with a critique group I got involved with through ACFW and taking online courses offered by ACFW and entering a contest sponsored by ACFW.

So there's my advice in a nut shell...or wait, how about a 'C' shell?;

Connect, Critique, Courses, Contests, and at last.......COVERS.

The Five Cs.

And none of them are as important as that most fundamental rule, no C anywhere.

Write. Write and keep writing. But that's not that hard for me because I can't seem to stop anyway.

Wait, that IS another C--Compulsive!

We've talked about how many people say they're a writer versus how many are actively seeking--good word, huh? :) publication. Tell me what you're doing right now of these C's to make your dream of being a published author come true.


  1. Mary,
    You're amazing! Such a great writer with such a zest for life! Your books have that same energy that surrounds everything you do. Thanks for writing compelling stories that uplift, bring joy and are mixed with lots of humor. Congrats on your well deserved success!!!

  2. calico canyon looks like a great read! i love the cover too. hsmuda[at]gmail[dot]com thanks!

  3. Mary, how about one more C? Content? Your books are such fun! All the courses, critiques, connections, and contests have made you the writer you are today. That calls for another C. Congratulations. :-) Proud of you!


  4. Mary,

    You so deserve your success! You're a great writer with great stories to tell. I can't wait to read Calico Canyon. You're also a really sweet person. I love your sense of humor.

    (When you send the check, make it out to Melanie L. Dickerson.)

  5. Well, thanks, guys, but what about you? Do my 'Cs' make sense? Do you have your own goals, alliterated or not, in mind?

    What are you doing right now?

  6. The "five Cs" ... you forgot one, Mare, because you are too, too CUTE!!

    I cannot WAIT to read Calico Canyon!! Loved both Petticoat Ranch and Golden Days, and if I look forward to reading your posts/comments as much as I do, cannot imagine how much I will love CC!!


  7. Well, since you asked, I'm entering contests, lining up agents I can query/send a proposal to, taking online courses here and there. I'm in a couple of crit groups but they've both sort of fizzled out for the time being, so I may have to find a third one.

    Mainly, though, I'm working on focusing my trust in God. I'm not trusting in contests to get me published, or my brilliant writing (sometimes it's not so brilliant), or agents, conferences, or anything else. I know that if I get published any time soon, it will be a miracle from God. He is the author and finisher of my salvation--and the author and finisher of my publication success!

    So I am trusting in Him--and working hard, too. He wouldn't want me to sit around and do nothing with the talent He's given me. If I bury it in the dirt, it won't glorify Him.

  8. Good for you, Melanie. And remember to come here and vent if you need to, **in carefully chose language that understands this is a completely public place and your words, wise or not, will live for all time in cyber space and can come back to haunt you.

    **Fine print warning.

  9. Yeah, right, cute. You know the only people who think I'm cute never actually see me.

  10. Luckily I do not suffer from low self esteem. I would have buried my computer after reading your post. How many fingers DO you have? Do you type with your toes also???

    Okay, I am taking the week off..and not with pay either to finish my WIP.

    THAT is what I am doing this week to make MY dream come true!!

  11. Ahhh. . . the last "C". . .Covers!
    They are beautiful, and I love the way you do math! I just got my hands on Petticoat Ranch on Saturday. My d-i-l (who is also a writer) saw it, jumped up and down, and took it! So now I have to wait until she's finished to read it. It's the least I could do for the mother of my adorable grandchildren.
    Congrats on your continued success.

  12. Clever, classy Connealy! You always make my day!

    I'd have to say I'm currently focusing on Connections, Contests, and Conferences. I'm getting ready to go to Mount Hermon next week with my friend Carla.

  13. Ooooh, I hit "publish" too quickly! Carla (with a C!) is my Critique partner!

  14. Beautiful covers, Mary! I can not wait to read Calico Canyon, I enjoyed Petticoat Ranch so much!

    ryanx6 @ msn . com

  15. Calico Canyon has the suspense action elements but it's more of a flat out romantic comedy than Petticoat Ranch.
    And Carla, honey, honey, do NOT wait for the mother of your grandchildren, hurry out and buy another copy.

    Just one possible way to handle it.

  16. Tell me what you're doing right now of these C's to make your dream of being a published author come true.

    Since you so sweetly asked...

    Connecting:: Writing loops, such as ACFW. Blog, such as Seekers.

    Critique:: Critting my CPs stuff, having my newest WIP critted, and critting for other unpubbie writers who've beta read for me. Critting my 8th-grade son's English paper. He wasn't happy with me. Hello. It's not as if I marked any spellos or missing commas, or commented on weak verbs.

    The beta reads I received were encouraging, but the crit my mentor-chick gave pained me. I should be working on fixing what needs to be fixed, but...well, to be frank, I'm scared that I don't have the suspense-writer skill to tweek the scene like it needs to be tweeked.

    Courses:: Hmm. Tina recommended one to me last month, but I wasn't compelled enough to take it. But in youth Sunday School yesterday, a psychologist talked about brain damage from head injuries and drug use. Fascinating! He gave me insight into things I could use for my WIP.

    Contests:: I entered the ms I finished last month in the Genesis. I'm considering entering a couple other contests with either that ms or the one I'm working on.

    Covers:: My mom gave me a new tablecloth for Christmas. Last month, I think, I washed the sheets on all the beds in the house. No nudists in the house either.

    Compulsive:: I bought a 12-pack of Starbucks frappachinos at CostCo on Saturday and I won't share with the kids. They aren't happy with me. But after the shrink talked in Sunday School about addictions, I'm thinking I have one with Starbucks and chocolate. Neither glorify God, which is a real bummer. Sometimes it doesn't pay to go to church, not when the addiction is so tasty.

    Oh, I thought of another C.

    Coordinating:: I'm coordinating the Long and Short contemporary categories of FHL's Touched by Love contest.

  17. Ah, Gina. A contest coordinator in our midst. That is a really generous, sweet, sacrificial (just as Camy and Cheryl) thing to do.

    Thank you for your generous spirit of volunteerism.

    And I think loving coffee and chocolate and knowing your children are too young to fully appreciate it (they eat dirt part of the time, right??) is probably a gift from God, rather than a sin. So enjoy and give the kids a spoon, a cup and a garden hose and point them to the back yard for their treat.

  18. And then there is a C for coordination, which is what anybody with such a busy writing and marketing schedule needs. I am new to writing as a career, even though I have written constantly (another C!) since I learned to read. I find that it is no mean feat to juggle my assorted tasks and still stay focused on my big C -- creativity with words. You and the comments (C there!) have given me some great food for thought, but that is a T word, and doesn't fit the model. Clearly (C!) you deserve all the accomplishments on your list. I plan to compliment (Oh, C!) you the best way I know how -- Copy (See? another C!) as in emulate.

  19. Katherine, Change 'thought' to contemplate and you've alliterated your way through an entire post. Nice work. :)

  20. Y'all are Cracking me up!! (C!)

    Gina, I got a real kick out of your Covers section. LOL

    Right now I'm working on Completion. I'm zooming toward a BBM (big black moment!).


  21. Janna, are those your children or did you just steal a picture of five beautiful children, not a bad idea really, way less work than raising your own, just steal pictures.

    It's a terrific picture.
    I dressed all my girls in red one year for a Christmas card picture when the older three were around high school age. I thought it was glorious.
    The girls weren't so thrilled, the little brats. They called it:
    'A Street Walker Christmas'.

  22. Gina said:
    in youth Sunday School yesterday, a psychologist talked about brain damage from head injuries and drug use. Fascinating! He gave me insight into things I could use for my WIP.

    Phew! I was afraid she was going to say she'd diagnosed a few Seekers during Sunday School and this whole blog was starting to make a sick kinda sense to her.

  23. This will be a fun place to visit and learn!

  24. Mary, your C's not only made sense, they provide a great checklist. How am I doing at them, you ask?

    Connect - Just joined ACFW, I'm part of a writers group, and love reading The Seekers blog

    Critique-Had my work critiqued by a writer friend but she doesn't write in same market, looking for a critique partner/group. Developing my tought outer shell.

    Courses- I hadn't thought about that one. I'll have to keep my eyes open on one that strikes my fancy.

    Contests-Entered two now and am just waiting for the commments so I can start tackling the stuff that needs fixed.

    Covers - Made a mock one after the blog the other day to keep posted by the computer :)BTW I love your covers!

    Compulsive - Who me?

    Crazy, creative, contemplate, and chocolate -- Who would have thought so many C words fit writers?

  25. Jeanelle! Hi, there.
    Guys, Jeanelle has a blog about being a dairy farmer.
    Yes, that's right. A soul sister of mine.
    here it is:
    A writer friend (not you guys, yes, I DO TO have other friends--not many, granted) told me about this site and it's really interesting. At least to another dariy farmer. :)

  26. Lorna, Have you tried getting involved with a critique group through ACFW. They don't always work out but I love mine.
    It's worth a try.
    Myra, one of our very own Seekers, is in charge of critique groups for FHL which is the Faith, Hope and Love chapter of Romance Writer's of America, an online RWA chapter for inspirational romance authors.

  27. Actually, Mary, the whole shrink thing in Sunday School was a blessing. In my current WIP...umm, how shall I say this...well, mental health issues is a componant.

    See, about 2-ish weeks ago, my agent sent my medieval to an editor who passed but was interested in anything else I had. So my agent sent my one-sheet for my victorian. On the side was mini-burbs for a couple other stories. NONE were completed mss.

    Anyhoo, the editor asked for partials of the victorian AND my civil war story. Umm. I hadn't looked at the latter in almost 5 years, so I skadaddled to revising. After I had the first 3 chapters done, my mentor critted it. Ouch. She's so not into letting me take the easy road.

    So on Saturday night when I was reading over her crit, I prayed, "God, I really need a Christian psychologist's insight into mental health. Not only that, but I need some help figuring out what my heroine's spiritual journey is." Okay, so I get the chitlins ready for church and, on a whim, decide to bring my journal.

    Call me a heathen if you want, but after I had baby #5 a year ago, I quit carrying my Bible and journal to church because I had so many other things to tote. Plus I figured out I could take notes on the bulletin if I really liked the sermon and the verses were on the big screen, so having my Bible or journal isn't required for a good worship service. :-)

    Yet yesterday, I really felt the need to bring my journal. I stuck it and my bottle of frappachino in the diaper bag, then removed them before handing off the littlest chitlin to the nursery staff.

    Get this. Pastor preached on "Maintaining a life of intimacy with God." You can't be intimate with God if you don't...(he listed 9 differnt things). My heroine does the first three, the most common ones Christians do. But beyond that, nothing, which explains why she's still struggling with past issues.

    Yes, I took notes. :-)

    So then I went to youth Sunday School in the gym. The girl who usually runs Media Shout was sick, so I had to push the buttons. I've got mad button pushing skills...even when the band totally screws up by singing the words totally out of order.

    Dr. Earl Henslin mentioned he was going to be talking about "how we respond to life's hurts can block our relationship with God." (

    Now what are the odds that on the very Sunday after I prayed for specific help, God provided specific help? And it's not as if Pastor's sermon was a last minute change or Dr. Henslin being a last minute substitute. God knew what I needed before I knew I had a need. How awesome is He?!

    So my last C is Confidence that God is far bigger than my finite mind can conceive. Everything happens in His timing to bring Him honor and glory.

  28. Mary, Have you visited Arizona? It is the five C state. Your lesson reminded me of my teaching days when the students had to memorize the five C's. Remember those Glynna (my AZ pal).

    Anyway, I like your five C's better. How appropriate and then all the added C's after that. We really are a C plus group. smile

    Hmmmm now what am I doing. Well covers are big with me now since my book just came out and my niece is on the cover. You have to love that. I love your covers btw They go with your great style of writing Mary. Thanks for giving us such a fun lesson.

  29. i too cant wait to read Calico Canyon.
    i loved both petticoat ranch and golden days.

    oh please dont enter me for this weeks contest.

  30. You book sounds wonderful to read. I love the cover art! I watched the show "Petticoat Junction" a lot. Thanks for you blog on the C'S. I am not a writer, but one can apply them to life. Thanks,Cindi

  31. I love coming here! There is always so much fun learning going on!

    Now, does Closet Writing count as a "C"? I'm admitting this in public, because I want to follow the Lord in my writing. I've started my blog, I'm reading great Christian fiction at a furious pace and taking copious notes, my reviews are getting better, and technically, I'm writing more than I have in years.

    But, I don't really know if I want to go back to the only complete manuscript I have and look at it again or try something new. I have ideas, but can't seem to find a starting place.

    So perhaps "cautious" is a "C" that's got me sort of hung up right now. Or maybe it's a "crossroad" instead. Not real sure about that yet.

    I love visiting here!

    kimfurd (at) hotmail (dot) com

  32. I love this blog! You gals are too much fun!

    I'm trying hard with the C's, baby...doing what I can.

    Like my writing I'm a work in progress!

  33. Gina, I love your additional "C". That's one I want to rely on always!