Monday, January 2, 2012

The First Money I Ever Made WRITING!

I still remember so vividly the first sale. It wasn’t a full length novel. It was a Christmas play. For which I earned the princely sum of $75. I was ecstatic.

I fully advise anyone seeking publication to consider shorter forms of writing as a way to earn a bit of money, build a resume and affirm that you’re not wasting your life!!!

For years I was the director of my very small church’s Sunday School Christmas Program. Our Sunday school needed material that (I learned this term) was broadly graded.

What broadly graded means is, I needed a skit or play or something that I could use for about two dozen kids ages 18 to 3.

Bigger parts for the high schoolers, short one liners for the younger elementary kids. Standing around in silence for the 3 and 4 year olds…who might abandon their post and go sit with Mommy at any moment.

Well, it was hard to find. REALLY hard to find. Add to that, I had no budget…translation: I had to pay for anything I found, any costumes we needed, any special set…myself.

Of all these challenges finding a good play was the hardest. Keep in mind here that there was little or no internet back then. The internet existed -- Al Gore had already invented it -- but I didn’t have it in my home. There was no Amazon (to my knowledge anyway). I had to go somewhere (I live a looooooooooong way out in the country) find some store that carried such things as Sunday School Christmas Plays and start digging through them.

So, I ended up writing them myself. I won’t go into the stress of that. The worry (yeah, I know, worry isn’t Christian….so I’m not only having to write the program myself…I’m a stinking sinner while I’m fretting over it! Great!)

Well, wait a minute, let me go into the stress of it for a second after all. I’d start writing the play about six months early and at that point I’d start worrying. By the time the play would go off at Christmas time, I had the whole thing memorized. It would run endlessly through my head. It fed my insomnia like little else…the only thing I can remember being as bad was the few years I coached softball when my daughters were young. Guess what? Softball????? Me??? Mary 'Klutzy Couch Potato' Connealy???? We lost a LOT of games. I lost a LOT of sleep. Insomnia is my default reaction to anything (and sometimes NOTHING)

Back to the play…I’d rewrite and revise, kids would show up at the last minute, you know---kids that belonged to our church whom I’d forgotten existed. And yet here they’d come, sometimes showing up for the Sunday of the Christmas program for the first time, wanting a part in the play.

So, anyway, I wrote a new play every year for about ten years. And when I finally quit--at the urging of my cardiologist and psychiatrist and the straight jacket repair squad--I had a nice little body of work.

So, one Sunday--the week after the program--which was a delightful play called Clashing Symbols that had a sing-song chant reminiscent of The House That Jack Built--this sweet little old lady in our church asked me if I’d ever tried to get my plays printed. The lady worked for our local newspaper, the smallest of small down weeklies. But still, that's the publishing industry, right? I thought she might KNOW STUFF. When she said that, a light bulb came on. I’d never once considered that I could try and get my plays published. I’d been trying to get my BOOKS published but never my plays.

So, by now I had the internet at home. I started hunting for publishing companies for Christmas Program plays and I found two of them. I tidied up my play (took out individual children’s names and put in CHARACTERS, stuff like that) and sent it in AND THEY BOUGHT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m getting chills writing this (of course it’s kinda cold in here, but still!!!!)

It was a wonderful moment.

Anyway, I went up to that sweet little old lady in church and told her, “It worked! Thank you so much! Thanks to you I got my play published!” (insert Kermit the Frog Dancing here)

And she said, “I’m a bit deaf and couldn’t hear the play, and I just wanted you to print up a copy for me so I could figure out what was going on.”

(insert extended dead silence broken only by the sound of crickets chirping)

They say God works in mysterious ways. And in this instance, I believe not even Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, teamed up with Nancy Drew and Sam Spade could’ve seen that coming!

Christmas Treasures
by Mary Connealy et al
I dug out four more of my plays (I couldn't find any more) and got them published, too. (These four went in a bigger book called Christmas Treasures and they’re still available on Amazon).

I don’t really recommend you buy them and stage your own original Mary Connealy play. Some of the plays are………a little sarcastic. (I know, you're shocked!) I’d hate to see your church split over them. Also the book costs a FORTUNE. Twenty-five bucks for a ten year old book currently ranked 2 millionth on Amazon? Get over yourself and put it on sale already.

And that is the heartwarming story of how deafness launched my career. How insomnia made me what I am today and (sniffle) how I earned my first money as a writer. I should have distributed tissues before I told you that poignent tale.

Hope your New Year is blessed and full of fun and joy and wonderful FIRSTS.

And since this is the first blog day (it's January second, I know, shut up) of the first week of the first month I'm giving away the first Seeker prize of 2012.
A fifteen dollar Amazon gift card.
I've got some copies of that book with the FIRST play in it kicking around, too, if anyone wants one. Heaven knows I'm not gonna use them again.
I got a note from my cardiologist and retired right before writing and directing that play killed me!!!!


Abbi Hart (gatorade635) said...

So cool to see how one of my favorite authors got her start!

MaryC said...

What a great story, Mary.

You know, if one was to take that $15 Amazon card and add $10, one could purchase that big book of Conneally (and other no need to be mentioned) plays and it would sort of be like getting it on sale after all.


This story brought up a really tragic memory for me. I wrote my first (and only) play when I was about 11. In family lore, it goes down with the informal name as "the play that had no end until they dragged us off the stage."
Seriously - this was supposed to be a camp talent show - the kind where you juggle balls for 5 minutes or something.
They let us perform for about half an hour or more before someone kindly told us we had to get off the stage.
All I remember was it was some kind of frontier woman story. Hmmmm - maybe I could revisit for LIH.

And now, since this comment is going on almost as long as that play, I'll say goodnight and slink myself out of the room.

Carol Moncado said...

How fun!

I sold last year. Sort of. Nothing all that exciting.

And I got paid in a copy of the book.

No cash.

But hey - my step-mother-in-law unwrapped it, flipped to the bookmark and promptly forgot all about the Starbucks card that was holding the place in the book when she saw my name. And read it sitting right there while everyone else was waiting to finish opening their presents.

I, uh, sort of forgot to give copies to everyone else... I'll have to do that...

So glad you got those books sold, Mary, dear!

I'd love to be entered for that card! I have an I <3 Lucy DVD set I'm saving for. My 10yo loves her and I sense endless hours of summer enjoyment coming from it :D.

carolmoncado at gmail dot com

Diana Prusik said...

Too funny! So glad you got your start in publishing, and what a hilarious story it is!

Melissa Jagears said...

Both MaryC's gave me a good laugh tonight! Thanks.

Virginia said...

HAHAHA! Oh, that was a great post. My dad is a little hard of hearing and once I read him a Chinese fortune cookie that said, 'Your future will include brilliance and eloquence'... And he yells back, 'Millions of elephants?'


But worry isn't Christian? Oh man...

Ausjenny said...

thats so cool about the plays. I know when I was teaching Sunday School (here its mainly for children of primary school age sometimes there may be a class for teens). I had the 4 - 6/7 age group. we went to a seminar on teaching and had electives. one was a puppet class. One of the people who held the class wrote puppet plays which she had published. She also had some she was willing to share with others also.

I would love to go in the draw for the card too. I love that I can use amazon gift cards to feed my kindle addiction.
Oh when they say the battery lasts 3 weeks they must be talking about someone not reading for hours on end! Mine lasted 9 days with me not reading hardly at all on day 8 and 9 (day nine I arrived home but was so exhausted I napped on the bus and didn't read).

Mary Cline said...

Love that Mary, and MaryC too. I've written a few Christmas programs and printed them off so people could follow along and understand what the kids were saying. Then threw them away I guess. A while back my Mom gave me one that she saved (thanks Mom) it really wasn't that bad.
I really laughed out loud at your story Virginia, sounds like some of the conversations I have with my husband occasionally. He shot hit shot gun too many times for too many years without earplugs. I haven't thought up an excuse for myself yet.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Mary,

what an eerie tale. It's almost like we were twins separated at birth... LOL


you've given me an astounding idea.And I believe you still have your hearing. So this doubly awesome.

I too have those Christmas Plays. One or two lying around. A full contata.Filled with haunting music, but I'm quite certain it would lack sarcasm. It's just not in me.
Never the less, I may just have to dust up the beauties and check out that end of the printing world.


Tina P.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, that's hysterical.

I knew Mary when she was in the last throes of "Playdom" I believe...

Sleepless nights.

Restless days...

More sleepless nights.

I did not kill her. As tempting as that was. I may or may not have laughed at her.

(go directly to "may", do not pass go, do not collect her $75 for her wonderful little play)

I love that the old gal just wanted to hear the parts. Obviously the Holy Spirit in his wisdom and guidance, thought otherwise! You go, Holy Spirit! Go!!!!

I am not going to touch the softball thing. Because there were only 9 kids in Mary's town, and you don't get a lot of 'choices' when it comes to left field with 9 kids.

She got my sympathy on that one!

Helen W said...

That is an awesome story, Mary! And I am thoroughly impressed that you could write a broadly graded play not once, but multiple times.

The beauty of an Amazon gift card is we can even use it here in Australia :) Please pop me in the draw!

Jenna Victoria said...

Mary that is hilarious - and a good illustration as to how God uses "everyone" in the weaving of His master plan for our lives. My first "sale" was to a confession magazine, now defunct. Hopefully it wasn't my story that caused everyone to bail, ha ha ha. Cashing that small check sure made me feel like a writer! Thanks for giving me a reminder that yes, I can write, and I am worthy of this goal to become published as an inspirational novelist.

Annie Rains said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I was estatic last year just to have an article printed locally, and they didn't even pay me. I think I'd jump up and down if someone offered me a quarter for one of my stories, lol.

Happy New Year everyone!

Annie Rains said...

I forgot to mention to please put me in the drawing for the Amazon card.

pol said...

Mary, I really enjoyed your story of how you wrote and sold your first plays, thinking all the way through of how you kept on with it never giving up and then at end to tell of the newspaper woman being deaf, I laughed and am still doing so as I write this comment, what a story. I am so glad you persevered and became the writer you are today, thanks for sharing. I would love to be in your drawing for gift card.

Paula O(

Rose said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks for sharing your first publishing story.

God's mysterious ways....ROCK!


Pepper said...

YAY Mary!! Happy New Year.
Love the story and it just reinforces what I believe already... I have a little bit of Mary Connealy in my creative mind.
Scary? ;-)

I wrote three Christmas plays (along with the music for each one)- none of which were ever published. And I probably would never WANT them to be published at this point. (shudder)

Had my first nonfiction article published in January 2011. I'm contemplating taking Tina's advice at trying to get a short story published through Women's World...maybe.

I had two poems published before that in some sort anthology (which I don't think really counts because my 11 year old did the same thing with his poem Why I Don't Write Poetry :-)

sherrindaketch said...

Happy New Year!

*crickets chirping* Bahahahaha!

You make me smile!

Here's to a new year of smiling, laughing, and reading gloriously funny books!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh Mary, I really had to laugh and shudder at your story. It brought back memories of all the plays I had to put on as a kindergarten teacher. And the worry and fear because you just know there will always be the little ones who go off and do their own thing. Fortunately they are so cute at that age that the audience loved them anyway.

But how great that you shared your wisdom and got those published for other poor Sunday school teachers to use. I know they were happy.

Looking back it is always amazing how the Holy Spirit nudges us toward His plan for us because look at you now. smiling

Happy New Year my friend.

Melanie said...

Great story! I'd love to be entered in the giveaway! :)

frequentreader19 (at) gmail (dot) com

Debra E. Marvin said...

Wait a minute. Ive written a few church plays as well and made all the costumes. And (that's a big And) I made a set of muppet style puppets as well. I never thought about doing anything more with them but eventually step down and gain back my Christmas and Easter holidays!

You are just too clever Mary.

Debra E. Marvin said...

Okay. The music. Need music. Pepper when you are ready we shall join together to be a play production empire. ( or not) definitely stressful. And fun.

Cathy Shouse said...

Great story, Mary.

Do you think writing the plays helped you write books in any way?

Would you mind giving us a thumbnail overview of how you went from being a published playwright to a full-fledged novelist? :) Some of the steps along the journey and how long it took? If you've posted it, I've forgotten it and I'd love to see that.

Please enter me for the gift card!

Renee said...

Great post, Mary! Thanks for making me smile this morning. The chapel group at my school would've loved having you around. I have helped write a few skits in the past, but they were far from worth publishing. And you made roles and dialogue for every kid--Wow! Congrats!

Patty Wysong said...

Loved hearing how God used that event. Too funny and yet so cool. =]

Pepper said...

That's a deal :-)
And I think we'd have a lot of fun doing it too!!
How are you at playing the harmonica? ;-)

Kav said...

Love this, Mary. And you know what? I spent hours this fall looking for suitable Christmas plays for various classes to perform in the school I work at. Honestly -- the selection was dismal and there was nothing for more than 6-8 characters and no teacher in her right mind wants to orchestrate 4+ plays just before Christmas! I think I just might spend some of my library budget on that play book still available on Amazon. :-)

Lorna said...

Mary, what a great story! I have no doubt they snatched up your dramas. Mixing age groups is always so hard and you keyed in on their unique "needs".

Glad you got a doctor's note to quit the drama business. Sometimes that's what it takes to relinquish a position in a church gracefully. :)

I have to admit that visualizing you as a softball coach is much harder than visualizing you as a director. The team may not have won, but I'm sure they had fun. I can hear you now, "It's not like any of you are going to make a CAREER of this."

Julie Lessman said...

MARY -- a playwright first -- how VERY cool!! Were you as much fun with those kids as you are with us??? If so, it's a wonder they ever let you quit ... GREAT story!!

CAROL!!! ALSO a great story -- how fun!! Imagine their reactions when you give them your own very first novel!!!

VIRGINIA!!! "Millions of elephants" ... PRICELESS!!

ANNIE AND PEP ... SUPER CONGRATS on the published articles, girls -- WAY COOL!!

PEP SAID: "poem Why I Don't Write Poetry" LOL ... LOVE it!!


Janet Dean said...

Mary, thank you for the delightful post! I didn't see the sweet old lady's deafness coming! LOL I'm sure your plays were the highlight of Christmas at your church. God bless you for all those sleepless nights. I taught Sunday School to Kindergarden and first graders for years and can't imagine directing a play.

I wrote an essay or two but never earned a dime with my writing until I sold my first book. I think back on all the little romances I wrote at the age of twelve and allowed my friends to read. I should've charged. :-)Though rejection at that age would've been devastating.


Jamie Adams said...

Loved hearing about your first sale Mary!

I'd forgotten about the plays I wrote for the youth group summer camp when I was a teen (it's been quite a few summers ago) they were Ranger Rick saves the day sarcastic silly teenage girl stuff. I don't know anyone deaf enough to want to read them.

Please put me in the drawing. Amazon and I are on a first name basis.

Happy New Year!

*Virginia you cracked me up! I laughed so hard my eyes watered.

Pepper said...

Thanks Jules.
And yeah, my oldest child is so sarcastic.
I don't know where he gets it...

Melanie Dickerson said...

I love this story, Mary!!! And I totally agree about getting something shorter published. It makes you feel like you really are a writer and gives you hope. I sold, I believe, two short stories for children, and one article for a teen Sunday School paper, when I first started writing again. I'll never forget how validating it was to sell that first short story! I'd sold fiction that I wrote! I was so excited! I think they sent me a check for $41, and I was so happy that someone would actually give me money for something I wrote. Completely thrilling.

But then I decided I wanted to write novels, and that was the beginning of the tears. If only I'd known, I could have stuck with the short stories and articles and I'd still be happy! JUST KIDDING!!! Sort of.

That was fun, Mary!!! And you know, for someone stressing over what play to put on for Christmas, $25 would be quite a bargain to get all those Connealy plays in one book!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Aw, Mary C, I'm sure your play was great. They just had to make time for all those 5-min. jugglers. But you had REAL talent! Seriously, an 11-yr-old who can write a play is impressive. Writers get all kinds of rejection, don't they? And once you get published, you get lots more criticism and nasty reviews.

Where was I going with this?

Anyway, I'm glad you are still writing Mary C and Mary Connealy!!! Even if the woman only wanted you to print it so she could read it, it was still used for your good! And the good of all Christmas play directors in the English-speaking world.

Jan Drexler said...

I laughed all the way through your story, Mary!

(Well, maybe not the part about the insomnia. I hate insomnia.)

My first sale was an article for The Homemaker's Mentor - and I've gone on to write many more articles for the website, and we even collaborated on a book that's at the printers as we speak... Small money that has been growing as the business grows...

It's been enough to 1) give me confidence in my writing abilities and 2) pay for contest entries and craft books! Yay!

And 3) convince my dear husband that the computer he bought for me so I could pursue my writing dream was money well spent.

And Mary, I think that sweet old lady gave you more than a misunderstood push into the publishing world - she also showed you the power of the perfect plot twist :)

Christina said...

Mary, I love this story! Did you ever use the old lady in one of your books?

I've written a few shorts. Four, three are unfinished and one I submitted to WW and was promptly rejected. *g* I thought I could change the story and since I haven't looked at it in a year or so I still might, but my mother and her love for dolls was my inspiration and I don't know of any other place that takes stories that short.

Mary Connealy said...

I got the four plays in Christmas Treasures published through css publishing.
I got the single play Clashing Symbols published through Contemporary Drama Services.

Go do it. God bless you all and good luck.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my stars, this is a hoot. You guys realize that for Mary WRITING the play was easier than FINDING a play, right?

Hey, I'm dropping off LAST DAY COOKIES....

Because today is technically a holiday for New Year's, I'm handing out delicious cookies to one and all.

And fresh coffee.

And a cooler of Cokes.

And sweet tea, true Southern style.

And did I mention I loved eating banana praline pancakes at Shoney's while I was in Nashville?

Random. Yes. Must go cough on some unsuspecting store clerk in the pharmacy section. Poor thing. She has no idea what's about to 'hit' her.

karenk said...

Congratulations on your first play, Mary...loved the story :)

Happy New Year to you and yours.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Mary Connealy said...

I wrote NO music. I just used whatever fit from the chilren's music we used at Sunday School or from the church hymnal.
I always started the plays (well, maybe not ALWYS who can remember) with
Oh Come All Ye Faithful. I thought that was the most perfect call to worship.
The children would march in to it usually.

Mary Connealy said...

I once had a child all set to sing O Holy Night. We decorated the Christmas tree at our church with with what we call Crismons or Chrismons maybe.
Lots of cool old baubles that are shaped weirdly, like a star, a cross and a fish to give you ones you'd know, but lots of others, too.
So each child would hold up the symbol, tell what it meant, then hang it on the tree. We included the tinsel, the lights, the tree itself (all in an attempt to have enough parts for everyone). Then, the tree all pretty and decorated, the plan was to hit the lights (we had our plays at night so pitch dark) turn on the tree, then the haunting melody of O Holy Night would fill the church as everyone gazed in awe at the tree, (like no one had ever seen one of those before!)
Only trouble was, the minute we were plunged into darkness and the music (on cassette) began playing there was no singing.

My soloist couldn't read the words in the dark.
A mad frenzy ensued and we got through it. No thanks to me. We'd never practiced at night. It had never occurred to me that without the lights she wouldn't be able to read!!!!!!!!!
Something to make me twist and turn long into the night for years...well until softball season.

Mary Connealy said...

Ruthy, I keep thinking about the apple dumplings. I'm so hungry for them.

But I'd have to drive to town to get the ingredients.

And then I'd make them and then I'd EAT THEM. What is the point of the whole thing?????

Right now it's like I already did the whole thing and I'm done and the kitchen is cleaned up. The only difference? The remembered pleasure of the food and the 1000 calories.

Still, I might drive to the store!

Jeanne T said...

What a fun story, Mary! I was chuckling to myself as I read it. I appreciate the encouragement to get something smaller published. Makes a lot of sense.

I haven't sold anything yet, but I want to try my hand at magazine articles as a way to begin to build a repertoire of writring

I'd love to be entered in today's drawing.

Jeanne T said...

Virginia, love your new picture!

Mary Connealy said...

I'm sorry to be oblique. I meant the Apple Dumplings Ruthy and Missy featured on Yankee Belle Cafe on Saturday.

runner10 said...

You've come a long way!!
I would love a GC. There are a long list of books to buy.

Joanne Sher said...

TOTALLY cracked me up, Mary! My first sale (depending on how you define it) was a magazine article - for $10.

Would LOVE the GC. joanne(at)joannesher(dot)com

Donna said...

What a cute story! I wonder if that sweet lady knew how instrumental she was? It was definitely a God thing! Thanks for sharing your story!

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Mary, you once again have me laughing like a crazy person. My husband just asked me what on earth I was reading. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Virginia!! LOLOL!!! You just added to it!! :)

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, MaryC! Definitely pull that play out! :)

Missy Tippens said...

My first payment (besides $20 for a contest of some sort) was for my short story with BelleBooks (Blessings of Mossy Creek). I was so excited to take that check to the bank to open my writing account!

Mary Connealy said...

Donna, I think I told the lady, but heaven only knows if she HEARD ME!!!!!!!!!!

Angie Adair said...

I look forward to reading your books!

Casey said...

I still remember my very first story: I wrote an essay for my local newspaper about my favorite fair memory.

It won third place! And I got my picture in the paper and tickets to the state fair and a tshir that could have fit my dad. But it was for me. ;-)

I think I was in the 3rd grade.

Fun story Mary! :D Now look where you are! Making money off those gazillions of books you write and sell every year. Rich and famous! ;)

Debra E. Marvin said...

Pepper I am so good at air-harmonica even Stevie Wonder is worried. If I could tap dance id give up this writing career altogether.

Mary Connealy said...

Rich and famous, Casey?

Somehow that has eluded me, both rich and famous.

But I'm richer and famouser (famouser?) than I used to be.

Mary Connealy said...

Wow, I'm so SLEEPY.
I read some newstory somewhere this morning saying, "If you truly want a productive day, go eat breakfast."

Inspired, as many weak minds are apt to be...I made an omelet, toast, orange juice adn a cup of my dearly beloved Tetley's Earl Grey tea...NOT decaf.

And now I'm so groggy I think I need a nap.

I am easily suggestable. Not unlike a golden retriever.

Mary Connealy said...

Usually I drink a Diet Coke for breakfast and maybe snag a donut from the mini-mart on my way to work.

Keeps me roaring along all morning.

I think some science is really just a bunch of guys makin' stuff up.

Missy Tippens said...

Mary, your body is in shock from a healthy breakfast. :)

Tracy Krauss said...

I was happy to see this post. I write a lot of plays and have sold two to date. I know what you mean when you say you were ecstatic. In fact, I made more money on my first play through royalties and performance fees than my first novel!

Mary Connealy said...

TRACY! Good for you! Where did you sell them?
When I hunted around the websites of css publishing and Contemporary Drama Services I saw a lot of names I knew from ACFW. So it's not just me.
They also sold...(one of them) sermons. So if you're married to a minister, (or are one yourself)try to sell those. Or devotions. Think of all the writing you do and open your minds to the possibilities.

(isn't that how the Twilight Zone started? Cue the creepy music)

Mary Connealy said...

Casey, all the things I wrote in
3rd grade are written on scrolled up papyrus.


Rebekah E. said...

Happy New Year. Thanks for the great story.

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Congratulations to you Mary. And in usual Mary style - you crack me up with the church lady's request. HA!

You're encouraging as USUAL!!!!

Happy 2012 all! Looking forward to being part of Seekerville this year and thanks to everyone else who is "here"... It's all good.

Pepper said...

Rich in all the best ways!
Heart, humor, and Heaven!
Not to mention a ton of creativity!!!

Pepper said...

I'm pretty good on the spoons! Sounds like a plan ;-)

Vince said...

Hi Mary:

All my first sales were jokes. I got $200 from Reader’s Digest and Changing Times paid me $20 for this joke:

“Due to inflation there now actually is a dime’s worth of different between the two major parties.”

Over the years I found out that “needing money makes me funny”. These days, however, I can be funny for nothing.

Your story was funny but what would have happened if the lady had said: “You should mimeograph your plays?” Clarity is overrated.


Have you thought of using your church play experience in a romance? Winnie Griggs did a great job with her Contemporary Love Inspired romance about a church bell choir. (She is a historical writer.) The opportunities for characters to mix and grow were great.

I think a church play would be even better. I mean the ‘Play’s the thing’…and all that.

Look at the plot opportunities: the problems of putting the play on (my kid needs a biiger part) could mirror the problems facing the community (like the ending of the free range) while at the same time reflecting the problems between the hero and heroine (their differences over raising children). She has a boy and he has a girl to raise.

The heroine writes the play to show how her views are the correct ones. However, the kids in the play conspire to change the play without telling anyone! The performance surprises everyone with its heartwarming solution to all these various problems and the kids’ matchmaking works! HEA!

With what you already know about the subject and writing, I think you could write this romance in two weeks.

I’m sure Love Inspired would buy this story even without three chapters. Surely you can fit in another publisher this year. : )

Happy New Year!


P.S. I’m off to the Health Club to work out with the other guys I see each year for a few days in January. We have timeshare memberships in the gym. : )

Missy Tippens said...

LOLOL, Vince!!! Have fun and don't strain anything since it's been 11 months since your last visit.


Walt Mussell said...

Mary, I acquired a copy of Alaska Brides as a last minute Christmas present to myself. Getting a Mary Connealy first ever work, though, would be amazing.

It was a slim year in getting paid to write this year as my best result was when RWR killed the article they'd accepted, generating my first and only kill fee.

Mary Connealy said...

Vince I have already based a novel on my play writing experience. It's called Calico Canyon.

Mary Connealy said...

But I could do it again. Revisit the concept of an overwrought teacher and her unruly students.

Mary Connealy said...

Walt! I've got the anthology on my Kindle that has your book included. How about that? Surely you made big bucks from that.
And no, I haven't read it yet and I apologize for that.

Right now I'm reading "The Virginian" Because I'm setting a book near Medicine Bow, Wyoming at almost the exact same time as The Virginian was based there.
I'm afraid I'm reading this timeless classic....mainly looking for scenery, big sky, mountains. Flora and fauna. Is that anyway to behave? Huh?

Also, I'm reading it between plays of the Capitol One Bowl with Nebraska, south carolina maybe?

Plus I've been hearing awful South Carolina jokes all week. (every one of which is just as funny if you substitute Nebraska for South Carolina)

One I just heard:
If two people in South Carolina get divorced, are they still cousins?

(I've heard that before with most with every state in the union)

Karen Lange said...

Inspiring story, Mary! Love it! :)

Walt Mussell said...

Mary, I haven't got paid for that one yet. My first royalty check will be later this year.

Lane Hill House said...

"A fifteen dollar Amazon gift card.
I've got some copies of that book with the FIRST play in it kicking around, too, if anyone wants one."

Yes, please! For both...
So funny! I am glad you heard her "right" instead of a photocopy! Happy New Year, Mary!!

Mary Connealy said...

Good luck, Walt. And good luck being able to descipher a royalty statement. There's a challenge for you.
Hope you make at least.......$75.


Lane Hill House said...

And ... Money I made writing!
Hopeful the comment will be drawn for the $15 Amazon gift card so I can buy ~*~ boooooks!!!!! ~*~ Mary Connealy

Jackie S. said...

Always enjoy your posts, Mary!! And your books! Would love to win the gift card; have some books "sitting" in my cart! lol
Happy New Year.

Walt Mussell said...

$75 would be great. Anything would be great!

Like Ruthy always says, "getting paid to write is great." (Hope I'm not misquoting you there, Ruthy.)

Denise Hunter said...

Wow! Great story! I never knew any of this about you, Mary! I will have to look up those plays. The Lord does, indeed, work in mysterious ways. Have a great 2012. My wish is that you get your publishers to publish your books shorter distances apart. The wait between sequels almost kills me!

Brandi said...

That story is touching and hilarious, Mary. Thanks for sharing with us how you got your start making money from writing.

Happy New Year!

Mary Connealy said...

Denise, bless your heart for wanting more of my books.

Did you know I have a novella on sale ... ebook only ... for 99 cents. Kindle or also loads onto a PC. Co-written with Robin Lee Hatcher. Well, not exactly co-written, it's two novellas, we each wrote our own.
It's title is: A Home for Christmas: The Sweetest Gift/A Christmas Angel.
My book is The Sweetest Gift and it's very loosely based on my mom's parents real-life marriage of convenience.
The set up is true but they romance isn't because of course to have a romance novel you have to have CONFLICT. You need something to keep the two lovers apart. Something that can be overcome only by TRUE LOVE.

By all accounts my grandparents got along well right from the start.
Where's the romance novel in that, huh?

Virginia said...

Thanks, Jeanne T! It took a while to get one where I didn't look irritated. I think that's my fall-back expression. I even had one where I was basically giving the 'mom look'. I thought I was smiling. All the kids saw it and went to do their chores... :D

I think the first thing I ever got published was in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and I was so excited because it meant I was FUNNY. :) It's not a snark-free site, but I've read their 'How To Put On A Sportsbra' article about 20 times and it still makes me laugh so hard I cry.
The first real thing I got paid for was an article in AntiqueWeek about a family heirloom marble. $150 check came in the mail and my husband sat up and took notice. *smile* After that, it was a lot easier to find time to write, somehow!

Virginia said...

Mary, I love that your grandparents got along well right from the start! But true, the story needs a conflict... Of course, give a couple 20-30 years and you get some conflict in there to overcome.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Okay, so you're an inspiration in more ways than one. (Trying not to blubber my adoration here.)

This is a wonderful post, not only for writers, but for those of us who belong to small country churches.

Our Sunday school needed material that (I learned this term) was broadly graded. Who knew? I didn't. What a concept!

No, I haven't written any plays for our Sunday School program although it's crossed my mind - every year, in fact, as I struggle to get something going. Well, I may still struggle, but at least I know it can be done.

And yes, I'd love to win a 10 yr old copy of a book which includes your Christmas plays, Mary. First, because you wrote it, and 2nd, because the Christmas story never gets old.

anita (at) anitamaedraper (dot) com

Happy blessed new year everyone!

Anita Mae.

Mary Connealy said...

The Huskers.........down in flames.
the season ends and it's time to start getting excited for NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not that I'm a fanatic fan or nuthin'.

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Anita Mae. It's so true that the Christmas story never gets old and I think, trying to come up with a fresh angle every year really caused me to study the story closely and all the verses all through the Bible that referred to it. I've got this cool insight about it that I will now share with you.
Did you know there are three old testament verses that mention where Jesus will be born?
They say (paraphrasing)
He will be born in the City of David (Bethlehem)
He will be called a Gallilean
Out of Egypt will I call my son.

Now we, knowing the story of Jesus, know exactly that that means of course. It's as simple as 'Jesus moved around as a child'

But before his birth this would have been a HUGE conflict in prophecy.

what I learned from this is a specific way in which our understanding is limited. We all know that, but we hear people say, the Bible says two different things. There is a conflict. If that verse is true, then this one must be wrong.

But if we just realize that our understanding is limited we can embrace the Bible in a much more courageous way, trusting in it, knowing it is NOT in conflict. It's our weakness, not the Bible's.

Susan Snodgrass said...

Loved it. I'd be tickled to death to get to read one of your plays. I have never read a word of yours that wasn't great!

Mary Connealy said...

And here's something else.
Remember when Elizabeth finds out she's going to give birth at an advanced age?
In Luke 1: 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words
Then in the same chapter Mary says:
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
(note here that she uses almost exactly the same words Zechariah used-expressing doubt)
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God

The angel only comforts and reassures her.
Now why is that? Why did they get treated so differently by the angel. I found that very interesting.

Mary Connealy said...

Susan, doesn't 'tickled to death' sound a little violent? Just relax now.

Valri said...

Great story, Mary! Everyone has those "humble stories" in their background no matter what we choose as our profession! I don't write but whatever we choose to do in life, there is bound to be a 'humble pie" incident! Glad you rose to the occasion and became a terrific writer! You had to start somewhere and a Christmas play was a good place to start! Isn't it amazing how Amazon has changed our world now? I love that place!

Connie Queen said...

I love reading stories of how everyone got started. This is hilarious.

Today is supposed to be my first real day of writing in Janauary, but all the kids and my husband are home. Was sent to Lowes to get a chain-saw sharpener which was exactly on my list of things to do today. Now I need to get playing around on the internet and get to writing.

Mary Connealy said...

Connie I don't think you should sharpen your chain saw. You might cut something if it's too sharp.

I know that's the idea, but still.....

LyndeeH said...

Funny,funny story, Mary! Certainly one you will always remember. Thanks for sharing it with us.

I've never written a play, but I've provided background music, playing flute for a bunch of them. I get a kick out of the little kids programs. Such innocence as they try so hard.

Whitney said...

Thanks for a wonderful story, Mary, and I'm taking this encouraging comment "Hope your New Year is blessed and full of fun and joy and wonderful FIRSTS" to heart!

I would love a peek at the play that got your lucrative writing ball rolling. ; ) Really...

Happy New Year! We've had our first "real" snow up here in Ohio today. It was just waiting for the New Year.


Joy said...

What an awesome way to get started writing! I am so glad you took that first step. I have enjoyed every single book you have written. I would love to read your first published work! Also, would love to win that gift card! ;) LOL

I haven't had anything published, unless you count my blog. I definitely haven't had any paying jobs yet. I am not giving up though!

MaryC said...

Ahhh, Connie. I SO understand. Today was my last day of vacation and I'd planned to get so much done. Alas, everyone else was home and had other plans - so many that it was an hour after I said I was starting before I got started on #1k1hr.
Ah well, they are family and it's good to have them. I'll.just.keep.reminding.myself.of.that.

No, really. :)

Ausjenny said...

Mary I wonder if the different responses to Mary and Zachariah by the Angel could be the ages. Zachariah was older and wiser and a priest who could have been perceived to be more mature in his faith where as Mary was still a young women some say possibly as young as 16 who wouldn't be as mature in her faith although she did show great faith, so the angel would take time to reassure her more. (thats my thinking anyway) sorry if I confused anyone I am the queen of it.

Connie Queen said...

Mary, thankfully it was my husband who was using the sharp chain saw. So far, everyone has returned with all their fingers and toes. So far.

MaryC, I'm not on vacation. I stay at home, but it's way too easy to get distracted.I have 6 kids who still live at home and 5 great danes that I breed. Well, "I" don't breed them but you get them point. And let's not forget my husband who works and goes to college both full-time.

I look foward in the mornings to waving goodbye to my kids as they leave to catch the bus. Actually, I'm normally yelling down the driveway that someone forgot their lunch or telling them to RUN before the bus leaves them.

I'm in awe of all of you who work and write. You have to be very determined.

Pam K. said...

As usual, Mary made me laugh! I needed that today (my daughter left for college this morning and my son went back to his dad last week. The "nest" seems awfully empty right now). What a fun story of writing and selling Christmas plays. The sweet little lady probably had no clue how God was using her to help Mary.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great story! I just wrote a Christmas pageant play . . . so I feel your pain.

Cynthia said...

How funny. God works in ways that we never imagine. Thanks for reminding us that there are other avenues for getting published.

Mary Connealy said...

AUSJENNY, what I always think is, that God knows what's in a person's heart. It's as simple as that. Mary's heart was right. Zechariah's wasn't.

HOWEVER Their is another take on it. Zechariah's mute-ness was presented as a punishment for his doubts. But later, when John the baptist was born and Zechariah spoke, it was a great miracle. It drew people's attention and let them know something BIG was happening.

And your idea that it was because he was supposed to be wise and mature, a man of the cloth besides, is a great one and it's probably all part of it. The Bible works on many, many layers and levels. It speaks to us right where we are at that moment.

Mary Connealy said...

Pam K, sorry for the empty house. Quiet isn't ALLLLLL bad though.

Mary Connealy said...

Tyrean, go try and get your play published.
Good luck.
God bless you.

Dianna Shuford said...

Mary, that was a great story. And I know exactly how you felt. I wrote children's church curriculum, one christmas program, and an elementary homeschool science curriculum, but I never polished it up and tried to get any of it published. Kudos to you for following through.

It's always fun and encouraging to hear about other people's road to publication.

Cara Lynn James said...

Mary, I'm sure your plays are wonderful! Maybe Broadway is next!!!

Jackie said...

You made me laugh, and I needed that today. I can totally see that happening, and yes God does work in strange and mysterious ways.
Thanks for sharing today!
Jackie Layton

Mary Connealy said...

Dianna, it's not too late!!!!! (unless it is, of course)

Jan Drexler said...

Okay, Bible geek that I am, I had to get out my Greek New Testament to look up the exact wording of the phrases.

Zechariah's question is: "By what shall I know this?". In other words, he's asking for a sign so he can be sure the angel's words are true. And he got his "sign".

Mary's question is: "How will this be, since I know not a man?". In other words, she's asking how this thing is going to happen. She never doubts that it will happen.

End of Bible lesson :)

Jan Drexler said...

Nebraska football fans are crazy. Almost as bad as Texans.

In September 2010 we were innocently traveling through Nebraska and stopped in Grand Island overnight. We were the only ones in Applebees that Saturday evening not wearing red - it was the first home game. I thought we might be kicked out of the place because we weren't cheering for Nebraska!

All in all, it was a very noisy dinner.

And we didn't dare tell them we were from Kansas!

Vince said...

Hi Mary:

I read Calico Canyon, a luxury large print hardback book from the Tulsa library, and that is what gave me the idea for the Christmas play story. I thought that maybe you’d write it as a Contemporary as Winnie did.

A True Story of Miscommunication

I have been debating all day whether I should tell this story about miscommunication. I just decided to tell it because:

1) it’s true
2) it’s recent
3) it’s to point
4) it’s funny
5) and a Seeker can verify it.

For Christmas I sent a Seeker, who lives in Phoenix, a Christmas card from Oklahoma with cowboys shown on horses at night. I mentioned in the card that the ‘cowboys’ were coming to Arizona. I also wrote, “Look for us –OSU – at the Fiesta Bowl".

Some days later my wife opens a letter addressed to me from Phoenix. The writer says in the letter: “I’m sorry we can’t meet with you on the 2nd because we are going to be out of town.”

When I get into the house the first thing my wife wants to know is who is this woman I was planning on meeting in Phoenix!

That’s when it occurred to me that when I said “We are coming to the Fiesta Bowl" – I meant the Oklahoma Cowboys were coming! Not me personally.

I’m pretty sure my wife believes me but she still opens my mail. : )


Linnette R Mullin said...

Happy new year, Mary! I'm so hoping this is the year I get a contract for "Finding Beth!" When I was home over Christmas, I went through some of my books and found an old Connealy book and brought it home. Does "Golden Days" ring a bell. :D

Debby Giusti said...

Loved your first sale story, Mary!!! And $75 was a tidy sum back then, right? Good for you.

Glad you turned to full-length fiction, which--hopefully--is easier on your heart! Plus, we get to read your delightful stories.

By the way, you're a hard act to follow! :)

Mary Connealy said...

JAN!!!!!!! You can read GREEK!!???

Wow, girl. And I love your reading of it. Thank you.

Debby Giusti said...

Watch out, Vince! Writing can get you into trouble.

Cute story, btw! :)

Mary Connealy said...

JAN, you would have been fine telling them where you were fun. Except for the pity of course.

(this pity for Kansas does not continue into Basketball season)

Mary Connealy said...

Vince, I know just what you mean by 'we'. The Cornhuskers think of the team as 'we'.

Absolutely. Tell your wife to keep opening your mail until the waters calm.

Mary Connealy said...

$75 was NOT a hefty sum back then, Deb. What do you think? I got the contract in 1920?????

Mary Connealy said...

GOLDEN DAYS, LINETTE! I love that book. My first contract and it was on proposal.I poured everything I had into that book and it came out pretty well. (if I do say so myself)

(sniffle) I am awash in sentiment tonight!

Pam Hillman said...

The first money I ever made writing was $150 for an essay titled "Have Butterbeans, Will Travel"

I probably should have kept writing essays! lol

I'll let your imagination simmer on the title, and maybe you can read it on the Seekerville Short Reads page some day.

Jennifer said...

I enjoyed your story about writing the plays. That's terrible about not being able to sleep. When I was pregnant, I'd get insomnia and I have 4 boys. Tired couldn't even begin to describe how I felt.
Thankfully, God helped me through the baby years and now they are all in school.

Ausjenny said...

Vince love your story. I actually got that the Cowboys were a team before you said it was.

Mary, I to say we when referring to my Cricket team The Warriors. I was at the cricket at the gate saying my boys just need x amount of wickets. It was obvious I was supporting the Warriors and not the Redbacks, and the girl (around 19ish) said Oh which player is your son! had to quickly explain none I refer to my team as my boys as an affection not actual. (am old enough to be the mother of a few of the younger players!)

Vince said...



W O N!

The Cowboys again are Heroes!

Cindy W. said...

Happy New Year Mary and thanks for sharing your 'tearful' story on getting published. I really did enjoy it and would love to get a copy of Christmas Treasures for our church. Wouldn't mind a $15 Amazon gift card either. It's a new year...I might as well get my greediness out of the way this week so I can be may sweet innocent self the rest of the year! ;)

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


authorkathyeberly said...

What a great testimonial to how God helped you start out! Sure wish my mother and I had thought of that when we wrote our Christmas play! Would love to win the gift card since it would help me buy so many more books for my Kindle!

misskallie2000 said...

Thanks for telling us how you sold your first book. Thanks for stopping by to chat and share with us.
I would love to win an Amazon gift card since I do have a Kindle and can buy more books. lol

misskalie2000 at yahoo dot com

Janet Kerr said...

This is an interesting post about how you got started as an author. You make it all sound so exciting.

I would love to get the $15 gift card to Amazon and buy one of your books!


Melanie Dickerson said...

Nebraska? Texas? You haven't seen rabid football fans until you've experienced a football season in Alabama.

Just sayin'.

Glenda Parker Fiction Writer said...

I loved this post.I can just picture the play in my mind. Your little lady sounds like some of the people in my church. I was just asked to write a play for the youth since we don't have many and I haven't been to excited about it. You make it sound great unfortunately I don't have your sense of humor.
Glenda Parker