Monday, July 2, 2012


It seems like I’ve been kind of Yell-y lately and that is just wrong of me.

It took me ten years to get my first book published so what do I know, huh?

I suppose I may STILL not know anything, but clearly that possibility isn't enough to shut me up.

What I want to talk to you about today is something I remember doing every time I’d start a new book.

Before I go into that...I don’t think I’m exactly normal in that everytime I’d finish a book, I’d just start right in on a new one. Yes, I’d revise and yes I’d submit the finished manuscript to editors, agents and contests. But I didn’t DWELL on it. (much) I’d just cast it out into cyberspace (although when I started we didn’t call it cyberspace, we call it the mail box, but the example holds.)

So, I’d always be daydreaming what’s next. And looking forward to starting a new book. I’d see newspaper articles and just….whatever….things that would spark an idea and I’d put it in a folder for the future. So I always had a ‘what’s next’ in mind.

Here's what it boils down to


(I’m trying to make that into an acronym that isn't reminiscent of something profane but I’ll move on now)

Write because whatever you learn you can never MASTER without putting it into practice.

Finish because NO PUBLISHER is going to buy an unfinished manuscript from an unpublished author, and also to prove to yourself you CAN finish a book.

Hopeless because I don’t want you to sit at your desk, hoping and praying and dying for an email that may or may not ever come. That’s a waste of time. Cast your bread upon the waters and start the next book until the waves wash soggy bread onto your ankles or you get a book contract.

HOWEVER (those capital letters aren’t meant in a yell-y way) Write and keep writing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be studying, learning, polishing your skills. That’s what Seekerville is for, to give you ideas for skills you could improve. That’s why you enter contests, to get a neutral pair of eyes on your manuscript.

Here’s what I’m leading up to…I just wanted to share this with you.
When I'd start a new book, I’d open up my Word document, a bright white surface upon which I was planning to explode my story and I’d lay one hand flat on that computer screen and I’d pray. I’d ask God to give me the desires of my heart and I’d ask of myself -- REMEMBER EVERYTHING YOU KNOW. Put everything you know into this book.

To explode my story.

To use strong words.

To show don’t tell.

To make my characters charming and likeable and troubled and conflicted.

To tell a great story.

Oh there's just so much to remember!!!!! YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER ALL OF IT!!!!!


Put it all on the page.

Pray that God will give you the desire of your heart.

Pray that God will make your words more than you are capable of creating.

And then write a book so good, so captivating, so fun, so fast, so perfect that NO EDITOR ON THE PLANET CAN SAY NO. A book so good that Love Inspired will say, “Oh, yes, we will JUST this once publish a 100,000 word women’s fiction because we are that in love with your book.”

A book so good that if Barbour Publishing just can’t quite bring themselves to publish a 150,000 word fantasy with aliens and dinosaurs and ghosts, they’ll be so excited about it they’ll phone someone who can.

A book so good J.K Rowling will invite you to her castle for high tea and ask you for pointers.

That’s your first job, for all we talk about marketing, your most important, fundamental job is to write the best book in the world.


Now, tell me what you’re working on right now. Can you see that you’re letting yourself get away with doing less than your best? Are you clinging to scenes and moments you love even though they don't tighten and advance your story? What can you change? What do you NOT love about your book? Let’s talk today about strengthening your book to make it the best book in the world.
Here for the first time ever in the known universe (except for times I don't know about) is the trailer for
I've got the best book in the world coming in August (well, I TRIED!).
Seth Kincaid remembers everything......except getting married
Click to Pre-Order on Amazon
Seth Kincaid survived a fire in a cave, but he's never been the same. He was always a reckless youth, but now he's gone over the edge. He ran off to the Civil War and came back crazier than ever.

After the war, nearly dead from his injuries, it appears Seth got married. Oh, he's got a lot of excuses, but his wife isn't happy to find out Seth doesn't remember her. Callie has searched, prayed, and worried. Now she's come to the Kincaid family's ranch in Colorado to find her lost husband.

Callie isn't a long-suffering woman. Once she knows her husband is alive, she wants to kill him. She's not even close to forgiving him for abandoning her.

Then more trouble shows up in the form of a secret Seth's pa kept for years. The Kincaid brothers might lose their ranch if they can't sort things out. It's enough to drive a man insane--but somehow it's all making Seth see things more clearly. And now that he knows what he wants, a person would have to be crazy to stand in his way.


  1. If only. IF ONLY. I-F O-N-LY..I had heard this advise years ago.

    Where were you hiding, Mary WFH Connealy when my fingers had to be pried from the manuscript I was so enamored of so I could finally start another book.

    But what I CAN take away from this as a published author is the same...

    don't sit and wait for your revision letter, your line edits, your contract.


    I am now short of breath and must go rest.

  2. FYI - your first three chapters are just cruel.

    But I've said that about a dozen times in different places the last couple of days [okay - the last 24 hours].

    I'd like to think I do this. Finish, Submit, Move on. I've finished 6 manuscripts. One has been shelved eternally. Two have been pitched [one will continue to be pitched at conference this year, the other will not]. One is a sequel and will be polished eventually. Two are in process of polishing and then will pitch at conference and after.

    In fact, at our local meeting this month Tracey Bateman is going to be our 'editor' so we can 'pitch' to her.

    Right now, I've got 2 others partially done [sequels I work on in between other things] but mostly I'm working on the historical for LIH. Still haven't shot anyone, but guns were drawn...

    So I'm gonna make like Dory and just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing the best book I can.

    And keep glaring in the direction of Nebraska and wonder how long it would take to drive up there and steal a copy.

  3. Yay...just got the baby down after a LONG fussy day and now I can have fun for a few minutes before I pass out from exhaustion : ). I want to write down those tips on an index card and put them by my computer. Here is the issue I'm having with writing. First of all, I haven't had/made the time for it. Secondly, I've been thinking about my story. When I wrote the whole thing out, I had just finished reading Jane I had that on my mind. While I was editing I was watching some Pride and I tweaked a little. It rested a while, I got some good critiques, and I read Lisa Bergren's River of Time series. I decided to change my female character and make her a little tougher. So I wrote in that she carried a hidden knife to protect herself. I see the potential for these changes to go on forever. So do I just stop with the changes and just start something new? Blessings from a tired, hot momma in Georgia~Stacey

  4. Awwwwww, I misread "150,000 word fantasy with aliens and dinosaurs and ghosts"
    "aliens and dinosaurs and goats"
    And for some reason goats made me laugh, you should totally put goats in that fantasy.

    I think I'm pretty good with letting go now after rewriting book 2 (which is what won this last contest in it's new form!), I can scrap everything if I see something is better.

    Throwing it out into cyberspace though, I'm not so willing to do. I like to be "perfect" so though I've written 5 books in 3 years I've only really sent out 1.

    What do I not love about my books? The author -- she could use some more talent and a kick in the pants for wasting so much time on the internet so she could whip out more good ones in less time with less sweat and hair pulling, that's what.

  5. Okay, here is my big problem. My Dad was a hunter, my brother was a hunter, my husband is a hunter my sons are hunters, well, shooters anyway, when we get together for holidays about half of us go shoot shotguns at blue rocks. (My daughter-in-law can out-shoot most of the guys) oh, her brother and dad, they shoot too. So, writing what I know, I write about hunters/shooters. And hunting dogs. We have a batch of baby hunting dogs out in our garage right now. When I was young I knew I could never fall in love with someone who wasn't out doorsey and a hunter/shooter and knew a lot about country and farming. A guy who didn't do those things would just not be right to me. Sooo, the way the world is right now I wonder if any publisher would be able to publish my books because those things aren't Politically Correct. So, that's my hang up, if they don't get published no one reads them so I go for long periods without writing them. A guy who wasn't a hunty, fishy, farmer, just wouldn't be interesting (or sexy, or a hero) to me.

    Please advise me.

    Oh, my husband is a preacher, but he also does all that outdoor stuff and trains dogs too.

  6. Arrgh!!! Blogger ate my comment. Five times!!!!!

    I'm planning a sequel to the historical I finished this spring. I'm also revising a contemporary that I want to itch at conference.

    I have 12 finished manuscripts, but like you described some time ago, some of them have been reworked to fit different publisher guidelines. So I have more than 12 on my hard drive.

    I'm also setting up the coffee pot for the early partakers.


  7. travelingstacey when you say Hot Mama, what are you talking about exactly....and don't be afraid to give us details.

    What I think is...are you satisfied with the book now? If so, move on to something new. Get away from your finished book for long enough that you can read it for what it really is.
    Forget what you MEANT to say, that makes total sense to you, and read what you really said. Distance is a huge help when you revise.
    I like to write a book then write ANOTHER book before I go back and revise the first book, that's true distance. But if you can't do that, especially authors on deadline, try to at least give yourself a couple of weeks distance if you possibly can.

  8. Carol says my first three chapters are cruel.
    And by cruel she means FANTASTIC.
    Cruel because only three are available online and it really does start with a bang. I read those three chapters myself and had a very good time.

  9. You know, Tina, I'm not sure where this 'start a new book' thing comes from.
    I mean, what was I thinking to just keep writing more and more. I probably should have revised more and QUIT starting new books.

    I have no idea what was going on in my head to write twenty books.


  10. Dear Melissa "Natasha Kern Client" Jaegger....goats are NEVER WRONG.
    I did a mule once, but goats have been totally underutilized in my books.

    Oh, there was a flock of sheep in one brief scene.

    I think I need dogs too. Mean dogs who are loyal to their cowboy friend...and occasionally rip a villain's throat out.

  11. I swear to you Melissa that I and the whole world will soon be spelling your name correctly. Melissa Jagears

  12. Mary Cline do you write contemporary or historical? Gunfire is much more acceptable in historical, though I enjoy it in any genre.

    Have you ever tried to flip the concept and have an outdoorsy heroine and a city boy anti-gun hero? That'd be fun.

    Especially if her family is all hunting nuts and they think he's a huge wimp.

    Or if you really feel worried about the guns and hunting then try something else in your next book. Then when you're a rich and powerful multi-pubbed author you can invent the outdoorsy hunting nut genre. I'll bet it'd be a HUGE success, let's face it there are a lot of men out there hunting...politically correct or not.

  13. I'm using Snowflake Pro to plan my story and it's great except I want to throw my story out the window. BUT i really want to actually write a finished manuscript. So here I am, plugging away at a story line that i like but know is missing something and it makes me want to cry because I don't know that that missing thing is!

    By the way, I CANNOT wait for the next book in the Kincaid series!

  14. HELEN I had a three book series that I rewrote into a series and then rewrote to make the series three different lengths. The length for LI, for HP and for Trade fiction.
    So those three books were written to stand alone, then each rewritten three times. TWELVE versions of those three books. And you know what? I think they got better with each revision. So yes, make them into a series but save them too in their non-series version.
    Except once you've rewritten them I'll bet you won't even like the old version just because you're getting better all the time.

  15. Jess, sweetie, that Snowflake plotting book is a great tool but not all methods work for all people.

    If it's too frustrating, then step away from the plotting book before somebody gets hurt.

  16. And make sure the window is open if you throw your book through it. GLASS!

  17. Hi Mary,

    I think I am figuring out that I'm like a 75% planner (hence Snowflake Pro) and a 25% panster. Which frustrates me a little. I'm currently writing plot notes on note paper and adding it to snowflake as needed. Snowflake is helping me in that what I've planned so far is telling me something is missing but I just can't put my finger on it. I'm not sure if it's plotting or characterization that is the problem...sigh

  18. Jess, take lots of showers! I swear I've figured out what's missing in my books in the shower 90% of the time or in the car without any music on! (I can't imagine how many cool things could have been invented or thought up if everyone shut off their radios in the car... but I digress)

    Or Virginia does dishes, and somebody else gardens or runs-- mindless physical activity for some reason works for me. If you keep working with the plotting and just keep writing if you want (maybe some time away?), it goes into your subconscious and inexplicably pops up in the shower--weird. So take LOTS of showers or volunteer to do dishes for other people, I'll totally let you do my dishes every day if you want!

  19. I'm brainstorming series possibilities right now. And I'm totally throwing in a goat.

  20. Thanks Melissa!

    Showers are my sacred time in our house. It's one of the few children free zones at the house and I take it very seriously as it's my thinking time! :)

    Good ideas and thanks for sharing! I will have to spend time dwelling on the story until it finally clicks with what the problem is!

    thanks again :)

  21. I may be tired. I may be just cranky, hormonal, or crazy.

    But this post made me cry. (Well, first I laughed over the obscene acronym.)

    There's such a swirl of competing MUSTS around publishing a book, especially marketing and making oneself attractive to publishers. (Honestly, I don't even really shower, how can I look attractive to someone a zillion miles away who is predetermined not to like me already, because there are one gazillion of us trying to be pretty for them.)

    But I just want to write a good book. I want to write stories that make people want to be better people, and hug their spouses longer, and take time to play with their kids.

    That's all.

    *puts her hand on the blank page*

  22. Mary, thank you, thank you. I need to remember this post every single Monday when I start writing again after the weekend.

    The book I am working on is the not same animal I started writing at the beginning. But I am going to finish it and then go back.

    If I go back and look at the beginning before the finish, I will forget where I am going because my book middle is better than it's beginning.

    I used to think the sagging middle was my enemy. Now I think it is the unfocused beginning!

    Thanks again.

    Peace, Julie who has sequels in the works as well.

  23. LOL -- "Callie wants to shoot him." I knew you'd fit a shooting in there somewhere early on in the book but it's even in the trailer! LOL.

    This post is perfectly timed because today is the first day of the rest of the my writer's life! Translation -- I have the summer off and get to write, write, write...and garden, garden, garden. I plan to go outside and plot (both in garden and in mind) for an hour and then come in and write like a fiend. Doesn't that sound like a wonderful way to spend your summer vacation? Well, my dog thinks it's kind of boring but I'll let him chase squirrels during the gardening part so that should perk him up some.

    My biggest challenge is my hero -- he's being a bit...well, sulkily two-dimensional. He's kind of cute when he's steamed but he's always steamed so it's getting tedious. Today I'm going to add in a three-legged dog and see if that doesn't soften him up a bit. :-)

  24. A three legged dog!@!!!! Love it.

  25. Okay, this is totally scary. I thought I was the only one. I never mentioned it for fear of sounding stupid.

    I hear everything clearly in the shower.


  26. This is so true...

    Yes, like Tina, why didn't we know this at the BEGINNING????

    And if you're not yelling today does that mean I get to yell next week?

    I submit that it does!!!!

    We need a Dory Rule: (Finding Nemo) "Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing..."

    Hey, it's Monday and I've got high protein breakfast to get us on track so we can enjoy Independence day!

    Eggs, your style. Bacon. Ham. Steak. (nothin' like steak and eggs, right?) Texas toast for you skinny people, please DO NOT NAME YOURSELVES. Don't give me reason to hate.

    It's sinful.

    No home fries. And if you're goin' carb-low, lay off the Texas Toast.

    Ham... eggs... coffee... I'm in!

  27. Hah, Carol Moncado made the Dory connection, too!

    Good girl! Great minds think alike!

  28. Melissa, yes to goats...

    That would totally work with the aliens concept. Add a little supernatural demonic presence.

    Now every goat I know has just been affronted....

    The ones that read blogs, at least.

  29. Mary,

    It's okay for you to yell. If you don't we can't hear you over all the gun fire going on in your books!

  30. Sisterhood of the Shower Writers

    How does that sound?

    Better than Sisterhood of the Dish Washers I think, but either works for me.

    Sometimes if I'm stuck, I will just leave the scene open on the laptop on the kitchen table and wash dishes. When an idea comes, I'll dry my hands and get back to work. Lots of unfinished dishes.

    Showers are more fun.

    Walking is also perfect. Something about the forward motion just unravels the knots in my brain.

    Just keep writing - my mantra for July. I'm working on the LI request.

  31. Morning Mary C.

    You are so right (yikes I hope I'm not swelling your head) but its true. Keep on writing. Write that next book.

    One thing about all the pain you cause your characters to deepen them. Do you think that is God's plan also when pain hits? Does it deepen our character? Just a thought.

    I know He has a sense of humor. That is one thing I love in your books Mary.

  32. Mary Connealy!
    That post could have been accompagnied with some epic music in the background... very well put together!
    Remember everything you know. Well, I guess that's the sentence of the day (it's encouraging for a hopeful author) and I like the fact that you repeated it often.

    Thanks Mary and have a GREAT day!


  33. Mary Cline

    I love the sound of your guys. They would make great characters.

    Just reading your comment makes me think of a hunter hero and the heroine is either a vegetarian or tree hugger. LOL

  34. Jess, the years when we have little ones gnawing at our ankles....uh I mean hugging our knees...are precious. Do your best with the book but if it is driving you mad and the children are clamoring for attention, go pay attention to them. You will never regret the time with your babies...or teenagers.

    I do tons of brainstorming as I lie awake at night. But then Insomnia is my muse...maybe you're lucky enough to sleep.

  35. Melissa I missed the congrats yesterday. wooo hoooo

  36. Virginia...I made you cry?
    Wow, I'm sorry.

    And when you say you don't shower, how long has it been? Because maybe you're NOT crying. Maybe your eyes are just sort of watering.

  37. Jess, PS 75% plotting is a LOT of plotting. You are allowed to make changes and let your story take you to unexpected places. I doubt anyone can plot out MORE than 75%.

    Is that right? I'm such a stinking panster....(stinking panster?? Wow, I'm flashing back to the take-a-shower issue)



    Well, I did this, but I messed the last one up just a wee bit.

    I wrote A Passion Most Pure.

    I finished 475 pages of A Passion Most Pure.

    I was "hopeless" about APMP ... but it was in the editing realm, not in the "don't focus on the last ms. because you think it's going to the bestseller list" manner. I was hopeless because I sat down and edited (read/corrected/revised) that puppy at least sixty times. VALUABLE time that I could have been writing at least two additional books. Then I'd be starting my 11th or 12th book instead of just my 9th.

    YES ... I finally figured it out, so who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks??? You just can't teach 'em fast ...


  39. Melissa, I have this GOAT THEORY.
    (but doesn't everyone)
    I'm serious...start asking people, just ANYONE if they've got a goat story and it'll amaze you.

    Yes, goats are rather unusual, just as far as meeting one in your day to day life.


    We can't dwell on that now because the subject is too rich to fit in my blog.

  40. Oh and Jess, seriously, have you tried shooting someone. I suspect that's what's missing from your book.

    Unless you're writing Amish, then gunfire gets a little tricky.

  41. JULIE HILTON STEELE I think a story is as much an adventure for the author as it is for the eventual reader. My books almost always take unexpected directions, all on the way in a general sense of course, to HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
    And I always rework the beginning, many many times.

  42. Oh KAV honey, WORK SHOOTING IN??? Are you kidding me? Try the second WORD.

    Over the Edge, page one, line one
    Chapter One
    A bullet slammed through the door of the stagecoach, threading a needle to miss all four passengers.
    “It’s a hold-up!” Callie grabbed her rifle. “Get down!”
    The stage driver yelled and cracked his whip. More flying lead hit, higher on the stagecoach. The man riding shotgun got his rifle into action.

  43. Honestly, Kav, a pet is a great idea. It will soften him up, show his sweet side.

  44. TINA, SWEETIE, I LOVE YOUR NEW PICTURE. It's still not as beautiful as you, but it is close.

  45. Tina! I love the new picture!

    Mary, "Insomnia is my muse" great way to put it. I don't think I've ever once in my life just fallen asleep.

    My story is starting to drag. I think the problem is I'm into chapter two and there's no gun fire yet.

  46. Mary and Ruthy tag team yellers.

    Tag Team Yellers would actually make a decent name for a country western duet. Now I just need to learn to sing...I think Ruthy already can.
    Although it's possible her church choir ladies are just too polite to tell her she can't.

  47. Gunfire and yelling...that has a nice balance doesn't it.
    The heroine Callie's first words in Over the Edge are definitely yelling over the gunfire.

  48. I've heard that physical activity stimulates the mind and can open up your creativity.

    I've always assumed this was a lie doctors made up to trick me into taking a walk.

  49. HI SANDRA!!!
    I don't know about God and pain exactly, does he give it to us or just help us deal with life on this planet and nurture our soul through suffering?

    But I do no it's often hard when we're in the middle of pain to see any possible use for it. Later though, looking back, we can see that some hard season of life was necessary, or we've just learned acceptance of it.

    I look back at the years I spent unpublished and can so clearly see that was a season of life when I was so busy being a mom. For me my season of being a published author came at exactly the right time, when my kids were grown.
    I couldn't recognize that in the midst of it, though. And I know plenty of young moms who are published and they handle it fine.

    I'm going to stop with the philosophy now, since I probably don't know what I'm talking about. As Usual

  50. Ganise, I keep hearing Mufasa, the father from LION KING, his voice all echo-y saying to Simba, "REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE"

    But honestly that's got nuthin' to do with today's post.

  51. Julie, sweetheart, you got the first book you ever wrote published and I got the twentith, somehow I'm having trouble thinking of YOU as the one with the problem.

  52. ME TOO, MARY!! :):)
    Mufasa's voice, right on!

    Beautiful picture by the way.

    And showers give great ideas? Hmmm... now why is that exactly?


  53. Jamie chapter two and NO GUNFIRE YET?

    What are you writing? A manual on assembling a bicycle or something.

    (oh, wait. The last time my husband assembled a bicycle there was shooting-bad example)

  54. This was a great post, Mary! It was full of great advice and it was very funny. Thank you for writing it. I work very similarly, where I put aside the book and start another. The distance tends to help a lot with story problems, better dialogue, etc. As well as the shower...

    I am working on the LIH synopsis request. Why are those harder to write than the story?


  55. There is a goat in my debut novel. Wait for it....

    Which is something I'm certainly not doing. Waiting, that is. It took me twenty years to see a first contract offer (and it wasn't on my first novel, not by a long shot), and 18 months of waiting for that Yes once the initial submission was made. Meantime I wrote another book (that one was contracted too) and am getting toward the last chapters of another book while I wait for my first revision letter to arrive.

    But all I can think about this morning is the goat!

    I wholeheartedly embrace the spirit of this post, Mary. Give every book everything you've got, and don't waste any precious time getting down to business with it.

  56. This is such a wonderful way to start a crazy Monday/holiday week. Mary Connealy always makes me laugh. And if I start a Monday laughing, I'm less inclined to shoot library patrons. Shooting is acceptable in my manuscripts, not in the library.

    I had been completely stuck in my manuscript the last couple weeks and could not figure out what was wrong. After days of plotting, planning, and studying, I realized something. It was time to remember to "forget." Forget everybody else's storylines. Forget all the tips and rules and internal editing that were tripping me up and remember to WRITE! Turn off the internal editor and remember to WRITE! And you know what, I got unstuck. I know the story will need some reworking because it's grown and changed since the beginning, but I can remember all the rules and fix things ONLY after I have something on the page to fix. And now I'm excited about my story again. Whew! It was bloody, but the internal editor has been dealt with. At least for now.

    And I have a goat story, too. We used to milk goats for some friends when they went on vacation (the friends not the goats). One day on the way home, we stopped in the Bible bookstore and the clerk asked what we'd been doing. When we told her milking goats, she thought we were trying to trick her. (She was a blond and knew it.) It took a while to convince her that goats can be milked and that "Goat's Milk" is not a brand name. We've laughed about that for years.

  57. Lori, congratulations on the contract AND having a goat in your story.
    I think this could be a trend.
    Vampires were big. Amish were big. Zombies were big. But now, thanks to this day and this commonality of purpose, the day begins for the rise of the GOAT.

  58. Wow y'all have been busy this morning.

    I did find out midterms are due tomorrow not today so writing may commence for a bit this morning.

    I've had to start making myself NOT think about WIPs when I'm trying to go go sleep or I'll never sleep and that would be a disaster. I have a hard enough time as it is.

    I remember Camy saying she knits so I went out and bought a couple of cool coloring books and a huge box of crayons. Something about how doing something mindlessly artistic-y stimulates the brain. I've only done it a couple times though. I have a cool tree frog in progress...

    I thought that was a new pic Tina! Very nice.

    And Ruthy - of course GMTA! Especially when you and I are those great minds ;).

    Time to get to work...

  59. CLARI, I so agree that you have to write it before you can fix it. I just just finished what I hope will be an action packed, heart wrenching, fast moving, powerful scene in my book.

    Only trouble it, it's short and dead and boring.

    And I know it'd going to be that way the first time, but I still hesitate and procrastinate. I have to write it then fix it, especially complex scenes with lots of emotion and action and comedy. I just cannot do it right the first time. But I HATE writing those scenes and seeing them laying on my manuscript like rotting stinking fish.

    (okay, flash of bitterness!)

  60. I've never considered coloring or knitting while I write but it's just so fun to see different things working for each of us.
    And when I can brainstorm as I lie in bed at night, that means I WILL get to sleep.
    I think I have some version of ADD, because a riot can just go on in my head. And often it has nothing to do with writing. When I can concentrate on ONE THING, my book, then I've got control and I know it'll be a good night and I will get to sleep.

  61. I have an old goat story, a warped Christmas Carol.

    I am hopelessly devoted to several stories at the time being. But have been setting them aside and focusing on one (or two).

    Tina Pinson

  62. Hi Mary,

    I'm poking my head out of my writing hole for a few minutes to fellowship with my Seekerville mates.

    What am I working on? My mail-order bride book that Emily Rodmell requested last week. I'm too encompassed right now with finishing it in the next two and a half weeks to know if there's a part I don't like. Ask me later this month when I'm in the editing process. :)

    By the way, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your books! :)

    Jodie Wolfe

    Back to my hole I go to write my 3000+ words for the day.

  63. OH! I got so caught up thinking about goats I forgot to say...

    I LOVE THE BOOK TRAILER! And it goes without saying I can't wait to read the book. Are the guy and girl in the trailer the same ones on the book cover?

  64. You didn't ask, but I DO have a goat in a story.

    And, yes, the books do get better with the rewrites.

    Tina, please note. The vampire was here last night, and then REAPPEARED in the daytime.

  65. TINA! Of course you have a goat story. DON'T WE ALL!!!!!!!!!!!????

    Thanks for stopping in and saying nice things about my books. NOW GET BACK TO WORK!!!

  67. Clari, yes the same couple in the trailer are the cover models.
    I love that Bethany is doing the trailers for the books, they are so FUN. This is my favorite yet.

  68. HELEN I'm not kidding (goat pun?) about everyone having a goat story. I say that to people and they roll their eyes then it's like CLICK and suddenly they say, "You know one time a goat........"

    It's eerie.

    Six Degrees of Separation from Goats

  69. And you have a vampire stop in?

    Is that anything like the unsettling fact that my cat dish is empty and yet my cat is STILL HUNGRY???

    Something is out there in the night!!!

    Here's that story.
    Yeah, or Something Did

  70. Mary, you make me laugh out loud. Thanks. I needed that! Love the trailer. Thanks for your words of wisdom. :)

  71. Can't wait to read your new book, Mary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love Seth!

    I feel like I've had a lot of setbacks and disappointments the last six months, but that's no excuse. I need to be writing. But I haven't been writing, not since my kids got out of school and I had a killer edit that took me 2 1/2 weeks, and I had to switch my writing space from the study to my bedroom. (Long story.) Still, no excuse. I need to get back to work. I have a few things I could be working on. That's one of my problems. I don't have clear direction. But I feel like I should be working on this one book that is about 1/3 finished and that may or may not ever get published. Or I could be working on another book that has a very good shot at getting published. Or I could be working on another proposal that I have in mind. My thoughts are all over the place and that's not helping me! Still, I need to get back to work, I think, on the book that is 1/3 finished. Only thing is, I am going to have to refresh my memory on it by reading over what I've already written, and I probably won't be able to stop myself from revising as I read, because that's the way I am, and I know it needs more details worked in, like clothing and period and setting details, which means more research ... okay, I think I just figured out what my problem is. I just need to forget research and details and just write the thing. I can revise later.

    Thanks, Mary, for solving my problem!!! I'm so happy!

  72. Oh dear, oh dear! Goats, and Mary WTH Connealy, and showers. I knew this would be a post with comments that would make my head is for you horror lovers out there. :)

    I would say I am a lazy writer, but then Mary WTH Connealy would YELL at me, so I will keep my mouth shut.

    Still working on the second ms. Still questioning. Still doubting. Still battling my demons. Still trying to find the joy in letting go and forgetting the rules.

    Don't yell too loud, okay?

  73. Just tagged Mary and Melissa in a goat picture.

    That is all.

    Mel - head over to 1K1HR and I'll race with you!! JUST WRITE!!!

  74. Lol, Mary. Well, if you think me sitting on the couch smelling like baby spitup, no makeup on, glasses on, and my gray roots grown out about 2 inches is hot...then I'm smokin'! But I think I'd be safer saying that it's the 100 plus temps we've had the past couple of days. It feels like someone took a wet, hot blanket and just laid it over us. Ick. : ) Gotta love southern summers. I think it's too hot even for the gnats because I didn't have any attacking my eyes, ears, and face yesterday. ~Stacey

  75. Goats or ghosts with aliens? It sounds like the opening of a Larry "the Cable Guy" joke.

    What do I not love about my current WIP (the Americana one set in the Pacific Northwest)? Some of my scenarios seem trite and all I need is a mustached, black-hatted villain tying my heroine to railroad tracks.

  76. I hate it when I'm late to the party. So many comments, so little time!

    Mary - there's gunfire in my Amish story, thanks to you.

    Tina - love the new picture!

    Everyone - please take a shower once in awhile, even if you don't do your plotting there :)

    Walking does it for me. I can work out the kinks in the plot and then come home and write. The dog enjoys it, too.

    What I'm working on: Just sent in revisions to Rachel Burkot last week, and now am working on 1) proposal for a novella, 2) proposal for a trilogy and 3) another story for LI.

    oh, and blog postings coming up...

    Did anyone else have the idea that writers spend their days behind closed doors, fingers tapping away on the typewriter, off in another world with their fictional characters (who always behave)?

    I'm not complaining, though. I've waited a long time for this and I'm enjoying every minute :)

  77. Aw, Jess is working by Snowflake Method.

    I tried that.


    And then said some very Un-Ruthy-like words and maybe did break some glass, then realized I don't do well with how-to methods or plans or bossy people, but it was too late for that last part because I was already a "Seeker" and bosses abound around here, but I figured if Dickens could produce works-of-art-books without a "Help-you-write" guide, Ruthy could at least ATTEMPT to get it right.


    It's okay to switch things up. You know that, right? Mary and I can gang up on that snowflake thing... light a fire under it, so to speak.

    With the utmost respect for our buddy Randy and his amazingly complex brain.

  78. Tina is SMILING in that new pic.

    I win the bet, Connealy.

  79. Clari, been there. Done that. So glad you got unstuck!

    Sometimes I just need to print the darn thing up and make notes as I read it because I don't plot ahead of time. Mostly. Except what my head will hold. And it's kind of like a pasta-colander these days, a total sieve, siphoning things off as fast as I can push them in my eyeballs...

    Figuratively. Not really. That would be simply horrid.

    Personally I'm glad you didn't have to SHOOT someone to find out how to fix things.

    So barbaric.

  80. Jodie!!! :)

    Flashing big proud grin your way!

    Now back to the cave, immediately.

    Who's got coffee???

    Oh. Me. Here. Fresh stuff for mid-day.

  81. Mary, thank you SO much for this (always) timely reminder, as I am on the brink of three--actually four--new projects. One sold, One proposing, one with a NICE nibble and one out of my realm, but completely done and in the wings. My Scripture for every book is Proverbs 16:3: Commit your works to the Lord and your thoughts shall be established. I appreciate your prayer as you begin each book. God is GOOD.

  82. I think I will write a vampire goat story.

  83. I feel the same way. My novelette went from 10,000 words to 22,000 in about three weeks which may not seem a lot but for me is. I am nowhere near finished either. So far all edits have been for the best, I think. But I am totally prepared to cry my way through the ending. It is going to be sad.

  84. Grrrrreat advice, Mary!!! Right on target!!!

    And Carol said it so succinctly: "Finish, Submit, Move on."

    Boy, howdy, did I do that!!! Through 25 years of "almosts" and near-misses and scads of rejections.

    So, yeah, Mary's pretty much right about being "hopeless." I was actually hopelessly hopeful. Or downright crazy.

    But it paid off. Eventually. And now I almost have as many books contracted as the number of rejected manuscripts in my filing cabinet that will NEVER be published. EVER.


  85. Oh, please. DO NOT mention the Snowflake Method in my presence. I would rather jump off a cliff into a moat of alligators and rattlesnakes.

  86. Melanie, sweetie, I'm not sure I solved your problem. You probably talked it through like any decent woman would and solved it yourself.

    But if you want to say, "Mary told me to do it" I'm good with that.

  87. Thank you Myra and Ruthy for your comments about the Snowflake Method. It makes me feel like I don't have a brain, and that worried me.

  88. Geez, Sherrinda, you write WTH and I stared at it FOREVER trying to remember what the T was for.
    I had to go re-read my blog.

    You do NOT want to know all the things I thought of for T. Not on a G Rated blog like SEEKERVILLE

  89. Walt my friend do NOT underrate melodrama.

    Tie that heroine to the train tracks and just see if things don't liven up.

  90. Jan...gunfire in your Amish book? Seriously? I didn't think they even hunted for FOOD.
    I thought they just waited quietly, sitting in a meadow, until a deer tripped over them.
    WAY TO GO you innovator, you.

  91. Just keep writing, just keep writing...

    What am I working on? A story about a vampire goat taking a shower!(Just joking.)

    After three weeks of church youth camp, it's so great to reunite with my laptop.

    And although I love my characters I will remember the CONFLICT. So yes, the reformed-drug-dealing-attorney's-wife is doing time for past crimes. No matter what her MIL has to say about it. (ouch!)

  92. RUTHY we should write a how-to book.

    I'm thinking, mulling over a title

    The Hard Way
    Writing a book without reading a How-To Book ... except this one

    By Mary Yleannoc and Ruth "Sunglasses and Hat Pulled Low Over Her Face" Smith
    How I Got Published Using Incriminating Photographs

    The Bloodbath
    By Ruthy Connealy
    How I Learned to Write Using 100 Contest Entry Critiques

  93. Helen, dear, you most definitely have a brain. A very lovely brain.

    Although, if I ever hear of you writing a vampire goat novel, I will rescind that statement.

  94. Wow Cheryl, that's an amazing list of work you've got to do there.

    I won't give you any advice. You're who I go to to GET advice.

  95. llmarmalade--interesting name btw :) at this rate your novelette, now a novella maybe end up being a whole full length book without you even knowing it.

    Good for you.

  96. I do shower, but I DO NOT have a goat story! I have a picture of myself at age 4 milking a goat, but I don't remember it. Maybe it kicked me, I'm not sure.

    We feed out baby rabbits goat milk when they're not thriving.

    Is THAT a goat story?

    They have freaky eyes.

  97. Stacey, praying for cooler temps! It's hard to cuddle babies when you're melting -in a bad way.

    MYRA, you made me laugh. Moats and alligators!

  98. Mary Cline,
    I've been thinking about your comment.
    I'm a midwesterner who's whole family enjoys shooting sports. Entire trips have been planned around shooting and hunting. Even unsuitable-wanna-be-suitors have been taken to the gun range to show them how unsuitable they were. (Don't worry, there was no blood spilled, but outshooting a guy works! :-)

    So...I would totally read a book with characters like you described. I think a lot of other mid-western people would, too. Just need to find the right editor, I guess.

  99. Well, now I'm upset. First I heard that every body had a water buffalo, but I didn't have one and now I learn that everybody's got a goat story and I don't have that either!

    Slinking into the corner to pout.

  100. Helen and anyone who is a FLAKE's the deal. Most of the "How to Write" advice you get, including mine, is just people trying to put into words things that are inherently HARD to put into words.
    Give your characters conflict.
    Make them likeable.

    You spend too much time of backstory.
    I have no idea why your heroine is acting the way she is, what's her motivation.


    See, these things are the OPPOSITE.

    I have this theory that pansters plot a lot more than they realize and plotters fly off in unexpected directions much more than they'll admit.

    What I know after having been at this for a while, there is no right or wrong way to do this. What works for you is RIGHT.

    So don't feel like a failure if you snowflake yourself out of your plot holes. And don't take it as one speck of criticism if plotting in excrusiating detail is the only thing that you can deal with.
    Neither is wrong. and honestly, neither is all that different from each other.

    That's why, bottom line, all you can really do is WRITE

  101. Virginia, you DON'T have a goat story?


  102. Jan, too? No goat story?

    How strange.

    My theory may be wrong.

    My universe is tilting!!!

  103. Mary Cline -

    Our pastor rescheduled one of our premarital counseling appointments when he realized it conflicted with the opening of turkey season.

    I think.

    It might have been deer season.

    Regardless, he often says he plans to name his next boat In Prayer so that when someone calls the church looking for him, the receptionist can honestly say he's In Prayer. Or possibly In The Word.

    And when I did my student teaching in my current hometown [it wasn't at the time], absences for hunting season were excused. Still are to the best of my knowledge.

    I'm sure there's quite an audience out there for it :). Just don't give too many gory details about what happens to the deer between being shot and showing up on the plate.

  104. Jan,
    I don't have a water buffalo, nor do I have a baby kangaroo in pink OR blue!

    (gotta love a Veggie Tale Silly Song thrown into the mix!)

  105. Finished chapter two and still no shooting but the Marshal did place his hand on his gun as a warning for the drunken cowhands to leave the damsel in distress alone. Maybe I'll find someone to shoot in chapter three.

    In order for me to include a goat in a story I would have to seek professional help first. When I was six we went to a petting zoo. It was spring and one of the male goats was chasing all the other goats around. I had nightmares about goats for years.

    I could refer to a secondary character as an old goat.. maybe

  106. You know, a psychiatrist could probably have a field day with why I just kept writing another book and another and another.

    It's sort of strange isn't it?

    Maybe to me, the idea of getting a book published was just so far outside of all that was possible that I really was hopeless.
    I just liked writing and sure, I'll send the book out but c'mon, what're the chances I'd ever get one published.

    Pretty wildly slim.

    So I just wrote for fun and maybe mailed off the finished projects to...convince myself I wasn't just utterly wasting my life????

    And then someone bought it?

    Maybe that's why I still can't exactly get to prideful about my work. It seems pretty outlandish that I'm published and I keep waiting form someone to figure out what a mistake they've made publishing me.

  107. SEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Jamie has a goat story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Has there been any metaphorical gunfire, Jamie. That's probably enough.

  108. Mary,

    I'm curious. Now that you're published, how many books do you write in a year? Do you have a daily word/page count goal or do you just sit down and write?

    Do you start many books that you don't complete because it just won't come together? Or do you figure out the problem and fix them?


  109. Fun post, Mary! I think your right to keep moving on with new books and not revise forever and ever!

    It's thundering and lightning here so bye!

  110. I'm subscribing to this plan, Mary. I've got two completed manuscripts and I started on my third, a sequel to the first one, two weeks ago.
    I'm going to pitch the first one at conference, polish up the second and query it but with the third, I get to just write it, and I'm excited about that.
    There's no point in putting it into critique and polishing until the first one sells. But I have to write it, because if there was only one more book I could ever write, it would be that one.
    But I've got good ideas for the next one already simmering. =)

  111. CONNIE, I'm just writing contracted books now.
    For years I've had a 1000 word per day goal, seven days a week.
    For a while I was writing four books a year and I needed that pace to keep up. but these days I'm writing two books a year and my goal is 1000 words FIVE days a week, which doesn't necessarily mean I take the weekend off, sometimes I write then, I just don't feel too bad if I don't.

    I've also done two novellas this year, those are in the 20-25k length, so I've had no trouble keeping up with them. But as far as picking some new genre and running with it, writing something different, I'm not doing that so much...I kinda wish I was.
    I do have tentative plans to publish more Mary Nealy suspense books. I've got four or five of them finished on my computer. But I need to spend some time revising if I'm going to do that.
    But I'm keeping pretty busy with what I've got now so we'll see. If I do those, since I can find NO INTEREST from traditional publishers, I may just publish them as ebooks.

  112. Everything? EVERYTHING?!

    What a daunting challenge.

    Better to think on that acronym that slightly reminiscent of something profane, WFH. Write. Finish. Be Hopeless, i.e. Move On.

    You know, WFM is a lot less profane-looking. More like a radio station call letters.

    Just sayin'...

  113. Sounds great, Nancy. Keep writing!!!

  114. Thanks Mary.

    1k/day is what I try to do. It's very doable and gets the job done. I don't always write everyday though.

    And Mary, you have a good enough following from faithful readers,I'm sure you ebooks would do well.

    Encouraging post!

  115. I have a goat story..OK, so this one time, wait a minute. Nevermind, it was a chicken.

    I'm lucky to get this info early on so I don't waste any more time...which I'm doing a lot of lately.

    Before I took up writing, I would read ferociously. A book a day a lot of times.

    One day (a long time ago when I stalked you all...that's right, you were stalked!)I read an excerpt for one of Mary's books, Calico Canyon, I think..and decided I had to have that book. Some days later, I was looking through my library and found I already owned it.

    I've also done this with Gingham Mountain.

    Is there anyone else out there that does this...or is it just me.

    In any case, thanks Mary for making me want to keep reading your fantastic stories and possible buy them again.

    I'm working on finishing up my ms for Emily Rodmell. It's a lot harder when the pressure is on...

  116. I am awfully forgetful myself thanks for chance to win

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  117. Jennifer, Chicken stories are for another day.
    One time I was climbing out of my car at my mom's house, she lives way out in the country and a DEER came CHARGING for me as I swung my legs out of the car. I screamed and jumped back into the car as it reached me and (it was night) I realized it was a goat. Did you all know a goat and a deer look a whole lot alike? Except for the head. No kidding (goat pun)

    That is one of THREE goat stories I have. I'm leaving out a lot of details because frankly, I'm boring myself.

  118. Also, thanks for stalking me. I appreciate the effort.

  119. Great post, Mary! I needed to be encouraged to keep on writing. I just submitted the manuscript for the second novel in my series and I am so worn out, lol. But I know I can't let that put me on the sidelines for long. Gotta keep going. Happy Fourth!

  120. CAROL, that is SO FUNNY!!!

    I knew this nun once and soemtimes when I asked where she was I got this answe:, "She's doing a St. Joseph's meditation."

    This nun was very, very old and I was always so impressed with how much meditation she was doing, every day, for hours.

    Then someone clued me in that it was code for 'napping'. Because in the Bible, Joseph always got his insights/ directions from God when he WAS ASLEEP.

  121. EXCELLENT, most EXCELLENT advice!!! I'm with Tina. Where were you 12 years ago, huh???

    Love the trailer!!! Bethany House does an amazing job.

  122. Mary, your post is wonderful!! Filled with wisdom so profound yet so straightforward that I’m in awe.

    Better yet, your advice is rich with your voice. I can hear you speaking! Do you know how special that is?

    I’m even psyched to write the next story and I just sent my manuscript winging to New York!!

    Unlike you, I need a week to clean myself, clean my desk and clean my brain. The toughest part is moving those people out of there! I need to view them as renters, squatters instead of neighbors. Sigh.

    I may be slightly wacky. But then this is a crazy business. :-)


  123. There was a goat in The Merchant's Daughter! I almost forgot about that.

  124. Some wonderful advice Mary. I need it. I seem to keep chasing my tail and never get anywhere. Everything starts melting into oblivion.

    I love the trailer for OVER THE EDGE. I believe it will be a must read for me.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  125. Cindy, if you're chasing your tail is it on a finished book? If it's not then BEAR DOWN and finish, even if you think it's terrible.
    If it's FINISHED then step away from it. Start a new book, clear the old one out of your head for a while, then you can go back and revise with a clearer vision.

  126. Just had to pop in and say hi to Mary! You make me laugh! Thanks so much for the wise words and the smile!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  127. Excellent, excellent, Mary! I love that prayer to remember everything you know!

  128. Susan, hi. Glad you could make you laugh. :)

    Glynna, I prayed so hard for so long and then, when I finally got published all I could think was, it truly was a miracle. :)

  129. I don't have a goat story...I have an emu story and they don't look like goats in the dark.

    Anyways, thanks for the encouragement from Mary, Ruth and Melissa and everyone else!

    I love Snowflake and will use it for my stories but I am realizing that I don't think it's something I need to use for the whole of my story and I am okay with that totally! I'm a planner/panster still trying to figure out how that works! :)

  130. Wonderful Mary!
    And I'm stickin' to it.
    Stellar advice!

    Thanks yet again

  131. I doubt Mary's reading anymore, but I recalled at the pool this evening that I ALREADY HAVE A GOAT STORY!! There's a goat in my current WIP, facepalm.

    Everyone has a goat story, if they say they don't, they just don't know that they're lying.

  132. My nephews occasionally make videos. they mad a zombie goat video.

    Once I had a dead goat on my kitchen floor.

    Thanks, Mary Sandra and Clari, for the encouragement, the wheels are turning again.

    I sort of hope nobody really reads this and finds out I had a dead goat on my kitchen floor. It was a long time ago.

  133. My nephews occasionally make videos. they mad a zombie goat video.

    Once I had a dead goat on my kitchen floor.

    Thanks, Mary Sandra and Clari, for the encouragement, the wheels are turning again.

    I sort of hope nobody really reads this and finds out I had a dead goat on my kitchen floor. It was a long time ago.

  134. OH! and on this Fourth of July we've been invited to a goat I'll be eating goat here in a few days, which, if you knew what I ate in China, is nothing that crazy.But I won't mention what I ate in China for I know for a fact some people would most likely unfriend me if they decided to come read this.

    And my mother got rid of our pet goat when he decided he belonged on top of the cars and left his tiny footprint dents all over it.

    It's kinda fun rambling here when everyone's moved on, it's like going to confessional, hardly anyone's going to hear you!

  135. Mary, I'm chasing my tail on an unfinished book. Your post and advice is what I need. I WILL bear down and push forward to finish. Thank you so much for your wonderful advice. You've blessed me with a wonderful 'kick in the pants'!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  136. I love your WHF advice, Mary. LOVE IT!!!! Okay, to get specific, the concept that Love Inspired would publishe a 100,000 word WF encourages me no end. Or that we don't need to ASSUME they wouldn't, if the manuscript shines brightly enough.

    Thank you.
    And your plot sounds so cool.

    Gail Kittleson

  137. Oh... I so have to read this new book of yours! I know I'm going to love Callie. :)

  138. If you say OVER THE EDGE is the best book in the world I will believe you.


  139. Oh, Mary...with 141 comments before me, i don't suppose i have much chance to win, but thanks for the opportunity. i am a readaholic, not a writer, and i very much appreciate the work that goes into a novel after the book is written. i do read self-published, but can always tell when it's been well edited.

    marianne dot wanham at gmail dot com

  140. I think your books are awesome! Can't wait to read this one too!

  141. I just loved your post, Mary. Just what I needed to hear again. Don't get fixated on the first story but move on with the next one. I now feel motivated to do that. Many thanks for the instruction.
    Now about goats. We had one way back when a child, and as you might guess was called Billy. He was useless and got into my mother's garden. I've gone through the comments,laughing as I read many of them. Thanks again, Mary and Seekers.

  142. I just loved your post, Mary. Just what I needed to hear again. Don't get fixated on the first story but move on with the next one. I now feel motivated to do that. Many thanks for the instruction.
    Now about goats. We had one way back when a child, and as you might guess was called Billy. He was useless and got into my mother's garden. I've gone through the comments,laughing as I read many of them. Thanks again, Mary and Seekers.

  143. Hi Mary! I loved your post and the look into Over the Edge. I can't wait to read it myself.

    I'm currently trying to work the kinks out of my historical romantic comedy called The Husband Exchange. It made semi-finalist standing in the Genesis contest, but my heroine's GMC is too fluid to my opinion (and to some of the judges I believe). I would love to move onto the next story, but I don't believe this one is ready yet.

    P.S. I do believe that gunfire can make any story better (I have some in my own), but knife throwing can be a good one too. :)

  144. LOVE the trailer, Mary!!! I think Seth with all his wild, crazy ways, is my favorite Kincaid brother, so I can't wait for Over the Edge. Love your cover models. ;)

  145. Great advice Mary! I pray this encourages people who are sitting on that first MS and reworking it to death. I am actually holding back from this next MS, which moves me closer to the 20th century, a place I haven't been to in my writing in years. The last two proposals were 18th and early 19th centuries. Have been percolating the new MS for a while before I start! Blessings!