Monday, January 24, 2011

My Path to Publication by Mary Ann Seymour, Guest Blogger

Today it's my pleasure to introduce Mary Ann Seymour, author of Around the Square and Butterfly Messages.

This fall I attended a large author's event hosted by Jax Outdoor Gear and Jax Ranch and Home stores in Fort Collins, Colorado. I had the good fortune to sit near several authors I had not met before, including Mary Ann. It's always fun to meet other writers, chat a bit, and explore their books...and gather the names of potential guests for my blog.

Here's Mary Ann to tell how she came to be a published author.


My Path to Publication by Mary Ann Seymour, Guest Blogger

Looking back, I guess I always have enjoyed writing. My senior year in high school I wrote a research paper that received an A++. In a college philosophy final, I criticized an income tax system I didn't even understand but still received an A because I wrote such a strong argument against it. A college history professor told me I could write an answer around an essay question much better than I could take a multiple choice test.

However, it was not until many years later that I took writing very seriously. I had undergone back surgery and wondered if I would ever be able to return pain free to my teaching career. While working with kindergarten children, my body was used to bending over, sitting cross-legged on the floor, and getting on and off small chairs. I wasn't sure how my repaired back would adjust.

Part of my post-surgery therapy was walking. I started out with short walks through our small-town looking neighborhood, and it was on one of those walks that I thought that if I could not go back to teaching maybe I could write a book. As I continued to walk that morning the entire plot came to me in about five minutes. (The only thing I was not sure of was the financial part, and that was clarified for me by my financial planner husband.) I carried those ideas in my head for a couple of weeks before I actually sat down at the computer to write.

I researched some things about Iowa and found what I could about the witness protection program, which seemed to be almost as classified as those in the program itself. On a cool, drizzly July day, my husband and I walked through one of the nice old areas of Fort Collins taking pictures of turn-of-the-century houses. These pictures became very beneficial as I pictured my fictitious Iowa town of Hayward. For my benefit I sketched a map of the neighborhood, who lived where, and the location of the stores on the main street.

Once I actually got into the writing it progressed consistently although slowly. My husband was very helpful in keeping me on task. "Are you writing tonight?" was his nightly question, and I almost looked forward to having school work to do so I could take a break. After the book was published many teachers asked me about the process and were hoping I could talk about it with their students. But when they learned that I did not work from an outline as all fourth and fifth grade students are taught, they decided I might not be the best example for beginning writers.

When the work was complete I had no idea what to do with it since dealing with agents and publishers was unfamiliar territory to me. My husband was determined to get it published even though I wasn't sure I wanted to proceed. He found a company, the manuscript was submitted and accepted, and we were off with Around the Square. Two years later (May, 2010) the sequel, Butterfly Messages, was published.

Being somewhat of an idealist I made up my little town to be a place I actually would like to live in my retirement, a place with a grocery store, drug store, bank, library, church, close medical facilities and, of course a local restaurant where the townsfolk gather. But more importantly it had to be a place where neighbors actually were neighborly and where some of those neighbors were easier to tolerate than others. I welcome you to visit my website to find out more about me and why I picked the location that I did for my stories.


Thanks, Mary Ann, for being my guest today.

Mary Ann is published by Christian-based Tate Publishing (print books and audiobooks as well as eBooks)


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Mary Ann.

Mary Ann - Isn't it interesting how life circumstances can change our outlook. You wondered what it would be like to go back to teaching - and discovered a career as a writer. That's wonderful and I admire your way of making the best of the situation. I wish you much success.

Karen Walker said...

This is such a lovely, loving story, Mary Ann. How wonderful that from adversity came a career that brings you such joy. Thanks, Patricia, for hosting Mary Ann.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good morning Margo and Karen...attending the large author events (or attending conferences and conventions) provides a great opportunity to meet authors...this time, local authors...we might not get a chance to meet otherwise. It was fun getting to know Mary Ann and learn about her books.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A wonderful story and such a pleasure to read.


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I don’t use an outline either. Your husband sounds very helpful as a stay on task coach and in finding the publisher. Does this mean you didn’t receive any rejections?

Rayna M. Iyer said...

What a great story. And you do have a wonderful husband.