Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry Christmas and happy writing!

I wanted to take a moment out of our crazy year end holiday schedules to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and for us to remember that amongst all of the gifts of clothing, scarves, electronics and toys, the greatest gift is love. Love of family, love of friends and God's love to us surpasses any material gains we could ever know.

In sitting around the dining table with family and friends this Christmas season, be prepared with a copy of the Mini-Memoir.  This is a free download at my Web site Click on the page called "Write About Your Life."  Scroll down, and you can print a PDF copy of the Mini-Memoir, which is a fill-in-the-blank one pager that will generate discussion by older folks as well as the younger generation.  Let them know that you care enough to ask the questions and find out more about their lives. Be ready with a small hand-held recorder to capture the conversations at the table--priceless memories. It's my gift to you so you can preserve some of those family stories that will erupt!

God bless you all, and may 2012 be a productive and insightful season for writers of all genres!

   Mary Anne

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Misconception About Dedicated Writers

This is a glimpse of today's walk at Garden City Beach, SC--the epitome of a spectacularly sunny, warm day. After living in NY for so many years, I thoroughly appreciate today's 74 degree temperature at the end of November.

I hope that everyone enjoyed a blessed Thanksgiving weekend 2011. As it comes to a close this evening, I'm thankful that Fred and I were able to spend the time with my sweet, loving mom. She's the best!

The Writing Life:

I have to laugh when I think about the misguided perception regarding the life of a writer. People probably think that we sit around in our pajamas all day, dreaming up articles, settings, characters and plots for our books. They may think we have all the time in the world to write at a leisurely pace and that the words magically flow every time we are seated with our fingers hovering over our keyboards.

They may imagine us sitting at our desks with fluffy foo-foo dogs stretched out beside our sock-clad feet. They picture our four-legged friends adoringly gazing up at us as they wait for an occasional pat on the head or a treat. When we need a little break, we change into a pair of sweats and mosey outdoors to walk the grateful critters, stopping at the mailbox to collect the enormous pile of royalty checks awaiting us, and then settle back in for a few more hours of uninterrupted work.

Dream on! If this were only true! A friend recently sent a video via Facebook that was so real, it was scary. It features a British woman who is describing her day. She begins with the intent to pay her bills, but is so distracted by every other thing she encounters (and one thing constantly leads to another), so by the end of the day, she still hasn't focused on paying her bills. I had to laugh because I'm afraid I can really relate. I begin my day with a definite "To Do" list, but between interruptions, various tasks around the house that need my attention, and complete disruption when I decide to take a few minutes to check Facebook or post a comment, it is really difficult to finalize anything and gleefully cross a completed item off my list. Heaven help me if I ever learn how Twitter works (also on my "To Do" list).

Many of my long term projects are in various stages of completion, so it is difficult to feel as though anything is actually accomplished by the end of the day. Baby steps toward finalization ... that's all I'm doing. There's always more research to do, more review, more editing, changes that entered my mind in the middle of the night, and very important publishing decisions to be made. And more research. What is the latest in our speed of light changing industry? Everyone thinks it's so easy.

The truth is, however, I couldn't possibly be more enamored with what I do. I'm creating publications that will hopefully entertain through my "Never Say" series and guide people in writing their memoirs with my "Easy Steps" series. I can hardly wait to announce that these projects are finalized and available.

During the next few days, I will be working on formatting my first novel, Eyelash, for Kindle, Nook, and every other e-reading device. It was released as a print book in 2006, but I can easily see the value in offering it as an e-book before I release Never Say Perfect. Eyelash is actually a prologue to Never Say Perfect, though NSP is a stand alone book and contains a great deal of mystery, family relationships, friendships, inspiration and flirts heavily with romance.

As I study the constant changes in the publishing world today, I am more and more inclined to throw my hands up in the air and press on with self-publishing so NSP will finally reach my readers. People constantly ask me when my next novel will be released, and if I continue to hold out for a traditional publisher via an agent, I'm afraid that those fans will lose interest over time. I'm beginning to feel that they've waited long enough.

I'll keep you posted on how this project of formatting Eyelash for Kindle, Nook, etc. is going. It should be mighty interesting! I'm a DIY kind of individual, as I do enjoy holding the reins in my hands. I can only hope that I don't drive myself wild with this adventure.

Inspiration for today: Don't be disheartened when all seems grim. Ephesians 1:13b-14 (NIV) tells us: Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of His glory. It reminds me that He gives us strength and that our hope and power are in Him alone. May you face today with that peace in your heart.

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Never Dull

Murrells Inlet, SC

Dear Writers,

Just when you may think I've entered the witness protection program and disappeared, here I am!

We are closing in on the deadline to register for 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing, a two session seminar to be held on Saturday, November 5 and 12, 2011 through Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Coastal Carolina University, specifically at Waccamaw Higher Education Center in Litchfield, SC from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Why only two sessions? Because you will be able to obtain a manual and all of the tools needed to continue your memoir writing project at your own pace by the end of the two sessions. To register, call 843-349-6584 and someone will be delighted to enroll you in the class. Hope to see you there!

The class manual for 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing is a project that I will be publishing in print form and as an e-book. It's on the "To Do" list, and the manuscript contains the necessary steps plus tips and hints, as well as a lengthy list of questions that you can use to interview relatives about family history or that you can use to formulate your own story. It also contains resource information and a few special stories by prior workshop attendees. Stay tuned!

Never Say Perfect:

I imagine you feel like I do sometimes. Is this manuscript ever going to be published? It's such a gripping story, and here it sits on my computer, waiting like a permanent bridesmaid and never a bride. After querying a handful of agents, I queried a "to remain nameless" (I don't want them to hate me forever) publisher a few months ago and felt strongly that this would be a perfect fit. I've heard nothing from them...not yes, not no, not maybe. Their Web site indicates that a followup e-mail is appropriate after a certain number of weeks, and we have exceeded that window.

Trying to obey the rules, I sent my followup e-mail and have yet to receive a response. Frustrated to say the least, I began searching for new resources regarding the world of publishing and found Mary DeMuth's book entitled 11 Secrets of Getting Published. I could hardly wait to begin reading it after ordering it on my Nook, and it definitely did not disappoint me.

I started with a fairly speedy read-through and then sat down with pen and paper to take some important notes. Following my second read, I am encouraged and have a new and revitalized enthusiasm for Never Say Perfect. Direct from the trenches, 11 Secrets of Getting Published provides an enlightening view of important suggestions for attempting to find a publisher. I had much more to learn than I had realized.

Honestly believing that my manuscript was as publishing-ready as could be, I felt that there was nothing more I could possibly do to improve it. It was neatly wrapped and packaged with a fancy bow. Wrong! After intently studying 11 Secrets of Getting Published, it was obvious to me that I now need to thoroughly review my manuscript to search for the basic newbie errors commonly detected by agents, editors and publishers.

For example, I'll be checking for head hopping (the book provides a clear explanation of this literary faux pas), cliches, passive verbs, weak verbs, rambling and overuse of favorite words. 11 Secrets succinctly and patiently walks the reader/budding author through examples of these writing bugaboos. And I don't think I'll ever become automatically accustomed to entering only one space following a period. Old habits are truly tough to break.

Taking Mary DeMuth's advice and applying it to Never Say Perfect can only improve my manuscript, after which I will be simultaneously querying a new batch of agents. Hopefully, at least one will see the value that the story holds for touching hearts and souls. An enormous thank you to Mary DeMuth for providing a guide that is direct, informative and not fluffy or sugar-coated. She carefully spells out what it means to struggle with being a writer, including all of the inherent challenges as well as blessings. Don't forget to visit her Web site at to take advantage of the beneficial resources she offers. If you happen to sign up for her e-mail newsletters, you'll be truly blessed because she often begins with a word of prayer. Sometimes that prayer arrives just when I seem to need it!

Writing and Publishing-Not for those who expect instant success:

This entire year has been jam packed with frequent travel, family emergencies, blogging, professional education and a very few rounds of not my best golf. All of this has resulted in my writing projects moving ahead at turtle speed in terms of finalization. Hopefully, over the next couple of months I can dedicate enough uninterrupted time to finishing the projects that have been placed on my heart to share.

Is the writing life easy? It's rather comical actually--when I was working full time in property management and squeezing out paragraph after paragraph for Eyelash in my spare moments, I believed that if I could only write full time, accomplishing my goals would be so simple and I could be hyper-productive. What I discovered was that juggling multiple writing projects requires tremendous discipline and that every day normal life has a way of encroaching on concentration and dedication. I have also learned that I can only give my best efforts, and beyond that, it's in God's timing. As it all unfolds, may it always be to His honor and glory.

Until next time......

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Back again!

Whirlwind Schedule:

Most of my blog writing time has been devoted to recently, but as the stories from that fabulous trip begin to wind down, I've decided to continue writing the blog with periodic posts about interesting U. S. destinations. Sharon, Laura, Marianne and I have discussed possible future European visits and placed London and Paris on our wish lists, but that won't be happening right away. So stay tuned....

In the interim, my luggage has frequently been packed lately and I've been on the road constantly. One destination was The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia, which I will definitely write about in a travel blog post in the near future. This was such an amazing location for a refreshing break in the action. A truly hidden gem! I had an opportunity to tour the kitchen and wine cellar at this resort, which was fascinating. Be sure to keep checking on the travel blog periodically for details about this location, as well as other great getaway sites.

Never Say Perfect:

Still waiting to hear from the publisher to whom the manuscript was sent for review. Their site says to check back with them if you haven't heard anything in 12-16 weeks. Well, we're getting into that vicinity very soon. Will keep you up to date. This manuscript will not be buried--even if it is necessary to self-publish it.

Memoir Writing:

Here's a little tip from my upcoming book, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing, for generating some of those long forgotten life events:

Listen to old favorite music. I visited, chose "Resources", then "Top 100 songs from 1950 to the present", clicked on 1969 (the year I was a high school senior, yipes...was it that long ago???), and up popped a list of the biggest hits of that year. Just reviewing them brought forth a flood of memories to my brain. I could hardly write them down fast enough.

You can also access to actually hear the music that will bring you straight back to any year of your choosing. While this method may not work for everyone, if you've spent as many years being a music lover as I have, many selections will paint incredibly vivid memories. Another resource for listening to the music is Your favorite selections may just be available to you with photos or video. Just type the name of the song in the "Search" area and see what appears.

From church hymns to popular songs, some of my earliest musical recollections are:

"My Happiness" by Connie Francis-During an overnight stay in the hospital following my tonsillectomy at age seven, I awoke in the middle of the night and heard this song being played on a radio located at the nearby nurses' station. I recall being anxious to get out of there and back home to familiar surroundings, but I'll never forget hearing this selection of music that entered my room from the hallway as I eased back into my state of groggy, nighttime slumber.

"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" by Brian Hyland-I was nine years old, it was about 4:30 a.m. in North Carolina darkness, and my Dad was leaving for a trip to Arizona, where our family would be moving once school was over for the semester. There was a radio playing this song in the background as he prepared to say goodbye, and I had extremely mixed feelings about his imminent departure. I'd miss him terribly for the next two months, but our upcoming move to Arizona represented an exciting adventure, filled to the brim with the unknown.

Choose a year and select three or four songs to see if some special memories formulate. Write them down, type them into a Word document or capture your thoughts on a recorder while the thoughts are fresh in your mind. Continue this process periodically, and before you know it, you will have built a substantial collection of stories!

Let me know if this works for you, and don't hesitate to share some of the recollections with us. We welcome your submission of special memories.

Inspiration for today:

This verse just jumped off the page at me the other day from Proverbs 14:30 NIV. A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Wow! "Rots the bones" struck me as pretty major stuff. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that it is so true. When I am at peace in my heart, when I know my heart is in the right place and I am doing things for the right reasons, I feel a sense of comfort that I'm exactly where God wants me to be. If I'm wasting time being anxious or thinking about what someone else has or what they have achieved that I haven't, my insides feel as though I have swallowed rocks.

Have you ever known someone who didn't have one nice thing to say about anyone? Everything that flows from his or her lips seems to be coming from a negative position? I think that relates to envy as well. Perhaps he or she envies something about everyone else and that creates an evolving insecurity, translating into spouting negative comments so this person feels better about herself or himself. It gives them a feeling of superiority to point out what they perceive to be the negative aspects of others. Well, I do believe that an envious attitude rots the bones! I've seen it in the scowls on their faces that have long replaced the smiles.

Find something positive and encouraging to say to someone today. It will bring a natural smile to your face!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Time and Season for Everything

A Proper Time and Procedure for Every Matter:

I almost had to laugh when I reviewed last month's post. I was making significant progress with a variety of projects when a multitude of circumstances arose and ground almost everything to a halt. I have managed to produce a weekly post on, which chronicles a recent trip to Italy, but that has been the extent of any meaningful work on my other writing projects. There was unexpected travel to NY because of the very sad passing of someone who was like family and shortly thereafter important medical issues with my mom, which took me out of state in yet another direction. Fortunately, Mom is doing just fine now, but we need to make some changes to have her in close proximity to us so we can be of better and speedier assistance to her in the future.

Life has a way of presenting emergency situations and priorities that cannot be ignored in spite of the fact that, as writers, we would love to retreat to a location where there are no interruptions or responsibilities that beckon us away from our work. When the time is right, I'll be once again firmly planted on the writing track. Until then, however, I wanted to share a few hints for assisting older relatives/friends with preserving their stories:

Motivate them by telling them how important it is to you that their memories be captured.
Encourage them by spending quality time with them to elicit their stories.
Move slowly. You can't rush them. They won't cooperate if they are feeling pressured.
Offer them the Mini-Memoir as a starting point. Free access at
Initiate memory-generating conversations. Use a small recorder to preserve the dialog.
Retrieve old family photos, albums or movies to refresh their memories.
Supply questions in advance. They may need time for reflection before answering.

Try to be patient, but remember that their stories will remain with them and be unobtainable if they are not captured. I hope that these hints are helpful. I always think about my friend, Sandi, who was inspired to fly to Florida and spend time interviewing and recording hours of conversation and stories with her parents after attending my memoir writing workshop series. During the visit, she learned many details that she had never known and felt so much more connected after completing her story-gathering trip. The following year, the health of her dad deteriorated and he passed away. Within the year, her mother passed as well, and how thankful Sandi is to have taken the time and effort to preserve their stories. There may be no rewind in opportunity to begin a memoir preservation project.

Although you may be going through a difficult time, try to remember that there are others who are experiencing difficulties greater than your own! If you focus on being helpful to them, it frees you to limit the amount of time spent dwelling on your own situation.

I Thessalonians 5:18: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.....(NIV)

Ecclesiastes 8:6: For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him. (NIV)

Wishing you the best with your writing projects!!! I'm betting that next month's post will be full of uplifting joy and praise!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writing Equals Details

Update on writing projects:

My head is spinning with projects at this moment! I'll give a brief synopsis of what's happening as of today:

The manuscript for my second novel, Never Say Perfect, is in the hands of a publisher for review. Of course, this could be yet another dead end, but I pray that it clicks with the editor and good news arrives before I have one foot in the grave. I'm really trying to practice infinite patience on this project, as it's been ready to go for some time now.

I am about two to three weeks away from finalizing a book and e-book project entitled 10 Easy Steps to Writing the Life Story of Your Treasured Pet. This is based on information gathered and my experience in helping people write their pet stories. I wanted to make this option available to anyone who would like to capture the special memories of their other "family members." As we know, the devil is in the details, and I am chipping away at the various items on my To Do list that will be necessary for completing the project. Stay tuned!

This fall, I'll be teaching 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing through Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Coastal Carolina University and am in the process of developing a guide for that class and for eventual publication. It will also contain some select stories from former students who have graciously agreed to allow me to share what they have written. I'm excited about this project as well!

"Mr. Burns"...........................Quite a guy!!!

Two years ago, I was participating in a vendor fair at Cooper House and met Faith Robertson, who was one of the organizers of the event. When she found out that I assist people in writing their life stories, she said, "You have got to meet my dad. He has some very interesting stories to tell." At the end of that day, along came Mr. Robertson to help Faith pack up her belongings, and we were introduced. We chatted for a while, and what a charmer he is!!! At the time we met, he was 83 years old and full of spunk and energy. He began to share some of the highlights of his life, and Faith was right--he had some fascinating stories to tell. We talked about how I might be able to guide him in preserving those memories for his daughters, and shortly after that time, our journey began. He recently published "Mr. Burns" and has now held two book signings--one in Canada and one in the Myrtle Beach area, with yet another scheduled in Virginia at the end of this month.

At 85 years of age, he is more energetic than ever and is enjoying sharing his stories with many people who have been waiting to see exactly what he would reveal in his book. He golfs, bowls, enjoys boating, socializing and helping people, and is a huge inspiration to others.

Although his first name is Burns, people have called him "Mr. Burns" for many years. His book tells about the highlights of his life including relocating to Middleburg, Virginia from Quebec, Canada at age 5, serving in two branches of the military, falling in love and marrying his sweetheart, Rachel, owning a business, the births of his daughters, dabbling in thoroughbred horse racing, enjoying community service through his membership in the Lions Club and the American Legion, celebrities he met in the Middleburg, Virginia area, family outings as Washington Redskins fans, the travel adventures that he and Rachel enjoyed over the years, and the various trips he has taken with daughters, Suzie and Faith, in recent times. He doesn't hesitate to give credit to God for seeing him through all of the ups and downs in life.

Burns Robertson was such a delight to work with, and I will always treasure the time we spent together on this project. He reminded me so much of my own dad (1919-1999) and on those occasions when he would utter certain little phrases that my dad used to say, I would just shake my head and smile. Sometimes working with him almost made me feel as though I was being granted a little time with my dad again. Really special.

If you would like to order his book, he can be contacted by email at: or an order can be directly placed through You will enjoy his tales of a fascinating life.

I want to commend Mr. Robertson for seeing this project through to completion and beyond! He is one amazing character, and I hope that his memoir inspires others to preserve their memories as well.

If you are in the Myrtle Beach area and want to learn how to jump-start a memoir preservation project, sign up for my OLLI at CCU course to be held in November at Waccamaw Higher Ed Center!

Troubled and discouraged today?
I Peter 5:7 tells us: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. (NIV)
We don't have to do life alone.......

Until next time, don't forget to read my Italy travel posts in A new segment is posted each Monday!

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Travel Blog and Pedals, Prayers & Perseverance

New Travel Blog:
During a recent, somewhat unexpected visit to Italy in May, 2011 with three friends, Laura, Sharon and Marianne, I realized that this could possibly be the trip of a lifetime for me. In keeping with the theme I share with everyone who will listen to me regarding preserving our special memories, I jotted down pertinent notes during the day and wrote extensively in my journal at night. If I hadn't been so diligent about this, I would have already forgotten approximately 3/4 of the details of our trip. Yes, we have tons of photos, but the pictures don't portray our thoughts, feelings, and some of the particularly humorous situations. Only words can convey these intangibles.
This experience drove me to create a special blog for reporting travel adventures, so please visit to learn all about this unforgettable girl trip to Italy. A new segment will be posted each Monday until the entire story is told. Don't forget to sign up as a follower so you won't miss a post!

Pedals, Prayers & Perseverance:
Speaking of sharing life stories, I am thrilled to announce the release of an amazing book by my client, David E. Herlt, of Pawleys Island, SC. A fan of organized, long distance bicycle rides all over the world, Mr. Herlt turned his journal notes about these excursions into a fascinating, poignant book entitled Pedals, Prayers & Perseverance.

I could never have imagined that stories about riding bicycles would be so intriguing, but Dave's book encompasses tales of the sport, the joys and sorrows of participating in these events, and the mix of personalities he met along the way. Accompanied by Mary Koster Herlt, they toured the roads from the Iowa cornfields to New York City streets before participating in a coast to coast Cross Canada biking event in 2004. This all took place after Mary had suffered a series of complicated health issues and had miraculously recovered sufficiently enough to begin a walking, biking, and tennis regimen about which she maintained a daily log of statistics. This book can be purchased by contacting the author at 843-237-2119 or by ordering on-line at, where you can search for the book by title or by author name. This is a book that everyone can enjoy, whether or not you are a biking enthusiast!

Until next time, I hope you are capturing the events of your life!!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Sunrise over Surfside Beach

Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011:
How amazing to have set the alarm on Easter Sunday morning, awakening in time to join an enthusiastic crowd of people who had gathered for the purpose of praise and worship to God as the sun gradually ascended over the ocean right before our eager, yet misty eyes! The location was Surfside Beach Pier, SC, and it was a radiant scene to behold. How blessed we are to be able to drive only a matter of minutes to the beach for this glorious occasion. The crowds began to swell, and some folks chose a higher vantage point, locating a good spot to observe the panoramic view directly from the pier. The praise music was joyful, the message inspiring, and the greatest bonus was witnessing a group of several people wading out into the ocean for a baptism following the regular sunrise service. It must be rather challenging to steady everyone involved as each individual patiently awaited his or her turn while the waves crashed around them. We felt privileged to have walked to the water's edge for such a spiritual occasion. You can see from the photo that the rays from the sun reached down to bathe them in light and celebration that Jesus is risen!
Interestingly, I'm not yet discouraged about finding a publisher in spite of the fact that I've received five different agent rejections. For the many people who have been so incredibly patient while I go through this process, I apologize that it seems to be taking such a long time. I realize that I could self-publish Never Say Perfect and have it directly into your hands, Nooks, Kindles and I-Pads in a flash, but I vowed to really try diligently to find a publisher this time around.

The May, 2011 issue of More Magazine featured an article by Kathryn Stockett, author of the best seller, The Help, in which she chronicles her path to the publication of this well-received book. She states that she received sixty---yes, that is 60----rejections before an agent accepted her submission. How much time did she devote to seeking an agent? Three and a half years. This doesn't include the writing time...this was time exerted in submitting queries and then opening rejection letter after rejection letter. Somehow she managed not to become so discouraged that she would entirely give up. She instinctively knew that there was an audience for her book, and she persisted until publication became a reality. I am keeping this article on my desk for future inspiration!

For those who are still eagerly awaiting publication of Never Say Perfect, hang in there. The wait will absolutely be worth it!!!

Speaking of literary agents, I no longer view them as emotionless control freaks who hold our publishing fates in their condescending hands. I have been devouring the blog of Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent who really wants to bridge the gap between agents and writers. Her blog posts are informative, entertaining, and provide special insight into how this mysterious process of publishing actually works. From reading her blog, I have a better understanding of the general likes and dislikes of agents, how limited the number of projects they can undertake actually are, the fact that some agents purposely steer away from first time authors because they represent a learning curve factor that equates to time drain, and the simple fact that even though an agent may contract with you and has fallen madly in love with your project, it doesn't guarantee that they will be able to ultimately sell it to a publisher. Many ducks must be in a row, stars perfectly aligned, and it truly be destined to happen for everything to miraculously fall into place to reach the final goal of traditional publication; however, it definitely won't happen without persistence and a unique and marketable project. So there we are! I'm not ready to give up and call my dear friends, the self-publishing company that I love, quite yet. As always, I will keep you posted on the progress of Never Say Perfect, and don't forget to read Rachelle's blog at Writers will find a world of valuable information by perusing her blog post archives.

I will definitely be writing blog posts more frequently, as there are some very interesting upcoming events that I will be sharing in the near future. STAY TUNED!

Matthew 17:2 (NIV):
There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

No, this verse doesn't refer to Fred...but look at that brilliant sky!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Below is a poem I recently wrote when thinking about those who resist writing their stories. Hoping you enjoy it!

It seems I'm always apologizing for the delay in creating blog posts, but there are so many projects in the works, my days fly by in a flash.


I wish I had told my story
Like my children asked me to.
While I could still remember
What they wanted me to do.

They were seeking our family history,
Anything I'd be willing to share.
I always meant to get started on that project,
It wasn't that I didn't care.

I was just busy with so many other tasks,
I had far too much on my mind
To zero in on my memories
For the loved ones I'd leave behind.

I could have told some humorous tales,
Pertinent occurrences, things I had learned, and more.
I'd have clued them in on stories they'd never have known
If I hadn't provided the key to my special memories door.

I really should have explained about
Some interesting events from my past.
To pass along to future generations--
A legacy that would last.

But it's too late for me now.
My eyes are closed--there's nothing more I can do.
Except to tell others--don't take your stories to the grave!
Leave behind a remembrance of you.

I wish I had some exciting news about Never Say Perfect, but this is the update. I queried one agent in November, 2010, finally received a negative response in January, and sent three additional query letters. One very friendly, upbeat agent responded that they didn't represent Christian fiction, although their listing in the Christian Writers' Market Guide indicated that they did. Of course, that could have changed since the time of printing. Everything is always subject to change. The two additional agents acknowledged receipt of the queries, but I've not heard a word since that time.

Yesterday, I queried yet another agent, and am certainly hopeful regarding this recent submission. In my prior post, I hope that I didn't sound as though I am agent-bashing. It is not my intention to come across as negative about agents. I do believe that their services are a lifeline to authors--particularly to fiction writers--as a bridge to the publishers. The other truth is that they are bombarded by submissions, and it is necessary for them to weed through a tremendous amount of material. I'm not sure if agents are actually able to read for pleasure during their off hours, as they spend so much time reading every day in their chosen profession.

Some people say, "Go ahead and just self-publish Never Say Perfect as you did with Eyelash. We can't wait to read it!" Trust me when I tell you that I can't wait to get it out there, but I'm hoping for that validation which comes with having a publisher say, "I really like this book. We're willing to take a chance and produce it for you." If that isn't meant to happen, then I definitely would go the self-publishing route once again in order for the folks, who have been patiently waiting for this book, to be able to read about the latest saga in the life of Laina Strickland. Continue to stay tuned. I'm not giving up on agents just yet!!!

If you have a treasured dog in your home, and it hasn't intuitively mastered best practices in behavior, you need to call Kristen Askey at Sunny Dogs Training Company at (843) 903-7825 or visit her web site at

Kristen teaches in-home private lessons, as well as group classes in basic obedience and socialization. She also conducts the AKC S.T.A.R. puppy class to get your new little canine family member off to a positive behavioral beginning.

When the day arrives that I find I am totally and completely retired, I intend to be the owner of a sweet, tiny foo foo dog, and we will be going to visit Sunny Dogs Training before we have the opportunity to form any negative habits. Check out the web site, and don't forget to tell others with persnickity pooches about Kristen and her classes!

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
It's interesting to note that when you are walking life's path with Him, some of the desires of your heart have a way of becoming very different from what you originally thought they would be........

Until next time, and I surely hope it won't be such a long stretch of time until I post again. I do have some exciting topics to cover soon.

Mary Anne

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Making 2011 the Year for Memoir Preservation

Amidst the typical items on our New Year's resolution lists (usually related to getting more exercise, losing weight, toning those sagging muscles, pitching the donuts and making more nutritious choices for our meals and snacks, and vowing to stay in touch with friends and relatives) think about adding just one more. Why not make a commitment to creating blocks of time to work on preserving your life stories, as well as those of your parents, if possible? If it is too late to interview those family members who have passed on, write about your memories of them and then move on to your own stories. It is up to you to be certain that their history--and your own--live on. Resolve to take a life writing class, read a memoir writing book, or download a memoir preservation e-book, and allow yourself some quiet time to remember. Our stories are permanently lost if we don't make a conscious decision to capture them.

I was recently writing an article for the January, 2011 issue of Transitions, a monthly Grand Strand publication for seniors, and recalled that my dad's sister, Ruth, many years ago had used an old manual typewriter and had written about any pieces of information that she had been able to sketch together regarding our ancestors, as well as some family stories that were current at the time of her writing in January, 1983. I love reading what she entitled "Memory Excerpts of the Levi Greene Family", in which she announces that my great-grandfather was a shoemaker. It helps to be aware of these details, because now I understand why I have such an addiction to shoes!

My own mom recently told me that as a young woman, one of the jobs that she held involved working in the Shoe Department at Belk! Okay, that explains everything. I was doomed from the womb to be a collector of footwear. It's not my fault, honey.

My point is that if Aunt Ruth hadn't felt the urge to preserve family history, I wouldn't have a clue about these people. And the very same applies to you and your own loved ones. Write what you know, the stories you were told, and what you are able to find out from other relatives before your family history becomes extinct. Let 2011 be the year that you become pro-active and determined to leave a written legacy. You may just find that you actually enjoy the process!!

There seems to have been a bit of a holiday lull in the reading of the synopsis and first fifty pages of my manuscript by the agent to whom these items were sent. I have to be careful not to use this blog to vent my frustration related to the length of time that authors must wait to hear the news about whether they move on and try another agent or whether the one they have queried and sent the requested portion of their project to actually has any interest. I realize that they are totally inundated with queries and manuscripts, and they are entitled to enjoy the holidays just like everyone else. It's just unfortunate that our projects have to hang in limbo for such a long period of time.

At one point, I believed in seeking one agent at a time. Some state that they don't appreciate simultaneous submissions--they want to be the only one looking at your material at one time. I decided today that I'll search through the Writer's Market, a wonderful guide that supplies information on agents and publishers, and send my query to a few agents who do not object to simultaneous submissions and see if we can get some action going for Never Say Perfect! I consider myself to be a reasonably patient person, but these wheels turn so slowly. No wonder so many people jump straight to self-publishing in this age. We are told that most publishers don't want to see our work unless we have an agent. In reading the submission requirements on the websites of various agents, I'm seeing a trend now where several are becoming selective about who can even query them! Others are stating that they won't accept any queries for the next two or three months. It's an interesting ball game. But, even with that said, I don't intend to let this stop me. I just hope I'm not using a walker and unable to recognize my grandchildren by the time Never Say Perfect is in a book store.

"Oh, silly," you say. "Just put it out as an e-book on Kindle or Nook, etc. That's the present and future for reading." I know..I know. I own a Nook and LOVE it. But as long as there are still print books and physical book stores where people can walk in and admire an actual cover, I'd surely love to see Never Say Perfect residing there for a time. So I will continue to put forth the effort. Self-publishing Eyelash was an incredible educational experience for me, and really gratifying. But the difficulty is in marketing and distribution your own book. The experts say to use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Okay, I use Facebook occasionally, but not regularly because I don't have time to read what my friends are cooking for dinner. I haven't tried Twitter yet because I'm afraid that it will become an obsession, and I don't have time for that either. I am on LinkedIn and have joined some pertinent groups, but I'll have to see how that works out. I believe that marketing/promotion of a book can be a full time job if done properly. Not enough hours in my day! But I promise to keep you posted on how the publishing quest for Never Say Perfect progresses.

A book signing in 2009
After all of that carrying on about the publishing process, I think it would only be appropriate for me to switch to the inspiration segment of my blog. A former resident of the Grand Strand, someone who attended my workshops-Writing Your Treasured Memories AND Writing Your Christian Spiritual Journey, as well as a friend and fellow writer, Donna Weaver, has started a new blog at You'll enjoy following her blog for a dose of inspiration and uplifting joy. She and I share a penchant for having a million irons in the fire and yet desiring to be a servant of God at the same time. Check it out!

In my crazy schedule where I could easily be at this computer 24/7, Psalm 62:1-2 reminds me:
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

I'll be back.....