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)