ADVICE TO NEW WRITERS

Almost every time I am interviewed I am asked what advice I would give to a writer just starting out. I always answer in one of two ways, often both–(1) don’t listen to advice, and (2) just write. Being a writer, of course, I am not going to leave it at that. I am going to explain what I mean.

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I could just show this cartoon, I suppose, and rest my case, but the burning question is–how does the book come out? One thing I have discovered since I started meeting other writers long after my first book was written and published is that we are all different in every imaginable way. I like to get up early in the morning, for example, and tackle my writing immediately after breakfast while my energy level is high. I know a very successful author who frits away her time all day, finding any and all excuses to stay away from her computer until finally, in the mid to late evening she sits down and writes well into the night. I am brain dead by then. Who is right? Both of us are, but I am right for me and she is right for her. There is no rule, in fact. Each writer has to find what works for her/him.

I am very organized and very disciplined. I write every day when I am working on a book, and I write a set number of words a day, except when I am revising–2000 words. I know another successful author who, despite intentions to the contrary, just cannot meet her deadlines. When the deadline comes and goes, she is maybe one-third the way into the book. After fretting for another week or two, she finally writes the rest of the book in a marathon burst of creative energy and does not come up for air night or day until she has finished. Who is right?

Those are both relatively trivial points, but I have seen how-to books and listened to speakers who will tell writers that this is when they must write and this is how much they must write per day. Don’t listen!

What concerns me most, though, about the writing “help” that is offered writers–and there is a lot of it out there–is that is can impede the natural flow of creativity that is the writer’s gift. All writers of fiction have stories inside them–otherwise they wouldn’t be writers. And all writers knows how to tell a story–they have probably read thousands in the course of their lives and made up a hundred more in their heads. They just think they don’t know (we writers are such insecure people) and so seek out help on how to create everything from plot to character to suspense to sexual tension. And chances are they will end up either not knowing how to write at all or else producing cookie-cutter stories with paint-by-the-number characters.

A writer’s most precious asset, and also the most fragile, is her/his voice. I don’t mean the physical thing that produces sound and might read a story aloud. I mean the writer’s view of life and way of expressing it. It is quite distinctive when you come across it in a well-written book, But it can be so very easily tampered with. I remember speaking at a conference with a lady who had two manuscripts going so that she could work on one while her critiquing group was going through the other. Then she would swap and work on their suggestions while they had the other manuscript. This had been going on for a long time. I was aghast. And I wondered how much of her vision or voice remained in either of the constantly new-and-improved stories she was working on. I did give her some advice–the one I gave at the start of this little essay. I told her to shut herself into a room and not come out until she had finished a whole book.

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If you are a writer, you will write. If you are a writer, you can write, even if you can never remember the difference between who and whom and don’t have the foggiest idea when it is appropriate to use the semicolon. You don’t need to listen to the well-meaning advice of experts or amateurs. You can do it yourself. Do it. And that is my advice to you today. I know many of you will disagree, and I look forward to hearing from you. Life would be so bland if we all agreed on every subject!

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To one randomly-chosen person who leaves a comment below before the end of next Tuesday, July 16, I will send an autographed advance reading copy of THE ARRANGEMENT, due out at the end of August, and the last one I have available. Last week’s winner of the same book was Diane (last name not known yet) of somewhere in Canada.

175 thoughts on “ADVICE TO NEW WRITERS

  1. I really enjoy your books! I’m collecting all of your books and hoping to receive the latest one 🙂 Thank you! Please please continue writing more and more fabulous novels. Hugs and Kisses!

    • Mary,
      I’ve read almost all of your books as well as my aunts and cousins. There’s nothing like passing on a great story instead of keeping on the shelf for yourself. I’m 8 months pregnant and would love nothing more than to read a copy of your new book while waiting for my first daughter to be born. If not given this wonderful opportunity I will be sure to purchase it as soon as its available. Thank you for continuing to write amazing stories. Your friend
      Jessica

    • I thoroughly enjoy all of your novels. I love how you describe are falling in like to falling in love.Thank you for providing hours of entertainment.

    • It amazes me that writers like you can write so many books and yet they are not all alike. I think this is why a set way of producing a book would not work for creative people..

      I have read some that read like the same outline, with different names and places being the only creative part of the book. If you have read one… you’ve read them all!

      So, I agree with the cartoon that if you have a book inside you, write it like you and not like someone else.

      Linda Wellivere
      Battle Creek, MI

    • Thank you, Mary. This is the best writing advice I’ve heard. I LOVE your books and wait eagerly for your new ones to come out. In the next few months I’m leaving my job, going abroad and then coming back to lock myself away for a couple of months in a flat by the sea to write my book. I’ve started a couple, but living in London and with a full time job it has been hard to find the space to be creative. It was a tough decision, but I decided to allow myself the time and space to see what I can create. I only hope I can write novels that are as emotionally poignant and touching as yours. I will print out your writing tip and will have it pinned on the wall next to my laptop when my writing journey begins and it will remind me everyday to believe in myself and my own voice.

  2. Advice not to take advice – I love it! It really is about knowing how you work best, and then just let it flow – whether it’s writing or any other creative process. As always, love reading your blog – thank you for sharing your insight!

  3. It sounds like your advice is perfect! 🙂 I’m very much looking forward to reading The Arrangement when it is out!

  4. Great post and great…advice? 😉
    Something I remember from reading Stephen King’s On Writing that has stayed with me is this lil’ gold nugget: I’m paraphrasing from memory here, “Write with the door closed, edit with the door open.” I suppose, perhaps, one could add – edit with the door open, just not wide open. But yes, you are right – be true to the book inside you, and WRITE

  5. I think you actually make a great point and your advice was neat. I feel like writing should be a personal preference sort of thing. You can’t force imagination or else it just won’t be imagined.. it’ll be a demand on… brain cells to burst! Ouch >.< okay, not a good idea. But I think you know what I mean. I've always wanted to write stories but I never know how to organize it in my head well enough to type it out. I do, however, write/wrote (depending on my writers block) poems! I absolutely love writing romantic (sappy & happy) poems. I wonder though, if I could ever write a short story (lets start small) someday. I guess I should take up your advice about WRITING to begin being an author… of some sort. *off to write*

  6. I heartily agree! Once a writer starts “writing” in a self-conscious, this-is-what-the-guide-says manner, the storytelling suffers. I think it is better to tell the story and then go back and review or edit and polish. Again, not to make the story conform to some guide’s rules, but to make the story shine. Now, don’t take that to mean that grammar and punctuation don’t matter!

  7. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve started writing a book–only to have a major case of writers’ block (once even after I was 60-some pages in) and drop the whole project altogether. Whenever I stop, it’s because I get frustrated because I don’t feel like I’m going about it the right way or I’m not developing the plot well enough or I’m just not “cut out to be a writer.” But you’re right: I should just sit down and go. Do what feels right for me and run with it! I always have stories swirling around in my brain–maybe it’s time to really get them down on paper!

    Thank you!

  8. I have never been disciplined or organized in writing, and yet just before deadline hits at work, the creative problem-solving suddenly comes out and I get convincing finished products. I’ve stopped questioning. Sadly, there’s nothing to derail the joy of writing like too much writing for government or academia — hopefully once the thesis is done, I’ll start on the slow road to imaginative recovery.

    Also … I can’t even describe how neat it would be to get a book in the mail as opposed to political spam.

  9. Thanks for the advice! 🙂 I’m working on a story right now, and one of my dilemmas is whether to outline the whole story before I really work on it or not. I’ve been a faithful outliner for a few years, but on my latest one, I came up with a premise and then just couldn’t stop! And then, today, I was feeling a little stuck and went back to one of my characters, and wondered if I should rewrite a scene from his point of view – and he told me that the conversation had gone entirely differently than he had thought it would, and his version was much better. Now I have about 15,000 words to rewrite… but I have confidence that the new version will be better. 🙂 (Side note: I am definitely looking forward to your new book, whether I win a copy or buy it for my Kindle! 🙂

  10. I think your (non)advice is very cogent. Whatever creative endeavor you aspire to, you have to find the process that works for you. I think many people may have writing aspirations without really having a story to tell. For me, I’m a great reader of fiction (and non-fiction, too) but I don’t have any fiction stories in me. Scholarly research articles – been there, done that successfully. Poetry – done for myself, now and then when the urge strikes. But fiction? I’d rather be the reader, thank you. And sometimes the editor when I think I would have made different, better choices in the plot than the author did. 🙂

  11. That’s what I’ve always thought. You can’t write someone else’s novel, and they can’t write yours. There can be and is a lot of imitation, but imitations are seldom satisfying to anybody. I think there is only one true authentic voice per person. It’s one thing to listen to constructive criticism, to attempt to improve one’s craft, structure, use of language and all that — that’s all useful; but allowing someone else to make you write something that is false to your own voice is counterproductive. True, following one’s own genius untrammelled – as so many ebooks do – can result in awful stuff, but it also allows that one clear shining true voice to come forward.

  12. I have wanted to write all my literate life, but where I seem to excel is poetry and description. My problem is I can’t seem to access the story inside me. I’ve experienced enough in my six decades to have something to say, but how do I dig it out? Discipline is the secret I hear from every writer I respect. Could it simply be a m after of setting a daily goal and sticking to it? Takes courage…….

  13. The thing about it is, you can write and not necessarily be talented enough to write like you do, Ms Balogh.

    Thanks for the information – I will not call it advice.

  14. I dont think being a writer is in my future , but if I could get paid to read books then I would have it made. Your advice is wonderful. A writer should
    always be true to his or her self. Ive always thought that a good book, the ones you can go back and read a hundred times , have a bit of the author in them. That you put alittle heart and soul into it. Its thats the authors wish is for the world to read their sory and love it as much as they do. I enjoy your books Mary and I have some that i would read and reread a dozen times over. Cant wait for the new book to come out and I would probably giggle with joy , like a little school girl if I was chosen for the advanced copy. 🙂

  15. It’s lovely advice. So many successful writers, yourself included, have become successful without knowing any of the “rules.”

    And I would love an advance reader copy, and would totally review it.

  16. I knew a writer who said, “Put your butt in a chair and write.” Didn’t say where, when or how. Another said, “Just do it.” 🙂 So I hope to get back to it soon.

  17. That is wonderful advice and so true, I think! I have been starting (and stalling) on novels for years. It took me finally not caring or worrying about whether or not I was “doing it write,” or meeting other people’s ideas of what a writer “should” do, for me to finish that novel and find my own voice.

  18. Thank you! I read your interview about this last week. Such a great help and confidence booster. Forging ahead, I’m listening to my soul. Thanks ever so much!

  19. One of local RWA chapter mates, the lovely and wise Virginia Kantra, gave this bit of advice on our loop once:

    If it works, do it.
    If it doesn’t, don’t.

    Yeah, I love that advice. It’s hard to get right (“write”) though.

  20. I was wondering if you took any advice from authors when you started writing…love to read your novels, you are an awesome storyteller!

    • I didn’t know any writers or writers’ organizations or publications, Juanita, and this was before the days of the Internet. I had always wanted to write and finally I had time to do it–and I just wrote a book and sent it in without having any idea about query letters and synopses and sample chapters. Sometimes ignorance can be bliss.

  21. I just wanted to tell you that your blog truly hit home for me. I am just about to wrap up my master’s degree, and the next thing I have my heart set on, and have for many many years, is to write historical romance novels. I have read hundreds over the years, and I started in my mid-teens, and I have so many stories just bursting to be written down. Thank you for posting it. 🙂

  22. Thanks for the reminder – that each of us has our own way, and that it’s important to just keep going until I finish. 🙂

  23. I love your books. And I enjoyed your “advice.” I haven’t finished my first book yet, but I’ve written poetry and short stories, and I agree completely that every writer’s method is different! We should just embrace who we are and keep on writing.

  24. I appreciate you writing this blog. I look at wonder at writers. I have a very vivid imagination, but am not able to put words to paper. I truly admire those who have this ability to create. Thank you so much for your wonderful stories. They let me live another’s life.

  25. I am a new writer. Well… I am new to pursuing writing as a viable career choice. Twelve years into daily life and dealing with the public at their worst I have reached what is commonly referred to as “burn out”. For the past eight years I have set aside my writing and storytelling with the goal of advancing my career. It hasn’t happened. So not only was I treading water, I was miserable doing it.

    Now though. Now I write. I never realized how much I missed it. How much I missed that voice. It was like I was going through life with blinders on, only looking at what was directly in front of me. Now I look at the world around me and see the possibilities and positives that are all around us. I see a person making a change in their life and I want to celebrate with them – and write their story!

    When people find out I am pursuing writing as a career change, as something other than a hobby, they are full of advice. “Write what you know” is one i get a lot. As is “You should write it like this…” So many good intentions from people who are living life the way I used to. Too focused on what is directly in front of them.

    So I nod, smile and offer a vague reply and a “Thank You” to those well wishers. The Monday morning quarterbacks of the writing world. I remember what they say and if it is good advice and fits into my writing life, then I will use it. And I thank them by naming a character after them. 🙂

  26. Love this blog! You are my all time favorite author! What you can do with a story of two people is amazing to me. I love how you always have that hook that hits me between the eyes!

    As for the question about advice. I have been writing seriously for three years. When i started I knew nothing. I thought I knew how to write but boy was I wrong! Now I have taken classes, seminars and gone to conferences and I agree the bottom line is the story. I try to remember POV, GMC, the Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat but all that theory gets mushed up in my brain and then I just write. I think everything I have learned is in me somewhere. Maybe someday all the theories on craft will make sense but right now I am going to write.

    I have one ms (my first) almost done…I am doing final edits for a resubmission to Harlequin Love Inspired. I loaded the ms on my Kindle and read it as I would read one of your books. I have read this ms many times and then time when I got to the epilogue I cried. The ending moved me that much. Believe me that never happened before! For the first time I felt like a writer!

  27. That is good advice. I am not a writer, but it makes perfect sense to me that people would have different methods that work best for them. Perhaps there shouldn’t be a “right” way to write.

  28. Someday I will write! There is a story in me that is just waiting to come out. I would love a chance to win – thank you.

  29. I always carry a notebook with me. i also have ideas and scenes passing through my head. Maybe one of these days i can put it together and publish a book.
    thank you for your wonderful books and memoriable lines.

    Can’t wait to read the next book.

  30. I write every day, and am very faithful about keeping up with my daily journal.I started the journal when my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. One of my children found my open journal during a quick visit, asked if she could read all of it, and I couldn’t let her do it. She said what I had written was compelling and that my words could help other women who were widowed relatively young. But, if you are a writer, don’t you have to feel the urge to write for someone else to read? I do not have that urge. I would think a true writer writes not only for the reader, but because he or she is compelled to write. The stories must come out, whether published or not. But, I could be completely wrong.
    I have been a fan of yours for years, have read all but two of your books, and that’s just because they have been out of print for a long tima and I cannit find them. I was a little uncomfortable with Gwen and Hugo’s story, and I have tried to analyze why. I think, for me, at least, I was not expecting the emphasis on the sexual aspects of the book. I have always felt that you have managed to make the sexual encounters in your book less sordid, more romantic, and not pornographic as in most books today. I read your books because I feel all emotions, I laugh, I cry, I feel pity, and, eventually, in the end, happiness when all is resolved. That is because you create characters that are very real to me, and I almost feel that I know them. I just wish there could be a new book every month!

    • Everyone can write! 😀 All you need is a starting point! Something as small as a blade of grass can be inspiring or something as big as a war! Just write for fun and see where it’ll take you! 🙂

  31. You know what? This has GOT to be some of the best advice I have ever heard about writing. I know I have run across a few books were I think ‘people don’t really talk like this’ or something to that effect. Thanks for the great advice and although I always have the hardest time STARTING writing, I appreciate the reminder to keep my own voice in my writing and not just take everyone else’s advice alone. P.S. My aunt & I are both huge fans of yours, keep them coming.

  32. Your advice gives me the encouragement I need to buckle down and write a book. Your books give me respite from the daily grind that is life. And your example gives me a star to strive for.

  33. I love writing and I love reading. I have two grown daughters who also love to read. Like myself, they never go anywhere without a book in tow. My oldest has a passion for writing as well and has just received copies of her novel that she wrote for NaNoWriMo 2012. It always makes me proud to think that I had an influence on their love for the written word.

  34. I’ve often thought that that you can learn techniques, but it helps if you have a natural aptitude for anything you do be it plumbing, chemistry, math writing or art. And then it comes down to practice and a lot of hours of work – the more you do the more experience you have the more likely you will work thru problems.

  35. That is actually very good advice. Just like each individual and story is unique so is their writing style. I tend to work best under pressure and remember several frantic nights writing out 10 – 15 page papers when I was in school. I try my hand at writing fiction, but without a deadline I seem to write very sporadically and can’t seem to get myself to sit down and actually work on the story. It’s a great thing I’m more concerned with reading stories that you and other authors have written than seeing my name on the cover of one.

  36. Mary,
    I love your writing, I love your wit, and I love how much research and knowledge you share with us all. I aspire to accomplish a fraction of what you have done brilliantly. Your FB page is the best because you know the key to the hearts of all of us bookish women ( and men! )

    Sincerely,
    Jessica Martini <3

  37. I completely agree that no one method works for everyone, that writers have to do what works for them, and that they have to be careful to preserve their voice against cookie-cutter advice. OTOH, I do think that there are techniques that can help writers make their work better and more readable: the basics of what makes a dramatic scene, how to integrate historical facts without bogging down the story, etc. I think the key is to take what you hear and see if it works for you as opposed to slavishly trying to follow every piece of advice you get, no matter how stifling or contradictory.

    Always good to read about writing from people who are thoughtful about their profession, especially people who are as successful at it as you are!

  38. You say so politely what I tell myself all the time: “KEEP YOUR BUTT IN THE CHAIR AND FINGERS ON THE KEYBOARD!”

  39. I love to write and I’m in the process of writing a story right now. I’ve given up listening to most people’s advice about how I should write because if I write how they want, it isn’t mine anymore. I may take a few suggestions if I’m stuck but I make it all mine. The story I’m working on right now is the first time I’ve ventured into futuristic-y romance. Usually it’s all historical or modern romance. 🙂 Reading what you’ve said really helps me get a better idea of what I want out of this. Thanks!

  40. The only writing I do is in my journal almost every night. So, although I’m not a writer, I am a voracious reader. I think I am also a compulsive reader. If I have nothing else to read, I will read cereal boxes, ingredient labels, and anything else that is written. Fortunately, I have found plenty of books to read and usually have several in my “to be read” pile, more on my Kindle, and am waiting for the newest from my favorite authors to come out.

  41. Dear Mary, I love your books. I am not a writer nor do I have the skills or desire to write. But I enjoy reading books from new authors as well as the writers I have enjoyed for years. Your facebook postings are so entertaining. I have “liked” my favorite authors and you are the only author that posts daily. Truly looking forward to The Arrangement.

  42. I don’t have a book in me. I do enjoy the books that come out of other people’s imaginations. I would love to read your latest book.

  43. I’ve decided to just start writing, because that is the advice that I have received. I’m such an avid reader, that I go through hundreds a books a year. Just recently, I’ve decided to start writing reviews of these books and post them on Amazon, GoodReads and LibraryThing. It has been good for me because I’ve had to try to put my thoughts on paper in a coherent manner and feel that I’m being productive. At the same time, I try to identify the various points in each story’s plot–getting to know the craft. Just to write without a goal, just seems like a waste of time. I have never been able to keep a journal.

    I love your books and enjoyed many of them already this year. I would be delighted to receive an advance copy of Arrangement. Thank you for sharing your talent.

  44. I think if all books were written in the same we wouldn’t enjoy them all so much. I know there are several books that I really enjoy reading and half the world has pointed out that they are not good books, but obviously there are people out there reading them and loving them. To each his own. I am not a writer, but I think the same advice can apply to just about anything. If you love it, just go out there and do it!

  45. “Rules” to imagination and creativity? Say it isn’t so. LOL I dabble in drawing/painting and photography. I find myself always trying to convey a story in my art/ photography. Photography is a passion I do on the side while being a mother of 4 great kids. I just started a page on FB. I ‘m always trying new things. Still writing me so my story is still in the works.

    a lil story….
    One day, a few years back, i started reading romance. Admit it has brought about a storm of continuous reading. It was a must to read all your books . Which started a chain reaction into reading other authors I can’t go without.

    I got so wrapped up with all the different stories told…I wanted to tell some of my own just for the fun of it. Two years ago I sat down and started writing. What started out as one story between two characters led to four different stories with related characters. I wasn’t even done with the first story when the others stories came out of nowhere. What I want to know is where the heck they came from? Never knew I had that in me. LOL

    I recommend everyone write stories. Even if just for a release of ones thoughts. I got so caught up in my characters that I started relaying my stories to a friend. She would giggle at how involved I was with my characters. She would always ask how they were; like they were real. That would completely take up an hour or two of talking and laughter. There’s nothing like making a friend laugh to a couples back and forth encounters to their building relationship. Still not done with them. Their characters continue to grow in my mind. They have a special place in my heart and hope one day to learn where to start if i ever finish them. Getting published would be amazing. Will i find the time? With 4 for kids? Hopefully. 😉 Till then I’ll continue to follow your work, creativity, and imagination. There’s nothing like a great book that can make you laugh, lift your spirits and have you falling in love…. and let’s not forget the supporting characters that piss you off and linger in your mind for days.

  46. My niece is a writer (in a different genre) – it does take discipline and commitment.
    I’m so looking forward to getting all of the Survivor’s Club books – you can tell which authors are diligent in their efforts to consistently provide for us readers; and I thank you very much!

  47. Thank you for the advice. I have wanted to be a writer for a long time but never thought I could. I guess I just need to try. I won’t know what I can do if I don’t try right?

    PS – I love your books! The Bedwyns are some of my favorite books/characters.

  48. Thank you so much for this blog! I’ve wondered for so long what is the right way to enter the world of writing and I know first rule is that writers write. From reading this I know the only course is to just keep chugging along this road and enjoy it! Thank you again!

  49. If you have a Book inside of you please let it out.
    I tell all, that a person can travel anywhere at anytime when they open a book. We need more escapes with the world being as it is now. An escape can be just a few minutes at a time or the whole book at a sitting.
    Thank you.

  50. I love your writing and am amazed at your work ethic. 2000 words a day sounds very ambitious! Thank goodness we all get to reap the benefits of that dedication.

  51. Thank you so much for writing this piece. I have been aspiring to become a writer and this is truly inspirational. It is very easy to fall into self-doubt or try so hard to emulate other writer’s techniques or “advise” especially when you have never successfully turned in a book. My other problem is that I am to busy reading that I either don’t make the time to write or the book inspires me with regards to characters or situations that I am starting a whole different story, which means a bunch of books started with nothing actually finished.
    Your books we’re what got me started in reading historical romance novels, I am a huge Jane Austin fan and wanted to read similar stories when my mother in law introduced me to your books, I have been hooked ever since and in the last three years have read nearly 800 historical romances on top of classics which include Charles Dickens, Bronte sisters, and Alexandre Dumas.
    After reading so much I have so many ideas that I would love to see put into stories of my own. I of course wanted it all to be perfect so I ordered lots of resource books including a “Dummies” book on how to write romance novels which made the whole book writing thing a bit daunting, but I think I am ready to pick it up again. Thank you

  52. I am not a writer, but I would have to agree on what you said. I would be solitary & wouldn’t want anyone giving me ideas. That’s what makes it “your” work!

  53. I agree with your advice. Everyone should write the best way for them. Sometimes I write on my computer when I don’t want to worry about spelling, grammer and punctuation. That’s what spell check was invented for. But sometimes, I just feel the need to put pen to paper. When I just need to feel the motions of writing.

  54. Surely at some time you need some critical advice on what you have written? Is the pace too fast / too slow for a simple example? Is the point perhaps about the nature of the advice? Should the advice be about what you have written rather than how to do it?

    • I look for advice only from my editor after the book is written, Philip. In the meantime I always try to read what I have written as though someone else had written it–I try to take that step back. But–everyone is different and I don’t want to be dogmatic about any part of the writing process. Each writer must find what works for him/her. I just wanted to point out in this blog that writers don’t have to feel they need to know everything from the experts before they can write. They are not building a rocket. They are writing a story–part of themselves. Incidentally, a good editor, or copyeditor at least, should be a must before any book is published. This is becoming more obvious in this age of self-publishing. Some perfectly good stories are being ruined by a wince-worthy lack of editing.

  55. I haven’t written a fictional Story yet, but when I wrote my final thesis for University, I only finished in the last minute after one of those writing marathons. But I truly wish that I could be more systematic when I’m writing – and I always believed that I could still learn that. So you think my writing would not be as good of I go against my chaotic personality?

    • The key point is, Anna, that YOU would go against your chaotic personality–or not. Just don’t let anyone else tell you that you must be organized in a certain particular way if you are ever to be successful. On the other hand, don’t let anyone tell you that you must remain the same.

  56. I found your article ADVICE TO NEW WRITERS interesting. Can you give an advice for new reviewers…what kind of reviews do authors expect for their books. I love writing them, but I am not always sure what to reveal! Love your books! Thank you for the giveaway of THE ARRANGEMENT, I would love to read and review your book! nlaverdure88@videotron.ca

    • I’m afraid I don’t know much about the writing of reviews, Nicole. The only type that drives me the crazy is the sort that gives a detailed synopsis of every plot twist in the story. I don’t care how favorable such a review is–I will hate it with a passion. On the other hand, I am suspicious of the type of review that gives great detail about the first chapter and then merely lavishes praise on book and author. I always suspect that the reviewer has not read beyond chapter 1.

  57. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on writing. Sounds like you still have many more novels in you just waiting to be shared. How lucky for us your loyal readers!

  58. Interesting. I think you are right when you say “Do it”. If by that you mean just write the story and worry about grammar and maybe structure and even spelling (if without spell check) when you finish. My problem so far is that my stories are too short.

  59. I don’t have a book in me, but have spent my life enjoying results of the talented people who do. You are my favourite author with Georgette Heyer a close second, and I re-read all of your books at least every six months. Unfortunately I’m missing two of your very early books. My personal library now consists of over 1000 books, mostly bought used but no less cherished. Many can’t stand repeat reading with less than a two year gap, long enough for me to forget the details! I just wish that authors could write a little faster! After waiting a year, I read it in a day. I do enjoy your audio books as well, especially whilst playing cards on the computer.

  60. Marry your right first then let somebody else proofread. First set of eyes is always a good thing. My proofreader pointed out that I didn’t have any description of my characters. But I knew them so I did need it That’s a true for other

  61. I’ve never even begun to imagine that I could write a novel although I love reading them. My creativity happens in my sewing room and from singing. Like you, Mary, I have to do my sewing earlier in the day. If I try to sew at night I usually always make mistakes and I spend more time ripping than sewing.

  62. Thank you so much for sharing that. I use to sit down and write a story from beginning to end without thinking of anything except whatever my imagination was spewing out. Then I let insecurities get in the way. I haven’t written anything in a long time…maybe it’s time again. By the way, I love LOVE your books. 🙂

  63. Excellent (non) advice. I am not a writer, but my daughter is, so I’ve passed along your link. She has said that sometimes she just HAS to write, to get the words out,or her brain can’t concentrate on anything else. I think it sounds very uncomfortable and I’m a little glad that I don’t have to deal with that sort of creative itch. I am, however, very, very happy to be able to buy and read the finished products of my favorite authors – I hope, if they suffer while producing the work, that they feel commensurate joy and triumph when their book is published and enjoyed by readers like me!

  64. I started writing when I was young. I first started with journals and worked my up to a career in journalism. I’ve also blogged. I know I can write. My writing is non-fiction, always with a slice of life included. I can’t argue with your advice because to be a writer, you must write. I first heard the advice, “sit your backside in a a chair and write,” from a favored professor in college. He told us our first effort would probably be horrible, but we’ll have had the experience of beginning and finishing a book. He told us we could always go back and fix up the writing, that wasn’t the point. As for when we should write, he told us we would figure it out. It depends on the person. He also told us that we could look in many books to find out how to formal. Writers need to write.

  65. I think that all of us, voracious readers, have thought at one time in our lives to write our own books, with our own characters and plots, etc. But from thinking to actually doing it is quite a journey and I, honestly, don’t think I’ll ever get around to do it. And why? because I don’t need to do it, because I don’t wish vehemently to do it, because I do not crave it… this is it. I always thought that when you REALLY want to do something, anything, you will find a way, but when it’s not that high on your top list, you may still dream about it and think of it, but you’ll never find the adequate resources…
    As for me, I’ll stick to the fun of writing ideas in my own head 🙂

  66. Great post and information. I admire your dedication to writing and look forward to every book, including the reprints of the older ones. Means I don’t have to scour second hand bookstores for them. In the last eighteen tears i have lived on three different continents and my husband always makes me purge my books before we move. 🙂 Your books are the few that i have kept a hold of throughout. Thanks so much. Michelle

  67. What I do is make a crude outline when starting a new project. But to each person, the writing process is different.

  68. Since I’ve retired I have immersed myself in books – I have read all of yours and wait for more! What a way to travel without leaving the comfort of my own home/RV!

  69. Mary: People can lose their voice too. It is extra easy for women to lose themselves in some guy{ plot point here) or in their family( another possible point). In fact I have read versions of that story. One of the things I admired about my mother was when my dad died she did not suddenly become a “new” woman. She had always been herself and continued to be for the 10 years she had before her own death.

  70. I would love to try writing, just don’t think I have a story in me! Your books are wonderful. I’ll stick to being a reader for now.

  71. The only writing that I have ever done was in school and although I made good grades all I can really remember is that I found it to be sheer torture. I still want to break out in a cold sweat when I remember some of those assignments.

    So I have a deep respect for all writers. I may not be a writer myself but I sure know how to enjoy and appreciate your efforts!

  72. Thanks for this wonderful advice. As a fledgling writer, I am sometimes amazed by the sheer magnitude of the advice one can find on the subject of writing. Your advice makes the most sense to me, which explains your amazing success!

  73. I have always been taught that whatever we have on the inside will be shown on the outside. I know my parents were talking about being a true Christian, if we think and dwell on good things, then we will have a positive attitude. I think the same can be applied to writing. Whatever you write, in some form reflects you. I think you, Mrs. Mary, are a lovely, strong, and intelligent lady, because all of your books show that side of you.

  74. Great advice. We all have different styles. I am a procrastinator/marathoner. It is not that I am doing nothing…I am thinking constantly. I even dream of what I will write. I keep a notebook next to my bed and write notes as soon as I wake. Then right before my deadline (but in time to meet it) I write, write, write.
    I have always admired the person who can sit down everyday and write, and I would vow that “next time” I would do that. But it is just not me. But as you say: WRITE. I tell my students that good readers read and good writers write (they read a lot as well).

  75. Hello Mary,
    I appreciate the above advice. I am most insecure and tend to hold closely my writing, out of fear it is not good enough or some other nonsense. I found your post encouraging and I am going to draft a letter of introduction and see what happens when it is submitted. You are a jewel!

  76. I am so glad I read this post. I worry so much about how to write that at times I feel stiffled. Between making sure I have enough words before I switch POV to making sure I am not author intrusive, I end up with writer’s block. Thanks for this great advice!

  77. I write fanfiction, mostly for the TV show “Bones,” and all of this rang so true for me. One of the hardest things I had to learn was to ignore all the “you must _____” and “you must never _____” things I heard and just tell the story in my head.

    Excellent advice.

  78. That inner voice is a fragile thing, isn’t it? I know many friends who want to be authors. They write far more eloquently than I and although I fancy myself with an opinion, I don’t have the discipline to want to put pen to paper. I shall send on your blog post to my friends, as I think your advice is timely, and they need to believe they can write, and successfully too.
    You have, though, inspired me to attempt a journal, so at least I can record down my fleeting thoughts. Thanks, Mary, for sharing so freely, of yourself.

    Since I won last week, please don’t put my name in the draw for this week’s prize. But I wanted to be heard anyways 🙂

  79. As a newly (self) published writer I remember one very good piece of advice. The published writer who gave it said that while proof reading was important (I found this out to my everlasting embarrassment!) editing is less so. I self edit constantly. When I am ‘stuck’ I re-read my entire work and proof read and edit it until I get over the hump. The published writer (whose name I cannot remember unfortunately, although it was a man) said that some editors are so enthusiastic that they can cause a writer to lose his/her voice through re-writing. I do my very best and I will listen to advice and then take it or leave it as I see fit. I am open to constructive criticism and not insulted by it. But the book is my work and I try to make sure my voice is apparent throughout.

  80. Mary, your writing ‘non’-advice is as eloquent as your actual novel writing! I loved it. I’m reminded of Flannery O’Connor’s famous quote: “Everywhere I go, I’m asked if the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.”

    One “advice book” I would recommend to aspiring writers, or published writers for that matter, is John Warner’s Fondling Your Muse – only because it is strictly satire and a riot!

    As July 16th is my birthday, I think The Arrangement would make the perfect birthday present! 😉

  81. I am so glad I found WordPress last fall. Since I joined I have found tons of good advice relating to the ins and outs of writing and publishing. I understand what you mean about to many pieces of advice. Thankfully I am mature (old) enough to see a lot of the advice as a reaction to a bad experience. But people who have actually succeeded like you carry more weight with me. I do write every day. Some days just on my blog, but currently I am editing my WIP progress in anticipation of shopping it this fall.

  82. I have enjoyed all of your books, but also like reading your thoughts. I am an academic, but there is great similarity between writing fiction and non-fiction – mostly that is, that you have to actually sit down and write! (an activity from which I am, of course, taking a break now. Although I am writing a comment 🙂 )

  83. I love this blog! I have wanted to write for a long time, but I thought I needed creative writing classes or a “how to” manual. Lately I have scenes playing in my head, and I’ll think ” I need to write that down”, but I invariably forget. So, now I am inspired. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this blog. I don’t know why I’m surprised that this spoke to me. Your books do, why not your blogs? Thank you!

  84. I’m a reader, not a writer. I admire the people who have the discipline to sit down every day and write. I tried as a teenager and it is not for me. Mind you I have stories in my head but they don’t want to come out, yet. 😉
    I love your books.

  85. I have heard that write what you want and leave the editing until the idea is on the paper and completed. I find this is true. If I stop to read and edit what I have written, the flow of the writing is interrupted. I write until the scene comes to an end and sometimes the next scene starts up and sometimes it doesn’t. Let the story flow from you and look at it with a critical eye when the story is completed and the characters all retire to the pub to rest from their work of telling their stories to the writer.

  86. It’s not the writing I mind–in fact I love writing and have been doing so and getting published in non-fiction for 40 years–it’s the marketing of fiction that I hate. I cannot for the life of me talk myself up, which is why I ended up self-publishing, just because I wanted to see the book out there and not only sitting first in manuscript form and then as a file on my computer. I would publicize it here except that it’s about vampires and ancient gods, not exactly the stuff of Regency readers.

    Who was it who said it best? The only useful advice for a writer is to write.

  87. Mary, I am anxiously waiting your next in the series, and will gladly re-read The Proposal right before it comes out. I do enjoy re-visiting the “families” in your book series from time to time.

    Thank you,
    Melanie Wible
    Reader, Mom, Librarian, chauffeur, cleaning lady, short order cook, etc… Ha!

  88. I love your books. I think my favorite is Slightly Dangerous. You write with a great deal of depth in each of your characters! It is always a great experience to read them.
    Thank you!

  89. I love your advise and it is so true. There is a difference in wanting to be a writer and ones who just write. I like to write, but have no desire to have anything published because what I write is my thoughts and feelings. I release a lot of hurt and anger by writing. Keeps me from hurting others and causing anger for others. My own private thoughts and feelings.
    Can’t wait for The Arrangement to make it’s way to the bookshelves. Loved, loved, loved
    The Proposal.
    Smiles…..

  90. This is beautiful, fantastic, inspirational! I thank you for your words. I have read other authors on this topic. You are the first to state it quite this fully. I will take it to heart.

  91. I absolutely love your books. I am not much of a writer, however I am an avid reader. I have heard from quite of few authors that their characters bang around in their head, sometimes very loudly until their story written. I am very grateful for those who have the need and desire to write their stories.

  92. You are certainly one of the best writers according to me! I believe each of us has a really good story to tell but to put it to paper seems a most difficult task to me. Kudos, applause and great appreciation to all those who do it so well!

  93. I never considered myself a writer until I began writing fanfiction — because I found characters on tv shows that inspired me & unleashed my creativity. From the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who, to Greg Sanders on CSI: Vegas, to Will Graham & Hannibal Lecter on Hannibal, there have been so many wonderful muses that have jumped into my head & had me writing like a whirling dervish.

    I so agree with your advice! Just write. It doesn’t matter if other people are completely on board with what you do — if writing satisfies a need within your soul, and if it makes you happy to write, then you ARE a writer. Whether your medium is fanfiction or published novels, no matter what genre you write in, if it makes you happy, then JUST DO IT! Then you’re happy, the muses are happy, & there’s a wonderful glow of satisfaction to know that you’ve told a story that otherwise would never have seen the light of day.

  94. Well written Mary! I wholeheartedly agree with you. Everyone is unique in how they go about doing anything in life. Do what works for you, but “do” it! I have always wanted to write, and keep telling myself that I will when I retire. But maybe I should stop deferring my gratification and just start writing. You just may have inspired me to do so. 🙂

  95. I love the poster saying, “If you want to be a writer, you must write”. My “books” stay in my head so I like to call myself a visionary, with an audience of one! lol. Love your books Mary. Thanks, Michele

  96. “Voice” is one of the things that makes your novels so amazing. I feel immediately connected to the characters, and their actions are realistic for that character. It is a difficult thing to achieve, but a natural talent for you. I have taken several writing workshops to be able to teach and grade writing in my job as a teacher. One way that ‘voice’ was explained to me is that the reader feels as if the writer is a little bird sitting on the shoulder having a conversation with the reader. The reader can ‘hear’ the writer, and I feel that way about your characters. There are many other authors I have read where the dialogue seems forced or stilted (some who are very famous). I can always identify ‘voice’ when I read it, and can only share examples of such with my students in the hopes that they will understand. But I doubt it is something that can really be tayght. While I will never be a writer of novels, I do enjoy expressing my thoughts and feelings through free verse.

    Praise and thanks to you for the joy you bring through your novels, as well as information about the time period you write about. I have learned so much. I think Alex G. should win the book. Any man who enjoys romance writing and is bogged down with government writing deserves it. Of course Alex could be short for Alexandra!

  97. I thought this was a very interesting and encouraging piece. I’m an aspiring writer (as in I do it, but I don’t have anything published yet) and I know that I have far more fun writing when I’m doing it for myself and not worrying about what other people will say.

  98. Mary. i am most impressed with your discipline and ability to keep writing great books in a timely fashion. I get very frustrated with great writers who just don’t seem to have the discipline to get that next novel out. I think a year is timely…any longer than that is lack of discipline in my opinion.What do you think?

    • For me it would be lack of discipline, Mary Ann unless there was something going on in my life that made writing difficult. It took me a whole year to write a book a year or two back when I was back and forth to Wales dealing with my mother’s final illness. I can’t speak for other writers.

      • Thanks for your thoughtful reply,Mary. I hadn’t thought of personal life issues. Authors are people too!!

  99. Seems to me if you are a writer – you should write! Doing something you are capable of doing will make you happy and give you purpose. I like sewing and making quilts while listening to your books! &:-D Sewing makes me happy and gives me purpose. Please produce the audio books so I can get a lot of sewing done.

  100. I am glad writers and their process are as different as their stories. More to collect and enjoy that way. Keep up your writing process and I can’t wait to read The Arrangement!

  101. I’m a big fan of all your books. I loved what you wrote about being a writer. I have passed my love of reading on to my 16 year old daughter. She has started writing a book in her free time. She is not a great student and a terrible speller. It has been very interesting watching and listening to her process. Her writing is surprisingly good. She writes long hand because its easier for her and has a little sister read and spell check. I am going to have her read this so she has a good argument the next time some one tells her to do it differently. Thanks!

  102. Mary,
    I just have to say that I really do enjoy reading your books! I also love following you on facebook, the little pictures you post, the witty sayings, everything. I thank you for letting me continue to lose myself in my imagination with your books!

  103. I really have to admire you. I can’t imagine writing one book, let alone the amount that you have written. Thank you!

  104. I’ve never been good at taking advice. I also have a hard time putting down one of your books. I tend to marathon read and then pay the next day when I am so sleepy.

  105. I am so looking forward to your next book. I am definitely a reader and not a writer, but I am fussy about what I read. I think it is all about the author’s “voice” and whether I can “hear” it in my own head, sympathize with or enjoy what is written as if it were my own creation. And I do so enjoy several of your books that I have read and re-read them, recreating those emotions you stir up in the telling of the story. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with us.

  106. In the previous century when I was in school, most of my writing was for assignments and done in a panic at the last minute. Later on in the work world writing was evaluations or treatment plans that required specific, factual information done in a timely manner. As a mom I had to write “social stories” which were short stories with simple drawings to try to help my child with autism choose behaviors with a happier outcome. The psychologist using my stories in a conference presentation is probably the closest I will ever come to published writing (unless my kids unearth my journals written in college and have then printed for themseves for a good laugh!).

  107. Your advice is applicable for many life tasks. I fall into the “do it in the morning when my enery level is greatest.” I don’t write’ I play tennis.

    Love your books, especially your heros! Keep it up.

  108. Mary,
    You have long been a favorite writer of mine. Whenever I dream of writing I think of the depth of your characters and know that you are the type of writer I would like to be. I think of your books as classics because of the intense way that you portray the characters. The dialogue becomes the captivating action that allows the reader to probe into their own thoughts and choices and reflect. I think that your characters reveal so much insight into human nature in both positive and negative ways. Your books are such wonderful reads that when I get a new release, I find a spot to curl up with my tea for a block of time and just read, read, read. The joy is that I know that I can always read them again and again. Thank you for sharing such wonderful talent with the world.

  109. I like how you say just be and know yourself. I can’t imagine all the books that wouldn’t have been written if the author had listened to what others had said (“that type of book will never sell.”) It’s great to know your style of working in what ever you do, too.

  110. I’ve been reading your books for years, but just discovered the website! Loved “The Proposal,” looking forward to “The Arrangement”—and the rest of the series, as well.

  111. Thank you for your kind advice. For all the books within waiting to come out – may we, budding writers, find the courage to put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) and the thousands of words necessary to bring to life the heroes and heroines who live in the depths of our being.

  112. Mary, you are so right about the need to persevere. I can also do the creative burst thing, but it’s the daily grind of revision that I stumble on. Sometimes prompts help, and feedback always helps, but simply sitting down at the keyboard and forcing my fingers to connect with my brain and get something down is really the only way. Thanks for the tips, and reminders to write.

  113. Yes, writing is all about finding one’s voice and going with what it tells you to write. I sometimes wonder about critique groups as well, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the same as writing styles. For some authors, they’re invaluable. For others, they’re unnecessary at best and a hindrance at worst. So I can understand your hesitancy to give guidance on this, Mary. “To each his own” never sounded truer!

  114. I find if I talk about a work-in-progress the creative energy fizzles. I just self-published so far and I think you’ve tapped into why I have trouble finding my voice. Shutting the door and shutting my mouth is my new strategy. Thank you! P.S. I’m reading Lord Carew’s Bride for the third time–it truly pulls my heart strings.

  115. Mary- you are one of the three authors that have inspired me to write! Although it is somewhat daunting to use you as a benchmark for excellence, as they say, one should aim for the stars!

  116. I just discovered you by chance ( you have my local library to thank for that) and I just read “A Matter of Class” and loved it, ( left a review on Goodreads) – anyway then I came here and read your article above and as a fairly new writer I could not agree more! I am so so aware that often “good advice” can drown out the creative process. Editing can come later….but to sit down and pour out your heart onto a bunch of blank pages is something that is something that should not be interfered with.

    Glad to hear you are a fellow Canadian too!

  117. Ah, Mary, always so adept at saying the ‘write’ thing. My only writing goal has been to write every day – to do at least one thing that furthers my writing career. And it’s working! Having said that, I would give up my voice, if I could write like you!

    • No-o-o-o, you wouldn’t, Eliza! No one else can write like YOU. Either you fill that gap or no one does. Ever.

  118. “Writing is like driving a car in the dark. You only see as far as the headlights go, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow

    I enjoy writing, but do not have the fortitude to open myself up to the criticism that inevitably accompanies publishing. Fortunately, there are folks like you with thicker skin than mine — Thank you!

  119. I am a high school English teacher who lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. I’ve enjoyed reading your books for years. I am currently reading The Proposal. As a “survivor” of the Yom Kippur war of 1973, I can say you describe people who lived through a trauma with insight and compassion.

  120. I love reading your books , i came across one by chance and that was the start, i just cant wait to read the next one. I am looking forward to reading slightly dangerous having fallen in love with the character of Wulfric!

  121. I am reading your book The Proposal at this moment and am loving it.Can’t wait to see what’s going to happen to the rest of The Survivor’s Club.

    I know what you mean you can tell someone how to write because each writer writes differently.It’s like telling an artist how to do there art.It isn’t there art inless it comes form inside them.

  122. I never did figure out the who/whom thing. I only had one lesson on it, and the lesson was a very confusing photocopy from a poorly written workbook.
    I shall have to add learning that to my bucket list.

  123. Having a story to share with the world must be both a wonderful and frustrating feeling. Finding the words to convey what you want to must be sometimes hard and I can’t exactly imagine it. It’s not something I’ve ever experienced and probably never will, but I love reading. I love losing myself in the new world the flowing words weave around me. And if a book is really good, I forget I’m not living it…I cry, I laugh, I wonder and then I put the book down out of anger, or grief or utter blissness and close my eyes…and I’m there.

  124. I’m a huge, huge fan. Some other person above described how she discovered you “by chance” Mary. Well, so did I. And, I am so glad that I did!!! I love your books. I have always said that you never disappoint and it is so true. You know just what your readers want and you always deliver. I love that about you. Also, your characters are filled with so much more emotion or feeling than is the case with some other romance writers and I really like that too. As with the others who have posted comments here, I would be honored to be in possession of an autographed copy of your book. It’s wonderful that you are offering that to your readers. Know that we all appreciate it so much.

  125. Thank you, Mary. This is the best writing advice I’ve heard. I LOVE your books and wait eagerly for your new ones to come out. In the next few months I’m leaving my job, going abroad and then coming back to lock myself away for a couple of months in a flat by the sea to write my book. I’ve started a couple, but living in London and with a full time job it has been hard to find the space to be creative. It was a tough decision, but I decided to allow myself the time and space to see what I can create. I only hope I can write novels that are as emotionally poignant and touching as yours. I will print out your writing tip and will have it pinned on the wall next to my laptop when my writing journey begins and it will remind me everyday to believe in myself and my own voice.

    Reply ↓

  126. I am a compulsive reader. Perhaps there are are books ready to come out of me but what would you suggest for motivating one to write. The critic within me will not even allow me to put words on the paper since they can never stand on their own compared to you or other writers whom I admire. I am now re-reading some of your books and still amazed at the power of your stories. Thanks for providing so many hours of reading enjoyment!

  127. Only you can motivate yourself to write. If you find it impossible to do, then perhaps the compulsion is not there. That is no crime! Sometimes the moment has to be right, though. I wanted to be a writer from childhood on, but I was in my early thirties when I finally sat down and wrote a book–longhand. I was already starting to think that the dream was simply that–a dream.

  128. I cannot wait for The Arrangement. I have read most of your books. (All the Huxtables, the “Slightlys” and the two prequels and the “Simplys.”) But so far I think The Proposal is my favorite (although it might well have competition from future Survivors Club stories). Hugh and Gwen each are such a mix of fragility and strength that you can’t help but root for them to triumph.

  129. Hello Mary,
    It’s funny, I feel like I can call you “Mary” because of your writing. I love it so much.
    I am a part of a writing association in my area and they say the same thing about writing, “If you want to be a writer, then write.” And simultaneously, “if you write, you are a writer.” I don’t know how to break out of my insecurities, however. I think I have great ideas one moment and the next I say to myself, “if I have thought of it, everyone else in the world has probably already thought of this idea and discarded it.” I have a series in my head right now and I have written only about 16,000 words on the first story. I have been working on it since October probably (with the exception of the weeks that I take off wrestling with that little yellow monster that hates my writing, LOL).
    I do have insecurities about writing but I will continue to do it. I find my favorite time to do this is late at night or early in the morning (like about 5am) when the house is quiet and there is no noise outside but that of other animals and insects going about their lives.
    Thanks for your advice and your talent. I cannot wait to get a copy of your book, “The Arrangement”. It may be a while (unless I am picked to get one from you, hint-hint) because it is nearing the beginning of the school year and I must pay for all of the hoopla that goes along with that for three children. I will however, be preordering the e-novella that goes with it.
    Thanks so much for your contributions to the writing world.

    Sincerely,
    Kenisha

  130. Mary, I look forward to reading your new book! I have been an avid reader of your work for many years, and have always enjoyed the uniqueness of each novel, even as many of the stories are intertwined. Your views on writers and the writer’s craft are inspiring, and give us all an insight into your creative world. Thank you!

  131. Oh! And about that semicolon thing; you know the one… LOL
    I can’t stand it when I get too hung up on making sure I have the correct punctuation, or word, for that matter! In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I were to look back at the previous novels I’ve written, I’d discover a multitude of grammatical errors. And I cannot seem to stop myself from reading, fixing, re-reading, re-fixing… blah, blah, blah… even though I know it will all still be there to stir up after the entire story is safely on paper (and out of my head, where admittedly pieces of it can too easily get lost). When I get too mired in seeking perfection it becomes too much work and I tend to lose that special inspiration that had me writing the story in the first place.
    Putting aside those flaws may not be easy but I do know that I am happiest when I quit looking back and simply enjoy moving forward. That’s when the words seem to flow and my characters really show their true colors! If I had any advice to give, and I ought to listen to my own words here, it would be to just enjoy your writing!

  132. Mary,
    In the last 8 years I have read every book you have written (some more than once). I feel like we are old friends. I first bought A Summer to Remember because the story on the back jacket sounded good. I did not realize it was a Regency Romance and was not sure I would like that but after just a few chapters I was hooked! I eagerly await the dates when you have something new coming out. Can you please write faster? Thank you for many hours of reading pleasure.
    Your friend,
    Sara

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