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I Confess to Making My First Sale
by Mary McCauley

I made my first sale recently to TRUE STORY Magazine. The confession entitled "Fighting For My Husband’s Dying Body" had been written two years earlier and entered in the confession category of the annual writing contest of the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation.

Jackie King from Tulsa NightWriters was the judge. She is a prolific confession writer, usually selling one piece a month to TRUE CONFESSIONS. I didn’t place in the category, but Jackie wrote words of encouragement about my story and gave me some ideas for change in my confession.

I bought about half a dozen confession magazines late one night from the grocery store. I read and studied the writing style and the type of stories that were published. I also bought a cassette version of Peggy Fielding’s book CONFESSING FOR MONEY* that I listened to in my car and then purchased a copy of her book.

I thought a lot about my confession that sat in a file gathering dust. I was terrified of submitting any of my writing for publication because of some negative and at times nasty rejections I had received in the past about my writing, and I wondered whether I should even be writing.

Getting up enough gumption, I tackled the confession and tore it a part. Using Jackie’s suggestions and principles from CONFESSING FOR MONEY, I found my groove. I lengthened the story, fleshed out my characters, and added more conflict between the divided family members who were considering donating the organs of a dying family member in "I Fought For My Husband’s Dying Body".

My husband Ross became my editor and made some good suggestions about adding dialogue to make conflict more believable. I rewrote and edited my confession several times until I felt I had a polished manuscript free from errors and written in the format requested by the TRUE STORY writer’s guidelines.

I submitted it to TRUE STORY and turned around and wrote another confession and a short story. About three months later I received a contract from TRUE STORY Magazine for my confession. The story was printed in the March 2004 issue.

The publisher sent me a copy of the magazine. Eagerly scanning the cover for the title of my confession, I found in large green block letters my title changed to "Fight to the Death Over My husband’s Corpse". The title made me think of a Quentin Tarantino movie. The confession was printed exactly like I had written it, except for changing some of the characters’ names.

The satisfaction of being in print was overwhelming, and I received a check for $165.00 (.05 a word). I e-mailed everyone I could think of and told them to buy a copy of the magazine.

This year I entered the confession category in the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation contest, and placed third. I even received an honorable mention in the short story category. It was my first time to win anything in this big contest.

If it hadn’t been for the encouraging words of Jackie King two years ago, I might have given up writing. I also have Peggy Fielding to thank for her excellent book CONFESSING FOR MONEY, and for her encouragement and classes.

Even though I have been writing for a long time, I am beginning to see the fruits of my labor this year. A year ago I doubted whether I would ever have anything published, but I was wrong. Keep writing, submit your work, learn from your mistakes and believe in yourself.

© Copyright 2004, Mary McCauley

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