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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 Husbands Dying
Body" had been written two years earlier and entered in the confession category
of the annual writing contest of the Oklahoma Writers 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 didnt place in the category, but Jackie wrote
words of encouragement about my story and gave me some ideas for change in my
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 Fieldings 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
Getting up enough gumption, I tackled the
confession and tore it a part. Using Jackies 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 Husbands 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 writers 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 husbands
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
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
This year I entered the confession category in
the Oklahoma Writers 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 hadnt 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