Friday, January 21, 2011

Success Story

 Don't Ever Throw an Old Manuscript Away....

… or delete one from your computer. Both of my most recent books were ones that I originally started a long time ago and put aside for a variety of reasons. My agent couldn't sell them, and I was finding that nonfiction was paying a lot more bills than my fiction.

However, One Small Victory and more recently Open Season, were stories that I loved, and every time I'd pull out the manuscripts and tinker with them, I would connect with the characters and think, this is still pretty good stuff. When we no longer make an emotional connection to our work, that's when we know it really does need to stay in a drawer forever.

Both stories are firmly rooted in real life. One Small Victory was inspired by a true story of a woman who infiltrated a drug ring to bring down the major distributor in her small town. (And is now available as an e-book for Kindle, Nook and other e-readers.) Open Season evolved from wondering what it would be like for two women detectives, one white and one black, to work together in Dallas at the time the DPD was under fire for the use of deadly force and racial discrimination.

This was in the late 1980s, and I was associated with Alan and Cynthia Mondell, documentary filmmakers in Dallas who were looking to do their first feature film. They asked if I could come up with a story idea that would be entertaining as well as looking at the social issue of racial problems in the city and in the police department. As so often happens in the film industry, the project never got made, but I had done so much research I wanted to use it. So I started working on the novel. I finished the screenplay as well, and it was a semi-finalist in the Chesterfield Screenwriting Fellowship a few years later.

Now, the hardcover of Open Season has just been released and it is getting wonderful reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, and others, including our own Helen Ginger on her blog, Straight From Hel

Dani Greer, the head honcho here at The Blood Red Pencil, sent me a message recently and asked why I wasn't promoting the book here, so this is my official promotion. If you are interested, you can ask your local library to order Open Season, or ask for it at your favorite bookstore. Anyone who would like a signed copy or a signed bookplate can contact me at:

And I hope someday you, too, can have a story to tell about that book you loved so much you didn't give up on getting it published. If you already do, please share.


Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest book is Open Season, which has gotten rave reviews from Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly.  Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play "farmer" on her little ranch in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas. 

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  1. Congratulations! I have a manuscript that I hid away that keeps calling out to me. I can't forget the characters - thanks for inspiring me not to give up on them.

  2. Congratulations. It's wonderful to know that all that hard work paid off, just took a little longer.

    I would also add a cautionary element: Back Up Your Work--repeatedly. Technology changes. I've got old work that I wanted to keep...and it was on 3.5 floppies. (My hard copies got lost when we moved.) Guess what? My computer had changed in the interim and I had to hunt down a friend who had both a floppy drive and a USB. Don't destroy the old stuff, but losing it is just tear-inducing.

  3. Same thing happened with my first manuscript, Two Wrongs. I'd received 17 rejections, and started on another book.

    Then I attended a conference and decided to resurrect the old manuscript. After some updating and careful editing, it became my first published book.

    Morgan Mandel

  4. I have such a manuscript. I'm working on it now. The core of the story keeps calling to me, so I'm trying to work on the secondary plot line.

    It's interesting when you have characters who won't let you forget about them. They keep talking to you.

  5. Dawn and Helen, I hope you both finish the book and get it published. Having stories and characters that stay with you long-term is like having another family.

    Jenny, good point about backing up, and we can do that now so easily, as Shon pointed out here yesterday.

    Thanks for sharing your success story, too, Morgan. I remember you mentioning before that you were able to rework your first ms and get it published. Good for you. For many of us our first ever ms, needs to stay hidden forever. LOL

  6. Open Season is really good. I've been reading Maryann's blog posts since the beginning and finally won a book in a contest! so I could see if she could really string some sentences together. :D I'm happy to say she's kind of a Pied Piper of Words. You start reading and are just drawn in, sentence after sentence. Not every writer can do that. It doesn't surprise me a bit that this book has already gone into reprint. Looking forward to the next in the series!

  7. There's something to be said for persistence, and believing in quality. Congrats, and best with the new releases.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  8. Aw, shucks, Dani. Thanks so much for the endorsement of my book. That means a lot.

  9. Congrats, Maryann! This is such good advice, and a ray of sunshine on a dull, rainy day.

  10. Thanks, Elspeth. Glad you found the post helpful. It is finally sunny here after days of clouds and rainy weather, but very cold.

  11. Congrats, Maryann! It's good to know those old mnuscripts can make it if the characters still speak to you :)

    cheers, Jenn

    Do you have any love to share in 2011? Check out Love Every Day

  12. So, Maryann, there's no place a reader could BUY this book? Put a buy link into that post. Or did I miss it?

  13. Yes, you did miss the buy link, Dani. I highlighted the titles when I first mention the books and that goes to the page on Amazon where the books are available.

  14. Great tip Maryann. Congrats on your success :)


  15. Thanks, Rachel. Glad you stopped by and enjoyed the post.

  16. Thank you for this! I'm currently shelving my vampire project due to Lit Agents screaming and running into the woods like their hair is on fire if they hear/read the word vampire. We're waist deep in "Cullen" Era vamps and agents are overwhelmed with vamp stories. Mine is different, and my vampires do not sparkle, but alas, it shall wait until the time is right.


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