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Mary Burton: Seeing the pattern — from desire to sale

Mary-Burton-three-quarter-2015-hi-res-1-196x300For as long as I can remember I’ve always had stories swirling in my head.  It was natural for me to get lost in the lives of make-believe people who experienced heart stopping love or dangerous adventures.  I think most writers understand this.

I was in my mid twenties when I was in a bookstore in Tyson’s Corner Mall in Metro Washington, D.C.  I still remember standing between the mystery and romance sections and thinking, I can do this.  The thought was as clear and real to me as if it had already happened.

It was a few more years before I put pen to paper and I discovered that articulating those stories into a novel was pretty darn hard.  My first few attempts… okay, my first fifteen or twenty attempts…feel pretty flat.  But the more I typed the more determined I was to write my first novel.

By this time I decided to really knuckle down and write, I had very young children.  Writing was limited to nap times or whatever time I could steal while the kids were sleeping and research was confined to reading history or writing craft books in the evenings.  I joined a Virginia Romance Writers and a critique group.  And to this day I attribute being published to finding other writers, kindred spirits, who understood the need to write and create.  After a complete rewrite of my third unpublished manuscript, I sold my first historical to Harlequin.

I really enjoyed writing the historicals but I’ve always been a huge fan of romantic suspense. I wanted to write one and the I-can-do-this feeling tugged again.   So after writing six or seven historicals, I tried my hand at a romantic suspense.  It took about eighteen months and several rejections to write a short romantic suspense for Silhouette Intimate Moments.  However it wasn’t long before I got the bug to write a single title so after four IMs, eighteen more months of rewrites and rejections, I sold my first single title romantic suspense.  A few years later, I then got the itch to write a women’s fiction novel.  This book incorporated historical research, a touch of mystery and suspense and hints of romance.  After more rewrites and rejection, I sold and the persona of Mary Ellen Taylor was born.

Are you seeing a pattern here?  Desire.  Write.  Rewrite.  Rejection.  Rewrite.  Sale.   None of it has every come easily or quickly for me and I would argue that is true for 99% of all published authors.

I learned early on that it’s important for me to always be reaching for the edge and to ask myself “But can you do that?”  That question has been the cornerstone of my career and I know it’s what keeps me on my toes and the creative juices flowing.

These days I’m working on my fourteen romantic suspense and I’m about to see the release of my fourth women’s fiction.   My take away advice:  Writing won’t be the easiest thing you’ve ever done, but will be by far one of the most rewarding.

The Shark (Forgotten Files)

At the grisly murder scene of a teen prostitute, Virginia state trooper Riley Tatum’s past roars back to haunt her. When she was a teenage runaway, she was kidnapped, drugged, and left unconscious on the streets. She has no memories of what happened, only strange recurring dreams of two men playing cards.

Former FBI agent Clay Bowman, Riley’s old flame, is Shield Security’s newest member. He’s plagued by the unsolved case of a serial killer nicknamed the Shark who murdered girls as part of a sadistic poker game. Only one girl survived. With the Shark now bent on evening that score, Clay has a chilling suspicion: Riley is the girl who escaped the Shark’s deadly amusement—and she is his next prey.

As the Shark gets ready to play his hand, can Riley and Clay stop him—or will this killer finally claim the one who got away?


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