Friday, September 30, 2011

Guest Post: Mary Lindsey's Worst Writing Mishap (Shattered Souls)

Mary's writing is a natural expression of her love of reading and a fascination with the flexibility of the human imagination. Books make the impossible possible.

Prior to attending University of Houston Law School, Mary received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Drama from the University of Houston. She has taught drama and playwriting in a large public high school and English in a private school. Currently, Mary teaches acting to children and teens at a private studio in Houston, Texas.

She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Mary lives in Houston with her husband, three kids, two dogs, her daughter's pet rats, an Australian Bearded Dragon and dozens of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. (The roaches are long story—don't ask.)

Worst Writing Mishap

I grew up performing in theatre, so I’m pretty immune to embarrassment. If I do something silly, I blush, apologize, and brush it off. That’s why this post is sort of hard for me.

There are lots of things I’ve done that qualify as writing mishaps: not changing the name of the agent in my query, thanking the wrong agent for the full request, sending the wrong verson of my manuscript. All of these are mishaps, but they don’t stick with me. I make mistakes. We all do. They don’t faze me too much.

The writing mishap that I’ve had a hard time shaking is one that happened entirely by coincidence.

I wrote Shattered Souls four years ago and entered an early version of the manuscript in a contest. At the time, the opening scene was on the beach with Zak, Lenzi, and Zak’s stoner friends, Greg and Cynthia. I modeled this pair of friends after some folks I knew in real life.

The characters of Greg and Cynthia were absolute losers. You know the kind. They work only to support the next session of partying and mooch off other folks. Overall, they’re worthless.

Well, one of the contest judges wrote a note in the manuscript admonishing me for these characters. “If this is a shout out to Cynthia Leitich Smith and her husband, Greg, it is not tasteful or appropriate.”

I was mortified. I knew who Cynthia Leitich Smith was, but had no idea her husband was named Greg. Heck, at the time, I didn’t even know she was a fellow Texan. Why on earth would I give them a “shout out” by making them despicable? Way to make friends, right? Ugh.

Of course, I changed the names right away. It’s all irrelevant now, because the entire scene was cut along with Cynthia and Greg, but it was so embarrassing to me that the judge thought I was that rude. I was grateful though. What if it had gone out there like that and somebody else thought the same thing?

Since then, I’ve met Cynthia and told her about her stoner counterparts in my early draft. If you know her, you won’t be surprised she thought it was awesome.

The picture below is of me with Cynthia (holding her newly released graphic novel version of Tantalize) at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas.

Thank you so much, Casey, for having me on your blog. Here’s wishing everyone a mishap free day!

Thanks for stopping by, Mary!

For more about this author, please visit:

Coming December 8, 2011!

 Preorder / Add it on Goodreads

A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.


Jan von Harz said...

What a terrific story. After reading it I will be thinking about these two characters when I read this book. Seems almost a shame that they were cut from the final manuscript. Thanks Casey for a featuring Lindsey's post.

Lauren M said...

What? That's awful! It's pretty bad that they assumed that of you! But props for brushing it off and even getting Cynthia to laugh about it! :)

Rummanah Aasi said...

I'm surprised the judge made a direct connection to the writers Cynthia and Greg. I mean there are a lot of people with those first names. Glad that Mary brushed it off and confronted Cynthia about it. :)

Ann Stampler said...

After I finish sending that writing contest judge a cyber-slap upside the head, I want to say that I live in fear of doing this exact thing. (Not with Cynthia and Greg, but in general.) I've made numerous name-changes in the course of writing my current ms, not just between drafts, but between the ARC's and the final version, and I'm still worried that I've inadvertently hijacked someone's name in a way that will somehow offend.

LoriStrongin said...

omg, that's hilarious! With my writing, I'm always afraid of the same thing, mostly b/c I'm a pop culture n00b. So whenever I start a new project, I sent a list of character names to one of my friends who lives/breathes/eats pop culture and change any names she says are too close to existing ones.


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