We never know what life holds! I taught school for fifteen years. When I lost my job I just couldn't go back into teaching. I had lost my belief in myself and my ability to do what was needed. Schools had changed and I hadn't.

Writing called to me, so I took time to write for pleasure. I loved writing romantic stories and family stories. When I decided to try to sell my stories, I joined Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. I was in heaven. We all spoke the same language. I found critique partners and things began to change. There were rules. I knew grammar rules and I had taught great literature, but the great writers and the great writings I taught were all wrong. (slight exaggeration here)

Learning the "rules" of writing romance and allowing others to read my work didn't have the desired effect. I entered contests and learned some folks just didn't like my my writing, my characters, or my favorite color. I questioned my ability to write books that would sell. I still write what I love, but I have more people to please. Now I've almost regained my joy in the process and the stories. If I don't sell to the New York Publishers or get an agent, I'll live.

Recently I decided to try tutoring. The idea of tutoring high school and college students online appealed to me. That didn't happen. But I don't mind. I have two students.

Are you ready for this? One is a graduate student. He's working on his doctorate. A graduate of West point, he recently retired from the Army. He wants to learn and I love watching his mind work. Imagine a student who wants to learn grammar! God is good! For a person who always loved teaching and grammar, this is heaven.

You won't believe who the second student is. He's seven and a first grader. He isn't behind, his dad just wants him to excel. Now I'm making up stories for him as I did for my daughter many moons ago. He has to help me with details and writing them. He thrives on the attention and likes the creative things I bring for him to do.

When my daughter was young I made up stories and characters for her and we both enjoyed it. Now a little boy loves the stories I write for him. He must write what he wants in these stories with him as the main character. I'll be writing about magic and spaceships and space aliens. I might be yelling for Toni's help!


  1. Edie // January 25, 2009 at 8:33 AM  

    Mary, you were thin! The top one is a great picture. You should have it enlarged and hang it on a wall, if it's not already.

    I love your story of the two students, especially the seven-year-old. You'll be someone he'll always remember, in the best way.

  2. Mary Ricksen // January 25, 2009 at 2:00 PM  

    I found it so hard myself to have to change things I'd learned to make a book salable. Single space between sentences, when did that change?
    Yes Mary, you look great in the pictures. Nice legs girl!

    There are teachers we all remember. And I know you are one of them for many of your students.

  3. Mary Marvella // January 25, 2009 at 2:20 PM  

    Yes, Edie, I was skinny! I'm glad I ventured into tutoring again. I really love teaching one-on-one.

  4. Mary Marvella // January 25, 2009 at 2:21 PM  

    Mary, I think we change when change is thrust on us or when we're ready to accept it. Guess I'm hard headed or a slow learner.

  5. Cyrano // January 25, 2009 at 7:42 PM  

    I agree with Edie, Mary. Your seven year old student will always remember you. And I'm sure his memories will be fond ones.
    What better person to get a child to love literature, grammar, the process of writing than my very own momma hen? He's a lucky little boy. But so is your graduate student. He's learning from the best darn grammar teacher I know!

    Luv ya momma hen.
    Baby chic

  6. Liz Jasper // January 25, 2009 at 7:57 PM  

    A nice warm fuzzy story for a windy afternoon.
    : )

  7. Mary Marvella // January 25, 2009 at 8:41 PM  

    Awww, Baby chick! Thanks.

  8. Mary Marvella // January 25, 2009 at 8:42 PM  

    Thanks, Liz. That beach was Tybee, at Tybee Island, Georgia.

  9. Scarlet Pumpernickel // January 25, 2009 at 8:58 PM  

    Love the pictures Mary! I agree that you should enlarge the beach scene and hang it on your wall. What about making it a screen saver or wall paper for white baby?(Mac notebook's name) You are the best critique partner a girl could have! I know your students will benefit greatly from your expertise! I'm proud to be a member of your little flock! The fact that education changed is their loss and that of the students you could have helped. Sometimes the powers that be make very unwise decisions. Education didn't really change, it was the poor choices of those in charge that made it impossible for you to continue with the career you loved. You could not and would not be unfaithful to your core beliefs! Good for you! Besides, it led you to writing and all the friends who treasure you dearly!


  10. Mary Marvella // January 25, 2009 at 9:19 PM  

    Between Cyrano and Scarlet, I'm tearing up! Gotta swallow the lump in my throat. Thanks for the kind words.

    I do need to make some more photos for my wall.

    White Baby could enjoy having that shot as a screen saver. The Ex took both shots when I was in my early 20's.

    I do love teaching as much as I love writing stories.

  11. Arkansas Cyndi // January 25, 2009 at 9:26 PM  

    Mary - THE PICTURES!!! They are wonderful. What a cute story about your 'Students' :)

    As a teacher, you're like a rock thrown into a pond. You ripple out, touching more people than you can imagine.

  12. Pamela Varnado // January 25, 2009 at 9:34 PM  

    I'm glad you've found something to bring joy back into your life. When things don't always happen when and how we expect them to, we sometimes loose heart. But you hung in there. And perservance is a trait every unpublished author needs in abundance. Thanks for being such a great role model.

  13. Mary Marvella // January 26, 2009 at 2:12 AM  

    Cyndi, I'm like a rock in more ways than one, especially my weight and hard head. And then there's the all wet thing about being in a lake.

    I do appreciate your comment about spreading influence. Ripples, huh?


  14. Mary Marvella // January 26, 2009 at 2:14 AM  

    Thanks, Pam. I am too stubborn to quit writing.

    I hadn't expected the joy from tutoring. Good surprise!

  15. Mary Marvella // January 26, 2009 at 2:15 AM  

    Cyndi, I'm like a rock in more ways than one, especially my weight and hard head. And then there's the all wet thing about being in a lake.

    I do appreciate your comment about spreading influence. Ripples, huh?


  16. Cinthia Hamer // January 26, 2009 at 6:12 AM  

    Finding joy in what we do is so important. Life is too short to be unhappy.

    Glad you've found a couple of students for your tutoring...though you know your grammar advice is always welcome around here!

    Love the pics...I take it they're a product of Mr. B?

  17. Joanne // January 26, 2009 at 8:44 AM  

    What a lovely story. Your 2 students are so different. I teach piano lessons, which is a form of private tutoring. My students range in age from a 6 year old genius to a 60 year old woman who plays piano as a hobby. All different ages and interests in between makes my day job fun and interesting.

  18. Mary Marvella // January 26, 2009 at 1:08 PM  

    YOu know me so well, Cinthia. Yep. Mr. B. did take the photos.

    I'm dying t hear all about your cruise!

  19. Mary Marvella // January 26, 2009 at 1:17 PM  

    Joanne, I should have had you as a piano teacher. I toyed with lessons for a year or so in my early teens. Playing for fun appealed to me.

    Reading books seemed more important than practicing an hour a day. I stopped when she suggested we were at a point for me to practice 2 hours a day and grow faster. I had been practicing an hour a week, before lessons.


  20. Nightingale // January 26, 2009 at 1:22 PM  

    I had a 9th grade teacher to whom I owe my will to write. You will be that inspiration for this little boy. My favorite advice from this piece, however, is that if we don't get published by a big NY Publisher or get an agent, we will survive!

  21. Mary Marvella // January 26, 2009 at 4:48 PM  

    We definitely will survive IF we don't get what we think we need. We can still hope for the Big Gold Ring and work toward it.

  22. Anonymous // January 26, 2009 at 7:49 PM  


    It's true, you don't know what life holds for you. I'm beginning to learn that I need to enjoy the journey toward publication. I don't know how long it will take. I'll never say that it might not happen. As long as I keep working toward it, and growing, it will happen.

    Congratulations on finding something that makes you smile again.

    Connie Gillam