Skip to main content


May 9, 2012

A Mother’s Love...And Edits!

Maryann McFadden has been a successful realtor for the past twenty years, but she always wanted to be a novelist. Her first novel, THE RICHEST SEASON, began as her thesis project when she returned to school for a Master’s degree. Her most recent novel, THE BOOK LOVER, was released on May 1st. Here, Maryann talks about her mother's unflinching honesty.

Back in 2001, when I finished the manuscript for my first novel, THE RICHEST SEASON, which began when I returned to school for a Master’s Degree, I gave it to my mother, who couldn’t wait to read it.

I couldn’t wait, either, because I KNEW she was going to love it! She’d read pieces, but here was the entire story it had taken 2 years to write.

A few days later she called. I waited breathlessly for her to tell me. And she did. “I finished reading and I love the story…” In that long pause that followed I could hear the “but” before she even uttered it. “But…I didn’t love the beginning.”

I wasn’t just a little upset.  I’d labored intensely over the first chapter, knowing how important it was to capture an agent, an editor, a reader, from page one. Of course I thought of ignoring her. After all, I’m the writer. But she’s a voracious reader. I knew she was being honest.

So, I went back to that opening chapter, rewriting it at least another 20 times. Again and again she read, never complaining. Again and again I waited for her blessing. Finally it came. And then I began submitting to agents.

Fast forward to 2007 (past 5 years of rejection, self-publishing, peddling from bookstore to bookstore, landing an agent, and rejoicing when it sold at AUCTION!) to the night of my book launch. Yes, THE RICHEST SEASONwas debuting in hardcover with Hyperion Books, translation rights had sold, and it was an Indie Next Pick! A victorious moment! Validation, finally! My mother, of course, was there. She was with me every step of that crazy journey, because she really BELIEVED it was a good book. And that kept ME believing.

That night in Clinton Book Shop I spoke about my journey,  thanked my mother for being my biggest supporter, then read several scenes from the book, which I’d run by Harvey and Rob, and a few friends. Afterward, I signed over 100 books, drank wine, and felt like a rock star! It was a perfect night.

The next morning I called my mother to relive it all, as we did after weddings and parties. I was still wired, like electricity was pumping through my veins.  “It was just wonderful, all those people, and selling so many books…” she began.  “But?” I prompted. She hesitated a long moment. “But I thought the reading was a little too long.”

“Really?” I replied, stunned.  And then, annoyed, I said, “Everyone else thought it was perfect.” Or so they said. So I edited the scenes, read the shortened versions the following night and felt it. She was right.

Fast forward another 5 years, to just last week, when my third novel, THE BOOK LOVER debuted. It was another wild and crazy journey as I found myself caught in a changing publishing world. Once again, I had a book I believed in. That my mother believed in. That kept me going during the worst year of my life, through sickness, divorce and finding myself an orphaned author.

That night of the launch at Clinton Book Shop was amazing! I thanked so many who supported me, especially my mother.  I read my prologue (which I’d run by Harvey and Rob and a few others). Afterward, everyone said it was PERFECT! The next morning, once again I called my mother to relive the moment.  “It was a wonderful night,” she said. “You read beautifully…”

In that half hearted way her words didn’t quite finish, I KNEW. “But?” I asked. She hesitated. “Well…it could have been a little shorter.”

I was not just a little annoyed. The night was perfect and now…now she was ruining it. But when I got over my wounded pride, I considered her opinion. When I did my reading the following night, I cut a few paragraphs, and…I knew she was right!

Here’s the thing. In big moments, when your emotions are overflowing, people tell you what you want to hear. They’re trying to be kind, and don’t want to hurt your feelings. But your mother? Well, count on her to override her need to be kind --- to tell you the truth, even if it stings a bit. As a mother myself, I know how tough that can be.  But in the end, your mother has your best interest at heart. As mine did. I know my mother loves me, edits and all.