Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Confession by Marion Ekholm


(Like Muriel, I needed something visual for my narration, so I’m adding pictures of my Peace Roses.)


My Peace Rose outside my door.

I wrote true confessions for several years, sometimes having several in one monthly edition. I love writing short stories with a romance theme, but what I really enjoy is creating complex characters who can have edgy personalities. When writing romance novels, I have to work at making all my heroes and heroines likable, and the people in the confessions, even the protagonist telling the story, can be less than perfect. They really screw up their lives, but they manage to work out their own problems to a satisfactory ending, although it may not be happily ever after.

 
My first published story was titled “My fiancĂ© ruined my wedding.” My inspiration came from a talk a group of us had at a Valley of the Sun board meeting back when I was the newsletter editor. The topic was memorable weddings. One person told us about a bride who learned the groom had slept with the maid-of-honor the night before the wedding. The bride walked down the aisle, met him at the altar, explained to the guests why she wouldn’t marry the groom and walked out, leaving him there. I went home with this in my mind, and 6,000 words poured into my computer.

 
All my confessions were written in the first person, a requirement, and ranged from 4,000 to 7,000 words with each word essential to the story. They ended when all points were resolved. And my stories were romances that rarely got to the first kiss, although some of the racy titles the magazine provided made it sound as though the narrator was involved in much more. They changed all the names used in the stories and some of the descriptions. For example, I wrote a cowboy story based in a high Arizona desert. It was changed to a high Texas desert. I don’t even know if Texas has high deserts, but the people in New York probably don’t believe cowboys exist outside of Texas.

 
When I began writing confessions, I studied several confession magazines to see what the stories were like. I sent out four and waited – two years! It took even longer after sending several more before my first one was published. Pat Byrdsong (an editor at Sterling/Macfadden) spoke about the confession market at a Desert Dreams Conference I attended. Her advice was invaluable. I continued to write for the market when Dorchester bought it, but around 2006, it pretty much disappeared. It has since become part of True Renditions, LLC.
 
The stories had to be believable, something that could actually happen, if not to me than to a friend or someone else. Did you ever try the confession market? To this day, when I mention it people ask, “You mean those stories weren’t true?”

(Patricia Forsythe will be doing our February blog.)

21 comments:

  1. My mother learned to read with the confessional stories that abounded in the 50s. I always marvel at how the writers can write so short! That takes talent. But it's also a great teacher. And I didn't know the stories weren't true, but should have. lol

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    1. I don't remember ever seeing the confessions until I became interested in writing.

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  2. This is new to me and very interesting! Love the rose pics too :).

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    1. The magazines came out once a month with about 15 stories in them. I had a fun time writing several from a man's point of view.

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  3. Marion, what a gorgeous rose. We have a couple of Tucson writers who still write for the "Trues" they call them. And when I lived in Texas I met a couple of male writers who wrote really heart-felt romance short stories for Biker magazine. I saw a few and it amazed me that those big, tough biker dudes wanted stories about home, holidays, and romance. Like Pat says, it's hard to write short and concise. I'm sure you learned a lot about choosing words.

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  4. Hi, Marion! When I first started writing for American Romance, a few of their writers had come from True Confessions. They said at that time that the market was beginning to dry up. (mid-80s) Ernest Hemingway said he always began writing a short story, but many times found he had more to say. I think I just begin with more to say. My father used to say I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle (in these days of ipods, no one has probably ever seen one, but you know what I mean, right?) My sister simply called me Motor Mouth. Love the rose, too.

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    1. I'm very familiar with that term and probably most people today wouldn't know what you're talking about.

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  5. Marion, this is fascinating! I imagine the experience would be invaluable in learning how to make those words count. Your comment about the change from the cowboy in the high Arizona desert to Texas made me laugh out loud. We have cowboys all over the west--why does Texas always get all the credit?

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    1. The editors changed another story. I had written about Halloween and had the protagonist dressed as Little Bo Peep with lacy pantaloons. They made her into a sassy, sexy witch but didn't realize other places in the story referred to the pantaloons.

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  6. I remember being so disappointed when I found out those stories weren't true, especially considering how hard I worked sneaking them past my mother! Interesting post, Marion.

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    1. I love writing in the first person and found it fun to slip into another identity.

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  7. I loved sneaking those stories when I was a teenager. Didn't have a clue they weren't true, but the women in them had far more interesting and dramatic lives than what I had growing up in an Arizona copper mining town.

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    1. Already I can think of putting a spin on that and creating a problem for a woman in a mining town. Because the stories were short, they didn't have to have much more than a single dilemma to solve.

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  8. I was unaware that there was such a market, Marion, but it must have been fun writing.

    With everything white and gray outside where we are, I loved seeing the pictures of your beautiful roses.

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    1. No white and gray outside but I have one bud on the bush that is waiting for the sun to get to that side of the house before it will bloom.

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  9. How neat to learn more about you, Marion! I enjoyed writing confessions (and did it for years), too! And you are SO right: Crafting one of those stories was a great foundation for a novel-writing career...developing edgy-yet-likeable characters and believable-yet-entertaining stories. Ah, the good old days, eh? :-) Can't wait to get my hands on your latest title!

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    1. It was a fun experience, and once the editors knew your work, their responses were quick and favorable.

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  10. I'm with everyone else I guess! I had no idea these confession stories existed except for True Confrssions. Love the wedding story! What a Cad!!! and what a great writing boot camp. I envy the rose. I'm taking pictures of frost!!! Great post, Muriel!

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    1. There were about five different magazines. I wrote for True Romance.

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  11. Your roses are lovely! Those confession magazines were really popular in my beauty salon at one time. Now, the salon has mostly Glamour and People on the table.

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