Getting Published (Thanks to The Women's Conference)
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10/12/10 | Mary Ann Wasil Nilan | 5 Comments

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Mary Ann Wasil Nilan, Author, A Diary of Healing, Executive Director & Founder, The Get In Touch Foundation





I answered my cell phone as I was stepping out of my local post office one swelteringly hot day this past August.  Okay, I admit, I didn’t exactly hear the caller introduce herself, I didn’t recognize the out-of-state number, and someone was honking (a lot!) at the group of kids crossing the street to get to the local duckpin bowling alley…so I answered with the generic and distracted pleasantries, “yes, hello,” “uh-huh,” “oh, thank you.”

And then - in between beeps - I thought I heard her say the word “congratulations,” and then say that “Jan Miller” would be in touch with me in the next few days.

“What a minute…who is this?

“It’s Lacy from Dupree/Miller & Associates - we got connected through The Women’s Conference.”

“The California Women’s Conference?!”

“Um, yes…”

“I’m sorry – did you say Jan Miller?!

“Yes…Mary Ann – she is looking forward to speaking with you to congratulate you herself!”

“Wait, wait, wait…are you saying I won The Women’s Conference Publishing Contest?!”

“Yes, Mary Ann…”

WHO is this?!?

And so, for the third time in less than a single minute, Lacy patiently re-introduced herself and told me that I had won the contest I had entered after attending The Women’s Conference 2009, and that they were excited about working with me to publish my book.

By this time I was sitting in the hot silence of my car and grabbed hold of the handle alongside my seat and put the seat back – alllll the way.  I was afraid I might faint, and the sudden throbbing in my right eyeball felt odd, to say the least.

Someone walking by my car looked in at me laying down and through the closed window asked, “Are you okay?”  I gave her a thumbs-up and slowly brought my seat back up to a sitting position. 

I met literary agent Jan Miller at The Women’s Conference 2009 at a session she spoke at entitled, “Getting Published.”

Attendees at the Conference were invited to participate in a contest in which they could submit a fiction or non-fiction writing sample for consideration for publication.  One winner would be chosen, her book would be published, and she would be invited to speak at the Conference the following year.

My submission was slightly unconventional, a patchwork of timelines and stories and speeches and presentations I’ve given over the last six years of “survivorship.”  I always feel a little “jazzed” when I write about my big adventure with breast cancer – it’s pretty shocking, actually, and I usually wind up thinking, “Wow, that chick’s been through the ringer!”  And then I realize that chick is ME!  I have always hoped that my story could be any-woman’s story, and hoped that the judges would feel the same way I did.  I crossed my fingers and my toes and clicked “SUBMIT.”

I won!

I’m a breast cancer kickin’ survivor with a unique story – my plastic surgeon once said to me, “Mary Ann, you’re worst-case-scenario.  Women will take one look at you and say, ‘I don’t have half the battle she’s had – I can do this.’”

You can do it…you can do anything.  My story is not a “how-to” book, but an “oh, yes you can!” book.

And so…I’ll be winging my way west from Connecticut to California, where I will join Jan Miller onstage during The Women’s Conference Day of Transformation to talk about the contest, how I won and what happens next.  Transformative?  Oh, yes!  And I am thrilled that you are all joining me on this next big adventure!

Let’s just say if you learn nothing else, at least know that you never really know why that lady next to you in the parking lot in the post office is lying down in her car!

Mary Ann Wasil Nilan will be speaking at The Women’s Conference A Day of Health, Wellness & Transformation on October 25th.  Mary Ann is a six-year breast cancer kickin’ survivor and the Executive Director & Founder of the non-profit organization, The Get In Touch Foundation, and is currently at work on her book, “A Diary of Healing – There’s a Pony In Here Somewhere!”

Read Mary Ann Wasil Nilan's earlier posts:

Expect The Unexpected: A Mother's Story of Breast Cancer

It's Never Too Early: Get In Touch Girl!

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  • Yes, writing can be so cathartic, even healing. I journaled prolifically during my "wellness challenge" and it helped me address what was happening to me on a daily basis. I look at those journals now and can actually "see" how I felt by looking at my handwriting or how hard I pressed the pen on the paper.

    Another thing I found especially healing during my treatments was to send one letter a day to someone in my life that I appreciated or loved...grammar school teachers, parents of high school friends, long-lost-relatives, forgotten childhood pals...people that shaped my life in one way or another - some in really big ways, and others in small ways that have had equal impact in the "making of me."

    Writing is good for the soul...for yours or someone else's!

    Hope Lives!

    Posted by Mary Ann Wasil Nilan, 29 November 2010.

  • Yes, we do survive unimaginable odds, every day. I wrote my autobiography as a form of therapy and the process taught me a great deal. Reliving the rejection by my family, except for my grandfather, who was a pediphile. Reliving verbal, psychological and physical abuse. Recognizing and accepting my failures and accomplishments. Surviving a vehicle accident in which the doctors declared me dead and then said I would never get out of bed or walk again - I did. The writing was a learning, healing and coming to terms experience. Now, I can talk about it.

    Posted by jhcesi, 25 November 2010.

  • Thanks so much for your kind words, Tracy - you're pretty amazing yourself...there's nothing more wonderful than one woman supporting and cheering on another woman - thanks for cheering me on!

    Posted by Mary Ann Wasil Nilan, 20 November 2010.

  • I went to the women's conference and could not get in again, my ticket was gone...they had several set ups in Long Beach, The Convention Center, The Performing arts center, the Hyatt and I couldn't track the Governor or the first lady to get a ride or to discuss business, let alone try to get contact with my own relatives and colleagues...who did the organizing or disorganizing of this event? or was it to divert the attendees or the speakers?

    Posted by Theresa15, 26 October 2010.

  • WOW! Thank you... just thank you so much. AMAZING women achieving amazing things... Your website, story, Time pictures, and mission, have and will, continue to impact so deeply and so meaningfully. In my world, we call that "leaning-in." You showed up for the moment(s) and LEANED-IN... this is where life unfolds beautifully!!! Your transformation is THE transformation for many. Today, I will expect the unexpected!

    Posted by TRACY COVINGTON, 12 October 2010.