Why I Write

Long ago when I first fledged into adulthood, I would have told you that I wrote in order to express my individuality. But now, as I near 50, I know how little an impetus that really was.

What really pushes me to the pen is a need to connect to something greater than myself. Writing provides me a way to organize chaos, to bandy about the interrelatedness of it all.

As a writer I hope to relate with others about being human, and the fact that, as much as we might pretend differently, we cannot live separately from nature.

I Love Language

My relationship with words is intuitive and intimate. It needs no intermediary.

When I enter the world of language and lose “self” to writing I experience the sort of peace many search for and never find. Does such tranquility always exist? Absolutely not!

Writing doesn’t always come with ease, but when it flows, when I tap into life’s river of all, nothing compares to that feeling of rightness. My work attempts to share what manifests in those moments.

My Teaching Philosophy

Just as I write to connect, my teaching philosophy works to do the same. Creating a sense of community in my classes and workshops comes first.

Threatening environments trigger our “affective filters” – emotional responses that shut-down our openness. A non-competitive environment based upon mutual respect is key in order for individuals to creatively thrive.


My Teaching Philosophy

About Mary

I'm a writer whose experiences run the gamut. That means the subjects that pique my pen also run the gamut. I love lifting rocks, uncovering ordinary nuance, undressing the sky.

I write articles, fiction, and creative non-fiction on a variety of topics. Current works-in-progress include a book tentatively titled, Best Nature Destinations in Texas (Texas A&M University Press) that I'm doing with my husband, professional nature photographer, Jeff Parker. The book, part of Texas A&M's Nature Series Guides, will resonate with nature-lovers who love to travel and travelers who love nature ~ folks like Jeff and me! I also aim to complete my novel, Kaylee, Texas by summer 2015.

I once proudly owned two bookstores, but then Amazon came along and making it pretty tough for independents. But no hard feelings ~ honestly! Both bookstores were housed in historic downtown districts in buildings — obviously — no longer used for their original purposes (one of which was a dry goods' store). Time marches on. Kindle has arrived. Bookselling has changed. I came to peace with that and it has helped me as I have continued to work within the publishing industry.

After graduate school my heart tugged me to teach. I've educated others either formally in the classroom or via private lessons since 2002. Often those wanting writing lessons have expressed a desire to learn to make language sing. But as a quote by John Cotton Dana goes, "Who dares to teach must never cease to learn," that doesn't mean I don't still strive myself — always — for the perfect symphony! The day I truly create the perfection I seek I'll put the pen down (or use it to color every square inch of my skin ~ since I'm 5'8" that might keep the pen in-hand awhile longer).

For those interested, my "official" education includes the following:

  • Master of Arts (MA); Advertising & Marketing Communications, University of Texas at Austin
  • Bachelor of Business (BBA); Finance, Georgia Southern University
  • Texas State University; Post-graduate work in Pedagogy
  • Certified Teacher, State of Texas; Elementary Education, Bilingual Elementary, Secondary ESL, Secondary Spanish




Class: Keys to Creativity

Description: Stimulate your senses toward a more playful and creative approach, while learning what keeps you from reaching your state of creative “flow.” This class suitable for photographers and writers and will be tailored according to meet the specific needs of those who sign up.

Date: afkff
Maximum participants: Ten (10)
Cost: $95
Sign up: Coming soon

Class: Query Writing Clinic for Feature Articles

Description: Learn to write query letters that will get you assignments in this one-day workshop.

Date: afkff
Maximum participants: Ten (10)
Cost: $95
Sign up: Coming soon

Class: Grammar Power Play

Description: Is grammar your nemesis? Does it boggle you when you hear someone say, “Don’t use passive verbs?” Join me for this full-day workshop and learn how the smallest words and create powerful changes to your writing.

Date: afkff
Maximum participants: Ten (10)
Cost: $95
Sign up: Coming soon


Why "Red Belly"?

Red Bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) give both Red Belly Writing School and its rural home – Red Belly Ranch – their names. These quirky birds, native to central-Texas, populate the countryside here in abundance.

These whimsical woodpeckers entertain (and often distract) me on those days when I work outside under the Post Oaks. They’re quite vociferous, as if they want you to notice them. Yet, once you acknowledge their presence they skedaddle—only to return within minutes!

Who Cares

Contact & Location


email: mary@maryodessaparker.com


Red Belly Writing School makes its home on Red Belly Ranch, which is located 8 miles from historic downtown Smithville, Texas’ first certified Film Friendly Community where “Tree of Life” starring Brad Pitt and at least a dozen other films have been made.

Where’s Smithville?

On a map, connect the dots for the cities of Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. Smithville sits about in the middle of the triangle you formed by connecting those dots.

Travel Time:

FROM HOUSTON: About 1 ¾ hours
FROM SAN ANTONIO: About 1 ½ hours
FROM AUSTIN: About 1 ¼ hours
FROM DALLAS/FT. WORTH: About 4 ½ hours