Mary J. McCoy-Dressel Shares the Wealth
Today, Mary J. McCoy-Dressel shares the wealth of her writing experience with us. Welcome, Mary.
Hi, Anna, I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks so much for having me as a guest.
Great to have you here. Tell us about yourself.
I’m lucky to call myself a full time writer. After many years of working for public schools, I finally retired in 2010, officially in 2011. I write sensual and spicy contemporary and historical romance mixed with women’s fiction. My home is in Michigan, USA, and I’ve lived here all of my life except for that time I moved to Missouri with a friend, on a whim. I’m the mom to two grown sons and a fur baby dog. When I’m not writing, I love to read, play Angry Birds on my Kindle Fire, or go out with my camera. I enjoy an occasional movie, theater/play, symphony, or dinner with my friends. Photography is my other love.
I’ve always wished I had a good eye as a photographer! How did you get started writing?
I don’t know how I got started. It seems like I’ve always written. In seventh grade my language arts teacher told me I should be a writer. Maybe that was the first time I gave it serious thought, or put a label to what I felt. Poetry was my main form of writing when I was young; love poems as a teen! (I still have some of them somewhere.) As an adult with two kids, I started college, and my instructors told me I needed to get things published. I finally started listening. Something inside me always said one day I would have my name on books. I even said, “All I need is an idea…” Well, finally that idea came for my first book, and I haven’t stopped writing since.
Fantastic! What genre do you write in and why?
I like to say I write romance with a touch of women’s fiction instead of the other way around, but romance is my main genre. Most of my characters don’t have an easy time of getting what they want. When I started writing, I had no intentions of writing romance, but after starting that first draft, I realized I waswriting a romance novel; I guess because I believe in love, fairy tales, and happy endings. I write in different subgenres, like historical, contemporary, and paranormal. Somewhere on my hard drive I even have a vampire romance started, and it was before Vampires were the “thing”.
Interesting! How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
I have many books partially written, but three have been published. My very first book was my favorite for a long time, but it’s now out of print. The idea of time travel was like a fairy tale. I loved reading time-travel romance, and that’s why I wrote it. But, since I wrote Howdy, Ma’am, Book #1 this book has to be my favorite. Book two in this series will be a good runner-up. I love the characters in Howdy, Ma’am and have become quite attached to them; the reason for their second book. I wasn’t ready to let them go. I don’t know if I ever can.
I know what you mean. My characters are like part of my family now! What inspired your latest book?
It was a difficult time in my life when I started this novel. November came, and Howdy, Ma’am became my NaNo novel. I chose to do it that year because I knew I would need a huge distraction to get through a trying time. Sometime before that I began watching bull riding on TV and went to shows. It became a pleasant distraction. “Mm, chebelli cowboys!” (As my heroine would say.) Why not write a book with a bull rider? I plotted it out the last couple days of October and realized I had a good idea for a book. My character Velia left her husband, and I figured if bull riding could distract me, maybe a hunky bull rider could distract her. And oh, boy, he does a good job of distracting. It’s kind of funny the way the muse works.
Isn’t it though! Tell us about your current WIP.
My current series is The Bull Rider Series, and I’m working on the second book. It picks up right after the first book ends. Caulder hired Velia to do a job during the bull riding season in book one, and now that the season is over… It’s hard to say much for fear of giving anything away in the first book. I had hoped the length wouldn’t be as long as Howdy, Ma’am, but it’s beginning to look like it could be close. The book is almost finished in rough draft, but it will need a big revision to shorten it. First drafts are fun, but you have to know when to let go when it comes to revising and cutting. Ouch, that word hurts. L
I feel your pain. What is your favorite part of writing?
My favorite part of writing is the development of the characters, and watching how they fit into their story. When I become so attached to them, they call out to me when I’m sleeping, telling me their own ideas.
Gosh, I’m glad I’m not the only person that happens to!
And you know what? They’re usually right! I love when they take on their own personality. Oddly, I like doing research for a new story, and figuring out how it can fit into their lives. Not to mention with research, comes the fact that I find new places to visit. More favorite things I love about writing—typing “The End”, telling people I’m a writer, and hearing from readers.
What is your least favorite part of writing?
Definitely promotion and marketing is my least favorite. It takes so much time away from writing, but it’s necessary. Also, when I get edits back from my editor, I’m scared to open it; again necessary. I sit biting my nails before opening it usually a day later.
What was the easiest and hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing?
I’ll start with the hardest. First off, you have to learn everything about publishing a book. Does it stop there? No. Once you learn the steps, you have to actually do the steps. While figuring all this out, you have to keep your mind focused and stay a couple steps ahead of marketing and promoting. This means staying connected with social networks and blogging. How soon you will be forgotten if you let too much time go by. I spend hours searching for the right photos for my cover, blogs, and website—hours I could be writing. Many decisions have to be made. Does all this scare me off? Nope. I grew a thick skin a long time ago. Does it make me nervous, scared? You bet.
Now the easiest part. Writing is the easiest part. My book cover is easy because once I find a photo, I send it to my cover designer, and she mixes my vision with hers to create a cover. In my case, I hired a formatter, too, so this makes it easy for me to upload. Deciding to publish at Amazon and Smashwords was easy. Being in control of my own work is easy and fun once it all gets figured out, and I’m not saying I have it all figured out, yet. I still have a lot to learn.
What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book? Did you decide on eBook or print only or both?
I knew for quite awhile I would self-publish. I’ve been with a publisher and didn’t have pleasant results, and it took a long time to receive my rights back. Years ago, one of my manuscripts sat with a publisher for two years. Two years? Another reason I chose to self-publish is because I like having control over my work, and I can write the story that needs to be written.
At first I decided on only publishing an eBook, but there are still readers out here who like to hold a paperback book in their hands. It won’t be long before Howdy, Ma’am becomes available in paperback.
How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?
People I meet are safe from ending up in my book. Okay, most of them. 😉 I haven’t used people I know in any of my books, but I might have used characteristics from several for a character. I have some interesting friends who could be great characters. I do a lot of threatening though; especially with new people I meet. J Sometimes I’m bad like that.
It’s odd how people ask that. I think they secretly want to be in our books! Give us an elevator pitch for your book.
Velia Armano moved from Chicago to Tucson, Arizona to escape her abusive husband’s torment. Six months into her well ordered life alone, bull rider Caulder McCutchen saunters in with his howdy, ma’am and flame-blue eyes, offering a job any photographer would find hard to refuse—to travel the circuit with him for a season and photograph a year in his life. On the journey, she realizes they both have their own obstacles to overcome. Staying out of each other’s arms is only one of them. By time the season ends, they have to decide to give in to a happily ever after, or return to their self-appointed exiles.
Thanks, Mary. Good luck with the series.
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