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Monday, January 14, 2013

Author Interview: Mary J. McCoy-Dressel

Today I am pleased to present to you all the forty-second in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the bull-riding loving Mary J. McCoy-Dressel and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Mary:  Since I’ve been retired, most of my writing is done during the day, usually after checking social media sites and email. I like to write for a couple hours then take a break to do things around the house. I’ll pick up in the afternoon and write until dinnertime, which is usually in front of the computer. I don’t punish myself if I don’t write for a day or two. When work returns from my editor I work a steadier pace without stopping. Before retirement, late night used to be my favorite time to write.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Mary:  Good luck. They’d see a mumbo jumbo mix of characters, some from past books, some from future books, and some from real life. They would visit places I’ve been, and see glimpses of places I yearn to go. They’d travel to the messy part where ideas float around like bubbles, some having no direction while others pop. I think if they looked around long enough they would find part of me hiding behind words. That’s where I go to escape. If they’re lucky, they will find their way out unscathed.

Paul:  In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it? 
Mary:  I’ve made more than one mistake in my years in this business of publishing. But one mistake I made, that I hope others don’t, is to rush into signing a contract with a publishing company before thoroughly checking out what the publisher is about. Do internet searches, talk to other authors, visit forums, and take your time. When you see the same publisher’s name come up over and over again with negative comments, believe it.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Mary:  I’ve paid my dues trying to find time to write. I’ve spent many a late night and early morning fitting in as many words as possible — during lunch, sitting with a kid in detention, and after work until my eyes closed with my hands on the keyboard. But now, as I mentioned above, I’m retired, and my biggest obstacle is disciplining myself to get off of the internet to spend time writing. My days are finally mine to spend as much time writing as I want. Yes, dreams really do come true.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Mary:  I’d hate for you to tell the beginning of the second book because it would give away the ending to the first book Howdy Ma’am.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Mary:  Run with it! I don’t really plot out my stories unless I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo. When I get the idea for a book I usually know who the characters are and how it will end. I’ve always been kind of a seat-of-your-pants writer. Whatever happens between the beginning and end is a surprise to me, too, most of the time. My characters surprise me on a regular basis, so even if I have one idea they might have another. I do jot down notes about characters, settings, and things that need to happen.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Mary:  I edit. As much as I try to write a draft without going back, this just isn’t going to happen, and I realize it now. Apparently, my inner editor is the boss of my muse. My writing is more fully-formed than it used to be, and there isn’t a lot of editing, but when I send it to my editor, I want it as near perfect as I can get it.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Mary:  I do a lot of research for my stories. I need to know everything about a topic so I can make it sound real in my novels. If I write about places I’ve never been, I definitely need to research the area. I have a novel on the back burner with a topic I knew nothing about, so I did a lot of research for that. For my time-travel series I had to research the Victorian era and certain aspects of the late 1800s. I love doing research.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it.
Mary:  My current release is a sensual contemporary cowboy romance titled Howdy, Ma’am, about a former travel photographer starting over alone after leaving an abusive husband. Settling into life away from her close-knit, Italian family, she starts her own photography business. Enter a hunky bull rider offering her a job any photographer would find hard to refuse. She accepts his offer, and finds they both have their own obstacles to overcome along the way while struggling with their own feelings for one another, each hoping they’ll find what they were looking for by time the season ends. One sentence blurb — Come along and see what happens when classy takes a trip with rowdy.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Mary:  The inspiration for this current book came from many places. Like my heroine, I had just gone off on my own. Photography is my hobby — I had to make my heroine a photographer. I started watching bull riding on TV and used it for my own distraction, and I learned a lot about it in the process. Then I figured if it could distract me, maybe a bull rider could distract my character and her issues. (In a good way) I put it all together and wanted to see where it would lead. I’m very happy with the way it turned out.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Mary:  I do write poetry. In fact, I started writing poetry at a young age. I’ve had a couple poems published in anthologies. As far as non-fiction, yes, I do write some non-fiction pieces. I like to write about my travel adventures. When my state of Michigan started a blog, I was their first contributor with one of my travel stories. I’ve written personal essays that are posted on a writing site along with some of my poetry. I play with writing short stories and have a few around here somewhere. I’m considering publishing one I wrote last year.

Paul:  Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
Mary:  Some of my non-fiction pieces and personal essays will never see the light of day.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Mary:  I do a lot of marketing, or at least it seems like it. Many hours of my week are spent learning new marketing skills. I spend time on social media, blogs, and forums, doing whatever I can to help promote my name and my books. I’m starting over in the digital realm this time, and since my first books were published some years ago, I have seen a lot of changes in marketing. (Previously printed books are now out of print, but I plan on reissuing them in 2013.)

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Mary:  I wish I had some party tricks to tell you all about! Photography is my hobby. When I was a child my dad gave me my first camera. I’ve loved taking pictures since. I’ve taken a couple photography classes, too. When not writing, I’m usually reading, taking pictures, or walking for fun and health. I gave up watching TV for a long time, but I’ve since gotten back to it. I use it when I want to relax and clear my mind, and I’ll probably watch bull riding now and then.

Paul:  That was great, Mary. I wish you every success for the future.
Mary:  It’s been fun doing this interview. Thank you, Paul.

About Mary J. McCoy Dressel: I write contemporary and historical romance with two new novels in 2012, a sensual contemporary—Howdy Ma’am (book one) and a spicy holiday romance titled Pacific Moonlight. I currently live in a Detroit, Michigan suburb, and have two handsome grown sons. An Australian Shepherd/Chow mix fur baby dog completes my family.

I love having the ability to put my thoughts into words for others to enjoy. My writing consists of novels, short stories, blogging, and poetry. Other writers have always been my inspiration. Growing up an avid reader, I still believe today, that you can't be a writer if you're not a reader. After having two published novels with a publisher, now out of print, I'm going on my own as an Indie author. I've had classes in creative writing and photography. Writing is what I call my "warm fuzzy."

I love connecting with readers and friends.

Mary's Blog: Mary J. McCoy-Dressel
Mary on Twitter: @maryjdressel
Mary on Facebook: Mary J. McCoy-Dressel
Mary's latest book: Howdy Ma'am (Amazon)

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  1. Thank you for inviting me to your blog today, Paul. I'm very happy to be here.

  2. Thanks for the great interview, and your self-sacrifice in watching all those cute bull-riders!

    Mary M.

    1. Oh, it was all worth it, Kaisquared! Thanks for commenting.

  3. From one fly by the seat of the pants author to another, I enjoyed your post Mary. :)


    1. LOL, someone who understands the pantster! Thanks, Rose.

  4. Great interview. It's always good to read another pantser.

    1. Cindy, Being a panster is fun because the characters have free reign, but you know, sometimes we have to rope them in. Glad you stopped by!

  5. Mary, it was nice to get to know you a little better. And your books sounds YUMMY!

    1. Hi, Marie, Oh, this is only a part of me... My book is yummy! Thanks so much for commenting.