Tuesday 26 February 2013

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 was writing 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, che belli 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. 
Me too!
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.
Here are Mary's buy links:

Apple https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/howdy-maam/id591629504?mt=11
Kobo  http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Howdy-Maam/book-I8V-DTo9ukOBqbYMaaJ0ZQ/page1.html?s=qhuPh5YYDU6MJ8XkA-EPSg&r=1
B&N Nook  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/howdy-maam-mary-j-mccoy-dressel/1114142282?ean=2940044213548
Smashwords  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/267447
Website  http://www.maryjdresselbooks.com
Blog  http://www.mjdresselbooks.wordpress.com


  1. Hi, Anna. I'd just like to thank you again for having me as your guest today. We had a snowstorm last night and I was hoping not to lose power so I could be here today. So far, so good!

  2. Anna ~~ Great questions. I enjoyed reading the interview.

    Mary ~~ That was a nice combination of fun answers, and helpful answers [publishing].

    As a writer/editor getting ready to indie publish this spring, all I can say is…. “OMG… now I need to write an elevator pitch too!”



  3. Teagan, Thanks for stopping by.

    Congratulations on your upcoming release. Welcome to the Indie world.

  4. Waving hello to two favorite authors, Anna and Mary!

    Mary and I share a common link, we both have bull riding heroes, although my bull rider will never ride another bull, but someday, if he has a son, his son will. (Or maybe his daughter will do it!)

    I've never been to a PBR event, just to a major east coast bull riding event where the boys earn points with the hopes that they have enough when they finish to make it to the PBR. The real fun is that I'm the photographer for that event. I get to go "backstage" and capture things from there. Did I mention that I'm a chicken? Those bulls snort at me and I high-tail it!

    I had to laugh at what you said about the edits. I get mine, look through them, laugh at some mistakes, and cry over others. Then I curl into a ball because I dread doing them. Yep, next day, I'm pounding the computer keyboard finding where I missed the comma, used you're instead of your, typed form instead of from, and used he instead of she. Agh! Edits are the worst!

    I can't wait for the next bull riding book, Mary. And Anna's newest is in my wish box waiting for me! Who doesn't like a knight in shining armor?
    E. Ayers

  5. Yes, we do share that common link, E. I have read your bull rider story, and ride or not, he's a keeper. I'm typing my fingers off to get the next one out. Edits, yeah, ugh. They can be overwhelming at first until you get into the nitty gritty of taking one at a time.

    I would love to be with you at one of those shows behind the chutes. Oh, my!

    And, I also agree--a knight in shining armor, yes. Like!

    1. Mary, you are more than welcome to come stay with me for those days. I'd love to have you. I'll make you my official helper and you can go back there with me! Those boys have enough duct tape on them that they should hold together no matter what happens to them.
      Thanks for the kind words on A Cowboy's Kiss in Wyoming. I had so much fun writing that one. I had entire sports medicine team behind me showing me (gag) X-rays of breaks, nails, pins, plates, and artificial hip joints. And I met the most wonderful woman in WY who heads a physiotherapy unit there.

      Being a novelist is the most wonderful job. Being a professional photographer is a wonderful vacation, but nothing beats creating heroes and heroines, and bringing them to life between the virtual pages.

      Howdy Ma'am is a wonderful book and the perfect read for anyone who loves cowboys/bull riders. And who doesn't love a cowboy? Those men know how to wear a pair of jeans and they sure can fill a shirt. They are humble about their wins, but they wear those buckles with pride.
      E. Ayers

  6. Oh, how would I control myself behind the chutes? The excitement would probably kill me. But, I'd do it. These young men work hard at their job and their pride does show through. How amazing you got to look at all those x-rays. Ouch!

    Thanks for the kind words about my book. I think so too! (Am I supposed to say that?) ;-)

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  8. Mary, I enjoyed your interview. I like learning about another writer's perspective and experiece--and it makes the book and characters come alive. All the best with your series.


  9. Hi, Joy, Thank you for visiting and for your well-wishes. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by.