Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Welcome Special Guest: M. J. Fredrick

I'm so excited -- Today "Hot Shot" by M. J. Fredrick is released by Samhain Publishing. I've stalked visited the now multi-published Mary at her blog for a while now, and when she mentioned her release date, I pounced...and said I wanted to host here on my blog. She graciously agreed to come over here and answer my off the wall questions. She's a brave, brave lady...

Hi, M. J.!! For the folks who haven't been hanging out with you at your blog, why don't you tell us a little about yourself.

I finished my first book 13 years ago, joined RWA and my local chapter 11 years ago and have written 20 (or is it 21?) manuscripts. I’ve finalled in the Golden Heart 3 times with 4 manuscripts, finalled in the Emily 3 times and finalled in the Maggies, as well as some other contests.

I teach 4th grade and have been in the same school district for 19 years. I married my high school sweetheart and we have a teenaged son.

Wow!!! 20 finished manuscripts! Holy cow... that's some perseverance. You're an inspiration.

Now, I know you make collages for your work… can you share the one you made for Hot Shot and give us some ideas as to why you chose the things and the people you did?

I actually made this collage after working on Hot Shot for a LONG time. It had been through MANY revisions (3 editors and an agent requested revisions) and I needed to refocus on what I wanted the story to be, so I made a collage. Finding pictures of George was fun, but I really like the map of Montana and the pictures of firefighting.

I started the book in 2000, the summer of Clooney, when The Perfect Storm was in theaters and Three Kings was on DVD. He was perfect for Gabe. I watched reruns of ER and I liked the way his character interacted with Maria Bello’s character so I cast her as Peyton, only made her a little more vulnerable.

I love the pictures you chose of George Clooney in that collage, and the maps are a neat touch. Thanks for sharing! So, with all those manuscripts, I have to know: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I do! In fact, last week, I couldn’t figure out how to finish the story I was writing for The Wild Rose Press’s Wayback series. (I am NOT a plotter.) I talked it over with the DH, (a very good listener) and with Trish, and just had to speak my concerns out loud (or write them in an email). Then I just sat down and started writing and just a spark of something Trish said steered me toward the ending. I forget to trust myself sometimes when I’m writing.

I know how hard it is to trust your own instincts when you write sometimes. It's great that you have a strong support system. You mentioned you aren't a plotter. So, What comes first: the plot idea or the characters?

Characters. One of the things I love about writing is trying to figure out WHY a person would behave a certain way or choose a certain path, or what kind of person were they when they were growing up. I almost always choose my hero first, too.

So, I'll bet with your output, you've got something else in the works. Are you working on anything at the present you’d like to share with us?

I’m working on a single title contemporary romance – no adventure, no fire, no guns, no explosions. Kind of a Gilmore Girls meets Virgin River, where the heroine falls in love with the widower of her best friend. I’m about 2/3 of the way through and keep getting interrupted, but I love that story.

And I just finished an essay on the TV show Supernatural for a BenBella book about the show.

Authors are frequently inspired by what they have sitting on their nightstand. What are you reading now?

Mustang Wild by Stacey Kayne. Stacey and I finalled in the Golden Heart in 2006, and she’d sold this book JUST before conference. I haven’t read a western in forever, but this one is GREAT. I love the charming hero, Tucker, and it’s just what I would want to write if I wrote westerns. Does that make sense? Plus, it’s an Award of Excellence finalist!

I love a good western. I'll have to put that on my wishlist, thanks! Now, enough of the serious stuff, spill it: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Is getting up at 4 AM a quirk? (note from me: Um... I hope not, or we're both weird, LOL)

Maybe it’s that I can write with the TV on but I can’t REVISE with the TV on.

That actually makes sense. I think revising requires a lot more concentration. Speaking of odd quirks, do you have any strange handwriting habits, like capitalizing all your “r”s or dotting your “I”s with heart (or anything like that)?

I must have a certain pen. My mom bought me a pack of 100 GelWriter gel pens for Christmas. They are the BEST! They write in fat, glittery lines. They run out after about 6 pages, but they are great.

Now I know what to buy you if I ever need to get you a gift :-)

What’s a saying you use a lot?

“Bugger,” “seriously,” (thank you, Grey’s Anatomy) and “Holy crapweasel, Batman.” (thank you, cousin Caroline)

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Calimari at an Asian buffet. I thought it was onion rings. It was NOT good. I have had good calimari other places, though.

If I promise not to tell your students, will you say whether you've ever made a crank phone call? You can tell me...

No – alas, I am a Good Girl.

I've made no secret of the fact that I adore pizza. Maybe we'll do lunch sometime, and I need to know if we could split one. Tell me, what is your favorite pizza?

Veggie, with a side of Ranch Dressing to dip it in. (Note from me: Yep! We can share...let's do lunch).

I've been on the hunt for a robot to clean my house and cook my meals, like the one in the Jetson's. What do you think is one thing scientists should invent?

A longer day, or a teleporter, so I can walk out my front door at 7:30 and into my classroom at 7:31.

Okay...enough of my tortuous questions. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Hot Shot has been a LONG road. LONG LONG road. I started it the summer of 2000, pitched it in New Orleans in 2001 (to the WAY wrong editor – do your research!), won Where the Magic Begins with it in 2002, finalled in the Golden Heart with it in 2003, had it requested, revised, finalled again in 2004, had the editor leave. I requeryed to the same line to an editor I had before. She requested, revised, rejected. It finalled in the Maggies in 2005. I got another request from the same editor, but before I could submit, I got an agent who loved it, then had me revise it about 4 times. The agent and I parted ways in 2006, and I started contesting again, then submitted, submitted, submitted. I signed the contract in November 2007.

I believed in this story, even when I was sick of looking at it. So if you believe in something, NEVER NEVER NEVER give up.

Mary's all over the place... go visit her at one of these places... and buy "Hot Shot". You won't be sorry!

My website

My blog, The Bandwagon

My newsletter


Allie Boniface said...

Ooh, congrats and happy release day! The story of "Hot Shot" is one every aspiring writer should read...getting published is HARD work. I'm so glad you stuck with it and believed in your book!

MaryF said...

Thanks for having me here, Marianne!!! And for all those wonderful things you said!!

Allie, thank you! I think with another book I may have given up, but Hot Shot holds a special place in my heart.

Diane Craver said...

Congratulations, Mary - wonderful interview and inspiring!

Judy Thomas said...

Happy Review Day! Can I do pizza with y'all????? (I've never met a pizza I didn't like) ;-)

groovyoldlady said...

So after all of us tortured you with question after question you turned the table to make someone else suffer.


Great interview!

Melissa said...

Congrats! What a fun interview!

Esri Rose said...

Wow. I know I've seen pix of your collage before, but it really is impressive.

Dru said...

Congratulations on your release and what a great interview. It's so inspiring to me that you never gave up on your story being published.

pps..I love that corner picture of George in your collage.

Will Hot Shot be available in print?

Brandy said...

Happy Release Day! Thanks for such an interesting and fun interview.

MaryF said...

Whew - I made it home - what a long day since all I wanted was to be home celebrating! Thanks, everyone, for your congratulations!

Hot Shot will be in print in the fall, I believe, or early 2009. I'm really hoping for fall so I can enter the Rita!

Esri, thanks for the compliment on my collage. This one is a bit more intensive than my others.

I'm so glad you don't think my ranch dressing with pizza is too weird.

Dena said...

That was a funny and informative interview. What perserverance! You not only believed in HOT SHOT you fell in love to go through all you did for that story to come to fruition! I just put it on my list because I am very interested now.