Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Writer Routine Wednesday: MJ Fredrick

Hey, all!
It's another week of my new blog segment:Writer Routine Wednesday, where every Wednesday from now until Septemeber 1st, I will host an author.
We'll get to know them better and their books as well as hear them describe their usual writing routine.

Maybe you'll pick up an idea they use for yourself!
Lots of great prizes are scheduled too!

So, please welcome author MJ Fredrick today and hear about her writing routine!

BIO: I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, and joined RWA 14 years ago. It took me another few years to take it seriously, to really work to improve my craft, and I started finalling in contests, including four times in the Golden Heart and three times in the Emily.
I sold my first book, Where There’s Smoke in October 2007, and Hot Shot a month later. After 12 years of writing, I had my first two books come out two weeks apart! Hot Shot went on to win the 2009 Eppie Award. Since then, I’ve contracted another novel and four novellas with The Wild Rose Press, two novels and a novella with Samhain, a novel with Carina Press and another with Lyrical Press.

You can visit her for more information:

Thanks for stopping by, MJ!

Describe a “typical” writing day for yourself.
During the school year, I wake up no later than 4:30, read email and Twitter while I eat breakfast, then write until it’s time to get ready for work around 6. I can usually get about 500 words in. Then when I get home around 4 PM, I catch up on email again, do promo and such until it’s time to start dinner, then write after dinner until about 9. My goal is usually 1000 words a day, or 10 pages revised.
In the summer (I have another week and a half), I get up early, do the breakfast/email routine, walk before 8 AM, clean while the dh is getting ready. Then I settle in my big chair and write until lunch. If I’ve met my goal, usually 2000 words, I can spend the rest of the day reading, hanging out in the pool, having fun. If not, I work in the evening again.

Do you have another job outside of writing? (Being a mommie definitely counts!!) If the answer is yes, describe how you balance the two and how much time you devote to each.
I’m a fourth grade teacher. Balance—what’s that? You see my routine, so that’s as good as it gets. Thank goodness I don’t waste a lot of time at school, so I don’t bring a lot of work home. The rough times are when we’re putting on our PTSO program or when tutoring starts. I cut back my goals during those times. Writing keeps me sane, though, so I try to write every day.
I don’t read as much during the school year, which makes me sad, and I depend on my Tivo, because I do watch a lot, but this way I can schedule my viewing.
My son is 19 and has a job and a girlfriend and goes to a local college, and my husband is in a band, so they don’t miss me so much, but I do make a point of having a meal with them.

Are you a laptop, PC, Alphasmart, or by hand kind of writer?
I got a netbook this summer and I am IN LOVE. It’s light, has an incredible battery life and doesn’t heat up like the MacBook. I thought it would take some getting used to with the smaller keyboard, but I adjusted quickly. I don’t like editing on it, though.

Plotter or panster? If you’re a plotter, how much time do think you put into plotting before writing.
Oh, dear. I’m a bit of both. Beneath the Surface was plotted at a plotting retreat and completely changed as it was written. Usually I have a pretty good idea about the first half of the story, then have to stop and plot once I know the characters better. Yes, this results in a LOT of revisions. I’m trying to plot a series right now. We’ll see how that goes. It’s a first for me.

Some writers make collages or listen to or create music soundtracks for their work-in-progress? Do you do any of those or have you thought about doing one of them?
I do both, though I’m having trouble finding music that fits my work in progress. But I’ve found listening to the music while writing helps you dive right into the story. Also, I listen to the music while driving to and from work and it helps me brainstorm.
As for the collage, I’m very visual. I always have a picture of my hero and heroine. For my work in progress, I have a map of a cruise ship, and pictures of icebergs and quotes that match my character’s outlook on life.

What’s your favorite book on writing?
On Writing by Stephen King. Very inspirational. I have a shelf of writing books and I haven’t read most of them.

What’s your favorite fiction book you’ve read so far this year?
Oh, that’s too hard. I’ve read a few I’ve really enjoyed, especially this summer. Soulless by Gail Carringer was my first steampunk, and I can’t wait to dig into Changeless. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was amazing, an incredible example of world-building. Shannon Stacey’s Exclusively Yours was a fun contemporary romance and I’m looking forward to the sequel. I’m currently reading and loving The Search by Nora. After a rocky start, I have fallen in love with it.

What’s your favorite way to reward yourself after you’ve finished writing a book?
Would it be too sad to say I start another book? Okay, it may be, but I love starting a shiny new story that has none of the issues of the old book—yet.

MJ's new Samhain book BENEATH THE SURFACE is available in e-book and print at

Here's a little bit about it:

When past and present meet, secrets lie beneath the surface.

In retrospect, perhaps archaeologist Mallory Reeves shouldn’t have delivered the divorce papers to her estranged husband mere weeks before her marriage to another man. She knew seeing Adrian again would stir up memories, but she didn’t expect so many of them to be good, not after the mess they both made three years ago.

She also didn’t expect to want to stay at the dig site on the Yucatan Peninsula. But the lure of the ancient ship and, yes, her sexy ex provide more of a draw than the white picket fence she thought she wanted.

Marine archaeologist Adrian Reeves has good reason to trust no one. His former partner—and former best friend—made off with his last archaeological find. And his wife left him, frustrated by his obsession for professional revenge.

Now both Mallory and his nemesis have returned, and it can’t be an accident that they’ve turned up in the middle of the most important excavation of his career. Seeing her again unearths old pain—and rekindles never-forgotten desire. Now he has to decide if he can trust Mallory again. More importantly, if he can trust himself with her

Sounds cool, huh?

CONTEST: MJ has generously offered to give away a signed copy of BENEATH THE SURFACE, to some lucky commenter!

Please leave a comment below to be entered to win. The giveaway contest will run from now until Thursday 11:59PM (EST). I will announce the lucky winner this Friday!

Good luck and get into your writing routine!


Tabitha Bird said...

Great interview! I think it is amazing that she gets so much writing in while being a teacher. I was a teacher prior to children and I never got ANY thing else in :)

MJFredrick said...

Jennifer, thanks so much for having me!

Tabitha, there was a point in my career where I had the boss from hell and I saw writing as my way out. Now I'm at a great school, but I'm in the writing habit now. That said, MAN, do I love summer vacation!

Joy Tamsin David said...

Hello Jennifer and MJ,

MJ-I love Stephen King's On Writing too. One of my favorites.

Jennifer- I'm a new follower from the Romancing the Blog blog hop. But I think I've seen you around at Divas too.

Happy writing you two. :)


Justine Dell said...

What a great interview! MJ sounds very busy!


Piedmont Writer said...

Wow, I don't know how you do it MJ. Sounds like a three career family and it's only you doing it all. Congrats on all your books.

patti said...

This book sounds amazing. YOU sound amazing, MJ.

But what turns me green is that you get up at 4:30!!! You have stolen my claim to earliest-rising novelist.


Have fun here at Jennifer's. She'll take really good care of you!!!


MJFredrick said...

Joy, I think I'm going to get that book on CD. It's time to listen to it again.

Thanks, Justine! I am busy, but it's something I've wanted all my life, so I can't really complain :)

Piedmont, sometimes it DOES feel like I'm doing it all. That's going to change when school starts, especially since I'm expecting two sets of edits around the same time, plus the promo for my September releases! By then other things around here should have settled down!

Thanks, Patti! While I love sleep, I'm just not very good at it :) And I don't have much energy when I come home after teaching, so it works for me. And I love this book--Adrian is one of my favorite heroes.

Terri Tiffany said...

Hi there! You do so much and still manage to put out so many books! Wow! I love reading these interviews as they encourage me to keep on and know it can be done even with a busy life:)

Carol Kilgore said...

Jennifer, I love your interview questions.

MJ, I'm going to try to find quotes about my heroine's outlook on life. It's something I never thought about, but I think it will help me TREMENDOUSLY in my wip and going forward. My heroines always give me trouble. Thanks!

Linda Kage said...

Totally love the blurb! And, wow, you keep busy. But I agree with you On Writing by SK is one of the best!

It was wonderful to meet you.

Carol Kilgore said...

Oh, and I forgot . . .

Jennifer, I have an award for you on my blog.

Under the Tiki Hut

Karen Lange said...

Love hearing how writers order their days. Thanks to both of you for sharing!

Lydia Kang said...

Great interview! I love how people manage things in their busy lives. I always learning something to take away with me.
Nice to meet you MJ!

Bossy Betty said...

I admire her early morning routine!

Thanks for another great interview!

Diane said...

I am completely and totally sucked into that story! Awesome and thank you!!! :O)

estrella8888 at roadrunner dot com

Leah (aka Mary_not_Martha) said...

What an interesting setting - a marine archaeologist romance. It has my attention. I know nothing about marine archaeology and the way she set up the relationship issues is very intriguing!

MJFredrick said...

Terri, you definitely can do it! I admit, it's easier now that my son is older and has interests and doesn't need me to drive him everywhere, but even then, I'd take my notebook or Alphasmart with me to write while he was at the skatepark or band practice.

Carol, so glad I could help. I think songs help, too, to show a character's outlook. One of the songs I used for Beneath the Surface's soundtrack was "Doesn't Remind Me" by Audioslave. It became Mallory's theme because she wanted nothing in her life that reminded her of Adrian.

MJFredrick said...

Thanks so much, Diane, Karen, Betty, Lydia and Linda! Great to meet you, too!

Leah, thanks. I couldn't even tell you why I decided on marine archaeology. I knew I wanted archaeologists, but...maybe I had watched a shipwreck special or something. It's pretty fascinating, but I could never do it!

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

Great interview both of you! I love reading about how other people balance their writing lives. Oh my gosh, 4 am! That hour doesn't even exist to me ;) The covers are gorgeous and the synopsis is very cool. I just saw the shipwreck comment! Super fun and how awesome to contest a copy of your book :)
I myself have no set routine. Sad, I know. When the mood strikes to write, I write...if I ever get published I know that will change.
Thanks again for the insight!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Great interview. Up at 4:30? Oh my, I'm still lost in dreamland that early :D I think being able to start a new story is a great reward for finishing the one prior--and it shows how much you love writing.

The book sounds wonderful--thanks to both of you for the interview.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a terrific story!

As another teacher I totally understand the craziness!

Jennifer Mathis said...

wow great interview MJ you sure are busy. do you ever really have any free time for yourself ?

Tamika: said...

OMGoodness~ after hearing MJ's writing routine I thought being an author was her full time job!

You definitely have the concept down of utilizing every moment. Thanks Ladies!

Talli Roland said...

I love these writer routine posts, and AGAIN I'm amazed how early people get up! Yikes!

MJFredrick said...

Erica, I didn't used to have a routine, either, but it's really helpful, even if you just write 100 words a day. It keeps your mind in the story. And if you have a lot of stories in your mind, like I do, it helps get them out :)

Cindy, I do love writing, and my favorite part is the rough draft, especially at the beginning when it's shiny and nothing is going wrong (unlike today, 45,000 words into the story and had to cut 1500.) Thanks!

Thanks, Jemi! When do you go back? I have 10 days.

Jennifer, this question threw me. I guess when my son was younger I really wanted writing time, so I consider the writing time as time for myself. I do take a day every week during the summer and spend with my mom, and I go to lunch occasionally with friends. This summer I've given myself the afternoons off, spent time in the pool and napping and reading, or if the weather's bad watching TV. I do love my TV. During the school year, I've been known to take mental health days :)

MJFredrick said...

Tamika, as much as I enjoy my school, I do wish writing was my full time job. I love love love it. My mom retired this year and I'm so jealous! Thanks!

MJFredrick said...

Talli, I've always been an early bird. It helps when you're a teacher and have to be at work across town by 7:30 :)

I actually did sleep until 8 a few times this summer. Felt like I'd wasted half my day! LOL.

MJFredrick said...

Talli, I've always been an early bird. It helps when you're a teacher and have to be at work across town by 7:30 :)

I actually did sleep until 8 a few times this summer. Felt like I'd wasted half my day! LOL.

Together We Save said...

Wonderful interview... sounds like amazing books.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Thanks again, MJ for a great interview!

Thanks for the award, Carol!

And in case anyone is interested...I was up at 5:05Am today to get ready for a spin class. LOL

Jackee said...

I always love your writing routine feature.

And MJ sounds great--thanks for the interview, ladies!

Happy Wednesday to both of you!

Stephanie Faris said...

Great interview! I've wondered about the Netbook. My mom has one. I don't think I could write on it, though. My fingers need to stretch.

MJFredrick said...

Thanks, Together :)
Jennifer, you're getting to be like me with the early hours!
Thanks, Jackee and Stephanie. Stephanie, I have BIG hands, so I was worried about the netbook, but I LOVE it. Try your mom's out. The only downfalls to this one are: no disc drive and it came loaded with Windows Starter, so I can't personalize it. Also, I don't like editing on it because the trackpad is funky. Otherwise, LOVE.

Jen said...

Fabulous interview! This was so much fun! I truly love learning about other writers and her book sounds amazing!!! I'd love to win a signed copy! What a dream :)

I too am a huge fan of Stephen King's On Writing!

Robyn Campbell said...

Such an excellent interview. SWEET! I love how she rewards herself after finishing writing a book. Dang, she starts another one. She IS my kind of gal!

And teaching at the same time. I know a lot of writers who do it. I home-school the kids, so I guess I'm in that bunch, just don't have as many students. Thank goodness!

I admire you MJ. Loved reading this and learning more about you.:)

MJFredrick said...

Thanks so much, Jen and Robyn! Robyn, I don't think I could home school. I think my son and I are too much alike--would be hard to teach him! I admire YOU!

Zina said...

At first I was like what job gives you the summers off, teacher- of course and your work schedule and how you stick to it is amazing. I like how you start another book as your reward.

MJFredrick said...

Thanks, Zina! Yes, I teach 4th grade. Handy, since that's the writing grade here in Texas :)

Toni Anderson said...

Mary--I don't know how you do it!!!! You are amazing.

MJFredrick said...

Toni, I think "Crazy" is probably more apt :)

T. Anne said...

Oh I love, love, love, the fact you reward yourself by starting another book! I just finished a WIP this week and wanted to reward myself with something expen$ive but couldn't justify it with all the back to school crap I need to buy. (Excuse my French). I think starting another WIP sounds perfect.

MJFredrick said...

T. Anne, I know what you mean about the back to school expenses! I'm so glad I just had one kid! Good luck with your new story.

irishoma said...

Thanks to both of you for such an insightful interview.
MJ's answers show how dedicated writers must be to get published.
Donna V.

Susan Fields said...

That book sounds awesome! And I'm thoroughly impressed that she manages to maintain that schedule - that's a full day!

Belle said...

Great interview! I don't think I could drag myself out of bed that early to do anything, not even to write!

MJFredrick said...

Thanks, Donna. Dedicated--yes, I think that's probably the best word for it!

Susan, many MANY times I fall asleep on the couch before 9 PM. It's a long day but I feel good after accomplishing it!

Belle, thanks! I'm apparently an early riser by genetics. Both my parents and my grandparents are early risers :)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Jennifer and MJ: Thank you so much for this peek into MJ's soul, and the review of BTS. I'd love to win a copy--it sounds intriguing. Thanks for the time you made to write it, MJ!



Diane Craver said...

Hi MJ,
I recognized your name but didn't realize you were published by Samhain. I'm a Samhain author, too, though no recent releases there. My latest are published by Desert Breeze.

I'm totally impressed with the word count when you have another job.

I'd love to win a copy of your book - it sounds awesome!

flchen1 said...

MJ, you know you rock! ;) Can't believe all you get done so well! Congrats on being in print--how lovely to be holding your OWN book in your hands!

Samantha Bennett said...

Ah, great interview! And this book sounds amazing! I love hearing success stories of writers who pursued publication for years and kept at it. Thanks for sharing!

MJFredrick said...

Thanks, Jeanette and Diane :::waves:::
Aww, thanks, Fedora!
Thanks, Samantha. My dad swears I get persistence from him--I say stubbornness :)

Glynis said...

I like to see an early riser. I get most of my writing done as the sun rises.
Interesting interview, thanks for sharing.

MJFredrick said...

Glynis, it gives you a feeling of accomplishment, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Enjoyed learning about the author and her writing schedule(s). I wish her much success with her writing!

Elle Strauss said...

Wow--I'd die if I had to get up at 4:30 every morning. That woman is a machine!

I love hearing how nothing exception really happened and then one day she made a sale and now everything is exploding.

Great interview, ladies.

Jill Kemerer said...

Jennifer, I'm really enjoying your Wednesday posts!

MJ: Your routine humbles me. 4:30am?? Yikes! But it's paid off. Your new book looks fantastic, and I love the colorful cover!

Theresa Milstein said...

MJ Frederick is so disciplined. Having a family, teaching fourth-grade, and writing books is a lot to do.

And to think I've been complaining about getting up at 5:25 am to sub.

Amy Holder said...

Great interview! It's always so fun to find out what other writers' routines are like. :)

BENEATH THE SURFICE sounds wonderful!

MJFredrick said...

Thanks, Suzanne, Elle, Jill and Amy!

Elle, you know, I never thought of it but you're right--there was no big event before I sold. I just really redoubled my efforts to have my work out and it paid off.

Jill, I love this cover so much. I would paper my house with it if my husband would let me!

Shelley Munro said...

Great interview! M.J., I admire your dedication, getting up at that time of the morning every day.

MJFredrick said...

Thanks,Shelley! I don't even have to set the alarm anymore :)

persuasive said...

What an amazing post that I have ever come through. It gives the information that I was really searching for the past week and I am really satisfied with this post. Need more like this. Thank you.

reflective essay

persuasive said...

What an amazing post that I have ever come through. It gives the information that I was really searching for the past week and I am really satisfied with this post. Need more like this. Thank you.

reflective essay