Friday, June 10, 2011

Interview with Tess MacKall

Please welcome Tess MacKall to the Sweet N Sexy Twenty Questions Interview.

Please give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.
Black Cougar Curse, Twelve Days of Love, Strip Down, Latin Rhythm, His Sweet Obsession, His Only Treasure

Tess is a sassy Southern belle who loves to flirt and tease. And it was no big surprise to her friends when she began writing erotic romance. There's nothing she likes better than weaving a sexy plot that entangles her hero and heroine, forcing them to look love square in the eye.

No matter where life has taken her over the years or jostled her about, romance books have always been there like an old friend to give her solace and make her smile. And crafting those lush, uplifting stories became her dream―a dream she finally began living.

Next on her list of dreams is to start life anew in a small coastal town. She hears the call of the ocean and can imagine sitting on the beach listening to the waves and to all those sexy characters that keep talking in her head. Life is about change and the need to keep it fresh. There is nothing more exciting than a little reinvention from time to time to help motivate the muse. Her three children have been her greatest joy, and when she passes from this life to the next, she wants a diamond created from her ashes for each of them because love lives on.

How do you usually come up with a story idea?  Dreams?  Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations?  Newpaper?
I just think naughty and there it is. LOL No, not really. Life in general simply gives me little writing prompts. For instance, all the talk about Navy Seals because of the bin Laden shooting has my creative focus on the military. And it’s easy to think of something for a submission call. Publishers basically give writers a prompt. Sometimes a picture will inspire me. The look on someone’s face, too. I wonder what they are thinking and build an entire story behind that face.

Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?
Other writers. And music will sometimes help me get over a stall in writing. I’ve been dealing with a horrible case of writer’s block for a couple of months now. I can usually get down 2K of polished words a day. But lately? I’m lucky to get down 200 a week. So I’ve gone back to editing and that helps to loosen up the creative focus a great deal.

Who is your Yoda—your seasoned mentor?
I have no Yoda. Just a strong desire to succeed and know I can’t do it without hard work. However, lol, when I’m on a writing roll? I tend to think of Elvis! I have no idea why. Lol

What importance do you place on writing workshops?  What workshops would you recommend to us?
I’d recommend attending workshops for sure. At one time, I was chief moderator and teacher at the Avoid Writer’s Hell Workshop. But due to time constraints on all of us, we were forced to close. But the workshop had a really good three-year run. Right now I’m not aware of any workshops I could recommend, but an interested author could certainly post to the Yahoo groups they belong to and I’m sure someone would jump to give them some great places to check out.

What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations?  How did this person help you?
My father. He admired creativity in any form. He could see the genius in just about any endeavor. When I was in fourth grade I began writing poetry, and he would sit with me at night and let me read to him. He always encouraged me to keep up the writing and believed in me. I so wish he was around today. He’d get a real kick out of me writing erotic romance. LOL 

Have you ever used songs for inspiration?

Oh yes. Not the story the song tells, but the music—tone—if you will. Hard-driving rock pushes me to write edgy scenes. Slow love ballads give my writing a more sensual feel.

Do you play music when you write?  If so, what kind?  Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?

I love to listen to music while I write. I mostly listen to country-western. I don’t know what it is about that kind of music, but I’ve been much more successful with my focus and getting down a story with country-western than any other kind of music. I like country-western, but I really love Southern rock. So while it’s not unusual for me to listen to it, I find it a bit odd that it is my preference when trying to write. And as for that quiet background? Well, if I did prefer a quiet work environment, it wouldn’t do me any good around my house! LOL

Do you read in a different genre than you write?  If yes, why?  If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?
I suppose my first love would be contemporary. I’m grounded in it, so to speak. It’s much easier to write due to not having to do so much research and world-building—at least not creating a world, that is. But I read in other genres and have begun writing in them as well. I have a western historical that is a finalist in Passionate Ink’s Stroke of Midnight Contest. And I’ve co-written a paranormal/shifter entitled Black Cougar Curse. Most recently I’ve started work on a sci-fi story. Also, I have a start on a fantasy story. So I’m sampling different genres right now. Oddly enough, I’m loving the sci-fi. So yes, I’m influenced by reading other genres. I always come away feeling challenged to write within a different genre. I just pray they are well-received.      

What is your process from idea to first draft?
Getting the first three or four pages down is my main focus. It’s in those first few pages that the reader is hooked. That’s where you let the reader in on what the conflicts are and usually (in romance) who the love interest is. Once those pages are in place I simply write. I don’t use an outline for the most part. Ideas come to me as the story evolves. Whatever I write today, I self edit the next day before I write again. That helps me polish as I go and at the same time, keep the overall tone/flavor of the story fresh in my mind.

Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer?  Has another writer ever come to your aide?  How?

Oh yes, I love helping new writers. I’ve done quite a bit of that through my workshop teachings and with editing for publishers in general. And yes, I’ve had other writers come to my aid as well. Without them, I’d be nowhere. I’ve got friends who have helped me with brainstorming to putting me on the right road in so far as learning the actual writing craft. You can’t go through the whole publishing ordeal alone. At least I wouldn’t try it.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
That’s hard to explain. Basically, I’m very proud of all that I have learned. As a newbie I knew nothing about POV, characterization, world building, passive voice, etc. All I had was raw talent and the drive and ambition to be published. But I didn’t want to be JUST published. I wanted my books to shine. I think I’ve accomplished that.

If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money?  Would give any of it to charity?  If so, which one?
Yes, I’d definitely give some money to charity. Childrens’ charities mostly. The Make A Wish Foundation comes to mind first. And I’d also give to women’s shelters and homeless shelters.

What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?
Study the writing craft. Know the mechanics of writing. Make the first manuscript you submit a clean manuscript. Always be professional.

If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be?  What do you admire about this animal?  Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal?  If so, what are they?
No answer.

If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?

Motocross racing. LOL Because I love motorcycles and speed. Investigative journalist because I’m curious. And TV anchor. Yep, I think I could deliver the news with a smile.

If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have? I’d love to go diving for treasure.
What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes? What characteristics do you feel are necessary for a good heroine?

I like my heroes to have “swagger”. What does that mean? LOL Well, I want them to exude confidence. Want them to KNOW that women want them. So when they run into THE ONE, it throws them off balance. They can’t quite understand what they are feeling. They just know they are feeling things they’ve never felt before. I also like for my heroes to be protective and incredibly strong-willed—even stubborn.  A good heroine needs to be strong—even feisty. She needs to be the hero’s equal. At the same time, she needs to give in to her femininity and allow him some control. I like the idea of my hero and heroine complementing each other but I want their relationship to simply be about a man being a man and a woman being a woman.

If you had the power to change two things in the world, what would those two things be?

I’d end the War on Terrorism. Establish universal human rights and see to it that those rights were enforced.

If could have a super power for a day, what would it be?  Why?

Invisibility. So I could spy on people, of course! LOL

Warning: Contains exhibitionism, voyeurism, spanking.
Blurb for Strip Down
What’s a topless dancer to do when a cop tells her to “spread ‘em”? Cooperate, of course. Which is exactly what Jazzmyn Monroe does when her big city dreams land her in a world of trouble and in the arms of sexy detective, Ryder Muldoon. Jazzmyn is no angel, but the rip-roaring, passion-filled rollercoaster ride that LA’s finest takes her on isn’t something she ever expected.  

An honest cop with a target painted on his back, Ryder is forced to go rogue if he wants to stay alive, and the hottest woman he’s ever laid eyes on is the key to his plan. It’s supposed to be just business with a side of sex. What more could a man ask for? Well, he could ask for more sex, couldn’t he? If only it were that simple. Jazzmyn’s sinful curves and aptitude for red-hot loving ramp up his libido and a whole lot more. 

Riches beyond their wildest dreams tempt them. As they gamble their lives and their hearts, it’s all or nothing and time to Strip Down!  


Tina Donahue said...

You wrote: I want them to exude confidence. Want them to KNOW that women want them. So when they run into THE ONE, it throws them off balance."

I love that. Having a big, strong Alpha male off balance in the face of a feisty heroine really turns me on. :)

Great interview, Tess - love the cover of your latest!!

Delaney Diamond said...

That cover is amazing! Very artistic.

I understand your desire to live near the water. I'd love to have a house on the beach. I love being near the ocean.

Marie Rose Dufour said...

The cover is really great. The interview was amazing. I love to learn more about authors that I read.

Fiona McGier said...

Great cover, but lordy, how does she stand in heels that high? Let alone dance! Alas, a skill I've never master!
Good luck with sales.