About Mary Elizabeth Fricke:
I am a country girl who grew up next to a dairy farm. I have lived my entire life within five miles of the Missouri River. My husband and I have lived thirty-two years of our thirty-four year marriage on a farm that has been consistently owned and operated by his family for five generations. We have two grown sons who are each married to wonderful girls I am proud to call ‘daughter’. We have two grandchildren.
Since the early 1800’s my husband’s family has been involved in a number of successful farming enterprises, including growing grapes and producing wine. During the 1980’s and 1990’s while we maintained a farrow-to-finish hog operation of 200 sows, our life was the basis for my autobiography ‘Dino, Godzilla and the Pigs, My Life on Our Missouri Hog Farm’, published in 1993 by SoHo Press (New York). By the end of the 1990’s we no longer raised hogs but continue to annually crop-farm approximately 600 acres of corn and soybeans. We also raise a substantial amount of hay and maintain pastureland for our herd of Angus cattle.
Over the years, I have written non-fiction both freelance and as a ghost writer. I have had articles published in national magazines and through websites such as Guru.com. I am a member of the Heartland Writers Guild. Since January, 2002 I have been the editor of the HWG monthly newsletter, The Heartland Writers Journal.
I have also been employed as a teacher-aid in elementary education in parochial schools and I am a certified catechist. I coordinated the elementary P.S.R. (Parish School of Religion) classes for nineteen years (1985 thru 2004). During my sons’ childhood and teenage years I was also a 4H Project Leader teaching such crafts as ‘home environment’, ‘visual arts’, sewing and crochet. During those years I wrote and directed many of the skits the local 4H Club performed at the annual Share-the-Fun-Nite festivities.
My lifelong ambition to write and publish fiction became reality when Pigeon in a Snare’the 1st in my romantic suspense series, collectively titled ‘Birds in Peril’ was published by AKW ebooks in May of 2014. #2 in the series, ‘Roses for the Sparrow’ was published in Oct, 2014. Unfortunately, the owner/publisher of AKW ebooks retired at the end of 2014 and AKW closed its doors. Rather than seek another publisher, I chose to try the world of Independent Publishing. The result is #3 in my ‘Bird’ series, ‘Plight of the Wren’. Plight of the Wren is to be officially published on Aug. 15, 2015 and is available for pre-order as of Aug. 5, 2015
What inspires you to write?
I’m not sure if ‘the urge to write’ it is engrained or inherited. My mother was a published poet; so, perhaps, that is where some of the ‘writing bug’ comes from. I have always been able to express myself better on paper than by speaking. Writing, for me, is as natural as breathing. There is also the fact that I live in a world that seems to be slipping away far too fast. As I said above, I’m a country girl. I grew up in the heart of ‘farm country’ next to a thriving dairy farm. My stepfather owned and operated his own construction company. He also farmed land that had been in his family for more than a century. My mother was a seamstress, but she took other jobs in factories or as a store clerk. My parents struggled to make ends meet, keep the bills paid and food on the table. It is from them that I learned my work ethic, the will to persevere against all odds. When I was a child ‘family farms’ were the norm. Most of the people I knew lived or worked on farms. My first years of education were in a little three room public school in the heart of ‘our community’. ‘Our community’ being several small little burgs nestled in the hills among numerous farms where cattle, hogs and chickens were raised along with a variety of crops (corn, wheat, soybeans, milo). It was a solid, productive way of life. Everyone knew everyone else, and their problems. It was a simple life. We didn’t have in-house plumbing of any kind or a telephone until I was ten years old when Dad built ‘our new house’. I spent many of my summers riding my bike up and down the county roads. I rarely passed another car. If I did, I usually knew who drove it. They often stopped to chat a bit, asking me how Mom and Dad were, how the world was treating me. As I’ve grown older I’ve watched the number of farms dwindle. The trust people once held in one another has diminished as well. During the years I’ve worked as a farmer with my husband, we have watched the farm industry evolve into something that, more often than not, we don’t recognize and don’t necessarily like. The days of that simple farm life are becoming a memory. I want to preserve as much as I can of pleasant family farm life with my written word, through my own experience, dreams or aspirations.
Tell us about your writing process.
I often mull over ideas in my head for days or weeks before I place them in any kind of written form. The first draft is likely to be in long hand on some kind of scrap paper because it comes with such lightening speed I have to scramble to get it out of my head and onto paper. Outlines tend to be lists of plot progressions or character descriptions. Sometimes conversations start running around in my mind so I write them down before they become ‘that neat thought I had the other day’. Sometimes I just set down and begin to write whatever is on my mind at the moment. That’s not always good. It’s not always a story. I’ve kept journals for years and have been teased for my long letters. When concentrating on a specific plot, anything goes. I may be feverishly tapping words at the keyboard when another thought strikes from out of nowhere so I have to scramble to find paper to jot that thought down quick so I don’t forget.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters are very real people to me while I’m writing about them. Sometimes I ‘borrow’ my characters’ physical attributes from people I have encountered in my life or from famous actors. That’s more so I can visualize them in my mind. The personalities of my characters always tend to evolve on their own. As the plot thickens, so to speak, the real persona of each character develops all by itself. More often than not my characters surprise me with the depth of their emotions or actions.
What advice would you give other writers?
Just sit down and write. It’s the only way. If you are truly driven to write, the act of writing, the desire to write and to perfect what you write through learning in workshops, classes, etc. or just by practice will become a natural daily task you need to do…or you will crave to do when something keeps you from those designated writing/work hours. No one but you has the ability to take the stories, articles, poems from your mind and place them on paper by way of a pen, pencil or keyboard or through some form of spoken dictation.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
For many years I sent submissions off to various publishers or editors with the specified S.A.S.E. enclosed. Most everything was rejected. I had more luck with non-fiction than fiction so I stuck to non-fiction for a while. But my heart was not in non-fiction. I wanted to write fiction. I wrote fiction and ended up storing much of those manuscripts in what I fondly refer to as my ‘writing archives’. Eventually, I found a publisher who was interested enough to help me polish my writing technique into something they wanted to publish. Both of my first fiction e-books were published by AKW e-Books. Unfortunately, AKW closed its doors as of December 31, 2014. I’ve been luck that my editor/publisher and a couple other AKW writers have become personal friends. Through their encouragement, because they have also decided to go independent, I have too. The world of an independent writer is different, all right. It’s also intriguing and I like the knowledge that what I publish is primarily on my timeline and under my control.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I believe e-books are the future. As people become more and more dependent upon electronic devices they are going to gravitate more and more to e-books. Not that trade paperbacks and hard bound or coffee table books will ever go away. They will just have to move over a bit and provide room for their electronic counterpart.
What genres do you write?: non-fiction (personal experience), contemporary, romantic suspense
What formats are your books in?: eBook
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.