Welcome MJ Pullen – Author of Regrets Only

Regrets Only is the second book in the Marriage Pact series, but it can be enjoyed by those who have read The Marriage Pact and first-time readers alike. A fast-paced and charming story, Regrets Only centers on Marci’s picky best friend, Suzanne, whose event-planning skills are almost as legendary as her exploits with men.
At thirty-three, Suzanne Hamilton has it all. A successful party-planning business with an elite client list. A swank condo in a hot Atlanta neighborhood and a close group of friends – especially her longtime best friend Marci. A list of men a mile long who have tried to win her heart and failed. Plus, she’s just landed the event that will take her career and social status to the next level. What could she possibly have to regret?
Then a freak accident changes everything, and Suzanne discovers that her near-perfect life is just a few steps away from total disaster. She is humiliated and at risk of losing it all… except the surprising support of her newest celebrity client. With nothing else to go on, Suzanne follows him into an unexpected job and unfamiliar territory. Soon she will question everything – her career, her past, her friendships, and even her own dating rules. 
But when her catalog of past relationships turns into a list of criminal suspects, she is faced with the horrifying possibility that she may not live to regret any of it…

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Livia. It’s great to be here!
1.       Are you a reader? What are your favorite books?
Definitely. On any given day, I am usually in the middle of three or four books, plus an audiobook I listen to in the car or while exercising. I alternate between them, depending on my mood or how compelling the plot is in each. It takes me a while to finish each one this way, but it keeps it interesting! I will read books in almost any genre, from Virginia Woolf to Helen Fielding to Margaret Atwood and back again. I could read Jane Austen until the pages fall apart (or the Kindle screen wears down), but I also love thrillers, sci-fi, YA, fantasy, historical romance… I love smart books that make me care about the characters, especially those that expand my understanding of the world – real or imaginary – in some way.
2.       What is your path to publication?
Right now I am making my own path as an indie author. I’ve never tried the traditional route of query letters, agents and publishing houses, at least not with a full-length novel. For years I have done writing ‘on the side,’ with magazine articles and little freelance projects, but now I’m beginning to see it as more of a primary vocation. I like the control that comes with self-publishing; and it’s certainly exciting how the literary landscape is changing to allow more of us to take a shot at winning over an audience. On the other hand, if an agent or publisher contacted me I would at least listen to what they were offering! 
3.       How much time do you spend writing each day/week?
It varies from week to week. I do have another part-time consulting job, for which the hours vary. I also have two preschoolers, and as any parent can tell you, they invariably get fevers or projectile vomiting on the day that you planned to outline your next project. I tryto write for at least ten hours a week. Sometimes I can only manage two, sometimes it’s more like twenty-five or thirty. I’ve found that having broad monthly goals helps me to correct when I’ve had an off week.
4.       How do you work? Are you an island unto yourself? Or part of a larger community?
A little of both. I am definitely independent, but I like to participate in writers groups, twitter communities and online collectives when I can. For the first time in several years, I recently joined an in-person critique group here in Atlanta and love it. Virtual communities are amazing, but there’s something special about being in a room with other writers face-to-face. I’m a total extrovert, so the human contact is energizing. Plus there’s usually wine.

5.       What is your favorite thing about writing? Least favorite?
I love that writing carries infinite possibilities, using a relatively simple set of tools. You’ve got 26 letters (in English), a few punctuation marks, and hundreds of rules about how to use them. It sounds so confining, and yet we can write anything we can imagine. Writing can transport you in time and place, take you to worlds that exist only at the edges of possibility, describe the most complex human emotions, illustrate our most basic conflicts, and sometimes offer ways of resolving them. I love when I’m writing and the characters or the story take over, and suddenly I see something I never would have come up with on my own. My least favorite thing about writing is that revision is always a much bigger part of the process than I anticipate. It’s sort of like childbirth, I keep forgetting at the conception of an idea how hard the final stages will be.
6.       Are writers born, taught, or both?
Both, with more emphasis on teaching. Certainly some people are naturally more inclined to enjoy and excel at writing than others; and some unique perspectives or artistic voices lend themselves more readily. That said, the most talented writers will fall short without training, mentoring, and learning from their mistakes. Even people with minimal talent can become skilled writers if they have a story to tell, are open to learning and work hard at mastering the craft. It’s all about knowing your strengths and being disciplined enough to uncover your weaknesses.

7.       What would you tell younger and less experienced you if you could?
Go for it! Don’t let your insecurities get the better of you, and never let anyone talk you out of doing what you love. Also, keep a journal. That’s one area in which I have not been very disciplined, and I always regret it.

M.J. Pullen

When she’s not chasing two little boys or trying to wipe something sticky off the floor, M.J. (Manda) Pullen is the bestselling author of two contemporary women’s fiction novels: The Marriage Pact (2011) and Regrets Only (2012). She is working on several new projects as well, including more women’s fiction and a YA paranormal adventure series.

M.J. grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Writing has always been a big part of her life, both professionally and personally. She studied English Literature and Business at the University of Georgia in Athens, and later Professional Counseling at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She practiced psychotherapy for five years before taking a sabbatical to spend more time writing and raising her brood. Since high school, she has also been an executive assistant, cashier, telemarketer, professional fundraiser, marketing guru, magazine writer, grant-writer, waitress, box-packer, HR person, and casual drifter.

M.J. loves creating true-to-life characters who are flawed, relatable, and most importantly redeemable. She tries to explore all aspects of relationships, from romantic entanglements to battles between mortal enemies, and everything in between. She reads and writes across many genres, and learns something from everything she does. No matter what she’s writing, M.J. believes that love is the greatest adventure there is, and that hopeless romantics are never really hopeless.

After years traveling and living in places like Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas, M.J. has now returned to her home city of Atlanta (actually Roswell, for hard-core Roosevelt fans and connoisseurs of suburban culture), where she lives with her husband and two young sons. She loves to hear from readers and other writers – so drop her a line!

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