8.13.15 - 7 Minutes With... TJ Mackay

TJ Mackay is irrepressible. I saw this from first-hand experience, having done an interview with her for InD’tale Magazine. The bubbly blonde and I hit it off immediately (I know y’all are shocked that two blondes might bond, so hush). We talked ourselves into a frenzy about stories, cops, love and friendship, and, of course, books! I was blown away by her fantastic, positive, can-do-anything attitude, and knew I wanted to introduce you to her. Here she is!

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Set your music to Shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

Hah!  If you could see the size of my music list, you’d see what a gamble I take!  “Change the World” the Babyface arrangement. 

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

As a publisher of a worldwide monthly magazine, there are always deadlines, content, and formatting to do. Plus, we are sponsoring the InD’Scribe Author/Reader Convention in September that has more things to stay on top of than my brain can cover some days. And I think everyone can relate to the mountain of email that is always waiting.  So that’s what I’m working on today!  (Hey, you asked!) 

What’s in your latest issue?

Our latest issue features a 7-page, in-depth (and very rare) interview with the husband and wife writing team, Ilona Andrews. (And JT is an up-coming feature, so stay tuned for that!!) This issue also has a secondary interview with Christine Brae, the worldwide top executive who is now writing romance!  And there are some great articles on archetyping personality traits, learning about deep point of view, and a whole bunch more.  We just started a new serial mystery this month, AND we ALWAYS have more than 100 professional reviews of the latest Indie and small published books with both content and steam ratings to help readers find the perfect book.  Whew!  Now you understand the depth of the “What are you working on today” answer!  

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

I have a home office that is decked out to my taste and needs: a big Mac computer (heh, heh, sounds like a burger),  large desk and comfy chair, a tablet sitting beside me, a cell phone in easy reach and a great music system to keep me calm and happy.

What was your favorite book as a child?

When you say child, just how young do you mean?  I have always been a voracious reader and can remember as far back as three or four years old having Buster’s Busy Day read to me! 

What’s your secret talent?

I dance!  In the dark when no one is watching, I put on that massive playlist and dance and dance and dance!  I did it professionally in my younger years, but it has slowly become a very well-kept secret to anyone other than my closest friends . . . and now YOU! 

What book are you reading now?

I actually have three I am reading at the moment.  Because of my profession I read a massive amount.  There is rarely a day that I don’t end with a few hours of reading.  Right now I am reading one book for InD’tale to help a reviewer out.  I’m reading the Significant series by YA author Shelly Crane in preparation for an interview with her, and I am plowing through the addicting historical monster that is THE RISE OF THE DEFENDER by Kathryn LeVeque.

When did you know you wanted to publish your own magazine?

It happened when I was working as the Special Features editor of another industry magazine. It was right at the time Amazon, Kindle, and e-book publishing were just exploding.  I was receiving so many personal requests from up-and-coming authors asking if I could help them find a platform where they could be seen.  Many of these new authors were incredibly talented but just weren’t fitting into the traditional pigeonholes.  Thus, the idea of starting a magazine for Indie and small published authors and readers was planted, and InD’tale magazine was born.  That was a little over three years ago, and we are now the #1 Indie and small published magazine in the world!

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

Oh my goodness, I am SUCH a fan-girl!  Because I read so much, I have many writing idols—most of whom I have had the wonderful opportunity to not only meet but interview, as well.  However, the first two idols I got to interview are Charlaine Harris and Julie Garwood.  With both I was so nervous I could hardly stand it!  Charlaine has such a sweet, southern mom personality. The minute I met her, she gave me a big hug and asked how I was doing in that slow drawl that put me instantly at ease.  With Julie, I was so nervous I couldn’t open the door!  The key wouldn’t work, I fumbled, turned red and made a joke of it, to which she started telling me the most hilarious story of an instance when she embarrassed herself. I immediately lost the nerves and ended up laughing more than I ever have in an interview (she is truly hilarious to visit with)! 

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Edit, edit, EDIT!!!  Have someone edit for mistakes, someone else edit for flow, content, etc.  Then take the results, fix them, and repeat the process. And, please not just with family members or friends who love you and never want to hurt you.  Use people who are not afraid of telling you the brutal truth. That is the only way you will stand a chance of success in this very competitive publishing world. 

Are you creatively satisfied?

Absolutely!   

What would you like to be remembered for?

For being someone who truly loved others and succeeded in helping talented authors grow and find success, happiness, and joy in this amazing journey!

Alright, now for the really important questions:

  • Beach or mountains? Beach!
  • Coffee or tea? Blech!  Coffee is nasty crap, and tea has a horrible after-taste.  Give me a Dr. Pepper any day. :)
  • Skydive or bungee jump? Skydive.  Hey, if I’m gonna commit just as well commit all the way. :)
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate (no-brainer)
  • Winter or summer? Gosh, that’s hard, I love them both for different reasons.  Winter because of all the smells, warm, fuzzy clothes, crackling fires and food, and summer because of the easy, slower pace, the sunshine, and long days.
  • Cake or pie?  Love both, but pie—IF it’s homemade!
  • Cats or dogs? Again, love both. 
  • Pens or pencils? Pens, definitely.
  • Truth or dare? Truth, always—although dares don’t scare me.
  • Print or ebook? Ebook for ease, print for reference.

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Here's a little more about TJ in her own words!

With more than 2,000 professional book reviews under my belt and rising weekly, I'm not sure where to begin. Obviously, I love to read!  I juggled a double major in both English Education and Dance in college (English Ed. to land a job, Dance for the pure joy of it!)  From there, I've worked in both fields consistently to the present.

While working in this industry I've had the wonderful opportunity of meeting and interviewing some of publishing's most famous (and fun) authors and celebrities. Since the biggest complaint people had about me while growing up was that I ask way too many questions, this career has been the perfect fit.  I LOVE people (one has to work very hard for me not to like them!). The past few years, however, I have become increasingly aware that many talented authors are not afforded media exposure simply because they choose to self or small publish, rather than accept the strictures of mainstream publishing. Thus, the idea of InD'tale Magazine was born!

Through more hard work than I thought possible and more love and support than I thought imaginable, InD'tale is quickly becoming the magazine of choice by thousands of people who want to learn, be entertained, and discover new and interesting books in the indie and self published field.

Along with making InD'tale the very best magazine of its kind, I still take time to teach private music lessons. Music (all kinds) is a passion I will always indulge in, no matter where life takes me. I am also passionate about traveling, learning, and enjoying new experiences. I'm continuing an on-going bucket list of visiting a new and interesting place in the world at least once a year. 

Wow, isn't she great? TJ's passion for her work is so infectious! It was such a pleasure to introduce her to you.

And, gentle readers, don't forget to check out InD'tale Magazine for the latest on Indie and small press publishing. You may just find your new favorite author or series, and help a new publishing career take off!

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J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of fifteen critically acclaimed thrillers and is the co-author of the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. With over a million books in print, Ellison’s work has been published in twenty-five countries and thirteen languages. She is also the co-host of A Word on Words, Nashville's premier literary TV series, which airs on Nashville Public Television. She lives with her husband and twin kittens in Nashville. Visit JTEllison.com, and follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick or at Facebook.com/JTEllison14.