Itís been way too long since Iíve brought you an interview, but as usual, I find the most fascinating authors to share with you. This interview will be of interest to you the Ďreadersí and you the Ďwriters.í† Yes, itís long, but since when have you ever known me not to be long winded. Trust me; this one is worth the read.
Now without further (ahem) talking on my part, itís my pleasure to introduce you to Joan Reeves.† Welcome, Joan, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for granting this interview.
Dyanne: Joan, you have the floor. Which books of yours would you like to tell us about first?
Joan:† Since I have 6 books published with 2 more coming soon, I'll just talk about the most recently published romantic comedy ROMEO and JUDY ANNE, Book 2 of Texas One Night Stands.
High school principal Judy Anne Palmer is desperate to reclaim the life that passed her by. She was always a good girl who never did an impulsive, rebellious thing. Ever. And look where it got her!
One night in Dallas, she meets a man and decides to indulge in a liberating night of passion--liberating her from the stigma of being the oldest living virgin north of the Rio Grande. After all, she'll never see her one-night Romeo again.
Unfortunately, the night doesn't turn out exactly the way she planned, and her one-night Romeo isn't exactly one-night stand material. When he turns up in her hometown as a new teacher on her faculty, Judy Anne knows that she's in big trouble. Can she resist the desire that burns between her and Romeo? Can a night of illicit love be enough?
With eccentric small town characters, a bratty niece, an overbearing school board president, and the temptation of a secret lover, Judy Anne has all she can do to keep her passion from turning into the biggest scandal little Clayton Bend, Texas, has ever seen.
Dyanne: I must confess I own Romeo and Judy Anne.† Itís a great book. And I love the title.† If anyoneís looking for a fun book, you wonít go wrong with this one. Joan, letís go back to the beginning of your career. What gave you the idea for your first book?
Joan: Although I wrote a couple of other books, my first published book was a contemporary romance entitled SUMMER'S FORTUNE. I'll be publishing an ebook edition of it next year, I believe.
Summer's Fortune was inspired by watching a TV talk show about women who married men for money. I couldn't imagine doing something like that so I tried to figure out what would make an intelligent woman with skills decide to do something so mercenary. The result was Summer's Fortune which received glowing reviews from critics. It's been sold and reprinted in various editions in several different countries and remains one of my favorites.
Dyanne: Your answer is telling about the life of MOST writers. Itís generally not the first book an author writes thatís finds a home, which is a good reason for perseverance. So, Joan, are you devoted to your genre or do you see yourself writing in another genre at some point in the future?
Joan: I'm devoted to writing stories about women who are the kind of women I have as friends--smart, sexy, funny, and goal-oriented. My characters often find themselves blindsided by love when they least expect it. I think the elements of love and laughter will be a part of everything I write.
I have a mystery series on the launch pad, but I'm writing it my way which means lots of humor, romance, sex, and probably all the other elements you're not supposed to put in a mystery. The first book is Sex, Murder, and Mint Juleps. I've toyed with it for years but could never get publishing interest in it. Now that I'm an Indie Author, I don't have that concern any more so I'll proceed with it as soon as I get a few other works in progress completed.
Dyanne: I love the term Indie Author.† Hereís to finding success with your planned mystery series. I was wondering about your thoughts on this. What are your views on writing based on trends?
Joan: I think you have to be aware of trends. If you're really sharp, you can perhaps find an element of the trend that appeals enough to you to incorporate it in an organic way IF you can do so in a timely manner. Time is the problem with most trends. With traditional publishing, by the time you get something completed and submitted, publishers may be so overstocked with that kind of story that your effort doesn't stand a chance.
However, I think it's always a mistake to write to the trend. To make the decision to write a vampire book, or whatever the current buzz word may be, is not the smartest use of your time unless you have a marketing hook so different and dynamic that editors and agents will salivate when they read your query. Also, you have to execute as fast as possible to make sure your work gets in before the trend goes away.
Dyanne: LOL.† There are so many more things involved with having a writing career that has nothing to do with the actual writing. Thatís a great answer. Thank you. How do you, as a writer, find your way into the story? Do you use an outline or let the story unfold naturally?
Joan: By the time I decide to start a story, I've already lived with the characters and the premise for a while. I daydream a lot, I guess. My stories always start with a character who either wants something or she's haunted by something--a mistake she made or a life situation she doesn't like or something that suddenly makes her want to change the status quo. Into that mix, I add the man that she thinks will be her solution in the short term, but it never works out that way. He just causes more problems in her life or emotion turmoil in her.
I let all this simmer around inside my brain until I think I know what the story is about. Then I write one sentence: "This story is about. . . ." I tape that over my computer. Then I write a bare bones outline that hits the plot points. I get enough on paper that I know where my story is going. Then I start writing.
I always intend to outline a few chapters ahead of where I'm writing, but, somehow, I never get around to doing more than jotting down notes that amount to scene and sequel transactions because I begrudge the time needed to outline. †
Dyanne: Youíve just given me a great idea. Thank you.† It seems getting older brings about forgetting things. Iíve never written outlines, but like you, have the story in my head. Mostly.† Now I think Iíll write out a couple of lines and put it on my computer to remind me when I become forgetful.
Writers are always asked this question, so in this I will do the same. J Where do you get your ideas? How do you know you have a good tale to tell worthy of becoming a novel?
Joan: My ideas come from the same place as any author's: every person I've ever met, everything I've ever seen or heard about. In other words, ideas come from life. Each person's ideas are different from another's because everyone leads a distinctive life.† That's why 10 writers can take the same idea and come up with 10 completely different stories. We filter everything through our conscious and subconscious.
Dyanne: Perfect!!† How many hours a week do you devote to writing, including research?
Joan: I can't even begin to answer the time question. I'm at the computer by 6:30 in the morning. I try very hard to put in 6 hours of writing on the work in progress. At least, that's what I officially log, but the actual hours of writing-related work probably amount more to 12 hours plus each day. If I'm not writing on the current book, I'm writing emails, forum discussion posts, books reviews, posts for my blog SlingWords, guest blogs, and answers to questions from others with a few interview requests sprinkled into the mix. Then there's all the ad copy work I do for myself and others as well as updating my various websites.
I try to leave the research and most of any kind of PR stuff for the evenings and weekends. When you have an online presence, it's hard to find a stopping point because there's always something to do. So I try to have some leisure time every evening and weekend. After all, I'm a reader too, and I want time to read.
Dyanne: You forgot the doing long interviews for extremely grateful writers. J ††Joan, what do you find to be the most difficult part of writing?
Joan: I guess I'd have to say description is what I don't like writing. I love writing characters, dialogue, action, and plot, but I have to make myself slow down and describe things.
Dyanne: Ditto. I donít really like reading a lot of descriptions. What tips do you have for finding an agent and publisher?
Joan: *LOL* I'm probably not the right author to ask about this! I had two agents who never did much for me. After the last one, I didn't bother trying to get an agent for a couple of years. Then the agents didn't see me as marketable. I could probably paper my walls with the letters from agents and editors who said my writing was great, but my stories didn't have strong enough marketing hooks.
None of the agents were interested in representing sub-rights sales on my various books to which I'd had all rights reverted. I guess that's a good thing because over the years, I negotiated my own hardcover, large print, and serialization contracts and placed my books myself. Now, I'm publishing them as ebooks. I'd have lost a huge chunk of money if an agent had possessed the vision to see I did have something to offer.
I have friends who love their agents, and I have friends who change agents frequently. I only know the advice everyone gives about agents: network with other authors, join professional organizations like RWA that has agent resources to offer, go to conferences where agents take appointments. Use positive visualization? Pray?
Dyanne: Joan youíre the exact right author to ask that question.† Youíre honest. And honesty helps others even though you may never know it. It just goes to show we never know where life will take us. What is the market like for your genre?
Joan: I write Romance, and the genre is probably the strongest there is.
Dyanne: YEAH!!!!† What's the most important lesson you've learned in your writing career?
Joan: You have to have a gut-level belief in yourself and your work, and you must possess dogged determination.
Dyanne: What do you consider success as a writer?
Joan: Having my books embraced by readers. †
Dyanne: What a great answer. What methods of marketing and promotion work best for you?
Joan: I do very little promotion as most define it. I'm on Facebook,† Twitter, and Linked In but I have a very low profile. If I have something to say, I'll say it, but I'm not on any of the social networks very much because I spend most of my time writing and trying to live real life if you know what I mean.
I am on lots of lists with writers to which I occasionally comment. The main thing I do is write my blog SlingWords. I've been publishing SlingWords (for writers and readers) for 6 years, and I post to it just about every day unless my real life interferes.
Dyanne: What literary organizations or writers groups would you recommend to writers in your genre?
Joan: RWA of course! I'm a longtime member and believe whole-heartedly in the benefits offered by them. I'm also a member of Authors Guild which does much worthwhile work on behalf of all writers. †
Dyanne: How do you keep a balance between family, work and writing?
Joan: That's actually just as hard as it's always been even though the kids are grown now. Sometimes, I have to make myself put the writing aside. No one, other than another writer, really understands what compels someone to sit alone in a room and put words down. I think my whole family thinks I'm a bit crazy. I go through periods when I'm completely in my own world. By now, they all understand so they just leave me alone. When I finish a milestone or the whole book, I lavish attention on all of them. There's just no easy answer to the balance question.
Dyanne: †What are your current projects?
Joan: The Good, The Bad, & The Girly: a novella series composed of 4 ebooks. After that, I'm getting 2 books ready for a Christmas season release. One is a previously printed title set at Christmas, and the other is a romantic thriller with a reincarnation theme.
Dyanne: Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
Joan: I want to keep spinning stories that delight readers and leave them with smiles on their faces.
Dyanne: What is your view of epublishing? What opportunities does it provide for you and for other authors? What do you think is the future of epublishing?
Joan: Since I'm a Kindle bestselling author, I think my opinion about epublishing is self-evident so I'll be brief. I think it gives a writer another way to reach readers. It shouldn't be seen as an either/or situation for writers. Epublishing is just another potential avenue they can pursue. Why not try both print publication and digital if that's what you want? It's all about options. The more options; the better chance a writer can make a living at his/her craft.
Dyanne: There is a lot of confusion about epublishing and indie publishing.† Do you have any idea why? And do you have a definition of each?
Joan: Epublishing is just electronic or digital publishing. Epublishing can be done by authors themselves or by publishing companies. Indie Publishing is the author doing it themself, i.e. self-publishing using a digital format or print format or both.
Dyanne: When you decided to publish your work on Amazon did you worry about being seen as a legitimate author?
Joan: No. I know I am a legitimate author. You cannot control what others say or think. You control only what you say to yourself. Other than my own opinion, the only opinions I listen to are those from my husband, children, friends, and other family members whom I love and respect.
Dyanne: Did you worry that your work would make you ineligible for the Rita?
Joan: *LOL* No. Actually, I never even thought about it. While winning a lovely statuette--named after a friend by the way--would be wonderful, I've never aspired to do this. I write funny, sexy books, and they are like romantic comedy movies which just don't win awards either.
Dyanne: Do you find that I even asked you the last two questions to be an insult?
Joan: No however, I do find it interesting that you asked THIS question. And vaguely humorous too.
Dyanne: *LOL.* Trust me Joan, there are reasons behind those questions. Have you met with resistance from other writers that youíre doing whatís best for you and your career at this time?
Joan: I know there is a polarization between print published authors and ebook authors. I've read some comments about ebook authors that could be taken the wrong way I suppose, but I try to take things at face value and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Also, I try to live my life, and make my decisions based upon my circumstances, and I respect the right of others to do the same.
Dyanne: is there a place writers can go to read more on what you have to say about the ebook process?
Joan: I've blogged about the ebook process at length on SlingWords so if anyone is interested, please visit my blog and check out any of the posts filed under Digital Publishing. I'll be bringing out an ebook in September that encompasses all this.†
Dyanne: How do you feel about your decision? Would you go back to traditional publishing if the market rebounds?
Joan: I never burn bridges. If I were offered a print contract that I felt was sufficiently beneficial, then I'd probably accept it.
Dyanne: Can you give other authors any tips in case they want to try this route?
Joan: Read the wealth of information offered by various blogs about this. You can read my blog or Joe Konrath's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, or blogs by Dean Wesley Smith, AnneMarie Novark, Robin Sullivan, Nina Cordoba, and many others.
Dyanne: Where can readers reach you? And can we have a list of your books please?
Joan: Joan at JoanReeves dot com or on my blog http://SlingWords.blogspot.com
The Lingerie Cover series
Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones
Just One Look
Still The One
Texas One Night Stands series
The Trouble With Love
Romeo and Judy Anne
The Good, The Bad, and The Girly series
Book 1: Old Enough To Know Better, to be published August 2011
Written Wisdom: Quotation-Inspired Essays for Writers
Ebook Success: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Ebooks But †††† Didn't Know Who To Ask, to be published September 2011
Dyanne: Joan, you have given us a wealth of information.† I know Iíve taken up a lot of your time and once again Iíd like to say thank you for being more than gracious.† I wish you continued success in your career and hopefully one day Iíll be writing you about my own success in the Indie publishing area. I canít wait until September so I can buy your upcoming book, Ebook Success.
Readers hereís a link youíll use time and again.† Itís a great site.
For Gifts and Promotion products designed by a writer for writers, shop at Joan's Cafe Press shop The WRITE Way. These unique designs can be found on tee shirts, tote bags, mugs, journals, and more, and they're not available elsewhere. http://www.cafepress.com/http://www.cafepress.com/writeway