Here’s a special treat for you this week prior to Halloween: A Freaky Friday author interview swap! Today I am happy to welcome fellow Women’s Fiction author Joanne Tailele to my blog…and simultaneously, she has me visiting over on her Writing Under Fire Blog today!
Jessica: Hi Joanne! When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
Joanne: I wrote for my own enjoyment for as long as can remember. My first short story was written in blue colored pencil. It was called “The Mystery of the Missing Marble”. I was ten years old. I still have the original in a fire-proof metal box with all my writing. In it, there are tons of one page excerpts, kind of like a diary, but written only as the mood inspired me over the years along with short stories and a little poetry. I didn’t get the bug to write professionally until 2010. I ran across an internet article about NANOWRIMO. I was intrigued and thought “I’m going to try to write a novel.” That is where my debut novel, ACCIDENT was born. Now I can’t stop. It is like an addiction.
Jessica: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
Joanne: I have no professional background what so ever. In fact, I wasn’t particularly bright in high school and I never went to college except for my real estate classes. But when I set my mind on something, I inhale everything I can. Since that beginning in November 2010, I have taken dozens on online writing courses, first joined Writers Village University (that was HUGE in my learning) and continue to read and study the art of writing every chance I get.
Jessica: What else can you tell us about yourself?
Joanne: I am semi-retired as a Realtor, having sold homes in three states, Virginia, Ohio and Florida over the last twenty five years. My husband and I settled in south Florida after all the kids were grown and our responsibilities of being a care giver for my father were over. Originally from Ohio, I love, love, love Florida. If I never see snow again it will be fine with me. We are move active now than we have been in twenty years. We love golf, swimming and boating. I could spend all day in a beach chair with my feet in the water reading a book or working on story lines. I can’t imagine that I will ever get over the beauty of our white crescent beach and the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. My favorite sentence to people I meet here is “welcome to paradise”. Between the two of us, we have six children and nine grandchildren. Life is good.
Jessica: How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?
Joanne: That one is easy. Two Years, Four Months and Thirteen Days, but who’s counting? LOL
Jessica: Do you always write in the same genre?
Joanne: I believe I do. It is Women’s Fiction, but I like to think that it crosses over lines into other areas. My protagonist is always a woman, and there is always a lot of personal growth, so that pretty much describes Women’s Fiction. Jodi Picoult, my writing idol, once said that she writes “Moral Fiction”, not to preach to anyone, but to make people think about the uncomfortable subjects that most people prefer to shove under the rug. That is how I write too. Always about current events, always controversial.
Jessica: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?
Joanne: I am Indie published. First I went through a small self-publishing company, Outskirts Press. I cancelled my contract with them and now use Create Space. I queried about two dozen agents, and then was (too) quickly discouraged by rejection letters or no answers so I went ahead and self-published. I put ACCIDENT on Kindle myself. I hope I can have the stamina to go through tons of rejections before I get an agent for my next WIP.
Jessica: Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?
Joanne: No, I have tried several different POV. ACCIDENT went from 1st person, to 3rd, back to 1st and back to 3rd before it was published. It alternates between the voice of the two main characters, Susan, the mother, and Deanna, the daughter. My current WIP is 1st person for my main protagonist and 3rd person for everyone else. I didn’t realize it at first, but both ACCIDENT and Town Without Mercy have daughters in a coma. I didn’t intend it that way, so I guess I have a pattern. I am going to try hard not to do that in my third book.
Jessica: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Joanne: I try to outline but I find that my story takes off on its own and pretty soon the outline is obsolete. That might be why I get about 2/3 through and feel like I wrote myself into a corner I don’t know how to get out. With Town Without Mercy, my current WIP, I am literally on Version #8. But I think I finally found out where I want to go with it. I actually wrote the last chapters already and the first few chapters were carry-overs from Version 1-7. So now I feel like it is going to be easier to fill in the middle. I guess I will find out.
Jessica: What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Joanne: Learn, learn learn. I read every “how-to” book I can get my hands on. GMC (Goal, Motivation & Conflict) by Debra Dixon is one of the best tools I have. I’ve added R to that – Resolution. My second piece of advise is to have a strong network of other writers around you, both online friends like yourself, and local friends you can hash over your story over a cup (or pot) of coffee. Support is huge in not getting discouraged. And read— a lot. Once you become a writer, you look at books differently. Now I notice how scenes are set, what the hook is and if it is character driven or plot driven. I never noticed any of that before but I learn a lot by simply paying attention to what I am reading.
Jessica: Do you have a current work in progress and what is it about?
Joanne: It’s called Town Without Mercy: Adele Warren thinks she lives in the perfect little town with her perfect, if not unusual little family. When her teenage daughter pulls a gun and fires into a crowd of spectator’s at a 4th of July celebration, her world and her family falls apart. As the town turns on them, Adele must figure out why her daughter would commit such a horrific crime and save her broken family as well as heal a broken town. Adele and Jodi discover things about their little family that shake their relationship to the core. Is it possible for any family to come through something like this and survive? Think of it a little like Nineteen Minutes on Brokeback Mountain.
Jessica: What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?
Joanne: Imagine spending the next ten years of your life in a cell the size of your walk-in closet. ACCIDENT is the story of Susan Jennings, an alcoholic soccer-mom that causes a fatal car accident. After she gets sentenced to prison for vehicular homicide, she must find a way to win her daughter, Deanna’s forgiveness from behind prison walls. When she finds out that the same man that caused her spiral into alcoholism is now pursuing her daughter, she must expose her secret and face her greatest fear in order to save Deanna from the same fate.
You learn more about Joanne and ACCIDENT at the following links:
Writing Under Fire blog
Thanks so much for visiting, Joanne – and for having me visit over on your blog as well.