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Jodi Thomas


February 2015

~~Jodi has given us a bonus treat this month - a family recipe for Divinity fudge! You'll find the recipe at the end of the interview~~

WG:   Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.

JT:   I grew up in Amarillo, Texas. Worked my way through college and married Tom a month before we graduated because he was joining the army. We traveled around the US for three years, went back to Texas Tech where I picked up a masters degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. I decided not to do the counseling so taught school during the days while I wrote at night.

After five years I finally sold my first book. After that I never looked back. I knew a writer is not just what I do, but who I am. After over forty books and a dozen short story collections I'm still loving writing. I believe creativity is a muscle. The more you use it the stronger you get.

Tom and I love traveling. I write seven days a week, every week, but when we travel I simply relax. We're heading to Paris next month.

I don't really have hobbies. I raised two sons. Between them, the writing and teaching I somehow managed to keep busy. :)

WG:   Let's talk about your own personal road to publication: Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.

JT:   Several years ago I wanted to help writers step onto the right track for making a career of writing. When I started out in this game I found that there are many reasons people write, for the fun of it, to entertain friends, because they feel a need, as a hobby---but the only one I was interested in was writing to publish. I had two sons and with my husband and I both teachers I knew we wouldn't have the money to send them to college.

When I sold, my son said he'd always keep my books on his office shelf when he grew up. If people asked what they were he'd say, "Freshman year, sophomore year, Junior year…"

It took me a while to find the road to publishing and I wanted to show others. So, I worked with West Texas A&M University to put together a week long course. Writers come from all over the US to live in a dorm for a week and learn writing.

It is great fun. We go from breakfast, to classes all day long and have not only first rate writers teaching, but they are writers who know how to teach.

For anyone wanting to step into this game check it out.

WG:   How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?

JT:  I worked five years before I sold. Wrote several proposals and a few books. Once I sold, I sold 5 books in 15 months and have never had a rejection since. 46 books sold and counting.

WG:   What aspect of life as a 'published author' surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?

JT:   I was surprised at how close I feel to the readers. A few years back I went to Tulsa, Oklahoma to speak and sign books. A group of writers took me out to eat then we went to my signing. We were early. I noticed a woman standing at the table waiting. I went over and introduced myself. She said I was her favorite author and was so excited she started crying. So, I started crying. Then all the writers I went to dinner with started crying. When the bookstore manager ran over panicked, we all laughed until we started crying again.

WG:   What about your writing process? Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?

JT:   After forty books you'd think I'd have a writing process down, but every book is different. The best way I can describe it is that a character steps into my office, pulls up a chair and begins to tell me his or her story. I write my first impression, then I get to know them better. They come alive page by page. Like I always tell writing classes, 'I meet a lot of great people in my work. Some are real and some just live in my head.'

WG:  Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?

JT:   I'm the writer in residence for West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas. I try to show up to my office on the second floor of the university library by nine. I usually answer e-mail until students begin to come in. Some just want to ask a questions. Some want to read what they are working on. I love this one on one teaching. By noon I'm usually booked for a lunch with someone in the community who writes or wants to start. We talk writing. Then, it's back to the office where I usually close my door and work for a few hours before heading home where the real writing begins.

WG:   Do you set writing goals for yourself?

JT:   Every day

WG:   Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?

JT:   I always start with a character.

WG:   What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?

JT:   A loose grip on reality.

WG:   What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?

JT:   The most rewarding part of being a writer is realizing that you are sharing a journey with the reader.

WG:   When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?

JT:   I like to travel.

WG:   When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

JT:   A teacher.

WG:   What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?

JT:   I have no sense of direction.

WG:   I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share. (Feel free to expound (or not) on what it means to you and/or why you selected this particular quote)

JT:   "If you don't know where you are going you'll probably end up somewhere else." I know because it happened to me and I've loved the journey.

WG:   Please tell us about your current project. (Brief overview, when available, any tidbits about your inspiration or interesting behind-the-scenes notes you care to share)

JT:   I'm in the middle of writing the RANSOM CANYON series and loving it. Ideas are already jumping in my mind for next year. Something new, different, and very much Jodi Thomas style

WG:   What inspired you to write this particular story?

JT:   The beauty of the canyon

WG:   Tell us about your upcoming plans. (your next work(s), whether you are contracted for more, when the next one might be released, etc.)

JT:   I'll have 4 more RANSOM CANYON books coming out in the next year and a half.

WG:   And before we close, tell us how readers can get in touch with you.


WG:   Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!

JT:   Thanks for inviting me.
  Read on,
  Jodi Thomas

And now for the recipe:
Aunt Dixie's Divinity, written on the back of an envelope with a birthday card inside from Jodi Thomas, Author

Put in a quart size pan---works best in heavy pan, medium heat:
2 cups sugar ½ cup water Dash of salt
Bring to a boil---should be rolling boil but not a crazy boil that climbs up the sides of the pan or you'll have a mess.
Boil stirring most of the time and watching ALL the time for about 6 to 8 minutes until the mixture will go soft ball stage. (That means when you drop a drop of it in a small bowl of cold water, you can push it around with your finger and make a sloppy ball.) Once that happens I usually let it boil for another minute just to make sure it's ready.
Next: Pour over marshmallow cream from a small jar 8 ounces, and start to mix on low for about 30 seconds, then kick it up to high for about 4-6 minutes. Sometime during this add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Stop mixing when the it starts to thicken, losses it's shine, or the ripples the mixer makes stay up for three seconds.
Add a cup of chopped nuts and make a few more rounds with the mixer
Wait and add a nut on top of each piece. May also add a cherry on top if you don't like nuts.
Later: Using two spoons drop candy on waxed paper.
If the first few drops go flat, slow down a bit and give the candy time to cool a minute. Once the candy looks right coming of the spoon, move fast.
This makes about three dozen candies. The first few will be flat, but they still taste just as good. The last few may be stiff so eat them first. If you decide to put the nut or cherry on top be sure to dry the cherry's on a paper towel first and put them on as soon as you drop all the candy.
Never double the recipe. It won't turn out.

Love you, kid, and remember, divinity is like birthdays, not every one turns out perfect.
Aunt Dixie Kirkland