WG: Welcome Joanna. Thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
JW: I’m a native of Louisiana and received by M.Ed. and B.A. degree from Louisiana State University in Shreveport. I grew up in Shreveport and later moved to the New Orleans area where I began my writing career. Two years ago, my husband and I moved to Montgomery, Texas where we have made many new friends and have quite happily settled in as new Texans, though I still have many friends and family in Louisiana.
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.
JW: I had always wanted to write, but never thought of writing romance until I saw an advertisement for a creative writing class at the University of New Orleans. The class was titled "How to Write a Romance" and was taught by Emilie Richards. I learned a lot-mainly how little I knew. From there I joined SOLA, the local chapter of RWA and continued my growth as a writer. I was also fortunate enough to land in a marvelous critique group that helped to keep me motivated while I learned my craft.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
JW: I rejected my first attempt myself about half way through the book. It was a good learning project, but it was going nowhere. My next project was a romance which I finished and submitted. I received a couple of “nice” rejection letters, but basically it wasn’t there yet. That’s when I decided to change to romantic suspense, one of my best moves in my career. I threw myself into Deep in the Bayou and it sold within weeks of submission. Every book since then has been published, and now I’m nearing the 40 books mark. Most of the forty books have been Harlequin Intrigues as was Deep in the Bayou.
WG: What changed most about your life as a direct result of joining the ranks of published authors?
JW: The biggest immediate change was that all of a sudden everyone thought I knew a secret and that if I shared it with them, they would also sell. Unfortunately I didn’t know that secret then and still don’t. The most lasting change was moving from writing as a dream to writing as a job with deadlines. I still enjoy it, but it is my career and I have had to learn a lot of self discipline where my writing is concerned.
WG: What about your writing process: Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
JW: I try to maintain a set schedule, but there are many things that interfere with that. For example, tomorrow I am giving a talk to the annual meeting of the Friends of the Library, at our local library. That means that my writing time will be moved to afternoon. I do try to write at least four to five hours a day, six days a week, and that doesn’t include the time spent on writing-related activities such as fan mail, maintaining a web page, writing newsletters, booksignings, etc.
WG: Do you have a ‘mood setter’, something (music, ritual, environment,etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
JW: Though I frequently have my CD playing soft jazz or easy listening music, I can pretty much write anywhere, anytime, with any number of distractions. That works well since I love to travel. I have a marvelous office that I usually write in when home, except in the early hours when I enjoy writing while I curl up on my sofa with a mug of hot coffee.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
JW: I’m a pantster and do almost no advance plotting. Basically I come up with a situation that I think has sufficient depth and suspense to carry a book. For example in A Clandestine Affair, my September ’06 Intrigue, I have a young forensics student traveling to an island believed to be haunted to solve a murder that happened thirty years ago. Of course, from the second she gets there, the cold case heats up. The hero is the nephew of the old man who’s lived on the island since the murders, throwing all of them into the middle of a dangerous and very spooky situation. My first draft is where my plotting takes place which means that I have much to do during the rewrite stage.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories.
JW: I tend to write a lot about families. I come from a large family myself and have always been fascinated by family dynamics and its affect on our lives.
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? a reader?
JW: I love my Intrigues, but I also like to write the larger thrillers such as I did with Alligator Moon and Gentleman’s Club. And as a reader, I’d have to say I’m still partial to thrillers. I also enjoy books with humor. But I read all types of books.
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?
JW: My advice is to make writing a part of every day. It’s great to learn as much as you can through attending workshops and conferences, but the main thing you have to do is write. Never neglect the writing.
WG: When you’re not writing, what do you do for fun?
JW: I love to travel. In the last few years I’ve been to Russia, Italy, Greece, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, and several other countries. I’ve also traveled to Hawaii and many other places in the great USA. I also like to spend time with my family and friends and to play golf. My favorite indulgence is to spend an entire rainy afternoon reading. I do that far too seldom.
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.
JW: My favorite humorous-or not-quote is: “The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.”
And on a more serious note: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.”
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
JW: My November
book, Maverick Christmas is a story that came about due to fan mail.
It is literally a book written by popular request. The sexy Montana
sheriff Josh McCain from Gentleman’s Club attracted so many fans
that he just had to have his own book. So he’s back and sexier than
ever in Maverick Christmas.
My March Intrigue, 24/7, will launch a gripping six-book Intrigue series titled Bodyguards Unlimited. We are all very excited about the project.
And in July, Texas Gun Smoke, will launch my own new series, The Four Brothers of Colt Run Cross. The Collingsworths are a powerful Texas family who when faced with a heartbreaking dilemma discover just what they’re made of. And, of course, the four tough Texas brothers each solve his own mystery and finds true love.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your fans can get in touch with you.
WG: Thanks again Joanna for stopping by this month. I look forward to picking up your new releases.