Thanks. I’m delighted to be here. I love connecting with readers and aspiring writers.
On Writing and Reading…
So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
My first book, Deep in the Bayou, an Intrigue was published in 1994. At the time I had been attending a writing group and writing for approximately three years. It was actually the second book I had finished, though I had started several more. That was a prime learning period and I had a lot to learn.
I bet all that juggling of jobs, relationships and commitments gives you plenty of fodder for your books. What sparks your creativity?
I guess you’d have to say life sparks my creativity since I get my ideas from almost everything I do, everywhere I go, everyone I know and everything I see. I never know when it will hit, but I can just be listening to a news broadcast or sitting in a coffee shop, and I’ll see, read or overhear something that triggers a story idea. Of course, they don’t usually come full blown. Once I get the idea, I let it simmer in my mind until I’m ready to develop it.
What do you love most about being a writer?
I love working in my pajamas on cold, rainy days. I love seeing my books on the shelves. I love interacting with writer friends. But most of all, I love telling my stories and knowing that I’m connecting with a reader somewhere.
What do you like least about being a writer?
Deadlines. Sometimes I’d really like to spend more time on a particular book, but I realize that publishing is a business and they need the manuscripts on time.
Writing INTRIGUES must be different? And you’re playing with Cowboys here! Do you have a favorite locale or setting for your novels? What is it and why is it your favorite?
My cowboy books are reader favorites and since I live in Texas, I set most of my westerns in the Lone Star State. It’s good because I know the setting so well and the research grants me lots of opportunities to make short trips around our beautiful state.
I also love books set in southern Louisiana or in any small town in the south. I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and lived for several years in New Orleans.
Which of the books you have written is your favorite?
Deep in the Bayou, which is the first book I ever sold will always have a special place in my heart. But my absolute favorite book to write was Alligator Moon. I loved the story, the settings and the characters. Hopefully, it will be released again sometime soon as I still get lots of requests for it and even second-hand copies are difficult to find.
What is your favorite recent title by another author?
Books I’ve particularly enjoyed lately are The Help, Water for Elephants, and World Without End.
What are your five all-time favorite books (with authors)?
This is really difficult as what I like at any time depends on my mood and what’s going on in my life at that particular time. But I’ll give this a try.
Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett (I love everything by Follett)
Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris.
The Thorn Birds – Colleen McCullough
Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby – Scott Fitzgerald
I love a million others as well.
What one specific piece of advice would you give a would-be writer trying to kick-start a career?
Take your writing seriously and allot a specific time for writing. If it’s the last thing you make time for, you will never finish a book.
And All About her...
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I always loved to read and frequently said that one day I wanted to write, but I’m not sure I actually believed that I would. I didn’t start writing until my children were in college.
Besides writing, what other talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to sing. I can’t carry a tune, so good that I didn’t try to make a living at that.
Who is someone you admire and why?
I don’t have any one particular person in mind, but I admire our troops for the bravery they demonstrate and the sacrifices they make.
Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?
Not really. I’m very optimistic and just try to do what I think is right. So far, life has been great for me and my blessings are too numerous to count. I have a wonderful, loving husband, great children, and terrific grandkids. All currently healthy. I can’t ask for more.
What quality do you most admire in a man?
Loyalty. Loyal to his significant other, his family, and his own convictions.
What is the one thing you've always wanted to do, but never had the courage to try?
Fly and airplane. I still may do that one day. And just maybe I’ll skydive, too.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Before I was a writer, I was a teacher, an educational administrator and an educational diagnostician, in that order. So I’d likely do something in the educational field.
What quote or personal saying do you live by? Who said it?
I have many. One that I love is: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away.” As far as I know that’s anonymous.
NOW TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOKS….
I would love to.
HE WAS A COWBOY AT HEART
One of the most difficult things about writing for Intrigue is that the romance and suspense must both be an integral part of the story. As one builds, so must the other and every escalation leads the reader closer to the climax of danger and love.
Julie Gillispie checked her rearview mirror. There was no sign of the black car that she’d feared might be following her when she’d pulled onto this two-lane blacktop road a few miles back. The driver of the other car must have turned off on one of the dirt roads. Probably just a rancher rushing home to his cattle.
Paranoia was a bitch.
But New Orleans was behind her now and she was off and running on a new case, icy cold, but one that she was dead set on solving.
As you can see, suspense is introduced in the opening paragraph.
And when we meet Tyler, we also get a glimpse into problems waiting for him and also into his personality.
Smooth but damp surface. Enough curves to keep it interesting. And no land mines or snipers ready to sabotage him around the next turn. Roads in the Texas Hill Country were definitely a welcome change from the mountainous Taliban-infected area of Afghanistan Tyler had left three days ago.
That didn’t, however, eliminate the chance that he was about to encounter a fiery explosion just miles ahead. Tyler was on the verge of crashing head-on with his volatile past.
Notice that we hit the ground running as far as suspense is concerned. In spite of this, there must be some fireworks when the hero and heroine meet. Julie is run off the road by a driver in a pickup truck concentrating, as she was, on the lavish bluebonnets growing on the edge of the roadway. Her car breaks through a fence and she sees a few longhorn cattle heading her way. She jumps up on the hood of her car and jerks off her belt to use it like a whip to try to frighten away what she believes are dangerous bulls. Another excerpt follows.
Tyler burst into laughter in spite of his mood and slowed to enjoy the view as he pulled onto the shoulder. He came to a stop a few feet from a ditched car and the hottest, whip-cracking hood ornament he’d ever seen.
Now he was talking vacation.
From this point on, each new development brings Julie closer to coming face-to-face with the killer and increases the sexual tension between Tyler and Julie while the situation keeps them apart.
There are not two stores, one of suspense and one of romance, but rather one story that couldn’t exist without the other.
I’ve listed below just a few of the entanglements that carry the story while creating tension.
- Julie is on her way to see Troy Ledger when she meets Tyler. She is investigating a murder that took place in a neighboring county just months before Tyler’s mother was murdered. Tyler immediately assumes she’s trying to pin that murder on his father. Even she knows that there is that possibility—if he’s guilty.
- Julie’s receives a threat telling her to get out of town and keep her nose out of the cold case.
- Troy Ledger invites Julie to stay at the ranch.
- Tyler thinks she should leave, but feels duty bound to protect her when she doesn’t.
- Tyler learns that Julie has lied about her status as an investigative reporter.
- As they spend time together, the attraction grows even though Julie’s investigation is causing additional tension between Troy and his father.
- A warning is left on Julie’s car that proves the killer is still around and targeting Julie.
- Tyler’s leave time is growing short. He’s angry with Julie that she’s putting her life in danger for a case that has been unsolved for so many years.
- As the danger draws imminent, Tyler and Julie are unable to fight the attraction. They make love even though they know the romance has nowhere to go.
As you can see, everything that happens has an effect on the mystery and the romance right up to the climax.
Hope this helps all you aspiring writers out there working hard to get published.
Thank you, Joanna, for this tips to adding sexual, emotional and suspensful tension to our writing.
I’ve learnt that you use to teach CREATIVE WRITING CLASSES, so please tell us all aspiring writers, what type of classes you used to take and where?
I don’t have any writing classes scheduled at the present time, but I have taught on-line classes for various organizations. Before moving to Texas, I taught creative writing classes at the University of New Orleans Metropolitan College. Many of my students went on to be published, which makes me very proud.
Thanks for sharing your insights about writing and some fun facts about your life, Joanna, it's been enlightening having you here.
Thank you for having me here!
There are cool contests going on at Joanna Wayne’s website every month. So what are you all waiting for? Hop on to her website and fill out the contest form. And she loves hearing from readers so you can always email her. And you can also connect with her on her Facebook Page.
And Friends, Joanna has decided to do a hot cowboy BOOK GIVEAWAY! to one lucky commenter, who after commenting here drop in on Joanna Wayne Facebook Page and posts on her wall! How simple is that?