Please welcome today's author...
Tell us about your journey to become a published author?
From an early age, I loved curling up with a book and losing myself in the stories. In high school, I looked forward to English class and dreamed of writing the great Canadian novel. Instead, I followed the conventional advice of the times and pursued a career in teaching. In my heart of hearts, I knew that someday I would resurrect that writing dream. When I took advantage of early retirement in 2008, I decided to devote my second act to writing.
I filled large blocks of unscheduled time with workshops and online courses. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. At first, I focused on the nonfiction market and wrote book reviews and articles about careers, money management, wellness, personal growth and development. While I was delighted with the response from newspapers, magazines and online publications, I wanted more.
“More” translated into a novel, and in my case, two novels: A Season for Killing Blondes and Between Land and Sea.
I had written the first draft of the cozy mystery during my “cancer” year and then filed it away. An integral part of my therapy, writing that novel helped me survive and thrive during the most challenging season of my life. It was now time to edit and polish the manuscript.
While querying, I wrote the first draft of Between Land and Sea (a paranormal romance about a middle-aged ex-mermaid) in three months and then spent a year editing and polishing. I was thrilled when Senior Editor Debby Gilbert of Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract in 2013.
A year later, Editor Johanna Melaragno of The Wild Rose Press picked up A Season for Killing Blondes. The novel was released in June 2015.
In August 2015, Soul Mate Publishing released The Coming of Arabella, the second book in the Mediterranean trilogy.
What sparked the idea for this series?
While undergoing cancer treatments, I gravitated toward cozy mysteries. After devouring over fifty books in that genre, I imagined the following scenarios: What if a brunette lottery winner moves back to her hometown and finds herself involved in a murder investigation? And what if all the victims are blondes? I put pen to paper and started the first draft of A Season for Killing Blondes.
Tell us about your latest release.
Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.
When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends. As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.
Give five words that best describe this book. What message do you hope readers get?
From the reviews...
I wrote this book for readers who want to escape from their daily routines and curl up with a whodunit that has a minimum of blood and gore and no coarse language.
Give us one or two of your favorite lines from this book.
Even with a dead body in a Dumpster, thousands of euros of pastries wasting away,
and policemen swarming about, my mother and aunt could still indulge in their favorite hobby--trying to find me another husband.
Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.
When I retired and started writing full-time, I expected to be inspired each day. Everything was in place—spacious work area, business cards, new computer, dreams of a runaway best-seller—but my underdeveloped writing muscles refused to budge.
After some experimentation, I came up with a daily regimen. Nothing too dramatic, but it works for me. I like to sleep in each day and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. But after my second cup of coffee, I start writing. My goal – 1000 words a day. After I reach that quota, I’m free to meet with friends for lunch or coffee and plan other outings.
What’s one of your favorite reviews/comments you’ve ever received about your writing (on this book or any other)? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?
I am grateful for the wonderful reviews I received for my three novels. My favorite comes from Colleen McConnell:
The novel is a classic wisdom tale with a twist and is reminiscent of Jane Austen. (Between Land and Sea)
As a new author, I was thrilled with the comparison.
What’s your biggest struggle as a writer? And how do/did you handle it?
Maintaining the momentum, especially when navigating what I like to call the “murky middle” is what I find most challenging. At that point, I have to take a break from the narrative. While writing Book 2 in the Gilda Greco Mystery Series, I have taken several breaks. At first, I found it frustrating and wondered if I would ever finish the first draft. But I have persevered and believe the resulting manuscript is better for it.
What is the high point of your career, so far?
January 31, 2013 - I can still recall the weather and what I was doing when I received an email from Senior Editor Debby Gilbert offering me a contract for Between Land and Sea, Book 1 of the Mediterranean Series. Nothing, not even the sub-zero temperatures, could faze me on that perfect day.
What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?
In January of 2012, I wondered if any of my books would ever be published. I contemplated giving up on the writing dream altogether. Thanks to the support and encouragement I received from friends and family, I persevered.
Give us the name of a recent book you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.
The best book I’ve read in 2015 was Circling the Sun, a fictionalized memoir of Beryl Markham, by Paula McLain. I was drawn into the fascinating lives of the British expats living in Africa in the early twentieth century. A must read!
What’s next on your writing journey?
Right now, I’m working on Too Many Women in the Room, Book 2 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series and The Making of a Mermaid Psychic, Book 3 of The Mediterranean Trilogy.
What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?
My advice to aspiring writers...
Experiment until you find your own unique voice and a warm, supportive environment where your words can flow freely. Sign up for creative writing courses—online or offline—that expose you to short stories, children’s and adult writing, creative nonfiction, and poetry. And, most important of all, enjoy the journey.
To find Joanne online, please visit…
And check out her books at…
Amazon (United States) - http://is.gd/jADjPp
Amazon (United Kingdom) - http://is.gd/8mknFJ
Amazon (Australia) - http://is.gd/r843iX
Kobo - https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/a-season-for-killing-blondes
Barnes & Noble - http://is.gd/n6s91M