I would like to welcome my special guest Joyce Ann Naslund. Please enjoy her insightful author interview.
1. Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
The best advice I can give is to write what you know; what you’re passionate about. Don’t jump on the bandwagon of what’s popular at the moment just to make a buck, because sooner or later you’ll run out of steam. As long as you’re writing from the well within you, the water will continue to flow.
2. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d like to tell them how much I appreciate their support. Their response to my debut novel has been amazing. I’ve had a fan letter taped to my front door; a 5-star rating from a gal who sent me a private message likening my book to good chocolate; people that don’t normally read tell me they finished it in one or two days; many that said they were moved to tears; and even a few that admitted to a bit of anger because parts of the story didn’t go the way they wanted them to. If my writing can pull emotion of any kind from a reader, that’s inspiring to me and helps to keep me motivated. Though I’ve only listed a few examples, I promise you–every single comment; note; review; and word of encouragement is an absolute treasure to me. Without you, I would be looking at the end of the road. Thank you!
3. What are your thoughts on the fact that both trade and self-published authors have to promote their own work?
I’ve never been trade published, so I just accepted the fact that self promotion was part of the deal. I spend a lot of time researching, following other author’s journeys, and learning all I can about the process. Even in the trade published world, authors have to do more of their own promoting than ever before. If you want to write bad enough, you just have to accept that.
4. What genre do you write for? Your favorite aspect? Your least favorite aspect?
My first novel (Heart Song) is women’s fiction, but the one I’ve just finished is a lovely romance set mostly in Maui and partly in Minnesota. It is a story with a lot of fun in it.
My favorite aspect of writing women’s fiction is delving deeply into life issues and confronting the emotions that arise, knowing it may or may not end well. I also enjoy building a strong friendship between the MC and another person that isn’t necessarily the love interest. I really think women, in particular, like to read about strong bonds between friends. Of course, great friendships are certainly not exclusive to women’s fiction.
Writing women’s fiction has no negatives for me, but my least favorite aspect of writing a romance is having to conform to that expectation of a “happily ever after” or at least a “happy for now” ending.
5. What are your current/next projects?
As soon as I send my romance to the printer, I will get back to work on Heart’s Desire, the second book in the All Heart Trilogy. I’m also pretty far down the road with a novella I work on when I find myself unable to focus on the novel I’m currently writing. That story is about traded emails between old high-school sweethearts.
6. Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?
I definitely prefer to work alone when I’m crafting a story, but after I’ve done several drafts, I find beta readers to be invaluable. More pairs of eyes on a manuscript give you a better chance of ending up with a fairly clean book. Even with good betas, there seems to be small things that slip through the cracks. It’s hard to find a book that’s 100% typo-free, and I include trade published work in that statement.
7. How do you find time to write?
Being retired, I am blessed to have as much time as I want. Even so, I’m always wondering how the hours can fly by so quickly. I am not a fast writer and discipline is not natural to me, so if the words aren’t forthcoming, I don’t write. I never force myself to sit at the computer until I can put out “x” number of words. One day I have no trouble finishing a few chapters and the next I’m lucky to eke out a paragraph. I don’t let myself get bent about it.
8. Did you always want to become an author?
I must have, because I’ve been writing something-or-other most of my life–from the horror story I wrote and read in school to my eleven-year-old classmates; to pages of poetry; to a notebook filled with songs and choruses. In my heart there is a voice that says I’m a writer.
9. Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you the most)?
I always start at the beginning; often writing the middle and sometimes even the end; then I weave it all together. Different scenes drop into my thoughts willy-nilly, so I jot them down and plop them into their rightful place as I go along. Dialog often comes to me in the night, while I’m driving, or even in a restaurant, so I like to have a post-it pad and pen with me at all times.
10. Have you ever hated something you wrote?
No. I might not be happy with a portion when I’m writing my heart out and the words aren’t fitting just right; but when I finally get over that hill, my opinion changes. In fact, please don’t think I’m being egotistical when I tell you a little secret. When I’m satisfied that I’ve done my very best, I’ll often stop while I’m reading it and think: I love this story. I’m of the belief that if I don’t love what I’ve written, how can I expect a reader to think it’s anything special? My goal is to help people fall in love with my writing and want to read more of it.
11. Which is easiest for you–novel, novella, or short story? Why?
I guess I would never think of any good writing as easy. It’s a craft, and as such, it’s hard work. Having said that, I would suppose a novella would be the easiest, but since I’m not quite done with mine, I’ll have to wait to have a real opinion on it. I’m probably too wordy to enjoy writing a short story.
12. While you were writing, did you ever feel like you were one of your characters?
I think most writers end up with a bit of themselves in a character or two because inspiration often comes (for me, at least) from life experiences. One of my betas is convinced the MC in my soon-to-be-published novel is a take-off on me because the character is a writer. That tickles me to no end since another character is totally based on me. This stuff is too much fun!
13. How did you come up with the title?
I knew from the get-go that the title for Heart Song was written in stone and I also knew what the cover should look like. One of the reasons I decided to self-publish was the certainty that I could never trade the vision in my heart for a decision made in a publisher’s mind. When anyone reads the novel, I think the importance of the title becomes apparent, because hearing the heart song is a major component in the story.
14. What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?
The inspiration for Heart Song came about fourteen years ago while I was sitting on a lanai enjoying the beauty of the sea. When my attention was drawn to a young girl walking the beach, the first line of the story dropped into my spirit. I have never been able to change a single word of that opening line.
Heart Song is a story spanning sixty years in the life of our MC, Jenna Blake. As a girl in her late teens, she enters into an ill-fated marriage to a man thirteen years her senior, often drawing on the wisdom of her departed grandmother (who becomes a strong character component, according to one reviewer) to guide her along the way. When Richard’s penchant for alcohol and other women begin to unravel their seemingly perfect life, Jenna is forced to make some tough decisions. The unwavering support of faithful friends; the unexpected bond with a younger man; and the tender heart of a small girl all serve to remind her of the many faces of love.
15. Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?
Thank you, Yawatta. That’s very kind of you.