Welcome back to Writing for Christ JoAnn Durgin, I am excited to have you here for a second time. J
Thank you for hosting me again on your fantastic blog, Casey. I’m thrilled to be here today!
What has changed in your writing life since you were last here?
Second Time Around, the follow-up to Awakening (November 2010) in The Lewis Legacy Series, released in early September. I’ve done a few book signings and loved meeting and greeting readers, been asked to speak at a few functions, joined a new writer’s group and was even called “The Famous Authoress” at a church luncheon recently (to be fair, I grew up in that church and my mom still goes there – and, yes, I still had to pay for my own lunch). Oh, it’s so hard to be humble. I’m kidding, of course. Seriously, I feel as though I’ve gained a certain amount of respect in some circles now that I’m published. I’ve gone from comments like “Oh, that’s the girl who wants to be a writer,” to “She’s had two books published and another on the way! Isn’t that wonderful?” It’s an odd thing how one published book can legitimize your writing in some respects, but two books somehow makes it official that the first one wasn’t some weird fluke. One thing that hasn’t changed? I still don’t have an agent. All in God’s timing. I’m learning to take it all in stride. I still work a full-time job, and squeeze in time to write whenever I can (and wish I could do it more). I write for the Master, and He’s the One who gives me the inspiration for my books. I hope never to let Him down by what I write or my actions, and I pray He’ll continue to open the doors of His choosing at the “right” time.
What recent read stood out to you as truly spectacular?
Being a romance writer, I currently prefer to read books in my genre. I’m very impressed with the CBA authors, and there are some incredible books out there, both contemporary and historical. With that said, I don’t feel comfortable naming one book and singling out one author to the exclusion of others when there are truly so many well-written and life-impacting books out there on the market today. So, in order to be politically correct and truthful at the same time, I’m going to say The Holy Bible. I read it every day, and it’s the one book above all others that has profoundly impacted my life and gives me inspiration, encouragement, and hope─not to mention all the elements for a great read.
Do you have favorite authors?
Since you might cyber slap me if I start naming the authors of the books of the Bible, I’ll acquiesce and say that I enjoy books (in no particular order) by Tamera Alexander, Karen Witemeyer, Julie Lessman, Mary Connealy, Denise Hunter, Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren. As a girl, I adored books by Louisa May Alcott and Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew – although I believe “Carolyn” wasn’t one person but a committee). I primarily read Christian fiction now, but years ago, I loved the mysteries of Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt. I’ve enjoyed many of the classics (and not because I was forced to read them in high school and college), but also snored through some of them. Mark Twain is one of the all-time greats, and I dare say he’s my favorite American author in terms of his hysterically funny (and sometimes biting) wit, sarcasm and irony.
What do you find the most enjoyable part of writing or connecting with readers?
There’s nothing more gratifying than getting a message through your website or a Facebook message from a “fan.” That’s pretty cool. Something awesome happened at the aforementioned (can you tell I’m a paralegal?) church luncheon, in part because it was one of those unexpected, incredibly sweet moments. I was at the book signing table and a woman came over and said, “Hi, JoAnn. I was your high school high school typing teacher.” She told me her name and whipped off her sunglasses (why is it my former teachers look happier and younger than ever now? It can’t be because I’m getting older, but that they’re retired and get more rest and relaxation─that must be it). I smiled and waved my hand at the books on the table and said, “Thank you. As you can see, I haven’t stopped typing since.” What was so gratifying─besides the fact that she read my first book and wanted to buy the second─was what she told me. She’d asked the students all those years ago to type a paragraph about a special Thanksgiving memory. She said, “I always remembered you because you wrote the most beautiful paragraph, so I wasn’t surprised at all you became a writer.” Those types of moments, and comments from random people I don’t know well or have never met (as well as friends, co-workers and family) complimenting me on my characters or books mean so very much. I treasure every single one. I’ve been very blessed.
What do you find the most ideal atmosphere for writing? Do you ever get those surroundings? J
The ideal atmosphere is hard to imagine, and you work with what you have at your disposal. In my case, it’s a computer desk in the corner of our bedroom. Usually the TV is on (which I prefer as long as it’s not a ballgame with crowd noise─says the girl who read The Iliad and The Odyssey in a snack bar with a juke box blaring and pinball machines pinging). I love listening to music, too, and headphones are great when I can leave them on for five minutes uninterrupted. A cup of something sitting beside me is a must (hot or cold, depending on the time and the day of the week). This is the norm when I sit down to write: the dog comes seeking affection, and it’s not long after that one of our three kids or my husband come seeking food, laundry or yes, some affection. Rest assured, they’re not overly needy, just our version of normal. So, although it’s perhaps not the ideal writing situation, it works. And that’s just fine with me!
Okay, something fun for those writers out there: In what point of your writing career did you surprise yourself by writing the most words ever in the shortest amount of time?
I’m not sure if that question is also intended for me, but I actually wrote Awakening in less than two weeks. Then put it aside for over a decade to raise my children. Then I picked it up and added about 6,000 words and actually sold it to the first entity that looked at it. So, aspiring writers, it can happen! I wrote Second Time Around about three years ago, and it took a couple of months. When I write a book, I have a burning passion to get it down on paper. The edits take much, much longer. It’s an evolving process, but a fascinating one.
Thanks for being here again! It has been a joy and we wish the very best with your novels.
Thanks so much for having me back, Casey. Twin Hearts, the third installment of the series, comes out in the early Spring, so I’d better book now to be back again in a few months! In the meantime, happy reading and happy writing, and may God bless each and every one of you! Matthew 5:16
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