Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Joyce Holmes. Joyce is one of our neighbors to the north, living in the beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia with her husband and small dog, Roxy. This multi-published, award-winning author is living her dream of being a stay-at-home writer. Photography and blogging about her travels are two ofher passions, along with visiting her kids and grandkids. The pictures below of the area she lives in, were taken by Joyce. Dare to Risk it All is published with The Wild Rose Press. Show No Weakness and It’s Complicated are with Secret Cravings Publishing.
Welcome to my blog, Joyce. I love the pictures you took and sent me.
Thank you for having me here today, Tina.
How long have you been writing? Did you stop and start, or write continuously? I started writing about seventeen years ago and wrote six stories (and then rewrote several of them). After several years, with none of the big publishing houses showing interest in them, I gave up. With the emergence of small press publishers, I decided to give writing a go again in 2011. I rewrote one of my favorite stories and it was published in 2012. I’ve since written a sequel to that one and rewritten two of my original stories. Two of them have been published, and one is currently in the submission process.
How do you handle rejections? What do you do to keep yourself from giving up? I’ve come to expect them, so after a brief flash of disappointment, I don’t give them much thought. In the early days, I got what were deemed ‘good’ rejection letters. They gave detailed explanations of what worked and what didn’t, and often included an offer to read more of my work. So they were helpful and encouraging. Nowadays, they’re mostly form letters, which give no insight into why they rejected the story, so those ones are more disappointing. I did give up for about five years. Mostly because my life got too busy and I felt writing for publication was a waste of time. Now that I’ve been published three times, I have more confidence in my work. I also put no pressure or expectations on myself. I keep it fun. That’s why I started writing in the first place. It’s nice when rejections come with constructivecriticism.
Do you enter contests? Do you find them helpful? Have you won any? I used to enter a lot of contests for unpublished writers years ago when I first started writing. I never won any, but did place well in most of them and often the comments were insightful. I entered my first published book, Show No Weakness, into two contests: the EPIC Book Competition and the Chanticleer Book Reviews’ 2013 Chatelaine Blue Ribbon Writing Competition, which it finaled in. It also won 1st place in the 2012 RONE awards, which a book is automatically entered into if it receives a 4 star or better review from InD’Tale Magazine. My second book, It’s Complicated, is currently in the voting round for this year’s RONE award. I haven’t entered it or my newest release, Dare to Risk All, in any contests so far. Winning a RONE is pretty impressive!
Do you go to conferences? I’ve only gone to two conferences. The Surrey International Writer’s Conference in 2003, where I had the pleasure of meeting Diana Gabaldon. And the Sweet & Spicy Conference in Ottawa in 2006, where I attended a workshop by then president of the RWA, Gayle Wilson. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a conference, partly because there aren’t any big ones in my neck of the woods and it can be difficult to get away to the distant ones. It’d be nice, one day, to attend a conference as a published author. Maybe someday we’ll meet at one, but I can imagine getting to one from where you live is difficult.
Where do you write and what does you space look like? Now that my boys have all left home, I’ve converted our smallest bedroom (and it is small) into an office. I work on a laptop with an attached keyboard, and I have two overflowing bookshelves and a filing cabinet in there as well.
There is an old desk with a laptop on it. It’s not the most ergonomic space, that’s for sure. But I’ve done what I can by raising the laptop to eyelevel; I’ve positioned a book across the opened right-hand drawer to use as a mousepad, and the keyboard rests at an angle on the open middle drawer. Really high-tech, I know, but it works amazingly well. The desk also has reference books, a stack of paper for quick notes, a clock, calendar (to track my storyline) and penholder. And most important, pics of my grandkids.
What time of day do you write? Are you a morning or afternoon person? I write mostly in the afternoon. I’m on my desktop computer first thing in the morning for an hour or so, doing emails and social media, then depending on my day, I try to write after lunch. When I’m lucky I can get three or four solid hours in, but usually it’s about half that much. If I’m on deadline, I might work all day. As much as I wish I was, I’m definitely not a morning person. Energy levels are low and the brain doesn’t fully function when I first get up. And as I get older I’m not so great in the evenings either, tending to gravitate to the TV or a book. Creatively, I function best between 10 and 6.
Does your family support of understand your writing? My hubby and sons aren’t readers and think writing is rather torturous so they don’t understand how I could possibly enjoy either activity, but they’re all very supportive. My mom and my many siblings are my biggest fans, most of whom read and love my books. I’m lucky that way.
What are the reactions to people when they find out you write romance? When someone finds out I’m an author, they seem impressed and almost always ask what type of stories I write. As soon as I say romance, the conversation usually dwindles. It’s rather sad that people still look down their noses at romance, but I don’t try to defend the genre. If a person isn’t interested, it’s their loss. I agree wholeheartedly.
What happens when you get a story idea? I can’t focus on more than one story at a time, so if I’m not at the point where I can start on that new idea, I make lots of notes, either on paper or the computer. Sometimes I even write out entire scenes if I think it’s important not to forget. Unfortunately what can happen is by the time I get around to working on those ideas, I might have a real mess of notes to sort through. But I guess that’s better than losing the thought completely. If you’re like me and make notes long-hand, you probably can’t read them later. I’m terrible at that.Are you a plotter or a pantser? I plot by the seat of my pants. Basically I have to have at least the main plot points figured out before I start writing. I know my beginning and ending and usually a few scenes in between, but as I write, things take the occasional turns so I have to adjust for that. Some stories, like the one I just finished, take on a life of their own and never want to end. Others are a little skinny on subplots and I have to work harder to make sure there’s enough substance, so I’m pantsing as I go along. Once the story is complete, I go back and make sure all loose plot strings are tied up to my satisfaction. This can sometimes mean adding more scenes or even a subplot I hadn’t originally thought of. Sounds like the way I write.
What is your WIP? I’m barely 2000 words into a new story. It’s a sequel to my first two books, set in Vancouver. Ryan Porter made an appearance in my second book and he’s getting his own story, where he’s decided to keep a pretty important aspect of his life secret.
Thank you for being with me today, Joyce.
I enjoyed it. Thank you for having me.
Show No Weakness: Can a forever kind of girl and a for-the-moment kind of guy take a risk on love?
Blurb: Tessa Caldwell’s carefully structured world is thrown into chaos when the handsome stranger she had an uncharacteristic fling with reappears in her life. Ben not only gets the promotion she thought was hers, but is also intent on resuming their physical relationship. Although Tessa’s rational mind insists on a professional association, both her heart and her traitorous body have other ideas. Can her sensible nature possibly win against such temptation?
Memories of the petite blonde with large, blue eyes have haunted Ben Dunham for months. When he transfers to her branch, he anticipates picking up where they left off. Reality doesn’t match memory when the cool and collected lady wants no part of him. If he intends to pursue Tessa, he has to earn her trust. The problem is, Ben carries a dark and dangerous secret. How does he get Tessa to trust him when he can’t trust himself?
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