Joy and her husband Jon live on 35 acres of field and forest. Joy loves riding the land on her John Deere Gator with her husband and puppies, Sohpie & Tucker. She also wanders the land, journal in hand, ready just in case the words are ready to be written. Joy is the author of a devotional (soon to be re-released!), and three children’s books. She is an author coach, and professional speaker. Joy and Jon travel in their recently purchased RV to visit family and friends or sit by Lake Superior for writing inspiration.
Joy, Rain Dance is an amazing book with deep spiritual truths in it. How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific ‘what if’ moment?
I was cleaning house and the idea whispered across my heart and mind and lingered. I told God I thought it was a great idea and I hoped He’d find someone to write it. I resisted putting my heart and soul on the page for a year. Finally, I knew God had an author – me.
I loved how you portrayed Jonica’s spiritual journey. Her emotions were so nakedly honest. Tell us how you developed her character and Stacie’s.
Once I opened my heart to being the author of this novel, I realized the characters were completely fleshed out in mind. I knew them inside and out. I recognized their voices and let them tell the story.
Jonica is me. I know that’s against all the writing rules for the author to intrude this way but when I tried to give her another voice it came out stilted and fake. I confess, one of my fears was if the readers didn’t like Jonica, it meant they didn’t like me. As the story grew, I realized it didn’t matter. I had to be true to the story I’d been given and to the characters.
Stacie broke my heart as I released her to the page. I prayed readers would like her best. They do. I also prayed I wouldn’t hurt anyone who had chosen abortion and regretted it. The abortion chapter is intense. I ached writing it and wondered if I should take it out. After asking a couple of the “Stacies” in my life, they told me, “Keep it. Please tell people what it’s like.”
Did anything strange or funny happen while researching or writing Rain Dance?
One of my closest friends is post-abortive. I was writing the chapter where Stacie needs her friend and when Jonica says, “Where are you?” Stacie answers, “In your driveway.” I had no sooner written those words when my friend called and we had the same two sentence conversation. I opened the door with goosebumps skimming over my skin.
You’ve written a non-fiction book and two children’s books prior to Rain Dance. Why fiction? What sparked the change?.
Well, I wrote Rain Dance before the kids books and self-published it. I’ve always wanted to write for children and was at the point where I thought I was ready when Rain Dance made itself at home in my heart. When I was finished the kids books flowed like melted butter over hot corn.
Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use?
Interesting question. I’m a visual learner so I expected to utilize visual aids in my writing. I spent time looking for the faces of my characters online and in magazine ads. No one came close. Once the novel was finished, I was at lunch with friends and a woman I’d never met before joined us. She sat down and we met and I nearly started crying. She was Stacie in the flesh. Everything about her. Although Jonica is me, she is not me physically. I’ve not met her in person yet.
All my visuals are alive in living color in my imagination. It’s like a constant movie up there. I can fast forward or rewind whenever I need to. I can see every detail in their homes, their closets, and pantries.
What was the most difficult part of writing Rain Dance you?
Putting all that pain out there. I’d pace my office and try to talk myself out of it. I wanted to write for fun. This was hard. I was also afraid of rejection from publishers and there was a lot of that.
How do you overcome it?
I got the thing written and I sent off proposals. I got lots of form rejections but a few personal ones that made all the difference. Two editors from large houses and two agents encouraged me to self-publish. Jon wrote a check and I said yes to yet another hard thing. Then, as part of a small online writers group, I asked my cyber friends to read the book and consider reviewing it for me. I forgot Joan Shoup had started Sheaf House Publishers – she contacted me saying she loved the book and wanted to publish it. Suddenly, all the fear of the pain and rejection were for a purpose.
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?
I love my office. I spend a lot of my writing time here. However, when my life of solitude gets too quiet, I head for Applebee’s, Dunn Brothers, or the Apache Mall food court for lunch.
I love observing people (some call it eaves dropping – I call it research!). They inspire me and sometimes make me laugh out loud. If I chose the food court, Barnes & Noble is right there and a brief walk through is always inspiring to me.
You do a lot of speaking. What does a typical day look like for you when you’re writing?
I used to be a night owl. I tried diligently to change that for years. It took getting two of the cutest puppies in the world to make it happen. They wake us up at around 6AM. After taking them out, Jon fixes our coffee and we’re up.
A normal writing day includes marketing my books as well as getting new projects moving ahead. If I have a speaking event, my day also includes either prepping new material or reviewing my current topics. I’m also an author coach and have clients throughout most days. I’m learning to write in the spaces between. I’ve always had a really hard time concentrating if I’m distracted – however, I’m retraining myself to fall into the writing if I get a few minutes here and a few more there. I say it’s a little like learning to be a Navy Seal – they are trained to sleep when they can – deeply. I am attempting to train myself to go deeply into the writing without any notice and return to it the same way when interrupted. It’s not easy but it’s working.
Some authors report writing 5-10 thousand words a day. Did the scenes in Rain Dance flow freely from your veins or do you have to wrangle each word out?
Once I started writing, it happened fast. Two full chapters a day were my norm and sometimes four. I didn’t let myself do too much editing until I was done although I always read one or two of the previous chapters each day to prime my writing engine. I wrote four to five days a week. Then, I edited. Some chapters (this is not bragging because no one is more surprised than me!) are exactly the way they came out the first time. Others took more time in the refining process.
Will we see more adult fiction from you?
Yes. I’m working on what I thought was a novel and appears to be a series. Most of book one is written.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?
Write from the heart.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Write the story or stories you’ve been given as they are given to you.
Learn from reading – go ahead and read the best and what some consider the worst.
Enjoy the editing process – this is when you can play with the story . . . chat with your characters and flesh out details.
Most of all believe this: Sometimes you really can trust yourself.
Jonica and Stacie meet in a doctor’s office at a critical turning point in each of their lives. Jonica is ending unsuccessful infertility treatments and accepting the death of her dream of having children. Stacie has come to schedule the termination of her pregnancy so she can further her dream of a career in law.
Tentatively the two young women reach out to each other. Can they forge an uncommon friendship that will forever transform their future?