Writer Wednesday Interview: Joanne Stewart
Today I welcome J.M.Stewart to my blog. J.M. Stewart writes sweet and heartwarming contemporary romance with a touch of passion. She’s a wife, a mother, a spiritualist, and lover of puppies, and happily addicted to coffee and chocolate. She lives in the Great Rainy Northwest with her husband of sixteen years and their two sons. She’s a hopeless romantic who believes everybody should have their happily-ever-after and has been devouring romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing them has become her passion.
Welcome! I notice you describe your books as ‘sweet and spicy’, which sounds like a potent combination. What exactly do you mean, and did it take you long to come up with that description?
--Honestly, the description just popped into my head, and it was a play on “sweet and sour”, as in sauce. Honest to goodness, I couldn’t really tell you how my mind works sometimes. lol. My mind wanders, takes little stuff like this and just runs away with it. Somewhere out of sweet and sour sauce, my mind went, “aha! Sweet and spicy!”
What does it mean…My books tend to be sweet, but normally, a sweet book doesn’t contain love scenes. Mine do. So…sweet… but spicy, too.
‘A Second Chance at Forever’ has a wonderfully glamorous cover and features a sexy stripper with the delicious stage name of ‘Candy Cane’. Was it as much fun to write as it looks?
--Thanks. It really was. It started because I was intrigued by the thought of a romance heroine who worked as a stripper. I’d never read one before, and I thought, “could I pull that off?” Then I wondered, what kind of romance novel heroine would work as a stripper? But, as it usually happens, my characters took off on me, and I met the hero, Alex. He caught me by the heart and pulled me in.
I love the title and cover of ‘Her Knight in Black Leather’ too. Was the title difficult to come up with?
--This one was a stroke of pure luck. I don’t do titles very well, and I was stumped for this one. So I was sitting here trying to think about what the book is really about, when the phrase, “Knight in Shining Armour” popped into my head. Which is what the hero is for the heroine. Except he doesn’t wear armour…he wears a black leather jacket. And I just put the two together.
Do you do a lot of research for your stories?
--It depends. When I need to, I do. For A Second Chance at Forever, for example, I had to do some research on Vegas and what it takes to be a stripper. For Her Knight, I had to look into small town dynamics, as I’ve never really lived in one, and I did a bit of research on how to disarm someone with a gun.
Like me, you have books out with both ‘The Wild Rose Press’ and ‘Crimson Romance’. Do you enjoy working with more than one publisher, and do you have any tips for writers choosing a publisher to submit to?
--I’ve had good luck with both of them. Crimson feels like a slightly larger publisher than TWRP. They have a publicist, who set up some stuff for me. Her Knight’s release got announced on the USA Today website. In fact, I’m finding that a lot of their titles do. Plus they set up a giveaway and a couple of interviews for me. Whereas with TWRP, we do all our own promo. But I can’t say I prefer one over the other.
Tips for choosing a publisher? Personally, I’d say do your research. How long have they been in business? What are people saying about them? Do they publish what you write? Do you like what they put out? Check out their covers. Are they appealing to you? Talk to their authors and see how they like working for the company. All that stuff.
What is the working title of your next book (or books)?
--My agent and I are currently in the process of finding a home for a two book series, entitled Taking Chances. It’s set in the state of Washington (where I live) and revolves around a small family. Both books are short, around the 60k mark. Book one is Loving Ceci, and it was previously published by The Wild Rose Press under the title, Staking His Claim. It’s been completely revised and re-edited. Book two is Winning Becca. The heroine in this one is the sister of the hero from book one.
We’re also getting ready to shop out a single title I’ve called Love’s Healing Touch. A retired army vet must confront his demons as he faces the woman he left behind and the child he never knew.
Are there any other settings you’ve got in mind to use in future stories?
--Not in particular. I kind of go where the inspiration takes me. My current WIP is set in a small town on Whidbey Island, here in the state of Washington.
What do you love most about writing romance?
--Discovering the stories. Call me strange, I don’t know if everybody works this way, but I don’t create characters. My heroes and heroines are people to me, and I’m just the secretary. I just write down their story and try to tell it in the best way possible. So for me, the act of discovering these people’s love story and watching it unfold on the page is very addicting.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
--This is more paraphrasing, or how I remember it, but a wonderful writer told me recently, basically, “be you, be proud.” She said it far more eloquently, of course, and those are my words not hers. That’s what I took out of what she said. It was a freeing moment for me, because it was something I was struggling with at the time. Like most writers, I’m sure, I have insecurities. I kept comparing myself to other, more successful, authors and coming up short. The comparison was crippling me. What I took out of my chat with her was not to allow the doubt demons to eat me alive. To take pride in who I am. Because what a boring world it would be if we all told the same stories.
Which is your favourite social media site – facebook, twitter, or something else?
--Facebook is my favourite. I have twitter, but it moves so quickly I can’t keep up. With Facebook, I can get more in-depth with my updates, I can more easily interact with people, I can share pictures, etc. It feels more interactive to me.
My facebook links:
personal page: http://www.facebook.com/JoanneStewart72
And where should we go to find out more about your books?
My website: http://authorjmstewart.com/
Thanks for visiting! I've enjoyed hearing about your books, and good luck with the Taking Chances series. I hope it finds a great home!