Friday, June 8, 2012


My guest is western romance author Joanne Kennedy. She shares with us her recent battle with Chronic Painhow she's coped with it and distractions that have helped.

Sometimes when the going gets tough, the tough need a little escape from reality. That’s why I love romance novels. There’s nothing like plunging into the glittering world of the Regency era, joining hunky Navy S.E.A.L.s on a stateside mission, or riding the range with a hot hunky cowboy to take your mind off your troubles.

Once in a while, I hear from a reader who says my books helped them through a difficult time. Writing stories that offer solace when someone is ill or dealing with loss gives my work a whole new purpose.

But this year, the roles were reversed: It was knowing that there were readers out there waiting for my stories that kept me going through my own tough times. Because last year I joined the estimated 35 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain. 

It’s not easy to admit to this. I feel like I’m coming out of some dark closet, or admitting to alcoholism. Though there shouldn’t be a stigma surrounding something you can’t help, we instinctively keep pain hidden, like an injured animal who crawls off and hides so no one will see his vulnerability. We don’t want to risk being dismissed as neurotics or hypochondriacs. Besides, we all know the surest way to end a conversation is to answer the question “how are you” honestly.

In some ways, I was lucky. The source of my pain was obvious—jaw joints severely degenerated from arthritis, and two discs in my neck that protruded into my spinal cord. So nobody dismissed my pain, and there were concrete solutions. But millions of people, especially women, suffer from illnesses like fibromyalgia that are more or less invisible. In addition to being in pain, they have to deal with the fact that some folks—sometimes family and friends, and even doctors—don’t believe their suffering is real.

That’s why those of us who deal with chronic pain need to talk, not about the problem but about the solution. And the first solution is the talking itself, because it’s hard to solve a secret.

The best solution I’ve found is distraction, and the best distraction is creativity. The only really bad days were the days when I couldn’t perform the physical task of writing. For two weeks after my neck surgery, I couldn’t type; I could barely hold up a paperback book and read. All I can say is thank God for podcasts and audio books! They kept me sane.

Once I could write again, I could escape reality and lose myself in my characters and their world. My heroine in Cowboy Crazy is a little troubled and angsty, probably because of how I was feeling when I wrote the book. But rodeo cowboy Lane Carrigan helped her through her tough times, and he helped me, too.

All things happen for a reason, and I learned a lot from this experience. I learned that it’s important to have balance in your life—to get up and walk rather than spending eight straight hours at the computer. I learned that it’s important to listen to your body, and make adjustments when it gives you a little twinge to remind you you’re not taking care of it. I learned to keep trying, to persevere and never give up. Recently I found a doctor who’s able to help me, and I feel like I’m finally on the road to recovery.

Most of all, I learned to appreciate what I do and the people who allow me to do it. Thank you to all my readers for keeping me going. You have no idea how much it means to know you care about my stories. Because of you, the characters I love actually live out there in hearts and minds, and bringing them alive for you is what kept me going through some very difficult days.

  • What keeps you going through the hard times? Do you treat yourself to something special, lose yourself in a good book, or take off on flights of creativity? 


Sparks fly when sexy cowboys collide with determined heroines in a West filled with quirky characters and sizzling romance. Acclaimed for delivering “a fresh take on the traditional contemporary Western“ Joanne Kennedy’s books might just be your next great discovery!

From stable to boardroom…

Sarah Landon’s Ivy League scholarship transforms her from a wide-eyed country girl into a poised professional. Until she’s assigned to do damage control with the boss’s rebellious brother Lane, who’s the burr in everybody’s saddle. He’s determined to save his community from oil drilling, and she’s not going back to the ranch she left forever. Spurs will shine in this saucy romp about ranchers and roots, redemption and second chances.  EXCERPT

To purchase Joanne’s latest release, Cowboy Crazy, please visit

Joanne Kennedy is the author of four contemporary Western romances for Sourcebooks: Cowboy Trouble One Fine Cowboy, Cowboy Fever, and Tall, Dark and Cowboy. She brings a wide variety of experience, ranging from chicken farming to horse training, to her sexy, spicy cowboy stories. She is a 2011 finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of American RITA© Awards, for One Fine Cowboy. Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she is working on her next book, Cowboy Tough (Fall 2012). 
For more information, please visit


Olivia Cunning said...

I'm so glad things are better for you now, Joanne. My sister was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia and is now taking medication for it. She feels better than she's felt in years.

Congrats on the new book!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Congrats on a great post. Hope you are feeling better.


Liza said...

Congratulations for working through your pain and not giving up.

Joanne Kennedy said...

Olivia, I'm so glad your sister could get help and is doing better. I always say the one good thing about chronic pain is that it gives you a new appreciation for everyday life on the good days! I hope she continues to improve.

Joanne Kennedy said...

Thanks, Yvonne! It feels so good to be able to spend all day immersed in my books again.

Joanne Kennedy said...

Thanks, Liza! The work is what kept me sane:) Or happily insane - I'm not sure which!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome back to Over Coffee, Joanne. I'm always glad to have you and your sexy cowboys visiting!

Pain is no fun at any time and even worse when it's everyday thing. If you can distract yourself that's great!

I'm remembering a few months ago when you were only able to work in short spurts. Sounds like it's going much better.

I'm in and out today. Another round of appointments for today. Seems like I've had little or no time at home of late. Ugh.

Joanne Kennedy said...

Thank you, Sia - I always love visiting you and your blog community! And yes, I'm able to put in blissful long hours at the computer now. You don't realize how much this work means to you until you can't do it for a while!

I have a few appointments today too, but I'll be stopping in as often as I can to see what tricks other people have for staying healthy and sane when the going gets tough.

Joanne Kennedy said...

Oh, and Sia - thanks for the perfect illustration! It looks like that tough cowboy he gets through hard times with massive pots of coffee!

Anonymous said...

Its great to meet Joanne! Good luck with your Westerns the chronic pain. Distraction is a great, well, distraction from things like this.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I love coffee! My favorite beverage.

The blog is up today and tomorrow for comments. I'm also looking forward to seeing how people deal with the less than fun things in life. We all have them.

Personally, I think much of it depends upon a person's attitude. We can box ourselves into a very negative place where all we see is all the things we CAN'T do.

Or, we can celebrate all the things we CAN do and appreciate the life we have.

I prefer the latter. I've dealt with a lot of health issues the past 18 months. One lesson I've learned is pacing myself. Giving myself plenty of time to rest. And realizing I while I can't do everything I used to, there is so much I can still do--if I space it out.

You talk about reading. That's always been my haven!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Joanne, glad you're able to write through the pain.
My readers have kept me going because I would've quit after one book.

Betsy Brock said...

wow...very inspiring! Thanks for letting Joanne share here. And now I feel I need one of those novels for a little escape! :)

Mason Canyon said...

Joanne, so sorry to hear about your battle with Chronic Pain and glad you're doing better. I think as women we tend to 'hide' any illness or pain we have. Books are a wonderful way to escape any problems we are having and your books always have a way of making me feel good. Wishing you continued success and good health.

Sia, thanks for another great interview. Have a wonderful weekend.

Thoughts in Progress

Joanne Kennedy said...

Thanks, Stephen! It really is much better, and the Westerns sure help:)

Joanne Kennedy said...

I agree, Sia - being positive and looking at the bright side is so important. There's no point in being any unhappier than necessary, so why not think of the glass as half full?

Joanne Kennedy said...

Alex, I'm glad you're still writing. It does make such a difference to have readers asking for the next story, and the next and the next. I think I'd do it no matter what, but it's nice to have an audience:)

Joanne Kennedy said...

Betsy, thanks! My cowboys are always happy to help you escape:)

Joanne Kennedy said...

Mason, thank you so much! I'm glad the books make you feel good. I read (and tried to write) literary fiction for years, then switched to romance because I wanted books that made me happy. I always want to write "feel-good" books.

Johanna Garth said...

It's wonderful you were able to have your readers out there waiting for you. Sometimes goals and anticipation are the best gift!

Joanne Kennedy said...

You're so right, Johanna. Just knowing someone was out there waiting for the book made all the difference! I fell a little bit behind schedule, but everyone seemed to understand, and my publisher was great about it!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Having dedicated readers has to help with sticking to your stories and help you through the rough times.

I know there are still those moments of frustration and feeling like you're standing still, but kudos to you Joanne for keeping a positive attitude.

Just keep those fun stories coming Ma'am!

Joanne Kennedy said...

I will, Sia! I don't think I could ever stop writing, so I'm very grateful to all the readers out there who enjoy my cowboys. And to bloggers like you, who help us reach them!