Friday, February 6, 2015


My guest is romance author, Joanne Kennedy. Joan has published over eight books but she's also face many trials in pursuit of her dream of writing. I think every writer faces various insecurities and aspiring writers, at times, look at those published as ones who have it made and with no problems. That's just not true.

Joanne shares a bit about the worries and the triumphs she's faced as a writer.

The road to publication is a long road, paved with rejections and frustration—but I made it. I’m finally “there” – but now that I’ve reached my goal, I’m surprised to find that, in the words of Gertrude Stein, “there is no ‘there’ there.”

When you first start writing, you think to yourself, “If I could just finish this…”

You finish it. Then you hope to win a contest. Then you begin the long process of submission, aiming for goals like getting requests for partial manuscripts, then fulls, then getting offers of representation from agents.

When I signed with my agent, I really thought I was “there.” And I was close—closer than a lot of writers get with their first agent, because I was lucky enough to strike gold the first time out and sign with a really good agent who’s also a fine human being (actually, I think she’s a goddess). But even with her knowledge and contacts, it took over a year, many revisions, and finally a second manuscript, to make a sale. 

I can always find something to worry about.

But in some ways, that’s a good thing. No matter how well the book does, I’ll always be reaching for the next milestone. Bestseller lists. Awards. Making a living if I’m lucky, and then a better living.

The striving never ends—and that’s good. Life loses its flavor when you have nothing to aspire to.

But that realization showed me that the ultimate reward writing offers doesn’t lie in any of these achievements. The real reward is in the writing itself—the good days when the words flow freely, the triumphs when I solve a particularly gnarly plot problem, the weird, almost mystical joy of creating a world and characters who inhabit it and make it real, and even the satisfaction of knuckling down and getting the job done on a difficult day.

If you don’t take joy in the simple act of doing what you love, forget the other goals. Because if you think achieving any of them is going to complete your life, you’re wrong.

Whether your talent lies in writing, painting, teaching children, or running a business, you’re lucky if you’ve found what you were meant to do. Doing what you love is a privilege and a joy.

In the all-consuming quest for success, it’s easy to forget the biggest blessing of all: you have a talent that only you can offer. You have a place in the world.

So for all you aspiring writers out there, and everyone else who is always aiming for some elusive goal, take heart. When you sit down at your desk or your piano or your word processor, take a deep breath, and light into the day’s work, you’re already “there.”
  • What do you love to do?
    What are your goals, and how would achieving them change your life?
This cowboy is living a charmed life

Winning comes naturally to bronc rider Brady Caine. Ruggedly handsome, careless and charismatic, the rodeo fans adore him and the buckle bunnies are his for the taking. He's riding high when he lands an endorsement deal with Lariat Western Wear that pairs him up with champion barrel racer Suze Carlyle.

Until one wrong move changes everything

A stupid move on Brady's part lands Suze in the hospital, her career in tatters. Now it's a whole new game for both of them. Brady is desperate to help Suze rebuild her life, but he's the last person she wants around now. Suze's got plenty of grit and determination-learning to trust Brady again is a very different matter.

Joanne Kennedy's lifelong fascination with Wyoming's unique blend of past and present inspires her to write contemporary Western romances with traditional ranch settings. In 2010 she was nominated for a RITA award for One Fine Cowboy. At various times, Joanne has dabbled in horse training, chicken farming, and bridezilla wrangling at a department store wedding registry. Her fascination with literature led to careers in bookselling and writing. She lives with two dogs and a retired fighter pilot in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
You can find Joanne:


Wednesday, February 4, 2015


My guest today is Holly Jacobs. Holly is a successful romance author who started writing category romance. Not as easy to break into as some may think and not an easy career track given how quickly the writing market changes. Still, despite the many changes, Holly persevered in her dream, learned her craft and now there are 2.5 million Holly Jacobs books sold worldwide. Not bad at all.

What has she learned from this? I'll let her tell you about that.

I started writing in the late 90’s.  My goal was writing for Harlequin’s comedy line, Duets.  When they picked up I Waxed My Legs for This? I thought, here I am…writing comedy, which I love.  Then a book got picked up by Silhouette romance and I started writing sweet humorous stories.  It was just a short jump from comedy and I loved writing about real women in sweet, fairy tale-ish stories. 

Then Harlequin Duets folded, but I got picked up by their new more chick lit comedy line, Flipside.  It was a bit of a stretch, writing younger, more sassy heroines, but I enjoyed stretching. It took my storytelling up a notch. And I sold a single title book to Harlequin’s new line, Signature Select.  It was the same comedy, just longer.  Writing longer books was a bigger stretch, but it was fun adding extra bits to the story.  In the midst of all that, I did one trilogy for Harlequin Romance that I loved, but they wanted me to write cowboys.  Now, Erie is a great place, but we don’t have many cowboys...and by then I got picked up by Harlequin Everlasting love.  I loved those books.  They gave me an opportunity to tell a story that wasn’t a traditional romance.  The characters did more than meet, overcome an obstacle and get a happily-ever-after.  The books looked at the evolution of the relationship, but also looked at what comes next.  The ups and downs that comes with any relationship.

Then…I know, I know, you can hear it coming.  Then Everlasting folded and I moved into Harlequin’s SuperRomance, which is their most single title-ish line.  There is a wide diversity in the books they publish.  Mine center around family dramas.  Super was a line that let me explore cancer, Alzheimer’s, homelessness…  I wrote bigger issues against the backdrop of a family and romance.

I gave you the abbreviated tour of the evolution of my writing for a reason. 

First, to illustrate how quickly the industry can change.  One minute, comedy’s hot, then it’s not and chick lit is the cat’s meow.  Sweet romances are in, or hot sexy ones.  Here’s the thing…with all those different lines, the framework of my stories altered.  From humor, to sweet, to serious… 

But here’s the thing…my voice didn’t change.  I still tell stories about characters I believe in…characters who are sometimes more real to me than my neighbors.  (One of the biggest compliments I get is when someone tells me that they feel that ‘realness’ in my characters, too.)

And maybe, all those bumps in the road, all those times the industry forced me to stretch my writing, it helped me become more of a real writer I want to be.  Rather like The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.’

I’ve been working at my writing for more than a decade and a half.  Recently, I digitalized some of my first books because readers asked.  In the Dear Reader letters, I remind them that these are my earliest works…I think my writing’s improved since them.  I feel as if each book I write is a bit better than the last, and maybe that I’m a bit more of a “real” write with each.

Each time a line folded, I had to learn to look at a story from a different angle.  From comedy, to sweet, to drama.  And from that I realized in my writing what I’ve always known…life is never all one thing or another.  It’s glee, it’s sadness, it’s hard work and finding your niche.  I also learned that no matter what direction a story took, it needed characters who were…well, real.

My writing journey has been a bumpy one with unexpected twists and turns.  As each line died, I worried that this might be it…that maybe my publishing career had ended.  And each time, in hindsight, those twist and turns forced me to stretch my writing and expand what I do.  Each made me a little more real and I think my writing more real.

Maybe that’s a good life lesson as well.  Life throws all of us curves, forcing us to move in a new direction. 

We can grumble, or wail about it. 

Or we can pick ourselves up and see what gifts that new direction brings us.  Maybe those detours are how life helps us grow more real…at least I like to think so.

 Where love is a laughing matter...except when it's not