Author Joanne Hale describes herself as the kid in school with a book in one hand and in the other a notebook and pen. And even as an adult this hasn’t changed much. In her writing, as in life, she invites you in and takes you on the journey. Meet Joanne.
You’re an author, but is it your day job? I work full-time in banking operations. This takes up 45 plus hours of my week. I write on my lunch, before work, after work, and anytime I get just a second to myself. My dream is to give up banking and become a full-blown writer.
Did you always want to be an author? I have always wanted to be a writer. My parents joke I was born with a pencil in my hand. But it was publishing and fear of rejection that kept me from publishing for so long.
What is your most recent book and what inspired you to write it? My most recent published work is called Devil’s in the Woman. It’s not a horror story as though it may sound. It’s a Grateful Dead reference. The story is about a girl who lives with her mother and ailing hippy grandmother. And using music learns the truth of her family’s past and why her mother and grandmother have such a strained relationship. I wrote this story for a couple reasons. I lost both my grandmothers within a few years of each other. And losing them I saw the riffs of family secrets and how the past is beautiful but haunting.
How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? Most of my stories and books are based around characters. I hope to write characters people fall in love with and can connect with, I’m not trying to drag you through emotionless action stories. Human nature and emotional struggle is something everyone can understand, and I want people to know they are not alone.
What are you most excited about with this book? With this story I’m most excited about what happens next. At first when I wrote this story, it was only going to be a short story for a separate anthology, and honestly it was going to be about witches and the devil, but then my character who I nicknamed Jujubea took the story and broke it wide open into my own truths and pasts. I completed it and then published it solo on Amazon as a short story for $0.99. I didn’t think anything of it. Then, a week after publishing, a reader caught me off guard by asking me will there be more Jujubea. I never even considered it a strong story, let alone the character strong enough to hold her own. Then recently Jujubea grabbed my hand and together we are writing what’s next.
How did writing your book help your career take off? I don’t think “writing a book” helped my career take off. If I never published, I would still be writing and collecting notebooks to fill with my dreams and thoughts. I do feel though that I am still in the infancy of my writing career. It’s only been one year of being published and I have so much more to offer and I can’t wait to get it out there.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your professional industry? I wish I had great advice, I wish I had the answers to all the questions and what people need to do to make it. I have no idea. I’m growing and learning and I’m not afraid of making mistakes. And I went through many mistakes. I signed six stories to a vanity publisher before I knew what a vanity publisher was. I made $6.00 in royalties over those stories in six months. I learned my lesson. I read posts. I ask questions. I research before making decisions. That’s my advice. Never be afraid of asking questions. I take my setbacks and the criticism as badges of honor. I remember reading that Stephen King took his rejection letters and nailed them to the wall to remind himself of where he came from. I don’t have a space on the wall I’d feel safe nailing up all the pages I would have, but I do save them in folders on my computer. I hold them like badges of honor; they aren’t setbacks, they are just the wrong door.
Being an author today is like running a business. How do you manage all your publicity, social media and keep your engagement up with readers? This is what I’m learning. I work social media daily posting my truths and snips of my stories, and just being real. I am who I am. How do I balance it all? Like a porcupine trying to balance wine glasses. Very carefully, if not way too haphazardly. I laugh because it’s true. I’m the bull in the china shop. I’m going to run in horns first and try things and if it works, yay, and if not, well, try something else later. I have also been reading books about marketing and promoting books. It’s definitely a craft, and like all crafts you have to begin somewhere.
How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? I hold myself accountable by writing. Just writing. Not writing anything specific, sometimes only putting down nouns in a list. Anything. Every minute I am thinking of writing. I have writer quotes all over my work computer, I set timers to remind myself to write. I sleep with a notebook and pen in my hand in case I need to write. I just try. And if I mess up, I try again.
How do you structure your day and make time for writing? This is my day: 6:10am get kid 1 up, he leaves at 6:45am on the bus so I write from 6:45-8:00am. 8:00am kid 2 gets up, school is at 8:30. I write 8:30-9:30am. I work from 9:30am-7:00pm. And then I write on and off from 7:00pm to whenever I fall asleep. This is my Monday through Friday schedule. For the weekend I try to get a couple hours in, while watching the kids, cleaning the house, house fixing. I make time. I set timers. I try to write a little every day.
What book uplifts you? The book that uplifts me is Tales from the City by Armistead Maupin. It’s a wonderful story based in ’70s San Francisco. Mrs. Madrigal owns a complex with a few rooms, and each of the people that stay there are as real as you and I. I read these books in the 3rd grade, they really are not made for that young, but I was so enthralled by the cover I just had to. I fell in love with his writing, and the characters were my friends. I wrote a short story called “Always, San Francisco” which is an ode to his Tales. It can be found in my anthology called “Card Catalogue”.
Anything else you’d like to share? There is no right or wrong when it comes to writing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to reach out, but do understand that you are starting out, and you don’t know everything yet. Be respectful and kind.
You can connect with Joanne via her Facebook page
Images Courtesy of Joanne Hale