Welcome back to this corner of Journeys and Life. This is the next installment of a series of interviews I will be doing with Michigan authors. We have a very interesting and diverse bunch of writers in this state who represent a wide swath of genre’s. Since February is the month of love and romance I am pleased to welcome the lovely Joanna Morrey, author of the romance novel Like Sparrows to Journeys & Life. Like Sparrows was published last year, is Joanna’s first novel and is getting fabulous reviews on Amazon.com.
Joanna, first go ahead and tell everyone a little bit about yourself.
“I am thirty-one years old, I work full time at a software company where I have been employed for almost four years. Before that, I was a hairstylist for over ten years. I have a two-year-old son and our family lives in Charlotte, Michigan. I enjoy cooking and traveling.”
How long did it take you to finish Like Sparrows?
“It actually didn’t take me long at all to write. The total time from the day I started writing until it was published was about nine months.”
What’s the biggest fear you had prior to publishing your first novel. I know I was a nervous wreck about mine. Do you have any regrets about how you handled the release as a first-time author?
“I think my biggest fear was that no one would be interested in reading or buying it. I actually had a great experience with the publishing company as well as with the release of Like Sparrows.”
As a parent to a little boy, I know all too well how hard it can be when it comes to balancing my life as a parent with the responsibilities of being an author. How do you handle it with your son?
“I spent most of my time writing after he went to bed at night or during his naps on the weekends. Having a good support system of family and friends kept me motivated.”
(Joanna pick one meme or gif to explain you as an author or how you feel about being an author)
What inspired you to pick up a pen (or keyboard) and write your first novel?
“I have been writing since I was a child. During a late night feeding when my son was a baby, the story of Like Sparrows came to mind. I figured I could just start writing and see where it led. A few close friends read the first chapters and encouraged me to keep going. Before I knew it I had written a novel!”
So what writing project are you working on now?
“I am working on three different novels actually. I am mostly focused on the sequel to Like Sparrows called “Like Wolves”.”
Mike – So is this going to be a series then or are these just all separate books?
Joanna – “Like Wolves” is a sequel but the other two are separate novels”.
What is your least favorite thing about being a writer and why?
“Editing! I like to focus more on the story than I do on proper comma placement and other little grammatical details. I also tend to overuse words and phrases. But working through it only makes me a better writer.”
Mike – I have the same issue with overusing words and phrases. What are your most frequent ones? mine is though and, however, ugh ***bang my head***
Joanna – Haha! I know the feeling! I overuse “moments” “just” and a lot of words that end in “ly”
If you could pick one character from literature who is most similar to you who would it be?
“Jo March from “Little Women”. I, too, was a tomboy as a child and called “Jo” for the most part. I can be stubborn, hot tempered, yet very passionate and determined to do what I want.”
With regards to the expectations of being an author in this modern age of publishing what is the hardest or has been the hardest aspect for you to feel comfortable with?
“Promoting myself! It took me a long time for me to be able to comfortably say “This is my novel and here is why you will like it”…so to speak. But I find that if you exude confidence and smile, people are willing to hear what you have to say.”
You write romance (at least with your first novel). So, who is your favorite romance author as a reader? What about their style do you like?
“I’m a modern day girl and I love a good modern day romance! If I am in the mood to read a romantic fiction novel, Nicholas Sparks is my go-to author. His novels, although a bit predictable, captivate the audience and are easy to read. His books are ones you can pick up, read in a day or two without having to put much mental energy into.”
Mike – Ok, so I gotta ask. What is your favorite Spark’s novel? What is your favorite and least favorite book to film adaptation of one of his novels? (I’ll give you mine if you give me yours)
Joanna – “Hmmm my favorite Sparks novel…probably The Best Of Me. “The Notebook”, “Nights in Rodanthe” and “Message in a Bottle” were very good films. The worst adaptation? That is tough…I thought “The Last Song” was dreadful but the latest film “The Choice” was probably the worst to date.”
Mike – Ya know I have a love hate relationship Mr. Sparks and book adpatations in general. But I think my favorite film based off one of his books is “Safe Haven” the worst would be “The Notebook”. Its a tie between “Nights in Rodanthe” and “Message in Bottle” for favorite book though. I think his earlier novels were better written. I’ve always tended to be drawn towards novels with older and more mature characters in general. I will say the the movie version of “Nights in Rodanthe” was very very good.
I am very involved with my own covers from conception to the final version but don’t have the talent to do it on my own. Tell me about your cover from Like Sparrows, did you make it yourself or did you use a designer?
“A little bit of both. I worked with the designers of the publishing company I went through and we collaborated our ideas and chose the image of the cover. I am very happy with it.”
Mike – Joanna, you chose to publish with Lulu instead of Createspace or IngramSpark. What about Lulu made you go that route. I ask because they are a somewhat underused and less know publisher so authors might be interested in hearing about your experience with them. How did publishing with them make the publishing experience better for you?
Joanna – “They have excellent customer service which is a huge plus for me. I wanted my first time publishing a novel to go smooth, if not perfect, and they helped me every step of he way! I opted to purchase some of their services and I don’t regret it. They investment perfected my novel and gave it a very professional look and feel.”
You chose North Carolina as the setting for Like Sparrows. What was so special about the North Carolina that you chose to set your first novel there?
“I love to travel and North Carolina is one of my favorite places I have visited.”
What novel do you think is overrated?
“Fifty Shades of Grey. From an author’s standpoint, it was very poorly written. I can, however, appreciate the fact that E.L. James capitalized on reaching a very large market of readers.”
Since it’s around Valentine’s day tell us about your favorite Valentine’s day memory that you are willing to share?
“One year I received concert tickets to go see one of my favorite musicians, David Gray. It was a very thoughtful and meaningful gift.”
Any advice you would like to share that you have learned during your time as an author?
“Taking a chance on doing what you love is always going to be worth the outcome. I didn’t have expectations when it came to copies sold or how much money I was going to earn through book sales. Having written a novel is an accomplishment by itself and I will always be proud of that. Following a dream of mine is a lesson I wanted to teach my son—my greatest achievement to date.”
Find Joanna on Facebook
Buy Joannas’ book on Amazon.com
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