Hi everyone, this time the spotlight is on Blue Ridge Agency author, JoAnn Smith Ainsworth. I haven't spoken to JoAnn much since I joined the agency so I am looking forward to getting to know her better.
Please remember to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like the chance to be a featured author and I can add you to the list.
1) Your biggest piece of advice to aspiring novelists?
Never give up. Stay optimistic.
When I speak to readers, I often have people come up to me to say that I’m an inspiration because I changed the direction of my life as I approached retirement and because I persisted until I succeeded. They become inspired to follow through on their dreams.
During this life journey, I learned to stay true to myself, stay focused on my goal and keep walking step by step toward that goal.
2) When did you first consider yourself a writer?
As I approached retirement age, I looked for a way to supplement my social security income. Since I have my B.A. and M.A.T. in English and my MBA studies, I decided to go into the business of writing novels. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with my characters and with the process. Now, I’d keep writing even if I never sold another novel.
I considered myself a writer from the time I made my decision to write. I considered myself an author when I got my first manuscript done.
Published author came ten years later. I spent many of those years studying the craft of writing so that I can produce the best possible story to enchant a reader.
3) What is the best part of the writing process for you?
I enjoy editing. As I peal off excess words, I feel like a sculptor who chips away stone to get to the image inside. Or, in my case, the story inside.
4) The worst part?
Facing a blank page is the hardest.
The decision on where to start the novel is crucial to the novel’s success. Capturing a reader’s attention with the first words on the page requires refining the thoughts by choosing or eliminating possibilities. It takes significant decision making to begin a novel. Those choices affect everything that follows.
5) What comes first, plot or characters?
I write in historical settings so I choose my setting/time period first. I ask myself: What story problem can arise because of this time and place? Then I ask myself what type of characters are best suited to resolve the story question? From there I create at least five major crises the characters must face. Those crisis points are the story plot. As you can see, the plot comes last.
6) What surprised you the most when you became published?
I was surprised by how I suddenly became an expert on writing and marketing a novel. I knew the same amount of information on the day before publication, but afterward people in audiences looked to me as an expert to give them guidance on writing and marketing their own books.