Married to her first sweetheart, Joanne lives in the mountains of Southern California where she keeps busy making messes with their home schooled children.
When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, writing, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life.
The following is a June 2013 interview with Joanne.
I live in the mountains of Southern California with my husband and three homeschooled children. We are so thankful to live here and have so much open space to be outdoors and a great, tight-knit community. I’ve always loved creating things whether it’s a craft or baking, so I can usually be found making some kind of mess. My kids love it because we’re always into projects which usually involve something yummy coming out of the oven.
What inspired you to become a novelist, and did you always want to write?
I first realized I wanted to be a writer when I was little. Ever since reading Laura Ingalls Wilder, and realizing that this imaginative little girl grew up to write books, I knew that’s what I wanted to do too. I wrote my first official story in 3rd grade. My mom had me write it out in my best cursive and took me down to the copier. We made copies and bound it in little notebooks for my teacher and family. I was thrilled. It was such a blessing to have my parents be so supportive of my dreams and I will be forever grateful.
What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?
Christian authors really have an opportunity to reach reader’s hearts with a message that points upward. It’s a really special thing in Christian fiction to write for a greater, common purpose.
How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?
I always hope to reach a reader’s heart. People often share with me that these stories drew out a wide scope of emotions and that they felt connected to the characters. It’s been amazing how many letters and notes I’ve received from readers who forgot the characters weren’t real people. They’ve shared with me how they’ve come to care for the folks in the Cadence of Grace series. I’ve even had several ladies share how they started praying for them and then remembered that it was just a story. That’s always the kind of impact I hope to make on readers, to make them feel so connected to a story, that it’s an entire experience.
What has been the most surprising aspect to becoming a published novelist?
The most surprising aspect was how it’s as filled with the ups and downs of life as anything else. Life never got any easier than it was pre-publication. In countless ways it’s been absolutely incredible. Yet still it carries the hope and heartache that life always does. There are still moments when I get discouraged, or feel doubtful or even unsure if this is my calling. Those moments are only a reminder of how God continues to draw us near to Him. If this journey has taught me anything, it’s been of just how much I need to lean on the Lord for each step of the way.
It’s made me seek answers much more closely and carefully. When I write, particularly in the later stages of a manuscript that’s preparing for publication, I really try to be open as I look at the words on the page. I always want any of my words that won’t honor God to be taken away. Any part of the story that’s not the way God would want it to change and grow into something that will be wholly honoring to the Lord. It’s a process and it involves a lot of thought and care, but with each story, I’ve gotten a peace when the last nip and tuck has been done and it’s in that moment that I know each story is ready to go out in the world in a way that will bring Glory to Christ.
Other than being a novelist, what other goals do you have for your life?
I want to love my children well and for them to look back and know that they were cherished. I want my children to grow up full of good character, compassion and wisdom. It’s in the time my husband and I spend with them that we get to pour into this goal each and every day.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I love to read. I don’t have nearly enough of that time nowadays, but when I get to sit down and finish a book I’ve been eager to read, it’s always such a treat. I also love to be outdoors with my kids. They’re homeschooled so we spend a lot of time together and when my husband gets home, we truly enjoy our time as a family. We don’t have television, so whether it’s a bike ride or a family movie night, we just love being together and enjoying the time with our little ones.
What can you tell us about your debut novel?
The first novel in the Cadence of Grace series is, BE STILL MY SOUL. It’s about Gideon O’Riley, a bluegrass musician and handsome ladies’ man, who happens to walk shy Lonnie Sawyer home from the town social. He steals a kiss that night, causing a misunderstanding that lands the pair of them in a shotgun marriage. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia at the turn of the last century, BE STILL MY SOUL weaves together the threads of yearning, hope, and redemption to form a love story that is triumphant even after all hope seems lost.
What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead?
Right now I’m working on the final rounds of proofing for the third book in the series, MY HOPE IS FOUND. I am so excited to get this final book in the series out for readers. They’ve been so enthusiastic in following Lonnie and Gideon’s story through BE STILL MY SOUL and THOUGH MY HEART IS TORN, that I hope this will be a triumphant end.
Night’s chill tickled her skin. Lonnie pressed her hands together and glanced up. He was even more handsome up close. Having grown up the shy, awkward daughter of Joel Sawyer, she’d hardly spoken to any boy, let alone the one who had mothers whispering warnings in their daughter’s ears and fathers loading shotguns.
Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith. But when handsome ladies’ man and bluegrass musician Gideon O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate.
Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.
Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life. What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?
Gideon only ever cared about himself. Now that Lonnie is his wife, will he ever be worthy of her heart?
Gideon O’Riley has two wives—but he doesn’t know it.
Settling into a simple life in the majestic Blue Ridge mountains, Lonnie and Gideon O’Riley have finally found happiness after the rocky start to their marriage. The roguish bluegrass musician has fallen in love with his gentle wife and the God she serves, and Lonnie rests secure in his tenderness for her and their young son. A heartless ruse interupts their peace, bringing them back to Rocky Knob—and forces them to face the claims of Cassie Allan, a woman who says she is Gideon’s rightful wife.
As Gideon wades into the depths of his past choices, Lonnie is stunned by the revelations. She has no choice but to navigate this new path, knowing that surviving the devastating blow will take every ounce of strength she has.
While Gideon’s guilt and his bitterness towards Cassie threatens to burn up his fledgling faith, Lonnie wrestles to find the courage to trust the God who brought them together in the first place. Will their hard-earned love be able to conquer all?
Lonnie only wanted her husband’s love. Now that he belongs to another, can she surrender Gideon to a God with a bigger plan?
Gideon O’Riley has been given another chance at a life with Lonnie. But will the fight for her heart risk it all over again?
After finally finding love with his sweet bride Lonnie, Gideon’s heart was torn when a woman from his past claimed to be his true and rightful wife, forcing him away from his family. God’s merciful hand saw Gideon through the heartache, and with Cassie’s blessing, he is able to return home. Though his journey back through the Blue Ridge Mountains will hold a trial he never anticipated.
Meanwhile, Lonnie determines to seal off her heart from Gideon, convinced he is lost to her forever. Strengthening her resolve to move on is the fondness she has for the handsome Scotsman, Toby McKee—the young reverend she has come to care deeply for. His proposal of marriage offers a bright future for her and her young son.
Yearning to allow joy back into her life, Lonnie must put aside the broken pieces of her heart that still love Gideon. When he returns to find her betrothed to another, he has to place his hope in God, trusting that the One who redeemed their love once can do it again.
Be Still My Soul (Cadence of Grace #1)
[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
Though My Heart is Torn (Cadence of Grace #2)
[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
My Hope is Found (Cadence of Grace #3)
[Pre-Order: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
It’s so nice to meet you! Whenever I answer an interview, I always think of the people who may read it and it’s such a joy to think of someone taking the time to get to learn more about me and my books and I hope for the chance to get to connect with you and say hi! You can find me on Facebook or through my website.
Do you have any parting words?
Thank you so much for inviting me to Soul Inspirationz. This is such a treat!
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