I’m thrilled to have fellow Blue Ridge Literary Agency author and fellow Etopia Author Joanne Stewart with me today. Joanne’s contemporary romances have real life characters with real life fears. Her stories have left her readers raving and asking for more. To think, it all started when she woke one day and couldn’t stop thinking about someone in a dream.
Thanks for joining me, Joanne.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I do, actually. It’s a memory that’s stuck with me. It started when my boys were little. My youngest couldn’t have been more than a year old (he’s 13 now). I had a dream one night. All I remembered about it was this one image, just a boy in a wheel chair. I couldn’t even see his face, but that image stuck with me for days afterward. It intrigued me and pulled at me, like it was telling me something. Something about that boy screamed that he had a story to tell. I couldn’t even tell you what made me finally decide to write it down, but I was intrigued enough by him that I wanted to. I had to.
I fell in love with the process of creating his story. Found a message board full of other writers where I posted snippets of my writing for critique. That message board no longer exists, but I discovered a little while ago that one of the members who taught me so much is now a Wild Rose Press author.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m in the process of writing a two book series. I’ve just started Book 2 while I send Book 1 through my critique partner. The series doesn’t have a title yet. Because I stink at titles. Lol It’s set in a small fictional town on Whidbey Island, in Washington state and it revolves around two brothers and an Italian restaurant. Book one is Luc, the oldest brother. He’s my chef. His book is an older woman, younger man story.
My tag line: A widowed wife is set up on a blind date with a local celebrity chef ten years her junior; neither is counting on the whirlwind affair that takes them both by storm.
And to be honest, I didn’t plan book 2. But in writing Luc’s book, I fell in love with this family and decided his brother Nic needed to have his own book. So, Book two is Nic’s story. He’s the baby brother and he runs management at the restaurant their family owns. This one so far has a woman on the run from an abusive ex. Nic will get to play the role of the protector. As of writing this, I’m only a couple chapters into it, but so far, it sounds like it’s going to be about a woman finding her own strength, to fight for herself and her daughter and the love that gives her the safe place in which to do it.
What was the hardest part of writing your book or any book?
My absolute biggest hurdle? Self-doubt. It cripples me and absolutely sucks the joy out of my writing. I’m a perfectionist by nature. I also have an anxiety disorder, which is where this all stems from. It means I over worry about absolutely everything (I drive my hubby and my sons nuts). There is so much about this business that breeds anxiety and stress. Our job revolves around making people like us, and we’re all competing against each other, so comparing yourself to someone else is part of the job description. And you know, my writing is different. It’s a mix of styles. I write sweet, but sensual, and my roots began in category, so you’ll find a lot of it in my stories. I like to take classic storylines, put in great characters, and add my own twists. So far, I don’t seem to write what’s popular, and that gets the doubt started. So my biggest hurdle is to stop listening to that nasty voice in my head and allow the hope room to grow. I’m my own worst enemy.
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Who is my intended audience? Readers who like characters you could meet in real life, with real problems and real fears. Who like a good heart wrenching story. Cause I love a book that can make me cry, and that’s what I prefer to write—the characters who tug on my heartstrings. I love me a good angsty story. My heroes are a mix of alpha and beta. He’s strong, but he’s got a heart. And my heroines are more like Cinderella than the CEO of a company. She has real fears and doubts. She isn’t perfect and she’s not always feisty.
Why should readers read my books? Cause I’m awesome! Lol Okay, I don’t like tooting my own horn, so this is a hard question for me. I’d rather leave it up to the readers. You guys tells ME why someone who hasn’t ever read my books should try one. BUT, for the sake of the question…my books are always emotional. If you like a good emotional read, you might try one of mine. More than a few reviews have also said that they’re quick reads, that they make good beach reads.
About the author:
J.M. Stewart writes sweet and heartwarming contemporary romance with a touch of passion. She’s a wife, a mother, a spiritualist, and lover of puppies, and happily addicted to coffee and chocolate. She lives in the Great Rainy Northwest with her husband of sixteen years and their two sons. She’s a hopeless romantic who believe everybody should have their happily-ever-after and has been devouring romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing them has become her passion.
Blurb for Her Knight in Black Leather:
Cat Edwards has spent her life playing the wallflower in an effort to escape the repressive weight of her mother’s tarnished name. Dragged to a bar by her best friend in an effort to forget a broken heart, the shy bookworm is determined to be someone else for the night, but quickly gets in over her head. She discovers chivalry isn’t dead after all when a mysterious stranger comes to her rescue. He’s wearing black leather and a mischievous smile that promises to be exactly what she needs.
When his terminally ill father suffers a setback, Michael Brant returns to the town he swore ten years ago he’d never return to. He’s come back this time determined to make peace with the past, but being home brings up memories he doesn’t want to remember anymore. His first night in town, he’s captured by a damsel in distress. Cat’s beauty is made all the more alluring when he realizes she has no idea who he is. He can’t resist spending a single night in her arms. With her, he’s only a man, disconnected from his family’s name and the past that haunts him here.
As the town erupts with the news of his return, Michael’s dark past comes back to haunt him, putting Cat in danger. Someone is threatening her life and the life of her family. Desperate to keep history from repeating itself, Michael offers her his family’s name in order to keep her safe. When the lie spirals beyond their control, can they stop their hearts from becoming entangled as well?
“Follow my lead.” His voice flowed against her ear, rich and smooth and darkly sensual. The kind of voice she could well imagine whispering to her in the dark. It added to the stubble prickling her cheek and, for a moment, her mind twisted off in another direction, filling with naughty fantasies. Suddenly she was dying to see the face behind the voice.
Louder he said, “Miss me?”
Velvet soft lips brushed her earlobe as he spoke, combined with the deep, sensual quality of his voice and sent delicious shivers slipping down her spine. For a moment, Cat forgot to breathe, forgot what in the world she was supposed to be doing. Somewhere through the haze that took over her mind, his meaning finally occurred to her. Her body went limp with relief. She had the sudden urge to turn and hug the man. Chivalry hadn’t died with King Arthur after all.
“You’re late.” Playing her part, she straightened on her stool and reached back to twine her fingers with his. Soft, thick fingers that filled her overheated mind with visions of them sliding over her skin.
The clod’s hand finally released her thigh, and Cat swallowed a sigh of relief then spun to face her savior. “You were supposed to be here…”
Her train of thought derailed as she came face to face with the center of a broad chest. A thickly muscled chest barely contained by the black T-shirt covering it. Her heart skipped several beats as she followed the muscles upward, past even wider shoulders, until her gaze collided with a pair of dark brown eyes that made her breath catch.
Oh boy. She clamped her mouth shut and swallowed hard. A five o’clock shadow covered a strong, square jaw, giving him a rough and rugged edge. His thick, almost black, hair licked at the collar of his worn leather jacket, just long enough to be rebellious, and tousled by the wind. Her fingers itched to reach up and slide through his hair to see if it felt as soft as it seemed.
“Forgive me.” As he bent down to her eye level, his eyes burned into hers, a hidden meaning in the dark depths she couldn’t quite grasp. She couldn’t concentrate much past the fact his face was now a scant inch from hers. His soft, warm breath fanned her lips, and her gaze zeroed in on the mouth that had sent delicious sensations thrumming through her body barely a minute ago.
Before she could ponder what on earth he meant or come up with a proper response, he took their charade a step further.
He kissed her.