She's here to present her take on Romance writing.
Linda: Okay–why Romance?
JoAnn: I can’t not write about romance. To me, there’s nothing more thrilling than reading about that first blush of love, whether it’s love at first sight or love developed over a period of time. I love a story that’s character rich. When I read a book, I want to feel as though I know these people and I want to be fully invested in their lives.
Linda: Now, why Christian Romance?
JoAnn: I want to provide a God-honoring story to readers. I want them to have confidence that when they open one of my books, they won’t be shocked by a sex scene, harsh violence or curse words. My characters aren’t perfect, by any means. They often fail, but they’re striving to live according to God’s word. While I have a lot of humor in my stories, I also like to believe they have depth, spiritual insights and life lessons as well as a “take away” for my readers.
Linda: What is your message to your readers?
JoAnn: God loves you, no matter your background or circumstances. There’s nothing that God doesn’t know or can’t forgive, and He wants us to know Him and vice versa.
My mother made an interesting comment recently after she read my newest Christmas novella. She said, “Nicole prayed to God as though He’s her personal friend. A lot of people don’t know how to pray.”
She’s now teaching a Sunday school series on that topic. So many people believe they’re inadequate for some reason or they’re either embarrassed or afraid to pray. The Lord is there, He listens, and He has our best interest at heart. Always.
Linda: What makes for good conflict between your characters? How do you make your romance novels stand out; what makes them different?
In my books, the conflict tends to be not so much the emotional turmoil and back and forth such as “I’m not worthy of him/her” or “It will never work between us because. . .” Of course, I do have some of that, but overall, it’s more of an external force they must overcome—together being the key word.
My books are different in that my couples often work as a team to solve problems or triumph over circumstances which complicate their relationship. How they accomplish this—growing closer as a result, and proving the test of time and long-term compatibility—makes the story. In other words, my heroine and her hero are usually together in most of the book.
Except for my novellas or short novels, my books tend to be longer and my book covers do not always have “characters” on them so the reader can envision the characters for herself.
Linda: What qualities do you look for in a hero? A heroine?
JoAnn: My heroes are respectful of women and the heroine is the most beautiful woman in the world. He accepts her faults and insecurities, but without fail, he always supports and encourages her. If needed, he defends her and is willing to fight for her love. I love a hero who loves children and/or animals and is strong in his faith and convictions. He’s honest and a man of integrity. As for the heroine, she respects her hero. She accepts him when he’s grumpy and irrational, and she likewise encourages and supports him.
Linda: I know you’re a member of ACFW. Are you a member of RWA? Why/why not? Any other organizations?
JoAnn: I’ve been a member of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) since 2010, and I’m also a member of the Indiana chapter. I learned so much from being a part of the ACFW, and I will always be thankful to that organization and many of its members for their encouragement and support of my writing journey. I live in southern Indiana, very close to Kentucky, so we’ve formed a group of the ACFW and are discussing a new chapter. I’m also a member of the Louisville (KY) Christian Writers.
I was a member of the RWA several years ago. While there are many benefits, I chose not to renew my membership for reasons having to do with my own personal beliefs and principles which were not compatible with many of the books being produced by RWA members.
Linda: Any advice for new romance writers?
JoAnn: Keep writing. Keep reading. Especially for Christian romance writers, keep praying. I pray every time I sit down at the computer to write or edit. The Lord has guided me and been beside me every step of the way. I’d also advise all new writers to get involved with local and/or national writers’ groups. They are invaluable in not only networking but in learning, encouraging and sharing with one another.
Linda: What’s new with you?
JoAnn: I retired (although I prefer the term “transitioned”) from my full-time paralegal position in mid-August this year and am now living the dream as a full-time author! It’s my passion, and I adore the creativity and fun of bringing characters and their stories to life! I released Moonbeams (fifth in The Lewis Legacy Series) in late June this year, Sleigh Ride Together with You (third and final in the Starlight Christmas Series) and then Prelude (Prequel to The Lewis Legacy Series) in mid-December.
Linda: What’s next for you?
JoAnn: I’m currently revising/editing a book I wrote many years ago. Originally titled Oxford Hills, it’s now called Heart’s Design. It was a favorite among some of my very early readers, and I must confess to a soft spot for these characters (Caroline and Seth) and their story, and the setting is a fictional small town in the foothills of western Maine. I hope to release Enchantment, Book 6 of The Lewis Legacy Series, in the spring. I hope to release a number of books in 2015!
Thanks for inviting me to be your guest today, Linda! I sincerely appreciate the opportunity.
JoAnn Durgin is the author of five novels (and counting) in the popular Lewis Legacy Series, as well as her newest, Prelude, the Prequel to The Lewis Legacy Series. She is also the author of Catching Serenity, Echoes of Edinburgh, and the Starlight Christmas Series: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Starlight, Star Bright, and Sleigh Ride Together with You. JoAnn lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana and loves to hear from her readers at www.joanndurgin.com or www.facebook.com/authorjoanndurgin.
JoAnn has generously offered to give away free an electronic copy of any of her books displayed in this post. Your choice! Winner will be announced a week from today.
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