Today we welcome JoAnn Durgin to my blog. JoAnn is very graciously giving away a copy of her book Thee Will I Honor to one person who comments. Please include contact information.
Good to have you stop by, JoAnn. Tell us about your book – a brief blurb:
After serving two tours of duty in Afghanistan, wounded First Lieutenant Matthew Henry Martin returns to Meadowvale, his beloved hometown nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He’s unemployed and facing an uncertain future, but surely God has a plan?
Lesley Ann Randall is a woman on a deeply personal mission. A small Virginia town is the last place her older sister, First Lieutenant Faith Randall, was spotted. When Lesley speeds into Meadowvale, she immediately captures the attention of the sheriff, the pastor, and a handsome war veteran with secrets of his own.
When Lesley and Matt join forces, will they discover something greater than they could have ever imagined?
What inspired you to write this book?
Thee Will I Honor is the second book in my three-book Treasured Vow Series. The books are about three (of four) siblings, and this installment focuses on Matthew Martin, the only son in a family with three sisters (the oldest is already married). As the children of well-known Christian marriage experts, the Martin offspring can sometimes be clueless about romance.
Thee Will I Honor released on Memorial Day, an appropriate and fitting day for a story about a returning war hero. I have all the respect in the world for the members of our military. In the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, I talk about visiting Pearl Harbor this past December and poignant memories from that visit. I also wished to examine and bring to the readers’ attention the physical, emotional, and mental conflicts faced by a majority of our returning servicemen and women. They need our prayers whether they’re serving overseas or stateside. The heroine’s sister is also military which figures greatly into the book’s events and highlights some very real and current world security issues.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I write contemporary Christian romance with strong elements of faith, family, humor and (of course!) love and romance in all my books. I can’t write “flowery” to save my life, and focus more on deep characters, dialogue, and creative and unexpected plot twists. I like to believe I present sentimental and heartwarming characters I hope readers will want to get to know better. Nothing pleases me more than when a reader believes my characters are real and considers them as friends. In Thee Will I Honor, there’s a mystery running throughout the entire book (with a bit of suspense near the end). My books are very character-driven but with plenty of action to keep readers engaged and entertained so they’ll keep turning the pages!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I love sitting down in front of the blank computer screen and seeing where the Lord and my imagination will lead. My greatest challenge is not with writing but editing. Why? Well, I tend to edit as I move along in my manuscripts these days, and to be honest, working that way slows me down to the brink of frustration. The perfectionist in me can drive me absolutely crazy! I long to go back to the days when I could simply pound out the story and then go back and edit. Thankfully, I finally reach the point where I’m satisfied and know I’ve done the best job I can. Then move on to the next project!
Readers are sometimes surprised to hear that wedding scenes are my least favorite to write. I don’t generally find them that interesting. They’re full of details, but readers seem to enjoy them to tie the pretty bow at the end of the book (especially in a standalone novel). What I’ve done in recent books is gloss over the actual wedding but give them enough basic details after-the fact. Then I tie up every loose end I can think of and give them that satisfying happy ending. So far, no complaints!
I especially enjoy writing tense scenes, whether it’s emotional or action-packed. I also write more of the lead-up to the kiss instead of focusing on the kiss itself. Those moments between a hero and his heroine before their lips meet can be very sweet and (in my humble opinion) even more romantic.
What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?
My least favorite aspect of the entire process are reviews, but let’s not dwell on that subject. I will say I’m a somewhat rare author who truly enjoys marketing and advertising. My Facebook author page has grown by more than 20K people in the past year by posting memes (illustrations and photos) with Scripture. You read that right, twenty thousand! It’s become a ministry all its own that ministers to people around the world. Most of those people will probably never read one of my books, but if I can touch a heart for Christ, that’s my ultimate goal! Only the Lord knew all those years ago in my college advertising courses how He’d one day use that training for His glory!
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Always keep writing. Try to write every day—no matter for how long, no matter whether or not you ever publish those words. The only way to learn anything, and the only way to improve, is by doing. Early on, it’s helpful to find likeminded individuals in a critique group or through conferences. Be accountable to someone for your work, pray for one another, encourage one another. Once you’ve sent off a submission to an agent or a publisher, don’t sit back and wait for something to happen. It can be a long process, so always keep moving forward and writing that next novel.
Do you have a favorite writing conference to attend? What is it?
I’ve attended a few writing conferences, and they were encouraging, uplifting, and energizing. I don’t currently plan on going to any conferences this year, however. It’s not that I feel like I’ve learned everything because I’ll never reach that point. Authors are always learning, evolving, and growing. Finances, family commitments, and the courses offered all figure into the decision-making process. The first ever SoCal (Southern California) Christian Writers Conference was in 2017, and that was the last writing conference I attended. We lived in California early in our marriage, and our first daughter was born there. I hadn’t returned in 25 years, so that was a real draw to attend last year (plus a good writing friend invited me).
I do attend monthly local meetings for Christian authors, and those could be considered mini-conferences. Being together with other writers is always energizing whether for a few hours or a few days. At this stage of my personal writing journey, I’m more interested in meeting with readers as our family travels to different locations in the country. I’ve been honored and privileged to meet a number of readers in recent years, and the thrill never gets old!
JoAnn Durgin is the USA Today bestselling author of 30 novels including several series, seven Christmas books, and ten books (and counting) in her beloved, long-running Lewis Legacy Series. When she’s not writing, she’s always plotting or thinking about her characters. She was voted one of 35 “Essential Christian Romance Authors” for 2018 by the readers of Family Fiction Magazine. A formal estate administration paralegal, JoAnn and her husband, Jim, live in her native southern Indiana where they enjoy family time with their three children and first grandchild, Amelia Grace.
Links for social media:
The three main places to connect with JoAnn are as follows:
Amazon link to buy Thee Will I Honor (can also be borrowed free with Amazon Kindle Unlimited):