Mae Clair’s Wizards with Words: J.M. Stewart

Welcome to Wizards with Words!

Before we get started, I’d like to mention I’m doing guest blogging duties today at Venture Galleries  discussing the use of social media in obtaining TOMA. If you get a moment, please check it out!

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Joanne Stewart as my Wizards with Words featured author. Joanne writes as J.M. Stewart, is a Six Sentence Sunday friend of mine, and a busy author with two new releases – – THE PLAYBOY’S BABY and A SECOND CHANCE AT FOREVER — making huge splashes in the romance world. Please help me in welcoming Joanne to my blog haunt.

Wow, Joanne, it’s hard enough for me to stay on top of things with the release of one novel. How are you managing with two almost back-to-back?

JOANNE: Thanks for having me, Mae! You know, the release of A Second Chance at Forever kind of took me by surprise. It’s apparently a new thing the publisher has started doing, starting with titles due out next year. Right now, the kindle format is only available. It officially releases in January. But honestly? I’m having trouble keeping up. I’d planned my release for A Second Chance in January, so knowing what to do now is a bit tough.

I can certainty understand how you’d have your hands full. You’d planned for THE PLAYBOY’s BABY but the other title came with an early delivery 😀  Can you tell us a bit about THE PLAYBOY’S BABY?

JOANNE: The Playboy’s Baby was my take on the wealthy hero and the secret baby theme. It’s very a sweet book. It’s set in a small fictional town in Montana. Emma Stanton has had a run of bad luck. Her sister’s died in an accident, leaving Emma guardian to her six month old niece. Emma’s come back to town to find the baby’s father–who happens to be her sister’s best friend and the one man she can’t forget.

Dillon James is a reformed playboy. When Emma shows up and announces that he has a daughter, all he wants is to be the father his daughter deserves. He’s been used for his name and his money one too many times and he has no desire to get involved again.

But neither one of them can forget the kiss they shared eight years ago. Unfortunately, Dillon and Emma grew up together. Emma still thinks of him as that playboy. Dillon yearns to prove to her that he’s not that stupid kid anymore. The more time he spends with her as she shows him how to care for his daughter, the more he’s realizing maybe it’s time he takes a chance on love. The question is…can he convince Emma to take a chance on him?

Having read the story already, I can vouch what a wonderful read it is. So sweet, heartwarming and romantic. *wistful sigh* How about A SECOND CHANCE AT FOREVER?  I’d love to hear more about that one too.

JOANNE: This one is close to my heart. I really fell for my hero, Alex, in this one. I was told by people who beta read it for me that you might need tissues. I do know that parts of this made me cry writing it.

Angela Lewis is newly divorced. She’s always been the geeky girl. Smart, unpopular. After her husband leaves her for a younger woman, Angela gets a job as a stripper on the Las Vegas Strip as a means of picking her self-esteem up off the floor. In the club, Angela gets to be the sexy vixen she always wanted to be.  This is where she runs into her childhood crush. They haven’t seen each other in years and he doesn’t recognize her. When he takes an interest in her alter ego, Candy, Angela can’t resist. She only wants one night to live in the fantasy.

Alex McKinley’s life has been shattered by tragedy. His wife and four year old daughter were killed in a car accident. He’s in Vegas with coworkers, trying to pick up the pieces of his life and move on. A no strings attached, weekend fling with Candy is exactly what he needs. Little does he know that Candy is actually his best friend’s kid sister. Little Angie’s all grown up and driving him crazy.

It’s only supposed to be a weekend fling. Until Angela discovers she’s pregnant. The more time Alex spends with her, the more he finds himself falling for the woman she’s become. She makes him want to live again. In the end, can he convince Angela to take a chance on him?

Another one for my TBR pile! You seem to really enjoy writing novels where the lead characters reconnect later in life. Both THE PLAYBOY’S BABY and A SECOND CHANCE AT FOREVER (btw, I love that title!) have that theme at their core. Coincidence or a favorite topic to explore?

JOANNE: You know, I have to laugh. Believe it or not, I don’t plan it this way. My characters come to me and tell me their stories. I just write them down. But yeah, I’ve noticed that trend as well. I have three other books with my agent and all except one have the same theme. So, I’m going to take a guess and say I think I’ve found a favorite theme. I haven’t figured out yet if that’s good or bad, though. lol But I will admit it is a topic I’m more likely to pick up in a book I want to read, too. There’s just something a bit more intimate about people who already know each other. I love me a good reunion story. Apparently I love to write them, too. lol

Lucky for those of us who enjoy reading those kind of tales. 🙂 So tell us a bit about Joanne. How long have you been writing? 

JOANNE: All in all, I think around eleven years now. I took a six year hiatus from writing, though. Some personal stuff that cropped up and took over. I finally picked it back up about two and a half, three years ago now.

What is the biggest hurdle you’ve encountered on your path to becoming an author and how did you overcome it?

JOANNE: The biggest hurdle is one I’m still tackling. Self promotion. I’m a horribly shy person. It’s almost a phobia for me. I literally freeze up. It’s a bit easier online, because I can take the time to think about what I want to say. But I’m  having to force myself to step out of my shell. I’m still working on this one. Baby steps. 🙂 

I can SO relate to that! Most people would never realize it but I’m an extreme introvert in real life. I’m right there with you, pushing myself out of my shell. So much easier to do when behind a keyboard, LOL. 

Which do you find the most difficult to write – – beginning, middle or end?

JOANNE: Beginning, hands down. Everything is so new at that point. My characters are a blank slate. I’m just getting to know them. I get to know them as I write. I can’t do character charts or things like that. It never works for me. Characters reveal themselves in bits and pieces. So it usually takes me until about chapter five or so to really figure the story out and where I’m going. After that, it kind of takes on a life of its own.

When you’re not writing (or reading) what do enjoy doing?

JOANNE: You know, I really am a boring person. lol I’m a homebody. I love to play with my dogs. We have two one year olds, we adopted them as puppies. I also like to watch movies and play computer games. Anything to occupy my mind. I’m a bit ADD. My mind goes in a million different directions all the time, so anything that allows me to completely immerse myself and “shut down” for a while.

I can appreciate that. I’m a homebody too. What are you reading right now, and tell me five books you couldn’t be without.

JOANNE: Not reading anything at the moment. I’m trying to decide what’s next, but yours is on my TBR pile. Now that I’m reminded of it (and the wonderful snippets I’ve read on SSS), I think it just moved to the top of the list! 😉

Five books I couldn’t live without. I don’t have five. I only have three. Being a writer makes me an inherently picky reader. So I’ve read a lot of really good books, but only three so far have made it to my “can’t live without” list.

–Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.  –I adore historical romances. They’re my first love. I read them long before I started writing. In this one, the author completely enthralls me in this character’s life. And every character and the world around them comes to life for me. The hero, Jamie Fraser? I think he’s the perfect hero. Flawed, he makes mistakes, he’s human, but still worthy of being called a hero, because deep down, he has a good heart. I’ve re-read this at least a dozen times. I never get tired of it.

–I may get a groan on this, but E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker (if you ask me, the two need to be read together). And just because I know the hype this book gets, I’m going to expand on why. It was the hero that hooked me. Let’s just say he really touched me. Having come from an abusive childhood myself, I understood him in a very personal way. I AM him to a certain extent, so I cried through most of these books. It was painful for me to read his story, and yet…therapeutic at the same time. It honestly wasn’t about the sex for me. I tolerated the sex to get to the bits of him.

It also spurred me to put more of myself in my writing. To allow those painful bits onto the page. In the last book I wrote, Love’s Healing Touch (currently with my agent), I got a bit dark. Both the hero and heroine have dark pasts, and I didn’t shy away from putting the painful stuff onto the page. We’ll see how I did on that front if and when it ever publishes.

How about some quick glimpse questions and answers?

Favorite movie: I don’t have just one. The Green Mile and The Color Purple top the list, though.

Favorite snack item: Sweet stuff. cookies, brownies, pudding. You know, the bad stuff. lol

Favorite holiday: Halloween. It makes me feel like a kid again.

Favorite color: lavender.

Favorite rainy day activity: This makes me laugh. I live in Seattle, WA. It rains nine months out of the year here. And we’ve just entered the rainy season. So, this is almost every day for me. lol But honestly? Reading. It’s kind of predictable to say that, but it’s true. I’ve been a reader since I discovered those Ramona Quimby books in sixth grade. To get lost in someone else’s world for a while is bliss to me.

LOL. For many years I corresponded with a writer who lived in Seattle. She used to tell me August was the one good month of the year without rain! Joanne, thanks so much for being my guest today. Before we close, do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Joanne: Thanks for having me, Mae! Final thoughts…hmm. This probably sounds like a shameless plug, but I’d love to put out a plea to any readers. If you’ve read my books, I’d be grateful for a review. Good, bad or ugly (and I mean that). I don’t write what’s popular these days. I seem to write a bit off the beaten path and I like knowing how people are receiving my books. Like most writers I suppose. lol

Author Bio:
J.M. writes what she likes to call sweet and spicy contemporary romance. She’s a stay-at-home mom who lives in Seattle Washington, with her husband, two boys and their two very spoiled puppies. She’s been devouring romances for as long as she can remember. Writing them has become her passion.

Look for Joanne at the following haunts:

All Romance ebooks:
Barnes and Noble:

Buy A SECOND CHANCE AT FOREVER on Amazon Kindle at:
(It will be avaialble in all formats on 1/9/13).