Interview with Janice Lane Palko

What is your writing process?
My writing process begins with an idea that sparks a question: What if? For St. Anne's Day, it was: What if a girl who has been burned by charming men who flatter women falls for the city's greatest womanizer? For A Shepherd's Song, it was: What if someone who doesn't believe in Christmas and God falls for a girl who has a strong faith and loves Christmas? And for Cape Curse, it was: What if someone who has no real roots and moves things for a living, falls for someone with deep ties to the land and to a landmark like a lighthouse that she is in charge of relocating?

I then go from there. I usually have the climactic scene in my mind, it's getting from the start to the end that takes me the longest.
How do you approach cover design?
I think in pictures, and I usually have an image in mind of how the cover should look. I have a great cover artist and the key is finding someone who can also visualize the image I have in my mind.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My first fave is Little Women. It was the first book that made me cry. The second would be To Kill a Mockingbird for the simple reason that whenever I was sick as a girl, my mother would put me to bed in her bedroom, which was on our first floor. She had a bookcase headboard and To Kill a Mockingbird was in it. Every time I got sick, which was a lot, (seemed I always had strep throat), I would read it. I loved the contrast between gentleness and violence in the book. I'm part Irish and I loved Leon Uris's Trinity, because I learned so much Irish history from it. Jane Eyre is another favorite. I love a brooding hero and when the underdog wins. Tied for fifth would be Rebecca and Wuthering Heights for the same reasons as stated above--they have such a moody feel to them.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read everything. I like to say I start the morning with reading the back of the cereal box and newspaper and finish the day with reading books at night in bed.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle fire. I've had a Kindle for the past three years. It took me a bit of time to adjust to an e-reader, but now I don't even notice the difference when I'm absorbed by a story. I particularly like taking it to the gym so I can read on the elliptical. I don't have to wear my reading glasses while I work out because I can adjust the font size. A few years ago, I injured my knee and couldn't walk for a few days. The Kindle was a lifesaver. Whenever I needed a new book, I didn't have to wait for someone to get me one, I just downloaded. It was wonderful.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The most effective technique for me has been word of mouth. I enjoy meeting readers, and I find that upon meeting me, many people are more apt to buy my book. Unfortunately, I can't be everywhere to meet everyone. I especially have enjoyed guesting at book clubs.
Describe your desk
My desk is my laptop. I wish I could enthrall you with tales of an ivy-covered writing cottage with an antique writing desk, but I write sitting in a recliner with a lap desk and my Dell.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I am a life-long Pittsburgher, and as such I believe I write about people most people can relate to. Pittsburghers are friendly, hardworking, conscientious, and practical. That's the kind of characters, whether the book is set in Pittsburgh or as in the case of Cape Cursed, which is set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, that I bring to life--real people like you or me.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing professionally in 1996 with writing greeting cards. I then took a creative writing course where I started to write essays. From there I submitted pieces to national publications where I was published, and I was also hired as a newspaper columnist. I then became a writer for a local magazine and then its executive editor. But all throughout that journey, I was writing novels as well.
What's the story behind your latest book?
For decades my family has vacationed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Not long ago, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was moved before it was damaged by the encroaching ocean. I love the Outer Banks and I knew how much the lighthouse means to the people who live there. I began to wonder what would happen if someone charged with moving the lighthouse fell in love with someone who has always lived on that stretch of land and was vehemently opposed to the move? That's how this book was conceived.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
For years, I'd send my manuscripts out to agents and publishers. Many requested the full manuscript, but I was always turned down because my books aren't easily categorized. But the requesting agents and publishers were always quite complimentary toward my work. In my heart, I knew my stories were good, so when indie publishing became an option, I jumped in. I love being in control of my destiny.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The writing process itself is my greatest source of joy. I often tell people it's like reaching out and touching the live wire of creativity, which ultimately is a Divine experience. It is like Michelangelo's Creation of Adam; I feel like I'm in touch with the Source of all creativity when I'm writing.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans mean everything. When you read, you are using your time. On this earth, we only get so much time, and I don't want to waste my reader's precious time. I not only want to entertain you, but I also want you to learn things from my books and be changed for the better from having read them.
What are you working on next?
My next novel will be another romantic suspense, entitled Most Highly Favored Daughter. It examines the sister relationship through two young women, Cara and Sophia Cavanaugh. Its theme is how appearances are not what we often believe them to be. Cara is a beautiful, wealthy philanthropist and Sophia is her reckless socialite sister. When Cara is framed for a deplorable crime, their lives spin out of control and reveal that what we see on the surface is not always what is going on deep inside a person.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many authors I admire, but I have an affinity for Pat Conroy. Even though he is a male, I feel very akin to many of the emotions he has conveyed in his novels. Perhaps its because he is Irish, Catholic, and the oldest sibling, which I am. I also envy his gift for writing.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Everything. I love life. I love my family, my dog, and I love writing.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Doing the same things my readers do, being a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, worker, and neighbor. I love to read as well as write and I try to head to the gym at least five times a week because writing is a sedentary pursuit and very detrimental to the "bottom line."
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
The same way my reader's find them--mostly through word of mouth.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I was a contestant in the Junior Miss pageant, and I needed a talent. I wrote something in high school and performed it as my talent. It was pretty good. Even the director of the pageant said so.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I ever read on my own was in first grade and it was called The Apples. It was about a family whose last name was Apple and all the kids had apple variety first names like MacIntosh and Jonathan. I thought it was so clever!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has allowed a wider audience to access my books.
Published 2013-09-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Cape Cursed
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 71,730. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Suspense, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Bliss Sherman doesn’t believe in curses—that is until she arrives at Cape Destiny, North Carolina,to move the cape's lighthouse inland before it's swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean. When Bliss is viciously attacked, she begins to wonder if the curse that is rumored to be attached to the lighthouse may be true. Who is trying to harm her? Who wants to kill her?
A Shepherd's Song
You set the price! Words: 105,430. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Holiday » Christmas, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Tom Shepherd arrives to sell the Christmas season’s hottest toy for three times its price to a desperate buyer when a snafu lands him in the middle of a bone marrow drive for a young boy who has leukemia. On Christmas Eve, Tom face choices that will affect not only himself but also whether the boy lives or dies. Not since A Christmas Carol has a tale so captured the spirit of Christmas.
St. Anne's Day
You set the price! Words: 96,120. Language: English. Published: June 22, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Christian » Romance
Every girl wants handsome, successful Gerry McMaster, but Anne Lyons, is not every girl. Certainly, Anne is attracted to him. But after being scorched by love, she is wary of men like Gerry who go through lovers faster than a premenstrual woman goes through chocolate. St. Anne's Day tickles the funny bone and touches the heart and is a cross between the Taming of the Shrew and Cheers.