Let's talk a little about your first book, Dark Secrets. How long did it take you to write the story?
Believe it or not, I worked on Dark Secrets on and off for almost thirty years. For this reason, updating the story line was an ongoing challenge. Not one of my characters had a cell phone, a laptop, or a GPS. I even had to rewrite an airport scene to stay true to our latest airport security. When I started writing this story, my characters and I were the same age. Now, I'm old enough to be their mama!
There are song lyrics in your story. Why?
I wanted the reader to believe Rick Anderson was a musician and songwriter, so I included a couple of my own original songs throughout the book for him. I also added my songs for my fictional rock band, Roulette. Roulette, by the way, is my tribute to my favorite 80's rock band, Bon Jovi. One of the original songs in the story, I’m Watching You, was specifically written for my stalker. This particular song was inspired by one of the biggest hits of the ’80’s, Every Breath You Take, by The Police. The incomparable singer/songwriter Sting explained in an interview the song was about control and surveillance. Try reading the lyrics without the beautiful music. You might be as surprised as I was. Despite the true meaning behind the lyrics, I still find the song hauntingly beautiful.
Tell us about your second book, Empathy.
Empathy is a contemporary romance novel. It's about a caregiver named, Delilah Walker, who becomes too emotionally involved with her client's family, including the heart-stopping sexy oldest son, Bryan Wright. Although Empathy is a novel of fiction, some of the incidences and situations are based on my own personal experiences. When I was six-months pregnant with my first child, my mother suffered a massive stroke. Needless to say, diaper changes took on a whole new meaning for me. If you are or have ever been a family caregiver, Empathy was written for you.
In both of your novels your female characters experience psychological abuse. Are you describing personal experiences?
Many women I have known in my life have suffered some kind of abuse from a boyfriend or husband. Until you've been there and been in their shoes, it's easy to flip off a comment like, "I would never let any man do that to me. I would leave him in a heartbeat." It’s never easy to walk away from someone who has convinced you that you have nowhere to go.
Did you design your own book covers?
Back in 2012, I hired Donna Casey, a professional book cover designer, to help me with my very first book, Dark Secrets. It took seven drafts before I was finally satisfied with the cover. She was so patient and wonderful to work with. In 2014, I didn't hesitate to hire her again to help me with my second book, Empathy. I told her what I wanted, and three drafts later Empathy's cover was completed. When I attempted to hire her again, I found a message she had left on her web page. She was apologizing to her customers because she was temporarily unavailable due to health issues. This talented and sweet lady lost her battle with cancer in October 2016. It was an honor and a privilege to work with her. My book covers mean more to me now, than they ever did before.
What do your fans mean to you?
Well, no one is chasing me down the street begging for a picture or an autograph, so I really can't say I have fans. What I do have is this...amazing support from family, friends, and friends of friends, and they mean a lot to me. They read my books, they tell others to read them, and this encourages me to keep writing more stories.
How old were you when you first started writing?
I think I was ten or eleven when I started writing poetry, songs, and short stories. I learned at an early age I could express my emotions through my words and music.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I try to read as much as I can. I like jigsaw puzzles, playing games on my Kindle, and playing old school video games like Zelda. I enjoy watching football on TV, and I love listening to music...especially classic rock. I really enjoy meeting people while I'm promoting my book via Facebook, over the phone, or in person. I cherish the times I get to spend with my family and friends.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many romance authors I love. Nora Roberts, Lori Foster, Christina Dodd, Karen Robards, and Lisa Kleypas just to name a few, and I especially enjoy reading anything Kat Martin writes. When I want to read something intense, I choose Lisa Jackson or Dean Koontz.
What are you working on next?
For those of you who didn't want Dark Secrets to end, I am currently working on a sequel. Feisty April Callahan from Empathy and sexy guitar player Chris Marringer from Dark Secrets lock horns in Starview, Texas. Can The Starview Casanova find love?
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My dogs...they whimper until I let them outside. Seriously, I think what inspires me is just looking forward to a new day. Yeah, I know it sounds kind of lame, but I can't help it. It's the truth. It's a new day, a new hope...another chance to get it right, you know?
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love putting my characters through hell, exposing their weaknesses, and bringing them back stronger than ever. My stories are filled with sensual romance mixed in with a little humor, lots of dialogue, and heart-warming and heart-tugging emotional situations that might have you reaching for the tissue box.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords gives me the control and convenience I need to sell my books. I can change the price anytime when I use their coupon code system. I can give a promo code to a fellow author who is interested in doing a reciprocal review for free. I can give out a promo code to offer my books at a discount price if I wanted to have a weekend special sale. Smashwords Premium Catalog automatically places my books in major ebook retail stores including Barnes & Noble and iTunes. I especially like their sample reads feature. Right now, you can download and read the first five chapters from either one of my books any time absolutely free with no obligation to buy. I sound like a commercial, don't I?
Thank you so much for reading this interview and I hope you enjoy my books and leave a review someday. As always, I thank you so much for your continued support. Sincerely, Josephine
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