Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my new blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!
So today, I’m introducing Joy E. Rancatore onto the blog! Joy and I met last year and we’ve worked together as CP’s and friends on both of our WIP’s! Joy’s advice and critiques have been invaluable to me, and she is one of the sweetest people I know! I am so excited to share Joy’s story today!
#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?
Stories have been part of my life since birth, really. I knew from an early age I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first event article when I was still in single digits and began my newspaper career at age 16. It took me a little longer to overcome all the fear and doubt that accompanies the pursuit of book publication. I had a few stops and starts on that path over the years, but 2016 was the year I finally beat Self-Doubt and haven’t looked back since.
#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?
That’s a tough one! It can be in a cypress knee peeking up out of a bayou, a funny thing one of my children says, a news article that makes me ask “What if?” or a stranger’s eyes. Other times, it’s just the voices in my head whispering me a tale.
#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?
Currently, I’m preparing for the launch of my debut novel, Any Good Thing, in September. I’m not just waiting idly, though! Accompanying this novel, I have plans for a novella, a short story collection and—perhaps—an epistolary. I’m revising the novella now and compiling some stories for the collection. These could be classified as contemporary southern literary fiction with religious themes.
The initial inspiration for this novel was a news story. One of the incidents in my main character’s life was directly influenced by a real-life tragedy. While that event was altered quite a bit for my novel, it launched me on an exploration of what would happen if a young kid who had made some mistakes in the past but was trying to get it together suddenly found himself the cause of a child’s death. What would happen to him? Could he survive under the weight of his guilt?
#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?
I chose to go the Indie route. When I dreamed of becoming an author, I always pictured the big publishers and trips to New York and royalty checks. But, as I started working toward achieving my dreams, I just knew I wanted to publish my own work. I like the idea of maintaining control over all the decisions, including titles and covers and all that jazz. Also, as I was thinking through those details, I realized every job I’ve ever had has prepared me to wear the many hats required for an independent publisher. I also wanted to leave a legacy for my kids in a tangible way through a business, and that is why I launched Logos & Mythos Press. It’s through this company that I will publish my books, including those I co-author, continue my editing services and podcast and—down the road—publish other authors’ works.
#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?
I know that sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s often the procrastination or the fear of writing or the over-thinking about the writing that keeps us from reaching our full potential. Feeling unqualified, like every word is too simple and getting you nowhere? Just write! Unsure about the current story you’re working on? Write it out! Cannot for the life of you determine why your character’s doing these crazy things? Write about him!
#6: When are you most creative?
I am definitely a night owl. 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. is my ideal writing time. Mornings were made for sleeping and sipping coffee, right?
#7: What authors inspire you the most?
J.R.R. Tolkien is my favorite author of all time. He’s also why I swore I’d never write fantasy. I mean, he perfected it, so why would I even try? Fast-forward to now, and I have a published fantasy short story which will be part of a much-larger series I’m currently world-building. What can I say? The faeries wouldn’t stop whispering in my ear.
It’s hard to narrow my list of author influences down after him. I’m sure I’ll forget someone, but I’ll give it a try! Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lucy Maud Montgomery, the Brontes, Beatrix Potter, C.S. Lewis, Edgar Allen Poe and William Shakespeare, to name a few of the usual suspects. And, I have to add my critique partners to that list—Devon, Tauri Cox, Kelsey Atkins and Mea Smith! They inspire me every day!
#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?
Oh wow!! With so many amazing books coming out this year, I’m not even going to try to narrow the new releases down! There are two classics on my list that I have somehow never read that I’ve decided I will read before the end of this year—Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
#9: What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m reading The Clearing by Tim Gautreaux. He is a great writer of southern fiction. This book is set under the dark shadow of the mob’s influence around a sawmill in the bayous of Louisiana.
#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?
My three (actually, four, because I can’t decide between the last two for third place) favorite books of all time are The Silmarrillion (and all of Tolkien’s works), Quo Vadis? by Henryk Sienkiewicz, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
#11: Favorite childhood book?
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I have always loved horses; whether that love was sparked by or fueled by this book, I’m not sure.
#12: Biggest book pet peeve?
Lack of editing and a lack of depth to the story and characters.
#13: What book has made you cry?
Every book by Nicholas Sparks. Seriously, Nick, you owe me a case of tissues.
#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?
Hmmm … this might be the hardest question yet, because Devon can tell you I’m all about the snacks! Chocolate is a given, usually as little bite-sized candies of some type. Brownies are even better—the gooey-er, the better! My favorite salty snack is probably tangy pickle BBQ chips—I was skeptical at first, too, but they are ah-MAZ-ing! Drinks vary depending on if I’m writing, revising or editing. Usually strong black coffee or hot tea of some sort with the occasional red wine or Scotch.
#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!
This may sound strange, but my biggest writing-related fear used to be success. It took me a few years and stops and starts, but I’ve been able to move past most of my fears. That’s not to say they don’t sometimes pop up, usually at the worst moments, but they don’t control me any more.
#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?
I love photography and reading. Long, long ago, I was a terrible golfer and tennis player. I doubt my lack of practice has helped!
#17: Biggest real life pet peeve?
People who don’t put up their shopping carts. If I can push a cart into the cart holder thingie (seriously, what are they called??) through the pouring rain with a baby strapped to me and a toddler’s hand in mine, no one else has an excuse.
Man, that felt good to get off my chest!
#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?
Surround yourself with positive, encouraging, real, honest people. Listen to them; learn from them; and grow with them.
All About Joy
Joy E. Rancatore began early as a writer and reader (which came first is a bit hazy). She entered the professional writing world at age sixteen with a small-town weekly newspaper where the editor consistently ran her byline as Joe E. A double major in Journalism and English offered a choice— pursue her dream to be an author or actually make money with words. She chose money. She wrote for a total of five newspapers before joining the dark side of public relations. After the birth of her first child, Joy freelanced for magazines, businesses and fellow writers as a writer, editor and proofreader. After battling Doubt for nearly a decade, she broke free to run toward her dream of authorship. She writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between. When she’s not doing horrible things to her characters or dreaming up faery creatures and fantastic weapons, she beats her husband at card games, homeschools her two children, snuggles with her two stinky dogs and lets her cat, Tolkien, do whatever he wants. They’d prefer to live in Middle-earth or Narnia or Hogwarts or in a galaxy far, far away; but, for now, they live across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans.
Joy’s Top Five Writing Facts:
5. Joy’s primary editor is her cat, Tolkien. He hopes one day she’ll improve. Any improvement, however small, would be grand in his estimation.
4. Both of Joy’s children learned to write with the same fat Snoopy pencil she did.
3. Joy won Camp NaNo her first time out. She began the challenge with just over 30,000 words and ended the month just past 95,000. That is how her first literary fiction novel was birthed.
2. One of Joy’s short stories, “Ealiverel Awakened,” won second place in a competition. Her work, along with many others’, will appear in an Adventure SciFi and Fantasy anthology edited by Rachael Ritchey. Proceeds will benefit Compassion International. This story will one day be part of a much larger fantasy series of books she is currently world-building.
1. Her biggest writing accomplishment to date remains penning the cover story for the August 2003 issue of Leatherneck, Magazine of the Marines. It featured her brother.