Some books I get really excited about and just have to tell the world about them, and Tina Ann Forkner’s novel, Waking up Joy, is one of those books. A magical novel that pulled me right in and I couldn’t put it down till I’d finished every last word. You can read my review of Waking up Joy here. And Tina is such a sweet author in real life! She’s offering an e-book copy of Waking up Joy to one lucky commenter! (Click to Tweet!)
Tina Ann Forkner is a Women’s Fiction writer and the author of the newly released novel Waking Up Joy (Oct. 8th). She is also the author of Rose House and Ruby Among Us. Tina was born and raised in Oklahoma where Waking Up Joy is set, but she makes her home in Cheyenne, Wyoming with her husband, three teenagers, and two spoiled dogs. In her spare time, she is a substitute teacher. Learn more about her and her books at www.tinaannforkner.com.
Behind every lost dream lies a second chance…
When adored town spinster Joy Talley ends up in a coma after a peculiar accident, she is surprised and incensed to hear what is being said in her hospital room, including plans for her funeral. When she finally wakes, her well-meaning, but bossy, brothers and sisters dismiss her claims, thinking her accident has knocked her off her rocker, but Joy has never felt better, and is determined to set the past right.
Now Joy must face her darkest secret and risk reopening wounds caused by an old flame who rejected her more than twenty years ago. But taking risks brings change, as well as a new, younger man into Joy’s life, making her feel like a teenager again. Suddenly Joy’s once humdrum life is anything but boring and routine and the future beckons, exhilarating and bright.
Interview with Author Tina Ann Forkner
HG: Tina, you have two novels out with Random House/Waterbrook, Rose House and Ruby Among Us. Your recent release, Waking up Joy, is with Tule Publishing. Can you tell us more about your decision to go with this publisher?
TF: My answer has two parts. The first is that even with all the positive changes in self-publishing and great examples like you, I wasn’t quite ready to self-publish. But I really liked the idea of being a hybrid author and the way that might shape my career. That’s when Tule Publishing Group came along. You still have to submit your work and be accepted, as with a traditional publisher, but after that, everything is different and frankly, more favorable to the author. Tule deals primarily in digital, with print on demand for some titles, such as my own. I can see self-publishing being an option for some of my stories someday, but I love having many of the benefits (and some of the responsibilities) that you get when self-publishing, but with the support of a reputable publisher behind me. I’m having a terrific experience with them and love being able to take charge of my career.
Another reason I went with Tule was that I wanted to broaden my Women’s Fiction audience by writing for a publisher who could get me in front of my readers. In order to find Waking Up Joy’s full audience, I wanted to be able to reach readers who shop for fiction in the same reader sections at the bookstore where I also buy books, and not just from the inspirational shelves. Susan Meissner said something similar in an interview when A Fall of Marigolds released with NAL, and it is really a good way to put it. I personally admit to wishing my books were on the mainstream shelf with other Women’s Fiction where they could be more easily found by readers who love Women’s Fiction, and always got excited when I saw them shelved with books by mainstream writers in stores. I just want my target audience to find my books. I am still a Christian, and am thrilled that my existing readership seems excited about my new novel and appears to be sticking with me, and I’m equally as excited to find the rest of my audience in the mainstream market.
HG: I totally understand the desire to reach your entire reader audience! I know you’re drawn to some of the same books I love: The Shell Seekers, Gone with the Wind, and others. Would you call your books Women’s Fiction? Romance? Or are they different genres?
TF: I love those books! I think it’s the journey of the women in those stories that I love, but it’s also the settings, the romance, and the family intricacies. As for my novels, they have all been categorized as Women’s Fiction, including Waking Up Joy. That said, oftentimes my novels contain elements from other genres, just as I think many Women’s Fiction novels do. Ruby Among Us was definitely my most literary novel and I am probably most proud of that one, but in Rose House, for a myriad of reasons, I was experimenting with how to make the story more commercial for readers who wanted a good pace, but still wanted Women’s Fiction. In my latest, Waking Up Joy, there are Southern elements, as well as a love story that some might feel leans to the romantic side. I don’t mind if readers think that. I feel like there are some heavy things going on deeper in the novel and that the love story gives readers, and my lead character, some release from that.
HG: That is something I noticed about Waking up Joy: that perfect balance of heavy topics and humor. I find your writing style so refreshing and honest. Plus, I loved your characters! We have a love triangle…family dynamics…a strong main character…all the elements I love in a story. Tell us a little more how you brainstormed the idea for this one.
TF: Thank you! Waking Up Joy, I feel, departs to some degree from the way I wrote before because in writing about Oklahoma I was able to honor my roots. I feel that going home, so to speak, really helped me to get closer to my true voice. I did not brain storm the novel, but gathered ideas gradually in my head each time I visited the area that my fictional town would eventually be based on. So much of that area has just been absorbed by me over the years that it was natural to include certain aspects and then fictionalize them to add interest. As for the magical side, I had heard about some Ozark folklore over the years, and since I grew up right in the area that includes Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas, it seemed natural to include some kind of lore in the novel. Of course, the magic my characters created was only partly inspired by truth, and mostly invented by me based on what I thought worked best for my novel’s characters. Although I knew of some very superstitious people where I was raised, none of my friends grew up believing that way. It’s a metaphor for how people grasp for happiness while hanging onto old ways that might not be the best for us now.
HG: Is there a sequel to Waking up Joy in the works? Do you have any books on the back-burner or out on submission now (if you can say!)?
TF: I do have one book started that would be set in the same area, but is not a sequel. I also have a Women’s Fiction novel out on submission with my agent, Chip MacGregor, which is set in Tennessee. And there are some projects in the works with Tule that I’m looking forward to talking about soon.
HG: Glad to hear that! Finally, you’ve been in the writing industry longer than I have…what advice would you give newer authors? What changes have you seen come along that are exciting?
TF: I hate to sound like a broken record, but because I know aspiring writers will be reading this, first let me give the advice that I have always given, and which has been given to me. If you want to learn to write, you have to write. (Click to Tweet!) Not to be published, but because you are a writer and you have to. It’s all practice, so write anything and everything because most of what you write will have to be scrapped. Don’t wait to get that part out, so that the beauty inside can make its way out onto the paper. Set aside 15 minutes, or 500 words, a day, and just do it.
As for publishing and changes, I feel like you have a wealth of experience for other authors. Personally, I have watched the industry change in magnificent ways since I was first published in 2008. Right after my second novel came out in 2009, I was terrified. The economy had tanked and rumors were rampant that eBooks and self-publishing were going to be the ruin of the publishing world, but it hasn’t turned out to be true. Many of us thought it was a good time to watch and wait, which I think was a good idea. I’ve never been the entrepreneur who dives into new territory without checking it out first. I’m more the type to sit back and see what happens. What I’ve seen is that the poor reputation of self-publishing has been redeemed by serious authors who have been publishing excellent books, smaller digital publishers are giving authors more opportunities, and with so many more choices the industry is ripe for authors to finally step out and take charge of our own careers. Instead of there being fewer choices as before, there are more opportunities for serious writers to publish. The quality of work among professionals has gone up and will continue to do so as long as serious writers are publishing.
HG: I totally agree! Thank you again for visiting, Tina!
TF: Thank you for having me, Heather. I love your books so much! Your journey has inspired me to venture out my own!
****Comment below with why you enjoy Women’s Fiction for a chance to win an e-copy of Tina’s excellent novel, Waking up Joy! Winner announced next Monday, Oct. 27!****