Today we sit down with prolific author and blogger Janice Spina. She took time out to share a bit about her work, her inspiration and herself.
Please enjoy this installment of 20 Questions:
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have been writing since I was nine years old with poetry and greeting cards. At that time, it was just fun to do and not something I thought seriously about until I was in my twenties and started writing stories.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
For children’s books I can write one in 30 minutes to an hour with edits.
For MG/PT books it takes about two to four weeks and more with edits.
For novels it could be three to six months and more with edits.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
That is a tough question for me. I find I write when I can find time in between babysitting and other family commitments that always seem to creep up. I do my best to write almost every day for a couple of hours. Some days I manage to write longer if I am on a roll and my dear husband cooks dinner so I can continue to write.
Q4) What would you say is your writing quirk?
I begin a story with a title and branch out from there. I write off the cuff and let the story take me where it wants. The characters sometimes can get annoying and go in a direction I did not intend for them to take. It is a surprise to me too as I write! It is as if the characters are writing the story and I am just along for the ride!
Q5) How are your books published?
I am an indie publisher and proud of it. I like to control all aspects of my books publishing. Of course if some big publishers wanted to publish my books I would jump into the fray. For now, I am happy doing what I like to do and doing it my way. LOL!
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
They come to me in dreams or as random thoughts fly into my head. I go with the flow if I like them and write them down before they are lost forever.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?
It wasn’t too long ago that I published my first book back in 2013 at age 65. As for actually writing my first book, it was at the age of 27. That book I haven’t published yet. It is a fairy tale. I may publish it one day.
Q8) What do you do when you’re not writing?
I like to take long walks (need to do 10K steps on my Fitbit), go to the movies or plays and out to dinner with my husband, crochet, and spend time with my grandchildren. Singing in the shower or while I wash dishes is fun too.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
I find it difficult to choose just one. There are many excellent books out there.
I found the book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, especially awakening for my creative side. I wrote prolifically after I read it.
Another book that I enjoyed was Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. I found it to be an excellent read, full and rich with memorable characters.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
That is a hard question, Don. I don’t know what they think. They never told me. When I mention I have a new book coming out they say, “Oh, that’s nice.” I think they are proud of me but don’t really show it. My husband is my support system and encourages me to keep writing. That is important to me.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The most surprising thing I learned was I didn’t know much about doing this. I have continued to learn as I go along. There is always more to learn but the nice thing is there are many fellow authors out there who are willing to help. For that, I am truly thankful.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
I hate when I run into all kinds of snags even after publishing eleven books I still have to upload multiple times to CreateSpace. There is always something out of sync in my books. Publishing to Kindle can be daunting at times but I am getting better. LOL!
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have published twelve books but have written seventeen.
My favorite is still my first published children’s book, Louey the Lazy Elephant.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
I wish I had the secret to great writing, Don. Sorry, I don’t. But I can offer some advice about how I write.
Write every day as many hours as you can. Don’t worry about the content, punctuation, etc. Just keep writing. You will find that your writing will improve over time. Write from your heart and let it flow. Worry later about editing when you are finished. Editing as you go can cause you more problems.
Another thing I do is I read my stories out loud. I find errors that way and it is also a good way to hear how the story sounds to your readers. Don’t give up your dream to write and don’t listen to others who try to discourage you. Live your dream!
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
The feedback I get is through reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Sometimes parents will review a book that they have won through one of my Giveaways on Goodreads. They tell me how much their children have enjoyed the books. This is music to an author’s ears and much appreciated. I share these reviews on my blog and website.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
Since I write in multi genres I prefer a varied reading audience from ages 2-8 for my children’s books, ages 9-12 for my middle grade and preteen books and 18+ for my novels. I write for all ages.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
I think whatever the writer believes in and knows about makes a good story. It’s best to write about what you know. It sounds real and authentic that way.
Doing research is a good idea, if needed, to verify what you are writing about is correct or when you come to something you are not sure about.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
When I was a child I wanted to be a teacher of young children. Instead I went into the medical field as a medical secretary, assistant and transcriptionist and then later as a teacher’s aide.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/janicespina7
Barnes & Noble – children’s and MG/PT: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Janice+Spina?_requestid=585408
Barnes & Noble – novels: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/J.E.+Spina?_requestid=586272
And other online stores.
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?
Here is my newest novel – How Far Is Heaven:
Sleep finally came to Priscilla but something wasn’t right. She was sitting up in bed talking to someone. Only that someone was just a bright light. She reached out with her hand to touch the light. It was not there but the area around it was warm. She heard a voice calling her name, and Parker’s face came into view. He was bathed in the brilliant white light and he had huge wings. He had tears in his eyes, and he spoke in echoey whispers as if he was far away. “Don’t be afraid, Priscilla. I am in a better place now. Take care of our children and yourself. I love you and always will.”
Here is the synopsis for this book:
HOW FAR IS HEAVEN
Priscilla and Parker Wilfork are college sweethearts happily married with two children, Deanna and Robbie, and life seemed perfect and peaceful living in upper state Maine.
One day, Parker goes on a business trip to California and does not return. Priscilla searches for how and why her husband disappeared to no avail but Deanna cannot accept the fact that her father is gone. Deanna asks questions daily about her father’s return and becomes despondent.
Priscilla tries to get life back to normal for her children after two years and decides to tell them that their father has gone to Heaven. Priscilla finds herself doubting whether Parker is still alive when she begins to have dreams where he appears to her as an angel.
Just when things seemed to be better and the children were accepting that their father would not return, Deanna disappears. Now Priscilla must once again search for answers to why another member of her family has disappeared before it is too late for Deanna. She fears that her husband’s disappearance could somehow be connected to Deanna’s.
Priscilla turns to a local police Sargeant for assistance in finding out what happened to her husband and her daughter. But it seems there is more to their friendship than meets the eye. Sargeant Furelli, too, has suffered a loss and feels himself drawn to the ethereal beauty of Priscilla Wilfork.
About Janice Spina aka J.E. Spina:
Janice Spina aka J.E. Spina is an award-winning author with ten published books. She has been writing since she was nine years old. Janice always dreamed of being an author but did not realize this dream until after she had retired from an administrative position in a school system. In 2013 she published her first children’s book, Louey the Lazy Elephant, which is one of her most popular books today along with another children’s book, followed by three more children’s books and one novel in 2014, two children’s books, and two middle-grade books in 2015 and one novel so far in 2016.
Her goal is to write for all ages and encourage children to read that will cultivate a love of reading and carry through their lives. Janice’s books range from PS-Grade 3 to 18+. Janice’s motto is Reading Can Give You Wings to Fly. Her logo is Jemsbooks – Books for all ages.
Janice plans to write more children’s books, middle-grade, young adult fantasy and novels over the next two years. As the author says, “There is always another story running around in my head just waiting to be written down.”
Janice’s hobbies are crocheting, exercising to keep in shape, reading, reviewing books, blogging, traveling, going out to the movies and dinner with my husband, and spending time with her five grandchildren.
Where to find Janice’s Books:
Purchase book on Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/janicespina7
Barnes & Noble: Children’s Books – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Janice+Spina?_requestid=705563
Barnes & Noble: Novels –
Louey the Lazy Elephant
Ricky the Rambunctious Raccoon
Jerry the Crabby Crayfish
Lamby the Lonely Lamb
Jesse the Precocious Polar Bear
Broose the Moose on the Loose
Sebastian Meets Marvin the Monkey
Another book coming in 2016
Middle-Grade: Grades 4–7:
Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Book 1 (The Case of the Missing Cell Phone)
Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Book 2 (The Case of the Mysterious Black Cat)
Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Book 3 (The Case of the Magical Ivory Elephant)
Book 4 coming in 2016
Young Adult: Grades 8-12:
YA fantasy coming in 2017
Hunting Mariah (thriller/mystery)
How Far Is Heaven (paranormal/mystery)