Time to sit down with your favorite beverage and enjoy a little book talk. Our guest today is Joan Leotta, who calls herself an eclectic writer. Welcome, Joan. How do you take your coffee?
JOAN: Dark and strong. In fact, you asked about some unusual about me...
Coffee is a passion of mine! My son used to say I needed a 12-step program for Starbucks, but really it is not the big brand coffee so much (that was simply a convenient way to talk about my addiction) as it is good, dark strong coffee that I love. I am a fan of the local brews Port City Java--I always go for the dark blend. I like Starbucks Sumatra and we now have a Kuerig so we can get individual cups quick and hot. I like Italian roasts and French roasts in most brands--Peets has especially good French roasts in the Keurig cups and we use the Tully's French and Italian roasts as our daily drink at home. I also like tea--chai and a good strong English breakfast. I brew loose teas mostly but am not above using a teabag.
Ally: A dark brew is coming right up. Perhaps while I do that you could share your bio with us.
Joan Leotta has been writing and performing since childhood. Her “motto” is "encouraging words through pen and performance.” Her award-winning poetry, short stories, books and articles have been published in many journals, magazines and newspapers.
She performs folklore shows and one-woman shows on historic figures at venues up and down the east coast. She lives in Calabash, NC with husband Joe. You can learn more about her atwww.joanleotta.wordpress.com.
Ally: Why don't we start with what you write, how long you've been published, and how many works are available?
JOAN: I write non-fiction poetry, short stories and novellas--can’t seem to squeeze out those last few thousand words for a full fledged novel. Have also written a travel book and history book for children.
Three romance books (sweet, YA historical fiction) are currently available from Desert Breeze Publishing and on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
The very first thing I published for pay was a poem with a magazine that no longer takes student work. I was fourteen. It was wonderful! For many years I wrote only in my job and then , after leaving office work , I became a freelancer and professional story performer. The freelance non-fiction articles (My masters is in international economics) paid a lot of bills and the performing paid some bills and fulfilled me creatively allowing me to stay home with my children and have a fabulous time being a mom. I love to write for children but it is the most difficult type of writing and I admit to begin slow with it though I have several projects going. My first full length book was a travel book. I contributed to several books and then also was able to do a non-fiction for Scholastic for children.
After my husband retired, I went into semi-retirement as a non-fiction writer--just a couple of clients now. I turned to short stories and back to poetry. Have had some success with poetry and the short stories and essays .
Genre wise I am all over the map--eclectic one could say, or if you are feeling less generous, scattered. Mystery and light romance are the most fun to write. The three books with Desert Breeze are novellas.
Ally: Are you a pantser or plotter? Why do you believe this method works for you?
JOAN: I am both pants and plot. I do a semi-outline of where I want the story to go and then start writing and often the tale changes directions--No formal outlines tho, I hated the roman numeral number thing-- as a child.
One thing that is very important to me is to keep my audience ever in mind--how will they react to what I am doing, how is my pacing--will it keep them involved, how much detail is overload for the plot and for the reader/ Important to me.
Ally: Do you write full time or get in a word or two whenever you can? Daily goals? Word count?
JOAN: I write every day, but not always on the same project. Usually I have four or five writing projects going on at the same time and fit poetry in as I can. I like to do a poem a day in nanowrimo challenge, but am trying now to challenge myself with various poetic forms.
When I start the book I will set goals, and I will be starting book four of my series for Desert Breeze as soon as my research is father along after a few weeks.
Ally: How long does it take you to write a first draft?
JOAN: A couple of months. Rewrite? Another couple of months. Remember tho, I am doing other projects at the same time--newspaper articles and books reviews, articles for the disability website I write for and of course, preparing stories for performance, writing poems and the occasional personal essay.
I recently started to write more personal, non-fiction essays and send them out (Chicken Soup has picked one up) because people seem to like them! One thing that is very important to me--my audience. I guess attention to audience is a part of the intersection of my writing and performing personae. I want my readers to feel what I feel when I write, to be entertained and edified.
Ally: Are settings important in your writing or could your stories happen anywhere?
JOAN: Settings are very important--both time and place. I write a lot of historical fiction, so the research is very important .
For the second book in my series, Letters from Korea, I spent hours tracking down the names of restaurants in Pittsburgh's downtown--places that are long gone but that existed then. Research is the heart of how I make things real.
Ally: Before we wind this up, let's try some quick answer questions:
- favorite dessert: ice cream
- one item you'd take to a deserted island: my bible
- favorite actor, tv show and movie: it is still, cary grant, tv is ncis, and movies--oh dear so many.
- an item on your bucket list: don’t believe in bucket lists, but I love to travel.
- comfort attire: sweats, jeans or shorts--sweater--my house is always cold for me so I wear sweater all the time. I wear baggy slacks or jeans, take a walk when the weather is fine. I love wearing slippers at home. Restful.
"The Legacy of honor in her family meant that once a person made a promise, the promise must be kept."
Anna Maria O'Shea became a nurse to continue her family's Legacy of Honor.
In choosing to stick to her commitment to service, she looses her long-time college love. The pain of war is stronger than her private heartache.
Is Mark, the handsome physician, the balm her soul needs? Or is it George who will claim and heal her wounds with a love that transcends war and the pain she sees all around her?
Desert Breeze Publishing: http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com/legacy-of-honor-book-three-a-bowl-of-rice-by-joan-leotta/
Also available at B& N.