Jeanne Takenaka is the winner!
I don’t do many giveaways on Women’s Fiction Writers so you know this is a big deal! Today author Tina Ann Forkner is giving away two of her three novels, WAKING UP JOY (published in October by Tule Publishing) and ROSE HOUSE, published in 2009. And just for kicks — I’m giving away a copy of THE GLASS WIVES to the winner as well. You’ve read all these books, you say? Well someone told me that some gift giving holidays are right around the corner!
I loved all Tina’s books but I have a special place in my heart for WAKING UP JOY, and today you’ll find out why. I also have a special place in my heart for Tina. We met when I was an anonymous mommy blogger in 2006 and have truly come a long way. All the way to meeting in person for the first time earlier this year!
Today you’ll read about Tina’s publishing journey, and you’ll likely be inspired for your own. Just leave a comment about your publishing journey—or about anything else reading, writing, book, or cute kitten related (I just love those cute kitty videos!)—and one lucky reader will win all three books! The winner will be chosen on Friday! US addresses only.
From La Rosaleda to Spavinaw Junction
by Tina Ann Forkner
Sometimes it takes a big shake-up to force change in a person. The same might be said of writers and their writing, at least this is what happened to me when I lost my editor during publisher lay-offs and my first literary agency closed its doors. None of these surprise events were personal, but they felt like it every time I sat down to write a new story. My confidence plummeted and since there was no guarantee of a third book, it didn’t seem to matter what I wrote anymore. My first two novels, Rose House and Ruby Among Us, were published by one of the big publishers, so I should have felt confident when I sat down to write, but those characters in the little Sonoma Valley town of La Rosaleda seemed content to rest where they were. In fact, the only time I felt happy as a writer was when I worked on this crazy story that nobody had ever seen. It wasn’t like those earlier novels, but it wasn’t unfamiliar to me. In this story, everything about the tiny little town of Spavinaw Junction felt vibrant and alive. The quirky characters weren’t content to stay hidden away in my secret file and they pulled me in. Writing about them felt like I was going back home, and in a way, I was.
This new story set in the South, as opposed to California, was about a small-town woman who loves sweet tea and cake. I knew her type, so I began to let the life I had led growing up in a small Northeastern Oklahoma town influence my story. Without a contract deadline looming over my head, I felt no pressure, so as the story evolved I somehow created a novel that was more my voice than ever. But would readers even be able to relate to a story that was so different than what I’d written before? My new characters had a Southern feel, and in the literary world Southern is a good thing, but there was something else about them that drew me into the story — something quirky in their superstitious personalities that I didn’t know if anyone would appreciate. It wasn’t magical-realism exactly, but the book contained a touch of the supernatural and a darker mystery swirling in the creeks around Spavinaw Junction, and all of it tempered by my character Joy’s brand of humor and romantic excursions. When I showed the novel to my author friend, Amy Sue Nathan, and she asked me how I came up with the things in the novel, I didn’t really have an interesting answer. I just knew about them. This more than anything was proof that I was writing what I was meant to write.
Everything about my novel, from the plot to the characters, is fictional, but it all came from the flavor of the region that I absorbed over the years. As in the novel, eventually titled Waking Up Joy, I grew up in an area situated in the corners of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, just at the foot of the Ozarks. The South has a much bigger influence on that part of Oklahoma than the western part, so perhaps you could call it South by Midwest, but whatever it is, there’s definitely a Southern feel. And yes, the women love sweet tea and cake. People back home still bake, go to tiny country churches, and gossip about and love each other simultaneously. Not all people have a ton of money where I come from, but they have a wealth of generosity and love for family and community. People there live simple lives, but in some ways they are wiser than your most cultured city dweller. And once you learn the gossip and stories that weave throughout a small town, you often learn there are dark secrets, hard journeys, miracles, and joyous lives being lived, just like in Waking Up Joy. This was the stuff Spavinaw Junction, the little town in Waking Up Joy, was made out of before it became a town of its own, filled with fiction. I kept asking myself, “Why haven’t I written about this place before? It’s so me.”
In short, I think that by “going home” and being myself in my writing, I’ve come closer to finding my true voice. It also took my friend and card-carrying (I assume she has a Chicago driver’s license), cultured city dweller, Amy Sue Nathan, to convince me that I needed to not give up on this story. There were times that I emailed her and was so down I felt like the biggest failed author in history, and she assured me that this story was not bad and she liked the new direction I was going in. And as sweet as she is, she’s not the kind of person to lie in order to make me feel good about my story. To make a long story short, Amy eventually introduced me to my new publisher, Tule Publishing Group, who accepted my manuscript and promptly hired Amy as the book’s editor.
I feel so grateful now that Waking Up Joy has released. Being able to communicate this quirky Southern story about a simple small-town woman with a big ole heart to such a discerning reader as Amy gives me hope that maybe this story might continue to find a spot on other readers’ shelves. Because the truth is, no matter where we are from or what our backgrounds are, I think we all want the same thing that my main character Joy Talley wants—to have a joyful life.
Tina Ann Forkner is a Women’s Fiction writer and the author of three novels including Rose House and Ruby Among Us. Her latest novel Waking Up Joy released in October 2014. Tina was raised in rural Oklahoma, but makes her home in Cheyenne, Wyoming with her husband, three teenagers, and two spoiled dogs. Learn more about her: www.tinaannforkner.com
Want to read more about my friendship with Tina? Check out When A Nice Jewish Author Reads A Christian Novel on Huffington Post!
Now leave a comment and win some books!!!