Hi, everyone. This week, Joan Leotta, a fellow writer with Desert Breeze, is kind enough to join me on my blog.
Joan, the first thing I always ask, is why do you write? Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
I write because I love to share what I have found out and I use writing also to explore new worlds of fact and emotion. Storytelling is a big part of my life—performance, oral telling, and writing. I guess this is true since when I was a child, I would scribble “Sentences” and then “read” them to anyone who would listen.
You've almost answered my last question, since I would like to know when you started writing? (More than scribbles.)
As a child. For money, when I was 14—a national magazine published a poem of mine and paid. After leaving my job as an analyst for the government to stay home and raise my children, I began my career as a freelance writer (non-fiction mostly).
How did you get your first break as a writer?
Persistence. I kept after an editor until I had a topic he wanted and then sent him the article “on spec” (That means he could toss it out if he did not like it and would not owe me anything).
Now the only thing I wrote on spec is fiction and poetry
How much time to you spend in preparation? In actual writing? In editing?
Plotting, writing and editing all take a lot of time. Research is a big part of things for me—and thinking about the nature of my characters—who they are, what they should or would do and why.
Formatting has been a bear for me with the Desert Breeze books because I‘ve never prepared a book directly for e-book format before. Exciting. Something new to learn.
Exciting, but sometimes tricky. Who is your best critic?
My daughter on fiction and my critique group—my husband is great, but he does not like fiction. I read non-fiction aloud and then send it out (after editing, of course)
I'm learning to read my work aloud, too. I think it helps. Tell us about your writing space.
Cluttered. I am a clutter queen. I have a desktop computer in an office filled with papers, books, pictures, and “Stuff”
My laptop accompanies me into other rooms where I write and write.
Time wise - do you write daily? Weekly?
Definitely daily. Maybe two or three hours unless I am on a crunch—that is actual time at the computer. I am usually writing more than one thing at a time and researching two or three other things at a time as well, for performance or writing.
At the present moment, I am preparing to give a talk on story performance in
At the same time I am researching and plotting the second installment in my Desert Breeze Series.
You are one busy gal! It sounds like you don't have a problem getting inspired. Do you ever have to wait until the mood hits?
No! Inspiration is 90 percent perspiration for me. Walks and breaks and fun with family often provide inspiration.
I’m rarely stuck, but I pray that God will keep it flowing.
My life verse is one which I have seen some other Desert Breeze authors use too—helps confirm that I am with the right group—Psalm 45:1c “ my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.”
God gave me this verse before I started to write and perform. I believe He wanted to tell me that I would pursue both of these areas and I have!
I even wrote a long and thoughtful article for the National Storytelling Organization on the relationship of oral and written storytelling, using this verse as my starting point.
Ideas for stories and characters come all the time too. Sometimes faster than I can take notes on them.
Sounds like you don't really need a boost with all your energy, but do you start with coffee?
Definitely. Coffee, breakfast , quiet time of reading Bible and praying, then I check my email, do some words with friends on my computer and get going on writing, researching, interviewing (for fiction and non-fiction) and editing—a little bit of each.
What is your long-term goal?
Honor God with whatever I do.
An excellent goal for each of us. Any advise to wanna-be's?
Yes, keep writing. All the time. Read what you want to write. Read other genres. Read everything.
Get some good books on writing (There are more than I can tell. Check several out at the library and find the one that resonates with you) and when you send something to an editor, follow the directions. Seek criticism and take it in stride. Be prepared to edit your work. Rewrite, edit and rewrite again.
I’ve included a photo of me storytelling.
Thank you so much, Joan. You have quite a resume! Blessings in all your endeavors.
Joan can be reached through the following sites and e-mail address.