Joyce Scarbrough – Author interview

29 09 2010

Author Interview – Joyce Scarbrough 

Today, I’m starting something different on my blog. Besides just sharing about my writing experiences or reviewing pop culture, I’m also going to start posting interviews with authors. I think other authors have a lot to share with their fellow authors, as well as their fans. 



First up is Joyce Scarbrough. Her latest book is “Symmetry.” 

What makes you tick as an author? We want to peek into your psyche.

I’ve made up stories all my life to entertain myself, but it wasn’t until I began plotting my first novel that I realized I had been inventing storylines all those years. And that’s still the way I write my books—I write the stories that entertain ME, the kind that touch my heart, excite me, outrage me, and make me laugh and cry.That’s why I’m always a bit amazed when I hear some writers

Symmetry by author Joyce Scarbrough

say that by the time their book is published, they’re so sick of it that they never want to read it again. I read my books again every other month or so, and even though I know almost every word by heart, they still make me laugh out loud and cry my heart out. And since my characters are real people to me, when I read my books again, it’s like visiting with old friends.My goal as a writer is to never write a book that doesn’t affect me that way.

What works do you currently have published and in what formats?

 I have three published novels: TRUE BLUE FOREVER, DIFFERENT ROADS and SYMMETRY. I also have short stories featured in three different upcoming anthologies from L&L Dreamspell.   

Which was your first work and what inspired it?

My husband and I attended the same high school 13 years apart (he’s the older one!) so I had always wondered if we would have liked each other if we’d gone to school together since he was a three-sport jock and I was the valedictorian and a band geek. I decided to create a teenage couple with personalities similar to my husband’s and mine, threw in a sports rival for conflict, a wise-cracking best friend for humor, and some muscle cars to make my son happy. TRUE BLUE FOREVER was born!

Has your writing evolved since the beginning and in what way?  

Actually, I’ve been trying to get back to the instinctual way I wrote in the beginning. My first book came straight from my heart, and the second one felt as if it were being dictated to me by the heroine. Lately, I’ve felt that I’ve been over-thinking while writing and have been doing my best to take Stephen King’s advice and just let the words flow unhampered on the first draft. Of course, being the obsessive personality, I will still revise it a million times, but I want that first draft to be pure story.

Is there any genre you wish you could write in but don’t feel comfortable tackling?

I would never consider writing in any genre I don’t like to read myself, such as fantasy. It would show in my writing and would be a disservice to my readers.

What about your writing career are you most proud of?

I guess I would have to say all the letters and reviews I got for TRUE BLUE FOREVER from teenage girls who told me they stayed up all night to finish reading it, some of whom had never read a book before that wasn’t required for school. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is for me to know my book introduced these girls to the wonders of reading, something I’ve cherished for as long as I can remember.

What are you most disappointed with?The attitude that some (not all) people have about books published by a small press. However, things they are a-changing, as evidenced by daily news in the publishing world about how the Big Six publishers are gradually realizing the benefits of the small press business model.    

How many books would you say you own? Library numbers or just a small collection?

I own thousands of books! When I was a teenager, I used to trade my paperbacks at the local used book store to get more. Now I find myself going online to find copies of the ones I traded and buying them again! I went through a major gothic romance stage when I was 14, so I had to find and buy copies of all those wonderful books by Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt and Dorothy Eden.

Who are your favorite authors? Does any of your writing reflect that?

I realized recently how much the characters in my favorite books had influenced my own novels. Like the epic loves in FOREVER AMBER and GONE WITH THE WIND, all my books feature couples whose love will never die despite all the obstacles they encounter. My heroines are all strong women like Amber and Scarlett, but  most especially Jaycee in DIFFERENT ROADS—she’s a hellion who couldn’t care less about public opinion and who loves her man with the force of a tempest. Inspired by the unrequited love that Laurie has for Jo in LITTLE WOMEN, I gave the heroine in TRUE BLUE FOREVER a best friend who will always love her. And all my heroes (so far) are fearless, macho men who usually fight with my heroines as passionately as they make love to them, like Lee and Jess in SYMMETRY.   

Some people say the life of a writer can be lonely. Do you agree? Why?

That may have been true in the past when writers had the luxury of being reclusive, but authors in today’s publishing world have to help promote their books if they want to survive. For someone who hated talking to people I didn’t know or speaking to a crowd, I have learned to introduce myself at conferences to complete strangers and can now talk about my books to a group without batting an eye. I’ve also learned to write my ridiculously long name really fast for book signings!

What is a typical day in your life like?

After jump-starting my brain with coffee, I answer e-mail, respond to writing forum posts, check my Facebook account and try to do something promotional every day. Then I work on editing projects for 2-3 hours and break for lunch. Depending on whether or not my sister hijacks me at lunchtime, I work on my own writing projects in the afternoon until it’s time for my husband to come home, at which time all productivity comes to an abrupt halt! However, if it’s basketball or football season and he has a game, I sometimes get to work at night too. And if I’m in the middle of a book’s climax, I write every chance I get, even if I have to fake an illness to stay home and write.

Have you ever cried while writing one of your books? Which one?

Robert Frost said: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” Not only have I cried while writing all my books, I have laughed out loud and gotten so angry that I’ve thrown writing utensils at my computer monitor.

Of all your books, which one do you think deserves to hit the bestseller’s lists? Why?

No offense, but this is a silly question! I wouldn’t have published any of them if I hadn’t wanted them to be read by millions of readers. However, if we’re speaking of which one has the most widespread appeal, I would have to pick . . . nope, can’t do that either! Sorry! 

What works do you have in progress currently?

 I’m currently writing a YA paranormal novel that I like to describe as DEXTER meets BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. However, I want to make it clear that there are no vampires in my book. Just a smart-mouthed dead girl with a penance to pay.

What publishing houses have you used?

My first two books were published by Author’s Ink Books out of Burr Oak, Michigan. SYMMETRY was published by L&L Dreamspell based in Friendswood, Texas.

Have you struggled with marketing? In what way?

When my first book was published, I was basically flying blind when it came to promotion, and everything I did was the result of Internet searches for ways to promote. Now that I’m on my third book and have been an active member of multiple writing communities and forums, opportunities for promotion literally fall into my lap every time I check my messages because of the great network of writers I know, several of whom have even published reference books about how to promote. My book promotion library is now well-stocked and referred to often. 

What advice do you have for other authors?

Write the stories that entertain you. If you don’t like what you’re writing, it shows. And READ, READ, READ. As Stephen King says: “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the tools to write.” 

What would be your one sentence sales pitch on your writing to a potential reader?

“Fiction to touch the heart.”

We want to keep up with you. Give us some contact information.

E-mail me at
Readers can find samples of all my work on my pages at Authors Den: 
My author page at L&L Dreamspell: 
My blog is called “Blue Attitude”:  
I’m also on Facebook:


Let me be your “candyman”

15 09 2010

On Friday, I received my first shipment of books to review from Suspense Magazine. Inside were seven “hits” of my favorite drug: books. As soon as I saw the box on the porch, my salivary glands started to kick into overdrive. As I tore open the box, my voracious appetite was almost too much to control. Quickly I pulled the contents out of the box. As I glimpsed the covers and read the titles, I was nearly salivating.

I’ve never taken any recreational drugs so I can’t say for sure, but I imagine the rush I get when getting new books is akin to the “high” drug users feel. You should see me in a bookstore. I’m like a kid in a candy store. You really should see me in Half Price Books.

For those of you who aren’t lucky enough to have the greatest creation ever in your area, let me tell you about Half Price Books. From the name of the store, it probably is pretty evident. It’s a used bookstore which sells most books for half price or less. So if the cover price of a paperback is $5, you can get it for $2.50. Hard cover books are usually less than half price. They also have clearance sections where you can get paperbacks for $1 and hard cover for as cheap as $3. It really is a haven for those of use who get our “highs” the literary way.

What is it about books that can create such a reaction in people? There are many reasons, but the most common one is the escapist value of books. When you read a book, you can go anywhere and become any one. Romance novels let you experience being rescued by a dashing hero. Mysteries let you solve  a murder. Science fiction lets you meet every manner of creature imaginable. Thrillers let you experience the thrill of being chased by sinister bad guys and in the end saving the day. In historical fiction, you can travel to any time period and feel what life was like.

Remember that “high” I was talking about earlier, when I opened the box of books? I want to help someone else get that feeling. I want someone to find one of my books on a shelf one day and feel that rush. I want someone to read my book and get so engrossed in the world I have created that they can’t wait to read my next book. I want someone to tear open a box of books, so hungry to get another “fix.” I want to be your “candyman.” Let me take you to another world. Let me engage your mind. Let me inform you. Let me make you question things. Let my books be your “drug.”

For anyone who wants a “hit,” you can head to where I have the first four chapters of my novel posted. I also have the first three chapters on my blog here. You just have to page back a few pages and you can find them. I would love for you to read them if you haven’t yet. And any constructive criticism is appreciated. I am trying hard to learn as I write this, both from my own experience, from articles I read from other authors, and from comments people give me about my writing.

I hope you enjoy what you read and keep coming back for more.

Reading this blog is not “The Event”

8 09 2010

I don’t know what “The Event” is. No one does. But thanks to the marketing campaign from NBC, I can’t wait to find out.

NBC has done a magnificent job of building up the hype for their new show. Their series of commercials saying “Plot point A is not The Event” has been the perfect balance of tease and reveal, but mostly tease. They really have not told us much at all about what the show is really about. What we do know is that some event happened and there is a big conspiracy to cover it up. Blair Underwood plays the President, who apparently doesn’t know about the event. Jason Ritter stars as a man whose girlfriend goes missing on a cruise ship. While he investigates her disappearance, he uncovers the conspiracy surrounding “The Event.” Laura Innes of “ER” fame plays the leader of a mysterious group of inmates somehow involved in “The Event.”

Personally, I’m guessing that the group of inmates are aliens and “The Event” was their arrival on Earth. I kind of hope I’m wrong and it actually is something more mysterious than that. I certainly will be tuning in Monday, Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. ET when the show debuts. The show’s creators are promising answers to big questions early on, hoping to avoid viewers tuning out when questions pile up exponentially faster than answers. I hope this is true. And I hope viewers who tune in for the first episode will stick it out for the whole season to find out what is really going on.

Last year, I was very excited to watch “FlashForward,” as were more than 12 million other people who watched the premiere episode on Sept. 27, 2009. By Dec. 6, 2009, only 7 million people watched the 11th episode. Almost half of the viewers had tuned out in less than three months.  There could be many reasons for this. But I bet in large part it was because viewers wanted answers immediately and didn’t get them.

And now that “Lost” has concluded after six mysterious, mind-bending seasons with many important questions left unanswered, genre fans are going to be even less willing to watch shows long-term that drag out mysteries with no sign of resolution. We love mysteries and strange happenings. But more often than not, we want some sort of explanation or resolution, even if it is a supernatural or magical answer. 

We only have to wait 12 more days to get our first taste of “The Event.” I hope it is worth the wait. Or else we might find out the answer to the question: If you have an “Event” and no one shows up to watch, is it really an “Event.”

Everyone is “new” sometime

2 09 2010

Today I was looking over a brochure Erin had picked up at Barnes and Noble last week. It was titled “Discover Great New Writers.” According to the brochure, “Established in 1990, the Discover Great New Writers program seeks out the best new literary talents from among the many books published each season.” Some of the authors who have been part of this program include Jodi Picoult, Cormac McCarthy, Patricia Cornwell, Elizabeth Kostova, and Khaled Hosseini.

As an avid reader, it is easy to forget that the authors whose books we love to read all started out where I am right now: as an unpublished author hoping to get their story out to a mass market. Every author has to start at that place. None of us are born as a successful, published author. It’s easy to forget that when you look at the career of an author like Stephen King or Dean Koontz or Margaret Weis. Each of them has had 25-plus year careers with dozens of books to their credit. But at one time, they all started with zero books published and no one new who they were.

As an unpublished author working on finishing my first novel, it is easy to get discouraged at times and feel like you can never reach that goal. Those voices telling you it’s a waste of time or you aren’t as good as those people are simply manifestations of our own insecurities and doubts we all feel for varying reasons.

Whatever has happened in the past, that is just where it should stay – in the past. We can not allow ourselves to be held prisoner by the demons of our past. Nor can we allow ourselves to be lost in the hopeful dreams of the future. We must work hard every day to create the future that we are meant to achieve. It’s helpful every now and then to get little reminders that we all start at the same point and all we can do is work hard and try our best to make our dreams come true. These little reminders can help silence those voices for a little while at least.

We only live once, so whatever your dream may be, no matter how impossible it may seem, give it your all. Whether or not you “make it big,” you will be happier for trying, and who knows where your efforts will take you.

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