Saturday, July 14, 2018

Writing With Betty: Janna Roznos

I have another author interview and, I can't tell you how much I enjoy hearing from the Betties on the subject of writing. Betty Janna was good enough to sit down and answer a few of my most pressing inquiries:

We're here to ask the hard-hitting questions.
Is writing something you've always done/always wanted to do?
I have always been a writer. I made my living working in the aerospace industry here in southern California as a subcontract administrator so I spent my time reading contracts and writing them. Over the years, I've volunteered to write newsletters for several non-profits, grants for our local historical society, and of course I've written stories for myself. I have intermittently written fiction but usually gave up on it for various reasons until a few years ago when I finally decided it is now or never, so I sat down and started writing the book that was rolling around in the back of my head.

Since then I have been published in an anthology, Secrets of the Moonlight Cove. A group of writers from the local Romance Writers of America (RWA) that I belong to invited me to participate. It was a HUGE learning process for me . . . getting an editor, applying for a copyright, meeting the deadline, and of course working within the group of writers and having all our stories intertwined with each other.
Moonlight Cove sounds like a place with ghosts
and nosy kids and a pesky dog.

What draws you to the romance genre? Are there other genres you would try?
I'm interested in reading books with strong, unique female protagonists and romance novels seem to always meet this. Also, reading is a joy for me, so I want the happily ever after or happy for now ending. I get enough of ‘bad’ news from the newspaper or watching the evening news. I don’t want that in my books.
I grew up reading Harlequin romances – those with the red edged pages. I didn’t belong to the Harlequin reading club nor did I know anyone who did. I bought them at the local YMCA used book sale. Needless to say, vintage Harlequins hold a special place for me.
My other reading fascination is Mount Everest. Ironically, I suffer from altitude sickness so although I do like the outdoors (my husband and I fly fish) mountain climbing is off my agenda so I read about it.
Do you work with a critique group/belong to a trade organization?
I am a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and belong to two of their local chapters; one chapter is quite large (over a hundred members) so they have the resources to bring in some 'rock star' authors for programs. They also sponsor a local writers conference at one of the big hotels, which is always well attended.
The other chapter is quite small (about twenty members) so the programs are usually local writers. So, both chapters offer different perspectives.  Several of us got together and started a critique group but unfortunately it didn’t last – other priorities got in the way and it folded.
Actual footage of a folding critique group.
Tell us a little bit about how you developed the idea for your latest story.
The current story I am working on (rewriting in fact!) was inspired by the recession. I saw so many people my age mid - fifties lose everything: first their job (their career really) and then their house, their car, etc.
A good friend of mine, we grew up together and he has been like another brother to me, lost everything in the recession. Yes, he did make some poor financial choices too, but what stuck me was rather than reinventing himself he kept trying to grab onto what he had. I think the people who came through the recession were the ones that reinvented themselves for the ‘new’ economy. And so, my book is about a middle-aged woman who is wants to rebuild what she lost but then discovers — through a series of unfortunate events and meeting a really great guy, too — that for true happiness she must reinvent herself to be able to live happily ever after.
What was the biggest roadblock to getting out that first draft?
Although I've read lots of books, writing a book is very different. I struggle with grammar and spelling (And no, grammar check programs or spell check programs are not a help!) I also get frustrated and throw off the work and do something else. I’m very good at procrastination!

"I could plot my next chapter or paint my whole house with this
tiny brush while I have an affair with Richard Burton!"

However, the more I write I think the better I am getting at it. Also, I try to ignore that voice in my head that is constantly telling me I’m not good enough, or that no one will want to read this, or this isn’t any good.
What challenges do you find in making time for writing? How do you overcome those?
Even though I’m ‘retired’ I still find it a challenge to make the time to write. There are lots so of distractions – my garden, family, walking the dog, watching You Tube videos (Oh My Gosh! Don’t get me started!) and just life that demands attention.

I demand attention too, Betty Janna.
Tell us what challenges you about the process ahead of you--marketing, query letters, rejection, bad reviews, technical issues, etc., etc.
Writing is only one half of the equation - getting published is the other half. So many people have told me to just go head to publish it myself (through Amazon or iBook or another eBook platform). And, I think . . .yeah right! Self publishing is fraught with lots of decisions it’s not as if you just hit a few keys on the key board and then whamo! You have a book. I have entered a few writing contest and have done reasonable well – no wins . . .yet, but I have gotten some good feedback and that always helps.
I've loved hearing about favorite books that our Author Betties love and are inspired by. Which are yours (of every and any genre)?
Looking over my bookshelf, some of my favorite authors (in no particular order) are: Joanna Trollope, Julie James, Madeline Hunter, Pamela Aidan, Elizabeth Hoyt, Mary Burchell, Anne Weale, and Essie Summers. There are more, but books have a way of coming into my life and then leaving again on to their next home.
What do you like about Betty Neels? Any favorite books of hers we can fight about?

Partisans for 'Caroline's Waterloo' and 'Dearest Love' enter the octagon.
Betty tells a good story! In just few lines she sums up the character that as a reader we can truly see, identify with, and relate to. Her protagonists are strong woman within the context of the story. She also writes of a world that I’m not sure ever truly existed – right and wrong are definitely defined, good triumphs over evil. Love conquers all. It’s a place I think we all would like to live.
I think my favorite Betty Neels book is Dearest Mary Jane. It is the one I return to again and again for yet another reread; however, I haven’t read all of Betty Neels so who knows maybe I will find another favorite one of these days
Thank you so much, Betty Janna!

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