It is with great pleasure that I present (now hold your breath here) JOAN O. SCHARF! I have the privilege of associating with her through the Utica Writers Club on a monthly basis. Let me just say that her critiques and suggestions are beyond valuable. Since many of you are writers as well, I hope you find insight from this interview. We also have exciting news for everyone at the end, so read on…
Kissed by Literature: Joan, welcome to the blog. How long have you been writing?
Joan O. Scharf: Thanks for having me here, Jordan. As for how long I have been doing this .. I think I caught the 'writing bug' in high school. Whenever the teacher assigned the class to write a creative story, there were moans and groans from most students, but I was secretly delighted.
KbL: Tell us about your book.
JOS: There are three books. One was published 31/2 years ago; the second is currently in production and will be available soon; and the third is written, but still needs editing. ( Hopefully it will go to a publisher next year.)
Number one is Hanging on a Twisted Line, a book of devious, sassy, short shorts, sometimes identified as flash fiction. It contains 43 unique stories often with O. Henry type twisted surprise endings. Included are a mix of genres in captivating quick reads for today's busy lifestyle. Mystery, humor, ghost, romance, and literary are all there for your reading pleasure. (Available at Amazon.com, through Barnes and Noble, or other bookstores.)
Book two is titled Valentine Tales. This is written for children in the 7 to 12 age group. A grandfather tells stories to 3 of his grandchildren about his own father, ...a mischievous boy named Valentine growing up in the early 1900's. The stories he narrates are often humorous as Valentine becomes involved in a series of incidents including several one-room schoolhouse happenings, a snipe hunt, apple snitching, an encounter with a bear, an outhouse event, ghostly messages, a 6th grade graduation, a remarkable Birthday gift and a others.
Book three doesn't have a title yet. It is comprised of three thought-provoking stories for adults. Genres are: police/action; horror; and futuristic.
KbL: I mentioned earlier how we are both in the Utica Writers Club. When did you first become involved and how has it improved your writing?
JOS: I've been a member of the Utica Writers Club for about 9 years. I also belong to two other writing groups. (Florida Writer's Association, and Hodges University Critique group.) Suggestions and critiques from fellow writers are immensely valuable. They help catch the snags, fill the gaps and generate ideas to take a writer to the next level. I find the Utica Writers Club to be a particularly caring and motivating group of talented people.
KbL: What is your weirdest writing experience?
JOS: Oh oh, ...now you are asking me to share a deep dark secret. Some years ago, I wrote a manuscript along the lines of Fifty Shades of Gray. Perhaps even a little spicier. Considering the subject matter, it likely would have sold well, but I was too embarrassed to ever send it to a publisher.
KbL: What inspires you to write? Do you have any writing regiments, such as you always have to write while listening to music or you can only write during a certain time each day? I do my best work in the morning, but oftentimes I can only grab a moment late at night – then I get to ask myself “why, oh why, did I write THAT?”
JOS: I write at odd times....no regular routine. I find myself composing in my head during dull lectures, or sermons. I scribble in my pad when I am a passenger on long trips, or in a waiting area. Ideas pop into my mind here and there, and I ask myself "what if...." and a story starts. The notes eventually make it into my computer, and after they mellow for a couple of weeks, I reread and rearrange and edit.
KbL: What is your favorite genre to write? Why do you love that one the best?
JOS: I never thought about having a favorite genre. A story begins with an idea, and the genre develops itself from that. I guess I would have to say whatever piece I currently work on is 'my fav' of the moment.
KbL: Would you mind telling us about your other writing projects?
JOS: I've already talked about the other two books I'm currently working on...the one at the publishers and another in the pipeline. I also occasionally write poetry, several of which have been published. Two of my stories were chosen to be included in a collection of short stories by a variety of authors. The title of that book is Slices of Life.
KbL: Now for the extra excitement, ladies and gentlemen. Joan has agreed to a contest. To enter, please leave a comment with your name and email address. The email address is very important – without it, we won’t be able to reach you! You have until Monday, July 1, to leave a comment. On July 1st, Joan will choose a winner. Feel free to leave a question for Joan as well. Joan, what would you like readers to take away from your book?
JOS: Hanging on a Twisted Line. May it awaken your curiosity, ....generate excitement, ....satisfy your need for entertainment, ....provoke a chuckle, a tear,and.a lasting memory....