Jo Michaels is a writer who’s really had a taste of life. She’s lived in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia; but visited states from coast to coast. Michaels, a high-school dropout, put herself through college while her husband was deployed to Iraq and still managed to come out on the other side with all five of her children still breathing. On top of that wondrous feat, she managed to graduate Summa Cum Laude. After her fourteen year marriage ended cataclysmically, she took to the keys to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer. Using the degree she obtained in school, Jo set out with tools in her belt not many writers possess: a strong design eye, the skills necessary to format her books, and the ability to use her artistic talents to create stunning covers.
Now, Michaels writes full-time in her garage while imbibing copious amounts of coffee to keep her motor running from son up to son down (and daughter, too). Her inspiration for her books comes from relationships, life, friends, passion, and her own incredible imagination. A fight for achieving her dream (along with her super duper boyfriend) is what drags her out of bed every morning to do what she does best: spin tales laced with high-octane emotion for readers worldwide.
Jo has written six books, all of which are self-published.
What inspires you to write?
My inspiration comes from the world around me. Things I find interesting, values I hold, and my really supportive boyfriend are all sources of my drive. I have so much to say; so many things to share with the world. Simply put, I write because I must.
Tell us about your writing process
I begin by jotting down thoughts in a notebook. These are usually in the form of a character and something that character will struggle with. Then, I create a biography on that character and any other major character that’s encountered on the journey. Lastly, I write up chapter headings and a short sentence or two about what will happen in that chapter (I often deviate from this) so I’ll have direction.
I use MS Word to write and create a document for each of the following:
Timeline (this includes birthdays and events with significance)
And I go from there. It works for me.
Once the book’s written, I edit three times: 1 for additions and construct, 1 for subtractions, and 1 for grammar, spelling, etc… Then, I ship it off to my editor for yet another edit. I agree with her 90% of the time and she catches things I miss. Then, off to a proofreader for a good once-over. Some time during the writing process, I take a few days off to design my cover (I have a design degree) and put it out to a few friends for critique.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Ha! Great question. I tend to become my main character when I’m writing. I experience everything they do. All supporting characters surround me all the time. Yes, we have chats. Those chats usually turn into dialogue in the books or provide me with direction when I need it. Once in a while, they all just sit there and stare at me like I’ve lost my mind. Those days are difficult writing days.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I submitted a number of query letters while looking into self-publishing. Every letter I got back said, “I wouldn’t know how to market this.” Truth be told, I had a difficult time with that as well. Yassa, the book I sent the queries on, is a historical fiction novel with a romantic undertone centered around the value of loyalty, coming of age, and following one’s beliefs to the letter. It’s a nightmare publication for any agent because the market isn’t clear. For example: My seventeen year old son loves it, but so did a forty year old woman, a thirty-eight year old man, a twenty-somethings woman, and my sixty-eight year old mother.
After getting over twenty rejection letters, I decided to go indie and haven’t looked back. I’ve since self-published five more books: The Abigale Chronicles – Books 1, 2, and 3, The Indie Author’s Guide to: Building a Great Book, and the first book in my Mystic series – Bronya (two more to be released before the end of the year – Lily and Shelia).
New authors, explore all your options before you make a decision. Then you’ll know you’ve made the right one.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think the future of book publishing will lean more digital but I think there will always be a call for printed books. Most readers I know have a Kindle and a huge print-book library. I think more authors will go indie, for sure. Who needs someone taking 40% or more of your earnings just to put your book on a shelf somewhere? Indies can do that if they work hard, and they get to keep more of their profits.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Historical Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Paranormal, Non-Fiction How-To
What formats are your books in?