About Joyce Scarbrough:
JOYCE SCARBROUGH is a Southern woman weary of seeing herself and her peers portrayed in books and movies as either post-antebellum debutantes or barefoot hillbillies á la Daisy Duke, so all her heroines are smart, unpretentious women who refuse to be anyone but themselves. Joyce has three published novels as well as several short stories available as Kindle downloads. She writes both adult and YA fiction and is active in her regional chapter of SCBWI. Joyce has lived all her life in beautiful LA (lower Alabama), she’s the mother of three gifted children and a blind Pomeranian named Tilly, and she’s been married for 31 years to the love of her life—a superhero who disguises himself during the day as a high school math teacher and coach.
What inspires you to write?
I write stories that entertain me and hope others will enjoy them as well. I’ve been making up stories to entertain myself since I was four years old. Sometimes I couldn’t wait until bedtime so I could lie in the dark and envision the stories in my head. It wasn’t until many years later when I began plotting my first novel that I realized I’d been plotting books all my life. The only difference is that now I write them down. This is why I don’t understand it when writers say they get sick of their own book by the time it’s published and don’t want to read it again. I never get tired of reading my own books because I wrote them to entertain myself in the first place.
Tell us about your writing process.
I always start with the characters. After I have a clear picture of my protagonist and the other main characters in my head and also in my Blue Spiral Notebook, I ask myself the “what ifs?” What if this happened to them? What if somebody was trying to do this to them? What if they had to do this and couldn’t get out of it? Etcetera, etcetera. Then I write a narrative overview of all the major plot points, making sure I have a strong beginning, middle and ending. This ensures that I don’t get halfway through a book and stop because I don’t know how to end it.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Oh, yes. My characters often decide they don’t want to do what I had planned for them. Sometimes the bad guys steal my heart and become not-so-bad guys. Sometimes my heroine doesn’t end up with the guy I thought she’d pick. And sometimes someone just has to die no matter how hard I try to save them. When these things happen, I go back and adjust the overview to match the new plot developments.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read, read, read. Keep writing and never give up. Read some more. Write the stories that come from your heart and make you laugh and cry, and don’t worry about market trends or what’s hot right now. Buy more books and read some more. Find someone who loves the same kind of books as you (and that you know will be honest with you) and ask them to be your First Reader. Write every day, even if it’s only one sentence. Just make sure it’s a great sentence!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When I first started out, I wanted the validation and credibility that my books had gone through the scrutiny of a submission process and been accepted. Now that I’ve published four books with small publishers and have a modest following of readers, and since I’ve worked as an editor myself, I’ve decided that I may self-publish my future books. I wouldn’t mind if one of them attracts the attention of an agent who wants to sell it to a big publisher, but I’ll keep publishing regardless.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Digital books are here to stay, but I don’t think real book lovers will ever give up printed books altogether. I love my Kindle, but I still want copies of my favorite books to go on my bookshelves. I’m happy that self-publishing is available for everyone, and I’m grateful that more and more well-known authors are bringing credibility to it, but I wish there were a way to filter out the books by people who don’t take writing seriously and think it’s just a way to make an easy buck. I’m happy there are sites like this one to help readers wade through the garbage and find good books worth their time and money.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: YA, women’s fiction, paranormal fiction.
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print