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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Army Wife Pens Fiction in Several Genres

Hi! I am Carolyn Howard Johnson, your trusty New Book Review blogger and author of the multi award-winning HowTo Do It Frugally Series of books for writers. This blog has heretofore been exclusive for reviews but I thought I’d do a special series of interviews after I chatted with Jeanie Loiacono, President of Loiacono Literary Agency – Where ‘can’t’ is not in our vocabulary!  I thought sharing the interviews would help the many subscribers and visitors to this New Book Review blog, including authors, reviewers, and, of course, readers who just might find a new favorite author among the featured books and authors.

So, today welcome Jodie Cain Smith.

As a teen in Mobile, Alabama, Jodie Cain Smith listened as her grandmother told her the gripping story of an adolescence spent in 1930’s rural Alabama, the rumors surrounding her parents, and the murder trial that would alter her life.  The tale took root in Jodie’s memory until at last it became The Woods at Barlow Bend (Published by Deer Hawk Publications).
While attending the University of South Alabama, where Jodie earned a BFA in Theatre Arts, she met her husband Jay.  They began their life on the Army road in 2001 and have not stopped moving since.  As an Army Wife, she has lived in six different states spanning from the extreme heat of Texas to the blizzards of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she earned a MAE in School Counseling at Northern Michigan University, to most recently landing in South Carolina.
Jodie Cain Smith’s feature articles and columns have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Military Spouse’s Soul, The Petigru Review, The Savannah Morning News, and the Fort Hood Sentinel.
What is your genre? Is it fiction or nonfiction? My novel, The Woods at Barlow Bend, is fiction and classified under mystery, coming of age, and historical fiction. It is closely based on a true story set in the Great Depression. My second novel, Jubilee Bells, to be released by January 2017, is commercial fiction.

What made you want to be a writer? My life as a storyteller began in 8th Grade. I loved the free form of storytelling as an oral art. I began seeking out storytelling and speech competitions and then studied acting in high school and college. As an adult, I found writing to be the creative outlet I needed as an Army Wife, facing new challenges, loneliness, and fear. Writing my own stories became my best coping skill. Finally in 2011, after a decade of starting over in each new town we moved to, and starting and stopping too many careers to count, I decided to give fiction writing my full attention. Being a writer allows me more control over this transient, military life, and returning to my storyteller roots feels like the most comfortable, old, ratty sweatshirt I own. It’s not pretty, but it’s mine.

Of all the authors out there, who inspired you most? Joshilyn Jackson inspires me constantly. She thanked her writing group in Atlanta in the acknowledgements of A Grown-up Kind of Pretty, which told me even an A-list author needs a trusted inner circle to hone her craft.

What is your writing style? Do you outline? Linearly? By scene? Why? I always start with writing an opening, that first moment in which I hear the narrator’s or protagonist’s voice. Then I stop and create a loose outline. I map out scenes and consider Uta Hagen’s Nine Questions (created for actors) for my protagonist and supporting characters in order to get to know them so I can allow their goals to drive the story. Then, I typically travel down rabbit holes and along long tangents before finally figuring out what I want the story to be. Then, I start over. It is a long, maddening process.

Do you write every day? How much? How long? This one I stole from Steven King. I try to write at least three new pages a day Monday through Friday. I rarely write on weekends, unless I am on deadline. Lately, my nine-month-old dictates how much writing I do, so I try to be flexible in order not to drive us both crazy.

Do you think reading is as important to writing for an author? Why? Yes. I wish I had time to read more because the more I learn about the craft of writing, the more investigative reader I become. I love discovering other writers’ tactics, devices, and styles. And I don’t think I will ever fully understand this craft, so I have to keep learning.

What are some of the things you would like to share with budding authors? Seek out industry experts. Don’t let your ego kill your story. If you think a passage is the wittiest words ever strung together in a sentence, it probably needs to be cut. And after all that, trust your instincts. Your story is your story.

Do you have any marketing and promotional advice, referrals, tips you would like to share? Unless you’re a Kardashian, solo signing events are not worth your time. I have found that as a new author, my best sales come from group events such as New Author Night at chain bookstores or library local author events. I know. Telling someone that you will have higher sales at a chain store rather than an indie is blasphemy, but as a new author I have learned that I need to seek out venues with a guaranteed stream of traffic. Once I get them at the table, my pitch usually does the job, but I struggle getting traffic through the door.

      Do you think conferences are beneficial? If so, what have you learned? Which ones do you frequent? Yes, I do. I have gained valuable information and have met many writers whom I now include in my inner circle of writing buddies. At the Columbia Book Festival in 2012, I met an editor from Kirkus. He offered specific advice on getting published, not the generalities so prevalent in the blogosphere. I followed his advice to the letter and eight months later, I had a contract in my hands! At the 2013 South Carolina Writers’ Workshop Conference, I soaked up every tasty morsel of the “Editor’s Pet Peeves” session, and, in 2014, I came home with the tools to revamp my website. Conferences, in my opinion are always worth the time and money, if for no other reason than to be around like-minded individuals in a professional and entertaining environment. Two days to leave my solitary writing cave and nerd-out with 200 other writers over the craft of writing? Sign me up, please!
      Where can we find you, your books and when is your next event? My books are available online at: Amazon BAM  B&N BookWorld  COPIA  FishPond  Powell's Books  Shelfari  The Book Depository  Wheeler's Books  Goodreads                               Angus & Robertson  iDreamBooks LitLovers 
To learn more about Jodie Cain Smith and her thoughts on ruling, renovating, and escaping her corner of the world visit her blog The Queendom at http://thequeendom.org  After what I hope will be our last long-distance move in January, I will update you with future event details.
Represented by Loiacono Literary Agency, Jeanie Loiacono http://www.loiaconoliteraryagency.com/authors/jodie-cain-smith/


Jeanie Loiacono, President, Loiacono Literary Agency
A facilitator of dreams, Jeanie Loiacono represents over eighty authors. Her forte is mystery, romance, thrillers, historical/military/southern fiction, and all quality fiction/nonfiction. Her passion is to see her authors succeed.
“There is nothing more rewarding than to hold one of my author’s books and know I helped bring it to fruition. I am so blessed and privileged to be able to work with some of the most talented writers in the world.” Jeanie.L@llallc.net  www.loiaconoliteraryagency.com


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