Today, we’re starting a new feature on the blog. Every Friday, we will be chatting with a different author. We’ll get to learn all about their writing lives, what it was like when they got the call, and what advice they have for aspiring authors!
Our first author is Ms. Joya Ryan. Welcome, Joya!
Amy: What is a standard day for you like in terms of writing?
Joya: A standard writing day for me is typically everything non-standard. I have two boys, so there’s getting them to and from school, chores, errands…it’s never ending. But! I’ve mastered the art of “squat and write.” (It’s a terrible term I know, but bear with me). I realized a long time ago that I have chunks of time during the day where I’m able to write. Some chunks of time are longer than others. When I’m home, I just stop what I’m doing, grab my laptop and sit and write. Sometimes it’s at the kitchen table. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the floor. Or I’m on the couch with a blanket. I just use whatever time I have to hammer out my thoughts before I lose them. So location is a secondary concern. There is however one place I CAN’T write…public.
Amy: What authors have influenced you as a writer?
Joya: I like to read things outside my genre. Marina Adair has been a big influence. She does a great job with small town quirk, humor and setting. She really thrives in areas I struggle with and her books and style have been a great learning tool.
Amy: How did you sign with your agent? What was it like when you got “the call” from an agent offering you representation?
Joya: I signed with my agent, Jill Marsal, two years ago. I was on a trip back home actually and my husband and I were driving through the mountains. It was one-hundred degrees out and she called right when we entered a small town where I got a half a bar of signal. I screamed for my husband to pull over, which he did after the minor heart attack I gave him. I rolled up all the windows (and yes, our AC was busted) so I could hear her better. She said she liked my book and offered me representation. Both my husband and I were sweating like crazy but I wouldn’t let him leave the sauna of a car because I’m all nervous. I started babbling to Jill…like…really badly babbling. I even said, “I’m so sorry, I’m not very articulate…oh shit! That’s probably not something you want to hear from an author, huh?” So in short, I cursed at my agent on accident and admitted I suck with words. And yet, she took me anyway! To this day she is the most incredible person and I’m lucky to call her a friend now as well as my agent.
Amy: What happened after you got “the second call”, this time from your agent letting you know there was an offer on your book?
Joya: I was in so much shock that the details eluded me. I started pacing in my home and for whatever reason, turning on and off the lights. Weird right? But I was just stunned. I remembered asking her to repeat herself because I was worried I had heard her wrong. Finally I ask, “So, Jill…are you saying someone out there wants my book? They want to put it out there for people to actually read it?” She said yes and it was that feeling that did me in. Hope was now on the table and I just stood in shock. If only one person read my book, one stranger spent their time on it…that was the most amazing thought in the world. My entire heart nearly exploded.
Amy: Was the publishing process what you expected it to be? How did it different from what you expected?
Joya: I’ve been through a few various processes. Everyone and every avenue of publishing is different. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect other than, “Be prepared for your book to get ripped apart.” I’ve had LOTS of feedback, criticism and suggestions. And to be honest, all of it has helped me become a better writer. I want my books to be the best they can possibly be. No matter how hard you try, not everyone will like your book. And that’s okay. So long as you feel confident that you worked hard and grow with every round of edits, that’s what I feel is really valuable. I learn something new with each editor and each pass of a book, it’s what makes things exciting and allows for growth.
Amy: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Joya: Support yourself, because at the end of the day, things get difficult. But if you can remember to support yourself and have faith in your ability to keep trying and do your best, everything will be as it should. At the end of the day, you are going to be your toughest critic so remember to ease up on yourself from time to time, hug it out in the mirror, and just keep working hard.
Amy: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?
My newest release just came out with Montlake and is Breathe You In. The second book in the series is Only You and due out in August. It’s been super fun writing these books because I got to research everything from politics to shipping moguls and sure…I had to Google “guys with six packs” just to get a visual. So it was tons of fun writing!