Judging Joey is a sweet contemporary romance with a hint of a mystery. Madeline is a new teacher who struggles with a secret that jeopardizes her job and links her together with the school’s Safety Officer, the man who broke her heart in high school. The story opens where she is dreading a painful reunion with Joey at the school’s carnival. Her principal asks her to work at the same booth where Joey is volunteering. Madeline has been dreading this day for ten years and is shocked when Joey doesn’t seem to remember her. I’ll leave it at that. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next. J
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
The hero in this book actually started out in another book as the kid brother of that heroine. I decided Joey needed his own story and wrote him into a completely different book. Joey and Madeline are polar opposites. He’s fun-loving and she has a serious nature. They just had to meet.
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
Judging Joey is now available in ebook format on Amazon and through Soul Mate Publishing. It will come out in print in a few months. The book I’m working on now is about one of three sisters whose family owns a bridal dress shop. Each sister will have her own story and each one is a romantic suspense.\
Are you a panster or a plotter? Linear or non-linear writer?
I am in between. First, I write as a panster. I like to learn the story as it happens, but later I might plot out some scenes. When I have a mystery or suspense there are a lot of clues and red herrings that I need to keep track of. I also write scenes out of order and then tie them together. It’s not efficient and takes me forever, but that’s my creative process. When a scene pops in my head, I have to write it down. If I had to wait until I got to that point in the book, I’d get frustrated and lose interest. I have always written that way and had never heard of anyone else doing that until Diana Gabaldon spoke at my local chapter. When she said she wrote that way too, I felt validated.
I wrote my first book that way and found it extremely difficult, but we all have our own processes. Are you pen and paper writer, strictly computer, or some combo of the two?
I write mostly on the computer, but I’ve been known to write whole novels with pen and paper. I truly believe when I hand-write, my brain uses a different part of itself and unleashes a more creative side. I will write at the beach this way a lot of the times. With this process, I’m able to automatically turn off the inner editor because there’s no delete or backspace button. It’s fun to do writing exercises that way too since it’s more freeing. I have to input whatever I’ve written into the computer, which sometimes leads into revising and editing. When I use a pen and paper, I also write in a completely different location than my normal routine. I think that makes it exciting and helps stir my muse.
I think you’re right about the handwriting. I just read some research that says just what you stated. Most of my poetry is handwritten. I just create I better than way. I also tend to write in stages: dialogue first, then go back and put in the different layers—sensory, visceral, emotional, settings. What is does your writing process look like?
That’s so funny! I write that way too. Dialogue comes first and I will write that part fast. Then I add in the other layers. Since I tend to write romances with a mystery or suspense, I’ll go back and add romantic elements. The suspense elements usually spew out and sometimes I forget and have to remind myself, “Wait! I’m writing a romance. Where’s the romance?” So I must go back and add that in. I usually try to use the setting almost as a character. That requires a layer too. Right now, the book I’m writing takes place at the New Jersey shore in the fall during storm season. The fog, cooler sea air, and wind, all play a part. Of course, I’m going to use a storm in that story! Next I look for the emotional aspect. Did I make my reader laugh, cry, tug at their heartstrings? If I don’t cry or laugh when I reread the story, then I know my readers won’t either. By this time, I’m in the revision process. I’ve seen writers using highlighters or color font to highlight these layers. For example, they’ll use pink for dialogue, blue for setting, green for sensory details, etc. I haven’t tried that yet, but I plan on trying it for the book I’m working on now. I’d have to add a color for suspense and romance too!
That’s so funny about forgetting the romance. I can totally relate, especially with the suspense elements. So, how have your reading (and writing) tastes evolved over the years? Do you still read the same genre of books you did as a teenager?
My first real job was working for the New York Public Library as a page at the age of fifteen. That’s where I discovered the gothic novel. I still love that whole idea of the creepy old house on a hill, a heroine who doesn’t know whom to trust, a mysterious hero, and a story filled with romance, mystery, and suspense. I think that’s why no matter how many times I try to write a straight contemporary romance, a dead body shows up! When I wrote my book Judging Joey, I thought it was a contemporary romance until I had a critique partner tell me something about the mystery. Huh? I thought. What mystery? I realized that even though I thought it was a romance, a mystery peeked through, so I decided to add a bit more of a mystery. Today, I search for similar kinds of books. I like to read romances with suspense that’s not too graphic, but eerie.
What’s the book you are reading now?
Right now I’m reading Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. When someone in my book club recommended the novel, I voted for it as the pick of the month. I’ve read a couple of her books and really loved them. Between Sisters is still on my keeper shelf. I’m about half way through so far of Firefly Lane. If this book is anything like the others I’ve read, I’d better get the tissues ready. She’s a great writer and a lovely lady. I met her once at the New Jersey Romance Writers conference.
What do you do for relaxation?
Read of course! I have books and magazines all over my house. I never want to be without the option of reading something if I have a moment to unwind. I even have tons of books on my Nook and iPad. I do tend to watch lots of TV and movies when I need to relax. Walking on the beach is another thing I do for recreation. The sun, sand, and sound of the waves do wonders for me.
Speaking of television…do you like reality shows? If so, what’s your favorite one?
Reality shows are like potato chips to me. I can’t have only one. If I see a bag of chips, my waistline beware! It’s the same with reality shows. I watch almost all the Real Housewives. Married At First Sight. The Bachelor and Bachelorette shows. Survivor. Oh my, this is embarrassing. I like the home and garden shows, anything with the word Millionaire in the title. Dare I go on?
Macaroni and Cheese. I rarely have it because it’s so fattening, but who can resist creamy cheese and pasta? Not me.
Favorite singer or band?
This is almost as difficult as choosing my favorite book. The older I get, the more I love Karen Carpenter. She really had a beautiful voice. I listen to her on Pandora when I write.
Summer! Flowers, beach, nice weather…all fabulous things.
Yellow roses. They make me feel happy.
Green. It’s a peaceful color.
Mug or teacup?
Mug for sure. When I’m having a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa, I need a serious serving. Teacups are nice for company.
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy? (a quote, a Bible verse, a precept you live by or have tried to instill in your children?)
Thanks for having me! I have this tiny antique porcelain book that belonged to my grandmother. On its open pages in gold letters is part of The Serenity Prayer:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
I keep it on my dresser like my grandmother did and look at it every day. Sometimes I worry about things I have no control over. The prayer grounds me and I appreciate that!
Madeline White must return to her hometown to help her uncle, her only family. She gets a job teaching and sees the man who broke her heart back in high school. Then she discovers he’s the school’s Safety Officer and his nephew is her student! Madeline’s determined to clear the air with him and hopes they can be civil to one another. When she builds up the courage for a painful reunion, she is shocked that he doesn’t remember her.
Officer Joey O’Neill is committed to his job, so after the beautiful redhead accuses him of the contrary, he takes offense. When Madeline informs him they’ve met before, he insists she’s mistaken. Although his family wants him to settle down and judges his carefree bachelorhood lifestyle, it doesn’t mean he forgets the people in his life. Past or present.
Like years before, people begin to whisper about her when things go missing in the school. Joey starts to wonder if what they say is true. As the past comes back to haunt Madeline, she struggles with a secret that jeopardizes her job and hopes she can trust Joey. Has he finally out grown being a wise-cracking jock?
Buy links for Judging Joey:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Elizabeth John’s love of reading and writing began in her early childhood and blossomed throughout her teenage years. Her first real job was working in a library, and it was there that the cover of a gothic romance intrigued her. She read it and has been hooked on romances ever since. Elizabeth has published many newspaper and magazine articles and several short stories. For a few years, she enjoyed writing ceremonial resolutions for her state’s senators and assembly members. When she’s not penning contemporary romances and romantic suspense novels, she’s teaching elementary school children how to read and write. Admittedly, she’s a TV and movie junkie and has noble intentions to practice yoga daily. Her day job, family, and writing life keep her busy! In her spare time, she can be found walking her dogs, sharing a meal with friends, gardening, or relaxing at the beach with her nose in a good book.
You can connect with Elizabeth at: