Sunday, November 27, 2011

SECOND TIME AROUND - JoAnn Durgin - Free Book

Welcome, back, JoAnn. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Nothing is more precious than love. Of course, there are many forms of love, none more powerful than our God who loves us with a passion well beyond our human understanding. Is anything more exciting than that first blush of love, that tingly feeling, that shortness of breath from a glance or touch when a man and woman first realize there’s something between them (whether they want to acknowledge it or not)? If you’ve read my debut novel, Awakening, you’ll know I don’t write formulaic romance. Sure, it follows the basic formula, and I’m a firm believer in uplifting, happy endings. When you start the book, you pretty much know how it’s going to end, but it’s the unique journey of the characters that makes the difference. The most important element in my romances is faith. Readers know when they pick up one of my books, they’re going to get a solid biblical message. The spiritual journey of a character should be interwoven in a natural, seamless way into the story. As long as I stay true to the Lord with my writing, I know He’ll continue to open the doors of His choosing−in His time, not mine. I’m blessed to have experienced great love in my life and have been married to the same man for almost a quarter century. While not a prerequisite for writing romance, I know it’s enhanced my own writing. 

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Your questions are very thought-provoking, Lena! No way can I possibly choose one, and I must differentiate between my family life and my writing life. I have to say our wedding day and the days each of our three children were born were the happiest days of my life. One thing I find interesting: I had three attendants in the wedding−one in pink, one in blue and one in purple (all pastels). The birthstones of our children are those exact colors! Maybe it’s just me, but I thought it was pretty awesome. As far as my writing life, there are three happiest days (so far): May 1, 2010, when I received my first book contract. Second, the day I held my debut novel in my hands for the first time and third, the day I saw my book listed on These days all signified the culmination of study, hard work, pure grit and determination, not to mention tons of prayer! I am so blessed.

How has being published changed your life?
I’ve gone from being a “wannabe” unpublished writer to the ranks of, “Oh, she’s an authoress! How exciting!” I don’t get moved to the front of the line, and receive no special privileges or perks, but it seems I have gained a certain amount of renewed respect and admiration from friends, relatives and colleagues, especially since the publication of my first book. I suppose it’s further validation that my first novel wasn’t just a fluke! I still scrub the tub, wash laundry and dishes, stand in line at the grocery store and do all the normal things of everyday life. In terms of my writing career, I’ve spent a great deal of time on marketing and promotion. It’s like this invisible line you cross once you’re published, and it’s time to step out and gain name recognition. It helps that I’m a naturally outgoing, assertive person, but a lot of writers aren’t, and the challenges can be daunting. Like everything else, I take it one step at a time.   

What are you reading right now?
My answer has changed about four times during the course of working on this interview. First it was Janice Thompson’s Hello, Hollywood! Then it was Sandra Bricker’s Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride. Then it was Sally John’s Desert Gift and─the real answer to your question─I’m currently reading Myra Johnson’s One Imperfect Christmas. I’ve also been reading a lot of terrific historical fiction in the new releases by Karen Witemeyer, Laura Frantz and Tamera Alexander.
What is your current work in progress?
I have several irons in the fire: the primary one is the third installment in The Lewis Legacy Series, called Twin Hearts. It’s written, but needs polishing. Torn Veil Books plans on releasing it in early spring 2012, if not earlier. At this moment, I’m working on a new, stand-alone contemporary romance called Catching Serenity set in my husband’s hometown of Newport, Rhode Island. I’m excited because it’s different in that it’s not a suspense novel, but rather solving the mystery of what really happened five years ago in the heroine’s life, putting the pieces together and proving things are often not at all as they seem. I’m also developing a three-book series based on a novel I wrote a number of years ago set in the picturesque Oxford Hills of western Maine.

What would be your dream vacation?
You didn’t specify where, but what, so my dream vacation would be about two or three weeks long, combine the elements of travel by air and sea, and include some part of Europe as well as a beach. The Italian Riviera would fit the bill quite nicely. As I’ve shared here before, some of my fondest memories are the days I spent in Rome and Venice when I was a college student and then shortly after my graduation from college. Of course, in order to be the ideal trip, money (or lack thereof) would not be an issue and the sunshine, warm temperatures and great food would be plentiful. Ahh…

How do you choose your settings for each book?
For the most part, I write about places I’ve either lived or at least visited. It brings the setting to life and resonates with readers. San Antonio was the primary setting for my debut novel, Awakening. I only spent one three-day weekend there back in the early 1980s, but I fell in love with the sights, the sounds, the history, and everything about it. In Second Time Around, Marc and Natalie’s century-old home is based on our house in Burlington, Massachusetts, and I pay homage to the Boston area in this new book. One of my upcoming books takes the reader to London, England, where I lived for a college semester, and I incorporate some interesting but fun facts of that city in the book. I love making the setting a character all its own!

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
This is the most challenging question to answer, Lena, and I even posed it on Facebook to get some suggestions. I received varied responses, but most, like me, find it difficult to name only one person. The people with whom I’d most want to spend an evening have already gone on to glory─my dad and grandmother. I’d love to tell them about moving back to my hometown (something I thought I’d never do) and becoming a published author. If Mark Twain were alive, I’d want to speak with him since I adore his wit, humor and irony. Okay, in terms of someone alive today (and I witnessed a horrifying accident on the highway today three cars ahead of me which proved all over again how fragile life really is─thankfully, the three people in the car were okay), I’d say Steven Spielberg. I’d love to pick his brain about everything from how he chooses his projects, how he knows which actors are right for the story, choosing locations, editing, and everything else involved with bringing a story to the big screen. Mr. Spielberg obviously knows which elements make it work. Mind you, I have no interest at this point in screenwriting, but I think in terms of actual storytelling, he’s an absolute master. Granted, I might choose another person next week, but for today, that’s my answer.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
At this point in my life, I honestly have no hobbies other than supporting our children in their various endeavors (which usually involve music), and I am a voracious reader (mostly Christian romance). Otherwise, since I work a full-time job, it’s pretty much all about the writing since I don’t have time for much else. It completely absorbs me, and I’m sure my family could tell you stories. I try not to be obnoxious, but sometimes I have to close my mouth and swallow my words because I know they really don’t want to hear another observation or comment. They put up with a lot, but they love me unconditionally, pray for me and tell everyone they know about my books. Really, what more could I ever ask?

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I’m brevity-challenged. I know it’s hard to believe, and it’s a polite way of saying I’m wordy. Bombastic. Long-winded. Take your pick. Thankfully, my publisher lets the story dictate the length of my books, and they haven’t cut the word count even though my first two books are longer than most contemporary romances. The Lord knew which publisher I needed, but in some ways they’ve spoiled me (I’m not complaining, and it’s all good). I spend a lot of time editing, and that’s the way I overcome a lot by cutting out the extraneous. Perhaps my biggest sins are repetition (repeating the same word, sometimes too close together) and omission (those little words can be stinkers and the mind’s eye sees what it wants no matter how many times you go over the manuscript). I love entering flash fiction contests because I’m forced to write a story in only 300-500 words and every word is so important. It makes you value and appreciate the sheer power of words. What I find interesting is that not one reader/reviewer/critic has mentioned the length of my books as a negative factor. In fact, most say my writing style flows, is easy-to-read and keeps them turning the pages, and that’s always something a brevity-challenged writer absolutely loves to hear!

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
First of all, pray and commit your words to the Lord. Ask him to guide you, give you inspiration and open the doors at the “right” time of His choosing. Secondly, educated readers make better writers. I’m astounded by aspiring authors (even some contracted authors) who haven’t read other books in their genre, especially in the Christian market. Study the market, do your research, but most importantly, do your homework–meaning write, write, and then write some more. Find your unique voice and explore your passion. Those are the things that will distinguish your writing from the dreaded slush pile. So many new writers seem hung up on “the rules,” but I would encourage them to write the story first. There’s plenty of time later to go back and fine tune your manuscript. It’s true that a great story trumps anything else. Find a good critique partner (at least one), join the American Christian Fiction Writers or other writing group (most being published in Christian fiction today belong to this group), and go to writers’ conferences, if possible. At the very least, establish a website, blog, and network in various ways to make your name known. Do at least one thing every day (other than writing) to further or enhance your writing goals. It’s an exciting journey, but keep plugging away!

Tell us about the featured book.
Second Time Around is a contemporary romantic adventure, the second in The Lewis Legacy Series and the follow-up to my debut novel, Awakening. Both are published by Christian romance publisher, Torn Veil Books of Winnipeg, Canada.
The short-version synopsis: A fateful misstep steals a newlywed’s memories and becomes her groom’s fall from grace. Determined to help her reclaim her life, Marc Thompson makes great strides until a ghost from the past threatens to destroy it all. Join their journey as Marc and Natalie travel from Massachusetts to Montana and enlist the help of Sam and Lexa Lewis and the lively TeamWork crew. Along the way, they discover that surrendering all isn’t failure, it’s faith, and it might be the only way back to one another . . . the second time around.
Second Time Around has grace as its central theme, with Hebrews 4:16 as the key verse: Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NASB). Forgiveness is also a major theme. The pervasive truth I’d like readers to grasp from this book is this: when we put ourselves aside, give up the reins and realize Someone else is in control, He will bless. In this “I can do it on my own without any help” generation, so many people have trouble surrendering to Someone much more capable. But when they do, they find strength, solace, comfort, peace and incredible joy.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Mid-August, 2000
It wasn’t the bloodcurdling scream that made Marc’s heart pound. Not even the sickening thud. It was the silence.

Rushing from the master bedroom on the second floor, he stumbled as he scrambled down the winding servant’s staircase. Calling Natalie’s name, he dashed into the kitchen.


“Where are you?” His voice echoed in the cold, eerie stillness of the century-old house. Based on the sounds he’d heard, Marc followed his gut instinct. With a rising sense of dread, he darted toward the open basement door. Switching on the light, he tried to see in the dim light. His eyes focused on something lying prone on the cement floor below.


On her stomach—her head turned to the right, arms outstretched—she made no sound, no movement. Marc’s labored breath caught in his throat, and an anguished groan escaped from somewhere deep within. Flying down the staircase, he avoided the rotted step that must have caused her fall. The gaping, jagged hole in the wood mocked him. Cursing it under his breath, he sank to his knees on the hard, cold floor beside his bride. He didn’t know whether he should touch her, but all he wanted was to pull her into his arms and hold her.

He put two fingers on her wrist. Warm. Beating pulse, but slower than normal. Being careful not to move her neck, he brushed aside strands of silky dark hair as he checked her forehead and then the back of her head. Slight relief radiated through him when he found no bleeding or open head wound. Leaning close, he whispered in her ear. That always tickled and got a rise out of her. “It’s me, Marc. Speak to me, sweetheart.” His heart pumped harder, and prickles of fear pierced him to his core. He reached for her, but lowered his hand to his side. He had to do something to help.

Managing to run back up the stairs on numb legs, avoiding the splintered step, Marc grabbed the phone from the kitchen wall. His hand shook so much, he almost dropped it. At least all he had to remember was 9-1-1. For a guy who thrived on numbers, he was incapable of anything more. He punched in the numbers, muttering under his breath, shifting from one foot to the other.

God, don’t take her from me. It wasn’t a request. It was a threat.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’d love for readers to visit my website at www.joanndurgin where they can learn more about my books and personal writing journey, my family and some fun little tidbits. I’ve recently added a blog and hope to make it interactive with Christian romance readers. I’m also on Facebook and am a regular contributor with Hoosier Ink.

Thanks so much for allowing me to share with you today! May each of you enjoy a blessed holiday season! Blessings always. Matthew 5:16

My pleasure, JoAnn.

Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
Awakening: A Christian Romance Novel (The Lewis Legacy Series, Book One)

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Jo said...

It looks like I am the first to sign the guestbook. Great interview, JoAnn. It was nice to get to know about you here.

Jo from Southern Arizona

wfnren said...

Thank you for the doing the interview JoAnn, this sounds like a very good book. I live in FL.


Marianne said...

i am going to chance it! Am hoping the ghost in the story does not make this a paranormal novel (i honestly don't care to read about those). Thanks for the post and giveaway, Lena and JoAnn.


from the Sun Valley, Arizona

JoAnn Durgin said...

Hi, ladies, and thanks for stopping by! Marianne, I must set the record straight. There is NO ghost in Second Time Around, and in NO way is it a paranormal novel. I don't care for those either. It's about a husband's passion to regain his wife's love and trust after she suffers a fall and doesn't remember him. It's a very sweet journey, full of love, humor and tender moments. Blessings.

JoAnn Durgin said...

P.S. The "ghost" is not a literal term as used in the book's description, but a figurative term meaning someone from Marc's past he'd rather keep in the past. Hope that clears up any misunderstanding, and I'm sorry if it's misleading.

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like a wonderful story. Count me in, please.


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

karenk said...

a wonderful posting...thanks for the chance to read this beautiful story.

karenk...from PA
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Anne R. Allen said...

Lovely interview. Thanks much for following my blog. I'm so glad to find a reviewer who understood my post on Am. reviews was for fans who don't know how to write reviews, not for pros like you.

This looks like a great site. Blogs that offer interviews and info about niche genres are the lifeblood of the publishing industry today, so thanks from all of us for everything you do!

Rebecca said...

Thank you so much for the chance to win this. I would love to read this. Thanks again.

I am from Oklahoma.

Cynthia A. Lovely said...

Hi JoAnn,
Still like your website, Jason did a great job. Thanks for the opportunity to win your book.
-from New York

Patricia said...

Wow Lena those were some great questions and JoAnn you gave some thought provoking answers.

I too would love to have dinner with my Dad. He passed away when I was four and I don't have any memory of him.

I will have to get book one in this series and read it in anticipation of winning book two ;0)

Blessings to You and Yours,
Patricia aka Mamaw

plb1050 at gmail dot com

JoAnn Durgin said...

I'm so thankful you all took the time to read my (admittedly) long interview. Yes, Cynthia, Jason does great work, and I'm glad to see he's designing so many websites for other writers and we're keeping him busy! Patricia, I hope you can read Awakening. If you do, please know that Lexa's dad's character is somewhat based on my own dad (although my dad wasn't a cop), and her "Nana" in Awakening is my grandmother down to stringing pearls and her calling Heaven the "happy hunting grounds." Many more parallels, but because it's part of me, I think it makes the story more passionate and readers can see that as they read the story. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing.

Jess (rainy rainy WA)

Bethany said...

Ok wow, so exciting! I think I'll add both of these books to my to-read list! :)

Beth K. Vogt said...

It's a delight to read JoAnn's interview. I'm thrilled to consider her a friend and most definitely an encourager!
I loved the glimpse of what she's working on now -- but the chance to read the first page of The Second Time Around? Quite an opening to a novel, JoAnn!

Aizess said...

Oh my! What a great opening page. This sounds like it's going to be an interesting book. Please enter me in this giveaway!

I live in New York

Lourdes said...

Loved the interview and what a great first page!

Lourdes from Huntington Long Island

JoAnn Durgin said...

Thanks again for stopping by today, everyone, and thanks to the lovely Lena for hosting me! Beth, YOU are such an encouragement, and I can't wait to read your book in the next few months! I sincerely appreciate the compliments on the first page. I wanted to start right in the thick of the action! Blessings, and keep reading so publishers can keep bringing you quality Christian fiction.

marybelle said...

A wonderful interview JoAnn & thank you for the first page.

Mary P

Judy said...

I really enjoyed this interview with JoAnn. I love getting to know about new authors. (New to me)

Second Time Around sounds like a wonderful read. I can't wait to get this book.

You are one busy lady! Wife, Mother of three, and a full time job.

JoAnn, when did you know you wanted to be a writer? I want to thank you for writing Christian fiction. No trashy novels for me!


Judy B from Indiana

gahome2mom said...

Thank you and Happy Holidays


JoAnn Durgin said...

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I wish all of you could win a copy of the book. Judy, I'm a Hoosier, too (southern part of the state by Louisville, where I work)! In answer to your specific question, I've been a voracious reader most of my life, and that makes for better writers, in my opinion. I guess I've always wanted to write since I majored in journalism and English in college (Ball State). I tried penning my first full-length Christian romance when my children were small, put it aside to raise them, and finally picked up my writing (several full-length manuscripts by then, including Awakening, the last one I wrote) when we moved back to Indiana in late 2005. Everything comes full-circle, it seems. Blessings!

Susan said...

I have not read the awakening - would love to win the books. I enjoyed seeing the chapter, the author photo, the cover -- it all looks really great!

Merry said...

You got my heart pounding with the peek at Second Time Around. I can't wait to read the whole thing!
Merry in TX

Ingrid said...

I loved the Interview, thank you Lena and JoAnn, the first page of your new book looks so good, please add me to your contest.
Blessings to you all.

I live in S.Illinois


~Laura Allen Nonemaker said...

Sounds like a page turner, JoAnn! It was a pleasure to meet you at Louisville Christian Writers this summer. Sorry I can't be there in December. I would love to hear you. Many blessings to you and the book!

Edwina said...

Great interview and wonderful book,JoAnn. :) Don't need to be entered into the drawing!!

Ginger said...

What an awesome sounding book.

Ginger in AL

apple blossom said...

please enter me thanks
I live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Robyn said...

Amazing first page. Can't wait to read the whole story.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me I would love to win a copy of this book it sounds like a great story! Thanks and God bless!
Sharon Richmond
Blanch, NC.

JoAnn Durgin said...

Thanks again for stopping by and leaving comments, everyone. Trust me when I say I couldn't do it without Christ as my inspiration and without your encouragement and support. It means more to authors than you can possibly know. Keep reading, and we'll keep writing! Blessings to all.

Abigail Richmond said...

Enter me!
Blanch, N.C.

Nancye said...

This sounds like a great book! I'd love to win a copy! Thanks for the chance.

Nancye in Kentucky

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Anonymous said...

I would love to read this book...sounds

Sarah said...

Please enter me in the drawing!!
God Bless,
Sarah Richmond

jude said...

I'm a few days behind, but I enjoyed reading this blog and learning more about JoAnn Durgin and her writing. Thanks to both of you, Lena and JoAnn.I've read both books and loved them.

rubynreba said...

Great interview. Sounds like a great book.
Beth from Iowa