Joni Parker – Author Interview

Today I’m delighted to welcome Joni Parker to Me, My Books and I:

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Joni was born in Chicago, Illinois, but left the windy city at the age of 8 with her family and moved to Japan for over four years.  Upon return to the United States, she lived in Phoenix, Arizona where she graduated high school and began college.  Discouraged with college, Joni quit and joined the U.S. Navy where she became a photographer.  After 3 years, she was discharged, got married, and returned to college in that order.  She got her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and an MBA before she decided to return to the Navy.  This time, she completed another 19 years and retired with over 22 years of service.   For 3 years thereafter, she traveled the United States in a motorhome with her husband, but when he died unexpectedly, she returned to work.  Then, she got the writing bug and left her job after 7 years to devote more time to her new passion.  She currently lives in Texas.

To find out more:

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Hi Joni,

Where did the idea for the Seaward Isle Saga come from?

It started out as a fan book of Lord Of The Rings, but once I finished it, I decided to make it my own and look at publishing it. I thought it would give me something to do when I retired. So, I made a lot of changes—new names, new characters, new setting, etc, but the storyline I had devised remained virtually the same. The setting was a particular challenge because it had to fit the story and yet be different from Middle Earth. I came up with the idea of Seaward Isle, an island made up of survivors of shipwrecks caused by a circle of storms. The island has taken on a life of its own and became the impetus for more books. The first series identifies the problem with the island, the other following series will figure out where it is, how to fix it, and what happens to it.

How did you come up with the titles?

The title of the first book was easy. The main character is Alex, also known as the Black Elf, so the title became “The Black Elf of Seaward Isle.” It covers her early years and how she became the Black Elf. The second book was more challenging. I had initially called it, “The Horseman of Seaward Isle” because he was the reason for Alex’s mission. I changed it to “The Pirate Stronghold” because I thought people might think the book was about an equestrian horseman. After the second round of editing, I came up with “Tangled Omens” when my editor suggested a change to the fortune-telling scene at the beginning. It worked out nicely. The working title for the third book was “The Pirate Elf of Seaward Isle,” but after a major revision, “Blood Mission” surfaced. I really liked it. I would like to add my bonus book to the mix. My editor asked me to write a brief history of Seaward Isle in first person, but I had trouble thinking of a way to do it. At first, I had an Elf, but it led to a dead-end. Then, I came up with the idea of an investigative reporter, and it was titled, “Exclusive Report.” After my editor reviewed it, she suggested that I add a reference to the desert island game that we all play, i.e. if we were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you take? When I rewrote it, it became the title, “The Island Game: The Inside Story of Seaward Isle.” Finally, the Seaward Isle Saga is the title for all of the books in this series. I chose the word, “Saga” instead of series—it means the same, but has a different ring to it. The moral of this story is don’t lock yourself into a particular title—you may find a better one.

Who designed the covers and why did you go for those particular designs?

The covers were designed by my editor/publisher. I’m not sure who drew Alex’s face, the main character, but she repeated her face on each cover to show it was a series. I made sure “The Black Elf of Seaward Isle” had a stormy sea, the second cover, “Tangled Omens” had Alex’s card, the Ace of Spades from the fortune-telling scene; for the third cover “Blood Mission,” I asked for a knife with blood dripping off it, and on the bonus book, “The Island Game,” I suggested a typewriter on a sand bar.

Who was your favourite character to write and why?

My favorite character is my main character, Alex. She’s not always easy to write for, but I love her adventurous spirit. The easiest character to write for was Olivia Richards who is the main character in my bonus book and a minor character in “Blood Mission.” Everything about her flowed easily and required little editing. I credit her with improving my writing skills a lot. She helped to free up my writing style.

What makes the Seaward Isle Saga stand out from the crowd?

Not only does it include Elves, Dwarves, Titans, pirates, and mortals, but it also involves time travel. Survivors on the island come from different times and places on Earth. For instance, Olivia comes from 2011, but Alex’s father came from the 1600’s. I even have one family from a different planet.

Why did you choose to write in your particular genre?

It wasn’t a matter of choice. Fantasy is the only genre that could carry this story.

Which of your books is your favourite and why?

“The Black Elf of Seaward Isle” is my favorite because it was my first.

Do you get emotional when you finish a book?

I did at first. I wrote, “The End” when I finished the first book, but then, I deleted it and continued on to the second. It needed a follow-on. Now, I’m not sure how or when I’m going to end it. I’m enjoying it.

Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you let them influence your writing?

I do read reviews, and I learn a lot from them. After I self-published my first book, “The Black Elf of Seaward Isle,” I had a professional reviewer point out all the flaws. That’s when I realized I needed an editor. It’s hard to find an editor who will really be tough on you; after all, you’re paying them. Still, that’s what I needed and found one in Teresa Kennedy of http://www.villagegreenpressllc.com. I recently had a series of reviews done that were so motivating I feel reinvigorated.

FUN QUESTIONS

Paperback or eBook?

I still love paperbacks and still have stacks around the house, but I have a Kindle. All my books are currently available only as ebooks, but the print copies are being made.

Hot or cold?

Hot! I’m drawn to hot weather places, like Texas, Arizona, and Florida, and I love hot, spicy foods.

Dogs or cats?

Split, I’ve had both and love both, but I don’t have any right now.

Sweet or savoury?

Unfortunately, sweet. It’s not great for my waistline, and I can no longer use artificial sweeteners.

Morning or night?

Morning. I’ve always been a morning person, even when I was little. My parents didn’t always understand the 4:30 AM wake up calls. Now that I’m retired, I still get up around the same time.

Any last words for your readers?

I do have a book trailer that was made by my editor/publisher. It’s really fabulous. See it here

Thank you so much for being here today Joni, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog. I particularly enjoyed reading about how you came up with the titles!

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Now check out the book: “Blood Mission”  latest release, published July 6, 2013

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“When the lives of the two most powerful Elves on Seaward Isle are threatened in a plot by the rogue Elf Mellen, Prince Darin of the Water Elves and Lord Odin of the Tree Elves charge Alex, a young female tracker with a Blood Mission—to hunt him down and kill him, or die in the attempt.  Blood Mission puts the fate of the kings and the safety of the inhabitants of Seaward Isle in the hands of a teen-age half-elf warrior.  Can Alex survive her mission long enough to discover her own true destiny?”

Purchase Blood Mission from:

Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo | Barnes and Noble:  future (publisher has been unable to load the book due to Nook software changes).

To purchase the other books in the Seaward Isle Saga click the following links:

The Black Elf of Seaward Isle – Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Tangled Omens – Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

The Island Game:  The Inside Story of Seaward Isle – Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

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