Welcome, Author Joy Smith

Hello, my lovelies! Suze here. Today I’m thrilled to bring you something different for the Scribes–an interview with nonfiction author Joy Smith. Welcome, Joy!

Thanks for having me here today, Suze. Please let your readers know I am open to any questions, especially about my newest book.

Oh No, They’re Engaged! is not just another wedding planner. It’s written especially for the mother of the bride or groom. Tell us about it.

Suze, like my other non-fiction books, Oh No, They’re Engaged! was born from a combination of practical experience and research. As the subtitle says, it’s really a sanity guide. While I loved the fluff of helping our children, a son and two daughters, plan their weddings, those years were trying–with a ton of emotional and logistical traumas (and pleasures) I could’ve never predicted. My book helps moms guide their “babies” toward making smart decisions about expenses, vendors, rituals–and issues related to their intended mates. For more information, your readers might want to check it out on Amazon or Barnes & noble websites. (Here’s a link)

You are known for your non-fiction books (The Empty Nest Cookbook, Kitchen Afloat, The Perfect First Mate). Are you also trying your talented hand at fiction writing? What are you working on?

“Trying” to write fiction is a good word for it, but frustrating is better. Fiction writing didn’t turn out to be the piece of cake I first thought it. POV, show don’t tell…you get the drift. I’ve completed a couple of manuscripts, but I feel only the latest–a romantic suspense about a gigolo and an ex-nun set in Colombia, SA—has all the right stuff to make it sell. At CTRWA’s Fiction Fest last month, I received four submission requests, so I’m crossing my fingers. At the moment I am plotting my next novel and procrastinating fixing two needy (but completed) MSs so the many, many hours I labored over them won’t have gone to waste.

How do you battle the doubt monster? Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling that your work is terrible and no one in her right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

The doubt monster sits on my shoulder all the time, but I do my best to ignore him (it’s got to be a man). If I believe in my book, in my story, I keep at it until it is right–this could mean picking at an MS for several years. I learned from my non-fiction days to not ever submit a first draft until I’ve edited it to death. An important part of the process is gaining objectivity by allowing the piece to rest unread and untouched for as long as possible. Stephen King, in his fab book On Writing says to put first drafts in a drawer for six months.

Is there a project, non-fiction or fiction, that you want to tackle but haven’t yet? What is holding you back?

Suze, the only thing holding me back is time—and sometimes motivation. I spend much of my time aboard a sailboat. When cruising, it’s hard to stay focused even though I keep a laptop aboard and have no excuse when we’re at dock. On the ocean, my mind goes to mush.

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

At age 50+, I had three non-fiction books published within a three year period and built a reputation as a freelance nautical writer. I never planned to be a writer, but I had always been creative.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a manuscript shoved in a drawer somewhere. What is yours? What is it about? What makes it terrible? Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Last week, I re-read my first real MS, a paranormal romance I had set aside for a year or so, and was appalled. My characters were stereo-typed, my opening sucked, and the plot needed a diet. I WILL fix it because it has potential—no way am I going to let all the research I did to make the story authentic go to waste. This winter I took a fix-your-book-in-a-month class on-line, based on James Bell’s Revision and Self-editing, which helped me get my newest book ready for market. Now that I know the procedure, all I need to do is carve out some serious focus time and apply what I learned to the paranormal. Maybe I’ll dig into it once I get going on the NEW book. Oops. Am I procrastinating?

Do you have a word-related pet peeve?

No, but overly descriptive passages make my eyes glaze over.

What is your junk food of choice?

Ice cream-any kind, any flavor. Put it near me and no matter what diet I’m on, I can’t resist.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Oh, let me think. I’m a basic chicken, but through my dearest captain, I’ve been drawn into scary situations so many times that I finally told him, no more. I’ve survived the “perfect storm”—20 foot waves and 60 knot winds for two days with a failed engine–and crossed the widest part of the Gulf Stream. In all, I’ve  sailed over 5000 miles on the open ocean—and I’m a lousy swimmer.

Eeek! You spend a lot of time traveling by boat. Where’s the most interesting place you’ve been?  Where haven’t you been that you’d like to go?

Years ago, we chartered a sailboat and cruised the Tahitian islands. The people were gracious, and every island was like a mini Garden of Eden with luscious fruits dripping from trees. We watched while men spearfished for our supper, visited a vanilla farm, and wore hand-dyed pareos–like the natives.

I’ve never been to England, and I’d love to go back to Thailand to visit my brother-in-law.

Would you like to share a recipe with us?

I thought you’d never ask. I created this quick-to-make chicken recipe aboard our boat using ingredients I had on hand. It tastes yummy. Find mango chutney with the condiments in the supermarket. Use the chutney as a sandwich spread for deli meat, to give zing to a chicken salad, or over cream cheese for an hors d’oeuvre.

Mango Chutney Chicken (Serves 4-6)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon mild curry powder

6 chicken breast quarters, boned and skinned

2 tablespoons butter, separated

1 small yellow onion, cut in half and sliced thin, separated

1 fresh mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into bite sized chunks

1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger root, or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (more if you want it spicier)

1/3  cup chicken broth

1/3  cup prepared mango chutney (the chunkier the better)

Combine the salt, pepper, and curry powder in a small cup. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle each side of all pieces with the curry mixture. In a large skillet on medium high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter until sizzling. Place three chicken pieces in bottom of pan, and then distribute 1/2 of the onion in spaces between chicken. Brown chicken on both sides, and sauté onions. Remove to a platter and set aside. Add the remaining butter to the pan. Brown the remaining chicken with the onion in the same manner.

When all chicken and onion are browned, return mixture to the hot pan. Stir in the diced mango and the ginger. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, or until chicken is done and mango softens. Remove the solid pieces to platter and keep warm.

Make chutney sauce: To the juice at the bottom of the pan, add the chicken broth and the mango chutney. Stir well. On medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and become syrupy. Return the chicken mixture to the pan. Stir to coat with sauce. Serve over cooked rice with a salad or green vegetable.

What is your guilty pleasure? {Remember: this is a PG rated blog! 🙂 }

Awk! I’m not putting THAT in writing.

Thanks for being here today, Joy!

Joy Smith is the author of several nonfiction books, including The Empty Nest Cookbook, Kitchen Afloat, The Perfect First Mate, and her latest, Oh, No, They’re Engaged! When she’s not cruising the world in some exotic location, you can connect with her through her blog (click here!).


19 thoughts on “Welcome, Author Joy Smith”

  1. Hi Joy! Welcome to the Scribes!

    I love the cover of your latest book. Where did you find that awesome picture? And many thanks for the yummy chicken recipe.

    Best of luck with your writing. Tomorrow I tackle the Doubt Monster yet again. Maybe some of my tips will be helpful!!

    1. Thanks, Casey. I scanned through about 1500 photos using a link iUniverse provided (when I rejected their selection) to find it. Enjoy the chicken, and give that doubt monster a good boot for me. Joy

  2. I love mango chutney! So good in so many dishes. My husband is the chef these days so I’ll pass along your recipe. Thanks.

    I have several non-fiction ideas. How different is the process? Is it harder or easier? How do you know how to set it up or organize your thoughts? Do you live by an outline, or wing it as many of us do in our fiction writing?

  3. Good question, Paula. With your talent, I know you”ll do well on anything you choose to write. Give NF a try. It’s no harder or less time-consuming than writing F, and much more marketable. Here’s the general procedure in getting started in Non-fiction:

    First, check out the market to see if your idea has been authored to death, if you have a new slant on a tried and true topic, or if there’s a blank spot your book would fill. For example, I wrote The perfect First Mate: A woman’s Guide to Recreational Boating because no other books covered the topic adequately. As a result, my book has become a “classic” in the boating world since 1999. Understand that non-fiction stays on the shelves because its based on fact, a resource.

    Next, you brainstorm the contents and then put them in some sort of loose outline. All the while, you research the crap out of anything to do with your topic (see my popular article, Organizing Research for Your Non-fiction Book on my website (www.joysmith.net).
    with non-fiction, you turn a combination of facts and practical experiences into palatable text readers will enjoy. Write tight and meaty. Inject a bit of humor if your subject is dry and let your writer’s voice shine through.

  4. What a fun interview, Joy. Love the recipe – thanks. You know, when I read that your fiction work was about a gigolo and former nun, I laughed out loud. It’s no surprise you got requests for that MS. Many wishes for good luck with it.

  5. Joy, what a wonderful surprise to see you here. Loved your interview and getting to know you some. I printed your Mango Chutney chicken and making it for supper. With peaches though like in your “Empty Nest Cookbook.” Best of all blessings with your writing, and safe traveling always.

    1. Gail, Thanks for stopping by. I have enhanced the recipe since the EN Cookbook to make it more Caribbean. Peaches work well if you don’t have fresh mango and fresh ginger gives it more of a spark than ground. Let me know how you like it!

  6. I can’t wait to try your recipe, Joy. Good luck with your book. I’m giving it as a gift to a new mother of the soon to be married bride. Hopefully it will calm her down. LOL. PS you know l loved your fiction book.

  7. What a great interview, Joy and Suze! Joy, you have so many fascinating stories – which I know some of from speaking to you over the years – can’t wait to see how you’d incorporate them into non-fiction! And how brave of you to endure those situations at sea, my heart stopped.

    But you did them! How many people could say the same? If your grandkids don’t collect around your knees for the stories you could tell… The trip through the Tahitian Islands sounds like paradise and your mid-winter, Caribbean tan is always enviable. A tip of the hat also for accomplishing any writing on a rocking sailboat!

    Dang it. Now I’m wishing for Mango Chicken –
    Best 🙂

    1. Sorry, I meant to say – can’t wait to see how you incorporate them into fiction. Duh. You’re already successfully published in NF. See what I mean? Have seriously got Mango chicken on the brain. Clearly I can’t multi-task.

      1. Jen,
        I am currently reworking Sea Lust, a romantic suspense about an estranged couple on a boat delivery who are hijacked by drug dealers in the Strait of Florida. Also, I just plotted out a novel set around a regatta in the British Virgins.

  8. A former nun and a gigolo? Sea Lust? I will be first in line to buy those books, Joy! And that recipe looks absolutely delicious. Mango is my son’s favorite fruit, so I will definitely try this one. Thanks for visiting with us today.

  9. What a fun interview! Everything from a new book to high seas adventures. You’re not just writing books, you’re living them!

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