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!
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)
“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.
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!).