Publishing World Wisdom from Author Joy Ribar
This month Joy Ann Ribar is sharing the advice she wishes she could tell her pre-published self! As we finish up our Author Wisdom series for 2022, I hope you take Joy’s advice into the new year to make your writing journey a little easier. Like most of the featured authors this year, I connected with Joy through the Blackbird Writers. I'm so glad she was able to 'stop by' this month because she’s now off on her next big adventure traveling the country with her husband in their RV!
Joy Ann Ribar’s cocktail of careers includes journalist, paralegal, teacher, aquaponic greenhouse technician, and author. Joy infuses this mixture into her main character, Frankie Champagne, adding a special blend of sass and humor. Her writing is inspired by Wisconsin’s four distinct seasons, natural beauty, and kind-hearted, but sometimes quirky, people.
If I could talk to my pre-published self, what advice would I give?
When I wrote my first mystery novel in 2018, things melded organically. I never intended to write a book. But, ideas started knocking around my noggin at night, keeping me awake. Ideas became words. Words became blurbs. Blurbs became sentences and descriptions, and suddenly, without a concrete plan, I was crafting my first novel. I had a manuscript several weeks later, but no idea what to do with it. Rather than trying to acquire an agent, I found a hybrid/indie publisher, and we went to work together to turn my manuscript into a finished book. I found myself launching Deep Dark Secrets in 2019, just months after signing a contract with my publisher.
I wish I had known something (anything really) about the publishing industry before that first book. Knowing the difference between a traditional and hybrid contract, for instance, means I could have made an informed decision about the road I traveled. Knowing how to write a good query letter to an agent or even where to locate an agent is something every writer should know. Having a basic understanding of marketing and publicity would have been quite helpful in getting that first book out to an audience. What it all boils down to is that I needed information about the non-creative side of being an author. I would recommend that all authors find out how the publishing business operates before diving in. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to understand the most important information before choosing your own path either. Joining a professional writing organization might be a good starting point. Many organizations offer in-house workshops and tutorials about the business end of writing.
The other advice I would tell my pre-published self: Start writing sooner. Writing was always going to happen “someday” for me. I was too busy being a mom. I was too busy being a teacher. The fact of the matter is, we are always too busy. Don’t let busyness get in the way of creativity. Maybe I didn’t have the time and stamina to write a book, but I could have been writing short pieces, features, poems, a newspaper column, or something. I would take trips and keep a journal of every sensory experience in detail so that I might relive the moment again. People on those trips would ask me for copies of my journal writing for their scrapbooks! I should have written more. Every time I woke up with a creative idea rolling around, I should have grabbed a pen and paper and wrote. I doubt I would have ever regretted the time I spent writing.
Joy's Deep Lakes Cozy Mystery Series now has 5 books!
You’re invited to visit Deep Lakes, Wisconsin and meet a new friend, Francine “Frankie” Champagne. The 40-something owner of Bubble and Bake—bakery by day, wine lounge by night—Frankie is a spitfire pastry maker, vintner, and budding journalist.
Baker/vintner Frankie Champagne is named coordinator for the Deep Lakes Holiday Festival in the unexpected absences of the town officials. What should be a piece of cake for the confident multi-tasker is a half-baked fiasco when the town is buried by snowstorms, and the official Christmas tree and its delivery truck driver go missing. With the help of an enchanting stranger, can Frankie and her cohorts save the holiday season for everyone?
Frankie finds herself on the perimeter of a suspicious death that upends the peaceful winter slumber in Deep Lakes when the local pastor is found dead inside his fishing shanty on Lake Loki. Frankie sticks her curious nose into the investigation, despite warnings from the local sheriff to leave it alone. But she has something to prove, maybe to the newspaper editor who wouldn’t hire her as a reporter, maybe to herself as she searches for fulfillment. Regardless, her fierce independence won’t allow her to back down. Follow Frankie as she stumbles upon one discovery after another, trails potential suspects, and solves the case! You can read my review of this book here!
The promise of Spring in Deep Lakes, Wisconsin brings the community out of hibernation to plan the annual Roots Festival. Bubble and Bake owner Frankie Champagne just wants to help the Granite Mansion quarry heiress plan the keynote presentation. So, why does she find herself in the middle of the legendary and deadly Quarry Curse?
Summer in Deep Lakes sprouts a homegrown murder on the O'Connor farm. Frankie Champagne's hunt for clues lands her deep in sheep doo-doo, especially after rare stones surface in unexpected places. Crime-solving is no picnic for the baker/vintner as she hops from farm to field to bakery, trying to keep up with the tourist season and track a killer, too.
Grapes wait for nobody. The tourist season is running full swing when Frankie’s vineyard is ripe for picking, leaving her frazzled, as she divides her time between the Bubble & Bake shop and Bountiful Fruits winery. When a dead body surfaces in nearby Blackbird Pond, it quickly becomes an albatross around Frankie's neck. The victim, a national bird expert, happens to be a cousin to Cherry and Pom, Bubble & Bake employees. The B & B crew are sure to ruffle some feathers during their sleuthing: Can they solve the murder before the guilty bird flies the coop?
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