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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Welcome Guest Author Janie Franz

Today I am very pleased to present a guest author! It's wonderful to do something different for a change and I think once you meet Janie Franz you will see what an usual writer she is.:)

More about the game"Where Will We Live" after the interview.

So without anymore meandering here is Janie Franz. Her bio says she is a Southerner from Tennessee living in North Dakota. She has written three non-fiction books and one fiction one. Before she began writing seriously she was a radio announcer, a booking agent, and a yoga/relaxation instructor. She is married for almost forty years and has two grown children, a daughter and a son. Music is a thread that runs through her family.

I met Janie Franz on the MuseConferenceBoard message board talking about wanting to join a blog tour because her first fiction novel The Bowdancer had just been published by Breathless Press. Since we got along so well I booked her for a guest author interview. As luck would have it both of us were free today, Thursday, my usual guest author post day.:) Here is the interview:

Guest Author Janie Franz Interview

Barbara: Please tell our readers about yourself. Everyone can read your bio, but tell us something that is not on your bio.

Janie: I come from a long line of liars and storytellers. I had an uncle who couldn't read or write, but the man could spin a yarn. When we'd go visiting when I was a child, the women would be in the kitchen, talking about who had affairs with who and showing each other their operation scars. I found that to be so boring and really depressing. The women were so solemn. I'd always slip into the living room where the men were and sit in behind my uncle's big chair and listen to his stories about fishing and hunting and mountain “haints.” His stories were funny and full of mountain expressions---and the men laughed so hard! And they weren't sharing around any moonshine either!

Barbara: How did a southern girl from Tennessee wind up in North Dakota?

Janie: My husband had just finished grad school with a degree in rehabilitation counseling. It was really a niche degree that didn't offer a lot of placements in Ohio where we were living at the time. As my husband was sending out resumes, I knew the possibilities were limitless. We could move anywhere in the country. All I asked was no place flat or cold......Well, guess where we ended up? The flattest, coldest place in the country!

Barbara: You have written two non-fiction books, The Wedding Planner Book and The Wedding Ceremony Book with a Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox. Would you please tell our readers how this happened?

Janie: I am a full-time freelance journalist. As part of the early days of establishing my business, I looked for writing projects every day. I saw a post for a collaborator for a book on weddings. As Bill and I corresponded, getting to know the scope of the project and each other better, his wife asked him, “Bill, why don't you just call her and talk to her?” His answer was insightful. He said, “I want to see how she expresses herself on paper.”

Bill and I did research, and he sent me a lot of anecdotes about being a wedding DJ. I did a lot of writing and editing. We did the reception book first and then the ceremony book. Bill had the first copies of the reception book printed himself. Because we started seeing a demand, he went to a POD company. Eventually, he changed companies and we have it at BookSurge now, and are very pleased with them.

Barbara: Tell us about the book you wrote yourself: Freelance Writing: It’s a Business Stupid. Why did you write it?

Janie: Actually, I was really tired of people treating me and my business as if I were just occupying my free time with a little hobby. I was at a big entrepreneur show here, doing a presentation on freelance writing, when someone from a graphic design company in a booth near mine came over and asked if I just was doing this little hobby. And that came from a young woman!

I looked her in the eye and said, “You have a graphic design business, right?”
“Yes,” she said.
“It's a full-time business for you, right?”
“Yes,” she said.
“It's just the same as mine. I'm a full-time freelance journalist. I make money at what I do and I pay taxes, just like you.”
Needless to say, that's where the title came from!

But I also saw a need for writers to have good tools that they could use to start a business. I've worked out a lot of bugs in the past decade about doing this. I'll be doing a week-long workshop at the Muse Online Writers Conference in October called Freelance Writing: It’s a Business Stupid!.

Barbara: Good for you! It's amazing how some women take on a male role and will try to belittle others who are basically doing the same thing as they are.

Barbara: You have your own online music publication, Refrain Magazine. How did you get started with this? What kinds of articles do you publish? What is your submission policy?
Janie: I had written for a local entertainment newspaper since 1998, covering music and art sometimes. I also wrote freebies for the local daily newspaper here, too. When the entertainment newspaper stopped distribution in my city, I worried that music lovers here, venues, and bands wouldn't get the word out. So, in June I jumped off the cliff and called a band publicist I know and he pointed me to a great web master, who hosts my site and set it up for me. I keep a very detailed calendar at the site and I also write a lot of the material you see up there. The magazine is read by folks from all over the country and in some foreign countries, but mostly it's popular in the Northern Plains.

I have had a few people as guest writers and I welcome their work. I can't pay anybody because there are no ads on the site at all! I do have a page called Hot Venues, Cool Friends that points to some local clubs and services. In order to pay for my domain name and hosting fees, I've routed money from another writing project strictly to cover this.

Barbara: Where and when were you a radio announcer?
Janie: I was a public radio announcer for a local college station here about ten years ago when I went back to school to earn my degree. I also did a brief stint at a local easy listening station after that. I realized that commercial radio is really controlled by the music industry. Public radio has a lot more leeway in music selection. I also have been a guest for the past three years on the same public radio station doing some previews of bands for a big regional music festival here. I'd bring in music selections and I'd have a conversation with the Program Director about the music. Unfortunately, that music festival is no more.
Barbara: It's sad how many music festivals have had to cut back on their programs or have disappeared entirely in such a short period of time. We got to the Falcon Ridge Festival almost every summer and this year they have had to pare it down even further. When the economy is bad things like music festivals get the short end. So sad.

Barbara: You say in your bio that you were a booking agent for a groove/funk band and a yoga/relaxation instructor. Have you ever incorporated anything into your writing from either your radio career or your other careers?

Janie: You know, I've thought about doing a mystery series about a band roadie, but it never got very far. I might resurrect that idea. As far as the yoga and things along that vein, I think I'm tapping into a bit of that with The Bowdancer Saga sort of indirectly.

Barbara: What made you decide to start writing fiction? What do you think are the differences between writing fiction and non-fiction?

Janie: Though I had begun writing short fiction as a child, I never aspired to have anything in print until I took a creative writing course in high school and my teacher wanted us all to get something published before the school year ended. Though I was the person who was supposed to be specializing in fiction, my first sold piece was an essay. Later, I sold a couple of poems. (The poet in the class sold short stories. Go figure!)

When we moved to North Dakota, I thought I’d become a stay-at-home wife and write. Well, children came and that writing dream was put aside. When my children were small, I sent out a story or two, but no acceptances. I did receive a couple of handwritten rejections and once got a second read from Redbook. Those stories went into a drawer.

As I built my freelance writing business, I couldn’t take time for fiction because I needed to make money and I also knew just how consuming writing fiction could be. As my business became stable, I thought that I might make some time.

Last year, at the Muse Online Writers Conference, Lea Schizas, who runs the conference, asked for attendees to send in book pitches. I had a couple of novels in a drawer that I was just beginning to do some substantive editing for and I had some short fiction. I didn’t have any longer work polished to the point that I could pitch it. After the deadline for pitches came and went, Lea asked us to see if we could help fill in the few openings she had. I looked at the publishers’ guidelines again. I wanted to help Lea out so that she would be able to offer pitches again at the next conference. There were a few of the publishers that took shorter works so I sent in two and got a slot for each of my pitches.

The first pitch asked for a rewrite from first person to third and to resubmit. I did that and it is pending at the moment.

The second, Breathless Press, asked me to send my work to them. That was The Bowdancer, which was a novelette at the time. They liked it, sent me a contract, and the work grew into a novella through the editing process.

I like to think that an act of kindness got me published.

You asked about the differences between writing fiction and non-fiction. I’ve become rather efficient and I like to think I’m skilled at writing non-fiction. I’ve written for over a hundred publications, probably producing a thousand articles and I’ve interviewed about as many people. You get into a rhythm for that. You have a conversation with someone, you do research, you transcribe your interview, you find your hook, and you write.

But fiction is quite different. Even though I work from a very brief outline, I still may not know what really will happen. The outline acts like a compass, pointing me in a direction, and the writing, particularly the characters and how they interact, fills in all of the details. I immerse myself into the worlds I create and into the characters. The writing becomes sort of a transcendent experience, a merging into the creative flow. It is what a lot of artists experience. This, however, doesn’t guarantee that the quality of the work that is created is worthwhile. It just means the experience of creating is.
Barbara: I'd like to tell my readers that the situation that she described here is what Lea does for all the conference participants. I missed out on those sessions, but so many writers were able to find publishers to read their work.
Barbara: Would you please describe a typical writing experience for our readers? What is your writing process?

Janie: I know a very prolific novelist and journalist who writes her fiction first thing in the morning and then deals with the non-fiction. I can’t work like that. I found that I can’t write fiction during the day, especially if the phone is ringing or I have to do interviews. I also don’t write on the same computer.

I try to occupy my journalism “office” at my desktop during the morning and afternoon. I close that office down in the late afternoon and move to my fiction “office” at my laptop across the room. Here I deal with marketing and such. Then in the evening, I write fiction. If I have a day that is short on the journalism end, I write earlier. Lately, I’ve had interviews bleeding into my evening hours so I have had a shorter time in the evening for writing.

I must confess that during the writing of the next two books in the Bowdancer Saga, I sometimes found myself looking down at my hands on the keyboard and then looking at what I had written and been totally surprised by what I found.

I do enjoy my characters and have bonded with them intimately.

Barbara: Isn't it amazing how your characters sometimes take over and you feel like they were sitting on your fingers as you wrote? I have had that experience so many times. It's like they're talking inside of your head and you are just a bystander who has her fingers on the keys ready to take down their words.:)
Barbara: How long did it take to get your books published? Was it different for fiction and non-fiction?

Janie: The non-fiction books, as I said, were self published so that was just a factor of finding the right company to do the work and being able to pay for it. For fiction, it has taken a lifetime. I’m 60 years old. But once this opportunity opened up for me, it was almost instantaneous and I’ve been caught in a whirlwind. I’ve also been writing actively now, trying to balance fiction and non-fiction.

Barbara: I can picture you now going from one computer to the other as you switch from non-fiction to fiction.:)
Barbara: Please give our readers a synopsis of The Bowdancer.
Janie: My book blurb describes the book this way: Jan-nell, a young healer and keeper of village lore, despairs of ever finding the child who will be the next bowdancer or a man worthy enough to love. When Bastin and his bandit crew interrupt a wedding, Jan-nell is called upon to treat one of the men who has been injured. Bastin is a highly intelligent man who has his own story to tell and he shares that and more with Jan-nell. They are intellectual equals but perhaps not spiritual ones. A quirk of fate shatters all that Jan-nell knows.
Barbara: The Bowdancer is a very short novel. Was it a short story before it was a novel?

Janie: The Bowdancer was always a novelette. It just grew into a novella during the final edits with my publisher. When I wrote it, I realized that it might have the seeds of being the beginning of a trilogy or series.

Barbara: What inspired you to write The Bowdancer?

Janie: I first discovered Jan-nell, the bowdancer, in a meditation. I saw her take that first bowshot with a flaming arrow across the sky. That became the first scene in the story. While in meditation, I asked Jan-nell what her name was and found her conflict. I took notes about my meditation, but I never encountered her again. I eventually wrote her story and Bastin popped into it.

The Bowdancer begins the saga, which will present a series of books that explore gender, roles, cultures, the arts, spirituality, and different concepts of family---and hopefully will offer some romance and adventure along the way. I do think the whole Bowdancer Saga empowers women, even though we are sometimes caught by circumstances. Women have a resilience that allows us to flow with those circumstances perhaps a bit better than men.

Barbara: Have you thought about writing a sequel to it?

Janie: Actually, I just finished books 2 and 3 in the saga. They are both still novellas, but much longer. The Wayfarer’s Road was just sent to my publisher, and Warrior Women will follow later this month. We’ll begin final edits and do cover ideas after that. I’m hoping it will be ready by the end of the month, but we’ll wait and see.

Barbara: Do you have any WIP’s? If so, are they fiction or non-fiction?

Janie: I’m currently working on The Lost Song, the fourth book in the saga. And, I’m working on a much longer work about an woman archaeologist who is transported into the far future after a holocaust that has rendered America into a primitive feudal land. Her only hope to survive in this new world is to become a royal consort. It’s not exactly standard romance. But, well, I don’t write standard romance.

Barbara: Is there anything that you would like to add?
Janie: The whole series has a lot of songs in it. My husband, who is a singer/songwriter, is currently working on writing a few to be included in a companion CD or at least to offer mp3s for download. I also hope to eventually offer a few pamphlets on herbs and trailside cooking as incentives to buying the books. We’ll see how that works.

Barbara: Thank you for coming and I hope you had fun.
Janie: No, thank you for having me. This has been a lot of fun!

Barbara: For me too! It was so great getting to know you and reading your book. I recommend The Bowdancer to all of my readers. If you are interested in reading a short, but well written adventure/romance set in another world you will love The Bowdancer. I know that I am looking forward to reading the sequels.

Please feel free to leave a comment or a question. Though it may take some time to get to you the winner of the contest will get a book. At this time I am not sure what that will be. My library is now packed up and being ozoned.:) Janie Franz and/or I will be here to answer and comment too.

Janie is going to be a guest on my radio show Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. Also all of you should try to take a look at the new Robins Falls Magazine put out by the head of Red River Writers, April Robins. Some of my writing is in there too.:)

And now another segment of "Where Will We Live" the new reality show starring "The Ehrentreu's". We follow them as they search for a new place to live after being homeless due to a fire causing the building commissioner to condemn their building. After looking at every kind of apartment in large buildings and in two family houses, separate houses, and town homes they decided to look at a place in Connecticut, which is very close to where they live now.

Ta da!!! This might be the last place they have to look!!! They felt like this could be home for them. (Cue the sappy music) It has everything they need to be happy and plenty of room for all four of them. And it overlooks a beautiful harbor with those sailboats that transform any place into a picture book setting.:) Keeping their fingers crossed that this is the one!!!

Until the next time, don't forget to leave a question or comment to enter the contest and hopefully good news for "The Ehrentreu's" on "Where Will We Live". Thank you to all of my readers who continue to read these crazy meanderings and to the new readers who have come here. Yes, it is always this crazy!!!


  1. Thank you, Barbara, for introducing this amazing woman to us.

    Janie, I enjoyed the interview very much.


  2. A very interesting interview. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Janie, as soon as I read 'liars' I said to myself, "I like this woman!" hehehehe

    Can't tell you how thrilled I was to find out your pitch for Bowdancer was accepted.

    I'm waiting to see what you have on hand for this year's conference. And you will, right? GRIN

  4. Vivian,
    Thanks for dropping by.You're welcome:) Before this interview I knew very little about her. It just goes to show you the caliber of authors who are part of the MuseConferenceBoard.:)

  5. cassandrajade,
    Thank you for visiting. You're very welcome. I love introducing new authors to my readers. Please try to read her book. It is very good.

    Janie will be answering your comments soon.

  6. Lea,
    Thank you for visiting and taking time out of your busy schedule.:) I agree with you and I hope Janie is reading this too!

  7. Vivian,
    It was so nice of you to stop by. We have emailed a couple of times about the Muse Conference. It was great to put a face to a name. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

  8. cassandrajade,
    I'm glad you joined us today to find out more about my work. I hope you'll check out The Bowdancer. We'll see more of her adventures soon.

  9. Lea,
    You're my inspiration. I am amazed at all that you do!

    If you mean will I have another pitch for this year's conference, I guess you've put me on notice to polish up something new for that. The Muse Conference has always offered great information and kind of forced me to stretch a bit. So, I guess I'll pitch something and then have to write that dreaded synopsis!

    Thanks for the kick in the backside!

    And thanks for stopping by.

  10. Great interview. Nice to meet you, Janie.

  11. Katie,
    Glad you enjoyed the interview. By the way, everyone who commented is in the contest for her book.:)

  12. Katie,
    Thanks for stopping by Barbara's Meanderings. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. Barbara will be hosting me for a live interview later on her radio blog. I can't wait!

  13. I knew Janie "way back when" I lived in Grand Forks. She's not only a fun writer, she's a fun person. Oh, the days we talked for hours--during blizzards or just brainstorming.
    Congratulations on your first fiction being published. I hate to say "I told you so," but I told you so! LOL!

  14. Janet,
    I'm glad you stopped by. It's good to hear from you! Happy Writing!

  15. Janet,
    Thank you for visiting! How wonderful that you knew Janie when you lived near each other.:) Isn't it wonderful to see an old friend do well.

    I almost lived in Grand Forks when I was in my early twenties. My husband had a scholarship to the University of North Dakota and we drove there from New York. But I couldn't get a job(I tried at the Army base for teaching) and the only apt we could find was in the basement. It was the flattest place I have ever been!!

  16. Barbara, I wanted to thank you again for hosting me. I've sent out some emails and a couple of posts at Facebook and I've been getting personal comments from all sorts of folks who really liked your questions. Someone told me it was the best author interview they'd ever seen! You should be proud.

    One of my fondest responses I got was from Sam Pickering, the essayist (and model for the teacher in Dead Poet Society) who thought it was a terrific interview.

    Again, my thanks!

  17. Janie,
    Your comment made my day! It was a pleasure having you as my guest author! Your participation was wonderful! You were one of the best guest authors I have ever hosted here:) Thank you for being here and I am very happy you enjoyed yourself too:)

    A special thank you to Sam Pickering for visiting and for his awesome comment about the interview:) Comments like his keep me going!!

    Also thank you to all who have commented here. You are all in the contest for Janie's book:)

  18. Enjoyed your interview and your release sounds fabulous. Can't wait to add it to our TBR pile. Congrats on the release, and we look forward to seeing more from you.

  19. Angelica and Zi,
    I'm so glad you stopped by. It gladdens my heart when fellow writers offer support.

    And, readers, make sure you check out Angelica and Zi's latest work, Snake Dance.


  20. Angelica and Zi,
    Thank you so much for visiting and I'm glad that you enjoyed the interview. Janie is just a pleasure to interview so it was easy.:)

    I hope you will stop by again. I am planning to interview some more guest authors. I do it at least once or twice a month and I also interview authors on my radio program, Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. It airs on the 4th Thursday of every month.

    If you are interested, I would love to interview you both. Let me know.

  21. Great interview! Congratulations on all your accomplishments, particularly the publication of Bowdancer.
    Jacqueline Jules

  22. Jacqueline, How nice of you to stop by! It's always good to reconnect with you! You'll have to let me know what the Ziz is doing lately.

  23. The Bowdancer is now a Bestseller! It is one of the Top Five Bestselling Books at Breathless Press! My deepest thanks to all of you who bought the first book in the Bowdancer Saga. There will be many more adventures to come.

  24. Wow!!!! Congratulations Janie!!!! I wonder if this interview had anything to do with that? I hope so.:) But my review will be forthcoming. It is very well deserved.

    Now who will be the lucky commenter to win the free book? Hmmmm. The drawing will be tomorrow, so hurry and leave your comments.

  25. Janie, cograts on Bowdancer! This is a great interview.

  26. Dianne,
    Thanks for the kind words! I am a bit giddy myself. After such a dismal start, to be a bestselling author is so gratifying! But there is always some leveling. One of my brothers-in-law said, "It's a book? It's the size of a short story."

    Well, let's just say it's the prelude to a loooooong series. And, thanks to Breathless Press I didn't have to wait until the rest of Jan-nell's adventures were fully formed. But they are coming soon.

  27. Hi Diane,
    Thank you for visiting. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I invite a guest author here about once or twice a month. I hope you will come back.

  28. This was a great interview Barbara. I really enjoyed reading it.

    Hope you're doing OK.

  29. Hi The Guy's Perspective,
    Thank you so much!! I'm glad you enjoyed it:) I always appreciate your visits and your comments:)

    I will be posting this, but we did find a place to live!

    Also I will be visiting your blog soon to see what is going on with you. We have been very busy.

  30. Thanks for sharing this link with me, Janie...very informative. And I love that you include liars and storytellers in the same breath.

  31. Rick,
    Thank you for visiting and I'm glad that you enjoyed the interview. Janie's answers were so great and she knows so many people! It's a pleasure to meet you.:)
    I hope you will visit again.

  32. Hi Janie and Barbara, I'm a bit late in getting to the interview, but I loved it. Wonderful insight into Janie's writing life.

  33. Penny,
    I understand, because I'm always coming to someone's blog late.:) Thank you for getting here. That's the important thing.

    Janie was such a pleasure to interview and thank you for the praise.:) I can't wait to interview her on the radio. She has a wild sense of humor.:)

  34. The Guy's Perspective--Thanks for stopping by. Doesn't Barbara ask good questions!

    Rick--How nice of you to check out my interview! Liars and storytellers--yeah, they sometimes are one and the same, especially the more colorful liars.

    Penny--I'm glad you got to see this interview. I once had an English lit professor who was brilliant, not because of his lectures (he did very little) but because he asked questions that caused us to dig deep into the material to draw out what he wanted to teach. I think Barbara has that gift.....And I can't wait to be on her radio show!

    Thank you all!

  35. Janie,
    I'm looking forward to having you on the show too!! You are such a great commenter that I feel like I have a co-blogger.:)

    Thank you so much for all you have done to make this the best interview ever!!!


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