An Interview with Joyce and Jim Lavene


Still the One
Joyce and Jim Lavene
ISBN 1-58749-042-2
Awe-Struck E Books.

Author Bio

Joyce and Jim Lavene have written thirty novels together, both in print and electronic format. They also write short stories and non-fiction articles. They are the authors of the Sharyn Howard mystery series for Avalon Books and in 2002, will begin the Love’s Dark Secret’s paranormal romance series for Wordbeams Publishing. They have won the Master’s Choice award for best first mystery novel and been nominated for the Frankfurt Book Award for their Ennoble romance, Flowers in the Night from Awe-Struck Books. When they ‘re not writing, they spend time on sculpting, computers, and photography.

They have three children, two grandchildren, and live just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. The Lavene’s are members of RWA, Carolina’s Romance Writers, and the Mystery Writers of America. They write under their own names as well as the names Joye Ames and Elyssa Henry. They welcome guests to their website


1. Please tell us a little about yourselves, your background, writing career, etc?

We’ve been married a long time, we have three great adult kids and two wonderful little grandchildren. We met and married after knowing each other for two weeks (something our parents *loved* since we were very young). Jim is still working as a computer specialist but Joyce is working on the writing full time since last year. Jim is into music of all kinds and photography. Joyce is an herbalist and likes to paint. We started writing together in 1989 and had our first novel accepted by Silhouette Books in 1996. That book wasn’t actually published until 1999 and by that time, we had six other books that came out with it! Primarily, we write fiction but we are both journalist nuts! We love to travel around and interview people and hear about their lives. That’s kind of our ultimate goal. To be able to do that all the time!

2. You write as a team, does this pose particular problems and how do you structure the writing process?

Working with another person, especially on something as intimate as writing, is always difficult. We’ve run several businesses together in the past so that helps us out. There’s always a sticking point where we might disagree on something (character name or occupation) but we work it out. We write in waves, that is we write over each other. We come up with an idea and one of us will get it rolling then the other comes along and adds to it. Most of the time, we work in chapters. The first chapter will be set up then filled out, discussed and added or subtracted from then we move on.

3. You write in the Romance genre and I notice that you Joyce, have written a very helpful book for aspiring romance writers, if you could offer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Joyce wrote HOW TO BREAK INTO ROMANCE WRITING because so many people approach us and ask this question. There is only one real answer and we took it to heart. You have to be serious and committed about becoming a writer. It’s a tough, competitive profession. You have to write every day, whether you feel like it or not. You can’t wait to be inspired. Write something, send it off, then move on to the next project. Don’t get bogged down in rejection. One editor’s awful, tacky work is another editor’s goldmine!

4. You have your own website to promote your work, would you say it was essential for writers to do this?

Yes! We did a workshop last year on marketing and we emphasized that point! A lot of writers don’t think they should have a website until they get published. Don’t wait! Do it right away! It is one of the most powerful marketing tools we have today!

5. Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment and what goals you have for the future?

Right now, we’re working on a historical romance for Pocket Books. Next month our new book is a contemporary romantic suspense. After that, we’ll be creating the second book for our Wordbeam’s series, Love’s Dark Secrets, and writing the sixth book for our Sharyn Howard series with Avalon Mystery. Our future goals include another mystery series, a sci-fi series, and oh, yes, lots of meeting new people and interviewing them!

6. You have a new book, The Singing Trees, coming out in March 2002 with Awe-Struck Books, can you tell us a little about this title?

The Singing Trees is a romantic sci-fi that chronicles a woman’s journey to learn who she really is and what she’s supposed to do with her life. She starts out little better than a slave on one world and ends up being the savior of another. We’re into life journeys with our characters. We like them to be different at the end of the book than they were when they started out.

7. Finally can you tell us why you chose to epublisher your work and if you would recommend it to other authors?

Well, we started out as print published authors and still maintain relationships with print publishers but we really believe that ebooks are in for a growth spurt! We both believe that they are the way of the future, though we don’t believe they will replace print books. We hear from readers all over the world who aren’t able to get romance and mystery books at their local corner drugstore and they love being able to download a book and read it. It’s an innovation that the publishing world has needed for a long time. Once upon a time, people thought CD’s were silly, too. There’s room for everyone! We heartily recommend e-publishing to everyone we meet! We love our e-publishers, Kathryn Struck and Dick Claaasen at Awe-Struck and Susan Bodendorfer at Wordbeams! They’re great people!!

Read an extract from Still the One:

Standing beside Cetta’s grave, she heard a bird sing in a nearby tree. The sounds of the night closed down around her. Somewhere in the darkness was the river that had brought the town’s founders to settle there. Somewhere the evening shift was beginning at the knitting and spinning mills where most of the town worked. And somewhere a family was sitting down to dinner, talking about what the kids had learned at school that day, about the father’s back hurting again and what the mother planned for an important presentation the next day at the office.

“I wish that could have been us, Cetta,” she said, reaching down to run her fingers through the grass that grew on her daughter’s grave. “I’m sorry it wasn’t. I miss you.”

She remembered sitting down with her own family when her father was still alive and she and her sister were still in school. They never had elaborate meals but they all talked and ate together. Afterwards, on warm summer evenings, her father played the guitar and they sat on the porch. The houses they rented were never air-conditioned and it was usually late before it was cool enough to go to bed. They hadn’t had their first television until she was nearly twelve.

She missed those days. She missed the closeness her family had once shared. She had wanted to create that closeness with Michael and Cetta but it hadn’t worked for them. They never had the problems with money that her parents had when she was growing up but their emotional turmoil was harder.

Michael and his father had never been close. When Loretta had died and his father had immersed himself in his work to ease his grief, Michael had learned to find his own amusements and gathered a large group of friends around him for support. The feelings of a closely-knit family had been strange for him. Kathryn had felt many times as though he really hadn’t understood. Like his father, he was more likely to bury himself in projects and forget that he was supposed to be going on a family picnic.

He had tried, she recalled with a sad smile playing over her face. Meeting her for lunch. Coming to the hospital unexpectedly when she pulled a double shift. Their ill-fated midnight canoe trip.

She sighed and held her watch up to the streetlight, knowing she had to go to the hospital. As it was, they were probably wondering what had happened to her. Tomorrow, she would be faced with actually walking through the gingerbread house and setting up the clinic.

She had tried to avoid going any further than the doorway while they were moving the equipment that day but she hadn’t been able to avoid looking inside. The kitchen walls were still pale lemon yellow, painted inexpertly by her own hand. The light fixture that looked like hanging lemon drops, still hovered over the place where the table had been, near the wide window that overlooked the garden. Michael had driven fifty miles that day to find the man who made those light fixtures by hand. He’d stood on the table and put in the fixture while she’d made dinner.

But before they’d finished eating, they’d been under the draping white tablecloth, making love on a blanket on the kitchen floor. Michael had only looked at her as she’d picked up her fork and she had smiled recklessly, reading his mind.

“You know this table and tablecloth is a lot like one I saw in a movie where the heroine — ”

“That would be me,” she’d guessed.

“Was pulled under,” he’d continued speaking as he’d crawled under the tablecloth folds, “and seduced by an evil, but sexy architect who was only interested in her for her luscious, pregnant body.”

He’d matched his words to his deeds, sliding his hands up her thighs until he’d reached her waist then pulling her under the table with him.

She’d laughed out loud with pure joy, shrieking when he’d tickled her, coming to rest on top of him under the table. “And when did the evil yet seductive architect put a blanket under the table?” she wondered, leaning over him.

He combed his hands through her hair slowly, his eyes making love to her before his body. “When he realized that he probably couldn’t resist the doctor’s sweet, pregnant body.” He’d kissed her then, ravishing her mouth and her senses, his long fingers trapped in the curls of her hair.

Kathryn drew in a deep, steadying breath and strained to look at her watch again. It was as though all the ghosts from her past were demanding to be laid to rest at one time. She hoped she had the strength to accommodate them.

“I really have to go,” she said reluctantly. “It’s getting late. I love you, Cetta. I’ll be back when I can.”

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