Monday, December 2, 2013

Meet Janie Franz

Welcome Everyone.  This morning I am featuring Janie Franz as she discusses her new f/f romance, Coda.

What is your story(s) about?

Coda is the last book in The Lost Song trilogy and book 6 of  the Bowdancer Saga.  (The first three books—The Bowdancer, The Wayfarer’s Road, and Warrior Women—will be reissued by MuseItUp Publishing next year, keeping all of the titles under on house.) (Note:  These three books are not for sale at this time,but will be soon).

The Bowdancer Saga is a series of tales about Jan-nell, the Bowdancer, a healer who leaves her village in search of belonging and a way to use your extraordinary talents as a spiritual healer and midwife. In The Lost Song trilogy, Jan-nell and some equally extraordinary companions seek the origins of the famed Warrior Women through the verses of a song one of those women vaguely remembers. Their adventures across the broad landscape of their world connect them with kings, the virile dark-skinned sword dancers, who serve as bodyguards to a king, and the exotic, handsome beast trainers of the desert.

Jan-nell is beset with jealousies, new sexual stirrings, deepening spiritual practices, and a growing bond with one of her companions. 

What traits were you looking for when you were creating the main character?

I think I saw (and still see) Jan-nell as an intelligent, capable woman who often is trapped by circumstances and the vagaries of fate. She and the sisterhood, the Warrior Women, are strong women also. When I created them in Warrior Women, the third book in the saga, I crafted not only unique looks for each of the six master hunters and trackfinders, but I knew all of them had to have integrity, a powerful sense of self, and quirks that made them human and not supernatural beings. As Bekar and Chandro (two from the sisterhood who accompany Jan-nell on her search for the lost song) always stated in one way or another---the women of the sisterhood are just simple folk who have chosen to live apart from the rest of the world in a village where men have no place.

As Jan-nell and her companions travel across their land, they discover very quirky village folk, dastardly men, and women who are just as capable of evil as the men the sisterhood shun. But they also find kind folk, too, as well as new companions who are equally noble and generous.

Did you do any types of writing while you were in school?  If so did you receive any awards or recognition for your work?

I was privileged to live in a school district I Ohio, where I grew up, that had a policy of weekly theme writing: the 5 paragraph essay. We wrote those every year through high school in our English classes. I learned how to express my ideas.

I also had a couple of teachers in junior high who encouraged me to write. One thought I had difficulty with it, and another thought I had a gift.

When I went to college the first time around, I submitted a little story as a sophomore and won the sophomore English prize for it. Then life intervenes.

About twenty-five years later after having a family and doing a lot of non-profit newsletters and local music/art articles, I went back to college to get a degree in anthropology. I took English courses as my other area of concentration—most of which were writing workshops (undergrad and graduate level even though I was working on a BA.). I submitted a short story for the English Department’s writing prize and got Honorable Mention. The department historically only offered one prize---never a second place. But that year one of the bright stars of the university was retiring and he had recommended a student’s work. That young man got the prize and I got the first (and only as far as I know) Honorable Mention.

Was there anyone, in your life who was an inspiration for you to write.   If so what did they do?

When I was a junior, however, I took a creative writing course from John D. Engle, Jr. He was a published poet and had a couple of essays in print and a play that was produced on a local radio station. The class was small (5 students), but he encouraged us to not just think about being published but to do it. Three of us had special areas: one was a poet, one was a non-fiction writer, and I wrote short stories. The non-fiction writer was hired (as a high school senior) as a sports writer for a local paper. The poet published a short story but not her poetry, and I published two pieces of verse and an essay but not any of my stories.

In 2000, I started a freelance writing career and soon had thousands of articles published all over the US and in other countries. They all were either feature stories or cover stories. I wrote about everything—food and wine, the paving industry, science and ecology, art and dance, and a lot of music.

Before John Engle died, I tracked him down. He was in his 80s and still publishing poetry. I sent him a long letter telling him how successful I was as a freelance journalist and how thankful I was for his mentorship. I never received a reply, but I do know that he did receive the letter.

This was well before I had my first book published, The Bowdancerin 2009. I think he would have been very proud

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?  Can you elaborate on what has worked for you?

I think what I’m doing with my books is introducing strong, empowered women characters, who often are seeking recognition (just for being who they are as human beings) and/or are trying to find belonging. (Chuckles) I think that’s what I’m doing for myself as well. I think Jan-nell, in particular, represents a lot of women through history (and even today) who are set apart or not recognized because they are highly gifted. In my Ruins books, the main character Kate Ferguson deals with a patriarchal group that disregards or minimizes her abilities. How do you walk that line between being intelligent or creative and having a normal life? In Jan-nell’s case, it may be in owning who she is and in finding the right companions who recognize that in her. Kate Ferguson is working that out in Legacy, my current work in progress.

What can we find you doing when you are not writing?

I live in New Mexico and I have a degree in anthropology. When I’m not writing, I’m visiting archaeological sites, hiking the breathtaking landscape of this state, and talking to people of all cultures, trying to learn more to be as respectful as I can.

When I’m not doing that, you’ll find me at a venue watching live musicians or out on the dance floor doing a two-step or salsa.

Have you been on a blog tour?  What was it like for you?  If not would you be interested in doing one?

I’ve done several blog tours since I became a published author.  Coda is the eighth book I have with MuseItUp Publishing, but they have graciously picked up the first three books of the Bowdancer Saga.  When those books are out next year, I’ll have eleven published books…. But there are many, many more in me. I just hope I can get them all written before I die.

I enjoy doing blog tours. I’ve done a one-blog event as well as many blogs over two weeks. I’ve been on Blogtalk radio, internet radio, podcasts, and live radio as well. I hope to do more of that next year, too, as well as more speaking engagements about the writer’s life.

Janie's Blogtalk Radio Interview

What has been your favorite part of being an author?  The least fave?

For me, the writing is the most fun---as well as the most frustrating. I never doubt what I’m doing. Some writers think what they write is garbage, isn’t good enough. I trust what I’m writing. Most of the times, when I get into that Zone, I know it’s not really me writing anyway; it’s the characters coming out to have a dance.

Marketing---telling the world about your books—is the hardest part an author does. I often wish I had the means to hire an assistant who could do all of the marketing for me and just shoot me questions or tell me where to show up to talk about my books. With so many new books coming out each year, it’s often hard to find creative things to grab the attention of readers to find out about your book. I think that’s the biggest challenge for any writer.

What has been the strangest thing a reader has asked you?

It wasn’t something a reader asked but a comment. A reader said this about Ruins: Artifacts:  “You really know how to twist your reader’s mind.” What she meant, I think, was that my plot kept her guessing. I think that’s a good thing. I’m not predictable.

What would you do if you were contacted to be on Ellen on TV?  If not Ellen, who would you like to interview you on TV?

If Ellen or any other television host asked to interview me, I’d hope they’d fly me in for the gig. I’d gladly appear on any radio or television show to promote my books.

What is in the works next for you?  If this is confidential, I understand and you can say that it is.

I’m working on Legacy, the last book of my Ruins trilogy. It’s an archaeological romance thriller series. This one has been brewing for three years and needs to be written. It’s an emotional book and I’m daunted by it. I’ll see what the next few weeks reveal.

Below is an excerpt from Coda:

Jan-nell raced toward the boulders on the cliff above the dyemaker’s encampment where her sister-kin supported a young girl between them, guiding her carefully down the treacherous rocks toward their fire. The girl’s bright yellow dress bulged around her belly, straining the fabric.
“She is about to bear a babe?” Jan-nell asked, placing her hand on the girl’s roundness. “Is this your first?” Raising her face to look at the young mother, Jan-nell gasped. She stared at her sister-kin Chandro, who had wrapped her arm around the girl, held her right hand, and watched the ground and the girl’s bare feet, as they moved.
There was the same oval-shaped face, the same light brown eyes, the same copper curls. But the young mother was only perhaps sixteen summers and kept her curls long, falling far down her back, not in the curly cap Chandro wore. The girl could have been her little sister.
Though appearing strong in the leather vest and wide-legged short breeches of the sisterhood, Chandro the trackfinder appeared stunned and frightened. She whispered assurances to the girl as they came farther into the light of the fire.
The girl cried out as Jan-nell felt her belly tighten underneath her hand. She made Chandro and master hunter Bekar stop while she placed her hands on each side of the bulge and looked deep into the girl’s eyes. “Take a deep breath, filling the belly. Like this.” She showed her. “Now let it out slowly for as long as you can. Concentrate only on releasing the breath.” Usually, one long breath was enough to breathe through an episode. But because the girl was so frightened, Jan-nell had her breathe again to calm her and make sure she had learned the practice.
“You did well.” Jan-nell smiled. “There is a place for you to rest over here. We will make you tea and some broth… How are you called?”
The girl stammered out, “Wila.”
Jan-nell tried out the new name. “Wila.” Then she smiled again. “We will take good care of you and your babe.” She pointed to a sheltered spot where a coarse blanket stretched between two boulders and was held in place by large rocks. Jan-nell’s son, Bearin, and the beastmaster, Shadu, had made the shelter for her to rest during the heat of the day. When she had spread her own blanket and laid her head upon her travel pack earlier, she had no idea it would become a birthing chamber.
Night had fallen quickly on the plateau where the travelers made their camp. The fire gave out a welcome glow, and one of the burning branches would provide a torch if Jan-nell needed one to guide her when the birthing occurred.
Chandro and Bekar helped Wila sit on the blanket under the canopy while Jan-nell moved her travel pack out of the away. She would need the healing wares within it as the night progressed.  She turned to the trackfinder. “Could we use your pack for a pillow for Wila?”
Chandro nodded as if in disturbed thought before she moved to fetch her pack.
“Bekar, make the girl comfortable,” Jan-nell said then took two steps toward the trackfinder. She hooked her arm around Chandro’s elbow, whispering as she walked with her away from the girl. “How fare you?” Jan-nell searched her face, which still was a mix of emotions, but fear and horror were the most pronounced. Chandro had seen something.
Jan-nell guided her sister-kin toward the dark-skinned sword dancer Farik who frowned as he listened to his sword brother Mali’s report of what had happened in the dyemakers’ camp. Mali was still dressed only in the black silk loin cloth he donned to climb the rocks without hindrance when he and Chandro had gone after Bekar.
Farik turned at the women’s approach. He stepped to meet Chandro, immediately drawing her into his arms.
“I think she is in shock,” Jan-nell said. “Get her off her feet and hold her close. Heal her with the Ashay, the spirit within. If she starts to shake like she is cold, cover her with a blanket even in this heat and give her some tea.”
She turned to Mali, her foster-father. He looked weary in the fire’s glow and much older than she.  “Take Chandro’s pack to the girl. It will be her pillow.”
“I will fetch it,” he said, frowning at the young mother who still sat on the blanket beside Bekar who had not moved. “But the girl will not let me near her.”
Jan-nell nodded. “I thought as much. That was why the women supported her, and you did not help.” Her forehead wrinkled in worry over Bekar who just sat with a hand on the young girl’s arm but did not even look at her. “I will take it to the girl and make her comfortable.” Returning her attention to Mali, she asked. “Are you well?”
He nodded grimly. “But what I have seen will haunt me all my days.”

I want to thank Janie for stopping by today.  It was a pleasure to have her.  Please take a few moments to check out Janie's links:

Before you go come check out my webpage and like me on Facebook:

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for hosting me, Lynn. I'm very excited about this new book!