Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interview with Joy DeKok, Author of Rain Dance



Joy DeKok and her husband, Jon, live in Minnesota on thirty-five acres of woods and fields. Joy has been writing most of her life and as a popular speaker shares her heart and passion for God with women. In addition to writing novels, she has also published a devotional and several children’s books.

Visit Joy online at: www.joydekok.com, www.believe4kids.com and www.gettingitwrite.net.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Joy. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I’ve been writing since before I could read. While my friends were tracing the pictures in their books, I chose the words. Then, I’d tape my word pages together and dream about the day when I’d learn to put my own on paper.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

I was cleaning house and the idea whispered its way across my mind and made itself at home. I resisted it for a year. I wanted to write children’s books not a novel. Especially not a novel about abortion and infertility. A cozy mystery maybe or a fun romantic comedy, but not an issue-based book. The word abortion might make the news, but would it hinder book sales? Even then the marketer in me was hard at work.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

I had to break an important writing rule: no author intrusion. The main character, Jonica, is me. I tried to make her someone else and the story died. She had to be me. I realize more than anything I didn’t want my pain and doubt all over the pages of a novel. Or my husband’s struggle. This novel takes readers inside the pain of our infertility and there are no happy endings. Jonica and Stacie live with their circumstances and choices the rest of their lives. It’s hard and messy. The novel asks these questions: Can a Christian pro-life woman who cannot have children and an atheist pro-choice woman who chooses an abortion be friends? What if in spite of their vast differences they discover surprising similarities?

The other challenge I faced was I’ve never had an abortion. I wrote that chapter first then did my research – I didn’t want the knowledge to take away from the emotion. When the book found its way into the hands of women who had abortions, they wrote to tell me I’d gotten it so right and many of them believed I also had an abortion. I didn’t want to hurt anyone and worried mostly about the Stacie’s in the world – I didn’t want them hated – abortion is generally so divisive. When readers write to me and tell me Stacie is their favorite character I am glad. She’s mine too. Honestly, pro-lifers tell me all the time, “I didn’t want to like her at all, but by the end of the book, I loved her.” If I never sell another book, this will be how I define my success. Reader’s hearts were changed. I also have some from the pro-choice side who have written to say that even though the book is overtly Christian and pro-life, they read it from cover to cover – a few in one sitting. They don’t say anything about changed minds, but they found the story compelling and they look at both Christianity and infertility differently. I’m good with that. It’s not about changing the world. If I get to be part of new attitudes on this issue, wow. I’ll take that – maybe not to the bank, but there are different kinds of wealth. This is the most vital to me.

Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

I do, but it’s being redesigned right now. I needed some new video clips and to update everything else. Although I’m in my 50s, I want it my kit to be a little more interesting and trendy. Less cookie cutter and more authentic balanced with the professional. I’m asking younger women to guide me. What a blast they are. Honest, kind, but they demand the best from me. I treasure their input and am taking most of their advice. It will be back on all my websites in a couple of weeks.

Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

I often speak to groups of women about all my work. These audiences vary in size from 50 to 250 at a time and I have this opportunity several times a year. I am starting a blog talk radio program for writers very soon and have been interviewed several times for radio programs.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?
I’ve never had an agent and haven’t needed one. I know other authors consider being agented necessary – it just hasn’t been for me.

Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

I’m also the Marketing Director at Sheaf House Publishing so I’ve been personally involved in the whole process of getting the word out about Rain Dance as well as our other books. We’ve placed ads in some big magazines, sent press releases, I’ve done interviews, blog tours, utilized FaceBook, Twitter, other online social networks, sent postcards, and sell-sheets. My distributor has reps contacting the book stores and talking to the people in charge of orders. I’m doing book signings and with the grand opening of Getting It Write Author Coaching, the word will continue to get out. My websites are starting to get busier and my speaking agenda is filling up.

My favorite part of my personal marketing is connecting with readers online, at book signings, after interviews, or after they’ve read something about me in the newspaper or online. Every time I’m out there at a signing or speaking, women whisper, “I’m a Stacie,” or “I’m a Jonica.” I get to hug them and they share their journey with me. This is the best part of being published.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes. The devotional I wrote and published with Barbour Publishing will be re-released by Sheaf House in 2010. I’m also working on several non-fiction releases for my author coaching business and a second novel (So far, she’s nothing like me except she also likes to wear cowboy boots!). I also have three children’s books published. Readers are asking for a sequel to Rain Dance. The Girls are talking to me again so that’s a possibility.

Thank you for your interview, Joy Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

I have four websites. They are: www.joydekok.com, www.raindancebook.com, www.gettingitwrite.net, and www.believe4kids.com.

All the books are also available at all online and local bookstores.