I meet Joanne early in my blogging through her blog, Whole Latté Life. Who could resist checking out a blog title like that? She has since changed to her website and has gone the path many authors are choosing - self publishing. By doing so, she has given readers the delightful WHOLE LATTE LIFE: A NOVEL and now BLUE JEANS AND COFFEE BEANS.
Here’s a brief synopsis of BLUE JEANS AND COFFEE BEANS:
What do a denim designer, a cherished New England beach and a dusty reel of an old home movie have in common? All get the story brewing in Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans.
Returning again to the sandy shores of Long Island Sound, the story follows a group of beach friends reuniting after a decade apart. But can these friends ever be who they were to each other one long-ago summer? Now one of this beach circle is dead; another unemployed and struggling in a tenuous marriage; another regretting a fateful decision; while one is missing a mother, ever seeking a connection she longs for.
To the backdrop of shingled cottages and a boarded-up beach hangout, to the soundtrack of whispering lagoon grasses and a vintage jukebox, Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans asks if we can really design our own lives or if our fate lies somewhere in the stars.
Joanne has graciously answered some questions for me about her writing and her latest release.
Mason - What were the advantages and disadvantages to writing a second book?
Writing is what I do; it’s a part of my every day. So I can honestly say that there were no disadvantages to writing my second book. It was a natural progression. When I set out on the publishing journey, I considered it my career and planned ahead of time for a schedule of upcoming book releases. You often hear the best advice to new authors is to write that next book … it’s hard to understand the reasoning until you do it. But I’ve found that my readers are anxious for the next story, and the next. So the advantage to publishing a second book is that it opens new doors, while growing an audience.
Mason - Can you tell us some things about your lead character, Maris Carrington, that can’t be found in the book?
I wanted BLUE JEANS AND COFFEE BEANS to be closely tied-in with themes of the sea. What readers might not realize is the meaning behind Maris’ name. It’s fully connected to the sea, and here’s how. Her first name Maris is derived from Latin, meaning “of the sea.” Her last name Carrington is actually the name of a cottage-lined beach road from the little beach that I base Stony Point on (Point O’ Woods in Connecticut).
Mason - How did the title, BLUE JEANS AND COFFEE BEANS, come about?
It was a very organic process. I knew from the beginning that my main character would work with denim, as I see blue jeans as being a symbol for the casual beach life. At the same time, I love bringing coffee to my stories. Some of the best talks happen over a fresh cup of java. Think of all the lattes you've enjoyed with friends, how much life you've mulled over in a local coffee shop or in a cottage kitchen with a fresh-brewed pot. Coffee connects women, life and our stories. After much brainstorming with coffee and denim terms, and many notebook pages filled, I kept coming back to BLUE JEANS AND COFFEE BEANS; it spoke to me.
Mason - The cover of BLUE JEANS AND COFFEE BEANS looks so relaxing and inviting. Did you design it or help in the design?
Thanks so much, I’m glad it draws you. Behind the scenes of production, I work very closely with my daughter Mary. Together we designed everything you see on the cover from selecting the beach image to the typography. We knew from the get-go that the story would best be captured with a seaside visual and had several stock photos in mind, but fell in love with this one. My publishing team fine-tuned the original photo to further connect it with the title. I love being hands-on with the cover design for all my books, as it is the readers’ first look at the story.
Mason - Being a published author, what has been the biggest surprise (good or bad) with the entire publishing process?
There have been several surprises … receiving thoughtful Facebook messages and emails from readers telling me how touched they were by my work, learning that my books are in libraries from San Francisco to Brooklyn to New Zealand. It’s surprising how far a story travels.
But the biggest surprise came last June, when my debut novel WHOLE LATTE LIFE was awarded First Place in the 2012 Discovery Awards at Book Expo America. As a new author, it was as thrilling as it was validating to every choice I’ve made along the way.
Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?
A new novel set in WHOLE LATTE LIFE’s fictional town of Addison, Connecticut, where one sunny spring morning, lives are forever changed by an unexpected tragedy.
Thanks for hosting me at Thoughts In Progress, Mason. I enjoyed chatting with you and your readers today … Coffee cheers. ~ Joanne
Joanne, thank you for visiting with us and sharing this behind-the-scenes look at BLUE JEANS AND COFFEE BEANS. There is something about the cover and the title that just draws you to pick up the book. You know it’s going to be a fun read (which, by the way, it really is…I’ll share my review next week).
Now a bit of background on Joanne for those who haven’t meet her yet. She is the award-winning author of BLUE JEANS AND COFFEE BEANS and the bestselling novel WHOLE LATTE LIFE, which won First Place in the 2012 Discovery Awards and was named a Kirkus Reviews Critics' Pick. It has also been featured in USA Today, The Huffington Post and other outlets.
Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut and is currently at work on her next book. She enjoys connecting with readers on Facebook and her website.
Everyone, thank you so much for stopping by today. Do you find a story with a beach-theme makes you feel like you’re at the beach relaxing with a good book?