Today, we welcome JoAnn Durgin, who is an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm and lives in southern Indiana. She is the author of The Lewis Legacy Series and Christmas novella, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and its sequel, Starlight, Star Bright. JoAnn has also written her fifth full-length novel, Catching Serenity, which we’d like to introduce to you in the following summary. Catching Serenity is on sale today for only $2.99
A woman torn apart by secrets.
A man held prisoner by the truth.
Can the greatest love of all
set them both free?
Serenity McClaren had it all before her life crumbled around her like the sand castles on her beloved beach, causing her to flee Croisette Shores and the only home she’d ever known. Nearly five years later and living in Atlanta, she receives a mysterious, unsigned note: Come home, Serenity. Things aren’t as they seem. Time to find your answers. Returning to South Carolina, she prepares to face her demons and the ailing father she left behind, hoping to make peace with both.
Child psychologist Jackson Ross is a man with a surprising past. He’s ready for the quiet life and eager to establish his practice in the quaint, coastal village. After he hires Serenity to decorate his new office, he’s drawn to the beautiful and enigmatic woman yet sees she’s haunted by a past she can’t escape. Wanting to help her, he begins to suspect one of his young patients may hold the key to unlocking Serenity’s secrets. Jackson follows his instincts and discovers the shocking truth, but how can he tell the woman he’s grown to love what he knows—and set her free—without compromising his professional ethics and losing her forever?
Catching Serenity, a poignant story of faith, hope and love,
and discovering the everyday miracles from an all-powerful God.
If the above sounds like a book you’d like to read, I have to tell you, I’ve read it and can highly recommend it. The story and characters will remain with you long after you finish the last paragraph. And if you’d like to recieve a free copy of Catching Serenity, be sure to read through this interview and leave a comment for JoAnn below as JoAnn has graciously offered to give a paperback copy of her book to one person who comments.
JoAnn, welcome to Infinite Characters. We’d like to know you better and one way is to have you tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
First, I’ve said on occasion that I “hate” to eat certain foods. Well (she says with red cheeks), here’s a confession: I don’t think I’ve ever actually tasted some of them. I’m talking about such things as liver, calamari (squid), frog legs, haggis (a Scottish dish and the source of a fun conversation between Shelby and Harrison in my upcoming Echoes of Edinburgh)… You get the idea. I suppose I should say the thought of them makes me cringe, so…I’m not going to try them. Ever.
Second, I’ve gone to the movie theater on occasion for the sole purpose of buying a tub of buttered popcorn (and not stay to see a movie…old news, this one), but I can also admit to going to my favorite local bakery to get a cake for no special occasion. Simply for the sake of buying a cake. And yes, I share it! Let me just say these cakes are so good I took one on a plane from Louisville to Boston once (and had to protect it from hungry crew and passengers).
And third, so you don’t think I’m obsessed with food, here’s a non-food related one: I’m a costume jewelry junkie. I have so many pieces, it’s ridiculous. I need to be better organized with it, though. I also wear clip-on earrings since my ears didn’t take kindly to being pierced. You can find really awesome “old-fashioned” earrings, and I love the converters. Makes it not such a “curse” anymore to not have pierced ears.
How interesting, but now what is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
Went on a date with an Italian—a tall, dark and handsome man. In Italy (yes, Rome, Italy). The strangest thing of all? My mother was there and she didn’t bat an eyelash about me going (I was 24). We went to dinner and then I survived a tour of the city at about 90 mph. It was fun and eye-opening, although I didn’t understand half of what he said. Given identical circumstances with my daughters, however, I would definitely have some “words of wisdom” for them. Enough said.
Okay, that is pretty cool. Amazing isn’t it, how differently we look at things when it’s our daughters or granddaughters who are faced with these unusual circumstances?
What is your favorite genre to read?
Christian Romance, hands down—both contemporary and historical. I’ll admit to being a diehard romance lover. If a book doesn’t have romance, I struggle to read it (although I do read several genres). I’ve been told it’s difficult to write humor into a book, but it’s one of my greatest strengths. Romance is every bit an emotional and intellectual connection as it is a physical one. I enjoy the fun, flirty, back-and-forth exchanges (without being a put-down of the other’s character) when a couple is getting to know one another. I find it as romantic and thrilling as the moment when their lips actually meet.
Ah, yes, what else but romance? Can you share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better?
I work a full-time paralegal position in a downtown Lousville, Kentucky law firm. Lunch is at noon, and I almost always work on some aspect of my writing during that hour. It’s a great respite for me, too, in the middle of the busy workday. If anyone ever wants to “catch” me to chat or has a question, I usually check Facebook during that time and sometimes carrying on a conversation (or two) while eating my lunch.
In three words describe your style of writing.
Faith. Hope. Love.
I like those and am pretty sure of your next answer, but does your faith affect your writing and, if so, how?
My faith in the saving grace of a personal relationship with the Lord, and the hope to be found in that relationship, is the reason why I write. It’s the first love story, after all, with the Heavenly Father loving us enough to send His very own Son to die for us.
Very good!!What are you working on right now?
I’m in final edits for Echoes of Edinburgh, a novella set in Scotland (but which goes back to the heroine’s native Lexington, Kentucky in the last chapters). I’m currently pounding out my 2014 Christmas novella in order to submit the full proposal by the end of March. All my novellas are published by Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing. Then I must get moving on rewrites/edits for Moonbeams, Book #5 in The Lewis Legacy Series. I’d like to write another full-length, stand alone novel soon. Stay tuned…
Catching Serenity is the first book you self-published. Why did you decide to self-publish?
The “stigma” formerly associated with self-publishing is fading, if not eradicated, especially with so many “big name” Christian authors venturing into its waters now. I believe it is much easier, however, for authors who’ve already proven themselves with traditional publishing. I’m blessed to say my Lewis Legacy Series has done quite well, enough so that I’m now gaining a loyal following. By no means am I a “big name” author, but as one of my wisest writer friends told me, “Just keep putting out quality work, and it’ll happen.” For the most part, my readers have followed me in my self-publishing venture, beginning with Catching Serenity.
There are certain freedoms in publishing a book yourself, including timing of releases, pricing options and royalties. For semi-control freaks such as myself, it’s a worthwhile endeavor. I love not having deadlines because I feel too many authors are “ruled” by those deadlines and, as a result, their stories feel rushed, especially at the end. Not having a set word count is wonderful, too. As in everything else, the Lord prepared and paved the way. My publisher for the series turned over all the rights to my four books and the changeover took place late last year. It’s intimidating in some respects, but exciting in so many other ways, and I look forward to both self-publishing and traditional publishing in the future. Just know this: I will never put out a book until I feel it’s ready.
What do you like least about self-publishing?
I just want to write the books, and I’m not technological in the least. The formatting and details drive me crazy, but I’m muddling my way through it…with a little help from my friends.
I think many of us can agree with you on that! Publishing on your own can be intimidating and a bit confusing, but certainly not impossible. Which leads me to ask this:How did you design your cover? Do-it-yourself? Or hire a cover designer?
Except for my novellas with Pelican Book Group (who has their own cover designer), I’ve had Dino Piccinni design my book covers. We’re a good team and I love working with him. I tell him what I envision for the cover, usually a few symbols representative of each individual story, and then we work together to create a unique cover. Nothing drives me crazier than to see the same real-life models on multiple covers.
The funny thing about duplicating models is that it can happen in traditional publishing too. I know from experience. But I agree, if you can have original covers, it’s certainly for the best.
JoAnn, we’ve enjoyed learning more about you and your writing. Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for the opportunity to be here on Infinite Characters today, Mildred! Blessings, friends.
Visit JoAnn Durgin at www.joanndurgin.com or via her Author JoAnn Durgin page on Facebook.
You can find Catching Serenity at Amazon here.
And at Barnes & Noble here.
Here’s an excerpt from Catching Serenity:
Come home, Serenity. Things aren’t as they seem. Time to find your answers.
Ever since she’d received that unsigned, cryptic note in Atlanta six weeks ago—scrawled in loopy, cursive letters with no clue as to its sender except the postmark from Croisette Shores—the words lingered in Serenity’s mind, never far from her conscious thought. Lifting her face to the early May sun, she dug her toes in the sand, luxuriating in the sensation as the warm grains filtered between her toes. How she’d missed her lovely little South Carolina town.
The slight breeze lifted strands of her hair in an airy dance and a happy squeal caught her attention. A pregnant woman held the hand of a toddler girl who skipped beside her, giggling when the gentle waves kissed her toes. Uninhibited and joyful, the sound of the child’s laughter transported Serenity back in time to the carefree days when she’d played alongside her parents on this same stretch of beach. Days when it seemed the world was ripe with possibility and opportunity. Days when making a sand castle and discovering a beautiful seashell, simple yet intricate in its complexity, thrilled her like nothing else.
Shielding her eyes with one hand, Serenity scanned the beach. Freud? A gorgeous gray and white Siberian husky skirted the shoreline, dodging the seaweed and marine life deposited by the receding waves. A magnificent creature, grace in motion, but who would name a dog Freud? In its own way, though, it was rather cute. She couldn’t remember ever seeing this particular breed of dog in Croisette Shores before. His coat was well-groomed and short, and thank goodness she sat far enough removed to avoid the sand he sprayed in his wake.
“Come here, boy!” The man jogging behind the dog captured her attention as he slowed to a walk, a red Frisbee tucked under one arm. The last time she’d given any man more than a passing glance seemed like a lifetime ago. In some ways, it was. This one definitely stood out in the small crowd of beachgoers. Tall, broad-shouldered and muscular, his wavy dark hair was long enough in back to curl over the collar of his light blue polo. She guessed he must be late twenties or early thirties. Barefoot with the bottom of his khakis rolled on his calves, he looked the part of a well-to-do tourist renting a luxury cottage on one of the private beaches. Cheeks flushed with color, he hadn’t yet developed the sun-kissed tan of the locals.
Stopping, he tossed the Frisbee and laughed as the dog darted after it, venturing into the tide. Amazing a dog that size could jump so high. Serenity sat up straighter, fascinated, as the two repeated their game. The man moved a bit slower, appearing to favor one leg, and a slight grimace creased his attractive features. Was he in pain? She startled a few seconds later when the Frisbee skidded to a stop at her feet, showering her with sand. Freud lunged in her direction—quickening her heart rate tenfold—and scooped the plastic disc in his mouth before bounding off again. Willing her pulse to slow, Serenity brushed sand from her shorts and tugged down on her pink cotton tee.
“Sorry!” the man called to her with a friendly wave. “He’s harmless. Hope he didn’t scare you. Are you okay?”
She waved back. “I’m fine, thanks.” She wasn’t worried about the canine so much as her reaction to Freud’s companion, but how nice of him to consider her feelings. The guy had a killer smile and strands of dark hair whipped over his forehead. Couldn’t he at least have a high-pitched or nasal voice? No, it had to be deep, smooth and rich as melting chocolate. Good thing she generally avoided chocolate.
He lingered about twenty yards away as though debating whether to come closer. Well, she’d make the decision easier for him. Have a nice life, handsome stranger. Lowering onto the towel, flat on her back, Serenity closed her eyes, mentally dismissing him. She had enough on her mind with the command visit to her dad in an hour before heading to Martha’s Cup & Such for her three o’clock meeting.
My very first client. Dr. Jackson Ross. She’d studied hard, spent a lot of sleepless nights and lived like a miser to earn the right to even have a client. Thanks to Charlie Mathias, her lifelong family friend, the initial meeting had been arranged a couple of days ago. Dr. Ross was a psychologist newly transplanted from Chicago who needed help decorating his new office. That thought triggered a nervous—but good—flutter in Serenity’s stomach. She envisioned Dr. Ross to be a bit younger than Doc Rasmussen, the town’s retiring psychologist. More likely than not, the new shrink was a middle-aged man or older, married with a child or two and maybe grandkids, wire-rimmed glasses and some type of facial hair. Not many young people moved to their beach community these days. Even with the tourist trade, there simply wasn’t enough year-round commerce or opportunity. On the other end of the longevity scale, those on the short path to retirement adored the slower pace in Croisette Shores.
Wait a minute.
Sitting upright and clasping her arms around her knees, Serenity scanned the wide expanse of beach. The Siberian husky and his owner played further down the beach.
Now it made perfect sense. The flutter in her stomach resurged with a vengeance.
What kind of man might name a dog Freud? A psychologist.
Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to receive a free paperback copy of Catching Serenity.
Thanks for stopping by. You might also enjoy:
Catching Serenity by JoAnn Durgin