Joynell Schultz was raised at a zoo (yeah, bring on the jokes) which gave her a love of animals. She spends her days working as a veterinary pharmacist and spends her nights (cough, cough—very early mornings) creating imaginary worlds writing speculative fiction.
When she’s not trying to put food on the table (take-out, of course) for her husband and two children (and keeping it away from her sneaky Great Dane), she spends her time reading, writing, enjoying the outdoors, and planning her next vacation.
- Can you tell a bit more about yourself?
My goal in life is to be homeless—at least for a little while. I’m a minimalist and would love to get rid of all my things, crawl into an RV, and travel North America. Right now though, my kids are still in middle school, so this dream will have to wait.
- What inspired you to write?
Since writing my first story in kindergarten, I’ve always loved creating make-believe worlds and characters. It’s just who I am. Throughout school, I turned all writing assignments into works of passion. My research papers turned into a work of fiction. My history report transformed into a time travel trip back to explore the Wright Brothers. My report on espionage became the next James Bond movie. Fiction or non-fiction was all the same, my heart poured into it.
- What is your latest book about?
I just published my first novel, “Love, Lies & Clones,” in December. It’s a mystery with a touch of romance/science fiction (maybe a little thriller thrown in too) about a clone’s desperate struggle to find her father—and a human connection in general.
I took my love of science (exploring human cloning) and mixed it with familial bonds (the relationship the clone has with her maker and relationships in general.) It touches a little on what it means to be human.
- Where and how do you write
Oh, I write wherever and whenever I can! With a family, time is valuable. I steal an hour or two in the morning while the house is quiet, getting up at 3:30 AM. Otherwise, I write while my daughter’s at swim practice, or when we are at an all-day swim meet. I’ll be sprawled out in a lawn chair with my laptop glowing.
- Did you plot and how does your plotting process work?
I draft a rough outline that hits the high points of the story (hook, backstory, trigger, crisis, struggle, epiphany, plan, climax, and ending) and maybe even flesh it out a little. Most my story happens while writing though—my characters always end up with a mind of their own and write their own story, despite what I have planned for them.
- Do you have an editing strategy and what is it?
I write my rough draft, which I call it draft zero because it’s doesn’t deserve to be called a first draft, then go through it two or three times and add details and make my sentences less choppy. I’m a minimalistic writer, so my first draft is usually half the word count of my final draft. Also, I try to change to active voice and take out filter words.
Then I use a lot of beta readers! Love, Lies & Clones I had 11 beta readers, and my project I’ll be publishing this spring, Blood & Holy Water, used 10. They help teach me so many things and make my final product so much better than what I started with. Finally, I send it off to a line editor for a final read through.
7. What does your family think of your writing?
I inspired my daughter to write. She’s 12 and has multiple novels going. It’s great to be a positive role model. My husband isn’t a reader, yet has succumbed to being supportive and reading my stories. He’s great with logic and his thoughts are helpful. What I struggle with is how I get wrapped up in my stories and don’t want to stop for anything. My family has been great and understanding that sometimes, I need some time before I can switch gears.
8. How hard was it to get your book out there?
Nearly impossible. I understand, it takes three or four novels before you’re noticed in the indie community. I’m working on book 2 and 3 right now (all three are separate stories/series). Then, I’ll write the sequel for Love, Lies & Clones this fall.
- What do you think is the hardest part of writing a novel?
For me, it’s having a thick skin to use feedback from beta readers constructively. I take thinks so personal that I need to back up and realize it’s one person’s feedback. Despite wanting to please everyone and make every change, it’s not possible. Sometimes, I feel I get information paralysis with too much feedback. My novels will never be “perfect,” but that’s okay.
- What do you think makes a great story?
I love great characters! One’s with issues, struggle, and a big challenge to overcome to solve their problem. Character growth is wonderful.
- Looking back, what would you have done differently or why wouldn’t you?
I would have planned a better book launch for Love, Lies & Clones. Somehow, I was under this delusion that because I published a book, interested readers would find it. That’s not true. A single book easily gets lost in a sea of 20 million books on Amazon. My solitary novel may be a big deal to me, but it’s nothing to most everyone else. I didn’t research book launch at all, and I’m working on this with my next book. I was just so excited to publish something.
12. Where do you get your inspiration
The world we live in inspires me. I’m a scientist, by nature, so I love taking what our science can do and pushing it a little further. I struggle with slowing down enough to appreciate the miracles in everyday things. It can be as simple as looking at a tree—a living organism. Wondering if a tree knows its purpose. Does it have any type of feelings? These may be absurd thoughts, but are the basis to a story.
All my writing has an element of speculative fiction—taking these outrageous ideas and forming them into a story. Wondering about the secrets our planet holds thrill me. What is that next step? We humans only know a tiny fraction about what surrounds us. We think we know so much, but it’s so not true. Just look how complicated the human brain is… To me, it’s like magic. Now you mix this, with the inspiration I find in familial bonds, and you have any one of my stories.
13. How do you handle writer’s block?
I love brainstorming. I get out a blank piece of paper and write down any possible thing that can happen, no matter how absurd. By the end, I end up with something…or nothing at all, but at least I was still writing. When I can’t take it anymore, I do something else. Go for a run, dishes, play a game with my kids. Sometimes I bounce idea off my family and that helps too.
14. Your top 3 tips for people who want to start writing.
I have simple advice really. Stick with it. Write and read every day and have thick skin when receiving feedback.
That thick skin comment is important. I quit writing once because I couldn’t handle criticism. I wish someone told me ALL writers get criticized. My advice: Don’t be defensive, take that feedback, mix it with your own thoughts, and come out a stronger writer. We only learn and improve through mistakes. I make them ALL THE TIME. Also, know that you’ll never write a story that makes everyone happy. Know who the reader is of your story, and write a story they’ll love. Ignore everyone else.
- Where would people be able to find you online?
I blog about writing and my journey. You can find it here: http://www.joynellschultz.wordpress.com
I’m on facebook: www.facebook.com/joynelljschultz