With it being the anniversary month of the publication of Waking Up Joy, Tule Publishing invited me to write a post to celebrate, and there is so much that I am excited about and grateful for when it comes to this book. Maybe you’ll celebrate too when you hear about the spectacular promotion that, in order to show our excitement, we’re offering to readers. First, though, I want to say a few words about this novel that even after two years is still the book of my heart.
Waking Up Joy is a novel that I thought would never make it to print. In fact, I lost track of how many times it came within a hair of getting published, until this publishing committee or that one would change their minds. With each rejection, I revisited the story to see why publishers almost always liked the book, but still passed on publishing it every single time. I did everything I could to consider any editorial comments that were passed on to me that could make the book better, including taking a closer look at the genre I had the book in.
Waking Up Joy has always been a women’s fiction title, which made the manuscript longer than most romances, but it definitely had a strong romantic thread in it too. I was in love with the romantic elements of the story, but sometimes I wondered if editors would like it better if I lessened the importance of the romance. Who knows? Maybe they would have liked it better if I had. I’ll never know, because I couldn’t bring myself to do that. The book was women’s fiction, and it was also romance. Even its main character, Joy Talley, was a romance reader with gobs of books hidden from her judgmental sisters, and so was I, although my sister approved of my reading choices.
I did continue to rewrite scenes of the book and make it better, but I could never remove the romantic qualities of the novel, because we all know that a great love story counts, and this could be the biggest and most important turning point in Joy Talley’s life. How could I take that away from her? What kind of story would Waking Up Joy be without that? Thankfully we will never know, even though at the time, I wondered if any reader would ever even get to meet Joy Talley.
It seemed like just about everybody had rejected Waking Up Joy and I was about to give up. It was around this time that fellow author Amy Sue Nathan introduced me to Jane Porter, and along came Tule. They gave the novel a chance, and now, thanks to readers like you, Waking Up Joy has more than 170 reviews, has become an award-winning novel, and readers have even been inspired to make their own strawberry-lemon cake, and even some whoopee pies, after finishing Joy’s story.
I’m so glad I didn’t give up, because I loved writing this story, and even though it sounds weird, the characters are still very much alive for me. The best part of Waking Up Joy for me is that through the main character, Joy Talley, I’ve connected with more readers on a personal level than with any of my other novels. This has been a pleasant surprise for me as an author.
I wrote Joy from my point of view, and then readers took her and began to relate to her on a whole different level than I could have expected. I’m not completely sure of why, but there is definitely something special about Joy Talley. As a result, I’ve heard from more readers with this book than with any of my others. Some readers want to know if Joy is like me, and I assure you, we aren’t the same person. But Joy brings out a side of me that perhaps, before the novel, not many people got to see.
I promise you, I’m not nearly as funny or possessing of any sort of pluckiness that would shock my siblings and peers like Joy, but in many ways we are alike. We both grew up in Oklahoma, we both love romance novels, and like Joy Talley, I think chocolate is magic. Every time I pop a truffle into my mouth my mood changes, but I did not model Joy Talley after myself. If anything, her strength, wit, and unassuming wisdom was inspired by other people I grew up around in Oklahoma, and so in that way of thinking, I guess some things about her were inspired by real life.
If you haven’t met Joy Talley and her quirky, if not crazy, siblings, I hope you’ll read Waking Up Joy and take advantage of this great opportunity to get a copy of my other novel, The Real Thing, for free. Please help spread the word and introduce Joy to your friends, and in the process, you can all meet Manda and Marta, two of the main characters in The Real Thing.
To celebrate, Tule’s giving away a FREE copy of The Real Thing when you purchase Waking Up Joy! Just send your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 31st. Happy reading!
Tina Ann Forkner is the author of five novels, including the award-winning Waking Up Joy and The Real Thing. Tina is a substitute teacher and the mom/stepmom of two teens and a college student. She grew up in Oklahoma, but lives in Wyoming with her husband, who knows how to wear a cowboy hat when necessary.