Friday, November 1, 2013

~Author Spotlight~ With Johnee Cherry

I was born in Arkansas, played in Louisiana, and lived in Texas. Mostly in a small border town called Texarkana. It's just about a mile from here to there. And you still aren't anywhere. It's the kind of town in which you can stand on the steps of a Baptist church and lob a rock across State Line Road to hit the front door of the liquor store. No matter how many roads you take to get out of there, it's the kind of town that just hangs in your soul, coloring everything you do or think or say. Kind of like the small Texas town you'll read about in A Home for Wayward Husbands.
A Home for Wayward Husbands is about people surviving with the odds all against them. There's some romance, some sex and a bit of mystery. The folks in this books are trying to keep secrets from each other and everyone knows you can't keep a good secret in a small town. Not in any I've ever lived in anyway. 
I live with a man, a dog and my imagination. 

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Johnee Cherry brings to life the crazy and fabulous characters of a small East Texas town in A Home for Wayward Husbands.

Beau Smith is a tormented bad boy. He's rich, gorgeous, and full of potential but is hampered by his controlling father, Leon, and demented mother, Suzanna. There's no hiding for the Smith family, who owns most of the town and lives in the center of the Atlanta, Texas universe putting them in the center of gossip and innuendo.

When Beau falls head-over-heals in love with the strawberry blond-bomb, Bitzy Jeter, the daughter of a low-life chicken farmer, Louie Jeter, his troubles keep mounting. Bitzy is a sweet gullible girl without a bad bone in her body, who couldn't care less about the attitudes of prominent citizens. Bitzy loves everyone and is willing to forgive and love again, but she learns that some people are not worth forgiving.

Beau makes one final heart-wrenching mistake, and in the delirious aftermath of the accident he abandons his family when they need him the most.

Beau's unexpected return sets into motion long buried emotions and memories and the family must deal with feelings they hoped to forget. Faced with the challenge of having Beau back, Bitzy and Stormie, their only daughter, must deal with him on a different level. Bitzy ends up with a house-full of other women's husbands who she wants to continue to love, but she's going to have to make some hard choices.

Add Dot to the scene, Bitzy's sister, who is smack in the middle of all of Atlanta's gossipy circles and who loves the intrigue of having Beau show up out of the blue. Dot knows her sister well and offers jaded advice on how to deal with the hapless men taking up space in her home and heart.

And of course, there's Wesley, Bitzy's best-guy friend, and Opal Anne, one of her few friends from high school, dragging their problems through Bitzy's teapot like used up tea leaves. Wes comes face-to-face with Beau Smith, the one person he hoped he would never see again, and he makes a move that changes everyone's idea of who Wes is.

Can Bitzy revive the most talked about and hottest romance in Atlanta's small-town history? Does she want to?

If you're in the mood for a fresh, funny tale about small town romance, buried secrets and unforgettable characters then A Home for Wayward Husbands is sure to satis

 Johnee, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me. I haven't gotten the chance to read your DEBUT Novel A Home for Wayward Husbands.  I read the synopsis, and it sounds like it's AMAZING!
 Thanks for having me, Stefanie. I do want to say that I changed the cover for A Home for Wayward Husbands this week. My first cover was far from normal, and while I liked it a lot, I felt the reader didn't get a clear view of what the book was about, in other words, I tamed the cover down. A Home for Wayward Husbands is about the backroads of America and its good and bad relationships, about love that doesn't go away, and hate that doesn't end. This weekend will be the only chance to "buy" a copy for free this year, so I hope you will get a copy to read. A Home for Wayward Husbands will be Free Nov. 1~2, and I slashed the price of the paperback to 8.09.

When you were a little girl, what did you dream of being when you grew up? Did you always aspire to be a writer?

 I have always lived in a make-believe world. My older sister and I would spend weeks playing like our bikes were horses and we were cowboys. I can give her a look now and she will call me by my nickname that I used when I was playing, Joe, because I was in love with Little Joe Cartwright on the show Bonanza.

How long did it take you to write your first book? Was it A Home for Wayward Husbands, or have you written other stories which you did not publish? 

 My first finished novel is A Home for Wayward Husbands, and I started it on March 24th of 2013, a week before my daughter's wedding. I guess I needed a good outlet to blow-off steam before the wedding fun erupted. I have written many novels, and I have left them on old hard-drives or in dumpsters along the way thinking that I would never have a chance to publish within the traditional rules of publishing; Amazon has changed all of that for us indies.  So to say that I dashed off this first book without a lot of writing experience is not true, because I have had some experience and a lot of experimenting with the written word. I have plenty of room to learn and grow, and indie publishing has given me the freedom to move into the future with my writing. 

What was your inspiration for writing A Home for Wayward Husbands?

 I can't say I was inspired by an event, or person, but more driven by what the characters had to say. It's that make-believe world where I live coming out on paper.

If A Home for Wayward Husbands was made into a movie, who would be your ideal cast?
Louie would be Tommy Lee Jones, for sure — high-five! He's my favorite actor so why not ask for what you love, right? (Tommy Lee Jones is Little Joe Cartwright all grown up, if you ask me!) Beau and Bitzy would have to be some talented unknown actors, as a well-known actor is expected to play certain parts, and Beau and Bitzy offer the unexpected. I would love to be able to pick out the cast, and the right person would have to walk into the door for a good fit with Dot and Opal Anne, both so distinctive. You couldn't have a plain-vanilla actress playing those two gals — they'd have to be pecan praline and spumoni. Shirley MacLaine would have made a great Phillipa, but she's a tad too old! Leon — geez, there's a world of bastard actors out there that would fit his mold.

I haven't gotten a chance to read A Home for Wayward Husbands. How did you come up the characters & synopsis? 
  First, a synopsis is a rewrite every day, and since this is my first time at bat in this game, I'm learning what works and what doesn't. I can write a hundred thousand words, but a simple one sentence blub or descriptive paragraph sends me shivers. It helps to have someone read your synopsis and make suggestions. Second, the characters walked into the book on their own. I am what is called a "pantser." I don't outline much, and when I do outline, I don't follow the outline. I don't work on long character descriptions ready to plug into a chapter. I do keep notes on the character traits and important things, like how old a character needs to be in a scene and make sure they aren't driving someone else's car by accident.

Is A Home for Wayward Husbands a standalone book or is it book #1 in a series? If so, what can we expect in book #2?

It's a standalone book. I am working on the sequel, with some of the same characters, some new ones, and clearing up their worlds, or rather complicating them more, but you should be able to read the sequel without reading the A Home for Wayward Husbands. But, I hope everyone reads both!

Who or what is your main influence(s) in your writing? 

When I was a young girl my mother had a collection of Frank Yerby romances; one particularly was titled A Woman Called Fancy and another Floodtide. I would sit in her closet and read those books, in secret, and be in love at the same time his heroines were in love. Frank Yerby is as about as obscure as a writer can get now days, he was an African-American man writing romances about post-Civil War southern America.  Unusual to say the least, but I didn't know anything about him until later in life. Yerby's works stood out at me even then, simple, clear writing that moved me. His books are out of print and are going for $100, and when I asked my mother where those books were, she replied, "Oh honey, I took those old things to Goodwill!" When you go out shopping and see a Frank Yerby book, it's mine!

What author’s writing do you particularly admire most, and why?

 Stephen King. First, because he scared the hell out of me with The Shining, the book is far better than the movie and the movie is outstanding. Second because of the advice book he wrote called, On Writing. When I read On Writing, I realized that the rules that I was trying to follow for writing didn't work for me, and that I should write what I could, love the way the words came out and ignore the rules, but most important of Mr. King's advice was to accept what I wrote as mine.

What is the one book you could read over and over again without ever growing tired of it?

 The Grapes of Wrath, I reread it hoping it end differently, never does!

If you get “writers block”, what do you do to help yourself break free from it?

 I watch zombie movies and drink wine.

What has been the most difficult part about becoming an author?

 Marketing, naturally. Indie publishing has opened up a new world for me. I've made some great new friends so far and I am looking forward to what comes next. I've learned a lot in a short period of time about selling and marketing, but every day new and exciting opportunities pop up all the time.

How do you juggle writing your books & being a mommy and wife every day?

 I am a grandmother now. If I have the chance to play with my grandchildren, I drop everything, forget about writing, or marketing, and run off to play with them. Their imaginations are a thousand times better than mine ever was, and I am in awe of how their brains process so much so quickly.

When reading a romance novel (or erotica), do you prefer a HOT, sexy bad boy… or a sweet & romantic good guy?

 Both! Tommy Lee, where are you?

If you could give just ONE piece of advice for aspiring authors, what would it be? 

 Listen to your imagination; it knows more than you do.

I bet you have been working very hard on your next projects.  Can you tell us a little about it, and what we can expect from these upcoming books? How did you come up with the idea for them?

 I write every day, some days are good, some are bad, and some days I chat online with friends too long to accomplish much. Writing gives me a satisfaction that is better than eating chocolate, and when the urge comes I follow it.

I want to thank Johnee again for taking the time out to do this with me. Keep a eye out for the newsletter she's getting ready to do!!


  1. Thanks Stefanie! I was really nervous about my first author interview! I think it went well. :-)


  2. Great interview! I learned a few things about Johnee I didn't know. I love a Home for Wayward Husbands! I'm rereading it. And of course I adore Mommy's Late Night Book-up.

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  4. I loved Stephen King's book On Writing as well, especially the part about owning what you write. I look forward to reading A Home for Wayward Husbands.

  5. Thanks Sarah and Jackie. Nice to get in touch with you here on Mommy's. And kudos to Stefanie again for having me.