"Jo Huddleston is a great storyteller..." --Patricia, a reader
Jo Huddleston writes sweet Southern romance novels set mostly in the American South in the 1950s and also inspirational nonfiction. In her novels, you will find inspiration, hope, and a gentle—yet compelling—story that is intriguing and entertaining. About her nonfiction books, a reader wrote that she offers spiritual tonic and hope.
She likes to laugh with people but not at people. The beach is her favorite vacation spot. She doesn't like to see or hear about people or animals being abused. Jo is a spectator fan of several sports, her favorite being tennis. She doesn't like being in the dark and is fearful of snakes!
Jo's West Virginia Mountains series, her endearing Caney Creek series, and her standalone novels and novellas are all sweet Southern mid-20th-century romance stories. She has four published nonfiction books and coauthored with Vickie Phelps two other published nonfiction books.
Her writing career includes more than 200 articles and short stories, which have appeared in over 50 well-known Christian and secular publications including Guideposts, Decision, and The Upper Room. She's an online contributor to Christian Devotions Ministries (http://www.ChristianDevotions.us).
Jo's devotions appear in eight anthologies and she wrote devotions on assignment and freelance for the following daily devotionals: Devotions, Open Windows, Pathways to God, The Quiet Hour, The Secret Place, and The Upper Room. Jo has taught workshops at writers’ conferences and wrote an inspirational newspaper column for seven years.
Over the years, Jo held a variety of positions: a private secretary at the Y-12 plant in the Atomic City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a high school teacher and guidance counselor, a state political campaign secretary, two-time small business owner, and a real estate agent. In 2010, Jo was inducted into the Literary Hall of Fame at her alma mater, Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee.
Everything You've Always Wanted to Know (FAQ)
Why do you write the type of books that you do?
I enjoy reading novels set in the U.S. South in the 1950s and early 1960s. That time was more peaceful and simpler, both in happenings and lifestyles. Into the 1960s, things in America with unique events—the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, of his brother Robert, and of Martin Luther King, Jr. The youth appeared to become unfounded in noble principles. I prefer to write about the 1950s and early 1960s—a time when we didn’t know about assassinations, Woodstock, the Vietnam War, and on and on.
How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
When I’m writing a novel, I set a goal of 1,000 words per day and/or a 5,000-word goal per week. Some days I don’t reach my goal but then some days I go over the goal. That helps me get the 5,000 words per week. If I stick to those goals I can get the first draft of a full-length novel finished in about four months. However, many times life prevents me from writing every day and that four months turns into five, or six, or more. After I complete my first draft, editing, and polishing of the draft into an enjoyable, published novel follows.
Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way? Who is your favorite character you've created?
My ideas just come to me, not suggested by any of my environment, only by God. I don’t believe in coincidences, only God incidents. I try to choose my character names from those that were used in the time and place of my books. I’ve read that authors put a little something of themselves into their characters. Maybe, but not into all their characters. My favorite character I've created is in the Caney Creek Series: Emmajean. I would love to be a person who could think and act somewhat as Emmajean does.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how often do you get it? How do you fix it?
I’ve never had writer’s block. I’m what many call a pantster writer—one who writes from the seat of her pants. I don’t start with an outline. A story simmers in my mind for a while, the plots, the characters, the ending, etc. When I begin to get the story on paper, I already have those things worked out in my mind. I find that the characters do pretty much what they want to because in my mind I have developed them well. Sometimes I have to pull them back onto their path, but not often.
Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?
When I began writing, I kept it to myself. Many people describe writers as introverts. That was me—truly a closet writer. So my inspiration came solely from God. Then I met Karen Ball—author, editor, literary agent—and she was and still is a great inspiration to me. So, to answer the question: God and Karen Ball.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
When readers enjoy my books, I hope (1) they will tell their family and friends about the book and how much they loved it, (2) spread the word about the book on their social media, and (3) post a short review of the book on the book’s Amazon page, telling why they liked it. All are very much appreciated!
What has no one asked that you would like to share?
No one has ever asked me about how to handle success. Even if you feel a calling to write for God and then become highly successful with many books in print you may be tempted to be prideful of your own efforts. Remaining humble is a requirement of a servant of God. Not that I’m super successful, but I try to have the servant-attitude that Jesus had—he was most successful but remained humble (Philippians 2:5-8).
How do people react when they find out you write?
The funniest reaction I have received was from a twenty-something. When she heard me talking about my books, she asked me, “You mean if I google you, you’ll be there?”
If you could travel in a time machine, would you go back to the past or into the future?
The past. Life was less materialistic and simpler then.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you absolutely want to have with you?
Only three? Let me think here. Many people know I am uncomfortable in the dark. So…my Bible, lots of candles and matches, and lots of drinkable water. I’d love to have paper and pencil to write, but that would be more than three things.
What 3 fun or unique things can you tell us about yourself that we may not know?
I don’t enjoy being in elevators. I can’t jump rope. I played varsity basketball in high school.
What three words would describe you? Hopeful, enthusiastic, positive.
Laptop or Desktop? Laptop
Biscuits or Dinner Roll? Dinner Roll
Vacation: Beach or Mountains? Beach
Y’all or You Guys? Y’all
Spring, summer, winter, or fall? Fall
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Get a free eBook copy of Jo’s book, Ties That Bind: Family Stories, when you sign up for her newsletter. The short stories in Ties That Bind are fictional examples of varied family relationships.
From an Amazon reader review about this book: “…the most wonderful, thought-provoking stories inside the cover of Ties That Bind: Family Stories.”
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