Interview Series – Jo Noelle

We are excited to launch our Interview Series! Member Brooke Hargett will be conducting interviews with various authors, agents and editors. She vows to find people of interest, sift for nuggets of wisdom, extract the nitty-gritty and give it to you straight.

She recently interviewed Jo Noelle (pictured here–yes, that’s correct–two people).

Jo Noelle

The interview is below, enjoy!

Brooke: Jo Noelle is launching three books this month. Yes, you heard right—three. Knowing how much goes into this process, I had to find out more. Here’s how she describes herself:

Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also spent time in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids.

She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking especially for desserts, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and likes to go hiking in the nearby mountains.

Oh, and by the way, she’s two people—Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team.

Brooke: I’m in awe of people who write books together. As a mother/daughter writing duo, can you tell us a little about how you decided to write together?

Jo Noelle: We were both writing our first books at the same time, separately. I was sick of my book and she felt the same, so we decided to trade books and write a scene. After that we decided to just write together.

Brooke: How did you come up with your pen name Jo Noelle?

Jo Noelle: Could you imagine Canda Mortensen & Deanna Henderson squeezing onto the bottom line of a cover or filling up the spine? We could and decided to use a pen name to represent us. Jo Noelle is a combination of our middle names.

Brooke: Great idea. Tell us about your writing process when you’re working on a new project together. How do you work out creative differences? Do you both work on it together or do you alternate responsibilities?

Jo Noelle: We make an outline, chuck it out the window before chapter 2, we argue, negotiate, plead, pout, sometimes threaten to quit. Then we compromise and keep writing. And we laugh a lot.

Brooke: What publishing route did you choose to take? Can you tell us about how you arrived at the decision and how it has been for you? Is there any advice that would be helpful for writers at the beginning stages of publication you can offer?

Jo Noelle: At first we wanted to do the agent thing, so we pitched a couple of times. Then we got offers from two publishers, but Deanna didn’t see them as appealing at all. Canda was holding out for the traditional route, but was convinced to go indie after going to a conference and talking with several indie authors.

Do a lot of research to see what works best for you. Decide how much time you have to give marketing and writing. There are different expectations on each side.

Brooke: Did you work on all three books simultaneously? What was the timeframe it took you to write each one? Walk us through your process. 

Jo Noelle: Yes, and no. First drafts were written. Then when we would get sick of writing a story, we would put it aside and write on something else for a while. By the time we got back to the other stories, we could see the issues that we were struggling with. Over the past four years, three books were completed. We have another book that we’ve been writing on in this mix, but we haven’t finished it yet. It will probably come out late this fall.

Brooke: I can’t wait to hear what the next one’s about. Who is your favorite character in your books(s) and why?

Jo Noelle (Deanna): Tilly, Lexi’s best friend in Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life. I like sarcastic, pushy people probably because they’re more like me.

Jo Noelle (Canda): Marc, he’s Cassie’s love interest in Damnation. He’s a lot like my husband. I think he’d do the same kinds of things in heaven if he were at the Gate.

Brooke: Knowing what you know now about the writing/editing and publishing process, is there anything you would do differently if you could go back and do it again? 

Jo Noelle: Work more consistently. We might have been done a year earlier. 🙂

Brooke: Do you participate in a critique group? If so, how has it benefited you? How did you find the group and what structure do you use to make it effective?

Jo Noelle: No. We’re considering it though. We use professional editors. This is huge. If you’re going indie, this is a must do step.

Brooke: Share with us anything you do while writing that could help other writers.

Jo Noelle: We write the first draft then we use “Save the Cat” 15-point Plot Structure to edit the first time though to find plot holes.

Brooke: Do you have any favorite books, websites or blogs that have really helped you?

Jo Noelle: We use “The Emotion Thesaurus.” It’s very helpful to get the tone right.

Brooke: What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Jo Noelle: Keep Learning! Go to a lot of conferences from different groups to get different perspectives on writing.

Brooke: Great advice. Here are a few questions designed to get to know you better. It’s called the Nitty Gritty Six. Don’t worry, I’ll be asking everyone. . . 

The Nitty Gritty Six

1) Something about you that will surprise us: (Canda) I jumped onto a moving train.

2) Guilty Pleasure: (Canda) chocolate, (Deanna) shopping

3) Favorite Movie or TV Show: (Deanna) Gillmore Girls, (Canda) Persuasion

4) Item you couldn’t live without: (Deanna) Lavender oil, (Canda) iPad

5) Favorite book you’ve read this year: (Deanna, though Canda wanted this one too) The Guise of a Gentleman, (Canda) The Fault in our Stars

6) Three things you love to do besides write: (Canda) Bake, read, teach. (Deanna) Hike, travel, listening to music.

Brooke: Now we know the next time we see Canda we need to get that train story out of her!

I still can’t believe you have three books at the same time. You can learn more about the books here.

We wish Canda and Deanna lots of success.



One Comment on “Interview Series – Jo Noelle

  1. Thanks, Brooke and Bryce! I’m so glad UV Writers was our first interview. When I started my first manuscript, I also started attending UVWs in the Provo Library and learned so much about writing.

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