9:07 AM

In the Author Spotlight & Contest

JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

AL: Hi JoAnn! Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week. So, tell us what’s happening with you.

JoAnn: Thanks for inviting me, Ann. I’m delighted with this opportunity to share what’s going on in my life with your audience.

You’d probably never guess, but I’m studying voice (Vocal Power by Roger Love (CDs)).

I’ve been on panels and have given talks where no microphone is provided. Sometimes, my voice comes out soft and hard to hear. Right now I raise my shoulders when I breathe. I’m learning to project my voice through proper breathing. I’m practicing drawing air in through my nose to the bottom of my lungs so that my belly pushes out. Then I use the diaphragm to pull my stomach back in, expelling air. I’m to speak as the air expels and stop when it runs out. It seems I keep trying to talk after the breath is done. It strains my voice and makes it sound harsher. Who knew?

AL: For those who may not know your work, can you please share a little about yourself?

JoAnn: I was one of those people who said I’d like to write some day, but I never did anything about it. When I got closer to retirement, I started taking the idea seriously. As long as your brain functions well, writing is an occupation you can do at any age and you don’t have to look like a Hollywood star. It’s the story that counts. My goal is to supplement my social security check with royalties. It took a long time, but it’s finally happening.

AL: What got you dabbling in historical romance novels?

JoAnn: I joke that it’s easier for me to write an historical than to do the research to write a contemporary. The joke has some truth to it. I’m such a hermit when I’m not out there marketing. Although I use the Internet a lot, I’m not up on the latest gadgets.

The paranormal suspense series I’m working on now is set in Philadelphia during WWII. I was small, but I was alive in WWII so I don’t need to do much research. I grew up with grandparents who were young in the late 1800’s and had many of the utensils of that time in their house. I can bring so much life to descriptions so that some readers say they can reach out and touch the scenes I paint. That ability is because of these personal experiences.

AL: How do you decide upon your settings? What about the names of characters? Do you ever change either mid-stream into a story?

JoAnn: Ainsworth is an Anglo-Saxon name meaning “the property of Ains”. When I started writing, I decided to set the medieval stories in Britain a generation after the Norman Conquest. When I decided to write a couple of historical western romances, I used a town in Wyoming where I had lived for four months. I already had a contact with the historian at the WY county library and had toured the historical sites of the region. My Philadelphia setting was because I lived there and again knew the streets.

The Ainsworth name contributed in another way to my novels. It has a coat of arms with the motto of fearless courage. The theme of courage runs through all my stories. Ordinary people rise to achieve extraordinary deeds when they reach deep inside to find personal courage. It is just like when a first responder runs toward a disaster while the rest of us are running away. After heroically rescuing injured people, the responder turns to the t.v. cameras and says, “I was only doing my job.” To us, the job done was extraordinary. My characters find the same courage to face their problems.

I never change settings mid-stream, although I have changed names of characters mid-stream. Thank goodness for search and replace.

With my characters, I like to choose names I feel fit their personalities, but I also choose names according to the alphabet. I try not to have the same letter begin the names of my primary characters. I feel it brings clarity if I don’t have an Adele and an Adessia in the same story.

AL: What do you like best about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

JoAnn: I LOVE to edit. Getting the first draft out is more of a mechanical process for me. My creativity kicks in when I pare off the superfluous words. It makes me feel like a sculptor. I get down to the beautiful core.

My least favorite thing about writing is waiting. Right now I’m waiting to hear if my publisher likes my western romance and will send a contract. Fingers crossed.

AL: If you could go anywhere in the world and in any time…where would you go? What would you do? And why that time-period?

JoAnn: I’d stay in this time period and go to Egypt to see the pyramids and to Paris to see the Louvre and Versailles. When I was young, I went around the world by myself and saw many exciting ancient sites like Angor Wat and the Acropolis. But I could not go to Egypt because a war was going on. I could not travel to Paris because France was paralyzed by a trucking strike. I went to Switzerland instead. Loved Zurich, but found Geneva citizens cold shouldered me because my French wasn’t up to snuff. However, I’ve always regretting not getting to Egypt and to Paris.

AL: What decadent delight must you have no matter what?

JoAnn: What else—chocolate?

AL: If we were to come to your house, what books would we find lying around?

JoAnn: These days, mostly reference books on marketing and how to write. I used to be a voracious reader, but my brain gets too tired after struggling to find the right word for my novels. I’ve mostly given up pleasure reading for reading that forwards my craft or helps me to reach readers. “How to” reference books on marketing and craft are interspersed with paperbacks of authors that I’m studying for dialog or pacing or set up and the like. The only time I read for pleasure is when I take a day off, which isn’t often. However, reading for craft does not mean I can’t enjoy myself. Next to my bed now is SPELLBOUND by Patricia Simpson. I’m learning how she creates her paranormal world.

AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.

JoAnn: Eleanor Roosevelt: A woman is like a tea bag - you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.

AL: Thanks so much for sharing with joining us this week, JoAnn.

JoAnn: It’s my pleasure. I love sharing my writing experiences with readers.

AL: If you’d like to find out more about JoAnn please visit:

Follow JoAnn on Facebook and Twitter.



At the time, pretending marriage to her middle-aged widower cousin seemed like the best way to escape a politically motivated betrothal to a brutal knight. Now, her journey toward a new life has landed her in hot water—she’s been waylaid by a local Norman baron who’s mistaken her for a real bride. And he demands First Night rights.

Hot water turns to steam in a scalding night of passion… passion she has never known. And now must live without.

Lord Geoffrey is entranced at first sight of the Anglo-Saxon beauty and finds that one night in her arms is not nearly enough. But all he can offer the low-born Matilda is a life in the shadows—as his mistress.

Her head warring with her heart, Matilda resigns herself to her duty in a masquerade of a marriage. It’s a choice that could cost her life.

For the knight who first sought her hand is back with murder on his mind. Now it’s Geoff who’s faced with the ultimate choice: which is more precious…his estates or the love of the one woman who can heal his soul?


“Madness, my lord. Sheer madness.”

“Do you think I don’t know that?” the baron countered to his overseer, running his fingers through already tousled hair as he paced his bedchamber. He had argued with himself the whole way back to the manor, but no commonsense argument succeeded over his desperate need to hold this woman in his arms.

“You endanger your good standing with the villagers.”

“A risk I’m willing to take.”

The baron felt as grim as Voernulf looked.

“When I heard myself demanding first night rights, it was as if I were a different man. I couldn’t believe I said those words. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to take them back.”

“You risk too much for beauty. You’ve been passionate about women before only to lose interest,” Voernulf reminded him.

“None like this woman!”


YzhaBella (aka Kate) said...

Wonderful interview! thank you for sharing!

JoAnnAinsworth said...

Thanks, Kate. Still struggling on the breathing exercises and on editing in more depth. If I keep pushing on, I eventually resolve any problem. Ever the optimist.

Geewiz387 said...

I compeletly understand. I started writing about 15 years ago then put it down to pursue a career. I picked it back up a couple of years ago and have been writing ever since. I wish I had stuck with it years ago maybe I would have had an agent or publisher by now. Thanks for sharing with us. GEE

mariska said...

I love the Excerpt and interview !

Hi JoAnn, Nice to meet you. You are a new for me Author :)

- What's your favorite scene(s) on this book ?

uniquas at ymail dot com

JoAnnAinsworth said...

Sometimes you have to gain life experiences to have more depth to your characters, GEE. Perhaps, intuitively, you knew a career would give you more insight than staying locked in a room with a laptop. Keep focused on being published. It takes longer than you hope, but it comes.

JoAnnAinsworth said...

Thanks, Mariska. Matilda and Geoff become friends to the h/h in my romantic suspense, OUT OF THE DARK. I think you'd like that one, too. My favorite scene is the first love scene in the manor. I loved using the chamber as an image of entrapment and writing the interplay between resistance and surrender.