“Rose Colored Glasses” A Memoir of Love, Loss and Hope is my debut book.
Life was the best it could be for Jo Ann Simon. She was happily divorced, with a wonderful job, two children and a full enjoyable life. Then she met Tom. He said when he first saw her that he would spend the rest of his life with her. To her surprise, he actually did. Jo Ann shares their love story—one many can only imagine in movies—living their lives to the fullest until one tick bite changed the course of their dream world forever.
Choosing to look up instead of down, Jo Ann combines a heartwarming journey through love, medical mysteries, and how to maintain hope and positivity in the face of impending death. Now alone, Jo Ann had to learn to cope with loss, grief and healing the spirit. Set on Block Island, Rhode Island over Labor Day weekend 103 days after Tom passed, Jo Ann traveled there to forget, but instead, she relieved all the memories: the good times, the searing doubts, impossible challenges, the too-rapid changes, illness, doctors, treatments, hospitals and eventually, Tom’s death. Jo Ann’s is a story of love and how to deal with end of life, of how to carry on with strength, all the while seeing life through optimistic rose colored glasses.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am a corporate executive, a lifelong nutmegger, living in various locations in the state of Connecticut, as well as a constant traveler, exploring the world including my favorite country, Italy even though I am half Irish and half Italian. I love spending time with family, friends and eight grandchildren. My day job is running an Electronics Contract Manufacturing Company. Painting fine art, gardening, cooking and writing fill in the blanks of my life. Palm trees are essential in my personal landscape with beaches to match.
Rose Colored Glasses is my first writing endeavor and I love the process of writing, learning and meeting people in this publishing world. It is very exciting to me.
What inspired you to write this book?
I started writing to not forget the precious moments and years that I had shared with my husband Tom. I knew that as time went by I would forget. The writing calmed me and helped me to understand what really happened in our short time together. How we fell in love, how we did not want to believe that a death sentence was delivered, and how we made the most of every single day. I have always been a positive person, but writing everything down made me realize that I was positive in such a crazy way to think I could find a cure, and save my love.
The more I wrote, the more it helped me to understand and to accept what happened. It also made me realize that if this journey helped me, it could help other people going through same or similar circumstances. That’s when I decided to get serious about writing to publish. That realization caused me to take writing lessons, attend writing conferences, and writers group meetings to learn as much as I could about this writing and publishing process.
How did you celebrate when you finished writing the book? When it was published?
I didn’t think I would ever finish. The first time I finished, I realized that I needed a professional editor; that took an additional six months. Then, I thought I was finished, celebrated with a PC (proper cocktail) and special dinner. Next came the publishing process. I started with an agent……that was a no go because it was too long a process, and I did not feel the confidence in my story. Then thought I would self publish, but that was a lonely road and I needed a community. I finally submitted to five publishers that did not require an agent and all five wanted my book. Wow! I finally signed with R.L. Marker an imprint of WiDo Publishing, and have been very happy that I did.
That brought another round of editing! I’m happy to report that from signing to publishing took mine months, which is an amazing amount of time to accomplish that. And yes, it was just like making a baby! I started writing 3 years prior.
Champagne was the celebration of choice at publishing time.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I am a creative person by nature. I learned to be an artist many years ago and have paintings sold around the world. I had a blog “Jo Ann Simon A Painting A Day” which is still active, but I have not posted for a long time due to Tom’s illness and writing a book. I wrote there about my work and appreciated that process. Writing is another creative form of art. I didn’t intend to become a writer, but when I started doing it, I loved it. It filled my spare time and helped to make the pain go away in a very creative way.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I’m a plotter. I like to be organized and always make lists of things to do, or how to tackle a project. This story was easy to outline from the start because I lived it. I think a fiction would be harder to do because you need to create the scenarios. My storyline and synopsis did not change much in the end. We moved some chapters around, but the essence was the same.
Do you have a daily or weekly writing schedule, or do you write only when you are inspired? How many words or pages do you complete in a typical day?
Since I work full time, and have other obligations, my writing is hit or miss. It is impossible to have a routine schedule. If I was not working, I would start every day writing. My mind works best at the beginning or end of the day. I also set goals for myself to accomplish XYZ by a certain day. That gives me incentive to make it happen.
How many drafts did you write before publishing your most recent book?
Too many to count! I can remember changing drafts on a weekly/monthly basis. I was part of writing critique groups that gave me great feedback, and created more editing. There were a couple of times along the way that I wanted to just quit out of frustration, but then I would received some positive feedback and it kept me going.
When I finished the first version, I had books printed and recruited Beta Readers. This was an amazing way to get great feedback. I was back to the drawing board, and then another round to decide what changes to incorporate or not. I always felt strongly about certain things and would not always change via the feedback, but I appreciated what people had to say.
What software do you use to write? Or do you prefer to write longhand or dictate your work? What made you choose the method you use?
I use Microsoft Word. I am a fast typist, and it gives me the freedom to work on any equipment, wherever I am.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would set more realistic goals. I would definitely be part of a writing critique group and utilize Beta Readers. I look forward to writing my next book.
Do you read reviews?
Yes, I love to read reviews and hear what people think, no matter what they have to say. You don’t know how people are going to receive your work and the reviews give you a measure of what you did accomplish.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Research, research, research! Learn everything there is to know about the writing/publishing industry. Rub elbows with fellow writers, published or not and encourage each other. Meet and talk with Agents and Editors of Publishers. This is a very special group of individuals that are willing to help, nurture, support, and critique with passion. When it comes to publishing, this world is changing every day. There are so many more options today, especially for new authors. Take advantage of what is offered, but beware of companies that do not have a good track record. Do your diligence and check out the companies that you are dealing with.
Do you have friends who are writers? How do you help each other to become better writers?
Yes, that is the best part of becoming a writer. We read our work to each other, exchange ideas, encourage each other, share ideas on future writing, offer critiques, travel to publishing events together. It is a wonderful friendship to have.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
My book will appeal to anyone, any age dealing with an end of life disease who is a caretaker or patient. It is also a love story, so romance readers would enjoy it as well. Anyone interested in Health and Wellness, baby boomer and senior interest, as well as inspirational positive thinking.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?