I was born in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, when it was truly paradise. I married at eighteen, and had three children.
Education has always been important to me, and at age 29 I returned to college and obtained a BA degree in History. Later, I obtained a Master Degree in Counseling. My careers, however, have been in neither of these fields.
In 1964 we returned to St. Thomas, where I began a career as Director of the Division of Beautification for the Virgin Islands Government. I am a self-starter, and when I want to learn something, I set about doing so. I studied tropical horticulture by correspondence and turned to the park systems in Miami and Miami Beach for information and guidance. The Beautification Program in the islands was hugely successful, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
We moved to Boca Raton, Florida in 1973 and my career changed paths. I worked for the a small Senior Center that later became the Mae Volen Senior Center, where initially I coordinated volunteers, then developed (people) programs. A Friendly Visitor program for volunteers to visit homebound elderly proved to be of great value to all involved, and I organized and ran Horizons Unlimited Lifetime Learning Program, classes of all kinds for active retirees.
Becoming a writer never crossed my mind until 1989 when another counselor and I became I aware that many women lived in sexless (celibate) marriages. The result of our research was a book, Celibate Wives, Breaking the Silence. Neither of us were writers, so we plunged in, took classes, attended Writers’ Conferences and just did it. Celibate Wives: Breaking the Silence was published in 1992. Having been bitten by the writing bug, I continued writing, this time fiction, novels, stories about women. I have always preferred the country to the hum of cities, and in 1999 my husband and I again picked up our roots and moved to Barnardsville, NC, a small rural community 20 minutes north of Asheville, NC., where we live with our four dogs.
The idea for The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love came to me while taking a bath. I went to my computer and began to write. I had no plot, had no idea who these ladies were or where the story was going. Each time I hit a roadblock, I soaked in my tub and the next chapter, plot twist, or character came. Today there are eight books in the ladies of Covington Series and two stand-alone novels, as well as three self-published books about the Virgin Islands. I am grateful for this wonderful, creative late-life career. I was sixty when I began to write about the ladies.
I have been blessed to receive statewide publicity when I was interviewed on TV by D.G. Martin for Book Watch, a weekly author interview show. National publicity came when The Christian Science Monitor interviewed me about my books and an article about my work and house sharing, for which my ladies are nationally known, in the 2007 July/August issue of the AARP Magazine brought my work into the homes of millions of readers.
Regionally, the November/December 2007 issue of Alabama’s Southern Lady Magazine listed A Covington Christmas among the most noteworthy reads for the holidays and in 2007, North Carolina’s premier Southern Living Magazine included A Covington Christmas among their recommended holiday books.
It is a busy, productive life and I love it. I am grateful to all my readers. Thank you for being there, for reading my work.
Joan is Queen Mum of the Mountain Word Sprites Chapter of the Red Hat Society in Asheville, NC.
Read Joan's September 03 interview with the National Association of Women Writers.
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