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TeensLoads of Love, a Romantic Heart and an Antique Desk ... Meet Joanne Malley
Interview by Lynda Schab

FWM: Jo, I'm so honored to be the one to conduct this interview! You've become a friend of mine over the past year or so and I'm thrilled to be able to assist others in getting to know you too. So to begin, tell us a little about yourself and how you got started with your writing.

JOANNE: Iím really a simple girl at heart. Family, friends and quiet times at home are treasures to me. I love to cozy up, read a good book, or enjoy quiet time with my husband or children. But I do have another side that enjoys going out and mingling with friends over dinner or having time out with my husband. Actually, many of my articles and stories are based on one circumstance or another that highlights someone near and dear to me. If I am writing non-fiction, family members are often the focus for my serious writing and the target for my humorous ones!

The first time I took writing seriously was when I wrote my first "Challenge" entry back in May 2004. It was my only written and completed story ever (fictional), and to my surprise, it flowed rather easily. I couldnít help but think there must be something to this "writing" thing! Since then, Iíve been hooked. Writing and my computer have been inseparable ever since. Thank goodness my husband completely accepts my love affair with the written word. And, thank you, Grandfather, for the beautiful antique desk that helps inspire me to write.

FWM: Your writing includes insightful, sentimental stories, such as your featured piece, "With a Thankful Heart." But your knack for humor is also evident. You've written some laugh-out-loud articles and stories that could rival even the best humorists. Which style is your favorite to write and why?

JOANNE: Itís really a toss-up, since I think both styles serve their own purpose. I am sentimental and romantic at heart and the inspirational and heartwarming pieces come rather naturally to me. On the other hand, laughter IS the best medicine, and I love to tickle people's funny bones Ė mine included. If I had to answer which I prefer writing, I would say itís humor. Itís quite odd to me since Iím not very outwardly funny (although I do have a good sense of humor), but somehow my fingers tell me I am. Thereís so much sadness in this world. I feel itís a privilege to deliver a message of hope or a good dose of silly laughter in the form of comedy to anyone who can use itÖme included!

FWM: You also dabble in poetry. Has your love for poetry always been there, or is that something that developed later in life?

JOANNE: My love of poetry ignited when I was an adolescent at a time when adversity took a stronghold on me. I read Helen Steiner Rice at the time and she always made me feel hopeful. I found that either writing in my journal or creating poetry was a way to help heal my broken spirit. I still like to write poetry and enjoy expressing myself this way from time to time.

FWM: For the last year and a half, you've been an active member of FaithWriters, both in the writing challenge and on the message boards. How has the site helped you as a writer?

JOANNE: Yes, Iíve been active with FaithWriters from the git-go! If you read my very first challenge entry, youíll see that this site has definitely helped my writingÖbig time! I wasnít even sure how to write dialog properly or place quotation marks correctly. I would have to say feedback from my early entries helped me to focus on my weak areas and being faithful with writing a challenge entry almost every week for the past year and a half has helped to fine tune those weaknesses.

FWM: What are some of your interests outside of writing?

JOANNE: I have many interests outside of writing. I consider myself to be multi-faceted. I can enjoy a quiet walk on the beach by myself, or a roaring celebration with friends or family. I have a few hobbies, which include scrapbooking and interior decorating. I actually trained as an apprentice, took what I learned and showered my own home with my knowledge. I also love antiques and appreciate the ones that grace my home. Itís not uncommon for me to head out for an afternoon either by myself or with a friend to drum up some new find.

I also enjoy the time I spend volunteering. Currently, I devote time to a local food pantry and am a member of a Momís club in my town. We get together periodically to raise funds for charities or simply cook meals or shop for women in need.

In the past, I have worked answering on a hot-line for Postpartum disorders helping to minister to woman battling Postpartum depression. Since I was a sufferer myself with both children, I felt I was more than prepared and capable of sharing and helping. I also felt compelled to give back to others what a few special volunteers gave to me.

There are other things Iím looking into right now, but I havenít made any definite decisions regarding where my extra time will be spent. However, my soft spot is for womenís ministry and I feel thatís how Iím going to be led.

FWM: Since you experienced your own share of depression, and have a passion for women's ministry, have you ever considered using your writing talent to write a book, a series of articles, or poetry geared toward women who are struggling with this issue?

JOANNE: I sure have. At the current time, I don't have the desire to start or even finish a project like this. I still have children who require my time, and other interests besides writing that would interfere with the devotion that writing a book would entail. But, I've been tossing a few ideas around and when they're more concrete and I'm more mentally ready, I'll get serious about it. I don't think it'll solely focus on the depression issue, although it will be included. Since I like to minister to the total woman, that's exactly what I'll target in my book Ė the "total" woman. I smell something funny brewing!

FWM: You contribute to various web publications and pen a monthly column, "Minestrone Soup," in the magazine, Cross-Times. It's obvious that you're a very busy woman! How do you maintain a balance in your writing, volunteer work, church, and family time?

JOANNE: Well, before I became a reformed cleanaholic, I would maintain my balance somewhere between the state of sanity and insanity! Now, I actually have much more time on my hands. Iíve drastically reduced the daily use of cleaning agents and my toilet brush, and have replaced them with an occasional spit shine and a promise.

I use daily prayer and lists (which I sometimes forget to look at!) to balance any priorities that creep into my day and sometimes just go with the flow the best I can. Isnít that all any of us can do?

Volunteer work isnít every day and my husband and kids are gone for a good part of the day, so Iím a woman on a different mission daily. Family time is spent nightly and contains snippets of time with the kids. The weekends when my husband is not working are dedicated to the four of us, either to commitments we may already have or a fun afternoon out.

As far as my writing goes, I am usually most inspired in the evening hours, as I am a night owl by nature. Itís not uncommon for me to write late at night or be awakened by a thought and head straight for the computer. So, balancing time for writing isnít much of an issue. I try not to let it consume my day. I feel like Iím missing out on life too much if I do. However, when Iím out Iím always armed at least with a pen and any scrap of paper I can find in the "handbag abyss" so I can jot down ideas. Ladies room toilet tissue has worked great in the past. I never know where or when my next idea for a storyís going to hit!

FWM: Thanks so much, Jo, for taking the time to chat. Even though I've gotten to know you pretty well through FaithWriters, I learned a few new things about you myself today. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who will be keeping a sharp eye out for that humorous women's book you have brewing!
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