Friday, June 08, 2007

BookEnds Talks to Joyce and Jim Lavene

Joyce and Jim Lavene
Poisoned Petals (Berkley Prime Crime) and Swapping Paint (Midnight Ink)
Pub date: May 2007
Agent: Jacky Sach

Click to Buy Poisoned Petals

Click to Buy Swapping Paint

Joyce and Jim Lavene are the authors of more than 40 novels in romance, mystery, and nonfiction. They live in North Carolina with their family, who puts up with trips to the mall to find murder weapons and new ways to poison people over Sunday buffet.

Awards: Three N.C. Press Awards

Author Web site:

BookEnds: Describe your books in 50 words or less.
Jim: Poisoned Petals – Charlotte, NC, botanist and garden shop owner Peggy Lee is back in her third book as she tries to find the truth in a twisted scheme of lies that leaves one man dead and his brother taking the blame.

Joyce: Swapping Paint - NASCAR meets Nick and Nora as race fans Ruby and Glad Wysznewski solve the first Stock Car Mystery at Lowe’s Motor Speedway when Ruby’s brother, a rookie driver, is accused of murder.

BookEnds: Do you have advice for writers?
Joyce and Jim: Be yourself.

Sometimes we wonder if writers SHOULD belong to writing groups before they’re published. Between critique groups that tell you what you’re writing doesn’t measure up to their standards and writing groups that tell you too much of what you CAN’T do, it’s a wonder any writer ever makes it past the rigid gates of other people’s personal opinions.

Certainly it’s good to know the basics of writing, but do we have to pigeonhole every bit of creativity until we are only left with homogenous stuff that reads like everyone else’s stuff because we are all TEACHING each other to write rather than FEELING what we SHOULD be writing?

Take some chances. Write things that may not be what other writers say are going to work. Put things the way you see them, NOT the way your critique group thinks they should be. Take some chances. Maybe you’ll get it published; maybe you won’t. But if you NEVER try, you won’t know.

Too many writers out there TONIGHT are ripping their work apart because a good friend, an editor, or critique partner told them their work wasn’t worth it. Who cares? Write it anyway! Step across the line. Make your mark. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Do it YOUR way! WRITERS REVOLT!

Feel free to ask Joyce and Jim questions in the comments section. They'll pop in during the day to answer them.

To learn more about Joyce and Jim, see Our Books at


Kimber Li said...

I've never read your books, but your advice totally rocks! So, now, I have to read your books too.
For the record, I've been very lucky with my Crunchy Critters. But, I've tended the wounds of many poor writers who barely survived the sharks.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I have to say that I've been really lucky with the group of writers that took me in as a newbie.
The forum at Romance Divas gave me a lot of the basic information I needed to improve my writing with none of the overly harsh critiques.
Through RD, I met all the crit partners I have and none of them have ever said my work wasn't worth it.
Luck, as well as hard work, plays a part in this biz. I got VERY lucky.
Here's a question for you. How do you divide up the work on the book? Collaboration scares me so I'm wondering how you do it.

elysabeth said...


I have met these folks twice - once at a Mystery Weekend put on by the county library in Greenwood, SC, when they gave a speech on common poison plants and ways to use the poisons to kill of characters - lol; and the second time they were guest speakers at our Sisters in Crime local chapter meeting. It was fun when they were here and we all asked that same question. I think they said they have computers in sepsarate rooms and are linked to each other so basically one will write something and the other will be adding to that or taking a different route with the thought - and they kind of banter back and forth on the linked system that they use - (I'm sure that the Lavenes can explain it better than I can) - but it was really cool to hear how they came up with the series.

They also have written for TV shows - like an episode of one of the very popular series on TV, and that was very interesting to hear about.

If you ever get a chance to meet this two with their group or individually, you will walk away in stitches (they are part of a group that is called the Carolina Conspiracy - traveling with the group helps cut the cost of travel; unfortunately the day they came to our meeting, the rest of their travelers were either ill or had family situations arise that needed their attention, so we only got the Lavenes but it was also fortunate for our group because we benefitted from the side we may not have gotten had they been with others (in that they would have talked more like a panel discussion of questions from us to the group and not really on their individual pieces) - so overall it was and has been quite a joy for me to meet the Lavenes.

Joyce is so funny and Jim is so laid back, but they complement each other well - so it works out that they write together.

Can't wait to see their responses - E :)

Anonymous said...

We appreciate all the kind remarks from everyone! It's true that some people are fortunate with the groups they belong to. That's great! Everyone should be aware that not every group is as good, but that shouldn't limit you.

As for how we write together; we DO have two monitors, one computer. Jim does most of the typing except when I have to snatch the keyboard from him!

We actually tell the story back and forth as we write (after a lengthy outline/synopsis) until we have a rough draft then do revisions. And revisions. And revisions. 8-))

But mostly, we have the best time in the world!! Between writing the books and going places to promote them, it is a blast!!

Thanks for writing!
Joyce and Jim

Anonymous said...

I have just completed my first novel. It was great fun writing and I feel that my heart and soul is revealed in the work! I am looking to be published & have learned thru Harper Collins and Nicholas sparks that I must have a literary agent. I live in Mooresville, NC and would be forever grateful to you, if you would kindly that a look at my manuscript. "Query letter" available upon request. I will be glad to meet with you if that is
an option.
Hope you have a great day!
Thank you in advance!
Very sincerely,

Paula S. Dietrich
Cell# (704)651-4136

Anonymous said...

I am currently living in Mooresville, NC now but I am from the coalfields of West Virginia.

I have published two books and my third book is in the works. I totally and completely agree with the comments on don't let people critize your work (friends, paid people or writers' groups) until you feel you are not capable of writing - you are. I went out on my own - I knew what I wanted - I wanted to document local/regional history of the coalfields from a local perspective -- verbatim, original dialect, black & white photos. I wanted to give the working class a voice through their own stories. Not many traditional publishers are interested in this from a first time author I was told but living on a remote mountaintop in West Virginia didn't give me many options as far as publishers and not many literary agents live in the area (none as far as I know). I continued on relying on my passion, instincts and gut feelings -- publishing what I want and how I wanted the books for my people and it has taken me to Japan, Hollywood (History Channel), New York,,, etc.

I am proud I have taken a chance, stayed the course. I now have 2 books on Appalachia that never would have happened had I waited for praise, acceptance from traditional publishers and enough money for an agent

You can do it. Just write down what it in your heart and soul.

Betty Dotson-Lewis
(B. L. Dotson-Lewis)- author
Appalachia: Spirit Triumphant
Sago Mine Disaster (Featured Story) Appalachian Coalfied Stories.

Forthcoming book: Sunny Side of Appalachia: Bluegrass Music from the Grassroots