Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Summer Spotlight: John W. Howell

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Thank you, Jill for having me on your post today. I believe this idea of setting time aside for guest posts is terrific. I think before I start in on the questions, it might be a good idea to tell your readers a little about myself so they will have some context as to why some of my answers are a little off beat.

I was born in Detroit Michigan and pretty much was on my own from my eighteenth birthday on. I graduated from Michigan State University and went to work for a large consumer packaged goods company. From that beginning, I pretty much stayed close to the consumer business. After about forty-five years as a prisoner of organized commerce, I made a break for it and succeeded in escaping. During the previous ten years before liberty I struggled with writing a novel and it eventually grew to over 100,000 words. I finally printed it off the computer for the purposes of an edit. After about fifty pages I realized it was a piece of crap and it is currently holding the laundry room door open. (Nice and heavy)

I don’t think the ten years were wasted since the time gave me the experience of doing really mediocre work. I found it impossible to write and work full time as well. I gave up writing until I gave up work. I started writing full time in 2012 and finished my first novel titled My GRL in my grlAugust of that year. I did a round of queries and was picked up by Martin Sisters Publishing. My GRL was published in December of 2013. I also started my blog on WordPress at johnwhowell.com. My next novel is a sequel to My GRL and is temporarily titled His Revenge. The manuscript was submitted to the publisher and I am waiting on news of publication. In the meantime, I am working on the third book in the series and plan to have the first draft finished by September of this year.

So that is a little about me. Jill has asked some interesting questions and here are my responses:

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

I would love to meet Kurt Vonnegut. I have loved all his books and would want to ask him several questions about his process. They wouldn’t be deep intellectual questions, but more like: How do you start your day? What was your most difficult story to write and why? Where is the most productive place to write? How long does it take to get a first rough draft that is satisfactory? How much editing do you do on your own and how much does the editor do? What is the dumbest thing said to you by a reader, critic, or educator. What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantster?
What do you do for fun? I would also be up for a couple of drinks and a few smokes. I can imagine we would be pretty loose after a while. I would keep asking him questions until he would finally tire of giving answers. All the while, I would hope he would wonder why I keep asking writer type questions. He would finally ask and then I could tell him I am a writer too. He would want to know what I write and I would tell him all about my book. If I’m lucky he will still be awake as I finish my synopsis.

What celebrity do you get mistaken for?

I am never mistaken for a specific celebrity, but constantly am asked by people if they know me. I think I have one of those faces that could be mistaken for everyone and no one. I should have gone to work for the CIA since everyone would think they know me, but won’t know from where. I would have instant street cred no matter where I was. Think Russia. All I would have to do is stand around with a shot of vodka and answer “Da” to any question. It would be assumed, I was who the person asking the question thought I was, and that would be it. The last time I was caught in the doctor’s waiting room with a guy who said he recognized me from TV. When I told him I don’t do TV, he asked about places I’ve been and companies I worked. He even asked if I had played Las Vegas. We did not have anything in common. He left to see the doctor still mystified as to why he thought he knew me. I wanted to say my picture is in the Post-Office, but held my tongue in case he took me serious. I never mentioned my book since I was pretty sure he would not have read it. Besides I hate the picture on the back cover. It looks just like me.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I think it would be really useful if I could learn to type using more than two fingers. I can’t imagine the output produced if I could engage the other eight digits in a more helpful role in producing words. Those guys just loaf along and take credit for all the stuff that rolls off the two who carry the load. I have watched others type using both hands and it not only looks cool, but the keyboard sings like a piano. Whoa. Now there is another thing that would be useful to learn. Picture walking into a grand salon and sitting down at the Steinway. The next thing you realize you are playing Rhapsody in Blue and a crowd has begun to form. How much easier would that be to get attention? I would say a heck of a lot easier than writing a book and doing it with two fingers yet. Speaking of attention, how about learning to play the banjo. Everyone loves the banjo and the song She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain. You could just open up your banjo case and start that picky picky pick pick banjo music and before long you would have a crowd. You could even get some guy with a guitar and the two of you could do the Guitar Duel from Deliverance. Speaking of Deliverance how about learning to shoot with a bow and arrow. Imagine if you will, walking around with a quiver of arrows and an actual bow. You could dress up like Burt Reynolds and takeout anyone who makes you squeal like a pig. Speaking of pig, I would like to learn how to make tender pork chops. I have tried a brine, quick cook, slow cook, grill, bake, you name it. Always dry and tough. Okay, that’s my choice for this question. Learn to make great pork chops.

If you could go back in time to change one thing what would it be?

I would go back to the time when Microsoft and Apple stock were selling for about fifteen dollars a share. The change I would make would be to ignore the business advice given at the time, which predicted the failure of the two companies, and buy at least a thousand shares of each. I also would have bought one share of Berkshire Hathaway at one thousand dollars. My final change would be to sneak into the editorial offices of the New Yorker and pullout one of the short stories I have written and place it in the “to be published file.” I figure that if the New Yorker published one of my stories back when Apple was Fifteen bucks a share there would be no way I would have to work like a mule trying to get noticed in the publishing world today. If nothing else I could always put New Yorker contributor on agent query letters which just smells of easy money to an agent. Don’t get me wrong. I am published by a nice indie publisher, but all I’m saying is it would be nice to have Doubleday on my team.

What do you think the greatest invention has been?

The greatest invention has to be the corkscrew. I cannot imagine trying to secure my daily ration of wine without a corkscrew. Imagine the chunks of cork in the bottle if a knife was used. Even worse would be the slivers of glass if it was necessary to break off the top of the bottle. I’ll bet the guy who invented the wine bottle and decided to use cork as the sealer was sure happy the corkscrew came along. I’m pretty sure he got tired of all the complaints about glass and cork in the wine. I have to say the second greatest is the wine glass. I wonder how it would feel to either drink the wine directly from the bottle or be forced to drink it out of a tin cup. Imagine some effete wine connoisseur running his nose over a tin cup and then trying to describe the bouquet as “fruity with a hint of metallic essence.” All of us are spared that vision with the advent of the wine glass.

Thanks John for those interesting answers. John’s book My GRL can be found in Print on Amazon and in e-book format just about everywhere else. Here are the links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

Up next week, it’s Kate Crimmins in the spotlight!

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, published by Harlequin Love Inspired released on February 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

78 thoughts on “Summer Spotlight: John W. Howell

  1. I’m never mistaken for a celebrity either. But people think I look familiar. Nice to meet you and good luck with your series!

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  2. John, I love your answers! I love how your mind works 🙂 Kurt Vonnegut would have enjoyed your company. And, yes, thank goodness for the corkscrew 😉
    Thanks, Jill, for hosting John. Happy Friday y’all!

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  3. John, it’s been a real pleasure to read your post today. You had me laughing more than once, and I love the way your mind works! I couldn’t live without the corkscrew either, but I’ve never given the gadget itself any thought.

    What struck me most was your attitude toward the ten years you struggled to write your novel. Time invested in writing is never a waste, even if the output is a load of garbage. You have to write the crap before you can get to the good stuff. I’m intrigued by the sounds of My GRL, so I’m going to check it out. Thanks, Jill, for hosting another fascinating blogger!

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    • Gwen, Thank you for the nice words. The one nice thing about making mistakes is you tend to learn more than by doing things right. Of course doing thngs right all the time would be a welcome change for us all. LOL

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      • Hi Gwen! Happy Friday! Of course, when you’re on summer break, it’s always Friday. 🙂
        I hope you’re enjoying the spotlight posts as much as I am. I’ve learned so many unusual things about everyone.
        As for John, he’s got a great sense of humor…who would have thought with that serious photo. 🙂

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  4. Ha! I’m picturing you shooting the breeze with Kurt Vonnegut or slipping into the New Yorker office. 🙂
    I’ve seen great reviews of your book. Congratulations! I’m inspired also by your persistence in working on your craft. That’s great!
    Will also have to read My GRL.

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    • Thank you. One thing I have learned is to keep trying no matter the result. Not trying only guarantees that you’ll be stuck with that result for a long time. Thanks again.

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      • Hi Linda! Funny, John’s comment sort of mirrored your recent post…keep trying. I’ve got GRL on my TBR list. There are so many great books out there, but never enough time to read all of them.
        Enjoy your weekend, my friend!

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  5. Great to meet you John, I really enjoyed reading about your writing journey and congratulations on the publication of your first novel! You have a great way with words, love your succinct way of putting things. You can’t have the corkscrew without the wine glass now can you? They sort of go hand in hand, and make for a much better tasting experience, I agree 😉 Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing…but let’s hope that the best is yet to come and I wish you every success with publication of His Revenge 🙂 I will certainly be over to your blog and will also check out My GRL. All the best – Sherri 🙂

    Thanks for another great Summer Spotlight Jill and introducing us to John. Will catch up with you before signing off 🙂 xoxoxo

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  6. I am so with you on the stocks thing. Wish I would have done the same thing. A fun read!

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  7. Reblogged this on Fiction Favorites and commented:
    A guest post on Jill Weatherholt’s Summer Spotlight series. Thank you Jill for having me it was so much fun.

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  8. Nicely done! My compliments to you both…all the best. My best, John. My best, Jill.

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  9. John: I love how you bring fantasies to a conclusion. Like you did with wanting to meet Kurt Vonnegut. So detailed, as if you might be able to manifest some of these fantasies someday into reality if you keep going this way. Also the waiting room story. Very funny. I love it. I wish all people were carrying around the same sense of humor and outlook that you have. It would be a very funny, creative and enjoyable place, this world. BTW, thank you for following my blog too!

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  10. Good luck learning to type, to play the piano, to play the banjo, to sing duets with Burt Reynolds, and to master the art of cooking pork.

    Since the advent of boxed wine, my corkscrew has become irrelevant, with a resultant loss of self esttem. 😎

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  11. Coming from a long line of winos and a family that once owned vineyards in the Rhine area of Germany, I loved the corkscrew response. Yes, absolutely. And Vonnegut. How I used to idolize him. He was the only writer I really really loved when I was a teen. Loved reading your answers, John.

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  12. Great interview, John and Jill! 🙂

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  13. So nice to read about you John. I absolutely adore your sense of humor, can’t live without it…can we? The corkscrew is so necessary for all of us who wish, as well, that we had purchased those stocks, too! So Cheers to hindsight, corkscrews, and to the publication of your book! All the best! ~Karen~

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  14. It’s a pleasure to meet a fellow Detroiter (Detroitonian?), John! I am delighted that you escaped corporate confinement so you could join the rest of us crazies! By the way, if your brine isn’t working on the pork, it’s either because you didn’t brine it long enough or (more likely) you are overcooking it. Try lower heat longer. Please excuse the unsolicited advice – I’m a recent brine-convert and I’m currently a tad obsessed with the process!

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  15. Don’t I know you from somewhere? 🙂 🙂 Sorry, John- couldn’t resist! It must be because you have such a friendly face.
    Sounds like you know where you’re going and you’ve got it all nicely sewn up. Happy writing!

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  16. Love your train of thought responses to the questions! Feel sure I’ve met you somewhere before, but no idea where 🙂 Congrats on the publication too, Indie or not it is still published! I enjoyed reading your life over view too – I love being able to see the ‘big picture’ and all those years are never entirely wasted because as you noted, we learn stuff that is invaluable for the next phase 🙂

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  17. Well John, you are a wonderful representation of stick-to-it-iveness. Thank you for reminding me us that the talent may be there, but shining it takes time.

    As for tender pork chops? That’s tough (pun intended)… I find we have a tendency to overcook them because no one wants to eat raw pork. If you find the trick, let us know!

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    • Hi Phillip! You got that right about raw pork…yuck! I stay away from anything raw, except veggies. I hope you’re having a great weekend and your wife is feeling well. You’re getting closer. 🙂

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  18. Nice to meet you John, had a chuckle at some of your answers here. Thanks Jill for introducing us to another intriguing writer.

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  19. I was going to ask how you finished your first novel in less than a year. Then I read your answers to Jill’s questions, and I think I understand how imaginative and quick thinking (and funny) you are. Someone why can think of that many questions to ask Kurt Vonnegut must be full of ideas for a novel.

    It was great meeting you. And your novel definitely sounds worth looking into. Great cover, by the way.

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  20. If someone showed me your picture and asked me what I thought you did, I’d say “writer.” Writers always have that penetrating stare, like they’ve seen the future and know better than to tell you what happens in it.

    As a three-finger typist, I say stick with two, The third finger is rubbish and always hits the wrong key, though it’s sometimes useful for “shift.”

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    • Hi Eric! Hum…if I didn’t know what you did for a living, I wonder what I would guess by looking at your picture. 🙂
      Now I’m curious which three fingers you’re using…I’ve never seen that. Enjoy your weekend!

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  21. Jill, another wonderful spotlight post! John, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you, and if I could teach you to use more than two fingers to type, I would. But then it might change you the wonderful way you think and write!

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  22. I feel John has the man next door look, so he would be more familiar, yet not compared to famous people. I have that ability to have people ask me the same question, “Do I know you?” or “Did you grow up in. . .?” I liked that you were able to give up the first novel, that is an awesome lesson!
    Jill, I have enjoyed very author and will try to take some of the books and read them in the Winter months. I am a ‘light weight’ skimmer of books in the summer. Just being honest, so your authors won’t wonder why I am not purchasing their books! I will probably take them out of the library. Horrors! I know this is hard on writers, my Dad was one who did not have more than 1000 sold, I think!
    Anyway, “My GRL” sounds like a very interesting topic and read. I also liked several of Kurt Vonnegut’s books, he is one that I forget should be on my list of people I wish I could know better. Take care, John! Wishing you continued good luck in publishing and creating! Smiles, Robin

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  23. Another great post, Jill! I love meeting all these writers. John’s answers are interesting and I was sure I’d seen him somewhere before (LOL). I just realised after reading this that I type with three fingers (but I’m pretty fast!) 😉

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    • Thanks, Dianne! Interesting that you type with three fingers also. I must have had a drill sergeant typing teacher in high school because all of my fingers remain on the “home row” keys. 🙂

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  24. Great to meet you John 🙂 loved your answers, LOL. Congratulations on the publication of your novel! Will be checking it out. A while back I bought the biggest wine glass I could find. I need both hands to hold it upright but at least I get to drink that all important one glass of red wine every evening. Apparently one glass is all you need to get the ‘health benefits’. Did you ever watch the “X-files” there’s this guy in it (forget his name) – a secret agent of course – who always had a cigarette in his hand, I think you look a little like him 😉

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    • Hi Yolanda! Thanks for coming over and reading John’s spotlight. I never watched the “X-files” but now I’m curious to see this guy. Have a great week! You might still be on vacation. 🙂

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      • yup if memory serves, he showed up in almost every episode of the last season – sadly I don’t recall his name in the show….if you spot him you will know immediately why I say there is a resemblance. Anyway leaving this week so I won’t be ‘in the blogosphere’ for a couple of days. Have a wonderful week Jill 🙂 (ps. loving this summer spotlight series of yours)

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      • I’m glad you’re enjoying the series, Yolanda, I am too! Have a great trip and be safe! xo

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  25. Nice to meet you John W. Howell! I will have to check out your novel. I am so with you on your last q&a.. wine time, 4pm in Missouri! Great interview Jill!

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  26. Thanks for sharing about yourself, John. I laughed at your novel holding open the laundry room door. My first novel was printed out in dot matrix and collecting dust in a closet. It’s terrible. Don’t know why I keep it. Sounds exciting about your first novel. Congratulations.

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  27. John you give me hope as a two-fingered-typist. Reading your long road to writing your first book gives me hope to keep at it and at least if I fail I can pass it off as a door stopper. Thanks for sharing your world and much success on the next level of your journey. Kath.

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