Our guest today is Joelle Charbonneau. Joelle lives near Chicago with her husband, two-year-old son and one cat. Although a storyteller at heart, Joelle has also performed in a variety of Operas, musical theatre and children's theatre productions. Joelle's first comedic mystery, Skating Around the Law will be released this fall by St. Martins. Joelle, what have you got for us today?

THE END IS JUST THE BEGINNING .When I first started writing, I did it for fun. I had no idea if I’d even get to THE END. Those words seemed so distant. I just focused on putting one page in front of the other and hoped that some day they would get me where I was going. Wherever that might be.

No one will ever read that first book,(and that is a really good thing), but I learned the value of getting to the end of a story. No matter how certain you are as a writer of where the journey is going, you never really know how it ends until you get there. At least, I don’t. THE END used to mean relief that I had scaled the mountain. Nowadays, the mountain is only the start of the journey. THE END is actually a beginning of sorts for me because that’s where the real fun starts.

Some writers get bored with a story once it unfolds on the page. Revisions and edits are up there with root canals and Chinese water torture. I must be a masochist. I love revising. Revising means I get to turn my story into a real book. I love looking at character development and questioning whether I’ve used the right words to describe the smell of a roller rink or the hat an ex-circus camel is wearing. It is only after I have the raw material of the full story that I can sculpt and chisel away at it and turn it into a finished product.

I just finished my most recent story this weekend. My heroine solved the murder, helped her friends and went through a lot of angst with family and her love interest. But was it the best story I could tell? Nah – but it will be. I’m going to tear my hair out analyzing sentence structure and chapter hooks and you know what – I’m going to love every agonizing moment of it. I’m nuts. That’s probably why I’m a writer. ........

"Is something wrong, Brittany?"

Brittany's black-lined eyes shifted toward the bathrooms behind us. "I think someone is
sick or something in the girl's bathroom."

I rolled my eyes. Of course someone was sick. Eating junk food and then racing around
in a circle was enough to make any hyperactive kid puke.

"Okay." I gave the girl a smile. "I'll go take a look."

I dodged a few kids zooming toward the refreshment area and pushed the girl's bathroom
door open. Except for the music, everything seemed quiet.

The bathroom smelled of Pine-Sol and hand soap. My nose didn't detect any vomit.
Hopeful that Brittany was mistaken, I braced myself for previously chewed pizza and began
pushing open the stall doors. Nothing. Next one. Nothing. I reached the handicapped stall.

Four down. So far so good.

I gave the door a nudge, peered in, and almost passed out. My knees trembled. My
stomach did a triple gainer, and I leaned against the stall door for support. On the stall floor, not
moving, was handy Mack. His arms were wrapped around the toilet tank. And his head...well I
think he put his head in and shook it all about. His face was somewhere below the water level
and he wasn't moving. Both were very bad.

I heard the door swing open behind me. The click of heels was followed by a loud "tsk."
Doreen's voice chirped, "Damn, Rebecca. This is going to kill the rink's market value for sure."
To learn more, visit Joelle at her website


  1. Mary Marvella // January 20, 2010 at 12:46 AM  

    Thanks for being our guest,Joelle!

  2. Joelle Charbonneau // January 20, 2010 at 9:43 AM  

    Thanks for having me as a guest. It's fun to be able to wear my fuzzy slippers in public.

  3. June // January 20, 2010 at 10:13 AM  

    Hey Joelle,

    Congrats! I Can't wait for the book to come out!

    I HATE revising, you are so lucky you enjoy it!! (LOL)

    Great blog.


  4. Joelle Charbonneau // January 20, 2010 at 10:25 AM  

    Hey June,

    Thanks for stopping by! It's nice to see a friend and favorite writer.

    I used to hate revising, too. But the voice teacher in me decided that I was looking at it all wrong. Getting the story down is much like learning a song. You learn the notes and the words first - then you add the emotion and the dynamics to make it the best it can be. Now when I'm writing, the first draft is me learning my notes. Then I make it sing. (At least I try.)

  5. Debra St. John // January 20, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

    Hey Joelle,

    I'm with you. I don't mind revising...I feel like I can really make my characters and story come to life on those second, third, fourth times through!

    Can't wait for your book in the fall! Hope to see you soon.

  6. Judy // January 20, 2010 at 11:20 AM  

    Hi, Joelle! thanks for being here. I like revising, too, though I shudder at some of my first draft stuff. I wrote that? Ugh....But it's fun to shape it up. Your book is very intriguing...Should be fun to read!!

  7. Sophie Littlefield // January 20, 2010 at 12:03 PM  

    hi joelle! i'm looking forward to your debut. I've been a revisions-hater for a little too long. I'm declaring '10 the year I make my peace with them. Am thinking about hiring a mediator to kick things off.

    oh, and eating junk food and running around in circles is how i get my exercise! :)

  8. Anonymous // January 20, 2010 at 12:09 PM  

    Joelle, thanks for visiting the Pink Fuzzies and for the great job you do for KOD with the Daphne contest. Congrats on the new book coming out this fall. Wow, you've just finished book three, you're on a roll girl.

    Melba Moon
    President-Elect KOD

  9. Marilyn Brant // January 20, 2010 at 12:17 PM  

    Joelle, great post! I'm like you in that I consider "revising" my good friend ;). There's so much that needs to happen in a novel--and on so many levels--I know I'd be afraid to write that first draft if I thought it had to be perfect. Really looking forward to your debut!!

  10. Steve Weddle // January 20, 2010 at 12:21 PM  

    Nice stuff.

    The book is GREAT, GREAT, GREAT, of course. Can't wait until everyone gets a chance to read it.

    Looking forward to the next two, as well.

  11. Joelle Charboneau // January 20, 2010 at 12:32 PM  

    Hi Debra and Judy and Marilyn! I'm glad I'm not the only nut who likes revising. Hey does anyone else have their husband or significant other reading their work after you are done revising...mine does and he's my hardest critic. That always makes the second revision really interesting.

    Sophie - how wonderful to see you here. Congratuations on your Edgar Nomination for best first book. If you guys haven't read her stuff, make sure to check it out. You'll love it. I'm already tapping my foot with impatience waiting for the next one to hit the shelves. June can't come soon enough.

    And Steve - you are the best cheerleader a writer can ask for....and you are a fabulous writer yourself. Everyone should check out Steve's blog for some interesting posts. http://steveweddle.squarespace.com/

  12. Pamela Varnado // January 20, 2010 at 1:16 PM  

    Congratulations on your sale. I can't wait to get that phone call from an editor. I'm not fond of editing, by the time I finish a book it has usually been through so many incarnations that I tend to be sick of it. Do you have any ideas how I can keep the excitement alive?

  13. Chris // January 20, 2010 at 1:18 PM  

    Thanks for the heads-up about this site, Joelle. Had never seen it before!

    I'm looking forward to your book. I have fond memories of the late, great roller rink here in town. That was actually the first place I ever saw a real, live ROCK BAND! The rest is, as they say, history.

  14. Joelle Charbonneau // January 20, 2010 at 1:50 PM  

    Hi Pam! I look forward to hearing about you getting THE CALL. Funny, but years ago when I started writing, I would revise while I was still getting the story on paper. I found that it took me longer to write the story because I had trouble shifting from editing mode to writing mode and then back. I function best when I am in one gear for a while. By the time I get to THE END, I'm excited to go back to the beginning because it has been a long time since I've written it. Every page becomes a surprise.

    I've also found that I have allowed myself to laugh more at the bad writing moments in my early drafts....and that was hard. I used to shake my head and wonder why I couldn't tell how bad it was the first time. But I now understand that all writers have those moments, which actually makes me part of a fabulous and very exciting club. And if they can get through revisions without losing confidence, so can I.

    Hey Chris...so are you wearing fuzzy slippers for this occassion. Welcome to the site and thanks for all your support. My mother was a world champion roller skater so I grew up in rinks. LIke you, I have lots of fond memories. I wish you lived around the corner so you can come to the release party at my local rink.

  15. Barbara Monajem // January 20, 2010 at 2:07 PM  

    Hi, Joelle!! (waving furiously)

    I loved your excerpt. And like you, I love revisions. The first drafts are the hardest -- it's like pulling absolutely nothing out of the ether and making it into a solid something. The initial draft is always either too sparse or (more likely) too wordy. Sometimes it's just dialogue, and I have to go back to rearrange the beats and put in the description, action, etc. But I love it, because that's when the real story starts to take shape.

    Congrats on your upcoming release...!

  16. Dorothy // January 20, 2010 at 3:06 PM  

    Hi Joelle
    I love your humor! As for editing, I now call it 'layering'. At first I hated rewriting and layering, but now I like it. Whoa!
    I can't skate worth a lick and I have a pair of eighty dollar skates and several lessons to prove it, but your book is on my list when it comes out.

  17. Joelle Charbonneau // January 20, 2010 at 3:24 PM  

    Hi Barbara! (I'm hopping up and down and waving back!) I'm looking forward to your April Release - Sunrise in the Garden of Good and Evil! April can't come fast enough for me!

    And Dorothy, I like your term of layering. I tend to think of it as being obnoxiously picky. Yours sounds WAY better!

  18. Scarlet Pumpernickel // January 20, 2010 at 4:47 PM  

    Joelle, thanks for blogging with the pink fuzzies! We hope you will become a regular fuzzy and blog with us often. With the third ms done and set for revision, what are you looking toward for number four? Are the first three stand alones or series? MM cracks a mean whip and I'm beginning to understand the revision/layering process much better. Can't say I love it, but I'm tolerating it much better.

  19. Anonymous // January 20, 2010 at 4:57 PM  

    Hi Joelle,

    Loved the excerpt!

    Nothing like finding someone dead in the toilet to bring down your property values :)

    Can't wait to read the whole book.

    Deb Gross

  20. Joelle Charbonneau // January 20, 2010 at 5:27 PM  

    Hi Scarlet. I'm thrilled to be here and am willing to talk writing with you guys any time!

    Each book in the series is designed to stand on its own. Each has its own mystery. However, since these books are part of a mystery series, they each contain characters who have longterm story arcs.

    Hmmm..what's next? Well I do have an idea for book four, but I plan on writing a stand alone before I get to that one. However, before anything gets written on either of those, I will be revising, revising, revising.

    Deb - Thanks for stopping by! Yeah - dead bodies in toilets do bad things for resale value. Go fig!

  21. Mona Risk // January 20, 2010 at 5:40 PM  

    Hello Joelle. I love your name and I absolutly love your excerpt. You sure know the value of a great hook. I can't wait to read the rest. Like you, I love revisions. They allow me to spend more time with my characters. It's the first draft that saps my energy.

  22. Beth Trissel // January 20, 2010 at 6:06 PM  

    Welcome to the Fuzzies, Joelle. I enjoyed learning more about you. Like you I love edits and polishing. :)

  23. Joelle Charbonneau // January 20, 2010 at 6:36 PM  

    Hi Mona - Thanks for the welcome. Funny that mention hooks. I love them and hate them. Turns out, I can't write a chapter until I know what the hook to the chapter is. It helps keep my writing focused, but it drives me crazy when I haven't a clue where I'm going.

    And Beth, thanks for the welcome. I have had a great time visiting the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers.

  24. Nightingale // January 20, 2010 at 7:47 PM  

    I do like the white-hot of creation, but I'm learning to "like" revisions. Thanks for being with us. Enjoyed your excerpt!

  25. Joanne // January 20, 2010 at 7:51 PM  

    Welcome, Joelle, to the Pink Fuzzies. Wonderful post. I love revising, also.

  26. Mary Marvella // January 20, 2010 at 9:11 PM  

    Guests are always welcome here! Welcome, June, Debra, Sophie, Marilyn, Steve, Chris, Dorothy, and Deb.
    Feel free to hang around here. Mama Mary

  27. Joelle Charbonneau // January 20, 2010 at 11:09 PM  

    Nightingale and Joanne - thanks for stopping by and saying hello. It has been wonderful to meet the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers. Thanks for making me feel so at home. You guys are great.

  28. Nancy J. Parra // January 20, 2010 at 11:30 PM  

    Hi Joelle,

    You know what I think of revisions-lol-I like them. cough, cough.

    Love this book! Can't wait to buy a copy for my favorites shelf. Cheers!

  29. Joelle Charbonneau // January 20, 2010 at 11:51 PM  

    Hi Nancy! Thanks for taking time from your book release schedule to stop by. BTW - DREAM MAN was fabulous!

  30. Mary Ricksen // January 21, 2010 at 2:34 PM  

    That was a great blog Jolie. Wouldn't it be great if they printed it after our first draft. Oh to be that good!
    Thanks for blogging with us.
    Mary Ricksen

  31. Morgan Mandel // January 21, 2010 at 6:46 PM  

    I think I fall in that crazy category also. I'm relieved when I reach the end, but I enjoy the tweaking process the best.

    But when it comes to proofreading for extra words, letters, those nitpicking things, I'm not too happy.

    Morgan Mandel