Joyce C. Ragland, RA for Missouri 2011- 2013, is the author of more than one hundred academic publications in the form of two books, articles, reports, conference proceedings, training modules, conference papers and more. She has been editor or reviewer of publications by Prentice-Hall, McGraw-Hill, Wiley and others. In addition to academic publications, she has published short stories and poetry. She has two nonfiction books published by Paperback Press, LLC: DREAD THE FRED (November, 2013) and THROWAWAY CHILD (June, 2014) and a work-in-progress, TRAVEL IN THE SIXTIES, for her charity, the Ella Ragland Art Company. She lives in Springfield, Missouri with Bessie Jo, a short haired Border Collie rescue dog. For more info, visit her blog.
If you could make up a school subject, what would it be?
What latest trend simply baffles you?
I’m not sure what the latest trends are.
What bad habit will you purposely never kick?
Since I’m over 60, I’ve earned the right to be eccentric and part of that is not admitting publicly to any bad habits.
If you had to choose, what is the most important quality in a relationship—humor, smarts, personality, looks, money, or mutual interests?
Intelligence, aka “smarts,” which is mostly related to your choice of “mutual interests” – and that also includes humor.
If you could add one feature to your cell phone, what would it be?
My cell phone already has more features that I want or need, including several apps that don’t seem to have a delete feature. So… I want to easily delete foodball, candyland, and similar games from my phone.
What do you consider your nicest feature? What about your worst feature?
Physical or emotional/spiritual features? I don’t know how to answer this.
What would motivate you to run a marathon?
Turn back the clock to my twenties and someone has offered one million dollars for me to run a marathon. (You didn’t say I had to finish.)
If you were a talk-show host, who would you want as your first guest?
If you were to write a song about your high school years, what would you title it?
Never My Love.
Fill in the blank. I am so much smarter than _________.
I used to be.
What could never be considered “art”?
Environmental pollution. Child abuse. Animal abuse. Abuse in any form.
What have you tried in life, and simply were not good at?
Most anything athletic.
If you were to sell something at an auction, what would you sell?
Any of several antiques and collectibles, starting with some beautiful Czech glass vases.
What are you most neurotic about?
You need to ask my friends and ex-husbands this question. I do try not to be neurotic about anything although I have been terrified of snakes all my life. And spiders.
Can you share an embarrassing story?
I could, but won’t, thank you very much.
What is the strongest bond you have with an inanimate object?
My laptop computer.
How did you pick your writing genre?
I write nonfiction and fiction – and had some poetry published in college days. Writing is part of me and always has been.
What life experiences have inspired your work?
My nonfiction book, Dread the FRED, published November 2013 tells the story of a small rural (underdog) school’s 2010 national robotics championship. I graduated from that high school in 1965 so know better than anyone, the challenges those students faced – and conquered.
How do you know when a book is finished?
The characters tell you; however, you must have a story arc so when you start writing you know the ending in general. But the action and dialog will end the story for you, if you’re really letting the characters tell the story.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have compared to people who are not creative?
Creative people must have an outlet for their “juices” or they will go stark raving crazy.
Have you ever felt that your personal expectations have limited your creativity? If so, how have you dealt with this?
I want to write the perfect story from the outset, so have trouble getting the first words on paper – onscreen, that is. I have to make myself just put something down, then I can later go back and revise as much as needed.
Do you ever feel that you have to censor your creativity because you don’t want to offend anyone?
In nonfiction, yes, but not in fiction.
Do you do anything special to get your creative juices flowing?
I need to be well rested because I write best in the morning. Can’t get going if I’ve had a bad sleep.
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in the field of writing?
Join writers’ groups; if there is none in your area, start one. Go to writers’ conferences. Invest in paid critiques of revised manuscripts (not first drafts) with top name editors. Then, only then, submit your manuscript to agents or publishers.
Who do you consider a literary genius?
Annie Proulx, Ellen Hopkins, Ernest Hemingway, Harper Lee, William Faulkner … just a few.
What obstacles have you had to deal with in your career?
My tendency toward perfectionism is an ongoing obstacle – wanting to get the manuscript perfect from the first draft to the final edit. I’ve learned to write, get critiques, re-write several times, then after one final outside edit, go to press. The next huge obstacle for all writers, I think, is marketing the book. The competition is fierce – hundreds of thousands of good books (and some not-so-good books) flood the market.