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Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Jo Anne Banker!!

Today we’re welcoming another Rebelle, 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Jo Anne Banker, Finalist in Contemporary Romance with her manuscript THIS CHILD IS MINE.

This is Jo Anne’s third Golden Heart® final. She won the Short Contemporary category in 2011 with LOST AND FOUND, and finaled again in Contemporary Romance in 2015 with HOMECOMING. She writes about the secrets that families guard and the love that heals them.

She’s owned a bookkeeping service for years, and finds balance in the creativity of storytelling. She has volunteered with her local RWA chapters, serving as President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and contest coordinator. She lives in Houston, Texas with three overly-pampered cat, where she enjoys the theatre, an eclectic mix of foods, good friends, and family.

Here’s a blurb for THIS CHILD IS MINE:

A date rape survivor returns home to care for her dying father, and faces the two men who changed her life. A vicious attack, a desperate secret, and a love that can heal even the deepest hurt…

Jenna’s world shattered the night her boyfriend’s twin brother assaulted her. She fled her hometown the next day, but found herself pregnant from the attack. Twelve years later, she reluctantly returns to care for her dying father. But feelings long since buried resurface when she meets her lost love.

Cade never knew why Jenna deserted him. Until she shows up in town with a son who looks exactly like him. There’s only one problem. The child can’t be his. The only answer leaves him furious and hurt. She betrayed him with his own brother.

Can these two childhood sweethearts get past their anger to find happiness and love in forgiveness?

That sounds intense!!! I hope we see it on bookshelves soon!

Jo Anne is here today to talk about a fascinating topic every writer needs to think about: the importance of knowing your “core story”!

Take it away, Jo Anne!

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Core Story: Or Why We Write What We Write

As writers, we all have a core story, a common theme, infused throughout our novels. It inspires our characters to pursue their goals, to overcome whatever conflicts we throw in their paths, motivating them to strive for their happily-ever-after. This theme is the underlying meaning of the story, the life lesson exemplified throughout. It normally has a universal nature, one understood as part of the human condition, so it transcends race, religion, and language, and instead encompasses experience. It might be a coming of age story, or good versus evil. Perhaps it’s betrayal, or lost love renewed. But if we examine our tales, whether they be filled with fantastical creatures, lords and ladies, or Navy seals, we’ll find that each of us writes our own individual core story.

Recently, Jayne Ann Krentz signed her new Amanda Quick historical release, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, at Murder By the Book here in Houston. During her chat with the audience, she promised her readers that although she’d changed the landscape of her new novel from Regency England to the Hollywood/Southern California coast in the 1930s, she had not changed her core story. Jayne/Amanda knows that her readers pick up one of her books with the expectations of a certain type of story and characters, and she wanted to assure us those would always be there. A strong suspense plot, a dark hero who walks with an emotional limp (and sometimes a physical one, too), a smart, fearless heroine, and that core story, which in Jayne’s case is about trust. What makes her romantic stories so beautifully yummy is the trust her hero and heroine develop for each other.

As it turns out, my core story is about healing family hurts. I believe each of us has some type of family karma, and that it’s healthy to identify and work with what we’re given. Why do some have co-dependent relationships that promote victim consciousness, while others come from a healthy nurturing place? Why is it important for some people to have children, and some choose not to? Why do some express obsessive behavior destructively, becoming alcoholics or drug addicts, where others focus that same obsessive behavior into eating right, exercising, and living healthy?  

I write stories where love not only heals family, but where it often forms new families. Not always with biological family members, or sometimes with lost family members found. My stories are often about children separated from a parent in some way. My maternal grandmother had four children, each with a different man. I don’t know why. She died before I was born. But the half-siblings, each seven years apart, all grew up without fathers. My own father and paternal aunt were both adopted. In the five generations I’ve researched, either adoption, growing up without a parent, or raising someone else’s child is prevalent. Parent/child separation, family karma. I recently joked with friends that I write about the skeletons in everyone else’s closets to keep my own rattling bones at bay.

Multi-published New York Times bestselling author Sharon Sala says that everything in her stories comes full circle, because that’s how she sees life. “We are born, we live, we die, and as one life ends, another is beginning. Full circle…. From conflict to solution. From sadness to joy. From being alone to finding a happy-ever-after love. From beginning to end…” Sharon writes characters we all love, and we love seeing them come full circle to their HEA.

Popular historical author Shana Galen finds her central theme tends to be the fish-out-of-water trope, usually in her heroines, sometimes in her heroes. Shana believes there are several reasons she writes this core story. First, “…a character who doesn’t have all the answers and is unsure of herself is approachable and likeable…. Secondly, this convention gives me lots of opportunities for conflict and comic relief. If I throw a character into a situation she’s not ready for, she can get into trouble and she can also mess up in funny ways. Thirdly, this is a theme in my own life. From a young age, I’ve held views and opinions very different from those of my family and friends. …I became a romance writer, which is not exactly a common profession.” Because it’s familiar to Shana, it’s easy for her to write. Feeling out of place is something to which we can all relate. And Shana’s stories are action-packed, and her characters do get into lots of fun trouble!

Award-winning romantic suspense author Colleen Thompson writes about women harnessing their anger in a positive way, “…using [that anger] to find their strength and right a wrong rather than continuing to ‘behave’.” Colleen gravitates toward this theme because “…women are fed from childhood the message that it’s not nice not to be nice, so much so that we end up swallowing the unpleasant and internalizing the damage rather than risking making a scene and drawing attention to ourselves. What happens when a woman reaches her limit and stands up for herself or those who can’t protect themselves? What price does she pay, and what rewards can she reap?” Colleen is tough on her heroines. She puts them in situations where if they want to live, they’d better find the emotional strength to fight for what they love.

My friend and three-time Golden Heart® finalist, Kay Hudson, and I were talking about common themes a few days before Jayne brought it up at her book signing. Kay’s core story is about “…starting over, beginning a new life, a new adventure, a new romance.” Kay doesn’t know why, except “…it always seems like good story material, and a springboard for humor, as my heroines tend to be the sanest person in the room, surrounded by oddball associates.” Kay wrote an article once on how she came to write what she writes, and found a line that sums it up for her. “Love is funny. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”

I’ve spoken with writers who say nothing personal ever appears in their stories, it’s all about the fantasy for them. I’ve talked to many more who agree there’s something of themselves in every one of their protagonists. But I believe that even if it’s subconscious, everyone’s core story is a basic life lesson learned deep in our own psyche. We don’t choose our theme, then write a story around it. In fact, we often finish a story without even being aware of any theme. But it’s there.

Can you identify yours? What thread of life is your common theme? What’s even more interesting: why is that core story yours?

 

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Connect with Jo Anne Banker on Facebook!

81 responses to “Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Jo Anne Banker!!”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Jo Anne! It’s great to have you here!

    I love the whole notion of core stories, and love the mix of different core stories you talk about here. I’m eager to hear what everyone has to say today!

    I know my core story has to do with opening up and communicating (trusting others to hear our deepest secrets instead of staying safe inside a shell). I guess that’s something I’ve had to work on in my own life, and it does lend itself really well to romances.

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    • JO ANNE says:

      Thanks so much for having me today, Elisa! Your Rubies blog is one of the funnest perks of the GH journey!

      Sharing secrets is always hard, but trusting another with our vulnerabilities makes our love stories tender and believable. Sounds like you’ve got it goin’, lady!

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  2. Hey JoAnne, great piece and great question!

    All of my heroines live according to (perceived) family expectations until something happens where they must live for themselves.

    I certainly grew up with both real and perceived family expectations. It’s scary to break out of them because it changes the way you view yourself and the way your family views you!

    Congrats on your third GH final! I’m in awe!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Patricia. Perceived family expectations. How interesting! And how correct! We have to overcome those perceptions to fulfill our individuality. My father always saw me in the daughter role, no matter what else I became (wife, business owner, mother, writer, etc). At first I was uncomfortable with it, but then realized it was okay for me to play that role when I was with him. It pleased him, and that’s who I was to him. Great incite. Thanks!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Perceived family expectations…yes, that’s a HUGE one for a lot of people!! Learning to live as yourself, for yourself is one of the most important life lessons anyone can learn.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Great INSIGHT, not incite. Sigh… First blog response & I use the wrong word cause I didn’t reread. GEEZ. 🙂

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  3. Hope Ramsay says:

    Hi Jo Anne

    Welcome and congratulations.

    I remember Jane Ann Krenz giving a keynote speech at RWA one year about core story. I was not published at the time, so the fact that I couldn’t identify my core story bugged me for a long time. In fact, the whole core story idea was THE TOPIC that year at nationals. And I’ve never fogotten Jane’s speech.

    But for all that, years later I’m no closer to identifying what my core story is than I was then. I try to write each romance from the ground up about characters that have to learn something about themselves before they can find love. What my characters have to learn is different in every story, though. Sometimes it’s trust, sometimes it’s courage, sometimes it’s letting go. It really depends on the character.

    The idea that a character has to learn and change in order to find love isn’t a core story, though. It’s one step removed for core story. It’s the universal framework for romance. And it’s this framework that I use for every romance I write.

    So after years of beating myself up about this whole core story thing–honestly I though every writer needed one–I finally let it go. My process or my brain just doesn’t work that way. Although, honestly, it would be so nice to know what my core story was. 🙂

    Once again, welcome and congratulations on your Golden Heart nomination.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Hey, Hope! Sounds like you understand what you write, whether you can identify a common thread or not. Mine is simply so obvious. I always wanted to write romantic suspense with a bit of humor, but when I put my butt in the chair, these angsty family dramas pour onto the page. Sigh.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      It sounds to me like you do have a core story there, Hope…something about self-awareness, or acknowledging an inner flaw, or realizing a need for change. It’s a different take on the “becoming vulnerable” core story, but maybe more about letting down a defensive wall in their own self-conception. Maybe???

      Whatever it is, it’s working for you!

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  4. Hey, Jo Anne!
    Great article! My stories seem to always be about a woman learning to be independent. Whether I’m writing about vampires or Texas women, they have to discover their own strengths and stand on their own two feet. Yes, they fall in love with strong men, which makes it that much harder to not fall into the trap of letting the man take over. I love the alpha male, lived with one for decades, so you see where this core story came from. Hugs and best wishes for a Golden Heart win.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Hey, Gerry. Thanks for stopping by. You’re a strong woman, so I understand that you’d need a strong man in your life. It’s easy to lose ourselves in a relationship, especially the way we grew up. Women try to please. For years I tried to be what I thought some guy wanted me to be. Obviously, THAT didn’t work. I was maybe 28 or 29 years old before I figured out that I am strong and independent. Romance because much easier after I figured out who I was. 🙂

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I love the woman-learning-to-be-strong core story!!

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  5. Gail Dayton says:

    Hey, Jo Anne! Core story is one I’ve thought about many times. I’ve finally decided that mine is basically “nobody can succeed alone.” Or maybe “it takes a village.” That basic idea. No man is an island? It’s a bit more expansive than that, but in most all of my books, the characters have to reach out, trust each other, and Cooperate in order to achieve whatever it is they’re trying to do. I can’t wait to read your books about secrets!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Thanks for being here, Gail! Yep, we definitely all need a little help along the way. In any relationship. And being able to trust our mate to be there for us fills our romance hearts. Good stuff!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      That’s a fabulous one!!! And a lesson I wish more people would learn in real life.

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  6. Judythe Morgan says:

    Excellent article, Jo Anne.
    My stories tend to focus on love conquering all with a major theme of forgiveness. Not sure I call it the core, though. More like a theme.
    Major congrats on the GH final. I’ll be looking for you to walk across the stage and yelling like a banshee.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Hey, Judythe! Good to see you here. Is it finally summer up there? Love does conquer all, and Lord knows, if we love, we understand forgiveness. An excellent theme!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      BTW, Judythe – I’m all for banshees in the audience. Hope to see you there! And thanks!

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  7. Welcome, Jo Anne, and congratulations on finaling again! Fabulous post. I love the idea of a core story, though I find it hard to pin down my own.

    I think I often deal with self-acceptance/embracing who you are and opposites attract stories – probably because I think sometimes we need to be catalyzed by someone with a different perspective to help us recognize our own power/awesomeness.

    Good luck in Orlando!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Thanks, Vivi! Orlando is sure to be FUN!

      I think self-acceptance is so important. I’m big and I’m outgoing, and have a booming voice. My pic says it all – red and big smile. And when I was a child, I was supposed to sit quietly with my knees together, keep my mouth shut, and be ladylike. I’m quite a lady, just not a quiet, subtle one, but it took years for me to figure that out. An “opposites attract” partner to allow us to recognize our awesomeness! Perfect! Great core story.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I definitely see that in your stories, Vivi…and it’s a great match with superhero and shifter stories!!

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  8. jody says:

    Jo Anne,

    Your stories touch the hearts of women. Men, too, but they probably won’t admit it.

    I think I must write to see how I feel about things. That doesn’t make sense, does it? Oh well, reality is an acquired taste that I have yet to acquire.

    Keep writing. I love your stories. And write, write, and then write some more. Okay?

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Jody – what a sweet, sweet thing to say about my writing. I think writing to know how we feel makes perfect sense! And reality is over-rated, so no worries there. I do miss seeing you, lady! Thanks!

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  9. Elizabeth Langston says:

    I think my core story is to believe that love should open us to be better people–and not to settle for anything less.

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  10. Shana Galen says:

    Good luck to all the finalists. Jo Anne, I think one thing that makes you such a great writer is how much you know about craft and the elements of your story. It took me years to figure these things out, and I stumbled through a lot of books before having a solid sense of what I was doing.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Believe me, Shana, you’ve got the solid sense of story thing down. Love your work!

      Life meanders around, and paying the bills sometimes draws away from story time, so I’ve had years to develop craft and think about story. Thing is – there’s so much wonderful story out there. Not enough time…Sigh…

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  11. Lark Brennan says:

    JAK said a lot of things at the signing that struck a nerve for me–she always does at RWA too.

    My hero and heroine always seem to be loners who don’t expect to ever find The One and fall in love so they aren’t even looking. Even if they have friends and family, they feel apart. I don’t analyze why this story resonates with me.

    Good luck with the GH! I’ll be in the audience cheering for you!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Thanks, Lark! Your stories are so complex and wonderfully eclectic, yet have so much to which we can all relate. That makes you an excellent storyteller. Loners finding the One! Sounds like a perfect romance to me.

      Glad you stopped by.

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  12. Leslie Claire Walker says:

    I love the theme of this post — and can point to my own core story as finding family of choice, forging the ties of love and trust even, and especially, in the darkest of times.

    Congratulations again on your nomination, Jo Anne! I’m so excited for you.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Thanks, Leslie! You know how excited I am to be a finalist again. Always such a fun trip.

      I’m sure one of the reasons you and I connect so well has to do with finding family of choice. Of bonding with that unique family while embracing family of origin. Good core stuff. So glad you stopped by!

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  13. Sharon Sala says:

    Hi Jo Anne, and here you are again. I’m going to say 3rd time is the charm. You know you’re writing the good stuff now because you don’t get where you are without it. I will be in the audience come awards night in Orlando, cheering all of the finalists on, and I just might be cheering a bit louder for you, dear friend. Congratulations again on your nomination.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Sharon! So nice of you to stop by. 3rd time the charm – from your lips to God’s ears. Orlando will be fun, and I’m looking forward to a nice catch up visit. See you then!

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  14. Liz Talley says:

    Great post, Jo Anne. It’s true we all tend to write similar themes and I think mine is a hero/heroine who finds great strength he/she didn’t know was possessed. I like peeling the onion of my characters – for secondary characters to think they have this person pegged and then surprise them and my readers. I suppose if I really got down to the meat of it, I enjoy surprising everyone with a characters growth arc.

    Your GH finaling book sounds eerily similar to the book I’m about to finish. Mine involves a date rape, a child born of the rape and a heroine who ran and must come back and face her past. No new story under the sun, is there? LOL

    Congrats on the final, friend 🙂

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Hey, Liz – a hidden strength & surprising character arcs, good things for story.

      And you’re right – it’s hard to find a new story. I wrote this one 6 or 7 years ago. Resurrected it because I liked it, and it fell through the cracks when I had some health issues. The situation is filled with possibilities for such depth of emotion, it will emerge unique for each of us, that’s a given.

      Good to see you here. Thanks!

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  15. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    I am so new at this I haven’t quite identified my common theme…and I may never. What I can say is, in my current story, I am drawing on memories of my childhood…channeling my inner child.

    Congratulations, Jo Anne!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Cynthia, keep channeling your inner child and I’m convinced your core story will show itself. Like I said, many of us don’t know the theme of a book until we finish the story and look for it. Even then, it’s hard to identify at times.

      We’ll just keep enjoying the journey. Thanks for commenting!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I’m sure there’s a rich core story in there!!!

      What we are as children is more intense and pure than what we negotiate our way into as adults.

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  16. Melonie says:

    This is such a fabulous, fabulous post! Very thought provoking. I LOVE JAK’s Amanda Quick stories and THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is high on my list of summer must-reads. “Hero’s with an emotional limp” – what a perfect way to describe them!

    So interesting to see elements of your family background play out in your stories whether consciously or sub-consciously!

    As for me, I’d have to say a common theme would be an “awakening” – where a character is pushing/working toward a life they think they want and something happens to lead them down a new path, shifting their course and (after much struggling and stubborn evasion) revealing the life that is actually right for them. If I had to sum up my stories it would be: “You can’t always get the HEA you want, but sometimes you get the HEA you need.” 😉

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Melonie – so happy we’re fellow 2017 Rebelles! Such a neat bunch of folks.

      I LOVE awakening stories! I love characters so focused on what they THINK they’re supposed to do, that it sometimes takes life slapping them around a bit to get their attention about their true path. And I dearly love the title of your finaling ms, SOMETIMES YOU NEED A SEXY SCOT. Sounds so fun!

      JAK’s THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, is fabulous. Her great plotting, and those wonderful characters, who trust each other in spite of whatever is happening around them. Always a good story. You’ll enjoy.

      Can’t wait to get a hug and have a drink and some laughs in Orlando! Thanks for coming by.

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  17. Congrats, Jo Anne. I think my characters struggle between doing what others expect of them and making their own choices.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      I think you’re right, Heather. Expectations versus choosing what’s right for them now, in the current setting and situation. And it makes for lovely and fun stories.

      I’m not going to make WHRWA again this weekend because of other plans. Too much fun stuff to do. Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. Fantastic article, Jo Anne, and congrats on your 3rd final!

    I love the stories of yours I’ve read, especially the depth of insight and the emotion you bring to the page in your compelling characters. Such humanness! I’d say I’m crossing my fingers for you, but I’m pretty sure luck isn’t necessary. Your writing is solid and your stories heart-felt. It’s only a matter of time.

    My core story seems to be about facing fear in order to do what needs to be done, that being afraid is not a good enough reason not to do the right thing. I suspect that’s why my heroines are forced to make decisions that require self-sacrifice.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Wow, Sandra! Thanks for the warm fuzzies about depth of emotion, and ‘humanness.’ I love that. With the current publishing climate, one never knows about getting a new foot in the door, but I’m forever hopeful, and putting stuff out there, so we’ll see.

      Your core story of facing fear, and doing the right thing in spite of fear, is why your stories are always lovely adventures. Lots of action and lots of character growth. I love your work!

      It was good seeing you recently. Hope for another catch up soon. Thanks for being here!

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  19. Tracy Brody says:

    Seems a little basic for romance, but my books all have a core story of second chance at love. Or maybe it’s basic to me, because that’s just something I didn’t know I was incorporating in each one. 😉

    Congrats on another GH final and so looking forward to finally meeting you in Florida!!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Tracy! Thanks for being here. I’m sorry I missed bonding with you and other 2015 Dragonflies, but I’m sure trying to make up for it with my Rebelle sisters. It will be such fun to get a hug and have a drink in Orlando.

      I think second chances is a great core story/theme. Particularly in romance.

      See you soon!

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  20. Kay Hudson says:

    Excellent post, Jo Anne, and I love seeing all the core story ideas. I’m afraid mine just isn’t that deep. I fell into romance through what I think of as adventure stories for, by, and about women, so I’m just trying to tell a good (and hopefully) funny story about new adventures.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Hey, Kay ~ No depth in your core story? but then there’s the whole “adventure stories for, by and about women.” Put that together with that paperweight on your desk that Jack gave you that says, “the best man for a job is often a woman.” I think there might be more depth there than you think. 🙂

      Thanks for coming by!! (As I’m hollering at you in the next office!)

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  21. Congrats on another final, Jo Anne. And great post.

    I didn’t realize I had a core story that I write again and again, but I guess I do. I writer contemporary-romantic comedy and also romantic suspense/thriller and in every story I have a character who puts something on the line to help someone else. The stories are about how the act of kindness changes both the receiver and the giver’s lives.

    Hmmm. I like that. I like that a lot. Thanks!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Thanks, Autumn – and WOW, I love that core story. An act of kindness that changes both the giver and the receiver’s lives. FABULOUS!
      Pretty exciting stuff when you think of it.

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  22. Emily Sullivan says:

    Congrats, Jo Anne! Such an insightful post. I never really thought about it before, but I seem to like writing (and reading) stories about people who are outsiders in some way. I enjoy seeing how they negotiate societal expectations while still staying true to themselves.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Thanks, Emily! And congratulations to you, too, my fellow Rebelle!

      People who are outsiders in some way, and how they navigate those waters. Good core stuff. Have you ever read Shana Galen? (She writes historicals, too.) She’s a fish-out-of-water writer, and her characters get in lots of fun trouble while staying true to themselves.

      Good luck, lady! Let’s continue to enjoy our ride together.

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  23. Linda Warren says:

    Congratulations, Jo Anne! I’ll be rooting for you.

    My core story is similar to yours. I write Texas family drama with characters, usually cowboys, who struggle with the four letter word–love.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Hi, Linda! So nice to see you here.

      Yep, I love your family dramas. That little four-letter word trips up lots of us.

      Thanks for the support!

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  24. sarah andre says:

    Hi-ya, Jo Anne!
    I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to see you in the GH line up again, and honey- if ANYONE deserves the title Rebelle more than you make sure I meet her in ORL! 🙂

    Love the insights and sorry I missed JAK. I am dying to hold your novel in my hands, so get busy with the editors next month. See you soon-

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Hey, Sarah. Gee, someone who knows me so well. I was thrilled our Class of 2017 honed in on Rebelles. Lord knows it works for me! 🙂 Orlando will be mucho fun! Lots of hugs and fun coming your way, lady!!

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  25. Welcome, Jo Anne, and much Ruby love! So much good stuff in your post. I write about STRONG women of all ages seeking and finding their rightful place in this world. This applies to my YA books, romantic thrillers, and mysteries for a core story crosses all genres. Joy & Peace!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Shelley. I’m definitely feeling that Ruby love today.

      Strong women – a great theme. And there’s plenty who’ve showed up here today. The creativity, strength, smarts, and drive of our writing community never ceases to amaze me.

      Joy & Peace right back atcha!

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  26. So many great themes! Having read some of your brilliant in-progress work, I’ve been really impressed by how deeply you’ve dug into stories that hit so close your emotional truth. That’s what makes them resonate for me.

    Thanks for the shout-out and what an excellent topic for discussion!

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    • JO ANNE says:

      Thanks for the sweet words, Colleen. Yep, I’ve always loved stories that delve into our emotional truths. Opening a vein and bleeding into the computer, that’s my specialty. 🙂

      I’ve enjoyed seeing folks contemplate their own core story here, and come up with some fabulous story threads that work for them. Fun stuff.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  27. Lisa Knight says:

    Congratulations on being a Golden Heart finalist! How exciting! I really enjoyed your article on core stories. I’m still learning what my core story is, but if I had to nail it down I’d say it is self-acceptance.

    Congratulations again and I’ll be cheering you on in Orlando from Texas. 🙂

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    • JO ANNE says:

      Hey, Lisa! Good to see you here!

      Self-acceptance is such an important theme. After all, if we don’t love ourselves, we’re incapable of loving someone else. Good theme.

      Thanks for the positive contest energy. It’ll be wonderful to have hometown chapter cheers coming my way!

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  28. Donna Maloy says:

    Hi, Jo Anne. My stories are almost always about secrets and usually include a late-plot betrayal. In my current WIP, however, the betrayals are backstory.

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    • JO ANNE says:

      Hey, Donna! Secrets and betrayal – yikes – great themes around which to build exciting stories. Good stuff!

      Thanks for commenting. Hope to see you at upcoming chapter meeting!

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  29. C.R. Grissom says:

    Jo Anne,

    Love your post! Wow, I’ve never thought about my core story before. As I began to type a response from my son’s last career regular season Little League game, I found it.

    I thought about my first book, the one that will never see the light of day again, and I started to write about the differences between my leading ladies.

    When I reflect on my first story one word floated to the surface: betrayal.

    Since my GH entry carries this theme, I realize now that I’ve incorporated loyalty and my need for justice into my storytelling. In real life, justice isn’t always served, so in fiction I want karma to Arrive on the scene and introduce herself!

    I’m thrilled we’re Rebelles together! I’m excited about your story and eagerly await its publication!

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    • JO ANNE says:

      Hey, Christine!! So good to see you here, and so very, very good to be celebrating as Rebelle sisters together this year. YAY, us!!

      Loyalty and a need for justice, beautiful core story stuff. And, I love, love, love the idea of Karma, herself, showing up as the ultimate character and introducing true justice into your stories. Very cool!

      See you in Orlando. Hugs, drinks, fun, and lots of Rebelle-ing will be goin’ on!!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Betrayal / loyalty is a powerful dynamic!!

      I hope your son won his Little League game!! Either way, must be bittersweet to have it be the last.

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  30. jbrayweber says:

    Late to the party, but I wanted to stop in and say CONGRATULATIONS, Jo Anne! Wonderful post, too.

    I never really thought about my core story, but I guess many of my books are about redemption. Hmm…

    Good luck in Orlando! Hope to see you there!

    Jenn!

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    • JO ANNE says:

      Hey, Jenn! Good to see you here!

      Redemption – that’s a good one. And lots of story grist in who’s doing the saving and who’s being saved. Lovely for romance!

      I’ll need luck in Orlando. I’ve got some truly talented, awesome sister Rebelles as competition. Just being there is an honor and a thrill!

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  31. Jennifer Henderson says:

    Jo Anne,
    A great article! I think my core story is the ties that bind a family together. It’s interesting to explore characters who accept the role their family plays in their lives and also those who struggle to understand their family or find peace with its flaws.

    Can’t wait to meet you in Orlando with all the Rebelles!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Hi, Jennifer! So good to see you here. Our 2017 Rebelles are such a great bunch!! Good to share it with you, and yes, hugs coming in Orlando!

      Families are a wonderful trip. My brother and I are so very different, yet we’ve always been close and supportive of each other. He’s got an engineer’s mind, focused on detail that makes my eyes glaze over, and he’s subtle and quietly elegant. I’m outgoing and loud, and very dramatically…well…RED is a good description. Ed and I have absolutely no expectations of the other, and accept each other unconditionally.

      I definitely believe understanding and accepting family is integral in finding our own peace.

      Great core story stuff!

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  32. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks so much for being with us today, Jo Anne!! It’s been a lively and fascinating discussion!

    Best of luck in Orlando…and beyond!!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Thanks for having me, Elisa! I’ve had so much fun with the core story discussion!

      We appreciate you for highlighting our GH achievement. Your hard work matters!!

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  33. Darynda Jones says:

    Sorry I’m late, Jo Anne! Welcome, congrats, and WHAT A GREAT POST! I think my core story is overcoming the past. There is always some huge past event in my stories that my MC has to deal with in order to learn to love herself and others.

    Thanks for this incredible post and your story sounds amazing!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Darynda!! Thanks for sharing your core story. I really “get” overcoming past life events, since I was one of those foolish youths who learned life lessons the hard way (by tripping and falling flat into them). 🙂 And along the way, I’ve accepted, forgiven, and learned to love (both myself and others).

      It’s the kind of stuff that makes for powerful (and fun) stories, as we know from your books!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!!

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  34. Kimberly Ivey says:

    Congratulations Jo Anne on finaling! Great article, too. My “core stories” usually involve old flames reuniting or a second chance at love.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Hey, Kim!! So good to see you here. Second chance at love is a super romance core story. I’ve always respected folks who got married right out of high school and stay not only lovers, but best friends all their lives. But honestly, there are so many more of us who didn’t make wise choices that first time. And Lord knows, that second chance meant everything to us.

      Hope to see you soon!
      Jo Anne

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  35. Very late to the party but so proud and honored to call you a Rebelle sister! My core stories tend to be about women who discount their strength – only to discover they have it spades.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Hey, Susannah! I LOVE our Rebelles class of 2017. Such a wonderfully smart and eclectic group of women. And strong. Not a wimp among us.

      I think women are raised to discount their own strength to build up the egos of folks around us. We just hunker down and get the job done. And I think many of us realized our own strength along the way.

      I love that core story.

      Good luck to you in everything, my Rebelle sister. Thanks for stopping by!

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  36. suzanne says:

    love this:” I write stories where love not only heals family, but where it often forms new families”

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Thanks, Suzanne. I have biological family. I divorced my husband, but kept his family, and we’re all happy with it that way. I have several friends that I’ve had for years who are sisters of my heart, ex-employees who are like kids to me. Yep, I’m a firm believer that love forms new families!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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