1. When did you start writing?
I’ve known I was destined to write from the time I was a little girl, not yet able to read by myself. I remember cuddling with my dad on our living room sofa, feeling safe and loved, while he read aloud a story about Osceola, the brave Seminole Indian chief who fought the brutal attempts by the U.S. government to remove his people from Florida during the early 1800’s.
When my dad finished the book, I said sadly, “It’s all gone.”
“It’s not gone,” he told me, putting the book in my hands. “We can turn it around and start again at the beginning. Not tonight, though.”
From that moment on, when I discovered that words could be written down in books, captured and stored to be enjoyed over and over again, I knew I wanted to write stories of my own. Many times in school, when I was supposed to be solving math problems or studying spelling words, I’d be busy composing poetry or creating title pages and back cover descriptions for books I dreamed of one day publishing. My first poem was printed in “Jack and Jill”—a popular magazine for kids—when I was eleven or twelve years old—and after that, I caught an incurable case of author fever.
My novel, “The Bright Side of Darkness”, began as a short story assignment for a high school English class. I got an A on the assignment and fell in love with the characters who came to life in my imagination.
I never forgot those characters. In my twenties, in order to learn how to use a word processor, I dragged out that old short story and typed it into my first computer—a DOS machine with 5-inch floppy disks and no Internet. The writing needed a lot of work, but the characters still captivated me. I added to the story, changed and deleted weak parts and moved paragraphs and chapters around. I picked the project up and put it down many times over the next twenty-some years as life happened. I took advice and editing from countless people. I attended writing workshops and joined critique groups to hone my craft, and I never gave up on my dream. In June of 2015, I finally published my book.
2. What motivates you to write?
I write for the sheer joy of it. I write because I have tales inside me that need to bust loose. Beyond that, I write because I have a burning desire to leave the world a little better than I found it, to let people know that change starts with them—with me—that there’s hope for humanity, and it begins with one thought, one decision, one action—now.
3. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre?
My novel is a crossover of coming-of-age urban inspirational fiction. The topic chose itself, based on my life experience. Early in my marriage, my first husband was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Since we were both home and going through tough times financially, our run-down travel trailer became a hang-out spot for kids and teens who needed Band-Aids for their skinned knees and patches for their bike tires, cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch, help with homework and advice about a little of everything. Those memories inspired me to write about a population that is seldom heard from.
4. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you?
Not really. I write to speak for Kids who need to be heard, and I write for the love of writing. Not that I don’t love an audience, and not that I wouldn’t love to support myself from writing—but I’m contented with my life the way it is.
5. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it?
I sometimes have a difficult time getting started with the first seed of an idea. I love a good writing prompt to get me going. Some of my best short stories have come from writing prompts. I also believe in writing about almost anything. A trip to the convenience store, a recipe, a lighthearted piece meant to make people laugh—any of these will do to get my creative words flowing. I try to compose at least a Facebook post for my followers every few days so I stay in the habit of writing.
6. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors?
In junior high, I interviewed a local author as part of an independent study project. Her advice has stuck with me for 35 years.
“When you write, think of yourself as a bird building a nest,” she said. “Your life gives you the materials for your stories. You take a twig from here, a tuft of grass from there, a bit of string from somewhere else. Keep living a life full of experiences so you never run out of building materials.”
I usually write fiction, so my characters and what happens to them is all made up. But some of the experiences and a whole lot of the underlying emotions come from what I know, what I’ve lived through, like that bird making a nest.
7. Please, tell us about your work.
What is a family? For Rick Myers, a despondent seventeen-year-old who has just lost his parents in a car wreck, it’s the four teenage buddies he’s grown up with in a run-down apartment building. Fast with their fists, flip with their mouths, and loyal to a fault, the “crew” is all he has.
At least, he thinks so until he meets Daisy, an intelligent, independent, self-assured blind girl. Her guts in a world where she’s often painfully vulnerable intrigue Rick, and her hopeful outlook inspires him to begin believing in himself.
But when the dark side of Daisy’s past catches up with her, tragedy scatters the crew and severely tests Rick’s resolve to build his promising future. Fortunately, his life is touched by a couple with a pay-it-forward attitude, forged out of their personal struggle with grief and loss. Their support makes all the difference to Rick and eventually, through him, to the ones he holds most dear as they face their own challenges. “The Bright Side of Darkness” is a story of redemption and the ultimate victory that comes from the determination of the human spirit.
Thank you for your visit!
J. E. Pinto is a magnet for underdogs! Early in her married life, her home became a hangout for troubled neighborhood kids. This experience lit the flame for her first novel, The Bright Side of Darkness.
Pinto’s Spanish-American roots grow deep in the Rocky Mountains, dating back six generations. J. E. Pinto lives with her family in Colorado where she works as a writer and also proofreads textbooks and audio books. One of her favorite pastimes is taking a nature walk with her service dog.
The Bright Side of Darkness won a first place Indie Book Award for “First Novel over Eighty Thousand Words,” as well as First Place for “Inspirational Fiction.” The novel also won several awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association: First Place for “Inspirational Fiction,” Second Place for “Audio Book,” and First Place for “Literary and Contemporary Fiction.
Connect with Jo Elizabeth:
To see guest blog posts about parenting in the dark, please click here:
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“The Bright Side of Darkness” is an award-winning novel, available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.
The paperback version of the novel is available at Barnes & Noble here: