Joe Moreland has been a member of FaithWriters for over a decade, entering the challenge off and on and gleaning other writing info from the site. And now, his novel in progress, The Reluctant Camper, has been chosen as the winner of the 2017 Page Turner. Read on to learn more about Joe, his book in progress, and more.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on winning the 2017 Page Turner! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

JOE MORELAND: It was a cold and stormy night. Suddenly a shot rang out!

Seriously, though, I was sitting with my family watching Netflix when I decided to look to check Faithwriters to see if there was an announcement yet. Even though I had no expectation whatsoever of winning the Page Turner contest (the best I was hoping for was some useful feedback), I still found myself counting down to the announcement on Dec. 1st.

It was about 11:49pm (give or take a few seconds) when I saw the announcement that I won. I was in such shock that I just sat there staring at my phone for several moments. My wife finally asked me what I was looking at and I told her that the results were just announced and I won. Lots of jumping up and down ensued. Well, we’re kind of old, so there was no actual jumping. We were lying down on the couch, though, so that part is accurate.

JOANNE: Too fun (and funny!) When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?

JOE: Believe it or not, I was about 8 years old. My mom was a widow trying to work three jobs just to bring us up to the poverty level. As a result I was pretty neglected and found myself home all the time. I had developfree to use Christian articlesed the ability to read well above my grade level and, when I was eight years old I read Jack London’s Call of the Wild. My dog was my best and only friend at the time. I started trying to write my own stories and turned one in for my school’s open house. Other kids drew pictures, colored things or made something out of Legos. I wrote a short story. My teacher gave me a lot of praise for the story (probably surprised I could spell half the words) and it was the first thing anyone ever told me I was good at. I remember being fascinated at how people could care about a character I created out of my imagination like it was a real person.

JOANNE: Wow – very cool. I hope you still have that story somewhere 🙂 Is writing a hobby or potential career for you? Or something else?

JOE: It’s way more than a hobby for me. I do write quite a bit in my professional life as well (advertising). But, while I wouldn’t mind making a living from my writing, it’s not what I think about when I write. I just have stories in me that I want to get out and share with people. Whether it makes them laugh or cry, there’s something awesome about being able to touch others through what you write.

JOANNE: That IS an amazing feeling, that I’m sure many here can relate to. I know I can!. Share a bit about The Reluctant Camper. Where did you get the idea for it? Who is your audience? What is it about? How far along in it are you?

JOE: So first, I have to say I hate the title. It will definitely change. Usually titles just come to me at some point as I write. The idea actually came to me many years ago—after my first time going to camp with my church’s children’s group as an adult leader. My audience, I think, is anyone who has been to one of these week-long summer camps, either as a camper or leader or any adult who works with children in their church.

In a nutshell, the story is about a guy who is very self-involved. He sets up a week of “me-time” vacation that coincides with his wife being out of town on business and his kids being at camp with the church. When he goes to drop the kids off at church, he is coerced into taking the place of a leader who got injured the day before and suddenly cannot go.

The required amount of kicking and screaming ensues and our MC finds himself at camp about six hours later. The rest is a series of uncomfortable (for the MC) and humorous situations  as he tries to adjust to change (something he really doesn’t like) and learn to redefine his definition of fun.

In the end, hopefully he grows up a bit by learning to be more like a kid.

I have the entire book outlined and have about 30,000 words of the actual story written—so a little over the first third of the book itself. I hope to have a rough draft finished by the spring that I can begin to edit down to a final manuscript for submission to Breath of Fresh Air before the deadline.

JOANNE: Sounds like a great story – and I’m sure you will come up with a title more to your liking 😀 How did you find FaithWriters and what made you stick around?

JOE: I originally found FW in late 2005 in a copy of Writers Digest I picked up. It was listed as one of the top 100 writing websites, so I visited and checked it out for a while before entering the challenge. After that I was hooked. I frequently take long breaks between challenges, but I try to come back every year or so and enter an entire quarter’s worth of challenges. The FW Challenge has really helped me hone my writing over the years and I appreciate it, and all of the challengeers very, very much.

JOANNE: The Challenge IS a wonderful way to learn. What kinds of books or genres do you prefer to read and/or write?

JOE: I read anything that is interesting. I like historical fiction, high fantasy (big fan of Tolkien and Roger Zelazny), sci-fi, westerns and suspense/thrillers–even an occasional spy novel. My writing can run the gamut as well, but I do have a high fantasy trilogy that I have been working on since 1989. I have built a world, a society and done a chapter summary for each and every one of the three books I envision. I just look at how massive it is and find myself getting tired even thinking about writing it.

JOANNE: Just take it one bit at a time 😉 Tell us about your family.

JOE: My wife Pam and I have been married thirty wonderful years. I believe we are closer now than we have ever been. She is my biggest support when it comes to my writing. She will tell me when it’s bad and because of that, I stupidly believe her when she tells me it’s good. We have raised four incredible kids who are all off leading their own lives now, either in careers or college. One has her own video production company, one is a chef, one is about to graduate with a degree in social work and my youngest is majoring in English with an eye towards being a writer herself (she should be; her work is better than mine).

JOANNE: Sounds like a wonderful family. What are your other passions besides writing?

JOE: Well, obviously reading. I don’t get as much writing done as I should because I read too much. I also enjoy sports (particularly college and pro basketball). But my main passion is for ministry. My wife and I would like to retire into a traveling ministry one day, where we travel the country and meet people working in various local ministries that we can write and blog about to share with a large audience of people who may either want to try and support what they are doing or duplicate it somewhere else.

JOANNE: Where can people find you online?

JOE: I am on Facebook, LinkedIn (in my professional work) and on Twitter. The easiest place to find me online, though, is at AustinChristianVoice.com, of which I am the editor.

JOANNE: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JOE: I appreciate everyone at Faithwriters for keeping it alive and active for so long—especially Deborah Porter who has been one of the few constants in all the years I’ve been participating.

JOANNE: With you 100% on that. Thanks so much for the interview, Joe, and congratulations once again. I am sure you will do well.

Watch for interviews with the runners up, Nola Passmore and Phillip Cimei, on the blog soon!

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