University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumna Joy Smith ‘85, of Lakeland, Fla., has been writing since she was a little girl, producing her first nonfiction book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook, in 2004.
“I kept a diary while building our house in the country in 1998 and worked on it for a while with research before submitting it,” Smith said.
A science fiction-junkie, Smith has since published numerous works of fiction, appearing in publications like WomanScapes and Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer. Her first western novel, Detour Trail, debuted in 2013. Her science fiction novel, Strike Three, came later in 2014.
Publishing two novels and having her short stories accepted are highlights of her career. She is working on finishing her current novel.
Her passion started when she was a child, when reading and writing were her hobbies. At UW Oshkosh, she continued her devotion to the two pursuits, saying it helped her career as a writer move forward.
She offers advice to students who want to pursue a career in writing, which starts with understanding the fundamentals.
“Read and learn basic English grammar so you can edit your work at least a little bit,” Smith said.
She bought books from Writer’s Digest, a library of knowledge for aspiring authors, and began entering contests.
One contest Smith enters that has helped the development of her novels is the National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo,” where authors are challenged to meet a 50,000-word quota in the month of November.
Although she has faced challenges in writing, such as writer’s block, she says research and discipline have benefited her.
“Research is necessary, more than you’d think, even when writing fiction,” Smith said. “I wrote short stories and their sequels for years because I wasn’t ready to tackle long work.”
Smith has produced works for fantasy, romance, westerns, horror, children’s books and other genres. She keeps a notebook stuffed with submission records.
Smith misses her days at UWO–both her experiences on- and off-campus.
“I enjoyed living in a dorm room, visiting the art museum, walking downtown to the library, and ordering pizza from Jess and Nicks,” she said. “I loved geology and my Milton class because he was a great teacher. Those were highlights in the education line. I hope current students enjoy college as much as I did, and all the various activities that go with it.”