Meet Debut Author Joyce Proell

It's a treat to introduce you to a debut author from my (and Cat's) home RWA chapter,  Midwest Fiction Writers. Joyce Proell recently published her historical novel, ELIZA, and she's already garnering great review garnering great reviews. Set on the Minnesota frontier, it's a book that's got wonderful characters, a great story and a strong message. I hope you'll enjoy hearing more about it and meeting a wonderful new author. -- Liz

A hello from Joyce

I was born and raised in Minnesota. In college and grad school, I studied psychology and social work. After working as a psychiatric social worker, a mental health program manager and therapist, I retired to write full-time. When not writing, I like to walk, read, travel and do crossword puzzles. My husband and I returned from living in Nevada and Wisconsin, and live in rural Minnesota in my very own little house on the prairie.


The best reason to leave home forever is a husband who wants you dead.

Posing as a widow, Eliza Danton flees an abusive marriage determined to bury the past and live a solitary life on the Minnesota frontier. When she finds herself homeless, her livelihood threatened and her safety compromised, she relies on her only resource, a man who stirs a forbidden longing and rocks the very foundation of her well-laid plans. As her world shrinks with lies and deception, the only way out is the truth, but the truth may strike a deadly price.

Haunted by a tragic past, Will Heaton hides his scarred heart and vows never to love again. But a chance encounter with a mysterious widow awakens painful memories and a yearning he can’t ignore. When she’s harassed by the same man he believes killed his wife, he grabs at a chance to resolve past mistakes and possibly find love and redemption in the process.

As Eliza and Will struggle to trust again, the past returns with a renewed vengeance, testing them in ways they never thought possible.

Here's an excerpt:

“You ought to consider marrying that German fellow. Karl…?” Will waved his hand loftily as though he might pick Karl’s last name from the air.

Eliza shot up out of the chair faster than a startled pheasant. The chair banged on the floor, and she glared at him murderously.    
Will drew back in alarm. He shouldn’t have mentioned marriage again. After all, it wasn’t any of his business. But running a newspaper was a daunting job. And given her circumstances – widowhood, without family support and thin on financial resources, it seemed too risky.
“I will not marry Karl just to have his protection,” she spat. “It’s like admitting a woman is too simple, or frail to make it on her own. For once—” Her shoulders heaved up and down. “I intend to do something for myself.”
He let a second pass, affecting a casual pose with his arm resting on the lacy tablecloth, planning how to defuse her anger. He lifted his hand, splayed fingers pointing up at the ceiling, “Now, hold on.”
Apparently, she was too riled to ‘hold on’ to let him finish. Her hands clenched at her sides. She glowered at him for a few more seconds before huffing out a breath.
            “Why, it’s perfect! If you weren’t so ...so pig-headed you’d see.” 
His muscles tensed and the rush of blood to his neck felt hot. “I’d be mighty careful what I say.” 
Her whole body quivered. “I’ve had five years of being careful.” She took a menacing step closer to the table. “I’ve hidden my work, downplayed my achievements and stuffed my opinions,” she hissed on an escalating note. Inhaling deeply, she leaned forward and jammed her fists on the tabletop, her arms trembling. “I’ll never do it again.” Her eyes blazed. “So don’t tell me what to do.” 
This is what he got from trying to help her? A muscle twitched in his left cheek. Anger radiated from every muscle, but he held himself in check. The woman had stepped over the edge, past the point of return. Clearly, the beast was out of its cage.
“I’ll say whatever I please,” she stated, her voice escalating. “This is a free country.” Unshed tears glistened and a red splotch stained each pale cheek. With an arm flung through the air, she tossed aside his well intentioned suggestion. “Everybody has a right to work, to exercise their talents and not be shamed for doing so.” Her full lower lip trembled. “If you weren’t so narrow-minded, you’d see the sense of it.”           
All at once, she gasped as though she realized something important. Abject horror flooded her face an instant before her mouth crumbled. She snatched her cloth reticule from the table and with great aplomb, whirled around, and dashed from the dining room.   
He jumped up and rushed after her, wanting to explain but reconsidered trying to stop her. At the parlor window, he pushed aside the lace curtain. With a mixture of utter surprise, simmering anger and confusion, he watched her skirts flap as she tore down his walkway. At the gate, she yanked it open with such force he thought it might fly off its hinges. She dashed ahead and it slammed noisily behind her. His heart tugged a little as she swiped tears from her cheeks before she ran down the street.

Joyce answered a few fun questions for us:

(Note: Joyce will be giving an Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter today!)

LIZ: Welcome, Joyce. I’m so glad you’re here!  How often do you get lost in a story?

JOYCE:  Just about every time I read a book. 

LIZ: What’s the first book you remember reading?

JOYCE: The Pink Ballet Slippers. Like most little girls, I adored the color pink. Once I saw the cover art of two pink ballet slippers, I couldn’t resist reading it.

LIZ: What’s your favorite “love” word?

JOYCE: Cherished. I love the concept of being cherished which implies a certain reverence and appreciation. To cherish means to nurture another person through loving actions. How wonderful it that? Whether you are the giver or receiver, being cherished feels good.  

LIZ: What are the next five books on your 'to be read' pile? 

JOYCE: Trickster’s Point by Wm. Kent Krueger
Mad River by John Sandford
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
Written in my Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
A Wanted Man by Lee Child

Three of these books are mystery/thrillers which I find irresistible. As to romance stories, any reader suggestions would be appreciated. There are so many wonderful romance authors, I need help choosing. 

LIZ: What’s your favorite fairy tale?

JOYCE: Beauty and the Beast. The idea that love is much deeper and more meaningful than appearance alone is so important.  

LIZ: What’s your favorite cartoon character?

JOYCE: Wile E. Coyote. I love the guy’s speed and tenacity. Nothing can keep him down, quite literally. No matter what the obstacle, whether he’s run over, thrown off a cliff, or flattened with a boulder, he pops right up, silly grin in place, and keeps moving forward.

LIZ: Cast your book using fairy tale or cartoon characters.

JOYCE: Eliza, the character in the book entitled, Eliza, has resilience much like Wiley Coyote. Despite her troubles and challenges, she picks herself up and keeps moving forward.   

LIZ: Name three things that are, at this moment, in your heroine’s purse, satchel, reticule, weapons belt or amulet bag (or whatever she carries)?

JOYCE: A gun, coins and a key.

LIZ: What sound or noise do you love? 

JOYCE: Rain. It’s so moody and inspiring.
LIZ: What will always make you smile, even on a bad day?

JOYCE: Hearing my husband or daughter laugh.

LIZ: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
JOYCE: Casablanca because the screenplay is picture perfect.

LIZ HAS GOTTA ASK: What’s the most personal thing you’ve ever put in one of your books?

JOYCE HAS TO ANSWER: Crying, in a moment of great frustration, in front of others. I felt exposed, vulnerable and weak. But, five minutes later, I felt better for having acted so genuine and human. My character, Eliza, also cries in front of Will, the man she eventually comes to love, and has the same reaction. 

LIZ: What’s next for you? 
A Deadly Truth, a romantic suspense set in 1888 is set for release by Champagne books in July, 2012.

LIZ: Do you have a question you’d like to ask your fans?

In the question about the books, I asked for suggestions for great romance reads.

Contact Joyce:
Joyce Proell 
Title: Eliza
Publisher: Champagne Press
ISBN: 9781927454664


  1. Hi Joyce!
    Thanks so much for agreeing to be my guest here at Get Lost In a Story. I hope you have a great time!

    1. Liz,
      Wow!Never thought you'd print all my comments...there were so many. Anyway, I absolutely love your site (I love the blues and the banner photo). Thanks for hosting.

    2. Hey Joyce,
      Of course I wanted all your replies! They were great, and we want to get to know you! I forgot to give my romance suggestions. Of course, I'm a contemporary-lovin' romance reader so my very first recommendation is Susan Elizabeth Phillips -- she's a romance writer's writer! Try "Match Me If You Can" or "Ain't She Sweet?" -- wonderful characters!

      I'm also delving a little more into historical -- so try author Tessa Dare -- she just won a RITA with "A Night to Surrender" and I'm really enjoying it. Also, Eloisa James if you like a smart, good writer. Just enjoy whatever you try!

      Once again--I'm so glad you're here!

  2. When it comes to great Romance reads I often tend to fall back on the classics. WUTHERING HEIGHTS is a great favorite.

    BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a remarkable story.


  3. It was fun to learn a little more about you, Joyce. As your critique partner, I've been lucky enough to read much of ELIZA and can't wait to read it again from beginning to end in its entirety. Nora has always been a favorite romance author for me, but there are plenty of wonderful authors out there to read. You have the oldies and us new and budding authors to read. I've crossed over and now read more than just contemporary romances. Congratulations on this and all of your upcoming releases!

  4. Oooooh, I love Beauty and the Beast. I usually find Disney a bit too commerical but Beauty and the Beast is an excellent movie. Love the songs and everything. :) I like The Princess Bride too. Both the book and the movie were great!

    As for books... I have a thing for J.D. Robb's In Death series... Same with most Julie Anne Long books....

    maybe31 at yahoo.com

    1. I've never read Julie Anne Long, but I'll check her out. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. WURTHERING HEIGHTS is a great tale though Heathcliff is a bit of a stinker at the end. One of the things I enjoy about P & P is Darcy's transformation from skunk to all around great guy at the end of the story.

  6. Hi Joyce! Nice to discover these cool things about you. Please don't enter me into contest but I just have to tell you a favorite of mine, A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. It's a time travel but oh, the romance is so delightful and the ending made me cry - in a good way. That might appeal to you.

    1. I adore time travel. And I enjoy Jude Deveraux. I'm stating a list now of must reads. Thanks.

  7. Congratulations on your debut release, Joyce. It sounds wonderful!
    Anything written by Bertice Small is on my top 10 list. Also Highlander, by Diana Gabaldon. These two authors inspired me to start writing.

    1. I love Gabaldon and have read everything she's written. Jamie and Claire, the ultimate power couple of the eighteenth century. I've never read Bertice Small but will do so now. thanks for sharing and stopping by.

  8. I always love to hear about debut releases. Congratulations on your accomplishment! I don't actually read too many romances-- generally I like historical adventure with a touch of romance-- so I would recommend Kaki Warner or Genevieve Graham. Like Ana above me, these are the two authors who inspired me to re-discover my writing passion. Best of luck to you!

    1. I love historical adventure and will be certain to check out your suggestions. Thanks for sharing and much enjoyment and luck with your writing.

  9. Congrats on book, love Beaty and the beast,
    Have a great weekend Ll

  10. Joyce,

    Always fun to learn about other authors. And I have a recommendation for you. In fact two of them. Kathleen Woodiwiss's
    Ashes In The Wind, and Annie, by Catherine Anderson. Ashes is a long book, but intense and Annie is a book you'll need a box of
    tissues to finish. Lots of laugh a loud moments as well. It's one of my favorites.

    1. Thanks, Allison. I will add these two books to my list. I've never read Catherine Anderson.

  11. Congrats! Anything by Lisa Kleypas.