Q & A

One of the downsides of publishing is the need to promote it … especially if you’re not necessarily into self-promotion. That’s me. I want to build readership {and sales} for the novella Heaven Shining Through and the collection of essays, Wisdom From a Father. But I’m reluctant to tell readers to read them because I say they’re good.

That’s the conundrum. I want readers to read the books and tell others why they felt it was good. However, with so many reading choices out there, how do prospective readers even know your book is available?

So, you request reviews. You post on social media. You hawk {I hate that word} your product. You seek promotion options. You watch sales flat line. Even the positive reviews don’t move the needle.

And then you’re reminded why you ventured into the wild, wacky, unpredictable world of publishing. An e-mail here — “You brought a needed smile! And I need your prayers.” A comment there — “Some days these are just what I need.” A positive review — “Sometimes, as believers, we are afraid to present the raw truth of what life is like. We want our churches to be friendly, our marriages to be solid, our kids to behave, and our novels to be chaste. We miss out on the beauty of the experience precisely because we deny the downs and focus on the ups. We present life in a series of vacation pics and high life selfies. In doing so, we leave out half of life and wonder why people don’t take Jesus seriously. Joe Siccardi is not one of those believers, and his story is not one of those stories. While he remains true to the faith, he uses the suffering of Samantha Watt, his everyday girl in her everyday world, to show the ragged lines of humanity. Don’t be shocked, be still. Don’t be judgmental, be honest. Read this story at the peril of your heart, but not in any peril of your faith. In the end, you will see heaven truly shining through.” — offsetting a not so glowing one — “This 64 page novella should have been a novel. The characters lack distinctive development and don’t come to life as real people with inner lives … The plot moves along at warp speed as the decades pass and the characters marry, die, reconcile. They go through a series of events that lack emotional resonance for the reader. There are many missed opportunities for going deeper with descriptions.”

I was reminded of the “why” through a series of questions posed to me. I thought I would share some of them with you.

Tell us about your latest work—title, genre, etc. — and why you wrote it?

Wisdom From a Father – Christian non-fiction, a reflective look at life, segmented into chapters. The 52 essay chapters include reflections on life, love and family. All are written from the heart, sometimes seriously and sometimes with a touch of humor. Heaven Shining Through – Christian fiction. Samantha is dreading her return home. Throughout her life, she had a rocky relationship with her mother – and now her mother is all she has left. Through a nostalgic look back, Samantha recognizes the presence of God in an ordinary life. She learns more about herself as a wife and mother who has had her share of sorrow and blessings. As her faith increases, she is able to see her mother through new eyes, leading to reconciliation … and is reminded of that every time she sees Heaven Shining Through.

What inspired you to write Heaven Shining Through

This was Samantha’s story as seen in my mind. Samantha (the lead) is strong willed and had a lot of dates, leading to some confrontations with her mother. She was equally strong in her resolve to remain pure. There is a scene when she and her boyfriend make love; however, the focus is the aftermath — the remorse, the regret by both Samantha and Chad. They do get married and live a rewarding, faith filled life. It was that faith I was trying to promote in the book. No matter what, God loves us and forgives us. Honestly, the book was not intended to be a “Christian” novel, but a novel everyone could enjoy without an overt Christian message. I intentionally did not want to preach to the choir. This is a story of reconciliation and self-awareness. And it does deal with the sometimes messiness of life.

How did you choose the title of your books?

I didn’t have a working title for the novella until near the end and it just hit me one day while driving and I saw the rays of sunshine streaming from a cloud. I had referred to a conversation Sam had with her children when they saw such a scene and commented they thought the light was heaven shining through. It just clicked. Wisdom From a Father is also the name of my blog, which was the foundation for the book. The essays, I hope, will direct readers to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary … every day.

What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?

Two different genres. I love telling stories with a message.

What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?

Basically let the story unfold.

What kind of research was involved?

Life experiences.

How much of  YOU makes it into your characters?

Some. More surroundings than personality.

How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?

I wasn’t able to really write for pleasure until I retired.

What is your cure for writer’s block? Or do you even get that?

Step away for a couple of hours or days or even weeks … but make sure you come back!

Have there been any authors in particular that inspired your writing?

Charles Dickens, although I also like James Patterson and Tom Clancy. I was struck how weaved his words well and painted a picture in my mind, and I try to do that as well.

Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?

Heaven Shining Through started as a “community novel” without community involvement. When I realized I wasn’t getting any help I shifted into the message novella.

What was your favorite part of your books to write?

I think it was the immediate grief of character Samantha in Heaven Shining Through when her husband died. It was raw … similar to the emotion in “Amazing Grace” in the non-fiction Wisdom From a Father.

Which of your characters is most like you?

I would like to think it was Chad in the novella.

Which of your character would you want to be your best friend?

Without a doubt, Samantha. She embodies the free spirit and resolve so needed in a friend. I could see myself attracted to Sam, just as Chad was. Mary Bernadette (Bernie) also was a life-long, talk over coffee type of friend.

Are any of your characters/plots drawn heavily from your own background?

My background played a role, but more in locations.

How do you choose the names for your characters? Do you research the etymology of the names you use?

I just chose them and built a personality around them. I do listen to suggestions, though.

About how long does your typical book take to write?

That’s a loaded question. It depends on the genre and research. Writing is the “easy” part. Re-writing, re-writing, re-writing and editing takes so much more time.

What was the most difficult thing about publishing your first book?

Getting traction/reviews/sales

What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?

The most consistent negative about Heaven Shining Through is it was too short (in all my years, I was NEVER told that!), so my next project is converting the novella into a novel. I’ve started working on it and hope to have it ready by Spring. I’m still not sure whether I will re-publish or publish as a spinoff.

Could you share some of your marketing strategies? Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?

It is HARD work, probably more than the actually writing. My strategy has been to network as much as possible.

Can you tell us a little about you?

Not much to tell. I was an editorial writer, editor and publisher for 52 years and post a blog at https://wisdomfromafather.com/. I’m the ordinary Joe walking along this journey called life and sharing it with my followers. I’m the proud father of five children, 18 grandchildren and three great-granddaughters. I currently live in Dover-Foxcroft, ME, after life experiences in Paterson, Totowa, Ogdensburg and Newton, NJ; Belvidere, IL; Toledo, OH;  Washington, DC; Laurel, MD; and Seneca Falls and Willard (Romulus), NY.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Good question. I really don’t know, although probably in ministry.

What do you enjoy doing when you not writing?

Traveling, especially since my kids are scattered in five states and grandkids and great-grandkids in two others.

What are some things that you would say to fans if you met them?

Thank you!

What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?

Keep writing. Don’t get discouraged. Never give up. Never give in to the naysayers. Write from the heart. Don’t expect to get rich, but recognize everyone has a story to tell – why not yours.

What social media do you like to share your works through most? How can readers best connect with you?

I have a blog and a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. My website/blog/social networking links are https://www.facebook.com/wisdomfromafather; https://wisdomfromafather.wordpress.com/; @joesiccardi (twitter); and

Do you do book tours/signings? If so is there a schedule already?

I did a book tour/signing for both books following publication in Seneca County, NY, and here at the library in Dover-Foxcroft, ME. I’ve also been at a number of festivals and special “house parties”. I am always up for a book tour/signing and would love to schedule one in my native northern New Jersey, which is the backdrop for Heaven Shining Through.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If all my friends jumped off a cliff, I wouldn’t jump with them. I would be at the bottom to catch them.




About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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1 Response to Q & A

  1. Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~ Advocate/Author says:

    Reblogged this on "Cat Lyon's Reading & Writing Den" and commented:
    An amazing book share from one of my Favorite Book Blogs of my Dear Friend and fellow author Joe Siccardi …One of the best storyteller writers I know and his New Book released and Worth a Read as I Highly Suggest you do! Learn more by a visit to his site 🙂



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