Meet Joan Edwards, North Carolina born Educator. After teaching 35 years, winning awards for her creative writing, writing and coediting curriculum for Liturgical Publications, Joan has found a rhythm for her own imaginative pieces. She’s also a generous soul: someone will win a copy of Flip Flap Floodle. Please leave a comment on Joan’s blog, “Roxie Put Me in the Spotlight on Her Blog.” Let her know something you learned from the interview before noon on February 14, 2011. She’ll enter you in a random drawing for a free copy of her paperback book, Flip Flap Floodle.
Q) Joan, what are your current projects and from where did you draw inspiration for each?
A) Here are my current projects:
Flip Flap Floodle Learns a New Song (Sequel to Flip Flap Floodle – he meets friends and forms a band) Next one, Flip Flap Floodle Becomes a Big Star.
The Day I Turned My Brother, Butch, into a Monkey – I actually have a brother, Butch who pestered me when we were children.
The Golden Arm – Short Story – Adult or Young Adult – Took a very short Ghost story and expanded it. Fun, scary, and layered with emotion.
Aunt Sophie’s Biscuits (My real Aunt Sophie made wonderful biscuits that filled you with such love that you were able to do wonderfully fun things)
Mack and Mazie: Loggerheads Forever – Chapter Book – How sad that these creatures are endangered and how intriguing it is how they survive – What goes around, comes around.
I promised myself that I would self-publish Aunt Sophie’s Biscuits and Mack and Mazie, Loggerheads Forever if a publisher doesn’t say yes before the end of 2009. Since Mother died, I extended the time. I plan to work on the illustrations for these and self-publish them in 2012 if I don’t receive a “Yes, I’ll publish this book.”
Momsie’s Jeep Adventures – My mother loved to drive.
Messy Marvin – Chapter Book – Messy children and adults (including myself).
Follow Your Immigrant Heart – Young Adult Novel – I wrote this during Nanowrimo 2007 – sad to see how immigrants were treated during 1902—especially Italian immigrants. I saw an exhibit in Pueblo, Colorado in 1998 or 1999.
Joan’s Elder Care Guide: Empowering You and Your Elder to Survive – Want to make it easier for caregivers to take care of their own needs and those of your elders at the same time.
Larry, the Terrifying Turkey – Chapter Book – A turkey attacked and scared me as a child.
Most of my stories have something to do with my family or something that touched my heart, made me laugh, cry, or feel good. I love finding humor in my experiences. In my search for the humor, I find healing for my mind, body, and spirit. In 1995 my Mother, Ethel D. Meyer came to live with me. Many people, including family and friends helped me care for her. My husband, Carl was there with me day after day. Mother died on March 18, 2009, fourteen years after she moved in with me.
At first I thought taking care of Mother would keep me from being published. However, it didn’t. I wouldn’t let it. I read where a lady had gotten a book published while she was caring for her Mother. I decided that if she could do it, I could do it. I made a promise to myself if no one published Flip Flap Floodle in 5 years that I would self-publish it. Since no one said, “Yes,” I followed through with my promise.
It is available from Amazon for $10.00 Flip Flap Floodle.
Q) You’re a writer who knows the importance of maintaining a website, staying current on social media sites, attending conferences, and passing along information to other writers. Give us a peek into your writing, blogging, networking, and etc. life.
A) In 2001 I asked our pastor, Father Tom Meehan if I could upload devotionals and puzzles for Children’s Liturgy on our church website. I created them for children who might not be able to make it to church. I decided I needed to learn how to upload them. I took a course and set up my own website on July 22, 2002. I couldn’t believe how quickly 2,000 visitors came to my website from all over the United States, from England, Scotland, the Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago. I added a page for Flip Flap Floodle.
Now more than 48,926 unique visitors have come to my site: www.joanyedwards.com. That’s approximately 6,000 visitors a year.
In 2005 Liturgical Publications editor, Mike Krejci, hired me to edit another writer’s devotionals, write devotionals, and to be a consultant for their Growing with the Gospel. I worked for them as work for hire for 4 years. Here’s a sample. I learned from this experience that my website was good advertising for my writing ability. My website sold the editor that I knew how to write for children. My teaching experience at church and in public schools from kindergarten to ninth grade gave me an additional advantage as educational consultant. Liturgical Publications even paid to hear what I thought. Now that was impressive to my heart and filled me with more self-confidence to keep on going.
In October 2009 I began my Never Give Up blog. I had no idea what to write or what people would want to hear. I wrote from my life’s experiences and wrote things that I thought might encourage myself and others not to give up. That blog grew from only one person reading it (my friend, Linda Andersen to 4,639 visitors. Most visited post is Putting Universal Conflict, Universal Theme, and Universal Emotions in Your Story (246 visits). Next is Wonderfully Funny Analogies and Metaphors (232 visits). Surprisingly, the third highest visited post on my blog is 17 Days to Repaint a Wooden French Provincial Bed (196 visits).
In January 2010, in an effort to find a way to get myself to submit a manuscript every month, I started PubSub3rdFri (Publisher Submission on the Third Friday of the Month). I had many manuscripts finished but was only sending out one or two every 6 months. I knew if I had other people doing it with me, that I would do it. My writing groups and my friend, Linda Andersen joined me. I wrote people in SCBWI-Carolinas and the Muse Conference Board of Lisa Schizas. Soon other people joined me. I started planning how someone could get a good submission ready if we started at the first of the month. My list of resources keeps on growing, but essentially my plan has stayed the same. The more people know about you and your work, the better chance you will get published. No one will know about your fabulous view of this world unless you send it to publishers (book, magazine, newspapers) and/or agents. You can check PubSub3rdFri on my website for badges for your website, certificates and rain checks to encourage you.
The most surprising thing was while I was on vacation doing my own workshop, I bought Jeff Herman’s Guide to Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2011. It was 1094 pages and more than 2 inches thick. It is the most jam-packed book of empowering information for writers that I have ever discovered. I read it from cover to cover. I made notes of publishers and agents I plan to query or send a submission. Hoping that the information in Jeff Herman’s book might make life easier for others, I wrote about it several times in my blog. I added his book as a great resource to find places to submit work in my Pub Sub 3rd Fri posts. On December 10, 2010 I received a letter from Jeff Herman’s publicist asking me if I would be interested in interviewing him or having him as a guest blogger. I got so excited that I danced around on the ceiling for hours. Read about this coming event:
From taking care of my Mother, I learned many things the hard way. I discovered that many skills I had used in teaching school for 35 years came in handy. I wrote Joan’s Elder Care Guide to empower others to care for their elders. I finished it after Mother died and sent it off to an agent and publishers. In October 2010 I began my Joan’s Elder Care Guide blog to entice a publisher to step forward and say, “Yes. I want to publish your book.”
When I am at home, I write every day. I take time to visit with friends, pick up my grandchildren from school, and go to church. Living is an essential part of my writing. Through my experiences, my writing grows. I believe that writers are sensitive people. They feel the emotions clearly and ignite characters with truth and vitality.
I usually, but not always, take a reprieve from going online when I am on vacation. I use that time for reading books on the craft of writing or top selling books in a chosen genre. I’m like a train with my writing, I start out slow, pick up speed, and may have two or three trains coming into the station at the same time.
Q) What advice would you offer other writers?
A) Ten Nuggets of Advice from Joan Y. Edwards:
- Never Give Up. Flip Flap Floodle is a delightful little duck whose song and story will keep you, your children, and grandchildren going, even when it looks like the fox has definitely swallowed you. Students I had over 40 years ago, still remember the story and song. One boy in second grade said, “Flip Flap Floodle is a classic.”
- Believe in yourself. God created you with a gift that no one else can give to this world. Share it. Accept yourself as you are. This is the pathway to reach your goals. My faith in God and his willingness to stay by me keep me going.
- Write. Write about what makes you laugh, cry, or get angry.
- Use the critiques of a critique group (online or in person) or an editor to help you revise your work.
- Send your manuscript(s) to one or more publishers or agents once a month or more often. You can read the PubSub3rdFri category on my Never Give Up blog. It gives resources and steps to take.
- Read books or online resources on the craft of writing and books in your favorite genre.
- Go to online or in person conferences to participate in workshops. For steps I’ve found helpful in getting the most out of a conference, read these blogposts: Before and During a Conference and Five Good Things to Do after a Writing Conference.
- Laugh. Laugh a lot. Laugh, laugh, laugh. If you can’t laugh, go ahead and cry.
- Be thankful. List the things for which you are thankful every morning. It is in being thankful that you will receive more.
- Reward yourself as you achieve a goal you set for yourself. Do for yourself what you wish others would do for you. Celebrate each day of your life.