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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Author Interview with Joan Y. Edwards

Mrs. Edwards taught a writing workshop over at the Muse Online Writer's Conference, where I got a chance to hear a little about her work. My favorite thing about this interview is the positive message Joan brings about not giving up--so do read on!

Petre Pan: First off, you're already published as a children's book writer and illustrator. What's the key? In other words, what do you write, and why does it succeed? Tell us about your work, and share a few tips with us.

Joan Edwards: Thank you for interviewing me for your blog. I am very honored to be with you and your readers today. The key to getting your book published is “believing with unwavering faith that it will be published.” This means that you educate yourself and inspire yourself to keep on going towards publication. I believe if you are open to it and search for it, you will find your key to publication.

I write from my heart. I care about people, young and old. I do research. I read the craft books recommended by those who have made it. I read. I write. I share what seems to work for the pros. I share what has worked for me in my experience. I revise.

I teach. I love to teach. In teaching others, I learn the topic under study, even more deeply. I study the work of others by critiquing or reading books.

I love to learn something new. It inspires me. Even little things like a butterfly passing near me, inspires me. New inventions inspire me, not only because they are nifty, but also I know they didn’t listen to those voices that said, “IT CAN’T BE DONE. YOU CAN’T DO IT.” Hurray for them.

I believe this is why I succeed. Like the energizer bunny, I keep on going.

Petre Pan: Here's a curveball. What is the most important sound in the world--if you had to sum up the entire world in one sound, what would that sound be?

Joan Edwards: The most important sound in the world, if I had to sum up the entire world in one sound, would be the sound of the waves hitting on the shore. To me, it means that life continues on, that there is a rhythm to living, that I can depend on this continuous sound. That there is hope for my dreams and fun for my days. All I have to do is look for it and listen.

Petre Pan: What sound would describe your writing style? 

Joan Edwards: The sound that describes my writing style is the sound of laughter, perhaps an inner giggle or a smile but a pleasant sound of laughter as a path to wisdom.

Petre Pan: What word do you overuse when you write? 

Joan Edwards: When I write my first drafts, I use “then” way too many times. At one time I started every new paragraph with “then.” It is a most unnecessary word, yet I need it to get down the drafts out of my head into the computer. At revision time, I delete or replace them or with better words. I use the “find” factor in Word to find the ones that hide out from me. When revising this paragraph, I had to delete a “Then.”

Petre Pan: What's the most challenging part of the writing process for you? 

Joan Edwards: The most challenging part of the writing process for me has been writing the pitch, the short summary of a story. I spent the last four years researching “pitch” in order to improve my writing and help others, too. The pitch is tricky. It has to have the plot and the emotional element that pulls readers, editors, and agents to your story. I discovered that if I write the pitch for the story first (even before I write the first draft), that I almost guarantee myself that my story will have a great plot and emotional hook. The pitch can change; the characters can change, the emotional tugs can change, the bad things that happen can change. However, writing it out in the beginning gives me a path to follow: A path with wonderful characters, conflicts, dilemmas, responses, choices, and decisions. 

Petre Pan: What's the hardest disappointment you've ever experienced in your writing/publishing journey?

Joan Edwards: The hardest disappointment I ever experienced in my writing/publishing journey was submitting Flip Flap Floodle to many publishers and receiving the “No” response. It was a story I made up when I was a little girl 5 years old. I told it to everyone in my family. I told it to neighbors. I told it when I was babysitting. I told it when I became a teacher. People remembered the story and the happy little duck’s song even as many as 30 years later. It was a double whammy when publishers said they wouldn’t consider illustrations by a person who was not a professional artist.

When I retired from teaching in 1998, I spent full-time emphasis on it. I made promise to myself. “I will submit to publishers for five years. If after five years, I do not receive a “Yes.” I will self-publish the book. I repeatedly submitted my manuscript for five years. I continuously received a “No” from each.

Five years later, I followed through with my plans for self-publishing Flip Flap Floodle. I also enhanced my illustrations using Corel’s Painter software. I chose BookSurge for my publisher.
Amazon bought BookSurge and transferred printing of their books to CreateSpace. Luckily for me, color was introduced by the year 2004 when I self-published it.

Today, Flip Flap Floodle is available as a paperback and as an ebook for both Kindle and Nook.
Flip delights the hearts of children and adults everywhere. Below are links on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Flip-Flap-Floodle-Joan-Edwards/dp/1594572852/
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/flip-flap-floodle?r=1

I continued with my dream which was to have a book published by a traditional publisher. 4RV Publishing  will release Joan’s Elder Care Guide in June, 2015.

Now my dream is to be a New York Best-Selling author.

Petre Pan: What's the greatest achievement/happiest high you've reached on your writing journey?

Joan Edwards: My greatest achievement/happiest high I’ve reached on my writing journey is the fact that 4RV Publishing said, “Yes,” when I pitched it during the 2010 Muse Conference. And that In 2011, Vivian Zabel, President sent me a contract to publish “Joan’s Elder Care Guide” with practical advice that empowers both the elder and the caregiver that I learned from taking care of my mother for 14 years. I sang and danced all around the house. A smile still lingers on my face and in my heart. It was a wonderful moment. When the book actually comes out, you’ll be able to hear me on Broadway.

Petre Pan: What do you do outside of writing?

Joan Edwards: Outside of writing,
    Go to church.
    Pick up one of my grandchildren from school each week to have an adventure together
    Spend time with my family
    Spend time with my friends.
    Shop.
    Go to movies.
    Watch football games and westerns with my husband
    Travel to the beach or the mountains in neighboring states
    Travel to New York, Colorado, Ohio, Nevada, Oregon, or Washington to visit with family and friends or to explore on my own.

Petre Pan: What's the best writing advice you've received (that you remember)? 

Joan Edwards: The best writing advice I’ve received was to study the greats and to keep writing. Another was to “Write what you like to read” which I turn around and say “Read what you like to write.”

Petre Pan: Finally, I noticed from your website that you're a woman of faith, or, as I like to say, a God-follower. How has that impacted your writing journey?

Joan Edwards:  In 1980’s my first writing on the web was an email from Hemby Bridge School in Indian Trail, NC sent to California. I received an answer within minutes. I was hooked. It was truly fascinating.
In 2001 I noticed that our church, St. John Neumann had a website. My dream at that time was to make a difference to children. I wanted to reach the child that might not get to church. One that might be sick or no one to take them there. I thought they would be happy to do an interactive wordsearch or crossword puzzle using the words of the Gospel read for that particular Sunday. I taught Children’s Liturgy and explained the Gospel to the children at our church. I thought that perhaps they would like a devotional online that explained the Gospel in words they understood.
I asked our pastor, Father Thomas Meehan if I could put devotionals and puzzles on the church website. He said, “Yes. Send them to John Silvestri.” I kept sending the puzzles and devotionals so quickly that John got overwhelmed. Another thing that totally surprised me and helped me realize I was doing what God wanted me to do was that in 6 months, I had 2,000 readers of the puzzles and devotionals. Teachers wrote me asking me to do them ahead of time.
That’s when I decided I needed a website of my own. Since I enjoyed learning about how to do things, I took an online course on how to set up your own website. I created my own website in July, 2002. Another surprise, I had 2,000 more readers on my website before 6 months was up. Almost unbelievable for me, but the statistics told me it was true. I was very thankful to God. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. It looked like I was doing that with the help of the religious education teachers of many faiths, not just Catholics, and not only in America, but in Scotland, Australia, the Philippines, too.
As of October 19, 2012
    My website, www.joanyedwards.com lists more than 55,200 visitors since July, 2002.
    My Never Give Up Blog, www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com lists 33,836 views since October 9, 2009.
If you combine them, that’s 89,036 visitors/views in ten years. Almost 9,000 views a year. That is one reason that I keep on writing. People keep on reading and responding to my work. The interaction hooks me. Blogging brings me even more interaction. I love it.
Just like a character in a story, my goal has changed from making a difference in the lives of children to making a difference in the lives of everyone I meet in person or online...both children and adults.
Like Flip Flap Floodle, my personal mantra is Never Give Up. At one time in my adult life, I did want to give up. However, God helped me through that time. He sent the right people to help me look at things differently. I want to encourage others in their journeys. I want to deter them from giving up. I want to help them reach their dreams. In doing this, I feel I will reach my goals and reach my dreams. I am enjoying the journey. I plan to get there. God is showing me how.


  1. Hi Petre Pan. Thanks for hosting Joan today. She is a remarkable person who loves helping people. And thanks, Joan, for sharing.

  2. Dear Barbara B,
    You're welcome for my sharing. What a nice compliment you gave me! Thank you very much. I appreciate Petre Pan because she is a great writer and because she was willing to have me as her guest here.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

  3. Petre, thanks for hosting Joan and letting us get to know her better. Thanks Joan for sharing your experiences, and your knowledge. I'm so happy you hung in there with Flip Flap Floddle. I too have books that publishers have turned down. I don't feel it's because the work is not up to standard, but that it's just not what they wanted at the time of submission. I have every intention of self publishing some of my books also. We can't always depend on others to make us successful. Having a publisher is wonderful, and gives you an element of credibility , but creating your own success by believing in your own creations, is grand. Write on Joan, you are a special person who inspires us all.

    1. Dear Susan,
      Petre Pan is a kind and generous person who likes to do good things for people. I appreciate her giving me the honor of appearing as a guest on her blog. It's fun sharing a few of my experiences in writing and other things, too.

      You are right, Susan. Many times we are turned down because it isn't something in which the editor or agent is personally interested. It doesn't necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with the writing. I am proud that I took a chance on me and self-published, Flip Flap Floodle. That little duck is bringing determination and perseverance to children and adults everywhere.

      Having a publisher does give a writer credibility. Having a blog with great writers like you for followers also gives me credibility. Another thing about being a writer is that we have to have unwavering faith in ourselves.
      We can't let what others say or do, stop us from our dreams.

      Good luck with your writing and personal goals. Thanks for stopping by to encourage me to "write on." I am glad that you believe I inspire you and help you to see the good talents and skills you never recognized in yourself. This is good. You also inspire me. Celebrate you and your gift of compassion and wisdom.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  4. Hi Petre Pan,
    Nice to read Joan's guest blog here. She is so encouraging and helpful! I'm glad you've had a chance to get to know her and her good-heartedness. How wonderful to see how she reaches so many people of all ages.

  5. Dear Linda,
    Thank you for writing. I bow humbly at your kind words. It is fun to talk with people of all ages. They are intriguing and have interesting things to say.
    Celebrate you today and your gift of encouragement.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

  6. Petre,
    Thank you for your thoughtful interview. Joan, I enjoyed learning more about you. Your work always inspires me not to give up. Waves on the shore--yes!

  7. Dear Mary,
    Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to write. It's great that my work inspires you not to give up. Hip Hip Hooray for you. I'm glad that we both liked the sounds of the waves on the shore.
    Thanks again, Petre Pan for allowing me to be a guest on your blog.

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

  8. Thanks everyone for writing in! It's great to see all the comments, and I was really honored to hear from Joan. She has such wonderful insight!

  9. Dear Petre Pan,
    I appreciated everyone writing in, too. It was fun to talk with the people on your blog. I bow humbly to you for having me as your guest. Thank you for saying I have wonderful insight. That is a great compliment. Good luck with your writing. May every pitch and manuscript of yours be marked: SOLD.

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

  10. Dear Petre Pan,
    Thanks again for doing this interview of me. It's interesting to read it in retrospect many moons later.

    I hope you've seen publishing success!

    Never Give Up