Joan Edwards is a very encouraging person. Feeling down about your work, or yourself, or life in general? Let Joan know. She’ll do her best to perk you up and urge you on to reach higher. Her latest book, Joan’s Elder Care Guide, came out recently, so she’s busy promoting it.
But I’m sure she’s also working on her next project. Let’s see what that is.
SMS: Please tell us about how you came to be a writer, but first let’s get the details about your early life.
Were you born in South Carolina?
JYE: I was born in Wilson, North Carolina. However, I never lived there. My parents lived in Georgia and came back to Wilson so my Grandmother Sue Bruffey could help Mother with me. We lived in Tucker, Georgia until I was 7 years old. Then we moved to Falls Church, Virginia. I lived there until I went to Western Carolina College in Cullowhee, North Carolina in 1958.
SMS: Are you one of many siblings or did you get your parents all to yourself? If you have any siblings, where are you in the line? How many boys in the family and how many girls? Describe a bit of your family life. Chaotic? Joyful? Strict? Laidback?
JYE: I was one of four children. I had one brother and two sisters. My older sister, Judith, died in 2012. I was the middle child until my younger sister, Janet was born fourteen years after me. My brother, Butch, is five years younger than I. We lived on a farm in Georgia for a short time. My mother had a chicken house in Falls Church. My daddy bribed her with that to get her to move to Virginia. I jumped Double Dutch jump rope, played hopscotch, hide and seek, read books, and put together jigsaw puzzles with my siblings and friends. Our family played the alphabet game, finding license tags from each state, and counting red convertibles when traveling. We made up plays and acted them out.
SMS: What kind of school system did you have? I, for instance, spent most of my grade-school years in 3-room school house. Was your school bigger? Did you have good teachers?
JYE: I went to St. James Catholic School in Falls Church, Virginia from second to eighth grade. It was a very good school. They gave us exams at the end of each school year. At the end of the third grade, I got the mumps and contracted a sleeping sickness. I missed the end of year exams. It’s funny because I didn’t remember that until it was time for the fourth grade exams. I told my teacher: “You can’t give me the fourth grade exam yet. I haven’t taken the third grade exam”
I asked her why hadn’t I taken the third grade exam. She didn’t know. So Mother explained what had happened. Probably the fever I had from the mumps instigated it. After two weeks, I was fine.
SMS: I believe you were a teacher for a number of years. What inspired you to do that? How did the teaching spur your desire to write stories? Or did it? I know you wrote one picture book about a duck who liked to play music. Did you read it to your students? Tell us the name of your book. And what inspired you to write it?
JYE: When I was a teenager, I loved babysitting with young children of school age. I planned parties and activities. I babysat a lot. I also enjoyed teaching my cousins how to do things. In school the teachers would ask me to read the geography book because I made it come alive for them. I took care of my brother and I also took care of my younger sister. We wrote plays and acted them out for our families and friends.
When I lived in Tucker, Georgia, my environment was great for hearing stories and telling stories. Mother read to us from Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Andersen’s Fairy Tales. These were thick books with only an illustration at the beginning and a few sparse black and white illustrations in the middle. There were no picture books back then. People who babysat with me told me stories. I made up stories. When I was five years old, I made up the story of Flip Flap Floodle.
When I taught school, many times I would tell them Flip Flap Floodle. They loved it and begged me to tell them other stories. So I had to do spur-of-the-moment stories for them. I made up characters and put them in weird situations. I made up the ghost stories The Golden Arm and The Day I Turned My Brother into a Monkey. They laughed and laughed. Afterwards I had them write stories and draw illustrations for them.
I tried off and on for many moons to get Flip Flap Floodle published. I got many rejections. After I retired, I promised myself I would submit it to publishers for 5 years. If at the end of 5 years, no one said, “Yes,” then I would self-publish it. Everyone said, “NO.” So in 2004 I self-published Flip Flap Floodle through BookSurge. Luckily for me, color print-on-demand came out just in the knick of time for me. I have made many presentations to elementary school students explaining the process of how I changed the illustrations and how I used the internet to help me improve my drawings of a frog and Mr. Fox. I drew a rocking chair for Flip’s grandmother to sit in. The proportions and slant of the rockers were all wrong. I took a rocking chair that I had and placed it in front of me. I said, “Rocking Chair, you’re gonna sit there until I can figure out how to draw you right.”
And it did.
I’ll share this with you. I had all my illustrations and text formatted for “landscape” view. After I paid my money and signed my contract, BookSurge said, “We don’t do landscape books.”
Horror of all horrors. Talking about pep talks. I had to do quite a bit of talking to myself to get the energy to redraw all the illustrations in “portrait” view. This was what I said to myself, “Joan, each time you redo an illustration, you’re making it better and better.”
SMS: Tell us how you came to write your current book, Joan’s Elder Care Guide.
Did you consult geriatric care providers? A lot of it is personal experience, I’m sure. Do you feel that experience gave you a way to make your guide more relatable?
JYE: I took care of my mother, Ethel Darnell Bruffey Meyer for fourteen years. Through trial and error I found ways that worked. For at least two years, I wasn’t able to go anywhere out of town. There were no books about elder care. The internet wasn’t like it is now where you can put in almost any medical condition and find a definition and possible cures. My teaching experience helped me realize that I wasn’t leaving the substitute caregivers enough information. Once I started to leave them what my mother could and couldn’t do and things to watch out for, things went better. I put what I did plus I added other things I discovered through research so that caregivers would have the information they need at their fingertips.
SMS: How are you marketing your book? And are you just marketing locally or are you using contacts around the country? Any chance of having it translated into other languages to help families with their elderly relatives?
JYE: I’m marketing Joan’s Elder Care Guide on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and through conferences that I attend. I also do presentations for groups that work with the elderly. Our church has my book in its gift shop. Oh my, that filled my heart with joy. Editing the book left me exhausted. I’ve spent the last three months spending time with my family and friends to regain my inner strength.
I’m willing to travel to promote my book, but that hasn’t happened yet. I feel sure it will in the future. I have not heard anything about its being translated into other languages, although that would be quite an honor. It will come out as an E-book at the six months or one year mark. I think that will help many people access the parts they need quickly with the E-book’s search capabilities.
SMS: Tell us something about your publisher. How did you find her? And what kinds of books is she looking for?
JYE: I found 4RV Publishing during Muse Online Writers Conference in October 2010. I pitched Joan’s Elder Care Guide to Vivian Zabel the owner. She asked me to send a proposal and the first three chapters. They offered me a contract in 2011 and said they would publish it in 2015. It is a small traditional publisher in Edmonton, a suburb of Oklahoma City. http://4rvpublishing.com/. It was named the Best Edmond Book Publisher of the year for four consecutive years: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. Submissions are closed for Children’s books now. Submissions are open for Artists, Illustrators, Short Stories, Tweens & Teens, Young Adult, New Adult, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Biblical Based. They used Ingram’s Print on Demand service for Joan’s Elder Care Guide.
SMS: You encourage lots of people with your blog, not just to continue writing and submitting, but also to expand their writing horizons by starting blogs or doing other things related to writing. How do you find the time? What blogs do you have other than “Never Give Up”? Do you cut yourself slack when you don’t finish all your projects for a given day? What are your comfort food and/or activity?
JYE: Thank you for saying that I encourage lots of people with my blog. When I first started my blog, I didn’t know what I would write, but I did know that it would come from the heart to help those who read it keep on going and never give up. I’d like to inspire them to learn what they need to learn to get where they want to go towards their life goals. In 2010 after I came back from a writing conference and an all week workshop, I wrote about what I learned. That’s when my readership spiked upwards big time. It’s a great idea to give yourself some slack when you don’t finish all your projects in a given day. Loving, forgiving, and accepting yourself is what I believe God would want you to do. I try to do that. Sometimes I am harder on myself. I believe it’s important for you to control your blog, not for your blog to control you. While I worked editing Joan’s Elder Care Guide, I didn’t write as many posts on my blog. I plan to get back into writing at least four posts a month. It is healing for me to write posts for my blog.
SMS: How did you come to start the PubSub group? And how did you find all the people who’ve signed up? I know there are people from all over this country, but also in England, who are members. Are there members from elsewhere?
JYE: In 2009, I realized that I had about ten manuscripts written and that I hadn’t submitted many of them. Only one or two. Of course, I was concentrating on the care of my mother, so that was a good reason for not submitting. But I wanted to submit. I thought if I could get a group of writers to submit a book at the same time as I did, that it would encourage and challenge me to submit my manuscripts, too. That’s why I had a certain date in mind (third Friday of the month) for the group…PubSub3rdFri. That was good for me, but then people said they didn’t want a specific day to submit their work. So I knocked out the words – 3rd Fri – for the group and started calling it, “Pub Subbers.” When you submit your work, you are Pub Subbing.
For a while, we only had about 4 members. Now we have 30 members! Only 2 or 3 have left the group. Pub Subbers is on my blog. That’s where people found our group.
Members believe that the more manuscripts they have in the hands of editors, agents, and contests, the better chance they’ll have at being published. Each time a member submits, he improves his skills in writing, submitting, and marketing. Each submission gets him closer to publication.
In this group, members ask others for suggestions about writing and marketing. Members rejoice with you when you receive a “YES.” They also encourage you when you get a “NO.”
Automated reminders are sent for Week 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Pub Sub process. Automated reminders are sent out to ask members for their goals at the beginning of the month and a recap of their progress on the last day of the month.
For an invitation to join, please send an email telling why you’d like to join Pub Subbers to firstname.lastname@example.org/.
SMS: What’s next on your agenda? Are you working on another book? Planning a trip to Jupiter? Touring the world in a hot air balloon?
JYE: I love your questions! I’d love to fly in a hot air balloon. I rode in one that was tethered to the ground one time. I am working on the illustrations for chapter book Larry, the Terrifying Turkey. I have several choices for the project to check for necessary revisions before submitting to a publisher or agent:
- One young adult novel: Immigrant Heart
- Two screenplays: Against the Odds and The Perfect Couple.
- Picture book, Aunt Sophie’s Biscuits, Porky Wins the Race
- Chapter books: The Golden Arm, The Day I Turned My Brother into a Monkey and Messy Marvin
SMS: Thanks, Joan, for taking the time to fill us in on your projects.
JYE: You’re very welcome. I am honored to be a guest on your wonderful blog. It’s fun to read your reviews of books. You give the essence of the stories and make us want to read them.
SMS: I know you have FaceBook and LinkedIn accounts, but what others do you use?
Readers, if you’re interested in following Joan and her endeavors, please check out her blog by following the link I’ve provided here. Please be sure to check out her books on Amazon at her author page:
Flip Flap Floodle Will Flip’s song save him from Mr. Fox? Will he give up or keep on playing his flute?
Joan’s Elder Care Guide
Empowering You and Your Elder to Survive
Facebook Group for Bloggers, Authors, and Illustrators: To Market To Market
Next week I’ll have more reviews. Let me know if you’d like me to do an interview of you and your work. Sarah Maury Swan