* * * * *Hi, Joan, and thank you so much for being my guest today!
Hello, Becky. Thanks for inviting me to be a guest on your wonderful blog. It is an honor to be here.
Your picture book, FLIP FLAP FLOODLE, is adorable! What inspired you to write this book, and how did you tackle the task of self-publishing?When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Lorrie, I decided I wanted to get Flip Flap Floodle published. I made the story up when I was 5 years old. Why did I wait so long? Why didn’t I think of getting it published before 1967?
When I was a little girl we didn’t have picture books. I had thick hardback books of Andersen’s and Grimm’s Fairy Tales with few pictures. I read the newspaper. I didn’t have access to the Golden Books until I was 8. At that time, I was reading middle grade books, like the Bobbsey Twins and Heidi. When I studied to be a teacher, I learned about picture books. I graduated from college in 1963.While I was pregnant with my second daughter, Mollie in 1976, I started a two-year program to earn a Master of Arts in Education in Intermediate Elementary Language Arts from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina. My professor, Sarah Smedman, taught me about children’s literature: picture books, middle grade novels, and I fell in love with the literary world even more. She talked in depth about the hidden meanings behind the text of the writing and the structure and the needs that books meet in children.
I submitted my manuscript to publishers many times. I heard the message: Don’t send pictures. Publishers choose illustrators. A delightful story, but doesn’t meet our needs, etc. With responses like that, I couldn’t stop my day job. I decided I would focus on teaching and write new stories and submit them. I would continue to submit Flip Flap Floodle, too. My plan: Teach, Write, Revise, Submit.The North Carolina Writing Project chose me to be a participant in 1987 because of my good writing skills. That gave me a wave of confidence. In 1993, I won first place in the Eastern Zone of Parents without Partners organization for The Golden Arm.
I started taking care of Mother in 1995. At first, I thought taking care of her would keep me from getting published. However, it didn’t. I wouldn’t let it. I read in a newspaper article 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 promised myself in 1998 when I retired from teaching that if no one had published Flip Flap Floodle in 5 years, I would self-publish it. Since no one said, “Yes,” I followed through with my promise. I self-published Flip Flap Floodle in April of 2004. Lucky for me, BookSurge offered color printing for the first time. I had always dreamed of doing Flip’s illustrations. So I did them. I’ve gotten many compliments on them and on the story. There are many rave reviews on Amazon and my website. Flip Flap Floodle is a self-publishing success and will be 10 years old in April, 2014.
Flip Flap Floodle, the happy little duck who Never Gives UpHip Hip Hooray! It’s so much fun to read Flip Flap Floodle to kindergarten through fifth graders. They sing along with Flip’s song, and sit on the edge of their seats when he is in big trouble with Mr. Fox. They also enjoy the humor. Children remember me when they see me. It’s a great thrill when they still remember Flip’s song years later. Children and adults tell me when they face obstacles they’re not sure they can handle, Flip’s song bubbles up in their minds. They start singing it. Their fears dissolve. They continue on and do not give up. People who are sick reach out to Flip Flap Floodle, too. It seems to calm them and help them believe everything will be all right. To me, that is awesome.
You have such an inspiring story, Joan! Thank you so much for sharing the story of Flip’s journey to publication with us. You have a new book, JOAN’S ELDER CARE GUIDE, coming out with 4RV Publishing in 2014. Congratulations! Please tell us a bit about your newest project.Thanks for your congratulations, Becky. I am excited about my first book published by a small, quality, traditional publisher, 4RV Publishing. Joan’s Elder Care Guide: Empowering You and Your Elder to Survive is a resource for caregivers packed with practical day-to-day survival tips from my fourteen years of elder care. It has activities to help caregivers maintain physical health, keep emotionally and spiritually stable and to help the elder do the same. This book will make it easier for caregivers to take care of their own needs and those of their elders at the same time.
This sounds like an excellent resource, Joan. I especially like how you have taken your own experiences and crafted them into a helpful book to support others! And speaking of support, your blog is one of the BEST out there for writers—both in the practical information you share with your readers, and in the encouragement you offer in every post. What provides the “spark” for your blog, and what keeps you so positive?Golly Gee, you say the nicest things. Thank you for the compliment.
There was a very deep and dark time in my life. It seemed like negative covered me from head to toe. I thought I was worthless. With God’s help, I was able to come out of it. I knew that somehow the negatives had woven their threads around me, not all at once, but little by little.I credit my parish priest for telling me to seek help. I asked him how I could repay him for helping me. He told me to continue doing what I was already doing...helping those God put in my path.
I started reading all the positive-minded stuff there was, including Robert Schuller’s Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do! I set out to change the way I was thinking because it wasn’t working for me anymore.When I retired from teaching, I didn’t realize how much I would miss being with people. It wasn’t that I talked with every teacher and student in the school every day, but that I could. But after I retired, I couldn’t. Little by little I had to take more care of Mother and although I took her out to eat with her friends, I couldn’t get out and see people. The internet became a way for me to meet my social needs vicariously.
Seeing how Mother was fenced in and not able to get to church every Sunday, I thought many children might not be able to get to church and might enjoy doing puzzles online. I created devotionals, puzzles, and skits for Children’s Liturgy. My pastor let me put them on the church website. People wrote and asked me to do them quicker so they could print them out for the next Sunday. People from all over the world wrote me: United States (almost 20 states), United Kingdom, Scotland, Philippines, and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.I took an online course and created my own website in 2002: http://www.joanyedwards.com. Today it has had over 59,163 unique visitors. It has devotionals and puzzles for every Sunday for Liturgical Years A, B, and C. It has over 12 Gospel-related skits.
In 2008, SCBWI started suggesting that writers needed a platform, a website or blog. I had a website. I didn’t have a blog. I created the WordPress blog, http://www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com, on October 9, 2009. I didn’t know if anyone would read my blog or not. I didn’t even know what I would write about. The only thing I knew was that its focus, like the rest of my life, would be: Never Give Up.
The first year I didn’t have very many readers. Probably 25 at the most for each blog post. Then in 2010, I wrote about what I learned from three different writing conferences I attended. It seemed to gain momentum. The numbers have been climbing ever since. I write about writing, emotional, and spiritual things to help people never give up.If no one ever read my blogs or interacted with me, I probably wouldn’t blog. However, each time someone writes and leaves me a note, it fills a void in my social life, it meets a social need - meaningful interaction with people.
I am proud to say that my blog in 4 years and one month totaled over 375 posts, 81,287 views, 3,197 comments (half are my replies), and 158 subscribers.I appreciate everyone who reads my blog, visits my website, and interacts with me online, and those who purchase Flip Flap Floodle and read his story to help children (and adults) to Never Give Up.
Over 81,000 views—WOW, Joan! I can’t even imagine. That is amazing! I have said before that you are my “blogging Yoda.” ☺ What advice do you have for writers who are interested in blogging?
· Choose the blog system that you’re most comfortable leaving comments on—you want one that is user friendly.
· You don’t have to write every day.
· You don’t have to write every month.
· Write when you have something to say.
· Ask your readers what they would like to read about
· Write what you enjoy.
Great advice! Can you share a bit about any new projects that you have in the works?I am currently taking a six-month course in screenwriting from Hal Croasmun with Screenwriting U.com.
My purpose in doing this is to improve my “Against the Odds” musical screenplay: When 16-year-old Lisa discovers Todd’s 98% foolproof condom put her in the position to have a 100% baby, she struggles when her parents throw her out and Todd disappears. With the odds stacked against her, will she choose life or abortion? I plan to submit it to producers and agents after its next revision.I’ll also write another screenplay during this course. I believe that what I’m learning about scriptwriting will enhance my picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, too.
I plan to submit, submit, and submit during 2014.I believe it, Joan! Thank you so much for sharing with us about your writing journey and philosophy. Attitude is everything, as you have proven quite successfully!
You’re very welcome, Becky. Thanks for inviting me. It was fun traveling through time to share parts of my life and writing journey. I hope it inspires you and others to keep on going so that you Never Give Up!
* * * * *Joan’s picture book, FLIP FLAP FLOODLE, is available from online retailers. Her website is a treasure trove of information, and her blog is full of tips and encouragement for writers. Look for Joan’s newest book, JOAN’S ELDER CARE GUIDE, coming out in 2014 from 4RV publishing!