Monday, September 24, 2012

Walnut Springs Press Month: Interview with Joan Sowards

About Joan Sowards

Joan Sowards is a third generation Arizonan of pioneer stalk. She holds a BS degree from Arizona State University. Joan is married and has raised five children and a multitude of chickens. Her favorite hobbies are writing, composing, and doing family history research. She loves to travel the USA, and her visited countries list includes Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mexico and Canada. Only 185 to go!

As of 2012, Joan's published novels include Haunts Haven, Chocolate Roses, and The Star Prophecy (Walnut Springs Press). She also authored LDS Word Puzzles (Spring Creek Books), and Word Search Arizona, and a short story The Last Gift of Christmas (A Merry Little Christmas, Covenant Communications). Upcoming novels include a historical fiction titled Shadows of Monts├ęgur, a time travel -- Bridges of the Heart, and contemporary fiction novels--Senior Wish, and Clairvoyance.

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Book Bug: Welcome to The Book Bug, Joan!

When and why did you begin writing?

Joan: In grade school, I wanted to write and started a Nancy Drew wannabe mystery. I knew nothing about what made a plot. Needless to say, it went nowhere. I’ve written poetry and lyrics, songs, plays (musicals) and programs. It wasn’t until I was hooked on family history that I began writing an ancestor’s story in fiction form that I found that writing a novel was the greatest fun.

Book Bug: What book(s)/author(s) have influenced your life and writing?

Joan: Kerry Blair was my biggest influence and mentor even before she was published. She lived in my ward and edited my first writings and sent it back all marked up. I tried to understand why she marked the things she did and I learned a lot from her. My version of what happened was—when she read my writing, she realized she could do better and wrote a novel, submitted it, and was accepted even before I finished mine.

Being a member of ANWA (American Night Writers) has been a great blessing. I have learned a lot and have made many good friends through the organization. I recommend ANWA to all LDS female writers.

Book Bug: What is your favorite genre to read/write?

Joan: I have three LDS novels published through Walnut Springs Press, and three written I’ve yet to submit. I have also written an historical medieval novel on the massacre at Monts├ęgur, 1244 France that I hope to publish when it is polished. I believe all stories should have a touch of romance.

I enjoy reading a lot of genres as long as it is clean and free of undesirable words.

Book Bug: I also believe all stories should have a touch of romance! (Must be a woman thing!)

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine?

Joan: I sneak in writing as often as I can. With a big family coming and going, being a Cub Scout leader, and other non-official callings, that is a trick. I guess my routine is: walk early mornings and then write until the first interruption.

Book Bug: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Joan: To be honest, I pray for help to knock through the block. Help usually comes. I also brainstorm with my husband, daughters, sister, and critique group.

Book Bug: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Joan: The historical medieval novel I’m working on is about a specific incident in the Albigensian Crusade and has taken a lot of research. Daily. I’ve had to study the same information repeatedly to understand and get the feel for the Cathars and the customs and sentiments of the time period. I still fear I don’t have it right. With the help of my daughter who has a degree in medieval history, and author Joyce DiPastena’s expertise, they have caught several blunders.

Book Bug: Joyce is definitely the expert on medeival history!

What do you think are the most important elements of good writing?

Joan: 1) plot structure, characterization, and tightening prose, 2) having a good critique group, 3) learning all you can about the craft by going to writer’s workshops and reading on the internet, 4) understanding writing is a craft to improve on. Always improve.

Book Bug: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Joan: Visiting writer’s websites, composing music, researching family history, being with family.

Book Bug: What book are you reading now?

Joan: Big in Japan by Jennifer Griffith, No Angel by Theresa Sneed.

Book Bug: I just finished No Angel. It is fantastic!

What are your current/future projects?

Joan: Refine my finished novels and see them published: Bridges of the Heart, Clairvoyance, and Senior Wish. I also have two word puzzle books I’d like to publish.

Book Bug: Can't wait to read them!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Joan: Keep writing and refining. Be in the right place at the right time. Join writers groups and network. Learn the craft. Never, never give up!

Book Bug: Thanks so much for being at The Book Bug, Joan!
Walnut Springs Press Books
by Joan Sowards



  1. I've ordered Haunts Haven and will be looking up the other two. They sound like fun.

  2. Thank you for the interview! And Heidi, I hope you enjoy Haunts Haven.