About Joan Sowards
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 Montségur, 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