Review of Joan Soward’s novel Bridges of the Heart, Author Interview and Book Giveaway!

Go to my Facebook page for a chance to win a new copy of Bridges of the Heart by Joan Sowards – deadline September 11th!

Anyone who has ever looked into their family history has wondered what it would be like to travel back in time and actually meet their family. Joan Soward’s novel Bridges of the Heart fulfills this fantasy for us as twenty-one-year-old Rachel is plunged into the pre-Civil War South and meets her ancestors. She takes with her a heart mourning the loss of her mother, worrying over her sister and confused about the man who wants to marry her…and returns to the present with a heart healed by the bridges of compassion and forgiveness only a family can provide.
The story carries you from page to page with believable characters such as Lucretia, Jonathan, Coker and the interesting Sheriff Gainey—who looks so much like Maxson, the present-day man Rachel loves. We are taken back in time as we feel the hardness of the wagon seat as we travel over rough ground, smell the clean air of the forest after rain fall and sleep under a handmade quilt scented of jasmine. This is a time-travel journey you won’t want to miss, so take Rachel’s hand and cross The Bridges of the Heart…it will be an adventure you won’t soon forget.

I’m delighted to have Joan featured on my blog, and she was kind enough to answer the following questions:

1. What role did your family history play in the creation of Bridges of the Heart? You mention Coker in your Acknowledgments….is he an ancestor?

Coker is my third great-grandfather. The basic facts in the story are true: that he was illegitimate, that Jonathan died before Coker’s birth, that Coker went to Alabama as a young man and was baptized in Mississippi. He then took his family to Nauvoo, arriving during the exodus. They settled in Missouri to work through the winter and earn the money to go west with the Saints, but Coker died from exposure that season. His wife and children eventually made it to Utah.

As a child, I listened in a family reunion to my genealogist aunt Lora report on her research. She said no one had cracked the mystery about Jonathan Therrell’s parents and family, and probably never would. I remember thinking to myself that I would be the one to do it. I now have spent twenty-eight years gathering Therrell information. It’s all there in “bits and pieces” as Jonathan states in the novel, and is clear as mud.

2. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing Bridges of the Heart?

The Spirit testifies of truth even while writing fiction.

3. Having published several books, what advice would you give a first-time writer?

Never self-publish, or submit to a publisher, until you have had at least 5-6 beta readers read over your manuscript. Listen to their comments and take each seriously. If you have to defend or explain, then reconsider how you present your material.

Never publish without first having a professional edit your manuscript. A great editor is priceless in maintaining your reputation as a good author.

4. For you, what is the easiest and hardest thing about writing?

I love to write, to make up the story and do the research, etc. That’s the easy part. I’m horrible at self-promotion. I’m too timid, I guess.

5. Will Rachel go back in time again—will there be a sequel?

Maxson and Rachel will find their “combined power” without me. Sorry to say, I don’t write sequels.

6. We look forward to your next novel. What is it about?

Clairvoyance is about an ASU journalism graduate who takes an internship at a seaside village newspaper and resolves to have a no-romance summer. She is assigned three women to visit teach and gets involved in their mixed-up lives. Plus, she learns that some resolves are meant to be broken.

Thanks Joan! You’ve given us a glimpse into your interesting family history as well as some good advice….we appreciate it. Can’t wait to see Clairvoyance hit the shelves!

You can learn more about Joan and her writing by visiting her blog Joan Sowards–LDS Author.
You can purchase Bridges of the Heart, or other books by Joan, at Amazon and Deseret Book.
Remember to visit my Facebook page to enter a chance to win a new copy of Bridges of the Heart…deadline Sept.11th!

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