Home > Writing and Poetry > Monday’s Interview: Joany Erickson

Monday’s Interview: Joany Erickson

      This morning I have with me Joany Erickson, children’s writer, blogger, and puzzling person to have around.

Claudsy: Good morning, Joany. It’s good to have you here.

Joany: Hi, Clauds. Thank you for this time. I feel honored to be here with you.

Claudsy:  Joany, tell me why you’re known to so many as Yaya?

Joany: I love being called Yaya because that’s what my grandies call me, instead of Gramma’. Yaya actually means Gramma’ in Greek and, although I am not Greek, I find the term very endearing.

Claudsy: You have a fine supportive husband, Lyle, who also likes to write, I’ve heard. Has his presence and support kept you writing over the years?

Joany: I can’t express enough how important my good hubby-buddy is in my success as a writer. When we moved into our new home a few months ago, he told me that now, it was my turn. I had supported him for all the years we’d been married and he wanted to return the gesture. What a guy, huh?

He has always encouraged and supported me in my writing. In fact, the night we met, we discovered very quickly that we both liked to write. Since then, although our styles are quite different, we have been pretty-much on the same page as far as where we want to go with our writing.

Claudsy: I’ve also heard that you, at least for now, concentrate on the small pieces for kids’ magazines. What draws you to building word puzzles and the wily rebus?

Joany: Oh, don’t you just love the pretty shapes that puzzles can take? I was drawn to creating puzzles because of a nine-year old boy who didn’t want to mow lawns. When I learned how amazingly he succeeded with his abilities as a Cruciverbalist, or creator of puzzles, I figured I could at least have some success, as well. I’ve also taught others to make puzzles, and they have gone on to create substantial earnings. It makes me feel good when I think about it.

The Rebus, a story that is part words and part pictures, holds a special place in my heart, because even when I have difficulty reading, I still can usually understand the message in a rebus. I have Adult ADD and Dyslexia and the two sometimes work together to scramble messages to my brain. With that kind of introduction to some of the research I do, it’s always nice to have something I can feel comfortable with.

Claudsy: Running a household, writing your newspaper column and blogs, etc., and caring for family can’t be easy. Is there also an outside job on your daily agenda? How do you structure your day?

Joany: I’m very fortunate in that my good husband takes care of everything around the house so I can write. This has always been my dream, and he is very supportive. Since he is sacrificing so much, I am making a real effort at succeeding as a writer so that he will know how much I appreciate him and all he does.

Claudsy: Do you always aspire to be a full-time working writer? And if so, why?

Joany: I think I could be considered a full-time writer, now, since its almost the only thing I do, anymore. When I was a child, my mama used to tell us stories that she made up as she went along. I can remember being in Kindergarten and loving and admiring her so much that I wanted to be just like her. I can’t ever recall a time when I didn’t want to write. Now, I have the chance to make that dream come true.

Claudsy: What most influences your writing? Family, church, something else?

Joany: I don’t think that any one thing has more influence on my writing than another. I find that everything I see, hear, taste, touch, smell or experience seems to go into a storage bank of ideas for later reference. I don’t know if it would be possible to separate my writer’s mind from everything else that I am, actually.

Claudsy: I’ve read many of the stories you’re willing to share. And some of the poetry. I know how astute your observations and writing can be. Could you tell me why you choose to use humor for nearly all of your work?

Joany: Wow! That’s a good question. I don’t think its something I think about, really. When I was very small, perhaps three, my mama said that I had figured out that humor was a way to overcome all kinds of problems. Even then, we moved around a lot, and I’ve always been able to meet people by finding the humor in a situation.

Since I’ve also had many medical challenges throughout my life, it didn’t escape my notice that some situations can be overcome by incorporating laughter; pain being one that quickly comes to mind.

Claudsy: Do you feel that your writing has suffered any over the years by other life responsibilities taking precedence?

Joany: I can’t really say that my writing has suffered. Even now, writing nearly every waking minute, I don’t feel that I am writing as much as I would like to. However, I’ve always felt that the different experiences I’ve had have contributed towards my ability to express myself. As a writer, I find that every situation contributes to what I love – writing. Whether in the depths of despair, heightened by joy or overcome with pain, each experience helps me to express myself more clearly. Don’t you feel the same?

 Claudsy: I suppose I do. But tell me, if you could write any one major thing and have it published, what would it be?

Joany: I’ve always dreamed of having a series of educational books published that would include some form of each type of writing I enjoy, namely poetry, puzzles, fiction and non-fiction. In my mind, it’s very clear how I intend to accomplish this.

Claudsy: Joan, how difficult would it be for you to give up writing?

Joany: You might as well ask me to stop talking, and anyone who knows me is well-aware of how challenging that would be for me.

Claudsy: Could you divulge what writing projects you’re currently working on and whether there are more coming out soon?

Joany: I have three novels (that) are near and dear to my heart. They are all completely different, and when I am frustrated at the way one is going, then I move on to one of the other two. Recently, I was introduced to PiBoIdMo, which stands for Picture Book Idea Month. In November, this year, Tara Lazar launched this program to help those who didn’t feel comfortable being involved in NaNoWriMo…

My (writer) friend, Lynn Bemis asked if I wanted to step up to the challenge of PiBoIdMo with her and write a picture book idea for each of the thirty days in November. We were late…, but both of us did manage to win the PiBoIdMo Challenge, and I’m so thankful…  I now have more than thirty picture book ideas I can choose to work on whenever I feel a lag in my writing.

Claudsy: Where can folks go to see some of your work and interests? I know you have blogs and a website.

Joany: I have articles and puzzles published in different places. Some… in newspapers and… in magazines. There are also articles, poems and puzzles online and in magazines. If you go to: www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.isp?vgnextoid=e419fb40e21cefooVgnVCM1000001f5a430aRCRD/  and type in Joany Erickson in the search section, you can see some of my puzzles there. An article about how to create word puzzles is published online at Writing for Money, and there are a number of newspaper articles that have been published over the years.

I also had a regular article in the Backcountry Gazette in San Diego County for about two years. Some of the places I enjoy posting my thoughts are on my blogs and my hubby’s website.

They are located here: 

http://yayashome.blogspot.com/   and  http://redwagonflights.blogspot.com/ and http://architectofprose.blogspot.com/  (billed as Word Designer) and for  Lyle Erickson at: http://barbarian13.com/index.html

Short Biography:

Joany Erickson goes by three pseudonyms at present: Just Joany, Yaya, and Word Designer. She’s an Institute of Children’s Literature member and can occasionally be found playing on the Writer‘s Retreat there as well as other social scenes when not pounding out puzzles for publication. Also, she has extensive experience and training in the study of Dolls and Doll Repair, which explains her versatile writing styles.

Numerable stories, articles, novels of hers float around journalistic world, as well as puzzles and human interest pieces. As a full-time writer, she’s taken an Honorable Mention in the international Morten H. Clausen Poetry Competition.

She considers writing to be part of who she is and strongly recommends if for healing whatever ails a person. One of her pieces of advice for writers; if you’re writing for any reason besides the pure joy of writing, you’re writing for the wrong reason.

I want to thank Joany again for being my willing first interview victim here on Claudsy’s Blog. She was a brave soul, allowing me full access to her words and her thoughts concerning the most important thing to her life aside from her family. If you get a chance, drop by one or more of her blogs and have a good time. They are fun for the fun lover.

Have a great writing day.

A bientot,


Categories: Writing and Poetry
  1. January 4, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Yaya and Clauds,

    Cool to learn so much more about you Joany. I learned things I didn’t already know, so good job Clauds.

  2. January 4, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Hi Yaya and Clauds,

    Well done. That was very interesting. I will definitely check out the article on creating puzzles.


  3. January 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Hi Clauds,
    Looks like I almost arrived late after our interview. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of something so uplifting. I feel as if I have been awarded a Blue Ribbon or something. I must say, this whole experience has worked towards giving me more confidence in myself as a writer. And I can’t discount the very professional way in which you presented yourself. I can tell you that I will work hard to live up to not only my new confidence in myself, but the confidence you have demonstrated in me.

    If there is ever anything I can do for you in the future, please feel free to ask. I am more than happy to return, anytime. Thank you, again, for a very positive and encouraging experience. I shall always look back on it with fondness.

    Thank you for sharing in this special day for me. I hope it has been as helpful for you as it has been for me.

    I also appreciate your coming by. Having all of you here has helped me to love writing even more; something I didn’t think was possible. Unfortunately, the puzzle article can no longer be found online, as the magazine recently found it necessary to take a different path. However, I plan on doing other articles along that line in the future.

    Again, thank you, Clauds, and all of you for your kind interest.

    Now, as I always say on my blogs, keep a hug on,

  4. Marie Elena
    January 6, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Excellent questions, thoughtful answers … what more can one ask for in an interview? Great job, ladies.

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