Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, October 23, 2023


Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin

I'm excited to announce the launch of Joan M. Griffin's blog tour for her book Force of Nature. This book is perfect for every woman with adventurous spirit or for any hikers, nature lovers, and armchair adventurers. 

Today, you'll have a chance to win a copy of the book and learn more about the author and her writing journey.  

First, here's more information about Force of Nature:

Three friends, women in their fifties, set out to hike “the most beautiful long-distance trail in the world,” the John Muir Trail. From the outset, their adventure is complicated by self-inflicted accidents and ferocious weather, then enriched when they “adopt” a young hiker abandoned by her partner along the trail.

The women experience the terror of lightning at eleven-thousand feet, the thrill of walking through a towering waterfall, and the joy of dancing among midnight moonshadows. For a month, they live immersed in vast natural beauty, tackle the trail’s physical demands, and find camaraderie among an ensemble cast of eccentric trail characters. Together, they are pulled forward toward the trail’s end atop the highest peak in the High Sierra, Mt. Whitney, and the culmination of their transformative journey.

Publisher: Black Rose Writing (September 2023)
ISBN-10: 1685132812
ISBN-13: 9781685132811
Print length: 396 pages

Purchase a copy of the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Make sure you also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author, Joan M. Griffin

Joan lives under the spell of wanderlust. She takes wing, whenever possible, for actual destinations near and far and for literary locales in the pages of books. A native Californian, Joan lives in the Northern California foothills of the majestic Sierra Nevada, a world she loves exploring. Joan navigated her way through two careers—marketing computers, then sailboats—before applying her love of storytelling to her dual passions for teaching and writing.

In addition to working on her next book, Joan teaches women's history and literature for the OLLI
programs at Sierra College and UC Davis Extension.

You can find her online at:

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on your memoir, Force of Nature! Why did you decide to write a memoir about your experience?

Joan: I had such an amazing experience hiking the John Muir Trail that, when I got back, I wanted to tell everyone. But I found it difficult to put it into words when I was talking to someone. It was too big, too majestic, too grand. My short descriptions fell far short. I decided the only way to convey the whole story was to tell the whole story, not just bits and pieces. So I spent 10 years writing it down and polishing it. Now, people can go with me and experience the whole amazing adventure and witness the wild beauty of the environment.

WOW: That's amazing! To have that kind of experience that's so big that you need to turn it into a novel is incredible. I love all the challenges you describe in such incredible, entertaining detail. I imagine it was hard to know what to include when putting your memoir together. How did you make those decisions during the writing process?

Joan: When I began writing this book fifteen years ago, I didn't really know how to go about writing a book; I was a complete novice. So I wrote the fun parts first—the stories that involved interesting trail people or exciting events. I wrote them totally out of order—just writing what I was inspired to write. They were the stories I could see so clearly that I didn't need to refer to my journal or the 100s of photos we'd taken. Once I got more serious, I took writing classes and joined an amazing critiquing group, the Willow Valley Writers, a group of talented women I've now worked with for a decade. That's when I put stories in order, connecting them and filling in all the gaps. I eventually ended up with 170,000 words! I had to start cutting, while at the same time revising and refining, making every single word count. A lot of "my darlings" were left on the "cutting room floor." I had the help of the Willow Valley Writers and my editor/book coach. As a result of all that cutting, my writing is tighter, clearer, and more effective. Interestingly, at the very end of the process, I had to go back and actually add a few important things—personal reflections—that I believe make it a richer, more personal and more universal story.

WOW: How awesome you found such an inspirational group to work with you on polishing your book. You provide such rich detail about the settings! How did you manage to capture it so well in your writing process?

Joan: Thank you. I really appreciate you saying that. I worked especially hard on using very specific sensory details and imagery and metaphor in my attempt to transport my readers to the trail, to the Sierra. The John Muir Trail wanders through the heart of the mountains, through some of the most beautiful wild places in the world—lush old forests, vibrant meadows filled with wildflowers, and bare granite mountaintops with views that go forever. Not many people get the opportunity to experience that wildness, that grandeur, that kind of beauty. A lot of people yearn to, but are never able to make the adventure happen for themselves. I wanted to describe it so clearly that readers would be immersed, transported. I wanted readers to feel like they were there with me, experiencing what I experienced—seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling the places right along with me.

WOW: You certainly succeeded in doing that! I feel like this book represents some major milestones! A huge hiking accomplishment and your first book. How did it feel to accomplish so much?

Joan: It does. I was at a low point when I began to plan to backpack the John Muir Trail. I saw it as a test and an opportunity and a way out of my depths. The month-long journey with my two friends was life-changing. It took a while to realize just how it changed me, but eventually, I discovered just how much more courage and determination and peace I had inside myself. Accomplishing a difficult thing, overcoming huge challenges, changes you in a way that lets you take on new and different challenges without quite so much fear or anxiety. I hiked the JMT in 2006. In 2007, I began a masters degree program, graduating in 2009. In 2010, I began learning how to write this book, while I was still teaching full time. After I retired in 2015, I dove in and made writing this book a major focus. Accomplishing one hard thing empowers you to accomplish another hard thing and another and another. I do feel like I have a lot to celebrate right now, and it's thrilling. But it's also humbling. I am grateful to so many people who encouraged and mentored me along the way.

WOW: I fully believe that too! How awesome you had so much support. What have you learned within the writing and publishing process that you want to share with others?

Joan: There's a common stereotype of the lonely writer sitting up in a small garret apartment with a whiskey bottle close at hand. In the movies, writing is described as an isolating endeavor. I think that couldn't be further from the truth. I am a much better writer because of the time I spend with other writers. I belong to two small critique groups, the Willow Valley Writers and the Picnic Table Writers, and one larger group, Gold Country Writers. My writing friends and colleagues keep me accountable, they raise the bar of writing quality, they encourage me. They teach me new skills and demonstrate the art and provide examples of writing brilliance. My book would never have made it across the finish line without all those people on my team. So my advice is to find your team. Get involved with writing groups. Seek out advice and feedback. Commit to plans and deadlines. And then give that back to the other writers on your team.

WOW: So true! Surrounding yourself with fellow writers means so much. What advice do you have for women who either want to set out to accomplish a major adventure like you did or publish a book and they worry it's too late?

Joan: This is a hard question, because there are things that, at nearly 70, I can no longer do or aspire to do. I won't hike the John Muir Trail or any other backpacking trail again. But there are countless things I can and will do in my 70s and 80s and beyond. My wild adventures may be past me, but gentler adventures still lay ahead. And lots of writing is definitely in my future. So advice? Be realistic, but be bold. Know what you can do, and then do it. Take a big goal, break it down into little pieces, and start. Put one foot in front of the other. Put one word down and then another and another. I started writing Force of Nature by writing one story, the story of the lightning storm at 10,000 feet. Then I wrote the story of walking through the waterfall. One little story after another.

WOW: What beautiful and inspiring advice! What are you working on now that you can tell us about?

Joan: I've begun writing another memoir. It's been sitting on the back burner for a couple months while I focus on the launch of Force of Nature, but I'll pick it back up in the new year, because I think it's important to write. I was adopted as an infant in the 1950s, something that was not uncommon back then. I always knew I was adopted, but it was a closed adoption, so no information about my birth-parents was given to my "real" parents. As an adult, I have now met both of my birth-families, and we make an interesting group. That's become a pretty common situation these days, because of AncestryDNA. It seems everyone is finding a secret or long-lost relative. All of the stories are interesting, but what I find fascinating about my story is that none of the tales my generation has heard match up. The four people who made all those big decisions back in the fifties are long gone, so there's no one to ask anymore. But the three sets of family legends around my birth do not align. What is the truth? How did the stigma of "out of wedlock" pregnancy and birth influence people's perceptions and the stories they created to explain the facts? I think it will be interesting to work with my newly found half-siblings to research and to speculate. It's kind of a "Who am I?" story.

WOW: I can't wait to read it. Best of luck on your and congrats again on your book!

Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin Blog Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

October 23rd @ The Muffin
Join us at The Muffin as we celebrate the launch of Joan M. Griffin's memoir Force of Nature. You'll get the chance to read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

October 23rd @ Rockin' Book Reviews
Visit Lu Ann's blog for her review of Force of Nature. You also get a chance to win a copy of the book!

October 23rd @ Just Katherine
Join Katherine who is featuring an excerpt of Force of Nature on her blog today.

October 24th @ Just Katherine
Visit Katherine's blog again where she features a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about immersing your reader in sensory details.

October 25th @ One Writer's Journey
Visit Sue's blog for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

October 25th @ Rockin' Book Reviews
Lu Ann shares a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about the John Muir Trail, the most beautiful long-distance trail in the world.

October 27th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa for her interview with Joan M. Griffin, author of Force of Nature.

October 29th @ The Mommies Reviews
Join Glenda for her review of Force of Nature.

October 30th @ Choices
Join Madeline for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about why you should write your life story.

November 1st @ One Writer's Journey
Join Sue for her interview with Joan M. Griffin about her writing journey and her book Force of Nature.

November 1st @ Pages and Paws
Join Kristine's blog for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

November 2nd @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about smart planning for a major challenge.

November 3rd @ Stranded In Chaos
Sara shares a spotlight of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

November 6th @ Maddie Gudenkauf's blog
Join Maddie for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin. Don't miss her review of this inspiring book!

November 7th @ Fancy That!
Visit Nicole's blog for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about five things she learned hiking the John Muir trail.

November 8th @ Sara Strand
Sara shares a review of Force of Nature on her Instagram page today. Don't miss it!

November 9th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy's blog for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

November 10th @ Chapter Break
Visit Julie's blog for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about the difference between memoir and autobiography.

November 11th @ Three Things on a Saturday Night
Join Nicole as she features Joan M. Griffin on her Substack, 3 Things on a Saturday Night.

November 12th @ Shoe's Seeds and Stories
Join Linda for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

November 13th @ Boys' Mom Reads
Join Karen for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

November 15th @ World of My Imagination
Join Nicole for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin. You also have a chance to win a copy of the book too!

November 17th @ Deborah-Zenha Adams' blog
Join Deborah for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about hiking as walking meditation. You'll also have a chance to win a copy of the book, too!

November 19th Shoe's Seeds and Stories
Visit Linda's blog again for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about the healing hand of nature.

November 21st @ Musings of a Literary Wanderer
Join Angela for her feature of an excerpt from Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****

Enter to win a copy of the inspiring memoir, Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin! Fill out the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win. The giveaway ends November 5th at 11:59 pm CT. We will randomly choose a winner the next day and announce in the Rafflecopter widget and follow up by email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Angela Mackintosh said...

Wonderful interview, and congratulations on your memoir, Joan! As an avid trail runner, I love the premise and it sounds so inspiring. It's on my TBR list. Your next memoir also sounds compelling and important as well. Wishing you the best of luck writing it, and on your tour! :)

Anonymous said...

A very inspirational story

kywave said...

I look forward to reading this. I enjoyed the book Wild as well as the movie and the movie with Emilio Estevez

dlhaley said...

Thank you for the chance to win this exciting adventure book.

Joan Griffin said...

Thank you, Nicole, for sharing my book and my interview on your blog! It was great fun working with you. Thank you to all the commenters for your responses and putting Force of Nature on your TBR list. I'm glad it came through as inspirational as well as exciting. Best wishes and happy trails to you all! Joan

Tabby72 said...

This sounds like such an interesting book to read!

Kirsten Lyon said...

This book sounds really interesting!

Anonymous said...

I love reading memoirs. Yours sounds most interesting, will love to read!

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