April 2014 AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT
(To view Author Spotlight archives, Click here)
SPECIAL NOTE: This month, Sharon has agreed to give away a digital copy of her book, Pam, to one of my lucky newsletter subscribers.
Check out my CONTEST page for details.
WG: Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
SS: I was born in California, the date is classified. I was raised here, there, and everywhere. We moved a lot. I attended about 16 schools during my elementary-high school years. Somewhere along the way, we landed in Oklahoma and I've been an OKIE ever since. Right now, I live out in the boonies with my husband and three dogs. I like to cook, read, and travel.
WG: Let's talk about your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer?
SS: I played with writing twenty five years ago and sort of abandoned the dream when life got in the way. Six years ago, a new friend at work stopped to chat. When she mentioned that she was a writer, I told her that I used to have that dream. She told me that I gave up to soon and walked away. That day I wrote the first words of THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW:CALLIE
WG: Tell us about your journey.
SS: From first word to publication took about 3 ½ years.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
SS: I was blessed enough to sell the first one and the next two in the series as well. Book four is currently under consideration.
WG: Can you tell us something about your experience in getting 'the call'?
SS: I was sitting at my desk at work, late in the day, when an email popped up asking for the full manuscript. I remember losing my breath and being very hot for a few second. I had to read the message three times before it sank in.
WG: How has being a published author impacted your life?
SS: It's made a busy life busier!
WG: What aspect of life as a 'published author' surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?
SS: The marketing and promotion. I haven't decided if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I just know I was totally unprepared for the sheer work required.
WG: What about your writing process. Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
SS: I have no typical writing days. I have a 40 hour a week job and a part time job in addition to the writing. I write in bits and snatches, whenever and wherever I can.
WG: Do you set writing goals for yourself?
SS: Only monthly ones. I'm working on THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW:KATE, book 5 in the series. My goal is to rough draft 2 chapters a month. So far for 2014, I'm on track.
WG: Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
SS: Nope, just me and the computer. If I'm really intense, I have a hat I wear. I call it my hat of invisibility. If it's on my head my husband knows to fend for himself until it comes off.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
SS: I dive in. If there is something more extreme than a pantser, that's me.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
SS: A combination. I think that's normal with a series where you are working with a lot of the same people. So the characters are there and I have a story line for all six of them.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories?
SS: My tag line is: Ordinary women using their faith to do extraordinary things. That seems to be front and center in all of my stories so far.
WG: What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?
SS: Sheer stubbornness.
WG: Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?
SS: Just the whole time issue. I'd love to stay at home and write all the time, but that doesn't seem to be the path God has for me just now, so I do my best to use the time I have wisely.
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?
SS: When I read, I love to read court room drama or really edgy romantic suspense.
WG: Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?
SS: Science fiction. Remember I said I wrote 25 years ago. Star Trek fiction was where I started. I still have that novel in a closet somewhere...
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?
SS: Don't give up, and join a writer's group. Not only will you learn a lot, they'll help you keep your sanity.
WG: Is there a specific 'ah-ha' moment you've had as a writer that you would like to share with us?
SS: Just that "You gave up too soon." From a friend. It was like I'd been asleep for more than 20 years. I'm awake now!
WG: Rejections, less than stellar reviews and notes from unhappy readers are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?
SS: I'm not sure how to answer this question. THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW: PAM is my third book, plus a forever free novella FOR MERCIE'S SAKE. I've never had anything less than a 4 star review. And I never had a rejection from a publisher. God has blessed me abundantly!
WG: Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?
SS: I can't think of anything. I joined my local chapter of ACFW very early and they always steered me true.
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?
SS: When someone emails me or mentions in a review that my story touched them, or bought them to tears, that always makes me smile. I guess the thing I struggle with most is the relentless voices in my head fighting for recognition. I'd muffle them if I could, but then I'd be lonely.
WG: When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?
SS: Fun for me is a hot soak in the tub with a good book. Once a year I take a nice vacation. My oldest daughter and I are taking an Alaskan cruise in May. I look forward to that yearly trip all year long.
WG: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
SS: An airline stewardess. That was back in the day when it seemed like the most glamorous job in the world.
WG: What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
SS: I like to mow the grass, my favorite pet was a five foot lizard named Cocoa, I have Star Trek uniforms in my closet.
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
SS: Star Trek, back in the day. Now, NCIS and Castle. I think each of those shows are great examples of ensemble casts, and the stories you can tell when you have such a close knit group.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.
SS: "There are always possibilities." Spock of Vulcan
SS: I'm currently working on book five of the Valley View series, THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW: KATE. The one line for this story is: A two time widow falls hard for her new business partner, both unaware that he killed her first husband.
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
WG: What inspired you to write this particular story?
SS: It just sort of came together as I wrote the previous stories. A 'what if' that grew on me.
WG: What sort of research, if any, did you have to do? Did you stumble across any unexpected interesting/fun tidbits along the way?
SS: I'm working with a retired Air Force Colonel. He's helping me with some questions regarding friendly fire and widows survival benefits. I've named him an official woman of valley view.
WG: Tell us about your upcoming plans.
SS: THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW: KATE is book five. THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW: KARLA will be book six and the final book in my series. They aren't contracted but I'm hopeful that my publisher will continue to love me.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your readers can get in touch with you.
SS: Oh, I'm all over the place.
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WG: Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!