Here’s what Spotlight is about; it’s an interview that promotes you! It will feature questions that are formatted to your needs. Questions will be focused on your work, upcoming work and some personal [but not intrusive] questions for your fans to get to know you more!
Tell us about yourself
First thing about myself is I am a simple person really with a very open mind. I grew up in Kansas and about 5 years ago moved to Oklahoma with my husband after he graduated college. We have three dogs, White Sock (Boston Terrier), Guinness (PitBull/Blue Heeler) and Bailey (PitBull/Blue Heeler). I am a huge dog lover!!I have a bleeding heart when it comes to animals. I would adopt every stray if I could. I could most definitely become the crazy dog lady! I graduated a few years ago from Oklahoma State University (Go Pokes!) with Bachelors of Science in Liberal Studies. I couldn’t never figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up! I now work in the IT Dept of an oil company here in Oklahoma. I love watching college football, spending time with my family back home, and of course, reading and writing. I also hate talking about myself, it’s just weird for me! I guess I better get used to it now though, ha ha!
About your writing;
When did you start writing?
Technically I wrote a short story in like the third grade and did all my own illustrations. I put it in a book contest, which I lost, but never really thought about writing until after college. I seriously started writing my first published book about a year and a half ago. Since then, I have my debut novel out and about halfway through my second novel in the Breath of Life series. I also have ideas for 3 stand-alone books that are currently outlined just waiting to be written! Needless to say, writing consumes me when I am not at work and I have to thank my husband for putting up with my anti-social behavior lately.
What inspires you to write?/ How do you figure out what you’re going to write about?
A lot of things inspire me to write stories. It could be a person, a story of a situation someone went through, a song, etc. The world is my inspiration. I look in various places and sometimes, just driving down the road, the scenic view inspires me. Picking subjects can sometimes be tricky because these story ideas can pop out of nowhere but it’s what I think people can relate to that makes me flush out the inspirational moments. Once I get that far, that’s when I start putting it on paper.
How has writing change you as a person?
I have become a recluse! Lost in my own little world…but really I think writing has opened up my mind even further. I am looking for little things. I listen a lot more. I find myself people watching if I am sitting in public. I watch their interactions and see if I can describe it. I guess it’s made me observe more of my surroundings, if anything.
What is your writing style like?
I just try to write with real emotion and give a full story. I like to write in third person to be more descriptive as I find writing from one characters point of view throughout the whole story can be hard when I want everyone to know what’s going on in everyone else’s head too. That’s just how I think when I outline these stories. I am not saying I won’t give first-person a try, it’s just a little harder for me to write in J
What topics have you explored in your writing?/ What topics would you like to explore in the future?
So far I have explored the contemporary romance side of writing. I have a historical romance and another contemporary/mystery romance awaiting. I have an outline for each story. I think though I will typically write some sort of romance novel as I consider myself a hopeless romantic!
Adding something else;
If you spend the rest of your life in a novel or novel series, what novel would it be and why?
This is a tough one but if I go with the series I thought of first it would be the Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day. I can’t get enough of Gideon, there is just something about him that pulls me in. Maybe it’s the tragic past, maybe it’s his semi-controlling ways, I don’t know but he tugs at my heart. I just love him!
Share a couple of your favorite things and or things you like?
A couple things I like? Well how about some things I love! I love animals. I have a bleeding heart for them. I also like the peacefulness of the small town life. I can sit outside and enjoy myself just listening to nature, something you can’t really do in the city. In the summer I like to sit outside when the sun starts setting and listen to the crickets and toads. I have found myself writing outside more at that time, it’s just so peaceful! J
What couldn’t you live without?
I have come to realize there are only three things I can’t live without, family and pen & paper/computer. I love my family and they are irreplaceable. They are my biggest supporters and I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. I also couldn’t live without pen & paper or a computer. How else would I write and share my stories? Music also is something I need. I notices how much inspiration I get from music and how it plays a role in my life. I can always find something to fit the mood I am in or use it to lull myself to sleep on those sleepless nights. When I am stuck on a part in my book, it can spark an idea. So music, writing and family are all things I need to make my life complete.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about writing?
After I published my first book, I realized that a lot of Independent writers go un-noticed because they don’t have a traditional publishers or a good marketing team. I picked up my first independent author book and completely did a 180 of the way I chose my books. I no longer went based off the best seller’s list. Independent authors may not be on the New York Times Best Seller list but their stories are good. Now about 80% of the books I read are by independent authors. Of course I still read best sellers but I have opened my eyes to the world of Independent writers and their stories.
What kind of books do you like?
I LOVE romance/erotica books. I also have found myself diving into Young Adult and New Adult novels as well. I tend to find myself liking more of the Paranormal/Fantasy YA novels but a good romance is my go-to book genre. I will read pretty much anything you put in front of me though.
What do you look for in a publishing company as they will end up representing your work? | If you self publish can you tell us how that process works? | If you haven’t done either – can you tell us which you would like to do and why?
I self-published through Amazon. I decided to go with their KDP Select program. The process itself was easy as the submission process is very straight-forward. I just came out of the 90-day program and I am now diving into the self-publishing aspect on other sites such as Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. I can’t speak of their systems yet as I haven’t done it but I did find that editing the book was a little more difficult. I had a few good friends that helped me out with editing but like most self-published authors, not everything is caught when it goes live so you have to think about that as well.
Marketing is another thing I was worried about. Thankfully I had a good amount of interest and with the help of my friends and social media, I have been doing fine in this area.
How do you stay confident in yourself especially by putting yourself out there in the internet world?
It’s hard to get under my skin, I thank working in a call-center environment for this. I went into publishing my novel knowing that I cannot please every reader out there. I know that I am bound to get a low rating from some readers. I think that if you know this when releasing a book, it doesn’t come as huge blow when you do get that low rating. I also had a variety of people read my book beforehand and they gave me honest opinions which was helpful. I rewritten scenes and even chapters to help improve the story. In the end, I was happy with my story so it didn’t matter if a few people hate it or the masses. I was brave enough to put it out there.
How do you handle rejection? What advice can you offer to moving past it?
I just listen to what they said. Everyone has an opinion. I can’t please everyone as I stated in the previous question. Sometimes, the rejection is just a matter of a personal opinion. If they give constructive criticism, I take it and learn from it. If they are just being hateful and do not say what was actually wrong with it (grammar, break in character, etc), I just let it go. I know for some people that’s a lot harder but it just comes back to having a thick skin. You can’t let it get too personal.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write every day, even if you end up erasing it later! I sometimes only write a paragraph but I wrote something. Sometimes I scribble something down, didn’t like it but when I came back to my writing, I was able to make it work. I would also suggest getting critique partners who will give you the absolute honest truth. Don’t pick someone who is afraid to hurt your feelings, you need the honesty. As much as it may hurt hearing some opinions, you thank them later when you have a great finished product! I know I rely on mine heavily! Beta readers are also awesome! They can help you out when you get stuck on something!
Featuring your work and or upcoming work;
Tell us about your book [s]
I have released my debut novel, Breath of Life, which is the first book in the Breath of Life Series. The second book, Choices, is due out in Winter 2013. It’s an emotional contemporary romance novel. There is a planned third book as well.
Breath of Life is about Paxton’s journey of finding strength within herself to move on when she loses everything around her. We find Paxton trying to cope in a world without her best friend, Ella. Paxton finds herself checking into a mental institution to try to hide away from the world around her because her life was spiraling out of control.
Paxton also finds herself still very much in love with her ex-husband Jack, who deserted her in her time of need. Throughout the story she starts to figure out she has feelings for Duke Avery who happens to be her best friend’s husband and Jack’s best friend. Duke was there for her when everything fell apart.
The first book is a nice set up for the second book, Choices. Choices will be about Paxton figuring out her feelings for both Duke and Jack. It’s still in the works but it’s a definite love story where secrets come out and relationships change J
Third book is still in the works plot wise but you will see familiar faces.
Who is your favorite character and why?
Can’t say J
What character do you hope readers understand?
I hope they understand all of the characters. I feel like any reader could relate to one if not all the characters with the trials and tribulations they go through.
Do you have a favorite part of your own book (s) ?
Choosing a character or even yourself, can you give us a sample playlist of music that would follow said person?
I drew a lot of inspiration from music for this first book. Here are a few from the playlist that I had on repeat while writing:
On Top of You by Enrique Iglesias
Elephants by Rachel Yamagata
Ghost of you by Selena Gomez
Never Gone by Colton Dixon
Hallelujah by K.D. Lang
Alone with You by Jake Owen
Falling Slowly by The Swell Season
Me by Plumb
Stupid Boy by Keith Urban
You’ll Think of Me by Keith Urban
Drunk on You by Luke Bryan
The list goes on and on J
Have you had trouble writing about any of your characters?
I find in the second book it’s very hard to write both Duke and Jack. We are seeing more sides of each character and I feel like this is when the readers will start splitting up on whose team they fall on J It’s hard to make one of them a little less likable.
In your book (s) what had been the hardest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The hardest challenge for me was in Choices when I had to let Paxton fall for one guy over the other. As I was writing more of Jack and Duke, it was hard because there were pros and cons for each one. I finally had to let the story progress as I originally planned but I almost changed it. I sat on the fence for about 2 weeks deciding which way to go!
If you could meet any of your own characters, who would (they / it) be?
I think I would want to meet Kenleigh. She plays a role in the first two book but she is a minor part so to speak. She is complex but simple at the same time, she wears her heart on her sleeve for the most part and sometimes she’s Jack’s conscience. I think she would be interesting to meet!
If you had to write a scene for a character of your choice that would put them in an awkward situation how would it go?
Awkward scene? I have no clue! This sounds like a good writing challenge for my blog when I have time to think about it! Lol.
What do you to for marketing?
I mostly do social media and word of mouth. I advertise on my website, facebook page, twitter, I have people spreading the word. It’s a hobby for me so I just try to stick to that as that is really all I have time for nowadays.
Promote your books in a sentence or less
Breath of Life is a rollercoaster that will have you laughing, smiling, and crying by the end of it as we follow Paxton’s emotional story of rebuilding her life after she seems to lose everything that is important to her.
There how was that???
What are you working on now?
I am currently working several things. A short story for a Oklahoma Tornado Relief Fund project (it’s currently untitled), the second Breath of Life novel called Choices (as mentioned previously), another short story for an anthology that will be due out next year and outlining the third book in the Breath of Life series J I’m a busy person! I also have three stand-alone book ideas I have been pushing around!
Sara Marion’s Links;
Links to websites that sell your work