The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Jody Hedlund is Elaine Jordon! Please email my assistant Christen with your mailing address. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This week Sarah Sundin is in the spotlight! To win a copy of her With Every Letter, leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
Married with kids beginning to empty the nest—two teens at home and a son away at college. I work one day a week as a hospital pharmacist, which lets the creative part of my brain recharge.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
My novels are historicals set during World War II, with a blend of romance and action.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
Like most little girls who loved to read, I dreamed of being an author and made several little books with crayon illustrations. But I knew I had as good a chance at getting published as I did becoming a professional ballerina. When I discovered I loved science, I followed that path. Not until my thirties did the writing bug bite again.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
Ten years and two months. I started writing in January 2000, started submitting in 2003, received my first contract in 2008, and my first novel was published in March 2010.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
I prefer quiet, but I’ve written everywhere, from the sidelines of soccer games to the DMV to the karate studio. Now I do the bulk of my writing at my wonderful desk. The past few years I’ve been able to put in forty hours a week, primarily when the kids are at school.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
All of the above! My mom was my first reader and cheerleader. When I’d been writing a whopping three months, she bragged about “her daughter the writer” at the bowling alley. Well, one of the ladies on the other team was Kathy Collard Miller, a multi-published Christian author! Kathy gave my mom her phone number and endured a barrage of my newbie questions. She strongly encouraged me to join a writers group and attend conferences. I did both. The writers group (Diablo Valley Christian Writers Group) taught me and encouraged me, and at conferences like Mount Hermon, I learned from phenomenal writers and met editors and agents.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? (Explain your answer)
Less writing than I imagined, and far more publicity/social media. The nice thing about five years of rejection letters was it gave me time to learn about industry expectations, so it wasn’t a rude shock when I got a contract.
What are your biggest distractions?
Oh, Suzanne, you know the answer. My biggest distraction is an absolutely adorable, highly intelligent yellow lab named Daisy. But unlike your guide dog puppies, Daisy wants to play, play, play all day, and eats random household objects when I don’t do so. She is vastly improving with age, and I’m learning to tire her out early in the morning.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
I’ve had so many wonderful moments—from the “we’d like to offer you a contract” e-mail (squeal!), to the first time a reader who wasn’t my mom said my characters were like friends, to the sweet lady who told me A Memory Between Us was on her father’s nightstand when he died. I can’t pick a worst moment. The rejection-letter years were hard, but the Lord used them to teach me, so I certainly wouldn’t wish them away.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
The least favorite part for me is writing marketing plans. They sound smarmy to me, but that’s the nature of the beast. I love almost everything else—playing with a new idea, getting to know new characters, the rough draft, writing a sentence that surprises you, research, editing, and most of all, getting to know my readers. I’ve met some fascinating people.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
My agent (Rachel Kent with Books & Such) does so much more than just sell manuscripts. She helps me craft proposals, reads my stories—she has a great eye for what works and what doesn’t, serves as a sounding-board for new ideas, guides my career, answers my stupid questions, and calms me down when I get antsy. An important role an agent plays is also to serve as intermediary between author and publisher when issues arise—not really a problem with Revell for a publisher ☺
What advice would you give to new writers?
Be teachable and persistent. That combination will take you far. Learn about the craft and the industry at conferences, writers groups, and from organizations like American Christian Fiction Writers. Don’t submit until you’re ready—with a polished, completed manuscript. When you do submit, be persistent. Keep learning, keep submitting, and keep praying.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
With Every Letter is about a World War II flight nurse and an aviation engineer who start an anonymous correspondence, like in You’ve Got Mail. When they’re both transferred to Algeria, they have to decide whether to reveal their identities—or remain hostage to the past.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
The second book in the Wings of the Nightingale series, On Distant Shores, comes out in June 2013. I just turned that in to my editor. Now I’m working on the third book in the series (June 2014).
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Please visit me on the web at http://www.sarahsundin.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SarahSundinAuthor, or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sarahsundin
Also, I’ll be hosting a Facebook party and a fun giveaway (enter and RSVP today!!) on the 27th of this month. I’d love it if all your readers came as well!
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)