Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest books. FUN.
The Author Spotlight debut author is my ‘buddy’, Sarah Sundin.
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I’m married and have three children still at home, but the nest will start emptying in September when my oldest son goes away to college. I work one shift a week as a hospital pharmacist, which gives me plenty of time to write. Theoretically.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I’ve written a three-book series of historical fiction set during World War II.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I have a strange start. Although I always read voraciously, I didn’t consider a writing career. For one thing, I knew getting published was as likely as becoming a professional ballerina. Instead I chose a practical career in pharmacy which allowed me to work on-call and stay home with our three children. Then in 2000, I had a dream with such intriguing characters that I felt compelled to write their story. That first novel will never be published, nor should it, but it got me started. Once I started writing, I decided if I was going to invest time in writing, I had to pursue publication.
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 a three-book contract in 2008, and the first novel came out 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?
Coffee, tea, diet cola—anything in the caffeine family. As for writing routines, with three busy kids, I’ve learned to be flexible. I do the bulk of my writing when the children are in school, but I’ve also become expert at using snippets of “wasted” time. I can take care of a lot of editing and emails during karate classes and in the dentist’s waiting room. I spend about twenty-five hours a week writing.
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 and my sister are amazing first readers—they’re actually really tough on me. I’ve belonged to a writers’ group for nine years. This group of people has been vital to my growth as a writer—I love their insightful critiques, support, and prayer. I also owe a lot to writers’ conferences for learning even more about the craft of writing, learning about the publishing industry, and getting to know editors and agents. I sold A Distant Melody to Vicki Crumpton at Revell due to my submission at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
I guess I saw the writer’s life as pure creative writing. Before publication, it was like that—I spent long luxurious hours playing with my stories and chasing research rabbit trails. After I got the contract, that changed. Assignments from my publisher, social networking, blogging, publicity—these things probably take half of my “writing” time now. I also have to be more efficient and focused with my research and writing.
What are your biggest distractions?
My biggest distraction is a yellow Labrador retriever named Daisy. When the kids are at school and my husband’s at work, I assume it’s writing time. Daisy tells me it’s play time! Always play time! And if I don’t play, she eats pens, wooden spoons, and reading glasses.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
Best moments—so many! When an idea sparks, when the story flows, when a sentence sings. Getting a contract, great reviews, reader mail. Those are all wonderful moments.
Worst moments—very few. The “rejection letter years” were difficult, but caused me to grow as a writer and as a person, and now I see it was God’s perfect timing. I wouldn’t wish those years away.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I’m not fond of marketing plans, and I don’t care for some aspects of promotion—it often feels like bragging to me. But there are so many aspects I do like—research, outlining, rough drafts, editing, and interacting with readers.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
As soon as I had a contract offer, I contacted my dream literary agency, and they signed me within a few days. Although my agent didn’t obtain this particular sale, she’ll be invaluable when it’s time to submit again. In the meantime, she has helped so much with contract negotiations, discussions with the publisher about titles and cover art, feedback on the other manuscripts in the series, and career advice. I couldn’t do it without her.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Be teachable and learn as much as you can about the craft of writing and the publishing process. Join a writers’ group, attend conferences, read books on writing, and join American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Keep writing, 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.
For A Distant Melody, Book One in the Wings of Glory series, which came out in March: Allie Miller is promised to a man she doesn’t love, but Lt. Walter Novak, a furloughed B-17 bomber pilot, captures her heart—will she honor her family’s wishes or take a chance on true love?
For A Memory Between Us, Book Two in the Wings of Glory series, which comes out in September: Maj. Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge until he meets Lt. Ruth Doherty, a striking nurse with a shameful secret—can they confront their deepest sins, face their greatest fears, and learn to trust and to love?
What’s on the book horizon for you?
The third book in the Wings of Glory series will be published August 2011. I’m currently preparing a proposal for another series, also set during World War II.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
A Distant Melody can be found at your local bookstore or can be ordered on-line at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.
A Memory Between Us is available for pre-order at on-line bookstores.