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 book. FUN.
This week we are featuring Sydney Avey! To enter to win a signed copy of her book, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter (HopeSprings Books), 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?
I’m married to Joel Avey, an aviation enthusiast, and we have two grown children and two growing grandchildren. My husband and I divide our time between the dramatic landscapes of the Yosemite Gateway in California and the Sonoran desert in Arizona.
Happily, writing is now my full-time occupation. Before becoming a novelist, I worked in communications at Hewlett-Packard.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I call my writing literary fiction with a plot. I categorize my work as women’s fiction and historical fiction. I’m a bit of a writing gypsy. I also write poetry, short stories, and young adult/new adult on a variety of themes.
My journey from daughter and granddaughter to mother and grandmother and finally family matriarch has equipped me with an endless supply of stories. My own story is not unique; a family secret about my heritage; curiosity about family legends; dismay over past events. I explore the mysteries of faith, family relationships, and the interplay between the generations in my writing in the hope that some of my own aha moments will help others on their faith journey.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
My first poem was published in the Palo Alto Times when I was in the third grade. I’ve been writing ever since. I’ve been the newsletter editor of more endeavors than I can remember. Creative writing was my dream, but I didn’t feel free to pursue it until I had raised my children and buried my parents. Then I had a serious conversation with my husband and embarked on this new career.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
Blessedly, it took only three years. I played with a novel, set it aside and then got serious. NanoWriMo 2010 was my come-to-Jesus moment. I told myself, “If you can’t do this, then you need to give up the dream.” I drafted The Sheep Walker’s Daughter and then learned the process of bringing a novel to publication. I was thrilled when I got the email from HopeSprings Books with the words I’d been waiting to hear: We love your story and we want to offer you a book contract!
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?
A good process gets me going each morning. At the beginning of a new project, I use story boards and templates to sketch characters and outline plots. Drafting my manuscripts in Scrivener helps me work scene by scene. Reading is my inspiration; I read a short story a day. Blogging is my warm up and writing practice. But balance is essential. I dry up if I don’t spend time with my family and friends and take in the beauty of God’s world in a variety of excursions. I love to travel and visit art museums.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
Striking the right balance between learning and practicing the craft has been immensely helpful. I try to attend conferences and seminars that focus on developing as a writer and some that focus on the business of writing. I realized a dream in 2013 when I spent a week at the Iowa Summer Writers Festival. Being part of the Sonora Writers Group and attending the Golden Gate ACFW group when I can is always inspiring. I suppose the biggest boost I’ve gotten is from generous teachers, writers and editors who share what they know.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
I knew living a “writer’s life” would involve a major life style change. That is the discussion I had with my husband, who has been a solid supporter. We reduced our social life and he started making his own sandwiches! I took a hard look at everything I was involved with and asked God to show me the point at which I could step away feeling that I had fulfilled my commitments. He did that. I also told my friends about the changes I was making.
I’ve always been pretty disciplined, goal oriented, and deadline driven. For me, that is a major chunk of a writer’s life. But there is a spiritual component as well. I’m learning to trust God daily for each new situation. Every writer’s path is different, it seems. I never expected I would have a publisher before I had an agent so for now, God is my agent. He’s doing a great job!
What are your biggest distractions?
Well marketing and social media, of course; all the “must-dos.” Choosing a few activities to focus on and do well seems to be the way to go, but every time I choose not to do something, two more opportunities present themselves. There are some very interesting rabbit holes in the publishing landscape, but they can lead you nowhere slowly!
If you could cook one meal for us, what would it be?
I’m sorry, I gave up cooking, but I know of some great bistros where I’d love to take you.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I cringe inside when people associate the words “writer” and “famous.” Most writers aren’t famous, and that’s not my aspiration. What I like most is when someone says they loved my book and identified with the characters or found something inspiring in the story.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
I don’t have an agent yet. I would expect that an agent would help shape my career and push me be a better writer.
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.
Dee’s difficult and secretive mother refuses to tell her the identity of her father and his people. After Leora dies, strangers start stepping forward with pieces of the story. In fact, everyone seems to know the story except Dee. The Sheep Walker’s Daughter asks the question, does knowing your family heritage matter?
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
The Sheep Walker’s Daughter by Sydney Avey.
The sequel, The Lyre and the Lambs, is scheduled for release in September 2014.
[Tweet “Enter to win @SydneyAvey’s ‘The Sheep Walker’s Daughter’ on @SuzanneWFisher’s blog!'”]
Good news! The following books are on sale during the month of December:
The Lesson is $3.99 for Kindle until December 22.