Prolific Author Alert: Sarah McNeal is Here!

Good day, friends!

Hope all is well in everyone’s world today. Please extend a warm welcome to paranormal romance author Sarah J. McNeal! 

So glad to have you here, Sarah! Start us off:

What do love best about writing?

I love the creative process.  Hanging out at restaurants and the library listening to other people’s conversations and jotting down notes in my writer’s journal makes me feel like a mystery sloth.  I love when an epiphany presses the happy buzzer in my mind and helps me pull together the story I’m working on.  Shoot, I love everything about writing including the smell of pencils and the sight of stacks of notebook paper.  I love to settle down at my computer and transfer my handwritten text onto the screen.

What do you like least?

I almost hate to say it—promotion of my work.  I hate going around begging readers to check out my blogs and visit my website.  I feel like I’m on a street corner with a tin cup of pencils to sell.

What got you started?

March 18, 1947, I took a breath and, with it, came my imagination and the desire to share it.  I made up songs when I was three years old and told “adventure stories” by the time I was four.  I wrote my first story when I was nine.  The longing to share my stories has always been inside me.

What keeps you writing? 

It is my joy and aspiration to write—and then write even better.  It’s not something I control as much as it’s something that is basic element of myself.

How has your writing impacted –or significantly changed—other aspects of your life? 

After I published my first book, everything changed including my belief in myself.  Until then, I saw my career as nursing.  Nursing was the career my father chose for me.  Because he was a Great Depression survivor, he wanted me to choose a practical career that would not be dependant on the economy—and, believe me, it wasn’t.  I have never been without a job.  So, I have gratitude in that respect.  But the deep yearning to become a published writer had finally been fulfilled with the publication of my first book.  I planned to retire from nursing the first chance I got so that I could devote myself to my first love—writing.  After a few years of saving and planning, I took an early retirement. Even in the face of a declining economy, I have never regretted it, never looked back.

(Oh to retire early…what a joy…)

Where do you get story and character ideas?

Mostly from the world around me.  I keep a writer’s journal with me everywhere I go and jot down tidbits of things I see and hear.  I wrote Bitter Notes based on a real life event.  Someone threw their baby grand piano out in the front yard and let it rot in the elements. Every day I passed it as it fell into pieces of rotted wood and despaired over it.  Why?  Why would anyone do that?  I felt driven to write its story.

I was fooling around one day playing my harmonica with my feet propped up on my Grandfather McNeal’s trunk and it made me think about the things in that trunk and what they were like when they were new.  That’s how I found my inspiration for Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride.  All of my stories started with something that crossed my life’s path.  When all else fails, I play the “What If” game.

For those who write across cultural lines, how do you market or generate a mainstream, typical reader’s interest in your books?

Generating interest from any reader I believe begins with producing the best story I can write.  Good writing speaks to readers more than anything else.  I don’t write cross-culture stories unless you count fantasy cultures—not yet anyway but, if I did, I would give it my all.

Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’?

Bitter Notes is a novella published by Amira Press.  Logline: An abandoned piano heals a broken heart.

The Violin is a story about a member of my family that died too young.  I brought John back from the brink and gave him a life in this book from my heart.  Although currently in re-edits, it is contracted by Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery for its second edition. Logline: Timeless love brought together by a violin.

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride is my latest release. (Logline: A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny. Below are the blurb and an excerpt.

I am presently working on the sequel based on a secondary character that I fell in love withBanjo (Logline: Deceit stands between a man’s love and his destiny.)

For those who don’t know me, they can get a couple of my free stories; download them at my website or from Amira Press.

*** For more of Sarah’s very intriguing titles click here.***

Please tell our readers how you juggle work (other than writing, assuming you work ‘outside the home,’ as a patient aptly asked me many years ago J), time to write and all that goes along with it, especially as a published author (i.e., promo, etc).

I used to have a very difficult time dragging myself away from my writing to go to work in the ER and then I finally decided to take an early retirement after I sold my first novel.  No regrets.  I do however, make time for my family.  As much as I love writing, my friends and family do come first and I make time for them whenever I need to.  It’s easy to get so caught up in writing that it takes over my life so I do have to force myself to come out of my writer’s cave from time to time and become a social being.  My sister never gets this about me.  Traveling and enjoying theater and other people are her main enjoyments so it’s hard for her to understand that writers are accustomed to being alone.

Please share the three ways you find most effective to promote your work!

1.  The number one thing a writer needs for promotion is to produce the best story they are capable of writing.  Quality writing counts more than any other thing.

2.  I do not like to go into readers’ groups and post blurbs and excerpts then take off.  I like to interact with the readers and authors on the loops.  I have a banner that tells about my books and directs them to my website.  I don’t need to hammer it down their throats every single day.  I think authors who do that, risk losing the interest of readers.  They just grow numb to the constant barrage of “look at my books.”  I’m sure that some may disagree with that point of view but that has been my experience. I think interacting with readers and other authors and always remembering to be polite, answer questions and say thank you when someone compliments me.

3.  Blogging I find is a very effective way to present myself and my work to others.  When people read about the things that concern or interest me, I think they can often relate to me better.  It’s a way of getting readers to know me and where my heart lies.  I am a person first and then I’m a writer.

    (Love this cover! Gorgeous!) 

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride

Blurb: Lola Barton discovers a warp in time in an old trunk when she falls into 1910. She finds herself married to Joseph Wilding, a stranger shadowed by secrets. Mistaken for Callie McGraw, a thief and a woman of ill repute, Lola finds her life is threatened by a scoundrel. Joe stands between her and certain death. With danger threatening all around and secrets keeping them apart, can Joe and Lola find their destiny together? Or will time and circumstance forever divide them?

Excerpt:  Harmonica music floated down from the attic—the last place in this tumble down wreck of a house Lola Barton wanted to go.  Had someone or something taken up residence there?  Lola made her way up the darkened attic stairs measuring each step as the ancient boards creaked in protest under her feet.  Her flashlight beamed a narrow circle of light illuminating the cobweb-covered door at the top of the landing.  Her heart raced and pulsed in her ears.  Hands trembled with the surge of adrenaline as she pressed forward.  She ignored her inner voice that warned, “Don’t go!”

Her cynical mind told her the rumors that Misty Oaks Plantation had ghosts weren’t true.  The tales of murder and betrayal had to be the overactive imagination of the local townspeople.  A homeless vagrant had to be the most logical explanation for the disturbance.

Once she gained the landing, she blew the cobwebs from the door and leaned her ear against it to listen for any movement on the other side.  Wisps of harmonica music lifted in the air.  Perhaps someone left a harmonica lying around and the wind blew hard enough through the cracks in the walls to make it sound as though someone played the instrument.  Just the wind.  No ghost.

With her courage bolstered by her logical conclusion, she grabbed the doorknob and turned it.

BUY LINKS:

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride

By Sarah McNeal

ISBN: 978-1461087731 1461087732

Available at:

Western Trail Blazer Novels

Amazon.com

Lulu Book Store:

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Available in print, too!

Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing your author’s journey with us! I’m always in awe of authors who can take ideas and see them to so many complete stories. Best wishes and may you continue to experience the joy of creating!

Have a wonderful day, folks!

Joanna

 

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37 thoughts on “Prolific Author Alert: Sarah McNeal is Here!

  1. My pleasure, Sarah! Always love to meet and make new author friends. I am so impressed by the list of books you have, and I happen to be very intrigued with the notion of time travel. Already have Harmonica Joe on my Nook–started it last night. 🙂

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  2. Oh, Sarah! Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride sounds wonderful! I like the way you gather your stories. I use the same techniques–listening in on conversations in public places. I also play the “What If” game.

    Tell me, Sara, are you and I are the only two writers left who still pen their stories before hitting the keyboard? I cannot, for the life of me, get “into the flow” any other way. I love the feel of a smooth-flowing pen as it glides across the paper.

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    1. Hi Lauren! Thanks for the visit! My good friend Rachel Simon still writes then types. Took me a while to make the transition but there is so no going back for me. No one hated that keyboard more than I did, especially in the beginning. What I love about the keying though, is being able to make corrections w/o having to re-write or re-type pages and pages of text. I always think of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the (paper) tablets she wrote on.

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    1. It’s always such a pleasure to see you, Karen. I really appreciate you continuous and kind support. I am so happy to hear that you liked Harmonica Joe. I am 2 chapters from the end of Banjo on the first draft. I have to get crackin’ on my Christmas story for Victory Tales Press, too. Thank you so much for coming by today and for always being so kind and complimentary, Karen.

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  3. Laurean, we may be the only ones who still find it necessary to write organically. Whenerver I get into a difficult place, I can always count on pencil and paper to pull me through.
    Thank you so much for dropping by, for your very kind words and comments.

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  4. HI Sarah and Joanna,
    A great blog and I’m always learning something new about Sarah. But I’m curious about the harmonica playing. LOL What’s your favorite song to play?
    And will music be included in Banjo’s story too as it seems to appear in most of your books?
    Have a great evening, everyone.
    Becca

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    1. Delaney, I didn’t know you read Harmonica Joe. I am so happy that you did. I really appreciate that you came by to comment here today. That is so sweet of you. Thank you!

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  5. Sarah, I can totally relate to hating the whole promotion process. I cringe when I think of “shouting” out this, or “shouting out that”. Dang, if there’s one thing I’ve always despised it’s a pushy salesman…yet I feel like I might be one! Ugh!

    Love your book covers! And I wish you much success! 🙂

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    1. I think promotion in today’s world may be a bit different, especially with the way social media is evolving. If you get a chance, read Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone: A Writer’s Guide to Social Media (avail from Who Dares Win Publishing, ebook and print). You may be surprised at how one ‘promotes’ in today’s digitally-driven world and even learn to enjoy it. 🙂

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      1. Dang it! I need to get that book. I have Facebook and it’s connected to my website blog. Amazing that I figured out how to do that. I also have Twitter but I am barely Twitter-literate. Thanks for the tip about the book. I’ll check that out.

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    2. Looky there, you did come by, Miss Mae. Thank you for leaving a comment. Lordy, I do feel a bit like I’m begging when I promote. But we do what we must, ya know. I certainly don’t mind yakking it up though. LOL
      Thanks for leaving a comment for me.

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  6. fHi Sarah,

    Well, as usual, I learned something new about you today. You are full of surprises. YOUR BIRTHDAY! LOL I, too, write everything in longhand before entering it into my computer. A lot of people believe this takes longer, but in the end, I don’t think that way. It’s been edited 3 times by the time it goes into the computer: once when I wrote it, once when I read back over the previous day’s work, and once as I enter it in. So a lot of the preliminary work is done by the time it appears on the screen. I loved HJRB, and can’t wait to find out Banjo’s story. I think it’s funny how parents look at things–I always WANTED to be a nurse (and of course, back then, you could be a nurse, a teacher, or a secretary if you were a woman). My mom would always say, “You’re so good in languages, you could be an interpreter for the U.N.!” Years later, my sisters and i all had a good laugh over that, because she told all of us the same thing. For some reason, she seemed afraid for me to go into nursing. I don’t know why, other than what I might see. LOL Great interview, Sarah!
    Cheryl

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    1. I wanted to be a nurse too, and my mom discouraged that EXACTLY b/c of what I might see while bathing men, was her reasoning. So I up and became an occupational therapist, where working w/people on showering and dressing themselves was part of the workday in rehab, lol. And it sounds like I need to get HJRB read soon, so that I’ll be ready for Banjo’s story.

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      1. That’s funny, Joanna, that your mom thought your tender, innocent eyes would be befouled and shocked by seeing naked men as a nurse–only to have you become an occupational therapist.
        You don’t have to read HJRB to enjoy Banjo’s story but the characters from HJRB do show up in Banjo’s story and one of them actually finds peace with the past in Banjo’s story.

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    2. I never wanted to be a nurse. I have to say, your mother was right to be afraid about you becoming a nurse–especially if you had chosen ER. The chances of you coming in contact with a deadly disease or a deadly person go up greatly. I felt as though I entered a battlefield every day I went to work. Even with all the security in place in other institutions, hospitals are wide open and vulnerable. You may be surprised at the people who show up with guns and knives intent on finishing the job they started with a patient in the ER–and they don’t care who gets in the way. And there are actually people who are so angered at having a terminal but contagious disease, that they attempt to infect the doctors and nurses with it–no kidding.
      I’m always so happy to see you, Cheryl. I wish you every success with the release of Time Plains Drifter. It is a wonderful story. I loved it.
      Thanks for coming by today.

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  7. Hey Rebecca. So glad to see you. Banjo knows how to play the banjo but I haven’t had him do it. Should I? My favorite song for harmonica is Shannondoah. The only other one I know by heart is Red River Valley. The harmonica is the only instrument I play that I don’t read music for. I figure out how to play it by ear. Amazingly.
    Thank you so much for coming by and leaving a comment for me. Now all I can think is that Banjo needs to play an instrument. LOL

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  8. HI Sarah,
    Definitely don’t let me lead Banjo in a direction that doesn’t fit or that will have your muse kicking. But one verse of Buffalo Gals or Oh, Susanna! might fit in somewhere (I’ve heard both of these played on the banjo.) LOL

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    1. I did mention in the story that Banjo knew how to play the banjo and now that I think on it, it might just be very fitting for him to do a little hoe-down. Right now, I’m working on having him survive months in a trench in France where he was wounded.
      What about Camp Towm Races? LOL Good ol’ Stephen Foster. Of course, he was a Civil War composer and lyricist. WWI was the beginning of the jazz age.Hmmm…thinking about this.

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  9. I want to thank Joanna for inviting me to her blog today and to everyone who came to visit and comment here today. I appreciate each and everyone of you. Thank you so much for a lovely day.

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  10. Oh, Sarah, I meant to say I saw a young new group on Letterman the other night–they are brothers, 9, 12, and 15, I think the oldest one was. They are called “SLEEPY MAN BANJO BOYS” and the 9 year old plays banjo, the 12 year old plays fiddle and the oldest plays guitar. THEY WERE AMAZING! I was going to try to go to youtube and see if they are on there. You can’t believe how great they were and I know everyone would really enjoy seeing them. Wish I had a link for them, but I haven’t gone to youtube to look for them yet, though I’m sure they are there.
    Cheryl

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  11. Hi, Sarah! I loved your interview, and guess what–my Kindle broke so I’ve only read the first chapter of HJRB! Amazon is sending another one. I just started it before I went to bed last night (had read the sample before) so read (or re-read) the first chapter. First thing I did this morning was break my Kindle. I was bereft!

    Joanna, you have a terrific blog!

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    1. Hey Jacquie! Thanks so much for your wonderful compliment on my blog–great way to start my day. Had limited connectivity last night so I couldn’t check in. Re: your Kindle–until your new one comes you could read HJRB on your computer using a Kindle app, right?

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  12. So much more fun around here when company comes by, lol. Have enjoyed having you here, Sarah. How about I get back to you when I finish reading HJRB?

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  13. It was my pleasure to be on your blog, Joanna. I’d love to hear your comments on Harmonica Joe when you finish reading it. Thank you again for inviting me to be your guest.

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  14. Lordy Cheryl, I want to see those crazy banjo plucking, fiddeling and gitar pickin’ boys. Send me the link when you find a YouTube of them. They sound amazing. Now I want to see them.

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  15. Jacquie, thank you so much for coming by to visit and a very big thank you for buying Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride. You’ve made me happy, girl. I’m glad to hear that Amazon is going to replace your Kindle. I hope you love Joe and Lola–and I really hope you love young Banjo. I’m writing his story right now. Thanks again for coming by, Jacquie.

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  16. Hi Sarah and everyone,
    Taylor and I watched several of their YouTube videos last night and they are amazing.
    The cutest young’uns you’ll ever see.
    Here’s the link to the Letterman clip and there are lots more.

    Taylor especially enjoyed the one where their dog was singing. LOL

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    1. Very cool. Thanks for sharing this and thanks to all of you who came by! Sounds like we’ll have to have Sarah again when Banjo’s story is out. 😉

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    2. Ohmagawd, these kids are amazing. I can’t believe how talented they are. Wow! Thanks for the link.

      Once again, Joanna, thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’ve really enjoyed it here. Believe me, when Banjo comes out, I’ll be hollerin’ from the roof tops. Thanks again. I had a great time here.

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  17. Believe me, I’ll definitely be hollerin’ from the roof tops when I finish Banjo and get a contract. It’s been so much fun on your blog. Thank you again for inviting me.

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