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 with. Banjo (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.
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.
Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride
By Sarah McNeal
ISBN: 978-1461087731 1461087732
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!