Author Spotlight ~ Lia Fairchild

I had to do a count because I wasn’t sure how many author spotlights I’ve done since the first one last September.

22

Twenty-two interviews with bloggers (2) and authors (20) and this week, I add number 23 to the roster! Ms. Lia Fairchild! I’m really excited to spotlight this woman because – as so many others – she is a huge supporter of writers. Whether she’s sharing posts, cheerleading for a fellow author or promoting her own work, she does so with class. She’s a really sweet lady and I’m so excited to have her on this week! Before we get started with the interview, let’s take a look at her latest book.

Synopsis of Circle in the Sand:

10477985_10202138129643774_375394250_nFour Friends. Four Different Paths. One Unwavering Friendship.

Four life-long friends bound by two decades of laughter, love, promises, and secrets. Once inseparable, the four grow into independent adults pursuing very different paths.

Sage, raised by career-driven parents, follows a carefully laid out future of success that leaves her wondering what she’s missed out on.

Emily, the college drop-out, now has three children that have become her whole life. She’s slowly lost herself, subconsciously seeking dangerous ways to cope. Can she find herself in time?

Jax always lived on the edge, skating through life with no apparent ambition, yet remained the energy and emotional cement of the group. She longs for her friends to accept her without trying to fix her.

Ned, Emily’s twin brother, yearns to stand up and be counted. But his old loyalties and new feelings for one of the girls has him pulled in different directions.

Will the ties that held them together as kids be strong enough for them as adults? These four friends will discover the true meaning of friendship and unveil truths about themselves they never knew existed.

Let’s get to know:

Lia Fairchild

Lia Fairchild

T – Hi Lia! I know that you are a busy woman, so let’s get to the introductions! Please tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

L – My major in college was advertising because I wanted to be Darren Stevens from Bewitched and come up with advertising campaigns.

T – I’ve done a bit of “eager” stalking to learn more about you. I know that you – uh, never mind. (kidding!!) But seriously, I know that you released your first book, In Search of Lucy, in 2011. How do you feel the Indie publishing world has changed since then? Do you feel you were more intimidated to publish then as opposed to now?

L – I self-published my novel, In Search of Lucy, in February of 2011. I had no idea what I was doing nor did I realize what I was up against. I simply created a story and was proud that I saw it through to the end. Eight months later it was picked up by a publisher. Since then I’ve self-published several more titles. I actually feel more intimidated now. There are so many more books out there now and competition is fierce. The great thing is that authors are feeling more control over their books and how they want them presented.

T – There are so many Bookiversaries and you are one of them. It’s been three years since you first hit publish! Congratulations!!! Including anthologies, you have written 9 stories, that’s amazing. Where do you find inspiration for your books?

L – I’ve always been one to create stories in my head. I do it all the time. Sometimes I’ll look at someone on the street or in a store and just assign them a random story. And I’ve always loved movies and books. So finally being able to put those stories on paper has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I just wish my fingers could type as fast as my brain comes up with the ideas.

T – Your latest book, Circle in the Sand came out early January of this year and your reviews are wonderful! What was it about this story that made you want to write and share it?

L – The funny thing about this story is that I don’t even recall when/how I came up with the main idea. I just remember that the important part of this project was that I wanted multiple points of view. I wanted to be several characters, which meant I had to write each one in first person, including the one male character. Ned was actually one of my favorites to write. I truly felt freedom being in each of their heads and becoming them. I also wanted to try my hand at writing in present tense. I had just finished reading The Hunger Games series and realized I loved the feeling of reading a story that way.

T – I’m torn on reading reviews. I read them, and sometimes kick myself for it. But the ones that make me laugh (good or bad) are the ones I love. So tell me, what is the funniest or strangest review/compliment you have received?

L – When my first book hit the top 10 on Amazon, the reviews poured in and they really ran the whole gamut. I saw everything from readers completely loving it and saying it was their favorite book ever to those that said it was just an okay read. Then there was the one who said the book should be “burned to ashes.” I actually laughed when I read that one. Another review that stands out to me is from my RomCom book, Emma vs. the Tech Guy. The story is funny and has a great surprise twist. So that usually gets people excited to review. One I received was titled, “Lia, I LOVE YOU.” That made me smile.

T – Something I notice about you from my research is that you have actually published in several genres: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Women, Mystery/Thriller, shorts – which one have you enjoyed most?

L – Yes, I seem to be having an identity crisis. The easiest and most fun to write was Emma vs. the Tech Guy. I also really loved writing Circle in the Sand and feel this book is my best work yet.

T – I know you as a huge promoter of your fellow authors. You pimp, promote, share and befriend so many of us. What about this community pushes you to put yourself out there in this way?

L – I love this question. First, one thing about me is that I want to make others happy. I genuinely care about people. So my promotion and help of others is not purely due to being an author. Second, when I published my first book, I was so lost and confused. I was very lucky to make some incredibly generous author friends who helped me. They not only gave me direction, but gave me tools to continue helping myself. I help anyone I can now to pay that forward and to simply be someone that my friends can rely on.

T – What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?

L – This may sound strange but the hardest part of writing is writing. I have tons of ideas. I can plan whole scenes with dialogue in my head while I go for a walk. But getting it down in writing is a slow process for me.

T – What is your favorite part or writing?

L – My absolute favorite part is surprising readers. Every book I’ve written has surprises in it. Sometimes the entire story is about a surprise twist. Even Circle in the Sand which is more about relationships, love, friends, family, has a few fun surprises.

T – What can you tell us about what you have in the works right now?

L – I just completed a romance novella called “High Maintenance” which will be featured along with nine other novellas in an anthology entitled, “Nighttides.” This is due out in August. In addition, I’ve just begun writing a dark romance (Yes, I know, another genre). I’m stepping outside my comfort zone once again to try my hand at an extremely emotional and angsty story. I hope readers will connect with it.

T – If someone approached you and said they wanted to write, what would you tell them?

L – This happens to me quite often actually. I take the time to share my experience. I tell them what I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made. Most importantly, I tell them not to rush their story out there. Take the time to make it the best possible story they can do before they put it out for the world to see.

T – I asked this question last week of Lisa and found her answer about Facebook quite telling. So what do you find if your best tool in marketing your books and reaching new readers?

L – I’m an admin for several fanpages. I love talking to people on Facebook, not just about my books, but about life, music, movies, and reading in general. I’ve made a lot of solid connections and when I’m looking to spread the word about a new book or sale, I’ve got a ton of people behind me to help make that happen. I don’t have money for big ads, I don’t have big connections, so friends and readers are who I count on most.

T – Five years down the road, what is your goal for your writing?

L – I’d love to have a romance trilogy out by then. I think it’s the best way to get returning loyal fans. And of course, within that five years, the trilogy will have gained such popularity that a movie deal would have been made and I’d probably be posting on my page from the set. 🙂

T – Have you always wanted to be a writer?

L – No. I’ve always written without knowing I loved it. I know that sounds odd, but I would write poems or little stories without really paying attention to it. As a teenager I wanted to be a dancer. I love dancing and singing. At one point, as I mentioned before, I wanted to be in advertising. I’m all about creativity and art.

T – If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

L – I think the coolest job would be to make movie trailers. When I’m in the movie theatre watching those I get so excited – the music, the drama, the voice overs. I’d love to create those.

T – Have any of your family read your books? If so, what do they say? 

L – My mom has read everything, probably just because she’s mom. Some of my other family members have read a few things as well. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t want them to read my romance novella because it’s got some steamy scenes that I’m not used to having them read. 😉

T – Who is your biggest inspiration personally and professionally?

L – These questions are always tough for me. I find inspiration wherever I go most all the time. It could be something as simple as a cloud or tree blowing in the wind, or something as huge as the bravery of a stranger. What drives me most, personally and professionally, is that I want to be the best person I can possibly be in everything I do. And if I can help people and make them happy at the same time, then it’s a win-win for me.

Lightning Round!!! Twitter-sized answers as fast as you can ❤ Ready???

T – Lady Gaga or Katy Perry

L – Wow tough. I’d have to say Katy Perry

T – Facebook or Twitter

L – Facebook. No one talks to me on Twitter

T – Original or Reboot

L – Definitely original

T – Spring or Fall

L – Spring

T – Sitcom or Drama

L – Sitcom. I love to laugh.

T – Deserted on an island you can only take one book. What is it  

L – Seen this question tons of times but never answered it. Honestly I’d probably take the bible even though admittedly I’ve barely read it. If I was by myself, not knowing my fate, it would probably be the best book to have for comfort as well as knowledge.

T – Chris: Evans or Pines

L – If you can believe this, I had to google these names. I pick Evans.

T – Favorite cuss word

L – I definitely use them on a semi-regular basis, but I don’t have a favorite. So I will pick a favorite combo that “Ned” from Circle in the Sand called someone: “Fucktard womanizer”

T – Kiss/Kill/Marry OZ! (Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Tin man)

L – Okay, since I obviously wouldn’t want to kill anyone I would have to pick Scarecrow because he doesn’t have a heart and would be the least wounded by my betrayal. I’d kiss the lion to boost his confidence, and I’m marry the Tin Man because I’d obviously be the boss. 

T – Books or Movies

L – My first love was for movies so even though I’m an author and I LOVE books, I’m going to say movies. It’s what I do to veg out when I’m not working on writing, learning, promoting, working part-time, being a wife and mother, and of course reading for both pleasure and work.

T – Last question; what would you like to say to all of your readers?

L – I would like to thank them for reading my books. I would like to say please take a chance if you haven’t heard of me because I would love to entertain and surprise you. 

Thanks, Lia, for taking the time to answer some questions and let us get to know you better! I hope you had a good time! To learn more about Lia and her books, check her out at any of the social media links below!

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/lia.fairchild.author
Amazon Author page http://ow.ly/xmUV0

B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/lia-fairchild
Website www.liafairchild.com
Twitter https://twitter.com/LiaFairchild

To The Reader…

Dear Readers,

Is this thing on? 😉
Where are you? :/

I have had a hard time figuring out who you are – who my audience is. This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit in the last few months and I always come to the same conclusion:

I have NO idea!

When I write, I write because the story and the characters are so alive in my head that I can’t do anything else. I write because I want to share their story – because it’s a movie that is on constant replay. I write because I love it and I hope that others will recognize that in my stories.

***So back to my problem – finding my audience. It’s hard to find readers if you don’t know who to target and how to reach them.

Most of us have a preferred genre – our go to – when we are deciding what to read next. For me, it’s usually YA or NA and it’s hard for me to branch out. I have some amazingly talented friends who write in other genres: paranormal, erotica, horror, mystery – and I find when I take the chance and step out of my comfort zone – I LOVE IT! (More about that next week.)

When we read, we want to escape from our daily duties for a few hours where kids don’t cry, houses don’t need cleaning and dinner isn’t waiting to be prepared. We become that main character who the guy is drooling after. We become that woman who does the things that in real life, we might not have the guts to do. We get lost in their world and hate when the story is over because – hell, what am I supposed to do now?!

We all have expectations out of the books we read. As we should. For me, I look at the cover and the synopsis and decide if I want to read it. However, more often than not, I read a story based on friends telling me “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!” I expect the writing to be pretty solid and very few errors. (This is not to say that you won’t find errors in my books because – you will – Although I have done my best to catch most, if not all)

Again, back to my “issue,” of finding my audience. 

I feel the need to make a proper introduction at this time and tell you about me and my writing, so here it goes:

My name is TK Rapp, author of Being There, Mine to Lose and the recent release, Mine to Steal and I’m not quite sure WHAT my genre is. I can tell you what it’s not: it’s not paranormal, erotica, horror, mystery. LOL! I can tell you, these are the things that people have said about my books:

 

 

“Sweet”…”Cute”…”Real life”…”Heartache”…”Humor”…”Clean”…”No sex”

This is not meant to sound like bragging, but more of a…disclaimer/warning/advertisement, perhaps? While there isn’t “sex” in the detailed sense, there is “fade-to-black” sex. There are HEAs, but not without a struggle. There are funny moments, because life itself is funny. There is heartbreak and fights because – well, who hasn’t experienced these things?

I love what I do and I’m blessed beyond words that I have the ability to pursue this dream. I write, because I truly can’t imagine doing anything else. Of course, I would LOVE for people to read these books because they are a part of me and mean so much to me. But, if the same ten people kept reading my books and still loved them, I’d be happy even if no one else wanted to read them. And I’d still write – not because I have to or want to, but because I NEED to. Like so many others, I’m in this for the long haul because of my absolute love of the art.

So, wherever you are – you beautiful readers – it’s nice to “meet” you! I hope to see you someday and interact with you in person or online. I hope to finally figure out how it is am I supposed to find you, but if I never do I hope that you find joy in whatever wonderful story you are reading.

XO
~TK ❤
T.K. Rapp

 

Author Spotlight ~ Lisa Suzanne

Good morning!! For those early risers, hope you slept well! For everyone else – welcome to the party!! This week, I have another great Author Spotlight to share. Lisa Suzanne and I are a part of a few groups together and she – like so many authors out there – is amazing! Her latest novel, Side Effects comes out next week and the cover alone is enough to grab your attention!! Let’s check out Side Effects:

Synopsis of Side Effects:

10475931_259071490961932_506484553_nShe has been hurt. She has a past of lies, cheating, and pain. She has severe panic attacks when she’s in enclosed spaces, a side effect of a horrible accident caused by a man she thought she loved. Quinn Carpenter has a distinct type: bad boys with dark hair, dark eyes, and tattoos. Tyler, her friend with benefits, fits the bill perfectly. They have fun together and they both know that fun is where their relationship begins and ends.

Quinn’s life is exactly how she wants it until she meets Reed Porter, the typical pretty boy with blue eyes, blonde hair, and zero tattoos. He is the exact opposite of everything Quinn likes.

So why can’t she get the frustrating, preppy, blue-eyed Reed out of her head?

She isn’t interested in commitment. She doesn’t want a relationship. But Reed challenges her, he puts her in her place, and he makes her nervous. The confident Quinn is never nervous around men, so what is it about Reed that has her questioning everything? And what will be the side effects of attempting to juggle two men at the same time?

 

Let’s get to know

Lisa Suzanne:

T – Lisa!! Thank you so much for taking part in my author spotlight. It’s great to have you here!! We are both members of a couple of groups that are awesome. I know of your work for sharing through these groups, although I have not yet gotten to read you work. So, let’s start off with an introduction. Tell us about yourself.

L: Hi TK! I love our groups, too! I’m in the same boat as you – I’ve heard awesome things about you, but I haven’t had the chance to read your work yet, either.

I currently have four novels published (The HE FEELS TRILOGY and the standalone novel SEPARATION ANXIETY), and I’m about to hit publish on my fifth (SIDE EFFECTS) on June 24. I am married to a supportive, wonderful man and we have a gorgeous yellow lab. I teach high school English full time, and I also teach part time for a community college.

T – I know that you have several books out, the latest one releasing last month. Since we are spotlighting “Since He Really Feels,” what can you tell us about this series and this book – in particular?

L: This series follows Julianne, Nick, and Travis. Julianne is in love with her boss, but there’s a strict “No Dating” clause at their company. Travis is Julianne’s best friend, and in the first book we find out that Travis has feelings for her that go much deeper than friendship. The second book is from Travis’s point of view, and the third book – Since He Really Feels – switches POVs. Julianne has to choose between her past and present, and there’s lots of drama and emotion in this triangle!

T – I notice that SHRF released on your 1 year Bookiversary – congratulations! What do you feel has changed since you published one year ago?

L: Thank you! Wow… SO MUCH has changed both personally and in the self-publishing world. This was probably one of the most educational years of my life. I hit the “Publish” button last year as an experiment at my husband’s encouragement, and I had no idea how writing would completely take over every spare moment of my life. I have always loved to write and always dreamed of publishing, but I was very shy when it came to sharing my work with others. I finally decided just to take the risk and do it, and I have never once regretted trying it. There are so many more people trying it now than there were a year ago, and that’s one of the major changes. It’s easy for indie authors to get lost in the midst of all of the other indie authors, so I spend a TON of my time marketing.

T – Are you working on something else right now? What can you tell us about it? 

L: I have several projects in the works, but right this very moment I’m focusing on my next standalone. It’s based on a character in SIDE EFFECTS. I decided to write standalones that link characters, so even though their story may be over, you still get to see them make appearances in future novels. I don’t have a title for my newest project yet, but I’m toying with a few ideas. I have the whole story in my head and I’ve been trying to write as much as I can to get it out!

T – What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?

L: I’m usually on Facebook talking to readers and other authors or marketing my books… so turning off Facebook long enough to focus on my work in progress is my biggest challenge!

T – What is your favorite part or writing?

L: I love when I get lost in the story I’m writing and my fingers fly over the keyboard like they can’t keep up with my brain.

T – You have some really great reviews of all of your books. Brag a little 🙂 – what is the best compliment you have received?

L: Wow! Thank you! That’s so sweet! I actually received a message this morning from someone on Goodreads who said the most beautiful things that made me cry. She started her message with, “I’m honestly amazed with you.” I also had several people contact me after reading SEPARATION ANXIETY. They told me that they were going through something similar to the main character and that my book gave them hope. It humbles me and it is such an honor to be able to do what I love and inspire people through that, so I would have to say that when people message me to tell me how much they connected with my books, that is the best compliment I can get. Oh, and when my hubby beta reads my books and tells me how hot a scene was. I love that. 😉

T – All right, let’s talk marketing. We both know that getting in front of a wide audience can be tough, what have you found to be your biggest tool in marketing your books?

L: I probably use Facebook the most for marketing, but that’s one of those things that has gone through a ton of changes in the past year. It has become an unreliable resource. I think the best tool is word of mouth. I try to spread out my social media and I try to be available to people who want to chat, and I’m always looking for new ways to reach new readers.

T – Five years down the road, what is your goal for your writing? Publishing deal? Agent? Movies?

L: Great question! I just want to keep writing. I know for sure that I was meant to be an author. If publishers and agents and movies are meant to be part of that, it would be a pretty amazing path to take.

T – Have you always wanted to be a writer?

L: I have always written. I wasn’t always sure that I was going to publish just because I was very shy in sharing my work with others. But the very first person who read my book aside from my husband was a reader who discovered my first book on Amazon. She rated it five stars, and that was the moment when I got over my shyness.

T – If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

L: I also work as a full time teacher, so if I wasn’t writing, I’d probably be sleeping!

T – Who is your biggest inspiration personally and professionally?

L: Personally, I would have to say my husband. He’s my swoon worthy book husband and prince charming. I’m a lucky, lucky girl. Professionally, it’s hard to name just one. I have become friends with so many authors through different groups I’m in (like the one where I met you!), and I love watching the successes of those around me. So I guess my indie author friends as a group would be my biggest inspiration.

Lightning Round!!! Are you ready?!? Twitter-sized answers as fast as you can 😉

T – Hot or Cold

L: Hot! (I live in Arizona!)

T – Blonde or Brunette

L: Blonde for me! Brunette for my man!

T – Boxer or Briefs

L: Boxers… or boxer briefs

T – East Coast or West Coast

L: WEST!

T – Real Housewives of ______

L: The Bachelor! (not sure why that’s what came to mind…)

T – Deserted on an island you can only take one book. What is it –

L: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

T – Sandler or Samberg –

L: Sandler

T – Favorite cuss word –

L: Fucktard

T – Kiss/Kill/Marry Heroes! (Superman, Spiderman, Batman) –

L: Kiss Batman, Marry Superman, Kill Spiderman

T – Books or Movies

L: Books!

Final question: if you could say anything to your readers, what would you say?

L: I would say thank you to those of you who have read my books, to those of you who have left reviews, and to those of you who have reached out to me with a message. It’s so hard to put my work out there to be judged by the world, but the times when I get a message from a reader telling me that I gave them hope or that they connected with my story… that makes it all worth it!

Thank you so much for participating in my author spotlight. I hope it wasn’t took painful!!

L: Thank you for having me! I enjoyed it and I appreciate you taking the time to spotlight authors like me! XOXO

 Lisa’s book, Side Effects comes out next week! In the meantime, check her out online and all of her other books!!!

Web: http://www.authorlisasuzanne.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/AuthorLisaSuzanne
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLisaSuzanne
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaSuzanne24
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lisasuzanne24
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LisaSuzanne/posts

Play That Funky Music…

Yeah, that’s about right!

I hit publish on Mine to Steal and when I put my music on random, “Play That Funky Music” popped up. Definitely feeling that right now.

With that out of the way, I have had a very busy few days. I went to the Hill Country with my family, ❤ the T-10 and we spent 5 days on the water, hanging out and sleeping (me). We got together for my dad’s 60th birthday and it was great! (HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!!!)

The kids had so much fun, but how could you not?!

The highlight came yesterday (my dad’s bday) when my husband, our girls and I went zip lining in Wimberley. OMG…absolutely AMAZING. I don’t think I can come up with a better word for it. This has been on my bucket list for a while and I really thought I’d chicken out, but I didn’t. Out of our 4-some, I went first and as soon as I took off, I was awestruck. I rented a GoPro, for the day so we had record of everything! My girls, 10 & 12 did all 10 lines, the longest going 900 ft. Needless to say, they are dying to do it again and maybe get “Chocolate Wasted!!”

The birthday celebration ended with a friendly family Bocci tournament. Finals came down to my brother-in-law and me, but he kinda kicked my ass. That’s probably for the best because I’m an “okay” loser, but I am a TERRIBLE winner. Just ask my husband.

In the words of Peese, “I’m ready to go, but I don’t wanna leave.” This is probably my favorite T-10 vacation ever.

Returning home, I spent the rest of the day, working on last minute fixes to Mine to Steal formatting. But it’s done and now I am off to bed to sleep the nerves away. (Hopefully). This is the reason why this post is somewhat choppy. 😀

SHAMELESS PLUG!!!

Mine to StealIf you are looking for something to read, check out my latest book, Mine to Steal. It is the second book in the Mine to Love series, but NOTE it is written as a standalone, so read both or one…preferably both. LOL! It’s a light, fun, love story with very little drama and no cliffhanger. LOL.

Thanks for checking out this blog post and hope to see your review on GR or Amazon, or B&N or iTunes or wherever you read it. We Indies rely on your reviews. 😉 HAPPY THURSDAY!!!

XO

~T

Author Spotlight ~ Sarahbeth Caplin

Alright! Are you ready for our latest Author Spotlight? Today I get to introduce Sarahbeth Caplin! We have become friends through Facebook and every time I chat with her, I find her to be incredibly sweet. I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of her upcoming novel, Where There’s Smoke. It isn’t often that I read a book that makes me stop and look at myself, and that’s exactly what this book did. SHAMELESS PPLUG HERE: It releases on June 10 and you MUST read!!!

Ok, let’s move on. ❤

Synopsis of Where There’s Smoke:

21851504Pastor Henry Collins is hailed as a hero after rescuing a teenage girl from a burning church. But the real reason he was at the right place at the right time is known only to him and Hannah Mercer, the teenage girl he rescued: a girl whose faith has more to do with keeping up appearances than anything to do with God.

Lia Anders is a classmate of Hannah’s: a girl whose coming out as a lesbian resulted in immediate expulsion from the church. As an unlikely friendship develops between the two, Hannah begins to realize the error of her hypocritical ways, and encourages Henry to make a decision that will forever alter the course of their lives. But for Henry, the price of living a lie is easier than owning up to the truth.

Where There’s Smoke is a story that asks: who are we really? Are we the sum of all our actions? And is the note we finish our lives on the most defining of them all?

Let’s get to know 

Sarahbeth Caplin

Sarahbeth Caplin

TK: Hi Sarahbeth! I’m really excited about this interview. In stalking…I mean, checking out your webpage, I learned a little more about you. Granted, I’ve gotten to know you through our chats, but it’s always cool what you discover. Okay, so let’s start this off right! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little something about you.

SB: That’s a big question but I’ll try to keep it short: I moved to Colorado from Ohio with the intent to study counseling in grad school, but a year later I realized I was meant to become a full-time writer and dropped out. I love writing fiction, but I think creative non-fiction is my favorite, whether it’s a memoir or an opinionated blog post. I have a BA in English Literature and because I love books so much, I plan on naming my next cat either Great Catsby or Catniss. My fiancé jokes that I’m a 60-year-old woman (with a slight tattoo addiction) trapped in a 25-year-old’s body, because I wear big glasses, cat sweaters, and prefer staying in on Saturday nights with my books and my wine. I guess I’m a little introverted, too.

TK: I have to say, I look forward to your blog posts – and if you aren’t following, you should. They are insightful and heartfelt and I find myself sharing them, for that reason. Now, you have a book, Where There’s Smoke, coming out next week. I really enjoyed this because I found myself stopping to think over so many different points. I loved the open-endedness of it, because, in my opinion, the reader was left to make decisions. Where did you come up with the idea for this story?

SB: Thank you! Half the time I feel like one more cranky voice yelling in a crowd, so I’m glad you enjoy my blogs! Where There’s Smoke is a very different kind of book for me. The themes are more complex and none of the characters are meant to be likeable; but I hope they are relatable. The idea came from one of my counseling classes, so it’s somewhat based on a true story. We were discussing “survivor’s guilt,” and the professor told the class about a pastor she counseled who was the sole survivor of a terrible car accident. His church kept saying God spared him for a reason, because he was so “righteous,” but no one knew he was having an affair. The guilt ate him up so much he said he wished he died in that accident; he didn’t think he deserved to live. I was intrigued, and thought it would make a good premise for a novel.

TK: I know that you are Christian and, Where There’s Smoke, is based in a Christian church setting. One of the things that we discussed is that I’m Catholic and how I related to the book. There was so much judgment and hypocrisy from different characters, yet none seemed to take an inward look and see how they were living their life until forced. What do you hope your reader is able to take away by the end of this book?

SB: I want the readers, both Christian and non, to re-evaluate how they define “good” people vs. “bad.” Imagine if you knew all the deep, dark secrets of the people you consider to be “good.” Would your opinion of them change? If you knew the background of every person you consider “bad,” and learned the experiences that shaped them, would they become more sympathetic? I want this book to help people understand that until we are honest and admit our own flaws, we can’t get away with condemning anyone else for their life choices or putting them up on pedestals.  

TK: As I mentioned, I did a little stalking in preparation for this interview and I know that this is not your first rodeo. You have a book of poetry and a memoir out there as well. That’s incredibly brave, to expose yourself in that way. Was this hard for you?

SB: I consider it a necessary evil. My favorite authors right now are people who exposed themselves in memoirs. I love stories that make me identify with the writer as a kindred spirit. The ability to say, “I’m so glad I’m not alone” is powerful, and I want readers to have similar reactions to my own work. Also, there are just some topics – like rape culture – that aren’t discussed enough in a healthy way, and I want to be a catalyst for necessary change. 

TK: I have not yet read your other fiction novels, but the more I learn about you and reading your synopses, I really want to take the time to read them. From what I can tell, your stories seem to have a moral, or some way of making your readers consider the way they, themselves, look at the world. Is this something that you set out to do, or does it happen naturally as you write?

SB: Yes and no. My first attempt at a novel, Someone You Already Know, had a very specific (dare I say it) agenda: expose rape culture as a real problem, not something made up by women who have sex and later regret it. It was integral to my own healing and it’s definitely a story with a strong message. Other books, like Public Displays of Convention, unfolded on their own. 

TK: Where do you find inspiration for your novels?

SB: Personal experiences, mostly. The truth can be stranger than fiction, and my journals are proof! And eavesdropping in coffee shops. If you’re speaking loud enough for people across the room to hear you, I’m going to assume you won’t mind if I put your conversation in a book. 

TK: What is your favorite part of writing a story?

SB: I enjoy dialogue. Once I get a conversation between two characters going, it flows naturally.

TK: What, in your opinion, is the hardest part of writing a story?

SB: Knowing when to end it, or if the ending is satisfactory. It can make or break a book for a lot of people.

TK: You published your first book in 2012. Did you self-publish or were you traditionally published?

SB: I self-published because I didn’t know what else to do. I was quite clueless and didn’t do much research. I just knew I had a story to tell. I might traditionally publish someday, but I don’t know how I’d handle the rejection letters and possibly losing some creative freedoms. I might try it someday, but for now I enjoy my freedom as an indie. 

TK: How do you feel the publishing industry has changed since you first published? 

SB: I only started publishing two years ago, so I don’t know how much it’s changed. I only started becoming knowledgeable within the last year, but it did shock me to find out how many ebooks are self-published every year: well over ten thousand. That puts a lot of pressure on me to try and stand out.

TK: Are you working on something else right now? If so, can you tell us something about it? 

SB: I’m contemplating another memoir, which may be self-indulgent considering I’m only in my twenties. The only reason I’m considering it is because I have a life story other people don’t seem to have: I want to read a memoir about a Christian who grew up Jewish and later realized she might have dismissed Judaism too quickly. But to my knowledge, such a book doesn’t exist, so I may have to write it.

TK: Did you always want to be a writer?

SB: My mom can certainly attest to this. My first “books” were written on construction paper in crayon, not long after I learned to read and write. I’d make up reviews to scribble on the back sometimes.

TK: What is your biggest accomplishment professionally and personally?

SB: I might be a little young to answer this…but I think just finishing a book and publishing it, let alone five, is something I don’t give myself enough credit for. I’m my own worst critic, so I tend to downplay it as not a big deal, but I know plenty of people who say they’d like to write a book and just never do it. And due to the personal nature of most of my books, I’d say that counts as a personal accomplishment as well.

TK: If someone asked for your advice when it comes to writing and publishing, what would you say? 

SB: Oh boy…that’s another book in and of itself! For simplicity’s sake, here’s the advice I’m taking to heart from more experienced authors: writing a book is one ordeal, but selling it is another. Establishing an audience is crucial and requires patience, a virtue I definitely wasn’t born with. Don’t expect to make it big overnight, and definitely don’t expect to make a ton of money! This is something you have to do for love of the craft, not love of fame, status, and fortune.

Networking has been a huge blessing: it’s how I found my editor and my cover artist. Take advantage of Facebook groups and other online forums where writers congregate, but don’t go into them expecting to use writers for their information and leave. Establish real relationships with other authors, and they will help you out. That’s the best thing about the indie community: we all know what it’s like to start out small and unnoticed. Try not to be too jealous of other people’s success, because chances are they worked their asses off for years to get where they are. Also, rank is just a number.

As for the publishing industry, it’s pretty cutthroat at times no matter how you’re published. Reviewers, especially, can be brutal and their critiques can easily be taken personally. Don’t let that happen. Remind yourself of why you wrote the book in the first place and focus on the good reviews. But don’t discount all negative reviews, either, because sometimes there are helpful suggestions to improve for the next book. They just need to be read with a grain of salt, because no book is universally adored. Even Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, has pages and pages of 1-star Amazon reviews.

TK: Now comes the fun part – LIGHTNING ROUND!!! Ready?!

TK: Who is your favorite character in WTS: Kaylee, because she’s an evangelical mean girl and misunderstood in her own way.

TK: Last Book You Read: I went out and bought I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings when I heard of Maya Angelou’s death, and I finished it in two days.

TK: Favorite Author: Can’t answer that without breaking it down by genre, because there’s just too many! 

Religion: CS Lewis
Memoir: Lauren Winner
Fiction: Jodi Picoult (her older books, not so much her newer stuff), John Green, Gillian Flynn
Classics: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, LM Montgomery

TK: Personal Hero: Jesus, Joan of Arc, my parents

TK: Favorite Cuss Word: Bullshit

TK: Winter or Summer: Winter definitely! I don’t do heat. I like sweaters and fleece blankets.

TK: Paperback or eReader: I don’t believe in eReaders, despite publishing my books in Kindle format.

TK: Favorite Movie: Beauty and the Beast, because I’m Belle. And Ever After. And Stranger Than Fiction, Dead Poet’s Society, Ladder 49…it’s like trying to decide which limb I can best live without.

TK: Favorite Haircolor: Dark brown, almost black, with just a hint of red.

TK: If you could say one thing to your readers, what would you tell them? Whether you loved it or hated it, always write a review!

 

Sarahbeth’s book, Where There’s Smoke, releases on June 10th and I can’t wait for people to check it out!
Thank you so much for answering these questions and letting us get to know you better!

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