And so does Sharon Clare. I caught up with Sharon to get her responses to my questions about her writing career. Of course I’ve known her a while, and written about her before, but this time she has her new book, Love of Her Lives freshly published by Crimson Romance so I had more pressing writing questions to ask her. She graciously consented to doing this interview. You can see more of Sharon in the video interview I posted last November. Thank you, Sharon!
1. How do you decide just how far to go with story elements that are not real? For instance characters living a thousand years or having supernatural powers? Is there a point at which readers cannot suspend their disbelief?
Good question, Elaine. I have no idea at what point a person cannot suspend their disbelief. I’m pretty willing. I think it has to do with how successful the author has been in building their world. I also think nearly anything can be believable in a fictional sense. My novel is pure fantasy, so readers do have to suspend disbelief. One of the most satisfying aspects of writing (for me) is to not be limited by reality.
2.You have said in the past that it takes about ten years of working at one’s writing before publication happens. I know you have worked on other projects in that time period but how long did Love of Her Lives take from start to publication?
Thinking back . . . way back. I wrote the original draft of Love of Her Lives in four months about six years ago. Then it sat for a couple of years as I learned more about story craft. And learned. I applied most things I learned to that story over the years.
3. What is the most surprising thing you’ve experienced in getting this book published by Crimson Romance?
After seeing a notice on Facebook that my novel was selling like hotcakes, I found out my Amazon ranking went from 520,000 to 78,000. I was so surprised my book was mentioned in the Crimson author FB group. That was exciting. I don’t know what that translates to in sales, and I don’t know much about rankings. I know rankings/sales will go up and down, and I still have a long way to go, but wow, people are reading my book.
4. When reading Love of Her Lives, I was immediately intrigued by your characters, Calum and Bethia, especially since you tie their various lives together with variations of their names. Are you thinking of using these attractive and compelling characters in another novel?
Thank you, Elaine. I loved writing Calum especially, but no, I don’t have any plans for them in another novel. On the other hand, Finn will definitely make another appearance. Since he had so much fun messing with Calum, he’s begun to plan games for unsuspecting mortals in match-making attempts.
5. I know you are a real follower of Donald Maass. Is there anyone else whose method of teaching writing has worked particularly well for you?
I’ve found Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in Thirty Days to be quite helpful, although 30 days was a bit of a pipe dream.
6. What is the importance for you as a writer of having access to big city writers’ groups and functions?
Crucial, absolutely. I belong to the Toronto Romance Writers, a chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Every month, they bring in fabulous speakers to talk about writing craft: Donald Maass, Debra Dixon, Lori Wilde, C.J. Lyons, Robert Dugoni, and Barbara Kyle. We have many award-winning authors in the group, NYT best-selling, and they are all so generous with their time and expertise. Also, I must add the conferences I’ve attended have been fabulous networking opportunities, not to mention motivational and great times.
7. A lot of talk in the writing world suggests that once a book is accepted for publication the writer’s real work begins. How hard was it for you to get your manuscript to the point where both you and Crimson Romance were happy with it? What was the time period for that to occur?
When I first solicited Crimson Romance, before Jennifer Lawler offered a contract, she asked that I reduce the manuscript by 25,000 words. That was a quarter of the story. My inner response was yikes! but I did it within a few weeks and resubmitted. Post revision, she offered me a contract, and there were really no major edits after that other than micro things like hyphenated adjectives. Crimson Romance works like a well-oiled machine. The book was published at what felt like lightning speed, about 4 months from contract to publication.
8. What part of your writing time is spent promoting yourself as a writer with such things as social media, emails, book signings and the like? How has the publication of your novel changed that?
I’ve not been published long, but I can see how already social media is a huge time sucker. I believe the most important thing we can do to promote our book is to write the next one. I am setting time limits for social media and promotion. No more than a couple of hours/day, when I have an 8 hour day to focus on writing.
9. I noticed you used chapter titles such as Life-Between-Lives and Risk Not, Live Not. Is this your way of tantalizing the reader? Or summing up the chapter? Or holding out a carrot? And did these titles emerge after the novel was written or as a result of knowing exactly where you were going because you were following a detailed plan as you wrote?
I had a lot of fun coming up with those chapter titles. I didn’t follow an outline writing Love of Her Lives. Mainly the titles came after writing the chapter, but now that you mention it, if I couldn’t come up with a title, then I didn’t have a point to that chapter and it was cut.
10. What project are you working on now? Is that historical novel going to see the light of day? Or are you basking in a couple of weeks of no writing deadlines? (Oh, I forgot about all the blog hops and promotional bits.)
Laughing here. Basking? No, not basking. Working like crazy. I definitely hope to publish The Botanist’s Daughter, but I have another conflict I want to introduce, so that book needs a rewrite. At the moment, I’m working on three novellas that are game-related. Finn is back and wreaking havoc now that he’s decided to play match-maker. Rhapsody is the first one, hopefully ready to solicit by the end of August. Race Date is nearly done in rough draft form. I also have another paranormal novel three-quarters done that’s poking at me.
If your readers would like to learn more about Love of Her Lives, or to purchase a copy, they can find it here at: sharonclare.com
Consider leaving a comment and either Sharon or I will reply. And rush right out (or click on your iPad) to buy Sharon’s book. Enjoy!