Donut Girl and Ledge-Talker are her sidekicks! Read on and find out more…
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
Ha ha ha! No. Well maybe a few. I have been writing full length manuscripts since is was a freshman in high school. “Back in those days” (which makes me sound old but I promise that I’m still in my late 20s at heart), I used a Selectric typewriter, reams of paper, and tons of white out.
I had a box of manuscripts that, most likely, would be awesome blackmail material. Fortunately (or unfortunately), thirteen-years ago, when we were doing construction at our house, someone who shall remain nameless (cough cough—ex-husband) threw out the box of manuscripts.
I had some amazing storylines in there. I’m sure the writing was atrocious. I’m not sure if he did me a favor or not. I still have three of them in my little memory box so, I could always revisit them.
But the originals? #blackmail
All superheroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
Well, as many people may or may not know, I use a pen name (my grandmother’s name and our family name from when we immigrated to America in the early 1700s). So I absolutely have a not-always-so-mild-mannered secret identity.
Increasingly, however, the two identities are colliding and morphing into one. Both care about people and animals (and not always in that order). Both can take a lot on the chin until pushed way too far into the corner and then it can get ugly. In the past, I tried to keep them separate. But it is hard to live two different lives.
If I had to describe myself, I’m “out there.” A bit kooky, a lot of fun, loud (which my daughter inherited), very energetic, inquisitive, and very creative. And very, very analytical. It’s a blessing and curse.
Unfortunately, that type of personality breeds jealousy from others and often puts a big red target on my back. I can take a few shots, but there does come a point when I have to stand up and say “NO MORE.” I think people who experience that side of me don’t realize what they have done.
Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?
I have several partners in crime.
Author Erin Brady talks me off the ledge and texts me photos of really cute shoes! Three years ago, I wandered into Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue and fell in love with the shoe display. It became a problem. Cheating on your husband with shoes…I don’t think that’s against one of the Ten Commandments, though.
I have Donut Girl who makes certain that I don’t forget to do things. Scary thought, she understands my thought processes. That must be her secret weapon: reading minds. We toss tables together when we get frustrated.
@Lisaiswhoiam keeps me in line spiritually. She’s also my back-up ledge-talker. She gets me. Few people do. And she has a great sense of humor.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
Ooooooo! I have a fabulous secret lair. Last summer, we added on two offices that link to our master bedroom suite. Literally, I could live in this office. Floor to ceiling bookshelves, the world’s most comfortable chair (where I write most of the time), and soon a wall of mirrors so that I can practice dance positions and posture.
Unfortunately, everyone in my family KNOWS where my secret lair is located. This is a problem. And because it’s so pretty and bright, a wall of windows that overlook the backyard gardens, it’s a popular “hang out with Mom” spot. I may have to relocate.
I’ve actually been considering buying one of those 10×10 sustainable housing units to put in the backyard near the woods. That would be my “other” office. If I landscape it enough, that could be perfect!!!!
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form?
Reading: You want to write? Then you have to read. Period.
Learning: My education is invaluable to my success. I don’t think I have ever really stopped attending college. I’m (hopefully) wrapping up my PhD this year.
Traveling: The best education without a degree!
Living: Sometimes I feel like I am playing Dodgeball with invisible adversaries.
How do you insure they are used only for good?
Who said they are only used for good? (devious laugh)
Seriously, I try to inspire people through my writing. Life is not perfect. Some people live in a bubble, thinking their lives are the right (and only) way. Those are not my readers. I want to reach the readers who not only want to read a story rich in character development and plot, but who want to be touched by the emotions and issues that everyone experiences. I want my readers to walk away and say, “I’m normal!”
Unfortunately, for every protagonist, a writer tends to need an antagonist. This doesn’t have to always be a person. It could be an emotion, event, or something else along those lines. However, when the antagonist is a person, alarm bells ring. Apparently, some individuals take offense when they recognize pieces of themselves in my writing. This can create “problems.”
The bottom line is that writing is what I do. It’s my outlet for expressing myself, my feelings and my perceptions. Every character is based on some interaction that I’ve had with people. It just has to be that way. I can take a trait or characteristic and exaggerate it or combine it with some other traits.
My philosophy is that if a reader recognizes him or herself in a particularly unfavorable character, that person might want to re-evaluate how his or her behavior is perceived by others. Alternatively, they might want to consider what led up to the creation of that character.
Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
It would definitely NOT be pink. Maybe purple. I like purple. And it certainly has a cape. I can see myself swooshing the cape all the time. A little added dramatic flair, right? Definitely Prada sunglasses (just because my favorite sunglasses are purplish Pradas).
I have no idea what the clothes would be. I’m into Free People recently. I like their summer clothes line. Although I do like wearing all white. For some reason, people seem to respect a woman wearing all white. I get treated completely different in white. I might have to save my purple cape for night-time activities though. It wouldn’t go with the all white outfit, I think.
Without doubt, I have a bag on my arm with my little Yorkie, Tobi, tucked inside of it. He basically goes everywhere with me. I cannot sleep at night if he isn’t curled up by my neck.
And, of course, really adorable shoes. A little bit of a heel because I’m short (booo) but not too high that I can’t walk easily.
My alter-ego would prefer to dress in pretty gowns from the late 17th and early 18th century. Honestly, why did people stop wearing those clothes? Corsets take two inches off of your waist and the big poofy skirts add to the Barbie doll hourglass shape illusion. Plus, who doesn’t think Scarlett O’Hara was just perfect in that white ball gown at the beginning of Gone with the Wind? My bow, however, would be purple.
What is your kryptonite?
I can’t tell you that. It’s classified.
What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
Time. One of my superpowers is making an extra hour to the day. It’s true. Most people have 24 hours in a day. I, however, have 25. And since no one else has that extra hour, I can get an awful lot accomplished. It’s as if time stands still. For a whole 60 minutes (or 3600 seconds), I can attack projects and tackle deadlines.
What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?
My daughter. She just turned thirteen. Well, she tried to sabotage my writing a few months ago. At night, I’d go into her room to say goodnight and tuck her in and she would be watching this program on her iPad mini or laptop. I have a thing for apocalypse type movies. She must have known this because she flashed that little screen and I was hooked. One night, we watched three episodes of the mini-series. When I realized it was midnight and we both wanted to watch a fourth episode, I immediately caught onto her fiendish plan!
“Oh no!” I said and jumped up from the bed, backing away from her. “I see what you are doing!”
She pretended innocence and claimed to have no idea that I had caught onto her dastardly scheme to distract me from that oh-so-important 25th hour.
Fortunately, I escaped unharmed and I now refuse to look at any electronic screen when I enter her room to say goodnight.
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
It’s human nature that people want to make themselves part of the story. What they don’t understand is that I cannot write anyone else’s story but my own. It takes thousands of hours to write a book. You have to feel a passion for the story and the characters. So, my advice to other writers is that, when you have the next great bestseller, be quiet and just write it.
Once you share the story or the idea, people often try to:
- Steal it for their own,
- Force their perspective down your throat, or
- Hijack the project.
I’ve had this occur several times now. I believe I learned my lesson.
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?
The first time one of my books hit Amazon Top 100 Best Sellers. I cried and called my mother.
The day that the publishers began contacting me to ask if I’d publish with them. That was surreal.
The day that one of my publishers bought my Plain Fame series back list. It’s such a well-received series that it really needed to be picked up by a publisher.
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
I wouldn’t tell anyone what I do. There is a lot of pressure on superheroes. Clark Kent was smart. Once that mask comes off, people want things from you. And I don’t mean strangers. I can see Lois Lane giving Clark Kent a list of groceries and asking him to fly to the market…just because he can get there faster and doesn’t have to park (which, actually, I would do, too, if I was Lois Lane).
Seriously, people’s reaction to my writing tend to be disappointing. Here’s how the conversation goes:
Person: What do you do for a living?
Me: I’m an author.
And then you can insert one of the following responses:
- I’m going to write a book! (and they proceed to tell me about it)
- My grandmother wrote a book! (and they proceed to tell me about it)
- I have the perfect story for you… (and they proceed to tell me about it)
It’s just better to avoid the whole situation and not go there.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.
Edit. Edit. Edit. And then edit again.
Don’t respond to nasty people’s comments on social media (including reviews!).
Eat your broccoli before you dive into the meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Otherwise, the anticipation of eating the yucky stuff will ruin the enjoyment of the good.
Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.
Her novels are timeless classics. I believe that a lot of readers are intimidated by reading them. If we read them during high school, we dreaded them because…well…they were assigned as homework and not many teenagers like homework. As adults, they may not be the first books we’d like to snuggle into bed to read.
But they should be.
I have been most fortunate and very, very blessed that my publisher, Realms (an imprint of Charisma House), liked my idea to retell the classics from an Amish perspective. Retelling these stories and adapting them, both culturally and religiously, to Amish society is such a challenging experience that has truly enhanced my writing skills.
And I have enjoyed doing so tremendously!
My third book in the Amish Classics Series, Second Chances, is the adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. This was an interesting novel to approach…probably the hardest one. The love story is complicated and different from the other books that Austen wrote. There are a lot of hostile emotions involved that are not typical for Austen or the Amish genre. I do believe that the completed product will delight my readers for that very reason: it’s a different type of romance.
What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
But of course (said with a French accent).
I have adaptations of the rest of Jane Austen’s novels and two of the Bronte Sisters’ novels scheduled for publication with Realms.
My other publisher, Waterfall Press (an imprint of Brilliance Publishing) is re-publishing my Plain Fame series in September 2015 along with a fourth book in the series, Plain Return (October 2015).
Finally, we have my first Young Adult book, Diehard Fangirl, scheduled to release by the end of the summer.
That’s enough to keep me busy and out of trouble for a while, don’t you think?
You can find Sarah at: