Wednesday, February 26, 2014



Image of Sarah Beard
Photo Credit: Heather Clark
Find out when Sarah uses a computer to write, and when she switches over to paper or a notebook. Learn a little about her YA romance, and discover what fantastic advice she has for new writers!

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I've been making up stories since I was a little girl. I used to spend a lot of recesses out in the school yard by myself, lost in my own world. But it wasn't until Jr. high when I started recording the details of those worlds on paper. I wrote my first short story for an English class, and my teacher encouraged me to continue writing, so I did. In high school I was on the literary magazine staff, and I used writing as an outlet to get through a very difficult time in my life. Most of my writing during that time consisted of cryptic poems and song lyrics, but they were my way of expressing the things I didn't feel comfortable saying out loud. When I went to college, I took a lot of writing classes for my communications degree, and although I knew I would write a novel someday, I didn't attempt it until after college when I was married with two small kids. And then one day while my kids were down for a nap, the novelist in me just clicked on. I discovered a couple characters I really cared about who had a story compelling enough to finish. And that was Porcelain Keys. 

                              Purchase Porcelain Keys

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I usually write at my kitchen table. I have an office in my house, but it rarely gets used because I have three kids and I want to be accessible. But I do a lot of writing before they get up in the morning or after they go to bed, because quiet, uninterrupted time is crucial to my writing process. I write both on my laptop and on paper, and I've found that each produces a different kind of writing. My laptop is the best tool for plotting and writing a first draft. But when I’m revising, I’ll often rewrite scenes on paper, because for some reason they turn out more lyrical that way. Also, a lot of scenes come to me when I’m not sitting at the computer. I keep a notebook with me to record new scenes as they come to me, then I’ll type them up later on my laptop.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My favorite part about writing is drafting and the process of discovery. I love discovering who my characters are and why they do the things they do, and what their story is. My least favorite part is editing, because that’s when the real work begins. It’s easy to tell a story. But it’s hard to tell a story well. It’s not just about grammar and punctuation. Pacing, dialogue, tension, conflict, setting, characterization and more have to be considered separately, then together as a whole. But although editing is tough, there is nothing more rewarding than having a reader experience your story in the way you first imagined it.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

My goal as I’m writing my characters is to make them as realistic and interesting as possible. In the real world, people are complex. We have a lot of different challenges, interests, and motivations. And we all have a story. If my character doesn't feel real to me, they won’t feel real to the reader. And likewise, if I don’t care about them, neither will the reader. So I make sure I know everything about a character before introducing them, and I also give the reader reasons to care about them.

My main character, Aria Kinsley, is someone who on the surface seems fragile and vulnerable, and may even see herself as weak. Music is how she identifies herself, but because her father forbids music, she has to keep that vital element of herself a secret. But as the story progresses, we see just how brave she is, and she comes to see herself as someone who is courageous and strong, who is not afraid to take the hard path when she knows it’s the right path. She has a sensitive heart and feels things very intensely. She’s passionate. She loves deeply, and she grieves deeply. She takes everything in and lets little out. She is a hard worker and isn't afraid to sacrifice. She is sure of two things—her love of music, and her love for Thomas.

Aria’s love interest, Thomas Ashby, is both an artist and an intellectual, a modern-day da Vinci, if you will (though on a much smaller scale). He creates beautiful art pieces with melted wax, then turns around and reads The Feynman Lectures on Physics—for fun. He is studious and introspective, and much too hard on himself. He is restless, but good at hiding it. He is carrying his own secret burdens, but he never shows it for fear that they’ll add to Aria’s hardships. And at one point, he can’t carry them anymore, and he buckles. Thomas adores Aria and wants nothing more than for her to be happy. He goes to great lengths to help her achieve her dreams and opens doors for her, figuratively and literally. He is not perfect, but he is just what Aria needs.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

Since Porcelain Keys is my first novel, I've had to ride a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to marketing. I have a website and blog, and I regularly post to twitter and facebook. I have author pages on Goodreads and Amazon, and have gotten great results using the Goodreads giveaway program. I also threw a book launch party, did an interview with a local television station, and have more podcast interviews and signings planned. But one of the most effective marketing techniques so far has been my blog tour. I wanted to get as many bloggers as possible to participate, and I ended up with over 60. Most of them read my book and left some great reviews on their blogs and on Goodreads/Amazon. Bloggers are invaluable when it comes to collecting initial reviews, which help potential readers decide whether or not to read your book.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

Organizing time is not on my skills list, so most of the time, I write when the scenes demand to be written. Luckily these days, I have a few hours of quiet time during the day while my kids are at school. Sometimes I set daily word count goals, but I find that when I do that I focus more on quantity than quality. So setting a daily time goal works better for me. Usually I strive for two hours a day, but often those two hours turn into more when I get into the groove. And I try to write first thing in the morning when my mind is fresh.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

My debut novel, Porcelain Keys, was just released this month. I’m about halfway through the draft of my next book, another YA romance. And I have a few other projects that I keep notes on as well.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I have a few projects on the back burner. They’re all YA, but all very different stories. One is supernatural, two are light sci-fi, and two are urban-fantasy. But in each of them, a love story is central to the plot.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

First of all, I would quote John Irving: “More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn't say I have a talent that’s special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.” Writing is mostly rewriting, and if you can endure the editing and rewriting, then you can succeed. But you have to learn the craft. You can write a million words and never become a good writer if you don’t take the time to learn how to write well. Take advantage of the many educational resources out there. Books on writing, writing conferences, online articles and blog posts are all inexpensive ways to learn about writing. Join a good critique group. Read a lot. Write a lot. Be patient and get comfortable, because it will be a long journey. In fact, once you decide to be a writer, the journey never really ends.

Thank you, Sarah!

SARAH BEARD is the author of Porcelain Keys, a YA contemporary romance. She has
a degree in communications from the University of Utah and splits her time between
writing and raising three energetic boys. She is a cancer survivor and a hopeless
romantic. She enjoys reading and composing music, and lives with her husband and
children in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can follow Sarah on twitter at @authorsarahb, or at Her website is

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