Wednesday, May 25, 2016

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Shari Schwarz author of Treasure at Lure Lake

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

I’m a mom of four boys, a former teacher-librarian and gymnastics coach. I’ve been writing stories since I was three (my mom still has those early tales of a lost baby cow and its mommy), so it’s been a natural progression throughout my life.

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

I have a busy household with all of my boys’ activities going on, so I literally write during all of the nooks and crannies in life when I have a bit of downtime. I also have some regular chunks of time every week when I know I can have concentrated time to write: when my four-year-old is in preschool and when I take my older boys to youth group.

3.     How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?

I have been found writing while waiting in the school pickup line, while cooking dinner (though it doesn’t bode well for our meal if I do!) and during my boys’ sport practices. I write on my laptop most all of the time.

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

My favorite part about writing is the creative process of developing new characters, new worlds and new plots with twists and turns that catch even me off guard at times! My least favorite is what happens when you finish writing the first draft of a book and after the excitement wears off, you realize that the hard work of revising has yet to begin.

5.     How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?

My book idea for TREASURE AT LURE LAKE came from my love of survival adventure books, from having had many vacations in the Rocky Mountains as a kid and from having four boys who keep me on my toes with their own adventures. The idea came out pretty quickly. From the moment I sat down to brainstorm TREASURE AT LURE LAKE, to the day I wrote “The End” on the first draft took me two months. But it took me over a year to revise and edit it.

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

This could be endless, but online I have focused on Twitter and Facebook, and a bit on Instagram, for my online promotion. I also have a blog where I promote my book. I hosted my own cover reveal with a Kindle Fire giveaway. That event ended up having a huge reach. I also had a book trailer made by three teenage boys. I’ve teamed up with a large debut group and we help promote each other. I’ve featured many of them on my blog as well.

In the real world, I have had bookmarks, stickers and postcards made. I’ve mailed the postcards out to local bookstores and libraries. I’ve also talked with local teachers and librarians and booksellers about doing author events. I had my book signing party at our local indie bookstore which ended up being a wonderful event and celebration.

At some point, an author can only do so much. I’ve realized that the book will sell (or not sell) itself. The greatest promotion that has happened so far is friends and acquaintances who have shared pictures online of their own children reading and enjoying the book. Word of mouth is huge.

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

I am currently working on several picture books, a contemporary chapter book, another adventurous middle grade and a WWI Young Adult that are all ready for revision. I have a lot of work ahead of me!

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

I have one partially completed MG that is set in a fictitious countryside, about a young girl who gets sent away to a boarding school and gets caught up in the middle of something called the Orphan Trade.

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

A lot of this business can be learned. Keep writing. Keep getting critique partners to review your work. Keep learning. Take writing seminars. Go to writing conferences. Keep networking. If this is your dream, your goal, don’t give up. It will be hard all the way through, but if you love writing, you won’t be able to give up on it!

Now it’s my turn to ask you a question! Are you a plotter or a pantser? What is your favorite method for coming up with a solid plot that you know will work in the end?

I am a pantster for the most part. I do write up a small outline with just the basics; i.e., the characters, the setting, the main problem of the story... but I find that when I've outlined in detail I never, NEVER follow it! The other thing that happens (and this was in the beginning when I first began to write) all my excitement for the book dwindled in unbelief. It got so I'd spent so much time outlining I had no more interest in writing the book.

I really listen to my characters. If I'm trying to force them to think a certain way or to do a certain thing to get to the ending I envisioned, the story never works. So, as I'm writing along, and the character says, "Wait! I wouldn't say that! I wouldn't do that! This is what I'd do..." and they proceed to fill me in, I listen. The plot will work because it's their story and not mine. 

Honestly, I sometimes shy away in putting my characters in precarious situations. I have grown to love them and I don't want them to hurt anymore. But that's book writing, and that life. I especially had to work through some stuff in my book, "The Gift: A Parable of the Key," because Joy, a secondary character, was going through some rough stuff that only got rougher. Her last bout, before the end of the book, was horrific, but she told me that she could move through it, and so I added this last trial, which I believe made the book better.


Thank you Shari! Learn more about Shari:

Twitter: @sharischwarz

Facebook: Shari Schwarz

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