Last week I was thrilled to appear on Sarah Ballance’s blog and this week, I am just as thrilled to have her appear on mine. With titles such as, ‘Tide of Lies’, ‘Down In Flames’ and ‘Run To You’, Sarah is preparing for the release of her first Indie work, ‘Last Call’, available by June from For the Muse Publishing. Please help me to welcome the very talented Sarah Ballance.
SB – Kathy, thanks so much for having me here today.
IDI – You conducted such a wonderful interview with me last week, I can only hope I do as well for you.
Sarah, when did you know you were meant to be a writer?
SB – Believe it or not, I never wanted to be an author. I was 31 years old when a friend told me to write a novel. I scoffed at the notion, and my response was simply, “I can’t.” It hit me not too long after, I said I can’t. So I did. It took me six months to write that first book, DOWN IN FLAMES, and I only sent it to a publisher because my crit partner was *not* going to quit bugging me until I did. Imagine my surprise when the first and only publisher I queried picked it up! But I still wasn’t convinced. It wasn’t until my second book, RUN TO YOU, that I realized I had no choice but to write. Now, it’s my utter solace.
IDI – Tell us, within your writing, what are you the most passionate about? What is it that keeps you moving forward?
SB – My passion is romantic suspense. I fell in love with the genre when I was introduced to the Harlequin Intrigue line via a free read, and it was an epic of love at first sight. Creating those breathless moments of romance, intrigue, and danger is what drives me to keep writing. There is nothing more delish than adding suspense to romantic tension!
IDI – I couldn’t agree more! What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, something to tickle our tastebuds?
An accidental witness to a murder-for-hire, ex-cop Rhys Clark becomes the target of ruthless killer—one determined to silence her at any cost. Playing dead seems to be the most likely way to stay alive, but when her protection comes in the form of mega-sexy former adversary Nick Massey, Rhys can think of a few fates worse than death.
Nick Massey may have walked away from his troubles, but he never got past wanting Rhys. Once paired undercover, they’d been nothing but fireworks until a botched assignment ended her career, sending his into a tailspin. Now a mysterious client is willing to pay Nick anything to keep Rhys safe, but it isn’t until fate takes a critical turn that he realizes the horrific truth: he’s been her greatest threat all along.
SB – As you’ve said, ‘Last Call’ is my first Indie work and being that it will come out through For the Muse is a little exciting as it’s a self-publishing house I share with a friend.
IDI – That sounds exciting. I admire you for the publishing end of the work you’re taking on. I seem to be on the write, edit, promote hamster wheel and don’t slow down long enough to add to my plate.
You’ve had several books published the traditional way. What made you decide to take the Indie route with your next release?
SB – I’ve had a great experience with my publisher, but I’ve always felt the cost of my books have put a limit on the number of readers I can reach. I have an *incredible* reader base now, but I don’t think there are many who will take a $5 or $6 plunge with a relatively new author, nor should they *have* to. When my paranormal romance HAWTHORNE (Astraea Press) hit the Amazon best seller genre rankings at $1, a light bulb went off. My goal is not to make a fortune, but to reach readers, and a high quality, professionally edited book for sofa cushion change is a most excellent way to do that. I’m excited about my new venture, and I’m currently planning a free read to expand upon it even more.
IDI – I think that’s what it’s all about as far as marketing… finding what works for you. Some writers dedicate chunks of time to marketing while others depend solely on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to get the word out. You have a plan and it certainly seems to be working and you know what they say… ‘if it ain’t broke..’
Okay, a little about your writing habits and techniques. Pen and paper or computer and Word? The bustle of Starbucks or the quiet of your study? Alone or within a group? What is your most productive/inspiring setting?
SB – I have a netbook I ADORE, and I have two places in which I *love* to write. One is in our truck. It’s roomy, cushy, and the stereo sounds great. I pop in my favorite CD and it’s the ultimate in relaxation—no dishes, no laundry, no kids screaming, and no to-do list. I’m utterly free of distractions, but I’m surrounded by fresh air and serenity. The second place on my list is on our cabin cruiser. We keep the biggest one at a marina, and that boat has got to be one of the most awesome places on the planet. I can sit on the deck and bask in the sun, or go inside the cabin and bask in the air conditioning. I do like to watch the boats go by (<<distraction) but that’s just plain good for the soul, which in turn makes for productive writing. *silly grin*
IDI – I’ve heard arguments for each side, but when writing, do you outline or sketch the entire book before you feel comfortable enough to begin your draft or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your jockey’s?
SB – I’m a total jockey-flier. I start writing when I have an iota of a plot and a hint of a character—in fact, the only thing truly essential to writing the first scene is to have an idea of what happens in the LAST one. From there I can ensure everything I write moves the story forward, but I get to enjoy the ride with my characters and whatever trouble they manage to get themselves into. ;c)
IDI – Point blank, life is hectic. How do you handle the responsibilities of work, home and personal me-time?
SB – Oh, boy, do I hear you on that! I am a full-time author (because I don’t have a “real job,” LOL!) but I’m also a mom of six children ages 13 and under. And we home school five different grades plus deal with a toddler underfoot. I don’t think I need to tell you, at this point, how insane my days can be! To cope, I have a basic routine. I let the kids sleep late, and I take advantage of this by working on “other” writing stuff in the morning. This entails pretty much everything but my actual WIP—blogs, interviews, reviews, etc—and usually spills over into the afternoon as I check email, respond to blog comments, and otherwise keep in touch with readers. I spend most of the day with school and kid stuff, then after dinner it’s back to writing for me. My husband takes over then, allowing a good 2-4 hours each night for me to work on my fiction. This, of course, is all in theory. Many days it works, but many others it does not . . . and neither do I! LOL.
IDI – Talk about a full plate. Six children and homeschooling, God love you girl! My hat’s off to you.
What’s the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?
SB – I have my moments of self-doubt—I think we all do—and one of my crit partners does one heck of a job of slapping me out of it. When I have a pity party, she doesn’t tell me how wonderful she thinks I am, nor does she remind me of all those great reviews I’ve gotten. Her advice? “Shut up and write.” And darn if that’s not the best advice out there. It’s the ultimate form of believing in myself, and that’s something we all need—good days and bad.
IDI – I totally agree. The majority of us do have ‘those days’ and ‘shut up and write’ is probably the best advice one can give. Nothing else will get it done.
And now a question about ‘new authors’. In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
SB – People tend to assume authors are rolling around naked in royalty cash. (Maybe not naked . . . I’m prone to exaggeration. I do make up things for a living, you know!) Seriously, though, most of us aren’t paying our mortgages with the ol’ royalty check. Every book doesn’t sell thousands—or even hundreds—of copies a month. While it’s great to dream about getting there, the fact is very few actually start there. I’m always saddened to hear how those initial sales can discourage new authors, in particular those with great talent who have yet to find their audience.
IDI – One last question. Can you tell us about your current release? After all, readers need something to tide them over until ‘Last Call’ comes out, right?
SB – ‘Tide of Lies’ is a romantic suspense hot off the presses from Noble Romance. It picks up where my novella FAMILIAR LIGHT left off (now available for $1.50 if you want to read them both, although TIDE does stand alone). Here’s the blurb:
A devastating secret. A shocking betrayal. A deadly obsession.
Haunted by three unsolved murders, Detective Holden Whitlow is stunned when his cold case takes a heated turn. Julia Cohen, his ex-lover, is back in town, and in the face of a brutal attack she’s ready to run. No matter how tightly she holds her secrets, for Holden, turning away from the woman he’s spent a decade trying to forget isn’t any more an option than walking away from his job . . . even when it threatens to cost Julia her life.
Julia is still reeling from a past she can’t bear to face. When she becomes the target of a killer, fate throws her back into Holden’s arms, but she’s yet to recover from a truth that has stripped her of everything—and everyone—she loves. Will she tell him the secret that will destroy him, or will her lie destroy them both?
IDI – Sarah, I would like to thank you for being here today. I’m in awe of all the hats you wear! Best of luck with ‘Last Call’… sounds like a novel that would entertain many a reader.
SB – Thank you so much for allowing me to take up space here today!
You can check out FAMILIAR LIGHT, TIDE OF LIES, and my other Noble Romance titles right here: https://www.nobleromance.com/Authors/97/Sarah-Ballance
I’d like to invite your readers to join me on my website (http://sarahballance.com) or blog (http://sarahballance.wordpress.com/), where I give away a gift card every single week to one of my email subscribers. Hope to see you there!
And now on to recommended reading…
A literary coming-of-age novel
Family life at its finest
Always accepting! If you’re a published author and would like to participate in an interview, please send an email with ‘interview’ in the subject line to ladybuggerly at-hotmail and I will set you up!
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