Today I am joined by the awesome Sarah Ballance....
EM: Welcome to My World, Sarah. It is lovely to have you here today : )
Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My hair is sticking up—usually just those wiry early grays—and I couldn't tell you if I've even gotten dressed today. Somewhere around here is a cup of coffee I've misplaced, and my kids—six of them, all homeschooled—are either arguing over something ridiculous ("That's MY PENCIL!") or are way too quiet for comfort. Welcome to my world, LOL, and I write to escape it!
EM: *Throws door open* Come in! Come in!
1. How long have you been writing for?
I started my first novel somewhere in the middle of 2008. I finished it about six months later, and somehow it became my first published story, DOWN IN FLAMES. I'm still blinking to see if all of that will *poof* and go away. (Lately when I blink I open my eyes to a new release. I'm digging this!)
EM: I know, it's crazy right? *Blinks... and squeaks at new shiny*
2. Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?
I never wanted to be a writer. Not ever. It happened quite by accident, but I've got to say I am so very blessed it did. There's nothing like a free vacation every time I sit down with my WIP—anywhere I want to go and wherever my characters take me. No luggage fees, even. (<
3. What is your favourite genre to read? To write? And why?
Romantic suspense on both counts. There is something about throwing in that element of danger that really amps up the romantic tension. Stakes are high, adrenaline is flowing, you're panting and sweating … and that's all, you know, before we even start talking sex. This is goooood.
4. Who is your favourite author? Fave book? And why?
I'm afraid I can't narrow it down quite that much, but I can give a huge nod to Harlquin Intrigue. It was one of those titles that sucked me in and made me fall in love with romantic suspense. More specifically, it was "Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch" by reader fave B.J. Daniels, and last I checked it was still available as a free download on Amazon.
5. How do you get your ideas?
The initial ideas just come to me. RUN TO YOU, for example, played out in a dream over two nights, and it was so real I had to scour the TV listings to make sure I hadn't picked up on something left on the tube overnight. UNFORGIVEN, on the other end of the spectrum, was more of an idea in progress. Some elements of the plot didn't hit me until I was halfway through the story, and that fine tuning has turned into a trend. I don't have a huge plotted outline when I go in—I just see where the characters lead me (although I do try to make sure they stay on task.) I will say my husband is an outstanding guy to plot with, which can be worrisome. I'm not sure how I feel about his on-the-ready stash of ways to kill and torture people. Hmph.
EM: Hopefully it is all down to a possible love of CSI and horrors?? O_o
6. In your opinion what is the hardest part of the writing process?
The first chapter. Until I have feedback on the story from my crit partners, I wallow and worry. The questions and doubts come much faster than the words, but my peeps have yet to scald me with threats for wasting their time with drivel, so I really need to unpack some confidence and get a move on it. A single chapter should not take an entire month to write.
EM: *sighs* No it shouldn't, but it does happen sometimes : ( *Sympathises with*
7. In your opinion what is the best part of the writing process?
The click. The AHA moment when that last piece falls into place and you KNOW you've done it. I tend to trail my suspense bits and pieces along, drawing them in and situating them at just the right times. But until the time is right, out of sight and out of mind. When that moment comes where the pieces all fit and I can look back and see how they're woven throughout the plot, I gain such a HUGE feeling of accomplishment.
8. Are you a planner or a panster?
I'm a mix. I have some plot lines written at the bottom of my file as I write (literally, a paragraph or two) and when I drop a clue or something that will be significant later, I add it to the list. Otherwise, I let the story guide me.
9. Do you prefer to concentrate on one story, or juggle a few?
One story. Please. I juggle everything else in my life … I don't need to juggle this as well! LOL.
EM: *Hides the juggling balls*
10. Tell us about one of the most favourable scene you have written.
Oh, man. This is hard! I think one of my faves is in the first chapter of UNFORGIVEN (you can read this chapter free at Noble Romance, btw). My characters haven't seen one another in a year, and when they're reunited he's pointing his gun at her. She turns that situation around on him—he gets played, and I just LOVE to watch her work!
11. Out of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite and why?
I almost always like the story I'm working on best, and this time is no exception. Holden, the hero in my upcoming romantic suspense TIDE OF LIES, is my favorite. Readers will have a sneak peek of his character in my Oct 17 release FAMILIAR LIGHT.
12. If you could meet any fictional character, who would you meet and why?
I'd totally love to sit down with the team from Criminal Minds—Hotch or Morgan, in particular. I doubt either one would have much patience for my questions (sometimes I even annoy myself ,LOL), but if I could grill 'em for the purpose of research, I'd be freaking thrilled.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Oh, boy, am I ever! I'm writing TIDE OF LIES to follow my blog tour release FAMILIAR LIGHT, then it's one deep breath and I'm into LAST CALL, the second title in my Packing Heat romantic suspense series. Whew!
Do you have any current release?
My most recent release is UNFORGIVEN, but I'd also like to give a nod to HAWTHORNE. Through the end of the 2011, all proceeds will be donated from the publisher to benefit Japan disaster relief. It's only a dollar and it's for a great cause, so please consider grabbing a copy. It's perfect for Halloween!
EM: And so far it is a very good read. : ) *Is in the middle of reading zed book*
Riley Beckett’s past just came back to haunt her … and this time, he’s got a gun.
When Gage Lawton finds his brother shot dead on his back porch, every shred of evidence points to one person: his former lover, Riley. They didn’t part ways on good terms, and they’re not going to reconnect there, either—not when he’s got a revolver pointed at her head and a finger on the trigger.
A year after Riley swore she and Gage were over, he returns in a hail of gunfire. One look into those achingly familiar blue eyes and she knows how wrong she was to let him go, but now far more than their heated past stands in the way. A twist of fate puts them in the cross hairs of a killer, leaving Riley with two slim options: trust her greatest betrayer, or face a murderer on her own.
Purchase link: https://www.nobleromance.com/Books/325/Unforgiven
Any upcoming releases?
Seven years of longing comes down to just one night.
Laney Kent returns to Barrier Shoals hoping to reunite with her first love, Bridger. She anticipates his reception might be chilly, but what she doesn’t expect is to become the victim of a deadly obsession . . . or that this night with Bridger could be her last.
Bridger Jansen tangled a lot of sheets trying to forget about Laney, but his heart knew what the rest of him refused to admit: he could love no one else. He’s determined not to forgive her for leaving him without explanation, but when he fails to protect her from a viscous attack, the person he can’t forgive just might be himself.
Purchase link: Available Oct 17: https://www.nobleromance.com/Authors/97/Sarah-Ballance
Where can readers find you on the internet?
For a complete guide to stalking, check out my website. My links are on the left hand side of my home page. Here, meanwhile, are the basics.
Any advice you would like to give aspiring writers?
The best thing you can do for yourself is listen to critiques. It's not going to feel good (at first) to have your mistakes and weaknesses pointed out, but that is exactly what you need to improve. Not every crit will be a helpful one—some, in fact, won't be helpful for you at all—but when you learn to use constructive criticism to strengthen your writing, you are well on your way to making that dream of authoring come true. (And I don’t know if "authoring" is a word, but I'll say it with confidence and maybe I'll sound convincing, LOL.)
EM: Hey, you're a writer. If you have wrote it, then it is a word! : P
Thank you so much for joining me, Sarah! It has been awesome hanging out with you ^_^
SB: Thank you! I'm so grateful for everyone who read along. I hope you'll join me at my blog, where everyone who is on my *e-mail* subscription list is automatically entered to win a weekly gift certificate. (See, I'm not above bribery. Ahem.)