Monday, February 27, 2012

Amazing Writing Connections

This Writing Life:

I absolutely LOVE connecting with other authors. We all share the same concerns:
1-The Time Factor-Basically, there are not enough hours in the day for everything we are trying to accomplish!
2-We need quiet time in order to be productive.
3-To self-publish or continue seeking an agent/publisher?
4-Formatting, editing, proofreading...our eyes are crossing!
5-Effectively marketing and promoting our books--no effort equals no sales.
6-Concerted exertion to write quality books that will attract readers who don't personally know us.

The list could go on and on, but the Internet is an amazing tool. Through Social Media sites, it is easy to connect with others who struggle with the same trials and challenges. The benefit is an exchange that enables us to help one another in marketing and promotion, and to ascertain that we are not alone.

Through an awesome authors' Facebook Group, Grace & Faith Author Connection, I met Sharon Srock, who writes a blog especially for avid readers, as opposed to an audience of other writers. Not only do I appreciate Sharon's calling to write about faith-based circumstances, but I love her vivid imagination!

When I first viewed her blog at, I seriously thought that she had gathered a few friends to collaborate and contribute to the blog. It is very helpful to read her "In the Beginning" post, as it explains the actual identities of the fictional contributors. I discovered that it pays to read everything carefully and not skim and assume!

Her contributors are Callie, Pam, Terri and Karla--the four original women in her book series. Sharon has a contract with Harbourlight for the first two books in her series. She is hopeful that The Women of Valley View: Callie will be released by Christmas, 2012 and that The Women of Valley View: Terri will be a 2013 release. She is also working on a short Valley View Christmas story.

Don't get the idea that all Sharon does is sit around writing all day, however! She works full time at a local Air Force Base and sells Avon. She has been married to Larry for seventeen years, has two daughters, three step-sons and a whopping 23 grandchildren & great-grandchildren. Stating that she lives "in the middle of nowhere" in Oklahoma, Sharon and Larry love their gigantic family and their grown Labrador Retrievers, Sara and Ziva.

I asked Sharon if, with their huge family, they are ever all able to get together at the same time, and she responded, "Only at Christmas, and we have to reserve the fellowship hall at our church to get together then. We've outgrown anyone's home."

I was curious about the blessings versus curses of living "in the middle of nowhere" in Oklahoma. Sharon's response was rapid: "Blessings--Peace and quiet. Room to spread out. We have 3 acres, and in the spring and summer I love mowing. Something about those nice neat rows and the smell of fresh cut grass--I'm weird. Curses--Living on a dirt road that barely qualifies for the name 'road' when it rains. I drive a 4 wheel drive SUV for a really good reason. Being 20 miles from a decent store when I run out of something in the middle of a recipe. Two years ago, a tornado took out the local grocery store. I ran out of white corn syrup in the middle of my cinnamon rolls. It was ugly--very ugly!"

Wondering how she became interested in the hobby of panning for gold, I couldn't help but inquire. She explained, "Like so many things I've tried and liked, my love of gold panning came from my husband--one of his many hobbies that bled over onto me.

We used to spend our vacation at a working gold mine in North Carolina. We'd spend the day water washing a huge pile of dirt. Then after dinner, I'd pan the black sand. Seeing those flakes of gold in the pan, and knowing that you're the first person in the whole world to see those pieces--it's very addictive."

She is also an avid NASCAR fan and a Trekker. Perhaps some day, we'll see her Trek novel being released from its hiding place!

Her advice for fellow and/or future bloggers is, "Write about what you know, and don't be afraid to use your imagination and ask lots of questions."

We'll be watching for the release of The Women of Valley View: Callie in the not too distant future. This is the cover, along with the description on the back:

Three dire circumstances. Three desperate prayers. One miracle to save them all.

Callie Stillman is drawn to the evasive girl who's befriended her granddaughter, but the last time Callie tried to help a child, her efforts backfired. Memories of the tiny coffin still haunt her.

Samantha and Iris Evans should be worried about homework, not whether they can pool enough cash to survive another week of caring for an infant while evading the authorities.

Steve Evans wants a second chance at fatherhood, but his children are missing. And no one seems to want to help the former addict who deserted his family.

For Steve to regain the relationship he abandoned, for his girls to receive the care they deserve, Callie must surrender her fear and rely on God to work the miracle they all need.

In the interim, please stop by for a visit with the girls! Sharon was kind enough to recently feature my upcoming novel, Never Say Perfect, on her blog, as Karla's page offers "coming soon" posts, where she introduces upcoming book releases.

A special thank you to Sharon Srock for stopping by to connect with us, and we'll be eagerly anticipating the release of her books!

Update on 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time: This book was released at the end of January in print, as well as for Nook and Kindle. It simplifies the process of jump-starting a memoir project in order for important life stories to be passed from generation to generation. Also featuring examples of taking one memory and writing a story, the book offers story contributions from a few of my amazing former workshop attendees. It is a compact book, but packed with an arsenal of tools to help anyone easily tackle a memoir writing project. Visit the home page of to click on the various purchase options available. I hope you'll buy it for yourself, as well as for loved ones!

Update on Never Say Perfect: This novel is just days away from release!! God blesses us in countless ways!

See you soon....

 Mary Anne

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nightmare at Emerald High

 I absolutely love featuring author friends in my blog! I learn from their experiences and advice, and truly enjoy passing these conversations along to you.

Author Joana James is an AMAZING 28 year old, living on the island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. Her writing efforts began with a two-part short story series entitled Alana & Alyssa's Secret: Rise from the Ashes, which told about the lives of two young girls who were dealing with extremely difficult circumstances.

One of the reasons that I chose to describe Joana as being AMAZING is because she has boundless energy and enthusiasm for all things related to writing, as well as for helping other authors promote their books. In spite of a busy schedule as an I. T. professional, she has carved out time to write another book, Nightmare at Emerald High, and is working on a third novel.

I asked Joana how she manages to squeeze writing new material, in addition to marketing and promoting her current book and the works of other authors, into her already busy day. Joana explained, "Time management is the most difficult thing for me right now, and I still don't have the balance quite right just yet. But I try to focus on the thing that is the most important at the time. When I have a new story brewing, I give it most of my attention and stop only to come up for air. Because of my day job, I write only on evenings and the weekends. However, the high stress job is a strange benefit--when I get home, I use writing as a way to unwind and relax."

How are her friends and family reacting to being in such a close relationship with an author? "My friends are pretty excited, and my family is extremely proud. My mother goes around telling all her friends about her daughter the author. They're all pretty comfortable with the idea, maybe more comfortable than I am..."

Nightmare at Emerald High is about Malcolm Drake, a young man who is one year away from his high school graduation. Discovering a golden scholarship opportunity, Malcolm and other classmates enroll in a program called Alternative Science, which could pave the way to receiving that coveted scholarship. What they don't realize is that they are actually stepping into the evil world of the occult and must learn through grueling developments that there is no easy way out.

I was curious about what influenced Joana to write a novel that features high school kids. She displays a real heart for teens, having been a youth leader at her church for several years. Joana said, "I spent most of my time working with high school kids so I have several stories about them and the situations they face floating around in my head. To write about teens seems almost second nature to me. As a matter of fact, I find it difficult writing about people who are older."

When asked what message she wanted to convey in Nightmare at Emerald High, she succinctly stated, "Nightmare at Emerald High may seem a bit controversial with its subject matter being secret societies and organizations, but in the society that I live, it's an everyday thing. Our children get tangled up in so many things that warp their thinking and confuse them and their perception of good and evil and right and wrong. My hope is that Nightmare at Emerald High will be an eye opener for both parents and teens."

Will her future books be geared to teens? "I will never stop writing for teens or young adults. They hold a special place in my heart because of the work I've done with them. However, I do hope to branch out into other genres."

Always interested in invading the thoughts and extracting the wisdom of other writers, I asked what advice Joana would give others who are thinking about writing a book. "It's a long and difficult process, but it's not impossible. If you have a passion for writing, then go after it. There will be critics along the way and maybe even the occasional horrible review. But perseverance brings success. Also, find out all you can about the writing process, and don't stop learning about the craft after you've published a few books."

As we authors have a way of abruptly discovering, the hard work is just beginning when the book is published! Because marketing and promotion are critical for driving sales, what advice would Joana offer on this topic? "I'm still learning the book marketing field, as I'm pretty new to all this. But, I can say that it is a job that will never really end. Look for groups of authors who write similar material to you and learn from them. Social networking is one of the most powerful tools available to us, so use it to your advantage. Remember to be friendly and don't accost every person you meet with a sales pitch."

I'd like to offer a huge thank you to Joana James for sharing her thoughts on her own writing experiences and for allowing us to gain insight into the life of another author. Joana, we wish you every possible success with Nightmare at Emerald High and all future endeavors!

Visit Joana at and locate Nightmare at Emerald High at
My next blog post will update everyone about the recent release of 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!  Never Say Perfect will also be released within the next two weeks, God willing!! Busy, busy, busy.

See you next time...