The Author’s Voice – Sandra J. Clarke

Today The Author’s Voice has the pleasure to interview a freshly published author. Sandra Clarke had her debut novel Mind Over Matter published with Muse It Up Publishing and has since been on a whirlwind journey through book launches, blog tours and signings; every writer’s dream. She is not complaining. Thanks for being here Sandra! Psst… don’t drink the coffee. It’s just set dressing, sorry.

Now that your first novel is published, do you feel any anxiety, like, the fear that you won’t be able to duplicate the success or meet a deadline or even that the ideas will just dry up?

 Finishing a novel is a real confidence boost for any writer. But as soon as we sit in front of that blank screen again insecurity creeps in. Fortunately, I’m a plotter through and through. The system I use works well for me, and I never have to doubt in my ability to find another worthy idea. For The Missing Time, I used what time I could find (an hour a day during my lunch breaks for three months) and wrote.  Over time, however, I lost faith in the strength of the story. When it began to feel stale I put it away. By this time I’d sold Mind Over Matter and my first exposure to edits served as a good distraction. After several months, during a Writescape course, I pulled the manuscript out, searching for a scene to use for one of the lessons. To my surprise, distance provided the fresh perspective I needed. Today, I’m shopping that novel around to agents, and it’s garnering some interest.  I figured if I could finish two stories I could finish more. So I went back to the beginning and started the next one. I’m about a quarter of the way through the sequel to Mind Over Matter. This one is progressing much slower. I’ve got more time but I’ve also got more responsibilities with promotion and marketing. Finding balance is tricky. I can’t worry if each book will surpass the last. To maintain my momentum, I need to focus my energy on what comes next.

Writescape is a great place to mine for new Ideas. For those that haven’t heard about it, please follow the link. I highly recommend it.

When you write, what is the most exciting part of your writing process. Is it coming up with the initial idea? Or a character stepping out of their assigned roles and running away with the book? Or maybe just writing those two words… The End? Or something else entirely?

 Will you hate me if I say plotting is my favorite part? My detailed outlines are almost a draft in themselves. Contrary to the opinion of any Pantster out there, creativity is not stifled during the process. At least not for me. I’m constantly going back and making changes to scene cards as I work through the plot. Or I add revision notes of things that have to happen in that scene to make something I’ve added to a later scene make sense, and then I address it during revisions. Often in relation to foreshadow or red herrings. Writing the story is the drone part, and I enjoy it if I work on it every day. When I take a break, like a weekend off, I find it takes a full day to get back up to speed again, and that can be frustrating. Once I’ve let the first draft sit for a few months, I start my one-pass revision process and deal with those changes I made note of while writing down the bones.

While I don’t hate you, would you consider doing plot cards for me? 😉

What made you pick your Genre; what is it that appeals to you about Mystery and Suspense?

 In a way, mystery is a part of every story. The protagonist has a need, and there’s something preventing him from obtaining it. What? Why? What’s holding him back? Who’s getting in his way? Unanswered questions. Without them, you’ve got no conflict. Murder, or risk to life, raises the stakes to the ultimate level. Every reader can relate to it, if only to how they’d react if someone they loved, or someone they despised, were murdered or threatened. Relatablility gives it punch. The paranormal aspect is something I’ve always been drawn to. I wrote my first story when I was eight years old, and it was a paranormal. It’s a part of who I am.

Love this, “Relatablility gives it punch”! Words I live by. If you can’t make it real, make it plausible.

Have you ever considered writing in a different genre?

 Absolutely. I’d love to try my hand at Urban Fantasy, but that’s just another class of paranormal. I love humorous fiction as well.  Janet Evanovich has a great series about a female bounty hunter. Fabulous voice. Still mystery after a fashion, though. I have that in me, and one day, when I’ve studied and read enough books in the genre to believe I can duplicate it, I’ll write it. But for now I’m sticking to my first love. My best chance of connecting with readers is to follow my passion. If I’m lucky enough to develop a following who are willing to read other genres by me, then I’ll consider it.

Janet Evanovich, you say? Hmmm… Have you been peeking at my guest list?

As a fellow member of the WCDR, could you explain to the readers what it means to you to be part of a writing community and how it has helped you along?

 Wow. There’s so much an organization like The Writers’ Community of Durham Region offers a writer. Support, encouragement, education, networking, job opportunities and an ever-growing array of friends. Mingling with others with shared experiences keeps the need to write top of mind. Watching others succeed reminds you it’s possible. You’re placing yourself in front of industry professionals with expert advice that could take you to the next level if you apply it in a way that works for you. Add on continuous exposure to the craft and you have a recipe for success.

Before we get to your clip, any words of advice for new writers?

Writing is personal. We weave pieces of ourselves into our work. Not moments in our lives, but strands of our souls. It’s hard to bare our souls. Find a place to connect with other writers and develop a relationship of trust. Then put your work out there and ask for feedback. Writers are often too close to their own work to understand how much of the book is still in their head. Only by showing it to other writers will you get the relevant criticism you need to make your story shine.

Great advice and something I learned only by doing. Thanks again for “sitting down” with me Sandra.

And without further ado, here is a “creepy” clip from Mind Over Matter.

            He dipped his finger in again, this time tracing it over his face. War paint. Panic, all too real and expected under the circumstances, coursed through her, carrying sensation to dormant limbs. Her upper body inched away in revulsion. Parks, too far gone to notice or care, continued with the ritual. His face bore a natural flush, heightened by the heat of the fire and smears of blood. Spittle flew from his mouth when he coughed, scattering red dots over her white gown. Dear god, did he drink the stuff? Rebecca closed her eyes on a shiver, opening them again when his red tipped fingers trailed across her cheeks.

             The chanting resumed. Flames shot up, carrying large shadows to the ceiling. Rebecca blinked and watched an Indian headdress outline crawl up the wall to the ceiling. Everyone in this room, except her, wore hoods. None wore an Apache ceremonial headdress. Time to ponder this new mystery ran out when Parks reached over and picked up the knife. Tears carved tracks through the blood and dust on her face, mapping her end. The hiss of flames intensified as Parks raised the dagger over his head.

I don’t know about you guys, but I read that without blinking once.

You can find more of Sandra at her website, SJ Clarke|Paranormal Romantic Suspence.

Her book, Mind Over M is available at Muse it up Publishing.

Coming up next is Deepam Wadds. I’ve included a link to her site. Here’s where I’ll try something new, I want to include you, the reader, in my interviews so, if you have any questions you’d like asked, please use the Contact Me button and send them along. Depending on how many questions I get, I may only be able to use a few of them so make yours unique.

And as always, please comment. Author’s love to hear from readers.

This is the Author’s Voice signing off for now. Thanks for reading.

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About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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5 Responses to The Author’s Voice – Sandra J. Clarke

  1. Thanks for having me on your blog, Dale. I had a blast.
    *Note to self: Next time, ask first before drinking the set props.

    • Dale Long says:

      So that’s where the fruit basket went… 😉

      It was a pleasure Sandra. Oh, by the way, I leant my copy of Mind Over Matter to my friend’s wife and she is enjoying it immensly it so far.

  2. Lisa Llamrei says:

    Finally – another author who enjoys the plotting of the book! I usually get teased about my 30,000 word storylines and my little black box of index cards. And I agree – creativity is absolutely not stifled when a novel is written that way, at least not for me.

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