Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Utah Book Month Author Spotlight: Sarah M. Eden

I am very excited to spotlight author Sarah M. Eden today as part of Utah Book Month.

Sarah is such an awesome person. I know this because I've read her books and I stalk follow her on Facebook and Twitter. If you haven't read her books or her blog, you are missing out! She is hilarious, and is an excellent author you can always count on to keep her writing clean! She is also very gracious, as evidenced by taking time to answer the following questions:

What does the M stand for in your name?

The M is for Miller, my maiden name. When I was first deciding the name I would write under, I opted to include the M as a shout-out to my family.

Out of the books you've had published, which was the most enjoyable to write, and why?

I loved writing Courting Miss Lancaster because it was a delight to write from beginning to end. The tone is very lighthearted and humorous, the characters were goofy and enjoyable and a great deal of fun. It was an absolute joy to write. Writing Longing for Home was also an amazing experience. I had a chance to delve deeper into my own Irish roots, to develop a larger, more complex story than I’d written before, and really push myself as an author.

What is the best part about being a published author?

I get to have a job that I love. I get to tell stories and share those stories with others. I have the opportunity to interact with other authors and with book lovers. Even though it is a lot of hard work, I can’t imagine a job I would enjoy more.

What is the worst part?

I would have to say the hardest part about being an author is the uncertainty of it all. What if this story idea is no good? What if my writing or storytelling falls short? Will this book find a publisher? What will the cover look like? How will edits go? Will reviewers like this book? Will readers like this book? Will it sell well? Will it flop? So much of a book’s success is out of the author’s control. We write the very best books we can and then send them out into the world, not really knowing how things will play out. And then we do it all over again with the next one. That uncertainty wears a person down and, for me, is the most difficult part of being a published author.

Do you read reviews on your books?

I don’t, actually. And, unlike most authors, I don’t even read the good reviews. For me, writing is a constant struggle against self-doubt. I am remarkably hard on myself. Reading reviews, good or bad, tends to magnify that tendency in me. Good reviews feel like a fluke. Bad reviews feel like what everybody must be thinking.

I finally admitted to myself that reading reviews was an unhealthy thing for me and committed to avoid them. I have a wonderful group of friends and family who let me know that they are hearing good things, and an incomparable writing group who helps me keep improving my work.

If one of your books were to be made into a movie, which one would you like to see?

Tough question. I’d enjoy seeing them all on the big screen. I would absolutely love to have a movie made of Longing for Home, and its sequel. To hear the rich Irish dialect and the folk music come to life that way would be absolutely wonderful.

Your post on July 11, 2013, about dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis was so touching. For those unfamiliar with RA and your battle with it, please share what it is and when you were diagnosed, and how your life has changed.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease of the immune system. For reasons still not fully understood by medical science, in individuals with RA the immune system becomes confused and attacks the tissue lining the joints of the body. This immune system response causes inflammation in the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and, over time, damage to the joints themselves. The symptoms initially begin in only a few of the joints, but as the disease progresses every joint in the body is afflicted. Other common symptoms of the disease include fatigue, weakness, fever, muscle pain, difficulty sleeping, nerve damage, and often depression. Over time, the disease can cause damage to many organs, including the lungs and heart. There is no cure for this disease and it is chronic, meaning once a person has RA, they will always have it.

I was officially diagnosed in February of this year, and we are still in the process of determining the best combination of treatments for me. Each individual is different and the treatments that work vary from person to person, and patients often need to change their treatments over time. Treatments are improving all the time and I hold out hope that we will find the right one for me so I can have more “good” days than I do now.

I don’t think there is a single aspect of my life that hasn’t been impacted by this disease. Everything I do is harder and slower and painful. There days when I can hardly shuffle around the house, and there are days that aren’t too bad and I can get things done, if slowly. I do my best to keep a positive outlook, but it can be a struggle.

I don’t know exactly the road that lies ahead of me or what my life will look like in the years ahead, but I’m pressing on and choosing to be hopeful.

One of your blog posts mentions that you were part of a panel discussion for a PBS documentary about the romance novel industry. You said, "Those of you who know me, know I am passionate about this genre, about what it could be, what it ought to be." Please share with us what you think it ought to be.

A romance is at its very heart a story about the strength that comes from truly loving and being loved in return. Romance was the first genre written by women, about women, and for women. This genre should be filled with stories that celebrate women’s strengths and worth and value. Romance should reflect healthy relationships, not glorify those that are abusive or demeaning—to men or women. The desire to love and to be loved is both universal and incomparably personal, and no genre has a greater opportunity to acknowledge and explore and celebrate that like romance does. That is what I dream of this genre becoming: one filled with stories that celebrate the power of real, healthy love and the strength that can be found in that kind of relationship.

It's no secret to your fans that you are not a tall person. Your "Short" Story post on July 20, 2012, was hilarious. So, tell us, how tall are you?

I am 4’11.” Unless you read my driver’s license, which declares I’m 5’ on the dot. I fudged it a little.

If people described you with one word, what would it be? 

Hmmm... Probably something along the lines of “goofy” or “funny.” I’m kind of a nut.

If that's not the description you'd prefer, what would you like to be described as.

I don’t really mind being known as a funny goofball. I’ve laughed my way through a lot of difficult times in my life, and I’m grateful for that as a coping mechanism. But I’ve found one of the tough things about being a person who laughs her way through life’s ups and downs, is that people don’t always see how hard you work, how deeply you feel things, or how much of a struggle it sometimes is to smile when tears would be so much easier. So, perhaps my one word could be “Funny*” and the * could lead to a disclaimer like: *hard worker, sometimes sad, tries her very best to be happy.

Thank you so much Sarah!

And now, because I think you will enjoy reading more about Sarah, here is her mini-biography (found on her website):

At the ripe old age of five, I wrote my first book. Entitled “The Sun,” this work of literary genius contained such awe-inspiring passages as, “The sun is yellow.” It was a ground-breaking success among the Kindergarten of Roadrunner Elementary. On the heels of this success, I went on to write absolutely nothing for many, many ears.

One sweltering summer, my mother, in what can now be easily identified as a desperate ploy to keep her five children occupied for a few hours during the never-ending summer break, implemented a summer writing challenge. That summer's efforts produced the first ten pages of “The Mystery of the Broken Unicorn”--my first experience with a plot idea that simply didn't work.

Several years after earning a bachelors degree in social science research, marrying my wonderful, if rather tall, husband and the birth of our second child, I took up my pen once more. Mercifully, I did not revisit the unicorn story but ventured into the world of Historical Romance.

My first novel,
The Ramshackle Knight, was published in May of 2007 and met with rave reviews from my mother and closest relatives. Spurred on by the unbiased acclaim, I wrote eight more Regency romances before being picked up by Covenant Communications.

Courting Miss Lancaster was released in 2010, followed by The Kiss of a Stranger (a re-publication of The Ramshackle Knight) in 2011. Seeking Persephone, a 2008 Whitney Award finalist for Best Romance, was rereleased in fall of 2011. Friends and Foes and An Unlikely Match followed in 2012.

With work and a good bit of luck, this will prove just the beginning.

*Don't miss the giveaway for a copy of Longing for Home. You can enter using the Rafflecopter form on this post.