I am delighted to have my friend from Maryland Romance Writers, Sharon Saracino, with me today to talk about DEATH BENEFITS. Sharon Saracino was born and raised in the beautiful anthracite coal region of Northeastern Pennsylvania. A lifelong love of writing took a back seat to real life while she got married, raised a family, went back to college, and finally decided what she wanted to be when she grew up! The oldest of three siblings, she was raised in a small town rich in history and filled with characters galore! She began writing seriously again in 2006 in the non-fiction arena. Her work has appeared in Rehabilitation Nursing and The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory. When she is not reading, writing, or pursuing amateur photography and genealogy, she works full time as a Certified Registered Rehabilitation Nurse. She plans to win the lottery just as soon as she remembers to purchase a ticket, fantasizes about moving to Italy, brews limoncello, and spends time with her incredible husband, funny and talented son, two crazy dogs, and a cat…to whom the rest of them are all merely “staff”!
Sharon (great name, btw!), what made you decide to be an author, specifically a romance author?
Thanks so much for having me today, Sharon! It is a great name, isn’t it? *wink* I’ve always loved to write, but I didn’t pursue it seriously until a few years ago. I think I finally realized that time wasn’t standing still and ‘someday’ was going to be here and gone if I didn’t get in gear! As for gravitating toward romance, though my folks weren’t big readers, my aunt was a fool for a romance novel. She would pass along shopping bags filled with Harlequins and historicals every couple of weeks during my teen years. Though I read in many genres, and still do, romance is my true addiction. Who can’t get on board with an exciting guy and a happily ever after? That being said, I think it naturally followed that when I started to write, I gravitated toward the genre I loved most.
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?
I think being a writer has made me much more observant. I love a clever turn of a phrase and the opportunity to take something completely ordinary and innocuous and squirrel it away in my head (or more often on a post-it note) to be reworked and used later. People who know me personally should be advised: anything you say can and may be used out of context in a novel at any time! Actually, now that I am actually published, that threat tends to make people a little more nervous! What I like the least is probably what every writer likes the least…when the muse hops on a slow boat to China, when the ideas run dry, when the plot seems suddenly pointless about 45, 000 words in and you wonder what in the heck ever made you think you could write in the first place!
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing romance?
I think life experiences prepare you for writing no matter what genre you choose. I’d always heard ‘write what you know’. For years I took that literally and thought it was impossible to write about people or places or circumstances unless I had personal experience of them. I’ve come to understand that it really isn’t necessarily a level of expertise in some area but rather an understanding of how people feel and how they might react in a given situation. I think every writer, regardless of genre, draws on their own life experiences to infuse realism into their characters. Particularly in romance, nearly everyone has experienced a crush, a rejection, being attracted to the wrong person, etc. Heaven knows I have!
Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?
Actually, it did happen with Death Benefits. Death Benefits came together more quickly than anything I’ve written before or since. I’m not sure why. Maybe because Max is so completely filter-less at times? We’ve all been in those situations where it’s painfully obvious that someone let the idiots out of the box and we’ve had to bite our tongues when something completely inappropriate wants to slip out. Max doesn’t struggle with that quite so much!
You’ve written four novels, two of which are contracted, and have four current WIP. What’s your favorite time management tip?
I wish I had one! With a family and a full time job, time is always at a premium, just as it is for everyone else. I generally write after work and on the weekends. I know some authors who write in the morning before work. I could never do it…I’d end up late every day. I’m really fortunate to have an amazing husband who thinks nothing of taking on all of the household chores when I’m glued to the keyboard and in the zone. So, I guess my favorite time management tip is to marry well! ;D
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?
I am a total panster! I really wish that I could be more of a plotter; I think books would come together more quickly and easily if I had any clue as to where they were going when I start out. But so far, everything I’ve written has taken me along for the ride and I’ve been just as surprised at the end as everyone else!
If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?
Writing can be such a solitary pursuit. Feedback and support is essential. Find other writers, join an organization that allows you to meet and interact with other writers, read in your genre, take classes on craft. I’ve found that most authors are generous with their time and experience and guidance. Their advice is invaluable. No matter what stage of your writing career you are in, there is always something to learn that will help to make your writing better.
Max Logan’s insecurities have consumed her to the point that she has allowed them to skew her perceptions of people and circumstances. She has grown progressively more bitter, sarcastic, and solitary since her divorce and feels as though she has spent a lifetime getting the short end of the stick through no fault of her own; still she trudges on. Things can always get better, right? Of course, it’s hard to cultivate optimism when she finds herself dead; the victim of a D.I.E (Death in Error) caused by an overeager Grim Reaper in Training. She brokers a deal to be sent back to Earth as a temporary substitute for the Superintendent of Spiritual Impediment. Can a girl who can’t recognize her own problems rectify the issues of the living impaired? Or will she discover that concentrating on their issues gives her a new perspective on her own?
How about an excerpt from DEATH BENEFITS?
Roger had vacated our marriage with the condo, the vintage Mercedes, and the time share in Nassau. I’d gotten my ten year old Ford and the cat. I figured I’d come out ahead since Caesar was far better company, and the car required significantly less maintenance, than Roger-The-Proctologist did. And my alimony turned out to be a nice chunk of change, which is fortunate since it is pretty much my only income at the moment. Rumor has it, not that I pay attention to such things (much), that Barbara-The-Blonde-Bimbo-With-Implants eventually assumed another of my former positions as Roger’s Office Manager. Not that Roger asked me to leave; it was just too difficult to stay. And I gave him a two-week notice, which is more than he gave me. My philosophy is that she isn’t too bright, but apparently she is quite flexible; in ways I really don’t want to contemplate. Roger periodically tries to renegotiate my monthly remuneration. He argues it’s already too much. I usually shut him up by arguing that what’s really too much is the two gallons of saline bobbling around on Barbara-The-Blonde-Bimbo-With-Implants’ chest. Frankly, I think she overpaid. Twenty grand is a bit steep for two heavy duty balloons filled with saltwater when you come right down to it.
Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
Buy Links: Amazon
Sharon, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.
Thanks so much for having me! I hope your readers enjoy DEATH BENEFITS and will keep an eye open for the next installment in the wild ride of Max Logan, LIFE AFTER DEATH, due out from Whiskey Creek Press in the near future.
My Review: Five Snap Crackle and Pops!
Maxine Esmeralda Logan McCoy has been in a bad mood ever since she caught her husband, a proctologist, in a romantic restaurant with Big-Boobed Barbie. Like any sane woman, Max throws a major hissy fit involving food products and a life time ban from said establishment.
Fast forward to her present life, and Max is living in her father and step-mother’s over-the-garage apartment, wallowing in sarcastic self-pity and waiting on a cat who ignores her attention. When Max takes a shower in her veddy veddy nicely appointed bathroom, an accident of celestial magnitude ensues, landing her in the bus depot waiting room between worlds, complete with orange plastic chairs.
What? You expected something different? Well, so did Max, who is pretty sure she’s been mistakenly taken, argues successfully that the Grim Reaper In Training (GRIT) grabbed the wrong person, and bargains her way into filling in for an Superintendent of Spiritual Impediment (SSI) on maternity leave. Max, the snarky, sarcastic, angry divorcee who has isolated herself from family and friends becomes a temporary social worker for lost souls and finds her own soul along the way.
This is a quick funny read, a snarky cross between A Christmas Carol and Ghost Whisperer, with many laugh out loud moments. In fact, when I was reading it in the car, I annoyed my husband with my constant cackling. Max is my kind of gal. A touch of OCD, a snarky sense of humor, and beneath it all, someone who has been hurt, and protects herself with a cone of indifference–until she dies. I highly recommend this book. All questions are answered and thank heavens (or bus depot?), it looks like another one is on the way!
Did you know it’s that time of year again? Yup, it’s the TRR Sizzling Summer Reads Season! Come on by, play some games, win lots of prizes!!