Occasionally, but not for long. I also saw myself as a ballerina and a protozoologist. Yes, a protozoologist, as in a scientist who studies protozoa, those cute little one-celled organisms like the amoeba and the paramecium. Not only did I want to be a protozoologist, l loved seeing people’s faces when I told them. Yes, I was a strange child.
LOL! That just means you fit in just right as a writer. How long did you write before you sold your first book?
I started writing in January 2000, started submitting in 2003, and received an offer for a three-book contract in 2008. My first novel released in March 2010, ten years and two months after I first started.
Wow, talk about perseverance! Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. So along with telling them to keep at it, can you share your favorite writing tip with them?
It’s a dual tip—you need both. Be teachable and be persistent. Teachability without persistence leads us to rewrite chapter one over and over for ten years. Persistence without teachability leads to a mess—no improvement as a writer and strained relations with professionals.
Great advice! Now for the readers…many times, it’s easy for them to connect with the characters in a book, but not so much the authors themselves. Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.
How about my morning routine? After I drop the kids off at school, and before I have my quiet time, I wear out Daisy the yellow lab. I set up my laptop at the kitchen table and check emails while I wave a laser pointer (known to the Sundins as The Magic Light) up and down the length of the family room. Daisy chases it, back and forth, over and over, yipping and barking. We do this for over an hour. When I’ve had enough—Daisy never has enough—I put away The Light and open the back door. Daisy trots outside and cools off in the pool. Most likely, while I’m answering your comments on this blog, I have a barking, growling dog running beside me. This is my life.
Now that you are published, do you still experience rejections? If so, how are these rejections different or similar to the ones you received before becoming published?
I was blessed to receive another three-book contract from my publisher recently, so I haven’t had that type of rejection for a while. But I do get occasional nasty reviews—and I remind myself that all authors do. But a snarky review feels more personal than those polite professional form letters. I just pray for them, because people who can only feel good about themselves by mocking someone else have some serious hurt in their lives.
Congratulations!! Looking forward to learning more about your new series. For now, tell us a little about your latest release:
Blue Skies Tomorrow is the third book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II. Each book stands alone.
Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?
If you could only share one line from Blue Skies Tomorrow, which one would you choose and why?
Ooh, that’s tough, not just because I have so many favorites, but because most wouldn’t make sense out of context. This is what I chose...
Mom set the platter of chicken on the table. “Boys, please call your father for dinner.”
Ray and Walt grinned at each other and called out, “Your father for dinner!”
First of all, that’s an inside joke—my sister and I used to do that to our mother. Both my mom and sister got a kick out of that. Also, it shows the camaraderie in the Novak family. They’re not a perfect family, but they love each other deeply and have a whole lot of fun.
Writers often put things in their books that are very personal—like a funny story that happened to them, a spiritual truth they learned through difficulty, or even just a character trait that is uniquely theirs. Is there something in Blue Skies Tomorrow that only people close to you know is about you or someone you know?
There’s a scene where the heroine, Helen Carlisle, is emotionally distraught and forgets her young son at church. One day several years ago I forgot my little guy at my older son’s karate studio. We didn’t get out of the parking lot before my daughter chirped up, “Where’s Matthew?” I’ll never forget my horrified feeling, how I cranked my car into the fastest U-turn ever—or the heartbreaking sight of my little son standing outside the studio looking for me. His posture and the look on his face—well, I transplanted them onto little Jay-Jay Carlisle.
Readers often talk a lot about the hero and heroine of a story, but today I’d like to know something about your villain. Does he or she have a redeeming quality? Why or why not?
He might be controlling and manipulative—and something darker—but he’s also very generous and charitable. He’s also funny and charming, and most people who know him think the world of him.
What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Can you share some articles or website links you found particularly helpful?
I have to confess, I have over two hundred books and websites in my bibliography. Yes, that’s sick. Since the heroes in this series are B-17 bomber pilots—but I’ve never flown a plane—I read a “How to Fly a Plane” book to get the basics, purchased copies of the actual B-17 pilot’s manual and the training film (pure gold!), and ran the flying scenes past a pilot friend. For this book I pored over microfilm of the Antioch Ledger for gobs of local details, everything from the price of pork chops, to rationing updates, to the weather. Plus fun trivia, like how the PTA met at Mrs. So-and-So’s house on D Street where they knit socks for soldiers. My absolute favorite website for research is http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/. The Hyperwar website has hundreds of public domain official documents and books about World War II—the official Army histories, training manuals, technical manuals—just fabulous stuff.
Looks like a great link! I'll be sure to check it out. Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
I signed another contract with Revell for a series tentatively titled Wings of the Nightingale. It follows three World War II flight nurses who discover love, friendship, and peril in the skies and on the shores of the Mediterranean. I just finished the first novel in the series, which will release Fall 2012. It features a You’ve Got Mail-like anonymous pen pal relationship between a loner nurse and an Army engineer burdened by the legacy of his infamous father.
The most common thing I hear when people learned I’ve published a book is, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Faced with this statement, what advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?
I hear it all the time too! If they haven’t started writing yet, I just encourage them to write the story, all of it, and worry about publication later. If they’re working on a project, I recommend writers’ conferences. First of all, conferences are the best way to connect with editors and agents if they’re ready for that. More importantly, you get great instruction and learn to be a better writer. I also recommend American Christian Fiction Writers (www.acfw.com) —the e-mail loops and on-line courses are like a mini-conference in my inbox every day. I only wish I’d joined ACFW years earlier.
What is the one question you were afraid I would ask…and how would you answer?
Any of those “If you were a ____, what would you be?” questions. Color, animal, song? Oh, I don’t know. I usually ask whichever family member is in the room, which is dangerous. When one interviewer asked me what animal I’d be, I asked my teen daughter. She said, “A sloth.” That’s the problem with writing—no one thinks you’re actually doing anything! By the way, never ask the opinion of your teen daughter.
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Check out The Borrowed Book on Friday for a chance to win a copy of Sarah's book, Blue Skies Tomorrow!