Welcome to What to Read Wednesday! Today I’m extra excited because I have an amazing author and a wonderful friend visiting. Please welcome Sarah Ballance. Sarah will be sharing an excerpt and more from her book Familiar Light. She’s also going to tell us some deep dark secrets about herself, she’ll make you laugh, ooh in amazement at all she handles in a day and will definitely earn your respect. So, without further ado let’s dive right in so we don’t waste a minute of our time with her. And after you hear about her busy life, you’ll understand why I don’t want to waste any time 🙂
Tell us five random things about you the person, not the author. 🙂
1 – My husband and I have six kids. The first five were on purpose, and the last one surprised us two years after I had my tubes tied. (Yes, now that we’ve met her I can assure you she is that stubborn). The kids, btw, range from 13 years to 20 months and they’re homeschooled.
2 – I never missed a single day of school. I am the proud owner of a certificate for 13 years (K-12) of perfect attendance. (I wasn’t homeschooled, lol.)
3 – I was a biology / biochemistry double major in college. I used to want to be an equine surgeon, but I decided I wanted to be at home with the kids more. (Some days I wonder . . .).
4 – The H and I were married on July 4th and our wedding reception was a pig pickin’. That was almost 15 years ago (I was 19, H 22) and people still talk about that poor pig—which, I might add, my H cooked himself.
5 – Speaking of pigs, we have two. We used to have a third one, but we ate him. (And by “we” I mean the rest of the family, because I still feel guilty. Not even bacon smells good when it comes from an old friend, and I mean that in the literal sense. *wail!*)
Have you always wanted to be an author or what made you become an author?
I never wanted to be an author. I wrote my first book in 2008 because someone told me I should and I said nope, I can’t. Not long after, it really started to bug me that I said I couldn’t do it, so I did. And that very manuscript turned into my first release, DOWN IN FLAMES.
What is a typical writing day for you?
I work on interviews and blog stuff until about 10:00 a.m., then pretty much stay off the computer until late afternoon for the homeschooling gig (although I do check my blog several times during the day to approve comments and such). The actual writing part kicks off after dinner when my husband takes over all things kid and house so I can work.
Your hubs sounds like a great guy! Love that he helps out so you can have writing time. What genre or genres do you write? Do you see yourself trying another one in the future and if so which one? (hehehe…I threw in a 2 parter, tricky eh?)
I’ve written romance, but my heart is with romantic suspense. I LOVE romantic suspense. There’s something utterly diabolical about gaining such happiness from torturing my characters, but I do. I admit it. *Grin.* I’m not opposed to writing other genres—and would certainly like to give horror a stab (ha! get it?)—but my heart lives and breathes romantic suspense.
You can really weave the words Sarah and I bet you’d write an awesome horror story! I’m throwing in a bit of a plug. I read Sarah’s short story HAWTHORNE offered on Amazon and couldn’t put it down. LOVED IT…great suspense. Anyway, sorry to interrupt…back to questions. Tell us about your newest release?
When Laney left her high school sweetheart to head for college, she promised she’d be back . . . seven years ago. She knows it’s probably too late for her and Bridger, but when she realizes she still loves him she can’t go on without first going back. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t exactly welcome her with open arms. He asks her to leave, but that wall of denial he built comes crashing down when Laney becomes the victim of a violent attack. Still struggling with his own emotions, he vows to protect her until the bad guy is caught, but neither he nor Laney were prepared for the lengths one man would go for revenge . . . or how quickly a dangerous obsession turns deadly.
I want to learn a few secrets about your characters from your latest release…so this question is actually a three-parter 🙂
A) Which one of your characters would’ve been voted most likely to succeed in high school and why?
Laney. I would say Holden—a quiet, serious secondary character—only his mom had to tell him to get a haircut the summer after he graduated, so Laney wins this round. (I guess he was a late bloomer).
B) Out of all the characters in your book, who wouldn’t have any scruples about sharing their toothbrush and why?
Bridger. He doesn’t have many scruples at all, LOL. He takes his woman and his love seriously, but life is literally a beach for him. (He mans a lighthouse—he’s as laid back as they come.)
C) Considering your two main characters only, who would be more likely to get a speeding ticket?
Bridger. See above, LOL.
Now let’s play LUCKY SEVEN….Pick seven words to describe your book.
Beachy. Funny. Thriller. Sensual. Tense. Murder. Twist.
Love your choices 🙂 If your book was made into a movie, who would you choose to play the hero? The heroine?
Girl, I know zilch about celebrities! I think I answered a similar question before, and I believe I said singer Jake Owen for Bridger (because of his Barefoot Blue Jean Night video) and Hillary Scott (of Lady Antebellum) for Laney. Just because. :c)
Tell us how you came up with this title.
Oh, this is so bad. I was humming an old song (from the 80’s) and thinking the lyrics were “familiar light” . . . only the actual words are “different light.” At first I was a bit embarrassed the voices in my head heard the flub, but then I was all, “cool title!” It was the perfect fit, so it stuck.
“Can I help you?” The gruff question trickled through the cavernous space like water leaking through pipes. He seemed to materialize from the shadows as he strode toward her, the rise of heat from the concrete floor keeping him just out of focus.
But her heart knew.
She swallowed a hard knob of regret. “Bridger?”
He couldn’t have heard her—not with the way she clung to his name, as if saying it out loud would be to lose another piece of him. But his step faltered, and the recognition in that interrupted cadence brought the burn of tears to her eyes.
She stood, trembling, as the fifty feet between them dwindled to ten. When he was close enough for her to make out the stubble lining his jaw, his legs stopped moving, but his gaze tore over her. The impassioned glare was without direction, a harsh reflection of the hard lines edging his face. The warm brown eyes she remembered were now a bitter shade of espresso.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
The words, tense with fury, sent her backpedaling against the concrete wall. Too late, she realized she no longer knew this man. They were kids when they’d parted ways, too naïve to realize they’d never keep those breathless promises. At least she’d been that way. His tone suggested otherwise.
They were alone in the deeply shadowed belly of Barrier Shoals Light. And for the first time within those walls, Laney tasted fear.
“Was I supposed to wait for you?” he asked.
Seven years had passed since her weak-kneed promise to return to him. She didn’t have an answer for that.
He took another step, boxing her against the curvature of the rock. He stood close—so close, she had to tip her head to meet his eyes.
And she summoned courage to do it.
“Was I?” he asked, his voice softer now. He leaned closer. The stifling heat morphed into sexual innuendo, his skin slick with sweat, daring her to touch.
Great excerpt! What was your inspiration in writing this story?
I wrote FAMILIAR LIGHT for the Noble Authors “Timeless Desire” blog tour, which meant I had to incorporate that theme and stick to the 10k word limit. (I went a bit over. Ooops.) I pulled the “reunited lovers” idea from “Timeless Desire.” The suspense aspect was something I really wanted to add, so I talked it out with my husband, who is great for hashing out plots. (He doesn’t like romance novels, so he’s quick to call BS on eye-rolling plot threads, LOL.) We came up with a relatively simple angle for this story, but readers will discover it ends with an interesting twist. ;c)
What was the hardest part of writing this story?
The first scene was most difficult (which is where the excerpt I gave you came from). I had a hard time figuring out how he’d react to her just showing up like she did. I struggled with it for a ridiculously long time, then finally decided to move on to the second scene, which is from Bridger’s point-of-view. One paragraph into that scene, I knew exactly how he’d react to her and the going was easy from there.
The easiest is a bit of a spoiler so I can’t go into detail. Let’s just say it’s the part where the story takes a dark turn. (I’m telling you—something is wrong with me!)
Definitely no spoiler, I wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone 🙂 How many books have you written?
Let’s see . . . in my entire life, six. Five are published and one is under consideration.
What’s your current WIP?
It’s a romantic suspense called LAST CALL. Here’s the (rough) blurb:
An accidental witness to a murder-for-hire, ex-cop Rhys Clark becomes the target of ruthless killer—one determined to silence her at any cost. Playing dead seems to be the most likely way to stay alive, but when her protection comes in the form of mega-sexy former adversary Nick Massey, Rhys can think of a few fates worse than death.
Nick Massey may have walked away from his troubles, but he never got past wanting Rhys. Once paired undercover, they’d been nothing but fireworks until a botched assignment ended her career, sending his into a tailspin. Now a mysterious client is willing to pay Nick anything to keep Rhys safe, but it isn’t until fate takes a critical turn that he realizes the devastating truth: he’s been her greatest threat all along.
Sounds like another good read 🙂 What’s the best advice you’d give another writer seeking publication?
Get crits from someone you trust and listen to them! And I don’t mean “listen” to the point where you lose your story and your voice, but “listen” for ways you can improve. And if your “critter” can’t find anything wrong with your work, they’re not trying hard enough—find someone else ’cause you ain’t perfect. It’s much better you learn about the weak spots in your story now, in the relative privacy of your crit group, than to hear about them from hoards of disgruntled readers later.
That’s some sound advice! And finally Sarah where can we find you and your books?
My blog is a great place to look. Why? Because I bribe my email subscribers by giving away a gift certificate every week (winner’s choice of $10 to Noble Romance or $5 to Amazon). So head over there and sign up, but if blogs aren’t your thing, NEVER FEAR! My linkage is here:
FACEBOOK FAN http://www.facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news
FACEBOOK FRIEND http://www.facebook.com/author.sarah.ballance
Thank you so much for having me here today! I know it’s always a risk letting someone through the door when they freely admit to an affinity for torturing innocent folks, but things turned out pretty well. No one was hurt, the cops weren’t called, and the local news van isn’t sitting out front. All in all, that makes for a great afternoon!
Thanks for visiting Sarah…you’re always a lot of fun…and as always, YOU ROCK!!!!