Howdy my lovelies! Please join me in welcoming author Sarah Buhrman to Interview FoxSeat.
Sarah is an AuthorGoddess, one who embraces the divine honor of creating worlds with words in the hope of inspiring others. Sarah has been writing for more than 20 years. She lives in the middle of nowhere with two monsters (the kids), an ogre (the hubby), and whatever drama-llama is coming to visit this week. Sarah is the author of Too Wyrd and the Life 101 series. She has short stories and essays in emagazines, The Witches’ Hour and Dreams Eternal, and several anthologies, including Visions IV: Between the Stars, and The Pop Culture Grimoire: 2.0.
Book blurb: Too Wyrd is an Urban Fantasy that follows Nicola, a Heathen single mother who rushes in to save her missing step-sister and finds herself fighting to save the world from a cult bent on starting Ragnorok. Nicola was never a hero. She goes back to Indianapolis, dodging old enemies and calling on old friends to help her find her step-sister. What she finds instead is an ex with super-powers, monsters and demigods on the streets, and a detective ready to bring her in for a murder investigation…or three. Can Nicola become the hero she needs to be, or will she lose everyone she cares for?
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? Once I get rid of all the busywork, life-distractions and procrastination, it takes me about 6 weeks to fully write a book. It’s another month or so before I can do the first round of edits, just because I need that time to get distance. After about two rounds of edits, it’s ready to send off – so about 4-5 months for a ready-to-publish work.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? This time, I was doing NaNoWriMo. I had a bunch of unfinished stuff and no really great ideas, so I rebelled and worked on the unfinished stuff. The first one I started was Too Wyrd, and that ended up being the whole project. I won my NaNo, finished my book, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I have a part-time job, two kids, two weekly podcasts, three blogs, speaking events, a home-based baking business, and a vending event or two that I work. I also run the local Farmer’s Market and help my boss with marketing, plus I do my own marketing, freelance editing, and a la carte meal planning. My day is structured based on what is going on that day. I prefer to get all the above stuff done before 8 or 9 pm, and write after that. I love being up late at night to write. It all just depends on my energy levels at that point.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? Creativity in my ideas has never been a big problem. Taking those creative ideas and getting an actual plot out of them has been. I’ve definitely gotten much better at organizing my ideas into something that is cohesive and, well, readable. I’ve learned to be able to figure out what is a “scene idea” and what is a “plot idea”. This helps so much to be able to map out a real and enjoyable story from what is otherwise a great thought just hanging out in my head.
What have you written? I’ve written essays for: Paganism 101: An Introduction to Paganism by 101 Pagans (Published Feb 28, 2014), The Pop Culture Grimoire 2.0 (Published Oct 18, 2015), and Pagan Leadership: An anthology on Group Dynamics, Healthy Boundaries, and Community Activism (Published Jan 15, 2016). I’ve had short stories published in Dreams Eternal Magazine (1st issue Published Jun 1, 2015), Visions IV: Space Between Stars (Published Apr 29, 2016), and Twisted: an Anthology of Feminist Horror (to be published Oct 31, 2016). I have a series of non-fiction booklets out: the series Life 101: How to be a Grown Up. I’ve self-published a personal anthology of short stories (When Life Happens, Don’t Blink – Published Apr 16, 2015) and an anthology of poems (Crazy, Not Stupid – Published Apr 19, 2015). And, of course, Too Wyrd, Book 1 of the Runespells series, was published Sept 8, 2016. There’s a few poems, essays and short stories that I’ve missed over the years, but this list covers at least the last couple years.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I’ve tried just seeing where an idea takes me. The answer is nowhere. I cannot just stumble on a coherent plot. I’ve tried. So I’m an avid plotter. I know where I’m going, at least in general. Sometimes I have to go back to the outline and change things, or add stuff. I think that’s great – a story should grow out from underneath the author.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? I think that there is nothing as important to an author than personal exposure. That means not only getting the book and book links out in front of as many people as possible, but also getting yourself out there for people to get to know. The more personable I’ve made myself in my marketing, the better the results have been.
Any advice for aspiring authors? I’ve said this a thousand times – know the industry. Know what authors really make. Know average royalties. Know the success rates for authors in different genres. Know how many books most authors must publish before making “real” money (it’s about 12). This isn’t to discourage writers. It’s because I see so many people who work on one book for years, put it out there, and then are heartbroken because they aren’t the next Stephen King, Anne Rice, or JK Rowling. Just because the first book isn’t an instant success doesn’t mean you aren’t a good author. Know the facts, not the myths. You’ll be better prepared for the long road ahead.
Also, please, please, please stop assuming that anyone who volunteers to/wants to read your stuff is going to steal it.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Well, she’s not a he, for one. Nicola is a mixed race, Heathen witch, single mother. She doesn’t want to be special, and she really isn’t that special. She’s a person with one main thing going for her – she’s clever, and not even much more clever than anyone else. There are others with more intelligence, or education, or strategy and skill. Everything else that’s going for her seems to be a matter of right-place-right-time, of not shirking her responsibilities, etc.
Where do your ideas come from? Once in a great while, I’ll get inspired by a movie, or book, or even a random thing that happens. But that works better for my short stories than my full-length novels.
I get a lot of ideas from “scenes” that I remember from dreams. I’ll dream about a boy painting Chinese dragons that then come to life, and that turns into Paper Dragons, a Mid-Grade fantasy about a Chinese-American boy who joins a secret guild that brings magic through ancient Chinese arts and fights against those who want to abandon the culture and history of the Chinese. Or I’ll dream of a woman searching for tiny silver pendants in piles of grain while monsters chase her, and that turns into Too Wyrd, book 1 of a 9-book series about the Norse Runespells.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? It was all about getting over my own anxieties. I’m extremely insecure about my skills as a writer, despite the logic and data that so often proves me wrong. I have to deal with that every time I write something.
What is your favorite movie or TV show? I will never be able to pick just one. I enjoy intellectual shows, like Criminal Minds, humor, like Legally Blonde, things that make you question morality, like Lost Souls, things that make you question reality, like Gaslight, things that make you question fate, like Cloud Atlas, and action movies, like the Marvel movies, and great “kids” movies, like Home or Inside Out. I just love well-done shows and movies of all kinds.
Which writers inspire you? Jim Butcher, M.R. Sellars, Anne MacCaffrey, Christine Feehan, J.R. Ward, and all the writers in my writer’s groups.
You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? This is the opening scene for Fluffy Bunny, the sequel for Too Wyrd:
I stepped into my bedroom, still dripping from my shower, and froze at the sight of the three women waiting for me. The shock of finding people in my room was brief. Then I saw the women, registered their appearance, and I felt a deep horror wash over me, numbing my limbs – the way I imagined a mouse felt the second before being swallowed whole by a snake.
The women were neither young nor old, not pretty, not ugly. They were average-looking women… until I met their eyes.
They looked at me in a slightly off-focus way, like a blind person does, meeting my gaze without really seeing with those gray-ringed pupils that I found myself staring into.
I felt a slight burning on my chest and I reached up to touch one of the four silver sigils hanging from my neck by a length of the chain that bound Fenris Odinslayer, the monstrous wolf-son of Loki. The sigils were Runespells, my souveniers from several months ago when I won a magical race for the powerful amulets.
After searching for my missing step-sister, I ended up fighting demons for the Runespells to keep a horrid man, not-so-good ol’ Bob, from using them to cause trouble in the form of starting Ragnarok. I wasn’t sure how Bob would have done that, but I knew that Ragnarok was supposed to start when Loki gets angry and breaks free from his chains to lead an army of Jotun, fire and ice giants, against Asgard.
None of that would end well.
I stopped not-so-good ol’ Bob, fought the demons, found the Runespells, and spent half a week in the hospital afterwards. My reward was to keep the Runespells, so I could use them in my search for the other 14 missing sigils. Some prizes aren’t worth the trouble.
As my fingertips grazed the sigil burning my skin, information flooded my mind, telling me about the god-creatures before me, and I understood why I’d felt such primal fear at their gaze.
The women before me were not gods, after all. They were stronger than the gods. They were god-creatures that I would never want to anger or insult. They were beings that I would think long and hard before attempting to deal with.
They were the Norns, and they were waiting for me.
What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? I think they both have their place. There is a lot of structure involved in traditional publishing that often prevents really good, original, and unusual works from breaking through. However, the way that traditional publishers handle a book provides a bit of a guarantee of quality. That’s a line that we have to learn to walk with the new publishing world. I look forward to seeing how publishing grows to fulfill the needs left by both sides.
How can readers discover more about you and you work? I’m most accessable on Facebook, but if you want the goods, fast and cheap, you’ll want in on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/kalisara) or my Facebook street team (contact me for access).
There ya have it folks! Many thanks Sarah for visiting! For more about Sarah and her work follow the links below: