A short story about Sandra (S.J.). We both attended the Montreal Retreat this past November, and the day of departure, Sandra insisted I take some of her goodies to munch on for the plane ride home. The bag was sealed with a darling fabric flower, which I have to this day. She was this way with everyone she met. Sandra is a generous, thoughtful lady and it all comes through in her writing. But on to our guest’s bio and interview, which are most enlightening:
S. J. Clarke is the author of Mind Over Matter, a romantic suspense with paranormal elements. She has published over fifty articles as a columnist and regular contributor for a variety of lifestyle and human interest websites. She is a grateful member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region, and proud to sit on the Board of Directors for The Ontario Writer’s Conference. Sandra also co-authored Touretties, a touching tribute featuring testimonials from patients and and their loved ones living with Tourettes. Mind Over Matter, released in November, 2011 through MuseItUp Publishing, is her first novel.
1. Who is your favorite writer?
I’d have to say Nora Roberts (also writing as J.D. Robb). As a reader, her works hit all of my hot buttons. It’s romance at heart, with lots of mystery, intrigue and suspense thrown in, and often contains elements of the paranormal. As a writer, she demonstrates one individual can reach a wide audience and master more than a single genre if they do it right.
2. What is your favorite writing cliché?
I love a Happy Ever After ending, but it doesn’t have to be a romantic one. I just want to be left with the impression the lead character reached a turning point and things are looking up from here.
3. What writing style do you most abhor?
Abhor is a strong word. I can say that I used to avoid anything written in first person. I don’t know why. I’d read the blurb on the back of the book and get excited. When the first chapter revealed a book written in first person I’d return it to the shelf. I joined a book club to encourage (all right, force) myself to read outside of my proffered genres and a member chose the first book in the Janet Evanovich Plum Series. I cringed, but did my duty. Then I went out and bought the remaining books. I don’t know what held me back in the past, but I’m grateful I gave first person a chance. I read a lot of first person now. I haven’t worked up to writing it yet, though. That will take more research.
4. What is your greatest fear when you first turn in a manuscript?They return it to me stating they made a mistake and my work isn’t as good as they first thought.
5. In what era do you wish you’d been born?
Right here, right now. I’m a modern girl at heart. I need fully equipped bathrooms, and the rest of our modern conveniences. If I had to write my books on a typewriter or, god forbid, long hand, I’d still be hunched over the first draft of my first novel.
6. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
When the first draft of Mind Over Matter came back from my content editor it came with a warning not to lose heart: The manuscript contained a fair amount (Loads!) of highlighted overused words. The biggest surprise to me wasn’t any specific word (though “was” ranked high) but my use of passive voice in general. I’m happy to say that’s one lesson I immediately incorporated into the first draft of my second book. With each book comes a learning experience to take forward.
7. Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to play the piano. Or even read music. Or even sing in tune. It’s beyond my capabilities. Sigh. I’m one of the few people in my family not to receive the musical talent gene.
8. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Wow, I have great kids. They’re talented and focused and have strong moral values. Aside from that, I’m proud that I did my research to learn what, to me, constitutes good writing, especially in my chosen genre. I found people who achieved what I wanted and set out to follow in their footsteps.
9. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I love Eve Dallas of J.D. Robb’s In Death series. She’s real. For many reasons – some of which might surprise you, I relate to her. If you’re looking for a male hero, I’d have to say Curran from Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. Or Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. He ticked me off at the end of book four and it took a long time for me to get over it and read the final book in the series. He wormed his way back into my good graces, but it took effort on both sides. A character (and an author) deserve credit when they invoke such deep reactions in a reader.
10. How would you like to die?
What an odd question. I suppose I’d like to pass knowing I took advantage of every opportunity to achieve what mattered to me in life.
Rebecca McKenney grieved the loss of her daughter for three years. Now, a vision showing Sabrina three years older, suggests her baby is still alive, and the FBI agent who gave up the search is the only one who can help find her.
Special Agent Dan Cooper is haunted by a tragic mistake made early in the investigation of Sabrina’s disappearance. Now to ease his conscience he agrees to help Rebecca search.
Together they fight inner demons, all to real bad guys, and an attraction neither wants to admit to. Each step closer to finding Sabrina is a step deeper into deception and evil.
Can Rebecca and Dan save Sabrina before it’s too late?
Rebecca swallowed her shame, remembering what happened the last time they were in this room together, the day Dan left. No excuse justified their behavior. Not the two bottles of wine they shared, not the news that the rest of Dan’s team were already packed up and gone, and certainly not her grief. Closing her eyes couldn’t block the memory of the anger in that first kiss, or the desperation in what followed. Her lack of inhibition in those moments still tormented her, pushing her toward another drink every day since then.
Dan shook his head. He kept his expression neutral, but the clenched jaw gave him away.
“What are you doing here, Rebecca?” He kept his voice low and controlled.
Rebecca squared her shoulders and met his accusing stare. “Whatever it takes to get through each day without my daughter.” She walked over and grabbed the glass from his hand. “This has nothing to do with anything. You’re here to help me find Bree, not to judge me.”
He looked at her and the pity on his face pushed her back to the wall.