Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Interview with Lisa Beth Darling, SINS OF THE FATHER

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
I started writing the Sister Christian Series a few years after I made contact with my birth family and discovered I had three brothers. I was raised an only child so the idea that I had siblings was rather new to me, growing up I often wished I had a sibling but then I'd go to my friend's houses and see how they interacted with their siblings and went home happy I was an only child. The idea of the brother/sister dynamic always interested me even when my friends were shouting at each other over nothing. This series and a lot of its contents, planted deeply in the fertile ground of a writer's imagination, grew out of those two situations.

Genesis, the first book in the Sister Christian Series opens with Doctor Richard Mason reading a letter informing him his father, James Rice, has died and Mason has been put in charge of his sister, Hannah Rice. Problem is, Mason is in his early 50s and had no clue he was adopted until that very moment.

Hannah has known for decades that Rick is her brother, her mother told her just before she committed suicide leaving Hannah in the care of her father, James Rice. Hannah had a very unpleasant childhood. When we meet her, she is a troubled woman both physically and mentally who has spent 30 years of her life in one group home or another.

Sins of the Father is the second installment in the series and in it Doctor Richard Mason and his newly discovered sister, Hannah Rice are still getting to know each other. Except now, as we open, Hannah is debilitated having suffered a massive stroke at the end of Genesis, the first book in the series. She's on her way to recovery but the process is slow and as her body heals her mind begins to remember the details of her horrific car accident thirty years before. Dark family secrets are uncovered and in Mason's own reckless way he forces Hannah to face them.

Do you have a favorite character?
I adore Mason and Hannah equally but, in the end, Hannah would be my favorite. For all she's been through, everything she's suffered, and all that's been taken away from her, she's still smiling and looking forward to a future that gets a bit better for her with each passing day. She brings a lot of light to Mason's lonely world.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Not in this series but in the OF WAR Series there was a minor character, Onya, who stuck around a lot longer than I intended. She never became a major character but she did a beloved one. She didn't change the course of the novel but she helped expand and to some degree Ares' personality. So it kind of stunk when I ended up killing her off in the last novel, Kingdoms of War, but it furthered the story so that was good.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Sure, for years…well on and off. I think everyone should try it just to see what it's really like

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)? Can you tell us what, if anything, you've learned on your self-publishing journey?
I struggled for decades to have one of my books published in the traditional manner and found it to be a loathsome process that was both disheartening and humiliating. Then again, keep in mind the fact that I've been fired from every retail job I ever had because I just can't sell anything. It makes me feel ookie. No offense to you nice salespeople out there, all I'm saying is that it wasn't for me. I can't even begin to tell you how many copies of "Writer's Market" I went through or how many years I subscribed to "Writer's Digest" hoping to find that one place that would give me just a tiny break. I never got past the standard Rejection Letter. In fact, I still have that stack, whenever I get really down and feel I can't do something, I pull it out, look at it, remember how mad those people made me, and push onward. So to every publisher and agent out there whoever rejected me; Thank You, to this day you serve as a great inspiration. To those with small magazines and local newspapers who did publish my articles, prose, poetry all those years; Thank You! You made me feel that going onward was worth the effort.

I almost gave up on writing even though I know in my soul it is my calling in this life but luckily for me I'm a very strong-willed (bullheaded, stubborn) woman. I quit submitting, but I never stopped writing

One day, I got this newfangled thing called a computer and it led me to this really weird thing called the internet. Keep in mind, AOL was the biggest service provider during this time that should tell you how new all of this really was. Wait, let me help; there were NO Kindles! No one ever heard of an e-reader or an e-book.  Anyway, on what was known as the Information Super Highway, I came across other writers who were like me. They were totally sickened by the entire submissions process and had given up on submitting their works to publishing houses but they still wrote and they still wanted their works to find their audience.

I did too.

I learned AOL Press. I made a website. I put my stories on it. I received the feedback I craved but was withheld from me for so long. I moved my website to GeoCities (go ahead laugh), I learned HTML…all on my own, no one, not one single person helped me decipher that foreign language. Eventually, I moved to my very own URL. I kept putting my stories up for free.  I learned PhotoShop the same way I learned HTML. I made banners and eventually learned how to make book covers, t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads…all that happy stuff.

Then this thing called 'self-publishing' came along. At first, it was poo-pooed just like 'vanity publishing', in fact, that's what people called it. The major difference was the author didn't have to put forth a great big wad of cash nor get stuck with a bunch of books as print books could be ordered on demand or in small batches.

Even though e-books were still a year or two off from becoming an actual thing I jumped on this bandwagon. Through the entire process, I learned more things than I ever thought possible especially not without shelling out a great deal of money and sitting in class. Those skills turned out to be rather valuable in the employment marketplace.  More than that, I reached and grew an audience and that allowed me to become content.

I no longer seek out that big publishing contract (don't get me wrong, if it miraculously appeared in front of me I'd take it, but it isn't a goal anymore) and I don't feel as though I've been cheated or taken a less respectable route with my books. In fact, small as I still am, I feel quite accomplished, which is far better than feeling humiliated any day.

I look back on it all now and realize that I'm a Trailer Blazer.

I was Indie when Indie wasn't cool.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
Like most writers I have my rituals, my desk is covered with items of inspiration from scented candles to incense to a crystal ball, stones, and dancing Baby Groot. There's generally a glass of my favorite potent drink and a cup of coffee next to me you'll probably also find a lovely piece of hand blown glass nearby. I light my candles and my incense, open my file and try to get to business. I play a lot of games in between, I find that these 'Saga' games aren't a mere distraction but they actually help my mind get around things in the story by figuring out the puzzle on the screen I can also figure out the one in my head.  For decades I wrote to music, anything you can consider Classic Rock; Boston, Bad Company, The Who, The Stones, Van Morrison, The Doors and so on. My fingers would be flying across the keyboard as I'm singing away. Recently I had a hard drive crash and it took all my music away. From my hubby's music files I downloaded something titled 'karaoke' thinking all of the songs within were by the listed artists but they're not. It's just the music. No words. It's actually working out rather well and no one is more surprised by that than I am.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I think on them a while and then, when I'm ready to give myself over to the Muse, I do so and follow wherever he leads. I always have an idea of where we're going but not necessarily of how we're getting there.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
I refuse to be exclusive to Amazon, you can find my books in print on Amazon—you can get them signed from my website. For ebooks, you can find me on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords among others.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yes, it's always a hassle. Always.  I try to do promo only when I plan on not being in writing mode but it doesn't seem to work out that way.

As Hannah recovers from emergency brain and heart surgery, memories of the past overtake her dreams with such clarity they cannot be denied. As the last of the painful family secrets come to light it's up to her brother, Doctor Richard Mason, and his unconventional methods to help her confront the ugliness.

Buy Links:
Kindle/Amazon (paperbacks available on Amazon)





AUTHOR Bio and Links:

It was in the 4th grade when Lisa Beth Darling discovered she was a naturally gifted writer. For her very first creative writing assignment, the teacher asked the class to pen a story about a baby bird's first flight and read them to the class. Putting pencil to paper, Lisa was instantly whisked away by a force she couldn't explain. When they were finished, all of the children read their happy stories to the class. Not Lisa. She got up and told of how the baby bird flew too high, hit a plane, crashed to the ground and died. She told of how the mama bird and daddy bird cried of how even God was upset sending the rains pouring from the sky. The class was speechless when she finished all they could do was stare at her. The teacher kept her after class told her the story was very good but it was different from the others. She asked Lisa if she'd ever heard of Icarus and had she based her story on him. Lisa had yet to encounter Greek Mythology or hear a whisper of Icarus. As Lisa left the classroom the teacher again told her how good the story was but suggested she might want to write something happier next time. Perplexed,  Lisa turned and asked her teacher: "Why?" The teacher had no answer. Luckily for us, Lisa never took that teacher's advice.

Today she brings us complex multi-layered stories rich with the trials and tribulations that make up the world in which we live. Not one to be pigeonholed into any single genre, Lisa's stories revolve around the intricacies of couples from range the intimacy of lovers, to mothers and sons, and brothers and sisters.

Lisa Beth Darling is 49 years-old, lives in her hometown of New London, CT with her husband of nearly 30 years, Roy.  She is the author of more than fifteen novels along with several short stories and non-fiction books.

Author web links: (web, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads, etc)

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