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Interview: Sharon Srock, Christian Fiction Writer
Meet Sharon Srock
Sharon Srock, creator of the The Women of Valley View books and blog, is a mother of two beautiful daughters and three stepsons. At last count, there were 22 grandchildren and greats.
Married to her husband, Larry, for almost 17 years, the couple lives in the-middle-of-no-where Oklahoma with two grown Labrador retrievers, Sara and Ziva. Srock works full time at the local Air Force Base, as she has been doing for 25 years. She's been selling Avon for 20 years, and writes when she's not doing either one of those things.
Along with a passion for reading, Srock likes to pan for gold, enjoys NASCAR, and is a serious Trekker. Most of her previous writing experience was Trek stuff, including poems and short stories published in various fanzines.
The first full length novel in the Women of Valley View series has been launched this past week (late October 2012), and I am pleased to have the opportunity to post this interview with Srock in conjunction with that launch.
SB: Congratulations on the release of Callie. How long have you been working on the novel, and how long has the publication process taken?
SS: I started working on Callie's story in the spring of 2009. In that first 12 months I completed drafts of the first 3 books in the series. Then I began the process of learning the mechanics of writing, editing, revision, and rewriting. That's when I realized just how much I didn't know. Callie went through 6 revisions before I submitted her to my publisher in November of 2011. I signed the contract on January 10th 2012 and she will finally see the light of day on 26 October 2012. A little over 3 and 1/2 years between first word to publication.
SB: You've set up a website that continues the progress of the people in Garfield, OK, the community featured in Callie. Does that require a lot of extra work from you? Tell us a little bit about the demands of updating your readers each week, and what tricks you might employ to keep the flow of ideas fresh for you.
SS: I never intended to have a blog. I'm not a deep thinker and my life is just not that interesting. One morning I woke up with this idea in my head that wouldn't go away. What about a fictional blog where my characters tell the stories? I mulled it for about a day, asked a few questions and by the weekend had the page ready to go. It started out as just the home page but it didn't take those women long to start making demands. They each wanted a page. That made 5 pages of content to maintain. I looked to each woman's interest to get ideas about what their page would be devoted to. Callie was easy. Shes a teacher, so she shares lessons and devotions. Pam loves to cook so she posts recipes. Terri is a reader so she does my author interviews and features. Karla was a little harder. She finally settled on a coming soon feature that showcases soon to be released titles.
It didn't take me long to realize that my schedule was not going to allow me to maintain 5 pages of content each week. I started out using story out takes for the main page, when those were exhausted, I move along to writing prompts to spark an idea. For the other pages, I like to showcase fellow writers. I've tried to limit Callie's page to unpublished authors, Terri and Karla have an unending well of promotion hungry authors to draw from. It comes down to cutting and pasting the pages together on Friday. Still a 2-3 hour job.
SB: Which of these is closest to your style of writing: poetry, music, dance, sculpture, theatre, television, or painting? What are the similarities you see in your work and the art form closest to it?
SS: Probably painting. My sister paints, and I've watched her a few times as she layers one color over another to get the texture and color she wants. I think I write in layers. When I finish the first draft, I usually have about 60,000 words, then I go back and tweak and edit, then there's usually a third or fourth pass to reach my desired word count and complete the story.
SB: Are you a part of a writer's group? Who else is a part of the group? What would your typical meeting look like?
SS: I'm and ACFW member and I belong to the Oklahoma City group (OCFW). We meet once a month and I have to tell you, I attribute my continued sanity to this group of writers. They are the ones who have helped me realize that I'm not alone with the voices in my head. (SMILE) Most months we have a special speaker, a fellow author from a sister group, or one of the talented writers from our own group. We help each other with brainstorming, critiquing, and conference prep. We meet for lunch, then have a two hour meeting. We recently started a craft book study after the regular meeting for those who can stay.
We have several published authors in the group. Linda Goodnight, Janet Lee Barton, Lacy Williams, Julie Jarnagin, Regina Jennings, Robin Patchen, and Darlene Franklin. They are a fount of wisdom and ideas. I'm so privileged to be numbered among them.
SB: Do you have a particular writing routine? What would a typical day of writing look like for you?
SS: I have a full time job, and a part time job in addition to the writing. I don't really have much of a routine. I write in bits and pieces as time allows. Sometimes I'll spend all day Saturday on a project, I write during work breaks and lunch times. I'm so used to writing in the noise of other things going on around me that I find it difficult to write when it's quiet.
SB: When you are proofreading, what is the most common mistake you find in your own work?
SS: Sentence structure. A lot of sentences in a paragraph starting with she and he. I have my pet words that always seem to make it onto the page as well. When I do a search in the manuscript, during the editing phase, of the things I need to examine, it looks like the whole 300 pages have been bled on.
SB: Describe the ideal reader for your work.
SS: I think there's something there for women of all ages. In Callie's story the characters stretch from 11 years old to 60. I've had test readers that fit into all of those ages and they all seemed to like it. But I have to tell you. The only man that I know read the story, came back to me with tears in his eyes and thanked me for the story. There are great guys in my stories, but I didn't write them with men in mind as readers. But I guess there's hope.
SB: What should we look for next from Sharon Srock?
SS: I envision The Women of Valley View as 6-7 books in the series. Terri's story is contracted and the editing cycle complete. I don't have a release date, but I'm guessing Spring of 2013. Pam's story is almost ready to go to my agent. I have story ideas for Samantha, Kate, and Karla. If the series does well, I have an idea for a grown up Iris as well. We'll just have to see where God takes the series.
SB: Is there anything you've been hoping I would ask that hasn't yet been addressed?
SS: Maybe not a question. But I never want to overlook giving God the glory for what He's allowed me to do. These are not my stories, they are His and above every hope and dream I have for the success of the series, I want His will in each book and the lives of each reader.