Monday, February 7, 2011

All Things Romantic Suspense: Interview #5 - Sarah Ballance

Yay! We're here at week number five and I'd like to welcome author Sarah Ballance. I'm sure her cover looks vaguely familiar to you, and that's because this woman is everywhere, on purpose or not... but we touch on that in the interview *wink*. So stick around and check her out!

Before we get started, please tell us a little about you, Sarah -

I am the eternally frazzled mother of six kids ages 12 and under. (We only meant to have five, but the last one ignored my tubal ligation and got here anyway. She may be stubborn like that, but she sure is cute!) My AMAZING hubby and I have been married for 13.5 years (AND still like each other). I write because I wanted someone to listen to me, but the characters aren't so well behaved, either. Anyone else see a flaw in that plan?

All right, I have to say, your latest release, Run to You, seems to be everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. Do you know when I do my daily evil kindle ranking check, your novel pops up on the side bar as other books I may be interested in? I know the success is in part because you wrote an awesome book, but is some of it just clever marketing?

Aw, I LIKE you. Awesome book … *blush* Seriously, though, I've heard from a LOT of people that they're being assaulted on all fronts by RUN TO YOU. That brings two thoughts to mind. One, I hope it's not in that annoying buzzed-by-mosquitoes "all over the place" kind of way, LOL. Two, I really don't know how that happened. True, I've made an effort to get out of my inconspicuous corner and get the word out, but I have no insight into the beast that is Amazon, although I'm thrilled to hear Amazon thinks you'd like my book! There must be a magic combination of book reviews, interviews, and the occasional cover ad working for me because I am the last person with a inside scoop on marketing! LOL.

If so, what did you do differently with this book that you didn't do with the others?

The biggest change I've made with RUN TO YOU is in guest blogging. I've only recently started getting into guest blogging after finding the nerve to ignore that nagging voice whispering "no one cares." But it's a hard voice to ignore. I have enough trouble thinking of myself as an author, let alone as someone with authority enough to dish on a particular topic. But I took the plunge anyway and my guest blogs have gotten RAVES. (For a list of my guest blogs and topics, click here .) One thing I love about guest blogging is how it totally takes away the "buy me" aspect of promotion and marketing. Readers get a glimpse into my mind that might be downright horrifying, but darn if they don't walk away feeling like they've learned a little something about me. I dig that.

What advice would you give to new authors just starting on their own marketing ventures?

Don’t be shy about approaching blog owners for guest spots. I could have died the first time I initiated contact, and even then it was in response to an open invite on the blog. I naturally assumed no one would show up, and to make matters worse I chose to do a guest blog and had that little voice I just mentioned calling me all kinds of names for even thinking it. But I took the plunge, got tons of great comments on the blog, and – even better – had readers contacting me through my website after that appearance. Needless to say, I felt like a million bucks! (Although I almost died when I found out my topic was a bit of a hot button issue – you can read it here ).

Okay, now something a little more personal *wink*. If you could go back and tell your younger writing self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Gosh, I wish I'd started writing sooner! I've been a stay-at-home-mom since I was 20 and didn't write my first word until I was almost 31. Heck, I didn't even want to write. Never crossed my mind. I feel like I lost so much time, but at the same time I know everything happened exactly as it should have. (I shudder to think about my first ten years without my crit partner, who showed up at just the right time to keep my first novel from becoming a mortifying embarrassment, LOL.) But if I could have whispered into my own ear a decade ago, I'd have mentioned this whole writing thing. It's good stuff.

Would you change any of the decisions you've made in your writing career?

The sex scenes in my first novel are too graphic for my authoring taste. Anyone who's read DOWN IN FLAMES is probably about to hurt themselves laughing over that because it really isn't graphic at all – not by any standard of contemporary romance – but the sensual, emotional vibe of RUN TO YOU (ironically, the one dubbed "erotic" on the cover) is much more my style. Not to say I don't enjoy reading the scorchers, but I blush when I type body parts. My mother is going to see that, as will my kids one day. Then they'll be mortified, and I'll laugh. (Okay, maybe it's not so bad after all!)

What's your favorite part about creating a story?

When a key piece of the plot falls into place, I'm grinning like an idiot. And that makes everyone around me suspicious, which makes it even better. (You should see the kids looking at one another, like they're trying to decide if they should laugh or if a bucket of water is about to hit them in the head or something. I'm a prankster, so that's real worry in their eyes.)

I find writing difficult without music to help me tap into those deeper emotions. Do you write by music too, or do you need silence? If you do write by music, what's currently on your play list and what scenes/emotions are you using it for?

I swear, I listened to Miranda Lambert's CD Kerosene for months on end when I wrote DOWN IN FLAMES. In fact, I still listen to it several times a week and it's to the point where I'm just programmed to write when I hear it. I can even sing along and type at the same time. It's ridiculous. (I should stop. She might go after my royalties.) I don't think I can go a day without listening to old Blackhawk, and I'm also loving anything Toby Keith. And 80's hair bands kick butt. I got Bon Jovi's Greatest for Christmas and hearing those old songs is an instant good mood for me, which makes my fingers just fly over the keyboard.

As with all our wonderful and amazingly talented cohorts in crime, you write romantic suspense. Why?

My interest in romantic suspense sparked with a free read from Harlequin Intrigue, and I've since become determined to write one. But as to why … I'd love to have a pretty reason, but the truth is I just like to see what my devious little mind can come up with. I love turning convoluted corners, dropping hints, dragging readers to the next page in lieu of sleep. (Okay, so that's my goal, but I know I'll love it when I actually get to that point, LOL!)

Is that your only genre? If so, why have you decided to stay there? If not, what made you venture on to different genres?

My first, DOWN IN FLAMES, is a romance. I made the leap to suspense with the second, and tried to go back to more of a romance with the next one but I stalled on it when the idea for a new romantic suspense came to me. I've since found a way to turn that second romance into a suspense, so it looks as if romantic suspense is in my soul. Or at the very least in my fingertips, because I can't seem to write anything else!

What are you currently working on?

UNFORGIVEN is a gritty suspense and I'm loving it! A year before the story begins, Gage tore Riley’s world apart. She did the unthinkable in forgiving him, but did so with the condition that he stay out of her life for good. He had every intention of keeping that promise until he found his brother dead on his back porch, but once Gage realizes who pulled that trigger, all bets are off. The next time Riley lays eyes on him, it’s at gunpoint. Needless to say, that’s where things get interesting. Even more interesting, I recently held a contest for readers to name a town in UNFORGIVEN and I had 175 (!!) entries. I remember that when I get stuck – talk about serious motivation for pushing on. I think this one will be good, ya'll!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Sarah! Please tell everyone where they can find out more about you:

What? They want more? Well, dear readers, you can friend or like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter , or check out my blog and website for contests and stalking fodder. I hand out prizes on a totally random basis to my FB fans (and I'm overdue to do it) so - *nudge, nudge* - it's a good place to be. Hope to see you there!

Thank you for having me, Elaina. Hope we didn't tear the place up too bad. ;c) And if ya'll didn't know it, I'm dishing on Elaina's new release on my blog today, so feel free to head over to see what I have to say in my Monday Spotlight. I bet she hopes I'm nice! *Giggle.*

Well... yeah! I'm on my knees begging you won't be mean, but I'm due for mean so I'll understand, LOL! Head on over to Sarah's blog today to see what she has to say about my novel and make sure you all come on back tomorrow for a peek at her sexy suspense packed novel, Run to You.



  1. You know, I was just thinking earlier, how if you put two Sarah's in the same room, trouble is bound to happen. However, both will look too innocent for anyone to know who did it! *grin* Guess it's a good thing we don't live closer *wink*. Now... deep breath, I'm heading over to your blog...

  2. How many Sarah's does it take.... Great interview, ladies.

  3. LOL, Jerri... The world may never know. I couldn't help myself! Don't throw anything at me!

  4. Hello, Sarah Ballance!
    Good to see you!
    You ARE everywhere! I've had to hire a secretary to help me keep up with your appearances! LOL...Just kidding!

    Can't get enough of Sarah OR Run to You...which is a GOOD, GOOD read!

    Hugs, my friend!

  5. Hi, Jerri! I'm pretty sure my H thinks one Sarah is plenty, LOL. Poor guy. Thanks for visiting!

  6. Hiya, CZ! That is a TOTAL plan. I would love to hire a secretary, LOL. (*Oh, gosh, when did I become important enough for THAT?*)

  7. I know CZ, she IS everywhere, it's mind boggling really. Thanks for stopping by!

    And Sarah, between six kids, professional and personal writing, how aren't you important enough for secretary???

  8. LOL, Elaina. Maybe I just wish I could afford one!

  9. Hey, girlie, keep writing these awesome books, and you will be able to afford a secretary, or two or three! LOl...

    Keep up the wonderful work! Hugs.

  10. Bless you, CZ! LOL. On a yacht, right? (I wonder how hard it would be to convince someone to be my secretary on a yacht?)

  11. Oh me, me! *waves arms wildly* If I can bring the youngest (the oldest can fend for himself with the husband, Ha!) I'll do it!

  12. I have six kids, girl. NO ONE is gonna notice the extra - welcome aboard! ;c)

  13. *squeee* Woohoo! Yacht life here I come! :-D