Thursday, December 29, 2011
FEATURED AUTHOR: Sandra Ardoin
How did you start out your writing career?
I began by writing greeting cards and poster quotes. My first sale was a poster quote for Argus. I also wrote devotions and still write four-line light verse now and then. My first love, though, is fiction. After my daughter was born and I became a stay-at-home mom, I began writing short stories for children. I’ve done that for several years.
What did you learn while writing this book?
It wasn’t what I learned while writing the story. It’s what I learned by having it published in Family Ties: Thirteen Short Stories. On rare occasions, I’ve sold “all rights” to stories, which is the way I sold “Get A Clue” to My Friend in 2007. When the editor, Diane Lynch, called and asked to use it in a book collection, I was astounded. What I learned is that what we think may be a done deal or of no real use to us anymore could be the beginning of something new and exciting.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
Children need good, clean, fun stories they can enjoy and relate to, something that builds families up in their minds instead of tearing them down. Family Ties is about family relationships and building stronger ones.
In “Get A Clue,” when family game night is changed to a different day, Jerome must decide between spending time with his family and doing the fun thing he normally did at that time. It’s a tough choice for him.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
Jerome, of course, was my favorite. He struggles with a decision that, as adults, we would find minor, but to him is important. His sister Chloe plays a small part, but she’s so cute.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
A couple of things. First, the fact that editors find my stories worthy of publication. Secondly, that it’s so normal. It’s not much different than when I went off to my secretarial job. Sometimes I think, as writers, we put more emotion into our successes than other people do. I suppose it’s because we know how hard we’ve worked and what it takes to get that acceptance letter or contract.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love the idea and challenge of creating a whole story around the snippets of images and dialogue running through my head. It may start with one line or one image, but if I can’t forget it, I have to find a story for it.
The down side of writing for publication is the waiting. Writers send out manuscripts, queries, proposals, then wait weeks and months to discover whether or not the project will be accepted by an editor or agent. I’m in the middle of that process right now. It’s not “unfair.” That’s just the way it is.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
1. Time. God is in total control of the pace of my career—not me. I knew this, but it’s become more real since I began writing novels for publication.
2. Time. Traditional publishing is a numbers game. It’s a matter of persistence. You can’t expect to put something out there and have it snatched up by the first publication or publishing house that receives it. It can take submitting over and over and over again. Even then, there’s no guarantee it will sell.
3. Time. After years of writing 800 to1200-word short stories, I had no idea how long it took to complete a full-length novel from first sentence to (my) final edit.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
DO hone your craft and learn to take constructive criticism. DON’T expect your words to be published exactly as you’ve written them. Even “Get A Clue,” after being published in the magazine, went through a re-editing process for the book.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
How hard it is to put those ideas floating around in your head into proper sentences that make a whole, compelling book.
If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?
Wow! I’ve read and enjoyed so many. With the disasters writers put their characters through, I’m not sure I’d want to be any of them.
I think Laura Ingalls. I loved reading her books when I was in elementary school and it’s a time in history I really enjoy.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I garden. However, the past three years have been spent writing full-time and I’ve had few hours to sow and reap. I read—voraciously. I especially enjoy historicals and suspense/thrillers. Lately, though, I’ve read quite a few of the young adult novels. I also enjoy hitting antique stores, although I’m getting to an age where I find too many things I grew up with.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
On my blog (http://www.sandraardoin.com/), I try to cater to readers of Christian fiction. I’ve joined Goodreads with the hope of connecting to other readers.
Our theme for this month is CHILDREN BOOKS. What inspired you to make children’s literature the focus of your career?
Though my novels are aimed at adults, I’ve enjoyed writing for the 8 to12-year-old group. The stories and characters are fun and I think I relate more to that age than teens or preschoolers.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
Other than my salvation? I know nothing. LOL! It seems any time I think I know something for sure…that’s when I get into trouble.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
At this point, I’m looking for an agent willing to represent my novel A Lady Divided. It’s a historical that revolves around an unconventional and bitter southern widow who must join forces with an old enemy to prove she’s innocent of murder—twelve years after she took lives in the War Between the States.
The book I’m working on now is a historical involving an unemployed pastor and a female Jonah.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
They can contact me at the email address email@example.com. My website is http://www.sandraardoin.com/. I’m also on Twitter (@SandraArdoin), Google+ and Goodreads.
Thanks so much, LaShaunda. It’s been fun!
Family Ties: Thirteen Short Stories
This collection features stories about the rewards and the challenges of family life. While family interaction isn't always easy, healthy, strong family relationships are vital to the development of every child. Family Ties provides engaging stories for children that they will relate to and enjoy. Story topics include: a military father's absence from home; competition between siblings; annoying, younger siblings; having a difficult day; learning new things; dealing with grief and death; broken family relationships; the addition of a foster child into the family; embarrassing parents; making family time; visiting an Eastern Catholic church service, among others. The stories entertain and educate by providing discussion questions to keep children thinking and reading.
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