Sharla Lovelace author of Anything but Normal (tentative title)
(Update: The Reason is You)
(Update: The Reason is You)
Firstly Sharla, you are such an interesting woman. I read on your blog that you have owned a book store, scuba dived, been crab hunting in a Honduras jungle at night and you have been spelunking (Caving - congratulations, I’m not often stumped).
Anything else we should know about you?
Isn’t that crazy enough? LOL. Well, I also have the normal ordinary stuff too. I’m married to a wonderful guy who puts up with me and all the voices in my head that demand my attention. I have a 21 year old son and a 16 year old daughter, an old lady dog that sits in my recliner with me as I write, and 18 cockatiels in an aviary in the backyard. (Hubby’s side business)
What would you like to share with us about your book, Anything but Normal?
I’ll let the query letter below tell you what it’s about, but I will say that this is the second title, and it’s always subject to change again. Original title was Seeing Alex, and my agent and I came up with the current one before putting it on submission.
Have you always been a writer?
In some way. Not always down on paper. I would make up stories in my head as a kid and just walk around talking them out or acting them out. I imagine I was quite the strange dork. J I wrote poetry later, then it turned to short stories. I didn’t attempt anything longer until about 10 yrs ago when a group of my short stories started featuring the same characters, and I got the idea to put all those together like scenes, and from that my first book was born. That one is still filed away, but it gave me the knowledge and learning experience to keep doing it.
Is writing a compulsion or a diversion for you?
Making up stories is a constant thing in my brain, not really something I could stop if I wanted to. Like little movies going on all the time, and I’m the director. Whether I write them down or not depends on whether the character wins me over. Even when I’m at work, I’m developing plotlines while I crunch numbers.
When you wrote Anything but Normal, were you sad or happy when you finished the last page?
Happy! Because as we all know, it’s not over. There is always months of editing and revision after that last page is typed, so I knew I wouldn’t be leaving my characters anytime soon.
Take us back to your query process, did you query long?
*laughing* Well, that depends. When I finished this book, I queried for a year with a few requests but nothing went further than that. So I kind of took a break for a few months and then entered it in the November 2010 Secret Agent contest at the Miss Snark’s First Victim blog. I actually won that contest on the excerpt, but then the agent wasn’t sold on it as a whole, and she gave me some really helpful feedback. Of course I sent out a “rebound query” the same day (don’t we all?) to another agent who essentially said the same things plus some, and it got me thinking. I sat down and did a major extensive revision of the whole thing, and about the same time I had a casual conversation on Twitter with the awesome rock star agent Jessica Faust of BookEnds, about cross-genres and her fave author in that realm, and she recommended I read her work and then query her when my ms was ready. Two months later, when my revisions were complete, I knew I was querying her before anything else. So I sent it. She’s the only one I queried that time around. Very next day was a partial request. Next day was a full request. Two days later she called me to offer representation. So…. The long answer is my first version took over a year. My second version took five days.
You are represented by Jessica Faust of BookEnds, will you share the query that won Ms. Faust’s heart?
Thanks to you, I’m now a fan of Sarah Addison Allen! A couple of months ago, you told me about her over an #askagent session on Twitter, while talking about cross-genres. When I mentioned that I write women’s fiction with paranormal elements, you recommended her as a good read, and told me to query you when ready. Well, I’m ready.
Seeing Alex is an 86,000-word women’s fiction, with light paranormal elements, sort of a Ghost Whisperer meets Hope Floats. I hope you will be intrigued enough to want more.
Dani Shane just wants her daughter to have what she never did--a normal life. But “normal” leaves the equation when sixteen year old Riley is found talking to Dani’s only friend, Alex--who’s been dead for forty years.
In the small town of Bethany, Dani never fit in. Being different pushed her to the fringes of society, and even leaving town for two decades didn’t stop the talk. Now that she’s back, her plans for staying under the radar are blown as she has her daughter’s new talent to hide as well.
As Dani scrambles to get solid footing under her family, secrets buried for forty years begin to unearth themselves. Her father is hiding something from her. Alex is the only spirit that stuck around, and they’ve always been connected, but he is hiding something too. Then there’s that little thing she’s not telling her daughter. Like that some of the people she sees aren’t breathing.
I am a member of RWA, and active in its online Women’s Fiction chapter. I appreciate your time, Ms. Faust, and thank you for the recommendation! Hope to hear back from you soon.
Every aspiring author dreams of the day they get “the call,” will you tell us what that call was really like?
I stopped breathing, and ran across the hall (I was at work) to my co-worker holding out my phone and sucking air like a lunatic, and she thought someone had died or something. Jessica is amazing. She’s as in love with my book as I am, and was so excited about it that it just blew my mind. I’ll never forget her saying that she needed to read it again for edits because when she read it the first time she forgot to look for problems because she just started reading it for pleasure and got all into it. No better compliment…ever. She asked me if I needed to think about it, and I was like, “Nope! Not even a little bit!”
After “the call” is over and euphoria wears off, what happened next?
The euphoria wears off? LOL. I don’t know I’m still there! I worked on revisions from her for a few days and then it was sent off to publishers. Now it’s a whole new waiting game.
I hear the editing process can be grueling, how have you dealt with that on top of being a wife, mother, author and working a full-time job?
My writing time is right after work, around errands and laundry and dinner, and then early mornings for 3-4 hrs on the weekends. I have to make the most of the time I have. Editing works the same way, gotta squeeze it in. Sometimes I squeeze it in at work if I can get away with it…shhhh…but I don’t usually get the opportunity.
Where do you go from here, more editing, the publishers, both?
Just waiting to hear from the publishers now, I’ve started a new book to keep me from stalking my email and losing my mind.
What are you currently writing, any clues for that project you would like to share?
It’s still too new to share completely…but I will say it involves secrets. A psychic empath, a quirky town with magical secrets, a search for a mother, and a powerful old love.
Sharla, thank you for visiting with us. We wish you continued success and please share your links so we know where to find your fabulous blog, coincidentally named Anything but Normal.
LOL. And it was named that for the last year and a half. When we were looking for names for the book, Jessica liked that the best, so I guess I had a premonition, huh? You can find me at www.sharlascroggs.blogspot.com and on Twitter at @sharlascroggs.
This note was too sweet not to share, Thanks Sharla!
Thank you so much, Candie, for the interview! Great questions. I enjoyed it! You are all kinds of awesome, girl! And you have great shoes…. :-)