Friday, October 3, 2008

Author of Note - Sharon Dunn

Welcome to “The Bookshelf,” Sharon! It’s nice to get to know another Christian author. Hey, you had a new release back in January of 2008 – congratulations! And your final installment of the Bargain Hunters mysteries, Death at a Discount, will be out January 2009. We want to know all about it, but first, a little

about you as a writer.

How long have you been writing?

Since the second grade. I stayed up all night writing poems about my mom, my dad, and my dog. My mom kept coming into my room telling me to go to sleep. As far as writing as a profession, I have always dabbled in writing but I guess I decided to treat it seriously when I was pregnant with my oldest son fifteen years ago. That was when I joined a critique group and bought a Writers Market.

How much time do you devote to writing?

I try to do three or four hours a day seven days a week. If I don’t have anything pressing, Sunday is a light day where I take a break or just do administrative writing stuff.

Do you have a favorite location in which to work?

Although I have a laptop that I can move around the house, it really does work best to stay at my desk. I don’t take my laptop to the library or a coffee shop because it would be too easy to get distracted. My desk is situated in a corner so it blocks out most distractions.

Because inquiring minds still want to know … where to you get your ideas?

Ideas come from a hundred different sources. I think one of the greatest sources has been just with my own spiritual battles and discoveries. In my Ruby Taylor series, the theme was that God could redeem anyone regardless of what they had done. The series shows a woman coming to the Lord at 30 and how she finds healing, not instantly but over time. With the Bargain Hunters series I wanted to combine two things that I love: a solid mystery and the search for a good deal. With the first book in that series, Death of a Garage Sale Newbie, the first scene where a woman leaves a frantic phone on her friend’s answering machine saying she had discovered something illegal and that she is afraid just popped into my head. I heard the first line of that book, saw the scene, and started writing to see where it would go.

What is your most “quirky” writing habit?

An insane love for Post-It notes. They are all over my desk. I post reminders about things in the book that need to be fixed, about character descriptions and even questions that I have about my book. As I deal with each issue in the revision, I toss the Post-It.

How do you apply your faith to your writing?

You can’t force the faith issue in a book, it will sound too preachy. I don’t think it is good to start a book with an agenda in mind, it is better to start a book with characters in a dilemma. If you have characters who are Christians, faith issue will become a part of the plot.

Tell us about your series The Bargain Hunter mysteries.

Death of a Garage Sale Newbie is the first book in the Bargain Hunter mystery series. Garage Sale Newbie features four women who are bonded together by the need to clip coupons and be first in line at doorbuster sales. When one of the bargain hunters is found dead, it is up to the other three to figure out what happened to her and why. Ginger, a recent empty nester and bargain hunting expert leads Suzanne, mother of three with one on the way, and Kindra, a college student with a taste for designer clothes without the budget, to hunt down clues instead of good deals in the fictional town of Three Horses, Montana. In the other two books Death of a Six Foot Teddy Bear and the upcoming Death at a Discount, the bargain hunter ladies find themselves drawn into new mysteries. The ladies get to travel a bit in book two and book three. First to the fictional city of Calamity, Nevada to outlet shop and attend the world’s largest garage sale in Death of a Six Foot Teddy Bear and then in Death at a Discount, Ginger and her buddies are stranded (with a murderer and some suspects) at a shopping network when a snowstorm hits Denver.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I don’t have a lot of spare time. Part of the sacrifice of writing is that I had to give up some hobbies. I used to sew quite a bit. Now, I just have piles of patterns and fabric that I haven’t touched in years. When I do have a spare moment, I like to read or spend time with my kids and husband. Sometime we go to parks or on bike rides or just watch movies.

What bit of advice do you have for new or aspiring writers?

You don’t have to be super smart to be a good novelist, I’m Exhibit One for that. You do need to understand what it means to tell a good story. Study the elements o storytelling, plot structure, character arc etc.

Next, if you want to succeed as a writer, you have to be teachable. That means you have to be able to listen to critique and feedback without becoming defensive, otherwise you won’t grow as a writer. I’m not talking about people that tear apart what you have written just for the joy of being cruel. Stay away from those people. Also, people like your mom and your third grade teacher who thought everything you wrote was fantastic are not that helpful either. Seek out people who will give you truthful but tactful critique.

Finally, become a writer for the right reason, because you love sitting alone at your keyboard reworking a sentence until it sparkles. Don’t become a writer because you need the money and attention. There are easier, less painful ways to get money and attention. Throwing yourself in front of a bus for the insurance comes to mind.

Sharon Dunn lives with her hubby of twenty years, three kids, and three cats. Book two in her Ruby Taylor mystery series Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante won the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Her first Bargain Hunter mystery, Death of a Garage Sale Newbie received a second place award for Book of the Year at the recent ACFW conference. When she isn’t writing, she is making pets out of the dust bunnies under her furniture.

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