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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tantalizing Tuesday

Stumbling into the moonlight, bleary-eyed and suffering from an acute case of baby-itis, is new and upcoming author, Sarah Ballance. Not to overshadow Sarah's new release, Down in Flames, she is the proud mother of a new baby girl. Sarah is my new hero and let me tell you why…she's a mother of six children, she home schools and writes books! So, from now on anytime I'm complaining about not having enough time to write, I'm going to think of Sarah and how she finds the time to fit writing into her schedule! And on top of that, she's always upbeat and chipper…or least in all my dealings with her she has been.

To learn more about Sarah, or her book, visit her website or mosey on over to Noble Romance Publishing and purchase her new release, Down in Flames.

Now, to the good stuff…Sarah confessing all her deep, dark secrets…LOL Have fun learning more about Sarah, her book, ask her some questions and get to know her a little…

GRACEN: Almost anywhere you go in the US, Independence Day is celebrated with parades, firework displays, cookouts and music – sometimes on July 4th and sometimes earlier depending upon what day of the week the 4th falls on. What celebration plans are going on in your area, and when will they happen?

SARAH: All of the above and everywhere! Within our metro area there are dozens upon dozens of fireworks displays and concerts. Patriotism lives and thrives in my neck of the woods! I believe most of the festivities are on July 4 this year since it falls on a Sunday.

GRACEN: Patriotism thrives here in my neck of the woods too, Sarah. What kinds of festivities would a traveler find at this celebration? What sights, sounds and smells might he or she encounter?

SARAH: The most unique, in my opinion, happen at the oceanfront. Watching the colors explode over the ocean is an unforgettable experience, and the smell of burgers and hot dogs mingled with salt air will have you craving July 4 all year long.

GRACEN: Who doesn't love hot dogs and burgers! What about you and your family? What plans do you have for celebrating Independence Day?

SARAH: July 4 is actually our wedding anniversary – my husband chose the date because he said he “probably wouldn’t forget it.” (So far, so good!) Last year we took the boat out to watch the fireworks from the water and it was absolutely amazing. We saw fireworks nonstop for almost two hours - the moon was full and the water like glass and we couldn’t have asked for a better night. We didn’t make the trip this year but it was for a great reason – we just welcomed a brand new baby girl!

GRACEN: We did this one year too, and watching fireworks from a boat is an unforgettable experience. Is there any favorite treat that you must consume during an Independence Day celebration?

SARAH: Burgers or steaks, but they’ve got to be cooked over charcoal with hubby’s secret recipe of seasonings. I probably don’t want to know what he does to them, but they’re unbelievable!

GRACEN: Do you have room for one more at dinner? ;-) In many areas, people like to purchase their own fireworks and set them off – snakes, bottle rockets, and sparklers among others. What’s your opinion on fireworks – take them or leave them? Which ones are your favorites?

SARAH: I love them all! They’re illegal here without a permit, but plenty of folks set them off anyway. I think bottle rockets are the most fun, but they also make me nervous around the kids. Still, setting them off is hilarious - we laugh nonstop and I’ve yet to figure out why!

GRACEN: Sounds like great family times, Sarah! A day some might consider as equally important is Bastille Day on the 14th commemorating the storming of the prison fortress, Bastille, in 1789 when the French people stormed the fortress, putting an end to “the tyranny of King Louis XVI’s monarchy”. Celebrations are beginning to be held in major cities across the country celebrating French history. One of the largest celebrations in the country happens in Milwaukee, WI (4 day long festival beginning with a re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille, complete with a 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica) a tradition starting 27 years ago makes it one of the city’s oldest festivals. Is Bastille Day celebrated in your area? If so, how? What sights, sounds, and cuisine will travelers stumble upon?

SARAH: We don’t appear to party to Bastille Day around here - if there are any events going on, they’ve yet to make the news. But in our defense I happen to know that a good French fry can be had any day of the year.

GRACEN: Are there any other festivities that take place in your area that a traveler might enjoy local culture and traditions? If so, what are they and where would a traveler go to find them?

SARAH: I couldn’t begin to name them all. I’m in a major summer vacay spot / resort area that’s also steeped in history (American, it seems – French, not so much!) and it’s a party all summer long. You’ve got your choice of dozens of summer concerts spread out over a handful of venues (including the ocean front, right on the sand), special events at the major historical spots, and a number of major festivals. The cliché rings true around here: there really is something for everyone!

GRACEN: We’ve had our fun now, so let’s put the focus on your writing, Sarah…While there are many genres to choose from, what specifically brought you to romance? Why this genre over the others?

SARAH: I started with romance because I know romance. I experience those falling-in-love flutters pretty much every day thanks to my real life romantic hero! And at the time I started Down in Flames, I used romance novels to wind down at the end of the day. My second and third novels, however, are romantic suspense. I picked one up because it was free and instantly fell in love with the genre. I must be a little twisted myself, because I LOVE cultivating the role of the bad guy!

GRACEN: Bad guys are the best!! Even though the popularity of the romance genre continues to grow, it’s still not always a highly respected genre. What, in your opinion, is the reason for the continued interest in the genre and for the lack of respect it receives?

SARAH: I believe the escape is the charm. Even if you aren’t fortunate enough to be in one of those “happily ever after” relationships yourself, you can experience one through the characters in a book. And what better way to indulge in a fantasy or discover a new one? As for the lack of respect, I think it stems from the misconception that romance is “mindless” but personally, I love a light read. Sitting down with a sexy book that frees my mind and engages my senses is a wonderful way to recharge!

GRACEN: A holiday we didn’t discuss above is Parents’ Day. What traits, in your opinion, make for a good parent? Have any of these traits, been inspiration for a character’s personality and actions in your stories? If so, how? Which character(s), which trait(s) and why?

SARAH: I’ve got a house full of kids so I can attest to the fact that parents need a LOT of favorable traits, LOL, but it seems like love, trust, and forgiveness top the list. In my story, Jack returns to his home town seeking Molly’s forgiveness, but he’s not there 24 hours before he screws up to the point where I’m not sure that I, as the writer, am even on his side! I marvel at Molly’s inner strength – she’s already struggling to forgive the past when he taints the present, but she’s able to see beyond all of that and believe in him … until he looks her in the eye and tells her otherwise. (Ouch!) My characters weren’t inspired by these traits, but in that sense they are essential to the story.

GRACEN: Yikes, sounds like Jack likes to challenge himself by making things worse. For a writer, inspiration can be found everywhere and in almost anyone, but sometimes specific people, places and events can inspire certain characters, personality traits, events or situations that happen in our stories. In your current story that we’re promoting here today, Down in Flames, did any one particular person, place or event inspire you? If so who/what was it (were they), how did it/they inspire you and how is this inspiration reflected in your story?

SARAH: I have to give my crit partner credit here. I originally had a plot outlined, but she took note of a photo on a desk and commented “uh oh!” Just like that, Amy came into the picture (no pun intended). Without her, the “dark moment” of the story would have been a lot closer to gray than black and I doubt we’d be discussing it today!

GRACEN: A great crit partner is priceless! Without giving away anything pertinent to the story, tell us about the hero and heroine (s) of your story. What do they look like? How do they meet (or “did” if this is not the first book with these same characters)? What are their personalities – Are they comical cut-ups, are they serious or are they a mix of the two? Please give us a little bit of dialogue from the story that can illustrate this. (Not much, but just a few lines and from a different section than the main excerpt – Thanks!)

SARAH: My characters met as children – Jack is the type of bad boy we’d, all like to have next door! His dark hair is a little too long and he can’t seem to escape his wild reputation, but he’s got a good heart and the best of intentions. Molly, on the other hand, is a little too innocent for her own taste. She’s more than willing to let Jack corrupt her, but he’s determined to prove something by playing the good guy. Talk about crossed wires! In terms of interaction, they share a lot of banter but it wouldn’t be much of a story if a few tense moments didn’t interrupt that feel-good flow. Here’s a lighter excerpt:

"Did you bring lunch?" he asked, not quite disengaging from her mouth before he spoke.

Molly giggled, instantly comforted. "Sandwiches. Are you just using me for my cooking?"

"Nope," Jack told her, deadpanning. "You don’t have to cook sandwiches." He cocked an eyebrow. "But maybe I’ve got a thing for your delivery service."

GRACEN: LOL Jack sound like my kind of guy, witty and quick with the comebacks. The main characters are usually great, but sometimes, secondary and tertiary characters are known to steal the scenes, even if the author did not intend this to happen. Who are the secondary/tertiary characters in your story and what do they look like? What’s unique about them? What is their relationship to the hero/heroine? Have any of these characters gone on to become scene-stealers? If so, who and how did they do it? Is there the possibility for them to get their own story? (Again, please give us a small bit of dialogue to illustrate this – thanks!)

SARAH: This one is almost impossible to answer without giving away the good stuff! Let’s just say that a raven-haired woman from Jack’s past – the aforementioned Amy - pulls a sleight of hand (and involves a few other body parts while she’s at it) that morphs into any guy’s worst nightmare. She’s a real character, that one, but I don’t see her with her own story. As a writer, I don’t want to spend that much time with her, LOL!

GRACEN: Thanks for joining us, Sarah! It was a joy to have you with us. Best of success with your book, Down in Flames, and your edits and submissions.


When Jack Gellar returns to Jefferson Heights after five long years and an unforgettable betrayal, is his appearance the last thing Molly Coleman needs in her tragedy-stricken life . . . or the first?

Molly just lost her entire family, and now her home and business are both on the line. An unexpected encounter with the one man who can put the pieces back together leaves her reeling, for he can just as easily destroy what little she has left. Jack has a lot to prove to win her back, but when a lapse in judgment turns into an ultimatum he can’t refuse, will his choice bring them together or tear them apart for good?


Jack stood under the tree with his back toward her.

"You’re really starting to piss me off," Molly called, her breath heavy from the long trek over the rumpled land.

Jack swung around, his stooped shoulders drawing square again.

"Why is it that I have this ridiculous urge to apologize to you?" she asked. And then she saw it, that crooked grin that melted her from the inside out.

"It must be my irresistible charm." A small smile punctuated the joke. Then, "Does this mean you forgive me?"

She studied him for a moment. "No, it doesn’t."

Jack’s smile faded.

She grinned. "It means we can talk." She covered the last bit of distance between them and looked intently into his eyes.

He reached up and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. When his hand moved to tenderly cup the back of her head, the Earth spun wildly beneath Molly’s feet.

"I’m sorry," he whispered. "I don't know . . . ."

"But I don't want to talk about it now. Not here."

Fido howled, and they both laughed. Jack took her hand, threading his fingers through Molly’s with a causal intimacy that nearly brought her to her knees.

"I want to show you something." He led her to a patch of ground speckled with debris and thatches of weeds. "Look."

Molly found herself driven to distraction by the warm feel of his hand in hers, but she obediently peered into the grass. Something glittered in the light, and she gasped.

"Do you remember those?" Jack’s voice was thick with emotion.

Molly stared down at the shards of broken glass weathered, dirty, and besotted by time. "The fire . . . ?" she asked.

"It must not have gotten very hot right here."

Molly knelt down and gingerly touched the remains of the broken green and blue bottles. It seemed like another lifetime ago she and Jack had crept under his front porch to hide the beautifully colored glass they’d found behind the old general store.

"You seem to be in the middle of all of my favorite memories," he said tenderly, drawing her back to her feet. "I know you don’t trust me right now and I understand why, but I want you to know I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you if I have to."

Molly’s eyes filled with tears. "Since when does a playboy like Jack Geller start promising forever?"

"Since there’s an amazing woman in front of me who appears to be giving him a second chance."


Leave Sarah a comment and one lucky winner will win a pdf copy of Down in Flames!

12 Moonbeams (comments):

Angela said...

Wow! Home school, and an author. Six kids!

I don't think I'll ever complain again.

You have a very nice cover.

Melissa Pickering said...

Happy Anniversary, Sarah! I loved the interview, its so nice to learn about authors and their lives.

Deb Lineman said...

I'm so proud of you! :) I've read parts of this book, but I cannot wait to read the whole thing! Keep on writing! Awesome interview here!

Stephanie said...

Oh, now you've got me nostalgic for July 4th (and summer in general) at my grandmother's beach house...sigh. Nothing like the smell of hot dogs, hamburgers, sea salt, suntan lotion - and even boat fuel - to make for the perfect summer!

Congratulations on the novel...can't wait to read it!

Melissa said...

Happy Anniversary, Sarah! Having trouble with my internet of course, so I hope *this* comment works. Great interview!!

C. Zampa said...

I've read Down in Flames. Jack Geller's every bit a hottie as he seems in the excerpt!

Sarah, you're my do you do it?

Congratulations on Down in Flames and best wishes and happy writing for the future!

Angela Nichelle said...

Hey, girls! Great interview, Sarah and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to you and your hubby! :)

Anonymous said...

That's an intriguing excerpt, with the references to the fire and the coloured glass. It definitely makes me want to learn the backstory to both of those events.

Sarah Ballance said...

Thanks so much to everyone for the comments and the anniversary wishes! A special thanks to Gracen and the Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem crew for hosting me. Interviews are such fun - it's amazing how much *I* learn from them when I have the opportunity to analyze my characters like this. It's been an honor, guys! *MUAH*

Adrienne S. said...

I love this author, and how she visualizes everything so crystal clear into a picture for my head. I am in awe of her dedication to writing and her family, and wish I had her way with words and true life romance.
I am eagerly waiting on the edge of my seat for her suspense novel, which is my true love genre! I guess that makes me twisted too. :)

Sarah Ballance said...

A, you are most definitely twisted (in all the best ways, LOL). Much love, girl!

Gracen Miller said...

All names were plugged into, it shuffled the batch and drew one winner. And the winner is...

Angela Nichelle!

Congratulations, Angela!