About Sharon T. Rose:
Sharon T. Rose is a Writer, a Dreamer, and a Doer of the Impossible. But she didn’t start out that way, oh, no.
Sharon grew up in the military, which did its level best to turn her into a properly-functioning and positively-contributing member of society. Being a little on the thick-headed side, Sharon needed a few decades to realize that she didn’t have the legs for combat boots, but she did eventually wise up and go AWOL. After a decade or so of college and cube farming, Sharon got the bright idea that maybe, just maybe, all those stories banging around in her head weren’t the waste of time The Brass seemed to think they were.
The break for freedom began when Sharon discovered online serial fiction in January 2009. Enveloped in a Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO), Sharon quickly set up an account with digitalnovelists.com and began posting stories. It was a ray of sunshine in the dark, dank cellar of the cubes. It was a rebellion. And ultimately, it was rebirth.
Late in 2010, Sharon left the cube farm for the greener pastures of her own imagination. The Brass screamed, the farm condescended, and Sharon put one trembling foot in front of another and made it work. After months of trial and effort, she completed a trilogy, released an ebook, syndicated a serial, sold a short story, and has so many WIPs that she sometimes wonders why she did this in the first place.
Oh, right. Because the stories must be shared.
What inspires you to write?
The same thing that inspires me to breathe: it’s required to stay alive. It’s so integral a part of my being that I don’t know what it’s like to not be working on some story or character every spare thought.
To keep the inspiration fresh and to come up with new ways to torture– err, develop characters, I have a variety of Pinterest boards with all manner of things saved for reference.
Tell us about your writing process.
When I actually write, I pants the heck out of the story. Before I write, I try to plot so I understand the characters, world, and story so that the pantsing can happen. It’s much the same as acting: one must know the character and script well enough to improvise when something happens on set/stage. When making live music, the practice must happen before the performance. Storytelling is organic, but it does need structure to follow. I build the structure ahead of time (whenever I can) and let the story grow around it, through it, or away from it as needed.
I usually have stories in my head for a few years before I write them. I might jot a few notes down, but I let the subconscious work on things however it will. I call this my mental “back porch,” and leave ideas there until they’re ready to clean up and come inside and be nice.
When an idea demands attention, I fire up the computer and open either/both a document and spreadsheet. After some free-flow note-making, I look at what I have and see what organization I can make of it. I have several questionnaires I use to delve into characters and worlds, and those change as I learn and grow as a writer. Many times, I dive into a story and “barf” on the page until I hit a major roadblock, which I then go back and puzzle through, using the lists.
I tend to use basic tools for writing to keep it simple and uncomplicated. I store my stuff online so I don’t have to worry about my computer crashing, and I can access it from any internet-connected computer. Spreadsheets are my best friends, because invariably, that one-off word I tossed in there to fill a blank spot will crop again 50k words later, and I can’t remember what the heck I called that thing without detailed notes.
I keep a list of bookmarks to name generators, online etymology, and random ideas to fill in spaces. Usually, I hate coming up with names. Not my thing. Some stories require specific, meaningful names from particular cultures, and some stories require dragging a string across the keyboard when there’s a cat in my lap. I keep those websites handy in a separate browser for quick access.
Ideally, I do marathon sprinting. That means I set aside a day or week to devote to writing, blasting out words in sessions that last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, with short breaks in between. But that is the idea and seldom the reality, so I write whenever I can for however long I can. The series “Space & Time” began as an online serial, and I wrote for an hour or two a few times a week over the course of about three years to finish the original trilogy. I’ve completed a few novels via NaNoWriMo, as well.
After I’ve spewed words all over the page and feel reasonably confident that I hit the major points, I start editing. I note the highlights and important plot points, check for nasty errors, and shudder at my typos. Then I’ll run it by some beta readers for additional feedback, spellcheck and hunt for typos, then send it off to the editor for further bloodletting. Then it’s ready to unleash on the unsuspecting world.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I *AM* my characters; what are you talking about?
I constantly pretend that I am my MCs and work through scenes as them. Whether I’m washing dishes, driving the car, or setting something on fire, I’m doing so as one or more of my characters. How would this MC respond to my relative’s totally insensitive comment? No, we can’t use swords in the grocery store. And that spell only works when one has access to the Ilo; sorry.
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t give up.
I had to take nearly all of 2014 off from writing for personal reasons, and it felt devastating. I wondered if I would ever be able to get back into storytelling, if I were completely broken, if, if, if. Don’t give up. Setbacks happen to everyone. What you do with what happens is the important thing. Maybe you need a whole year off. Maybe a decade. Set it aside when you have to, but don’t believe the lie of “you’ll never get it back.” However hard it is, you can pick up the pieces and rebuild. You have a story to tell, and that’s awesome.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first book, I self-published for two reasons. First, i figured no real publisher would give me enough attention to slide my MS into the trash can, let alone glance at it. Second, I knew I had to put something out there in the wild, or I would never do anything. That first book wasn’t truly ready for publication, and I knew it. I also knew that however bad it was, I needed to make a start. I had to do something, and a bad start is still a start. So I edited as best I could on my own, fiddled with cover art using free software, and uploaded it. Regardless of its performance, I am proud of myself for doing what I could with what I had.
I went with a small press for my next project, just to try. I was shocked when they agreed to publish me and thrilled. It’s been nice not to have to worry about catching *all* of my typos by myself and having someone make my cover art who knows what they’re doing. Having someone else manage the distribution channels is nice, too.
I see benefits and drawbacks to both ventures, and I think authors should try all the options open to them. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. We’re seeing major, traditionally-published authors doing well with self-publishing, and we’re seeing indies rise on the lists. Don’t be afraid to try different things.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
We will always need stories, and I think printed words will remain in demand. While I dearly love hard copies and crave the ability to pull a volume off my own shelf, I see the value in digital volumes. It’s terribly convenient to read on my smartphone when I’m traveling. It’s more cost-efficient to have ebooks, but print books have a “je ne sais quoi” that can’t be electronically duplicated.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Science Fiction, Fantasy
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print