Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. This week, I am so excited to introduce you to Sunni Jeffers. I have served on the board of the Romance Writers of America Faith Hope and Love Chapter with Sunni for many years and just love her. Her new release sounds absolutely fascinating. You must read on to read about it. I also will admit, only to you, that I am so envious of her status as full time RV’er. My husband and I dream of doing that one year. So, read on to read about this amazing sounding book and to see what you can do to win a copy! I hope you enjoy Sunni’s interview as much as I did.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I am a writer, wife, mother and grandmother. My life has been one adventure after another. I began writing books at the beginning of our third lifetime (or phase) since my husband and I married. When my children grew up and left home and I was faced with an empty nest, I discovered the joy of writing. Then in 1992 my husband and I moved to the Great Northwest to raise cattle, timber and hay and to give me the time to write. My first book came out in 2001. Thirteen years and fourteen books later, we’ve begun a new adventure. We are exploring the US and Canada full-time in a motorhome. As we travel, I am continuing to write romantic suspense with a twist, cozy mysteries, and stories of extraordinary women living out their faith as they face challenges and adventures in everyday life.
Tell us about your current release. Heaven’s Strain is a “What if…” book–a story that will take you on a fascinating ride with characters who will grab hold of your heart and insist you come along. Heaven’s Strain is suspense with angels, genetic engineering, and a love story with impossible odds.
Spiritual forces are at work to destroy mankind…
Dr Ellen Larson has heard myths of fallen angels, but she has no idea they exist—or that they’re after her. She has enough on her mind–her research and her own strange DNA, which she’s kept secret since she discovered a mutation in medical school that’s never been seen before.
Then the impossible happens. Two patients admitted to the University Medical Center—Rafe Zacharias and Homer Wilton–have the same genetic mutation! Without transfusions, the men will die. Ellen can’t withhold what may be their only hope: her blood. She has no choice…
Her secret must come out.
Unseen, a battle rages around them. A battle to bring an ancient curse to life. Ellen, Rafe and Homer are pawns in a war mankind can’t afford to lose…
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Absolutely. I write the stories that insist on being written. That sounds crazy, but a story idea, a character, a situation, a question will nag at my mind until I write it down. I have several stories that have been rolling around in various stages of development for years. Someday I will write them. They are not my stories. They are the stories of the characters that inhabit the story world. Heaven’s Strain is one such story. I learn something from every story I write. I don’t know who will read this story and find encouragement, or relate to Rafe’s or Ellen’s story, but I trust someone will.
What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? Honestly, I don’t find anything lacking. There are many amazing authors writing excellent books. Almost every genre and sub-genre of fiction is available. Some books slip through the cracks because they don’t fit in any one genre, so the publishers don’t know how to market them. That isn’t a lack, but a fact of business. A product must be marketable. That has happened to me. Heaven’s Strain crosses genres with suspense, angels, genetic engineering, and romance. After many years of editors loving the story, but not being able to buy it, I decided to publish it myself through Amazon. The amazing Karen Ball (editor, best-selling author, literary agent) was my editor. Her comment on the finished book: “Heaven’s Strain is one amazing ride! Deception, danger, romance, a race against time, unseen forces at war…Sunni’s masterful book has it all.” ~Karen Ball, best-selling author of The Breaking Point
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher (or agent or audience if you self publish)? At some point during the process, I always question my abilities when I write a book. Most authors do. I have four books that collected a lot of rejections and never found a publisher. With the opportunities open through the Internet today, many writers are polishing up those unsold books and independently publishing them. Heaven’s Strain is one of those. I believe all books need editing. A good editor will help a writer pull the best out of a story. I have been fortunate to have amazing editors who see the essence of the characters and story and help me bring out their full potential. My first two books may never be published. They were learning tools in my writing career. A third book got caught in a publisher shuffle, when a big publisher bought out my smaller publisher and decided not to publish romance. It will be my next book to Indie publish, but first it will go through the editing process.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? When I started writing, traditional publishing was the only viable route to publication. There were (and still are) vanity publishers. They were and are very expensive, and often do not produce a quality book. They are a good option for some non-fiction books, or books by speakers or celebrities who have a built-in audience, but I would not recommend them to anyone starting out and wanting to be published. Today, things have changed. Traditional publishing is changing rapidly. Many small presses are being bought up by larger publishers. Fewer books are being published. At the same time, the Internet has opened many doors for writers to publish their own works. It has become an option for writers. It became an option for me.
What made you take the plunge and finally do it? With all the experience and fourteen published books behind me, I have learned how to create a good book. I have one romance that I have re-released when I got my rights back from the publisher. I have books that were never contracted by a traditional publisher. I hope I have gained some readers over the years. I am just beginning to blog and be active on social media. The best marketing, however, is a good book that people read and recommend to their friends. I have a lot of books and series waiting to be written. I love stories. I love to entertain. And I hope to encourage. So jumping in and swimming is, to me, my only option.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Write, write and write. Read, read, and read. Become active in learning the craft. There is creativity, but there is also technique, and all writers need to learn the craft of writing. And no author is ever “there.” Even the best author can always learn something more. There are many “rules.” Good structure, use of language, tense and point of view and more. They can be broken, but a writer needs to know what works and why before he or she breaks a rule. That takes a skill that must be learned. Then write your masterpiece and take it to someone who is skilled at editing. Often we think we’ve made something clear to a reader, because it is clear in our own heads. An editor can see with fresh eyes what works, what doesn’t work, what needs to be tweaked or expanded or cut.
What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done? Only one? My husband claims you can do everything you want, just not all at once. He’s right. I dreamed of being a nurse, so I worked in hospitals as an aide. I took nursing in college, but I worked in a florist shop, where they trained me as a florist. I quit college to become a Navy wife (Viet Nam era) and then a mother. From that time on, nothing in my life was expected or even imagined. I worked for the Singer Sewing Machine Company as a sewing instructor, and then became a seamstress and a school bus driver to be with my kids. When we left the Navy and took over my in-laws’ security business, I became the full-accounting bookkeeper and office manager (and I was lousy at math in school). Then I began writing in my spare time. Never saw either of those coming. We sold the business to became ranchers. We didn’t know how, but we had the desire, so we learned. We raised Scottish Highland cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, hay and timber, and I pursued my writing career. Now we are full-time RVers and I’m still writing. I don’t know what is next, but it will include writing. If you can dream it, you can do it. Pray for opportunity. If it knocks, open the door and step through.
So what are you, Dear Reader, doing that you never expected? Or what are you dreaming of that you haven’t done yet?
Leave a comment and have a chance to win a copy of my book, Heaven’s Strain.
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