For our first New Mexico Romance Writers blog interview, we have Sarah Baker, aka Sarah Storme (romance), S. H. Baker (mysteries) and Lydia Parks (erotica/erotica romance). Sarah is a former president of the local RWA chapter in New Mexico, LERA (Land of Enchantment Romance Authors) and has been a member of the group for approximately eleven years.
NMRW: Sarah, let’s start off with a little about you. Where are you originally from?
Sarah: I grew up in New Orleans, but as a government employee, I've lived all over the place from Alaska to Georgia.
NMRW: What brought you to NM?
Sarah: Work. I'm a civil engineer for the Feds.
NMRW: How long have you been writing and what got you started?
Sarah: I've been writing novel-length fiction since Thanksgiving of 1997. (I know because I checked my spreadsheet. What can I say? I'm an engineer.) I started out writing short stories on the Internet for fun in the early 1990's when the Net was young. One of the people who read my work was a New York editor, and she suggested I write a romance novel. Good thing I listened to her!
NMRW: Where are you likely to be when you’re not writing?
Sarah: Asleep, at work, spending time with my family, signing books, or talking about writing.
NMRW: Any favorite TV shows or films that inspired you or your work?
Sarah: Forever Knight, a vampire show before its time, got me started writing short stories. I've had vampires hanging around since then.
Sarah: Oh, yes, I have quite a few hidden on my hard drive. My second novel was the first one published, but not before I'd written several more, many of which haven't sold.
NMRW: What writers clubs, associations or groups did you join before you were published? Were any of them particularly helpful? Have you ever founded, chartered or served as an officer for any club or group?
Sarah: The first group I joined was the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA), our local chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA). At my first meeting, I found out about 4 or 5 major things I was doing incorrectly. If not for LERA, I can't imagine I would ever have been published. I've been fortunate enough to serve as President, Vice President, web mistress, conference chair, and contest chair (twice). I'm now the Ex-President.
NMRW: Do you have favorite authors who inspire you, or whom you idolize?
Sarah: I have several authors who seem to think I'm stalking them. Does that count? First, there's James Lee Burke, who writes the very best Louisiana I've ever read. He writes the good and the bad, and pulls no punches. I always hear people I know in his dialogue. And then there's David L. Robbins, who is an absolutely amazing writer. The first book of his that I read, Last Citadel, took my breath away at least a dozen times during every chapter. The man knows how to build characters! But I'm inspired by nearly every author I read, and I read a lot. We have amazing, inspiring authors all over the place in New Mexico.
NMRW: What romance genre, subgenre or niche genre is your “specialty?” What other genres do you/or do you plan to write?
Sarah: My most popular books are erotic romance/erotica starring vampires and shape-shifters, but I also write contemporary romance and have a mystery series set in the 1920s in southwest Louisiana (The Dassas Cormier Mystery Series). At the moment, I'm working on a romance set in the distant future, and have a proposal out for a sci-fi vampire. I'm willing to try almost anything, except maybe historical. I love to read historicals, but my memory isn't good enough to write them.
NMRW: Which of your main characters is your favorite and why?
NMRW: Do you have a favorite line or lines from a past or upcoming book that you’d like to share?
Sarah: One of my characters once told me, "If you ain't havin' fun, you're just wastin' space." I've taken that to heart.
NMRW: When you face adversity with your writing, what keeps you going?
Sarah: A quote from the movie Galaxy Quest: "Never give up, never surrender!" That's a wonderfully inspirational movie.
NMRW: What’s the one thing you’re most proud of related to your writing?
Sarah: I'm most proud of the letters I've gotten from readers who've told me that my writing made a difference in their lives. I can't think of anything more important than that.
I've written everything from short stories to novels for a few publishers. My first book, Emily, Again (a romance), was published by Warner Books in 2001. I have erotic romances published by Kensington's Aphrodisia, Silhouette's Nocturne, and eXtasy Books, romance with Five Star, Echelon Press, Zumaya Publications, and Awe-Struck Ebooks, and mystery with Zumaya Publications and Echelon Press. I think that's it.
NMRW: Do you do book signings? How often? Do you travel to other areas or stay close to home?
Sarah: I love to do book signings, and I enjoy talking to writers groups. I'll be talking at the Southwest Writers conference in Albuquerque in February, the NOLA Written in the Stars conference in Louisiana in March, signing books at Borders in Albuquerque in April, talking at a Southwest Writers meeting in May, and talking to the local Sisters in Crime group (Croak & Dagger) in September. At least, that's my schedule so far.
NMRW: Any advice you can share with aspiring authors?
Sarah: Not everyone who wants to get published will, but you'll definitely never get published if you give up. Furthermore, if you don't love writing, find something you truly enjoy, because writing isn't always easy.
NMRW: Do you have an upcoming release? What is the expected release date and who is the publisher?
Sarah: I have a few things in the works. I just turned in a very hot fireman novella for Aphrodisia (Kensington), and a shape-shifter set in New Mexico for Nocturne Bites (Silhouette). I don't have titles on either, because we haven't even started revisions. They will most likely come out in 2011. Also in 2011, I expect the fifth volume in the The Dassas Cormier Mystery Series (by S. H. Baker), "The Cold Hand," to be released. I'm worried about that one. It looks like one of the major characters is in jeopardy. (sigh) I also have a few other proposals out there, but I'm not ready to talk about them just yet. Because 2010 looks like it might be a little slow for me, I have more time to run around and participate in writers conferences and author events, so that's a good thing.
NMRW: Do you also have a website, Twitter or Facebook presence? How active are you?
Sarah: I have several websites and social networking sites:
Facebook: Sarah Hanberry Baker
Facebook: Lydia Parks
As you can see by the dates on my blogs, I'm not as active as I should be. My goal this year is to focus down to a few key sites and keep up with them. I plan to use my blogs in place of newsletters.
NMRW: Any last thoughts you’d like to mention about you or your work?
Sarah: I can't tell you how fortunate I feel to be a published author. One thing I've learned, though, is that you never stop learning. I hope that in some way I'm able to help others find their paths to their dreams, because there's nothing like it.
NMRW: Thanks so much, Sarah, for taking the time out from your very busy schedule to do this interview for New Mexico Romance Writers blog. We very much appreciate you sharing your experience and knowledge with other romance writers in New Mexico. We'll look forward to your upcoming releases.